Somebody Loan Me a Dime
June 26, 2010 8:57 AM   Subscribe

In 1969 Boz Scaggs released a self-titled album featuring a performance of "Loan Me A Dime". The only problem was the song credited as Scaggs' was writen by blues man Fenton Robinson, resulting in legal battles. The nationwide distribution of Robinson's own version of the song was aborted by a freak snow storm hitting Chicago "It became a big hit for Boz, but Fenton was being robbed of his moment of fame, as well as the dollars that should have gone along with it. It resulted in a big legal battle, which Fenton eventually won."

His saving grace came in 1974, after his contract with the Seventy-Seven label expired. It came in the form of Bruce Iglauer's newly formed Alligator Records. His Alligator debut marked just the fifth release for the label. It finally gave the rest of the world a chance to hear him play his signature song, "Somebody Loan Me A Dime" on the album of the same name. Fans and critics alike loved the album. It was soulful with an incredible horn-driven band backing him up. Both Fenton's vocals and guitar playing were at their best. It looked as if his career was going to take a positive swing. Then, a tragic incident occurred. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter from a car accident that had happened in 1969. The publicity, as well as his jail term in Joliet Penitentiary, Joliet, Illinois did not help his career. However, he was released on parole after serving only nine months because of good behavior and the incredible amount of mail the parole board received from his fans.

Fenton Robinson - You Don't Know What Love Is (1974)
Blue Monday

Fenton Robinson died on November 25, 1997 in Rockford, Illinois of complications from brain cancer.
posted by nola (13 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
So did Boz Scaggs intentionally take credit for "Loan Me a Dime" or was it just an oversight at the record company?
posted by Daddy-O at 9:19 AM on June 26, 2010

BTW, the studio version of Loan Me a Dime features 22 year-old Duane Allman on guitar.
posted by grounded at 9:44 AM on June 26, 2010

I have always wondered about this. Given the marked difference between the two versions, it seems like the creators of the Boz rendition (given the writer credit, we have to assume this includes Boz himself) felt their re-working was significant enough (except, ya know, for the lyrics!) to warrant taking possession of the song in this Led Zepplinish manner.
posted by bonefish at 9:48 AM on June 26, 2010

BTW, the studio version of Loan Me a Dime features 22 year-old Duane Allman on guitar .

That's pretty much the sole reason I bought the CD -- I grew up with the album in my parent's house, but never really drew the conscious distinction of that being Duane up until a few years ago. It sounds so different from his Allman Bros. solos, perhaps because he was playing a Fender instead of a Gibson on that track? I don't care too much for the rest of the album any more, but that's a standout recording, for sure.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:08 AM on June 26, 2010

White rock singer rips off black blues singer. News at 11.
posted by milnak at 10:11 AM on June 26, 2010

White rock singer rips off black blues singer. News at 11.
here's Fenton's version
posted by milnak at 10:14 AM on June 26, 2010

So did Boz Scaggs intentionally take credit for "Loan Me a Dime" or was it just an oversight at the record company?

I honestly don't know.
posted by nola at 11:14 AM on June 26, 2010

I think this sort of thing was rampant back then, especially in an industry as utterly exploitive as record business. I'm glad Fenton got his due at the end of the day, it's ugly that Scaggs let this happen, but jeez performers and artists, unless they were huge and had the pull were no better than indentured slaves with contracts that made sure to bleed them at every level. Nasty nasty business.
posted by Skygazer at 11:24 AM on June 26, 2010

My friend Franklin is a record company guy and huge, huge blues fan. He looked at this post and wanted to clear up three things. Any misspelling are mine, because he told me this on the phone:

1) Neither the Boz Scaggs version of "Loan Me A Dime," nor the self-titled album which it was on were anything close to "big" hits. The album was actually a flop. Although it did receive some critical acclaim (some of it for "Loan Me A Dime"), the album sold quite poorly. It was reissued after Boz did have some big hits, but in a remixed form. The original album version has never even been on CD. The song later become a sort of favorite of Boz Scaggs fans, but it never sold very well.

2) Robinson's own version was on a tiny label called Palos run by a guy called Sonny Sawyer. It sold tremendously well in Chicago. The "freak snow storm" story is kind of a joke. There may have been such a storm that delayed one shipment or another, but the fact of the matter is that the original record simply never caught on outside Chicago in any major way - snowstorms had nothing to do with it.

3) The crux of the lawsuit was that Scaggs' publisher felt that there was some claim that Scaggs included "original" parts to the song. If true, he would (deservedly) have merited partial songwriting credit. Robinson's people felt otherwise. Scaggs apparently had no problem with Robinson receiving some of the songwriting, if not all. It's hard to say who wanted to fight the issue. I (Franklin) would guess it was the publishing company fighting for Scaggs to have a share. Scaggs may have been willing to give it all to Robinson, I can't say.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:58 AM on June 26, 2010 [10 favorites]

Franklin adds: "There really wasn't a whole lot of money or fame at stake to begin with, so to say that Robinson was robbed of more than a couple of thousand dollars at most is an exaggeration."
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:00 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

performers and artists, unless they were are huge and had have the pull were are no better than indentured slaves with contracts that made make sure to bleed them at every level.


So far as I know, the only way the situation has changed is that the distribution companies are no longer making huge money on the backs of the artists. Now they're just complaining about how they can't make huge money on the backs of the artists, and how unfair that is.

Friend of mine has a fairly well-known band that was getting pushed by Polygram back in the early '90s. He made three albums for them, but despite good sales, they weren't the megahit Polygram wanted, so they were dumped. He says that was the best thing that could have happened, since he went from giving every dime to Polygram while wondering why he was broke to actually making a good living as a musician.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:15 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the insight, Dee Xtrovert. Just another reason why I love Metafilter, it's a self correcting blog. Tell Franklin thanks.
posted by nola at 1:08 PM on June 26, 2010

I met Boz in Copenhagen way back in, could it be 1963? We were both busking then.
I pursuaded him to come with me up to Stockholm as there was less competition there on the streets and he stayed in the attic of my tiny wooden house for a month or two. He was a thoroughly nice person and I can't imagine him intentionally ripping off another musician.

It was there he made his first solo album - for the Sonet label I think,( it was Claes Bjurman anyway) Just him and his acoustic guitar. Half of the tracks covers and half his own stuff. It was in no way a hit.
I unfortunately lost the copy he gave me - which he had very reluctantly signed. That and the home tapes we had made in the kitchen with my three-year old son Rufus on a broken harmonica.

I remember him asking to be introduced to Glyn Johns who was then sound engineer for the Stones at a party we had after their show in Stockholm. I knew Glyn from the time we both in skiffle groups in England. It seemed such an old-fashioned politeness coming from an american rock musician.
posted by jan murray at 4:22 PM on June 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

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