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Inductee of of The Rockabilly Hall of Fame®

Bill's Biography

Born: June 18, 1940
Town: Mattoon, Illinois
Parents: Thomas E. and Lena Mae Morrison
Siblings: Younger sister, Sandy; Younger brother, Buddy--deceased
Children: Tom, born Rockford, Illinois 1966 - Susan born Nashville, Tennessee 1973
Education:
           Paxton High School, Paxton, Illinois
           University of Illinois Police Training Institute
           Liberty University Institute of Biblical Studies
Military: U.S. Navy 1958-1961
Induction: Inducted into The Rockabilly Hall of Fame July 1, 2003
Recordings: See below.





In Bill's Own Words...

I first sang in public at age 9 in church: Favorite song, "In The Garden." At age fourteen to sixteen, I sang on Talent Shows and Contests in Illinois, while attending high school. The first recording artist I ever worked with was Joe Dowell in 1957. Joe recorded on the SMASH label, and his first release "Wooden Heart" went to No. 1. The show was played in a theatre in Hoopeston, Illinois. Joe wore heavy make-up on stage and that cracked me up, but the man sold lots of records. I'll bet you didn't know that people in Illinois love Rockabilly music.

I joined the Navy after graduation, on June 11, 1958. A full football scholarship to Western Illinois University arrived in the mail ten days later. The next forty-five years have pretty much followed that same patern.

Two weeks into Boot Camp training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, I was assigned to the Navy's prestigious "Blue Jackets Choir." My first appearance with the choir was in Minneapolis, MN with Movie Star "Esther Williams." That came three weeks into Boot Camp. After that, it was very difficult for me to take the Navy's commitment to turn me into a trained killer seriously. I received training at Great Lakes only when it didn't interfere with the Navy's Public Relations shows all over the planet. It was pretty cool flying to all of our gigs. Well, maybe not cool, because all military planes in the 50's were hot inside, and smelled heavily of aviation gasoline.

My next assignment was the Naval Air Training Center in Norman, Oklahoma. I can't remember what I studied at the base, but two days a week I sang live on an Oklahoma City television station. I'll bet you didn't know that Rockabilly music was very popular in Oklahoma.

My next stop was at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. My first assignment was at the Advanced Training Unit (ATU) 601. They were very impressed with the quality of my military training to that point. So ... they made me a plane captain for one of their training aircraft. If they would just have asked me, I could have told them that I wasn't cut out for that job. First of all, I had to be on the flight line at 0430 Hours. That's 4:30 AM to you non-military types. It just isn't possible to play Rockabilly music throughout south Texas every night of the week, and then show up for work for the Navy at that time of day. What were they thinking? I know this is a real shocker, but I didn't last very long at ATU 601.

I met a very nice navy Chaplain in Mexico. He was able to arrange my release, from one of that county's incarceration facilities. I can't remember who got the rest of the band out, but I was very grateful. We had already missed three gigs. I'll bet you didn't know that Rockabilly music was very popular in Mexico.



On the drive back to the base in Corpus Christi, the nice Chaplain told me that he had read through my military file twice. He thought it would be a really good idea if I went to work for him full time in the Chaplain's Office. He didn't mention it at the time, but the choir at the Protestant Chapel was really not up to par. In today's terminology IT SUCKED. He did mention that if I helped him out with that choir problem, it might be possible for him to talk the base commander out of having me executed upon our arrival back at NAS Corpus Christi.

To make a long story short, I accepted the Chaplain's offer. Its not like I had any other offers for my services on base. And besides, the Chaplains don't conduct services at 0430 Hours. During the next two years my Chaplain friend, had his private vehicle banned from the base on two separate occasions. That was the vehicle I used to run errands for his office. It seems the vehicle received too many speeding tickets from the navy coppers. About ten years after my honorable discharge from the navy, the Chaplain visited my parents at their home. He spent the night; I guess they had a lot to talk about. I'll bet you didn't know some Navy Chaplains love Rockabilly music.

I wrote all of the songs that I recorded for TNT Records, at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas in 1959. They were written at the piano, in the Protestant Chapel. I formed a band that same year, consisting of Corpus Christi area teenagers. "Bill Morrison and the Teen Kings" were born. The Lone Star State loved the Teen Kings, however the Navy had a totally different attitude.




