Walter Rapaport: Music, Audio and the Poetic

Guest post by Walter Rapaport, my husband of 42 years, continuing my posts about the old music business days of the seventies.

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Portrait of Walter at age 74 at home in Hines Oregon.  Photo by Laurie O’Connor.

“I’ve done some wrong things,

While livin’ my life

Made some wrong moves

You could criticize …”

(Barbara Mauritz, Lamb, A Sign of Change)

Sign of change was one of Lamb's finest album, a work of magical originality..

A Sign of Change, a work of magical originality, was Lamb’s first album, produced by David Rubinson for Fillmore Records.

For me, it’s about the emotional sum of words plus music.

Musicals were the start. Classical got to me with or without words. Great NYC DJ’s. Folk music drew me into the club scene in New York. Jazz came along and changed all the relationships in my mind. Then rock ‘n roll codified longings I did not voice until then:  Stones. Beatles, and acid pulled me westward!

I was 25 and a hi-fi nut.  Worked with Ampex tape recorders in language labs. By then I was a complete stoner, and the straight job was too restricting.  Enter Lamb! in San Francisco. My good friend Bob Swanson was a principal in that group and sent me tapes.  Needed a sound guy.  Called me on the night Nixon was elected and said they had a regular gig and would pay me a share. The Ribeltad Vorden bar paid the band $35 a week. Color me gone.

“When hardly a trace of love could I find.

Was a blind hearted woman.

Almost lost my mind.”

(Barbara Mauritz, Lamb, A Sign of Change)

Bill Douglas on bass, Bob Swanson on git., Barbara Mauritz sings, pianos. and gits. Walt finds a calling. And what a life.  No money, but poetry. I entered the universe of poetry and music. Live gig, rehearsal and eventually recording. Producer David Rubinson picked Lamb up for Fillmore Records and got Bill Graham, the godfather of rock ‘n roll, on board at Flllmore Managment. And Walter was still lost in the poetic.

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Singer Barbara Mauritz and guitarist of Lamb. Back cover of their second album, Cross Between. Co-producers: David Rubinson and Walter Rapaport.  Photo by Peter Olwyler.

“And I know, yes I know, praying for the light.

Down on my knees, alone in the night

Cryin’ Oh. look down here on me,

That I may see the way, yeah!”

(Barbara Mauritz, Lamb, A Sign of Change)

Lamb’s first album, A Sign of Change was pure jazz, with a dose of mysticism and another of gospel. I co-produced their second album, Cross Between. The gospel of studio recording was handed to me by the great engineer Fred Catero. 45 years later my mind distills the lessons, and when I am fortunate enough to record, I TRY TO FOLLOW THEM.

  • Be Positive!
  • Listen to each instrument and amp to find the sweet spot—put the mic. there!
  • Listen to the control room chatter and filter for meaning and direction.
  • Evaluate input for useful ideas.
  • When the talk gets to serious band business:  disappear—if not recording.
  • Be positive and, when required, be funny.

    fred catero

    Recording engineer Fred Catero.

“And it’s in gettin’ down to earth

That we can recognize our worth

We were all put here together

For the worse or for the better

And I believe, and I say I believe

Until my dyin’ day

I just wanna say…yeah

We’re gonna have a party!”

(Barbara Mauritz, Lamb, A Sign of Change)

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Barbara Mauritz. Photo by Peter Olwyler.

Just before Lamb’s fourth album, the new producer fired me. Business reality caught up with me. The music went downhill from there. Ego? Not me!

Getting bumped off the poetic caused a hard landing. A lawyer’s letter informed me that I owed a share of partnership losses. I was depressed and out of money. My lawyer said I was responsible for my share. Oy vey!  Revelation: Wait, I ain’t got shit!  Call Bill Graham in the a.m. to laugh and suggest that I had about $2 and he was welcome to it, to which he replied, “It took you way too long to get it.” Thanks for the lesson, Bill!

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Joined a band called Bittersweet as sound guy, road manager. It did not “go.” Eventually got a job as a sound man at a nightclub called the “Orphanage.”  Good music by and large. A good time of life.  Reconnect with my love Diane, now 42 years married and counting. Have child, what a gas, often being parent at work, often with baby Max.

Became adept at multiple to 2-track mixes (house, stage, sound truck, and for Van Morrison a video feed). Founded White Noise Sound with Barret Bassick.  Did live sound and live broadcast, direct to 2-channel to air.  And this totally shaped my idea of how one recorded and produced sessions. Get the performance!  Go to it if necessary.  Walt and his A77 Revox got a surprising amount of work. NPR producer Tim Owens (“Jazz Alive”) kept us working. Found out I was not a good studio engineer.

Tim was promoted to Washington D.C.  Barret and I had a falling out.  I went to work as production mgr. at FRAP (Flat Response Audio Pickup), the most rewarding job I ever had.  I contracted for a year. Company looked like it might go…

Diane was done with the Bay Area. Took my van, my dog and my son to Jerome AZ. Suddenly I needed a complete life change. Returned to work after winter vacation, and found that FRAP product on the shipping table was still there, and knew that I didn’t want to go through the lack of cash that was sure to follow. Joined family in Jerome AZ and decided that house wiring is just a variation on balanced electronics wiring (it is!) and called myself a house wirer. Did whatever recording-live sound work that I could. Katie Lee and Major Lingo stand out. Still with the old A77!  Perhaps the most fulfilling tracks came from Katie in the form of a folk opera called Billy, Maude and Mr. D.

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Katie Lee’s folk opera. Available at http://www.katydoodit.com

She performed the first act flawlessly (23 min) and beautifully. Second act required one edit!  This was recorded using a Shure 58 mic for vocal, Shure 53 mic for guitar, both through transformers directly into A77 pre-amps.  (The CD is available thru Katydid Books and Music— http://katydoodit.com)

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Photo of Katie Lee by M.L. Lincoln. (Katydodit.com)

Friends like Katie taught us to enjoy hiking, camping and rafting. This  “getting down to earth“ stuff became a solid track of its own, and the poetry continued.

