This is Part Two of Three.
Sessions: How do musicians make money from sessions and why is the AF of M important? (American Federation of Musicians)
Shortly after being stranded in Detroit, some of the musicians were approached to do session work. Sessions, basically, are where musicians go into a studio and play their instruments on songs. However, there were two ways it was done then.
- The best way for musicians is sessions UNDER CONTRACT via the musicians union. This secured their payment according to a scale set up by the union. This has another added advantage: Around July of every year, union fees from ALL sessions done under these contracts are pooled and by some formula with which I am not familiar, all participating musicians share in the Manufacturer’s Special Payments fund where they receive a one lump sum payment.
- The way most of the musicians I know get paid: a lump sum either per day or per song, depending on the deal. This is NOT good for the musicians because they never get to share as per number one above. And IF the person/people with whom the musician is doing these sessions is unscrupulous, the musician stands to make little to no money at all. This happened to Bernie ONCE. Then Management put another deal in place for Bernie which we will get to shortly
Back to original P-Funk musicians: when Bernie and the others were approached by Holland-Dozier-Holland to do sessions for their artists, George was angry and told Bernie he “didn’t want OUR sound getting out there”. When Bernie told me this, I said “fine, then tell George to pay you the money you would have earned”. Consider this: Eddie, Tal, Billy, Tiki and Bernie were working musicians, not getting paid, stranded in another city and while there was no work upcoming from the group, they did these sessions. That’s why you hear Bernie (and others) on Chairmen of the Board, Freda Payne, Ruth Copeland, etc.
When Bernie did sessions for the group, here is what he actually did: with his perfect pitch, he was invaluable to George (and ANY Producer, engineer, musicians etc.) Guitarists could walk up to Bernie and he could tell them straight off if they were in tune. So, he co-produced, co-wrote, arranged and performed on every single song on which you see his name and some for which he was never credited. By never crediting Bernie’s co-production work, Bernie lost a lot of “Produced by” credit (except for those who could hear the difference) as well as payment. As time went by, George’s debt to Bernie for unpaid session work, unpaid arrangements, unpaid co-production as well as monies owed while he was on tour with original P-Funk became quite large and THAT, in part, is what led to our suing George. When served with the papers, George’s comment to me was “get in line behind the IRS”. We will get back to the infamous bankruptcy in Part Three.
So, now, boys and girls, you see two instances of how Bernie and the original members of Parliament/Funkadelic were (and are) fleeced by George:
- Paying Artist Royalties then stopping – with never an explanation and to this day, not a single songwriter, musician, etc. from original P-Funk gets paid Artist Royalties on the work THEY made famous. Not a one. Not Bernie, Not Billy, Not Tiki, Not Eddie’s kid(s), not Ray Davis’ kids, Not Grady Thomas, Not Calvin Simon, Not Clarence Haskins, Not Tal – ONLY GEORGE.
So, we ask that you PLEASE stop buying P-Funk records, DVDs and CDs because nobody BUT George ever gets one red cent. Buy one and share it. Normally I would HATE that idea. People streaming and downloading for free HURTS musicians. But NOBODY has hurt these musicians more than George Clinton has (and does) cause this goes on to this very day.
Record companies should put any royalty payments into an escrow account until George can explain why he has reneged on the verbal contract he had with each and every one of original Parliament-Funkadelic.
Why doesn’t George owe musicians that came after? Because he hired them as “works for hire”. That kept him from having to share with anyone who signed it. When he had that sent to Bernie, I filed it….in the cylindrical file!!! Garbage to garbage.
Why did the others sign it? Cause they were told that if they did not sign it, they would not be going on tour (and that tour was in Europe). So, they were blackmailed (by a black male). See why I accuse George of “black on black crime”? Bernie was so important to George that Bernie routinely ignored all of this and told me “no” when I told him what was happening and if he wanted to sign that paper. As an aside, there have been some who think I’ve had “undue” influence on Bernie. Let me tell those of you who “think” this: Bernie has ALWAYS been his own man. If I was able to exert “undue” influence on Bernie, there are other things more important to a wife that I would have worked on LOL!!!
