Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: There was an amusing incident one time in the 1960s, because of a photo in the men's underwear section of the Sears & Roebuck catalog.

A man was pictured modeling boxer shorts, but part of his manhood could be seen hanging out from under the shorts.

The photo created enough of a stir that Sears pulled that catalog from circulation, then reissued it without the offensive photo.

Soon after the incident made the news, a country singer came out with a song about it that actually got a lot of airplay. All I can remember about this recording is a verse along the lines of “I'd like to be that man on page 192” (though I'm not certain about the actual page number).

Can you identify this tune? Any idea what the record and the catalog together would be worth now?
—Norman Bell, Tacoma, Wash.

DEAR NORMAN: First I had to refresh my memory about this photo, and, fortunately, finding a copy to view is easy using the Net.

To save you searching, click here to see it.

How this image ever got past the proofreaders is mind boggling, since there is significant exposure on display below the shorts — which, I might add, were on sale at the time for just a little over a buck per pair.

Speaking of time, all of this took place much later than you recall. The date of the catalog is “Fall-Winter 1975.”

Singer Jack Barlow, then with nine hits to his credit, released “The Man on Page 602” (you are only 410 pages off), which quickly climbed into the Top 30.

Rather than use the name Jack Barlow for such a fatuous recording, the artist credit on the label reads Zoot Fenster.

In recent auctions, the catalog has brought bids in the $5 to $10 range. The record (Antique 106) goes for about half that amount.

DEAR JERRY: I always enjoy your insights into the business of music. Now I have an unusual question. Payola notwithstanding, just how did any records manage to become hits, by artists not yet established?

I ask this because it always seemed that radio stations played only the top-selling 40, or so, hits. It seems like a catch-22, where a song wouldn't get played unless it was a hit, and it had no chance to be a hit if it was not getting played.

It reminds me of when I was young and looking for work. No one would hire me unless I had experience, and I couldn't gain experience because no one wanted to hire me. Or worse yet, when you can't get hired unless you belong to a union, and you can't get in the union unless you've been hired!
—Martin Aliagua, Glendale, N.Y.

DEAR MARTIN: You are not the only one puzzled by this. Judy Bond, of Lakeland, Florida, sent a nearly identical question.

My guess is you are not still unemployed, which means you did eventually find work — however troublesome the search may have been. It's a numbers game.

The challenge is much the same when it comes to unproven artists working their way onto radio playlists.

Promotion personnel usually broke records by new artists in smaller markets, where longer playlists and less rigid formats are common.

With several small markets getting on the record, it is easier to get the attention of medium market programmers.

Then, not totally unlike an MLM (multi-level marketer), some of the major markets will likely take notice and give the tune some spins.

This condensed example is just one way to break the “catch.” There are numerous others.

Sorry, but I cannot help you with that union dilemma.

IZ ZAT SO? Probably no one was hit harder by the payola investigations than dee jay Alan Freed? Just 25 months after entering a guilty plea to two counts of commercial bribery (December 1962), he died an out-of-work lonely man with a broken heart (January 20, 1965).

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