Handcuffing The Hinsons
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” – Hunter S Thompson
I don’t know if this has specifically been posted or commented on, yet I know its topic comes up on the reg. Even if I estimate that only 1/4 of southern gospel artists are truly saved, I wouldn’t dare say the whole industry is crooked. There are good business models. And there are bad business models. But all in all, things are different now than the generations preceding us. With communication traveling faster and covering far more areas, the inside jobs may hide themselves from the majority of the public, but they do get out. Oh, they do. Moralists (and we all are, though the degree may differ variously) say as the years progress our integrity decreases. Ahh..but in regards to the southern gospel music industry, it may be slowly but surely, getting straight and righting the troubled waters.
The Hinsons were (and still are) in a class all by themselves. Only a handful of groups in southern gospel history have matched the influence The Hinsons had on America. The old adage “From out of the west they came…and they kept coming” not only rang true then, but lives on today.
Right before their move from Cali to Nashville, Nelson Parkerson, a promoter and owner of a small based record company called “Calvary Records” signed them up to his record label. Smart thing. But as their popularity arose, a move east was evident. That’s where things get muddy. Parkerson swindled them into selling over their songs to him and promised a bus to get things on the move in return. Well he did what he said…
But to this day, any songs written by Ronny, Kenny, or Larry forever remained in Calvary’s possession. They never saw a dime from it. Handcuffed and coaxed, possibly manipulated into a bad deal. Seems a bit of foreshadowing that one of the most recorded songs of all time like “The Lighthouse” which was written on a piece of toilet paper would find its way back into the hands of a man who took the dough, and flushed the remains down the nearest symbolic toilet. “Jesus Pilots My Ship”, written on a boat, would find its own way back into the sea of financial forgetfulness (ok, I admit that I can’t prove it was actually written on a boat…but inspired by a boat, obviously…you get my allegorical point). Never a dime from Calvary Records.
Granted, it would be hard for something that magnanimous to force its way into the current southern gospel hemisphere. The only type of change within the relationship of Record companies and southern gospel artists to be seen visibly might be a pattern of groups going “indie”. Yet, there are writers who still get duped.
Makes one wonder if promises kept laying the groundwork for greed, with the message of the gospel as its binding and grinding, wrapped in a shallow Christianity, anchored in ankle deep water. What a waste that kind of Gospel would be. But through God’s sovereign plan, a record company cannot communicate a thing to an audience of The Hinsons, for they kept on singing.
Recently a group cut an album with a Ronny Hinson song. They sent the check directly to Ronny. His personal royalty for a royally swell gospel song. Truly the Lord must have piloted Ronny’s ship through the muddy and shallow waters of mostly mediocre, whitewashed walls called “old school” record deals.
By my own admittance, not only am I biased to The Hinsons (they can never get enough pub ’round here), but this may only be part of the story, or one side of the story. While my sources pretty much lay it out that Parkerson jobbed them, I’d love to hear from a former Calvary Records employee, associate, or perhaps from Parkerson himself. I think we need a little light shed on this so-called “negotiation”. I’m just reporting to see a soul saved. Ain’t that what it’s all about?
(and yes, I will always end a Hinsons article with a line from a song…and since this is a publicly viewed blog, in which it equals having myself become cyber tattooed, if I have to pay royalties for using their lyrics on this blog, I’m in the process of setting up a paypal account for all of us to donate).