A Wall Full Of Music
a Billy Lightcap Story
ODubD got busy collecting the tapes from the various places Billy hid them. Some were beyond use and others were pristine. He’d been to North Hollywood, Culver City, Venice, and finally Beverly Hills. Next time he saw Billy, they met on the dock in Marina Del Ray. Billy suggested they leave town by car and head east. “I know a DJ in Santa Fe who may be able to help us out.” ODubD wanted to stay in LA and work on the tapes. Billy said, “Then drive me to LAX…I’ll call ya when I get there…but I gotta leave town. Now! Pronto! ASAP! let’s go !!”
As he dropped Billy at LAX, Billy handed him a slip of paper with a number on it. ODubD fingered his phone and called home. The entire exchange had been watched by a black Cadillac Escalade parked down the departures lane. The SUV followed ODubD to his studio in the hills on the east side of Chavez Ravine.
Once he got there, ODubD put some tea on, and turned on his computers and other gear in the studio. Then his “hi-tech” security system, two rescue dogs, told him there was someone at the door.
He asked who it was over the intercom…….”it’s me Jack Hoff!”
“Who ?? What did you say to me?”
I wanna check out your studio for my next project”. ODubD, realizing who it was, knew that Hoff, an old time LA record man, hadn’t done a “project” in years.
“Why don’t you call and make an appointment?”
“I’m here now dammit!….c’mon let me in, I gotta pee like a racehorse!”
ODubD figured it wouldn’t hurt and decided to get it over with. Hoff walked in with two sides of beef and a little man who looked like a weasel.
“Hi D, this is Mr. Bobby Salt. He’s got something to tell you”
“Hello Mr. D …..I understand you’ve come into possession of some recordings by a certain Billy Lightcap. These are the property of Jack and I, and I will not have you (waves his finger in ODub’s face), or anyone else working on them. Where are they?…Hand them over if you know what’s good for you!”
ODubD was surprised at the old school “muscle” moves by these ancient guys. He picked up one of the 16 track tapes he found and handed it over to one of the big guys. “Here ya go fellas….I don’t want any trouble”
Hoff said, “Good man D….you’ll be in touch if you happen to come across any more of these…right?”
“Oh yeah sure guys, but right now I have to get back to work…time is money..!” he smiled weakly.
Hoff used the bathroom, and before they left smirked at Odub “Sorry to pee and flee…Dee… hahaha!”.
ODubD secured the building and called the number Billy gave him before he left. “Yaloooooo!”…said the voice on the other end. ODubD asked, “Is this Billy Lightcap?…who is this?” The voice said, “Billy….. Billy Lightcap?? That pain in the ass is dead!! I’m Marble Hill Slim…what can I do for you?”
“Do you know anyone named Jack Hoff or Bobby Salt?” asked ODubD.
“I sure as hell do…and who the hell are you?”
“I’m ODubD…I’ve been producing Billy Lightcap”
ODub thought he heard the phone hit the floor…….then Slim asked him “Billy’s still alive?”
“Yeah he’s alive, but why’d he give me your number?”
“There’s only one reason he’d want to get in touch with me again….. I gotta get him out of another damn mess…don’t I? Where are you…we gotta talk somewhere private…I don’t like these little phones, meet me at The Brightwater Cafe, er ahhh I mean the House Of Blues….. you know….on Sunset… in the parking lot. And be careful you’re not followed!”
ODubD pulled into the front of the Mondrian Hotel on the Sunset Strip and let the attendant park his Lexus. Then he walked halfway down the west side of Olive Drive, crossed the street and came back up and stood on the sidewalk at the exit of the nightclub parking lot. Just as he was realizing that he didn’t even know what this Marble Hill Slim guy looked like, a hand came out of nowhere and tapped him on the left side of his back. He turned that way but no one was there..”You looking for me?” asked a tall thin man, now on his right, dressed in an array of colors.
“Are you Slim?”
“The one & only”
ODub explained the Jack Hoff and B.S. situation to Slim. Slim laughed through the whole thing……
“Man…this is a FLASHBACK!! I haven’t heard those names in over 30 years!! And they’re still pullin’ the same shit!! D…you are crackin’ me UP!!
But first, let me hear some of what you did.”
D gave him the earbuds and Slim stood motionless and stared at him. He started speaking in a yell…”HEY THAT’S PRETTY DAMN GOOD KID!!”
ODubD tried shush him, giving him the universal “You’re wearing earbuds and talking too loud signs” but Slim just kept yelling “THAT’S DAMN GOOD MAN!…DAMN GOOD!!”. He took out the buds and said, “Don’t worry about those guys…blowhard punks, that’s what they are”.
