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Taylor Hicks Under the Radar orders

2 December 2010

Store date: 30 January 2006

One of the banker’s boxes that I unearthed in the garage contained nothing but copies of manually-written orders and e-mail orders for Taylor Hicks’ self-produced CD, Under the Radar, and the box was FULL.  The first several hundred of the orders were written on the store’s lightweight card stock forms, and each contained the name, address, and credit card information of a customer.  Three stuffed garbage bags later, they were all gone…and you can see the shredded evidence above (just in case the previous sentence struck a chord of privacy-breaching horror within your soul).

I still have most of the e-mails we received the week beginning Monday, 30 January 2006, from people on the hunt for Taylor’s album.  His first appearance as a contestant on the fifth season of American Idol was aired either that evening or the next night (Tuesday, 31 January). The earliest e-mail I retained (received 31 January 2006 at 10:41 p.m. with the subject heading as “Under The Radar”–Taylor Hicks) reads:

Do you have the CD described in my subject line? If so, I would like to buy a copy. Please email me and let me know.

Marian A.

Here’s another one, demonstrating the geographic reach of the show:

Hi there,

We’re military stationed in Germany.  Our address is a regular US address.  We just saw Taylor Hicks on American Idol last night and have to have his CD!  Can I mail order the Taylor Hicks CD, “Under the Radar”?  I’m sure you’ll have a lot of requests now that everyone’s heard him.  He’s AWESOME!!

Jean F.

These e-mails were part of the flood after a segment on the TV program showed Taylor at his original audition, singing “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Swanee” (complete with his signature Ray Charles affectations). The messages were all variations on the theme of “I saw him, I heard him, I want him/it.”  He’d had a single-page web banner up that provided the store name and our website address. At that time, Laser’s Edge was one of only a few – or maybe only two – stores that sold Under the Radar. It was only a matter of minutes before the calls and requests started coming in. When I entered the store that next morning, the phones (we had two lines) were ringing off the hook. All day long it went like this:

  1. Answer Line 1.
  2. Put the Line 1 caller on hold.
  3. Answer Line 2.
  4. Put the Line 2 caller on hold.
  5. Return to Line 1 and take order for Under the Radar.
  6. When finished with Line 1, pick up Line 2 and take order for Under the Radar.
  7. Line 1 rings.
  8. Put Line 2 on hold and answer Line 1 and put Line 1 on hold.
  9. Return to Line 2 and complete order.
  10. When finished with Line 2, pick up Line 1 and take order for Under the Radar.
  11. Line 2 rings.

And so it went for the entire day. Once Boyce (who was helping me out at the time) came in, he covered the calls on one telephone while I manned the other.  Somewhere during that day, we also managed to help real live flesh-and-blood customers who were physically present in the store.  I’m sure the spectacle of the endlessly-ringing telephones was entertaining to them.

I telephoned Taylor with the news that his CDs had sold out in a flash. He had a couple of his friends corral the CDs that were stored in his apartment and the stock that remained in another record store in town.  They brought them to us at “Alabama speed” (translation: within the week). Thinking this was going to be a short-lived episode, I wrote the following form-letter e-mail:

Greetings from Birmingham, Alabama!

You were kind enough to send us an e-mail or telephone our store expressing interest in our friend Taylor Hicks’ self-released CD Under the Radar.  We have unearthed a cache of copies of this release and will have them available as of Thursday, February 9th.  We will most definitely be able to fulfill your request for this item immediately, all we need is for you to read carefully and follow the instructions below.

As you may have noticed, we are not set up to sell electronically via our website at [no longer a domain in my possession].  Thus, we are required to sell to you the “old-fashioned” way – via telephone or e-mail.  You may call us during our regular business hours (10:00 am through 7:00 pm CST) with your credit card and mailing information, or you may send that information to us in an e-mail.  We are unable to accept personal checks or money orders for this item.  When calling over the phone, please be patient with us – there are many other new fans of Taylor’s out there who will likely be calling at the same time as you, and we would like to afford each of you the time necessary to get your requests filled accurately.

Here’s the info you’ll need:
– Our telephone number: 1(800)626-6495 [now disconnected]
– Our e-mail address: [now extinct]

Here’s the info we’ll need from you:
– Your name
– Your daytime telephone number
– Your shipping address
– Your credit card number (we accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover)
– The billing address for the credit card you are using, if it is different from your shipping address

Under the Radar costs $14.98.  We are limiting purchases to two copies, so that everyone gets a chance to own this CD.  Shipping/handling is $2.50 for one CD, $3.50 for two.

