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Full Band Bio (Continued)
Morey retained the William Morris Agency. In a company as large as William Morris even successful acts can have important opportunities pass them by without an enthusiastic, experienced agent on the inside that has their back and shares the vision. With Ray Shelide as their responsible agent they had the right guy. The dates came in fast and furious. Shelide recalls, “Exile was my first ‘responsible agent’ duty shortly after joining William Morris. This band had hit hard one time before only to watch it all go away. They were a great band AND unique vocal group which has always been a rare combination, especially in country music. I was honored to help them make the most of this second chance. And they delivered, above-and-beyond the call of duty at every show. It was a great relationship that lasted for close to 8 years.”
One of the first big touring opportunities that came along was to open the Ricky Skaggs tour. Although they all laugh about it now, Ricky sent word to the guys that they could not perform “Kiss You All Over” while opening his dates. His organization felt it sent the wrong message to his audience.
Given the impact of their live performance they were once again awash in tour opportunities. They shared shows with the biggest stars on the scene including Lee Greenwood, The Oak Ridge Boys & The Gatlin Brothers. At one time the Judds opened for Exile then as the Judds’ career exploded their roles reversed with Exile opening for the ladies.
Remember that inverse relationship between success and happiness? It never goes away. It only gets worse.
By 1986, tempers and tolerance were short & fragile and the demand on their time & energy longer & harder than ever. In the best of times dispute resolution on all levels of importance is a challenge. When one stirs in fatigue, distractions, financial inequities, creative differences, less-than-coherent thought & decision making processes, all hopped up with a healthy dose of Ego Rollerball, it’s amazing the cracks didn’t form before 1986.
First off the ship was keyboard player, Marlon Hargis. “To quote B.B. King, the thrill was gone. We were doing things because we had to, not because we wanted to anymore.” Then went Les Taylor. “It’s an age old story: I had so many people telling me that I ought go my own way, I finally gave in to try it out.” J.P. Pennington was not far behind. "I was tired and missed my family and they missed me." What was left of the band left Epic.
J.P. and Les got their opportunity to spread their solo wings with Epic clinging to Les and MCA eagerly signing J.P. Each had one hit single before the bloom was off their solo rose.
Still on board were Sonny LeMaire & Steve Goetzman. Lee Carroll replaced Marlon. Les’ absence thrust Sonny into a more prominent role with lead vocals and Mark Jones filled Les’ spot onstage. Paul Martin took up some of J.P.’s slack.
Given some divine providence in the timing department, Tim Dubois was opening the Nashville division of Arista Records and he was looking for a marquis artist to launch the label. The updated Exile landed the spot.
A rose by any other name may still be a rose but the romantic logic doesn’t apply to bands. While each of the gentlemen who replaced the members who left is very talented and worked hard, plainly this wasn’t the same band despite the name. This wasn’t a mystery to Lemaire or Goetzman. Lemaire elaborates, “When we signed with Arista we tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Tim to allow us to change our name. We felt we were a very different band with the new members & new sound emerging. Songs I was writing were taking a different turn from the things J.P. & I used to write.” Dubois’ insistence on a marquee artist to kick things off made the idea a non-starter.1 2 3 4 5 6