Jack Tempchin Needs An Agent

You may not know Jack Tempchin but the Eagles sure do. After all, the songwriter penned “Peaceful Easy Feeling” along with several of the band’s other classic tunes.

Pollstar recently talked to Tempchin about touring and his ongoing search for an agent.

When the Eagles formed, they needed music to play, so Glenn Frey grabbed a tune from a buddy. That buddy, Tempchin, wrote, or co-wrote, so many well-known tunes that we’ll sprinkle them throughout the following interview so that the reader can see, too, how much of an influence this guy has been on modern culture.

Tempchin was featured at the Grammy Museum this summer and the Los Angeles Times gave him a great writeup

He’s known for, and written, for everybody. Like, everyone: Glen Campbell. George Jones, Tom Rush, Johnny Rivers – on and on – and has toured with old buds like Jackson Browne, Dolly Parton, Ringo Starr, Chicago and Christopher Cross.

Tempchin released Peaceful Easy Feeling: The Songs Of Jack Tempchin in August, featuring a collection of his hits as well as a previously unreleased song called “Privacy” that was written with Frey.

Context for the first question: Tempchin was recently honored by, of all things, Wienerschnitzel, because he finished the final line of “Peaceful Easy Feeling” while waiting in line for a hotdog.

We just saw a YouTube video where you did a radio interview in Laguna Beach, Calif. The best story had to be how you got awarded the Golden Wiener award from Wienerschnitzel.

Yes, the Golden Weiner. Well, no one else has one, as far as I know, outside the Wienerschnitzel organization.

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So we hear you’re looking for an agent. What exactly are you shopping for?

Jack Tempchin
– Jack Tempchin

The key thing is performing art center-type venues – that’s what I want to get into. I play a lot around Southern California, and other gigs. But I just feel that my solo show, if I was to open for somebody in a PAC – I did that about a year and a half ago for Jackson Browne – and it just works really well for me and it gets me in front of a lot of people, now that I have these albums.

I’m not looking for an agent to, you know, put me on the road where I’m driving and playing in bars. I’ve kind of done all that. I’m thinking of opening for somebody, at a PAC, or a dual bill. I have something like that possibly coming up with A.J. Croce.

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Forgive us but sometimes it seems that could be a role for a manager, too – connecting you up with artists in the PAC space.

Right, and now that my record is being released, we are doing that. But my manager also feels an agent who is already in that spot would be a great way to go.

We see you were signed to Monterey International about four years ago.

I don’t recall that! Really? I’m not sure what happened there, to tell you the truth. Maybe I did a show that they had to book or something. I’m sorry but I don’t know about that.

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Would you say your background with agents/agencies has been limited?

Early in my career I had agents. I was with ICM for a long time and I opened for a lot of major shows during a certain era. I opened the Christopher Cross tour. I opened for Chicago. Lots of Kenny Loggins dates. So I had an agent for that period of time. Then in 1980 I started writing with Glenn Frey for 14 years so I wasn’t on the road as much. Then, when I got back to it, I didn’t have enough business for an agent, you know what I mean?

But then I got this Blue Elan recording contract about three years ago and have put out about three-and-a-half albums, and there’s been a lot of press and stuff. So now I’m more interested again, that’s all.

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So what is your criteria? How many shows? And mostly on the West Coast? Is it basically, ‘As many as I can get’?

Yeah. At this point, I haven’t been as anxious to go out on a tour but, in today’s environment, playing in front of a large amount of people is probably the best and probably the only way for me to promote my records at this point. I’m doing everything on the internet; I have tons of videos out. I would be happy to take quite a few gigs as long as I thought they were good gigs where the venue would present me well. 

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Do you own all your own publishing?

When I first started out, for a while I was working with David Geffen, and he had all of his people with Warner Bros. My early songs are still owned by Warner Bros.: “Slow Dancing,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “Already Gone.” For all the songs I wrote with Glenn Frey – “You Belong To The City” and all those – I have my own publishing.

Rather than pretending to ask you the most unique question you’ve ever heard, how about this: What is the one anecdote that most people ask you to retell?

Oh, well … boy. I’m kind of drawing a blank, really. People basically want to know how I wrote “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” I tell them about the Wienerschnitzel and I tell them about how I was driving up the coast with my girlfriend in 1972 in a Volkswagen bus, and we stopped at the park. We met some guy named Star who was managing a band.

He took us over to the band house, and I was standing in the kitchen, and on top of the refrigerator was a little radio and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” came on. It was the first time I heard the song, by the Eagles, coming over the radio. So that was a big moment for me. Kind of unforgettable.

