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P R O M O T I O N   M A N
Read The Book Online

Promotion Man
Condensed for online reading.
By Kiki Lee

Gambling on a career in Rock and Roll.
Chapter 1
~ After developing scores of local and regional hits for a Charlotte record distributor, Atlantic Records recruited Dick in 1967 to head their Southeast and Midwest promotions. At Atlantic, Dick helped launch many legendary Rock and R & B artists discovered by Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler and many are now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Chapter 2 ~ After years of hard work at Atlantic Records, an off road motorcycle accident set Dick to thinking of taking a long hiatus from the music business. Dick left the Atlantic family and started an extensive and leisurely tour through Europe and North Africa.
Chapter 3 ~ In 1972 Capricorn Productions cut ties with Atlantic Records and become Capricorn Records and signing a distribution deal with Warner Brothers. Dick was selected to be the new VP of promotion for the label and started what became known as "Southern Rock". Dick established Capricorn Records as the preeminent  leader of the new genre by promoting a string of classic hit records from 72' to 76'.
Chapter 4 ~ While at Capricorn Dick launched four unknown artists into the top of the charts before leaving Capricorn  in 1976 to partner with Atlantic Records starting Rabbit Record and Dick Wooley Associates where Dick promoted new artists into gold and platinum sellers. In 1981, after Disco and punk-pop began to dominate the charts, Dick with no interest in either retired to the beach on Tybee Island.
Chapter 5
~ Dick used his record business marketing skills at the beach and partnered with development firm Benchmark/Atlantic, together they developed ocean front properties on Hilton Head Island and seven university student communities. In 1994 the new business computers at Benchmark/Atlantic fascinated Dick and he began classes in Atlanta at IBM's computer school. By 2004 the Internet was exploding and Dick still drawn to music decided to expose emerging blues talent ignored by the media. Similar to Napster, but only showcasing in-house artists Dick launched
King Mojo Records offering free music online, ten years later fans from all over the world have downloaded over two million songs by King Mojo artists.


Gambling on a career in Rock and Roll.

In the fall of 1963 after serving four years in the Navy, Dick Wooley started college studies in the sleepy South Georgia community of Norman Park. It was too far from any large town to receive a TV signal so the only link to the outside music world was radio. Dick would listen to the powerhouse 50,000 watt clear channel radio station WLAC from Nashville Tennessee where every night big John "R" and Gene Nobles broadcast their personal selections of blues hits to rural audiences across North America from Canada to Key West.

...and isolated at school Dick assembled a rock band "The Fabulous Serpents" playing local venues and recorded a 45 single that became popular in the region. Dick decided to promote the bands own shows, rent a hall, buy radio ads, sell tickets and divide the gate equally among the band.

This worked out fine during the school year, but in summer band members went their separate ways back to their home towns. To keep his newly acquired music connections going Dick took a summer sales job at Liberty Records.Music was music business and then Southland Record Distributor in Atlanta in 1965, selling and inventorying record stocks sent to the mom and pop record stores throughout the Southeast. On nights and weekends Dick began managing local bands, booking gigs and promoting their shows.

In the summer in 1966 Dick's hard work began to pay off when one of his bands played at an Atlanta  DJ's high school show, in return the DJ played their single on the number one top 40 rock station WQXI the single went number-one on the station's chart. This attracted attention from Burt Burns owner of New York's Bang Records,  after a quickly arranged trip to the Big Apple a disastrous meeting took place between he, the band and Burt Burns.

At the meeting in the Bang Records offices Dick's business advice was ignored by the band members and they began demanding control of production and unearned star-treatment. The meeting with Burt Burns quickly turned sour and the band was rejected. The band's single never made it out of the Atlanta market and they were soon back to square-one. After paying all the expenses for the disastrous New York trip Dick was broke and discouraged, but Dick had learned a valuable lesson about bands and record companies. Despite the setback at Bang Records it provided Dick with a door opener in the music business

Shortly after the failed leap into the big time record business, John Towels the manager of  F & F Arnold record distributors in Charlotte asked Dick to promote their regionally distributed indy labels, John represented many great indy companies like; Atlantic Records, Monument Records and Warner Brothers Records. This was a breakthrough for Dick because in addition to being paid to promote the music he loved, he was allowed to promote his rock and blues shows on weekends.

Dick had the good fortune to work with some of the most interesting people in the music business promoting their indy product, including the legendary mob-boss Morris Levy of Roulette Records, later the hit TV series the Sopranos based their record business character "Herman Hesh' Rabkin on Morris. Dick helped many other artists get their first break including Kenny Rogers by helping launch his first solo hit single and career, and working with Elvis Presley's Memphis Mafia, Marty Lacker and the legendary Roy Orbison.

In the day to day promoting at F & F Dick broke out several hit records and discovered a local "beach music" band called "The Okasions". The band had recorded and pressed a single costing all of $400 in their home town and brought it to Dick for promotion, although Beach Music wasn't Dick's thing he soon had their record spinning across Carolina radio stations and the single went on to became the million selling "Girlwatcher".
And then...

Chapter 1

Atlantic Records: Making Music Legends.

Dickey Kline, Atlantic Records legendary Miami based promo man had known Dick from his Atlanta sales days and watched his progress in promotion at the distributor in the Carolinas. At an Atlantic Records convention in the Bahamas, Dickey introduced Dick Wooley to Atlantic's newly appointed Vice President of Promotion Jerry Greenberg. Jerry was in the process of building his new promotion team and on the spot recruited Dick to head-up Atlantic's Southeast and Midwest promotions.

Dick was ready and eager for the opportunity to work for a great company like Atlantic Records and with the best wishes from John Towles and F & F distributors he packed the car and moved to Cincinnati Ohio to open a regional promotion office for Atlantic.

Record promotion was not an easy job in the halcyon days of vinyl records in 1967. It was years before the Interstate highway system would be completed and Dick routinely drove fifteen-hundred miles a week over two-lane black top roads to promote Atlantic Records to large and small market Top 40 and R & B radio stations throughout the Midwest and Southeast. Dick stated, "Anytime I saw a radio tower I'd pull in their parking lot and start promoting Atlantic records to whoever was there".

Building personal relations and acquiring many lifelong friendships with radio programmers was Dick's and Atlantic Records strength. Atlantic's people were quality people and very professional in the way they handled Atlantic's business affairs. No company in the business was more respected or had more pride filled, hard working and loyal employees.

Atlantic spared no expense in helping it's promotion men be successful in making solid industry alliances. It was the promotion mans responsibility to cajole radio programmers, entertain artists and solidify industry alliances. After all, these people were key to breaking Atlantic's new records and keeping Atlantic artists high on the charts. 

Unlike many other record companies of the day Atlantic was not into local or regional pay for play, or as it was called by government investigators "Payola". Money wasn't exchanged for airplay, "We offered something more valuable to music programmers, we gave them the career building courtesy of head-hunting job opportunities for them in other markets and we gave them the respect they deserved". In return, they showed their appreciation when the chips were down by adding
our unknown artists records to their radio playlists.

Record promotion was always challenging, because at the time Atlantic was still a small Indy label that could only afford six full-time promotion men and each of these men had the responsibility to make sure every radio station, show promoter and independent record distributor in America was doing their best for Atlantic Records. This fabled gang-of-six was headed by
Jerry Greenberg, Dickey Kline, Leroy Little, Bob Greenberg, Vince Faracci and Dick Wooley.

These six guys could sometimes work promotion miracles by getting Atlantic records to the top of the charts, and this small group did it against all odds especially when competing against the more heavily financed major record companies. For example, back in the day music publishers had a great deal of power and it was not uncommon for two competing labels to release the same publishers song by different artists and sometimes even on the same day. "When this happened, Jerry Greenberg would put his assistant Barbra Harris on a plane with boxes of DJ singles and she would fly around the country delivering these records by hand to each of us promotion men. We in turn would drive through our territory delivering the new record to radio stations by hand. We'd cover the entire country in forty-eight hours and by the time the competition knew what happened our record was being played by so many radio stations the race was over before they'd even left the starting gate... they never had a chance. It was like we were competing in the record business Olympics and the gang at Atlantic never lost one of those head-to-head challenges."

