Re: Mick T's Guitars
Date: July 6, 2006 06:01
Taylor is not receiving royalties from ABKCO (Allen Klein), although they should be accounting to him for the records that they sell in the US/Canada territory. MT might not have anything against Allen Klein personally but AK's company still owes him a substantial amount of money (For Ventilator Blues alone ABKCO have confirmed they know that there is £ 350.000 in an account somewhere - which is MT's share of the publishing money for that one song).
Decca is the only record company that is paying MT for Stones records. This is only a tiny amount, because Decca is the label they were signed to during the Brian Jones era.
Since MT's work is embodied in a couple of records of the Decca catalogue, they figured it was reasonable to pay him a percentage of the artist royalties generated by those records (the Brian Jones estate gets the lion's share since BJ played on most of the tracks).
As for what Mathijs posted, with all due respect but I have never seen so many inaccurate statements in such a short piece of text. It's difficult to decide where to start. I just can't understand why you are so persistent in commenting on things you don't really know about. Maybe you shouldn't automatically exclude the possibility that there is a big difference between your way of seeing things, the explanations that you have been comfortable with for many years and what really happened. You weren't there, so when something comes up that is new to you, it doesn't mean it can't be true.
First of all, you seem very confused about the difference between publishing royalties, record royalties (artist royalties), and public performance royalties.
The publishing royalties are the only royalties that will only benefit the person that wrote the song. Publishing royalties, in turn, are divided in categories. Mechanical royalties (earned from the sale of records), Print royalties (earned from the sale of sheet music), Synchronisation royalties (earned when music is used in film or TV). I'll leave print and sync royalites out of it for now.
The mechanical royalties have to be paid by the record company to the composer of the song. In England it's 8,5 % of the RRP of each record pressed. There is usually a music publishing company involved that acts as a middleman between the record company and the artist. The publishing co gets commissioned to get the mechanicals from the record co and then pays out to the songwriter (after tracking down the mechanicals they are allowed to keep 20 % of the 8,5 % for the trouble).
Of course nobody gets extremely wealthy from public performance royalties, which are the royalties that are collected by performing rights societies (every time a song is played in a public place be it radio, TV, a concerthall or a nightclub, a few pennies have to be paid to the artist or band that originally released the song (not only the author of the song gets paid for this).
Each country has their own own organisation, e.g. the public performance money for Dutch artists is collected from the users (the aforementioned public places and radio/TV) by SENA - which has only existed since '93. Holland is a very small country so when your song doesn't get airplay outside of Holland, it's not going to amount to much. In the case of Stones songs, it's a different ball game because these tunes get played all over the world. PRS will account for England, GEMA for Germany, STIM for Sweden and so on and so forth. I heard they are going to introduce a similar system for American performers (in America, the system so far was that only songwriters were getting paid public performance).
There are two thing that I can imagine to be infuriating if I would be in Taylor's shoes. I don't understand why he keeps getting singled out for drugs problems he had in the past (is it because he has openly spoken about it ?) There are not that many musicians from the 70's that have not had serious problems with either drugs or alcohol at one point or another, esp among the guys that were in the most successful bands.
It seems some people are just determined to repeat insinuating and unfounded remarks whenever they get a chance.
Why is it that Keith gets glorified for his recreational drug habits and Taylor gets condemned for it, even though his chemical intake was never on the same kind of scale as KR's. Taylor's private nickname for Keith is "Cockroach". (A cockroach is the one creature that will still be alive after a nuclear attack). I think this is Taylor's way of saying (acknowledging ?) that when it came to chemical warfare, he could never keep up with Keith.
The second source of discontent is that he is not getting artist royalties for the records on the record label he co-founded with Mick J, Keith, Bill and Charlie.
When they formed Rolling Stones Records (in 1970), it was decided that each bandmember would get exactly the same rights with regard to the proceeds from any of their activities. The only exception is of course publishing royalties, which were paid by the publishing company to the bandmembers that got an (official) credit on any of the compositions they released).