I met Corpus Christi Disc Jockey Jimmie Bell, (KEYS 1440 AM,) while playing a show on the roof of a local Drive-in theatre in 1959. Jimmie hired me to write, sing, and announce, on some of the KEYS commercial spots. In exchange I would be the opening act for all of the package shows that KEYS was involved in at the Corpus Christi Coliseum. That arrangement lasted until my discharge from the Navy in 1961. During that period of time I was booked as the opening act for:
The Collins Kids: One of the greatest acts of the day. They were from Southern California and appeared as regulars on the very popular KXLA ­TV "Town Hall Party" in Compton, California.

Johnny Cash: J. R. was a no show, but Johnny Horton from the Louisiana Hayride showed up as a replacement for Cash. John was missing a lot of shows at this point in time. Cash and Horton were both members of the Louisiana Hayride. I spoke with Johnny Horton back stage at the Corpus Christi Coliseum for several hours. He furnished career advice and even a few fishing tips. Johnny Horton was one of the friendliest entertainers I ever met. A short time later, I learned that a drunk driver in central Texas had killed Horton in a terrible car accident. Although numerous offers to join the Grand Ole Opry were made to Johnny, he turned down each and every invitation. He was married to Hank Williams widow, Billy Jean, and I believe she was still bitter about the way the Opry had treated her last husband. Nashville can be a very cold, hard city. But they speak very well of their dead.

The Hollywood Argyles: They sold a million copies of "Alley-oop."

Fats Domino: Not a huge Rockabilly fan, but certainly a huge talent.

Jerry Lee Lewis: The Killer, spent the afternoon before the show introducing this 19-year-old kid to Seagrams 7, and the real world of Rock n' Roll. When the Killer behaves himself he can be a joy to be around. More on this guy a little later.

Bob Denver and Dwayne Hickman: from the CBS-TV show "The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis." A show and a parade, through downtown Corpus Christi. Bob went on to become a cast member of the very popular Gilligan's Island.

El Bebop Kid a.k.a. Baldemar G. Hureta a.k.a. Freddy Fender. He was recording with Duncan Records in San Antonio at the time.

Chuck Berry: The local musician's union, for the first time since I went to work for KEYS radio, checked everyone's union card prior to show time at the Corpus Christi Coliseum. Being a member of the military, I was not allowed to join any unions. The union representative refused to make an exception, and I was not allowed to open the show that night. I spent the next year looking for that young man. Fortunately for both of us I never saw him again.

Took a trip to San Antonio in 1960. I recorded four songs that I had written in 1959, "Baby Be Good," "So Tenderly," "Set Me Free," and "The One I Left Behind." My first recording session was held at TNT studios, 1442 W. Poplar Street, San Antonio Texas. TNT's publishing company published the songs. Among others, Grand Ole Opry star Bill Anderson also recorded on TNT.

As of this writing in 2003, one or more, of those four songs have been released on at least fifteen different labels all over the world. The songs continue to be played on the radio today. I have recently talked to an East Coast D. J. who told me the kids love those old records. The D. J. said that he had recently seen several of those TNT records I made in 1960 at a collector's show in New York City. I'll bet you didn't know that the whole world (outside of Memphis, Tennessee) loves Rockabilly music. I know why Memphis won't support Rockabilly, but it wouldn't be politically correct to tell you. But I will ask you a question. How many Rockabilly artists are black?

Parents and sister Sandy formed the Bill Morrison Fan Club, in the summer of 1960. One of the first members of the club would later become my first wife in 1963, but I never have figured out why.

I said goodbye to the Navy, and Corpus Christi, Texas, in March 1961. I sang in Supper Clubs and Honky Tonks, learning the trade, for the next few years. I also learned how to stay alive between sets. In the 1960's that was a very import thing to know how to do.

During this period of time I opened shows (I was getting really good at that by now) for:
Mack Vickery
Elmer Fudpucker (Don't even think about asking!)
Bob Luman
Alex Houston and Elmer
Charlie Walker, and a long list of others that I can't remember.

