Chapter 22 2000 - Music

I’s tale of the “missing years” as told to Roger took several weeks, and there were many details that I had glossed over, or had deemed as “not important.” Despite that facts, the supplementary material was a delight to fans who had missed out on the subtle references occasionally seen during those years, and mostly regaled to the back pages of any publications. There was even talk of reviving the old fan publications, and one attempt managed to get off the ground, only to fall flat after an emphatic “No” in once again trying to seek a Golden Fingers reunion.

“That part of my life is over,” I declared, “and it will be a long time before I seek that road again.”

However, the weeks in reviewing events from more than twenty years earlier gave pause to some unfinished business. I’s demos that he recorded in 1983 had never been distributed, and as a token of appreciation, he turned a few of them over to Roger for a premiere on his web site. When they had been recorded, the ability to make them available to fans was limited, especially without a distribution deal. With the advent of the web, providing music directly to the fans over an internet connection became a reality. Although the quality was limited, due to the slow nature of network connections, fans would accept the wait for what was, to them, new music. By recording some of the original demos to CD, I was able to mail them to Roger, who i=n turn was able to convert them to a lower-fidelity recording, but one that fans would enjoy anyway. The occasional fan would ask for a better version, and though it wasn’t a public practice, Roger made CD copies and sent them to a few of his most ardent supporters.

A side effect of the new music was that many fans began looking at the own collections, and several discovered recordings of the band during their 1970s popularity, as well as solo concerts that I himself had performed. The exchange of bootleg material though the fan bulletin board on the “A Most Amazing Man” web site began to worry Roger as to the legality of the practice. With a blessing from I, the practice continued, but before long, a “cease and desist” notice arrived in Roger’s e-mail from a law firm that represented the interests of Osgood Martin and Isaac Daly.

Roger contacted I, and I indicated that he had not heard from either of them for several years, but that Isaac had himself had a semi-successful solo career. He was a bit surprised that legal action would be the recourse. Had they fallen on hard times?

While Isaac’s recent successes were well known, I realized that he had not heard anything from Ozzie in an even longer period of time than he had considered. Thinking back, he could not recall a single encounter since the band broke up. He mentioned it to Angela.

“Where’s your memory? He came to our wedding, and we went to his, what was that, ten years ago? Come to think of it, he wasn’t at Sandy’s funeral, though, nor have I heard anything about him in all the years since.”

“He married that girl from the record company, that’s about all I remember. I wonder if she’s somehow behind this cease and desist order concerning the bootlegs material from the band?”

“The record company still holds some rights to material released during that time, so maybe they are behind it. I have a hard time thinking that Ozzie would be involved in it. The last I heard, he was living well off of investments that he made during the band’s period of productivity. What would be the incentive?”

“Money is always an incentive, if that’s was he’s after.”

“Don’t be so quick to paint a guilty picture, we need to check this out a little further.”

When a formal letter outlying the charges was delivered, not only was it received by Roger, but another copy was also sent to I, naming him as a co-defendant. A suit was being brought forth to return control of any and all materials that had been illegally record at Golden Fingers concerts to the record company. Senior partner at the law firm was Candace Martin, Ozzie’s wife. “He is behind this! He should have known that making a legal issue is not the best way to deal with it, why didn’t he just come to us directly with his concerns? We keep a low profile, but we’re not exactly hermits! He could have contacted us at any time.”

I fumed about the possibility of betrayal by his old friend. I decided to take some action of his own. The law firm kept offices in Los Angeles, so he made the call and demanded to speak to Candace. “Martin and Martin,” said the receptionist as she answered the phone. “How may I direct your call?”

“I need to speak to Candace Martin directly, this is I Mall.”

“Ms. Martin is not available to take your call. Would you like to speak to her partner, Mr. Martin?”

I’s countenance reddened as he thought of what he would say to Ozzie once he got on the phone, trying to suppress his anger, he indicated through his gritted teeth, “Yes, I’ll speak with him.”

