October 2000
Caught Napstering

"My experience in the music business began in 1960. Even though I've recorded over 25 records, I cannot support my family on record royalties alone. I recorded a CD that sold 500,000 copies worldwide. Except for a modest advance, I have received no royalties from that project. In 1977, I had a song that was a Top 40 hit, but the only money I received from the record company was in the form of a modest advance. The only benefit I got from releasing albums was that people would like them and come to my shows."

Are these the words of an old, uneducated Delta blues singer, forced by some greedy promoter in his youth to sign an exploitative contract that would haunt him all his life? Or are they the plaint of a jazz pioneer, driven by lack of airplay, record company support and racism to live overseas? Or some innocent singer/songwriter from Brooklyn sucked into a lousy lifetime deal with an unscrupulous, midtown-Manhattan talent agency?

None of the above. That's Roger McGuinn, leader of The Byrds, arguably the most influential American rock group of the '60s, who, before his band sold millions of records for Columbia, was a backup musician and musical director for big-name artists like The Limeliters, the Chad Mitchell Trio and Judy Collins.


The rest of this column, along with 56 more, is now available in The Insider Audio Bathroom Reader, published by Thomson Course Technology PTR.

Copyright ©2006 by Paul D. Lehrman

READ MORE: This article generated a ton of responses from many different people in the industry with many different viewpoints, starting with noted songwriter Wendy Waldman. Read them here…