Monday, April 25, 2016

Prince and the battle over his name

There is a lot to be said and written about Prince.  I just want to hit on one very specific thing.

Remember when Prince changed his name to a symbol?  Know why he did that? It’s fascinating, and quite brilliant.  He didn’t change his name to a symbol to be a dick.  He didn’t do it to be arty, or expressive.  It was pure business, and he never talked about this angle.

He had a beef with his record company.  A big beef.  This is way more common than you realize.  Because he never spoke about it directly, we can only guess what his beef was.  However, I can tell you with about 80% certainty what it was.  They likely wanted him to do something weird… put out LESS music, and tour LESS.  Prince was oversaturating the market with Prince, because he was putting out like 4 album
s a year.

I can tell you with total certainly what Prince’s terms were; “ok, if you give me my masters back”.
When a musician makes an album, they do no own those songs, or the performance.  Warner Brothers owns all that.  I can count on NO hands how many artists owned their masters in their heyday; U2 and Annie DiFranco.  To own the masters just means control… and money.  Mostly, though, it is control.  Wanna use a Prince song for your commercial?  Don’t ask Prince, it ain’t his song.  Go ask Warner Brothers… it’s up to them.  If Prince (or any artist) wants to do ANYTHING with their music – maybe do a remix, or let a friend use a sample… he can’t.  He would have to ask permission to use or release his own music.
Point being, a long time ago he demanded his masters and Warner Brothers laughed and told him to eat a big fat purple dick.  Prince then would have said ‘then fuck you, I am leaving!’.  Then, Warner Brothers would have had a big big deep belly laugh.  You can’t, Prince.  We own you, literally.  We own the name ‘Prince’, we own your likeness, and everything you have ever recorded.  Prince then had the huge purple balls to say “ok, cool.  You win.  You own Prince.  BUT… Prince will never record another note for you.  I am no longer Prince.  I am the artist.  “Prince” has retired.

even more fun?  During this period, he wrote the word ‘slave’ on his cheek whenever he was out.  He wasn’t being a ‘slave’ to love, or art.  Oh no.  He was saying, in no small terms’ “these crackers think they own my black ass.  That is, in no small terms, slavery.  Warner Brothers music feels they own black people.’  I don’t why they didn’t sue him for defamation.
He did all of this until his Warner contract ran out.  Then, he could go back to being Prince… and he did.

Interestingly, very very recently (I mean like two weeks ago) he made nice with Warner.  It was a very good trade for both.  Prince said you can take my whole Warner Brother back catalogue and re-issue it, remaster it. Throw together some box sets… whatever the hell you want.  I’ll even stop talking shit about you guys.  You stand to make zillions.  All you gotta do is give me the rights to the masters back.

They very wisely did that.  I think this was a true win win for both. 
What do I think about the whole name change thing?  I am conflicted.  On many levels, it was a pointless ‘fuck you’ to the world… including his fans.  More than anything about artistic freedom, he just made everything difficult.  It was total pointless high level narcissism.  He made it tough to promote his music, discuss it, write about it… anything.  BUT… I also respect the shit out of it.  He kinda threw his whole career out the window just on principle, and I really admire that.
How many Prince albums do you own post ‘Purple Rain’?  That 1 with Raspberry Beret?  He has put out about 25 albums since Purple Rain.  Famously, he has another 25 albums in the can just sitting in his archives.  Prince made it very tough to be a Prince fan.  Didn’t do press or tv, and barely even toured.  I feel you had to work hard to be a Prince fan, and I think we all just tuned him out for the last 30 years.  I admire the shit out of Prince.  Only Neil Young has the integrity that Prince does.
With all that said, I still can’t think of a better or cooler song than ‘When Doves Cry’.

Friday, December 04, 2015

a history with Weiland

We learned last night that Weiland has died.  I remembered this piece I wrote about his troubles recently.  I thought I wrote this a few months ago, but I wrote it a few years ago.  Sadly, the piece is evergreen.  Talking about his endless band and drug dramas.  I could have written this ten years ago, and I could have written it two days ago.

