I want to sell lots and lots of copies of Everybody I Shot Is Dead. Probably not for the reason you might think. It's not about the money. Okay, yes, I would like to cover the six figures my little publishing company has invested to date. But it's never really been about the money. My main motivation in toiling for months on end was to do my part in keeping the memory of the 48 wonderful musicians and 5 amazing dedicatees alive. And to do that, I need lots and lots of people to read the book, and then tell a bunch more people about it...and on and on and on.
But the reason it's not about financial gain for me is because of the very unexpected rewards that I have already received. Rewards that don't pad my monetary bank account. Instead, they overflow my internal bank account. You know, the bank account that beats in the middle of your chest. The bank account I hadn't really thought about in relationship to the book until last June. That was when I got the first ker-ching. The first gigantic deposit to the Bank of My Heart. Completely unexpected. A layer to the project I had never even thought about. It went something like this...
While in New York for Book Expo, I went for dinner with the wife (widow) of one of the musicians in the book. I can't tell you the particulars of who it was or which musician because I haven't asked permission to write about her here. No matter... their identities are not important to this story. Her husband passed away a number of years after I photographed him - years that had taken their on him and quite possibly, their relationship. Anyway, we had a nice conversation about him, her and me during a glass of wine and dinner. And then she looked through the mock-up of the book. I offered to open the book to her husband's section but she chose to start at page one and look at the whole book. Even though I watched her face as she looked at every picture, I really couldn't gauge her feelings toward me or the book when she looked at 'his' photos.
It wasn't until much later...she turned to me and said, "This book is a gift. You just reminded me of the man I fell in love with." Wow. I felt like the contents of Fort Knox had been deposited in me. I knew right then I had received a reward of untold value. I knew it didn't matter if I sold one book or a million books... nothing could possibly fulfill me more than those two sentences. That was when I realized one of the more important meanings of the book. Family. The people I am honoring in the book are not only music icons...they are sons and fathers, daughters and mothers...members of a family. Your family and my family.
As if that wasn't enough reward...fast forward to the latter part of July - the first time I met Ellie Gibbins in person. I had sent her an email through Mike Gibbins' myspace on July 17th to let her know Mike was being honored in my book. In case you live in a cave, Mike Gibbins was the drummer in Badfinger. She wrote back, then I wrote back and before we knew it we were email pen pals. Then, suddenly, she was coming to L.A. on vacation with a friend and we were arranging to meet for lunch at my favorite restaurant, Lucy's El Adobe. I had just received the wet proofs and couldn't wait for her to see the pictures of Mike, especially the full page shot that remains one of my favorite photos in the book. At the same time, I wasn't sure about how she might react because her husband had only recently passed away.
No worries, though. It was a GREAT lunch. So great in fact, that it started at 1pm and we didn't leave the restaurant until 7:30pm. We ate. We drank. We laughed. We cried. And most importantly, we celebrated Mike Gibbins. Ellie's friend, Paula, took these pictures: