INTERVIEW by STEVE KELEMEN
I got my first guitar when I was about 14 years old. My younger brother played fiddle and we played at local benefits and dances before I was 16.
I was in the Navy from 1952 to 1956 and most of time was overseas so I was not exposed to much rockabilly until 1956. When I got out of the Navy I settled down in Long Beach, California.
I started playing music and knocked around from club to club getting club experience for a couple of years. The crowds liked the rockabilly sound.
Some of the local artists were playing Wynn Stewart (mainly country but Wynn did do country when it first came out), The Collins Kids, etc.
THE SUNDOWNERS BAND - There was no such band. The musicians who record the record with me came from other groups. We just got together for this one record. The only one I can remember on the session with me was the guitar player named Cecil Bays. He played lead guitar for Wynn Stewart. Wynn's piano player was supposed to play on the "Party Line" session but he didn't show up.
Sundown Records was owned by two men: Kenny Sanders and I can't remember the name of the the man. He bought Kenny out and I only did the one record for Sundown in 1958 - "Party Line" b/w "Blind Blind Heart." Sundown Records had no distribution and very little money and basically I just gave up.
I recorded my second single "Cherokee Boogie" b/w "Oklahoma City Girl" for the Boothill Records label. Jack Downs owned Boothill Records, J.W. Bateman wrote and paid for the recording session for "Oklahoma City Girl."
From 1958 to 1975 I played at a place call "Hollywood on the Pike" in Long Beach. I played there 6 nights a week. This club was a show club - no dancing. I did leave several times, but the owner would come find me - give me a raise - and I would go back.
I also played at "Ellens Panama Club" in Long Beach for about five years total and "The Music Box Club" in Southgate, California for about eight tears.
In 1987 to present I started doing a one-man band because I got tired of trying to keep a band together. I left California in 1987 and went to the Verde Valley area of Arizona. I lived in Camp Verde for about five years and did my one-man show there and places like Flagstaff and Phoenix. I moved back to Oakland in 1992 when I when retired. I still play two or three times a month.
Posted December 22, 2001