Walter and Richard

Walter Rapaport and Richard Martin on the Colorado River in the eighties. For both, music and the life of the poetic guided their passions. Photo by Diane Rapaport

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The Recording Artist as an Indentured Servant

Soon after I became part of Fillmore Management, Lamb and Victoria were recording new albums. I had never been in a recording studio nor knew what a recording session was like.

My first session was at the Wally Heider Studio, one of the San Francisco greats, located in the old Tenderloin District. Santana, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Steve Miller, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Herbie Hancock were some of the bands that recorded their albums there.

One of the great San Francisco bay Area recording studios.

One of the great San Francisco bay Area recording studios.

Building Plaque for this historic recording Bay Area recording studio.

Building Plaque for this historic recording Bay Area recording studio.

The receptionist pointed me into two dark rooms separated by a huge piece of plate glass. Bob Swanson and Barbara Mauritz of Lamb were recording songs for “Cross Between,” their second album.

I walked into a dimly lit room and introduced myself to Fred Catero, one of the greatest recording engineers of all time. He was seated the controls of a very complicated console with levers, knobs, lights and instrument panels. He explained to me that I was looking at a mixing board, each lever accessing and controlling volume at one of the microphones in the other room. As Barbara had not yet arrived, he had time to explain what some of the other equipment in the room was all about.

One of the mixing boards at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco.

One of the mixing boards at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco.

In the second room, behind the glass, Bob Swanson was tuning his guitar and Walter Rapaport was setting up microphones and joking with Bob. Walter was the sound and road manager for Lamb; in the studio he acted as a production helper. The album called him “a shepherd’ which was an accurate title for someone who know what Lamb’s music should sound like and worked with an engineer to get it.

When Barbara Mauritz arrived 45 minutes time was spent setting her up with microphones and testing recording levels at the mixing board.

Then Bob and Barbara tried out a song. For whatever reason, there were a lot of false starts and stops during the song and there were a lot of breaks. Fred would talk to them and instruct them when to start. Fred explained that he could piece together the best parts of a song without their having to play and sing it perfectly all the way through.

During this time, I’m counting minutes. Wally Heider was charging $250 an hour, about $4.00 a minute. During that four-hour session, almost two hours were time spent on lateness, false stops and starts, jokes, breaks. Maybe two songs got recorded. Fred was the soul of patience. One of his jobs was to help musicians relax, so he gave them a lot of leeway.
David Rubinson, Executive Producer for the album, popped in for a few minutes.

FredCatero, upper left, and David Rubinson, producer, Fillmore Records

FredCatero, upper left, and David Rubinson, producer, Fillmore Records

As today, money spent recording an album is a loan from a record company to be paid back (recouped) out of the money earned in sales (royalties). Lamb would spend an excess of $250,000 recording “Cross Between” and it would take sales of more than 150,000 records to recoup the expense. Until then, their living would depend on earnings from gigs and advances (about $15,000 per album, also an advance against future royalties).

At the rate of time spent on that very first session, I well understood why many bands became indentured servants to the record companies during their entire musical careers. Unless they sold millions of records, recording expenses kept compounding, album after album. The farther behind a band got, the harder to sell enough records to recoup expenses. Lamb perhaps sold 150,000 copies of their first three recordings and racked up more than $750,000 in expenses!

BarbaraMauritz and Bob Swanson of Lamb. Photo by Peter Olwyer.

BarbaraMauritz and Bob Swanson of Lamb. Photo by Peter Olwyer.

The ‘loan’ made it very difficult for bands to change record labels, even when their albums did not sell nearly enough to ‘recoup’ expenses, much less make any money for the bands. And if they did sell millions, I discovered, record companies often ‘cheated’ on what they reported was due. Whole companies were set up to ‘audit’ the royalties owed for 10% or more of whatever they recovered. What does this tell you? That there had to be enough money owed the bands for those companies to make a profit.

As an example of a lifetime of indentured servitude, Pamela Polland’s album “Gentle Soul” was re-released on Sundazed Music in the last few years. I asked her if they were paying her. She wrote, “The reason I can’t get any money is because A) I still owe Sony a couple hundred grand for the cost of all three of my albums: “Gentle Soul,” and my two solo albums, the second of which was never released. And B) when a company like Sundazed does a re-issue, they pay Sony, not me. Sigh.”)

Bob Swanson was to find essentially the same explanation when he tried to get Sony to pay for re-releases of Lamb’s albums.

Holding Down Expenses
One of my jobs as a manager was to try and hold down expenses for recording. A lot of money could and did get eaten up in experimentation, mediocre sessions, tuning, and ideas for adding flutes or violas, or even whole orchestras. Bands would come up with ideas for new tunes or new arrangements and the clock would keep right on ticking. Part of the reason for this was that many bands heard what they were playing for the first time over very very good speakers. Once they did, they knew what had to be changed, or done better or differently. Drummers sometimes needed metronomes because they didn’t keep accurate beats. Guitars frequently went out of tune, and so on. Unfortunately, $250 an hour was a harsh price to pay for learning to listen.

Not only was my job to hold down expenses, but to argue with record companies about expenses that were charged my artists that I considered unfair. For example, When Pamela Polland recorded her first album for Columbia Records, Clive Davis ‘assigned’ a young, very untried producer to work with her. The producer spent in excess of $35,000 ‘mixing’ the album because he couldn’t quite make up his mind about how prominent Pamela’s vocals should be and whether there should be more echo, on her voice; whether the drums should be louder and on and on. He was indecisive at every turn and to compensate tried everything. I know because I attended those sessions. Even though I hadn’t had a lot of experience, I knew that the producer was spending Pamela’s recording budget on ‘learning.’ She, not the record company, was on the hook. And that pissed me off.

When I went to New York, I made an appointment to see Clive Davis, then head of Columbia, the record company that signed Pamela. I was in high dudgeon and demanded that $25,000 be taken off her recording budget and explained why. Clive finally agreed. He later told me I was the only manager that walked in and asked him to do this.

