Column #11 - published June 5, 1998
!!! IT'S 15,000 HITS !!!A couple of weeks ago Bob Timmers, curator of this Rockabilly Hall Of Fame site, sent a post to the Rockabilly List commenting on the fact that this site was now receiving 15,000 hits a month. I read the post and smiled, happy to know that Rockabilly is enjoying this exploding popularity!!
Days went by, and I would be driving my Cadillac, and all of a sudden the number 15,000 comes into my head!! I wake up in the middle of the night and it's 15,000!! While I'm recording Mack Stevens I'm thinking 15,000!! What the hell is going on??
It finally dawned upon me: even though all these people from all over the world are visiting the site, enjoying its contents and using the site to book tours, to find out about tours, to promote CDs and concerts, how many of these cats know anything ABOUT The Rockabilly Hall Of Fame and its creator, Bob Timmers?? -- What, one, two, three, four people?? Well, with this column I intend to change that!!
Here is a quick review on how the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame came to be:
Bob Timmers who also runs the Gene Vincent Website was trying to get a campaign started to get Gene Vincent inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland, and sent posts to the rockabilly list asking for help. Some of us, including myself, felt that the Cleveland Hall of Fame was really a "Hall Of Shame" because it kept on favouring old Hippies over Rock'n'Roll Legends like Gene Vincent.
What was the solution??
Rockabilly List members Legjaw, Bob Timmers, Rodney Pyke and others suggested we start our own Hall Of Fame on the Internet to promote the REAL ROCK'N'ROLL LEGENDS, and not washed-out hippies as those guys in Cleveland were doing.
VOILA, The Rockabilly Hall Of Fame on the Web!!
So let's go interview the man himself and find out more about this exciting Rockin' place and the cat who runs it!!RONNY: Let's start from the very beginning. How and when did you get interested in Rock'n'Roll music?
BOB: First off, Ronny, you know how long winded I can get, so are you sure you want me to start yappin'? 1954, when I was 13, things started poppin' up... Bill Haley was the first to excite me. Then I became slowly acquainted with the usual list of legends. About a half-a dozen of my friends and myself began to tune into the Opry and WLAC radio in Nashille, discovering a whole world of music on AM after the the sun went down. Many Sun, King and Specialty label 78's were ordered by mail and delivered to my house. I had to be involved, so my grandfather gave me his old acoustic guitar (which only had 3 strings left on it). I was was hooked, bought a Sears guitar and eventually a Fender Strat and off I went playing in dozens of local groups for the next 18 years.
RONNY: You yourself are in a band. Can you tell us more about it? When started, how long have you been playing, goals, etc.?
BOB: Our current group "Denny & The Bad Cats" is simply a rockablly/blues trio. Denny Noie is an excellent singer/upright bassist and a close friend in music since 1956. I pick at the guitar and we use different drummers, depending on the gig. I guess the final track on the RAB HOF CD gives you some idea of our sound (altho that's more of a blues tune).
RONNY: Let's move on to the Internet. You started with the Gene Vincent site. Who taught you to build a site, and why Gene Vincent??
BOB: Like many would-be web masters, I learned by seeing what other folks did to make their pages look interesting. I don't use any html programs and don't want get too glitzy. It's all done the old fashioned way, by hand... that's my excuse for any screw-ups. Why Gene? He and the Blue Caps are simply my favorite all time artists! Cliff and Johnny were the best guitarists and still influenece me today! There really wasn't much on the net about Gene, and at that time the Cleveland HOF had nothing going for him, so I did it and that mushroomed into being the official Gene Vincent website with the blessing of the Craddock Family and the Blue Caps.
RONNY: OK then, not much more than a year ago you opened the Rockabilly Hall of Fame site. Did you ever dream that it would grow to such an extent and become the world's pivot point for Rock'n'Roll music??? Tell us your inner feelings about all that happened!!
BOB: Well, the rockabilly discussion group was trying to settle on a plan to maybe create a web HOF, but it's hard to come up with that when so many people are dropping in a random suggestion into the mix. So Joe Wajgel and I decided to "just do it!" Joe sent me his massive data base name list and I started posting it as a spin-off of Gene's website.
RONNY: I know Rockabilly artists and Rock Legends, the unknown and the very famous and everybody in between, call you day and nite, and keep in touch with you. How does this feel?? Any special moment, conversation that especially touched you, or caught your fancy??
BOB: Yep, as soon we started this HOF thing I started getting phone calls: "Hey, my name's in there, what's up?" or "I see my dad (brother, uncle, friend, etc.) is listed in this Hall of Fame, what can we do to help promote him/her?" And so it went and continues each day. When I check my e-mail, open letters or answer the phone it could be a legend, fan, agent, new artist, whatever, on the other end ... each one is as important as the other. I'm like a kid in a candy store. Special folks that communicate often with me include: yourself, Mac Curtis, Ronnie Haig, Billy Swan, Marshall Lytle, Jerry Merritt, Dickie Harrell, Tommy Facenda, Chuck Owston, The Craddock Family, Glen Glenn, Dale Hawkins, Narvel Felts, Kay Wheeler, my right hand man Rod Pyke in the UK...geez, I don't want to leave anyone out...!! We never charged anyone a dime to be with us and that policy has paid off, as we have won the respect of the artists and fans worldwide. I believe that every person connected with rockabilly, early rock, roots whatever you call it, i s special! To me a sideman, a session man, a club owner, a producer, a label president are all equal - all pieces of the puzzle that we are attempting to put together, one piece at a time. I don't mean to preach, I know The Man upstairs is having more fun than I am as he watches old legends that were buddies find each other and retired rockers get away from the TV to go into the studio and back into a venue. There is no sweeter reward to me that to see and hear about that. Marshall Lytle once told me he spent 3 hours on the web site and didn't begin to see all he wanted. Another thrill - discovering all the new talent out there, it's an honor to hear their material.