*** update below 5.25.2013

This feels like a repeat.  Stone Temple Pilots announced on Monday that they had
fired Weiland (again).  This was news to Weiland, who took to the press to announce he was not fired.  Then, he kinda acknowledged that he wasn't exactly in touch with the band.  Then, a day later Weiland announced this was a publicity ploy by the band to sell tickets.  Again, he then had to acknowledge he hadn't exactly talked to anyone in the band.

As of this writing, this is all we know.  Odds are, early next week, he will pull the 'you can't fire me, I quit!' 
(editors note: he did just that!) Scott Weiland made a very salient point, though, when the associated press told him he was fired.  He explained "How can they fire me?  It's my band! I started it, I named it, I wrote those songs."   Fair point.  That only illuminates how incredibly difficult he is to deal with.

Look at the past.  He was in STP until they got tired of his drugging and drinking and getting arrested.  Odds are that he was also uninsurable to tour.  So, they fired him.

Then, he joined Slash' Velvet Revolver until they got tired of his drugging and drinking and getting arrested.  Odds are that he was also uninsurable to tour.  So, they fired him.  Here is the thing, man.  When Slash says "you have a problem with drinking and drugs" you listen to that shit.  He knows.  When Slash says 'dude, that isn't safe' it means you are possibly already dead.  This reminds me of when the Allmans' fired Dickey for being a drunk.  Slash knows when you have a drug problem, he kinda pioneered it (with all regards to Keith Richards, and every other doped out rock star).

So, he went back to STP until they got tired of his drugging and drinking and getting arrested.  Odds are that he was also uninsurable to tour.  So, they fired him.  Again.  Again.

So, is he the worst?  How does anyone hire him?  How is he not just sleeping behind a dumpster in Hollywood?  I will tell you why.  He is a great rock star, on every level.  Being a dick is nearly a prereq for being a rock star.  Weiland has that in spades.  He is also a great front man and a very good singer.  Years and years ago, literally about 6 arrests ago, I saw STP live.  I was not really a fan.  I just knew a couple of songs.  My buddy Tim had a free ticket for me, so why the hell not.  I left a major bonafied STP fan after that show.  They killed that night.

Also, their music is great.  Not good, but great.  Purple and Tiny Music are just terrific records.  During this period, it's important to note STP was outselling Nirvana.  I can only imagine they are just waiting for him to kill himself, knowing it is inevitable.  Think of what that must be like for the guys in the band.  Think of the Doors, or Blind Melon... who just knew it was a matter of time for their singer.  When Jerry Garcia finally passed, the only mystery was how he lasted that long.  Mickey Hart's heartbreaking response to hearing about Jerry's passing was "now I don't have to wait for that call anymore."  He was saying that every night for the last 30 years he was expecting that news.  It's the only way I can imagine STP firing their meal ticket.  I mean, there are ways around hating your lead singer.  Van Halen toured in completely separate jets.  Same with Motley Crue.  They each have their own tour bus, and the only time they interact with each other is that 90 minutes on stage.

Of course, it is also worth noting both those bands have fired their lead singers... and then took them back... just like STP.  It's a shame.  He can't be replaced in the band***.  This just means the end of STP, and that is a bummer.  They are a great band, and that isn't just a nostalgia trip.  Well, maybe it is.  I have a scary feeling he is about to turn up dead.  He has a long history with heroin, and has never been good at hiding it.  His arrest record is extraordinary.  Click
 here, and then here and then here.  You get the idea.  Good luck, Scotty.  Stay with us, man.  clean up, and go apologize to the DeLeos.  In the meantime, he is going on my dead pool list.