Dick said,
"It was a genuine honor and privilege being a member of that elite group of promo men and it was a once in a lifetime experience to work with legendary music geniuses like Ahmet Ertegun, Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd."

During the 1960's Atlantic Records established many great  R & B and Rock and Roll legends and several are now in the "Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame" To name only a few: Percy Sledge,
Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Joe Tex, The Young Rascals, Allman Brothers, King Curtis, Sam & Dave, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Buffalo Springfield, Iron Butterfly, Cream, Eric Clapton, Delaney and Bonnie, Led Zeppelin, YES, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Derek And The Dominos.

Jerry Wexler
legendary producer

Ahmet Ertegun
Atlantic President

Tom Dowd
legendary producer

Jerry Greenberg
VP of promotion
The 1960's was a turbulent period in American history, the bloody Vietnam War had split the country into two camps, the media labeled the two as the "Peacenicks" and the "Hawks". The conservative Hawks, claimed they were the true American patriots, these are the same people who think making war is great, as long as they don't have to fight it. Instead their leaders instigate wars and then send young people off fight them. The young draft age anti-war Peacenicks who rightly objected to being used as cannon-fodder in America's murderous misadventure in Vietnam. They often marched in protest of the war and would find themselves under local police and FBI surveillance, many Peacenicks were often beaten or arrested on trumped up charges by overly aggressive officials. This made radical and violent people out of what had been peaceful, protesters excersizing their legal constitutional rights to assemble and protest an illegal war. In many cities authorities routinely enforced a strict curfew, arresting violators and some cities even declared martial law to keep young Peacenicks or Hippies from gathering. For many of us America had lost it's way and had become a Police State.

In 1968 Atlantic Records relocated Dick back to his hometown of Atlanta Georgia to better service the Southeastern radio market. In booming Atlanta the gathering spot for the young crowd was the centrally located Piedmont Park. On weekends local bands played for the young crowds and momentum from this exposure propelled many new bands into the national spotlight, like; Hydra, the Hampton Grease Band and the Allman Brothers Band.

Sometimes the bands plugged their amps and equipment into the city park power supply but police had warned them to stop. Dick witnessed how out of control police became when on a peaceful Sunday afternoon the free music concert in the park turned into a police riot. As a  local band was playing to the young crowd the aroma of burning hemp began to waft in the air. Suddenly as if on signal the Atlanta police waded into the crowd of young spectators with nightsticks slashing a bloody trail of longhaired teens in their wake. Not satisfied with their vicious show of force, the police continued to beat on the helpless teens and rough them up in front of local TV cameras as they drug them across the softball field and into police vans.

Local TV news crews filmed the Atlanta police riot and even showed one fat cop smashing his nightstick across the face of a helpless handcuffed teen. The evening news claimed that so called hippies were at fault invading the city's public parks and that heroic Atlanta police officers had been forced to remove them from the family orientated park. No legal action ever mitigated the damage done to these peaceful teens in the brutal attack by the redneck thugs wearing Atlanta police uniforms. "I lost all respect for the police and never watched local news again", said Dick.

The military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned America about was in full dominance. The so called party of war was in power and as usual disenfranchising the anti-war community which was largely unorganized and powerless. Students, artists and musicians seemed to express the frustration more eloquently than anyone about our country's inability to end the draft, end the war or bring our troops home from the illegal war in Vietnam.

This turbulent period produced entertainment history as well and Atlantic Records was proud to be a part of the solutions offered by counterculture music. Atlantic had signed many of the anti-war movement's leading voices and helped a generation of counterculture artists fashion profound changes in our society's conscience by producing the most socially relevant music of the century.

"It's dangerous to be right when the government is wrong". After Mayor Dailey ordered the police attack on peaceful protestors at Chicago's Democratic convention, and then the tragic Kent State student massacre by the Ohio National Guard, the government's illegal war began to unravel and it became the foremost issue on everyone's mind.

Most people hadn't spoken out until then, in America the average person on the street was cowed into silence because the powerful military industrial financed conservatives who ruled the media propaganda machine promoted the the same ideology as Germany had in the thirties, "my country right or wrong". Regular, hard working folks were occupied with making a living or afraid to speak out against the illegal war. America has been and still is in denial about the destructive nature of our culture influenced by the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned the nation about.

Dick had encountered the hand of government intrusion every day when calling on radio stations around the country promoting Atlantic's socially active artists and found that most of the radio programmers were paranoid about attracting FCC attention, afraid of government retaliation against their license if they played counterculture music. This made for tough times in promoting records, "our jobs depended on getting airplay for new artists and every week we went into these stations to battle radio programmers for air time on our socially progressive records".

At the time, AM stations dominated all markets and they all chose to play it safe by programming mindless songs we called "bubblegum music". But that started to change after the social phenomenon of Woodstock, and the "Woodstock generation" began to demand progressive music on radio stations. The change in music was irreversible, as someone said "no one can stop an idea when its time has come".

Another unnerving example of the "Big Brother" atmosphere of the time began one day when Dick was
in Miami promoting records at local stations. Atlantic's legendary record producer Tom Dowd was in town at the studio producing a new album with Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon and Carl Radle, to be known as "Derek and the Dominos." Tom called Dick and invited him to come by and sit in on his session at the Criteria Studios.

Ahmet Ertegun, the owner of  Atlantic Records was at the session when Dick arrived and as he recalls, "the music made in that north Miami studio can only be described as blues-magic." Some months later, when Atlantic scheduled the release of the new "Derek and the Dominos" album, naturally Ahmet's and my own expectations were very high for the album. The promotion team tried to get national airplay, but once again the dominant AM stations refused to play the album or even the first single "Layla". They made the same old excuses they always used... it's too progressive for their audience (code for "we're afraid to play it because the FCC might not like it). Dick said, "This was the last straw for me, these timid programmers falsely claimed they were Rock and Roll stations! "Rock and Roll is all about new music and Layla was the best new music in a decade. I wondered how long these bed-wetting programmers could hold back against the rising tide of change demanded by their young "Woodstock Generation" listeners. "I held my tongue so I wouldn't embarrass Atlantic Records, but I was mad as Hell at these stations because I knew there had to be a better way to expose these great artists without groveling before these tin-eared and cowardly AM programmers."

In hindsight those timid radio programmers must feel remorse or some guilt, because today they know they missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help shape music's future and most likely shape our country's history. I wonder how different things could have been if AM radio had been onboard the music revolution early on, giving airplay to the iconic social voices of artists like: "Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton" and so many others. "Many of these AM programmers, and by the way us record guys know who they are, have written in books or blogs claiming they were in on the 60's music revolution from the very beginning... not".

Late in 1971 a freak motorcycle accident sidelined Dick for a while, but it provided a quiet time to think about where he was going in life, what was lacking in record promotion and what he wanted to achieve. Just grateful to be alive after the spill, he took the opportunity to reflect and made a life changing decision. Dick said, "I'd been working  non-stop in music and at Atlantic for some time, the accident provided the perfect excuse and opportunity to get away without feeling guilty about letting down his Atlantic Records family. It was time to get away, travel and to make family a priority. Dick told Atlantic he was taking a hiatus... a very long one."





Editors Note
: (a) After Dick left Atlantic Records, an example of how entrenched AM radio was in playing mindless songs, i.e. "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies, the great promotion staff at Atlantic Records that now included Phillip Rauls and Mario Medious worked a whole year to get "Layla" on major AM radio playlists. Per Atlantic's VP Dickey Kline, WIXY in Cleveland was the first major station to play Layla. By the way, recently Layla was voted the "Number one song in Rock History"... (b) Atlantic Album Discography 


Chapter 2

The Adventure: The hiatus... a very long one.

