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BOND ON BOND
BUFORD AND "THE PINK & BLACK DAYS"
By Barry M. Klein
Barry: We are starting a September 28, 1999 interview with the legendary
Eddie Bond, who has been a singer, a songwriter, performer, producer, radio
and TV host, nightclub owner, husband and father. Eddie, I know that after
four decades of being in the music business, a lot a people ask you about
the old days, but I would like to start off talking about where we are now
near the end of 1999. I know you have a nightclub called Eddie Bond Country
Club in McNairy County, Tennessee, and you live close by in Bolivar. Tell
us where Bolivar is so people can find it, and then tell us about the
Eddie: Bolivar is real close to Memphis. I would call it in the suburbs of
Memphis where they meet by a big four-lane highway. I found me a little
lake and a little piece of ground up there, and built me a house, and that's
where I guess you would say I'm semi-retired. However, I have been working
harder since I have been up here because there are so many new projects. I
have a new television show that is my passion. They picked up my TV program
in Jackson, Tennessee, which you know is Carl Perkins' hometown. Really,
this has always been my old stomping ground. Thirteen miles from McNairy
County. McNairy County is where Buford Pusser was when I did "Walking Tall"
and I did all those songs with him. I worked nine years with Sheriff Buford
Pusser on his biography. I did a 3-hour radio show every morning and I did
a TV show every week with the same station. I am still with the same TV
station out of Memphis, WHBQ TV Fox 13, the one that Elvis started out with.
He started out with Radio. The old red and blue man - Dewey Philips - and
Dewey cut his first records. We was in the Chisca Hotel - he used to call
it the "magazine floor" meaning the "mezzanine floor". But he was the best
and he helped me and Elvis. But particularly, I got to know him. He
finally wound up with me being at a radio station and I gave him a job. All
in all I have been there form the start. I was born in Memphis, raised in
Memphis, lived in the same house 37 years, raised my children, and then I
came up here in the country kind of and got me a real what I call "having a
vacation" every day. However, I still have a little bargain store, which
sells miscellaneous items that my son runs. Gladys, my wife, runs my
promotion company. To clear you up on the club, though. The club is not a
"nightclub". It is a family place. They don't sell any alcoholic
beverages. Momma, pappa and the kids can all come. Little boys and little
girls can dance together. They can line dance and they can square dance.
It's a great big place. It's 6,000 sq. ft. It holds about 400 people. I
bring people down like Narvel Felts. The week before last I had Ace Cannon.
Between now and the first of the year I've got both of them coming back
again. Ace Cannon has had some big big records instrumental wise like
"Cotton Fields" and I think "Tuff" was his first one. He recorded for Joe
Coughi Poplar Tunes and started out with Hi Records as did Narvel Felts.
Barry: What days of the week are you open at the Eddie Bond Country Club?
Eddie: The Country Club opens Thursday, Friday and Saturday at night only.
It is just a big, nice, convenient family place. Nice clean floor. I just
really like it and my whole family is involved. My daughter works the
concession stand, and my other daughter works the door. I have two
daughters. My son is into singing himself, so he does the singing also.
Barry: We are going to get to Eddie, Jr. in just a minute, but let me ask
you first - I understand you have some recorded music being released pretty
soon like a single and then maybe a CD. Can you tell us about that?
Eddie: Well I guess I will record until I die. I don't know why I wouldn't.
I have been very fortunate. My voice, if anything, has gotten a lot better.
I am amazed when I go to Europe they say I sound just like I did way back,
only a little bit better. I have a song by a great songwriter that did a
lot with Waylon Jennings, he wrote David Allen Coe's record "The Ride", and
he's sort of my partner in the music promotion business and he runs the
Barry: What's his name?
Eddie: His name is Chuck Dixon. He is one of the world's greatest
promoters. For the past 19 years he has been the "Promoter of the Year" out
of Nashville according to major artists, independent artists also because he
really thrives on it. However he did help start Reba McIntyre and Waylon
Jennings and some of the other people.
Barry: Now Chuck, did he write the single you are coming out with?
Eddie: I didn't particularly like all of it, so I jumped right in and wrote
part of it. Me and him shared writers on it. I wrote the last verse. We
haven't ever had a closure on the Buford Pusser stuff and so.
Barry: What's the song called?
Eddie: It's called "Ode to Buford Pusser". It digs back into his life. It
lets everybody know that he died in a fiery crash and so on and so forth,
and the museum is there now. His daughter owns a big nice restaurant called
Pusser's now up in his hometown.
