A Wall Full Of Music
A Billy Lightcap Story
Jack Hoff was confident that he and Bobby Salt would be able to get away with stealing a reel of tape from OdubD, hiring the young producer, Witzend to re-work the song on it into a modern track, and release it without any problem.
“We get this shit promoted Bobby, and we’ll be back in the saddle like the old days”…”How do they do it now..with the innerwebs or something?”
In the meantime … Billy went back to the Montage and threw Slim a set of keys…..”Same place Billy?” he asked. “Hey hey… same place Slim…no one knows but you, me, and the guy who’s gone”. “D…you go on home and do some more work for us OK?”. D asked Slim if he needed a ride, “Nahh I’ll be fine ….get to work on that stuff…time is money.”
D said, “Uhhh Billy…are we going to make some kind of deal…I don’t work for nothing …as a matter of fact I’m pretty expensive.” He regretted saying that as soon as Billy looked at him. Slim took off.
Billy said, “D ..you’re still standing there, aintchya?
D nodded..Well that means we either got a deal or your the first guy ever to croak and keep standing up and talking.”
Billy got in the Benz and left D standing there shaken. Slim was already walking up the block, heading north on Canon Drive.
ODubD was a resourceful and talented producer/engineer who had contacts all over the music world. He got some real heavies to play on some of Billy’s tunes. He felt they had enough material for an EP and wanted to release it before Hoff and Salt got theirs out but …..he then realized that if Slim didn’t mention it, Billy still didn’t know about the missing reel of tape. He sure as hell didn’t want to be the one to tell him.
Slim, D, Billy and his driver, Jez, met for dinner at Jar, one of Billy’s favorite LA restaurants.
As he wiped his face with a hot towel after practically inhaling an oxtail, Billy agreed to release an EP…he wanted to bring it to a label…D said, “That’s NOT the way to do it!”
Billy stared at him, then asked, “Well D, how should it be done?”
D said “We need a lawyer”
Billy, “Jez call Roy”
Slim, “We need a band”
Billy louder, “Jez call Roy”
Jez, “I’m calling him right now”
Billy & D, “Let me talk to him”
Jez, “ Is Mr. Weaselle available?”
Slim, “You two shut up, I’ll talk to him”
Jez, “He’s not in”
Billy “Did you leave a message?”
Jez, “Shut up… what do you think I am…. your secretary?”
Slim, “Oh oh… D, let’s go…we’re outta here”
Later that day Weaselle called Slim. “So here we go again huh? You guys never learn…this is a young man’s game and no place for old men”.
Slim asked, “Wasn’t that a movie title?”
Roy answered, “Yeah, I guess so..so frickin’ what? And by the way…
Did you know that Hoff and Salt released a single on iTunes called “You Been Talkin’ ‘Bout My Ass”…wasn’t that one of Billy’s songs?”
Slim, “Oh shit! We can’t let Billy know, he’ll do something crazy and probably end up in jail.”
Roy Weaselle had enough secrets to last three lifetimes, and Billy knew most of them. That’s why Slim left it to Roy to tell Billy about Hoff & Salt’s move.
“Well they sure were quick about it! Why can’t we get something out that fast?” Roy was surprised at Billy’s calm take on the situation. Billy asked him, “Are your guys still working at the courthouse?” Roy said “Yeah?”
“Well …. get Jack & Bobby on jury duty pronto!” Billy started laughing. This was an old ploy he and Roy used to annoy or slow down people who were in their way. A harmless jury duty summons would turn into a prosecution because their guy inside would lose or rig paper work and have it appear that Hoff and Salt were ignoring the courts orders.
“These bums’ll never know what hit ‘em…get ODubD and let’s get this record out!…..”
Roy was very pleased to see Billy getting excited. “I need a band and some rehearsal time.”…”I’m on it” answered Roy…. “And find the Beast.”
The Billy Lightcap All-Star Soul Group was back in business!!
Their first gig ever was in Lake Kittatinny, New Jersey in 1968. There was a VFW Post there and things seemed to be going pretty good until Billy sang “Please Kiss Me” which was a song based on a Sophie Tucker joke from the 1920’s. The joke was “I asked my boyfriend to kiss me where it smells, so he drove me to New Jersey”.