In 1968 a promoter, now deceased, who became famous for booking Elvis Presley all over the south, walked into the Honky Tonk where I was singing in Rantoul, Illinois. I learned about the Presley thing years later. It seems the promoter had no connection to Elvis at all, and of course Elvis and the promoter never showed up at any of the shows this guy booked and sold out. The promoter (Bill H.) asked if I wanted to be a star, and he said he could take care of that for me, and he would put me out on the road the following week (as the opening act ... can you believe this?) for Grand Ole Opry road shows. I told the guy I had heard that song and dance before, and he asked what time the bar closed. I told him, and when I left the bar this promoter and two entertainers who must remain anonymous, were waiting for me in the parking lot. They showed me contracts and program books for upcoming Grand Ole Opry shows in several different states. The band they had been using was terminated for "Conduct Unbecoming A Road Band." At the time I figured that band must have committed a mass murder somewhere, because road musicians are typically not fired for anything short of major felonies. I told them I'd think about it and they should come back the following evening after I talked to the band. A short time later I was working high school gyms and auditoriums all over the U.S. Yes, I was still the opening act, but here is a partial list of the folks I worked with, and became friends with, in the years to come:
Bob Luman: Bob was actually disliked by Roy Acuff at the Grand Ole Opry. Roy wouldn't let anyone use a full set of drums on the Opry, so ... Bob came up with the idea of using two bass players. That drove Mr. Acuff crazy, but there wasn't any rule against it, and it worked. Roy was heard to say one time, "the only thing wrong with Bob Luman is that he doesn't know if he's white or colored." Mr. Acuff became a friend of mine ... but he never could stand Rockabilly music.

Joe Melson: In 1971 Joe was my producer at Empire Records in Nashville. We had worked together at the Golden Nuggett in Las Vegas for two weeks, with the Grand Ole Opry Show of Ernie Ashworth. Nancy Dee, who ran the Demon's Den on lower Broadway in Nashville, was also on the show. I don't know if its true, but I was told that Nancy was Webb Pierce's daughter. She was a very talented singer. Every afternoon Nancy would play Black Jack. Always at the same Golden Nuggett table, with the same dealer. After leaving the table she would find me, or one of the band members, and hand over enough chips to buy supper for the band and me. What the heck, she knew that the opening act never gets rich, and I had been an opening act for over a decade now. Joe Melson wrote most of Roy Orbison's hit records, and was an excellent singer himself. For two days prior to leaving for Las Vegas, we rehearsed a band at his home. He lived across the lake from Johnny and June Cash in Hendersonville. We fired that band before we left for Vegas, and hired a band out of Canada.

Ernie Ashworth: God Bless Ernie Ashworth. He tried everything in his power to make me a country music star. We must have worked a hundred road shows together. You could always distinguish between us, I was the opening act, and Ernie wore the suits with red lips all over them. But stardom just didn't happen for me. However, I was welcome backstage at the Ryman auditorium on any Friday or Saturday night when I wasn't out on the road. The Opry has always treated good "Opening Acts" very well.

Don Gibson: So much talent ... so many demons. I was proud to work with Don Gibson.

Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: They were so good, when I watched their show from back stage I always cried. Their daughter Carol Lee heads the group of back-up singers at the Grand Ole Opry. A beautiful and talented lady.

Bill Carlisle and the Carlisles: Short in stature but not in talent. That Hall of Famer could sure jump. Worked with Bill for the first time at a huge package show in Kansas City. Tex Ritter, and five or six Opry acts were on the show. If you're wondering who went on first ... well, you know who went on first.

Little Jimmy Dickens: A wonderful gentleman and a dedicated entertainer. Hank Williams nicknamed him "Tater" and the name has stuck for half a century. I love and respect this Country Music Hall of Fame inductee. I spoke with Jim back stage at the Grand Ole Opry a few weeks ago. The man is still a class act.

David Rodgers: Smooth and Cool. A very intelligent artist. We once shared the stage on Ralph Emery's early morning TV show in Nashville. (6:00 AM) That's a full hour and a half later than the Navy wanted me to come to work.

Jan Howard: A true Southern Lady, and former wife of Harlan Howard. Jan insisted on being paid for her shows in advance. My ex-wife wrote her a check one night in Wisconsin, for an amount that my bank account hadn't seen lately. The promoter of this show was a friend of mine, and I knew he was good for the money. I don't remember why he hadn't paid her in advance, but Jan sang for the sold out auditorium and when the promoter paid her, she gave my wife's check back ... thank God for that. I hear the incarceration facilities in Wisconsin, are cold in the wintertime. There is not a finer lady in Country Music than Jan Howard.

George Morgan: A great talent, and a loving husband and father. George was very popular with the females in our audiences. I worked stage shows and nightclubs with him and at closing time, when the ladies felt warm and fuzzy, George always told them NO. But he did it in such a way that they respected him for it. I loved and respected George Morgan. We spent many nights passing around a guitar in a hotel or motel room, until the sun came up. A real talent. George was my darling mother's favorite entertainer. I am so happy she traveled with us for three or four days on one of our tours, and had the opportunity to spend some time with her hero.