After that, my motto became, “You don’t ask, you don’t get.”

Brian Rohan: The People’s Lawyer
Soon after joining Fillmore Management, I met Brian Rohan, the third member of the Fillmore triumvirate (with Bill Graham and David Rubinson), a handsome, burly Irishman that I nicknamed the Marlon Brandon of the record industry. He got the prettiest women to fall madly in love with him and then treated them in the cavalier fashion of a scoundrel and a rogue.

Rohan got his start in San Francisco by defending pot and LSD dealers and saved them from the clutches of jail. For this he became known as a ‘people’s lawyer. Ken Kesey was one of his clients and so was Neil Cassady, Jack Kerouac’s sidekick, who was a close friend of mine when I lived in San Miguel de Allende and started managing a band there.

Rohan negotiated all recording and publishing contracts negotiated on behalf of Fillmore Management, Fillmore Records and Pamela Polland. He was the lawyer for the Grateful Dead. He negotiated the most complete and remarkable contracts recording artists signed at that time. His negotiating tactic was procrastination. He would drive record company executives crazy with a stall until they gave in to his demands. Drove the bands crazy with waiting as well.

One day Rohan asked me if wanted to go with him to the Grateful Dead house in Larkspur (a Marin County town, just north of San Francisco). I was introduced to a bunch of guys lolling around the couches with their girlfriends, the smell of pot prominent. Before too many minutes went by, Brian launched into a half hour diatribe about how much money they were racking up in studio time. “You’re never going to make any money. . .” They just rolled their eyes. It was legion in San Francisco that the Dead always spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on recording and sound equipment when they gigged. They had a huge draw at their gigs, but it wasn’t until the eighties that they actually had a hit song with “Touch of Grey.” It was the band’s only commercial hit. The song is known for its refrain
“I will get by / I will survive.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l38YXrGJxx0 Bill Graham Memorial Concert 1991.

The Grateful Dead recorded American Beauty at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco, CA.

The Grateful Dead recorded American Beauty at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco, CA.

What is more unbelievable is that the first Dead concert I went to was after I quit Fillmore Management in 1974. I was way too busy to go to concerts for other than the bands that I managed. And when I did have a free evening, I’d just as soon spend it at home with my two children.

Promotion
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of my job was to persuade record companies to put promotional dollars into recordings of the bands that I was managing and persuade promotion people to get their records played on the radio. Promotion almost solely meant getting radio stations to play music of newly released albums.

By taking record company executives to ‘lunch,’ I learned that few had never even listened to the music.

Then I learned what the actual system was for assigning ‘priorities’ for airplay within the record companies.During any three-month period, a record company might release up to ten albums in any one genre, primarily rock, country and middle-of-the road. Three might be records of known stars—the major promotional dollars would be spent on them. Three releases might be from artists that were beginning to have promising followings and promo dollars were targeted for cities that they were popular in. Money for the albums of say four unknowns was divvied up according to the push of managers, whether there was even a possibility of a ‘hit’ single on their albums, and any number of other factors. Who got what portion of promotional dollars was pre-decided in a meeting of the record company president and his promotional and marketing staff.

One day, the promo guy at Warner Brothers called to tell me that one of Lamb’s singles was going to be put on radio rotation all over the country and to listen in the next day to the promotional conversation as he instructed the regional guys. But when I listened in, I heard him tell his regional guys to push Malo, a spinoff of Santana, that David Rubinson was also the producer for. When I called, quite pissed off, he blandly told me that David Rubinson had called in one of his favors.

Once again, I was fighting internecine warfare within Fillmore Records. Even harder to stomach was that some of the members of Malo were too incapacitated by heroin to go on the road and support that album, despite the airplay they received.

Payola
And then there was payola. Pay for play. Payola was cash spent under the table to bribe DJ’s or major station conglomerates to play certain tunes. Very illegal, but i those days standard operating procedure between record companies and radio stations. Payola was extremely difficult to prove because the cash couldn’t be traced. And it wasn’t just direct pay for play.

There was what I used to call party payola: the free tickets, the back stage passes, the invitations to parties on record executive yachts, the free booze and drugs at conventions. It was an entrenched system that was impossible to buck, but something that was always there, taken for granted, like the air you breathed. And all around was a conspiracy of silence.

In 1973, Clive Davis was accused of embezzling $93,000 for his son’s bar mitzvah and fired. Other arrests were made and underlying it all was a huge investigation of payola. Nothing was ever proved and for awhile, payola became even more hidden.

The only person I knew that did jail time was an unassuming fifty-year old man, with a big paunch whose job it was to provide drugs and women (or men) for the pleasure of bands and executives at annual conventions. It was all part of party payola.

When an organization called Women in Music asked me to give a talk about how women could rise above being secretaries and public relations employees, I ended the lecture by saying: “If you do rise above those jobs, the biggest challenge you will face is dealing with people in positions above yours, most of them men, some brilliant, some incompetent, some stupid, many stuck in their own egos, some who consider themselves gifts to women and some corrupt—sometimes in one package. The most heartbreaking combination is brilliance mixed with corruption. These people controlled the money and the business attention that I and the artists that I managed received. Learning to maneuver without losing your sanity or your own sense of ethics will be your primary challenge.”

For sure it was mine; and when I couldn’t deal with it anymore with any sense of dignity or ethics, I quit Fillmore Management and the entertainment industry that went with it. The more I knew, the more I understood about how it all worked, the more squeezed I felt inside. And what I couldn’t deal with, above the corruption I was privy to, was that the bands were the fall guys, a lot of talent that became pawns of corruption and indentured servants to companies that did not serve them.

Artist Management: One Long Game of Creative Chutzpah

The first months that I worked as an artist’s manager for Bill Graham at Fillmore Management in 1969 was like attending an anarchist university. There were no structured courses, no schedule, no time clocks and no rules. Not only did I not know what I did not know; I didn’t know how tangled and corrupt some of the knowledge that eventually came my way would be and the toll it would take on me and the artists that I managed.

