“I never asked to be born.” thought Jimmy 6 as he sulked and half listened to the P.R. man go over the ins and outs of how the press conference would go. It was true. Jimmy 6 and the rest of the human race had never asked to be born. Jimmy 6 had also never asked to be a bassist, which was the reason he was born. He also never asked to be Jimmy 6, and technically speaking he wasn’t. That was the problem.
Jimmy 6 was the bassist for The Bonnies (who fans called The Sixth Bonnies to keep track). The Bonnies were originally formed 150 years before Jimmy 6 was born out of a then struggling record label that became the embarrassingly successful entity that ran Jimmy 6’s life. The original line up had been a hit, but not the kind of hit anyone wanted to give lasting credit to. A gone-in-a-year hit. A filling-in-the-space hit. Something that was happening because nothing was happening.
Elliot Pierce, now infamous manager of The Bonnies, decided he wouldn’t let his band to be forgotten. He and the band were never going to die.
Pierce’s plan was steeped in the popular controversy of the time, clone civil rights. The second generation of clones living in America had been able to gain citizenship and were now seeking more nuanced legal protections as well as representation in popular culture. This, fueled by the loud final push of the “natural or nothing” movement gave Pierce his idea. He announced, coinciding with The Bonnies fifth album release, that The Bonnies would be the first rock band to be cloned.
The Second Bonnies (called The New Bonnies when they premiered) premiered when the clones were 19. Their first single was a nostalgic trip to the early days of The Original Bonnies and got enough acclaim to last on the charts for a summer. Though they never had a top selling album, they did open for The Original Bonnies on a reunion tour and were kept alive by their novelty and Pierce’s uncanny ability to find willing investors. In the end, they made enough money to make the third generation of The Bonnies. The Third Bonnies in turn made enough money to fund the next three.
The Third Bonnies were what solidified the band as one of the biggest names in music. In four years they released three number one albums that all met with critical and commercial success, and each member cultivated a celebrity persona that signified the rebirth of the long thought extinct “rock god” phenomenon. The pompous but intriguing front man Oliver, the reclusive genius guitarist Jen, the madman drummer Peter, and the stone faced bassist Jimmy became personalities that eclipsed all other popular culture for half a decade. There was a full on mania about the band, which couldn’t have come at a worse time.
A refrigeration error had damaged the original Jimmy samples soon after Jimmy 3 was born. With the original Jimmy long since passed and the living clones no able to produce a stable enough sample, The Third Bonnies would be the last of the original line up.
So, they faked it.
Jimmy 6 was the result of that fake. He and the two before him had been cloned from a session musician named Peter Growcski, who bore enough of a resemblance to Jimmy that it tricked the public through the fourth and fifth reiterations of The Bonnies.
Then, as always seems to be the case with “biggest band in the world” situations, someone was owed money and wasn’t paid. The grudge and subsequent lawsuit saw a scorned ex-executive leak that Jimmy had not been Jimmy for a good fifty years.
It probably could have been covered up, and in better days it would have. But The Sixth Bonnies’ newest album had only been able to reach number 13 and even the die-hard fans were disappointed by the new direction Jen 6’s song writing was going. It was thought by Elliot Pierce’s seventh clone that a good scandal would boost record sales and rekindle interest. He had been wrong, and it had been decided by the band that damage control was in order.
Jimmy 6 was now being sent out to a press event in a hotel lobby in L.A. to say he denied the allegations that he wasn’t a clone of the original Jimmy and that he saw this as an act of anachronistic clone prejudice. He dreaded the idea and was still trying to think of a way out of it as the P.R man’s speech wrapped up.
“This is good,” the P.R man said, “Real good actually. You go out there and tell them how disgusted you are that this prejudice still exists in the world. That after all this time you can’t believe there are still people who want to tell clones they aren’t who they say they are. That you’re disgusted that you have to prove that you are you! It’ll turn the whole thing on it’s head and we’ll come out on top.”
Jimmy knew that Pierce had prepped the P.R. man on how to talk to him. The problem was, Jimmy didn’t like Pierce. The last two Jimmy’s hadn’t either, but they had all smiled and nodded throughout their lifetimes. What other choice was there? As much as he hated playing bass he had no other talents. He thought about going out in the world at 26 when he’d spent his life with the label paying his bills as long as he could play bass and never smile (smiling was a Oliver thing, not a Jimmy thing.) He guessed he could start a new band if he wanted to, but that hadn’t worked out for Jen 4.
“Show time Jimmy.” the P.R man said checking the time. Jimmy nodded and tried to get himself ready for the crowd.
It was strange being in front of an audience alone and without his instrument. Pierce had wanted to come out with him, but the band thought Jimmy 6 might come off more sympathetic alone. He had agreed, but now he wished he hadn’t. He knew Pierce would hijack the press conference within a minute, and Jimmy 6 wanted to be the center of attention for as little time as possible.
“ I am insulted.” he started without any formality, “ I can’t believe that after all this time, after what all my former versions had to fight through to prove that they were worth common courtesy, I have to stand up here and defend who I am.”
Jimmy paused for a moment after that, wondering if that would be enough to qualify as a statement. When no one asked him any questions or signified that he should leave, he improvised.
“I mean, let’s say…hypothetically I wasn’t actually Jimmy. What would the difference would that make?” There was a stir out of the crowd after this. Encouraged by a reaction from the audience, Jimmy 6 continued.
“ I mean, there’s no one left alive who was actually there for when The Bonnies first came out, but everyone wants to keep talking about them like they’re still important. I mean, it’s been almost 200 years! Two centuries later and everyone still wants to see the same four 22-year-olds come out on stage and play the same songs with different words. Why? Why is it so great that we’re still around? Well you know what? We’re not! You’ve been swindled for years. I’m not Jimmy! Jimmy is dead! Jimmy died a long time ago!”
He was shuffled off stage after that and wasn’t heard from for a very long time. A statement was released by the band that Jimmy 6 had been suffering panic attacks caused by the allegations and was taking a hiatus from touring. The controversy around whether Jimmy 6 was or wasn’t actually Jimmy continued among the public, but there was a consensus among the The Bonnie’s fandom that the speech did not sound like something Jimmy would say.
Peter maybe, but not Jimmy.