Man" Chapter 4
Rabbit Records & DWA: The start-up
1976 was a wild and crazy year. Dick left Capricorn artists at the top of
the charts and helped the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign by giving them band promotions and
advertising. Then his friends at Atlantic Records asked him to return to the company with
a promise to finance Dick's record company.
Dick; "If you want a friend, you gotta be a
Blinging in Macon.
Dick; "Highlight of my life working with Jimmy
In short order,
Dick's music attorney Eric Kronfeld finalized the pre-determined deal with Atlantic and
the doors opened at the new Dick Wooley Associates office
along with its new label Rabbit Records. Flush with funding Dick recruited top Warner Brothers
promotion man Al Moss to the new company and
asked two great touring bands to sign on with him. Dru Lombar's Grinderswitch,
managed by Alex Hodges, who today heads-up "Neiderlander" and the Winters
Brothers Band, managed by Charlie Daniels' manager Joe
Sullivan, who now is a key player in Branson Missouri mega complex.
After releasing the two band's new albums, Rabbit Records mid-charted both the
Grinderswitch and Winters Brothers albums and that year continued to build their career by
keeping the bands steadily on tour with the Charlie Daniels Band, The Allman Brothers
Band, Marshall Tucker Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Dick's neighbor on Walnut Street in Macon was young attorney/band manager Pat Armstrong.
Pat came to Dick one day in 1977 and asked Dick if he would help him launch a new band he
managed and he said they were being looked at by a major record producer. Pat Armstrong
had been Lynyrd Skynyrd's first manager, before Alan Walden and Pat had developed a huge
roster of college circuit bands, but he felt left out because despite having been an early
player in the Southern Rock explosion, Pat hadn't participated in it's success.
Pat drove Dick to see his new band at a dark basement club in a seedy downtown Macon
flop-house called the Dempsy Hotel. It was the venue from Hell, with toilet water standing
an inch deep on the floor, Dick said, "it was a miracle nobody was
electrocuted." But, as bad the surroundings, Dick saw the band's potential and signed
on to promote their album when released.
Dick got the heads-up from Pat a month before Molly Hatchet's album was released on Epic
and went to work pre-promoting it to radio stations. Dick added so many stations the first
week of release that Epic had to responded quickly, so they threw a pile of development
cash at Pat to start the band on a national tour. Soon the whole country knew about
Molly Hatchet, the self proclaimed new "Bad
Boys" of Southern Rock.
Hatchet's debut album and tour was a huge
success, the album went gold, then later it went multi-platinum. There were big smiles on
Walnut Street that year, Pat Armstrong was happy because his future was bright with a new
hit album and his band was on a coast-to-coast tour of the country.
And, Dick was happy too, once again he's proved his ability to take an unknown band and
promote them into a multi-million album selling success. Dick, against all odds, just had
his first major artist breakout since leaving Capricorn the year before... and it felt great!
In 1981 a devastating music
business tsunami called "Disco" swept over the landscape and sunk airplay for
all other types of music including Southern Rock. Dick's marriage also hit the rocks that
year and he decided to take time off from the music business, move to the beach and live a
peaceful quiet life by the sea.
Dick moved to Tybee Island, a small island off the coast
of Savannah Georgia, Tybee is connected to the mainland by a twenty mile sliver of
causeway at the dead end of coast to coast highway 80. At the time, Tybee was a quiet
little fishing village of 1500 people and it was the perfect spot to get lost, chill out,
maybe write a few songs, buy a Hobie Cat and learn to sail, build a beach house and look
at the record business in the rear-view mirror.