Barry: While we are on the subject of Buford - we'll get back to your
single and CD - let's talk a little bit about that.
Eddie: That's the reason for the single. Every year we have a big big
program called the Stantonville Fire Festival, which is in McNairy County,
and I am the Chief of Police up there and have been for the last 16/18 years
and what it is - it is like an honorary thing. I don't go out and arrest
nobody. They furnish me with a license plate on my car in memory of the
Buford Pusser stuff. I have had Tim McGraw up there, then Tracy Lawrence.
I have had those Grand Ole Opry stars - Ernie Ashworth and Narvel - all
these people. I say again that I am not very far from that territory. My
club that you are talking about is in McNairy County, Tennessee. It's a big
park up there called The Big Hill Pond State Park. I bought the community
center, which is Big Hill Pond Community Center, in Big Hill Pond,
Tennessee. It's probably 25 miles from the house I live in, in Bolivar.
But, it's right in McNairy County, so that kind of ties it all in. We
wanted a closure to say that what have all the people done, that the family
fathers in Adamsville, Tennessee, his hometown, built a museum and named it
in his honor. Then there is Chuck Dixon, the one that wrote "The Ride", put
that little part in there like stuff he did, he wrote "The Ride" like it was
Hank Williams supposedly driving the car here. In this particular song at
the end of it says that "some folks say at night they can still see him on
patrol", like his spirit and being is still in McNairy County. So we kept
the legend going real good. I have a 52-minute video with the real Buford
Pusser telling his own life story telling about how he met me and how he
started, and about how his wife got killed, about when he was shot, and
about all these things that are in part of the record. But, I've got him
telling his own story. Well the museums in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee up there
around Dollywood, they would buy it real good. That's the one place in
Tennessee up there that should buy it. Then, of course, the museum in
Adamsville, Tennessee, the Buford Pusser Museum - it's a police museum in
Pigeon Forge, but Adamsville is the Buford Pusser Museum.
Barry: A lot of people here reading the interview may not know about Buford
Pusser. Not that many, but there may be a few. You had a 1968 country
song, "The Legend of Buford Pusser", that actually told the story and that
story got to Hollywood and it resulted a few years later in 1973 with the
movie "Walking Tall" staring Joe Don Baker. There were two sequels to that
movie, and your song was featured in the movie and I know that just last
month, almost within days of the 25th anniversary of Buford Pusser's
somewhat mysterious death, there was a dedication of the Buford Pusser
Highway. I know you were at the dedication, and you were very involved with
that. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Eddie: Yeah. They put a book that is a pull-out book, and I don't know if
you have one or not, but if you don't I could send you one. There are seven
of those at the museum and that the Buford Pusser Café have given the entire
proceeds to the museum. But I was there, and the Commissioner of Highways,
and they named it Buford Pusser Highway from Adamsville, Tennessee all the
way down through Selmer and through McNairy County until it goes into the
next County. And so, it was quite a thing. They honored me with it and his
daughter, and his little grandchildren. I feel real honored that nobody -
he has one sister, one daughter, and to clear the record up and they say
nobody knows this, but it is in my video - he only has one daughter. The
son was a stepson and he had another stepdaughter that was older than that
from her previous marriage. And so the girl, his daughter and her two
children and his sister is all of the living Pusser family there is. They
have just sort of adopted me as their little girl's, the little girl's same
is Madison, and she told me that she would like it if I would let her be her
adopted papaw since her papaw was dead, and since I knew her papaw so good,
I felt that was quite an honor. She comes down and visits with us here on
the lake. Sometimes when my granddaughter is down they have a real good
time together. We are going to keep that legend alive and like you say, it
has been 25 years, but in McNairy County when you roll in to the city of
Adamsville and you see a huge billboard that says "You're Strictly in Buford
Pusser Country" and the people up there along with his daughter and me and
his sister, we are going to be sure that that legend.
Barry: Now his daughter is Dwana.
Barry: And Gail is.
Eddie: Gail is his sister. Do you have that magazine I was talking about?
Barry: No I don't.
Eddie: I will have the girl send it to you. I can just mail you a copy of
the thing. It tells you a lot. It tells you what the town thinks of him
and the county. [Barry: Eddie did indeed send me a forty page tabloid
supplement to the August 18, 1999 edition of the Independent Appeal
featuring articles, tributes and advertisements dedicated to the 25th
anniversary of the death Buford Pusser and the naming of the Buford Pusser
Barry: Well when the interview is over, I'll share my address and everything
with you. But it really is wonderful that you're doing what you can do to
preserve the life and the legend of Buford Pusser, who was a remarkable
figure in the history of Tennessee and the United States.
