Wednesday, September 19, 2007

you'd look nice in a new lawsuit...

at the end of the Sound and Vision tour I settled into a cozy cottage on Lake Delevan (see birds blog from march 19) and began contemplating the next solo record to be made: inner revolution. it was 1991, new technologies were being born. digital recording, hitherto reserved for only the major "money" studios was now becoming available to the pedestrian. my engineer/sidekick rich denhart suggested I take the leap and buy something called Sound Designer. it costs $5,000.00 for the package, a hefty amount to be sure but a fraction of what I spent at Royal Recorders each time I made a record.
I was hesitant at first. I loved being in the big impressive studio. but rich convinced me even if I only made demos of my songs it would be worth the savings in time and studio costs. he was right. we set up the slight beginnings of what would become my studio in the open room of my rented cottage on the lake.

Royal Recorders was owned by a millionaire diamond dealer. his name was Ron. I liked ron and for several years he was my financial backer. eventually his flaky temperament made him an unstable partner. following the Bowie Sound and Vision Tour I paid him back every penny he had invested in me, with interest, and ended my dealings with ron.

Royal had a plethora of vintage microphones and one in particular I used for all my recordings there, especially to record my vocals. from mr. music head on it has been my vocal mic for all my records. it's called an AKG C-24. I loved that mic, it made my voice sound just right.

shortly after making inner revolution in 1992 my teammates rich and dan made a deal with ron to buy the studio from him! it's hard to imagine two recording engineers being able to afford the astronomical costs of owning and running a major studio (thousands of dollars a month) but it was their dream and they went for it. I thought it was a big mistake. I determined from the start to have nothing to do with their deal with ron. I didn't want to know.

rich and dan went about the task of taking over the studio (now re-named Music Head Studio with my blessing). by then I had moved to a place on Lake Geneva and had begun working with a new intern engineer noah evens. rich and dan approached me about buying my Sound Designer computer set up. they wanted to use it to generate extra studio income by putting it in a side room as an editing facility. in return they offered to trade me the AKG C-24 mic I loved so much. at the time both items were equal in value. we agreed, signed paperwork, and made the trade.

in 1994 martha and I moved to Mt. Juliet. we installed my now-enlarged studio into the bottom of our house. meanwhile Music Head Studio had faltered and rich and dan were being sued by ron for $600,000. I felt so bad for them. just before we moved ron asked me and martha to have lunch. then he dropped the bomb that he wanted his microphone back and would sue me if I did not comply. we begged him not to sue me, after all we were friends.
he insisted that I knew the microphone was not supposed to be traded according to his agreement with rich and dan. I knew nothing of the sort. I had never asked, nor wanted to know such details about their deal. as far as I was concerned it was a legal trade.

ron persisted and a few months later, sure enough we received a summons to court. since we now lived in Tennessee this meant we had to spend one day driving back to Wisconsin, then meet with an attorney, spend the next day in court, then spend a day to drive back. a 3-day affair. apart from the time spent, the cost to us would be $2500. my first lawsuit.


  1. Why were rich and dan being sued?

  2. I have no idea why I went to your website, except that I recently turned fifty and I'm looking back.

    Thirty years ago, I saw you with Rich Denhart, Christy Bley and Bill Jansen at Victoria Falls in Springfield, Illinois. I think you were actually living there for a time, because you always turned up at the Crow's Mill when Hurricane Ruth played there. Springfield did not know what to make of you and your wonderful music. They made noise, threw chairs around, until you screamed, "Oh shut up and go home and listen to Bruce Springsteen!"

    I thought you were brilliant. I loved the little green caps you and the band put on during "Peas." You provided a wonderful landscape of music and sound and humor.

    I moved to California in the 80's, but I wore my "Twang Bar King" T-shirt to shreds. I am so damned glad you're still making music.

  3. That's a sad story Adrian. I'm glad you got your favorite mic in the end.
    I'm really enjoying the anecdotes from your musical career. I'm also enjoying the "Dust" particles in your store section.
    Just thought I'd let you know that I just sold some prints through the web and decided to spread the love by catching up on some Belew tunes I've missed since May.


  4. Don't worry, Ade. I'll give you a lend of the microphone I use that I bought from Radio Shack for $20. :-)

    My boy Gene turned out to be a little girl. She was born on 16 September and we named her Verity Grace. I wrote a song about her, but it's not finished yet.

    Keep twanging your bar or whatever it is you do. (Mind you, I always though "Twang Bar King" was some kind of American euphemism for spanking the monkey or something). No, no, no, tremelo arms and wibbly wobbly trademark guitar sound. I get it.

  5. I was in a band that played Crows Mill School! Probably after the fact but, that was the place of many memorable gigs.
    So, if they knew the microphone was not tradable, why did they "trade" it for the Sound Designer?

  6. So, I hope there weren't too many more lawsuits, if this was your first.

    Loved the show at Stella Blue.