Friday, July 3, 2009

Got To Be There

It was October, 1984. The city of Los Angeles was settling down after hosting the Olympics. They had cleaned the streets, by cracking down on hookers, drug dealers, and the homeless. Now they would host three clueless kids from Ft. Pierce, on their way to what they thought would be a long career in music.

Our guitar players Dad worked for an aircraft company. He was in charge of hiring labor for new government contracted flying machines with guns and bombs. He had a labor union connection, that had a brother in the music business. Backs got scratched and a record deal (of sorts) was struck. Our cocaine cowboy manager sent him money to cover studio costs so we could make a record. You know those plastic things people used to BUY, and listen to, start to finish.

The stewardess brought me an extra coke, and we took turns reading about ourselves, in the Miami Herold, The Palm Beach Post and out home town bass rapper, The News Tribune. The plane ride was our first and we were comforted by the extra attention. They didn't treat us like cool rock stars, they treated us like lost kids, which is what we were. Babes in the forest. We arrived at our west coast managers house, lets call him Tony (because that was his name). He managed Barry White and had made his bones stealing half or all of the publishing of young black balladeers starting in the fifties. He was loud and big, but also kind. He was hard on us at first, but we were so doe eyed and naive, he adopted us.

We tooled around L.A. in a rented Mustang and spent ten grand of our East Coast managers money, seeing bands, buying ridicules clothing, and eating at Carl's Burgers. One day, Tony said he had a surprise and took us to Lion Share Studios, where a few months earlier "We Are The World" was recorded. Jermaine Jackson was there recording with Pia Zadora. The first record I ever owned was The Jackson Five and I stared at Jermaine when he wasn't looking. He was a very soft spoken guy and told Tony that he had to see the car Pia's casino tycoon husband had bought him. He looked funny next to the Lamborghini, and seemed to need Tony's approval. I remember being starstruck and blown away at the audacity of that car, but still I was very aware this guy seemed scared, and uneasy with his status. He was famous but I felt bad for him. It was a weird glimpse into the difference between publicity and reality. I imagine his brother was similar, but I can't really say. I can't comment on anything else his brother did or didn't do because the fact is, if it's in the news, I assume it's bullshit. If it's in print and it's about a musician or an actor, it was either planned by their publicist or it's there to sell papers and mags. Somewhere in the fog the truth is drifting, like piss in the ocean. I saw him talking on the news tonight as I drank some tea. He had lost his brother, and Larry King was trying to get him to climb a tree at Neverland Ranch. I felt a vague connection to the story de jure. I am left with one thought on the subject: an unhappy human, living with intense pains, mental and physical, isn't suffering anymore. The rest is for someone else to figure out, and leaches to profit from.