I recently saw the movie “Almost Famous” and it brought back so many great memories! Besides the music, it reminded me of a life I left behind many
When I turned 21, I went to a bar for the first time. Sure I had partaken of alcohol before that, but I guess I didn’t want the embarrassment of TRYING to get into a club before I was 21 and getting busted. I went to The Keystone, which was a small club I was meeting radio station managers, club owners, and promotors. Most good, a few sleazy. that had live music, usually local bands and sometimes a national act. Music had always been a huge influence in my life, but this was different. I was up close and could make eye contact with the band, really FEEL the music pounding in my chest (since I was practically on top of the amps) and just lose myself in it all. Now I had attended quite a few concerts (One in particular I remember was a Day On The Green, a festival-type show at the Oakland Coliseum that cost me $11.00 to attend. Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult, Journey, AC/DC, and Cheap Trick played.) I absolutely loved concerts!
I went to see a band play at The Keystone one night. (Please don’t ask me to remember who! It was ..a long time ago.) The first band came on, and to my surprise and delight, I knew the drummer. I had been best friends with his sister and had grown up with this guy! So, after the show we talked and caught up on things. Before I even realized it, I was going to see his band every chance I got. I absolutely loved their music. I was able to be so close and take some excellent pictures, which to this day still adorn my walls. After hanging around them and getting to know the guys, I started doing some promotional work for them. Making flyers, learning more about how they would get gigs, interacting with other bands. I started handling their mailing list, booking gigs for them, doing whatever needed to be done to get them exposure and gigs. I loved when they would be live somewhere and seeing the looks on girls faces as they played. Even better, guys dug them too. It wasn’t just their good looks, it was the music! (I also met my best friend of 17 years, Andrea, at one of their gigs. We quickly become friends and partners in crime, even starting our own promotion company called “Fine Line Promotions”. It was a great way to meet bands and men! But it REALLY was about the music!)
A huge thrill for me was when I was in my car, and one of their songs came on the radio! I was screaming just like Liv Tyler in the movie “That Thing You Do”. It was then I knew — They would be famous and take me along for the ride!
All during this time, I was meeting radio station managers, club owners, and promotors. Most good, a few sleazy. But I think we expected a certain amount of sleaze in this business hah! Anyway, this band did make a REAL record, I was on the back cover in the credits, and then they broke up. Typical eh? I moved on and worked for several other local bands, who, like most local bands, had a good run and then broke up, formed other bands, and so on and so on. Some went on to be famous, most didn’t.
I once went to a party in San Francisco at a promotors house. I had so much fun that I sent her a resume the next day. I went to work for her, commuting by train to San Francisco. It was one of the coolest jobs I had ever had. I was a retail marketing rep. All I did was call up my East Coast clients and see how certain records were selling. This was pretty big-time for me, working with bands and artists like INXS, Richard Marx, and a few others some may have heard of but most haven’t. One week we went to Los Angeles for the NARM Convention and to showcase our newest artist, Stacey Q. I remember being in the elevator at the hotel and who should walk in but Robin Zander, lead singer for Cheap Trick. That wasn’t TOO amazing considering it was a convention for the recording industry, but what WAS cool was Robin saying to me, “Hey! I remember you from the golf tournament in Half Moon Bay! How’s it going?”. In addition to the band work and marketing work, I did volunteer work for some celebrity golf tournaments. Really, I worked anywhere that had anything to do with the recording industry.
I thought I would always want to be in the music industry. It was glamorous and exciting! It sure has changed a lot though. Once computers came into the picture, things such as “schmoozing” to get your clients’ records higher chart position on Billboard came to a screeching halt. Things became more automated. However, it also pushed me to move to an occupation that didn’t drain me so much. I learned that I loved computers and had grown tired of all the “schmoozing” required. I guess I had grown up and moved on. I still get a rush seeing a band live, or hearing a song for the first time and knowing it’s going to be a hit, but the part about feeling the need to be in the industry has died. However, if you have some concert tickets you want to send my way, I won’t turn them down!