Trying To Get To You

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Terry Tolkin On The Afghan Whigs

One of the best things about doing a blog is occasionally reconnecting with people I haven't seen or spoken with in ages. After my Afghan Whigs post last week, I reached out to their former A&R man, Terry Tolkin, via MySpace. He got back to me and sent me some very illuminating (and suprising) stories and comments about his time with the Whigs. I'm happy to say that Terry is doing well; living in Oklahoma, working on family properties and writing his autobiography, which will be great. I read a few excerpts from it last week, and it's a fascinating story.

(Posted with Terry's permission)

I went over to your blog and it really made me laugh! You know, the Whigs were the only band that I ever signed that I never was totally in love with. Eventually I became good friends with Rick Mccollum. But Kras (Bob Krasnow, former head of Elektra) wanted a SubPop band and having saved that label from extinction in 1985 by infusing cash from my then employer Caroline (early attempt by Branson at a Virgin USA) I was able to pull that off. They were going broke putting out Catbutt and Bloodsport records. I never did like Greg though. And it did turn out to be a hugh mistake not dealing with an act that you truly loved.

I did not retire for "Personal reasons" (a euphemism for drug addiction) though. I took a seemingly enormous settlement to end my 5 year contract early. I could see the writing on the walls by then. Sylvia Rhone was an idiot. I got her to make me a VP by simply telling her that Kras was about to do it before he left and she fell for it. After one to many " I am in direct contact with the Aliens" conversations with new head of A&R Nancy Jeffries, I took the money and ran. I ran so far away...to Hollywood FL. where I bought a 35' sportfish boat that I lived on and became a SCUBA diving instructor. After a couple of years of teaching that it started to ruin my love of diving so I gave it up and started spearfishing commercially.
Then last December my Grandfather died and left us a bunch of rental properties here in Stillwater OK. that no one knew he had. Since I am the only bum in the family (no mortgage,wife or kids that I know about) I got sent here to tidy it all up. I was born in Kansas and most of my family lives here.

Do you remember that one off issue of the fake fanzine "Fat Greg Dulli" ? I supplied Yvonne Garret with the unflattering photos of him and she wrote it and put it out. Greg spent months trying to figure out who did it!

27 comments:

greg said...

wow - someone who's not afraid to say what he means.

gordon said...

yeah... ten years later and two days after the retrospective comes out. way to speak up.

so are they all, all honorable men

Anonymous said...
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donal said...

This is Donal Logue. I was a friend of Greg Dulli's (and the rest of the Whigs) since I first saw them in 1989 in Illinois when I was road managing Bullet LaVolta- they instantly became my favorite band. I was there for Up in It, Congregation and of course, the massive signing war that went down post Congregation. In fact, Mark Kates said to me that one of his biggest professional regrets was not getting the Whigs on Geffen.

The Whigs didn't sign to Geffen because of Terry Tolkin. Elektra got the Whigs because of Terry's persistence. He was their biggest fan and supporter. I remember he would go to Europe to tour with them and even flew to Dulli's infamous 27th birthday party in Cincinnati.

By the way Ben, I liked your blog about the Whigs- Gentlemen may not have been the commercial smash many thought, but it became something even more important. Candlebox sold records and had radio play, and bands like that could never be the Whigs. That record is an all-time rock classic- an impeccable document of American music and Elektra should be proud.

I could see how a twenty three year old new to the industry would look up to Terry. People thought he was cool, until, like a tree spontaneously combusting in a fire, there was a moment when everyone realized what an imploding asshole he was.

I didn't know Terry that well personally, only met him a few times. He seemed cool. He was a great friend of the Whigs and Greg and that was good enough for me. I can't comment on his sexual life or drug habits, a lot of people in music dabble in funkiness in both worlds and that is part of the game. Who cares? What is problematic are two things: First, that he brags about not loving an act he could not have more sycophantically have pursued, nose up ass and Secondly, his braggadocio on his myspace page that he spent 800,000 dollars of his artists' expense money- what a hedonistic, full-of-it, crook. I would have a bit of respect for him had he said, I know everyone loves the Afghan Whigs, but I can't see it and I am just going to have to pass for Elektra. If it was just to have a subpop band, sign that fucking ubiquitous band out of Denver or Mudhoney or someone- He is a straight up liar either way. Plus, don't sign a band, talk shit about them and then feel comfortable spending their money.

