Rock legend drums up panel discussion

Jacksonville native Bobby Ingram runs in some rockin’ circles. As lead guitarist of legendary southern rock band Molly Hatchet, Ingram counts people like Don Henley and Journey’s Neal Schon as longtime friends.

When he tells stories of his music business beginnings, it’s impossible to do so without mentioning the rich context of his experience. Bands like Boston, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, The Eagles and The Who are all connected to Ingram through music production, record labels, fans and the vibe defining music of the 1970s and 1980s. Ingram and Molly Hatchet — and all the musical legends of that time — were part of rock’s evolution.

On more than one occasion, Ingram said he had no idea where all the money he was making went. While he acquired all the trademark rights to Molly Hatchet 15 years ago, he still wasn’t 100 percent sure what his rights were as the owner. His experience also includes financial worries — and questions about intellectual property rights.

Now he’s at Florida Coastal School of Law to learn. Ingram came to the law school last year to take a class, and he has made himself right at home. This spring, he participated in, and helped organize, an entertainment law panel discussion dissecting the pitfalls of contract negotiations. Called “Fame & Fortune: A Multi-Platinum View of Music Contracts,” the event was moderated by Professor Carolyn Herman. In addition to Ingram, panelists included Ronnie Winter of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Paul Phillips from the band Puddle of Mudd and Bobby Amaru from the band Saliva.

“When I came here in the fall of 2011, I immediately saw the school had an entertainment law society — so I worked every event,” Ingram said. When society leaders asked if he would help organize an artist panel, Ingram said he jumped right in and was happy to phone a few friends. “These were some of the musicians in town I knew would be available.”

Ingram said the panel was an interesting mix of musicians from different generations in the music business. All of the panelists were from Jacksonville, which Ingram describes as the Mecca of southern rock. “We were all from different genres but there was a common denominator — we didn’t know much about the contracts we were signing,” Ingram said. “We just trusted our attorneys.”

Another panel event is scheduled for Spring 2013, and Ingram is already looking to pals Henley and Schon for some help on that front. “I’ve had so many amazing experiences during my first year in law school,” Ingram said. “I’m getting the knowledge and perspective I always knew I needed. I’m sold on learning more about the law.”