Topic: Behind The Scenes 2:
Here are some interesting memos, letters, and notes from Teo Macero’s archived papers about the cancellation of the Clancy Brothers’ Columbia contract. They are pretty self-explanatory I think. As you can see Tommy Makem’s departure from the group is what precipitated the contractual dispute, but it was also more of an excuse than anything since the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem’s sales had been going down substantially (as the first memo notes, they had received advances of $53,000 more than the royalties that had yet come in from their albums) and Columbia wanted out of the contract anyway:
Memo from Richard Asher to Walter Dean, April 28, 1969:
“I called Jerry Campbell (the group’s manager) to check on the trade press item which mentions that Tommy Makem might be leaving the group. Campbell was somewhat evasive and maintained that this was a possibility but would not be decided until a soon to be held meeting between the Clancys, Makem and Campbell took place.
“Campbell says that plans are afoot to add The Furies (who as sidemen backed-up the group on their album cut last January [The Bold Fenian Men]) to the Clancy Brothers group and that there is a possibility of adding another Clancy (Bobby) to the group. He also says that regardless of whether Makem leaves, the group will be continuing with its engagements, etc.
“I believe our contract with this group gives us the right to terminate if one of them leaves and we don’t approve his replacement. We also have an option on a leaving member. If we terminate we don’t have to make the remaining guarantee payments of $30,000. ($10,000 installments payable on August 4, 1969, February 4, 1970 and August 4, 1970).
“By copy of this memo, I am asking A&R for their opinion as to the course we should take if Makem does leave. Through March, 1969 they are over $53,000 unearned and, since their current product does not seem to be selling well, Makem’s leaving might present us with an opportunity to escape further loss on this deal.”
Memo from Morton M. Drosnes to Dick Asher, April 29, 1969:
“In connection with your memo to Walter Dean of April 28, I want to specifically mention that the modification of the term contract expressly provides that we will not unreasonably withhold our approval of the replacement for a leaving member.”
Memo from Jack Gold to Richard Asher, May 5, 1969:
“If Makem leaves the Clancy Brothers, I think we should terminate and avoid further guarantee payments. We are considering two albums with them including a Christmas album, so please keep in touch and let me know if Makem leaves and whem [sic].”
A letter that indicates that Jack Gold and Bruce Lundvall recommended terminating the contracts
Letter, May 15, 1969:
“Since Tommy Makem’s retirement from our group, we wish to inform you that our brother, Bobby Clancy, is going to replace him. Bobby is a wellknown [sic] folksinger in Ireland and England and has also toured the United States and Canada. He has done radio and television work in these areas also. I am enclosing two of his LP’s which he recorded with my sister, Peg.
“We have come to an agreement with Bobby to join the group on a permanent basis and he will accompany us on our tour of Australia in September and on our tour of America and Canada in the fall. We have also agreed that he should participate in our recordings in London on June 9th, subject to your approval.
“Since he is our brother, he is very familiar with our repertoire and style of performance and we are, of course, very familiar with his work.
“Patrick Clancy Tom Clancy
Approved by Bobby Clancy”
[All four names are both typed and signed]
Letter, June 2, 1969
From Walter Dean
To: “Messrs. Patrick Clancy, Wm. Clancy, and Thomas Clancy
Cregg [Cregg is where Paddy lived], Carric on Suir [sic]
-We received a letter saying that Makem is to be replaced by Bobby Clancy
-Cites subparagraph of contract with Columbia
“You are hereby notified that we do not approve of the replacement of Tommy Makem by Bobby Clancy and that we elect to exercise our right to terminate the term of the aforesaid agreement of August 5, 1965, as of this date.”
To be continued...
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