Tex Williams: Introduced me to Jack Daniels, back stage on the first day of a very long tour. I eventually learned to like Jack Daniels; it didn't take nearly as long to become friends with Tex Williams. I worked some tours with Tex near the end of his career. He treated everyone we came in contact with in a very respectful manner. Tex was a movie super-star, a gentleman, and a lot of fun to work with.

Roy Acuff Jr. Junior had the talent and the connections to become a star. What he lacked was the desire. He introduced me to a really cool young man back stage at one of our shows in Louisiana one summers night. The young man's name was Eddy Futch. Eddy was a terrific songwriter, and Junior told him he should move to Nashville. The next time I saw him, Eddy had moved to Nashville and was doing a one man show at one of the local hotel lounges, only now his name was Eddie Raven.

It was around the same time that I met another new arrival to Nashville. Ronnie Milsap was playing a sit down gig at Roger Miller's King of the Road Hotel. He didn't have a recording contract at that time. What he did have was most of the stars in Nashville as fans. I met Charlie Pride while enjoying Ronnie Milsap at Roger Miller's. I was seated at a table with Sammi Smith, Ray Pillow; Hee Haw's the Hager Twins, and some other names that I can't mention. It was like that every night of the week. The point is, Ronnie Milsap was a star to the stars, and he remains a favorite today.

David Akeman a.k.a. "Stringbean:" "The Kentucky Wonder." The first tour I worked with String, was after he had become a huge star, as a result of being a cast member on "Hee Haw." Prior to Hee Haw, he worked road shows for two or three hundred dollars a night. His price now started at $5,000.00 per show and sometimes he was paid much more than that. This was a lot of money in the '70's, and String carried all the money he made on the road, in the center pocket of his bib overalls. That's right folks; he wore them all day, every day.
           String didn't drive. His wife Estelle drove him to every performance, no matter how far it was. They lived in a three-room cabin in the woods, just outside of Nashville. Their neighbor, Grandpa Jones lived a short distance away. Stringbean, whose real name was David Akeman, bought a new Cadillac every year and paid for it in cash. On the road they carried their suitcase and fishing poles in the trunk of that Cadillac.
           String and Estelle were murdered on November 10, 1973. I was doing a show on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens, that night with the Boll-weivels, a band that I was sharing with Tex Ritter at the time. Two men were waiting for String and Estelle when they returned home from an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. They were both shot down and murdered by the men who had heard String kept all of his money hidden in the cabin. They were right about the money, but they didn't find it.
           I have never completely recovered from that tragedy. Roy Acuff never recovered from the loss of his long-time friend either. As a result of String and Estelle's murders, Roy Acuff requested that the Grand Ole Opry build a home for him near the new Opry House at Opry Land. He also requested that security guards be assigned to escort him everywhere he went on the property of Opry Land. Both requests were granted, but Mr. Acuff never felt safe again.

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash: (and John Carter Cash.) Early one morning, I was sitting in one of the gate boarding areas, at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. I had played a package show the night before, and for reasons that I can't remember; I had to be back in Nashville as soon as possible. While waiting for the plane to depart, I saw a beautiful, well-dressed lady, enter the waiting area from one of the VIP rooms at O'Hare. I am embarrassed to report that in my condition, I thought it was Loretta Lynn. I forgot to mention that I hadn't been to bed for a while. (Life on the road could be so hard!!!) The lady in fact was June Carter Cash. A few minutes later I realized my mistake when Johnny Cash walked into the room carrying a three year old John Carter Cash in his arms. For the next few hours I watched in amazement, as The Man In Black held and loved his son, like no one I had ever seen before. Once we boarded the plane, I sat directly in back of the Cash Clan in First Class.
           I heard Johnny Cash teaching his son, listening to his son, and threatening his son all the way back to Nashville. John Carter was terrified of his father NOT. John Carter would pull as hard as he could on his Daddy's hair, and Johnny told him all the things he was going to do to John Carter, if he did that one more time. John Carter's response was always the same. "You don't scare me big man."
           I have been around some of the most famous and important people in the world. I have even worked with the Secret Service, on presidential guard details. After all of that I can tell you truthfully, only three men ever sent chills up my spine every time I saw them walking out onto a stage. Johnny Cash, Billy Graham and Elvis Presley. I don't know what it is. I told you earlier I missed my college education by ten days, back in 1958. But whatever it is ... Johnny, Billy and Elvis had it in abundance, and I don't believe it is of this world. All three men were deeply spiritual men of faith.

