Yeah, there’s probably great potential for this to be one of those “Who?” RIP posts at QT3, but hell with it. :)
Emmitt Rhodes should’ve been a household name. In a kinder universe, he’s just that.
He was 17 years old when he wrote, arranged, and produced the songs on the first Merry-Go-Round album…which he was the lead singer and guitarist for.
I mean I know what a doofus I was at age 17. So this is…amazing:
And then the band broke up, because it was basically only Emmitt Rhodes anyway. And ABC Dunhill signed him to what might be the craziest, shittiest record contracts ever: The contract called for Rhodes to release one album every 6 months for 3 years – six records total. Rhodes had a bunch of recordings in the can that A&M (the Merry-Go-Round’s label) had decided to pass on, and expected to get the release rights back to those and maybe make that the first two records on the contract to Dunhill.
But A&M decided that if Rhodes was good enough for ABC/Dunhill to sign, they’d hold onto those recordings themselves. So Rhodes started from scratch, using his $5,000 advance to build a home studio in his parents’ house in Hawthorne, CA. He managed to deliver 3 albums in three years, but that wasn’t enough to make ABC happy. (It took a while for Rhodes to record in the years before digital: he plays all the instruments himself and self-produced them all.)
The record company sued Rhodes for a quarter-million dollars for breach of contract, withheld royalties, and Rhodes had a nervous breakdown that resulted eventually manifested as incapacitating depression and bipolar disorder. After that third record for Dunhill in 1971, he never recorded again until making a few half-hearted attempts in the '80s, and then in the 2010s.
But man. What records he recorded are just awesome. It’s like finding out that there’s this secret trove of Paul McCartney albums just floating around out there that sound WAY better than Wings ever did. Dig: