Rock City Angels Manager Talks About Her Days With The Band
June 27, 2010
Last year Sleaze Roxx conducted a controversial interview with former Rock City Angels bassist Andy Panik. In the interview, viewable at www.sleazeroxx.com/interviews/andypanik.shtml, Panik made several accusations against singer Bobby Durango and A&R legend Tom Zutaut. Tom was so infuriated with the conversation he sent Sleaze Roxx a message, viewable at http://sleazeroxx.com/tom-zutaut-calls-rock-city-angels-allegations-a-pack-of-lies/, calling the interview a “pack of lies” and “complete fiction”.
This week former Rock City Angels manager Grace Reinbold contacted Sleaze Roxx to give her views about the legendary story that is the Rock City Angels, calling Tom Zutaut “the actual super-hero of the Rock City Angels story from the recording side.” Below is Grace Reinbold’s views on one of the most intriguing stories in hard rock history.
“One of these days perhaps I’ll write my own memoirs of being manager for Rock City Angels. A lot of mistruths have surfaced since those days and it all makes for interesting reading. For the record, I thought Bobby was the absolute best rock singer on the strip in Los Angeles during the greatest era of rock music. He certainly was the most exciting and entertaining singer. The rest of the band was colorful but Bobby was exceptional.
Billy Siciliano (my long time friend and rock and roll associate) brought the band to my attention when they performed at Coconut Teazer. I then brought them to Tom Zutaut’s attention at Geffen and we agreed they would be signed to that label with Tom as their A&R executive. It was Led Zeppelin’s business manager Stevens Weiss who struck the terms of the deal with David Geffen. And yes, it was an incredible deal for the group. In fact, I believe I still have a copy of the agreement. It is important to note that Stevens and I were partners at the time for two very good projects, RCA being one of them.
Tom was an amazing A&R executive and to this day, I adhere to some of his business philosophies. The end of my management of the group came about during their recording session at Ardent Studios in Memphis with Jim Dickinson producing. I was asked to fund some of Bobby’s bad habits but refused to do that because of caring too much about his long term “health”. That refusal unfortunately led to our parting of the ways and a new manager was brought into the picture by Stevens, midway through the recording. His name was Phil Lorito. Phil was deemed better equipped than I to deal with the Hollywood habits bad boy band. He was a tough guy.
Bobby sang the blues better than most blonde rockers could even think of doing. That came from his soul and from God. He thought I knew nothing about that form of music but he was so wrong. I never told him about the times I spent in Detroit and Memphis with George Clinton, Rufus Thomas and quite a few others equally versed in the blues.
There are three people who knew/know almost everything that transpired during the era RCA was signed. Billy Siciliano, Tom Zutaut, and me. Well, actually Tom knew a lot but not exactly everything, and that was for a reason. I was the person who paid a visit to Ann Boleyn at New Renaissance Records. I gave her a considerable amount of cash for the masters of the group’s original recording, photos and artwork for that label. When I got to Ann’s, I thought it amusing that most of the items had been stashed under a bed. I wrapped up those items and took them to Geffen Records and presented them as a gift to the Geffen label. That cleared the way for their being signed to a major label. I do not know all the details of what Ann said about this later, but she was never privy to business information about the band after the masters were in my hands. She had a tremendous instinct for finding great rock talent. I respected her then and now.
After their signing to Geffen, the group had the world on a string but that string broke when the band began to believe its own publicity. That’s a mistake that fells many great artists.
While the band was living in L.A. and writing songs for the debut Geffen project, I received an anonymous phone call from one of the band’s “fans” telling me how drugged out the band members were, especially Bobby. And I was told they were dealing. It was a call made by someone who was very jealous of Bobby but if it was true, I needed to do something about it. So I phoned Stevens who lived outside of NYC and asked for his help and advice. He immediately boarded a plane and flew to L.A. to help me handle this situation. The most memorable comment he made to Bobby was during an early morning meeting at my L.A. office, which was then on Sunset Blvd. in the 9000 building. Stevens, Billy, myself and the band were present. Stevens said slowly and emphatically, “Bobby Durango [long pause] … I have only one thing to say and that is … [another long pause] dead singers make lots of money.” For a while, Bobby indeed straightened out. It just didn’t last very long.
For years I have sat back and read what others, including Andy Panik and Ringo Jukes, had to say about the band and those working with them. I was quiet to the press then and am not looking for arguments today. However, if the truth were known, no one would be happier than me to see the band do well. I believed in them back in the 80’s. I never once, not even to this day, believed Bobby was anything less than amazing.
I would not/could not manage them again — and they wouldn’t want me to. Management is for the young, something I am no longer. But no one can take away from me my memories and I have many good, fascinating, bad and ugly memories about the group.
What prompted me to send this email is the email from Tom Zutaut that you published. It is a year old but I just saw it. Tom is the actual super-hero of the Rock City Angels story from the recording side. What he had to say in his email is the truth and there is lots more to the story of Rock City Angels but it does not involve everything that the band members write about. Their recall is, however, very interesting to read.
There were no conspiracy theories surrounding RCA, just pure logic and good business moves. In short, Bobby was a much better and more entertaining singer than Axl Rose. As both were signed to Geffen Records, they would certainly eventually become competitive with each other. RCA first had to get to Gunners level, and they never made it that far. Were Rock City Angels signed and shelved to make way for Guns n’ Roses to continue climbing? Maybe, but we will never know the answer to that.
It is Billy Siciliano who the group should be particularly thankful for. He believed in the band more than anyone and he worked tirelessly and enthusiastically alongside of me to help them become successful. They never once publicly thanked him. H’mmm, for that matter – they never once publicly thanked me, either.
The most difficult thing for me during this era was watching Bobby and the band ruin what could have been an incredibly successful career by choosing high times to escape from low times.”
Courtesy of www.sleazeroxx.com