During the week I’d don a suit and advocate before grim and serious federal judges, full of “I objects” and “Your Honors,” but come Friday I’d colour my hair (my stylist scheduled me for 5 pm each Friday), insert my earrings, and expose my tattoos as I ran my iiRecords, GirlzRock and iiHipHop labels with Diallo Castile, Chris Carlucci and John Neyer.
Occasionally the two would meet, leading to some trouble. Once I was arguing a motion in federal court on an age discrimination case against General Electric (Baraducci v. GE) and the Judge raised his hand and stopped me. “Mr. Eggleston, what is that in your ear?” I realized just then I’d forgotten to remove my earring that morning as I was running late. “This is an earring-free zone, counsellor,” he boomed, and I practically ripped off my ear removing it. Several weeks later I was attending one of the annual legal dinners and had been given a fabulous seat on the A-Table next to a sitting California Supreme Court Justice. When she saw my earring, which I had deliberately worn, she was fascinated that a lawyer would wear such a thing. “My son wears earrings, but he’s in a band,” she said. The next morning I read she had gotten a DUI while going home that night across the Golden Gate Bridge. I just hope it wasn’t me who caused her to have that one-too-many.
Then there was the time I attended the hearing on the Napster Summary Judgments in front of San Francisco Federal District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel. The L.A. Times reported on it here: http://articles.latimes.com/2001/oct/11/business/fi-55744. If Napster won, many people thought music would die a slow, painful death. My plan was to secretly record the hearing and turn the mini-tape over to Aron Campisano, CEO of Film Speed, then the third largest video streamer in the world. I was on the Board and the company occupied a rear wing of our downtown law office and his plan was to put it all to a montage of images and post it worldwide. After clandestinely running the recorder for several minutes, I noticed several eyes on me from serious men in suits. I tried to sneak out and get away with my tape (taping was against the rules), but as I exited the elevator on the ground floor to an anxious bay of cameramen waiting to hear the results of the hearing, an FBI agent seized my recorder, removed the tape in front of everyone, and unstrung it as cameras flashed. Thank God they didn’t arrest me.
Hollywood, Las Vegas, and Cannes
It was hard to give up my cliffside home in Sausalito, the Riviera of the West Coast, but that’s what it took for me to move from the law business to show business. In 2003 I moved to West Hollywood, from which I could jog to Runyon Canyon (Charlie Chaplin’s old estate) and walk up and down the canyon for exercise with movie stars at my elbows. I had already produced several theatrical productions in San Francisco including a TV show, San Francisco Live!, attended Stanford classes on producing TV pilots, and taken screenwriting classes under the inimitable James Dalessandro, also the author of 1906 whose manager (Peter Miller) had just sold the movie rights to Movie Producer Barry Levinson for $700,000. So I was as ready as I would ever be.
I started a film company with my sister Leslie Bates called Cinetrax. There I executive-produced my first feature film, A Midsummer Night’s Rave, directed by Gil Cates, Jr., son of Gil Cates, Sr., who was the legendary head of the DWA and who produced the Academy Awards each year. In that process, I paired with up with my dear friend Peter Rafelson, renowned himself as a writer, producer, actor, entrepreneur, you name it, whose father is the legendary Bob Rafelson, who used his connections to bring in Sammy Boy Entertainment and Sam Nazarian to pull off the first-ever Louisiana Film Fund co-production to finish the financing. Soon after that, I jumped to COO of One Roof Entertainment, where we executive-produced the NAACP award-winning theatrical Ephraim’s Song, directed by Mark Swinton, with Bruce Willis and Cedric the Entertainer. All proceeds went to foster care. This momentum led Andrew Levy (CEO of One Roof) and I to co-write two feature film screenplays developed with Latham Entertainment on the Paramount lot.