The line went dead for a few seconds while I was placed on hold. Finally, a click and some background noise indicated someone was coming back on the line. I’s rage got the better of him.

“Ozzie, what the hell are you trying to pull with this lawsuit? What are you and your lawyer scum friends up to?” he yelled into the phone.

“Pardon me, sir?” It was the receptionist back on the line. “Mr. Martin is delayed for a minute, I just wanted to let you know the wait would be a little longer.” She placed the call back on hold. I continued to fume, and began pacing. “That scum has put me on hold again,”he told Angela. “It’s obvious he doesn’t want to talk!” I slammed the phone on the hook, and complained “I’m not going to be kept on hold for the likes of that twit. I have have half a mind to pay them a visit in person!”

“Why don’t you? That actually sounds like a good idea. There’s always so many opportunities for misunderstandings that a personal meeting could eliminate. It will give you a chance to calm down, and cooler heads will prevail. We’ll get to the bottom of this, and see that something mutually beneficial comes out of it. Go ahead and book a flight.”

The flight to Los Angeles wasn’t until the morning, and although I was tempted to call back and yell some more, he decided that Angela was right, and booked the flight, and a return flight for that evening. “I’ll have this all wrapped up in a couple of hours, so there’s no sense in just getting a one-way ticket.”

The next day, I boarded the plane and touched down in Los Angeles an hour later. A taxi ride to the law firm of Martin and Martin took another hour, but finally he was at the entrance. “Calm yourself,” he told himself. “You can make more friends with honey than vinegar.” He took a deep breath as he opened the door and stepped in. The receptionist looked up as he entered. “May I help you?”

I steeled himself, and controlled his anger. “I’m here’s to see the Martins. Tell them it’s I Mall.”

“Are you expected, sir? We weren’t successful in getting back to you yesterday after we we’re cut off. I hope you weren’t inconvenienced.”

“Inconvenienced? This whole cease and desist lawsuit is an inconvenience!” His calm demeanor had broken once again.

“Yes, sir, I understand. Ms. Martin or her brother will be able to meet with you in a few minutes.”

“Her brother?” Now it was I’s turn to be confused, he didn’t recall that Ozzie had a sister.

“Yes, Mr. Charles Martin, he is the other partner in this firm.”

The wheels began to turn a little bit, as I realized that Mr. Martin was not Ozzie after all, but still was confused.

She buzzed the office. “Ms. Martin? A Mr. I Mall is here to see you.” A pause. “Yes ma’am, I’ll send him in.” She hung up and indicated the door.

I opened it and tentatively stepped in. “Mr. Mall? Pleased to meet you, I’m Candace Martin. She held out to hand to shake.”

I ignored it and got to the matter directly. “What are you and Ozzie doing? How has this come to a lawsuit, without any attempt at prior communication?”

Now it was Candace’s turn to be confused. “I’m sure I don’t know who this ‘Ozzie’ is that you speak of.”

“Ozzie! Osgood Martin! Your husband?”

“Sir, I am not married, nor have I ever met anyone named Osgood Martin.” She paused in thought for a moment and suddenly her eyes opened in surprise. “You don’t mean that Osgood Martin! Of course, you’re I Mall! How could I not have known?”

Again, confusion set in. “This lawsuit,” as he proffered the papers, “indicates otherwise. It clearly states that you are representing Isaac Daly and Osgood Martin in seeking to block release of fan-made materials of Golden Fingers live recordings. How do you explain that?”

Candace took the papers and gave them a once over. “Sir, I believe you have been the victim of a hoax. This is not our letterhead, and this is certainly not my signature. There is no lawsuit, and as far as I know, no injunction against your fans offering up their material for trade. We don’t even represent the music industry. Our cases here are strictly in the real estate area. I’m afraid your concern with us is unjustified. Prior to yesterday, we have never made any attempt to contact you.”

I sat down, confused as ever as to who would try to run such an elaborate and believable hoax. And to what purpose?

Candace broke his reverie. “If I may be so bold as to ask, sir. May I have your autograph?”