by Anne Leighton (1996)
This is a motivational column about rock and roll, the media and you… what can you learn from what’s happening in the wonderful world of rock and roll. I’m also gonna share with you inside stories — sometimes I won’t mention the names to protect the guilty and innocent. The story is the most important thing.
I’m a writer and a publicist. I used to write profiles and do interviews for top rock magazines like HIT PARADER, POWERLINE and LIVE WIRE … but I developed a love affair with doing publicity, creating projects and analyzing the media industry. I still write for those magazines, analyzing the media, and I do a metal column for THE MUSIC PAPER, a classic rock column for NOISY FANS OF AMERICA, a gossip column for ROCK.NET and ANTZINE and MUSIC LIFE. I have fun. My hobbies are weightlifting, playing with my cats and going online. I love rock and roll, too — from the 1950s till now. I have favorites from every year, and even like disco, rap, soul, country, folk and some jazz and classical! I’m never bored.
I’m a publicist, too. I work for Great White, Dread Zeppelin, a martial artist/actor named Michael Wehrhahn and a young and unsigned band named Static 13.
I’ll tell you a little bit about working with the Great White team. It has to do with positive thinking. You know that different hard rock/metal bands and their teams, are dealing with how the music industry-as-a-whole has been declaring heavy metal is dead and ignoring the music. First of all, heavy metal isn’t dead. No music dies. Secondly, some of the managers who work with metal/rock bands who had hits in the late ’80s/early ’90s are saying, “Well, I don’t think MY band can make a comeback or get a hit record.” Granted, it shouldn’t be a band’s goal to have a hit record or tour arenas but it’s a worthy aspiration. However a manager shouldn’t admit defeat before a record comes out. A manager should believe in their band. That’s what makes me love the whole Great White team. Back in the 1980s when Great White had their hits “Call It Rock and Roll,”, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, “House of Broken Love,” and others, I wasn’t a humongous fan of the band. But as they continued to tour through the ’90s when many bands like Poison, Cinderella and Steelheart gave up, I respected them for sticking to their guns.
I have something to prove with the Great White publicity job, and that is that all music is valid. To get the job, I made a list of bands whose careers started in the ’80s that I was willing to work with– songwriter-oriented bands, who didn’t quit — Tesla, Great White, Warrant and Firehouse. These bands were the only bands who believed in themselves and had great songs, fabulous on-stage talent and other positive qualities. They were the only hard rock bands I believed in. (Also to be fair, Firehouse had their first hit in the ’90s) I went after publicizing all of them except Firehouse. Great White said “yes,” and hired me to publicize their album LET IT ROCK. The work involved a lot of contact with management.
From the beginning, manager Ray Tusken knew there’d be challenges in getting the band on radio, yet he is determined to find every angle to wedge the group on the air. In addition we had similar visions of making use of all media to exploit the band (online, talk shows, television, radio, print, and movie and TV soundtracks) — all within the scope of reach that we could handle at the time. And Ray also knows that this summer is a true ROCK WILL RULE SUMMER! So our entire plan of attack echoes these philosophies.
Every time I chatted with Ray, I got the feeling he totally understood the heart of Great White because he was teaching me why the band was valid — soulful and technically wonderful guitar player with a soulful singer who loved and cherished his voice. In addition the group of musicians were brothers held by the bond of music. Ray talks about the group’s dreams and visions as though he was a member of the band. He can’t help but want the band to succeed, you know from talking with Ray that he believes in Great White. It makes me feel honored to work on the project.
I often wonder what the manager of another rock band thinks when he goes at his work. I think that the manager who has already decided that his band isn’t going to be popular before the record is released is thinking sad, bad and mad thoughts. Does mental defeat make his job harder? Doesn’t it also put the attitude in his mind that he’s working with a bunch of losers? Does it also make him not like his work? And does that inhibit his creativity? Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes.
Why don’t you offer some thoughts on how a manager can change his mind. Send me an email at ARLeighton@aol.com with the topic — FROM SAD TO GLAD.