Two weeks after giving notice to his friends at Atlantic, Dick, his wife and young son Christian left Atlanta and flew to Paris. They had no agenda, all travel was done on the spur of the moment and every day was an unplanned adventure, after all, we didn't want to waste a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"Our first day in Paris we regretted not reading the travel tips more carefully, we'd packed and planned for every contingency and had arrived with five huge bags of clothes that we now had to drag around town and by the time we crashed at our first hotel that night we were totally exhausted. The next morning we sorted out and prioritized every item, anything that didn't fit snuggly into two backpacks was tossed in a box and shipped back home. With our first big problem solved, we were ready for anything." 

We visited nearly every Paris museum, took every walking tour, stuffed ourselves during every dining experience, but after a week we were satiated and ready for a change of scenery, maybe at a beach. We looked over some travel brochures in the hotel lobby and decided to take a train south through France and regroup on the beach in sunny Portugal. We boarded the night train at the Gare Saint Lazare Paris's main train station and began our first train adventure. In the middle of the night we were awakened unexpectedly and directed to change trains at the French boarder, we produced our passports to the officially dressed agents that passed through the compartments. This was the first boarder crossing we'd experienced, disconcerting as it was the first time, we got used to it before long and soon we were on our way down the beautiful rocky coastline of Portugal and on into the capitol city of Lisbon.

Lisbon is an ancient and beautiful old red tiled roof city, a contrast of modern bridges and meandering cobblestone streets lined with ancient whitewashed houses. We took our time looking around and then took the trolley car tour to all the more popular sight, finally we decided to find a quiet place to unwind. Back at the Lisbon train station we climbed aboard an old wooden streetcar that rumbled up the coast and delivered us to the seaside casino village of Estoril, asking locals in the market square about lodging, we were directed up the hills to a rambling ivy covered villa overlooking the village and harbor. The view was beautiful and the villa was staffed by a friendly Portuguese family that prepared wonderful home cooked meals for us everyday and for the rest of the month we just relaxed and forgot about the outside world. We took long walks around town, explored nearby historic castles, we enjoyed the warm hospitality and friendly people of Portugal.

I would love to return to Portugal, the people were great, the food was fantastic and we would have stayed longer, but after a month of being lazy it was either time to move on, or put down roots. So we decided to visit Morocco and the next morning we set off from the Lisbon train station to arrive in Algeciras, Spain where we boarded a large ferry that passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and on to the small Spanish colony of Ceuta on the north coast of Africa.

A view of the Seine from a Paris bridge

Dick & Christian stroll through a Paris park

The villa overlooking
Estoril, Portugal

The View from our
Window in Estoril

We arrived at Ceuta in the midday tropical heat and instantly we were surrounded by a mob of street beggars and vendors hawking everything from straw hats to hashish. After lingering long enough to make a purchase, we made a dash to the town's dusty bus terminal. There it was crowded with travelers milling around the ticket booths and we arrived just in time to see our fellow ferry passengers leave the terminal in a fog of street dust aboard what we found out was the last bus into Morocco until morning. A uniformed man standing nearby overheard us griping about missing our bus, he'd obviously seen other people in this same situation and for a price offered to drive us in his Mercedes limo into the city of Tetouan only a few miles inside the Moroccan boarder.

We very were anxious to make it across the boarder before sundown so we would have time to look for a comfortable and affordable hotel room. With no other alternatives, we haggled a few more minutes with him over the price and agreed to a price we thought was fair. We got in the back seat of the comfortable black Mercedes, a young traveler we recognized from the ferry passed by and asked if we had room for him. He was from the Netherlands and we decided to take him with us, he threw his backpack into the open trunk and climbed in the front seat. We all settled in and the long nose of the Mercedes pointed through the crowded pothole filled city streets of Ceuta and out onto a thin strip of asphalt heading south through the barren desert landscape toward the Kingdom of Morocco.

As we approached the Moroccan checkpoint gate at the boarder the driver slowed down, ahead we saw the same bus we'd missed earlier at the terminal stopped in front of us. All the passenger were milling around outside the bus and a half dozen of the armed boarder guards were searching through each piece of their luggage. Another guard standing in the middle of the road beckoned us forward with his hand and to stop, he leaned into the drivers window and plucked some folded cash from our drivers hand, the guard nodded and waived us through the checkpoint. Wow... our limo driver and new very best friend had just saved our asses from a luggage search by the Moroccan boarder guards. We couldn't help ourselves, we started laughing and didn't stop until we drove into the boarder city of Tetouan. ...Our adventure had started.

We'd arrived in Tetouan at dusk, still light enough to see that it was an dirty adobe outpost with crumbling walls and failed streets who's main industry at the time apparently was drug trafficking, because everyone we passed on the street was trying to sell us hashish. The town as I would remember later, reminded me of the  "pirate city" of Tatooine in the movie Star Wars and especially the bar scene, complete with hooded figures lurking through and about it's many dark alleys.

Our limo driver and new best friend, went out of his way to find us a decent hotel for the night, we thanked him and dropped off our backpacks in our rooms. We hadn't eaten since morning and ventured into the streets to find a small restaurant where no one spoke English but our ferry passenger friend from the Netherlands spoke French and we were able to order a delicious local dish of "couscous and pigeon". Later, walking back to the hotel we met a couple of our fellow ferry passengers from earlier in the day that had finally made it through the boarder checkpoint and were now looking for a place for the night, at our hotel we told them our boarder guard story. They were not happy campers.

Under the circumstances, being alone in a foreign drug mecca was dicey at best and the idea of going native seemed like the best thing for us to do. We wanted to go deeper into Morocco to our destination, the ancient city of Fez. Acting on a tip from a fellow traveler, we awoke at daybreak and began to search for a green school bus on a street not too far from our hotel. We finally found it parked on a side street, the creaky looking old bus obviously had seen better days, there was a rope cargo net slung over the top of the bus that held passengers luggage and pinned down the many live chickens and a few small farm animals to the roof.

We gave the driver cash for a couple of tickets and got onboard, immediately we noticing that no one else from the ferry onboard, suddenly we felt very alone. We waited in silent anticipation until the driver was satisfied his bus had enough paying passengers to make the trip. Apparently it did, so he slid into the worn out drivers seat, grinding the gearshift lever forward and the bus lurched out of town through the early morning haze in a cloud of diesel smoke.

The bus climbed up narrow gravel roads that twisted and turned through steep mountain inclines past miles upon miles of cultivated poppy farms. Occasionally the bus would stop to pick up a Gypsy families waiting along the road by a vast a city of tents and motor caravans. By late afternoon we'd made it to the top of Morocco's rugged Atlas Mountains. After a day's travel through white-knuckle mountain roads, we began a slow decent down the mountain road amid the acrid smoke from overheating brakes that wafted up through the bus floorboards. Descending into the barren foothills and late in the evening we finally finally reached the still raging hot desert floor and after a few more hours through the heat we entered the ancient walled city of Fez through beautifully decorated Moorish gates.

Fez is an ancient city that sits straddling the banks of the Fez river and for thousands of years has been the center of trade along the silk road stretching from the China in the far east to Venice Italy. Fez was the market center for the spice trade, colorfully dyed fabric, handmade rugs, hand tooled leather and ivory. The city is isolated, cut off from the rest of the world by the Atlas mountains on one side, endless desert on the other... So here we stood, engulfed in the exotic aroma of spice and pack animals, surrounded by an ancient old world and witnessing sights that travelers hundreds of years ago would recognize, we were truly in a different world.