Eddie: That first song was called "The Legend of Buford Pusser". The
reason this last one is called "The Ode" is because I own that right and
besides that, the first one was changed to "Buford Pusser Walking Tall".
That's kind of what that is -- it says "in McNairy County you see the
Sheriff just walking tall today" is one of the lines. Well - obviously he
is not walking tall because - but some of the people still think they feel
his spirit up there, see, so we say that some people say that they still see
him on patrol on this latest record which will be out this Friday.
Barry: There is talk also of a CD coming out. Is there something like that
in the plans right now?
Eddie: We have already got a TV show for him. We may do - I've got two or
three people that are talking to me, and talk is all it is right now, they
really would like to have a book first, but they would like to do my life
story and if they did, naturally Buford would be a big part in it as would
Loretta Lynn, Webb Pierce who is my mentor, that's who I spent more time
with than anybody - he probably stayed in Memphis with me about as much as
he did in Nashville. Me and him were great, great friends. He got me on
Decca Records and on Coral. You know the good thing about people in country
music, and rockabilly is nothing but country, you can't really call
rockabilly "rock and roll" because it ain't - it's really fast country - if
I was going to say that's a fast song, like really and truly the great Hank
Williams, Sr. was doing it when he did "Move It On Over" and Johnny Horton
when he did "Honky Tonk Man". All of them certainly were country songs, but
they were still considered rockabilly because they were fast country songs.
My heart has always been in country music and the rockabilly. I have been
to Europe five times. You know I have done about what I want to and now I'm
doing even better. If they do a book on me, I can include some of the
greats. I was on the Louisiana Hayride with Elvis. I worked a year with
Elvis. Carl Perkins was my guitar player at one time as was Roy Orbison.
Me, Roy, Carl, Charlie Feathers, Charlie Rich all played together. Charlie
Rich has spent the night at my house. All of us knew each other so good,
and I could sit down and give you a two-hour interview on Carl Perkins, for
instance, or on Elvis back in his early days.
Barry: I am going to be asking you about your recollection of many of the
people that you have mentioned a little bit later in the interview. Let me
ask you another question. Let's say I come to the Country Club and you are
performing, what kind of music do you perform now in your sets?
Eddie: We do all of it. Of course, believe it or not, "Rockin' Daddy" -
after all these years - if I ever want to get them on the dance floor - or
if I find any place they're going to hear "Rockin' Daddy" - they just got
to - that is the most requested song that I have ever had.
Barry: You know it's a funny thing about Sonny Fisher who wrote this song,
he is still living - I've got a CD with him and Sleepy LaBeef recorded live
in Spain from the early 90's, but you, Eddie, have become personified as
the Rockin' Daddy. You are the most famous person associated with that song
and your version is terrific.
Eddie: I did a show in Europe and Sonny was there too. He wasn't on my
particular show but he was in Europe too. He said he just couldn't
understand that. I had a guitar player about then that was only 16-years
old. His name was Reggie Young and you see his name on e v e r y t h i n g.
Yea. Now he plays probably on 80 percent of all the big hit records that
any of the big stars have had. He went to Nashville for me, but it was
really a cute little story. He was over in Europe with the Highwaymen. He
plays with Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson and
Johnny Cash. I worked with Johnny a long time too. Me and him worked a
radio station together. But anyway he went to Europe - so why did he come
back here? The people said they wanted to see Reggie Young - well Reggie
said what in the world would they want with me - so he went back up there
and when he got back up there he said, "We just wanted to meet you. You're
Eddie Bond's guitar player". It really made me feel good. But Reggie put
his signature on that rockabilly early and he played on Glenn Campbell's
records and everybody when they did anything fast rockabilly or beautiful
love songs, he was good. He is probably the greatest guitar player in the
Barry: You had a great backup band in the Stompers in the early days. One
of my favorite rockabilly songs of yours, Eddie, is "Slip Slip Slippin' In".
Everything about that song is a quintessential rockabilly song. Your vocal
intensity, especially in the last set of lyrics and the music - I mean it
is just a phenomenal record! In The Bear Family Set - Colin Escott only
lists three musicians - Reggie Young, yourself and Johnny Fine, although
earlier in the song I hear piano and obviously there is somebody slappin'
that bass too. Tell us a little bit about the Stompers.
Eddie: The bass player was a well-known musician, but he was a good deal
older than us. His name was Tommy Potts. Tommy has passed away since then.
