"Bob Wilson is doing an album," said the creative director. "It's a
series of live concerts he's recorded. He wants us to design the cover
and do the liner notes."

Rockin' Bobby Wilson was a local
rock celebrity. I'd never met him, but his star had been rising and I
knew this was a big opportunity for us. I was all ears.

liked the treatment we did on the album for that aboriginal country
singer where we had the extreme close up of him and the little
starburst on the frame of his aviator sunglasses. He specifically wants
you involved because you're the only musician in the agency."

He said "musician" as if it were a cross between axe-murderer and pedophile.

"I guess musicians who can read and write must be scarce," I offered.

"Never mind the wise-ass remarks, okay? I have a meeting with Bobby and
his performance group scheduled for tomorrow, right after lunch. Give
it some thought between now and then.

Right after lunch is ad agency talk for two-thirty PM.

I phoned a booking agent friend, figuring I'd be able to get some
insights and ideas from him. He listened while I told him about our
upcoming assignment.

"Have you seen Bob lately?" he asked when I paused for breath.

"No, why?"

"He's put on a little weight. Actually he's put on a ton of weight.
He's huge. He still packs them in but I wouldn't think a picture of him
would fit on the album cover."

"So we'll use something else. A crowd shot. A scenic."

"Could be a problem," said my agent friend. "Bob's ego is almost as big
as he is. He'll want a photo. I can almost guarantee it."

"Shit," I said.

"Yeah," he said.

That evening I brainstormed my way half way through a quart of rye
whisky. Then I came up with a concept. It actually would make him look,
well, not huge. I liked it so much I went through the rest of the
bottle fairly quickly. I wrote some of the copy and the headline for
the album cover.

Breathlessly and somewhat hung over I rushed
into the office the next morning. I buttonholed the creative director
at the coffee machine. "You have to see this," I said, waving my note
pad in his face. "The Bob Wilson concept. I think I've really nailed

"I'd love to see it," he said but I have the ‘Uncle Fred's
Chicken On The Run' pitch at ten and then a lunch meeting with the
tractor company. I'll trust you with it. I'm sure it's super."

The tractor company was our flagship account. Two point six million a year in billings. My album cover was small potatoes.

I had one of the artists do a pencil layout for the cover. I worried
and fretted and touched up the copy all morning. At lunch, I picked my
way through a chef's salad and knocked back a couple of vodka martinis
. . . just for courage. I was ready.

At two thirty we gathered
in the board room. I had my art board and copy carefully concealed,
ready to be produced with a flourish at the appropriate time. As we
were chatting, Rockin' Bobby hove himself into the room. He was wearing
sweats that could have slept six comfortably. A headline popped into my
mind: "Papa Cass, the ready-to-run rock star doll." I brushed it away.

After all the appropriate introductions, the creative director spoke.
"Bob, we've come up with a concept for your album and I don't mind
telling you, we're all pretty excited about it around here. You may
want to have this album hidden in the record stores; otherwise you'll
never produce enough to keep up with the sales." He waited a moment for
the laugh that never came and then turned to me. "Start us off Dave."

"Okay," I began with enthusiasm, "we want to show action . . . motion .
. . charisma." I grasped the art board in my right hand. "We want your
dynamic stage presence to jump right off the album cover. We call it,"
I paused for effect, "Rockin' Bobby Wilson . . . on the Move!" I
produced the art board. It was the headline I had just described, in a
fast- moving italic type face and below it was a multiple exposure of
Rockin' Bobby running on stage with his guitar raised above his head in
a triumphant gesture. The multiple exposure actually minimized Bobby's
significant weight problem. Electricity filled the room. I pressed on.
"The copy talks about you going to the people. Meeting them, greeting
them, loving them and thanking them personally for what you are today."
I almost expected applause. Everyone looked at Rockin' Bobby.

"Well, it's okay," he said, but what I'd really like is a picture of
myself facing the camera with my guitar on. I'd have my legs spread out
a bit and be pointing at someone in the audience. I could wear my white
suit with the sequences all over it." Then he looked around for
approval. His flunkies all nodded and smiled. "Keep the same words," he
said, getting up to leave. "They're good enough."

Another headline popped into my mind. "Elvis lives."

I wondered how full my liquor cabinet was. Maybe I'd stop off on the way home.