Needless to say, this didn’t go over well with an Archie Bunker type crowd in New Jersey. Billy was promptly hauled out to the parking lot where he was beaten senseless by drunken middle aged men. The only band mate that tried to step in was the drummer, who slipped and hit his head while rushing to Billy’s aid. He died the next day from his injuries. Billy quietly disappeared and many said he fled to Los Angeles.
The new band was good …real good. Billy was happy and wanted to play at “The House Of Blues” on Sunset Strip. Roy didn’t agree and wanted Billy to play “Cozy’s”, a much smaller venue in the valley.
“Waddaya scared?? You think I lost a step or two dontchya?” Billy was angry and insulted..…a bad combination.
Roy took Slim aside and asked him, “Why’s he so nuts about HOB when Cozy’s is a real blues bar?”
Slim said, “The House is the old Brightwater Cafe, where Billy worked as a bouncer…ah..I mean … doorman. He’s sentimental I guess”.
Roy said, “That’s right, I forgot about that. But Cozy’s will be better for him. YOU gotta talk him into Cozy’s”, he said, driving his clawlike fingers into Slim’s chest. Slim went to find ODubD.
“You know you suck…alla yaz….ya know that?” Billy was disappointed by Slim’s news. A gig next week at Cozy’s but first sitting in Monday night at Cadillac Zack’s jam in Tarzana. “Ok ok…I’ll do Zack’s jam, get the word out about the Cozy’s thing, and wish for the best. In the meantime, I gotta head back to the boat and get a few things. I’ll see ya.”
“Take it easy” said Slim.
The S.S. Cash had that sad, worn out and drab look that many landlocked night spots had in the sunlight. Billy went to his tiny cabin and started putting together his harp gear. He removed a leather two- gun shoulder holster from the closet. He put it on and inserted two large shiny chromatic harmonicas instead of pistols. “That feels better” he muttered to himself. He found his deep blue tuxedo and his plain patent leather shoes and packed them along with his socks and other essential stuff.
“And Heeeeere’s Billy” he said as he looked in the mirror. He then went to the luxurious office cabin of “Captain” George the Greek.
The Greek was sleeping on top of his desk.. His “secretary”, was sleeping face down on the couch.
“George..George..it’s me Billy..wake up ..George.
He opened one eye and wheezed, “The money’s in da drawer, man. Same as always”.
“George, George… you gotta slow down…she’s gonna give you a heart attack.”
“Let’s hope so..…what a way ta go!” Billy shook his head, opened the drawer and filled a large manila envelope.
Bobby Salt was trying hard to understand what was being said to him. The hip-hop mogul he managed to get a meeting with, Goody Shoes, was talking to him about pre-release mixtapes and beef and Salt couldn’t make sense out of any of it. “You mean he’s gotta fight somebody? … and by the way, what the fuck does WTF mean?”
Goody lowered his shades so he could look Bobby in the eye. “You ain’t been listening to shit Mr. Salt! Your guy doesn’t even exist anymore…how’s he gonna get in a fight? You gotta hire someone to do his social media, you know Twitter, Snapchat and email and whatnot. You need a ghostwriter for his shit. You got a URL yet? You got a mailing list?”
Realizing that he was way out of his depth, Bobby figured all he could say was yes…”What do you want for doing this for us?”
Goody smiled at him, “Now you’re coming to your senses Bobby. We need a fee and we also require an interest in the artist, you know, like a percentage of the gross.”
Bobby knew that Hoff was going to hate this…. but he nodded and said, “Have your lawyer draw up a contract and we’ll be in business.”
Goody nodded and smiled. After Salt left he picked up the phone and called Witzend, the kid who produced “Your Face & My Ass” for Hoff and Salt. “Hey brah, you got the tracks, right?”
“In the cloud Goody, in the cloud. Old fools don’t know nothin’ ‘bout what we gonna do. Haahaahaa!!”
Goody smiled and texted his video producer..”You Been Talkin’ ‘Bout My Ass” WTF?”
