This is a long one, but worth the read….and one of the steps in my letting go process to post it:
When he started in the musick industry, my dad had his focus in the correct place. He was eager, wanted to help the world through musick, peace and love, was easy-going an cool…over the years, he just became more and more lost, and more and more focused on how much he could acquire for himself. This is a long read from some of his blog posts a few years back, but you can see how beautiful my dad used to be, and could be again. My dad should be part of Echelon Family, his name even means “Derived from Latin 'Marcus': MARS”.
Somehow he lost his way and I don’t know if he will ever see/hear the message and wake the fuck up again.
My dad was willing to drive all the way down to LA to attend Robert Blake’s murder acquittal party (of Bonnie Lee), but when he drove through my town with one of his Pablo Cruise concerts, he wouldn’t stop to meet his only blood grandchild, who was a preemie at 4 pounds, 2 weeks old, and we both almost died (I was recovering from major emergency surgery and a blood infection)…he was only willing to see his only birth child and granddaughter if I brought my tiny, preemie newborn to their concert, and yes, they had to literally drive about 2 miles past my home both to get to, and home, from that concert.
This is why I’ve made the decision I’ve made about keeping my musick dreams small, because in the beginning, fame and fortune and musick was about helping the world to my dad, and then it became about acquiring and getting ahead for himself, whilst abandoning his family. Those are only two of way too many sad, disgusting, and heartbreaking stories involving my family. Another reason I don’t want to be too well known is to avoid crossing paths with my family all over CA and So. CA, except my stepsister, who I’ve always loved forever and ever and always will. <3 (My female BFF from High School too, of course! I love you!! Can’t wait to see you!!) Nicole Hernandez
My dad’s bio from an old website:
“Marc Blake, a professional photographer, video producer and mastermind behind a number of corporate marketing campaigns leads a double life. With his love of music as well as photography Marc began his professional career in the music industry. He was the photographer for NAS (National Academy of Songwriters with members like Paul McCartney, Kenny Loggins, Randy Newman, Paul Simon and the likes). Marc was also MTV’s West coast “go to guy” for the MTV Video Awards and their private parties. He has worked with many musical artists in numerous venues during his career; was the official photographer for “The Doobie Brothers” and toured in Russia with Cyndi Lauper and Michael Bolton. Those of you over 40 years old might find it interesting to know that Marc is currently the “Cruise Director” for the 70′s Platinum Recording Artists “Pablo Cruise.” You probably sang along with some of their greatest top ten hits…”Place in the Sun, Love Will Find a Way, Whatcha Going to Do When She Says Good-Bye!.” In addition to Marc’s photography skills he is also an instructor and trainer with expertise on both sides of the camera. He excels in post production techniques and is an all around extremely creative producer.”
One of my dad's “Beatles” stories, of course, if he was willing to blog this on the internet publicly, then he kind of broke his promise, because of course Yoko will eventually find out, if she didn’t already years ago. If you aren’t already familiar with who it is, all you have to do is use a search engine to find out who the original owner of “The Curves Guitar” and Producer of the “Fender Curves Project” was, and you’ll know who has this tape, FFS.
“While in England photographing a famous instrument: “The Curves Guitar” years ago my friend, the owner of the guitar and producer of the Fender Curves project, took me to the very south tip of Great Britain and had me swear not to contact Yoko Ono. When we settled in to a private loft in a small town in Devon (close to where the Pirates of Penzance happened) he pulled out a hidden box with an old reel (to reel) tape enclosed.
He told me to shut down any of my recording devices and have a listen. The tape contained the “original” voice and one-instrument tracks of John Lennon working on “I Am the Walrus” and Paul McCartney still writing “Fool on the Hill.” He was given this original studio recording from a friend of his that ran the studio in Liverpool where The Beatles were recording in those early days.
While listening to “I Am the Walrus” the lone drone musical track with nothing extra except Lennon’s voice came to a break. A complete stop! A few seconds later the song continued. At first I thought this was some glitch then realized that this was the part where George Martin introduced that bizarre backwards-sounding musical interlude and that made me feel cool to discover that while trippin’ on this absolutely raw and rare demo recording.
After that song was complete, McCartney and only his piano (all one take – on one track – by the way) began singing “Fool on the Hill.” This was incredible to hear something nobody, for the most part, has ever heard. So all is nice and McCartney gets part way through the song and begins singing, “doo, doo, doo, do, do, do, doo…” because he has not written the middle eight yet. I wanted to say, “hey, I know what lyrics to use there. No problem.” This was the first time the tape had been played in over 30 years and it made me feel like I was on top of the world – alone, but on top of the world.
