Date News Posted: July 18, 2001
If I was "Ripley" "Mr. Believe It Or Not", I would look up the facts on this one, but I would say that Chet Atkins sold more and made more albums with out being heard than anyone.
Now you are probably saying "What chu talkin' bout Don" well here's what I am talking about, Chet's name was on the front of well over a hundred albums that he cut for R.C.A. (and a few other labels), but how many of them did you ever hear unless you bought the album. It is sad but, Radio stations (for the most part) do not play instrumentals, Chet or any one else, a couple of them sneak through every now and then like Frank Mills & "Music Box Dancer" like Floyd Cramer and "Last Date" or like Chet's "Yakaty Ax" but very few.
But yet ole Chet and R.C.A. just kept putting out them albums, because when you are the best people go lookin' for you as they did all those years for the man "Chet Atkins" wouldn't you like to have a buck for every kid that listened to a Chet Atkins album to figure out a new lick , well, not only kids, old pickers to.
Sure there were times back when there really was "Country Radio" that you couldn't go but a few songs with out hearing Chet, but before and/or after the song the D.J. said, that was Charley Pride and.....because if it was R.C.A. bet your drawers old Chet was back there some where helping his people sound a little bit better.
Every one that ever really loved country music, either as a fan or a player, picker or singer, D.J. or writer or just a good ole country boy or gal that couldn't start the pickup unless the radio was already on, knew Chet Atkins and what he meant to country music.
So now there is another empty saddle hangin' on the front of the bunk house wall tonight and though he will be welcomed by old friends like Hank, Tex and Eddie, the world of country music as we once knew it will never be the same again.
I didn't really know a lot about Johnny Russell except I sure liked his music, every one that I know that knew him like Freddie Hart said he was something else, like what you saw was what you got and when he walked onto the stage at the Grand Ole Opry smilin' well, that's just how he was back stage or any place else.
I remember one night watching Ralph Emery's show and Johnny was on there, he was just happy as a lark because Gene Watson had just cut one of his songs "Got No Reason Now For Going Home" he said "watch it Ralph, it's gonna be a hit" and he wasn't wrong, I bought three 45's and later a CD on it myself.
I brought this up before but since it's my paper I'm-a-gonna do it again. Unless you are blind to what's going on, just plain stupid or just flat out don't care, why do those that can do something do nothing to honor these artists long before they die, Chet has been in the spotlight for how many years, fifty? give or take a few, but yet it was only a couple of years ago that in a shed in Bellbuckle, TN. that a statue was finally started and finished for Chet Atkins, our friend Patsy Montana, first, the history books say, to have a million seller with her song "Cowboy's Sweetheart" and yet gone just days before they decided to put her in the Hall Of Fame".
Wouldn't it be nice after you have worked in your chosen profession for all those years to be honored a few years before you die, wouldn't it be nice for your son or daughter to put their arm around you and say, "I sure am proud of you Dad, or Mom" wouldn't it be nice for an old friend to see you on the street and slap your back and give you a hand shake or hug and say, I knew you could do it you old S.B., and better yet, wouldn't it be nice for your little Grandkids to tell their little friends, "That's my Grandpa."
Who's runnin' this show anyway, it sure can not be any one with a thimble full of brains.
If I was sitting at the foot of my friend Patsy Montana's grave, I'd say, well, old friend you finally made it, you are now in the "Hall Of Fame" all I can say is,if she answered me (as much as I loved her as a friend) I would do one of two things, either run like hell or get myself a TV show, like the guy that is already on there talking to dead people.
The bottom line is, why can't we honor people while they still have friends left that know who they are, every single year that goes by more and more of the old fans and friends pass away and less and less people know who they are or were, I am sick of hearing the words, Hank who? or Chet who? or George who?
One of, if not the very best part about doing a web news sheet is all the family and friends and writers and artists we hear back from, like the family of Curtis Leach, Wynn Stewart, Doug Kershaw, Liz and Casey Anderson, and this past week Dale Vest, now Dale is a song writer that now lives in Idaho, land of good fishin' and hunting, myself I don't do no huntin' but I do love to fish, anyway that is great country up there.
