Saturday, April 11, 2009

(part 1) A Day In The Life Of Bobby Jameson...I Just Liked Music, that's All


I was born in Geneva Illinois in 1945. For the most part I grew up in Arizona and Calif. in the early fifties. I remember listening to the radio at night when I was supposed to be sleeping. I'd try and remember the words to all the songs I liked so I could sing them to myself. I didn't much care about anything else except maybe girls. They were a mystery. They always seem to pretend not to like me even though in the end I'd find out they did. I never did get that. I mean it seemed like a lot of trouble to go through considering it wasn't true anyway. Oh well, girls. Ladies. Women. It still hasn't changed all these years later.

By 1955 I was living in Tucson, Arizona and Rock N Roll was really getting going. My step father hated it, but my mom liked it. He blamed everything he didn't like about us on "that music" and "those people." Particularly the hair. He really hated the hair styles. You know, "duck tails" and the length. He used to tell us we looked like girls "always lookin at yourselves in the mirror."

                     my younger brother quentin, me, and bill in tucson, arizona

My brother and I started watching American Bandstand every day so we could see how everybody looked and danced and then we'd copy them. I remember starting to make up songs instead of learning someone else's, so I guess that was the beginning of my song writing days. My brother and I both got guitars from Sears and started learning how to play them. Nothing real elaborate, just chords, so we could play songs. I'd already worked out some doo wop tunes on my mom's piano, so adding guitars just expanded my horizons.

By 1957 my brother and I started playing at talent shows and at a place called Kal Rueben's Furniture City on Speedway Blvd., in Tucson. People seemed to like us and said we were like the Everly Brothers. This was a big building full of furniture deals and in the middle of the place was a one story pedestal, from where you could see the whole store. We had a couple of mics set up and would sing songs while people broused for furniture deals. Their kids would stand around and watch us play for an hour or so, and the store just kept having us back.

As I wrote earlier, my brother Bill and I were rock n rollers from an early age and I was convinced in about 1957 that I was destined to be a "teen idol" after watching the likes of Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry. Of course there were countless others, but I think you get the general idea of what I was inspired by. Some people liked science I liked rock n roll.

My mother and step father separated in 1958, and later divorced. It was the second failed marriage of my mother's and was a loss to me. What little adult supervision I'd had became at that point even more sparse. Like a boat without a rudder, I struggled to find my way, as did my brother Bill who, to make matters worse, suffered from mental and emotional problems. Looking back it's hard to believe that when you're living in that kind of confusion it almost gets to be normal. Of course later you can see clearly how difficult it made everything.

It wasn't all that long after my step father left that my mother moved us all to St. Johns AZ. where I was tossed into a small town environment of Mormons on one side and American Indians on the other. Man, what an unbelievable place to end up. Kinda like the deep south in the 50's. This town was split right down the middle and no one was going to give an inch. Of course my brother and I ended up on the line between the two warring parties and tilted a little bit towards the Indians. This pissed off the lily white Mormons to the bone.

We were immediate outcasts and wondered what kind of hell my mother had brought us to. She ended up marrying a Mormon named Francis Farr, who was also a quadriplegic. This town was in northern AZ west of Flagstaff and got bitter cold in the winter. We lived in an old house with no heat just a wood burning stove. You'd have to put wood in this thing the night before and then when you woke up in the morning you'd go light it and hall ass back into bed until the place warmed up enough to walk around in. No shit! It was so cold you could see your breath in the house in the morning.

(Part 2) St. Johns High School


I watched my brother get beaten in a fight in front of the entire student body of St. Johns High School. We'd played at a school assembly a couple of months earlier, for the first time, and the attitude toward us from then on was completely different. A lot of people liked it, but a lot of them hated our guts for becoming the center of attention. Some of the top guys in school now had to worry whether their girl friends had a new interest in us. Hell, we were like mini stars of a piss ant town and some of them were down right threatened by it, hence the fight.

It was just a matter of time before it happened and it happened at the school dance. My brother, who was a good fighter, got sucker punched by a football player and never had a chance. The Mormon principle of the school stood by and watched the whole thing happen and did nothing. I was beside myself screaming at him to stop it, but to no avail. The Indian kids knew what was going on, they'd seen that kind of shit all their lives. In the end it was them who picked my brother up off the ground and tried to clean him up. It was a beating, not a fight. It was a goddamned beating!

After that my brother just deteriorated mentally. Something inside him gave up and not too much later he ended up in the state mental hospital and was never the same. I vowed that from that day on no one would ever do that to me. It created a will in me that to this day I still possess. It has caused me great difficulty.