Thanks for your interest, and thanks for contacting us.
Fred Osuna
Laser’s Edge Compact Discs
2825 18th Street South
Birmingham, Alabama 35209

That little supply lasted barely a couple of days.

So, again I was on the phone with Taylor, letting him know that there was a sales opportunity being missed back home. From his Los Angeles hotel room, he telephoned his CD manufacturer in Texas and paid for the production of a large quantity [read: thousands] of Under the Radar using his credit card. Knowing that a replenishment of inventory was on the way, I stayed up late that night at the store office, teaching myself how to set up a PayPal shopping cart on our website. By the next day, we were able to divert most of the phone calls there.  I wrote up another form e-mail, which was used for the next few weeks, during which we had no stock on hand:

Hello!  Thanks for your inquiry.

Taylor Hicks’ CD entitled Under the Radar is currently sold out.  Although we have requested more copies from the artist, we can not tell you exactly when or if we will be getting them back in stock (hopefully, we will be able to resume selling them soon).

If you would like, we would be happy to add your name and contact information to our rapidly-growing list of interested folks who wish to be notified as soon as we have more of Taylor’s CD on hand.  Just e-mail us back to confirm your addition to the list, or give us a call at our toll-free telephone number, (800) 626-6495.

Best regards,
Fred Osuna
Laser’s Edge Compact Discs
Birmingham, Alabama

By the end of the year, we had sold over 18,000 copies of that CD, most of those during the few months run of season 5 of American Idol.


From → CDs

  1. Katja permalink

    I remember… 🙂
    Under the Radar was my first ebay purchase…that’s how us international fans got it from Laser’s Edge. I still have the envelope where it came in too…I’m sentimental that way. 🙂

  2. Tish permalink

    I remember how excited I was to be able to order Taylor’s CD from your store. I still follow his career every day and am a huge fan. I didn’t know you had a blog, think I’ll look around. 🙂

  3. kaitlin45 permalink

    Oh, thank you so very much for posting Fred’s words! What a beautiful story!! I remember waiting for what seemed like forever to get the Under the Radar CD!!! It wasn’t Fred’s fault at all: there were so very many of us falling in love with Taylor’s voice, music, and spirit. When UTR finally came in the mail and my husband, who was home while I was at the office that day…and who happens to be a closet Taylor Hicks fan :-)…ripped open that CD and played it all afternoon!!!

    Thankfully, my friend Pam and I were able to visit Fred in his lovely, lovely store in late September of 2007 – not knowing that three short months later, he’d be closing his doors. 😦 Fred, if you come back here to read this, we were the two women from up North. You were kind enough to talk with us that day about music & how the industry had changed. I’d bought about 10 CDs from you that day, including Michael Penn’s Tea & Tarot. I thought I was last Michael Penn fan in the world. But you looked at that CD and said, “Good taste!” 🙂

    Fred, whether or not you do read this, I wish you all the best. You will never know how many people you made happy by having the foresight, and good taste (!) to carry Taylor’s Under the Radar. God bless you.

  4. havingfun permalink

    Happy memories! I made one of the calls you were talking about. And had to buy ANOTHER copy when visiting your store. His music is still a big deal to me.

  5. Justi permalink

    I believe I was one of the MANY who was put on hold and sent emails with info…LOLOL!

    I don’t know if it was fun for ya’ll but it was fun for me…LOLOL!

  6. Pattie permalink

    I remember being so excited to be able to order Taylor’s CD that I ordered 2…one of the first of many things I have signed…got to Alabama after your store closed up…Happy memories indeed!!!

