"That's News to Me" - Archive #6

Back to the Current That's News to Me" Page

A Mix of Music Related Text and Photos That You May Find Interesting

Country "Concourse Hall of Fame" at Nashville Airport

The millions of people who go through the Nashville, Tennessee International Airport each year will soon literally see Stars ... in a way they have never been seen before. Because these Stars can and will save lives. The Concourse of Fame is a joint project between the American Heart Association, Start-A-Heart, and the Nashville International Airport to save lives and provide lasting memorials to Country Music Legends who want to give back to their adoring fans and the traveling public. The Concourse is "built around" the installation of Automated External Defibrillators. There will only be 30 Legends honored.

Sadly, airports are the #1 location for Sudden Cardiac Arrest. When completed, the Concourse of Fame will place an Automated External Defibrillator within 60 seconds of any public area. A Star and Plaque honoring a Country Music Legend is permanently mounted next to the life-saving device. Sponsors have included St. Thomas Hospital, Tennessee Christian Medical Center, Record Companies, a number of Country Music Legends and a Star donated to honor Loudilla, Loretta and Kay Johnson (the Founders of IFCO [International Fan Club Organization]). The Stars are not merely tributes to the Legends and sponsors but recognition of humanitarian efforts.

Tupelo, MS. Elvis Presley Festival a Success

June 6, 2001 - Officials are calling the Elvis Presley Festival a financial success, with early attendance figures estimated at more than 10,000 for the weekend-long event. Festival Chairman Gary Bailey said specific numbers from this year's event, which ended this past weekend, will be announced later this week. Presley was born in Tupelo on Jan. 8, 1935, and died at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., in 1977 at age 42. The festival included performances by singers Jerry Lee Lewis and Marty Stuart. The Tupelo Convention and Visitor's Bureau announced renovation plans to the Presley birthplace, including a gift shop expansion and renovations of the restrooms.

Thousands of Hank Fans Flock to Georgiana

By GERALD HODGES, Correspondent
GEORGIANA, AL. - The 22nd Annual Hank Williams Festival, May 31-June 2 had many different facets and meaning for the 30,000-plus fans that attended the three-day event. This year's fan mix included rural Alabamians, Canadians, Europeans and Australians. They came to dance, listen, fellowship and join others who loved the music of Alabama's native son and what he stood for.

Activities kicked off Thursday night with the Annual Hank Williams Song Writing Contest. Over 500 people attended to hear 24 finalists sing original music they had written. Ray Farnell of Daphne walked away with top honors in both the Hank Music Category and Other Music Category. Farnell's winning Hank song was entitled, "Hank" and told of the story of Hank's early life and boyhood in Georgiana.

On Friday, the evening began with music and barbecue. The band, "Exile," and T. G. Sheppard were the featured acts.

Saturday morning, the Hank Williams Fan Club sponsored the annual Hank Williams Breakfast at the Georgiana School. Over 200 fans ate breakfast, listened to live music and shared experiences. A three-piece suit and tie once worn by Hank Williams was donated to the museum.

During the festival on Saturday, some came to listen to the music and dance, like Jenny and Eddie Wilson of South Yorkshire, England, who have made two other visits. "We listen to Hank Williams music all year in England," said Jenny Wilson. "But here we can really experience it. The weather is hot, but the fans are wonderful. You have great hospitality." And there was even a wedding. While Jett Williams was singing her father's rendition of "Love Sick Blues" on stage, Daniel Copeland and Angela Ward of Andalusia, were saying their vows on the steps of Hank's boyhood home, barely 50 yards away.

While they may not have drawn the applause mega-star Loretta Lynn did, members of Hank's band, The Drifting Cowboys, were well received. Led by Clent Holmes of Mobile, Braxton Schuffert, Pee Wee Moultrie, Lum York, R.D. Norred, and Bernice Turner, the only woman member, they were given a series of ovations for their Hank Williams style of playing and singing.

Dewey Taylor of Georgiana summed up the feelings of many of the fans, "Hank Williams was a good man," he said. "He was just like me and a whole bunch of other people. He liked to take a good strong drink ever now and then. I grew up with him, and outside of that, you couldn't find anything wrong with the man." © Mobile Register.

