Country Music # 2
by Regis Boff
I was standing at the mixing board with the manager of a blind country singer named Ronnie Milsap. It the first of two shows to test a format for the sponsor, Phillip Morris. All of their executives were there. It was a twenty thousand seater in Houston. The artists on the show were Ricky Skaggs, Merle Haggard, Ronnie Milsap, Barbara Mandell, and Alabama.
It went well, and I naively wanted all the acts to come back on the stage to close the show with a song or at least a bow, to impress the client.
It was my first show in country music.
I whispered to Milsap’s manager, a lizard of a man if he felt he could arrange them all coming out. He said no to me in the way that meant at a price. I handed him a thousand dollars in hundreds. Off he slithered. True to his greed they all came out and sang together at the end of the show. It was what I needed. These shows became an important series that night.
After the show, I asked my partner Fred Caruso to personally hand each of the artists a thousand in cash with my thanks. Letting them know that Milsap had taken the money.
I learned later that at country shows the audience expected everyone to come back on stage for a finale. It could never have not happened.
Beyond even that, these performers would sit on the side of the stage as the show was breaking down around them to sign autographs and to talk to their fans every night.
Hanging around backstage afterwards and feeling pleased with myself. Each of the artists came to me, one by one, and handed me the money back. Everyone but Ronnie Milsap. I forgave him this as I doubt he ever heard about the money at all’