Now, since they were the record label themselves, they could do whatever they wanted with the proceeds from the record sales (i.c. split them between the five members. Which is exactly what they decided to do - this was all put in writing when they set up their own company and label).
MT was being paid a healthy amount in artist royalties in the 70's. This had nothing to do with touring. For instance, they didn't tour very much between the end of the European tour Oct '73 and Dec '74. In fact, Taylor has said in interviews he got fed up with waiting and felt like it was a stalemate situation. Even Jagger was totally exasperated with Keith's behaviour. (Jagger turned up at MT's doorstep, literally in tears. He repeatedly said to Mick: I wish I could fire him [KR], but I can't...). Keith was getting in trouble a lot (possession of drugs) and the rest of the band had to pick up the pieces as a result, like paying for the fines that Keith was given, immigration problems (missed out income when they could not enter certain countries) etc.
So if Taylor was not entitled to his 1/5 of the artist royalties, how come his earnings were substantial even when they were not touring.
I wouldn't be surprised if Woody and Watts have different reasons for still wanting to tour. Watts was getting the same percentage as Taylor from the artist royalties for the albums '69 -'75, enough for them to open a Swiss bank account. With Woody it's a completely different story, as he was not made a fully fledged member of the band for about 20 years. They only paid him a fixed salary for all that time.
Immediately after MT left, the Stones tried to get away with not sending his royalty cheques anymore.
I guess they reasoned 1/4 is more than 1/5. A former student of the London School of Economics who is not exactly known for his generosity would not fail to come up with that idea.
They made amends eventually after Taylor sought legal advice (he did not sue them) and correspondence was exchanged (years of legal bills) between his lawyer and their lawyers. Their lawyers were going by the instructions of Jagger and Rupert Loewenstein, their business manager.
Then in '81 they suddenly instructed their accountants to stop paying out his share of the artist royalties.
Something that is easily overlooked is that Taylor was a company director in each of the subcompanies, which were set up to deal with different aspects of the business. Which means he should be getting a percentage from all kinds of products relating to the '69-'75 period (Taylor era) like films, merchandise etc.
Just because he hasn't sued them doesn't mean they don't have a legal conflict.
Taylor has written very eloquent letters to Jagger and to Loewenstein about this.
If you ask Taylor, he might tell you that it is not resolved as far as he's concerned, although he's not one to discuss these things with fans (which is probably wise).
RSR is no longer the label that puts out Stones Records. First they signed a distribution deal with Atlantic Records (Atlantic made them an offer, while MT was still with the band). Later on they got even better (distribution) deals with labels like Columbia, CBS (Sony nowadays) before they went with Virgin. (Virgin has also bought the back catalogue). Each time they switched between labels, a lot of money changed hands and Taylor should have gotten his 1/5 from the "transfer sum".
The Stones also know that they have some serious business to sort out with Taylor. Not long after they stopped paying his royalties, MT met up with the band in Kansas City. He was spending time with Keith and Ronnie at the hotel before they went to the venue. Keith and Ronnie took MT into Jagger's dressingroom and said: "Can Mick play with us?" Jagger looked embarassed and nervous. Just before they had to go on, he came over to Mick T and said: "Mick, I know what happened with your royalties... Don't worry, we'll get it sorted out".
Now why would he say that if they were not withholding his royalties ? Also, Keith has told MT: We owe you.
Mick Taylor was never as broke as you want to make it sound in the early 80's. He secured himself a very good record deal (Keith was green with envy) and was paid an advance. The recordcompany wanted him to promote the album by visiting American radio stations while Taylor wanted to take a band on the road. He fullfilled his obligations, even though what he really wanted to do is put a new band together. The LP didn't become an instant commercial success. It didn't help that it was released at the height of the punk movement - nobody could have foreseen this. So that's probably why he didn't do much touring in 1980, the record company wasn't backing his plan to put a new band together. Not so strange that he needed some time to consider what to do next.