First Annual Charlie Lamb Awards

The 18th annual International Country Music Conference (ICMC) meeting was Thursday evening 31 May through Saturday 2 June 2001 in Nashville, Tennessee in the Massey Business Center at Belmont University will honor Jack Hurst and Jon Johnson (Rockabilly Hall of Fame contributor) as winners of the first annual Charlie Lamb Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism. The awards will be presented on Saturday, 2 June 2001 during the ICMC at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jack Hurst is the first recipient of the Charlie Lamb Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism in the category of lifetime achievement. Jack Hurst has been writing about country music since the late 1960s. He was the first fulltime music writer for The Tennessean, the first Nashville contributing editor for Country Music Magazine, and the first regular country music writer, for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Chicago Tribute. In 1981 Jack Hurst was the first recipient of the Country Music Association's media achievement award. Jack Hurst has also been published in Play and Bluegrass Unlimited. Tribute Media Services syndicated two of his country music columns each week from 1975 to 1999 with the columns appearing in newspapers from Connecticut to California, from Texas to Wisconsin.

Jon Johnson is the first annual recipient of the Charlie Lamb Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism in the contemporary category for his series of articles on trucking songs published in Country Standard Time. His nominator commented. "This is without a doubt the finest series we have ever run during the history of our magazine...The series traced the start of trucking songs from the 1930's through the current period with special focus on its heyday in the 1950's and 1960's with the likes of Red Simpson and Dick Curless. The series also included a great deal of information about probably the best known trucker song ever, "Convoy," along with more recent trucking musicians like Dale Watson."

BGRASS-L members will also be interested in sessions at ICMC such as David Pruett's "Preserving Cultural Identity: WPAQ Radio and the Dissemination of Bluegrass and Old-Time Music," Linda Smith's "What Is that thing? The Place of the Mountain Dulcimer in America's Musical Past, Present, and Future," Kevin Fontenot's "High Geared Daddies and Nail Scarred Hands: Themes in the Music of Jimmie Davis," Kristine McKusker's "Gossiping About Grinder's Switch: Minnie Pearl and Women's Comedy on the Grand Ole Opry," and Michael Ann Williams "The Barn Dance and the Folk Festival: John Lair, ‘Student of the Origins of American Folk Music.'"

ICMC will include other special features such as Dr. Ulrich Dieter Einbrodt from the University of Giessen, Germany presenting the Thursday evening keynote talk on "Country in the Web: The New MP3 Stars and Their Music." Thursday evening willl also feature pickin' lead by Danny Allen. Friday, 1 June will include a special panel discussion lead by Ronnie Pugh dealing with the revival of interest in Old Time Country and the impact of the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Persons interested in attending may contact James E. Akenson at JAkenson@tntech.edu.

See Jon's in-depth article on Viva Las Vegas 2001 at: Countrystandardtime.com - (scroll down to:Rockabilly makes it Viva Las Vegas)

Psycobillie Rodeo


Hi, My name is Mike Lennon of the Psycobillie Rodeo your site reviewed our CD 'Welcome to the Rodeo' in American Music Magazine issue 81 we got hooked up with Spindrift records in the UK and Europe because of the review and got some good local reviews and two appearances on KNIX in Phoenix. We are still houseband at the Rusty Spur and we have just released our second CD a live recording from the Spur and would appreciate a review in your magazine. You can email me at leilanic@home.com. Thanks for your help, Mike Lennon, Psycobillie Rodeo - leilanic@home.com

