Legendary rockers s, rock n’ blues king Johnny Cash, and the first lady of country, June Carter Cash find themselves not only connected by the fair city of Newcastle, the musicians having performed there at some point in the past fifty years, but, as of October 4 1997, by legendary music manager and A & R rep, Vicky Hamilton.
It’s nearly fifty years since the Cash’s (and Carl Perkins) appeared in Newcastle whilst Axl and the lads have done so on several occasions, most famously in 1992 at the Gateshead International in 1992, twenty-five years ago now.
Either side of that ’92 appearance Vicky had become the first manager of Gn’R, back in the mid-eighties Hollywood and, five years later, in ’97, started working with June Carter, with stunning results, producing the Grammy Award winning Press On record.
It’s certainly been a long and rewarding career for the girl from Fort Wayne, Indiana; a one that, as nears a significant milestone birthday next April, sees her still managing to this day, Londoner Matt Adey and Dallas/LA teen sensations Love Past Blue leading the way.
The biggest moments of her career though couldn’t be more different and although fifteen years part, they find themselves intertwined by the one.
Having started in 1981 as a management consultant for Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and Vince Neil, they of the Motley Crue, another three years would pass before Vicky would land the next big thing, ‘The Most Dangerous Band in the World’ led by the unmistakable Axl.
Looking back now Vicky said: “With Guns n’ Roses I was inspired again, and the music was alive for me.
“I knew this band was going to have a huge impact, but I never realised how big until much later.
“Poison (who Vicky had also managed) and Guns n’ Roses hated each other, mostly because they were the biggest bands of that time, and the fans created a rivalry.
“Plus there was the fact that Slash was in Guns n’ Roses and had auditioned to be in Poison. I also think the mere fact that I was working with Guns n’ Roses after working with poison added a little heat to the situation as well.”
Thirteen years later and, although Vicky had worked with the biggest names in rock early in her career, a chance meeting at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard led to the first lady of rock working with the first lady of country.
It is that working with the Cash’s that led Vicky to claim that this is in fact her greatest ever achievement of an interstellar career.
With the Press On record claiming the ‘Best Traditional Folk Record’ at the 2000 Grammy Awards, Vicky added: “When Rick Rubin told me to I should make a record with June Carter Cash I was flattered, but didn’t think I had the tools to make a country record.
“I fell in love with June though, she was one of a kind and had this beautiful, upbeat personality and this also came across in her live performances.
“You couldn’t help but fall in love with her, she sparkled.
“She was so enthusiastic and I just had to get involved and make the record with her.
“It felt like destiny and (looking back now) felt like a dream.”
The first couple of years, between October 1997 and September 1999, would see countless hours being worked on the tracks that would eventually make up the ‘Press On’record, something which they officially began putting together in the fall of 1998, the cover image a photo of June in Jamaica and CD image of which being a traditional southern image of one of the china plates from June’s kitchen. Everything which happened around June possessed elements of elegance, beauty, romanticism, and it’s little wonder Vicky, and others which June’s hand touched, held her in such high esteem. “(Over lunch) she told me about all the tracks she had written in her lifetime. “It was a little overwhelming, so over the next couple of months she sent me several demo tapes of bare bone recordings of the songs that she and John Carter put together in the Cash Cabin (a makeshift recording studio in Hendersonville across from the where the Cash’s lived).” Johnny and June singing together was always a tender, special moment and, with June having told Vicky that in fact she had wrote one of Johnny’s greatest hits, ‘Ring of Fire,’ then their duet of ‘The Far Side Banks of Jordan’ would be just as special. Vicky explained in Appetite for Dysfunction about the hit single that June had told her: “When I fell in love with Johnny, I didn’t know what to do, I felt like a big ring of fire was going to swallow me up.” Vicky’s love for June strengthened even more that day.