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In another thread John Laughter wrote:

John Laughter said:
Both horns were sold by his widow who needed the money after Lee's passing. Some local musicians in N.O. had contacted his widow in hopes of putting Lee' sax in a local museum. Apparently no one knows who now owns his horns.
This may seem naive, and I know it's complicated, but I just can't stand to hear that stuff like this keeps happening. How can a legend like Lee Allen end up living in poverty, or at least leave his family without a decent means of support? It seems to me that this kind of thing should have ended with guys like James Jamerson (bass player for the Funk Brothers) and that, somehow, guys like Allen should be rewarded, retroactively, for the great work that they did.

Is it just me, or is it totally infuriating to think of these no-talent, utterly forgettable, hip-hop "musicians" living in mansions, while Mrs Allen is having to hawk these historic instruments to pay for her rent. :x :x :x :x :x :x

Rory
 

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Who cares about the horns, it is about the music/legacy he left behind. It is however sad that he/family had to struggle while he was alive. Most musicians trying to make a living playing anything but popular music face a struggle. How do you reward him "retroactively"?, instead people need to be aware of the talents that are out there playing great music right now, and find ways to help them further their careers/talents.
 

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As I am a financial advisor, I can tell you that no matter how you make your money in music or elsewhere, it's how you save it that counts. Also, as a dedicated musician, you're not likely spending enough time managing the business end of your self employed income. This, I believe, is why some less than great players are financially well off. They spend much of their practice time with the business end of their wallets rather than the business end of their horn. I don't know if this is Mr Allen's case.

Some people need to ask themselves, "if I'm so great, why am I so broke" and then do something about it rather than waiting their big break.
 

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Greatness does not necessarily come with a financial reward.
And if you truly have potential for greatness why should you question that gift?
97% of people can't tell the difference between BS and greatness, does that mean you should settle for mediocracy?
 

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If you are a full time working musician, you know that the pay hasn't gone up in many years. If anything, it's gone down. And many jobs have been eliminated. How you going to save money in these conditions?

So what would make a young person want to be part of this financially depressed scene? Maybe it's because of the fact that maybe music is a calling, like the ministry, rather than a job choice.

All session players experience a downturn in their careers because styles and tastes change over the years. A few sustain their careers because they become sucessful soloist and bandleaders. And if you don't do sessions, the business is still up and down, it's the nature of the animal.

So I see it as basically a hand to mouth existance, if you can save money, you try to do that, but when jobs slow down, business is bad, what do you do? You live off of your savings, paying rent, mortgage, buying food, and paying every day expences. You live off of these savings until they run out.

I guess that it's some kind of an artistic lifestyle. Playing music for a living can be a very beautiful experience, you're closer to beauty than the average person. And the excitement of the bandstand can become addictive. But because you love what you do, people do take advantage of that love, and you do put yourself at the mercy of the fickle whims of the public. What do you do if money promised never shows up?

rleitch, thanks for your passion and your compassion.
 

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tjontheroad said:
As I am a financial adviser, I can tell you that no matter how you make your money in music or elsewhere, it's how you save it that counts. Also, as a dedicated musician, you're not likely spending enough time managing the business end of your self employed income. This, I believe, is why some less than great players are financially well off. They spend much of their practice time with the business end of their wallets rather than the business end of their horn. I don't know if this is Mr Allen's case.

Some people need to ask themselves, "if I'm so great, why am I so broke" and then do something about it rather than waiting their big break.
I believe this is the best response of any post I've ever read here! I was taught a long time ago by a well known (and very intelligent) jazz saxophonist to take care of business in every way first...then play. And thank God he "slapped me upside my head" enough for it to take hold. Today I can do what I want, financially well secure and I'll look forward to a dignified retirement.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
tjontheroad said:
As I am a financial advisor, I can tell you that no matter how you make your money in music or elsewhere, it's how you save it that counts. Also, as a dedicated musician, you're not likely spending enough time managing the business end of your self employed income. This, I believe, is why some less than great players are financially well off. They spend much of their practice time with the business end of their wallets rather than the business end of their horn. I don't know if this is Mr Allen's case.
Yes, you're right of course, and this is part of what I meant by "complicated." I used to work for SOCAN--the Canadian music royalties company--and I was often amazed at how totally clueless otherwise smart musicians could be about the financial aspect of their business.