*** update 5.25.2013

Ok, we know what happened now, and we know it's official.  The band is touring without him.  So, what happened?  Well, here is a teaser.  It is 100% Weiland's fault.  The band wanted to tour.  The band needed to tour.  Odds are, they needed money to pay mortgages.  There is no money in rock.  There are jets, drugs, tons of pussy (sorry ladies, just using the vernacular), thousands of screaming fans... but no money.

The band wanted to tour and Weiland said no.  Why?  Well, he actually made a really salient point.  He didn't want to water down the brand and overexpose the band.

Like I said, solid point.  So, what does he do to ensure STP does not get overexposed?  He took his own band out on tour and plays nothing but STP hits.  Let's look at this again, because it is so fucked up it is comical.  Band says "Scotty, let's tour!"  Weiland says "bad idea, gents.  People are sick of us, or will be soon.  Can't help you."  Then, they find out he just took off on his own tour playing their songs... without them.

While they were sitting at home waiting for him to tour with them so they could play their songs. Songs and gigs they won't get paid for, but Weiland did.  I can only imagine when STP tour they split the cash four ways equally.  If Weiland hires the band as his employees, he keeps 80% of the cash.  It is safe to assume he is super broke, as he literally has more arrests than all the sex pistols had combined.

Also note that the band now can't tour because they don't have their singer, and touring 2 different STP bands really would dilute the brand and confuse the fans.
See the problem here?  This is why the band had no choice but to fire him, and I find Weiland 100% of the problem.

As you likely know, after they fired him, Weiland denied it was possible to be fired.  He literally said "you can't fire me, this is my band."  It is important to note he made this statement from the road while on tour with his personal band singing all of his old band's songs.  

So, the rest of the band just starting doing shows with a new singer.  I love STP, and I don't find them any good with any other singer.  However, I applaud their move.  Weiland is a fuck face, and STP are on tour without him... just like he did without them.  Guess what, he got all pissed.  He said "how can you tour on our songs without me?"  Well, Scotty, the exact same way you did this to them. I have not heard any comments about him regarding his replacement, but odds are he is pretty pissed and embarrassed.  I can only predict the next public words out of his mouth will be "you can't fire me, I quit!"

**** update update >

in the interest of full disclosure, I saw them live years ago.  I got a free ticket from my roommate who worked in the radio business.  I was only a casual fan at best, but hey free is free.  I was bowled over by how amazing their concert was.  Absolutely one of my favorite rock shows of all time.  So, that is why you have 2,000 words on Weiland here.  This is my coping mechanism.

*** oh, and then there is

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Scott Weiland is gone

It's late, and I was just heading to bed.  Got word Scott Weiland is dead.  So sad, but sadly not a surprise at all.  I think we are all just wondering how he made it past 27.  I am a BIG fan of STP.  Have seen them live, and my band covers two of their songs.
before I run off to bed, here are some writings I have done about him in the last couple of years.

This first one was my big piece, just trying to figure out what to do with him.  See, he told STP he didn't want to tour, and didn't want to saturate the market with STP songs.  While doing this, he was touring with his personal band doing only STP covers.  Of course, they fired his ass.

What to do with Weiland

He is, or was, a great talent.  He was also a terrific singer, and an even better rock star.  He was nuts... a dangerous wildcard. Sadly, he was also a colossal fuck up.  I mean, when Slash kicks you out of a band for doing too much drugs... you best take stock, man!

I got to see them (STP) live many, many years ago (20-ish).  I was a passing fan, at best.  My roomate had free tix to see them in Phx, though.  They rocked my world, and made me a big fan ever since.

You can, and will, youtube all you want... but here is my favorite STP song, in a big way. ***

Well, Scotty, good luck wherever you are, my friend.  enjoy the galoshes

side note, and something I haven't noticed until tonight... my god this guy photographs well!  I don't know if he always just got the camera, or if he was stupid handsome... but come on!

*** that video was a BIG bag of WTF... but the song is so good it doesn't make a difference.  I mean... go ahead and analyze that video.