We have now reached 1967 and the Glen Campbell story, so without further ado…photos of Jeffrey are thin on the ground and this one is obviously not from 1967! Beggars can’t be…
Coming to 1967, I heard Turn around look at me on the Shindig TV programme. I called the television station and said ‘who’s that guitarist who just sang?’ ‘Glen Campbell.’ ‘Who is he?’ ‘I don’t know but I think Capitol have just signed him.’ I went back to L.A. two days later, went up to Capitol and said ‘listen – I heard a song called Turn around look at me’. ‘Oh well, that’s not ours, it’s on a little label. We’ve just bought the label and we’ve signed this Glen Campbell. In fact he’s recording tomorrow.’ I said ‘well, I like him. Can I get him as one of my second rights artists?’ He cut something for Capitol before Phoenix and Top Rank had Turn Around.
I went to the session. That’s where I caught up with Nick Sevano whom I had met previously when I was representing all the Frank Sinatra publishing. Nick was a partner in that operation. He said ‘I’ve got this new kid, Glen Campbell.’ It was a coincidence. He said ‘he’s recording tonight, He’s dashing from a Sinatra session where he plays lead guitar.’ It happened to be the Strangers in the Night session. This cowboy comes in. Al de Lori’s there. I say ‘where’s the orchestra’ ‘No, he’ll just do it with three rhythm players and he’ll dub the voice in later.’ And they did By the time I get to Phoenix and three other things. I heard Glen put a rough voice on. Al just needed a rough voice to do on the background arrangements, then Glen would go back in and re-sing it. As it happened he never went back to re-sing because he sang it so bloody well the first time – the arragement made it enormous. I heard the finished record and said ‘Jesus, that’s something, but how the hell’s it going to sell – By the time I get to Phoenix?’
The demo came to London. Ron White (EMI) heard it and said ‘we can’t sell this rubbish.’ and I said ‘ Well, will you confirm to Len Wood that I can have Glen Campbell?’ Then he sent the famous memo – I do’t know whetheStanr you can get hold of it – I have a copy somewhere – which said ‘Let the kid have the bloody cowboy. No good to us.’ Signed Ron White. Len Wood said to me ‘you’ve got him.’ I went over, got it signed as an addendum (to my contract with EMI) and at the same time put in there, because Nick had told me ‘I’ve just signed this girl Anne Murray and I’m going to give her to Capitol and they’re (Anne & Glen) gonna do duets, ‘including any duets Glen does with other artists’ They didn’t care – they didn’t know who was going to break. It was a five year deal with options. That’s the story. That’s how we got Glen Campbell.
But because of the relationship with Nick Sevano and Stan Schneider, who became Glen’s business manager, and because I was the first in, Glen was a terribly loyal person. I said, ‘Glen, I’m going to try and make you a star in England.’ He said ‘whether you succeed or not, you’re my man for as long as you want to be with me. I’ll have Nick send you a contract but you’ve got my hand on it.’ I never got the sontract, never needed it. When he was earning a fortune, when he was earning £100,000 a night and I wanted him to come over and do Top of the Pops or a concert, over he’d come. He’d leave Friday night, come for the weekend, go back Monday and start the television series again on the Tuesday. From that day to two weeks ago (this interview was probably in 2000) when we had dinner with him, his wife and one of his sons, we’ve been bosom friends. I was sitting down here (Brighton) one April and we were doing a tour and he had two days off, so I was relaxing, catching up with my work and he was supposed to be playing golf with Bruce Forsythe and Jerry Stevens. My housekeeper came down and said to me ‘Mr Kruger, there’s some people upstairs.’ I said ‘leave me alone, I’ve no appointments.’ ‘No, your wife wants you upstairs.’ ‘Who the hell is it?’ She said ‘I think it’s Glen Campbell.’ He was a huge star by this time. I said ‘what are you talking about, he’s playing golf.’ I go upstairs, there’s Glen and the whole band. I walk in…there’s no hello…’Happy Birthday’ they sing. He doesn’t say a word, puts his arm round me and goes back to play golf. Never said a word! He’d brought them all down..that’s Glen. That’s the kind of man he is underneath everything else you may have heard about him. One of the most genuine people I’ve ever met in my life.