We quickly adjusted to our new surroundings and toured the thousand year old medina and it's labyrinth of narrow passageways that accommodated the traffic of both people and pack animals piled high with dry goods and wood cases. Doing our best to avoid being trampled by the heavily laden donkey caravans we were approached by an amazing child guide who spoke seven languages fluently and offered to guide us through the maze of alleys and hidden vendor stalls filled with spice and colorful trade goods.

We haggled with merchants trading traditional Moroccan hand-woven rugs and wall hangings. We looked through the shops, looked for bargains, lingering at turn of the century French sidewalk cafe's, ate croissants and sipped the traditional Moroccan sweet mint tea, it was almost like we'd been there in a previous life. At the end of a day we'd relax at the hotel after an exotic meal, puff on exotic herbs and hashish from a classic wood and ceramic hookah and watch the sunset over the colorful desert city from our balcony. Life was good.

We awoke every morning to the hoofbeats coming from the street below, as columns of Moroccan Royal Calvary passed. Cadets in regal uniforms sat astride these elegant jet black mules in double file marching down the avenue. They flew the King's colors from long pikes and we'd been told they were the ceremonial escorts for the Moroccan royal family for state occasions and in national parades. The mules were beautiful huge animals and their colorfully festooned bridals and saddles were true works of leather art. We watched this ancient world parade go by every morning as we sipped our mint tea at a sidewalk cafe on the cobble stone street below our hotel room. Time seemed to stand still. But in this most fantastic ancient city, time actually flew by and all too soon we had to pack up.

After a few short weeks in this fantastic ancient city of Fez we were running low on necessary supplies for our young son Christian and were anxious to get back to a modern city and find a western style drug store. We rented a small French car in the city center and began our drive through the desert, speeding over a narrow strip of asphalt winding through the endless sandy landscape and finally reached the gates of the biblical city Rabat. A festival of some sort was in progress and the streets were packed with colorfully dressed people blocking every access, we stayed long enough to take in the sights and then moved on through the desert once again.

We spent the night at a dingy ocean-front hotel and early the next morning began to drive up the foggy coastline toward Tangier. Tangier is a large city that is nothing like the ancient towns we'd visited recently, there was little there to remind us we were still in Morocco, except the ubiquitous street vendors in caftans selling trinkets to tourists.

We overnighted in a smart European style hotel next to the harbor and booked passage on the morning ferry back to the European continent. The customs officials here were far more meticulous than the ones we encountered during our first boarder entry, we stood by as an agent examined every inch of our luggage.

Christian on the Train
(Note ABB Tee Shirt)
The Medina
In old town Fez

(Donkeys have the right of way in the Medina)

Innsbruck, Austria
(Great food, great beer and great skiing)

Gondola ride, Venice
(So many things to do)

Thankfully the night before we'd flushed all contraband and after the search of our luggage boarded the ferry from Tangier Morocco to Tarifa Spain. Most of our time remained on our Eurorail pass and we traveled by train to Rome for a few days where we toured the Vatican Museum several times, went through the Sistine Chapel and of course visited the Roman Coliseum.

Then we went by train up to Florence and toured the famous Piazza Duomo, Uffizi museum, Michelangelo's statue of David and other iconic works by Florentine artists. After a few days of sightseeing in Florence we were on our way again, this time to Venice for an extended layover. Once in Venice we did what all tourist do, rode in a gondola, took a trip to the island of Murano where we watched hand blown glass artists fashion intricate works of art and delicate glass treasures for the crowds. Amazed by the fiery spectacle we bought an elaborate glass chandelier as a souvenir of our visit.

Fatigued from the constant touring we caught a sleeper train to Innsbruck Austria and found a cozy room in a Tyrolian chalet at the foot of a mountain above the village of Innsbruck. Our room overlooked the city and on the bed were stacked warm foot-thick duck down comforters, a welcome touch at night for keeping the cold mountain air at bay.

Each day we took a gondola cable car to the top of the mountain where we could almost see the entire range of sharp peaks that jutted skyward in the Tyrolian Alps. We bought a complete set of ski equipment and taught ourselves how to ski on the soft spring snow at the most spectacular mountain range in Europe. In the evenings, after a day of skiing and we'd regroup at the chalet and take a steaming hot bath in a huge bathtub about the size of a small car, then we'd a walk down the winding streets to a family owned tavern, relax by an blazing fire and enjoy the freshly brewed local beer and dine on the best veal schnitzel in the world.

After skiing for a couple of weeks on various Tyrolian slopes, we hopped on an overnight train through the Austrian / Swiss Alps into Zurich Switzerland. Zurich was a disappointment, it was a cold dirty gray city where everything cost twice as much as anywhere else and we couldn't wait to leave.

The next morning we made a hasty return to the train station, boarded the bullet-train to Amsterdam and sped north at 150 mph. The landscape was a blur of multi-colored tulip fields, farms and wooden windmills doting the flat landscape most of which had been reclaimed from the sea, as was most land in the Netherlands.

We arrived at the stately gray stone train station in downtown Amsterdam and instantly fell in love with the city, it's beautiful architecture, the narrow multi-story homes lining cobblestone streets along the canals and the liberal lifestyle of Amsterdam citizens . "Amsterdam is a city I could live in forever, I never got tired of hearing about it's unique history, or looking at the collections of eclectic art in the many museums and envying the gracious lifestyle that evolved from centuries of free thinking, open minded people ... I loved it."

Only two short weeks in Amsterdam, damn. We felt bad leaving, but we planned on seeing the King Tut exhibition at the British Museum, it was the first time the collection had been on public display outside of Egypt and we had to get there before it left London. We caught the ferry across the English channel and took a five day layover in London to visit the Tut exhibition many, many times and of course to see all the famous London sights.

After our museum and Tower of London crown jewel tours, we left the city and went south by train to the seaside resort of Brighton. Our first night we lodged at a local family owned B & B enjoying the unique English breakfast, made from whatever was served at dinner the previous night, plus two eggs and a banger (sausage). After a few days of old school English seaside relaxing we were ready to move on and we rented a camper van and began a leisurely drive through the lush green countryside of Western England and up toward Wales.

"It took a few miles for me to get used to driving on the wrong (left) side of the road. However, I picked it up quickly and drove into Wales that day where we toured old gray stone B & B's and pubs in every hamlet along the way, some of the pubs had been open and serving the public continuously for several hundred years. We'd stop in quaint smoky pubs for warm beer and some pub-grub and listen to the locals chat in their native Welsh language. Although my father's family was of Welsh origin, I couldn't understand a word of the language, I was just thankful the road signs were printed in Welsh and English."

Finally, after a few months the time our departure approached, we backtracked over the channel by ferry, then by train we quickly passed through Belgium's industrial grime and arrived in the micro-country of Luxembourg with a day to spare before our return flight to America. Time enough to relax, gather our thoughts and reflect on our once in a lifetime travel adventure.

"After being deeply involved in other cultures for months, outside our comfort zone, the mind opens up to new possibilities and new potential. This extended travel adventure was a life changing experience for me. I hadn't thought about the music business one time, my only thoughts were about the people I loved, my family and friends"

The months of travel seemed to go by in an instant and before we knew it we were inside a plane flying over the dark waters of the Atlantic and back into Atlanta. After landing, we gathered our backpacks at the baggage carousel, hailed a cab and told the driver to get us to the nearest Krystal hamburger joint he could find where we wolfed down about a dozen of their tasty little sliders, the first "real" hamburgers we'd had for months.

Life was good... and it was good to be home.


Chapter 3

Capricorn Records: The start-up.

