Friday, June 18, 2010

#198: Turn Up Your Radio

Back in my former career as an Occupational Egg Beater I had the chance to present a radio show here in Adelaide on a major radio station. The show ran every Thursday evening and I’d talk about all kinds of crap and interview all kinds of people, some good, some, well, not so good. As always, the best stories came when we went off the air and were over at the pub, but, as any Lunchtime O’Booze will tell you, that’s generally when the good stuff is spilt, both in and out of the glasses.

As we’re dealing with many things Adelaide, I’ll share a couple of the stories that were told to me off air. One such story involved the band The Masters Apprentices. I’m not going to name names here, but one evening we had three of the Masters, two via a phone hook-up and one live in the studio. The Live Apprentice was a damned good guy indeed, very happy, quick of wit and somewhat pleased that we’d managed to dig out some really obscure stuff of his to showcase over the past few months. Good guy and when I see him I generally stop and say hello and he does the same, but it has been a few years between drinks. This one evening we were so caught up in the memories that we didn’t notice that time had escaped us, so when we got the thirty second warning we hastily said out goodbyes, off air we went and out came the red as we stayed on the conference call for another twenty minutes, most of which was recorded for future use, not that it was used, but I still have the tape somewhere.

As we were leaving someone mentioned the garish stage clothes that the Apprentices used to wear and my guest hung his head. As he told me he’d taken possession of the bulk of the stage clothing once he’d left the band and had stored it at his mothers place. Flash forward about twenty years and he went to collect it, only to discover that his dear mother had donated the lot to the Salvos only a year or so before. All that satin, velour and velvet, gone forever. I could have cried myself. So, historians, that’s why you rarely see any stage clothing from that era for the Masters Apprentices.

The other story, well I won’t name the band but they were huge in the ‘60s and very early ‘70s and no, they weren't the Masters Apprentices. Massive, in fact, but they then split up and went their separate ways, with one guy becoming huge in America, one becoming huge worldwide in another band and the other trading barbs with a stuffed animal on kiddies TV. Here’s how this story was told to me by the guy it happened to. One of the members of the band was contacted by a well known DJ here who was ‘collaborating’ with a brilliant journalist on a book about South Australian music. The musician gave an interview to the journo and the DJ asked if he could borrow the musicians rare tapes and acetates, consisting of demo recordings and live material from the Adelaide version of the Cavern Club, that used to be on Rundle Street, now Rundle Mall (where Muses now is), all for 'research' mind you. The musician handed over his prized booty and off the DJ went. The musician waited for the return of his rare music, but nope.

About two years later he was stunned to see the tapes had been released on album, fully credited and attributed to the DJ. This was the musicians property, so he phoned the DJ but didn’t get through. He then went to the radio station, announced himself, sat down and waited. An hour later he was escorted off the premises. This happened more than once as he attempted, without success, to get his property back. He then contacted the record label who had released the tapes and demos and filled them in on what had happened. They told him that the DJ had said that he’d ‘found the acetates and tapes in an op shop, or in a record library, he wasn’t sure where’. The musician said that the material was his and, by the way, he’d like to get paid.

Nothing doing and please fuck off and don't call us again. That was the end of that conversation. He never got his acetates or tapes back from the DJ, and he became a very bitter person for it. The DJ, mind you, went from strength to strength, some of it on the back of a book that he had nothing to do with, other than lending his name and photo to the cover – seemingly he didn’t write a word, but he got the credit anyway.

I had the misfortune to work with the same DJ a few years later. Never again. I was staggered at his utter lack of knowledge of music in general – if it wasn’t written down he’d not say anything. He began to argue with me over a few points, when they were resolved in my favour, and verified by the artists in question, he accused me of undermining him. In one of my finer moments I said that the only way to undermine a man such as himself was to merely provide facts to refute the bullshit that he dribbled.

Thus ended my brilliant career in television. Such is life. The DJ was stricken a few years back and I’m not sure if he’s still alive. I hope he is and, and this is a horrid thing to think let alone say, I hope he’s in a lot of pain. He certainly created enough pain of his own as he merrily went along, ruining careers and lives with no regard for the consequences.

Music is full of such stories and I’m happy to share some of the ones I know. No names though, but the dots are there for anyone with half a brain to connect.

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