Believe it or not, Michael Jackson’s inability to manage his finances may soon affect Sly Stone.
You saw the late '60s R&B genius — aka the J.D. Salinger of pop music — make his bizarre return to show biz at the Grammys. He appeared on stage sporting a huge white rooster’s mane of a mohawk, plunked a few notes on a keyboard and then split for locations unknown. It was all in support of a new album of remixed hits called “Different Strokes for Different Folks.”
What you may not know that is all of Sly’s famous songs from the '60s — “Everyday People,” “I Want To Take You Higher,” “Family Affair,” etc. — are published by Jackson’s MiJac Music. And MiJac is currently the collateral for a $70 million loan that will come due on Feb. 20.
Another $200 million, also due that day, was backed by Jackson’s ownership in Sony/ATV Music Publishing. MiJac, which also holds all of the songs Jackson’s written as an adult, is part of Warner Chappell Music.
Stone’s managers are said to be eager to rescue their man’s catalog from MiJac before it’s out of reach. But in all likelihood, Sly’s songs, along with the Beatles, will wind up in the hands of others very shortly unless Jackson pulls off a miracle.
Yesterday, I talked to some of Sly’s associates and friends about his Grammy appearance. They confirmed for me that during rehearsals he wore a snow parka with a hood. None of the performers had any idea he’d have the mohawk; you can see the surprise on their faces.
“Sly knows how to get attention,” says a source. “People are still talking about him.”
Contrary to reports by people who weren’t there, Sly did not vomit before taking the stage, and he didn’t leave the Staples Center alone and dejected.
I was there, for one, and so were his stylist, girlfriend, sister and niece. His incoherence, my sources say, is not so bad. And on the show, they say, he looked worse than usual.
“For one thing, the producers picked “I Want to Take You Higher.” Sly only sings on the choruses of that song, not the verses. So that’s why he sang the word “higher” a couple of times. Plus his microphone was off. And they cut to him during the verses, not the choruses. It was a mess.”
Of course, Sly wasn’t exactly an easy contributor to the rehearsal process, but we’ll take this explanation at face value. They say he wanted to do “Thank You (Fa Lettin’ Be Myself Again).” But who knows what would have happened, considering a few days before the show, Sly fell off his motorcycle and broke his arm. I’m told he had surgery at UCLA Medical Center.
Anyway, Sly is still managed — since 1980—by Jerry Goldstein and Glenn Stone of Avenue Music. They also managed War, the seminal '70s R&B band, and are currently prepping the launch of Devin Lima, the up-and-coming former lead singer of LFO, who sang “If You Want Me To Stay” at the Grammys as he does on the new Sly remix record from Sony.
Goldstein and Stone collect Sly’s royalties from his publishing, record sales and samples (like Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation”). Stone is said to live very well in Beverly Hills, where he supports a large entourage. He also has three children: a son, Sly Jr., a recent college grad daughter, Novi, and another son, named Fun, as in “Hot Fun in the Summertime.”
So what’s next for Sly? Maybe a boxed set, since there isn’t one, from the 715 masters in Sony’s vaults. And who knows? One day, perhaps, we’ll hear all the music he’s recorded at home for the last 32 years. My sources say he has a lyric book “that’s an inch and a half thick” and as many recordings to go with it.
And there’s always the remix album, which is doing well since it went retail (it was actually released in July at Starbucks). But “he loved what he did on the Grammys,” my source says. “It was a big step forward.”
Sandy Bullock, Keanu Reeves in the 'Spirit’'
The Oscars are looming, but with them comes an annual fun event: The Independent Spirit Awards.
They air on IFC on March 4 and are usually the relaxed, casual alternative to the hyper big show the next night.
This year’s after party at Shutters on the Beach is shaping up as the place to be. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves have already said yes, and a panoply of stars are promised, including Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Felicity Huffman, Amy Adams, Allison Janney, Laura Linney, S. Epatha Merkerson, William Hurt, Luke Wilson, Craig Ferguson, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Piven and John Leguizamo.
