Chapter 17 1979 - Bad Girls

Marilynn Spencer and Marie Jordon had called themselves the “M” girls in the Golden Fingers fan club, which they themselves had organized in 1974. They had met at a Golden Fingers concert in 1973 and became fast friends during the band’s heyday. They also had been befriended by Angela and I, even to the extent that they were invited to be bridesmaids at the wedding. Within the fan club, they answered correspondence, spoke with fans on the telephone and together published a fan newsletter, which they called True Gold. Despite the band’s breakup, they continued to follow the solo careers of the four members, and even delved into reporting side interests and activities. While never a great money-making effort, newsletter subscriptions and fan club dues were enough to keep the correspondence flowing and pay postage and long-distance charges.

Outside the circle of “true fans” their past activities had been considered by many to be bordering on “groupie” behavior. Whenever the band had been in town, they were invited backstage, and even partied with the band on more than one occasion. Their reputation began to be seen as “bad girls” and despite efforts to dissuade that opinion, the label stuck. While enamored with each of the individual members of Golden Fingers, they had been particularly attracted to I. Though really no more than a teenage crush, the music press did little to portray the relationships as they really were, and constantly described them in the most salacious terms.

By 1975, I and the band had distanced themselves from the “M” girls and their efforts, but non-plussed, the girls continued to keep up correspondence with fans, and their reporting and story ideas never really wavered from the positive portrayals of the band, and exhibited true devotion to the band’s ideals.

Because of their continued devotion, I and Angela reestablished the relationship in 1976, and found the two to be as genuine as they appeared. Angela’s initial hesitation and concern moved easily into trust and friendship. The three friends would get together for shopping excursions and other girl’s-day-out activities, and Angela would be their confidante and advisor whenever a question came up that they couldn’t answer.

But by late 1978, in an effort to regain the long-sought privacy that had evaded I and Angela for the past couple of years, the relationship began to move more into the background, and fewer and fewer face-to-face encounters happened. Without Angela’s mutual friendship, Marie and Marilynn’s relationship also begin to erode, especially after Marie began dating Jordan Spencer, another fan that had been active in the Golden Fingers scene. Though they shared the same last name, Jordan was not related to Marilynn, and the similarity of the combined names to their own was initially a point for great amusement.

But as Jordan and Marie’s relationship began to blossom, Marilynn felt excluded, and she secretly plotted to interfere and if possible, destroy the couple’s happiness. It began seemingly innocent enough, with Marilynn flirting with Jordan, even suggesting that they hang out on some evenings when Marie was otherwise engaged in other activities.

Their infrequent meetings, however, began to establish a basis for increasing the relationship, and before long, the two Spencers were the couple and Marie was on the outs. As word got out about the new couple, Marie began spreading rumors that Marilynn and Jordan were in fact cousins, and that their continued dalliance was incestuous and demeaning.

The final straw was Marie’s revelation and public accusation in the pages of True Gold, which escalated to the point of a split publication, and a new newsletter, Golden Tales, being established under Marilynn’s sole editorship. The now public exchange of accusations split the fans, and reestablished the “bad girls” moniker that the two had earlier unjustly earned.

By the middle of 1979, the exchange had become so ugly that Angela felt she had to step in. Not only was the reputation of the two former friends sullied, but the gossip and hearsay was now being directed at members of the band, and imagined relationships that may or may not have occurred was even putting a strain on Angela and I’s own marriage.

“We have to do something about this feud between the ‘M’ girls,” she mentioned to I, as she perused the latest copy of True Gold. “Not only is it splitting the fan base, but the rumors are now starting that I was the spoiler in the affair that you and Marie supposedly had in 1975. She was only 16, then! What did happen?”

“You know there was nothing going on between Marie and me, or Marilynn either for that matter. Sure, they liked to flirt, and maybe liked to brag to their other friends about their time with the band, but believe me, nothing happened.”

“But public perception can become the truth in matters like this. What if this whole thing backfires, and we are dragged into it against our better judgement? We need to take charge of this, and get the truth back on the right track.”

I consulted with Rod Manger, asking for him to seek out some legal advice. If there were accusations of a sexual relationship with an underage girl, that could only mean trouble, and I was very intent on distancing himself from any such accusations.

“You’ve always had my back, Rod, and I have got to find a way out of this mess that we are finding ourselves in.”

Rod began to look a little uncomfortable, sweat forming on his brow, and his face reddening.

“What is it, Rod? What is going on?”

Rod looked to the floor, as if to find support there, and after a few moments of reflection, looked up to meet I’s gaze. “Remember that night in 1975 when the girls surprised us on the road in Omaha? We got snowed in, and we had to spend an extra day.”

“Yeah, I remember,” I remembered.

“Well, Marie and I sort of hooked up that night. It began innocently enough, but soon enough the liquor started flowing, and before we knew it, we were sharing a bed at the hotel. A one night stand, but a night that has haunted me ever since. You see, she got pregnant, and I didn’t find about it until we returned from the tour a couple months later.”

“Pregnant? We saw her often during those times, and I don’t remember anything about that!”

“When she confronted me, I knew that there was no easy way out. There could be no public revelation, or I would be facing jail time. She hadn’t told her parents, but began to suspect after getting sick, and starting to put on some weight. After a visit to the free clinic, the truth was revealed.”

Rod once again returned his eyes to the floor, as if trying to read from there what to say next. I’s own eyes remained fixed upon him, waiting for more of the truth to be revealed. Rod moved to the window, looking out, gathering his next thoughts and facing the revelation he was about to admit.

“We terminated the pregnancy, and never told anyone.”