His blog is a joke- the person above nailed it hard (maybe too hard), but Terry took such obvious joy in his attempt to humiliate my friend Greg, I feel screw him. What makes me chuckle (when I was alerted to these blogs by ex Whigs) is that Terry must have been in Stillwater, Oklahoma googling his name (poor baby) hoping to see if anyone still gave a fuck that he was a mid level asshole back in the nineties when money was everywhere in alternative music (the term he coined? wow, what a fucking braggart!) worse yet, was he googling the afghan whigs after a hard day of mediocrity? In the hopes he could conjure the nemesis that made him feel all important? Sadly, people who haven't thought of him for years.

I have only respect for people working,who work, whether they manage rental properties, collect garbage, whatever. It does not bring joy to watch people fall from successful heights. But this guy is such an arrogant prick. HA ha you duped Sylvia!!!! Wow, you sent sneaky photos of Greg!! Ha Ha- you put exclamation marks after these declamations of assholeness!! Fuck him. I did hear a couple of hilariously humiliating anecdotes about Terry that I shall not share- some from his ex-wife and one involving hep and a blood sausage!!! The Whigs really liked and respected Terry and he loved them to their face and talked a mile of shit behind their back - not cool.

Anonymous said...

Wow, THE Donal Logue? If so, I always enjoy your work, and think you are great. And I am a fan of the Whigs too. But just to be fair, didn't Greg sleep with Terry's wife? While they were still married? I mean, there might have been compelling reasons for this, but still.... Seems a hair shady. I mean no disrespect to Terry or Greg, but I always thought those guys were kind of similar and had a love/hate thing going on. Greg is hugely, massively talented, but not always the easiest guy in the world to get along with. Let's not paint him as a saint here! Would he even want that? And the previous post about Terry's sexuality is insane, given that Terry was always open about being bisexual (yes, in the early 90's, it was definitely no secret). And maybe Terry is being (somewhat) honest here about the Whigs. It's not like he says The Whigs totally suck. He says he wasn't totally in love with them. Couldn't this be true? Having been around him during that era, I actually did hear him obsess a lot more about Stereolab and Dean Wareham than Greg & The Whigs. In fact, Terry even expressed disappointment within Elektra (prior to the release of Gentlemen, or any kind of feud with Greg) that the Whigs had turned in too much of a "soul" album and not enough of a "rock" album. So what if he wants to smirk about the Fat Greg Dulli thing years later. Seems harmless and easy to dismiss. Greg and Terry's legacies speak for themselves, eh?

gordon said...

dulli got a record deal AND the guy's wife?

wow.

talk about a full-service organization.

Anonymous said...

yes, full service indeed, if that story is even true.

also, in his blog Terry happily calls himself a "bum" so i don't see how he's trying to glamorize himself here.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Donal, don't i see you at the Jack in the Box on Wilshire sometimes?

gordon said...

"Junk In The Box"?

c'mon DL! take that syndication money to Carl's Jr.

who's hot, who's not.

donal said...

dear anonymous, you are right about the fact that greg would never want to be characterized as a saint, I just remember some bad shit going down around that time and things Terry were saying which were uncool and untrue. I was also really good friends with Justine and no one was fucking. Shit may have gone down years later, but not then. Illuminating to know that Terry was open about his sexuality, he gets props for that- He may characterize himself as a "bum", but as a bon vivant version of one who chooses to be a bum after a string of fantastic successes.