The roots of the rodeo reach back to New York City and the summer of '87 when Mike Lennon formed the Psychobillies with Marc West bass; vocals Doc Miller lead guitar Vince Hancock drums. With lots of personnel changes[A trend that continues to this day]The Psychobillies kept going until Jan. of' 92 playing NYC punk clubs [Downtown Beirut; the Spiral Kenny's Castaways]as well as the NY, NJ and Long Island C&W circuit the Psychobillies also recorded a never completed LP for SUN records in the summer of '91. Some of the various members included the late NYC guitarist Kenny Gwynne, former Johnny Thunders bassist Jill Wycoff multi instrumentalist Gene Tambor and Berklee School Of Music graduate Danny Rybar. In the summer of '92 Mike Lennon moved to Ajo Arizona where he wrote 62 songs in the winter of '93. Following a brief return to NYC in the summer and fall '94 where he played bass for the Parlor Dogs Mike Lennon returned to Phoenix playing solo around town till he landed a solo spot at the Rusty Spur in Feb '96. In the summer of '97 he formed the New Psycobillies with Kris Crow lead guitar; and Walter Bush bass. Following Kris and Walter's departure in the winter of '98 Jimmy Homick rhythm guitar and Gabe Dixon lead guitar joined and with a name change to Psychobillie Rodeo the band with Rick Parnell drums and Mike Wood bass recorded their debut CD 'Welcome to the rodeo for Midwest records in the spring of '98. The CD was recorded at Vintage recorders with Billy Moss engineer for Stevie Nicks; Gin Blossoms the CD was released in the summer of '98 and sold quite well locally and has been distributed in Europe and the UK by Spindrift records. Since April of'99 Psycobillie Rodeo has received favorable reviews in local as well as national and international music magazines. In the winter of 2000 Gabe Dixon was replaced by Kenny Dye and with the addition drummer CB Parker drums continue to be house band at the Rusty Spur and have recorded a live CD recorded at the Spur called Raw Rodeo the CD will soon be available through Spindrift records internationally and a new studio CD will be ready in the winter of 2001-2002 Psycobillie Rodeo also can be seen occasionally at the Arizona country club and have done some big gigs like the Parada Del Sol and have twice appeared on KNIX Arizona's no.1 country station.

Marty Stuart Helps Open New Country Hall of Fame

Singer's personal collection will be on display at new $37 million museum.
NASHVILLE, May 17, 2001 - When the new $37 million Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates its grand opening Thursday (May 17), the world will be privy to priceless artifacts, interactive experiences and films. Among its offerings will be an exhibit featuring part of the vast personal collection belonging to country artist Marty Stuart.

Stuart - who is also president of the institution's Board of Officers and Trustees - previewed several of the artifacts recently at the museum. Among the items on display were Hank Williams' fringed purple shirt, Williams' handwritten lyrics for "I Saw the Light," Jerry Lee Lewis' black patent-leather boots, Patsy Cline's travel case, legendary designer Nudie Cohn's own rhinestone-spangled suit and Lamar Sorrento's portrait of Bill Monroe. These items and many others will be on long-term exhibit at the museum.

Stuart spoke movingly about his desire to help preserve country music's legacy and of his involvement with the Hall of Fame and Museum. "Every detail about these boots, these suits, these lyrics, it came from somebody's soul," Stuart said. "This building doesn't have a square inch in it that doesn't have soul. It's a perfect setting … and vantage point for country music. It's our treasure chest."

Stuart explained how he originally began to collect and preserve the artifacts comprising his collection. "It started out as a real innocent hobby after I got my job with Lester [Flatt] when I was 13," he said.

The young Stuart - who has worked with many country greats over the course of his career - continued to preserve the objects he saw around him. When he was in Johnny Cash's band, for example, Stuart would retrieve and store set lists after the Man in Black threw them away.

As his collection eventually expanded to include costumes, instruments and other memorabilia, Stuart became even more dedicated to preserving country's legacy. "It became a mission and a crusade to preserve our heritage and our treasures," he said.

When asked what part of his collection he valued most dearly, Stuart laughed. "Connie Smith," he said with a smile, referring to his wife the country singer.

-Chris Dickinson

Rockabilly Hall of Fame photos of the above event.

Black cloud still following Jerry Lee

Appleton, Wisconson Post-Crescent - May, 20001 - It was as if an occult hand struck Jerry Lee Lewis down with strep throat just before he was to take the stage in front of 2,000 expectant fans on a recent rainy night in Green Bay. While opening act Billy Lee Riley was performing Saturday in the Oneida Pavilion, The Killer's people called to say he was not coming. That man has the worst luck.

His rocketing two-year rock career on Sun records was stopped dead when he made that sad trip to England in May 1958 with his young wife, Myra. The English didn't mind so much that she was his third wife or that she was his distant cousin, but the fact that the "god of glissando" married a 13-year-old child sent Fleet Street into a feeding frenzy usually reserved for the foibles of their own cousin-friendly royalty. The union with Myra ended in 1970, which was the start of a long, hard decade for the Ferriday Fireball. The IRS was on his tail.

