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Robert Pfeifer

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Bob Pfeifer has been called many things, amongst them Musician, Philosophy Student, Entertainment Industry Executive, An Entrepreneur, Author, Drug Addict, Activist and Convicted Felon.

Despite being founding vocalist/guitarist of Ohio new wave band Human Switchboard, and being an ex-President of Disney owned Hollywood Records (1994-1997), Robert J Pfeifer aka Bob Pfeifer, perhaps received the most public attention to his life in 2013 after when his child was kidnapped by his ex-wife, who absconded with him to Europe.

Pfeifer exited the music industry to spend more time with his family. In 2012 his son, Jerry, was kidnapped by his Slovakian mother, Maya Misejova Pfeifer. She fled to Europe with Jerry and his half brother, Sasha Hummel, both American boys. Bob posted this information on his website, bring Jerry home:

"I have not seen or heard from Jerry since July 2012.

I'm begging for your help. The situation they are living in is not safe. With every day that goes by, I am more worried for their safety. My son and I cannot live without each other. He means everything to me.

I have court-ordered permanent sole legal and physical custody of Jerry. Last year, Jerry's mother and grandmother left the United States with the kids. They haven't returned.

The internet has made the world a small place. Someone you know may have seen Jerry and Sasha. Please, please share the link to this site and spread the word. Thank you so much for your help. Email me at the address above or click icons below to post at Facebook,Twitter, You Tube or Pinterest"

Through close coordination with international law enforcement agencies and individuals around the world, Bob was eventually reunited with his son. Bob chronicled this experience in a novel, [1] in 2012.

Bob Pfeifer (of Human Switchboard and Tabby Chinos, former Senior VP at Epic/Sony and president of Hollywood Records, at the 2011 Pop Conference at UCLA.

Career[edit]

In a 2011 interview with [2], Pfeiffer said one of his first jobs was lecturing on Philosophy in the late 1970's as a graduate student adjunct at Ohio State University. While starting his music career he also helped found a used record store in Kent, Ohio that helped finance his band.

After his group Human Switchboard (which he founded and was vocalist and guitarist of) disbanded in the early 80's, Bob Pfeifer released one solo album in 1987 "After Words" on the Passport label . Pfeifer had was a decade ot out of college, and had just released his solo album in 1987 when Epic Records Artists & Repertoire head Don Grierson offered him steady pay as an A&R rep.

“I came to a point where I didn’t want to be Jonathan Richman playing the Bottom Line forever,” Pfeifer recalled. “I wanted to continue being creative for a living. Doing A&R was the way.[3]”. In 1987 The LA Times highlighted Bob's plans to move from New York and seek musical talent out in Los Angeles "I'd love to take a band like Firehose and have Robert Palmer and Ornette Coleman produce them... I've lived in poverty for so long, it's nice to be able to finally pay the rent."

Eventually he was made Senior Vice President A&R exec at Epic Records in the late 1980's where he helped get musicians like The Screaming Trees, Sepultura, Joe Satriani and Alice Cooper signed to the Sony affiliated label and claims to "be responsible for the sale of 50 Million albums". Pfeiffer has as an Executive Producer credit on Alice Cooper's 1989 comeback record Trash and has songwriting credits on several songs from the albums The Last Temptation and Hey Stoopid. In the late 1980's Pfeifer was trying to sign Soundgarden to Epic but they went with A&M, so he had to settle for their manager's other client, Screaming Trees. Van Connor, bassist of Screaming Trees recalls: "We met this guy Bob Pfeifer... a musician working the system from the inside. He had a f**kin' credit card and was charging it up, buying us all drinks. So we kinda related to him, he didn't give us any bullsh/t.[4]" Recalled Pfeifer of the struggle to get the band on the label “I recall getting in an argument with a superior who was saying, ‘Look at the two fat guys in the group. How could that be successful?'”. Epic eventually signed the group in 1990 who achieved commercial success with their 1992 Sweet Oblivion album that sold 400,000 copies.

Serving at Hollywood Records beginning in 1993, after a period of rudderless leadership, Bob was appointed head of the division at age 38 in early 1994. Pfeifer at the time of his leadership role was announced told Billboard magazine "I'm running the place...we will build an aggressive artists orientated company, and whatever it takes to do that, will be done[5]". In what was considered an artist friendly move, the hiring of Pfeifer was meant to restore the label's credibility and financial viability in the music industry. Under his watch the label fired many staffers, disbanded the Hip-Hop division, released the debut of The Brian Setzer Orchestra and signed friend Alice Cooper and the group Fastball, to begin the process of getting out of the red and towards the black. However, Pfeifer was soon dogged by a sexual harassment case filed while at the label in 1995, most of his signings stiffed on the charts, and by the time of Pfeifer's dismissal in 1997, the label had burned through $150 million invested since the venture had begun under it's previous top exec Peter Paterno 8 years earlier in the decade. Said Miles Zuniga, the songwriter of band Fastball, Hollywood's first ever eventual platinum selling signing, but whose album was not released until after Bob left, "I never got the feeling Bob Pfeifer was interested in our band"[6]. Disney Chairman Michael D. Eisner issued a statement upon Bob's departure from the label saying "Bob and his team have been successful in creating a nurturing, artist-oriented environment at Hollywood Records. He leaves a far stronger business than the one he was named to lead."

