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BOND ON BOND
BUFORD AND "THE PINK & BLACK DAYS"
By Barry M. Klein

Barry: We are starting a September 28, 1999 interview with the legendary Eddie Bond, who has been a singer, a songwriter, performer, producer, radio and TV host, nightclub owner, husband and father. Eddie, I know that after four decades of being in the music business, a lot a people ask you about the old days, but I would like to start off talking about where we are now near the end of 1999. I know you have a nightclub called Eddie Bond Country Club in McNairy County, Tennessee, and you live close by in Bolivar. Tell us where Bolivar is so people can find it, and then tell us about the nightclub.
Eddie: Bolivar is real close to Memphis. I would call it in the suburbs of Memphis where they meet by a big four-lane highway. I found me a little lake and a little piece of ground up there, and built me a house, and that's where I guess you would say I'm semi-retired. However, I have been working harder since I have been up here because there are so many new projects. I have a new television show that is my passion. They picked up my TV program in Jackson, Tennessee, which you know is Carl Perkins' hometown. Really, this has always been my old stomping ground. Thirteen miles from McNairy County. McNairy County is where Buford Pusser was when I did "Walking Tall" and I did all those songs with him. I worked nine years with Sheriff Buford Pusser on his biography. I did a 3-hour radio show every morning and I did a TV show every week with the same station. I am still with the same TV station out of Memphis, WHBQ TV Fox 13, the one that Elvis started out with. He started out with Radio. The old red and blue man - Dewey Philips - and Dewey cut his first records. We was in the Chisca Hotel - he used to call it the "magazine floor" meaning the "mezzanine floor". But he was the best and he helped me and Elvis. But particularly, I got to know him. He finally wound up with me being at a radio station and I gave him a job. All in all I have been there form the start. I was born in Memphis, raised in Memphis, lived in the same house 37 years, raised my children, and then I came up here in the country kind of and got me a real what I call "having a vacation" every day. However, I still have a little bargain store, which sells miscellaneous items that my son runs. Gladys, my wife, runs my promotion company. To clear you up on the club, though. The club is not a "nightclub". It is a family place. They don't sell any alcoholic beverages. Momma, pappa and the kids can all come. Little boys and little girls can dance together. They can line dance and they can square dance. It's a great big place. It's 6,000 sq. ft. It holds about 400 people. I bring people down like Narvel Felts. The week before last I had Ace Cannon. Between now and the first of the year I've got both of them coming back again. Ace Cannon has had some big big records instrumental wise like "Cotton Fields" and I think "Tuff" was his first one. He recorded for Joe Coughi Poplar Tunes and started out with Hi Records as did Narvel Felts.

Barry: What days of the week are you open at the Eddie Bond Country Club?
Eddie: The Country Club opens Thursday, Friday and Saturday at night only. It is just a big, nice, convenient family place. Nice clean floor. I just really like it and my whole family is involved. My daughter works the concession stand, and my other daughter works the door. I have two daughters. My son is into singing himself, so he does the singing also.

Barry: We are going to get to Eddie, Jr. in just a minute, but let me ask you first - I understand you have some recorded music being released pretty soon like a single and then maybe a CD. Can you tell us about that?
Eddie: Well I guess I will record until I die. I don't know why I wouldn't. I have been very fortunate. My voice, if anything, has gotten a lot better. I am amazed when I go to Europe they say I sound just like I did way back, only a little bit better. I have a song by a great songwriter that did a lot with Waylon Jennings, he wrote David Allen Coe's record "The Ride", and he's sort of my partner in the music promotion business and he runs the Nashville office.

Barry: What's his name?
Eddie: His name is Chuck Dixon. He is one of the world's greatest promoters. For the past 19 years he has been the "Promoter of the Year" out of Nashville according to major artists, independent artists also because he really thrives on it. However he did help start Reba McIntyre and Waylon Jennings and some of the other people.

Barry: Now Chuck, did he write the single you are coming out with?
Eddie: I didn't particularly like all of it, so I jumped right in and wrote part of it. Me and him shared writers on it. I wrote the last verse. We haven't ever had a closure on the Buford Pusser stuff and so.

Barry: What's the song called?
Eddie: It's called "Ode to Buford Pusser". It digs back into his life. It lets everybody know that he died in a fiery crash and so on and so forth, and the museum is there now. His daughter owns a big nice restaurant called Pusser's now up in his hometown.

