NORMAN PETTY


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 for him. 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.










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