"A Bittersweet End to My Promotion Career" By Pat Purcell.
It was the winter of 1980 and I’d spent the last three years learning my chops as a promo rep. My territory had grown to include the Virginia market as well as Baltimore and Washington. Life was pretty good but there were some personal matters that required more of my time, time that had gotten very thin over the past few years. I loved doing promotion, I could even get records played! I had developed solid business relationships with a number of artists and radio people. Even the folks at Atlantic who had at first wondered if I could cut it as a promo rep, liked the job I was doing. Promotion is a lot like being a doctor, you are on call all of the time. I remember getting a call at 1:30 a.m. one night from an up and coming executive who had landed late in Baltimore (I lived an hour away). He was looking for me to pick him up and take him to a hotel in Baltimore. We agreed it would be better if he took a cab……Doug Morris later ended up being the CEO at Atlantic, he never held it against me.
My marriage that I’d worked so hard to put back together was falling apart again. My ex wife wasn’t as understanding as Doug Morris so I made a decision to adjust my career and go back to WEA. In doing so I didn’t want to just go back into sales, I wanted a management job. This was decided one snowy, cold Monday afternoon.
Every Monday at 1:00 p.m. I had to call our Vice President of Pop Promotion, Vince Faraci, and let him know what I thought my radio adds would be for the week. We had been working on a record by Herbie Mann called "Superman" that had been getting some top 40 play but Atlantic wanted to break it. There was a lot of pressure on the record. I got a call just before lunch that Monday from Scott Shannon who was the Program Director at WPGC at the time and he said I’m giving you these adds early before the independent promo guy who also worked the station because you deserve the credit for them, not him. By the way WPGC was a priority one station, when they went on a record or when Scott backed a record you could expect big airplay around the country and in turn big sales. I had struck up quite a friendship with Scott, he’d taken me under his wing (prior to WPGC he was the Executive VP of Arista Records after a prior career in radio) and he looked out for me because he knew what early adds on records meant to a promo rep. It meant I could keep my job another week! This time Scott gave me not 1, not 2 but 3 adds for the week!!! They only played 30 records so this was huge! Unfortunately none of the three were the Herbie Mann. Scott told me "I’ll never play that record, it’s a piece of sh t!" I hung up ecstatic, 3 adds I don’t remember another promo rep ever pulling that off! I called Vince, excited, I spilled my news. He said, "that’s great Pat but what about Herbie Mann?" " Vince they’ll never play that record, Scott doesn’t feel it fits the format"
Vince starts screaming at me, "why can’t you get that record, that would really prove you’re a promotion man." He yelled at me for a couple of minutes and then slammed the phone down. So much for my three adds! Talk about letting the air out of my balloon! I hung up the phone and stared out the window, man I thought I gotta get away from this. Today in retrospect I can only imagine the pressure he must have been getting. Vince was really a kind guy as I’d find out many years later it was just the job that made him nuts! One of the problems with promotion is although you work pretty much at your own pace you answer to many different department heads. There’s the pop department, album department, a/c department, way too many bosses to answer to. I just plain got tired of dealing with that and the feeling I wasn’t doing enough. I was working 18 hour days, weekends you name it, Atlantic Records was my life.
I walked into the sale manger’s office and told him I wanted to come back inside WEA, preferably in a manger’s position. In early May I was hired back as a Marketing Manager, I got my wish, I was out of promotion but not until they could find somebody to replace me. One of my criteria for the person who replaced me was they had to, HAD TO be into Genesis. That was my rule before I’d refer anyone for the job. Happily the person who got the job loved the band so I felt I could now "pass the baton". They were my pet project and I was just itching for their next album. In May I got my advance copy of Duke. A new release by this band was now treated like the best gift on Christmas morning. I was doing double duty at this point setting up my marketing office, taking the new promo person out to meet the radio people and at Atlantics request "please don’t stop promoting our records until the new person is firmly in place."
I took the advance copy of Duke to my office, shut the door and cranked it up! It sent shivers down my spine, the hair on my arm stood up! What the hell was that? I thought ATTWT was a great album and they have just outdone that!
By this time I could get records played so I immediately called Scott Shannon at WPGC, "Scott you gotta hear this album, it’s incredible!" He wanted to add "Misunderstanding" right away but I couldn’t let him, it wasn’t officially a single yet. As soon as it was officially announced as the single he jumped right on it, as did Kingston at B-104 in Baltimore, WIYY was all over it. This was the first major airplay in the US and it happened right here! I was so proud of the band. I remember the first time I heard "Selling England by the Pound" how great I thought they were but no way would pop radio ever play them. They’d come so far, I was so proud to be associated in some small way. Top 40 radio was playing Genesis!
It was decided my last official act as a promo rep would be to break the new person in on a live act, that live act happened to be Genesis at Merriweather Post on June 14,1980.
A good friend of mine, Phil Quaterero, who was the A&M promo rep at the time (he’s now in charge of Warner Bros. Records) decided he’d have a cookout before the show. Phil, Steve Kingston and a few other friends in the business got together to wish me well on my new job. After that we’d all go to the show. Phil Q knew Mike Rutherford from a Supertramp show that Mike had gone to so he wanted to be a part of any backstage stuff I did so he could say hi to Mike.
The show was incredible, it was my second Genesis show, this time from out in the audience. After the show we went backstage. I handled all of the meet and greet activities showing the new rep how it was done. As Mike and I were talking he said he’d like to go to a drive-in. He’d never been to one and he’d like to see what it was like. I wasn’t sure if he meant drive in burger place or drive in movie. There were neither anywhere close so I suggested we could go to Clyde’s across the street where we could have a few beers and hamburgers and unwind after the show. I also told Mike I had a guy with me that was a close friend of Supertramp, apparently Mike was fan of that band and I figured Mike would like to talk with Phil Q. (Anyone who doubts this story can pick up a copy of the King Biscuit Concert Hour for the next tour Genesis did, at the very end of the tape Phil Q is introduced to Mike in the dressing room, after the show and he reminds Mike about the evening with Pat Purcell, its right there on the tape.) Mike Rutherford, myself and a handful of friends walked out of Merriweather where he had just played in front of 15,000 people and into Clyde’s which in 1980 was the closest thing we had to a pub or TGI Fridays. No one noticed Mike (at first)! We took a table in the rear of the restaurant and we all told our " war stories". Mike remembered Phil Q from the Supertramp show so that was a nice connection for him. Mike was also very into hockey at the time, he was wearing one of his hockey jerseys, so some of the discussion was about hockey. As time went by I noticed a crowd was starting to grow around our table. After about an hour or so of being relatively un noticed the crowd had grown to 50-75 people. Mike was kind enough to shake hands and sign autographs for most of them. At 12:30 we "pulled the plug", That was it, too many people and no security. Another night I will long remember. Mike was just about the most un-superstar superstar I could ever imagine. He is like a good drinking buddy that’ll sit and talk and talk. He’s not like anyone I ever met in the business, he seemed so totally unaffected with his celebrity. He’s a real human being. We shook hands and said goodbye. I was on my way to a new job, at that time I wasn’t sure I’d ever see Mike again or have access to the band like I had in the past. Mike’s kindness wasn’t phony, it wasn’t record business jive, it was sincere and that meant a lot to me. Not only did it solidify my allegiance to Genesis for personal listening pleasure but I’d continue to stick my nose into Genesis matters no matter where or what I was doing at WEA I. In my market they were my pet project until my last day with the company.