Johnny Fine, I haven't seen him in ages, but he didn't pursue a career in
music. He played good - you can tell that on the record, but its funny you
should say "Slip Slip Slippin In". That's my encore song. I have had as
high as seven encores in Europe, and they always want to hear "Slippin In"
again. And no matter if I start another song, they are going to holler
"Slip Slip.." I had to do it at least 4 to 5 times - everytime I played. I
worked with Dave Travis, and Dave - I always picked me one person and if
they were good - I don't work with anybody else and so, some of the other
people are good people over there, but anything I did I did for Dave Travis.
I don't know if you know who Dave is, but Dave bought off my label out of
Memphis called Stomper Time Records. Stomper Time belonged to me and Dave
bought the record label from me.
Barry: Who was playing piano on "Slip Slip Slippin In"?
Eddie: His name was Jimmy Smith.
Barry: Some of your other band members included the steel guitarist John
Hughey who I believe once played for Conway Twitty and he now plays for
Eddie: John was actually from West Helena, Arkansas where Twitty was from,
which he was Harold Jenkins back then. His momma and his daddy run the
towboat that took you from Tennessee over into Arkansas or Mississippi into
Arkansas. We were doing a show - I don't know if he - I am going to drop
you a name - it will probably mean something to you. Old Harold was red hot
by a pen name Tabby West and Wanda Jackson, both of them worked with me on
stuff out there. We played a show and Harold Jenkins wanted to sing a song
and we let him. John had been knowing him for ages and ages. So later on
in his career when he got bigger - he hired Johnny and John stayed with him.
He had been away from him about two or three years when he died. Vince Gill
just idolized John. If you notice at any Vince Gill concerts he is gonna
always introduce him as "the legendary fabulous John Hughey". John is
responsible for a lot of that crying steel that's on the Vince Gill stuff.
To tell you how famous we were - way back then I had like four pieces travel
with me - meet me in the theatre. We would travel all over the country -
Texas, Oklahoma and everywhere. We played places where Hank Thompson and
the Brazos Valley Boys, which was like a 10/12 piece band
Barry: And that's who Wanda Jackson started out with, I believe.
Eddie: What we would do, we would just play at a place they played. You
know like Hank Thompson had a place called the Tree A Non Ballroom in
Oklahoma and we come in to play with 4 pieces - 5 counting me - we would ask
the guy "What time does Hank get here?" and said "well he is not here at all
yet". I think we were the number 3 band across the nation at one time,
according to Cash Box Magazine. It was like Hank Thompson, Spade Cooley and
Bob Wills maybe, and then we were fourth I think it was. Hey - that was in
western swing. You asked me did I do rock with it. I must has been a
pretty good western swing guy 'cause see - those musicians could play jazz
and make you swear that it was a jazz band up there they played so good.
John Hughey could play that steel, and sound just like a trombone, and that
was back before you had all these gimmicks to do stuff. He done it with the
steel and just raw talent. But if we wanted to go western swing, man we
could just - when I call them the Eddie Bond Western Swing Band - that's
Reggie sitting on the front there if you seen that picture. We played
rockabilly, of course. We done raw country, of course. We done western
swing and we could mix it up and put it to a jazz song - like Dixieland sort
Barry: You have also been known for your gospel songs.
Eddie: Yeah. Sam Philips, when I first started out, he didn't much like my
voice. But me and Sam were okay. I knew his family and all, but it was the
best thing that ever happened to me in my life. He turned me down and I
signed a contract with Mercury Records. At that time Mercury was headed by
Dee Kilpatrick and it was a big label. I had fellows like Jimmy Dean, Patti
Page on it. So I kind of stepped out of the Memphis scene and got into the
great big jive spotlight. That really helped me with Mercury. That's how
come "Rockin' Daddy" done so good. I believe, I am just talking to ya what
I may remember - Sonny Fisher's record of "Rockin' Daddy" I believe was on
Starday or some label like that. Well, it didn't have the distribution and
it didn't have the muscle that Mercury had. So when mine come out on
Mercury, naturally that is the one they heard. That went to every disc
jockey everywhere. It was promoted big time. It was #1 in Little Rock,
Arkansas for six months. It stayed in the top ten for a year or so. I
guess Mercury had an awful lot to do with that.
Barry: Was Shelby Singleton with Mercury at the time or was that later?
Eddie: Shelby worked some with - he had a label called Singleton. Margie
Singleton is his wife. It was at the time. He later - much later - bought
the old Sun catalog and I had all those.
Barry: Wasn't he with Mercury before he bought Sun?
Eddie: For a little while he was with Mercury on the pop end of the meter.
