Vincent Treanor III
Road Manager for The Doors,
December 26 1967-January 19 1972
PART ONE: TROUBLE WITH B&D
©2006 Vincent Treanor III
For some time there had been a rift growing between the Boys and their Managers. As in all cases of this sort, it probably was not one single big thing, but a number of smaller problems that had arisen as a result of the management policies that were exercised by B&D. There were some strange emotions involved, as well. Since the last time that they had direct contact with Sal and Asher Dann was the first night in San Francisco, I can only surmise that the events of that meeting contributed greatly to the decision by the Boys to break their contract with B&D.
The reasons for the problems were all pretty strange when you think about it. Under the guidance of B&D, the Boys had gone from an obscure but popular club group, to national fame with two gold albums to their credit. Certainly, they could not complain about the success that their managers had brought them. But there were deeper feelings of dissatisfaction
Jim was convinced that Sal and Asher were members of the Mafia, the embodiment of the Godfather and Luca Brazzi. That is quite a fantasy, but they certainly did look the part, especially Sal who, indeed, was of Italian decent. He felt this powerful crime family was, for some mysterious reason which reason, which Jim could never give, out to get him.
To make the situation worse the Boys did not like being told when, where and how to live their lives without consultation. If B&D made any mistake, it was that they told the guys what to do , . They did not ask what they wanted to do.
The Boys, all of them over the age of majority, wanted the right to decide how their careers were going to be directed. Basically, they wanted the rights to agree to hold press conferences, what their performance schedule would be , and the timing and quality of their photo sessions. This was not unreasonable , but in those days , , it was a bit unusual. It was the basis for their breach with B&D.
Certainly, with reasonable negotiations and concessions on the part of all concerned it is likely that these conflicts might have been resolved to the satisfaction of the Boys and B&D without resorting to legal process. But the boys were adamant and B&D were stubborn .. . It is likely that there was one major cause for the Boys being unwilling to continue with B&D.
Evidently, at some point in the later part of 1967, having seen the effect that Jim’s performances had on the crowd, Sal and Asher had approached Jim and suggested that he leave the group. They told him that, under their management, he would become a solo singer with a back up band. Before one takes this news seriously, consider how he could have done that after he had made recordings and had a partnership deal with the other three. Of course, one could say – break the Agreement. It was not unheard of.
If this offer was made, Jim, already uncomfortable with Sal, did not like that idea too much. He told the other guys in the group about the proposal. The boys were angered by this possible threat to the stability and existence of the group. If they had though t things through, they would have reached a single conclusion : , there was no threat of a break up. Jim had not accepted the offer. At most , B&D had created a situation that was highly unethical, though not unusual in that time.
Under pressure of these factors, it is likely that after everyone returned from the New Years holiday, during those first rehearsal days in January, Jim suggested that they have a change of managers. That proposal was surprising to the other guys. Owing to the existing situation, the boys were not happy so the idea was well timed. What surprised them was the Jim was the one to make the proposal.
” it It was a noble move on Jim’s part, because Sal and Asher wanted Jim to go solo , . etc.”
Rejecting this proposal for a solo career to remain as singer for The Doors
In view of t his information , it does show s Jim’s extraordinary loyalty to the group . for Jim to reject this proposal for a solo career and remain as singer for the group. It is ironic that, in view of what history tells us, it would have been a blessing for Ray, John and Robbie if Jim had left the group at that time. Whether it would have been a curse on Sal and Asher for their betrayal is pure conjecture.
Even if he had agreed, what would they have done with him as he spiraled down? But then – would he had have fallen under their management ? . Personally, I think that if he had split off from the group, Asher Dan would have held him in check. Certainly, it would have been in their financial interest to do so. It is not likely that Jim would be dead today had their plan come to bear.
However, let’s look at it from a more personal view on Jim’s part. Was it ” Noble noble” or was Jim adding to the fires of discontent that , already burn ed ing fairly brightly ? . Jim states that he was afraid of Sal , being because he convinced was convinced that Sal was involved with the Mafia. If there is any truth to this fantasy, it was not so noble of Jim to reject the offer from B&D. He did it, not out of loyalty, but from fear.
In any case, we deal with history, not conjecture.
JANUARY 21 – LAWYERS MEETING
They did not rehearse on the Monday and Tuesday following the Carousel performance. I thought, at the time, they wanted to have one of the frequent breaks they took after a performance or tour. Although things seemed calm on the surface, behind the scenes, real trouble was brewing and the pot was boiling over.