Glen Sherley: Glen wrote the "Gray Stone Chapel," while locked up in California's Folsom Prison. Johnny Cash included the song on his Live At Folsom Prison album, while Sherley sat in the audience. Later John was instrumental in obtaining Glen's release from prison. When Glen was released John Cash gave him a job, and Glen wrote songs for the House Of Cash. Glen and I worked our final show together at the Faust Hotel Ballroom, in Rockford, Illinois on May 20, 1973. A few hours after that show I flew back to Nashville with my father, who was visiting from Texas. We arrived in Nashville, emptied one suitcase, filled another, and headed south on I 65 for Mobile, Alabama.
           That evening, my mother called from Nashville. She informed me that if I wanted to be present when my next child was born, I should get in the car and head in the direction of Baptist Hospital in Nashville. My father and I had not slept since the show in Rockford, but knowing my first wife, I knew it was imperative that I be at the hospital prior to the birth of my child. The lady had absolutely no sense of humor about husbands being absent in the delivery room. We left Mobile immediately, and I was driving ... my father wasn't overly concerned for my safety, so he didn't care if we made it or not. I made it all the way to Birmingham, Alabama and stopped on the Interstate, under an overpass. I would just close my eyes for a few minutes, NOT. To make a long story short, I wasn't there when Susan Lee Morrison came into my life on May 22, 1973, and I'm very sorry. I was less than an hour late. But I have tried very hard not to be late for the past thirty years, anytime she needed me. I was never forgiven for being late, and old #1 divorced me in 1977, after reminding me for four looooong years that I didn't show up on time when our daughter was born. Now back to Glen Sherley.
           Glen stopped by the house in Nashville sometime late in 1973. He said that he was driving to California and wanted to know if I had anything that would help him make the long drive to California. It so happened that I did have some vitamins or herbs, or something like that in my guitar case, and I gave him all I had. Glenn shook my hand and said, "Thanks brother, I'll be seein' you." I never saw Glen Sherley again. Ralph Emery said that my friend had shot himself sometime after arriving in California. I learned later that Glen had quit Cash, and had asked for his songs back from the publishing company. Glen had been "institutionalized" after so many years in prison. He had trouble dealing with his newfound freedom. I regret not recognizing the pain he was in. Glen didn't share his inner feelings with anyone, except in his music.



Ray Pillow: Ray and I worked shows together for years, and crossed paths out on the road time after time. He knew my wife and children, and we considered Ray as a member of our family. We worked together, played together, drove together, flew together, and I love him like a brother. However, I still owe him for many tricks he played on me out on the road ... starting with the one at the Golden Nuggett in Vegas. Ray, if you're reading this, you should know that you haven't escaped. I will get even; I just wish I knew how I was going to do it.

Freddy Fender: The second time I was on the bill with Freddy, he was not in very good shape. He could still do his job, but was very heavy into controlled substances. After a recent liver transplant, Freddy is doing very well, and his addictions at last report are under control. This is a very talented man, and he is an international star. Freddy I wish you well.

Jerry Lee Lewis: The first time I opened for the Killer was in the late '50's. Everything went fine; it was a great sold out show at the Corpus Christi Coliseum. The last time I opened for him was at a Convention Center near Chicago, Illinois about fifteen years later. Another sold out venue, I had a lot of fans in the audience because I had lived just a few miles from there at one time. You know what I did .. I opened the show, and received a very warm response from the audience.
           I started the second song of my set, and half way through the chorus the crowd stood up and gave someone a standing ovation. In case you haven't guessed by now, the Killer got tired of waiting to go on stage. His Lear jet was nearby, and ready to head back to Memphis. He figured three and a half minutes was long enough for any opening act. When I turned around he was standing behind me with his hands on his hips with that ole familiar look on his face that says ... "So what do you think you doin' on my stage???"
           I left the stage with a smile on my face, and gestured to the Killer that he was then, and always will be, #1 in my heart. I haven't seen him since, and that's just fine with me. God blessed that man with more talent than any one person should ever have ... but He left out common sense. "The Killer" is truly a very dangerous man. I can't imagine why he was kicked out of the seminary. At one point in time Jerry shot one of his band members in the chest with a handgun. The boy didn't die ... so Jerry fired him. The local jurisdiction charged Jerry with unlawfully firing a gun inside the city limits. Jerry took a gun to the gate at Grace Land one night, but I'm not going there. You've probably heard the story. One evening after a show in Europe, the promoter told Jerry Lee that he didn't have the money he owed him. Jerry quickly inserted the barrel of his revolver in the mans mouth, as far down as it would go. Jerry got paid.

