THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING

12.08.2009 14:37

GREGG  FULKERSON

 

Gregg and the gang rose from the ashes of Nonstop to form Sahara. New demos were cut, and the first track that featured Gregg as vocalist was a track called “Follow Your Heart.” Suddenly Sahara was getting a lot of local airplay and not just on the college radio station. WYNU, 92.3 FM the local pop/rock station out of Jackson started tracking Sahara’s single in heavy rotation during drive time hours. Sahara’s music had an optimism to it that rings just as true today as it did all those years ago. When you listen to “Follow Your Heart,” you can still feel the excitement of those days. When Sahara played a show, the crowds topped 1,000, a very respectable number for a band who were just a local sensation. Sahara’s music was heavy, but not quite heavy metal. It had a tasty pop sensibility, and best of all, they were ours. We later found out that the local buzz combined with airplay on WYNU had attracted a lot of attention. Somewhere in the midst of the Sahara frenzy, a management company in Los Angeles got wind of the band as well as a copy of their demo. The demo led to a record contract with MCA Records, and a celebratory concert in Jackson to thank Sahara’s fans for their support. 
  
That night at the show, Gregg and company announced that they were no longer to be known as Sahara. It turned out that there were a whole lot of bands out there who were already using that name. The band formerly known as Nonstop, formerly known as Sahara, from now on would be called Blue Tears. And as they say in the movies, the crowd went wild.
 
The CD came out in the winter of that year, and the album sales shot through the roof.  Blue Tears opened for the likes of the Smithereens, and the Stray Cats. Gregg and the band came back to our little town to film the video for the first single from the band,
“Rockin’ with the Radio.” The video was shot on location at the local Sonic drive-in and the local high school. When the video premiered at about 3 AM one night on MTV, our TV production instructor taped it to show the class. It was a more lackluster premiere than we’d hoped for, but everyone just chalked it up to the band paying their dues. 

Some of Gregg’s songs went to the all girl metal band, Vixen. Another song authored by Gregg and his band-mate Mike Spears “Fast Cars, Loud Guitars and Wild, Wild Women” went to a rock and roll super group called Contraband. The track was featured on the soundtrack of a film called “If Looks Could Kill.” 
   Gregg was making a name for himself. He was establishing himself in the world of music, and if we didn’t hear much about what was going on with the band, we figured he was just working hard. The road to stardom looked like it would go on forever … and then it all came crashing down. 
 
A number of things happened, most of which Gregg has never talked about. There were problems at MCA, and as he put it, he got the shaft from the record company. Blue Tears couldn’t go back into the studio to record a follow up album. Then tragedy struck from distant Seattle; Nirvana sounded the death knell for the not only Blue Tears, but the entire hair-band genre, changing the face of rock and roll as we know it forever.   

Gregg took a long rest from music. The band members went their separate ways. Little more was heard from Blue Tears beyond rumor and memory. It seemed that the golden haired boys of that magic season were destined for obscurity. 
  As for Blue Tears, well, they reached a kind of success. Bootleg copies of their old demos at one point were selling for about $250 over the Internet. Eventually, the website, Melodic Rock.com made the old Blue Tears demos available for download. Sometime after, a complete CD of the previously unreleased demos was put out under the title of “Mad, Bad, and Dangerous.”
   
Even though almost twenty years have passed, the die-hard fan base was still out there, watching and waiting for the day when Blue Tears returns.
In 2003, the band reformed with some of the original members and a new drummer under the name: Attraction 65. Gregg referred to it as a darker, moodier version of Blue Tears. Nothing much came from that incarnation of the band or the resulting album. But in November 2005, a newly reformed Blue Tears played Firefest in Nottingham, England. About that same time, Gregg signed with an Australian label called Suncity Records who took over Gregg’s catalog and compiled the albums that would become “Mad, Bad, and Dangerous” and "Dancing On The Back Streets".
  
In 2006 Blue Tears, with Gregg as the only original member, released their long awaited follow up CD “The Innocent Ones.” The band didn't see the resurgence of the success they enjoyed in the 90’s. Still, the fanbase remained strong, with a ready-made audience, hungry to snap up any new material.

Gregg Fulkerson passed away unexpectedly Tuesday morning, April 14, 2009. He will be missed.

 

POST SCRIPTUM:

Když jsem si tenhle článek četl, bylo mi z toho moc smutno, protože vědomí, že Greggem milovaní Blue Tears bez něho už nikdy opravdovými Modrými Slzami nebudou, je prostě strašné. Trochu se utěšuju tím, že mám na něho památku v podobě čtyř alb - aspoň tak. Když některé z nich poslouchám, vybaví se mi jeho životní příběh a uvědomím si, jak ošidné je věřit novinářům a historikům, protože řada věcí je dost v rozporu s tím, co se o hudební revoluci devadesátých let obvykle říká a píše. Takže teze o nezadržitelné živelnosti nástupu neopunku a grunge dostává docela zabrat, když si člověk uvědomí že spoustě tradičních amerických skupin se stalo totéž, co Greggu Fulkersonovi  a jeho Blue Tears = připravovaná, nebo dokonce již k vydání připravená alba jištěná smlouvou s firmou byla tzv. "hozena do stoupy". Často dokonce takovým způsobem, že došlo nejen k tomu, že byla zehodnocena práce mnoha lidí, ale labely vlastnily vydavatelská práva k nahrávkám a znemožnily autorům a hudebníkům vydat je na vlastní náklady nebo u jakékoliv malé nezávislé firmy. (Neodbytně se pak vtírá myšlenka o umělém umetání cestičky a násilné likvidaci konkurence.) Blue Tears měli v tomto ohledu poměrně štěstí. Nebyli umlčeni úplně, podařilo se jim umístit dema skladeb pro své druhé album na  Melodic Rock.com. Zájem příznivců /=download/ neopadl ani po patnácti letech. Souběžně s tím se bootlegy(!) Blue Tears  prodávaly za cenu 250 dolarů, na což se později spolehla australská(!) firma a konečně v roce 2005 vydala bez jakékoliv publicity dema(!) z počátku devadesátých let na CD. Tahle situace zase trochu staví do jiného světla tezi o tom, že alternativní rock např. Nirvany byl po hudební stránce natolik převratným, že učinil najednou tradiční rockovou hudbu "nekonkurenceschopnou a neprodejnou". A tak ve mně docela často hlodá pochybnost. Byl nástup neopunku a grunge v první polovině devadesátých let opravdu revoluci hudební? Nešlo jen o změnu manažerských záměrů a priorit v major labels?

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