Richie Weeks & Jerome Derradji
The Love Magician Archives - New York City 1978-79 Vol. 1
After reading a profile of Richie Weeks in The New York Times, I thought: "if ever there was an artist that should be on the pod, it's this guy."
In the spirit of transparency, I’m a rock-n-roll guy, so dance music/disco isn't my jam. That doesn’t mean I don’t dig it; I do - it’s just not my typical go-to genre. That said, a funny thing happened as I started listening to The Love Magician Archives - I couldn’t help my leg from tapping and my face from smiling.
The Richie Weeks story is about talent, creativity, success, exploitation, hardship, and redemption.
From an early age, Richie seemed to glide into success after success - and with good reason, he’s incredibly gifted.
But this story is also about tenacity and temerity - two ingredients necessary when you’re forced into the ring to joust with the music industry.
It’s no secret that the industry, like many others, is built on the creativity of others; however, the music business has what is arguably one of the poorest records for treating artists well. Especially artists of color. Of course, there are expectations, I don’t want to infer that everyone in the business is a shitbag. I don’t believe that.
And I wish I could tell you the story of Richie Weeks is one of those exceptions.
While there are many parts of Richie’s story I found fascinating, these two stood out for me:
Richie worked FULL-TIME for the US Post Office while writing, performing, and producing hit songs for himself and for others at the height of the disco craze and well into the 90s. Not only was he a creative dude, but he was also pragmatic - after 30 years with the US Post Office, he retired with his pension.
While producer and Past Due Records head Jerome Derradji was wrestling to get Richie's rights back from BMG Music, the conglomerate publicly proclaimed that they were re-evaluating their royalty payments to black artists. This, naturally, came on the heels of the George Floyd protests in May of 2020. By itself, a PR wet dream. But as BMG was breaking its arms by patting itself on the back, Jerome tells us what they were doing behind the scenes.
Jerome fought hard to get Richie’s work back as a one-person, untrained legal team. He succeeded. He also fought like hell to get him years of unpaid royalties. He also succeeded.
If you believe Steve Redmond, BMG’s senior vice president of global corporate communications, it “wasn’t because we didn’t want to pay.” In the article from The New York Times, he said: “the company’s royalties department did not have Weeks’s current address and banking information.” Really Steve? REALLY? Banking information, okay, maybe… but address?
Apparently, the royalties department doesn’t have access to Google either. I am available to train your folks on how to search Steve - reach out.
As Derradji relays the complete story (which includes an EPIC technological guffaw that no doubt expedited the resolution), he also provides a breakdown of Title 17 of the US Copyright Law.
In straightforward terms, after 35 years, the author of the copyrighted material is entitled to reclaim their copyright. It’s an amazing law. And it’s one that most record labels would rather you don’t know about.
On this episode, Richie Weeks and Still Music/Past Due Records majordomo and producer Jerome Derradji stop by to talk about their first release together, Richie Weeks, The Love Magician Archives - Disco - New York City 1978-79 vol. 1.
They share the rest of the story that The New York Times didn't tell.
Richie and Jerome have a plan to release his entire catalog, and if this first installation is any indication, we’re in for a real treat!
I’m thankful they shared their story with me, and I feel lucky to share the complete story with all of you.
Oh, yea, Richie is 78 and is still putting out new music, and he’s itching to get out on the road again.
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