RONNY: Any unpleasantries??
BOB: Surprisingly only a few, who think I'm creating a monopoly on rockabilly and getting filthy rich while do so. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
RONNY: How do you and your wife, Sonja, manage to handle this huge amount of material?? Don't you have a "real" job, one that pays the bills, I mean?? :-) :-)
BOB: Yes I have a small mail order publicity printing business, but I'm afraid it has lost my attention and focus this past year and is suffering financially. Everyone must know how addicting this music is, I just can't tear myself away from it. A typical day puts me at the HOF computer about 7am, Sonja joins in around 9am and we both wind up here until 10 or 11pm each night... including weekends. I manage to get a jam session or gig in, with old local rockers, once a week to get me back to reality and the trenches. Our dreams are to scrape up enough income through CD sales, T-shirts and other RAB related merchandise to survive. Plans are in the works to expand the Rockabilly Hall of Fame label to other artists as well as continue our series of compilation volumes. BTW: Volume #2 will be a killer, trust me.
RONNY: I don't really consider this only The Rockabilly Hall Of Fame, but also the Real Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame. With this thought I ask you if there are plans to have more material on Rhythm & Blues influenced Rock'n'Roll artists, in addition to all the Hillbilly influenced ones (i.e., rockabilly) ??
BOB: True, and I'm really glad only a few folks have spoken out when we have included some non-related rockabilly info. To me it's "roots" with the center point being rockabilly. We've even opened up a special page called "Area 56" to throw in wierd music/entertainment material (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) knowing that not everyone that stops by is solely locked into rockabilly, They all have other music interests. It's like TV, don't go there if you ain't interested. Lord knows, we have enuff other rockin' pages on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame to visit. I personally would love to see a section on traditional country, hillbilly, blues and R&B added, but right now time is my biggest problem.
RONNY: Tell us on how Sonja, Rod Pyke (and others I may not know about) help you make this the hottest place in Rock'n'Roll Internet history??
BOB: My wife Sonja is a gem. In the office, she types much of the material you see posted throughout the site, including the artists' profiles. And this is no lie, she loved typing your page the most! I swear, I hear her saying it all the time. Sonja also loves the music (thank God) and mixes in well when we attend shows and meet folks. As the gals like talking to her, too, she is my female connection and oftens gets insight on their view point.
Rod Pyke (UK), is a fantastic person. Rod and I first connected while Gene's page was the only net thing I was doing. We now communicate via e-mail several times a day. He handles everything over in England and Europe. He has a little more free time on his hands now, so he'll even be more active. Rod (with his wife Kathy) is the guy who meets the artists when they gig in the UK personally for us. He writes reviews, takes photos ... does it all! Hey, he has more fun than I do, come to think of it! Rod has finally found his true calling - as a reporter/representative for rockabilly music.
Larry Shell is a big help, as is Joe Wajgel and Rollin' Rock Records. Believe me, this is not just a one person effort. You know, Ronny, every day I get up now with a purpose - to look under every (no pun intended) "rock" to find a lead, contact or story that can make the Rockabilly Hall of Fame a little bit better...and I'm lovin' every minute of it.
RONNY: Anything else, future projects, changes, comments, thoughts???
BOB: I've dreamed (along with cats like Mac Curtis, Jerry Merritt, 90-year-old Pat Mason, Dale Hawkins, Glen Glenn and many others) that someday we'd actually have a physical building - a location to display all this stuff that folks are (and want to) send me. I've been offered some pretty usual items already, but have no proper place to display them. Would you believe I turned down Gladys Presley's hutch, the one that Elvis used to hide under when his mom was looking for him? And...a custom-made Fender amp made by Leo Fender himself belonging Gene Vincent ... photo albums from celebs? ..articles of clothing? Someday! Hey maybe there is philanthropist out there that needs a tax write-off. Wouldn't that be cool.
RONNY: It's great to be here and reside in the Rockinest Place in the Internet!! Thanx mucho for this interview, for running this incredible site, and for publishing this column!!
BOB: And...thank YOU Ronny! As I've said before, you are one of a kind, please don't ever change. If you hadn't held the course thru the last twenty years, all this may not be happening.
Bob's band in 1994: "The Five Decades."
Roger Loos, sax - Darryl Jaeger, drums -
Bob, guitar - Al Anderson (deceased) guitar - Don Gruedemann, bass
Always Rollin' The Rock,
Rockin' Ronny Weiser,
The Rockabilly Rebel Westerner from Las Vegas, Nevada,
The Wild Wild West
E-Mail Ronny at Rollin' Rock