There’s Only One Way To JAM

Author: C.L. Harmon
Category: Music
Date Published: April 2, 2020
Candy Loving, Playboy’s 25th Anniversary Playmate holding the November 1979 issue of JAM Magazine - issue #3

Can­dy Lov­ing, Playboy’s 25th Anniver­sary Play­mate hold­ing the Novem­ber 1979 issue of JAM Mag­a­zine — issue #3


If one the great­est musi­cians in rock n’ roll gave you advice, would you take it? Per­haps for most it might depend on the advice. What if that advice was busi­ness advice such as “go for it”? Would you con­sid­er it then? There are at least two Okla­homans who said yes and 40 years lat­er that advice turned out to be sound. Two col­lege kids in the late 70s who loved music and con­certs had an idea. This love of music and a lit­tle advice from the “Red Rock­er” Sam­my Hagar helped cre­ate an icon­ic lega­cy that can still be enjoyed today. Many of you may remem­ber Hagar from his anti-speed lim­it anthem, ‘I Can’t Dri­ve 55’ and his amp thump­ing les­son to 80’s teens, ‘There’s Only One Way to Rock’.

I wrote about one of those Okla­homans back in 2018. His name is Ver­non Gowdy III. In that arti­cle, I wrote how he and I had become instant friends. We still main­tain that friend­ship and I even have his most icon­ic con­cert pho­to hang­ing in my office. At that time, I focused on his incred­i­ble career of music pho­tog­ra­phy. Recent­ly, I became inter­est­ed in the his­to­ry of JAM mag­a­zine that he helped cre­ate 40 years ago. Although, I men­tioned the mag­a­zine in the 2018 arti­cle, I have learned there is much more and would like to share it.

Our office was upstairs next to the dress­ing room at the Boomer The­ater mak­ing it easy to invite musi­cians in. Tina Wey­mouth of the Talk­ing Heads pos­es next to a poster on the wall of the Talk­ing Heads’ break through album.

It would be anoth­er friend­ship in 1978 that would pro­duce the brain­child for JAM. He and fel­low OU col­lege stu­dent David Huff both worked for the OU Dai­ly news­pa­per, Gowdy as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er and Huff as sports edi­tor. Although Gowdy admits that there was a lot of luck involved in the begin­ning, build­ing the foun­da­tions for JAM mag­a­zine had a great deal to do with some cre­ative think­ing and a few bro­ken rules. Gowdy used his posi­tion as a uni­ver­si­ty pho­tog­ra­ph­er to gain access to con­certs even when the paper wasn’t going to use the pho­tos. He also had access to the dark room which allowed him to devel­op pho­tos and then using the school postal sys­tem at no cost, mailed them to record com­pa­nies estab­lish­ing work­ing rela­tion­ships with them.

These pho­tos would become the basis for JAM mag­a­zine after Gowdy grad­u­at­ed from col­lege. His rela­tion­ships with record com­pa­nies would pay div­i­dends in the sense of gain­ing con­cert access and inter­views with musi­cians. Although at this point, JAM wasn’t a thought. It would be anoth­er music pub­li­ca­tion the two read in Dal­las and a chance meet­ing with Sam­my Hagar which would change that. Gowdy and Huff knew they could pro­duce a bet­ter mag­a­zine than what they had seen in Dal­las. It would, how­ev­er, be a few words from Hagar though that would push it into reality.

“I was allowed to shoot Sam­my right in front of the stage on a spe­cial plat­form that was built about one foot low­er than the stage. (This was the Texas Jam in 1979) It was dur­ing this per­for­mance that I took my most famous icon­ic pho­to; a jump shot of Sam­my Hagar that would lat­er appear on his sin­gle release Piece of My Heart from the Stand­ing Hamp­ton album and vir­tu­al­ly every major music mag­a­zine in the world, t‑shirts, posters, but­tons, etc.,” Gowdy said. He was able to secure such an oppor­tu­ni­ty by giv­ing Hagar’s road man­ag­er a pho­to of Tanya Tuck­er he had tak­en back stage at one of her shows. As pay­back, he was giv­en access and a pho­to pass to the Texas Jam.

“After the show in Hagar’s dress­ing room we told him about our idea of start­ing our own music pub­li­ca­tion and he said he thought it was a great idea.  He men­tioned that there was a pub­li­ca­tion in Cal­i­for­nia called Bam Mag­a­zine that was doing quite well and was free. And if we did­n’t give it at least a shot in the South­west, we would be sor­ry lat­er on that we did­n’t at least try.” Those few words would lead to a meet­ing of the cre­ators in a trail­er, a case of beer and the plans to cre­ate JAM Magazine.

Talk­ing Heads mem­bers — David Bryne, Jer­ry Har­ri­son, Chris Frantz and Tina Wey­mouth in the JAM Mag­a­zine office read­ing the Sec­ond issue (Octo­ber 1979) of JAM Magazine.

