How did these young Hillbillies get on record in the first place??????
Actually it was through dumb luck. Jimmie, Ken and I made several visits in 1955 to the hottest radio station in the area…KNOK-AM (there was no FM or any stereo station ‘cause it was still pretty much a high dollar experiment back then). They played what was often referred to as Race music. And it was cool stuff. Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, The Clovers, The Flamingos, The Drifters, Clyde McPhatter, Big Joe Turner and on and on and on.
KNOK ruled. The deejays were all Black except for the morning guy…You would have never known unless you saw him…Dean McNeil aka
McNeil at the wheel.
One of the most popular jocks on the station was Big Jim Randolph. Jim kinda took us Bumpkins under his wing. He turned out to be one of the biggest keys to our Rockabilly Run-of-Luck. And, in a few years became a star on radio in Los Angeles.
In early spring of ’55. we were playing a gig at a car dealer lot in Fort Worth. Dick Danner Motors Ford. We played out on the car lot alternating with a black Big Blues Band. Tom Patrick and the Shamrocks. I would guess 7 or 8 players in the group. Biggest band we had seen or played with until ’56 when we started playing Sock Hops for another radio station and shared time with Trini Lopez. But, I digress.
Big Jim Randolph happened to be performing a remote radio broadcast from inside the dealer showroom. He seized on the idea to have us come inside on our off set time and play 2 or 3 songs live on air. We did and were thrilled at the invite. Big Jim applauded and we returned for our next set outside on the lot.
It was a cool day out there. But clear. We were all pleased to see traffic picking up out on West Seventh Street in front of the dealership. Our set was finished and suddenly we looked around and saw Big Jim waving desperately for us to come into the showroom again. We did.
Turns out the phone began ringing off the hook at the radio station. The callers wanted information about the band and directions to the dealership. By the end of the gig, the car lot was jam-packed. Dealer was happy. We were happy, and Big Jim was so happy he promised he would get us auditions with some of his record company hot shots.
He did it! He called the High School one day and got me out of class (Whew). He wanted us to be in Dallas by 4pm that afternoon to meet and audition with Ralph Bass, a producer for King Records
We made it! Ralph was a very nice fellow. We setup in his hotel room and played 2 songs. He said he liked what he heard and wanted to have us in the Jim Beck recording studio in a couple of weeks.
As I said last time, if you are trying to get started in the music business, not only should you follow your instincts but follow your leads at all times. Lady Luck has a strange way of handing out back stage passes from time to time.
That’s a wrap for now. I’ll see ya down the road.
Keep on Rockin’
Thanks to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame from 'ole 21
Got your DVD yet?