Dick returned home after months of travel and realized the hiatus could not have been better timed because the tide had turned in Rock radio. New independent FM stations were popping up everywhere and playing progressive rock full time, even car manufactures began installing FM radios and driving the once too-big-to-fail AM stations crazy. Hooray... finally never having to listen to bubblegum music again, progressive music was establishing a solid ratings presence on radio stations across the country. But, sadly Dick reflected that he no longer worked with the greatest record company ever. "My timing for the trip had been a great, but leaving Atlantic Records was like leaving my family."
After being approached by several record companies, Dick was satisfied that all would go well back in the USA. He was full of enthusiasm and new promotion ideas when Frank Fenter at Capricorn Productions in Macon Georgia called and soon everything went into high gear. Frank invited Dick to a meeting in Macon with he and his partner artist manager Phil Walden. Dick knew Frank very well from the time they spent together at Atlantic Records, they'd shared information on artists when Frank was running Atlantic's European operation from their London office.

Frank had been a rising star at Atlantic Records and was a highly respected record man who'd surprised everyone at the company in 1969 by moving from London England to Macon Georgia and to partner with the late Otis Redding's manager Phil Walden. Together they started a production company called Capricorn Production and Atlantic records distributed their albums through Atlantic's pop label Atco.

Frank was the man behind the scene who'd put the production company deal together to be financed by Atlantic. Jerry Wexler was both Frank and Phil's mentor and had helped the company start up by giving them a sure Top10 Hit Single, "Sunshine" by "Jonathan Edwards."

It had been three years since then and Dick was anxious to hear what the two partners had in mind as he drove the ninety mils down to Macon. The meeting, held over a cocktail lunch at Mark's Cellar with Phil and Frank was a real eye-opener for Dick. Their lunch consisted of a cup of "Hoppin' John" (black-eyed peas, over rice and deep-fried fatback) they washed it all down with Vodka Martinis in big iced tea glasses. Dick said, "I wasn't much of a alcohol drinker due to my years of martial arts training but even if I had been, there is no way I could have keep pace with those two guys."

As one Vodka martini followed another Dick said, "the two partners tag-teamed me, a technique I found out later was what they were known to use very effectively in negation. They offered up one idea after another and probed me on my thoughts of how I could help them make Capricorn production company into a stand-alone record company. My head was swimming with infinite possibilities... or was it the booze?"

"I nursed my drink for as long as I could to keep my head clear as they sold me on their their plan to move me to Macon and help launch a real record company from the "yet to be profitable" production company".

"I wanted to leave the meeting on a positive note, but as the three hour lunch wound down I was by no means convinced it was in my best interest to promote a new start-up label in the South Georgia backwater town of Macon and I was only being offered half the salary I'd been making at Atlantic Records!"

Back in Atlanta, Dick's friends advised him not to move to Macon, mainly because he'd gamble a hard earned reputation in the music business on an unknown start-up label. Also, industry wags maintained that the Allman Brothers Band would never recover from the death of their charismatic leader Duane Allman just last October.

There was much truth in what they said, but that wasn't the real obstacle, the real obstacle for Dick to overcome was the Allman Brothers were almost unknown outside their Southeastern market, but that was mainly due to their in-house booking agency Paragon, run by Alex Hodges who booked them where the money was and that was in the south. Also, the Allman Brothers had sold "zero singles" in what was still a very singles-oriented business and combined they'd only sold about thirty thousand albums. A paltry amount in those days for any band.

That was the reality. Dick knew the real sales figures at Capricorn Productions from working at Atlantic and it was not an encouraging number. Dick reasoned that the lack of sales for the ABB was at that time major AM radio wouldn't play progressive or regional artists.

Phil's publicity proclaimed through his publicity sources and to the media that the company had sold ninety thousand ABB albums, but Phil always used a quirky formula when it came to numbers, if a number helped, it was multiplied by three and if it didn't it was divided by three.

Dick had to make a life changing decision whether or not to sell a stately home in Atlanta and move to a small South Georgia town that was more often than not referred to as "the redneck capitol" of Georgia.

There was no way to get around it, Macon was a southern backwater who's architecture and attitude had changed little since the Civil War and it was led by a two-term white supremacists mayor called "Machine Gun" Ronnie Thompson. Thompson got his nickname and national media attention for his disgraceful actions during Macon's predominately black sanitation workers strike. Thompson stood atop a National Guard armored vehicle in a school playground waving around a Thompson submachine gun and giving Macon Police officers orders to shoot to kill any disorderly black citizens.

Thompson was a product of the local gene pool, the kind of knuckle dragging rednecks that hassled Dick many times before while he promoted Atlantic R&B records to black owned radio stations and associated with black DJ's and artists. To say the least the Capricorn job being offered was severely handicapped by the reality of having to live on half his usual salary and to move to Macon.

In addition to Macon citizens racist attitude and rural location Dick had reservations about Phil's well known diva temperament, but rationalized past that after remembering their good times together at the many Atlantic's Otis Redding shows. A
nd even the bad times they'd shared when Phil, Frank and Dick were in the Atlantic suite at the Rivera hotel in Las Vegas attending a Billboard convention in December of 1967 when a phone call came with the tragic news of Otis Redding's plane crash.

Dick knew Frank and Phil needed help fast, they were not record promoters and they knew that Dick was the man that would get them their much needed airplay. Frank and Phil had a new Allman Brothers album coming out soon and the dominate rumors was it would be a flop without Duane Allman. Frank and Phil new if they lost this album they'd lose the company and they were pressing hard for Dick's answer.

The deal came after Johnny Sandlin played Dick some of the raw studio tracks from the upcoming Allman Brothers album and Dick was blown away. After Johnny's preview there was a meeting of the minds between Dick, Phil and Frank, they began solidifying details, responsibilities each would have in the new distribution venture with Warner Brothers. Frank of course would continue to manage the company's production and liaison with Burbank, Phil would continue to manage the artists and Dick had the job of getting their unknown artists airplay and getting the records on the national charts.

The timing for the new Capricorn label was a bit sketchy, Frank Fenter had just finalized the deal with Warner Brothers that split Capricorn productions from their long-time mentors at Atlantic Records. We were jumping into an untested distribution pact with Warner Brothers, but Phil and Frank wanted a real record label of their own, something they said Atlantic had resisted until 1971 and then only released their production company logo on a pink label. Phil and Frank felt slighted, while Warner Brothers had encouraged them all along to use the logo of Capricorn Records and promised a big roll out that would increase the new label's profile. In doing this Mo Ostin and Joe Smith would keep the new label inside the WEA distribution family, a newly formed corporate entity that would distribute Warner Brothers, Electra and Atlantic Records product.

However, in the record business the street buzz was, "If Frank and Phil left their roots at soulful Atlantic Records for distribution by Warner Brothers, who's biggest artist was still Frank Sinatra, it would be the kiss of death for the new label." Dick heard this negative gossip, but said, "It didn't bother me. My experience with Atlantic had been that we were always the underdog, so what you do is just put on blinders and soldier forward. It was a tough business, and we knew the competition fought hard.. But I'd competed in karate tournaments, winning my share, but had my ass handed to me too and I knew one thing, promoting records could never be more painful or humbling than that... so bring it on."

In a few weeks time, Dick and his family settled into a rambling 1890's era home on a red brick, tree lined street. It was near downtown, only a few blocks from the offices on Cotton Avenue where Dick, Frank and Phil would share what had been the office of the late Otis Redding.

The record company office consisted of two small rooms at street level in a building shared by the Paragon Agency who's offices filled the basement. A small reception area where Carolyn Brown, who'd been president of the Otis Redding fan club and Rose Lane White who was to assistant Frank and Dick.

The funky rooms had dark red theater-curtains hanging from every wall to hide the cracks, and thread-bare carpets hid a drain that was once an vital part of the former tenants business, a chicken processing plant. And, the office was directly across the street from the Macon Police Station and the office of Macon's Mayor "Machine Gun" Ronnie Thompson.

Dick recalled, "The three of us were squeezed together in this small space, but it didn't seem to matter, we were music men driven by a mutual goal and always on the phone. Frank and Dick got their record business education at Atlantic Records and knew how to keep Capricorn's new albums from getting lost in the shuffle of the new releases that Warner Brothers would be sending radio every month. Frank, Phil and Dick knew they'd have to work 24/7 to make Capricorn a success and they were committed to do whatever it took." Dick said. "We were on a mission."