Barry: While we are on the subject of Buford - we'll get back to your single and CD - let's talk a little bit about that.
Eddie: That's the reason for the single. Every year we have a big big program called the Stantonville Fire Festival, which is in McNairy County, and I am the Chief of Police up there and have been for the last 16/18 years and what it is - it is like an honorary thing. I don't go out and arrest nobody. They furnish me with a license plate on my car in memory of the Buford Pusser stuff. I have had Tim McGraw up there, then Tracy Lawrence. I have had those Grand Ole Opry stars - Ernie Ashworth and Narvel - all these people. I say again that I am not very far from that territory. My club that you are talking about is in McNairy County, Tennessee. It's a big park up there called The Big Hill Pond State Park. I bought the community center, which is Big Hill Pond Community Center, in Big Hill Pond, Tennessee. It's probably 25 miles from the house I live in, in Bolivar. But, it's right in McNairy County, so that kind of ties it all in. We wanted a closure to say that what have all the people done, that the family fathers in Adamsville, Tennessee, his hometown, built a museum and named it in his honor. Then there is Chuck Dixon, the one that wrote "The Ride", put that little part in there like stuff he did, he wrote "The Ride" like it was Hank Williams supposedly driving the car here. In this particular song at the end of it says that "some folks say at night they can still see him on patrol", like his spirit and being is still in McNairy County. So we kept the legend going real good. I have a 52-minute video with the real Buford Pusser telling his own life story telling about how he met me and how he started, and about how his wife got killed, about when he was shot, and about all these things that are in part of the record. But, I've got him telling his own story. Well the museums in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee up there around Dollywood, they would buy it real good. That's the one place in Tennessee up there that should buy it. Then, of course, the museum in Adamsville, Tennessee, the Buford Pusser Museum - it's a police museum in Pigeon Forge, but Adamsville is the Buford Pusser Museum.

Barry: A lot of people here reading the interview may not know about Buford Pusser. Not that many, but there may be a few. You had a 1968 country song, "The Legend of Buford Pusser", that actually told the story and that story got to Hollywood and it resulted a few years later in 1973 with the movie "Walking Tall" staring Joe Don Baker. There were two sequels to that movie, and your song was featured in the movie and I know that just last month, almost within days of the 25th anniversary of Buford Pusser's somewhat mysterious death, there was a dedication of the Buford Pusser Highway. I know you were at the dedication, and you were very involved with that. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Eddie: Yeah. They put a book that is a pull-out book, and I don't know if you have one or not, but if you don't I could send you one. There are seven of those at the museum and that the Buford Pusser Café have given the entire proceeds to the museum. But I was there, and the Commissioner of Highways, and they named it Buford Pusser Highway from Adamsville, Tennessee all the way down through Selmer and through McNairy County until it goes into the next County. And so, it was quite a thing. They honored me with it and his daughter, and his little grandchildren. I feel real honored that nobody - he has one sister, one daughter, and to clear the record up and they say nobody knows this, but it is in my video - he only has one daughter. The son was a stepson and he had another stepdaughter that was older than that from her previous marriage. And so the girl, his daughter and her two children and his sister is all of the living Pusser family there is. They have just sort of adopted me as their little girl's, the little girl's same is Madison, and she told me that she would like it if I would let her be her adopted papaw since her papaw was dead, and since I knew her papaw so good, I felt that was quite an honor. She comes down and visits with us here on the lake. Sometimes when my granddaughter is down they have a real good time together. We are going to keep that legend alive and like you say, it has been 25 years, but in McNairy County when you roll in to the city of Adamsville and you see a huge billboard that says "You're Strictly in Buford Pusser Country" and the people up there along with his daughter and me and his sister, we are going to be sure that that legend.

Barry: Now his daughter is Dwana.
Eddie: Yeah.

Barry: And Gail is.
Eddie: Gail is his sister. Do you have that magazine I was talking about?

Barry: No I don't.
Eddie: I will have the girl send it to you. I can just mail you a copy of the thing. It tells you a lot. It tells you what the town thinks of him and the county. [Barry: Eddie did indeed send me a forty page tabloid supplement to the August 18, 1999 edition of the Independent Appeal featuring articles, tributes and advertisements dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the death Buford Pusser and the naming of the Buford Pusser Memorial Highway.]

