Newsletter from Johnny Pierce
Note: This archive page was the last newsletter that the late Johnny Pierce sent to Jimmie fans on the old mailing list in 2001. It's posted here for historical purposes.
Greetings Jimmie Spheeris fans:
We'd like to begin this newsletter by thanking all of you once again for making the CD reissue of Jimmie's music possible. You're the best. Without your letters, volunteer services, and boundless support, Jimmie's master tapes would still be gathering dust in a vault. Every Jimmie CD is your accomplishment.
This is perhaps our most important newsletter since we announced the original reissue of Jimmie's music on CD in 1998. Unfortunately, the news this time isn't so good.
RAIN RECORDS SUSPENDS DISTRIBUTION OF JIMMIE MUSIC
All distribution of Jimmie Spheeris music through Rain Records ceased on 7 April 2001. There are several reasons for this. Here are two of them.
Much to our surprise, K-Tel International (USA), the distributor of Jimmie's music, filed for bankruptcy on 19 March 2001. This effectively halted the preservation project, since K-Tel has in their procession all but a handful of the entire unsold inventory of Jimmie Spheeris CDs. K-Tel also owes Rain Records a considerable sum of money for that inventory ... and without those funds, the preservation project is in trouble.
SONY MUSIC PULLS LICENSE RIGHTS
Closely following the news that K-Tel went belly up, Sony Music informed Rain Records that it has canceled the licensing agreement whereby Rain Records was permitted to manufacture and sell Jimmie Spheeris CDs. Since Sony owns all rights to Jimmie's music, this means that even if the preservation project had the funds to continue, we are no longer permitted by Sony to continue our work on Jimmie's behalf.
Under the terms and conditions of our original contract with Sony, Rain Records was required to pay for all manufacturing of the CDs at Sony's manufacturing facilities. Now, Sony has demanded that Rain Records cease sale and distribution of those same CDs we were required to buy from them. While Sony's motives are still unclear to us, and while we find it amazing that we are not permitted to sell a product Sony required us to buy from them under contract, we can only hope that Sony plans to make Jimmie's music available directly some day. If that's the case, at least the music will survive.
So that's it, fans. If you own a Jimmie CD, its value just increased by leaps and bounds.
The only good news: A labor of love put Jimmie's music into the hands of thousands of people who cherish it all over the world. An important body of work got a reprieve from oblivion... and may yet find its rightful place in the history of our times.
The preservation project is the culmination of an effort that became a real possibility in 1996, when thousands of online Jimmie fans began to make their voices heard through The Jimmie Spheeris Memorial Gallery.
The memorial site will remain online. Site founder Andy Markley is writing a book about this adventure, entitled Does Anybody Remember Jimmie? Its a story about Jimmie's vision, his friends, the music biz, a time when everything was possible, greed, family, death, the net, and the power of art to create change. We'll post more info about the book as it becomes available.
A WORD OR TWO ABOUT MONEY
No one involved in this project is interested in making profit from Jimmie's name. We never were and we never did.
Jimmie's master tapes were disintegrating. The engineer who remastered Ports of the Heart from the original master tapes in Sony's vault confirmed this fact. She said, "I opened the box with the master tapes inside. Oxide dust drifted out. Another year or two and these tapes would not be salvageable."
Action had to be taken immediately to preserve Jimmie's work in a more permanent digital format. Rain Records invested tens of thousands of dollars to manufacture the CDs as a labor of love - not an avenue for profit. Johnny Pierce put a second mortgage on his home to make this possible, because with thousands of digital CDs out there in the world, there's a much better chance that Jimmie's music will survive indefinitely.
You should also know that memorial gallery founder Andy Markley accepted no fees for design work on the CD projects, or for digitally restoring lost cover art. Hosting the memorial site is paid for out-of-pocket by him. Our only goal is to see a remarkable body of work preserved... and that goal continues.