It was not going to be a cake walk getting a hit record for the new label as Dick soon discovered after a few days of unproductive calls to radio stations around the country. When Dick called these stations to solicit  airplay for their first Warner Brothers distributed release "Eat A Peach", radio station receptionists and music director alike would question him asking "Capri'-what? Allman-who? Macon-where?" Dick quickly decided that instead of wasting time calling stations he didn't know, he'd call on his old friends who were now in charge of many of the new FM stations and call old friends that were remaining in AM radio. He thought he'd be better off to badger old pals into playing the "Eat A Peach" album instead of cold calling the entire radio world one at a time. Another thing hindering Dick's progress was that there was no budget.

At the time, the raw liquid sounds of a Southern Jam Rock was not the type of music radio stations were accustomed to playing, but several of Dick's pals programming Atlanta, Boston and Los Angeles stations listened, giving him the benefit of the doubt and they were soon onboard. Luckily, after only a few days of airplay they were encouraged by listeners response to what was to become known as "Southern Rock"... and the ride began.

After the "Eat A Peach" album started moving up friendly radio charts, Dick went to work on the harder to move conservative middle America radio stations. Each time a new station was added shouts of victory rang through the two room office and the ABB album began showing up on more and more radio playlists until a critical mass had been reached and the album broke through the lower regions of the national charts.

This success was enough incentive for the powerful Warner Brothers team to move into high gear and push the marketing button on the "Eat A Peach" album. Very soon it was on it's way up the charts to become the Allman Brothers Band's first Gold album and later became their first Multi-Platinum album. 

The Allman Brothers Band

VP Frank Fenter, VP Dick Wooley, Pres. Phil Walden
(Photos, Courtesy Rob Durner-Fenter) 1976

Dick Wooley and ABB's
First Gold/Platinum Album
"Eat A Peach"

Phil Rauls & Dick Wooley
at 1974 Capricorn Picnic

The Wonder Graphics
ABB Mushroom

Berry Oakley and Duane Allman
at the Atlanta Auditorium

The Allman Brothers album was moving up the charts near the end of summer in 1972 when Dick and his friend Bill Sherard, who programmed Atlanta's top radio station WQXI, were talking about what to do for the upcoming 1973 New Years. The ABB and Wet Willie were playing a venue in New Orleans called the Warehouse and Dick said that a local radio station had asked permission to air the show live. Immediately Bill said he wanted to air the show in Atlanta too and they began to plan a simulcast linking the two stations in New Orleans and Atlanta.

After a call to the telephone company, Dick found the only cost to simulcast a show from New Orleans to Atlanta would be a long distance charge. Dick decided to take the idea further and invited other stations in the southeast to plug into the live feed from New Orleans. Dick rented the AT&T long-distance lines for the night and began signing up AM and FM radio stations, as he cobbled them together the idea to call it a radio network materialized and with a little hype the network idea took on a life of it's own.

It had only cost $700 to connect the the show to the two anchor stations, Dick gave the show free to his "Network" stations with the understanding they'd play the ABB and Wet Willie albums in heavy rotation in the run-up to the broadcast and to give Capricorn some commercial spots. It was an unproven idea for rock radio at the time, but in retrospect it was only because no one had ever tried it before. 

The New Year's broadcast called "Live from New Orleans with the Allman Brothers Band and Wet Willie" was broadcast from the cavernous Warehouse venue and was "sold out". That night Dick's broadcast reached thirty plus stations in eight-southeast states, but it received a surprising amount of national attention. The show was a success for the radio stations, the promoters and especially Capricorn Records. Johnny Sandlin recorded several great tracks from the mixing board that night and used them on future ABB projects and he also recorded the classic Wet Willie live album "Drippin Wet".

This was the artist launching vehicle Dick had been hoping for, "plan a concert event, simulcast it over multiple radio stations and syndicate the show to paying sponsors." Dick broadcast several live concerts that year to test his new system and they all proved successful. Dick knew this promotion model could go big-time.

In reality, it already was big-time for Dick, being the only full-time record promoter for Capricorn he had to call radio programmers one-at-a-time to convince them to give airplay to his new releases. This was arduous and time consuming before, but after the New Year Show and successful broadcast, radio programmers began calling Dick from markets around the country asking for exclusive rights to his next show. Using the New Years show as leverage Dick was in the so called "Catbird Seat" for promoting his developing bands... Eureka!
The success of the New Years show proved to Dick that without spending a lot of money, Capricorn didn't have anyway, there was a better way to expose new artists and it was broadcasting live concerts.

At the time Capricorn was in a money pinch meeting payroll and Phil decided to sell three of his management company artists to outside record companies, he picked the Marshall Tucker Band, Ned and Hydra to go to Polydor Records. But at the last minute Dick with Frank Fenter's approval decided to "liberate" the Marshall Tucker Band cassette tape from Phil's briefcase and he and Frank flew it to LA for a scheduled A & R meeting with Warner Brothers executives. They played "Can't You See" for the WB staff to a mixed but receptive reaction and a date was set for the MTB album release on Capricorn. However, at the same time in New York, Phil was caught off guard when at he Polydor meeting he discovered there only two tapes in his briefcase, Ned and Hydra. As a testament to Phil's take no prisoners salesmanship, he was able to pull off the two band deal with Polydor and happily Capricorn met the payroll.

Upon returning to Macon everyone had a heated argument regarding the competing objectives of Phil's management company versus the objectives of Capricorn Records. The issue was   fait accompli but Phil of course had the final say but as both deals were done, the rest as they say is history. Frank Fenter eloquently summed it up later with an all-knowing smile, "sometimes it's easier to get forgiven than to get permission".

With national airplay peaking in 1973, Dick began to organize the next New Years broadcast featuring the Allman Brothers and opening the show this year would be the Marshall Tucker Band because we had just released their debut album. Dick added (150) new stations to the growing Network
he now called CapCom, he added two national sponsors at $50k each (Landlubber and Pioneer) and viola... the music industry's first vertically integrated Rock & Roll promotion was created.

The 1974 New Years show would be broadcast from San Francisco's (15,000) seat "Cow Palace" and the legendary Fillmore East & West owner Bill Graham was the promoter. Bill invited San Francisco's FM radio pioneer Tom Donahue to be the show's MC and Tom in turn recruited several of his San Francisco friends to come on the show, members of the Grateful Dead, Boz Scaggs and other great San Francisco did interviews during breaks in the live radio program.

Dick didn't know Bill Graham they'd only met at shows but Dick knew Bill was a showman. Bill proved that at midnight during the sold-out event when he descended inside a huge wicker basket dressed as "Old Father Time" sporting a long white beard from the highest balcony down onto the stage. The Allman Brothers stopped briefly to hail the new year but soon picked up on the jam just where they'd left... it was a magic New Year Eve and it was heard worldwide.

The "first of its kind" national radio broadcast was a brilliant success, especially when the Armed Forces Radio asked to air the show on their global network, Dick said... Yes! Armed Forces Radio plugged into Dick's live event and broadcast the show all over the world to an estimated (40) million listeners (as far as we know, is still the largest radio audience for a live Rock & Roll event). The Allman Brothers Band were heard across the world that night and their music touched forty million people! This fact was not lost on music retailers and show promoters around the globe. Their lasting appeal across the world is testament in part to that one event.

Foreign and domestic album sales sky-rocketed after the show, the new ABB's Warner Brothers distributed album and the Atlantic Records ABB catalog albums began selling through the roof. The show launched the career of "The Marshall Tucker Band" and a couple of months later their debut album had sold (250) thousand copies and became their first gold and later a multi-platinum album.

