Recently while reading some book or other about the music business, I came upon the name of SAM TAYLOR as a seminal bluesman. Once upon a time, I’d met a guy named Sam Taylor. And the memory wasn’t a good one! Curious as to whether this Sam Taylor was the same Sam Taylor I recalled from my past, I googled “Sam Taylor + musician” and quickly discovered that the Sam Taylor I’d read about – and the one I’d met – were one and the same.
The year was 1975 (I believe). And the BT EXPRESS was a red hot outfit whose record DO IT TILL YOU’RE SATISFIED had started the disco craze. So successful had the first record been that all the Broadway songwriters wanted to get a tune on the next album. Knowing how desperately the organization would need hit songs in the near future, the Publisher actually hired two staff songwriters to churn out # 1’s (hopefully) for BT and another act (Brass Construction) which figured to be a chart-topper.
But they weren’t just depending on their two staffers to provide all the songs. The syndicate was looking for outside material as well. And they latched onto something I wrote. However, there were two catches in the deal (oy): The first was the publishing rights (half the royalties) which they of course wanted if I had any chance of the group recording the song. Ok! That was standard practice. You gave up half your money in exchange for a shit advance ($100 in this case) if you wanted a shot at a hit.
But # 2 was different. I had to let two writers on my song to the tune of giving up another 30% of my money. And of course, they wrote nothing and in fact, were the aforementioned two staff writers! Getting the picture? If the record hit, the company wouldn’t have to pay the two add-ons because the weekly money they were being advanced was recoupable against royalties.
Funny thing about all this. BT recorded the song but for whatever reason, never included it on an album. In the meantime, I did my own production of the composition and got a deal with Salsoul (a going concern at the time) for the record. There was no chance I could buy the publishing back at that point but I really wanted those two mother fuckers off my song!
I can’t tell you how many hoops I had to jump through to finally get rid of those parasites who I’d never met until one day, I inadvertently ran into one of them in a Midtown office. He was a diminutive guy who referred to me as “little brother.” I had no idea who he was until introduced: “Billy! This is Sam Taylor! ” As you can imagine, between having him on my song…and his calling me “little brother,”I thought he was a fucking dick.
To be fair, it probably wasn’t Sam’s idea to jump on my song. More likely, it was the Publisher (who I really did not like) who was at fault. All water under the bridge anyway. The record I produced – and the two ensuing covers essentially stiffed. So it didn’t matter how many writers were on the song. It earned just over a grand in the end. But it sure was (and is) a lesson in the trials and tribulations associated with the music business. Not pretty. And one of the reasons I left it.
P.S. Since writing this yesterday, I did some research on Sam and came to discover that according to him, the very Publisher I mentioned in this entry completely fucked him over. You can imagine my place on the totem pole. I got totally fucked by the guy who got totally fucked! And I’ll bet that the Publisher sticking Sam’s name on my song was the executive’s way of appeasing Sam at my expense.