Jobriath - "Gone Tomorrow"
In June we will be featuring all LGBTQ+ artists in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month
Bruce Wayne Campbell known by his stage name Jobriath, was an American rock musician and actor. He was the first openly gay rock musician to be signed to a major record label, and one of the first internationally famous musicians to die of AIDS.
In mid-December 1972, Jerry Brandt, Carly Simon's former manager, overheard a demo tape being played by Clive Davis at Columbia Records. Davis rejected the tape as "mad, unstructured and destructive to melody", but Brandt was quick to step in. Jobriath later remarked "that coming from a man who discovered both Patti Smith and Barry Manilow...so much for sanity and structure!" Brandt located Jobriath in California, where he was living in an unfurnished apartment and working as a prostitute. Brandt: "In walked this beautiful creature dressed in white. I said, Why don't you come out to Malibu and hang out?"[additional citation(s) needed] This became a feature of the mythology used to promote Jobriath, and helps to explain the acrimony that followed the dissolution of their professional and personal relationship.
Brandt signed Jobriath, now calling himself Jobriath Boone, to Elektra Records for a reported $500,000, in what was allegedly the most lucrative recording contract of its time. The label's president David Geffen signed Jobriath for a two-album deal. A huge marketing campaign and media blitz ensued, including full-page advertisements in Vogue, Penthouse, and Rolling Stone magazines, full-length posters on over 250 New York City buses and a huge 41' by 43' billboard in Times Square. All featured the forthcoming debut album sleeve design by noted photographer Shig Ikeda, which featured a nude Jobriath, made to resemble an ancient Roman statue. Plans were announced for a lavish three night live debut at the Paris Opera that December, at a cost of $200,000 and a subsequent tour of European opera houses. Jobriath informed the press that the show would feature him dressed as "King Kong being projected upwards on a mini Empire State Building. This will turn into a giant spurting penis and I will have transformed into Marlene Dietrich." Elektra, concerned about spiraling production costs, postponed the Paris Opera shows until February, later canceling them due to expense.
Amidst this barrage of promotion, the debut album Jobriath was released, garnering mostly positive reviews. Rolling Stone stated that Jobriath had "talent to burn", Cashbox called it "truly one of the most interesting albums of the year" and Record World hailed it as "brilliantly incisive", referring to Jobriath as "a true Renaissance man who will gain a tremendous following". Esquire disagreed, calling it "the hype of the year". The album was co-produced by Eddie Kramer and Jobriath, featuring string arrangements by Jobriath, recorded at Olympic Studios with the London Symphony Orchestra. Kramer described Jobriath in Mojo as "a romantic soul, really. He wanted orchestrations like old film music, though he knew nothing about scoring. So he bought a book on orchestration and within a week he'd come up with scores of a haunting quality". Peter Frampton is also credited on the album, though his contribution is unclear.
During this period, Brandt continued making extravagant statements such as "Elvis, the Beatles, and Jobriath" and declaring that both he and Jobriath had booked flights on Pan American's first passenger flight to the moon. Meanwhile, Jobriath declared himself "rock's truest fairy", a comment that did little to increase his popularity at the time but has since confirmed his status as the first openly gay rock singer to be signed to a major record label.
He was a celestial entity that burned himself up with his own brightness. We celebrate the light you gave.
So today, with a little more light, we choose Jobriath’s "Gone Tomorrow" as my, crack open the world, drink the juice, find the pearl, song for a, dream a little, shake a little, die a little death, Tuesday.