People liked big time rhythm and blues artist. But I never had any dealings
with Shelby until after he turned around and bought (Sun) - a little bit
when he was married to Margie. It was Margie who was on the Louisiana
Hayride with me. Do you remember who Margie Singleton was? I knew his wife
better than him, but they later on got a divorce. I worked with Shelby a
little bit on this stuff with the Bear Family. I didn't have a lot to do
with that because the Bear Family bought the Sun package and then Bear
Family dealt with Shelby on that. They had to deal with other people on
Mercury. See they have some Mercury records even though it's on Sun.
Barry: Do you still get royalties from things like that?
Eddie: About every six months. I had a song on that same thing called "Flip
Floppin Momma with a Hole in Her Shoe". That is unbelievable. I get
royalties on it. I get one on a crazy thing called "Monkey and the Baboon"
that I wrote. And they love it in Europe too. Oh yes. About every six
months the mailman is real nice to me.
Barry: That's great. You also wrote "Boppin Bonnie" didn't you?
Eddie: Yeah. I wrote a little tad of it. I had a boy that worked with me
on that played slapin Bass with Charlie Feathers, his name was Jody Chastain
and he and Jerry Huffman wrote part of it.
Barry: They were Charlie Feathers' boys.
Eddie: You know Charlie has passed away now.
Barry: Oh yes. Just over a year ago.
Eddie: Carl Perkins passed away. If I don't hurry up and die, I ain't going
to have nobody to come to my funeral. All my friends are trying to die
Barry: You know something: the only disadvantage about living a long life is
that your peers don't come to your funeral, but maybe that's the better
Eddie: I have had a wonderful life and I am probably enjoying life now
better than I ever have.
Barry: Well, you're not going to pass away for many, many more years.
Eddie: My doctor tells me he wishes he were in as good of shape as I'm in.
Barry: That's great. I remember when they asked George Burns when he was
in his 90's , "You go out with young women, smoke ten cigars and drink
whiskey every day, what do your doctors say?" - and he said, "They're all
Eddie: That's the truth. In July I was 66 years old, just for the record.
I am just about in that same range, although I think Carl was one year
older. Me and Elvis was one year younger. [Barry: Elvis was born 1-8-35;
Eddie was born 7-1-33].
Barry: Well Carl was a heavy smoker, and he was a drinker at one time. It
was just a shame.
Eddie: You know he had lung cancer and would just not put those cigarettes
down. In my lifetime I have never smoked. But I have drunk enough of the
other stuff probably to swim me in. But that was my early days. You have
to look back at a man that has owned - at one time I owned two radio
stations - that was after I had worked at one for 17 years and learned
everything about it - I owned two radio stations at one time, I owned
several nightclubs at one time. One of the most successful nightclubs ever
was over in Memphis called Eddie Bond Ranch. It would hold about 600 and we
sold steaks and everything out there. So I've done so much, and back in
that time, way back then, I never did get - like some of those guys that
were on the road a lot got into hard drugs. But you got to bear in mind
that I was at a radio station where I did my shows every day and played
every night, and stayed as busy as I wanted to. I just wrote my own ticket
for anything I wanted, so I didn't get out of Memphis like the rest of them
did. They had such a hard hard grind, even though mine was hard, it wasn't
so draining, and I never, God as my witness, I have never used any hard
drugs. The biggest thing that would have been wrong with me is that years
ago musicians would take pills to make them stay awake at night. I think
they were called drive pills or something. You could take those and drink
coffee and go on day in and day out. But, I never did that stuff.
Barry: Let's talk about your family for a while. I know that you must have
been married to Gladys for a long time because she wrote a 1957 song of
yours, "King on Your Throne". How long have you and Gladys been married?
Eddie: 44 years.
Barry: I am sure she is a big part of your life and always has been.
Eddie: She has always supported me 100 percent where other wives wouldn't
want their husbands being in the music business. She always supported me
100 percent. If that's what I wanted to do, that's what I could do.
Barry: That's great. I'm glad, on behalf of all your fans, including me,
that she let you do it. Let's talk about Eddie Jr. Tell us about him and
Eddie: Well Eddie Jr. has just turned 31. He could of done it a long time
ago, but he, like everybody else, didn't really get serious about his music
until I bought radio stations and he got to play at them. Now he's like
Marty Robbins, boy he can sing. He's got a new record and it will be out,
and of course the big job promotion man in Nashville, Chuck Dixon, just took
him under his wing too. So Eddie is going to making a record called "Don't
Leave a Woman Like Her Lonely Too Long". I guess if I were going to
describe it, it don't sound like him at all. He don't sound like nobody but
Eddie Bond, Jr. on this one, but it's got a flavor of Ernest Tubb, it's got
a flavor of Martin Robbins, all of those real old guys that I grew up with.