  7. I was one of those thousands of phone orders! Under The Radar holds a special place on my CD rack!

  8. JewelsSoul permalink

    I remember buying my CD online right after the link went up. The fan page I belonged to, The Original Soul Patrol (TOSP), posted the link as soon as it was available. I was so excited when it came and played it over and over. I couldnt get near Taylor at Joe Louis Arena to get him to autograph it. He did come to Royal Oak, Michigan, to do a concert so I had a second chance. I was pretty shy but when he got off the bus to head in to do his show and the crowd rushed forward I got in the back thinking there was no way I would get near him then he suddenly turned around and he was right next to me with the crowd crushing in on all sides. I handed him my CD and not knowing what to say I said something stupid about his stubblies which made him blush and just stop and stare at me then smile (sorry Taylor) but he signed and then was off on his way into the show signing more autographs all the way. I still have the CD and then ordered another because of course, one he signed that one I could play it again.. LOL

    I still have it stored safely away. THANK YOU for carrying his music and letting Taylor know to order more for us…his “needy” fans. 🙂

  9. skate permalink

    Ah, how well I remember being part of the frenzy that had to have UTR. We saw, we heard and we wanted more of Taylor Hicks. You [He] always leave[s] us wanting more!

    • I took the liberty of altering that last line for you because, surely, you weren’t referring to me or the store.

  10. Looks like it’s been a busy day on this fledgling website. Thanks for the comments. I’m hoping that Someone is grateful to have fans such as you.

    • Tish permalink

      Taylor and his Soul Patrol/Fans have a “special” relationship. 🙂

  11. Allison permalink

    This is a great story! I was one of those people searching for Under The Radar. From the moment I heard Taylor’s voice, I was hooked!

  12. Gr8fulheart permalink

    Oh Yeah! I remember calling Lasers Edge & speaking with Fred. Very nice gentleman. And yes ~ I HAD to have the CD! ♥

  13. Amanda permalink

    Yes this was a very hard CD to get but I made sure to get my copy and it was great!!

  14. chill permalink

    I think that Someone does appreciate us. (LOL) Count me in as another who waited on the phone to order UTR. Has it really been five years?! Unbelievable!

  15. crazymomelon permalink

    Yeah, I ordered one from you, too. I am very impressed, especially after reading this, at how smoothly you handled the sales. Thanks for telling the story.

  16. Cathleen Mallett permalink

    Actually what led me to Radar was the radio broadcast website for a Birmingham station. It had “Soul Thing” and a bit of an interview. From there, went to get the Radar CD. Still a fave.

  17. BabyDoll permalink

    This all happened before I got the Taylor “bug.” I did not know about this fury in Alabama from the very first weeks he was on. I loved Taylor and his sound right away, but my son was “in love” with Katherine McPhee, and I had to stay quiet about my favorite, Taylor Hicks. He really did cause a commotion, and this story really tells how it happened, “The Night Taylor Hicks Captured America’s Heart.” Fun to read. I will say that since he sang “Play That Funky Music White Boy,” I was hooked and over the top. I have followed his career every day since then, and I believe another big wave is about to happen. Thanks for the Taylor Hicks history lesson.

  18. Patrish permalink

    What a cool story, amazing what we were never aware of what was going on behind the scenes. This is a different story though than what I read in Taylors book, where he said he might have absentminded let some people sell his CDs for him…by ordering them with a credit card?! How can that be?…

  19. Rhonda permalink

    Like a few others, I got on the Soul Patrol bandwagon after Elvis Week on Idol – I think I bought UTR from Laser’s Edge when I went there to buy the Meet & Greet deal for the Birmingham 2007 concerts – and subsequently found the reissue of In Your Time at the merch table at the concert – so you guys are the first place I ever bought Taylor’s music – and for that I will ALWAYS be grateful!

  20. Claire permalink

    I was also one of the excited fans trying to locate Taylor’s pre-idol music and was so happy to find out about Laser Edge. I purchased 2 CDs and made several trips to Fred’s store when in AL to see Taylor live. I fondly remember standing in line for an hour at Laser’s Edge to see Taylor up close and get his autograph.

    Taylor was my first autograph…before Taylor I always thought they were silly.

  21. PayTheDevil permalink

    Those were the days…

  22. KimLoree permalink

    I made one of those calls. Of course I already had the music from the many websites where people were excitedly digging up Taylor’s music and sharing it. But I had to have a copy of the real deal. Now I’m anxiously awaiting my sixth Taylor Hicks CD.

  23. violetteahruh permalink

    Great CD, “Hold Onto Your Love” is my favorite song.

    Did you keep the ubercool signed Keb’ Mo poster?

    • That signed & framed Keb’ Mo’ portrait currently hangs in the home of a former longtime patron-of-the-store.
      Correction: I still have it.

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