The New York Trip

One of our last photo sessions taken in the Ludtke's basement at the Ludtke Pony Farm.

One of our last photo sessions taken in the Ludtke’s basement at the Ludtke Pony Farm. From left clockwise: Ken, Mick, Jon (standing) and Kim (kneeling in front) returns!

Updated 4/8/14: Another one of those “This is how I remember it” disclosures is required here.

Once the “Sailing on Fantasies” record was pressed, Jon and I (with agreement from Ken and Paul) decided to take a trip to New York to see if we could place our record with one of the big labels. This was in November of 1978 according to my booking calendar I was keeping. I hadn’t found it yet when I first wrote this article.

This was my first time on an airplane, so I was naturally nervous. In my junior high English class I received an “A” for my short story about the boy who gets so worked up sitting on the runway for his first flight that he asks the flight attendant to get off. Of course, she informs them they have already taken off. He didn’t even notice it. The teacher even read it for the class. I had never flown when I wrote that.

So now the reality was making me nervous, but once we got off the ground it was kind of cool. We flew (if I remember right) from the Quad Cities to Chicago or some other hub, then changed planes and flew into JFK Airport. At the time, the descent into NY seemed kind of steep to me, but we landed safely.

Somehow we had a reservation at a Holiday Inn or some inexpensive (at least for New York) hotel in downtown Manhattan. I am pretty sure we stocked up on peanut butter, bread, fruit and other supplies so we could eat in our room to cut expenses.

For two or three days, Jon and I walked the streets with a list of record companies we compiled from the phone book the night before and made the rounds. Office after office it was pretty much the same drill. The “gatekeeper” or receptionist would tell us that the A&R man who made those decisions was busy, but if we left the albums she would be sure someone listened to them. What were we going to do? Argue?

Eventually, we managed to wrangle a meeting with one of the A&R men from Atlantic Records. I believe he had an English accent, so we were really excited! I vaguely remember walking into his office and the first song he put on was “Hand in Hand”. I could see Jon cringing since, though a very good song, this was really not representative of the bulk of music on “Sailing on Fantasies”. Next he chose “Turn It Down”. His only comment was, “If I was that guy I would have gone down to her flat.”

At the end, his primary comment was, “Do you guys do a Beatles set?” We both nodded yes. “It’s clear that you guys can play. But you sound too much like the Beatles. Come back when you get your own sound.” We were crushed.

During this period, Atlantic was signing groups like Foreigner, and the New Wave phenomenon was just beginning. Cheap Trick, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, The Cars were all starting to release records, many of which we covered. He didn’t know that, so it was clear our second album was very much influenced by our love and respect for the Beatles music we had crafted into our Tribute. To this day, I say, “Why is this a bad thing?” The group has sold more records than anyone. Every Christmas their music is repackaged and sold… over and over again. Why isn’t there room for a group that emulates the sound and spirit of the Beatles? After all, we were a tight four piece band writing and playing all original music which we did just as well live as we did in the studio!

Regardless, Jon and I returned to Iowa disheartened. We spent a lot of time trying to find a new name, new gimmicks to add to our repertoire and learning the latest releases from the newest bands. Our hope was to influence our sound for the third album… which never happened. I really wish it had. Kim was going to come back since Paul wanted to leave the group. Instead, Ken and I decided to go out as a duo. We named ourselves Double Shot and played for about 3 months before packing it in and moving to California.

Mick Orton

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  1. Follow Up on the Silver Laughter New York Trip | Silver Laughter & The Silvers!

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