Saturday, September 19, 2009
Once again, I set my thoughts into believing that a deal with Dennis and his partner George could, or more precisely, would come to pass, just as I had prior to the RCA deal.
I continued to paint the house I'd been working on by day, and focused on expecting something better, and going to AA meetings at night. Whenever the doubt would creep in, I would expel it immediately and replace it with a more positive thought.
I remember what it felt like when I got word that the new deal was a go. In the twinkling of an eye my life changed again. I finished up with the house painting, and silently vowed I'd never have to do it again because of being broke.
As I walked down the driveway toward the street, and away from that job, I felt a deep sense of freedom and joy for the first time in nearly two years.
It was near the end of 1979, and I was to be paid $500 a week to write songs and make demos of them, for a minimum of one year. I was ecstatic.
"I was going to get my own place again and be able to pay the rent. I was going to have a job doing what I loved, and I was going to feel good about myself, really good," I thought.
* * *
Back in the early 60's I'd been a smiley faced ball of fire before encountering the likes of Tony Alamo, Andrew Oldham, and Randy Wood.
After finishing my work on the Chris Lucey album, Songs Of Protest And Anti Protest, for a mere $200, I understood that people in the record and music business were completely untrustworthy, and would lie about anything and everything to get what they were after.
It appeared to me, at twenty years old, that I had stepped into a world of con-men who used flattery and dishonesty as tactics to accomplish stealing from the young and naive, of which I was certainly one.
My understanding, in 1965, led me to refuse to sign an agreement with Mira/Surrey, put forth after I'd done the work on the album.
Once I'd completed my assigned task on Songs Of Protest, the so called contractual agreement was presented to me in Randy Wood's office.
In that closed door session with me, Wood, and Somer, Wood's attorney, those two men set about to persuade me to sign the Somer-penned document. It was without any other person present to protect my interests.
It was me against the two of them, and I was twenty years old. In a spur of the moment maneuver, the half inch thick contract, which I'd never seen or even heard about until that moment, was produced out of the blue and I was told to sign it.
Feeling completely out gunned, I asked what I would get if I signed it? To that, Randy Wood exploded and told me, "I just let you make an entire album at my expense, using your own songs, you little son of a bitch, and now you want more?"
I remember thinking at that moment that he had taken the situation from, Bobby Jameson had helped him out of the jam he was in with the Ducey record, and turned it around to be, he'd now done me a favor.
I was confused and uncomfortable in the confines of Wood's office, and said I'd think about it, but doubted if I would sign it. As I tried to leave, Randy grabbed me and threw up against the wall.
He began screaming in my face that I was an ungrateful little prick and that he was trying to help me, but I was too stupid to know it and was trying to fuck him.
With his hands tightly grasping the front of my shirt, and his body pinning me against the wall, I stared into his contorted face while he yelled at me. I looked over at Abe Somer, for help, but he just stood there with a smirk on his face, holding the contract in his hand.
At that moment Randy seemed to realize what he was doing and released his grip on me saying, "Go ahead, get outta here. Get outta my sight."
Shaken, but relieved, I vacated Wood's office, and remember the scene as I opened the door and looked at the larger Mira/Surrey office space.
Everybody was stone cold silent and stared at their desks, the wall, or the floor. No one said shit to me. I was just there by myself looking for a face, a gesture, something.
I looked down the length of the room to Betty Chiapetta's office door, which was open. I waited for a moment, but nothing, absolutely nothing. I left alone, and everyone knew I had refused to sign a contract for Chris Lucey. They had heard everything.
* * *
In the deal with Dennis, I set it up so I received an ongoing salary for a year. It was a way of guaranteeing that I would not only get paid for my efforts, but that it would continue for a set amount of time.
I knew, through bitter experience that what I would be paid would have to be gotten up front, or as a salary arrangement, because trying to get anything after the fact was an empty promise that I'd heard too many times before.