So much happened that it cannot all be told here. But before I left Hollywood, several matters transpired which deserve a spot. As my girlfriend Dawn Hoenie was best friends with Lee Starkey, Ringo Starr’s daughter, I got to meet Ringo (of the Beatles fame) and Barbara Bach (a Bond girl and highly successful businesswoman), his wife, at their home in Beverly Hills. When you walk into the house, there is a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Ringo that in reality is taller than he is. Later one day as we sat on the patio, he said, “with a last name of Eggleston, you should call yourself The Eggman,” referencing the Beatles song and lyrics, “I am the Walrus, you are The Eggman.” We had a laugh over fizzy water but several years later I would take his advice. In Las Vegas, my stage-name became The Eggman, and my motto, “The Eggman – he’s everywhere!”
Which indeed I was. Right before I moved to Las Vegas, the iconic rock band The Who was in West Hollywood staying at the Sunset Marquee in preparation for their big tour. Dawn and Lee and I hung out with John Entwistle, the iconic drummer known as the Axe, while Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry were staying somewhere else. Ringo’s son and Lee’s brother Zack Starkey was on drums and was also staying at the hotel, but he was sober like Ringo and didn’t hang around the bar, the all-night bungalows, or the pool. Well, to make a long story short, let me just say that over the next two days I saw a lot of white powder sniffed and then John jetted off to Vegas early for an art exhibit. The next morning he was found dead in his hotel room with a paramour. I learned that his doctor had warned him, you have a heart defect my son and no more drugs of the sniffing kind for you. But addiction is beguiling, is it not?
Around this time I met one of the Academy-award winning producers of Moulin Rouge, Martin Brown, when he was visiting Tinseltown from Sydney. We became fast friends and agreed to meet Dana Amma Day (the woman who would become my wife) in London, and from there the three of us flew to the Cannes Film Festival, where he received an award from Variety as one of the Top Producers to Watch for 2002 (Moulin Rouge won in 2001). At Cannes we had an amazing time and when it was over, Martin flew me straight to Sydney to help a young writer pen a script based on his book, Brothers In Arms, that Martin had optioned and wanted to produce optioned. Unfortunately the film never got made.
Later, right before I moved to Las Vegas, Andrew Levy the founder of One Roof Entertainment and I went on a whirlwind trip, first to the Cannes Film Festival, then to the Grand Prix up the road in Monte Carlo, and from there to Beirut. The purpose of the Beirut leg was to spend two weeks filming a documentary of the greatest living singers in the Mideast, young and old. The inimitable Lebanese music promoter Beirut Roger Kalaouz was our host and he walked us through security and drove us in his $200,000 Mercedes complete with silver-cased Champagne bucket between the two front seats. I interviewed everyone during the day and at night we attended midnight-to-daylight shows where the artists would stand on the tables and sing one of their greatest hits.
After that I departed One Roof, and I spent a year managing and making a movie with Riz Story and his band Anyand one (https://www.rizstory.net) , and am proud to see how Rizzie continues to elevate his game in all levels – as musician, film director, rock star, producer, and naturalist. What a talent! What a force of nature!!! When our record deal fell apart with the guy who discovered the Beatles, or so he said, a bit of a rogue but a different story, I bounced to Las Vegas and become COO of Vegas Rocks Magazine, led by the wild and zany rocker Sally Steele.
Over four years I covered, photographed, and interviewed some of the biggest and hottest bands in the world, from The Killers to Motley Crue to Lemmy Kilmister and Zakk Wylde to Imagine Dragons, whose shows I produced before they became famous. Thanks to old friend from Sausalito Mark Needham for producing songs for both bands that gave them their big break.
In the years to come, I would personally manage 2010 winner of America’s Got Talent Michael Grimm, 7 x Grammy-winning producer Steve Thompson (with 150+ diamond, platinum and gold albums, still one of the greatest producers on the planet – SteveThompsonProductions.com), work with Producer and Studio Head Bobby Ferrari at Vegas View Recording Studios, and book over 1000 shows in Vegas and across the United States. In the end, I left it all to marry Dana Amma Day and write full-time, with destiny playing a key role.