Dick's New Year's broadcast was a music industry landmark, after the show the story was splashed across the front page of every trade paper in the country, banner headlines in Billboard, Radio & Records, Cashbox. In July of 1975 even the prestigious business magazine Fortune came to Macon and did a major spread about the meteoric rise of Capricorn Records, the story recounted the unique trio of personalities Phil, Frank and Dick.

Dick Wooley in
Fortune Magazine
July 1975

Dick holds ABB's
First Gold/Platinum  Album "Eat A Peach"

Dick Wooley Headlines
in R & R Jan, 1974
40 Mil. Listeners

Dicky Betts,
Dick & Frank Fenter
looking good
By 1976 the rise to success at Capricorn Records was overwhelming the staff of the small company, the venture paid off big time, the artists were headliners and Southern Rock was ubiquitous on world radio stations.
 But success took a toll.  

That year, Elvin Bishop signed a production deal with Capricorn, Frank Fenter began playing a track from Elvin's session over and over on his office stereo, knowing that Dick would hear it in his office next door. This was Frank's usual "not so subtle" way of letting Dick know what songs he thought should be promoted. After a full day of Frank's good natured brainwashing, Dick got the message and admitted he liked the song too, but told Frank the album track needed rearranging because it wasn't structured right as a single for radio airplay.

Dick took Frank's cassette and played around with the arrangement for a couple of days, arranging and rearranging it, trying to find the sweet spot that would best fit the days radio formats. Satisfied with a final arrangement, Frank sent it to producer Bill Symzick for the final edit. Dick and Frank then flew to LA as they'd done before when they successfully played the raw cassette tracks of the Marshall Tucker Band to the Burbank brass.

The Elvin Bishop track was played for WB President Mo Ostin, VP Ed Rosenblatt, head of Promotion Russ Thyrett... they loved it. Once Warner Brothers' great staff got behind it "Fooled around and fell in love" was a natural and it quickly became the number one single on all trade publication's Top 100 singles charts.

Everything at Capricorn was clicking. The little Macon Georgia record company that proved you didn't have to be in New York or Los Angeles to make it big in the music business. Reporters from Rolling Stone, Newsweek and Fortune were on the phone or in the offices constantly, everyone in the company felt like a star.

Capricorn artists were in demand worldwide, everyone wanted them on a project. At our annual company picnic that only a couple of  years before that had been a simple office barbecue at the lake for employees, was now attended by the major music executives, movie stars, politicians and iconic celebrates like; Cher, boxing promoter Don King, comedian Richard Prior, Andy Worhol, Bette Middler, 60 Minutes' Ed Bradley and future president Jimmy Carter. Macon's airport was crowded with their private jets and reporters hung on every word, but the pressure cooker atmosphere was building and would resolve in a way no one could have predicted.

Drugs played an important roll in the culture of 70's music, it was in the recording studio, in the offices and in our social life, it was as essential as gin in a martini. Everyone did drugs, some to keep pace, some to escape the pace and some to keep their demons at bay. The ever-increasing demand from all corners was to become bigger, better, faster and at Capricorn the pressure took a pound of flesh from everybody.

The price of success exacted an especially heavy toll on Phil Walden, his demon was alcohol and cocaine addiction. With the success of Capricorn his problems were ragging out of his control, it manifested in embarrassing public tantrums that kept his lawyers busy and keeping everyone in the office on edge. Phil's infamous outbursts of uncontrolled temper were becoming more frequent and explosive, it was impossible to predict when the next one would happen, anything might set him off and when it did, friends and family alike made themselves scarce.

Frank Fenter and Dick found themselves in a no-win situation, at the end of the Capricorn work day their duty now included saving face for the company by smoothing hurt feelings, repairing damaged friendships and covering up the trail left in the wake of Phil's alcohol and drug-fueled tirades. After one particular ugly incident  in the parking lot of Frank's LaBistro restaurant, Phil had a felony assault charge filed against him by a well-known local businessman, the Macon newspaper had a field day.

Only the quick intervention of a lawyer and a large cash settlement to the businessman kept the violent incident out of the national news. Phil, seemingly undaunted by the escalating consequences following his public outbursts continued to fed his uncontrollable addiction and his behavior continued to embarrass everyone.  In his own home town Phil was becoming an object of scorn by many and pitied by others as his unhinged behavior became news.

Dick opined, "when drugs take over someone's life they go into denial and there's not a damn thing you can do, especially if they're on top of the world". I'd seen friends succumb to drug use before, most lived through it, some didn't, but they all went broke and when they did they took their business associates with them. That was my reason to start searching for a new venture.

"I discussed my concerns about the future of Capricorn with my family and said be prepared for a change. In spite of Capricorn artists being on top of the charts at the time, the office atmosphere was becoming more unbusinesslike and I saw the handwriting on the wall. Phil had become disengaged from the company day to day affairs and I knew the long ride for Capricorn would not last much longer." 

Success is fun, but it's not as soul satisfying as people think it will be, many times it's just boring, grinding out one new promotion after another. Dick felt this way after Elvin Bishop's number one hit single and with two Allman Brothers albums near the top of the charts and two Marshall Tucker albums climbing the charts. The long days of  promoting radio stations, endless nights in the studio or at clubs with bands, then up early for work the next day. Dick was exhausted by the four year grind and ready for a change... after all, for Dick the fun is building a business, not in running it.

On the bright side with all Dick's success there would never be a better time to start a new venture. Dick hoped took a chance. Hopefully there'd be a soft lining after delivering Capricorn's artists to the top of the charts that year and to everyone's surprise Dick resigned in 1976 as Vice President of Capricorn Records.

Professional courtesy dictated that Dick stay on a few weeks to insure a seamless transition for a successor, and his own conscience dictated to never let on to anyone that in his own mind he knew that the Capricorn Records party would soon be ending.

Reflecting on the four years since Dick moved his family to Macon to help build Capricorn Records, it's growth could hardly be imagined. Capricorn in four short years had sky-rocketed from three guys in a funky little two-room office on Cotton Avenue and no money into a Southern Rock Empire with sixty employees and a roster of great artists that sold millions of albums worldwide and annual sales of $30 million. Dick said "It was one sweet ride".

As Vice President of Promotions at Capricorn from 1972 to 1976 Dick helped launch several million-selling artists including: The Allman Brothers Band, Marshall Tucker Band and Elvin Bishop. Other artists launched into the national spotlight included; the great Southern Blues band: Wet Willie, comic-singer-actor Martin Mull, venerable singer-songwriters and "Eric Clapton's favorite band"
Cowboy, the legendary Southern Rock band Grinderswitch, young Bluesman John Hammond, Jr. and rising Country Music Star Hank Williams, Jr. 

Editor's Note: (a) After Dick left Capricorn Records the company was never able to launch another major artist and it began a decline into bankruptcy amid lawsuits for unpaid millions in Allman Brothers royalties. Shortly after Capricorn's bankruptcy, Frank Fenter's meteoric life ended before his time at  age 47. With the help of AA Phil Walden gained control over his alcohol and cocaine addiction and passed away in 2006. (b) Capricorn Album Diskography.

Chapter 4

Rabbit Records & DWA: The start-up.

1976 was a wild and crazy year. Dick left Capricorn Records with three artists at the top of the charts, helped the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign with band promotions and advertising. Then, a call from his old friends at Atlantic Records asking Dick to become part of the Atlantic family again and offered him the financing to set up an independent record company.

Dick; "If you want a friend, you gotta be a friend"

Blinging in Macon.

Dick; "Highlight of my life working with Jimmy Carter"

In short order, Dick's attorney Eric Kronfeld finalized a deal with Atlantic and the doors opened at the new Dick Wooley Associates office in Macon along with a new label
Rabbit Records. Flush with funding Dick recruited top Warner Brothers promotion man Al Moss to join the company and asked two great touring bands of the day to sign on with him. Dru Lombar's Grinderswitch, managed by Alex Hodges, now president of  "Neiderlander" and the Winters Brothers Band, managed by Charlie Daniels' manager Joe Sullivan, now a key player in the Branson Missouri mega entertainment complex.