Inter­views and sub­se­quent sto­ries from Huff with mem­bers of Van Halen and Jour­ney, some pho­tos of Joni Mitchell at the Zoo Amphithe­atre in Okla­homa City and a logo for the mag­a­zine cre­at­ed by a graph­ic artist Gowdy had befriend­ed, set up the first his­toric pages of JAM mag­a­zine. Unbe­knownst to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Okla­homa, they too played a part. Being fresh out of col­lege, nei­ther of the entre­pre­neurs had any mon­ey to ini­ti­ate the actu­al pro­duc­tion of a print mag­a­zine. To solve the main prob­lem of type­set­ting the first edi­tion, the two came up with a plan.

“There was only one place to type­set the first issue of JAM Mag­a­zine and that was to use the facil­i­ties of the jour­nal­ism depart­ment at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Okla­homa.  It seemed like a log­i­cal choice to David and so I went along with it. The only prob­lem was it is against state law in Okla­homa to use state fund­ed insti­tu­tions for com­mer­cial endeav­ors, which JAM Mag­a­zine was. In order to get around that, David and I did­n’t tell any­one what we were doing on the com­put­ers in the jour­nal­ism depart­ment when we were there. We fig­ured what they did­n’t know would­n’t hurt them,” Gowdy quipped.

The first edi­tion came out in Sep­tem­ber 1979 and with the suc­cess of that edi­tion came an office at the Boomer The­atre, an 800-seat con­cert hall where up and com­ing musi­cians would often per­form. As luck would have it, their office was next door to the dress­ing rooms mak­ing get­ting inter­views con­ve­nient and easy. It was as if every­thing was falling into place. The new pub­lish­ers were also able to make a deal with the pro­gram direc­tor at KXXY 96X (a local rock sta­tion), to spon­sor the mag­a­zine with free radio spots pro­mot­ing the new mag­a­zine. In return JAM would sport the radio logo on the front cov­er each month. In addi­tion, Gowdy called some of his friends who worked at the local tele­vi­sion sta­tion to inform them about the new mag­a­zine. Soon he was being inter­viewed and filmed deliv­er­ing the mag­a­zine into a Sound Ware­house. The four-minute spot ran on the 10 o’clock news.

The issue cov­ers in order are begin­ning in Sep­tem­ber 1979 — Van Halen, Bil­ly Thor­pe, Sam­my Hagar, Can­dy Lov­ing, Kar­la Bonof­fr, Head East, Pink Floyd The Wall, Heart, Jour­ney (back­stage at the Fair­grounds tak­en in the show­er stalls right before going on stage), Texxas Jam III, The Who, Ste­vie Nicks, Rokla­homa 1980, The Motels, Bruce Spring­steen and The Police

JAM Mag­a­zine was offi­cial­ly off and run­ning as a music pub­li­ca­tion after that Sep­tem­ber in 1979 and would con­tin­ue a great run up into the 1990s. The mag­a­zine would take a brief hia­tus before find­ing a new home in cyber­space. In 2000, the mag­a­zine went online com­ing a long away from its hum­ble begin­nings of type­set and a small dis­tri­b­u­tion area. Pho­tog­ra­phers and writ­ers from all around the US now sub­mit requests to cov­er con­certs from around the coun­try giv­ing music lovers con­cert expe­ri­ences they would not oth­er­wise have.

Gowdy explained that the online edi­tion has also become an archive of con­cert reviews and pho­tos from over the years. Cur­rent­ly, many of the pho­tographs from Gowdy’s career begin­ning in 1976 are being uploaded. He admits he has not kept track of all the musicians/concerts he has shot, but esti­mates it into the sev­er­al thou­sands. One can only imag­ine what his­tor­i­cal trea­sures he will find for the mag­a­zine as he con­tin­ues search­ing his colos­sal library of pho­tos from all those shows.

Today, Gowdy is list­ed as co-founder and senior staff pho­tog­ra­ph­er on the mag­a­zine site, but stepped out of the dai­ly oper­a­tions years ago to pur­sue oth­er inter­ests. He now opts for select shows to shoot and review and to comb through his per­son­al archives for vin­tage shots to use on the mag­a­zine archives section.

I think most would agree that the big pic­ture of what was start­ed by two Okla­homa col­lege con­cert lovers is much like a work of art on one of those vin­tage mag­a­zine cov­ers from a time when the expe­ri­ence was tan­gi­ble with our sens­es of touch, smell and visu­al stim­u­la­tion as those edi­tions came alive by what jut­ted out from the pages of print and pho­tos. Gowdy, Huff and oth­ers who have been asso­ci­at­ed with JAM Mag­a­zine through­out the past 40 years cre­at­ed a track of his­to­ry that has been adored by music fans and appre­ci­at­ed by musi­cians the world over. With count­less read­ers now and in the past and a lega­cy of record­ing music his­to­ry as just as a beau­ti­ful­ly pro­duced album, JAM Mag­a­zine has become the quin­tes­sen­tial def­i­n­i­tion of what pho­tos and arti­cles tru­ly are…moments in time pre­served in a time cap­sule that every gen­er­a­tion has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to open.

To view the mag­a­zine, vis­it

C.L. Harmon

C.L. Harmon

C.L. is an award-winning journalist who spent many years in the newspaper and freelance fields. In addition to holding reporting and editing positions throughout his career, he also owned and operated a newspaper for several years. He was born, raised, and continues to reside in Oklahoma.


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