Even a little bit of Webb Pierce. He does Webb's records "I Ain't Never",
"I Don't Care" and all these old songs. Naturally, I've got everything that
Webb Pierce every recorded. It's going to be country - real country. But
it's going to have a flavor of all those old wonderful folks that was on the
Grand Ol' Opry back then.
Barry: That sounds great. Does Eddie Jr. perform at.
Eddie: He is on my television show. He is also at the club every Saturday
night. Matter of fact, all we got to do is stick Jr. on the end of it and
he can have all that stuff afterwords when I pass on - Eddie Bond Jr. can
just keep truckin!
Barry: That sounds great. I know you have to go pretty soon, but I just
want to mention a few people you knew in your past that you have feelings
about or might want to share a memory or two real briefly. If I just say
the name, you tell me what you want to tell me about them and what they
meant to you or whatever.
Eddie: Marty was the greatest singer in the world. He performed with me on
several occasions. But mostly, I just booked Marty. Marty was a real funny
guy - a r e a l funny guy. When he took to a stage, you might as
well let him stay on as long as he wants to, and that's what the people are
going to make you do. I can't praise him enough for having great great
great great talent.
Barry: I saw Marty west of Chicago at the Kane County Fair Grounds - maybe
four years before he died. He had several of those attacks and bypasses and
whatever. Not only was he talented, but as you say, he was extremely
hilarious. He could have been a standup comic he was just so funny.
Eddie: The last show I was involved in was in Memphis, and it had Jerry Lee
Lewis on it. Well Jerry Lee is my buddy too and he lived close to my radio
station down there. I did a show in December with Jerry and I am sure I
will do another one. So from time to time me and Jerry cross paths. Jerry'
s wife, the one he is married to now, used to sing on my TV show. So we are
real close. But Jerry is Jerry, that's all I can tell you about Jerry. He
said he don't go on last for nobody. Well to me, there ain't nobody that is
going to headline a show when Marty is there. Marty said, "I don't care, I'
ll go on first. It don't make no difference to me." He said, "When I leave
Memphis, Tennessee they will know I've been there." And he walked out on
that stage and he had the prettiest white suit on, he was real thin then, he
had done everything the doctors had told him to do - he had gotten his
weight down and everything was right, and he still died of a massive heart
attack. If the good Lord wants to call your name, he is going to bring you
on in. But Marty got up there and sang about four songs and he didn't say a
word, and that's not like Marty. When he got through he said, "How do you
all like my suit?" Everybody is saying "It's good". And he said "You know
why I didn't say anything?" He said "This suit has dazzled y'all so bad,
that y'all didn't know who it was singing for the first four songs!" He was
really hilarious. Jerry went on out and closed the show, but everybody knew
Marty Robbins had come to town!
Barry: I certainly believe that. You know we lost Charlie Feathers who had
been very ill in his last few years - a little over a year ago.
Eddie: I attended Charlie Feathers' funeral. I went over to Holly Springs,
Mississippi. That's where his family is from. This is someone where I knew
alI of his brothers and sisters and so forth. I wrote a little speech to
say at Bud Deckleman's. Bud worked the Louisiana Hayride with me. Me and
Bud went from Memphis to Shreveport every Saturday night and played the
Hayride. Any we played places on the way down there and places on the way
back for probably a year/year and a half.
Barry: You mentioned that Carl Perkins, as he did for Johnny Cash in the
'70's, played guitar for you at one point.
Eddie: Well what it was that when we first started out - now you've got to
bear in mind that not any of us had no money or nothing - and we just
started out. So what we would do sometimes - if we played a show and they
couldn't afford to book me and my band, they would book me in. And Carl
would sit behind the curtain and play the guitar for me - they wouldn't walk
out on the stage. And so did Roy Orbison. Roy Orbison was a great guitar
player and of course, Carl Perkins was. They would back me up but the
people in the audience didn't know it. Of course, it came out in magazines.
They found out about it. But still, that was strictly to hold down expense,
when they couldn't afford me and Reggie and all of us.
Barry: It is nice to know that there was such camaraderie.
Eddie: You know we worked so good together, sometimes we would play 7 or
8,10,15 days together. Me and Carl and his band, and I loved his brother,
Clayton, and the one that died in the wreck too. [Older brother and rhythm
guitarist, Jay, almost died in the crash, but actually tragically died of a
brain tumor about a year or so later.] Clayton was the bass player and the
other one I think played rhythm guitar.