I was the only woman in management level in a building that encompassed Fillmore Records, Millard (Talent) Agency and Fillmore Management. I looked naïve and was on a lot of levels. Management was a competitive game with shifting team members within the company, a dynamic it took some getting used to. Sometimes learning was about what others didn’t know.

Management of bands at Fillmore Management was a lot more complex than just finding gigs for the bands and acting as surrogate den mother. My job included being the main money boss, chief sales person, contract negotiator, publishing administrator, mediator, press agent and person that hired and fired supplemental personnel, including musicians not central to the core band. I was expected to be conversant and knowledgeable about all the contracts that my bands had or would face.

My first surprise was that I learned it was ‘illegal’ in California (and a few other states) for artist managers to get gigs for their bands. That was the job of booking agents. The only time I saw this to be a real problem was when bands and their managers got crosswise with each other and bands then had an excuse to fire the manager.

It was also illegal for bands to play clubs that weren’t union. Jobs in union clubs were very difficult to come by for Lamb, Victoria or Pamela Polland. They were reserved for major rock bands that would fill the club with drinking customers.

And unless bands had big draws (audiences) outside of town, booking agents only got gigs for them during the three months after their records were released by ‘packaging’ them with more established artists. That was the harshest lesson about working with the Millard Agency. Sometimes members of Millard Agency would throw us a booking bone, often not.

Rock ‘n roll dominated the Fillmore conglomerate that included Santana, Beautiful Day, Elvin Bishop and Cold Blood. Bill Graham would try and book Lamb or Victoria at Fillmore, but more often than not, they would be packaged with name rock bands. When Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young headlined Fillmore West, the bands sequenced at the bottom of the poster were Cold Blood-Joy of Cooking -Lamb. I never asked Bill whether the puns were intended.DownloadedFile-1

Fighting within the company for attention to my bands was ongoing throughout the five years I worked there. it helped prepare me for the same dynamic when by bands had their records released on major labels (next vignette).

Maneuvering in these craggy shoals to make sure that my bands had paying work was chancy.

Creative Chutzpah
Bill Graham was not unaware that I was spending time on his nickel managing Pamela and looking for record deals for her. One day, he summoned me to the front office.

Gruff voice. “Why am I paying you to manage Pamela Polland?”

“First of all, at the time you hired me, I was getting it on for all the acoustic bands in the city. And fulfilling some management capacities for Lamb and Victoria by fiat. What was good for them was equally good for Pamela.” I took a breath.

“And second of all?” He said, more gruffly. His eyes bore right into mine.

“Second, the issue doesn’t seem to be that I’m not doing a stellar job for Lamb and Victoria. What is at issue is that you don’t want to sign Pamela to Fillmore Management. But neither do you want to lose my services on behalf of Lamb or Victoria. So maybe one way to resolve this is to cut a new deal. I’ll give you a small percentage of my management percentage for Pamela, in exchange for the same from Lamb and Victoria. Salary remains the same.”

This deal had come to me in a creative flash. It was a way out for both of us.

The offer came so far out of left field that Bill just stood there for quite a few minutes without saying anything. Then he held out his hand and we shook on it.

1969: Bill Graham Hires Diane Sward (Rapaport) as an Artist’s Manager

Three months went by without my having any clue about how I could get a job with Bill Graham’s Fillmore Management.

I continued to find bookings for Pamela Polland, Jan Tangen and Dave Friedman. Gigs in Bay Area coffeehouses were easy to get, but they didn’t make a lot of money for anyone, including the performers. They were able to get a few gigs in clubs at 8 or 8:30 p.m., prior to when many rock bands began setting up for a 9:30 show. I told club owners that my band would help warm up the audience, didn’t need a big stage setup (no drums, no big amps, no stage monitors) and would make them enough extra bucks selling drinks to pay us.

However rock fans and acoustic music fans didn’t always mix well. More often than not the audience would start getting impatient around 9:15. “We want jerry (Garcia); we want Elvin (Bishop) and so on.”

I attended a lot of Lamb gigs and saw such other Bay Area acoustic performers as Lambert & Nuttycombe, Jeffrey Cain and Uncle Vinty. They were all bucking up against rock ‘n roll. The audiences for rock bands were larger; and that meant more money for the club owners. The only songwriter that seemed to draw a large crowd was Victoria when she played outdoors at San Francisco’s Cannery.

Uncle Vinty would stride to the piano, put on his Viking hat, wild hair poking out, and belt out hilarious and passionate tunes, a big grin on his face. Everyone loved him. He brought out our young-at-heart natures. One of my favorite songs had the refrain, “The Moon is never going to let us down,’ and it can be seen on yuoutube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV_HAiz9Pxk

Uncle Vinty would stride to the piano, put on his Viking hat, wild hair poking out, and belt out hilarious, joyous and passionate tunes, a big grin on his face. Everyone loved him. He brought out our young-at-heart natures. One of my favorite songs had the refrain, “The Moon is never going to let us down,’ and it can be seen on yuoutube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV_HAiz9Pxk How could you not love a mau who sings, “Don’t ever forget, you can always go out and howl at the moon. . ah oooooooo.”  Or “The plants and the animals stand and sing, when you’re not looking, when you’re in love.”

 

Lamb and Victoria were signed to Fillmore Records (distributed by Warner Brothers); Jeffrey Cain to Warner Brothers via the producer of the Youngbloods; Lambert & Nuttycombe to A & M Records. But nobody, including my trio, were going anywhere. Everyone was making just enough money to feed themselves.

Jeffrey Cain was a singer/songwriter who released “For You” and “Whispering Thunder” on the Raccoon imprint of Warner Bros. that was run by the Youngbloods. Lamb recorded Jeffrey’s great song, “Reach High” on Lamb’s second album, “Cross Between.”

Jeffrey Cain was a singer/songwriter who released “For You” and “Whispering Thunder” on the Raccoon imprint of Warner Bros. that was run by the Youngbloods. Lamb recorded Jeffrey’s great song, “Reach High” on Lamb’s second album, “Cross Between.”