D asked how Billy and Slim met….We’re both from New York City. I’m Marble Hill Slim ’cause that’s where I’m from. Billy lived on Staten Island and I lived on Marble Hill Island, that’s up near the Bronx. There’s a marble quarry there…obviously. The only island without a bridge or ferry or nothin’ in all of New York City. You had to have a boat to get anywhere. Me & my buddies used to go down the Hudson River and follow the Kill Van Kull and tie up on Shooters Island. That’s where we met Lightcap. He took us to the Arthur Kill and showed us the ship graveyard there. Creepy place. He was 11 or 12 and he had a pistol…that’s right he had a gun. Claimed he got it from his grandfather. It was a WW1 officers pistol with one of those lanyard rings on the butt. I never saw him shoot it” Slim turned away and muttered, “And that’s all I’m saying’ about that.”
“We started playing music in our teens, copying the bands that played Ventures songs at night in garages outside their houses….we’d go hang around Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village and listen to bands and folk acts from outside the clubs. We’d meet at 48th Street in the afternoon instead of going to school and stand outside The Metropole. We got exposed to all kinds of music, folk, jazz, rock&roll… but Billy always loved the blues.”
ODubD’s phone rang …it was Billy…
“Billy..I’m here with Marble Hill Slim”. D heard a woman laughing in the background.
“Well, I guess… I’m gonna hafta come back and fix things.” Billy slurred.
“That’s what Slim said he was supposed to do!” D said.
Billy just kept going on, “I’ll be comin’ back to LA in a day or two. I’m driving, well not me but….
Just lay low, and do whatever Slim says…Gotta Go!”
More womans laughter as Billy hung up.
“Is he in Santa Fe?? Did he have a woman with him?” D said”Yeah”. Slim told D to get his car and meet him in the lobby at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. “I can’t afford that!” D said.
“Neither can I…It’s on Billy …don’t worry” Slim replied.
Two days of luxury & room service…Slim emptying the mini bar…twice!……never leaving the room except to go downstairs to get some delicious sandwiches for lunch from “Paninotecca”….D WAS starting to worry.
Finally the phone rang…Billy was downstairs in the barber shop, said he was getting his stubble shaved and his locks trimmed.
In the elevator D asked Slim
“What the hell is going on?”….”I thought he was some “down on his luck” recluse nut job??”
Slim said “Ya got him off a boat didn’t you?” “Well….don’t ever tell him I told you… but he owns that boat and that casino, just makes like he works there to keep the wolves away. You might’ve complicated things for him”.
“But you were surprised he was alive?”….
“I’m always surprised he’s alive…that man has pissed off more people than…ahhh never mind”.
Billy was enjoying a scotch, sitting in one of the barber chairs. There were pictures of Benny “Bugs” Siegal and other celebrated and notorious former clients of the establishment on the walls. The barber was sitting in another chair with a drink in his hand too. A comfortable easy chair was occupied by an incredibly youthful middle-aged woman. Billy smiled and said..”Welcome to Gornick and Druckers, gentlemen! The oldest barbershop in Beverly Hills..this is my friend Bill Gornick, and my personal assistant Jezebel….Jezebel Kitting….get it….Jez Kitting!!” Billy & Gornick burst out laughing at his stupid joke. Jezebel just shook her head and smiled with her mouth closed.
They left in a big S class Mercedes. Jezebel drove and D followed in his Lexus.
They arrived at the gates of a mansion on North Beverly Drive. Billy stuck his head out the window, “Hello Roy…it’s Billy”, he said to no one in particular, “two cars”.
The gates opened and the little caravan drove onto the property.
They were greeted by a short, thin, bald man who walked briskly and spoke in a heavy New York City accent. “Let’s go to da den….we can tawk in dere.”
The next morning Bobby Salt was sitting outside of Starbucks on Beverly Drive. He was trying to read his iPhone but his vanity prevented him from putting on his reading glasses, so he just started mouthing the words he was making up from the letters he couldn’t see.. “Muhhwaahh teee path ras” He threw the phone on the table in disgust and then picked it up and tried to call Jack Hoff. The second time worked and Jack answered.
Bobby said, “What are we gonna do with all this crap Lightcap put on tape?”
“I don’t think much of it will work”, said Hoff..”but I’m gonna get some hiphop kids on it and see what they come up with, you know …we can maybe make it real contemporary”.
Three hours later Salt walked into Hoff’s home studio on Loma Vista Drive in the Trousdale neighborhood. He heard someone say “Uh huh, Uh huh, Uh huh” and the sound of booming bass and drums. “Now you’re cookin’..baby now you’re cookin’! This is gonna be big”. The young producer turned and smiled at Hoff and Salt and put a joint in his mouth.
“How many times I gotta tellya…Outside with the weed, outside!” shouted Hoff. “It ruins the damn equipment!”. The kid laughed and stepped out onto the patio near the pool.
(to be continued…)