I stood there, unable to comprehend this new revelation. First, a statutory rape, then an abortion. It was too much for him to take on at the moment, and he left Rod standing there in silence.

When upon relating the newly uncovered facts to Angela, she indicated “We can’t just sit on this. If it ever comes out that we knew about it, or even if anyone suspects we knew about it, and thinks we tried to cover it up, it could go very badly.”

“Rod has been one of my closest friends, and he made a mistake, a very bad mistake. He needs to come clean himself, and we need to be there to support him. And Marie has also suffered silently all these years. She needs to find closure, and the recent events cannot be helping the matter at all.”

Marie and Marilynn’s continued elevation of words and accusations caused the mainstream music press take up the story on a national and even international level. Headlines such as “Bad Girls even Badder” and “I was I’s Love Child” only spurred additional rumors that were ever increasing about additional liaisons within the band. Just as public discussion quelled the rumors of the 17-year-old love child just on the basis of their relative ages (I would have only been nine years old when she was born), one women even purported that her three year old adopted infant was the love child of I, the result of his supposed illicit affair with Marie. While that was also easily debunked, it did cause wonderment among fans about any possible truth behind any of these stories. The truth must be in there somewhere, and had to be exposed.

Angela and I couldn’t even leave their home without be accosted by reporters, photographers and outraged fans who felt that they had been betrayed by their idol. Daily, outside the gates of their private residence, the crowds would gather, some accusing, some continuing to worship and revere and offering support, some there just out of curiosity at the continued spectacle.

It came to a head when one deranged fan outmaneuvered the security constraints that had been in place, and found his way into the private residence. Police were called, and the situation quickly defused, but the encountered had rattled I to the extent that he felt that the truth of the matter really did need to be revealed. He contacted Rod, and insisted that he come clean, if only to clear his conscience, but also to counter all of the negative publicity that was now occurring.

Local TV, newspapers and radio were contacted for an impromptu press conference, and when the parties we gathered, I stepped forward to address the waiting crowd.

“While we are sickened by the amount of misinformation being distributed by rumor mongers and even to be found in the legitimate press, we feel that it is only appropriate to address these issues in this very public manner. I would like to bring to the microphone, my personal friend and former manager, Rod Manger, to address you.”

Rod approached the microphones, but tried to avoid directly looking at the cameras. He read his previously prepared admission: “In 1975, during a brief affair with one of our fans, I was responsible for causing her pregnancy, and actively sought out and supported the termination of that pregnancy at eight weeks. Because she was a minor at the time, I did not come forward, for fear of the legal consequences, but am now making full admission of my guilt in the initial act, and in failing to reveal it in the subsequent years. I publicly apologize for my actions, and will immediately turn myself over to the authorities to face any charges.”

Rod turned away from the mikes and cameras as the inevitable questions began to surface. “Who was it?” “Were there others?” “Who knew?” “Why now?”

Rod simply left the area and waited for law enforcement to come to arrest him.

Rod’s trial was set, but because the victim had been a minor, Marie’s name was not publicly revealed. Despite the arrest, it did nothing to quell the continued rumors about I and Marie. If anything, Rod’s affair only strengthened the opinion that there were more revelations to come, that the unknown stories were even more insidious and demeaning to female members of the fan base. Significant drug use, binge drinking, prostitution and forced sexual activities with female and male fans, even reports of involvement with organized crime were all ideas that were bandied about. The seemingly pale reality of Isaac’s minor drug use was elevated into a serious addiction, and rumors of his period of absence with the band was due to a drug rehabilitation program. Everything was getting out of hand.

Angela and I were at wit’s end, and Angela accused I of not doing enough to distance himself from the situation. Feeling helpless and without any direction to turn, she had to make a change, to get away from the bad publicity, the daily hounding, the ever-present questioning. Her decision to separate and move back in with her parents came as a shock to I, who felt that they could weather this situation, and thought he saw an end in sight. But she was steadfast in her determination, packed a few belongings and arranged for a private exit to not add any more fuel for the fire. When she arrived at the Jones’ home, she found a level of calm that had been absent for several weeks, and her mother and father took her in.

“Are the stories true? Her mother, Annette, asked. “Was I really involved in all of that? Is he still involved?”

“Mother, you know that isn’t true. I is, and has always been faithful to me, and he is not involved in any way with any of the activities that they are saying. Spike, Ozzie and Isaac are also far removed from any of the rumors, though they certainly are under the same suspicion and speculation. It just seems that one cannot be in the public eye and not have dirt dished onto them, despite their innocence.”

Buddy chimed in, “I’ve know I since he was a little child, and despite his reputation as a bad boy during the Golden Fingers days, I personally know that he was never involved in any of those activities. In fact, there were a number of times when his father and I were together with him at the very time that he is accused of such heinous acts. Maybe it would help if we came forward in his defense.”

“I wouldn’t want to drag you into this. You don’t know the kind of scrutiny and negative publicity you would have to endure. That’s why I had to get out from under it, for a bit of respite. I desperately love I, and already am missing him. Coming here was a quick reaction, but I don’t think it’s going to solve any problems in the long run, and a separation is going to only fuel speculation that something bad really is afoot.”

Angela paused, and wiped a tear from her eye. “I have to be strong, and I have to be at I’s side. Thinking that coming here would ease the situation was a mistake, and I’m sorry to have troubled you.”

“Dear, you know it’s no trouble,” Annette consoled, “and you and I are always welcome, no matter what the situation. Do what you think is best. You have our full support.”

Angela hugged her parents, and returning to her own home, hugged I and apologized for her rash actions. “We are in this together, and whether it gets worse or better, we will continue to be in it together.”