|Rubber Dubber Records
By Jerry Rigged
For those of you not old enough to remember, Rubber Dubber records were live concert bootleg recordings that were first marketed in plain white double jackets with the Rubber Dubber logo stamped on them.
I first got involved with Rubber Dubber Records in the summer of ’70. Living the hippie life wasn’t feeding my dog or me. That forced me to find a day gig. I wasn’t playing music in bands at the time, so when I was offered a job in the print shop of a record pressing plant in Grand Prarie, Texas, I took it. I found myself printing the record labels for Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, etc., never realizing that these were bootleg recordings. But soon after my arrival, the “suites” who owned the plant began to think about the longhaired kid in the print shop as a possible salesman who could sell a few records on the side in the numerous “head shops” that were sprouting up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. They realized that they would never even get into the door of those places. The owner offered to front me a few albums and promised me half the profit on sales. I didn’t know much about artists’ royalties at the time and figured the artists were getting paid. I sold a ton of those albums in the local area. I had such great success with the local sales that the “suites” decided they would finance me to take a load up through the mid-west and hit every head shop I could find. I would send money to them through the mail and they would ship me albums. I was making about $2,000 a month for myself. I have no idea where the money went as I shared my newfound wealth with friends and strangers.
My younger brother Chuck and I traveled through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri, all the way to Illinois. I had to have Thorazine administered to me because of a bad trip in Kansas and we were raided in a motel room in St. Louis because some poor soul overdosed in the next room. We managed to escape every time we were hasseled by law enforcement agencies by playing “hick Texas hippie kids” until we landed in Chicago in October.
The police stopped us in “Old Town” because of my old “59 GMC panel
truck plastered with hippie bumper stickers that was loaded on the back
axel. Those old albums weighed a ton, but they assumed it was a load
of weed from Mexico because of the Texas tags. Besides that, they
were still up tight from the ’68 SDS riots at the Democratic Convention.
The police threw everything we had, including my guitar and Chuck’s bongos
out onto the streets of Chicago. They ruined my guitar. We
had just consumed our last roach and weren’t even “holding,” so they couldn’t
bust us on drugs. Finally, they confiscated
All this time, we put on our best southern manners. That caused them to chill out somewhat and to not consider us dangerous, but they held us in a large precinct station for about five hours. While we were in the interrogation room with the detectives, officers brought in a couple of girls about our age and literally threw them “up against the wall,” as the old saying goes. We later learned that the girls were really “dudes” in drag. We had never encountered such a thing in Texas at the time, but soon began to feel sorry for the dudes because of the treatment they were getting from what we considered as “the pigs.” Those perverts made the dudes strip down to their bras and panties for their mug shots. Later they passed the mug shots around the station boisterously laughing and slapping one another on the back. They even tried to amuse us with the shots. Their behavior was disgusting and that made us nervous for ourselves. We continued to “yes sir and no sir” for most of the time. They were waiting for the arresting officer to arrive and book us, but he never showed up. Finally our “manners” got to them. They decided to keep our “weapons” and only charge me with a cracked windshield on the truck which was perfectly legal (and still is) in Texas. The bond was $25, which I promptly paid. Then they told us we had 24 hours to get out of Chicago or they would arrest us again. I think it took us two of those 24 to get out. To this day I have never met anyone else who was ever kicked out of Chicago like my brother and I were. But we kept the records and the money and continued for a few more weeks through the Dakotas, Colorado, and New Mexico before returning to Texas.
Later after another trip with my older brother Randy, when we arrived at Rodent Ranch (our old shack in the country south of Arlington), I was surprised to see a Lincoln Continental in the driveway. I walked in and the first person I saw was the secretary from The Record Plant and a big burly and tall hippie looking character who introduced himself as Chuck Kane (I never knew if that was his real name). The girl told me he was one of the founders of Rubber Dubber and that we had been selling their products without authorization from them. He explained the Rubber Dubber concept of giving the artists the royalties from these bootleg recordings. This impressed me because I considered myself an emerging artist at the time and I didn’t want any bad “karma” to come back on me. They weren’t angry with me because of my sales, in fact it was quite the opposite. They were so impressed with me that they invited me to be a part of Rubber Dubber and move to L.A. Heck, he was even taking the secretary back to L.A. I later moved her for him, but that is part of another story. Rubber Dubber cancelled their contract with The Record Plant, and pulled out all the remaining stock. The poor “suites” didn’t know what to do and eventually were out of business.
L.A. was one big party. I hadn’t been to California since ’68 and it had changed a lot. I met the other partners of Rubber Dubber. They were living high on the hog off the profits. I learned much later that the artists never received a dime in royalties from any of the recordings. We rented a warehouse in East L.A. and ran the operation from there. We decided to use the contacts we had gathered (my mid-west sales had doubled their database) and use the telephone instead of travel. We had our own shrink-wrap machine in the warehouse and had employees to do the shipping. The warehouse doubled as a big party/jam room and we had some parties. It was during this time I bought an electric piano and got serious again about piano along with guitar.
We would buy tickets to concerts well in advance. Chuck would take the recorder in on a backpack. On two occasions, I crippled in with a shotgun microphone stuck down my britches. I recorded a back-to-back piano duet concert by Elton John and Leon Russell. I also recorded Neil Young. We knew that it was illegal, but I believed that the fans wanted it and that the artists would get paid from it.
The partying lasted until the day the U.S. Marshals showed up with an injunction and a cease and desist order. I was reading recently that there were some private detectives with them, but I was there, and I know that there were only two marshals. We managed to lure them into an office that I shared with Chuck. He started smooth talking the marshals while I left the room, locking the door behind me. They were locked up inside the office with Chuck and didn’t even know it. I think that was Chuck’s idea. He was a good con artist.
Meanwhile, the rest of us loaded incriminating evidence into boxes and into the trunks of several cars, including my truck. After dispatching the rest of the gang, I unlocked the door and left. Later when Chuck came out, all the evidence was gone and they were they mad. They ran him out and placed a notice on the door and left. Several people were named on subpoenas, but I wasn’t named at all. I wasn’t one of the “big cheeses.”
We later regrouped in Malibu and operated out of there for a while. but I decided to move to Oregon where I had heard about a hippie haven. I wanted to distance myself from the situation. In Oregon, I did some telephone business from up there, but Rubber Dubber soon died. I never learned what happened to the rest of the gang. I hate to mention names in a matter like this. I mentioned Chuck because I don’t think that was his real name. We did do a few other things that were unsavory in the eyes of the law that benefited us. I refuse to elaborate on the grounds of the Fifth Amendment. These events, combined with the large amounts of acid I was consuming at the time, contributed to my spiritual awakening which would happen later in Oregon.
I found these three jacket covers on the Internet recently. I lost my personal collection somewhere in my travels. If anyone out there has a copy and could scan it and send it to me, I will gladly put them up on the site just for kicks. It is a part of Rock and Roll history. (Links anyone?). Rubber Dubber was written about in Rolling Stone, Time Magazine, as well as L.A. newspapers and God knows where else.