May. 10, 2015

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My Special Music People: The Missing ‘link’         

Back again with yet more Rayminising!

I was responsible for some pretty crazy promotions thru the years, I inflicted 2 on CKPG/Prince George, both Christmas LPs, both involved animals and no small amount of cruelty to the captive Radio audiences; there was ‘Meowy Christmas; The Jingle Cats’, and the Jingle Dogs ‘Bark the Halls with Howls of Bowser’ I think it was and both had these poor animals barking along to Carols.

I first met my old Radio bud Tom Crone (who went by another Nom de Air) at CKPG, and I know his and many others REAL names that I kept in a book. Quite often these DJs would move from market to market and you’d only know they were in town by seeing their ’Wanted’  poster in the Post Office.

Unfortunately, CKPG had a very serious moment of ‘Dead Air’ when the Prince George Rapist was having his way, as it was their Morning Man who was arrested while he was on-air by the RCMP! Good for beratings but not so good for Ratings. For the record, it WASN’T Tom.

Meeting an out-of-town Announcer for the first time was always interesting as they have voices about 6 foot 5 inches, but when you come face-to-face (only an expression as I am 6’ 1”) a lot of them are about 5 foot nothing in their stalking feet.

Many DJs try to expand their talents to TV, but it’s more of a gap than people may think and not everyone makes it as, altho they have the VOICE, well, there’s an expression in the Broadcast Medium, ‘A good FACE for Radio.

Ed Bain from 100.3TheQ Victoria’s Breakfast show comes to mind as being very successful in making the transition and STAYING. He’s still one of the funniest Morning drive people I have heard and I’ve nearly driven off the road reacting to some of the things he says AND he also does the CHEK6 News/Weather I’ve no idea when Ed has time to sleep, hmmmm and he doesn’t seem to AGE either, maybe he’s a Vampire?  A lot of bite at any rate.

I have previously covered off bringing in singles on bags of chopped raw onions for a Romeos Daughter promo (Crying in the back seat) that saw radio programmers throwing chairs thru windows to get fresh air and me out the front door.

There was the Crash Test Dummies promo for the ‘Worms Life’ CD that had me & Lynne up at 4A and visiting Morning Radio shows to offer the DJ a container of Live Dew Worms in which was embedded the single, Early Bird gets the….poor Lynne following me around with a worm sock puppet on my right hand and a chicken head mask(which Lynne created for me) thru the burbs right to downtown Vancouver where there was apparently a Stoics Convention as a lot of people just stared blankly, maybe they weren’t up yet, poor things, but Lynne got it all on Video which is now languishing somewhere in the bowels of what was once BMG and is now Sony, too bad, I’d love to have a copy of that.

Some of the other Nut-bar Promos included a Crash Test Dummies promo for their first CD ‘Ghosts That Haunt Me’ on CFJC/TV-Kamloops focused on the characters in the Video for what would eventually be a MASSIVE Hit ‘The Superman Song’ where a group of individuals were attending the Funeral of Superman (Supe on? No, Supe off!) almost all are former Superheros & Crimefighters and the contest hinged on viewers writing in and identifying who those were and the answers, which I still have, are freakingHOWL-arious! Those people were having too much fun at once in a somewhat if not drastically altered states.

Another time, St Patrick’s day was at hand and I gave The Fox’s Larry & Willy a 10 lb bag of potatoes to give away with the (Irish BAND) Chieftains new release, one potato/record at a time, I laughed so hard I wept. I believe this was the album with a lot of guest artists on it including a highly impaired Rolling Stones (They drove over to Ireland with their own Bar in tow) and perfectly butchered their own song ‘Satisfaction’ which shud have been credited as DIS-Satisfaction’.

Possibly the BEST (Read; Most enjoyable) to me were the Nestor Pistor promos, I truly LOVED the Nestor Pistor for Prime Minister hijinx, the dump truck limo, the faux Press Conference for Vancouver’s Political media (what a HOOT!) but the BEST had to be the Worlds Heavyweight Perogie eating Championship contest at Treachers Records with Sundry Radio, Media and Music personalities weighing in on Hunky Bills catering, I laughed for DAYS on end and sometimes still do at fully grown men being convinced they should do that, I needed Oxygen!