Barry: Well when the interview is over, I'll share my address and everything with you. But it really is wonderful that you're doing what you can do to preserve the life and the legend of Buford Pusser, who was a remarkable figure in the history of Tennessee and the United States.
Eddie: That first song was called "The Legend of Buford Pusser". The reason this last one is called "The Ode" is because I own that right and besides that, the first one was changed to "Buford Pusser Walking Tall". That's kind of what that is -- it says "in McNairy County you see the Sheriff just walking tall today" is one of the lines. Well - obviously he is not walking tall because - but some of the people still think they feel his spirit up there, see, so we say that some people say that they still see him on patrol on this latest record which will be out this Friday.

Barry: There is talk also of a CD coming out. Is there something like that in the plans right now?
Eddie: We have already got a TV show for him. We may do - I've got two or three people that are talking to me, and talk is all it is right now, they really would like to have a book first, but they would like to do my life story and if they did, naturally Buford would be a big part in it as would Loretta Lynn, Webb Pierce who is my mentor, that's who I spent more time with than anybody - he probably stayed in Memphis with me about as much as he did in Nashville. Me and him were great, great friends. He got me on Decca Records and on Coral. You know the good thing about people in country music, and rockabilly is nothing but country, you can't really call rockabilly "rock and roll" because it ain't - it's really fast country - if I was going to say that's a fast song, like really and truly the great Hank Williams, Sr. was doing it when he did "Move It On Over" and Johnny Horton when he did "Honky Tonk Man". All of them certainly were country songs, but they were still considered rockabilly because they were fast country songs. My heart has always been in country music and the rockabilly. I have been to Europe five times. You know I have done about what I want to and now I'm doing even better. If they do a book on me, I can include some of the greats. I was on the Louisiana Hayride with Elvis. I worked a year with Elvis. Carl Perkins was my guitar player at one time as was Roy Orbison. Me, Roy, Carl, Charlie Feathers, Charlie Rich all played together. Charlie Rich has spent the night at my house. All of us knew each other so good, and I could sit down and give you a two-hour interview on Carl Perkins, for instance, or on Elvis back in his early days.

Barry: I am going to be asking you about your recollection of many of the people that you have mentioned a little bit later in the interview. Let me ask you another question. Let's say I come to the Country Club and you are performing, what kind of music do you perform now in your sets?
Eddie: We do all of it. Of course, believe it or not, "Rockin' Daddy" - after all these years - if I ever want to get them on the dance floor - or if I find any place they're going to hear "Rockin' Daddy" - they just got to - that is the most requested song that I have ever had.

Barry: You know it's a funny thing about Sonny Fisher who wrote this song, he is still living - I've got a CD with him and Sleepy LaBeef recorded live in Spain from the early 90's, but you, Eddie, have become personified as the Rockin' Daddy. You are the most famous person associated with that song and your version is terrific.
Eddie: I did a show in Europe and Sonny was there too. He wasn't on my particular show but he was in Europe too. He said he just couldn't understand that. I had a guitar player about then that was only 16-years old. His name was Reggie Young and you see his name on e v e r y t h i n g. Yea. Now he plays probably on 80 percent of all the big hit records that any of the big stars have had. He went to Nashville for me, but it was really a cute little story. He was over in Europe with the Highwaymen. He plays with Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash. I worked with Johnny a long time too. Me and him worked a radio station together. But anyway he went to Europe - so why did he come back here? The people said they wanted to see Reggie Young - well Reggie said what in the world would they want with me - so he went back up there and when he got back up there he said, "We just wanted to meet you. You're Eddie Bond's guitar player". It really made me feel good. But Reggie put his signature on that rockabilly early and he played on Glenn Campbell's records and everybody when they did anything fast rockabilly or beautiful love songs, he was good. He is probably the greatest guitar player in the world.

Barry: You had a great backup band in the Stompers in the early days. One of my favorite rockabilly songs of yours, Eddie, is "Slip Slip Slippin' In". Everything about that song is a quintessential rockabilly song. Your vocal intensity, especially in the last set of lyrics and the music - I mean it is just a phenomenal record! In The Bear Family Set - Colin Escott only lists three musicians - Reggie Young, yourself and Johnny Fine, although earlier in the song I hear piano and obviously there is somebody slappin' that bass too. Tell us a little bit about the Stompers.
Eddie: The bass player was a well-known musician, but he was a good deal older than us. His name was Tommy Potts. Tommy has passed away since then. Johnny Fine, I haven't seen him in ages, but he didn't pursue a career in music. He played good - you can tell that on the record, but its funny you should say "Slip Slip Slippin In". That's my encore song. I have had as high as seven encores in Europe, and they always want to hear "Slippin In" again. And no matter if I start another song, they are going to holler "Slip Slip.." I had to do it at least 4 to 5 times - everytime I played. I worked with Dave Travis, and Dave - I always picked me one person and if they were good - I don't work with anybody else and so, some of the other people are good people over there, but anything I did I did for Dave Travis. I don't know if you know who Dave is, but Dave bought off my label out of Memphis called Stomper Time Records. Stomper Time belonged to me and Dave bought the record label from me.