I went looking for Tommy Overstreet albums out in our Vault, I call it a vault in case any rich people read our news, the builder of the house called it a garage, Dale is and has been personal friends of Tommy's for years and if you check out some of Tommy's albums you may see Dale's name a few times there in the writers section as we did with this out standing album, now this one on "Intercord" was just released in Germany but was also probably released in the U.S. with maybe a mixture of different songs on it.
Anyway, the title of the album is "Good Lovin' Feelin" and it has got some good stuff on it and three that Dale co/wrote with Tommy called, "I Guess I'm Good For Something After All" (boy, I like the heck outa that title) the second one is "Wanted Everywhere But Home" and the third one is "When I've Drank Texas Dry"
Now I would like to say, run down to your local record store and pick up a copy but chances would be slim to none you would find this one even in a thrift shop, we might have a couple copies left in our catalog but I'm not sure but maybe if the head man from Rhino Records is reading this he could look up the masters and release it again.
Speaking of Rhino, they have done a really great job finding some of the old classics and re-releasing them, reckon maybe we do have some good people left that know that Ernest Tubb is not a sincere place to take a bath.
Anyway, back to Tommy Overstreet, my first really big getting to know who Tommy was was when "Heaven Is My Woman's Love" came into the station I was working, on a 45, since no one else wanted the job they made me music director, no more money, just a title, which was fine with me, it meant I would have first crack at the new records and this one almost got me fired, we signed off the air at ten PM, even though the station was licensed to operate twenty four hours , we signed off at ten cause the owner said, nobody stayed up after ten in the Mojave Desert.
Anyway, the boss man and part owner of the station instead of doing something worth while at night would sit there in his rockin' chair and listen to me, since only a couple or four new records came in that day I decided to try them out on an off the air turn table so I wouldn't have to stay late that night, about the third one I played was "Heaven is My Woman's Love" I played that sucker four times between eight and nine thirty on the air when the phone ring and it was the owner, he said you play that record one more time tonight you gonna be out there with the jack rabbits.
There is not a lot of fancy guitar pickin' or drums beating the walls down or back ground singers trying to out do him, it's just good country music you can enjoy and understand, sorta like a cool glass of buttermilk on a hot day in Arizona, sorta like an Arizona Sunday laying under a yucca weed watchin' the moon come up, sorta like a nice little lizard that ain't got no mama laying beside you in the sand saying to himself, this is the first cowboy I ever met that lays around in the Arizona desert listening' to Tommy Overstreet.
Now you see why no big company ever offered me a job reviewing country records, I can hear it now, "What the heck has a lizard got to do with Tommy Overstreet" Well, only a country boy would know the answer to that one.
Freddie Hart is in Nashville this week doing some more recording, going on the Opry and doing a show or two with Jimmy Rodgers Snow and stopping by to see the folks at his new record label Music Mill Entertainment, which so far have done and out standing job for him and getting his material in to some of them there Wal-Mart stores and out to record shops around the country and mail order shops like me.
Freddie is still doing what he has for years writing them songs and every time he sings a new one it's better than the one before if that's possible, the days may be gone that he will get one to be song of the year two years in a row like "Easy Lovin'" but now he has got other people interested in his material, maybe he can at least see a few more climb up on the charts with one of the new guys singing it.
You just can't hardly be a Freddie Hart fan and not remember the title to one that I think is a hall of fame title called, "If Finger Prints Showed Up On Skin, I Wonder Who'd Show Up On You" now wouldn't that be a bugger if all those you have know would suddenly re-appear, that ain't even something you oughta be thinkin' about.
Haven't heard from our good friend Cindy Walker for a while, she is probably in Houston again getting another award, the only award she don't have is "Cook of the year" she don't cook, she just likes road kill like me, which brings me to the point of a did you know? that it takes two people to eat a possum, one to eat um, and one to watch out for traffic.
