Promoter. The word feels dirty in your mouth. Apologies to my few friends who honorably how this row. Well, in 1966 I was working for my record producer, Phil Gernhard. He got tired of paying me sixty bucks a week to sit around waiting for genius to strike. He decided that we would promote shows to justify my existence. Phil had once been a major
player doing shows and dances in South Carolina as a kid. His big competition was Phil Walden who went on to manage Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers.
What a horrible endeavor, this concert promotion. I will say that I got to see some really fine shows that probably would never have gotten to the Tampa area. Good seats, too!
We did Donovan, Janis Joplin with the famous arrest, Derek and the Dominos with the only appearance live with Duane Allman, Steve Miller, Canned Heat, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Chuck Berry and loads of others. I mean, fercrissakes, we had opening acts like John Mayall, Dion, B.B. King, the Outlaws, the Allman Brothers, blah, blah...
We did smaller shows, too. Terry Reid, Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys and Michael Bloomfield.
Most of our shows lost money. By my standards, lots of money. I'm not sure why he kept doing them. Partly to feed a big ego, I guess. Losing someone else's money is rough. Really rough.
After that long running misadventure I was pulled back into the ugly game. My pal, Ron Shelly, called me from Miami begging me to fly down and talk to him about doing shows for him in Tampa. He said that they wanted to do some really hip shows and that they needed my help. I explained that really hip shows in Tampa would fail. He smiled, explained that they were well aware of that fact and that they had figured out that they would lose less with me onboard than they would without me. They needed to buy acts for at least three markets to get the good bands to Miami where they would make their big bucks.
Well, I got paychecks for a hundred bucks a week while I was going to school whether we had shows or not. The checks were from Free Flow Productions and signed by a Michael Brovsky, who I never met. I realized later that he showed up associated with all of the Austin acts that I really liked. I always remembered that he produced Joe Ely's first LP, Musta' Notta' Gotta' Lotta'. In fact, I asked Joe awhile back what had ever happened to our old boss.
"Prison, last I heard."
"Really? For what?"
"Mafia. Russian mafia."
Wow. I've lived an exciting life but never knew it at the time.
That chapter did get me to see some more really fine shows while paying a few bills, too. The Kinks, the Byrds, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, the Beachboys and Pink Floyd. I'm sure that I'm leaving some out.
I felt so guilty taking a paycheck when I wasn't working that I finally called Ron Shelly and lied, "I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with hypoglycemia. He says I can't work any more."
I could tell that he knew I wasn't telling him the truth but I suppose that he didn't know what to say. He did tell me to call if I felt better and my job would still be there. Hey. I could use the work now.