Oh… and the reason I was not to contact Yoko (who I had photographed when I was on assignment in Hollywood when John Lennon’s star was unveiled in front of the Capital Records building on Vine Street, just a few hundred feet North of Hollywood Blvd.) is because she, apparently is very careful to insure that she owns anything that would (have) had anything to do with intimate work by her late husband. Thus, she would likely work very diligently to get this tape into her possession.”
This is part of my dad's short story about it all started for him, and you can see how awesome he was, until he lost himself and became a selfish asshole:
“Fortunately, for me, my father was a cartoonist. A caricature artist. At one point he had even worked for Disney. My mother was a creative woman as well. Very crafty, very resourceful and before her marriage a professional dancer. When she was younger she used to dance with Gene Kelly (in Pittsburgh, PA). Surrounded by creative people ended up being a tremendous influence on my life and the kinds of decisions I made for the things I wanted to do.
Keep in mind that I was (now) a photographer at age 13. While traveling the fairs with my family I bought my very first Spanish guitar. It didn’t take me too long to learn a few guitar chords. It was probably only a few days later that I came to realize I could even write my own songs. After all, I had been heavily saturated by a creative upbringing. On my own I was very creative anyway. Writing songs sometimes felt inspirational and sometimes it was simply a project in which I would apply myself and “write a song.”
Two years later I bought myself a piano which I strategically placed in my bedroom. I taught myself to play. The piano became more of a tool for songwriting. Regretfully, I did not force myself to go through the regimen of learning to play piano in the fashion of a classical pianist. Wished I had!
I was convinced that I could be a professional songwriter and always aspired to be a performing artist too. I lived 10 miles away from Hollywood, California. Once I had my driver’s license and a vehicle available to me, cruising to Hollywood was effortless. The more I tried to engage myself in the music industry as a songwriter the more those whom I did connect with recognized me as a very resourceful and talented photographer.
During the next many years I was bouncing in and out of one major concert after another. I was in and around movie and television studios with my cameras. I was being paid to take photographs. Since I had begun this life-course of photography by developing my own roll of film I should also mention that I had immediately built my own darkroom at my home. This is where I could produce black and white prints and maintain complete quality, esthetic and artistic control of my work.
I joined a songwriting organization in Hollywood called, “The National Academy of Songwriters.” Pro-members in this organization included the likes of Paul McCartney, Donovan, Kenny Loggins, Stephen Stills, Paul Simon and numerous other superstars. The director of the Academy learned of my photographic skills and I became their official photographer. This put me in front of some of these superstars as “thee” photographer at a number of major events.
How cool was it to be hanging out backstage with these great artists? One time I was photographing a wedding for the producer of Toto’s Grammy award-winning album of the year, “Toto IV,” at the Beverly Hills Hotel when Don Henley, the best man, walked up to me and said, “Hey man, you’re a pretty painless photographer!” I said, “Oh, thanks” not understanding the gravity of that simple exchange.
Later when sharing that encounter with a friend he asked me if I realize how huge that is. I asked why. He explains that Don Henley hates the media, photographers and the like. Don’t you know what his song, “Dirty Laundry,” is all about? I reflected for a moment and realized that was a pretty cool compliment.
There was a bigger picture (pun intended) that was developing (pun intended) in light of (pun intended) what that exposure (pun intended) with Don Henley represented. I was always pretty relaxed around these professional artists – many of whom were superstars. They also felt comfortable having me around, in their private and personal situations because I wasn’t intrusive. They liked me.
I always had that star-struck feeling being around such greats. I still do. I love how that feels. It’s probably because I always wanted to be on stage, in front of the fans, like they are, singing my songs and delivering my messages to help change the world. You did know that is why we write songs didn’t you? My skill and talent as a photographer continued to supersede that.
This incongruity was always bittersweet for me. I was as close to the music as one might be without being the music myself. In all fairness, I am often asked my opinions on music by some of these pros. Even their need for self-confidence and approval are a regular part of their personalities. I’m also a pretty talented producer so my opinions of music production are respected.
Bruce Johnston (The Beach Boys) sat me in his limousine at the Western Washington Fair and asked me to listen to a new song he just wrote. It was demoed by Little Richie! “Great song, great performance,” I told Bruce and his apparent momentary lack of confidence was reinforced. FYI: Bruce Johnston wrote the hit song, “I Write the Songs (that Make the Whole World Sing)” recorded by Barry Manilow.
There were four artists that I consider the major influences on my musical endeavors. They are, in no special order; Paul McCartney, Hoyt Axton, Leonard Cohen and Donovan.
One night I was photographing a concert at the Wiltern Theater on Wilshire Boulevard in Hollywood. It was a Donovan concert.