Wife No. 4 died in a swimming pool. A year later Wife No. 5 died of a drug overdose. In September 1976 he accidentally shot his bass player, Butch Owens, in the chest. Owens lived to sue The Killer.

Then he was arrested outside Graceland, reportedly waving a large pistol as he tried to hook up with Elvis, who must have failed to tell his security guards that The Killer was coming over.

Now his name is popping up in news reports of the murder of actor Robert Blake's wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, who claimed she bore The Killer's love child. If that isn't a sack of woe enough for one man, there was the horrible 1989 biopic "Great Balls of Fire" starring Dennis Quaid as a living cartoon of The Killer. Now a sore throat keeps the 65-year-old legend from his fans gathered from far and wide to see him last May 5. When Jerry Lee's absence was announced to the full house, maybe 300 people shuffled out. T he rest stayed to see what would happen.

Riley and his swinging pickup band, members of Jimmy Sutton's Four Charms led by guitarist and Madison-native Joel Paterson, were asked to stand in for The Killer. It didn't matter that the 67-year-old Riley had to be in Memphis, Tenn., the next day to open a show for Bob Dylan. He skipped catching a plane that night, performed a rousing show and then drove all the way to Memphis. "I passed out after that," Riley said in a phone call after catching his breath this week.

"I believe Jerry Lee's fans know him," said Phil Doran, Oneida's entertainment coordinator. "They probably got a better show out of Billy Lee than they would have out of Jerry Lee." "Billy Lee did an admirable job for what he was forced into," said Jerry Lee fan and show attendee Bill Barker of Appleton. "This would have been the fourth time I would have seen him," Barker said. "I told the people I was with, you never know with Jerry Lee, but I didn't expect him not to show."

* E-mail Jim Lundstrom at jlundstrom@smgpo.gannett.com.

Dallas Observer Archived Stories of Interest

10/15/1998 - Legendary Stardust Cowboy. "Groovy" Joe Poovey dies just as his Greatest Grooves are set for release.

06/18/1998 - Wild Man Blues. Hasil Adkins drinks too much, screws too much, and rocks too much .

04/23/1998 - Everything Old. Rockabilly Queen Kim Lenz moves ahead by looking backward.

03/26/1998 - Git It. After years of detective work, Gene Vincent's Lost Dallas Sessions resurface .

01/22/1998 - Rave on Cats, He Cried. Carl Perkins, 1932-1998.

07/31/1997 - A Dream Deferred. Gene Summers hasn't had to work a day job since 1958, but it took him more than 30 years to get back to the music he loved

02/15/1996 - Back on the Bus. HighTone's Roadhouse tour revives rock and roll caravan.

11/09/1995 - King Curtis. A rockabilly hero is revered abroad, ignored at home.

05/04/1995 - Roll Over, Chuck Berry. In rock and roll, 'legend' is another word for 'forgotten' .

above research courtesy Jon E. Johnson

'What'd I Say: The Atlantic Story' Chronicles
50 Years of Music As told by Ahmet Ertegun

"What'd I Say" is the incredible, personal story of one of music's greatest figures. Revered among artists and industry leaders alike, Ahmet Ertegun has consistently recognized and developed an astonishing range of talent in the course of six decades, earning him the nickname 'The Music Man'. Having graciously inspired so many executives (David Geffen, Chris Blackwell, Seymour Stein) and artists over the years, Ahmet remains at the top of his game --currently producing several records and still working with new artists.

In "What'd I Say," set for a June release through A Publishing, Ahmet Ertegun, founder (in 1947) and Chairman/CEO of Atlantic Records, recounts the musical journey he began in the 30's and continues today. Ahmet's story is augmented by reminiscences and contributions from dozens of the artists, producers and musical architects with whom he has worked.

The Atlantic story unfolds chronologically through stunning photography: the book includes 900 rarely seen photographs by William Gottlieb, Jean-Pierre Leloir, Bob Gruen, William Claxton, David Gahr, Lynn Goldsmith, Neal Preston, Patrick McBride and many more.

