A little background on me and BRC (sounds like a Kristofferson song). As I wrote before in an earlier chapter, Billy Ray Cyrus had come to my house, or so I was told since I was incapacitated with a horrible flu, dressed as Santa Claus bearing gifts for my two boys (Morgan wasn’t to come into existence for a few years later). My next association with Billy Ray was when I played pedal steel guitar on a track of his written by my friend Chas Sandford (which twenty years later became the title track of his record, The Distance). My third encounter with the King of Achy-Breaky was not so auspicious.
My son Daniel had lent his Queen CD to one of Billy Ray’s sons who had refused to return it. As I was driving my MG Midget on Thompson Station Road one extremely hot and humid day at the end of May, I realized I was behind the school bus with Daniel and Morgan inside. When the bus came to a stop to let out some of the children, my two boys exited and got into my tiny sports car (Morgan was seated in the small area behind the driver’s seat not really meant for a passenger). Since we were only a mile or so from our house, I figured it would be safe enough if I took it easy. Then I remembered that Billy Ray would be waiting by the iron gate of his palatial mansion for his son to get off the bus. I thought it would be the perfect time to finally meet BRC face to face and mention the CD and hopefully he would give his boy a good talking to.
Billy Ray seemed nice enough as we conversed, but he stayed safely behind his protective gate. He said he would let his son know that I had talked with him and the CD would be returned promptly. We then talked about music, and how I had some songs he might be interested in and he told me to drop them off someday and he would have a listen. As we were talking, I noticed him acting a little nervous, like maybe I had stepped over the line by mentioning my music. It seemed as if he was looking off to his left, as if there was a hidden camera there and he was giving signals to some unknown entity. A minute later, I saw a police car drive by heading toward my house. Then I noticed that the cop had pulled over in a driveway not more than a hundred yards from my driveway.
I got back into the Midget with Daniel in the passenger seat and Morgan in the back area, which, of course had no seatbelts. As I turned the corner past the police car, I saw the red and blue light flash on in my rear view mirror. I pretended I didn’t see them and continued on into my driveway and parked my car in its usual place. The cop, who looked like a teenager with short blond hair and a wispy moustache had followed me in, got out of his cruiser and approached me with an attitude.
“License and registration,” he demanded. I showed him my license but told him my car registration was in my office and I would go grab it and be back in two shakes of a pig’s tail. He began to write something. I knew it wasn’t his memoirs.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Writing you a ticket for neglecting to have seatbelts, no child seat and not having your car registration available.”
“I told you its in the house. It just came by mail and I forgot to put it in my car with the rest of the paperwork.” I knew that ticket could cost me five hundred dollars or more so I wanted to make sure I would find the paperwork pronto.
“Well,” said the cop, “if you can produce the registration before I finish writing this here ticket, I might let that part go.”
Here I was on my own property being made to jump through a hoop of fire for this little Nazi stormtrooper. I rushed into the house, found the registration in less than a minute and ran back out to the so called officer of the law, a man who was sworn to protect and serve.
“Sorry, you’s a tad too late,” he said smugly.
Meanwhile Morgan and Daniel stood by the front door of the house watching the scene with morbid curiosity. I said to the cop as he handed me the ticket, “Are you through?”
He nodded his head and moved back toward his cruiser. Now as I said, I was on my own property, and sometimes a man can get a false sense of security when he feels he is in the right and standing in front of his castle. I then said, “Okay then, now would you kindly get the fuck off of my property!”
That was it. He rushed toward me and threw me up against the Toyota minivan parked right in from of my side door while Morgan and Daniel and my wife, Donna who had come outside to witness the commotion, watched with shock and horror. The fascist bent my arms back behind my back and tried to handcuff me, but I wasn’t making it easy for him. Then I thought, resisting arrest would not help my case so I acquiesced. I figured I could explain things to the higher-ups when I arrived at the jail in downtown Franklin, ten miles to the north.
While lying on my side in the back of the cruiser, I heard the cop having a phone conversation with what I thought was Billy Ray Cyrus. He was verifying the story I told him about the CD and how I was only trying to get back what belonged to my son. He asked BRC if we talked about my own CD and it seemed like Billy was corroborating my story to the T.
There were two nice things about being in the holding cell that day. One, I was fortunate to be in and empty cell, and two, it felt cool to lie down on the stainless steel bench with the temperatures outside in the high nineties. The cop had written his report and handed it in to the desk sergeant, and I was waiting to see what would happen next. About an hour later the stormtrooper approach my cell. “This must be your lucky day.”
“Oh yeah? Why’s that?”
“It just so happens it’s my birthday and I’m feeling a might generous. We’ve decided to let you go.” He unlocked the barred door and let me out and then said, “If you want me to give you arid back home—“
“No that’s alright,” I said. “I want to walk home and think about things if it’s all the same to you.” There was no way in the world I was going into that police car again with that asshole. A block outside the jail, I called Donna on my cell phone and she told me she was already only a mile or so away. Fifteen or twenty minutes later I was back home. No charges were ever filed, the ticket was torn up and I have never seen that cop anywhere again. I guess he got a good bawling out from his superiors, who must had told him he was out of line for harassing a home owner with no police record.
Now, after writing that letter about the song-plugger. I was hoping that Billy Ray had forgotten about the CD incident and the cop, or if he remembered, he felt guilty for being apart of it. He answered me back quickly. The email read: Hey James. Just got this. Never heard of the songs or got to hear them sorry to say. I bet they were good. Back at that time when I worked with * * * *, Disney and their A and R team handled all the material unless it was something I wrote. I'm gonna make a new record in the fall so I'll reach out then. Maybe it was meant to be until now. All the best. B R.
So there it was. He never heard it, but I wondered how long it had been since he worked with this particular representative. He sent him a follow-up email: Thanks for responding. I have the feeling this song-plugger was making things up and wrote a bunch of nonsense on his report to us. These kinds of people (if this is what he is doing I will have to confirm it with other artists and A&R people before I can know for sure) should not be allowed to exist in the music business. It has a bad enough reputation already. Any time you want to hear these songs, and they are good and perfect for you esp. "Got It Too Good" let me know and I'll send you an MP3. Or if you in town you could drop by. Thanks again Billy, I always liked you and I hoped that you were still an all right guy. You ARE! There is one more thing I forgot to ask and before I start accusing anyone I need, as Jack Webb said, “just the facts”. You intimated that you are no longer working with * * * *. Did your association with him end before Nov. 2012?
He replied: Yes. Way ...like ...2008 or 2009.
It was time to tell Larry that my intuition was right and the song-plugger was pulling stats out of his ass. Larry and I constructed a letter advising this scumbag that we were going to not only sue him, but go to all the TV stations and make a public spectacle of him. He returned all the money within a week as long as we promised not to share his little secret. I’ll never know it any of the other artists were legitimate, but I highly doubt it. If it weren’t for the fact that I had a country star living right across the street from me, and was able to contact him, the ruse could have perpetuated for months . . . maybe even years. I wish I could mention his name but I don’t want to get sued for libel.
Oh yeah, a side note: Since the writing of this blog, Larry, because he felt I didn’t give him his due credit for winning a Cleo award for his musical contribution to the advertising game and not mentioning his solo Cd of instrumental music, he has not returned any of my calls and had remained completely out of touch for over a year now. C’est la vie say the old folks/ it goes to show you never can tell.
Another side note: The Queen CD was returned to Daniel the next school day after the incident.