John Anderson: Great songwriter and sings with a unique style. John moved to Nashville from Florida, in 1971. During the early days, John worked a lot of the local clubs in Music City. When I worked with John, he was traveling with his manager, and no band. One of John's early hits was "Swingin" which he also co-wrote. That record is listed as being in the top 30 all time jukebox hits. John has returned to Florida and lives there full time now.

Dave Dudley: Best of the truck drivin', song singin' son of a guns. I worked with Dave near the end of both of our careers. It was an honor to meet him, and share a stage with him. I was always a fan.

Ernest Tubb: I appeared on Ernest Tubb's Midnight Jamboree, from the Ernest Tubb Record Shop on two occasions. The show was broadcast on WSM every Saturday night, immediately after the Opry went off the air. Ernest introduced me the first time I sang on his show. Afterwards he paid me some very high compliments.
           The next time I agreed to do the show E.T. and the Texas Troubadours were on the road. I was introduced by my friend Grant Turner, the dean of WSM announcers. There is a picture of E.T. and myself on the wall at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge in Nashville to this very day. The picture was taken while Ernest was introducing me to the WSM audience, a mere thirty-three years ago. I never worked a road show with Ernest Tubb. But every time I heard an advertisement on the radio that he was in the area where the band and I were playing, if we could get there, we'd buy tickets and make the show.

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge: Located at 422 Broadway in Music City, Tootsie's is the most famous Country Music watering hole in the world. It is located directly across the alley from the Stage Entrance to the Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Grand Ole Opry. I am proud to tell you that Tootsie's sponsors my "Rockabilly Country News & Views" column, on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame website. They also sponsor my "On This Day In Country Music" calendar. When you visit Nashville, Tootsie's is a must see. Hattie Louise "Tootsie" Bess was the owner of Tootsie's until her death on February 18, 1978. She was a former entertainer, and a friend to all the young wanna be's who spent many hours in her bar, writing and pitching songs. When she died, Tom T. Hall paid all of the unpaid tabs that Tootsie had kept in an old cigar box behind the bar. The walls at Tootsie's are covered with 8X10 photographs of the stars and autographs galore. When you stop in to Tootsie's, tell the bartender that Susie's dad sent you.

Hank Williams Jr. Much more talented than his father. They shared some of the same demons, and more than likely, some of the same women. I'm not passing judgment, but one show with Jr. was more than enough for me. That was thirty years ago, and in all fairness Jr. has matured a great deal since becoming a father.

Charlie Walker: Like most Texas artists, Charlie Walker is a true gentlemen and a great talent. He was as gracious to the nightclub patrons as he was to the VIP's who always gather back stage at the Grand Ole Opry, or the big package shows. He must have been a great D.J. too, because Charlie was inducted into the Country Music D.J. Hall of Fame. Charlie's recording of "Don't Squeeze My Sharmon" in 1967 was the song that brought him to the Grand Ole Opry as a member. Charlie played the part of Hawkshaw Hawkins in the 1985 film about Patsy Cline "Sweet Dreams."

Tommy Cash: Tommy Cash was a talented good-looking artist who had a huge handicap. His brother was Johnny Cash. I can't imagine the courage it took to follow John into the music business. I enjoyed Tommy's music and stage presence very much. I was very saddened when he retired one night after one of our shows. It was a personal decision for Tommy Cash, and one that showed the man's priorities were exactly what they should be. Tommy Cash is a man. Tommy Cash sells Real Estate in the Nashville area these days.

Bill Monroe: For almost a year, I hosted a radio show from Little Roy Wiggins music store, which was located across the street from Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway in Nashville. The radio station was owned by Mary Reeves, Jim's widow, and Opry stars were featured guests every Saturday before the Saturday matinee was played at the Ryman Auditorium.
           One of the Opry members cancelled her engagement on the show one week so I was short a featured Opry guest for the next day's program. I went back stage at the Ryman on Friday night and the first artist I saw was Bill Monroe. I told him I was in a bind for the next days radio show and all he wanted to know was what time he should be there. I called on Bill for his help two or three more times that year and the Father of Bluegrass never let me down. Bill Monroe was something special.

