ALAN FREW

Musician. Author. Speaker.

Dear Canada Blog #17 March 12th 2018

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 Back at it with a 7am start at Breakfast Television, here in Calgary. Sean accompanied Sam and me over to the shoot to grab some photos for socials etc. Can someone please remind Starbucks that this is a glass of water with a teabag in it!!! We’re the idiots for paying their prices. Anyway the Interview @citytv went smoothly. Doing live interviews on a tour becomes incredibly repetitious as one would imagine. We pretty much have it down to a science.

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A REALLY SPECIAL thing happened today that will be most of this entire blog but note that even this blog cannot come close, to explaining all that we witnessed.

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EMI Music Canada has donated all of their archives to the University of Calgary, for them to be preserved and utilized for future generations of students studying music. The likes of Ann Murray, Tom Cochrane, The Payolas, Dalbello etc and of course GLASS TIGER’S archives are all there. All the Master Tapes, all of the business costs for touring, and videos, and promotion. All of the original scripts and layouts for videos. Magazine articles, Music Charts, experimental Logos, and of course photographs, some of which I have NEVER seen before. It was a strange feeling, knowing that they have them and we don’t, but they were kind enough to give me beautiful hard-copies of some of them.

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 I saw memos that were sent internally from different EMI departments discussing everything from video costs, to touring costs, to the cost of a “listening-party,” whereby EMI would invite a whole slew of journalists, and DJ’s, music programmers and touring agents etc “anyone” whom they thought could further the sales of albums or the status of our career would attend and basically be wined and dined and “schmoozed.” Here is a copy of the budget to send us on tour with Roxette. Remember now this is “just” that tour. This is not the recording of an album, or the shooting of a video etc Over a quarter of a million dollars being spent just to send us out there, and of course this is all a RECOUPABLE expense, as were all the videos and the promotions etc

 Think what a young band would get today for an entire record deal? 

Think what a young band would get today for an entire record deal? 

Don’t let the numbers dazzle you, the band gets billed for it in the end. Debit balances were how, even bands who sold millions of albums at times, NEVER saw a positive dollar directly from a label. The “black-holes” of debit balances keep them constantly in the “red.” Sure there were other avenues to make money from, but from a label? It’s a crap-shoot at best, 

Seeing all of the artistic attempts at the GT LOGO was hilarious  

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Here are a couple of attempts for LOGOS. I of course am seeing these for the very first time just like you. 

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 And of course...,,,

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.....the one that made it.  

I saw memos that were sent internally from different EMI departments discussing everything from video costs, to touring costs, to the cost of a “listening-party,” whereby EMI would invite a whole slew of journalists, and DJ’s, music programmers and touring agents etc “anyone” whom they thought could further the sales of albums or the status of our career would attend and basically be wined and dined and “schmoozed.” I saw one such bill for a party that indeed would be a record deal for a young indie band today. These are the times when money was in abundance and record labels had no problem dishing it out knowing they were getting it back ten-fold, while keeping the artist consistently in a state of negative debit balance.

 

 Deane’s Lifetime achievement ceremony. 

Deane’s Lifetime achievement ceremony. 

In 1986, Deane Cameron, (who became the President of EMI and a dear friend to the band) was  the head of A&R (artist & repertoire) basically the ones who scout the talent and sign them to the label. Deane is an amazing man. He eats, sleeps & breathes Canadian Music. He is now solidified as a true legend in our business and I was honoured to be part of his Walter Grealis lifetime achievement award at the Juno’s. 

 Back in the day however, he had a reputation for keeping the parts of bands he wanted, and discarding the rest. The victims were usually, rhythm sections.

We were signing with EMI (at least we thought we were) when I got asked to attend a meeting down at the label headquarters. When I got there, I was alone (no band mates) just our managers. I had no idea why this was happening but it had all the “ear markings” of a clandestine operation.

When Deane entered the room he said, ”So here’s the deal. We are signing you. You are going to England, I am matching you up with another guy we have signed and we will make you a star. You can keep your guitar player but the rest are gone!”

