Those were high times in the music business, and Elektra/Asylum, the record company combination of the skills of label heads Jac Holzman (Elektra) and thereafter David Geffen (Asylum) handled a successful stable of folk-rock, singer/songwriters who were at the apex of 70s west coast introspective rock music, dominating the airwaves, selling albums by the bucket load, and roaring around the concert circuit with gratifying success.
But it wasn't always that way.
I first met Jackson in early 1970 at the Troubadour, courtesy of my friend Glenn Frey. Glenn, JD Souther and Jackson were inhabitants of a duplex in Echo Park. Jackson in a $60 a month sort of closet downstairs, which he shared with a hot plate and a piano, and Glenn and JD upstairs in a place with little or no furniture - you sat on the floor when visiting.
Generally, I'd see Jackson emerging from the kitchen hatchway behind the bar at the Troub, like a cuckoo popping out of a clock. Glenn and I would chat with him from our bar stools.
Along the way, I learned that Jackson was signed to Nina Music, a publishing division of Elektra, and had been lately in New York, where he'd had a colorful time, while honing his not inconsiderable songwriting skills. He was, btw, 17 when this ball started to roll.
I was hired by Elektra in 1970.
So, fast forward to the mid- 70s, where I often encountered Jackson about town. We had great mutual friends in Lowell George and Van Dyke Parks, at the very least. We ran in the same pack, chasing the same rabbit.
I didn't get back to Elektra/Asylum until late 1976, when Joe Smith came in to run things. Jackson had released The Pretender by that time, and the Eagles were dominating with Hotel California.
Jackson was launching the Running on Empty project in 1977; I went out with the tour - and also on Warren Zevon's Excitable Boy tour, which ended in a three-day run at the Roxy in LA. Jackson was in attendance in the New York dates in the winter of 77. So was I. The label was between regional directors, so I went to NY to cover those bases.
Now, to the photo. Art Fein took about six photos of me and Jackson one morning in 1977. He was just trying to shoot off the end of a 35mm roll of another event (Ray Campi, if memory serves). I got some prints of each shot.
In around 2011 or so, and I'm sure he'll correct me, my friend Paul Neve had a print made up of one shot, and about five years ago, attended a Jackson concert in the UK, north of England. He managed to get to the backstage door, and was accosted by the usual resistance. He gave that individual an envelope containing the print, a note from him, and a return envelope. Mr. Resistance said, "Jackson never signs anything." But he took the envelope.
Paul reported that about a week later, he saw the postman coming up the path, with an envelope that looked pretty familiar. Signed, sealed, delivered.
We were there. That much I can read!