JSaysOnline: How did you learn that your mother was once a part of an up-and-coming band? Did you grow up knowing this?
Dugger: I grew up traveling the United States and Canada with these amazing people [The Dealers]. My earliest memories are traveling and watching them perform and rehearse. Sometimes they would put the spotlight on me and let me dance with them during the show! They were the best and I learned so much from them. I still do.
JSaysOnline: Your book promises a gritty story about the chase of fame-- sibling rivalries, negative influences and broken friendships. How were you able to get your mother and relatives to be so candid about their lives?
Dugger: Well, some things I naturally already knew about, but there was so much I didn't! Most people in my family were happy to be interviewed and share their perspective on things. Granted, they're more mature now than they were during their 20s and 30s, so some of them have a story or two that they're not proud of, but everyone was really open and that's what makes the book special; you get so many sides of the story that everything rounds itself out. Several people were a bit uneasy with me putting in the “juicy” stuff. Someone was murdered, several people were on drugs, someone was an alcoholic, people cheated the band, there were big fights, run-ins with racism, etc. These were sensitive things to bring up. Also, old rivalries were brought back to the surface as I interviewed everyone. Thankfully, everyone can laugh about those things now!
JSaysOnline: Did you find any details startling? Did any of your discoveries affect your perspective of your family?
Dugger: Oh yeah! I found some details very startling and so will the readers. I guarantee that. You never know what to expect as you read these pages, but nothing affected my perspective of my family. In the end, family is family, which is one of the many lessons learned in the book.
Dugger: To keep it 100, I have to say that it would probably be tragic. The Dealers were right at the brink of worldwide fame. Though it was snatched away from them, they had problems on their way up. Personally, I think they might have destroyed each other. When you have easy access to everything you want, it changes you. I'm sure The Dealers would have won some Grammys, made music videos and had some real success if everything had gone according to plan, but some of them might have submitted to their demons. I can't say for sure, but that's my opinion. In some ways it's a blessing that they didn't go further than they wanted. There's no telling how their lives (and mine) would have turned out. For example, my mom was on the road so much when I was little, that sometimes I didn't see her much. I traveled with the band sometimes, but I spent more time at home with my dad. When my mom left the band, my life became more stable because both of my parents were around.
The Dealers have a new line-up today and they're getting ready to do big things! The Dealers have plans for a new album and other surprises to coincide with the release of this book. With the wisdom and maturity that they have now, it looks like they may finally get the recognition that they've long deserved.
JSaysOnline: Why was it important that you write this biography? What do you want its readers to come away with?
Dugger: Being the journalist in the family, I feel that God tapped me to write this book. The Dealers worked hard. They performed with so many people on stage: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Eagles; I could go on and on. They even recorded an album for CBS Records in 1985. The album should have been a smash! Michael Jackson was on the same label, so naturally The Dealers and other CBS artists were neglected and not given the attention they deserved. Despite their great music and affiliations with so many other legends, The Dealers have nothing to show for it today, other than many of their songs being available on YouTube. No money, no press, no fame…nothing. It would be tragic if their story was never told.
“The Dealers: Then & Now—The Unforgettable Story of the Memphis Legends” is available now on CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com in paperback and for Kindle. Click here to read a free except. You can keep up with the current activities of The Dealers on their Facebook fanpage and A.J. Dugger on his official website. The band's biggest hit, "Don't Keep Me Waiting" is below.