In our last thrilling episode of Mac Curtis Rockabilly 101 from 1956: I had been ‘dumped’ by the brothers Galbreaith.
They took me to the bus in Waco and I rode the 90 mile trip to Fort Worth in somewhat of a daze. I still had no idea what was coming next.
I rested a few days in Fort Worth then went back to Weatherford. I drove directly to the Galbreaith home.
I got out and started down the driveway. It was strange that Ken’s Chevy was parked there. Strange because he was usually at work that time of day…and…his bass was strapped on top of the car. Were they going, or coming?
As I approached the car, Ken came outside. He was startled to see me there. I asked him what was happening. He stammered to inform me they were going on vacation up in Pennsylvania to visit with Bill Haley and the Comets. We had once enjoyed a breakfast with Bill and some of the band in Dallas the morning after they had played a show there.
Jimmie appeared just in time to save Ken. He repeated the vacation idea. I knew by then that I was not going to be involved with them. So, I wished them well and made my exit.
As I drove away I glanced down the driveway…hit my brakes…watched Bob Luman come out of the house and get into Ken’s car! I suspect I am gonna need a new band.
As it turns out. The brothers were not happy with the fact that I wound up with a deal on King Records as a single act…they were convinced (by themselves, but mostly by others) the deal should have included the band. Thus, they got together with Bob Luman.
Earlier we had taken on Dummer Dick Powell. Now the scheme was that he, along with Bob Luman, would join with Jimmie and Ken to form a band called The Four Diamonds. With Bob’s connection they eventually worked into the cast at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. Yes, Elvis had left the building.
At first blush, I was pretty dejected. No band…no gigs…no money. but then…But Then…BUT THEN!!! Ah ah ah ah ah-long came Lady Luck and Father Fate.
In early June several things came into play. Little Bill Thompson had gotten wind of the breakup. He called to have dinner together and repair our rift. We accomplished that in one evening. He had found a band led by Ralph Dixon in Fort Worth, and they wanted a solo act to back. Duh!
I met with Ralph and his guys. They were tuned in to what I did so it all went well. We would work several gigs together.
Meanwhile, King Records A&R man Ralph Bass had set up a date for me to appear on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas in support of If I Had Me A Woman and the forthcoming single release of Grandaddy’s Rockin. All of a sudden things were looking much better.
Then came the call from Gaylon Christie in Temple, Texas. He was playing the hell out of the King single on his KTEM radio show. He was now away from the Clyde Chesser Band and had formed his own group…The Downbeats. The concept was to bring me in for gigs in Central Texas. The Downbeats would open the shows and back me as the headliner. It turned out to be a great match. We all got on well…packed some venues…played some good music…and…made some Money.
As for the Four Diamonds? They worked a few Saturdays on the Louisiana Hayride and a few tours for the Hayride booking agency. Bob Luman called me several times and eventually we became long-time friends. He recorded a song I wrote Give Us One More Chance. It’s a country tune recorded also by George Morgan…yes, Lorrie’s daddy.
I also remained close to Dick Powell. He joined me in studio to play drums on the Second King Record session. That Ain’t Nothing But Right and Don’t You Love Me. It was the first song I ever wrote.
Gaylon Christie and The Downbeats kept me busy with gigs in Central Texas.until November. That is when I was called to New York City for interviews and contract signings for the Alan Freed Christmas extravaganza at Brooklyn Paramount Theater. What an adventure that was!!
Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, it was a very successful 1956 in spite of some distractions.
Can it continue on into 1957? Hmmmmm. Stay tuned.
Many Thanks to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame
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