- Not paying sessions monies to Bernie
So, let’s recap: by not being a signatory with the Union, George cost them money two ways: first, by not paying them union scale and then, because he was not a signatory, none of the sessions they did counted towards the Manufacturer’s Special Payment Fund.
- And this is very important, musicians!!!! There are unscrupulous sub-humans like George (but he is not the only one) who have another “trick” up their dirty sleeves and it is known as “overdubbing”. Here’s how it works. Some will put down some tracks and then tell incoming musicians they are being paid for overdubbing.
What’s wrong with that you ask? Nothing – IF they are really overdubbing. If you write the music you want played and the musician comes in and plays that and ONLY that, then depending on what that particular musician brings to the table, he/she IS WRITING and deserves writing/publishing credits. George does this routinely to keep from paying musicians what they are rightfully due.
When Bernie first joined P-Funk, he’d be up all hours of the night writing out the charts – then they had to be copied. As I had learned how to read music in high school (played clarinet etc), I helped him by being his copyist. This was useful – particularly when members of the Detroit Symphony were called in. It was VERY interesting to watch Bernie, with a joint hanging out of his mouth, conduct these professional musicians (old white men who had no knowledge of “funk” ) and it was apparent from the start that THEY were not all that enthused…….until they sat down and read the music. Looked up at Bernie, down to the music and they ALL got busy!!! They hadn’t realized who was standing in front of them and who brought classically trained chops to the table. They wanted to do more.
Now, even as recently as October 2014, George wanted Bernie to do a session(s) for his upcoming “shake the gate”. We were backstage at B B Kings where I was trying to get George to let the Bernie Worrell Orchestra open for him on tour (I knew he wouldn’t cause BW&WW – with five musicians blew George off the stage at Woodstock but I owed it to Bernie and his group to try). The one thing George did NOT want and would NEVER help facilitate was Bernie being successful on his own cause that would cut into his lies about “everyone comes back”. BS, Georgie, BS – cause, despite george’s claim to me that night “ I MADE Bernie, I MADE Bernie”, the ENTIRE world knows what Bernie brought to P-Funk and every other group with whom he has played. What George is trying to do is rebuild the publishing catalog he bargained away in his unholy alliance with Armen Boladian.
If you put a piece of paper in front of a musician and say “play this”, THAT is a session and the musician is paid (hopefully) accordingly. That musician does not share in writing/publishing BECAUSE he or she is playing what is written and adding NOTHING.
If you play part of an unfinished song and tell the musician “add your flavor”, THAT is songwriting and the musician is due writing/publishing credits. AND it is a session so they should be paid for that as well.
Can you see now how this is just one more way to rip off musicians? No? well, tell me how George Clinton can take 50% of an instrumental “Joyful Process”????? WHAT instrument does he play? Has he EVER played?
This is one of the biggest reasons Management advised against Bernie ever doing anything with George absent a signed agreement – that is what killed the so-called reunion. In short, everything was going relatively fine until Management, in negotiations, stated that “Bernie will share in all ancillary income – from DVDs, CDs, films and any unknown media now or in the future”. At that point, George backed off, Management pulled Bernie from the tour (over his vociferous objections until we showed him how much George had already stolen from him by not paying him his fair share of those that had already come out). Yes, ladies & gentlemen: while you are plunking down your hard earned dollars to buy your favorite group, George was busy hauling in the funky dollar bills and NOT sharing with those who made the MUSIC possible. Throughout this, you will hear us mention musicians. That’s because that is what we KNOW.
So, let’s recap what George stole:
- Artist royalties
- All income from DVDs, CDs, etc. betcha YOU thought you were supporting everyone, right? Hell to the no – and THIS is the major reason Bernie needed and needs Benefits performed on his behalf.
- Session monies
- Songwriter royalties/publishing royalties
And we are not done yet. The worse perfidy is to come.