Barry: Who was playing piano on "Slip Slip Slippin In"?
Eddie: His name was Jimmy Smith.

Barry: Some of your other band members included the steel guitarist John Hughey who I believe once played for Conway Twitty and he now plays for Vince Gill.
Eddie: John was actually from West Helena, Arkansas where Twitty was from, which he was Harold Jenkins back then. His momma and his daddy run the towboat that took you from Tennessee over into Arkansas or Mississippi into Arkansas. We were doing a show - I don't know if he - I am going to drop you a name - it will probably mean something to you. Old Harold was red hot by a pen name Tabby West and Wanda Jackson, both of them worked with me on stuff out there. We played a show and Harold Jenkins wanted to sing a song and we let him. John had been knowing him for ages and ages. So later on in his career when he got bigger - he hired Johnny and John stayed with him. He had been away from him about two or three years when he died. Vince Gill just idolized John. If you notice at any Vince Gill concerts he is gonna always introduce him as "the legendary fabulous John Hughey". John is responsible for a lot of that crying steel that's on the Vince Gill stuff. To tell you how famous we were - way back then I had like four pieces travel with me - meet me in the theatre. We would travel all over the country - Texas, Oklahoma and everywhere. We played places where Hank Thompson and the Brazos Valley Boys, which was like a 10/12 piece band

Barry: And that's who Wanda Jackson started out with, I believe.
Eddie: What we would do, we would just play at a place they played. You know like Hank Thompson had a place called the Tree A Non Ballroom in Oklahoma and we come in to play with 4 pieces - 5 counting me - we would ask the guy "What time does Hank get here?" and said "well he is not here at all yet". I think we were the number 3 band across the nation at one time, according to Cash Box Magazine. It was like Hank Thompson, Spade Cooley and Bob Wills maybe, and then we were fourth I think it was. Hey - that was in western swing. You asked me did I do rock with it. I must has been a pretty good western swing guy 'cause see - those musicians could play jazz and make you swear that it was a jazz band up there they played so good. John Hughey could play that steel, and sound just like a trombone, and that was back before you had all these gimmicks to do stuff. He done it with the steel and just raw talent. But if we wanted to go western swing, man we could just - when I call them the Eddie Bond Western Swing Band - that's Reggie sitting on the front there if you seen that picture. We played rockabilly, of course. We done raw country, of course. We done western swing and we could mix it up and put it to a jazz song - like Dixieland sort of.

Barry: You have also been known for your gospel songs.
Eddie: Yeah. Sam Philips, when I first started out, he didn't much like my voice. But me and Sam were okay. I knew his family and all, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me in my life. He turned me down and I signed a contract with Mercury Records. At that time Mercury was headed by Dee Kilpatrick and it was a big label. I had fellows like Jimmy Dean, Patti Page on it. So I kind of stepped out of the Memphis scene and got into the great big jive spotlight. That really helped me with Mercury. That's how come "Rockin' Daddy" done so good. I believe, I am just talking to ya what I may remember - Sonny Fisher's record of "Rockin' Daddy" I believe was on Starday or some label like that. Well, it didn't have the distribution and it didn't have the muscle that Mercury had. So when mine come out on Mercury, naturally that is the one they heard. That went to every disc jockey everywhere. It was promoted big time. It was #1 in Little Rock, Arkansas for six months. It stayed in the top ten for a year or so. I guess Mercury had an awful lot to do with that.

Barry: Was Shelby Singleton with Mercury at the time or was that later?
Eddie: Shelby worked some with - he had a label called Singleton. Margie Singleton is his wife. It was at the time. He later - much later - bought the old Sun catalog and I had all those.

