GRAHAM: We signed the deal around four in the afternoon and I remember walking out onto Sunset Boulevard, the six of us, the sun hitting us right in the eyes and just feeling like Los Angeles had opened its arms and said, “Come on in, baby.”
I saw a T-shirt a few years ago that said, “I Got My Shades on Cuz My Future’s So Bright,” and I thought the little shit that was wearing it doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He never stood on Sunset Boulevard, sun blinding his eyes, with his five best friends and a record contract in his back pocket.
BILLY: That night, everybody was out partying over at the Rainbow and I walked away, walked down the street to a pay phone. Imagine achieving your wildest dream and feeling empty inside. It didn’t mean anything unless I could share it with Camila. So I called her.
My heart was beating so fast as the phone rang. I put my fingers to my pulse and it was throbbing. But when Camila answered, it was like laying down in bed after a long day. I felt so much better, just hearing her voice. I said, “I miss you. I don’t think I can live without you.”
She said, “I miss you, too.”
I said, “What are we doing this for? We’re supposed to be together.”
And she said, “Yeah, I know.”
We were both quiet on the line and I said, “If I had a record contract, would you marry me?”
She said, “What?”
CAMILA: I was just so excited for him if it was true. He’d worked so hard for it.
BILLY: I said it again. “If I had a record contract, would you marry me?”
She said, “You got a record contract?”
That’s when I knew, right then. That Camila was my soul mate. She cared more about the record contract than anything else. I said, “You didn’t answer my question.”
She said, “Did you get a record contract, yes or no?”
I said, “Will you marry me, yes or no?”
She didn’t say anything for a while, and then she said, “Yes.”
And then I said, “Yes.”
She started screaming, so excited. I said, “Come on out here, honey. Let’s get hitched.”
Determined to make a name for herself outside of the Sunset Strip, Daisy Jones started writing her own songs. Armed only with a pen and paper—and no musical training whatsoever—Daisy created a songbook that soon grew to include rough sketches of over a hundred songs.
One night during the summer of ’72, Daisy attended a Mi Vida show at the Ash Grove. She was dating Mi Vida front man Jim Blades at the time. Toward the end of the set, Jim invited Daisy onto the stage to do a cover of “Son of a Preacher Man” with the band.
SIMONE: Daisy had grown her hair out really long by then, gotten rid of her bangs. She always wore hoop earrings and she never wore shoes. She was just very cool.
That night at the Ash Grove, she and I were sitting in the back and Jim tried to get her to go up there and she kept saying no. But he kept at it most of the night and eventually, Daisy got on that stage.
DAISY: It was a surreal feeling. All of those people looking at me, expecting something to happen.
SIMONE: When she started singing with Jim, she was kind of timid about it, which surprised me. But I could feel her getting more and more into it as the song went on. And then somewhere around the second chorus she just let it rip. She was smiling. She was happy up there. And people couldn’t take their eyes off of her. By the time they got toward the end, Jim had stopped singing and just let her go. She brought the house down.
JIM BLADES (lead singer of Mi Vida): Daisy had this incredible voice. It was gritty but never scratchy. You’d have thought she had rocks in her throat that the sound had to travel over. It made everything she sang complex and interesting and kind of unpredictable. I’ve never had much of a voice myself. You don’t have to have a great voice to be a singer if your songs are good enough. But Daisy had the whole thing going, man.
She was always singing from deep in her belly. It takes people years to learn something like that and Daisy just did it naturally, did it singing in the car next to you, or folding the laundry. I was always trying to get her to sing with me and she always said no until that night at the Ash Grove.
I think she finally agreed to sing in public because of how bad she wanted to be a songwriter. I told her, “The biggest thing your songs have going for them is that you might sing them.” Her biggest asset was that people couldn’t take their eyes off her. I told her to use that.
DAISY: I felt like Jim was basically saying that nobody cared what I was singing about as long as they could get a good look at me. Jim always made me mad.
JIM: If memory serves, Daisy threw her lipstick at me. But when she calmed down, she asked me where she should try to play some gigs.