MT lived in America till the mid 90's. After returning to England he had a great deal of trouble retrieving his legal documents from the lawyer that used to represent him. The lawfirm tried not answering his calls and then refused to give him his files back, even while it could not be denied the dossier belonged to him officially. It turned out that they still had quite close ties with the Stones and their organisation, hence the concerns about handing over the legal ammunition to Taylor.
As for the letter allegedly received by Ronnie Wood (all the quotes found in According to the RS are coming from one interview he did in '02, in which he made several stupid comments). To this day, Taylor does not know anything about this letter. He doesn't recall sending Ronnie a letter like that. (Although according to Taylor he did send him a "Get well soon" note a year earlier, after hearing Ronnie was unwell).
There seems to be a problem with the synchronicity because how can Ronnie be reporting on speaking with Taylor in August '03 (Astoria gig) in a book that had already been printed earlier that year.
With regard to comments made by Bill Wyman, he said those things years back (around '99) while talking (informally) to a guy in France that runs a website. Bill and Mick have spoken about this about 3 or 4 years back, when they cleared up some misunderstandings. Bill apologised for jumping to conclusions. During the time of the recordings, Taylor's mother was terminally ill and (unbeknownst to Bill) Taylor had been at her bedside for weeks. Bill didn't know this was the reason Taylor was travelling up and down to Wales (with one guitar) while worrying about his mother. So he thought that Taylor was out of it or something and didn't even have a house of his own. It's interesting that other people present in the studio have said that Taylor's playing was just fine (despite his family circumstances) but that Bill had only just come up with the plan to put a band together, hadn't decided on the direction of the album and didn't seem to have any songs ready when Taylor came to the studio (he asked Mick to play to a track that had only a bass and computerised drums).
Bill Wyman had been led to believe (by others, like Jagger and Loewenstein) that Taylor had been bought out in the early 80's. When Mick told him (a couple of years ago) this was not the case, he looked quite shocked. He said that he and Charlie had tried to stand up for him (MT) after he left. When he was enlightened with some facts, he said to Mick: You should do something about it.
Oh, by the way Bob Dylan knows how badly the Stones treated Taylor because he spent quite a bit of time with Taylor, going out in NY (while recording Infidels, '83) and rehearsing the band (the musicians were selected by Mick), at Bob's house in Malibu before the tour. He also advised Mick to take legal action, Dylan's lawyer even managed to get a few answers from their accountant and from Loewenstein.
Last subject for today. According to MT himself the only guitar he ever sold in the 80's was a Telecaster that he didn't particularly like. There's just one other guitar he sold, a Les Paul Classic (re-issued model from the 90's), About 4 years ago he decided he wanted to replace it with a guitar that looked and sounded more like the one (Les Paul Standard '58 with Bigsby) that was stolen from him while on tour.
No, he did not leave it on the train, someone (most likely it was someone that had been wating for his chance after recognising Taylor) was seen running off while Taylor was getting himself a cup of coffee. This can be confirmed by the person that was accompanying him that day (in '96). but was just too late to stop the thief.
Taylor and Richards also used to share guitars, which can make it hard to follow what happened. Taylor has said in interviews it has always mystified him why Keith wanted to sell his (Bigsby equipped) Les Paul Standard in '67 (a few years later, he still seemed to like it). Unfortunately this guitar was not found back and re-united with its rightful owner (MT), after it got nicked from Nellcote.
If there are guitar traders that claim they have a vintage Les Paul that was once owned by Mick Taylor then they must have bought it from a third party. Maybe the person that paid the burglars/thieves for the instrument ? If they didn't buy it directly from the person that stole it - buying something that you know must have been stolen (a guitar trader should be suspicious when the asking price is a fraction of the real value) is a criminal offence, by the way. After the raid on Nellcote, Ian Stewart searched music shops in France and London for weeks, hoping that some of guitars that were stolen would turn up eventually (a few did).
The Les Paul SG (with Bigsby) Taylor already owned when he was with the Bluesbreakers is the same one he gave to Robin Millar (talk about generosity) after he left the Stones. I believe that's the guitar that's hanging around the donkey's neck on the cover of Get Yer Ya Ya's Out.
Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 2006-07-07 17:31 by Stranger.