10 Questions with ... Jeff Cook
June 30, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started my career as musician and lead singer in Denver bands. I hooked up with Tommy Bolin and formed bands with him, and then became a co-writer with him writing songs for James Gang, Deep Purple and both of Tommy's solo albums.
Did retail working in record stores (remember them?) Denver Folklore Center, Peaches.
Joined Arista as local, then regional, and National Rock Promotion.
Segued to Elektra Records as National Rock Promotion during the glory days of Metallica, Motley Crue, The Pixies and, let's not forget, Georgia Satellites.
Left to join Phil Walden for the reformation of the legendary Capricorn Records, where we launched the careers of Widespread Panic, Cake, 311, Freddy Jones Band and more.
Became Head of Promotion at New West for nine years working with John Hiatt, Drive By Truckers, Old 97's, Buddy Miller and more.
Started Coherent Music five years ago and continue to irritate radio stations on a regular basis.
1. What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
At first, KIMN/Denver, then WLS/Chicago and sometimes KOMA.
2. Who were/are your mentors?
Clive Davis, Richard Palmese, Mike Bone, Brad Hunt, John Schoenberger, PHIL WALDEN (most passionate and brilliant madman ever), Cameron Strang and ... my probation officer.
3. Tell us about your days as a musician.
Music was all we ever loved; we pursued it with reckless abandon you'd expect from youth! I should be dead.
Working with Tommy Bolin was a great gift; he was a brilliant musician and had he lived, I believe would be one of the greatest players out there, even today. Our time together was short but very exciting.
Our band Energy played a strange fusion of Blues, Jazz and Metal -- most clubs we were booked in didn't get us. We were fired from all the finest clubs in a five-state area. However, we were managed by the late Barry Fey and Chuck Morris, so we got a lot of opening slots for huge concerts. So, one night we would be playing in some dump for three people and getting fired halfway through the set and the next night we would be playing for 10,000 cheering people at the Red Rocks or something. Doesn't get any stranger than that!
During that time, Tommy and I became songwriting partners, which was a relationship like nothing I've ever had before, or since. We had almost a telepathic connection when writing together.
4. How did you end up on the promotion side?
When Tommy died, I made the decision to step away from playing live and get a real job. Instead, I got a job in the music business ... and that has worked out pretty well.
5. What has been your biggest career highlight?
Doing an album with the great Allen Toussaint a few years back was pretty damn good. He was always a hero to me and to be able to sing with him both in the studio and on stage has been another great gift.
(BTW- I do have a few copies still available and they will be available in the lobby)
6. How do you stay in touch with the latest music trends?
I spend a lot of time on school playgrounds! Having a 15-year-old daughter, Alexis, doesn't hurt, either. She is a constant reminder that people are wide open to ANY good music no matter the genre.
7. What do you view as the most important issue facing Triple A radio today?
There are so many. Here's one that chaps me: From what I have been able to observe, those stations that are owned by the larger radio groups seem to be under-staffed and overworked. Many companies view radio not as an art form but as a product, and pay much too little attention to the quality and creativity of what is being broadcast and how to nurture innovation and evolve the very thing that brings in the clients and cash flow. Many programmers and jocks have really no time to reflect, imagine, conceive and create.
On the other hand, there is some great radio happening in secondary markets, which are owned by independent, passionate owners who are figuring out how to make money and great radio at the same time!
8. Every promotion person has a record close to their heart that for one reason or another never broke through -- "The One That Got Away." What is your "One That Got Away," and what did you learn from that record?
There really hasn't been one -- there have been a few and what I have learned is that quality of a song, or the person promoting it, has really nothing to do with if it gets played. There are so many factors -- artist awareness, tour presence, strength of management, and more.
What I have learned, too, is that no amount of begging helps even if you are a believer in a song. (Believe me, I've tried.)
I have also come to understand that no amount of airplay will help break/sell a crappy song, either. So I guess it all evens out in the end.
9. What would surprise people most about you?
That I am a bitter, lonely man who needs a lot of expresso to face any given day. That while living in England, I had Peter Sellers as a neighbor. That I can tie a cherry stem with my tongue. That I really wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's.
10. If you were to leave the record business today and you could choose any other occupation, what would it be?
I would like to work at a toll booth, or become a Priest and try to get the Catholic Church back on track.
Last non-industry job:
Never had one
First record ever purchased:
Ray Charles Live At Newport (my parents were sure I was going to hell.)
Vanilla Fudge, Spirit and a new band opened called Led Zeppelin
Favorite band of all-time:
Not one, MANY ... and more all the time!
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Knitting, Tai Chi, training special-forces folks, grooming kittens ....