Georgie K: The Kingmaker I Lost

One time I ran into an odd character in an elevator, at a community college where I was taking singing lessons. He was a little gnome of a would-be kingmaker who called himself Georgie K. Georgie was about 42, balding on top with long hair on the sides. He looked sort of like Ben Franklin without the dignity.

Georgie saw the music book under my arm and figured I was an aspiring superstar so he started dripping names like turds in a two-bit taco hut shithouse. He was just oozing showbiz cadences as he told me that he was no stranger to big time circles. He also claimed to be a masterful lyricist and performer, and he spewed some doggerel verse on the spot to show his massive talent.

When we got to the lobby he reached into his briefcase and pulled out a big naugahyde ledger with typeset names and addresses. He pointed some out to me. “She sings backup with Phil Collins. That’s Ornette Coleman’s address. I stay with him when I don’t have any money. Do you know Ornette’s stuff? This guy does lights for the Moody Blues and Willie Nelson. Cleavon Little, see? I’ve collaborated with him on some projects.”

In between name dripping he told me he was looking for talent and knew lots of key people. “Look kid, I like you and I think we can work together. I got some projects in development that could use your touch. But right now let me tell you something, maybe the only thing you’ll ever need to know. When you’re onstage you gotta get an audience where you want ‘em, right in the palm of your hand and then . . . you blow them away.” As he said this he slowly unclenched his balled up fist and blew on his hand dramatically.

I was an entertainment world virgin at the time, so this was some heavy chutzpah Georgie K was laying down. Although he came on like a blustering hack, he had the presence of a self-styled showbiz guru, a backstage griot who could tell endless tales about “the business” and its inner workings. I was fascinated and listened with reverence.

“But you gotta watch yourself kid. This business’ll chew you up like dog meat and spit you in the gutter. Paul Butterfield see,” he pointed to the ledger. “He stays at the Grammarcy. Real strung out these days. A while back, ‘68 maybe, he saw me at a gig—I think it was the Fillmore—and he drops some snide shit like, `Don’t I know you? Aren’t you a roadie or somethin’?’ So a couple years ago I saw the cat again and he grabs me, he’s like hangin’ on, beggin’ me: `Georgie man, Georgie please, clean me up, put me back on track. You’re my last hope; only you can make me big again.’

“Now I didn’t forget what happened 20 years before. Georgie K never forgets a slag. Got ‘em all catalogued right here,” he pointed to his head. “So I looked him right in his bloodshot eyes and I said `Only if you get me in to see Dylan.’”

“Bob Dylan? Why him?” I asked.

“We do the same thing, y’know. I write five novels and 50 poems a day. No one since Poe or Shakespeare is near me, man. But when they put a suitcase full of money on the table and said `We own you,’ I said `Nah uh, later man, that’s not my trip. No one owns Georgie K.’”

“Five novels a day? I don’t know,” said I.

“Hey, you heard me before,” he said, referring to his earlier attempt to impress me with his bad poetry.

“You think that was good or something?” I let slip an honest reaction to such overwhelming buffoonery.

“What?!!” he exclaimed with pseudo-big shot indignation. “I’m tryin’ to help you out and you’re runnin’ me down. You just cut your own throat, man. I was gonna turn you on to a free record contract, and you just cut your own throat.”

Then he stalked away with a wicked scowl on his face. “Hey wait,” I called, “I’m sorry.” And I really was, because I wanted to have coffee with him at least, and wade deeper into such fantastic delusion.

“No way man, forget it. You got the same attitude as everyone around here.”

Oh well. “Say `hi’ to Ornette for me,” I hollered.

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