In addition to my Promotional responsibilities, I also insisted on writing my own Radio commercials. Some people just buy the time and give the stations copy department a vague idea of what to say and away they go but I felt that nobody knew what had to be said, and how, than the person that repped the product, me. That led to writing a TV commercial or two and doing print ad layouts and Sales department campaign flyers as I could ‘toon as well as tune.

One time RCA released a Doonesbury /Jimmy Thudpucker LP that was tuneful enuff but I felt it needed an obvious boost so I contacted the Press Barons at The Vancouver Sun (Vancouver’s Daily Planet) and spoke with somebody that sounded as tho they might just be Perry White (played by Ed Asner) and what I wanted was to buy ad space in the comic section, where Doonesbury ran, for the LP, but his reaction was akin to my breaking ALL Ten Commandments at once and I was put on notice, Record company conniving sniveler that I was esteemed to be, that in NO way would they sell ad space in that section, it was considered taking advantage of a somewhat captive audience/readership! Uh huh, and….RATS! Thwarted again!

Another time, at an RCA convention, where they exhaust their most important resource, their staff, with marathon meetings followed by REALLY LOUD bands playing in old condemned buildings, next to no sleep and catering Chicken at every given opportunity if you count eggs for breakfast (So the eggs DID come before the CHICKEN at Lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea), right up til it hit the endangered species list. Chickens must HATE conventions….oh naw not again! how many eggs do I have to lay?, my asshole feels like a gunshot wound!

Part of one Convention in particular I recall what they call ‘workshops’ where people try to conceive of new/better ways to build mousetraps, or in some of our cases. Claptraps. One was how better to market a Country record which is where my character Billy-Bob Bumstead originated, and that was just too much fun! Take note of that word, I believe it left the Music Biz vernacular around the same time I did.

THEN..we had a workshop with a BMGentleman, Paul White, and why Paul is so important (Altho I have to have a word with him about the Bobby Curtola project) is because, aside from being a real nice guy, was the head of Capitol Records Canada when 4 guys from Liverpool were ‘crowning’ on the world stage and he was determined to get them going with LOTS of support from EMI in England, and Paul was one to listen to His Masters Voice and knew a Hit/Hot act when he heard it, and Canada has always been more open to British acts originally, be it Cliff Richards (billed as England’s Elvis,  I’m surprised the Colonel didn’t sue, or Monty Pythons Flying Circus who survived the adoption of their original name ‘Owl Stretching Time, CANADIANS got it, first.

So it was a real treat to get the skinny on how this FABulous project broke thru from the man that was there. To quote Conan Daly’s sonorous John Lennon comment…Cums as now s’prise t’ May’, I almost pissed myself when he said that.

So anyways, Paul wasn’t with the Beatles or Capitol at that point, he was handling special Projects for BMG, quite astute on BMG’s part, hedging their bets as The Beatles were a Special Project for Capitols British branch EMI, that label being Parlophone which handled basically Comedy acts/artists, which to absolutely everyone’s embarrassment and mortification, they were booked as, a Comedy act, for their appearance on the Ed Sullivan, now I know the lads enjoyed a good laugh but this was over the top, and they’re STILL laughing today, as am I.

But Paul’s mission this day was focused on another Classic, Classical Music, and how do we broaden the audience/consumer for this type of music. Classic Musicians and aficionados (now there’s a fruity term for ya!)

People rationally see Classical Musicians (Classical people in general as a dour lot), upper crust, monied, toffee-nosed snots. BUT the format exists and how do we do better with it? I came up with the concept of ‘Music You Didn’t Know You Knew’ as a lot of people have heard the theme song for ‘The Lone Ranger’ TV show, which is the ‘William tell Overture’ for example, so I suggested they market a sampler that actually RE-introduced the listener to the music and connect the Muse with the Musicians and Composers (altho most of them were dead so possibly Decomposers is a better fit here) via a sampler of Sturm & Drang warhorses. I do confess, I LOVE Strauss waltzes, back in HIS day, his shit was like ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is to us.