A Lightbulb Flashes Inside My Head
While washing dinner dishes one afternoon, I thought, what if Bay Area acoustic performers had their own evening? They wouldn’t have to compete with the rock bands and have their more gentle sounds become dwarfed by raucous fans stomping, “We want the Grateful Dead.” Each of them had small, loyal followings and, combined, would make for a decent audience. A name came into all these thoughts in the same flash: Equinox; A Traveling Faire of Acoustic Music.” I could talk the record companies into giving me money promoting the idea.. The music critics would love to write about it. A win-win for all.

Bill Graham gave Equinox a Tuesday night at the Fillmore, a night traditionally reserved for  audition bands.

Bill Graham gave Equinox a Tuesday night at the Fillmore, a night traditionally reserved for audition bands.

The vision was so complete that it reminded me of how many songwriters described how some window in their heart opened, and their songs came to them complete, as though they were channeling it.

In a rush of excitement I called David Rubinson of Fillmore Records. He was the one who sent me to see Bill Graham about a job in management many months ago, only to be rebuffed. “I have an idea . . . Can I come down and talk with you about it?” He didn’t ask what it was. He just said yes.

After blurting in all out in a rush, Rubinson asked, “What do you need to carry this idea out?”

“An office, a phone and a salary.”

“How much salary?”

“$150 a week. I’d take the expenses out of any promo money I got.”

He led me to a windowless office in the back of the first floor. Gave me a desk. Set up phones. I got to work.

David was supporting an essentially rogue operation out of Fillmore Records.

Equinox: A Promotional Hook as Good as a Hit Song
First, I told the bands about my idea and new job and asked them to agree to perform as a group once or twice a week. They were completely supportive. The records companies pitched in $200 a month for promotion of Equinox gigs. Then I had a poster designed and printed that made it possible to add the names of performers and the club/date and took it around to various clubs and began to get bookings.

Lambert & Nuttycomb’s 1970 release was recorded live at the home they shared in Sausalito, California, and co-produced by David Anderle (The Doors, Love), Chad Stuart (Chad and Jeremy) and Glyn Johns (the Beatles, the Rolling Stones).

Lambert & Nuttycomb’s 1970 release was recorded live at the home they shared in Sausalito, California, and co-produced by David Anderle (The Doors, Love), Chad Stuart (Chad and Jeremy) and Glyn Johns (the Beatles, the Rolling Stones).

Equinox was a fabulous promotional ‘hook.’ It was easy to get club owners on board, especially on off nights like Monday or Tuesday. It was easy to get reviewers to come to the gigs and write about the idea and the individual bands. The fan base got larger; the bookings increased. Airplay for their recordings followed.

My involvement with Lamb and with Victoria increased. Because they had no manager to resolve their day-to-day problems, it became my job to get them to gigs on time, make sure they had a decent sound system and sound check, collect and divvy up the money, and talk to record companies about how much their fans loved them, send out press releases, contact people on a growing mailing list every time there was a gig.

And all the while I also used my office and the prestige that went with it to further Pamela’s career, I made a demo and started approaching record companies to sign her.

Photo taken by Scott  Runyan on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County.

Photo taken by Scott Runyan on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County.

My Job at Fillmore Management Becomes Reality
Six months later, David sent me upstairs to see Bill again. This time Keeva Krystal, Bill’s gatekeeper, let me pass into Bill’s office. He was polite, rather than dismissive. I did not remind him of his sexist remark, “No women. No way.”

“You can have the back office next to Taj Mahal,” Bill said. “I only want to see you when you have problems you can’t solve. Same salary that David is giving you.”

Although I had proven I had a lot of creative spunk, there was a lot I did not know.

My bands were now part of a much bigger team in a conglomerate that included Bill Graham Presents (concert production at Fillmore West and Fillmore East), Fillmore Records, Fillmore Management, Fillmore Publishing, and The Millard Agency. Theoretically, all these entities would help forward the career of bands that were signed to Fillmore Management, which included Santana, Taj Mahal, In Cold Blood, It’s a Beautiful Day, Elvin Bishop, Lamb and Victoria, and for a few years, The Pointer Sisters.

In practice, these bands competed for the same attention and bucks. Right up there on the third floor of Fillmore Management, a big internecine war was always going on, between band members, band members and managers, manager and managers, managers and booking agents and so on. There were hundreds of ways to be jerked around. At one point, Santana walked on and took on the job of management on their own. It was ‘office politics’ on a scale I never even dreamed existed.

Bands that had record deals with major labels competed not only with other bands that were signed to Fillmore Records, but the entire stable of bands signed to the larger record label.

Problems? There were always problems. Every day. The manager was chief problem solver. And the person that would take the flak for anything that went wrong with a smile.

The sign on my office door read, “Here’s Help.”

Fillmore Management Clips Off My Career as an Artist Manager

Rejection in the music business is as common as dirt. You can cry or laugh, but if you let it get to you, it’s as quick as quicksand to bury you.

Despite my advice to the contrary, the band I was managing from Mexico moved to the Bay Area. We were living communally. Eventually I found them good paying work in a Holiday Inn in Palm Springs playing a mix of top-40 pop and their own compositions.

Then they fired me. They had three strikes against me. I didn’t have connections in the business. I didn’t cook enough vegetables. I used too much toilet paper.

They also fired my boyfriend/guitarist who founded the band. They said my 45-year old boyfriend was just that—too old.

The real reason was a slick-talking talent agent named Randy Fred (his real name!) lured the rest of the band to Los Angeles with promises of fame and fortune.

My boyfriend felt whipped by the rejection and became determined to learn how to play rock-n-roll guitar. I went looking for teachers. While at a laundromat in Mill Valley, I found a business card: “Jan Tangen, lessons in rock and blues guitar.” I called him up and was invited to come hear him and his partner Dave Friedman, rehearse some music. I listened entranced to the acoustic guitar medleys they had composed. At the end of the evening, I asked them where they were performing. “Nowhere.” “Well how would you like me to manage you?” I began getting them gigs.

