Country Music People December 2017 - Page 5

publicist shamed of North Carolina. Rick has confided, “For years, I was so ashamed and since then, I’ve overdosed once and I’ve slit my wrists another time... I’ve been in therapy for seven years. I just want to try to get some validation that I am still a worthwhile person, while at the same time, making sure that no other victim is his again.” Sad to say, the alleged attack is beyond the statute of limitation (seven years), though legally Kirt may still be subject to a lawsuit. Amongst other allegations levelled at Webster are that he would use the notoriety and star status of his major client Dolly Parton to initiate meetings with male fans by promising meet- and-greets. While we couldn’t reach Parton’s office for comment, we’re aware she cut ties to Webster’s agency, releasing this on Twitter: “I’ve worked with Kirt Webster for many years and he has done a wonderful job. I am hoping the accusations are not true.” Still, sister Stella Parton told USA Today newspaper: “I think she needs to condemn this type of behaviour, whether he is guilty or not. I know for a fact she would not support that type of behaviour and I know she’s probably extremely shocked that this has in any way implicated her in this.” Another Webster client Kid Rock discussed his departure in a letter to an industry blog, noting that “the shocking accusations of sexual assault and mistreatment of others, I take dead seriously. I never witnessed or heard about any of this, outside that he was probably gay, which I could care less about. We (BMG, his label) cancelled his and his company’s services upon not only hearing about these, but other rumours that are starting to swirl. I hope to God this shit he is being accused of is not true, as he has been nothing but a good friend to me. But if it comes to light that it is, I will be the first to cut the head off the snake.” Joyce Moore, manager-wife of Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave fame), took issue with those deserting Kirt before giving him the chance to explain, calling it conviction in a trial by social media: “I think it’s in transition and they’re trying to get everything up to speed. Whether this Rick guy is telling the truth or not, the idea of how he’s going about handling his private, personal business has had a dramatically devastating effect on artists like Sam, who are in the middle of trying to promote their careers and new product (he’s releasing a CD of patriotic music). I am actually quite angry at what this guy has done to my 82-year-old client. It has cost him setbacks because of what had to be done at the company, and it has caused us personal sadness because of a 20-year-plus relationship with Kirt and his family.” Although Webster always treated us respectfully, it was apparent that he had a preference for younger male staffers. Of course, he also gave a helping hand to student interns from schools such as nearby Belmont University, consisting of both sexes, mainly on a voluntary training basis. Many media types may have suspected Webster was gay, though he never said so, but it’s certainly not unusual on the showbiz scene. In the two decades we coordinated with Webster P.R., he and his staff operated in an efficient and professional manner, arranging our chats with such clients as Brenda Lee, George Jones, Gene Watson, Tanya Tucker, Hank Williams, Jr., Jo Dee Messina, Jimmy Fortune of The Statlers, and Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys. Actually, Webster took Music Row by storm, coming in from New York some 20 years back, playing a sort of bait and switch tactic of luring name artists at reduced rates and signing up budding talents, impressed in sharing a publicist with legendary players, despite maybe higher costs. (Most veteran VIPs signed hadn’t had a hit record in years.) On the corporate side, Webster scored a coup in his pact with the National Rifle Association, developing an NRA Country program, encouraging support amongst fans of stars such as Trace Adkins, Lee Brice, Craig Morgan, Heidi Newfield and naturally Hank Jr., and their participation in promotional events sponsored. Obviously that connection has been severed, too. Pop players such as Cyndi Lauper and Meat Loaf were puzzled as to why they were still listed on his website as clients when all they did was each engage Webster for a single promotional gig over a year ago As of this writing, those abandoning the sinking ship, include Lee Greenwood, Justin Moore, Jewel, Kenny G, William Michael Morgan, LoCash, Jeannie Seely, Bill Anderson, John Conlee, Deborah Allen and Tim Rushlow, artists who helped bring Webster’s client total in September to over 100, including corporate accounts, but in lieu of the negative press now numbering next to nothing. C’est la guerre! Among the clients represented by Webster PR were Dolly Parton (top), Kid Rock (centre), and The Oak Ridge Boys (above). DECEMBER 2017 - cmp 5