Thursday, April 22, 2021

My Life In The Dream Kill Factory: Running Into Relics of A By-Gone Era!


The stereotype of the bald(ing), cigar-chomping, polyester suit-wearing record executive of the '60s and '70s was 100% correct, although, by the time my band started booking our own shows, these fat cats were already going the way of the dinosaur.

Most of these guys, while smarmy, had ears and took their share of chances (hell, how do you think Cheap Trick got signed?), but, by the time the '80s arrived, they took one look at a young, gap-toothed Elvis Costello and got the hell outta Dodge.


Those that remained were spending more time on their yachts than in the office so, by the time the words "Music Television" made it up to the penthouse suite, it was too late to do anything about it.

The cigar chomper that my band ran into was the then-booking agent for Shula's 31 Bowling Alley, a once-proud Midwestern live music mecca located in Niles, Michigan. It's proximity to the interstate made it a regular tour stop for Tommy James, Chicago, Styx and even Tommy Shaw's pre-Styx band MS Funk, but was now just a bowling alley with a history nobody in the joint knew or cared about.

This was evident the minute we entered the venue and met the man the owners had hired to run the nightclub in hopes of bringing it back to past glories.

Bobby Cannavale perfectly captures the smarmy essence
 of  '70s record execs in HBO's "Vinyl".

The pinky rings, neck jewelry and shirt unbuttoned to expose the maximum amount of chest hair were just part of the uniform, but the glass of bourbon and yellow-brown finger tips at 11 in the morning denoted a certain dedication to the lifestyle.

Ten bucks says this guy lives in a trailer.

Eager to impress a bunch of nobodies who'd literally just stumbled in, "Gary" soon informed us that, not only did he now book the joint, but he was also an artist manager, at which point he slid a roster of his acts across the desk.

I took a gander...

"Dilly Pardon"

"Waylon Gentry"

Yep, totally legit.

While my band mates tried and failed to keep straight faces, talk suddenly turned to a month-long tour of rural Canadian beer halls that sounded like a good way for three pretty boys like us to wind up co-starring in some low-budget Canadian version of "Deliverance" that even Ned Beatty would politely decline. 

Looooong story short, while he was still dazzling us with bullshit, we literally split in the middle of a sentence and got the fuck outta there. 

Weeks later, we're telling our demo producer about the experience only to discover that another band he produced - an all-girl band, in fact - had taken "Gary" up on his offer and were, at that very moment, playing remote logging bars in Canada. 

The next word we heard was that only two of the band members ever came back, although that could mean any number of things, right? Right?

Upon moving to Chitown in '86, I open up a copy of IE (local-speak for "Illinois Entertainer") and see that the singer has resurfaced in the Chicago suburbs, doing goth-metal, where she remains to this day.

Due to a bet made with a friend back in 1988, I lose fifty cents every time this person's name DOESN'T appear in the suburban club listings in the back of the Illinois Entertainer that have made it the most consistently entertaining publication since Mad Magazine for well over thirty years.

When her name DOES appear, I WIN fifty cents.

Over the years, this single bet has outperformed most of my stock picks.

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