Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman shares stories of memorable rock 'n' roll encounters that took place in our local environs. This week: Florida foibles...
bordered on outright debauchery. Without affirming that I participated
in such degradation, I will admit that back in the '80s, the
radio/record company dance sometimes became a rather intriguing
When Alisa and I were driving past Jacksonville, my mind flashed back to several such escapades. The Capitol group Little River Band were especially popular up there thanks to my predecessor, who made that city the site of the group's big breakthrough. The guys would go on to have a string of national hits -- "It's a Long Way There," "Reminiscing," and the like -- but Jacksonville was the place it all started locally, and as a result, whenever the band members came to town, they felt at home. Likewise, my company colleagues knew their way around a much more rural Jacksonville, which had a particular stink and aura to it, thanks to the local paper mills. The local radio guys had names like "The Ape Man" (who, not so coincidentally, worked at WAPE) and "Moby" (possibly in deference to Moby Dick, as he was a somewhat rotund lad), and in the days before Howard Stern, they were the symbols of radio outrage. Indeed, post-Jacksonville, both men would gain national prominence and some scandals to boot.
Jacksonville women were always such a welcoming lot, and it didn't matter if you were a rock star or a record company rep; they treated everyone with the same affection. They were motivated by the music, to be sure, but their appetite for partying carried them far into the night, way past the performance and well beyond the local venues.
I remember on one occasion receiving a knock at the door of my hotel room at 3 a.m. by one of the local lovelies. "Ah, a nightcap," I thought. "Come on in and keep me company!" On another occasion, I recall being whisked away to a communal apartment on Jacksonville Beach where we were made to feel right at home. Passing that exit again, I had to carefully consider my smile of recognition.
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Damn, it was hard to get airplay in Tampa -- even just dealing with those prickly personalities was difficult -- but an excuse to have dinner at Bern's on the company dime was almost worth the aggravation.