"What'd I Say" is punctuated by nine specially-commissioned essays from renowned authors/music journalists -- Greil Marcus, Nat Hentoff, Lenny Kaye, Robert Gordon, Robert Christgau, Vince Aletti, David Fricke, Will Friedwald and Barney Hoskyns. These writings are placed throughout the book and help define the different themes, musical styles and genres from Atlantic's inception to the present day.

Five years in the making, "What'd I Say" has been edited and compiled by Perry Richardson ("Blinds and Shutters" with Terry Southern, "Virgin: A History of Virgin Records," "The Early Stones"). The book was designed by renowned magazine and book art director, Marc Balet for Mixed Business. "What'd I Say: The Atlantic Story" is distributed by Welcome Rain in the USA.
ISBN: 1-56649-048-0, $75.00

Winter Dance Party Makes a Month-Long Stop
at Gold Strike Casino Resort

Gold Strike Casino Resort proudly announces the month-long performance of Winter Dance Party: A Tribute To Buddy Holly May 3rd through May 27th. The production, starring critically acclaimed John Mueller (who not only boasts an almost identical physical appearance to Buddy Holly, but also plays a 1957 Fender Stratocaster, the instrument that Holly pioneered), pays tribute to the final performance of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper on February 3, 1959. Incidentally, the son of The Big Bopper, J.P. Richardson, Jr., actually plays his father in the show and performs his father's material that includes Chantilly Lace and White Lightning. The month-long performance can be seen in Gold Strike Casino Resort's Millennium Theatre every Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 P.M. and Sundays at 7:00 P.M. (must be 21). Tickets can be purchased for $25 at any Ticketmaster outlet or at Gold Strike Casino Resort's Millennium Theatre Box Office. Gold Strike Casino Resort is located 15 minutes south of Memphis, TN in Tunica, MS. For more information, please visit www.goldstrikemississippi.com or AOL Key Word: Gold Strike. Gold Strike Casino Resort is owned and operated by the Las Vegas-based Mandalay Resort Group.

Relive Those Wasted Days and Wasted Nights
With the Best of Freddy Fender

April, 2001 - With the rise of Latino music, the greatest Tex-Mex country and pop star in history is again gaining well-deserved attention--Freddy Fender. His induction into the Tejano Music Hall Of Fame in 1987 and a 1990 Grammy for Best Mexican/American Performance with the Texas Tornados are among the recent highlights in Freddy's career. But it is his music of the '70s, often sung in both English and Spanish, which inspired succeeding generations and will forever have a place in music history. All of his biggest hits are heard on The Best Of Freddy Fender (MCA Nashville/UME) edition of 20th Century Masters/The Millennium Collection, released April 24, 2001. Featuring 12 digitally remastered selections, the album brings together 11 country Top 20 singles, eight of them Top 10, including such signature songs as "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" and "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights," both of which were also pop Top 10. Baldemar Huerta grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, southernmost Texas, just across the border from Mexico. A migrant farm worker alongside his parents, he joined the Marines at 16 but too often landed in the brig and was discharged. In the late '50s, he began playing rockabilly in local honky tonks and dance halls.

  An early record, a Spanish version of Elvis' "Don't Be Cruel," went to #1 in Latin America. But it was as Freddy Fender--"Fender" came from the neck of his guitar--that his "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights" became a minor hit in 1960. He could relate all too well to the lyrics: That year he was arrested for possession of marijuana. After three years in Louisiana's Angola State Prison and a gig in New Orleans, in 1969 he returned to the Valley to attend community college, work as a mechanic and play weekends. His break came when producer Huey P. Meaux suggested Freddy record "Before The Next Teardrop Falls." The song reached #1 pop and country, and was the Country Music Association's Single of the Year. A re-recorded "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights" then hit #1 country/Top 10 pop. "Secret Love" went #1 country/Top 20 pop, followed by another country #1 (Top 40 pop), "You'll Lose A Good Thing." The Academy of Country Music named him its Most Promising Male Vocalist of 1975 and Billboard its Best Male Artist of 1975. He also hit Top 10 country with "Living It Down," "The Rains Came," "Sugar Coated Love" and one of the finest examples of his heartbreaking interpretations, "Vaya Con Dios." The Best Of Freddy Fender also includes the country Top 20s "If You Don't Love Me (Why Don't You Just Leave Me Alone)," "Think About Me" and "Talk To Me." Appropriately, The Best Of Freddy Fender concludes with "I Love My Rancho Grande." His success in coming home to his roots has never been wasted on the original Tex-Mex superstar.
The series 20th Century Masters/The Millennium Collection features new "best of" albums from the most significant music artists of the past century.
FREDDY PR CONTACT: Kirt Webster, Webster & Associates
615-777-6995 LABEL PR CONTACT: Sujata Murthy, Universal
310-865-7812 or Todd Nakamine, Universal - 310-865-7797 
RADIO CONTACT: Elliot Kendall, Universal 310-865-9852