I was downstairs at the dressing rooms by myself. There was absolutely nobody else down there — at all. A shadow became visible from the distance and as the person approached I began to recognize the long wavy locks of hair. Again, I was the only one there until then. So naturally, he walked up to me and said, “Hello.” I responded. It was Donovan. We lightly snacked on the cheese and grapes and wine that was on the tray made available by the venue and we spoke casually. It was a very important moment for me. Again, though I kept my cool, being around superstars and being of a star-struck nature this was very exciting. Donovan was a very special artist for me while I was growing up.
Donovan’s music and lyrics were the most life shaping for me as a youngster. He wrote a song entitled, “To Try for the Sun.” This song was a life-mantra for me. “… and who’s going to be the one to say it was no good what we’ve done. I dare a man to say I’m too young, for I’m going to try for the sun.”
Much like Emerson’s essay on “Self-Reliance,” the message in this song was a confirmation of something I had already discovered for myself which was that: I can do anything I want with my life. I have the rest of my life to achieve my goals and objectives. Then I would add to that mindset… “since I only have the rest of my life left to do the things I aspire to do, excuse me, as I must get back to what I’m doing.” In other words, I’m driven to produce things that are of a creative nature.
“Creativity” is my choice-word. Oh sure, if I were asked what words are most important words in describing myself and my life I would include all the standard ones like peace, love, family, etc. The big one is “creativity” though. That’s the one for me. “Resourceful” follows right behind that word.
As a side note, most of what I do now for a living involves embellishing the lives of others by providing everything from educating others to utilizing my array of creative services in order to help them fulfill their goals and objectives. Helping others fulfill their dreams is a good contribution, which I enjoy giving to our social community.
I’d still like to be on stage in front of those fans though — the truth be told. My audiences are a little smaller but I am getting lots of those moments in the spotlight as an educator and creative person. My phone rings. A client needs help. I come to the rescue. It feels good to get those heartfelt thank you’s after a project is complete.
My dear friend, Skyler Jett, Is a professional singer. He has sung on the recordings of so many major artists that it would make your head spin. (There could be another pun there… “recordings, things that “spin.”) Check out his website and you’ll see what I mean. A few years ago Skyler had devoted a tremendous amount of time working with Sly Stone’s sister Vett to produce an act that featured the great music of the founder of funk. You remember Sly and the Family Stone? After a number of shows Sly contacted his little sister and asked her what she is up to. Nobody had heard a word from Sly Stone in 20 or 30 years. Skyler and Vett went into the studio and recorded a sampling of the music they were performing while out on tour. They brought it to Sly who was so impressed that he considered doing some dates with the band.
Skyler called me and said, “Marc? We need a publicist. Sly might come back out! What have you got?” I told him to give me a minute and let me see what I can do. I made a phone call to a buddy who is a renowned publicist in New York. I called Skyler back less than five minutes later. It was a done deal. That phone call brought Sly Stone back into the limelight and launched a $1.1 million tour in Europe. I shot the first video of Sly Stone’s new live performance before they went to Europe.
Less than five minutes later a van drove up to the gate and just as the guard was about to wave them through it stopped, almost abruptly, and the side door opened. “Marc? Hey what’s happening man?”
“My credentials aren’t here,” I responded.
“You don’t need credentials, jump in.”
I looked at the guard. The guard looked in the van. The guard looked at me. The guard shrugged his shoulders yielding approval with a hand gesture. I looked in the van. It was the band. The band looked at me and smiled. It was the Doobie Brothers themselves arriving at the venue. So, I jumped in and cruised in with them and did what I do best with my cameras while they did what they do best on stage.
I have stories of traveling in the Soviet Union with Cyndi Lauper and Michael Bolton amongst other very famous songwriters. Rolling Stone magazine will NEVER get [to] the private photos that I have from that trip. I have integrity and some of my shots will remain archived and private – END OF STORY.
I have stories of the time a KRLA radio disc jockey gave me Paul McCartney’s tie — custom-made at Beau Gentry’s in Hollywood. (KRLA was the radio station that brought The Beatles to the Hollywood bowl).
Once, while photographing a comedy show at the Comedy Store on Hollywood Boulevard (at the time owned by Mitzi Shore – mother of Pauly Shore), I was backstage before the show began hanging out with comedian Robin Williams. A pay phone backstage rang. Without missing a beat, Robin picked up the phone and answered something like, “Randy’s pizza parlor. How can I help you?” Of course it was funny and we all had a good laugh. The thing I keep thinking about is that the person on the other end of that call just got off the phone with one of comedy’s most famous acts — and will never know it. Robin Williams, though very down to earth, was on and I believe that’s pretty much his personality —always on! I believe from what I observed that much of his very improvisational routine is rehearsed. He’s definitely one of the most quick-witted people you could ever meet but his act is an act and I think lots of it is carefully rehearsed. That’s how it is with professionals. They “are” well-rehearsed for their show. His ability to make most of his show look like it’s off the cuff and improvised is a testament to his incredible talent.