You remember the rows I had up at EMI trying to get promotional dollars, or what they said to me when I brought Anne Murray of Helen Reddy over – you remember some of those things?
What happened when it broke? (I was referring to the success of the first Campbell hit on Ember)
You’ll have to ask Len (Wood). He was the only one who said to everybody ‘Look, he had the sense to do it – we had it – so don’t hold it against him. Because then (after the hit) they tried to stop me getting anything. There was a guy in (Capitol) Los Angeles, Francis Scott III who was your business affairs manager, and another one, Brown Meggs, who had never met me but hated me. And the reason I know this is because all the lawyers who were your business affairs men all became friends of mine later when they went into business for themselves. Larry Thompson managed Barry White – I did the Barry White tour.He would tell me that I was hated at the (Capitol) Tower, but respected because I did it. If my royalty statements were a day late I’d get a ‘cease and desist’..and they were a day late, like everybody’s were. Brown Meggs, on the renewal date, said to me ‘I’ve been waiting for this day. You can stop everything now and everything reverts back.’ I said ‘no it doesn’t. I have the rights for as long as I sell 500 copies a year. And it says you have to pay me a royalty on any tracks you want to re-release on any of the product that I’ve released anywhere in the world.’ He says ‘it doesn’t mean America.’ I said ‘it says anywhere in the world. Had you been nice, had you treated me with some respect, the same as the top people….’ It was Brown Meggs who really took it personally.
I’d given Capitol Chad and Jeremy to release, and John Barry and Twiggy and as long as I didn’t deal with them, we did good business at Capitol. I loved Capitol’s distribution. It was superb. And Nick Sevano had an office up there, and I did tours with Al Martino so I was working with Capitol guys, but those business affairs men, for whatever reason, hated me. They’d talk about me. I used to go into Warner Brothers and they’d say ‘where are the horns? We’ve just heard at a trade dinenr with Capitol that Brown Meggs said you’re the worst man in the world.’
I did have a libel suit against Top Rank against a man who became my very good friend in the end – Dick Rowe, although I gave Dick The Moody Blues when I signed them. When Dick joined Top Rank I was at N.A.R.M. He was talking to some people including Phil Solomons and said ‘and that Jeff Kruger is a crook – this is what he did to me…’ I’m standing there and people are looking at me and I don’t say anything. ‘Mr Rowe?’ I said, ‘do you not remember me? When was the last time you saw Jeff Kruger? When did he do this to you?’ ‘I was in his office in Belgium two weeks ago.’ I knew exactly who he was talking about. I said ‘don’t you remember me?’ ‘Yes, you look familiar.’ ‘I bloody well should. I gave you David Bowie and Moody Blues in 1964.’ So he said ‘You’re Jeff Kruger – you’re not the one I’m talking about.’ I said ‘but I’m the one you’re bad mouthing.’
Frank Chalmers was there. He worked for me with Len’s blessing. He built up my distribution – he handled EMI distribution and your export business. Len called me one day and asked if he could go back (to EMI) and he stayed with Len until he dies, but we were bosom friends. I sued Top Rank for libel. He was talking about a guy called Jacques Kluger and he got it wrong. We became good friends after that but I got a settlement and an apology. I never bothered to defend myself with a lot of people, so I really built this tough reputation, which was not justified. All I was interested in was getting on with my business – it was my money.
We’re two-thirds through what was obviously at the time a very important opportunity for Jeffrey Kruger to tell his side of this long and fascinating story. Next episode will include David Bowie, Frank Sinatra and many more show business legends.
Meanwhile, for no better reasons that there are very few photos of him, that he was mentioned in the last chapter and that I suddenly remembered this picture, here, snapped at a special lunch at Rules Restaurant to mark, I think, a special birthday for Bert Weedon, of four music business legends, none now surviving.
From the left are legendary NME owner Maurice Kinn who will forever be known, if for nothing else, as the only man, via NME’s Pollwinners’ concerts, to feature Beatles and Rolling Stones on the same bill, the enigmatic EMI record producer Norman Newell, Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman and, on the right, Jimmy Henney.
Text ©David Hughes 2017, photos largely via Google search for illustration purposes only