MORE ON ARNOLD



ARNOLD PARKER
After they folded up the Mustangs band in 1973, Arnold figured at that time he was through entertaining in public and he was for a lot of years. He went back to work in the oil industry for a service company and devoted his spare time to his family. He watched his five children involved in all sports and the high school band.




This is the way things went until early 1999 when a friend sent Arnold a tape he had copied off a brand new rockabilly CD released in London, England. The song was "Find a New Woman", the original recording Arnold had recorded with the Southernaires in 1956. This stirred up a lot of curiosity and excitement in the Parker family. Some of his children started checking on the Internet and found Arnold's name listed with the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and also found out the same original recording with Arnold singing, had been released five other times in the past few years, two times in England, two times in the Netherlands, once in Germany and one more time in the United States. This gave Arnold a great feeling of satisfaction, feeling that he had accomplished something in the music business. Although, after a lot of telephone calls and a lot of letter writing, he was unable to secure any monetary benefits from these releases. However, all the excitement in the family rekindled a desire in Arnold to go back on the stage. He also realized he had grandchildren that had never seen him perform. He now entertains on the Country Opry stage shows that have become so popular in Texas. Today he sings mostly traditional country music; but, every now and then, the urge is too strong and he just has to do a "rockabilly" song - he is happy.
- The Parkers - linley@cox-internet.com







Arnold Parker was born January 25, 1936 in Cuero, Texas. He started trying to sing about the same time he was trying to talk. One of the first places he sang in public was when he stood on a table in the Primitive Baptist Church in Stratton, Texas where he grew up. Arnold would sing about anywhere that he could find someone willing to listen. He would sing at local functions in the area. He played with two groups, mainly for fun, during high school.

In 1953, "The Southernaires" were a popular South Texas dance band. About the time Arnold graduated from high school, at the age of 17, he joined the group as the featured vocalist and the band continued to gain in popularity in the South Texas area. In 1956, Arnold and "The Southernaires" recorded a rock and roll song entitled "Find a New Woman", released on Starday records. The song played very well in the area where the group was known. Also, that same year, Arnold and the band made their first appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride". Arnold received a good reception, was called back for an encore and was also asked to come back the following Saturday night. Arnold made several more appearances on the Hayride, but because the dance band was doing so well in Texas, he didn't pursue becoming a regular on the show.

In February, 1957, Arnold's life took a big change. It was then he met Jeanette Catherine Wendt in El Campo, Texas. All of a sudden, the big time music business didn't seem so important anymore. In about three months, Arnold quit the dance band and in August of 1957, he and Jeanette were married. The couple lived in Dallas for approximately 1-1/2 years. During that time Arnold made one TV appearance and one more appearance on the "Big 'D' Jamboree" in Dallas.

In 1961, Arnold and Jeanette moved to Victoria and for a while Arnold played a little with other dance bands. In 1964, things fell into place and Arnold and Ken Williams, long-time friend and lead guitarist, put together a group called "The Mustangs". Arnold fronted this band for nine years, playing the biggest clubs and with some of the biggest entertainers during that time. Arnold and "The Mustangs" recorded seven more records on Sarg label to help promote their dance jobs. One of the songs entitled "Love Me" played really well in the area. In 1973, Arnold gave up the dance band to devote more time to Jeanette and his family of three daughters, Debbie, Denise and Dawn and two sons, Keith and Kenneth.

Arnold is proud of what he has accomplished and all of the fantastic entertainers and fans he came in contact with. Looking back, Arnold has a world of fond memories he will always have - the thrill of meeting and shaking hands with Hank Williams, Sr., working with Elvis, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Charlie Pride, Mel Tellis, Waylon Jennings and many more. Arnold still loves to sing because once you've seen the lights and heard the applause, you never really get it out of your system. He has no regrets and no disappointments in the way things worked out and turned out. He feels very lucky.







NEWSPAPER HEADLINE...
Local singer finds
belated recognition is bittersweet


by - Tim Delaney

"That's a nice shirt." Arnold Parker of Cuero looked down to check it out for himself. It was white - Western style, with black and gold fringe. He'd bragged about his mom making the shirt for him.

"Well thank you, Elvis," Arnold Parker told the future "King" backstage at the "Louisiana Hayride."

"I think that's real great that your mama would do that for you," Elvis responded.

Arnold says he was 20 when he met Elvis Presley back in 1956 at the Hayride. And he played on the same stage as many other famous musicians, like Waylon Jennings, Jim Ed Brown and Jerry Lee Lewis.

"Elvis was a year and 17 days older than me. The 'Hayride' was every Saturday night, and some of the biggest names in the music business started out there. It was a proving ground before going to Nashville," Arnold says.

Arnold says Elvis liked flashy Western shirts, although he didn't wear them too often. "He didn't say anything about my music," Arnold says. Arnold was the featured singer in the Southernaires, an eight-piece band from the Victoria area that also included Curly Williams, Homer Bade, Henry Bennettenson, Jim Fogle, Jack Hill, Benny Lange and Ken Williams.

His group recorded several songs that could be classified as rockabilly. "Our 1956 recording of 'Find a New Woman' was released on Starday Records," he says. The song, written by Hill and sung by Arnold, was popular in the area at the time. And Arnold's band continued to do well in Texas, so he declined to become a regular at the weekly "Hayride," where he also enjoyed success.

Arnold's career took a backseat when, in 1957, he met Jeanette Catherine Wendt in El Campo. She was the love of his life and he eventually gave up the life of a musician in 1973 after moving to Victoria and forming another successful band called The Mustangs. "I feel like my family is the best thing that ever happened to me," he says. But some years ago Arnold, now 63, began hearing rumors of a bootleg recording of the song "Find A New Woman."

"All indications are it was released in 1994, and that's when it did the best. There was nothing on the label, no credits, no nothing except the song title and entertainer," he says. Of course, the entertainer was Arnold, singing the original recording of the Southernaires' song. Then in 1997, Arnold found out about the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and the effort to find inductees for the Hall, located in Appleton, Wis.

"Then there was a CD released in 1997 of the song. It blows my mind what all is on the Internet," he says. Arnold found that he was listed under rockabilly singers at www.athenet.net/~genevinc/PRABN.html and other places on the Web. The same CD was released in March 1999 in England on the ACE label. "It's a British rockabilly reissue label. Starday Dixie Music has the actual CD, and supposedly our master tapes (of the 1956 recording session)," Arnold says. Arnold found out that his song was doing really well in Europe, where rockabilly is very popular.

And he found two radio stations that had the song on the play lists. "There was KNON in Dallas, only it listed the song as 'Find a New Baby,' by Arnold Parker in 1998," he says. "It was also on WUSB in Stonybrook, N.Y., listed the same way in March 1999." Arnold says he is in shock.

"It's really been a shock and a surprise. It makes me feel good after all these years. We really did accomplish more than we thought," he says. Now Arnold is pursuing information about the song in Tennessee, where Starday is located. And he's tracking down original band members. "I need an explanation why we are not entitled to some compensation."

Courtesy THE VICTORIA ADVOCATE, Sunday, September 5, 1999, Victoria, TX



Rockabilly Hall of Fame