Barry: Wasn't he with Mercury before he bought Sun?
Eddie: For a little while he was with Mercury on the pop end of the meter. People liked big time rhythm and blues artist. But I never had any dealings with Shelby until after he turned around and bought (Sun) - a little bit when he was married to Margie. It was Margie who was on the Louisiana Hayride with me. Do you remember who Margie Singleton was? I knew his wife better than him, but they later on got a divorce. I worked with Shelby a little bit on this stuff with the Bear Family. I didn't have a lot to do with that because the Bear Family bought the Sun package and then Bear Family dealt with Shelby on that. They had to deal with other people on Mercury. See they have some Mercury records even though it's on Sun.

Barry: Do you still get royalties from things like that?
Eddie: About every six months. I had a song on that same thing called "Flip Floppin Momma with a Hole in Her Shoe". That is unbelievable. I get royalties on it. I get one on a crazy thing called "Monkey and the Baboon" that I wrote. And they love it in Europe too. Oh yes. About every six months the mailman is real nice to me.

Barry: That's great. You also wrote "Boppin Bonnie" didn't you?
Eddie: Yeah. I wrote a little tad of it. I had a boy that worked with me on that played slapin Bass with Charlie Feathers, his name was Jody Chastain and he and Jerry Huffman wrote part of it.

Barry: They were Charlie Feathers' boys.
Eddie: You know Charlie has passed away now.

Barry: Oh yes. Just over a year ago.
Eddie: Carl Perkins passed away. If I don't hurry up and die, I ain't going to have nobody to come to my funeral. All my friends are trying to die first.

Barry: You know something: the only disadvantage about living a long life is that your peers don't come to your funeral, but maybe that's the better alternative, Eddie.
Eddie: I have had a wonderful life and I am probably enjoying life now better than I ever have.

Barry: Well, you're not going to pass away for many, many more years.
Eddie: My doctor tells me he wishes he were in as good of shape as I'm in.

Barry: That's great. I remember when they asked George Burns when he was in his 90's , "You go out with young women, smoke ten cigars and drink whiskey every day, what do your doctors say?" - and he said, "They're all dead".
Eddie: That's the truth. In July I was 66 years old, just for the record. I am just about in that same range, although I think Carl was one year older. Me and Elvis was one year younger. [Barry: Elvis was born 1-8-35; Eddie was born 7-1-33].

Barry: Well Carl was a heavy smoker, and he was a drinker at one time. It was just a shame.
Eddie: You know he had lung cancer and would just not put those cigarettes down. In my lifetime I have never smoked. But I have drunk enough of the other stuff probably to swim me in. But that was my early days. You have to look back at a man that has owned - at one time I owned two radio stations - that was after I had worked at one for 17 years and learned everything about it - I owned two radio stations at one time, I owned several nightclubs at one time. One of the most successful nightclubs ever was over in Memphis called Eddie Bond Ranch. It would hold about 600 and we sold steaks and everything out there. So I've done so much, and back in that time, way back then, I never did get - like some of those guys that were on the road a lot got into hard drugs. But you got to bear in mind that I was at a radio station where I did my shows every day and played every night, and stayed as busy as I wanted to. I just wrote my own ticket for anything I wanted, so I didn't get out of Memphis like the rest of them did. They had such a hard hard grind, even though mine was hard, it wasn't so draining, and I never, God as my witness, I have never used any hard drugs. The biggest thing that would have been wrong with me is that years ago musicians would take pills to make them stay awake at night. I think they were called drive pills or something. You could take those and drink coffee and go on day in and day out. But, I never did that stuff.

Barry: Let's talk about your family for a while. I know that you must have been married to Gladys for a long time because she wrote a 1957 song of yours, "King on Your Throne". How long have you and Gladys been married?
Eddie: 44 years.

Barry: I am sure she is a big part of your life and always has been.
Eddie: She has always supported me 100 percent where other wives wouldn't want their husbands being in the music business. She always supported me 100 percent. If that's what I wanted to do, that's what I could do.

Barry: That's great. I'm glad, on behalf of all your fans, including me, that she let you do it. Let's talk about Eddie Jr. Tell us about him and his career.
Eddie: Well Eddie Jr. has just turned 31. He could of done it a long time ago, but he, like everybody else, didn't really get serious about his music until I bought radio stations and he got to play at them. Now he's like Marty Robbins, boy he can sing. He's got a new record and it will be out, and of course the big job promotion man in Nashville, Chuck Dixon, just took him under his wing too. So Eddie is going to making a record called "Don't Leave a Woman Like Her Lonely Too Long". I guess if I were going to describe it, it don't sound like him at all. He don't sound like nobody but Eddie Bond, Jr. on this one, but it's got a flavor of Ernest Tubb, it's got a flavor of Martin Robbins, all of those real old guys that I grew up with. Even a little bit of Webb Pierce. He does Webb's records "I Ain't Never", "I Don't Care" and all these old songs. Naturally, I've got everything that Webb Pierce every recorded. It's going to be country - real country. But it's going to have a flavor of all those old wonderful folks that was on the Grand Ol' Opry back then.