Every now and then I find a place that has some really good old stuff that even with the thousands of old records we have there is always one that you were never able to find like the few last week, first I found a place that is still pressing wax on old masters, most people don't want them but I do, but one I didn't find the wax on but we did find it on a CD which I thought was a lost cause was Ersel Hickey and "Bluebirds Over The Mountain" it tain't exactly country but I just like the beat to it, and the first person I mentioned Ersel to, was a friend in Okinawa, he said, sure I remember Ersel, well, I guess if you ever heard the name Ersel you would never forget it, he is the only one I know with the name Ersel. Wonder if Ersel is still around. His album picture and the year it looks to have been taken, looks like he was about the age of Gene Vincent, Gene is gone now but when that happened it was kinda sudden.
Also we found a new copy of Terry Stafford and "Suspicion" two copies in fact, one we'll give to Terry's Mom and Dad when we go through town in Amarillo in a couple of months, another guy I sure do miss, one of the good guys.
And....an old various artist album from Sun with twenty five cuts on it and I have to say, we still get a kick out of Warren Smith and the "Ubangi Stomp" (that was a real love song wasn't it?) and another company in Nashville has found and released the only nine or ten cuts (I think) were ever made on Charlie Feathers.
And one more Rock-A-Billy album from Jimmy Bowen "I'm Stickin' With You".
Well ye know, Rock and Roll wasn't half bad in those 50's days, at least they didn't dye their hair purple and eat the heads off bats and get naked on stage and I never heard of any one getting killed watching Elvis, or Jerry Lee Lewis.
I know I am from the old school I know it ain't never gonna be that way again, but I just can not get used to seeing people on the stage with under shirts on, holes in their pants, shower shoes and a hat because they are bald or think they are a cowboy, or mangers that tell the girls, no hooters, no hits, shucks I loved Jean Shepard and never saw any of her skin but her head.
We are working on a new comedy album with our friend in Branson, Don Hinson, Hinson is a pretty funny guy, you may remember him some years ago from his radio days in Vegas or then in later years from radio stations around southern California including "Down Home With Don Hinson" over KLAC in L.A, when he took over the Stewart Hamblin show after Stew passed away, his show went on to become number one for this part of the country and of course he played just want the name implies, down home music like good classic country, but even though the show was number one the owners thought nobody was listening I guess and sold the station, the new owners are playing just what we needed most, middle of the road, which now makes twenty of those and no country, so if you want to come to California for some warm weather, some nice beach and Magic Mountain, come ahead on, but if you want to come out here to hear George Jones you better bring him with ye.
Happy to say John Mitchum is looking good, we moved him down here a few weeks ago from Sonora. He is still not in the Motion Picture home yet but we hope that will be soon, he finally has back in his possession the only album masters that John Wayne ever cut and Mitchum wrote called "America Why I Love Her"
Herb Jeffries is just doing out-standing, working all he wants to, has a really great lady that helps him with all his business and a nice place in Palm Springs, that is if you like it a hundred and twenty in the shade, which he do I reckon, but with a.c. and a pool who cares, right?
Ole Herb as far as we know, is the only guy that went from what he went to to what he ended up doing that I know of any where, as far as the big time goes he was the number one Baritone singer for Duke Ellington, then to being a Movie Cowboy who they called the Bronze Buckaroo then to recording western music for Warner Westerns Records and now working the college and university shows, didn't we read some place a few years ago that Burl Ives was doing that last part? universities?, I miss ole Burl also.
We told you this joke I know a few months ago but it is so funny I want to hear it again myself.
A guy looks out his window in his Oregon home, he sees a guy with a siphoning hose by his motor home, he calls the cops and when he sees them coming runs out to his front yard to where his motor home is to meet them. On his way down to the vehicle he could see the crook just sucking away on the hose.
When he got there the crook was on all fours trying to throw up and gagging and making noise. Seeing what had happened he told the officers he didn't want to press charges, the crook that was there to siphon his gas from his motor home had missed the gas hole and stuck the siphon hose in the toilet drain.
Yabba dabba do, what do ye wash that down with, bring me a Bud, cause things go better with Bud, that's what it says on TV.
We really love to hear from you so if you have a minute or two please drop us a line and if you have a favorite you would like to talk about, well, that's what it's all about, remembering those from the days when we would spend hours in the little record shop on the corner reading those back covers and wishing we were Hank Thompson.
We'll see ye next time but just in case we don't, take care of yourself.