My mother moved to Mesa, the third biggest Mormon city in Arizona, to be closer to the state hospital in Phoenix where my brother Bill was. That is when she actually married Francis Farr, the Mormon in a wheel chair. That is where I learned to work like a Mexican field hand loading hay trucks in and around Phoenix in the summer when it was 120 degrees. He rarely paid me, but worked me like a dog. 18 tons of alfalfa a day. I worked with Indians, Mexicans, and poor whites. I gained their respect even though they knew I was the boss's son, because I worked harder than any of them, I had to. We unloaded box cars at night, because it was too hot to work inside them in the daytime.

I tried to prove myself to this asshole, but I never could. He made promises to me to get me to work, but he never kept one. Finally one afternoon I flipped out and blasted him with the rankest kind of language I could think up. I was 15 years old, going on 16, and had had enough. I told him I would never work for him again and from that day forward I never did.

For the next couple of years I got into trouble. I got thrown out of every school I went to and basically became a pain in the ass. It was because of this time that music, the only thing I really loved, began to appear as my only possible chance to escape the depressing conditions of my life. My mother's marriages and my brother's mental illness had taken their toll on me and at times I thought about killing myself to get away from the stark disappointment of my existence. But somehow I always managed to find a reason to keep going. I just kept thinking that music had the power to get me out of this mess. If I could just make a record, people might like it and I'd make some money and change my life.

                  artwork by bill jameson 1959 st. johns, az high school newspaper

(Part 3) They Just Laughed At Me


I didn't have many friends in Mesa, Az. as you might imagine. Let's face it, it was the early 60's like 1960 I'm talking about. John Kennedy was about to be president and the country was going to go through one of the biggest social revolutions in history, but I'm talking about the time that preceded it. The still lingering, black's didn't have the right to vote yet end of the 50's early 60's. A dark social fabric of middle america where husbands could slap their wife around and still beat their kids without being arrested. If I know anything, it was one of the root causes for the 60's social rebellion and I was part of it. The few friends I did have would laugh at me and say I was crazy when I'd try and tell them about my music. They'd look at me like I was from another planet and start to question whether they wanted to know me at all.

Because of this I didn't bring it up much until I had a few beers and got just high enough and brave enough to talk about it. They'd make fun of me and say things like, "Bobby thinks he's a rock n roll star, but he's really just an ass hole". Every now and then I'd have to fight one of these guys to keep from getting pushed around so much. Fighting was something I got better and better at as time went by. Remember, this was Mesa AZ. a town full of Mormon cowboys who went to church a lot and then drank and fought on the weekends. Very similar to the christian right in present time.

The more I had to endure this shit the more I made up my mind to get out. To get as far away from these kind of people as I could. I doubt I could have been more serious than I was and used it for motivation to succeed in doing just that. As luck would have it Francis Farr, the Mormon husband, and my mom weren't doing all that well which in the long run got her to leave Mesa and go to Glendale CA. where her brother Norm and his wife lived. God, I can't tell you what this meant to me. A glimmer of hope for the future. Away from the shit kickers and Mormon pricks who I'd learned to hate with a passion. There was a reason to hope. Something to hang on to. If I could just hold on long enough to get to California everything would get better.

I'd be closer to the magic city of Hollywood. A place where people thought and talked about the things I wanted to talk about. A place where they actually made records and movies and... My head exploded like a pumpkin being hit with a baseball bat. I had transferred myself into a dream world and clung to it like a starving animal. For the first time in a long time I felt as though there was really something to believe in. I understand looking back on it now how incredibly important it was for me to have something to dream of, live for, something to keep myself moving toward. I had to have a goal and I had found one. I knew for sure that if I could just get to California everything would be OK and I would get the chance to make my dreams come true.

(Part 4) The Slowness Of Dreams


I had no idea how long it was gonna take to get out of Mesa AZ. I guess when you're in a hurry things that take a long time take even longer. My brother Bill had gotten out of Arizona state hospital, but was never the same. Once a powerful force in my life he now appeared to have been stripped of all dignity. He was timid and unsure of himself like a dog who'd been abused too much. It was the worst thing I remember about being a kid the day I watched through the wire mesh glass on the iron door at the state hospital. Two orderly's dressed in white hauled him away like a sack of potatoes from my view.

He was altered there, too many shock treatments. It was the old days of mental hospitals much worse then now. They didn't use much care in the application of electric shock therapy back then. They just wired you up and turned on the juice and bingo you were half a vegetable. I hated my mother for doing this to him I hated her for a long time. I just couldn't understand how you allowed that to happen to someone you loved. But over time I have learned that she was a victim as well of those times. She lived in the era when women barely had rights, hell they had to have a husband just to get credit and even then it wasn't their own. So over the years I have understood more clearly how that event troubled her as well.