More than ever, the Spirit Awards are seeping into the Oscars, as the latter show becomes ever more oriented toward indie films. We have the old Miramax to thank for this, since they introduced this idea and mainstreamed indie stars into the Academy back in 1989 with “Sex, Lies and Videotape.”
This year, Felicity Huffman should pick up that torch for The Weinstein Company with “Transamerica,” the likely Spirit and Oscar winner for Best Actress. Phil Hoffman, with “Capote,” should also pick up both awards. The main difference between the Oscar and the Spirits should be “Capote” winning Best Picture on Saturday and “Brokeback Mountain” on Sunday.
The jokes are pretty easy: Dana Giacchetto, former scam money manager to the stars, spent about four years in the “can” (aka prison). Now he’s selling gourmet products in a can. His original can was prison blue. The new one is royal blue. And so on.
Giacchetto’s new business is called Taste, and it’s a line of expensive gourmet food products that come in a plain royal blue can. No one ever accused Giacchetto of having bad taste. On the contrary: he had excellent taste, but he used other people’s money to fund it.
You may recall the story, but if not: Giacchetto wormed his way into the lives of many young stars about six or seven years ago. He wound up taking over the financial affairs of Leo, Cameron, Tobey, Matt and Ben, Courteney and the rock group Phish. Michael Ovitz described him as his “life adviser.”
But it was discovered — partly thanks to an article I published in the New York Observer — that Giacchetto had lied about his background, education and work history. Coinciding with my report, he also lied to the Securities and Exchange Commission and stole money from most of his clients. He wound up with a prison sentence, depleted by 12 months so he could complete a drug program.
Giacchetto fancied himself an artist, he told the court, and even wrote an infamous poem to his judge called “Vive! Vive! Globum!”
Now he’s a gourmand, packing 6.5 ounces of Maine lobster meat into a can at $19.95 a serving. Since I wouldn’t ask FOX to reimburse me for such an expense, I instead tried premium mussels for $1.69 and zucchini packed in heavy olive oil for about $six. The results? Not bad; very tasty, although I wish there were a way to re-seal the cans.
Giacchetto’s Web site proclaims: “We have obsessively searched the planet for the ultimate in quality foods and filled our cans with the finest all natural foods in the world.” The whole planet? Maybe not. But Giacchetto is nothing if not a good salesman, handy with hyperbole.
The whole thing is a little reminiscent of Lucy and Ethel selling salad dressing from their apartment, but you never know: similar efforts have paid off in millions for other entrepreneurs in the past.
Of course, none of them started with a considerable reputation for deception and duplicity. But this week, Ian Schrager got a huge payout in the hotel business, and like Giacchetto, he’s a former felon.
That’s the American dream, isn’t it?
Our old friend Karen Schoemer, the excellent record reviewer and music journalist, has just published a fine book called “Great Pretenders.” It’s not about Giacchetto, but subtitled “My Strange Love Affair with 50s Pop Music.”
Seeing that Barry Manilow is now singing these songs on a hit album, Karen is right on the money. Her book is largely devoted to Patti Page, Pat Boone and Fabian because she describes it as her own journey to her roots as a “square white person” (I wish she’d included Jo Stafford and Doris Day, if that was the case!)
Anyway, Tommy Edwards had the best hit of the pre-rock era, “It’s All in the Game,” and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise!...
Tonight, Livingston Taylor plays Joe’s Pub in New York City and introduces songs from his long-awaited new album. The shows are sold out, but you can always stand at the bar. Livingston promises he’ll also do songs from his seminal albums from the early '70s. This should be a nice, warm post-blizzard treat…
And record execs should be flocking by the dozen to New Haven next weekend, where Seth Adam will play his hot show at Toad’s Place. Adam’s appearance last night at The Bitter End in New York, right after Jessica Domain, was a rock revelation. The Connecticut kid may be rock’s next Matchbox Twenty, or more. Jason Flom, Charlie Walk, James Diener…I’ll be looking for you in the crowd…