Syracuse, a small city in upstate New York, is home to a famous university. It’s also the birthplace of a locally legendary band called Jam Factory. Signed to CBS Records in 1969, Jam Factory featured future William Paterson University Music Management department head and co-host of popular radio show Music Biz 101 & More, Steve Marcone. Marcone and Jam Factory will head into the SYRACUSE AREA MUSIC AWARDS HALL OF FAME on Thursday, March 3rd. The band will reunite for a big 50th anniversary show at Dinosaur Barbecue in Syracuse on March 4. Buy tickets HERE.
WP’s Steve Marcone And Band, Jam Factory, To Be Inducted Into Syracuse Area Music Awards Hall Of Fame
According to Syracuse music historian Ron Wray:
“Jam Factory was signed by Columbia Records President Clive Davis releasing the album “Sitting In The Trap” (1971). They played the War Memorial with Steppenwolf and The Rascals and toured across the USA playing the Fillmore West in San Francisco (Dec 26-29, 1970), along with the Whiskey A Go-Go in Hollywood (Jan 24, 1971) plus stops in Denver, Aspen, Seattle and Albuquerque. They shared the stage with The Byrds, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Walsh, Ike & Tina Turner, Beach Boys, Steve Miller, Billy Joel, Chuck Berry Issac Hayes, Rare Earth and many others. Back in Syracuse they packed every club they played.”
In other words, they were a pretty big deal.
In the interview below with Marcone, you can read some more detail into what happened with the band:
A – Yeah. When we did the showcase I think we had the choice of a couple, but I think we wanted to go with CBS at the time. They had Sly Stone, Chicago, Blood, Sweat And Tears, Electric Flag at one point. We liked those groups, so we were really happy that they were interested in us. I think it was December of ’69 that we did our record in two weeks, we recorded it in New York.
If I remember correctly, I think it was either Simon or Garfunkel got sick and canceled two weeks of studio time, so we jumped on it. We did it with a producer and I believe the producer was going through his period with cocaine. So he wasn’t getting much done. We actually got more done after about, I don’t know, the early mornings, maybe one or two o’clock, not that early that he went home. Then we did more work. So we were actually doing it ourselves. Then it was mixed by him. He left CBS and went to another label right after us.
So we thought the album should be re-mixed. So the band voted me to go down and re-mix it with the engineer and that’s why there’s an assist on the production of the album. I didn’t know anything. What did I care? If I would’ve negotiated, I would’ve negotiated to be the producer. That’s not a job of mine as the member of the band. That’s the job for the manager to negotiate all that. And that didn’t happen.
Then we were blessed by the following Summer to be one of the few groups on CBS that gets to go to the Columbia Records Convention and to show off. You got something like twenty minutes to wow all the field reps and everybody that’s there. Clive (Davis) of course was running the label at the time. So we had twenty minutes. They flew us down. We wowed them. Clive came up, hugged us and said, “I’m gonna make you stars.” Of course, it didn’t happen, but he said that. And he invited us to stay the rest of the week. So we stayed the rest of the week. This is when Miles (Davis) was there, Mahavishnu Orchestra was there. It was a wonderful time in the music scene in general.
We did that and subsequently we were in San Francisco and I think we were at the Fillmore and we did a single in San Francisco. We did actually in Chicago and San Francisco do a single. We put the single out about a year later. But we didn’t have management in New York or L.A. or Nashville. We didn’t have anyone making this record a priority except its own legs. Competition in the company as well as the rest of the business was too much. Too many promo men pushing other stuff.
Q – That’s a common theme of Syracuse groups that got a record deal. If they didn’t have strong management, they were in trouble.
A – Yeah. Exactly.
Q – I guess it’s safe to assume CBS didn’t do much promotion for Jam Factory.
A – No. Did we get a shot? I think we did get a shot. We would never blame Epic for not giving us a shot, but we were left basically because I believe our management, not being familiar management to them or a strong enough management, that we never became a priority.
I mean, to get invited, out of all the groups, to the Columbia Records Convention was quite a feat really. Whatever number of groups were on the label at the time. I want to take a guess and say two hundred. To get chosen as one of the new groups for the field reps to watch. I think they did give us a shot, but we didn’t have all the pieces to make it happen.
(Thanks to Gary James and Classic Bands for the interview)
This award is an amazing achievement for our friend, colleague and mentor, Steve Marcone. If you know him, send him a note or pat him on the back. It’s well deserved.
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Professor David Philp is Assistant Professor Music Management & Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & More, which airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too). Reach him at PhilpD@wpunj.edu or find him on LinkedIn HERE.