Like a lot of my ideas, nothing came of this, it went straight to my ‘Bright Idea Orphanage’ where they all die of inattention…Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here to appease Ray cuz you know how he gets…

Insert LP Gfx here

Like any Label rep, I’ve done my time with touring Classical artists and Musicians…Carrying the Irish Flautist (he played the FLUTE, read a book!) James Galway’s Computer thru Van Int’l Airport and in those days it was the size of a mini-bar (my BACK!!), Carrying Myron Floren’s Accordion thru the same airport..oh no! let ME carry that, what the hell was I thinking! It weighed like a sea anchor! Just ask my separated shoulder.

I recall having the Piano Virtuoso Evgeny Kissin, a Russian,  I called him ‘Huggin’ and Kissin’, in English) and I had some communication problems with him as he only spoke Russian and one required an interpreter to communicate, and you could only hope the interpreter liked you or you had NO idea what he was telling the guy, PLUS, I couldn’t track down his hotel and it turned out that he didn’t have one, he was hiding out at a ‘safe house ‘ or something, so Dansk Dania to him.

There are exceptions to every rule, take the Pianist Victor Borge for example. He was a staple on the Ed Sullivan show and younger people/kids may have seen him as a pie-in-the-face Comedian old fart, but get a whiff of this….long before there were Rawkers that threw things from Hotel windows (TV sets, burning mattresses, the Hotel Manager and staff…) here I was, still a kid watching ol’ Victor, on a film clip, play a Classical piece, and for a  flourish finale, he pushed the Grand Piano INTO THE HOTEL POOL; you could say he was ahead of his time.

Back in the day, talking 1970 AD, we didn’t have the Communication Technology we have today, you had to have willpower (Okay, sigh..WiPo, happy now?) to succeed, basically it was Mail or the phone if you were out of town. One HAD to build relationships, the Music/Entertainment Biz was and I hope, still is Relationship driven, not eDriven.

At TPC/Quality one rule they had about Long Distance calls was..Don’t take any and don’t make any…so how to communicate? If I REALLY needed to talk to an out of town station I’d call ‘Operator 6’ which was code for RETURNING a call at the stations expense; by any means necessary.

King Lee/Victoria Times Colonist writer had a Music show on Radio CJVI Sat nights..played Crows ‘Don’t try to lay no boogie woogie’… as I wrote him a letter about it and he played it. It preceded (1970) the Long John Baldry version (1971), our band Bigfoot discovered it and played it but we had NO idea how big it would become in others hands. This was how you tried to start something.

Today there seems to be no end to available methods of technological communication: it’s all electronic, internet, wireless, WiFi, Social or AntiSocial Media, conspicuous in their absences are Psychics and Uri Geller, but at least they were people! Today, where is the one-to-one dialogue?, the social interaction that goes beyond the fact you’veposted to FB that you’ve  gone to Asia on a trip, left the bath running and all your doors unlocked, on the internet for every footpad and cut-purse to read and take advantage of.

No.

 Music, Art and Literature….are PASSION, they are FEELING, without that element, they wouldn’t exist, and people NEED that stimulus, and altho I too use things like email for communication, sooner or later there has to be a human connection, a conversation, a beer, not an eBeer, this is all one dimensional, flat as piss on a plate. My long suffering wife who only wants good things for me (OK, explain GOOD) has threatened to get me a Twitter account, and God only knows what else to help me along the electronic highway (aka Cyberia)…Great! MORE shit to forget how it works, too much information. I used to tell my staff, as I was working on my exit strategy from BMG, do NOT just email somemediabody with a question upon which untold millions of dollars and somebodies career rests upon the answer, show some respect, pick up the fucking phone, y’know that thing in your pocket you live on that can pull down movies from other planets? Yeah, THAT thing, and TALK to somebody about it, otherwise, when people, stop needing people, REAL people, well…..

The material herein remains the property of Ray Ramsay / ALadinLadner Publishing:The Written Werd and Dirty Book Store is not intended for Publication, Reproduction, or Broadcast without the Authors permission. Yeah.

Latest comments

04.06 | 20:20

That's good Ray - spread it around

04.06 | 18:55

Hopefully history will finally teach us that we are all one. No better, no worse.Love one another as you would be loved - and the world and people will be in a better place.

04.06 | 18:46

Excellent musings my friend. What a twisted world and to look now and see it get worse instead of better.

04.06 | 18:16

Wow cuz that's great writing and truth

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