Jack Blanchard’s Column: The Tear
I’m sending this week’s column early
as I may be tied up with medical problems starting tomorrow.
Misty and I had a steady job with our band
in a classy Coral Gables supper club,
playing light jazz dance music,
and occasionally slipping in one of our own songs.
We had made a couple of records that got local airplay,
but we were getting nowhere with amazing velocity.
Dick Gillespie was a regular customer.
He was witty, in the Robin Williams style,
and owned a local country music radio station.
He had won an Emmy for producing the Colgate Comedy Hour.
An intelligent guy.
I asked him one night why we weren’t getting anywhere.
We were good musicians, I said,
we sang well, looked okay, and made nice records.
Why didn’t he see that, and help us?
His answer hurt our feelings and saved our life.
He said, “You have nothing to sell.
Nobody is interested in the things you mentioned.
People won’t walk across the street to see a good-looking musician,
but they’ll stop for an auto accident.”
More importantly, he said,
“Go home and develop an unusual style,
costume yourselves to attract attention,
and change your name if necessary.
Try singing different ways until the style is pronounced.
Style is more important than good singing.
Good singers back up artists with style.
Change your attitude.
Go for stage presence.
Be whoever you want to be, but be unique.”
Then he added,
“You can’t do this here in the town where they know you.
They won’t accept it.
Go to a new place and walk in the door in your new way,
no matter how self-conscious you feel,
and they will think you were born that way.”
Misty Morgan changed her name from Mary Blanchard,
we dressed pretty wild,
worked up a lot of new material and attitude,
and went to Key West to try it out.
We thought we’d be laughed at, but they not only accepted us,
they packed the place to see and hear us.
We had a recording contract within two weeks,
and a Pick in Billboard within a couple of months.
We found out that the roles we were playing
were more real than playing dinner music in suit and gown.
Now we can’t think of ourselves the old way.
We’ve been who we are now over half our lives.
Dick Gillespie gave us the best advice we ever got,
so we pass it on to other striving artists.