Stella Parton: It is not easy being Dolly Parton's sister in Nashville. Stella Parton handled the job perfectly. She was a beautiful and talented young lady who was what we called "the girl singer," on the Saturday radio show at Little Roy Wiggins music store. Stella never understood me. She could not understand how someone could drink beer and Jack Daniels, especially in the morning. I wanted to be her friend, but I didn't want to tell her what years of playing music on the road does to your very soul. Only the stars traveled in buses in the 50's, '60's and '70's. I drove, or sat in the back seat of a car for thousands of hours, day and night for years. I don't know if that's an excuse or a valid reason, but you can't understand if you haven't been there.
           There were many nights I looked out of the window of a dressing room and watched, as couple's and families walked to their cars and drove home after the show. Many of those nights I didn't know what state I was in, let alone what city. What I did know was that on many of those nights I would have given a lot, to have been able to walk out to my car and drive home to my family. The road was not an easy mistress.
           At night, after the excitement of the show, and the love between the audience and an artist, what is an artist suppose to do? There were only two choices, party, or hit the highway for another three or four hundred mile drive before tomorrow nights show. Booking agents three or four decades ago were monsters. They didn't care how far you had to drive to get to the next show. They cared about what Music Row has always cared about ... their cut. Yes Stella, I could drink any time or any thing and never have to look at a clock. But the music was always good, and that's what it was all about. I regret that I never found the courage to explain that in person. I thought very highly of Stella Parton, but I'm sure the feeling wasn't mutual.

Tex Ritter & Joe Heathcock: Joe played fiddle for a time with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. He left the band for Hollywood and appeared on numerous TV shows, including "Gun Smoke" where he played Festus Hagan's cousin. Joe played the part of the Sheriff in the 1971 hit movie "The Last Picture Show." I was never the opening act for Joe Heathcock. He and I played music all over the country, and many-many nights on lower Broadway in Nashville, but there was no star when we played ... just buddies. He was my best friend during my years in Nashville. As a result of our friendship I had the opportunity to meet several of Joe's Hollywood friends.
           Joe Heathcock called me one day at home, and told me that Tex Ritter wanted to see me. Joe picked me up and we drove over to Tex's Nashville mansion and parked. I had never been in any of the mansions in and around Nashville. Tex's home was not far from the governor's mansion, and the governor's next-door neighbor, Minnie Pearl. I had worked with Tex many times on the road and I liked him a great deal.
           Sitting at the kitchen table Tex told me that he was getting tired of working the road. He said his son "John" wasn't doing so well in Hollywood, and he wished the boy would get out of L.A. and come to Nashville and get a job. The next thing he said shocked me. Tex asked me to share his band, the Boll-weiveils with him. He said he only needed a band for the Opry, and he wasn't working that many Opry dates anymore. Tex cared a great deal about the boys in his band and was concerned about them not getting enough work. For the rest of my time in Nashville, I shared Tex's band with him and everybody was happy. Until January 1974.
           On New Years Eve, 1973 the band and I played a show for the Champaign, Illinois Police Department. I fell on the ice while leaving the show and was taken to the hospital and admitted. The band went back to Nashville. When they arrived back home the police were waiting for the guitar player. He was arrested on a charge of failure to pay child support. His ex-wife has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for almost forty years as of this writing, and she is in my opinion one of the finest women in the music industry. So I won't embarrass myself by revealing any names.
           A call was placed from the Davidson County Jail to Tex Ritter; informing him that one of the Boll-wievels was in jail and would require the posting of a bond prior to his release. Tex, and one of his sons made the trip to the jail, and while there, Tex Ritter dropped dead from a heart attack. Things were never the same for me after that. My wife came to the hospital and told me about Tex's death, and in the next sentence told me that she and the children were leaving Nashville for good. She said that I should stay there if that's what I wanted.
           Joe Heathcock and I had been in Chet Atkins office at RCA, a week to ten days prior to Tex's death. Reluctantly, Chet had agreed to produce my next record. He was tired, and was losing interest in producing, but he liked Joe Heathcock as much as I did, and he just couldn't say no to him.

I left Nashville and never looked back in 1974. I didn't bother to call Chet, and I never told my friend Joe Heathcock goodbye. I simply could not do it, the pain was too great. Joe Heathcock died in 1980, but he lives on in my heart and I think about him every single day.

Some of our best times together were in Roy Acuff's private dressing room. That room was at the rear of his Museum and Gift shop, which was located just down the alley from the Ryman Auditorium. Boys and girls, what I wouldn't give to have those hours recorded on videotape. No Opry audience was ever treated to that kind of pickin' and singin', and joke tellin' and oh my, the lies that were told. The Tennessee moonshine in the old glass jars wasn't too bad either. Mr. Roy hid it in his locked metal locker. The only unpleasant moment I can remember in that dressing room took place shortly after The Last Picture Show, was released. Roy told Joe Heathcock that he and his wife Mildred left the show early because there was so much filthy language in it. The Smokey Mountain Boys got real quite when they heard that. But the moment passed ... and so was another jar ... and friends that was life in country music. By the way, Roy had a dressing room away from the Ryman Auditorium, because the Grand Ole Opry only had one dressing room back stage. The men used that room, when they could squeeze in. The female artists changed clothes in the tiny rest room. Every one else used the back room at Tootsie's.