DAISY: I wanted to get my songs heard. So I started singing a bit around L.A. I’d sing a few of my songs, do some stuff with Simone.
GREG MCGUINNESS: You know, Daisy was dating everybody.
Like, ah, man, when that fight broke out between Tick Yune and Larry Hapman outside Licorice Pizza and Tick busted Larry’s eyebrow open? That was crazy stuff. I was there. I’d been buying my Dark Side of the Moon LP. So when was that? Late ’seventy-two? Maybe early ’seventy-three? I looked outside and Tick’s got Larry in a headlock. People said they were fighting over Daisy.
Plus, I’d heard Dick Poller and Frankie Bates had both tried to get her to record a demo and she’d turned them down.
DAISY: Suddenly, there were so many people trying to convince me to do a demo. All these guys wanted to be my manager. But I knew what that meant. L.A. is full of men just waiting for some na?ve girl to believe their bullshit.
Hank Allen was the least smarmy. He was the one that I could tolerate the most.
By that point, I had moved out of my parents’ house and into the Chateau Marmont. I’d rented a cottage in the back. And Hank was at my door all the time, leaving messages. He was the only one not just talking about me but also about my songs.
I said, “All right, if you want to manage me, you can manage me.”
SIMONE: When I met Daisy, I was the older, wiser, cooler one. But by the early seventies, Daisy was it.
I remember I was in her room at the Marmont one time and I’m looking in her closet and I see all these Halston wraps and jumpsuits. I said, “When did you get all these Halstons?”
She said, “Oh, they sent them over.”
I said, “Who did?”
She said, “Somebody at Halston.”
This was a girl that hadn’t ever released a single piece of work. No album, no single. But she was in the magazines in photos with rock stars. Everybody loved her.
I took some of those Halstons though.
DAISY: I went over to Larrabee Sound to record the demo Hank wanted me to record. I think it was a Jackson Browne song. Hank wanted me to sing the song really sweet and I wasn’t feeling it. I sang it the way I wanted to. A little bit rough, a little bit breathy. Hank said, “Can we please just do one take where you sing it smooth, maybe a key higher?”
I grabbed my purse and said, “Nope.” And I left.
SIMONE: She got signed to Runner Records right after that.
DAISY: I didn’t care about anything but songwriting. The singing was okay but I didn’t want to be some puppet up there, singing other people’s words. I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to sing my own stuff.
SIMONE: Daisy doesn’t value anything that comes easy to her. Money, looks, even her voice. She wanted people to listen to her.
DAISY: I signed the deal with Runner Records. But I didn’t read the contract.
I didn’t want to read contracts and pay attention to who I was supposed to pay what money to and what was expected of me. I wanted to write songs and get high.
SIMONE: They scheduled her for a kickoff meeting and I went over to her place and we put together the perfect outfit, went through her songbook to get it just right. When she left to go over there that morning, she was walking on air.
But however many hours later, she showed up at my place and I could tell something was wrong. I said, “What’s going on?” She just shook her head and walked right past me. She went into my kitchen, grabbed the bottle of champagne we’d bought to celebrate, popped it open, and walked into my bathroom. I followed her in there and she was running herself a bath. She stripped off her clothes and got in the tub. Took a swig right from the bottle.
I said, “Talk to me. What happened?”
She said, “They don’t care about me.” I guess, at the meeting, they had handed her a list of songs they expected her to do and it was stuff from the catalog. “Leaving on a Jet Plane” kind of stuff.
I said, “What about your own songs?”
She said, “They don’t like my songs.”
DAISY: They read through my entire book and couldn’t find one song in there—not one song—they thought I should record.
I said, “What about this one? And this one? And this one?”
I was at that conference table with Rich Palentino and I was flipping through that book, panicked. I was thinking they must not have read them. They just kept saying the songs weren’t ready yet. That I wasn’t ready to be a songwriter.
SIMONE: She got drunk in the tub and all I could do was just make sure that when she passed out, I pulled her out and put her in bed. Which is what I did.