Hoover High In Glendale, California

By 1962 I was enrolled as a junior at Herbert Hoover High School in Glendale California. The only persons I knew in Glendale, other than my family, was a girl I'd met and her brother who lived across the street from us. I was a fish out of water and knew it. The lingering southwestern cowboy environment I'd come from hung on like an ill fitting jacket. It was obvious to people as soon as I started talking. This became my training ground for reinventing myself lock, stock, and barrel. I learned to talk different, walk different, and look different than I had when I'd first arrived. I wanted to fit in and I was ashamed that I didn't. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to associate me with any redneck background so I dressed like a surfer.

You may be surprised to know that the first record I ever made was called "LET'S SURF" on Jolum Records in 1963. In my days at Hoover High the biggest thing going was surf music. like Dick Dale And The Deltones. Shortly thereafter it was The Beach Boys, Jan And Dean, and some Chubby Checker. Two years later I would be the opening act for all three of these artists. But in the meantime I had a lot of crap to go through.

Like every other teenager I thought I knew everything right then and there. I was just 17 years old and barely starting my life, but in my mind I had already been through the ringer. Family mental illness, failed marriages, and harsh surroundings had done their damage. Coupled with forced down your throat religion, multiple schools, towns, and fathers and I was kind of confused to say the least. Once again in my own mind music was the only thing that offered any hope to me of ever making my life any better than it had been in the past. It had been and still was the only thing I believed that I could do well.

(Part 5) The Mystery Of Hollywood



I started drifting over to Hollywood in 1962. Whenever I got the chance I would go. I'd ride the bus over there from Glendale or if I got lucky hitch a ride with someone. It didn't matter how I got there just as long as I got there. The place in my mind, was the ultimate turn on. It was where all the magic happened. People who actually got paid to do stuff I'd do for free. I couldn't imagine how people like that lived so I wanted to find out. I just wanted to get the chance to meet someone like that and talk to them about how they got there and what it was like to live there. Everything I did and thought was geared to ending up in that town. I belonged there I thought, and nothing was going to keep me from being there.

Looking back on it now, I can see how the power of ones thinking can actually make things happen whether in the long run they're any good for you or not. To this day, I'm not sure I had any other choices, but the ones I made in the matter. It was more than a desire with me it was my obsession. Maybe if my life had of been better and our family wasn't so screwed up things could have gone in a different direction for me. But the way it was was the way it was, and I was just using the only thing I had at the time to solve my problem. I believed that I had the power and ability to end up where I saw myself in my own mind. I had a picture so clear in my head that nothing else could penetrate. No threat of any kind could or did sway me from my path once it got started.

I had seen where I was going back in Arizona and knew then what my path was to be. Time passed and here I was, standing on Hollywood Blvd. in total awe of my surroundings. I can also see looking back now how naive I was about the town, which I now know through my own experience, can be a snake pit. I guess when you're trying to blot out bad memories from earlier times anything looks better to you than the past, so it can fool you into thinking it's OK and safe. There was nothing safe about what I was doing at the time and I always had the feeling that if my mother knew where I was she'd be angry and try to stop me. I was 17 and roaming around the streets alone. I was a sucker for a complement and my judgement about people was piss poor. You could have sold me a bill of goods about anything.

Back in Glendale I'd go to school and pretend I was like everybody else, but inside I knew I was different. I think most of the kids knew I was different too. Even though I'd become pretty popular it was all a show to hide where I'd come from. I still had that feeling of being damaged goods from the past and it drove me to over compensate in everything I did. It was like if I could just keep moving no one would ever see who I really was. The guy with the mentally ill brother and the mother who couldn't stay married which in my mind meant I was screwed up too. I was always on. Like a performance every single minute of my life. Dancing and weaving trying to keep you off guard so you wouldn't get a good look at me. It was exhausting and sooner or later I'd crash and become deeply depressed and combative.

It was those episodes that separated me from others more than anything else. Whereas something that might have been a joke when I was in a good mood was now seen by me as a reason to go to war with someone. In that mood I was not afraid of anything and because of it I nurtured that part of myself for that very reason. I didn't like being afraid and when I was I was humiliated inside and wanted to escape. So that feeling of not being afraid, that came from depression and anger, was in my mind, a friend I could depend on.

(Part 6) I Couldn't Have Done Any Better...Or Any Worse


Even though the real story of Bobby Jameson/Chris Lucey is one big controversy from the beginning I continue to encounter an attitude of "Gee, why are you complaining you're kinda famous and people are rereleasing your records?" This particular take on my life is, at best, a staggeringly myopic view of what happened and what's happening now.

It appears that people want to know the story, but are afraid that I might say something negative about the record business and some people in and around it. This is an impossible straightjacket I'm being asked to wear should I attempt to be mindful of their fears.

The factual realities of the story run the gamut between incredible to tragic and are in fact impossible to relate without some, if not a lot of negative texture. I am 62 years old and I am trying to portray, in real terms, the true history of this person which just so happens to be me.

I am not trying to get into "People Magazine". Either your interest is in facts or fantasies. If it is a fantasy story about the 60's and only how wonderful it was then I suggest you find that somewhere else. The list of my dead friends and compatriots is too long for me to sell out now and attempt to please the god awful sensitivities some seem to demand.

