This photo was taken in Norman's artist lounge. It shows pictures of
(top left to right) Buddy Holley, The Fireballs, Jimmy Gilmer,
The Fireballs, Norman & Vi Petty & Jack Vaughn, (The Norman Petty Trio),
Norman and Vi Petty.
Photos and notes courtesy: John Granger
Norman was a little quirky. He hated cigarette smoke long before it
was fasionable. He had a cartoon in the lobby of his studio on 7th Street
that showed a fellow sitting in a fireplace with his head up the chimney
saying that Norman hated smoke. I didn't see the pic in the studio when
I was there last summer.
He stayed up almost every nite..all night, and slept during the day.
Had a big Olds 98 and a beat up pickup truck. I was actually hired by
the manager of the radio station (who also managed Norman's diamond
store just down Main St. Bill Strong). One night I was on the air
and a guy drove up in a pickup and wanted me to let him in the front
door. I said Norman didn't allow anyone in.. He said " I AM Norman,
open up"...So I did.
BTW: The radio station control board was run by an analog computer...
pretty nifty for mid-60's. I could play an album and the computer would
delete the pauses between the cuts.
Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs were the big act working in the studio
in the mid-60's.. Jimmy was a college student at Eastern New Mexico U.
while in the group. I asked him why he was going to college with
all the success he was having with the group. He said he knew it
wouldn't last. He was right. A couple years later he left the group
and became a VP at RCA Records in Nashville. He now owns a big artist
agency in Nashville and is doing very well.
He had a little AM transmitter in his studio that could send a signal a
few blocks. When he finished a tape he'd transmit it
while he drove around his neighborhood listening on his car radio.
That way he'd be able to tell what it would sound like if released.
He was also very proud of the echo chamber and reverb he could create
with one of the Ampex recorders. He told me that Henry Mancini
would send masters to his of the Mancini big band for Norman to process
through the echo/reverb system.
Norman also didn't like his groups to fly. The Fireballs had a big white
Continental that they travelled to their gigs around the Midwest in.
An interesting story concerning Larry Holley: He, Buddy H. and some of
the others were traveling over to
Clovis for a recording session. Buddy was trying to finish the song
"Looking For Someone To Love", but was stuck on one verse.
Larry suggested a favorite phrase of their mother's...."Drunk man,
street car, foot slip, there you are". That verse completed the song
Buddy's mother was also the one that came up with the title "Maybe Baby."
Norman's studio. It shows a picture of Norman operating one of his
Ampex recorders with a recording lathe for cutting discs to his right.
On his left is the window from the control room looking into the studio.
The picture is standing on the transport of one of his original recorders.
© Rockabilly Hall of Fame ®