THE BEST ADVICE WE EVER GOT.
Misty and I had a steady job with our band
in a high class 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 were getting nowhere with amazing velocity.
Dick Gillespie was a customer we talked with a lot.
He was witty, in the Robin Williams style,
and owned a local country station.
He had won an Emmy
for producing the Colgate Comedy Hour on TV.
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 unusual 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 to look at an auto accident.”
More importantly, he said:
“Go home and develop a recognizable style,
costume yourselves to attract attention,
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 all 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 persona,
no matter how self-conscious you feel,
and they will think you were born that way.”
Misty changed her name from Mary Blanchard,
we dressed pretty wild,
worked up a lot of new material and attitude,
went to Key West and tried 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 Billboard Pick 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.
Copyright © Jack Blanchard 2005 to 2016