Barry: That sounds great. Does Eddie Jr. perform at.
Eddie: He is on my television show. He is also at the club every Saturday night. Matter of fact, all we got to do is stick Jr. on the end of it and he can have all that stuff afterwords when I pass on - Eddie Bond Jr. can just keep truckin!

Barry: That sounds great. I know you have to go pretty soon, but I just want to mention a few people you knew in your past that you have feelings about or might want to share a memory or two real briefly. If I just say the name, you tell me what you want to tell me about them and what they meant to you or whatever. Marty Robbins.
Eddie: Marty was the greatest singer in the world. He performed with me on several occasions. But mostly, I just booked Marty. Marty was a real funny guy - a r e a l funny guy. When he took to a stage, you might as well let him stay on as long as he wants to, and that's what the people are going to make you do. I can't praise him enough for having great great great great talent.

Barry: I saw Marty west of Chicago at the Kane County Fair Grounds - maybe four years before he died. He had several of those attacks and bypasses and whatever. Not only was he talented, but as you say, he was extremely hilarious. He could have been a standup comic he was just so funny.
Eddie: The last show I was involved in was in Memphis, and it had Jerry Lee Lewis on it. Well Jerry Lee is my buddy too and he lived close to my radio station down there. I did a show in December with Jerry and I am sure I will do another one. So from time to time me and Jerry cross paths. Jerry' s wife, the one he is married to now, used to sing on my TV show. So we are real close. But Jerry is Jerry, that's all I can tell you about Jerry. He said he don't go on last for nobody. Well to me, there ain't nobody that is going to headline a show when Marty is there. Marty said, "I don't care, I' ll go on first. It don't make no difference to me." He said, "When I leave Memphis, Tennessee they will know I've been there." And he walked out on that stage and he had the prettiest white suit on, he was real thin then, he had done everything the doctors had told him to do - he had gotten his weight down and everything was right, and he still died of a massive heart attack. If the good Lord wants to call your name, he is going to bring you on in. But Marty got up there and sang about four songs and he didn't say a word, and that's not like Marty. When he got through he said, "How do you all like my suit?" Everybody is saying "It's good". And he said "You know why I didn't say anything?" He said "This suit has dazzled y'all so bad, that y'all didn't know who it was singing for the first four songs!" He was really hilarious. Jerry went on out and closed the show, but everybody knew Marty Robbins had come to town!

Barry: I certainly believe that. You know we lost Charlie Feathers who had been very ill in his last few years - a little over a year ago.
Eddie: I attended Charlie Feathers' funeral. I went over to Holly Springs, Mississippi. That's where his family is from. This is someone where I knew alI of his brothers and sisters and so forth. I wrote a little speech to say at Bud Deckleman's. Bud worked the Louisiana Hayride with me. Me and Bud went from Memphis to Shreveport every Saturday night and played the Hayride. Any we played places on the way down there and places on the way back for probably a year/year and a half.

Barry: You mentioned that Carl Perkins, as he did for Johnny Cash in the '70's, played guitar for you at one point.
Eddie: Well what it was that when we first started out - now you've got to bear in mind that not any of us had no money or nothing - and we just started out. So what we would do sometimes - if we played a show and they couldn't afford to book me and my band, they would book me in. And Carl would sit behind the curtain and play the guitar for me - they wouldn't walk out on the stage. And so did Roy Orbison. Roy Orbison was a great guitar player and of course, Carl Perkins was. They would back me up but the people in the audience didn't know it. Of course, it came out in magazines. They found out about it. But still, that was strictly to hold down expense, when they couldn't afford me and Reggie and all of us.

Barry: It is nice to know that there was such camaraderie.
Eddie: You know we worked so good together, sometimes we would play 7 or 8,10,15 days together. Me and Carl and his band, and I loved his brother, Clayton, and the one that died in the wreck too. [Older brother and rhythm guitarist, Jay, almost died in the crash, but actually tragically died of a brain tumor about a year or so later.] Clayton was the bass player and the other one I think played rhythm guitar.