Barry: Clayton was a bass player.
Eddie: Clayton was the one that died. Well they both did now.
Barry: The other brother had the brain tumor, Jay.
Eddie: Well that was caused from that wreck. It was a real bad wreck they
had when they were going to do the Dick Clark Show or Ed Sullivan or
Barry: The Perry Como Show.
Eddie: Perry Como Show - that was it. But you've got to bear in mind that
I have been doing this for 40 years. When you been putting records out for
40 years, sometimes you forget some of that old stuff. After 7 or 8 or 14
days together, our last night we were good for nothing. Everybody would sit
around and drink and cry and everything else. Carl was really very deeply
religious rooted. His family, and he had the most wonderful wife in the
world, never heard much about her, but she was right there behind him all
the time. We would sit down and say well we just hope Carl would always say
that the good Lord has been good to us. He let us have these 14 days
together - 7 or whatever they were. I just hope and trust and pray to God
that we can be together again real soon and do another tour like this.
Barry: What memories of Elvis can you share with us?
Eddie: Well Elvis, Scotty, Bill and D J Fontana. They were all friends of
mine. Scotty had played with me a lot. Then when Elvis first got rid of his
band, way back there, well Bill Black, Scotty and DJ worked under the head
of the Elvis Presley Band. I'm sitting on radio station with all this power
and I booked them. I would book a little show and say I am going to be down
at such and such a place, and by the way I am going to bring the Elvis
Presley Band with me, and Scotty and Bill and DJ and boy I mean we would
have some big crowds. So that's how it worked a lot with them too. But, I
knew Scotty before Elvis. He worked with a country boy named Doug
Poindexter. Scotty actually had a record out with Doug Poindexter before
Barry: And then Scotty went on to produce at Fernwood.
Eddie: Yeah. I think he did. He produced "Tragedy". [Barry: A big hit
single for singer Thomas Wayne.] Several big records on Fernwood. Scotty
had an independent - we crossed paths all the time. He had a place that
made tapes in Nashville, an independent production. I used a whole lot of
his services then. We still consider ourselves real good friends. It is
just such a sad thing that you don't see any of the living ones until
somebody dies. Then everybody goes to the funeral. There's Sam Philips
sitting behind me, and the Tennessee Governor sitting in the front row at
Carl Perkins' funeral. It's just so sad. Jerry Lee was sitting over across
Barry: Speaking of sad, Eddie, there was another fellow who had a pretty
good country voice who did early rockabilly and, unfortunately, did not have
the life that you had: Warren Smith.
Eddie: Warren worked for me a lot too. I really thought a lot of Warren.
In the early days Warren would tour with me all over Arkansas and Missouri.
The beautiful part about living in Memphis, you could play within a 100-150
miles of Memphis, you played all those old famous places like Gobbler,
Missouri, there was a famous disc jockey up there named Jimmy Haggy, who did
a lot of booking up there. Each place you played at would always have a
kingpin working at a radio station where you would book through him and he
would go out and MC a show or he would have records on or whatever and play
with you. Well Warren played every little old place - we use to play the
drive-in movie concession stands when drive-ins were real popular. I worked
with Johnny Horton a long time too.
Barry: Johnny is another one that didn't have a long life.
Eddie: No. Johnny died early in a car wreck didn't he.
Eddie: Do you know that when he died Reggie Young was playing lead guitar
for him then? And Tilman Franks had booked them all the time.
Barry: Now I know Narvel Felts made a recent appearance at your place. Do
you and Narvel go back a long ways?
Eddie: He will be back November the 13th.
Barry: Okay! And you and Narvel knew each other in the old days I presume?
Eddie: Oh Lord yes! You know he's on this same CD promotional copy that's
out, I am on there with Johnny Paycheck and Ernie Ashworth from the Grand
Ole Opry, and Narvel - they're re-releasing the record on him of the single
"The Pink and Black Days". That's a little song that has my name and Roy
Orbison - we were doing a show in Dexter, Missouri and its all going to be
on the same CD.
Barry: What label is that?
Eddie: Well see - that's put out by a production company. They put that out
on American Image Records, a production company and they send it only to
radio stations. But he will cover 1,600 radio stations. It's got a
compilation of all of us that released singles at the same time. It makes
it real good for a radio station. It really makes it good for us cause if
they like to have Johnny Paycheck, they are going to have me right there
next to him. It makes it good. It kind of helps us all.