Greg is my best friend. Tough, but unbelievably honest and fair and never does anything he isn't up front about. If Terry wants to take a swipe at my friend, eighteen boot heels will catch him going down. The Whigs liked Terry and feel boned by him as a lot of people do. Don't talk to Greg about it, ask Rick and Curley too. I hope Terry has got it together and found some peace, joy and sobriety in life. Ps- yes, I did eat at the Jack in the Box on Wilshire, I was doing something with Bill Paxton whose office used to be in the Asahi building!!!!! I love Jack in the bOx!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Donal, I thought I saw you at Jack in the Box! Yeah, I love that place too (I have a severe breakfast jack and hash brown addiction going on). Anyway, I agree that Terry is a total kook, at the least. Luckily I never experienced the "dark side" of him--he was always very kind and generous to me--but I have no doubt that it exists. I guess I just find his current antics kind of silly and prank-ish more than anything else, so many years later. And to add one more final thing into the mix, Sylvia Rhone really was dreadful for Elektra. Terry tried so hard to keep the label focused on signing quality acts, and she was hell bent on signing one-hit-wonder cheeseball radio fodder (En Vogue was the best band in the world in her mind--they were her Beatles). She wouldn't even give most of Terry's bands, including Whigs, the time of day, no matter what she would tell everyone to their face. I think a lot of Terry's heartache and lunacy came from dealing with someone who only liked "mainstream" things. And now Elektra doesn't even exist (their last ditch "let's get Ric Ocasek to run A&R for us" didn't work out either). Anyway, if Greg is your friend, fair enough, 'cause I would do the same thing for mine. And he has definitely made some amazing albums, with hopefully more to come.

Ben Lazar said...

Regarding Elektra, I'll leave my personal feelings out of it (having worked for her), and I'll say that within two years of taking over, the label of Metallica, Bjork, the Afghan Whigs and the Breeders became the label of Better Than Ezra and Third Eye Blind. 'Nuff said.

gordon said...

personalities aside, i would imagine that it would be rather difficult to thrive (creatively or otherwise) in an environment where someone is subversively working against you.

neglekted, indeed

donal said...

Fair enough, all that was said- was wareham really a genius? (don't get me wrong, he spent a few evenings in the pad I shared with clay tarver (chavez) and frequent guest jesse peretz in boston. Love live Taang. I chalk up Terry's sht to drugs, it's a story that ends badly, hope he got clean and got his soul right- that whole era of rock was exciting and luckily I was on the outside- because insiders were smugger than any country club elitist asshole- people in college radio talked about other people in dismissive ways that the worst frat racist never would have- strange, snotty times- now they have little left but vintage wine and memories and almost the only dude to make it out of that time was greg dulli-

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Ben Lazar said...

I've deleted the nastier leaning "anonymous" comments in this thread.

I have no issue with someone criticizing or even going after someone, but if you are, please exercise some courage and use your real name when you do so. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Love the Terry comments. It's refreshing to read those kind of memories, biased or not.

Who cares what Dulli's friends think, write your own stuff.

Whigs didn't make it because they jumped to a major label with AA talent. I grew up in Seattle and hit age 21 in 1989. NO ONE got a bigger push than the Whigs, and still they couldn't hang. Maybe if Dulli spent time writing songs instead of working on his image and rep...just my two cents. I've picked up most of the Whigs albums that I'd skipped (out of the $1 bin) and my thoughts at the time were correct...nothing to see here.

More Terry, less fan-boy fodder.

No google account but I don't have a blog. You can call me Sean.

Anonymous said...

Yvonne had nothing to do with Fat Greg Dulli and you did not supply the zine with anything, you idiot. Cover photo was taken from Alternative Press.

ROCKNROLLA said...

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terry m said...

anonymous? Really..you can comment all you like...um...dude...but The Whigs having boring music or being untalented...well, that makes me think that your just out of touch OR going out of your way to appear hip and cool with it. Regardless, you bore me!!

Donal Logue....Saying that I adore you would be an understatement. I miss your face and look for you all the time. Where are you mother fucker??

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