Joe Quarterman’s coming to town, and there’s going to be trouble. I spoke with the veteran soul man, known for his classic single, “ (I Got) So Much Trouble in My Mind,” recently for Style Weekly and here’s some of our conversation that didn’t make the cut.
Have you been to Richmond Before?
Many, many years ago. As a matter of fact, when I was going to school at Virginia State College, there was a band I played with called the Magnificent 7, and we backed up The Temptations in Richmond, in the late 60′s.
Your first album turned out to be your only album. How did you feel about it when it was finished and how do you feel about it now?
Well, I tell you, back then I thought it was good enough to be looked at for a grammy, ’cause we gave it our best. It was one of kind, you know? It was a different album. We really put some time in on that album.
How did you feel about it now?
I still feel good about it. I think it was my best effort. I’ve done a few others singles and things like that, but I haven’t done anything as good as the “so much trouble” album.
Your story is different. You didn’t suffer after your departure from the music business with bad situations or bad habits. You just kind of walked away.
I had to. I had to get another life. Anytime the president of the record company, this guy, Larry Newton, he was the former vice-president of ABC Paramount, and GSF records was a spin-off from that, he stood in a board meeting, my attorney there, my manager, Lloyd Price, a whole bunch of other folks, and he said that he didn’t give a damn how many hit records I sang or wrote, they weren’t going to pay me one penny.
Yeah! That cut like a knife, you know? My attorney said, well, you know, these guys are just rip-offs, just try to live up to your end of the contract and once you get out of it and we’ll try to get you another contract. But see that broke my heart. My heart wasn’t in it after that. ‘Cause me and my guys had works so hard to make some of the best funk music that anyone could hear back then, and then to be rewarded with a slap in the face? I was supposed to be bringing the bacon home … they were supposed to tally up. I was hoping I could’ve paid the band members a bonus, take care of my family catch up on my bills, you know what I mean?
But none of that happened. No matter how hard I worked, I was not going to be financially rewarded for it.
Who has the rights to the material?
I have been fighting that battle for 30 years or more. I’ve spent money with attorneys and so forth. They had sold some of the publishing rights to Gandy Music, that’s Sylvia Robinson and Joe Robinson’s legacy.
Yeah, the Sugar Hill Group. They sold it to this company, Music Licensing, out of the Netherlands. I went after them, and they had sold it to Soul Brothers in London. And I haven’t gotten one penny since 1974. But the truth is none of them own the music, I own the copyrights ans so forth. So it’s a matter of piracy. They know I can’t do a whole lot about it unless I cough up a whole lot of money and wait a long time. They’ve got lawyers who do this all the time, workin’ on their team, that know how to deal with cats like me.
What role has DJ Pari played in your recent career?
DJ Pari has awakened my soul. He put me in Europe, and my reception has been wonderful. My thanks to him for that. He’s kind of shaken me up to generate my interest in recording and doing shows and so forth. I really appreciate all he has done for me so far. I wish we could do more, but I’m sure he’s doing his best.
Joe Quarterman plays Saturday May 19 at Balliceaux, 203 N. Lombardy St. Tickets are $10-$12. balliceauxrva.com.