Bobby Jameson/Chris Lucey Nov 7, 2007

Prior to the beginning of my story in 1964 I made a single record in 1963 in Hollywood. Below are both sides of that single on Jolum Records. Let's Surf/Please Little Girl Take This Lollipop. Elliot Engber is playing "Surf" guitar on "Let's Surf."



(part 6-a) I Couldn't Have Done Any Better Or Any Worse

The first time I ever used pills to perform was in 1964 when Tony Alamo was flying me around the country to do live gigs that he never paid me for. He used to tell me they were for promotion, but he was getting paid for what I was doing. We were promoting my record "I'm So Lonely/I Wanna Love You" on his record label TALAMO RECORDS.

From bobby jameson

I was exhausted and he had lined up another personal appearance for me to do in Cleveland or Detroit and I told him I was too damn tired. He pulled a small bottle out of his pocket and tapped a couple of light yellow tablets into my hand and said, "Take one of these now and save one for later."

This was to be my first experience with dexedrine. I went on stage and got a standing ovation. A drug addict was born! From that time on I began depending on drugs, booze, and pot to alter my condition. Pills to get up and booze and pot to get down, like a human yo-yo on a string, with Tony always providing the demand to work and the means for me to work it.

Later I wouldn't need anyone but myself to provide what ever I needed to stay high. My demand for the adoration of the crowd and to feel like I was finally important was all I needed to supply myself with anything and everything to keep it going. It was a dual sickness that fed on itself and just got progressively worse.

I'm sure that Tony Alamo, who is now a born again christian, will never admit to his part in the beginnings of my eventual demise, but I've come to know that the world is full of Tony Alamo's. I once spoke to Tony's brother and asked why Tony didn't pay me for what I had done, because Tony was now a millionaire. His bother said, "All that stuff happened in the past and was before Tony met the Lord."

What a load of crap! The only thing Tony met was Susan, and together they created one of the worst cults anyone has ever seen in America. Alamo did this in part with money he made off of me and "I'm So Lonely/I Wanna Love You" the part I never got paid for doing, and that is what I am going to write about here.

(Part 7) Tony Alamo



Tony and Susan Alamo a few years after I met Tony

I met Tony in Hollywood in 1964, probably at the Carolina Pines, a local coffee shop hangout for struggling musicians, writers and actors. He was just another of the long list of "I'm gonna be somebody someday" people like myself, who scouted the streets, rumor mills, and hangouts for any info on the bizz. He owned a mail order company company called Mr. Maestro Records that sold boot legged oldies through the mail, and I always figured that's how he got by.

I don't recall exactly when it started, but when I would see him he'd say things like, "I'm gonna make you a star." I just figured he was mouthing off, but part of me wanted to believe this guy. I mean I was so hungry for fame I think I would have believed damn near anyone if they said anything good about me. That's part of the trouble with show business. People are in such need of being approved of that they trust others, who looking back at it now, shouldn't have been allowed to take out the trash.

Anyway, Tony pretty much had the magic touch when it came to bullshit, so I began inching my way closer to him, the more candy he dropped in my ears. Again, looking back on it now I guess he was practicing for the Tony And Susan Alamo Christian Foundation, which came about a couple of years later. When I knew Tony he was a pot smoking hustler from Hollywood via Montana. I was living in an apartment of his in Hollywood in 1964 when 2 Federal Postal Inspectors showed up at the door, with guns drawn, looking for him regarding an alleged mail fraud scheme concerning his mail order record business which he ran out of that address.

He must have worked it out, because it never came to anything while I knew him. It was just another example of how knowing him was like, "What's next?" He used to keep plenty of pot around so me and a few friends Danny Whitten, Bruce Hines, Billy Talbot, and Ralph Molina could stay high and work on songs. In those days everybody smoked grass so we were just glad to have it. Hell it was free. Danny, Ralph, Billy, and Bruce were guys I'd met in Hollywood when I'd first gotten there and we started living together so everybody would have a place to stay.

We lived in an apartment on Franklin Ave. near Highland and used to talk about when we would "make it" a term relating to "making it in show business." Strangely enough Billy, Ralph, and Danny went on to become the band "Crazy Horse" and Bruce was their roadie. The three of them had come from Ohio and were a doo-wop vocal group called Danny And The Memories, and they were damn good, I mean really good. And me, the scared kid from Arizona with a dream, I too went on to survive one of the strangest voyages anyone could ever imagine.

From the streets of Hollywood to London and back. From the nobody bottom to the nobody top and back again. I was still the human yo-yo on a string. Never sure of who I was, who I had been, or who I was becoming. From country to country and style to style I was Bobby Jameson the goddamned quick change artist always ready with another song, another look, and even another name.