Within a month of my new management career, singer/songwriter Pamela Polland arrived on my doorstep, her dog Canina in her arms and her upright piano on the back of a pick-up truck. Dick Gabrio, a blonde swashbuckler guitar player I met in Mexico, drove her there. The first song I heard Pamela sing was played on the piano on top of the pickup. They moved the piano and themselves into my house.

She was wearing a velvet skirt and a lacey top that let her full breasts swing and heave. She carried a large velvet paisley purse that seemed to contain everything important to her. One pouch carried a maroon velvet jacket and white satin camisole top; another a pair of ornate silver teaspoons for tapping out tunes, a dying folk art. A plastic bag carried the spices for an elaborate three-course vegetarian curry dinner, which she cooked for all of us a few days after she moved in. There was a blue pottery cop that was a gift from her brother, an address book and makeup.

Pamela was escaping from Los Angeles. She had recorded an album titled “Gentle Soul” for Epic Records that featured her singing harmonies with folkie Rick Stanley accompanied by Ry Cooder on guitar, Paul Horn on flute and Van Dyke Parks on harpsichord. The producer was Terry Melcher (The Byrds, Paul Revere and the Raiders, etc.)

One of the first 'folkie' records released on Epic Records in the sixties.

One of the first ‘folkie’ records released on Epic Records in the sixties.

Although Pamela and Rick Stanley were big ‘draws’ at Los Angeles’ Troubadour, their album went nowhere.

The Troubadour nightclub is still around. Singer/songwriters regularly played there in the nineteen sixties. It played an important role in helping launch the careers of Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Jackson Brown and Elton John.

The Troubadour nightclub is still around. Singer/songwriters regularly played there in the nineteen sixties. It played an important role in helping launch the careers of Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Jackson Brown and Elton John.

Pamela swore she would never sign a major label contract again. She and her dog Canina took up the living space that my old band had left when they went to same rock ‘n roll dream in Los Angeles that Pamela was fleeing from.

Gentle Soul was recently re-released as a CD. Pamela tells me the original vinyl is worth hundreds of dollars. http://www.saradainc.com/RickStanleyPressKit/thegentlesoulreviews.html

Not weeks afterwards, Pamela fell in love with Jan Tangen. My duo now became a trio. Pamela moved in with Jan and Dick disappeared. At every gig, Dave and Jan would play a few instrumentals, Pamela would sing a few songs and then the three would perform a few numbers together. Not ideal, but it worked because they were immensely talented.

As for my old band—Los Angeles wasn’t great for them either. They broke up within three months of arriving. Years later, the music industry spit Randy Fred out of his job as a talent agent. He ended up as a salesman for Purina Dog Chow. Call it karma.

Second Rejection: “Lady, Your Trio was Shit”
The Lion’s Share was a small, influential club in San Anselmo, California (just up from San Rafael) where such Bay Area musical greats as Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin and Van Morrison often performed. Nobody minded the bare tables and floors, the wrought iron chairs, a bar that was not fifteen feet from the stage, which the owner refused to stop operating when the bands played, so that the ringing of the cash register became an integral part of the music. The owner at that time was a fleshy older man, not a cigar smoker, but he wore t-shirts that smelled and showed his beer belly. It was a cold room to play in, except that it was one of the few clubs North of San Francisco in Marin County that hired the hip acts and paid them and that had a sound system and piano.

Two nights after New Year’s Eve, Jan, Dave and Pamela got their first booking there. Most other Bay Area bands were burned out from playing the Thanksgiving to New Years circuits and clubs were struggling to fill their stages.

David Rubinson, record producer of Taj Mahal, Herbie Hancock and Elvin Bishop, agreed to show up. And so did Phil Elwood, the music critic for the San Francisco Examiner. It was the first time important people agreed to come to one of my trio’s gigs. I could barely contain my excitement. What a way to start the New Year. Maybe Rubinson would sign them to Fillmore Records. Maybe he’d make them famous. Maybe I would become important and know the somebodies. Maybe they’d get a great review. The fantasies were spinning pinwheels inside my head.

As I did my best to charm Rubinson, a handsome, lanky man, Dave Friedman emerged from back stage, his face a chalky paste. “May I see you backstage, Miss Sward?” (That was my name before I married Walter Rapaport.) The look if despair etched into the politeness of his words, the casual control he was trying to convey, meant that something terrible had happened.

Jan was turning in circles, swinging his guitar and threatening to break it. “I’m never going to play with that bitch again,” he yelled. It was the first time I had seen Jan so humiliatingly frustrated, so near to tears, so angry and out of control.

Pamela was sobbing in the car in the back parking lot, almost as out of control as Jan, with a “how could he” hysteria. It didn’t occur to her that she might have said something to set it all off. Jan was to blame.

They had a lover’s quarrel at the wrong time, a common occurrence in the music biz when the pressure was on.

I didn’t care who as to blame. All I could think of was ‘Oh, shit, how in the hell am I going to get them on stage in five minutes.’ No time to sort out who said what. “Holy cow,” I said, to Pamela, ignoring her tears, “David Rubinson is sitting out in the audience right now and if you aren’t the fuck on stage on five minutes, I’m going to tell him to leave.” Not accusing her; simply dwelling on the consequences of her tears. And then I walked away and told Jan the same thing, except I agreed with him “She can be a bitch; it would serve her right to flow the audition. All of this interspersed with a lot of swear words. Just as Jan started to calm down, in walked Pamela, holding back tears, the look of a tragic heroine in her bearing, regal, controlled, disciplined and contrite. Totally and wholly contrite. It was so unexpected that she caught us off guard. We forgave her instantly, even before she asked for it quite humbly.

It was a lackadaisical performance. The audience talked all the way through it. Rubinson walked out in the middle of it. “Call me tomorrow before 11,” he said.

The next morning three phone conversations changed the course of my life.
Pamela called me early. “I’m willing to sign a contract for you to be my manager,” she announced.

“Gee, Pamela, how come?”