After days of discussions and arguments, the Boys came to the decision that they wanted to get rid of Bonefetti & Dann. But they had a contract that would have be broken. They all finally agreed to go ahead with the process of separation , but they had to break the contract. They went to a very powerful Beverly Hills l Lawyer named , Abe Somers. Abe Somers was one more member in the network of people that were friends or associated of Robbie’s father. He dealt in civil law, contracts and such, and had been instrumental in drawing up the agreements that formed the basis for the relations among the Doors.
Abe had also worked on the Managerial managerial contract with B&D. Naturally he was the one guy they hoped would be able to dissolve this albatross they were burdened with. They explained their position and reasons for breaking the contract. Abe was skeptical. The boys did not really have any ground to break the contracts – other than the offer that B&D had made to Jim, orchestrating W anting to get more control of their operation , and Jim’s mafia fantasy.
He suggested that Jim should not present the argument that Sal was affiliated with the Mafia without absolute proof. Fear, based on imagination, was not a reason to break managerial contracts. Even in consideration of the attempt by Sal and Asher to break up the group, their managers had, in a very short time, made them prosperous and famous.
Abe suggested that they not go ahead with legal action. This could bring unwanted publicity. Hollywood was notorious for wallowing in contract scandals. If they did break this contract, they might have difficulty is obtaining a new, and hopefully more suitable, manager. It was going to be expensive in both in legal fees, court costs and the payments they would probably have to make to B&D. He felt strongly that they should try to negotiate with B&D. However, the boys were set in their determination to break the contract. Reluctantly, Somers agreed to go ahead.
As far as the terms and conditions of the contract went, it was about standard for the industry. As Managers, Bonefetti and Dann did not have any exceptional clauses in the contract that gave them more or less control than other managers had over their respective groups. Somers gave them hope in that, though they had a contract, the document only defined the terms and conditions under which everyone agreed to work together. If one party was unhappy, the contract was really ineffective.
At the end of this meeting, the Doors understood that there would be a legal battle and likely they would prevail. There were really only three questions to be resolved. First – How long would it take to dissolve the contract? Second – What would Sal and Asher demand as compensation. Third – who Who would be the successor to the throne?
JANUARY 22 – MANAGER CHANGE IMPLIMENTED
The plans to dissolve the contract were put into motion. At first, Abe Somers had to send an official letter to Sal and Asher telling them that the group wanted out. This letter also had to provide substantial cause for this action. Bonefetti & Dan, in turn, went to their lawyers, specialists in entertainment law, to defend their position. Then the two law offices went at each other with accusations , and defenses and counter claims … and on it went.
As Somers had predicted, they did not have a very strong position or objective reasons to demonstrate that Sal and Asher had not done everything within their power to adequately and properly promote the careers of the group. They could prove no wrong-doing wrongdoing with financial management because the money earned by the group from record sales and performances was deposited with, and under the control of, Johnson and Harband. With this independent management firm in control, Sal and Asher could not, as had happened with other groups, steal any of their money for real or imagined reasons. It was really a clash of personalities.
At that time, there were several very powerful and successful managers in the country who had made other groups famous beyond their wildest dreams. However, like B&D, these managers had absolute power over the group. These boys were well-educated and all proficient musicians in their own right. They felt, rightly so, that they were capable of making decisions that would influence their future development. It is not that they objected to a manager who might offer advice and guidance, or even make decisions for them. It was the surrender of control of their lives to someone who might not be so sensitive to their personalities and life style.
It may surprise many to know that the guys did not like to make road trips. They were all quiet people. They were involved in meditation and health food. Being on the road was disruptive to their reclusive life style. It is not that they did now want, or did not like to perform in public. They enjoyed performing immensely. They knew that in order to promote the record sales of new albums and support continued sales of recordings already released, they had to make public appearances. They did not like the long hours in airports, on planes, taxi rides (Before the Limos were provided) and the stress of several performances, one after the other without a break. It was, in fact, a balancing act between the need for performances and the stress of travel.
Managers made money based on 10% of income that the group generated as a result of their efforts. It was in the manager’s best financial interest to put the group on the road as often as possible and to have their record sales stay at #1 on the charts for as long as the fickle public would sustain record sales. Managers, in those heady days of Rock and Roll, were far more sensitive to their financial position than to the life styles of those whose careers they controlled. It was not unheard of that a very few managers made fortunes and the groups that they controlled were driven to poverty, even though they had a good base of income.
Edited by Psychic Linda Lauren