After Pfeifer left Hollywood Records and the Z-Axis video game development company in a legal dispute, he helped start an internet consulting venture Segnana Inc in the early 2000's that worked with bands such as Metallica in getting their MetallicaVault download website launched in 2003 before the St. Anger album was released. At the time of the launch Pfeifer was quoted by the Washington Post saying "Our dream is to make this the yellow pages of Metallica. We'd like it to be a highly organized, high-quality listing of everything. I'd like this to be the temple of Metallica[7]." While initially pitched in press releases as a success, the site, hosted by SPEAKEASY.NET delivered over 20 million free downloads while registering 250,000 fans abruptly ceased operation exactly 2 years from its launch on June 6, 2005.

Career As An Artist[edit]

The initial idea for Pfeifer's influential band Human Switchboard gestated while Pfeifer was attending Syracuse University in 1977 where he met Myrna Marcarian, his then paramour and the future farfisa keyboardist of the band, who helped co-create the band's dueling vocalist sound, with Pfeifer oft being compared[8] to his then musical idol and fellow Syracuse alum Lou Reed. After returning to Ohio to attended Ohio State University as a graduate student in the Philosophy program, the burgeoning band recorded a 4 song demo mixed by David Thomas of fellow local northeast Ohio band Pere Ubu. “We pressed it up and sent it to, like, Bomp, NME, Melody Maker and some people in New York...And all of a sudden these reviews started coming out and John Peel started playing it in England and we sold 3,000 records in a week. That was the beginning.[9]” Human Switchboard signed with a division of Miles Copeland's I.R.S. Records' label called Faulty Products, an alternative indie label branch of IRS Records without the benefit of wider distribution through A & M Records that also released an early effort from The Dead Kennedys

In 2011 he published a fiction novel "University of Strangers" loosely based on the Amanda Knox case in Italy. Pfeifer, along with fellow midwestern musicians from the late 70's new wave punk scene such as the Dead Boys' Cheetah Chrome and the Pagans' Mike Hudson, did a national book tour of readings and signings under the moniker Cleveland Confidential. Pfeifer also started a band in 2011 called the Tabby Chinos an occasional live and recording project with a rotating cast featuring Cynthia Sley, Phil George, Gregg Sutton, Don Fleming, Pat Place and Jim Sclavunos.

Personal Life & Involvement With Maria Misejova[edit]

In the latter 1990's, prior to his conviction, while still a highly paid entertainment industry executive, Pfeifer met Maria Misejova, and developed a long distance relationship with who spoke Slovenian his ancestral tongue. She moved to Los Angeles eventually and became pregnant with their son Jerry. Unfortunately the marriage did not last and the couple filed for divorce. They shared joint custody, but Maria, who had earned a reputation for courting wealthy men, by June of 2012 left the country with Pfeifer's son Jerry, then 9, as well as a child she had with a Hollywood talent agent. She went dark on social media, and neither man could locate their child or their shared former wife. Pfeifer set up a social media campaign to get his child back, a Facebook page called “Little Jerry’s Army", and finally helped locate the woman that had absconded with the children. On a tip, Bob Pfeifer headed to France and, without an appointment[10], walked straight into the U.S. Embassy in Paris and demanded help from an FBI agent stationed there. More than a year after Maria had gone missing with her two sons, an FBI agent eventually called to tell Bob and fellow estranged parent Larry Hummel in LA that their ex-wife was being arrested by police in Divonne, France and both fathers were reunited with their missing sons. Bob and his son use the [11] website to give hope for others and have since spoken to conferences and groups in support of organizing eforts of families with missing children, especially those whose kin are abducted and taken overseas.

References[edit]

  1. Holguin, Robert (October 20, 2014). "Slovakian Woman Gets Probation For Child Abduction". KABC TV. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  2. Holdship, Bill (April 12, 2011). "National Library Week Event: Cleveland Confidential Book Tour". Archived from the original on April 12, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  3. Silverman, Jeff (February 28, 1994). "Rising from underground ranks, a record exec". Variety. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  4. Yarm, Mark (August 10, 2012). "Screaming Trees Look Back 20 Years". Spin Magazine. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  5. Rosen, Craig (February 19, 1994). "Pfeifer Takes Reins at Hollywood Records". Billboard. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  6. Newman, Melinda (December 4, 1999). "Hollywood Records Finally Turns A Corner". Billboard. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  7. Musgrove, Mike (June 5, 2003). "Metallica's MP3 Conversion". Washington Post. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  8. Himes, Geoffrey (March 4, 1982). "Rock's Women". Washington Post. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  9. Rosen, Steve (December 9, 2011). "Clevo Calling : Human Switchboard". Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  10. Sancho, Miguel (February 28, 2014). "Two Dads, Two Lost Boys, and the International Search for Mother Who Vanished with Them". ABC News. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  11. BringJerryHome.com

citations

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]


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