Some years ago, I began summer tours traveling with Pablo Cruise. Some of you will recall that the band had a number of top 10 hit songs back in the 70s. When their drummer got married a few years ago, his fiancee asked him if he could assemble the band back together, after 30 years, to play at their wedding as a gift. Drummer, Steve Price contacted his fellow bandmates and sure enough they were agreeable to do the gig.
They had so much fun playing together at the wedding that they decided to take the band back out on tour. So they did.
I built the band’s first website. It has since been reworked by another web developer, which can be found at *blah blah blah-I inserted this edit lol*. You can check out samples of some their hit songs.
I also handle the merchandise for the online sales and ran the merch booth at the concerts. I’m sure you can guess who does all their photography production. It’s a good time being out on the road with Pablo Cruise. At the same time it is a lot of work.
A few years ago the band had three dates, back to back, on three different islands in Hawaii. I spoke with Cory Lerios, Pablo’s founding member, keyboardist and vocalist about going along and we agreed that this trip represents a great opportunity for us to do some new band photos. We could charter a small boat. Take a cruise out to one of the private outer islands and do a session. It didn’t happen.
Moving in and out of hotel rooms is a big pain and there’s nothing glorious about going to sleep at night in that proverbial lonely hotel room. I always miss being home with my wife. She refuses to travel with me because I’m working all the time when I’m in this environment. It’s true. I am working all the time.
I’ve been in and around the music industry for decades. There are numerous stories and anyone else who has spent any time at all in this creative and interesting industry has great stories as well. I’m sure many of my experiences are quite typical. Any of you who are not in any way close to famous people should know that these folks are normally down to earth, family types and have similar values to you and I. There is something else though. Their talent is powerful. Often times their personalities and egos are equally powerful. Some of these folks, Cyndi Lauper as an example, effervesce with such strong vibes that you can physically feel their presence. There is no doubt in my mind that some of the famous people that we enjoy in film, TV, on stage and even in political life have something inside them that pre-destined them to be where they are.
When I stood next to Ted Kennedy, as a photographer of course, his magnetism was unquestionable. This had nothing to do with agreeing or disagreeing with his politics. You “could” feel his power. The same was true standing beside President Bill Clinton and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.)”
I love you, Dad, but seriously!! You fucking jerk!!! You could have done SOOOO MUCH to help humanity and the world, and I know what you could STILL be capable of doing, I see it in you, and you've had gorgeous Humanitarian moments, but they seem to be primarily fueled by the opportunity to further yourself and make yourself look and feel good, not just because you truly care and want to make a difference. However, I don’t think you will choose to change, and so this is part of that “letting go” thing that has been the hardest thing for me to learn in life, beyond learning to love myself and finding my self-confidence.
I honestly feel like you only loved me in the early years, when I was new, and you saw how you could mold my beauty, talent, intelligence, creativity, etc…into the A-list famous person you wanted me to be. I know I have “that thing” and you knew it too, but the minute I started to get a little chubby, and followed my path, wanting to sing MY way, or dress MY way, or try musick and photography MY way, you abandoned me, and left me behind. Because I wouldn’t be what you wanted to make me into.
This is why I will not work with you, or ever ask you to work with me, and why aside from an occasional email, we are completely estranged. You even blocked me on FB when I told you about being drugged and raped, and how I was planning to commit suicide, before my August 11th attempt, and you did nothing knowing what I was going to do.. My mom's view is that I "got myself into that mess" (She's one of those "You deserved it for some reason" types) and "rape is not that big of a deal" and she is not a Fb friend either. The only relatives I am Fb friends with are my ex-step sister, my maternal grandmother, and Great-Aunt.
If fame happens to me, I could, and would, bear that responsibility so that I could use that to better humanity, but it would feel more like a sacrifice for me to become a celebrity, because that would mean letting go of a lot of relationships and quality time with friends, my humanitarian projects, my other small life goals, and most important, love and a family.
Now you guys know, and understand more, about why I am the way I am, and why I am so very, truly, and completely Echelon <3
I've been trying to be the opposite of who my father became, and how my mother is, my entire life...and this, and all the abuse in various ways from various people, are why I ran away from Musick and California when I was 19 years old.