Knock Out Records
INTERVIEW BY STEVE KELEMEN
Back when I was a kid about 8 years old my older brother Warren (who is still alive)
played the fiddle. He would play a tune and if I would make a wrong cord on the guitar or get
out of meter he would pop me on the head with the fiddleboard and say 'son, you can't make me
look bad on this song. You have to get the right tune and right meter'. He popped me on the head
with that fiddleboard many times. That's how I got started playing music.
My mom and dad also played music. Dad played the fiddle and mom played the guitar.
They played at country dances and now and then I'd go with them when I was little.
They never did learn how to dance because they had to furnish the music for other people to dance.
I and my brothers Warren and Brian used to get up at 5am and go to Alexandria, Louisiana and
play a radio show and then come back and haul pulp board for the rest of the day. That was real
hard work. I'll never forget what my dad told us one time. He said 'sons, I used to get mad at
you all but now you're ticklin' me. I'm laughing at you at the way you're running yourself down
with the music and the work'.
Back in those days you had to work to make it. We were in the logging business. It was real
hard. My brothers and I would haul logs all day long but still played radio shows.
One morning I told my brothers I was going back to the house and write me some songs because
I want to play music. That's what I did. In fact that's when I wrote "Let's Go Boppin' Tonight".
We started playing it around the clubs and people started requesting it. I knew I had something
that people would like. They liked to get up and boogie to it in the clubs.
On the local scene country music was real popular. All I did was take a country piece
and put a fast tune to it. Then Elvis came on the scene and rock n' roll started.
I did sing a lot of rock n' roll in the clubs. We played 4 or 5 nights a week back
then and would play country and rockabilly. All the while I kept singing "Let's Go
Eddie Shuler drove us up to the Louisiana Hayride and Horace Logan introduced me to some people
on the show - Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and lots of the stars that made it bigger
later on. They weren't popular at the time. They were just like I was but did make it big later on.
They called me up to sing. My brother Warren played the upright bass and Brian played the guitar.
I played the rhythm guitar and sang.
We went on before Elvis that night. Elvis was getting encores all night long but that night we
got two encores in front of him.
After we finished Elvis called me to the back room and said if you would like to send that song
(Let's Go Boppin' Tonight) to Sam Phillips in Memphis I'll record it for you. So I thought, if
he thinks he can put it over I could probably do the same thing, so I didn't send the song.
I did alright with it by not giving it to Elvis.
THE BOPPIN' BILLIES
My piano player was Joe Roy. Brian Ferrier played the lead guitar. Ross Harbour played the drums.
David Gregory played the bass ( after Warren ) and I played the rhythm guitar and sang.
We had some wild and strange times together. Once we were driving in from Alexandria one night
and David was at the wheel - a big cadillac. We were all sleeping and he went to sleep on us while
driving. The car left the road and went down into the woods and while this was happening he woke up
and managed to get the car out of the woods and back on the road.
My brother Warren said to him - 'Man, David, what's wrong with you. You going crazy or something'.
David looked at Warren and said 'now, Warren, do you think you could make a drive like that?.
Warren said no. When we brought Warren home that night he stood out by the car and said 'I'm going
to quit you all because I don't want to die in a car wreck'. From then on he started going
to church and got saved and is still going to church.
Eddie Shuler used to write a lot of my songs. Sometimes he'd send me 12 songs at once.
I'd rehearse and learn them all. Then we would go in and cut a complete album in 3 or 4
hours in the Goldband studio. He would run the boards. He was a good A&R man for us.
We'd take a brake and Eddie would take us out and feed us good shrimp and oysters and the
like down there in Lake Charles and then we'd come back and finish up.
Johnny wrote "I'll Try One More Time" for me. Eddie Shuler introduced me to him down at the
Goldband studio. Johnny wanted me to come to Texas to play at a dance he was having.
He was playing a great big place and my brothers and I sat in and played with him. Later on
I got him to come and play in Louisiana at the club I was playing at. He was a good singer
and an all around nice man.
A fellow told me about J.D. Miller down in Crawley, Louisiana. He said you must go down and
talk to Mr. Miller. I went down and Miller accepted me. He said he would record me and sent
me some songs in the mail. He sent me one called "I'm The Man".
We went down and recorded it and it got to #3 in Nashville.
I recorded for J.D. Miller for about 10 years. We'd get together and I'd write some songs and
he would write some and we'd record them along with Warren Storm, Rocket Morgan and Brian playing
lead guitar. Most of the time there were studio musicians but Brian would come with me to
record. Often we stayed until midnight or later and had to be back for work the next morning.
J.D. Miller had 4 or 5 labels he could put you on. He put me on the Excello, Rocko and Zynn
labels. Miller had a lot of hits with different people on his labels.
Jin Records is down in Ville Platte, south Louisiana. I called Floyd Soileau one time and said
this is Al Ferrier and he said 'Man, I've been wanting you to call me. Come on down here and
we'll do an album together'. I told him I needed some new songs and he said he'd send me some
through the mail. I learned them and went down there and we cut the album at the Jin studio.
Then I started going overseas and brought a lot of these new songs with me on tour.
Through the years I met a man called Carlton Basco who was a great organ player.
I hired him to play in my band. He played for a number of years with us. Then he quit and got
his own band. I told my wife if I could get a hold of Carlton again we should play some more
music together. So I went down to his house and talked with him. He said he had some gospel
songs out he'd like me to sing. I'd already been saved then (I got saved in 1996) and nothing better
could have happened to me. I was a drunk and a bad man while in the music scene and liked to
fight and get into lots of trouble. So I started to sing Carlton' gospel songs.
He had one called "Help Me Please Jesus" and I just loved that song when I'd sing it. Carlton
said he knew a man in Marksville and if we could go in and cut the songs he wouldn't charge
too much in studio time. So we went down and cut the album 'Help Me Keep The Faith'.
We named it after another song Carlton wrote. That's the best thing that ever happened to me.
OUT NOW ...
"Dedicated In Memory of Brian Ferrier"
Page Updated, 2011
Rockabilly Hall of Fame ®