“The most important thing a manager can do is keep a band together. It’s what my old manager couldn’t do. Every time I’d get a good band together, something would break down. Sometimes it would be my bad temper sometimes something else. I’d have to start over. Last night you kept us together. That meant a lot to me.”

If that was the most important thing an artist manager did, it was news to me, but I only said thank you and drew up contracts.

A friend called who told me to go out and get a newspaper. Phil Elwood had given my band a sterling review. I hadn’t noticed when he had slipped in.

Then I phoned David Rubinson. “Thank you for coming to see Pamela and Jan and Dave. What did you think of them?”

Without so much as a hello, Rubinson said, “Lady, your trio was shit, but I liked your style. I’d like to talk to you about managing two acoustic bands that are signed to Fillmore Records.” That floored me. I went to see him the next day.

The Third Rejection: “No Women, No Way.”
I went to see Rubinson at Fillmore Records. His office was on the first floor of an unprepossessing building across from Fillmore West. Millard Agency took up the second floor and Fillmore Management, the third. He talked to me about managing Lamb, a jazz/folk duo, and a singer/songwriter named Victoria. “They’re not getting any management because everyone’s time is taken up by Santana, Elvin Bishop, Cold Blood, Beautiful Day and Taj Mahal. They need someone to manage just them.”

David sent me upstairs to see Bill Graham. I passed by Carlos Santana and Elvin Bishop and other members of their bands joking together in easy camaraderie. What a fun place to work, I thought to myself. I passed Bill’s secretary. But before I could see Bill, I had to pass by Keeva Krystal, his gatekeeper, a beefy guy that reminded me of actors that played Mafioso characters. Keeva didn’t let me get any closer to Bill than an abrupt dismissal: “No women, no way. All they want to do is hook up with a rock star and have babies.” I know that my mouth fell open, but I had no rejoinder, and I knew that even if I did, that was the end of the interview. It was one of the few times in my entire career in the music business that sexism in a male-dominated industry got in my way.

I went back downstairs and thanked David for his time.

It wasn’t the end of the story. My curiosity had been whetted. Rejections make me stubborn.

I went to see the groups David wanted me to manage. Victoria was a willowy beauty with one of those high, querulous voices I have never loved and a kind of bitchiness that was as dismissive in its way as Keeva’s. She couldn’t begin to match Pamela’s songwriting and stage charisma.

A week later, I went to see Lamb perform at a club North of Marin called the Inn of the Beginning. Barbara’s voice wove in an out of Bob’s classic/jazz guitar riffs like an ornate tapestry, full of magic and surprise. Their music still haunts me.

Singer Barbara Mauritz and guitarist of Lamb. Back cover of their second album, Cross Between. Photo by Peter Olwyler.

Singer Barbara Mauritz and guitarist of Lamb. Back cover of their second album, Cross Between. Photo by Peter Olwyler.

I set my sights on finding a way to become Lamb’s manager and work for Bill Graham and Fillmore Management.

Bill Graham: Intimidation as a Negotiating Tactic

Bill Graham wasn’t always nice, but he was fair, and if he made an agreement he would often honor it without a written contract.

Bill Graham. You wouldn't want him on your bad side during a negotiation.

Bill Graham. You wouldn’t want him on your bad side during a negotiation.


That is until Santana and his band quit Fillmore Management. When they became famous after Woodstock, a gig Bill got for them that put them on the national map, they got swelled hearts and walked out. What did they need him for anymore? Bill Graham and Santana had no written contracts. (Santana came crawling back to Fillmore Management a few years later.)

If Bill’s idea of fair didn’t agree with you, he’d pummel you with words. And then he’d start yelling. You don’t want Bill Graham yelling at you. He made a lot of people cry. Or he’d terrify them. Or both. He got his way a lot.

I learned a lot about negotiation and intimidation from him when I was hired to manage his acoustic groups at Fillmore Management: Lamb, Victoria, Pamela Polland and, for about a year, The Pointer Sisters.

Bill Graham Teaches Diane Sward About Intimidation
Soon after I started working for him, I heard him yelling at me as soon as I started walking up to my office on the third floor of Fillmore Management.

“If that’s Diane Sward, I want her in my office immediately. Get up here now.”

My heart started pounding. I reviewed what I had done for the last few days, weeks. Wasn’t coming up with much.

I walked past his secretary Vicki who gave me an “I don’t know look,” and into his office, which was just across the street form Fillmore West. Before I had a chance to say hello, he growled, “Sit down.” I said nothing.

Bill got up from his desk and walked over to the record player. He put on an album of Tito Puente, one of his all time favorite salsa musicians and one of the great symbols of Latin jazz. Then Bill walked back to his desk, sat down, turned his chair so I faced his back and put his feet up on the windowsill.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZQh4IL7unM Tito Puente’s last performance of “Oye Como Va,” which was also recorded by Santana.

There we sat for fifteen minutes while the infectious music of Tito Puente filled the room. My heart was still pounding and now I was thoroughly confused and disoriented. Then Bill got up, took the record off and put it in its jacket. He turned to me. “Okay,” he said. “You can go now. That’s your energy rush for the day.”

It must have been relief, because I started laughing. “This is a rough business,” he said. Never lose your sense of humor. If you do, you’re dead.” He had just showed me that gruffness and intimidation were just tactics, to be used when needed.

Bill Graham Meets Canina
Maybe it was only a few months later, when Bill yelled at me for the second time. It was during a sound check for Pamela Polland, a singer songwriter I was managing that was signed to Columbia Records. She would be appearing for the first time at Fillmore West. I was back with the sound guys and light guys at the mixing console in the back of the ballroom telling them how I wanted the sound adjusted. Pamela’s dog Canina was sitting demurely in front of the piano.

I could hear Bill Graham running over to the sound console in full pant. “Get that goddamned dog off my goddamned stage,” he yelled. “No dogs. No dog shit. If you don’t get that dog out of here, Pamela isn’t playing tonight. And I don’t want to hear any of your bullshit either. Do you know how many bands would love to take her place?”

