Robert Parker Jameson is one of the most interesting also-rans of the 1960s LA rock scene. Born in Tucson, Arizona, he recorded his debut single, I Wanna Love You, in early 1964 for the tiny Talamo label, which had him pegged as a teen idol. When it became a local hit, he was invited to appear on American Bandstand, opened gigs for the Beach Boys and was hyped as ‘the world’s next phenomenon’ and ‘the star of this century’ – but its follow-ups Okey Fanokey Baby and All Alone flopped. His hip image had, however, caught the eye of Andrew Loog Oldham, and he travelled to London in 1964 (following in the footsteps of fellow Hollywood hipster Kim Fowley) to make another 45. All I Want Is My Baby was penned by Oldham and Keith Richards (with a rare Jagger / Richards B-side, Each and Every Day of the Year) and appeared on Decca, but also bombed, despite considerable UK music press coverage (mainly centring on his curious habit of wearing one glove).
When he returned to the States he made yet another unsuccessful 45 (I Wanna Know), then became involved with a producer named Marshall Lieb and a dodgy label named Mira, which released his debut album, the proto-acid folk Songs Of Protest & Anti Protest on its Surrey Records imprint in late 1965. There was a catch, though – the LP had to be issued under the name of Chris Lucey (allegedly because the sleeves had already been printed for an LP by another artist, though it may equally have been to evade contractual obligations of Jameson’s). A haunting collection of melodic folk-pop, it did not sell any better than his earlier 45s (though, for unknown reasons, it appeared in England on the budget Joy label as Too Many Mornings, and under Jameson’s real name, in 1970). Around this time Jameson earned himself a reputation for leading protest marches on the Sunset Strip, and became an enthusiastic consumer of hallucinogens, which gradually undermined his mental health.
After two 1966 45s (Reconsider Baby and Gotta Find My Roogalator, both of which appeared on Pat Boone’s Penthouse label, the latter with an arrangement by Frank Zappa), Jameson signed to Steve Clark’s fabled ‘Our Productions’ roster, and was paired with up-and-coming producer-arranger Curt Boettcher and his sometime partner Jim Bell for 1967’s Color Him In. A sunny collection of ballads boasting Boettcher’s typically complex vocal arrangements, it was licensed to Verve and issued in July simultaneously to Zappa’s Absolutely Free and Janis Ian’s debut – but fared significantly less well than either, despite a further blaze of hype. This may have been because (as Boettcher told ZigZag magazine in December 1974) “the mix was atrocious”. Two singles were extracted (New Age / Places, Times and the People and Right By My Side / Jamie), but neither sold, and before long Jameson was on the move again.
At the end of 1967 he appeared in Robert Carl Cohen’s cult documentary Mondo Hollywood, in which he is seen recording his powerful anti-war song Vietnam (included here as a bonus track), but the hype was wearing thin, and his only other recording to see the light of day was 1969’s hit-and-miss LP Working! (on GRT). His subsequent story is a sad one of unfulfilled promise, frustrated musical endeavours and suicide attempts. Having abandoned LA, he was last heard of in 2001, living with his mother in a California trailer park and earning money from odd jobs. While his career is in many ways a classic music business cautionary tale, it is perhaps preferable to remember him as a genuine original in an industry that has become all too anodyne.
1. Jamie - 3:12
2. Know Yourself - 3:21
3. Windows and Doors - 2:31
4. Right By My Side - 2:24
5. Who’s Putting Who On? - 2:28
6. The New Age - 2:18
7. Jenny - 2:47
8. Do You Believe In Yesterday? - 2:25
9. I Love You More Than You Know - 2:31
10.See Dawn - 3:02
11.Candy Colored Dragon - 2:51
12.Places, Times And The People - 2:31
13.Vietnam (Bonus track) - 2:57
All songs written by Robert Parker Jameson
*Bobby Jameson - Vocals