When I heard that Jack Kevorkian died on June 3, 2011, something happened. A flood of memories came rushing back into my conscious. I had not seen Jack in about 10 years.
I met Jack Kevorkian quite fortuitously.
One Saturday in 1996, I got a call on my cell phone from Geoffery Fieger asking if I rented out my studio for press conferences. After about 3 seconds I said, ‘Yes, I do.’ The studio was located at 17117 West Nine Mile in Southfield, Michigan. My company, Primeau Productions, occupied a space on the 17th floor; 4,200 beautiful square feet of freshly built out carpet, glass and Formica.
Geoffery wanted to have a press conference announcing a song Detroit icon, Mitch Ryder wrote for Dr. Jack; “Mercy.”The song was recorded in Germany by Mitch’s record company, Line Music, and the lyrics told a story about Jack’s passion and purpose. The press conference was that following Monday (remember, it was Saturday). I asked how he would have the press at our offices at 9 AM Monday morning and Geoffery said, “Don’t worry, they’ll come.” I guess I didn’t realize how powerful Geoffery and Dr. Jack’s story really was.
The press showed up right on time, in fact, I got to the studio about 7 AM and dozens of people from the press were lined up down the hall waiting to get in. It was not clear what Geoffery Fieger’s announcement would be from the faxed press release. Fieger, being a very powerful man here in Michigan, had the ability and the know-how to draw such a crowd.
The experience with Dr. Jack, Geoffery Fieger and Mitch Ryder led to Primeau Productions helping to promote the CD that included ‘Mercy,’ ‘Rite of Passage.’ In the wake of all the negative publicity swirling around Dr. Jack Kevorkian, it was next to impossible to get air time for the album on Detroit radio stations, most of which were now controlled by conservative corporate entities.
Nevertheless, Primeau Productions made a gallant effort at promoting ‘Mercy’ on Detroit radio on a handshake by Mr. Ryder. The outcome was interesting; the radio stations would not play the record. I suppose the radio stations just didn’t want to take a chance and risk losing advertising sponsors.
After meeting and spending time with both Mitch and Geoffery, I became a big groupie and found myself invited and attending Metro Detroit events, such as the Metro Music Awards and Dinner on the Town.
Primeau Productions studios, Inc. Circa 1996
Ed Primeau, Mitch Ryder, Geoffery Fieger
Shortly after the press conference, Mr. Fieger called and booked Primeau Productions to record a concert of music that Jack had wrote. Members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performed the pieces with the organ being the main instrument. Here, for the first time, is that concert we recorded in Waterford, Michigan in May of 1996.
Link and player to sample
During this time frame, Mitch Ryder had a 50th birthday. His wife threw him a huge surprise party at Mr. B’s in Troy and everyone was there. Here is an excerpt of the video we created back then; very raw and very last minute. The best part of these videos is the people and the speeches that they made.
Video Mitch Ryder 50th surprise birthday party from http://TheVideoRevolutionOnLine.com .
So what’s the point of this post?
I am proud to say I knew Jack. Jack Kevorkian was a great man. It’s not often we meet men and women who stand up for what they believe in. I personally believe in what Jack Kevorkian accomplished in his life. I was not a close friend of Jack’s, in fact, more so of an acquaintance. The point is, we can all learn from Dr. Kevorkian, even if you don’t believe in his purpose. He was a man who felt strongly about suffering and wanted to put an end to it. He was successful in many regards, but unsuccessful in others. I hope this post pays tribute to a man who had a positive effect on my life and the legal system, including moral values about death and dying.