I remember seeing a photograph of The Beatles nearly buried in a massive snowdrift of fan mail.
Or maybe it was The Monkees.
Either way, there were certainly a lot of cards and letters sent their way by adoring fans and probably by a number of people who they would have probably preferred liked the Stones. (Assuming we’re talking The Beatles here. Otherwise I’m not sure who the appropriate foil would be. The Archies?)
Certainly, there were people who worked for the bands who opened the letters and possibly responded to them. Remember: this was an earlier time when things like that were conceivable. (E.g., I sent a letter to Morgus, host of “Morgus Presents,” and I received a postcard in return, so while the host of bad horror movies at 11:30 pm on Friday nights may not have been to the level of any of the aforementioned, it proves my point. Somewhat.)
If you think about it, bands today have a lot of people working for them. There are the folks like the managers and the publicists. There are the people who take care of instruments. There are the people who take care of the equipment, everything from amps to snacks. There are the people who handle logistics. And on and on and on. A veritable not-necessarily-so-small business.
Many of us have a romantic notion of what a rock and roll band is (talking in the context of bands who more people are aware of than who, for example, remember Morgus).
Like as Roger Daltrey writes in his Thanks a Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite, of The Who’s early touring:
“It was on one of those long trips to Margate, Folkestone or Dover that I broke our beautiful new van. Okay, it wasn’t beautiful and it wasn’t new either. It was an old Post Office Austin with sliding doors. . . . The main thing was that it worked. . .or did until I hit a railway bridge. . . .
“It had a huge dent in the front, which we fixed with the help of a lamppost opposite my mum’s house, a heavy chain, and a flying start in reverse. I sorted out the door with some two-by-four timber, a hacksaw, and some sheet metal. Any further dents, Pete painted red to look like dripping wounds. Good as new, except the rest of the band had to climb through from the driver’s seat.”
That was then. This isn’t.
While I am confident that there are a multiplicity of young and hungry musicians out there right now—and who would be out there on the road right now were it not for so many closed clubs, halls, bars, fairs, basements and other venues—many bands that we are cognizant of aren’t a group of rag-tag scrappy performers so much as proprietors of businesses.