Jules, Maggie and Me
My name is Rick Beneteau, referred to as ‘Jules ‘sidekick’ here. This is my story about how I met this Jules character and I’m going to have to stick to it!
1992 was going to be my very good year!
A year prior, I sold my cash-cow drycleaning business having built a fully-equipped recording studio in my home in preparation for finally launching my music company. Recently separated, I had custody of my two young daughters and this once-in-a-lifetime-music opportunity, and life as a single dad and entrepreneur was, well, exciting!
Backing up a few years, I had made solid inroads as a songwriter, having won the first two Billboard Magazine (they created the Top-40 pop, rock, r&b and country charts) International Songwriting competitions (and many others), and several major recording artists were recording my songs. To me, there was enough evidence to warrant taking the risk to try to establish myself as a ‘happnin’ songwriter and eventually, a record producer.
During the mid-1980’s though, there was a hometown singer making quite a name for himself in Canada. Although we went to the same high school, Jules was two years behind me and we didn’t know each other. But I was getting to know him through newspaper articles and television appearances (the iconic, national CBC Tommy Hunter Show, for one) and although I wasn’t a dyed-in-the-saddle country writer, I sent him a couple of songs a couple of times but he never replied. Par for the music course.
Back to my anticipated good year.
One evening, I was watching television with my then twelve year-old daughter when the phone rang. On the other end of the line was Jules. He began with apologizing for not replying to my submissions years before saying that things were just crazy in his career at the time. Cool. He went on to explain how after his Canadian success he migrated to Nashville to try to establish his career south of the border and that although he had networked his way to the very top of the industry on Music Row, he hadn’t gotten a record deal yet. He was aware that things were starting to click for me as a songwriter and he wanted to get together to see how we could work together. We booked a day to meet.
Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone for the first time and you just knew you were going to be lifelong friends? Well, that’s what happened when I met the strapping, charismatic singer at his home along Lake St. Clair. I listened to his stories and the progress he had made in Nashville as well as heard some tracks he recorded in Music City – impressive! He wanted to enlist my help in getting that elusive record deal and I left that meeting very interested.
A few days later we met at my home and I remember this as clearly as if it were yesterday. In the middle of our conversation my phone rang and it was my divorce lawyer. He told me he had some very bad news explaining there was nothing he could do about it. The next day I would be served with papers that would force me to vacate my home and relinquish custody of my children in three days. Three days! And, if that wasn’t enough bad news, my bank accounts were now frozen by the court until everything would be screamed and done! I had NO money!
I knew then her lawyer convinced her to hurt me where it hurt most – my children and my music career – and I hung up the phone in a state of complete devastation. I mean, where was I to go on such short notice and how could I possibly dismantle and otherwise remove a studio that took two years to build? Jules, sensing my frantic state, said to me, so matter of fact, “Ricky, I know you have lots of friends but you’re coming to live with Maggie and me.”
Now, nobody on this planet gets away with calling me Ricky except my mother, but since that moment that’s what Jules, and his beautiful wife, Maggie, lovingly call me. Three days later, with very little sleep, Jules pulls up in “Jerome,” his 1950 Ford pickup hot rod, and with my clothes, a keyboard, amp, some small speakers and office necessities piled in the back, we drove to my new home. There were also some bags of laundry soap and a huge roll of cellophane shirt baggies I extracted from the sale of my drycleaning business that I thought they could use.
Something else I’ll never forget. Carrying my first load in to my new abode, in my bedroom on the dresser mirror, inscribed in bright red lipstick inside a heart, was Maggie’s message, “Welcome home, Ricky.”
With moist eyes, I knew I had made the right decision and that in spite of not having my children with me all the time, I knew we were going to have a very great time! And indeed, the greatest of times we shared, writing songs and recording demos, planning out a career path for Jules, making dinners and doing dishes together, having cocktails at 5 p.m. (I was SO not used to that), hanging out with their awesome friends, going to parties and events Jules played, and otherwise, living life large – ‘Jules and Maggie style.’ I could really understand now how the country music moguls loved this guy!
We had such a great time.Nine-months later they didn’t want me to leave (and I really didn’t want to leave either) when I had won a big music lawsuit and had money again to re-establish myself.
I moved in the fall, and we continued to build our music battle plan ultimately deciding to head to Nashville in the spring of 1993 with our newly-written songs and take another strategic swing at getting Jules a U.S. record deal. We lined up the A-team studio musicians – the guys that played for Dolly and Willie and Merle and so on – and five tracks were laid down by some very excited musicians in the House of David Studios – they LOVED our songs!
It wasn’t long after that though, as we were carrying those awesome tracks under our arms, both of us started to get the feeling that it wasn’t the music or the looks or the voice that were responsible for the lack of corporate acceptance – it was the fact we didn’t bring a multi-million dollar investment package to the table and even if we did, Nashville was not courting talented Canadians, save and except then-newcomer (with backer, Mutt Lange), Shania Twain.
In fact, and you can read this in The Man, Country Music Hall of Fame songwriter and Jules’ great friend, the late Harlan Howard, told Jules at their last meeting after hearing those five tracks, “Kid, you’ve got a big heart and three top-10 records here but they’re never going to sign you in this town.”
That was pretty much the icing on the proverbial cake and disheartened, Jules, Maggie and me decided to pack up and head home – for good!
Fast forward to 2014.
Jules has become an institution in these parts simply using the power of his music, his big baritone voice and his passion for helping people, in particular, people at the lowest points of their lives. Yes, he serves at the highest level consoling grieving families at some 250-300 funerals a year.
As for me, because of my divorce, I was forced to leave the music business in the mid 1990’s and logged on to the Internet in 1996 when it was brand new to make my living. By 2006, I co-founded a heavily-endorsed humanitarian non-profit organization which is now my life’s work.
Always the idea guy, I called my great friend Jules, who I had seen only a few times over the past two decades, in late April, 2014. The conversation went something like this… “Hey buddy, why don’t we put out those tracks we did in Nashville and do some real good in the world at the same time?” See, my non-profit helps to shelter and feed the world’s forgotten 21 million war refugees (that’s more souls than live on the entire continent of Australia!) so the thought of tying in the two totally disparate ideas of country music and humanitarian service was very appealing to me. I even suggested a component which would allow fans to get behind a cause in their own communities using Jules’ music.
Jules, being Jules, got real excited and couldn’t have agreed more with the plan. We started working together immediately designing what we call, Jules Living Room, an Internet community rich with Jules’ music and personality, and so much spirit-lifting content from Jules, his friends, me and the world-class spiritual and personal development experts I am blessed to work with on a daily basis. A few in-tune folks have in one way or another called this the “greatest people-building resource they’ve ever seen.”
Can you guess what her first words to me were? Right…“Welcome home, Ricky!”
Needless to say, we had a great visit and set the foundation for Jules’ Living Room. After a great first work session, as I was about to leave, Maggie handed me a bag of fresh produce she had bought earlier in the day. The container… one of the last shirt bags I gave her twenty one years ago. She then showed me the few remaining bags on the roll and goodness, did we laugh! Truth be known, I had totally forgotten about the bags but what one can never forget is deep and lifelong friendships like this.