The video shoot was the typical swimming pool, bikinis, champagne, expensive car bullshit that passed as promo for new music releases. The chorus was shouted by about ten voices, both male and female, so Billy’s voice was really lost in the mix. Witzend had looped one harmonica lick and added new drums and bass. There wasn’t much else but Billy’s snarling, slurring voice in the verses.
The hook was the chorus, and it had the necessary contemporary swagger and repetition.
“Hit or miss?” Goody was talking to his promo expert, LaRon.
“Hit…definitely… Blasted over a million emails and got some mixtape action down south. Limited negative response. Nothing new out there from any heavy hitters so we should have our foot in the door in a couple days…any tour?”
Goody laughed, “You nuts? Tour? This guy may not even be alive. Damn Witzend made it sound so good, we’d be fools not to put it out…doesn’t mean there’s gonna be a tour. Maybe you can whisper there’s one coming up? Talk to some sponsors…You know … whet the appetite.
“I’m on it Goody!”
Roy called Billy and told him the strange news…. there were two versions of “Your Face & My Ass” available on all the streaming sites as well as the major download stores.
Billy asked “Do they say it’s by me?”
“Will I get some dough?”
“Yeah from ASCAP”
“I’ll make sure it’s registered. You’ll get approximately $.0007 per stream.”
“Fuck…I’m sooooo excited.”, said Billy with an obvious facetious tone, but Billy was smiling as he asked, “So Roy … Why are we letting them do this?”
Jack Hoff was looking at a copy of Billboard magazine when his phone rang.
It was Bobby Salt “What the fuck is going on!!?. Can anyone just release anything today? Why’s there two versions charting? Where’s that kid you hired? I’m gonna kill him! He’s rippin’ us off”.
Jack said, “Calm down Bobby….there ain’t much we can do now is there? We took the tape from ODub…Witzend put together a track …and by rights, he owns that track. We can wait till the thing really blows up to sue or work something out with Goody.”
“Goody….shit I didn’t know he was involved…that makes things kinda different. Don’t we still owe him money?”
“If we still owed him money, we’d be dead Bobby! You owe me half the money I paid him last time…that’s what’s what!”
“Okay okay, let’s not fight…I forgot alright…sheeesh, you’re sensitive. I’ll just collect what I can from this whole thing…Ya think that guy has more of Billy’s old tapes?”
Hoff was getting annoyed, “We only financed one session for Slim and Billy in ‘73…”Your Face & My Ass” wasn’t even recorded that night….at least it wasn’t supposed to be. It wouldn’t be smart to be making moves on ODubD right now. He might even know what was on the reel we took from him. He reads the charts…. don’tchya think he’s gonna see what’s goin’ on? This big idea of yours may blow up in our faces. We need some help…some leverage… or somethin’”.
“Heeeeyyy this is OUR idea Jack! Don’t lay this one all on me!
The next day Billy and Slim were laughing so hard they had to wipe tears from their eyes… They were sitting on a bench at the Grove and people were starting to stare….
“Just what about this is funny”? asked ODub.
“They’re robbing us! Or at least you”.
Billy just kept saying “Your Face & My Ass” over and over….I can’t believe it! Someone was finally dumb enough to put this out!! ODub…this song is now called “How Could You Do This To Me”….you have it on the reel you picked up from Culver City. It’s got new lyrics written by a songwriting legend! We trashed this “Your Face & My Ass” crap a loooooong time ago…And this is what they rob from you??? Bwwaaahhhhahaha”.
The next week’s Billboard magazine featured an article titled, “Who Was Billy Lightcap & Why You Should Care.”
Roy couldn’t stop shaking his head and smiling. …Billy and Slim were grinning from ear to ear and ODub couldn’t believe the way this panned out. …Billy was scheduled for interviews with major news publications and NBC LA, …four days before the release of their “Crooked Man” EP.
“I couldn’t have done this without Hoff and Salt,” Billy cracked. “…what jerks! I love it!…they really deserve this!”
In the meantime Salt and Hoff were both being detained by court officers at LA County Superior Court. Salt started screaming “Waddaya mean I don’t belong here? It says right here I got jury duty! What’s today’s date?!!”