And yet, to me, a guy like Lee Allen (or James Jamerson) is not just a "working sax pro," he's a legend who has made a major contribution to the culture, a contribution which, in retrospect, almost certainly outweighs what he was actually paid for his playing/recording. This may be nuts, but I think America owes Mrs. Allen some money.

Rory
 

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rleitch said:
And yet, to me, a guy like Lee Allen (or James Jamerson) is not just a "working sax pro," he's a legend who has made a major contribution to the culture, a contribution which, in retrospect, almost certainly outweighs what he was actually paid for his playing/recording. This may be nuts, but I think America owes Mrs. Allen some money.

Rory
No, America does not owe Mrs.Allen some money...that is some sort of socialist thinking, we as musicians or jazz musicians may feel underpayed or appreciated, but we aren't owed a living because we do what we enjoy, many of us have day jobs that pay the bills and finance our music. If people felt about jazz the way they feel about football or basketball we would be payed that way.
 

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RandyJ said:
I believe this is the best response of any post I've ever read here! I was taught a long time ago by a well known (and very intelligent) jazz saxophonist to take care of business in every way first...then play. And thank God he "slapped me upside my head" enough for it to take hold. Today I can do what I want, financially well secure and I'll look forward to a dignified retirement.
Good for you. Having good financial health is about staying disciplined while seeking and acting on small opportunities. Even if you don't earn a great deal as a working pro that doesn't mean saving just 5 to 10 % of your income will not make a difference later on. It's all about the choice you make now and in the future for your future.

rleitch said:
Yes, you're right of course, and this is part of what I meant by "complicated." I used to work for SOCAN--the Canadian music royalties company--and I was often amazed at how totally clueless otherwise smart musicians could be about the financial aspect of their business.

And yet, to me, a guy like Lee Allen (or James Jamerson) is not just a "working sax pro," he's a legend who has made a major contribution to the culture, a contribution which, in retrospect, almost certainly outweighs what he was actually paid for his playing/recording. This may be nuts, but I think America owes Mrs. Allen some money.

Rory
You've stated my point exactly up until the nuts part :scratch: You can't live in a free society with all the rights of personal expression and artistry without being responsible enough to sustain you're own house. With all due respect to yourself, the Allens, James Jamerson (who's also one of my all time great musical heros) or whoever brings it from skid row, stop telling me/us that we all owe you something. The same culture that allows you to add greatly to it also allows you to profit from it. All you need to do is make the choice to do so the way a free world lets you.

Rory, your heart is in the right place. IMO, it's just misdirected.

SuperDave said:
No, America does not owe Mrs.Allen some money...that is some sort of socialist thinking, we as musicians or jazz musicians may feel underpayed or appreciated, but we aren't owed a living because we do what we enjoy, many of us have day jobs that pay the bills and finance our music. If people felt about jazz the way they feel about football or basketball we would be payed that way.
I'm generally a liberal minded guy, but I must agree. The only thing we owe any great artist who is starving is our collective foot up their rear ends.
 

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I'm generally a liberal minded guy, but I must agree. The only thing we owe any great artist who is starving is our collective foot up their rear ends.
TJ, if that's liberal I sure hope I'm not around when the right-wingers chime in.

I think sideC made the excellent point above - if you don't have disposable income, you can't make the decision to save. Put another way, you can't save your way out of a hand-to-mouth existence.
 

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tjontheroad said:
You've stated my point exactly up until the nuts part :scratch: You can't live in a free society with all the rights of personal expression and artistry without being responsible enough to sustain you're own house. With all due respect to yourself, the Allens, James Jamerson (who's also one of my all time great musical heros) or whoever brings it from skid row, stop telling me/us that we all owe you something. The same culture that allows you to add greatly to it also allows you to profit from it. All you need to do is make the choice to do so the way a free world lets you.

Rory, your heart is in the right place. IMO, it's just misdirected.
Well, maybe "America" doesn't have to mean the government, but some kind of charity organization that can distribute donated funds to elderly artists and their spouses who sacrificed financial security and lived a hand-to-mouth existence for their entire lives in order to create their art and, ultimately, make a contribution to our society and culture. Clearly, there are many, many details and specifics that would need to be worked out before it were implemented, but making it a charity keeps us from getting into the issue of whether this is a "socialist" idea or not. If you don't like it, don't donate.