To say I was stunned would be a MASSIVE understatement. I was “gobsmacked.”

“Can I think about it?” I asked sheepishly.

“Think about it ? (now Deane seemed stunned). Well, ok but don’t take long.” He offered me a signing bonus that at the time sounded like a fortune. I went home still in shock and spoke to my parents. My mother said,”Take the deal!” While my Dad told me he knew that whatever I did, would be the right decision. Of course I always knew what I was going to do from the time it was offered to me. I dumped it.

Deane was livid. “Who does that wee Scottish prick think he is?!!!” And that was the end of the record deal. So we started back from the beginning yet again and the reason I am telling you this is, that I tied a small piece of leather around my ankle, stating that I would NEVER take it off until I signed a record deal with ALL OF US, INTACT!! 

 All of us......intact (I said, INTACT, not sober.)

All of us......intact (I said, INTACT, not sober.)

We went through lots and lots of “almost deals” but every time we would gig, EMI would always still be hovering around. Deane used to come to the bars and line up his table with Guinness, which he knew I loved, but couldn’t afford, lol. “You thought about my offer yet?”

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We then landed a gig at Maple Leaf Gardens opening up for Boy George and Culture Club. We were still called Tokyo at the time and we performed like champions. I sang my heart out. I stole that stage, but get this......I had to go to work at the hospital on the NIGHT SHIFT right after both of those Culture Club gigs, lol

   “Hey rockstar! Be a nice fella and empty this bed pan, would ya?”

 “Hey rockstar! Be a nice fella and empty this bed pan, would ya?”

On the Monday morning following my seven straight midnight shifts, (and two Boy George gigs) the phone rang. My mother came to wake me up.

“I’m too tired Ma.”

“But he says it’s REALLY important!”

I trudged wearily and reluctantly to the phone.

“Hello?”

“You’re a star.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You’re a star!”

“Who is this?”

“It’s Tim from EMI. Deane is on the line.”

“Hey Deane.”

“Well I guess if I want the cherries, I’m going to have to take the whole pie. Come down here and sign,......ya wee Scottish prick!”

And so we did.

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 EMI President, David Evans, cuts off my “protest” anklet.

EMI President, David Evans, cuts off my “protest” anklet.

And these are the shots of the President at the time David Evans, cutting the leather from my ankle. Wow! What a memory. I was given copies of these today. I thanked Deane profusely and made sure he knew that we would work our asses off for him and that should he feel the rhythm section was too green to record he could substitute them for the recording of the album, but that never happened. Glass Tiger was born. Later he told us, how proud he was of us and how he was thankful that he hadn’t made the mistake of changing the band we became. 

Also at the university I saw promo shots that never saw the light of day, including a hard-copy of the ONLY existing photo of me with Rod Stewart.

 

  Presenting Rod with an award for Simple Mission, on which we sang MY TOWN together.    

Presenting Rod with an award for Simple Mission, on which we sang MY TOWN together.  

Yes, we were pals and hung around and had many dinners and drinks together and I visited his home, BUT there were no smart phones of course and so taking photos spontaneously just never happened like it does today. There was a photo taken once when I took my family to meet him in his dressing room and my brother (who was a huge fan of his wanted it signed) and so he gave it to me but it got lost along the way, making this one, the ONLY one in existence.

I realize that this is a rather long blog today. I trust I am not boring you.

We headed up to Red Deer around 5:30pm getting there just past seven. Yet another big crowd for this Johnny Reid, REVIVAL tour showed up. Had a lovely pre-show chat with John which is becoming a bit of a ritual. Just a couple of lads having a wee “blather” together.

He was in a very playful mood tonight with his audience and his band and again with me during our duet, causing me to say, (when he grabbed the back of my neck and gave me a hug.).....You’re in a mood!” And we chuckled.

 

 

   Just two lads having a “blether.” 

 Just two lads having a “blether.” 

We left pretty quickly after our performance, for the drive back to Calgary. We have a 7am lobby call for the airport. Tomorrow it’s you, Regina.

Goodnight Dear Canada, until tomorrow.

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