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Jack Blanchard Column: Happiness Pinned Down

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HAPPINESS IS HARD TO PIN DOWN

Miami. Early 1960s.  Misty and I were struggling, mostly broke,
and even homeless on the street for a few days.
In the mid-1960s we had a trio on the road
playing small clubs all over the East and Midwest.
Our old car and homemade trailer kept breaking down,
and taking all the money.

Then we got lucky and landed a steady job at a Miami supper club.
That’s where we met Richard Nixon and other famous people.
Things were getting better.

We got a one month booking at a lounge in Key West,
and two guys came in and signed us to a four song contract.
We went to Nashville to record.
There were no hits, but our song “Bethlehem Steel” got played,
and Wayside Records signed us.

In December, 1969,
Misty and I were entertaining crowds at Orlando’s Everglades lounge
and commuting to Nashville to record.
We had had one Billboard charted single, “Big Black Bird”
on Wayside Records.

We had a steady gig, a nice home, and bought a new Corvette.
After struggling for years on the road playing low-pay gigs.
The stress was off and we were reasonably happy without any hits.

Our song “Big Black Bird” had gotten a Pop Pick in Billboard,
along with Aretha Franklin and others the same week,
although we considered it Country.
Wayside Records got excited
and negotiated with Mercury Records for distribution.

Mercury was ready to go with the record,
but the master sent to them by Wayside was faulty.
They had to call Wayside and wait for another master.
Radio stations were ready to play it but had no copies, and the record died.
But now we were on Mercury, a major label.

In early March, 1970, the phone rang.
It was Little Richie Johnson at Wayside.
He said, “You better get packed. We’re selling 50,000 a day!”
A month later, on April 4th, “Tennessee Bird Walk” hit Number One,
and our life changed completely.
A week later on April 11th, it was Number One again,
and we were doing a show with Jerry Lee Lewis and Waylon Jennings
at a performing arts center.
Waylon joked, “You’re killing my record. Please get off Number One.”

That was the wildest year ever.
We were doing major network TV shows, state fairs and festivals,
recording “Humphrey the Camel”, “You’ve Got Your Troubles”,
and others, and dealing with big time agents and managers.
We were disoriented, facing new problems, and on the road all the time.
We often didn’t know where we were.

The money went through our hands to agents, managers, musicians,
roadies, etc., and for expensive clothes for TV and big live shows.
Our happiest times were in studios, recording with great musicians.
It was a wonderful year, an exciting year, and a grueling year.
A bunch of IRS guys showed up at our house.

Would we do it all again?
You betcha.

Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan

Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan… 
Home Page: http://www.jackandmisty.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jackandmisty
Billboard Duet of the Year, Grammy and CMA Finalists.
© Jack Blanchard, 2018.

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