There would probably never be enough raised to fund the retirement of every jazz musician of note, but it could be a stipend that helps those who are going through a rough patch get by at least somewhat above a subsistence level.


Please note, this is not something I have given very much thought. This is something I came up with in about two minutes. There are holes in this plan, which I currently have no serious plans to implement, but would not be against.
 

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dirty said:
Well, maybe "America" doesn't have to mean the government
Of course it doesn't! Thanks Dirty for pointing out that we can actually talk and think about such things rather than just grinding our respective axes.

As I see it, these avenues actually already exist--both in the private sector and the public sector. If Arthur Fiedler (sp?) were to hit the skids, I'm pretty sure the Boston Pops folks would do something.

These days, the music industry spends an enormous amount of money advertising itself in all sorts of ways--everything from giving obscene amounts of money to young hip hop "artists" as a way of attracting young people to that brand of music, to staging award shows of all kinds, to participating in all sorts of consciousness raising crusades, to digging up Barry Manilo for American Idol.

All I'm saying is that, when I read stories like the one about Mrs Allen and those horns, I get really upset and angry, and it occurs to me that it would be a good idea if some of that huge amount of money were directed towards making sure that true legends in American popular music, (and perhaps especially African American artists like Allen who in so many cases were never properly compensated for their work), did not end up living in indigent conditions. I think most people in the music industry would agree with this: what we run up against is a failure effectively to practice what we preach.


I don't think this would be an example of some pernicious socialism; rather, it would be an example of an extremely wealthy industry in an extremely wealthy country simply acting in its own best interest and in the interest of culture in general.

I don't remember the details offhand, but I think we all owe the sublime music that was created by Art Pepper after his comeback to a businessman in the music industry who thought the same way.

Obviously some folks strongly disagree, but I don't think this would threaten my liberty, my individualism, or my sense of personal responsibility--not even a little bit. In fact, I'd say that if it does, then that liberty, individualism, and responsibility aren't worth preserving. Anyway, what I do feel very strongly is that when a Lee Allen ends up in poverty, we are all somehow terribly impoverished--and maybe implicated. I just can't see why this has to keep happening.


Peace,

Rory
 

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Rory, I came off bit strong to make a point. I don't mean to offend. My view on this comes from personal experience in two ways. First from the fact in my own life many many years ago I went through some very tough times financially. Most of it, I know now, was my own fault. No one wanted to or was able to help me. Without going into to much detail, I can tell you I was faced with two choices. Continue to feel sorry for myself while seeking hand outs or stop wasting my time with that and start fixing my problems myself. Long story short, when I faced my problems everything got better. Today, I'm not a wealthy guy, but I'm educated and set in my career and my life. That all came from those hard knocks. So the liberal side of me comes from a great understanding of the challenges that the real world offers. My second level of understanding this issue comes from the work I do. Because of my own experiences, I find myself constantly chastising my clients about not saving enough or just being apathetic when it comes to their money. Most worrisome, is the total lack of education and common sense people can exhibit about their own financial future. This especially true of many artistic people I meet. If you're a working musician young or old, you do need to start thinking about your money matters now so we will not be talking about you or your family later!

For the record, I strongly support the idea of both government and the private sector needs to do more supporting and nurturing the arts. A charitable organization would also be a terrific idea. Much like the one that supports aging NFL football players would be a good model. The free market side of me says if anyone reading this feels strongly enough about this issue, it is up you to make it happen. Don't wait for someone else to do it. :idea1:

Peace :hippy2:
 

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rleitch said:
.... Obviously some folks strongly disagree, but I don't think this would threaten my liberty, my individualism, or my sense of personal responsibility--not even a little bit. In fact, I'd say that if it does, then that liberty, individualism, and responsibility aren't worth preserving. Anyway, what I do feel very strongly is that when a Lee Allen ends up in poverty, we are all somehow terribly impoverished--and maybe implicated. I just can't see why this has to keep happening.
What he said :salute:

I am, of course, an outsider looking in, but the history and development of Jazz & Blues in America appears to be tied to the exploitation of minority groups (ethnic, social, political, educational etc) by a succession of Dubya wannabees. To blame great players’ lack of financial acumen as the major contributing factor to financial insecurity is on a par with blaming mugging victims for leaving the house today! You could of course argue that all is fair in love, war & business, but the success of today’s major music industry corporations is built on exploitation – how big a piece of the revenue from the massive re-issue programmes undertaken by the industry giants finds its way back to the session players that made those recordings, decades later?

