ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME® MERCHANDISE & SERVICES
INTERVIEW BY STEVE KELEMEN
As far as Texas rockabilly is concerned,
Cecil's Manco single is definitely a real keeper.
I was born in Cone Hollow, Arkansas. My father was a railroad man and when I was 14 years old we moved to Kansas City, Missouri. I went down to the railroad tracks one day and stole a bunch of dynamite and blew 3 fingers off my right hand.
While I was in the hospital for three months my mother bought a piano. When I got home I saw this nice big piano but my mom said
'you stay away from it - you are crippled and you have a handicap' . That tore my heart out. Every time my mom went out I would sit down to play the piano. I'd tinker and bang on it for a while. About six months later my mom walked by and saw me. She smiled and kept on walking.
Then we moved to Louisiana and I was still playing the piano. A friend of ours who was in the military and lived up the road from us came by and gave me a guitar and a mandolin. Then he committed suicide.
Then I met a man named Howard Hausey. He once played baseball for Montreal which was the Dodgers home team. He threw his arms out and couldn't play any longer. He was however, also a song writer. He wrote a song called "Honky Tonk Man" and songs like "One Woman Man", "All Grown Up" etc. They were all good hits for Johnny Horton.
We moved to Texas together. We recorded for Dot Records who changed his name to Howard Crockett. They said no one could pronounce Hausey. I was his lead guitar player.
At the time we did not call the kind of music we played Rockabilly. It was just good upbeat country music. I was 17 years old and in Fort Worth, Texas at the time, really enjoying life. We were playing as often as we could. I was also recording at Manco Records in Fort Worth. It was owned by Mr. E.E.Manie. He also published books and songs. I was in his office one time when this young guy came in with a bear haircut and he had a song called "Hello Walls". Mr. Manie led him out of the office - no one talks to walls, what is this?. So Willie Nelson got in his car and went to Nashville where his song was published and picked up by Faron Young.
Anyway, rockabilly at that time was just an upbeat country tune with a lot of rhythm and bass to it. People love it down here.
Howard Crockett and I would go back and forth to the Louisiana Hayride every Saturday night. We played there with Johnny Horton, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Bob Luman and other artists just getting started.
Scotty Moore was guitar player for Elvis. One day Scotty got sick and Elvis phoned me at home. My niece picked up the phone and almost passed out when she heard it was Elvis. Anyway, he asked me if I'd play a couple of gigs until Scotty got better.
We were working on 18 wheeler flat-bed trucks at drive-in movie theaters. we were doing pretty good and I really enjoyed it. Elvis was doing his wiggling. He was rather nervous. He had his first Cadillac convertible. When we drove down the road we had to stop every 100 miles so he could get out and walk a while. He would get nervous when he was copped up for a while.
When he got his first big hit - "Heartbreak Hotel" - he didn't know me anymore.
THE BORDER BOYS
The Border Boys was just a throw together band who was in the studio at the time. Marvin Montgomery on guitar, Ken Cobb was playing bass. He's no longer with us. Johnny Bobby Wadsworth played drums. These are the guys who backed me up on my Manco single.
ROWDY WITH JOHNNY CASH
Rayovac Batteries had a big show called the Rayovac Country and Western Road Show. Howard and I played the road show along with Johnny Cash, Bob Luman and others. Marshall Grant was playing bass for Johnny. One time Marshall and I and Luther Perkins were playing cards in the motel with Johnny Cash in the other room trying to sleep. We were getting rowdy and noisy and Johnny says - ' Hey you all - knock it off ' and we said ' Just one more hand Johnny and we'll be through ' - WHAM!!!!!! - he shot the light out with a real pistol. We quit right then. Next day he got up and paid for the hole in the ceiling and that was it.
I still play music. We have the worlds biggest free music festival and barbeque at our house. We had over 700 people here last year.
It's always the 3rd Saturday in September.
I go over to Europe 3 or 4 times a year to play. I play mostly in Ireland but also in England and Wales.
Page posted September, 2003
© Rockabilly Hall of Fame ®