Billy kindly got in touch and shared some info on the Decca and 45, and also an insight into the workings of the recording industry in late 60s America.
Why they didn't promote the record or offer me a "real" recording contract, I'll never understand. Especially since the guys that backed me on the session thought the record was fucking hot and said so. I attribute that mostly to their great playing ability. The piano player's name was Artie. I don't remember his last name. But this guy was so fuckin' fabulous! You listen to how he played on the so-called B-side of the record; "Bring Me Ya Low Down Feelin's", and I swear, Artie was a mother fuckin' kookin' dude. He set that piano on fire...literally. They could have left me out of the whole side and just turned him up in the mix and as far as I'm concerned, they would have had a hit. I just loved this guy. I'm ashamed of myself that I don't even know his last name. But that's the way it was. You just showed up, the Producer passed out some charts; charts which I couldn't read, they turned on the mikes and said "Take One". And that was it.
Both those tunes are "one take" tunes. There wasn't any rehearsal or any formal introductions. It just all happened like some Tsunami rolled over the studio. "Take One", "
Later, about a week later, The Producer took me up north somewhere to a local TV show (kind a like "Band Stand") and had me "lip-sink" as one side of the record played and a group of
I often wondered if this was my undisclosed secret "debut" for the "powers that be"...the ones who decide whether to promote a record of not. The ones who decide whether they've got a "talent" that they can exploit and profit from or whether they have got a "dog" on their hands who's not worth the cost of a leash, little-lone a night at the pound. I mean, it makes perfect since. They can watch me from a far "perform" without actually getting their hands dirty by having to meet me and have even a few words with me. They can "observe" their latest potential "find" from the protection of their living rooms or board rooms without having to have any kind of contact with me whatsoever. I pictured these "guys" sitting around in their suits, bellying up to some fancy hand carved wooden table, cigar in one hand and a whiskey in the other, most definitely paying more attention to "miss wiggle ass" than to this 21 year old long haired "hippie" kid" in his ridiculous train engineers cap and Elvis like sideburns, playing a twelve string acoustic guitar that couldn't possibly be heard over the fuzz tone Stratocaster that blared through their TV screen and what for them, I'm sure, they could only consider as "noise", but “good noise”. You know; the kind of noise that the kids spent money on.
I honestly doubt that they gave me a serious look at all. I mean, after all, they had their "big time job", their suits and their butch haircuts. And chicks were wiggling their asses for them. They didn't need me. The sad thing was, at the time, I thought I needed them.
Now my Producer, Jerry Keller, was really a pretty nice guy. I've got to thank him for the group of musicians he put together for the gig...short and strange as it was. And I think he tried as best he could to not miss lead me and "let me down easy". He didn't make me any promises. And he didn't fill my head full of any super-star bullshit. Actually, his only genuine moment with me was when he told me that; "I didn't need the hat". He delivered that “heartfelt comment” to me during a quick stop before the show over French fries and chocolate shakes. I couldn’t help but think that that was all this guy had to say to me about the music business, that I didn’t need the hat”? I learned pretty quickly that most people in “show business” were pretty fuckin’ stingy with what they knew and were never very inclined to help anyone rise above themselves.
He had a party after the "recording session" at his home in
In the end, the attitude was, well here, we've made a record for you. Now you can take this 45 around and show people what you can do and see if you can get a "deal" with someone else. Of course, since they owned the production rights to the "single" and half the writing credits (that was the standard sell out you had to make in those days...for all I know, it's worse today), who the hell was I going to "make a deal with" for a song that I didn't even own. I didn't even own my own record. And most record company people of the time were a bunch of butch haircut corporate "jack-offs" that had no clue as to what was happening in the music business..."The Times They Were A Changing". These Bozos classified me as "a folk singer" and I don't think they thought much of my ability to write or create a song. And for the most part, they hated my voice. I was used to singing like the old Blues Masters that I had learned how to play from by listening to their records over and over and over again. In the process of learning their guitar chords and licks, I had picked up, inadvertently, their vocal styles and musical phrasing and the aged sound of their voices too. None of the people I auditioned for liked my voice and wanted me to sing like the blue eyed, blond haired kid, that I was so, some of my earliest records sound more like I'm a "parakeet" than a blues singer.
They all thought Psychedelic was the new "happening thing", even though none of them had a fucking clue what the Psychedelic Experience was all about. I think they imagined that I was "really out of step" with what was "happening". Everybody turned me down. There was one gay guy at
Now, believe it or not, Sonny and
Now, I was so broke at the time; no car, no apartment, no guitar strings, a girlfriend with a 6 year old child to take care of, I had nothin'. You would have thought that I would have jumped at the deal that The Kresky Brothers were offering me. But here's the truth. I thought Sonny and
Now again, you would have thought that in spite of my miss giving’s and paranoia with The Kresky Brothers and Sonny and
I took the deal that Capital Records (excuse me, that their publishing company) had offered me. Can you imagine? I sold 50% of the rights to 50 of my songs to Capital for $10 a piece. Now that, my friend, is "Show Business".
For me it was all a learning experience and I'm not embarrassed or ashamed of any of it. We all do what we do that we think is the best thing to do at the time. Everybody fails. That’s what life is about…failure and loss and illusions.
Billy would later front Holy Moses, who recorded for RCA.