You can write off these ramblings as those of a ‘pernicious socialist’, but I’d suggest that the fruits of the ‘land of opportunity’ were (and to some extent, still are) easier to pick by those with wealth, health, education, an ‘I’m alright Jack’ attitude, a Republican lapel pin and a pale complexion.:protest:
 

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Sid said:
What he said :salute:

I am, of course, an outsider looking in, but the history and development of Jazz & Blues in America appears to be tied to the exploitation of minority groups (ethnic, social, political, educational etc) by a succession of Dubya wannabees. To blame great players’ lack of financial acumen as the major contributing factor to financial insecurity is on a par with blaming mugging victims for leaving the house today! You could of course argue that all is fair in love, war & business, but the success of today’s major music industry corporations is built on exploitation – how big a piece of the revenue from the massive re-issue programmes undertaken by the industry giants finds its way back to the session players that made those recordings, decades later?

You can write off these ramblings as those of a ‘pernicious socialist’, but I’d suggest that the fruits of the ‘land of opportunity’ were (and to some extent, still are) easier to pick by those with wealth, health, education, an ‘I’m alright Jack’ attitude, a Republican lapel pin and a pale complexion.:protest:
You are so right that exploitation is a big issue if not the issue involved here. The recording industry has exploited the artist and the listeners as well. Shame on them! OTOH, there are stories of artists that fought for their rights and came out ahead. Prince comes to mind. Anyone who puts "slave" on his face is out to prove a point. All I'm saying is, the power to do well for yourself is staring back at you in the mirror. There's nothing wrong with seeking help. Just don't expect it.
 

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tjontheroad said:
.... There's nothing wrong with seeking help. Just don't expect it.
What he said too (assuming that you're not putting this view forward as a nihilistic argument - why shouldn't we have basic expectations of morality, honesty and compassion from our fellow man?) :thumbrig:

But I was looking at this with more of a historical slant (in line with the original post?) - 'society' had rather different views when Lee Allen was laying down those booting solos on the Little Richard & Fats toons. In those times, Prince's 'success' would more likely have been measured by the magnitude of his martyrdom! The case in hand is directly linked to those historical times (my take) when society had rather different views on what was and was not, an acceptable expectation.
 

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It's sad that it's necessary, but in Kansas City there is a "Coda Fund" that raises money from the public to provide funerals for professional musicians who die broke.
 

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Sid said:
What he said too (assuming that you're not putting this view forward as a nihilistic argument - why shouldn't we have basic expectations of morality, honesty and compassion from our fellow man?) :thumbrig:
I honestly had to look up the word "nihilistic" or "nihilism" before replying :cool:

As I understand the meaning, I'm not coming from that point of view.
 

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Hey Retread,

Amen to that. I've played/participated in a number of charity fund raisers for local musicians and there's definitely a place for them.

However, I don't know of course, but I would guess that many of that many of the musicians we're talking about--i.e. Lee Allen's generation--would have the very strong middle class values of their times, and so would rather be poor than accept charity, so-called. Their values, in other words, are entirely in alignment with the ethos of robust self-reliance TJ and others have articulated.

That's one reason I think what should happen is that they should be paid for services rendered. Not a hand-out, but a reward for a distinguished contribution to music.

Of course, there has to be a recognition that they did make such a contribution, and I think there's a whole class of great sax players who have fallen between the cracks in the culture "war" between the jazz modernists and the traditionalists, guys just like like Allen, Maxwell Davis, Julian Dash, Clifford Scott, and Willis Jackson.

At the risk of sounding overly clever, these guys are standing in the shadows of Standing in the Shadows: did you notice that not one sax player was mentioned in that movie--and Tom Scott got the gig!

Again I may be nuts, but it has always seemed to me that the organization most suited to doing something like this would be the musicians' unions. That is, not individual donations, but rather money taken from the profits of the music industry and redistributed by a determined and organized effort on the part of the union to make sure that guys who paid their dues get their dues when they need them.

Rory
 
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