When we last left our intrepid guitar bozo, Binky Philips, he'd had a rather too close brush with His-Dream-Come-True... almost almost almost getting signed by a major record label.
Here's another somewhat interlocking story from my book, My Life In The Ghost of Planets -- The Story of a CBGB Almost-Was. This one tells of the offer I turned down because of my own band's certain and imminent glory.
Here we go...
With a budget of about $25,000 in 2013 money, compliments of Warner Brothers Records (in return for first-refusal rights), The Planets had gone into the world famous Record Plant recording studio with KISSʼs engineer, Corky Stasiak. We were thrilled to learn the five song demo we'd produced in three 6 hour sessions, had gone down very well at Warner Bros. headquarters in Burbank, California.
Optimism and confidence were brimming, positively sloshing.
A few weeks after weʼd finished this deluxe sounding and well-received demo, a remarkable episode occurred, one that gives you a solid clue as to just how good my guitar playing was by this time. Ouch, I can't get my head through this door!
Anyway... if you are a hardcore Doors fan, you'll likely recognize the name Danny Sugerman. Danny, an LA kid, was Doors Freak Number One! He became "almost famous" by proxy. Mr. Sugerman co-wrote the classic Jim Morrison bio No One Here Gets Out Alive.
In late 1976, Sugerman came to New York City to check out the by now very happening downtown music scene. He saw The Planets perform at CBGB. After the show, he came backstage, introduced himself, literally frothing at the mouth, as in, spitting white foam! God knows what he was on! He was talking faster than I can think, just raving about us Planets.
Nice to meet you, Dan... But, uh, we gotta pack up our gear now... Yyyyyikes!
About 10 weeks later, out of nowhere, and I have no idea how he got my number, I got a call from Danny. He said [all dialogue more or less verbatim]...
"Hey Binky, I've got Ray Manzarek and Iggy Pop on the line with me [Ray and Iggy both say hello]. No one knows this yet but they're starting a band together called Nite City and I've convinced them that you have to be the guitarist and they both agree with me. You're the guy!"
[Danny had played them the Warner Bros. demo. No, I don't know how he got a copy of that either.]
Then, Ray, in his placid professorial tone, said, "Yes, we're really committed to this idea, Binky. We love your playing and Danny's told us you put on quite a show. We want to fly you out to LA and get this started as soon as possible."
Then Iggy cut in, "Yeah, uh, hey, Binky, yeah, this is Iggy. Fuck, let's fuckin' do this. We're ready, man. Get the fuck out here. C'mon! Me n' you n' Ray, man. Danny's our guy, too. C'mon, you in? Don't fuck around! C'mon!"
I told them politely that I was very flattered but that I wasn't interested.
Yes, I know turning them down was raw lunacy, but I had the secret knowledge, as I listened to Danny, Ray and Ig work me, that The Planets were gonna be signed by Warner Bros. My band, my songs.
Ray was gracious and stayed very mellow and asked me to keep an open mind.
Danny, on the other hand, was just sputtering with disbelief.
"What the fuck's with YOU, man?! Are you shittin' me?!? Look, okay, okay... When's the next time you're gigging, motherfucker?"
I told Iggy that we were playing CBGB next Thursday.
"All right. I'll be there, you asshole. If you're as good as Danny says, I will put your fuckin' ass on the plane to LA myself. Capisce? Thank you and goodbye."
Danny, flustered, tried to end the call on a light note.
I said goodbye and thought, "The guys are gonna love this story." And yes, the other Planets did. To give you a glimpse into bassist Anthony Jones' kinship with me, his reaction was, "Fuck us Planets, Bink. You gotta do this!"
Cut to the CBGB backstage area that next Thursday...
The four Planets were all in the on-deck area by the dressing rooms, a minute or two from hitting the stage. One of our roadie pals ran up and gasped, "Holy shit, Iggy Pop just walked in!"
I was genuinely amazed. Iggy Pop had actually flown in from LA to see me play!
"Oh, and Hilly says to get onstage now."
On we went.
I proceeded to play the whole show with this asinine and snotty Here's What You Can't Have attitude, just swaggering through every song, making sure my solos were as wild and flashy as I could possibly play them -- which was, of course, the perfect thing to do in its own totally counter-productive way.
We finished the set and went back behind the stage to figure out whether we should do an encore.
Suddenly, Iggy Pop just plowed into this cramped backstage area. He was wearing torn jeans and a dirty white wife-beater, and he had a congealing inch-long gash over his left eyebrow. His right eye was looking at me; the left, under the gash, was swimming.
He sneeringly bellowed, "Okay, listen to me, motherfucker! Your little band can be the opening act, okay, motherfucker?! How's that? Okay?! Let's fucking GO!!"
If it hadn't been for that bloody gash and that swimming eye...
But sadly, he seemed like someone to run from, not towards.
About a week later, Ray Manzarek called once more, again mellow, and very graciously told me how sorry he was that things weren't going to work out... and was I quite sure?
Danny Sugerman never spoke to me again.
What eventually happened was Ray and Iggy had a falling out (wow, huh!) and Nite City came out about a year later on 20th Century Records with Ray Manzarek, but no Iggy Pop. Two of the songs on the Nite City album had Danny Sugerman writing credits.
The band bombed.
So, I guess I didn't miss much, huh?