Barry: You talk about Webb Pierce and what a influence and help he has been
to you in your career. I just recently purchased a great 20-song set from
the CMA gift shop in Nashville, all 50's stuff that was just dynamite. You
also, I understand, were pretty close with Charlie Rich.
Eddie: Oh yeah. Charlie worked with me a lot. I worked some shows with
him. And then his son, they call him Charlie Rich, Jr. now, he was going to
Monroe or one of them places in Louisiana to hear his son. The next night
he got into Hammond, Louisiana, which is about 50 miles out of New Orleans,
and that is where Charlie died. But his son has come back, and he has a
managing group that's attorneys that have been friends of mine and done
entertainment attorney work for me a lot. Jim Lockard is his name and he is
managing him now and he is going to have a real nice career. He looks like
his daddy only he is a lot thinner, plays that piano just like him, and I
have used him on several occasions. Matter of fact, you just gave me a good
idea. I am going to call Lockard and ask him when I can have Charlie Rich,
Jr. up here to my club. Anyways, he was a whole lot like him. He's coming
Barry: But he wasn't originally born Charlie Rich, Jr.? He became Charlie
Eddie: Like Conway Twitty's boy did. But my boy is Eddie Bond, Jr. born
like Hank Jr. was.
Barry: Well let me leave you with one other name. We talked about Conway
Twitty a little bit and it sounds like you and he were pretty close and you
shared some musicians and you him pretty well, born near the same area.
What memories can you share with us about Conway?
Eddie: A great old guy. His family and in fact Conway was always a little
bit bashful and backwards. He never did get to be real buddy buddies like
me and some of the others did. But his mother and daddy, he was
instrumental in getting them a place down in Moon Lake, Mississippi. For
ten years probably, every 4th of July,
I played Moon Lake. His mother had a big trailer court and nightclub right
on the lake. I played for his momma every 4th of July probably ten years in
a row. She has passed away too now.
Barry: I know you have to get going soon, it sounds like you have a
wonderful life. Like you say - you're working but it's almost like living in
retirement - you're doing what you want to do, you're still singing, writing
and producing and hosting radio and TV, and you've got your Eddie Bond
Country Club, which I will correct myself - it's not a nightclub, it's for
Eddie: Just say family entertainment.
Barry: Family entertainment. And you are in Bolivar, Tennessee.
Eddie: Oh no no no. It's in Big Hill Pond, Tennessee. That's in McNairy
County. That's where you really want to push McNairy County. Everybody
everywhere knows - they might not know where Big Hill Pond is - but they
know where McNairy County is.
Barry: That's east of Bolivar, where you live.
Eddie: It's almost to Selmer which is the county seat where Buford's jail
is. Let me drop one more little thing on Buford's jail. They built a whole
big huge, like everything else has grown, criminal complex. Well they took
the old courthouse, and the State of Tennessee gave them $1 million to
renovate it. They have some city offices in it, but they have redone the
old jail just like Buford had it. In that particular time he lived in the
jail, when they elected a Sheriff way back then. His living quarters was in
the jail, his razor is still laying out on the little sink, and the place
where he locked them up, where they cooked for him, they done everything in
the jail then. I ate many a meal in that old jail up there. It's just like
it was when Buford had it. I persuaded them not to do no painting and
cleaning up. Clean it real good, but don't paint over anything those
prisoners have scribbled on the wall and murals and things that they've
drawn. Leave it just like it was. I wouldn't let them move anything out of
the kitchen. I say I wouldn't let them but maybe I couldn't help myself,
but I would of fought at them if they did, so they didn't. They left the
pans and stuff. His daddy was Carl Pusser. His daddy done all the cooking.
So he had the stuff right where he wanted and that's why I convinced them
into leaving it like that. That's something that nobody even knows about
hardly. It's in the town of Selmer which is the county seat of McNairy
County, and you just go into the courthouse and tell them you want to see
the jail and the Sheriff's office, and they will take you right in there.
Barry: It sounds to me like some of what you are describing was portrayed
in the original "Walking Tall" movie.
Eddie: It was. There was a lot in my movie. In my television show I have
one called "Buford Pusser, Another Side". It's 52 minutes of the real
version, and if you want me to I will drop you one of those videos in the
mail. [Barry: Eddie sent me the tape, which included home movies and
interviews with the real Buford Pusser - plus a few of Eddie's songs about
Sheriff Pusser. It was a good program.]
Barry: Let's do that. I know you've got to run, so I want to thank you for
sharing so much of your life with us.
Editor's Note: Barry Klein writes for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and his
book, "Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll", was published in 1997. To
contact Barry, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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