Stalkers and groupies II

This comment from the discussion thread is worth promoting to the main page as a balance to the diesel-sniffing angle from a few posts ago:

The flip side of what you’re saying, Avery, is that there are many artists who are paranoid. They make themselves unapproachable in many cases because of their perceived vulnerability to every fan of their music. There are varied reasons for this, the primary one being an inflated sense of self-worth on the part of the singer. Sometimes it’s a fear based upon a bad experience with an over-zealous fan from the past. In any case, the interaction between gospel music fans and the singers is an important and long-held part of our genre of music.

Artists should have enough tact and common sense to remove themselves from unwanted advances by unreasonable fans. This is easier said then done, certainly, but it can be accomplished without much effort, really. Sometimes you have to be blunt and let the fan know that you need to be available to speak with other fans, that you would appreciate it if they would stop following your bus, etc. Some people don’t take hints very well, so you have to be plain with them.

By the same token, many artists need to realize who is paying their bills and show some courtesy and hospitality at their record tables. Even when a singer is feeling a little under the weather, it is not unreasonable, in most cases, for them to spend a few minutes of their life conversing in a civil manner with those who are paying them money so that they can do what they do for a living.

I guess I rather took it for granted as goes-without-saying that artists have to in general be available and friendly to all comers at pretty much all times if they want to have any success in this bidness. But TM makes some good points for the record. What’s especially hard, I think, is for artists to figure out the way to be “plain” to fans who are monopolizing artists’ time or being inappropriate. The best example that I can think of off the top of my head is Glen Payne. As a kid and early adult, I bought product from him probably half a dozen times at different concerts and every time it was crystal clear that he was at work and all bidness. What would you like? Anything else? Here’s your change. Thank you. Next. I’m sure he made time for people who insisted, but I’m also sure he wouldn’t have thought twice about politely but firmly cutting off a rambler, stalker, or other aggressive fan. But I imagine as well that his demeanor came with age, experience, and having a stake in the quartet.

George Younce rarely ever worked the table when I was at their concerts, but by the time I become a fan they were superstars and Younce had a queue of fans seeking autographs for an hour or more after each concert. The one time I waited in such a line for his autograph, I was maybe 18 or 19 and absolutely awestruck. He either sensed as much or simply treated every fan as a long lost niece or nephew. He grabbed me and said, well hello there young man, and beamed at me with the smile of a thousand suns, even pecked my cheek in that way old men from the south do when they hug someone and manage to be not only NOT creepy but endearing. I still remember the faint odor of his musky cologne (mingling, I imagined, with the smell of those little cigars that he smoked in all the stories my older sg pals told about him) clinging to me after I walked away. Of course it’s easy for older artists to be affectionate and familiar and pull it off successfully than it is for younger performers. Not least of all, this is true because young artists can get a little high on their own success, as TM notes, and (inadvertently) give off what can seem to the impercipient fan like an invitation to be flattered and preened over.

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  1. Brad wrote:

    I have to admit that I had never heard the term “diesel sniffer” until reading the post on this board the other day. Then, last night when I got home I checked the mail and there was a CD that I had purchased off of e-bay. It’s Kings Gold III, where the Kingsmen and Gold City recorded a live concert in Myrtle Beach, SC. At some point on the CD one of the guys is talking about the older groups… Statesmen, etc. and how he used to go to the concerts. Then he says something about being happy just to get close enough to smell the “diesel smoke”. Maybe the term has evolved over the years. Anyway, I just thought it was interesting to hear it after having just read about it this week.

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