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INTERVIEW BY STEVE KELEMEN

I was born in Harlan Country, Kentucky. At the age of 4 years old my mother passed away and approximately 1 year later my dad passed away. So I and my 3 sisters (2 older and 1 younger) were separated and raised by family members in the northeast part of Tennessee. I don't remember much about Kentucky except I was in a coal mining town.

When I was a young lad there was a man named Frank Tucker who taught me a few chords on the guitar. I am not sure but I believe he worked for a sawmill at that time. I don't recall how or where I got my first guitar but I'm sure it was a cheap instrument because there was very little money available at the time. Anyway, Frank Tucker was the man who was responsible for teaching me.

In about 1948 I worked for a roofing company in Oakridge, TN. This company was from Lubbock, Texas. When the job was complete they returned to their home state and they offered me a job with them. I returned with them because work was not very profitable in TN.

My professional music career started in Lubbock on a radio station called KSEL.At the time we were called Earl Montgomery & His Tennessee Ramblers. This radio station and the Big Jamboree barn dance drew a large audience. We would bring in big named artists in those days such as Hank Thompson, Lefty Frizzell & Bill Monroe etc. The Tennessee Ramblers were able to play and we show dated throught the local area.

In 1950 I came to La Porte, Indiana and this was when the Tennessee Trio was put together. It consisted of myself and two other guys by the names of Marty Winkfien and Gil Posese and we had a weekly radio program. We did this for some time. This was also when my song writing career started.

I wrote a song called "Don't Tease Me" which I recorded on the Mar-Vel label. Then Carl Smith covered it for the Columbia label. The song (Smith's version) went up to 18 on the C&W charts. By the mid 50's I began to move around playing nightclubs and other engagements using a steel guitar play named Bernie Scott and an electric guitar player named Harold Walters. I did all of the singing and played rhythm guitar.


HARRY GLENN/MAR-VEL RECORDS Harry Glenn was very aggressive. We would travel a lot promoting records. If we arrived at a radio station at night and it was open, he would wake me up and take me in for an interview. He would never let me rest it seemed. We travelled a lot to different states promoting myself and Mar-Vel records. I believe I cut one Mar-Vel record in Gary, Indiana and the rest were made in Chicago.


DECCA RECORDS I do not recall all the songs I recorded for Decca. I believe I recorded between 4 to 8 songs. "My Heart My Heart" b/w "Flirting With You" were the only two issued. They were cut in a Nashille studio using session players. During this period I was in contact with Bill McCall of 4 Star Publishing in Pasadena, Ca. He and my manager began to work together on my songs. By this time I had written several songs and Bill McCall tried to encourage me to move to Pasadena but I really wasn't ready to move. At about this time there were some controversial issues over my songs between Harry Glenn and the Mar-Vel publishing Co. and also the 4 Star Publishing Co. As far as I can remember, they were able to settle their differences and things went well for a while.



I have been away from secular music for many years. I got to know the Lord personally and began to write Gospel music and sing in different churches. This is what I am doing today. I have a group of guys who sing with me and we go to nursing homes and once a month to a local hospital. I am utilizing my time by serving the Lord.



ED Note: Amen


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