After releasing both band's new albums, Rabbit Records mid-charted both albums, the Grinderswitch's Redwing album and the Winters Brothers debut album. Both bands continued to build their career by touring a year with the Charlie Daniels Band, The Allman Brothers Band, Marshall Tucker Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Dick had a neighbor on his Walnut Street office in Macon, a young attorney/band manager Pat Armstrong. One day in 1977, Pat came to Dick and asked if he would help launch a new band Pat managed and said they were being looked at by a major record producer. Pat had been Lynyrd Skynyrd's first manager, before Alan Walden. Pat since then had developed a huge roster of college circuit bands but felt left out of the Southern Rock explosion even though he had been an early player on the scene but Pat hadn't participated in it's success.

Pat drove Dick to a seedy downtown Macon flop-house to watch his new band Molly Hatchet perform at a dark basement club in the Dempsy Hotel. It was the venue from Hell, with toilet water standing an inch deep on the dance floor, Dick said, "it was a miracle nobody was electrocuted." But, as bad the club, Dick saw the band's potential and signed on to promote their debut album when it was released.

Dick got the heads-up from Pat a or so month before Molly Hatchet's album was released on Epic and went to work laying the groundwork and pre-promoting the release radio stations. Dick added so many stations the first week of the band's debut release that Epic found itself caught off guard, but they responded quickly throwing a pile of development money at Pat to get the band on a national tour. Soon,
the whole country knew about Molly Hatchet as the self proclaimed new "Bad Boys" of Southern Rock were called had their first gold record..

Molly Hatchet's
debut album and tour was a huge success, the album went gold, later it went multi-platinum. There was a big smile on Pat Armstrong's face because his future was now bright with a  hit record and Molly Hatchet on a coast-to-coast tour of the country.

And, Dick was happy because once again he'd proven his ability to take an unknown band and promote them into a multi-million album success. Dick, against all the odds had his first major breakout since leaving Capricorn only the year before... and it felt great!


Dick, Becky Bondia, Al Moss

Rabbit Records Logo

Rabbit & DWA in Macon

Grinderswitch signs up

Molly Hatchet

Winters Brothers at Farm Aid

In 1981 a devastating music tsunami called "Disco" swept over the landscape and sunk the radio airplay for all other types of music including Southern Rock. Dick's marriage of ten years also hit the rocks that year and he needed to re-charge the old creative batteries, he decided to take a couple years away from the music business, move to a beach and live a peaceful quiet life by the sea.

Dick moved to Tybee Island, a small island twenty miles off the coast of Savannah Georgia, at the dead end of highway 80. Tybee was a small fishing village of 1500 or so people and it was the perfect spot to get lost, chill out, maybe write a few songs, buy a Hobie Cat and learn how to sail, maybe build a beach house and look at the record business in the rear-view mirror.

Chapter 5

2004 King Mojo Records: The start-up.

Fast-forward to 2002... Dick was enjoying life in the Tybee Island slow-lane, writing songs for his Cotton States Music Publishing and had begun marketing ocean front and college community properties with his new partner Arthur Schultz, President of Benchmark/Atlantic Property Development. Dick and Arthur became friends then partners to develop Arthur's original idea of college student communities at quality schools and they opened Benchmark/Atlantic offices in seven university towns in the Southeast and Midwest to market the new concept.

College student communities were an instant hit with both investors and parents of students due to the tax strategies available at the time. With a staff of thirty salespeople Art and Dick sold their college communities, building 500 student condos and produced sixty-five million dollars in sales. The process of planning, acquiring land, getting construction loans, long term financing, city, state and university approvals, then sales and construction for two years, with no break, had been an exhilarating and exhausting. So upon completion, Dick went back to his new beach house and decided to try retirement again.

On a personal aside; the success of Benchmark/Atlantic's student communities proved to Dick that his sales and marketing skills applied equally well to other businesses and Dick was deeply gratified to know that he wasn't just a one-trick-pony.

Family interests obliged Dick to return to his home town of Atlanta in 2004 and after a few months putting his portfolio of songs together for Cotton States Music Publishing and other odds and ends, he found that not having a full time project boring. Dick had always been hooked on some kind of process, either promoting new music or new ideas, "it's what gets me out of bed in the mornings" ... so his search for a new project began in earnest.

Dick had an open mind and was always interested in blues music, and he saw an opportunity developing when a new generation of music fans sold out several summer blues festivals that year. An idea began to form around serving this niche that attracted thousands of young fans, but new blues music was not being played by corporate radio!

The failure of radio to address a developing niche market was a reminder of the FM-AM takeover in the 1970's, a lesson that was not lost on Dick. Experience tells you when to look beyond the flavor of the week and tell when it's time start something new. That time is usually when entrenched corporations pick the low hanging fruit for an easy dollar and take their eyes off the long term.

Dick's hobby had been developing websites and he'd built dozens of them beginning in the early 1990's. He told friends in the music business about the future of online music delivery and advised them to adopt the new technology in their business, but they didn't. In the 90's the major record companies had a golden opportunity to incorporate the new technology into their business and if they'd taken advantage of the idea maybe they would have retained their music distribution monopoly.

But, sadly at the crossroads of music and technology, arrogant record companies believed the ride would go on forever and that it was a preposterous idea that someone working out of a dorm room would ever be in a position to challenge their power in the music industry... soon an idea by the name of Napster who's time had come proved them all very wrong!  Today the corporate music business is becoming more irrelevant with each passing day and is in financial free-fall, passed by in an online world, much like when cars took over from the horse drawn carriage.

Today multi-national corporate record companies and land based radio stations slip further into irrelevance, and every day a new Internet application dismantles their business model piece by piece. If you need further evidence of their death rattle, listen to the mindless drivel that passes off as music today and played by corporate media.

But, music stagnation offers a new challenge, how to bring the best original talents and people interested in hearing the best original new music together. People that love real blues based, rock and jam music that's being ignored by corporate radio want more than is offered. After talking it over with internet savvy friends, the idea opened up... start an internet based Indy record label that specializes in contemporary Blues music  and the newly named King Mojo Records website was soon online.

Dick knew to be a successful provider of music that he and so many others love, would have to be driven by original talent. Helping look on the short list of original blues artists was his friend of thirty-years, guitar gunslinger and blues rock legend Dru Lombar. Dru was founder and leader of the legendary Southern Blues Rock band "Grinderswitch". Dick had worked with the band at Capricorn and Rabbit Records. Dru and Dick got together in Atlanta the next week for a meeting, Dru signed on with the new label and the King Mojo Record company start-up was official.

Several emerging blues-rock artists were identified in the months that followed and each was asked if they were ready to take help develop a new idea. After agreements were signed, the first King Mojo artists were showcased in 2004 on the first virtual release, the King Mojo All Star series.

The new virtual release immediately gained traction on Internet radio and the first album sampler was free to download and on request hard copies were sent to land based radio. King Mojo Records Allstars Vol. 1 got over 100,000 hits the first month and nearly 60,000 fan downloads.

The idea was simple and straightforward... offer great original blues and rock music by emerging artists, then use the website so fans and radio stations alike could download the new up and coming artists music free.

Our goal was "find the best new contemporary blues artists, roots rock or fusion and showcase them on the web to the world."  We began promoting our first King Mojo series and now our business model has proven so successful that several King Mojo Records artists have made it onto the national charts.

King Mojo Allstars Vol. 1    -   King Mojo Allstars Vol. 2    -   King Mojo Allstars Vol. 3

"I always thought if I liked a song, at least million other people would too...
so... there was your first gold record."


"Promotion Man"
By Kiki Lee

Copyright 2004-2015 King Mojo Records & Entertainment, Copyright 2004-2015 Cotton States Music, BMI, Dick Wooley Associates