Cover of Pamela Polland’s first album for Columbia Records. She was signed by Clive Davis, who loved her songs and music. When I flew back to play Clive her second album, produced by Gus Dudgeon (who produced Elton John), he stonewalled it. Not two weeks later, the New York Times lead story was about Clive Davis’ embezzlement of money from the record company, a story that included fraud, payola and ties to crime syndicates. Pamela's second record was never released. Pamela and I exited the big business music industry soon after. She sang under the pseudonym Melba Rounds; I left Fillmore Management and started teaching musicians about business

Cover of Pamela Polland’s first album for Columbia Records. She was signed by Clive Davis, who loved her songs and music. When I flew back to play Clive her second album, produced by Gus Dudgeon (who also produced Elton John), Clive stonewalled it. Not two weeks later, the New York Times lead story was about Clive Davis’ embezzlement of money from the record company, a story that included fraud, payola and ties to crime syndicates. The record was never released. Pamela and I exited the big business music industry soon after. She sang under the pseudonym Melba Rounds; I left Fillmore Management and started teaching musicians about business

By now, I had worked for Bill long enough to not argue and just kind of drift away and out of sight. When I saw him fifteen minutes later, my rap went something like this: “Well, the dog is kind of a ‘logo’ for her, just like the RCA Victor Dog. She doesn’t bark. She doesn’t shit. She has appeared on stage with her countless times. It’ll be okay. Don’t worry about it. She’s probably the only performer who does this.” Bill shrugged his shoulders and I took it for tacit permission. I couldn’t let Bill get under my skin. I wasn’t about to tell Pamela to kick Canina off stage. Nor was I going to start laughing when Bill started yelling at me, but the scene was hilarious.

Pamela Polland's dog Canina looked just like the RCA Victor dob.

Pamela Polland’s dog Canina looked just like the RCA Victor dob.

Pamela gave a stellar performance at Fillmore West with Canina on stage.

More information on Pamela can be found on her web site. http://www.PamelaPolland.com

The Last Days of the Fillmore
The third time Bill Graham yelled at me was immortalized in the movie, “The Last Days of the Fillmore.” I went into his office to beg him to pay for a ticket to bring Bob Swanson and Barbara Mauritz of Lamb back from Boston.

BarbaraMauritz and Bob Swanson of Lamb. Photo by Peter Olwyer.

BarbaraMauritz and Bob Swanson of Lamb. Photo by Peter Olwyer.


Barbara was sick and pregnant and would not be able to perform. He threw me out of his office. “I’m not running a goddamn welfare agency.” What the movie didn’t show was me coming back to his office after half an hour and talking him into paying for a plane ticket. I never yelled. I just waited until he calmed down and then gave him what I thought was a reasonable rap.

Lamb opened one of the evenings of performances of the “last days’ with a stunning version and performance of their song “Hello Friends.” A youtube video captures it beautifully as well as an equally stunning performance of her song River Boulevard.Their performances are also captured on the DVD “The Last Days of the Fillmore.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgPw2Q9-6jc

Barbara was a great singer and songwriter who, together with Bob Swanson, her partner and astounding guitarist, should have have become famous, but did not, a tragedy not uncommon in the entertainment business. Lamb’s first two albums, “A Sign of Change” and “Cross Between” were re-released by Wounded Bird Records and by Collector’s Choice Music in 2010 but they are out of print and difficult to find. They were great records.

A Sign of Change, Lamb's first album, produced by Walter Rapaport and David Rubinson for Fillmore Records.

A Sign of Change, Lamb’s first album, produced by Walter Rapaport and David Rubinson for Fillmore Records.

Bill Graham Captures a Thief
Bill Graham’s most astounding performance of intimidation was on behalf of Lamb.

One morning I walked into my office. Someone had climbed up the fire escape, broken the window and stole their two guitars and banjo. They were trying to sell them and had stashed them in my office. I called the police, who were not very interested. They said to leave descriptions at all the pawn shops.

Then I remembered a guy who had come in the day before and was interested in the banjo. When he started playing, Taj Mahal drifted in from the office next door, and then they started trading riffs. The guy said he sometimes worked in the head shop downstairs. Like a flash, I knew he is was that guy who had broken in to my office.

I paid the head shop a visit. “I know you think this is going to be an off-the-wall request, but one of my bands needs a banjo player tonight. I know that the guy who works here is really good player. He was in my office yesterday trading riffs with Taj Mahal. I need to get hold of him.” The long haired hippie behind the counter was looking at me in disbelief. “We can’t give out the phone numbers of our employees,” he mumbled. “Look,” I said, “I work upstairs at Fillmore Management. This might be his big chance. The gig is at Fillmore West tonight. You can look at the marquis from here.” I went on in this vein. Finally the guy realizes he isn’t going to get rid of me so easily and tears up a corner of a paper bag and writes the first name of the guy and his phone number.

I could tell by the first three numbers that he lived somewhere in the neighborhood. I called the cops again. “Hey I got the name and phone number of the thief. “ I told them the story. The cop said, “You’ve got nothing but circumstantial evidence, lady, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

So I did what Bill Graham told me to go when he hired me. “Try and solve the problem and if you can’t, you can come to me as a last resort.” If there was a situation for a last resort, this was it. After I told Bill the story, he said, “Gimme the name and number.” He picks up the phone and dials. As soon as the guy picks up the phone, Bill starts up, his voice dangerous and mean, his New York brogue thick and rich.

“Roger, you don’t know who I am, but I know who you are. You broke into my fucking office last night, broke one of my windows and stole two guitars and a banjo. If you don’t bring them back to my office in 15 minutes, I’m going to personally break every finger on your hand, one my one, and you’ll never play the banjo again.” He kept yelling for a few more minutes and banged the phone down.

Roger could have no way of knowing how the hell Bill even had his phone number and knew his name. But he wasn’t going to wait for his fingers to be torn to shreds. Ten minutes later, Roger walked up the stairs to Bill’s office with the instruments. Bill let him chill for another ten minutes and then subjected him to another angry tirade.