For many years I regretted my career in music. My wife and children paid a high price, so that I could chase my dream across the globe, and quite frankly I felt very guilty. By the time my daughter was three months old, she had been in fifteen states and three counties. All from the back seat of a station wagon pulling a trailer.

In 2003 while doing research for the "On This Day In Country Music" calendar, I made a discovery. I learned that the songs that I wrote and recorded at TNT records over forty years ago were being sold and played on the radio all over the world. Fifteen Record labels have been selling my copyrighted material throughout Europe and Australia. I have not been paid one penny by any of these companies. I have found radio station play lists here in the U.S. that indicates they are still playing my music today, and I have not been paid any royalties. Shortly after this discovery, Bob Timmers inducted me into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame on July 1, 2003. Honesty compels me to report, that I am now rethinking my guilt. I've talked to some D.J.'s who tell me the young people love my old Rockabilly songs ... go figure.

I'm an old man now, and old men know things that young men don't even suspect. All fame is fleeting. The amount of money you make has nothing to do with the quality of the memories that an old artist dwells on every day of his life. I know what's important and what isn't. I have answers to many of life's questions, but nobody ever asks me any questions. But I know what my future holds. I have two goals that I will be working hard to accomplish before Jesus comes to take me home.

I am going to do everything in my power to locate every artist in America who has been cheated out of money they earned but never received. I am going to put together a group of very angry recording artists, and in some cases, heirs of recording artists, and sue every crooked record company who has been stealing from artists and writers for decades.

Law firms are not interested in representing an individual artist because there isn't enough money at stake. But put us all together and were talking millions of dollars. Lawyers like that number. Starting today, I'm looking for these artists, or their heirs.

Contact me at BillMorrison2002@hotmail.com with your information and let's go to work. I am talking to attorneys, and research has to be completed, but a lot of people have a lot of money coming. It won't be easy. No one in Nashville who is connected with the music industry wants to get involved, but that will change when the media gets wind of the scope of the theft that has taken place over the years.

My second goal is to tell as many people as possible, in the time I have left, what God is going to do to America for kicking him out of our schools, and government owned buildings and property, while we cater to the atheists, Muslims, and homosexuals that have infested this once great nation. It won't be pretty friends, but its not too late to put God back in charge. We'll see what happens.

We certainly live in interesting times don't we? By the way, in case you didn't know; the ACLU poses a much greater danger to America that any terrorist that ever lived.

My name is Bill Morrison, and I love Rockabilly and Traditional Country Music. If truth be told, I am a huge Bluegrass fan too, and its time to come out of the closet.

God Bless one and all.








Record Companies:
TNT Records San Antonio, Texas 1960

Empire Records Nashville, Tennessee 1971
                     (Joe Melson-Producer) The sessions were held at Varsity
                    Studios, D.J. Fontana played on every song recorded by
                     Bill at Varsity (for Empire Records.)

Corral Records Nashville, Tennessee 1973


Compilations:
Chief CD 1156505 - "Ultra Rare Rockabilly's, Vol. 5 (Incomplete) (Released in the Netherlands 1992)
Collectables CD 5555 - "Best Of TNT Records" (Released in the U.S. 1996)
Eagle LP 315 - "At The Rockhouse, Vol. 5" (Released in Germany 1981.)
Enviken CD 101 - "Rock It, Vol. 1" (Released in Sweden 1999)
Legend LP 1002 - "Rock It!" (Released in France 1993)
Lucky CD 803 - "Rockabilly Gold, Vol. 3" (Released in England 1996.
Golden Ring CD 172100-2 - "More Girls Girls Girls" (International release)
Big Mike's CD - "Get Your Kicks: 25 Vintage Rockers" (International release)
Collectables CD 0596 - "Classic Rock From San Antonio, Texas" (Released in U. S. 1995)
Collector LP 1008 - "Rock N' Roll, Vol. 1" (White Label) (Released in the Netherlands 1971)
Repros Single/EP - "Set Me Free"
Repros Single/EP - "The One I Left Behind"




Page updated October, 2004



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