Barry: Clayton was a bass player.
Eddie: Clayton was the one that died. Well they both did now.

Barry: The other brother had the brain tumor, Jay.
Eddie: Well that was caused from that wreck. It was a real bad wreck they had when they were going to do the Dick Clark Show or Ed Sullivan or whatever.

Barry: The Perry Como Show.
Eddie: Perry Como Show - that was it. But you've got to bear in mind that I have been doing this for 40 years. When you been putting records out for 40 years, sometimes you forget some of that old stuff. After 7 or 8 or 14 days together, our last night we were good for nothing. Everybody would sit around and drink and cry and everything else. Carl was really very deeply religious rooted. His family, and he had the most wonderful wife in the world, never heard much about her, but she was right there behind him all the time. We would sit down and say well we just hope Carl would always say that the good Lord has been good to us. He let us have these 14 days together - 7 or whatever they were. I just hope and trust and pray to God that we can be together again real soon and do another tour like this.

Barry: What memories of Elvis can you share with us?
Eddie: Well Elvis, Scotty, Bill and D J Fontana. They were all friends of mine. Scotty had played with me a lot. Then when Elvis first got rid of his band, way back there, well Bill Black, Scotty and DJ worked under the head of the Elvis Presley Band. I'm sitting on radio station with all this power and I booked them. I would book a little show and say I am going to be down at such and such a place, and by the way I am going to bring the Elvis Presley Band with me, and Scotty and Bill and DJ and boy I mean we would have some big crowds. So that's how it worked a lot with them too. But, I knew Scotty before Elvis. He worked with a country boy named Doug Poindexter. Scotty actually had a record out with Doug Poindexter before Elvis.

Barry: And then Scotty went on to produce at Fernwood.
Eddie: Yeah. I think he did. He produced "Tragedy". [Barry: A big hit single for singer Thomas Wayne.] Several big records on Fernwood. Scotty had an independent - we crossed paths all the time. He had a place that made tapes in Nashville, an independent production. I used a whole lot of his services then. We still consider ourselves real good friends. It is just such a sad thing that you don't see any of the living ones until somebody dies. Then everybody goes to the funeral. There's Sam Philips sitting behind me, and the Tennessee Governor sitting in the front row at Carl Perkins' funeral. It's just so sad. Jerry Lee was sitting over across from me.

Barry: Speaking of sad, Eddie, there was another fellow who had a pretty good country voice who did early rockabilly and, unfortunately, did not have the life that you had: Warren Smith.
Eddie: Warren worked for me a lot too. I really thought a lot of Warren. In the early days Warren would tour with me all over Arkansas and Missouri. The beautiful part about living in Memphis, you could play within a 100-150 miles of Memphis, you played all those old famous places like Gobbler, Missouri, there was a famous disc jockey up there named Jimmy Haggy, who did a lot of booking up there. Each place you played at would always have a kingpin working at a radio station where you would book through him and he would go out and MC a show or he would have records on or whatever and play with you. Well Warren played every little old place - we use to play the drive-in movie concession stands when drive-ins were real popular. I worked with Johnny Horton a long time too.

Barry: Johnny is another one that didn't have a long life.
Eddie: No. Johnny died early in a car wreck didn't he.

Barry: Yes.
Eddie: Do you know that when he died Reggie Young was playing lead guitar for him then? And Tilman Franks had booked them all the time.

Barry: Now I know Narvel Felts made a recent appearance at your place. Do you and Narvel go back a long ways?
Eddie: He will be back November the 13th.

Barry: Okay! And you and Narvel knew each other in the old days I presume?
Eddie: Oh Lord yes! You know he's on this same CD promotional copy that's out, I am on there with Johnny Paycheck and Ernie Ashworth from the Grand Ole Opry, and Narvel - they're re-releasing the record on him of the single "The Pink and Black Days". That's a little song that has my name and Roy Orbison - we were doing a show in Dexter, Missouri and its all going to be on the same CD.

Barry: What label is that?
Eddie: Well see - that's put out by a production company. They put that out on American Image Records, a production company and they send it only to radio stations. But he will cover 1,600 radio stations. It's got a compilation of all of us that released singles at the same time. It makes it real good for a radio station. It really makes it good for us cause if they like to have Johnny Paycheck, they are going to have me right there next to him. It makes it good. It kind of helps us all.

