“Ding-a-ling-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding.” (Eric Weissberg: Duelling Banjos theme from Deliverance, 1972)
Since my rejoining of Nazareth in 1990, after Manny’s sudden expulsion, none of my bandmates had any direct contact with their founding member. He was never even mentioned in conversation. As one of the four directors of Nazareth Dunfermline, however, he had to be kept up to date with company matters and, of course, receive regular royalty statements and accounts. I, on the other hand, was in regular contact with Manny, usually by phone and never divulging anything sensitive, the same went for him. I’d only actually met up with him on one occasion since the Hire & Fire moment of 1990. That was to play him the No Jive album which he quite liked, well except for the drum sound and, in his opinion, Dan sounding a bit tired. Now, after my glorious gig with The Spiders, he gave me a call:
“How’s the new album sounding?”
“We’re all pleased with it auld yin, and we’re hopefully putting it out via Polygram thanks to Karin and Astrid.”
“Nice one. Can I hear it?”
“As long as I remember not to tell the band,” I reminded myself, out loud.
“Never mind, I’ll drop by tomorrow.”
So I did and Manny liked it a lot, I think.
“How many of the songs did you write?”
“Err, all of them.”
“Why? Are they too good to have come from Dan, Pete and Darrell?”
“Fuck No! They’re just lazy bastards.”
I then went on to explain the planned Polygram deals, i.e. Nazareth Dunfermline (minus Manuel) would sign the record contract and I the publishing.
“Are you having a stroke, old mate?”
“What are you getting out of this?” he continued, ignoring my concern for his medical condition.
“The publishing. My rights, ownership and control of my songs, for once.”
“Nothing from the record sales?”
“Nah. The other three put up the money to record it, so I’m okay with the publishing advance and any future royalties if it recoups.”
“And you think they’ll be okay with that?”
“I’m not going to make the same mistake as last time,” I assured him, in reference to when he himself along with the rest of the band screwed me over.
“They’re gonna want 75% of your advance.”
“Yeah, it’s been mentioned, but I’ve said I’d only consider this if Nazareth Dunfermline discloses how much of my royalties they got from 2XS/Sound Elixir and pay me some of it back.”
“But We’ve, sorry, They’ve spent it!”
“I know You’ve, sorry, They’ve spent it but it was My money for My songs. Why would I do it again? Even You, sorry, They have to understand that.”
Manny nodded in agreement.
“Besides,” I continued, “Darrell says there are no accounts from back then so common sense would suggest there’s no case to answer.”
“No accounts? Erm, okay.”
“You’ve got accounts? Can I see them?”
“What? No! Are you crazy?”
“Okay, how much are we talking here?”
Manny turned pure white. Well, as pure white as a Spaniard could turn.
“Let me hear the album again, Bill.”
“Fuck the album. How much, Manny?”
“A lot. We’re still getting your royalties, sorry.”
“What the Fuck!”
“Don’t do this, mate. If you do, they will fire you.”
“I’m not doing anything Manny. Just keeping what’s mine this time. Why would they fire me?”
“Cos that’s why they fired me. I got fed up doing all the work, writing the songs, arrangements, production ‘et al’ while they swanned off to the pub.”
“They fired you for doing all the work?”
“No, for wanting to charge extra for doing all the work and getting to keep the publishing advance instead of splitting it four ways. I tried to reason with them, even mentioned it to the local press when the shit went down and Darrell countered with something like, ‘Well maybe we shouldn’t have let him write all the songs cos they were shit,’ I couldn’t win.”
Now, for those of you in possession of a cynical nature and thinking, “Hang on. Here’s a guy your bandmates fired telling you they’ll fire you too and you’re falling for this? He obviously has an axe to grind” (no pun intended) then consider how this day together ended.
“So you won’t show me the accounts?”
“Okay. Is it a lot we’re talking about?”
I’m at his front door now, giving him the customary goodbye hug.
“Promise me you won’t sue ’em, Bill.”
“I promise Manny, but why do you even care?”
“Cos I’d lose my house. I’m Nazareth Dunfermline too, remember.”
The penny eventually dropped.
Sensing this, Manny tried to lighten the moment.
“Move Me sounds really good, by the way. Much better than Snakes N Ladders.”
“Nothing personal mate,” I replied.
“Even Rolf Harris’ Greatest Hits sounds better than Snakes N Ladders.”