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So you met the band about a week after they formed, is that accurate?

Yes, although I already knew Glenn for many years at that point. 

Chuck Morris always tells the story about how Irving Azoff asked him if the band could play its first gigs in Denver before they recorded.

Right. Now, I wasn’t involved with that. I was staying for a couple days with Jackson Browne, and Glenn came over to the house and heard me playing a song, and asked me what it was. He put it down on a cassette. He came back the next day and said, “I have a new band.” They had been together eight days. “And we worked up your song.” So that’s kind of how the Eagles found “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”

But once the Eagles started their career, I was off doing my own thing. I had a band called The Funky Kings on Clive Davis’ label so I didn’t see Glenn a lot. We kept in touch but he was very busy. I wasn’t involved with Aspen or all the early Eagles stuff.

Did you make Classic West?

I didn’t go to that show.

Now, you can help me out. As far as particular agents, I haven’t had one for so long and I don’t really know what the deal is. I know my label may pay a little tour support but I don’t even know how it works now.

Well, maybe there is an agent out there that has plenty of PAC-oriented clients and you could be on a package deal?

Yes, I see. Exactly. Apparently, a lot of these PACs have season tickets and they sell out the whole season. I’m told sometimes they’ll put a package together. I think I could sell tickets – I can’t fill a whole PAC but enough to be an opening act. But I don’t know if that’s even important to them. I think they just put together a package. And the East Coast would be OK for me, as well. I was just thinking, well, if I can get in front of these people and play, they’ll have an interest in my record. But I appreciate your input.

Times have changed, and they’re changing so fast. You’ve got this guy JD opening for the Eagles. I’m a little confused as to how it all works, you know? (‘JD’ would be a reference to MSG Chairman James L. Dolan, a musical client of Irving Azoff whose JD & The Straight Shot has opened for the Eagles on occasion. Dolan and Azoff are also partners in Azoff-MSG Entertainment. The circle goes ’round and ’round.)

So, meet and greets – what are your surroundings? Do you just play, then have a beer with the audience?

Well, usually I don’t do a meet and greet until after. I talk a lot when I play, and tell stories, because people seem to want to know the stories of the songs. They want to know something about them and I enjoy telling them. After the show, I sign CDs and talk to people until everybody’s gone. I love that; it’s not a problem.

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On a 1-to-10 scale of “household name” to “nobody knows who I am,” where do you think you land?

I’m probably somewhere around 25. But there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve never been the vocalist on a big hit record. I’m not a star. I’ve always been a writer. 

For most of my career I didn’t even look for any publicity. In fact, I turned it all down. Then, when I wanted to play more, I noticed nobody was coming to the shows, so I started doing interviews. But, really, all those years of being a writer that was a perfect life. I got to do what I wanted; I didn’t have to deal with fame, and yet I knew my songs were being enjoyed. But for the last four or five years, making albums, basically I want people to hear them.

That’s why I’ve made more of an effort for people to know who I am, but I’m not under any illusion. And I know that an agent must feel there must be enough going there. But I do feel I have a story, and if the agent is getting some publicity, and said, “Here’s the guy who wrote all those songs,” then people will go, “Oh! I know who that guy is.” So I let my songs have the fame, hopefully enough to draw people in to see me.

It seems you’re only one or two PBS specials away from that.

That’s exactly right. I just did a PBS show that’s going to play in Southern California. That’s going to reach 18 million households, potentially. And I’m sort of hooked up to do more of those PBS shows, which I think will be really helpful.

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So you have a wine inspired by you?

I hooked up with South Coast Winery in Temecula. They win the Golden Bear Award every year. So I have a wine called Peaceful Easy Feeling. It’s just kind of a fun thing. They grow their own grapes so it can’t be a national brand; there’s just not enough of it. But it was in Costco for a while. And it was in Whole Foods as well, but Costco is the biggest wine retailer in the country. It’s kind of a bizarre statistic.

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Also, I wanted to mention that during the last year I played the Kate Wolf Festival. I did a tour of Japan in January 2016 that went really well. I played the Kaboo Festival. And I’ve played some shows put on by Erika [Nichols] who runs the Bluebird Café in Nashville.

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We’re planning on doing a feature on her!

Oh, she is fantastic! I’ve known her a long time. But, also, they put on a lot of shows all over the country and the world, so I do those. I do play a lot. Just saying this so an agent can see this guy does play. Oh, and I just did the Grammy Museum, which is online.

Jack’s latest album is available here.