Barry: You talk about Webb Pierce and what a influence and help he has been to you in your career. I just recently purchased a great 20-song set from the CMA gift shop in Nashville, all 50's stuff that was just dynamite. You also, I understand, were pretty close with Charlie Rich.
Eddie: Oh yeah. Charlie worked with me a lot. I worked some shows with him. And then his son, they call him Charlie Rich, Jr. now, he was going to Monroe or one of them places in Louisiana to hear his son. The next night he got into Hammond, Louisiana, which is about 50 miles out of New Orleans, and that is where Charlie died. But his son has come back, and he has a managing group that's attorneys that have been friends of mine and done entertainment attorney work for me a lot. Jim Lockard is his name and he is managing him now and he is going to have a real nice career. He looks like his daddy only he is a lot thinner, plays that piano just like him, and I have used him on several occasions. Matter of fact, you just gave me a good idea. I am going to call Lockard and ask him when I can have Charlie Rich, Jr. up here to my club. Anyways, he was a whole lot like him. He's coming on too.

Barry: But he wasn't originally born Charlie Rich, Jr.? He became Charlie Rich, Jr.
Eddie: Like Conway Twitty's boy did. But my boy is Eddie Bond, Jr. born like Hank Jr. was.

Barry: Well let me leave you with one other name. We talked about Conway Twitty a little bit and it sounds like you and he were pretty close and you shared some musicians and you him pretty well, born near the same area. What memories can you share with us about Conway?
Eddie: A great old guy. His family and in fact Conway was always a little bit bashful and backwards. He never did get to be real buddy buddies like me and some of the others did. But his mother and daddy, he was instrumental in getting them a place down in Moon Lake, Mississippi. For ten years probably, every 4th of July, I played Moon Lake. His mother had a big trailer court and nightclub right on the lake. I played for his momma every 4th of July probably ten years in a row. She has passed away too now.

Barry: I know you have to get going soon, it sounds like you have a wonderful life. Like you say - you're working but it's almost like living in retirement - you're doing what you want to do, you're still singing, writing and producing and hosting radio and TV, and you've got your Eddie Bond Country Club, which I will correct myself - it's not a nightclub, it's for everyone.
Eddie: Just say family entertainment.

Barry: Family entertainment. And you are in Bolivar, Tennessee.
Eddie: Oh no no no. It's in Big Hill Pond, Tennessee. That's in McNairy County. That's where you really want to push McNairy County. Everybody everywhere knows - they might not know where Big Hill Pond is - but they know where McNairy County is.

Barry: That's east of Bolivar, where you live.
Eddie: It's almost to Selmer which is the county seat where Buford's jail is. Let me drop one more little thing on Buford's jail. They built a whole big huge, like everything else has grown, criminal complex. Well they took the old courthouse, and the State of Tennessee gave them $1 million to renovate it. They have some city offices in it, but they have redone the old jail just like Buford had it. In that particular time he lived in the jail, when they elected a Sheriff way back then. His living quarters was in the jail, his razor is still laying out on the little sink, and the place where he locked them up, where they cooked for him, they done everything in the jail then. I ate many a meal in that old jail up there. It's just like it was when Buford had it. I persuaded them not to do no painting and cleaning up. Clean it real good, but don't paint over anything those prisoners have scribbled on the wall and murals and things that they've drawn. Leave it just like it was. I wouldn't let them move anything out of the kitchen. I say I wouldn't let them but maybe I couldn't help myself, but I would of fought at them if they did, so they didn't. They left the pans and stuff. His daddy was Carl Pusser. His daddy done all the cooking. So he had the stuff right where he wanted and that's why I convinced them into leaving it like that. That's something that nobody even knows about hardly. It's in the town of Selmer which is the county seat of McNairy County, and you just go into the courthouse and tell them you want to see the jail and the Sheriff's office, and they will take you right in there.

Barry: It sounds to me like some of what you are describing was portrayed in the original "Walking Tall" movie.
Eddie: It was. There was a lot in my movie. In my television show I have one called "Buford Pusser, Another Side". It's 52 minutes of the real version, and if you want me to I will drop you one of those videos in the mail. [Barry: Eddie sent me the tape, which included home movies and interviews with the real Buford Pusser - plus a few of Eddie's songs about Sheriff Pusser. It was a good program.]

Barry: Let's do that. I know you've got to run, so I want to thank you for sharing so much of your life with us.


Editor's Note: Barry Klein writes for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and his book, "Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll", was published in 1997. To contact Barry, email him at bmk@bmkre.com





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