Chapter 44 1976 - The Beginning of the Beginning

The headlines ran the next day:

I Mall A Suicide
Eyewitnesses confirmed today that legendary bassist I Mall, of Golden Fingers fame, was rushed to the hospital after an overdose on tranquilizers and alcohol. A suicide note was found in the singer’s grasp, which read, “Life. It's over it's over and done. It's not worth the living without you. Over and over I turn in my head. It's not worth the trouble.”

A recent slump in ticket sales for his first solo tour since the disbandment of his former group was suggested as the primary
reason for this tragic outcome. It was estimated that the failed tour cost in excess of two million dollars, as contracted musicians demanded full payment, even though the tour dates were generally cancelled around the world.

Former members of Golden Fingers Spike Jones, drums, Isaac Daly, guitar and Osgood “Ozzie” Martin, keyboards, were unavailable for comment.

I read the story from his hospital bed. “What’s this shit? They’re saying I’m dead!”

Rod tried to calm him down. “Quiet, I, you’ve been through some trauma. They’ll get the story straight in the next edition.”

“Rod, I wasn’t in my right mind. I have no idea about what I was doing. Rod, you know me, I don’t even do grass. Why would I try to kill myself with pills?”

“I know, I,” Rod assured him. “We will spin this to a more positive outcome if we can.”

Spike and his sister Angela rushed in the hospital room. Even though Spike and I had had a rather public feud in the music press, he still cared for his old friend. Seeing I sitting up I the bed, he decided to play it cool.

“You don’t look so dead to me,” Spike said.

I responded sharply, “Hey man, it’s not a laughing matter. This could destroy my career!”

Spike gave his retort, “I think it’s too late for that.”

Sometimes I was clueless when it came to his public behavior. “What do you mean by that?”

“You can’t say that you haven’t noticed things have been tough for you these last few months.”

I slumped his head and nodded, “I know.”

“The fans just couldn’t take it anymore. They were fans of Golden Fingers. They didn’t see you as anything more that a successful frontman. When you took the act solo, all they got was an overdose of your ego, and sub-par musicianship.”

I began to react to that slight, and even Spike acknowledged that the instrumental contribution on I’s solo album were of the highest quality. “The problem was that it did not translate to the conceptual presentation you created for the tour. Fans like to see action, and a single player on the stage is not action. They got tired of your ranting and raving about yourself. Face it, I, with an attitude like that, you can’t go far. For now, you’ve got to face it. The press is hard. They’re calling you washed up. You've lost the golden touch.” He broke into song, “You've lost that lovin' feelin'...” before stopping himself. “Sorry, got carried away.”

“But the press just wants to sensationalize,” I retorted. “There’s little truth there. The fans can’t leave. Where will they turn? I’m the modern Messiah! I’m an Amazing Man!”

“Amazing man?” questioned Spike. “That’s just a another song, man. And when fans really try to understand the lyrics, they see right through them. You’re no amazing man, no more than any of us.”

Spike continued, “The press may overreact. Certainly, today’s headlines confirm that fact. But the fans do say that success has gone to your head. Some of them are actually responding positively to the news of your suicide. It’s a fringe group, but it’s telling. They are actually enraged in their commentary.”

If I’s mood could have sunk deeper, it would have.

Spike kept on, “They’re already moving on to other acts, other ‘stars’. And they don’t take the fans for granted. They know how to keep their egos in check. Now they are the amazing men.”

Spike picked up the hand mirror at I’s bedside. “Take a good look at yourself. You need to find your way on your own. Nobody can bring a change to your attitude but yourself.”

I couldn’t let go of his opinion that he was rock’s ruler of all things. “But I’m the King.”

Spike returned with “Elvis is the King. You’re just one of his many subjects.”

“But we were bigger than Elvis. We were bigger than the Beatles!” I protested.

“We were big, that’s true. But will we have the legacy that they have? Who will remember us in a year’s time?”

“How will we be remembered? What will it take to save us?” I pleaded.

“You must be their servant, rather that pretend to be their leader. You must fall as a slave to their feet,” Spike suggested.

“Maybe I was trying to find an end to my pain,” I admitted. “Maybe my actions last night were a last desperate attempt at a reconciliation with myself… and our fans.”

I’s eventual recognition of his failings may have been the first small step towards that reconciliation.