UK Rhythm Riot!

November 2001 to be held at Pontins Holiday Village, Camber Sands, England.
Original American Artists:
CHUCK RIO of The Champs
KENNY ' Blues Boss' WAYNE (Canada)
MISCHIEF! (Netherlands)
THE LARIAT 5 (Scotland)
and the superb House Band THE RHYTHM RIOT KINGS OF RHYTHM
mail@rockthejoint.com - tel: (+44) 020 8566 5226 - fax: (+44) 020 8566 2525 - WEBSITE AT www.rockthejoint.com

Upcoming Gene Vincent Book

This is a draft cover of the forthcoming book by Steve Mandich detailing the last years of Gene Vincent's life. The book is scheduled to be published and on the bookshelves by the end of May 2001. The title is SWEET GENE VINCENT - THE BITTER END. This will be a must for all Gene's worldwide fans.

... at a recent concert (March 2001)

Rat Fink Creator Roth Dies

April 6, 2001, courtesy (AP) -- Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, whose fantastic car creations and anti-hero Rat Fink character helped define the California hotrod culture of the 1950s and '60s, has died. He was 69. Roth died Wednesday at his studio in Manti, Utah, said Joe Bennett, a dispatcher with the Sanpete County Sheriff's Department. The cause of death wasn't immediately given. A generation of teen-age rebels across the country found a hero in Roth, whose chrome and fiberglass creations stirred awe at car shows. Many adopted his airbrushed anti-hero, the bug-eyed, menacing Rat Fink, who became a cultural counterpoint to Mickey Mouse. While Roth worked on custom cars in his garage-studio near Los Angeles, youngsters across the country broke out the airplane glue to work on intricate scale plastic models of his "Outlaw" roadster, bubble-topped "Beatnik Bandit," or futuristic "Mysterion." As a designer, Roth was considered a genius and visionary, not only for his radical designs, but also for his pioneering use of fiberglass in car bodies. He was described by author Tom Wolfe in his 1964 essay "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby" as the "most colorful, the most intellectual and the most capricious" of the car customizers. "He's the Salvador Dali of the movement -- a surrealist in his designs, a showman by temperament, a prankster," Wolfe wrote

EMusic Offers Rare, Early Recordings
of Elvis Presley & Johnny Cash in MP3

EMusic Unlocks the Vault to the Legendary 'Louisiana Hayride' Radio Program. EMusic.com Inc. announced that avid music fans, historians and collectors now have easy access to rare, seminal recordings from the 'Louisiana Hayride', an influential live music radio program dating back to 1948 that featured some of the earliest public performances of rock & roll, country and rockabilly pioneers -- including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, June Carter, Werley Fairburn and Tibby Edwards.

EMusic is offering these recordings inexpensively and conveniently in the MP3 format at http://www.emusic.com/features/hayride/ . Every two weeks, the Web site will be updated to feature new artists and titles from the legendary Hayride archives. Besides the classic music recordings, EMusic also features extremely rare photographs from the Hayride, including a collection of Elvis images from 1954 and historical photos of Shreveport radio station KWKH.

"The release of these historic recordings highlights one of the major benefits of MP3 distribution for music fans," said Ray Farrell, EMusic's director of Content Acquisition and Management. "This vintage material has been unavailable for years because issuing it on CD has simply not been cost effective. The efficiencies of downloadable music allow us to blow off the dust and make it easily accessible. We're pleased to be able to provide our EMusic Unlimited members with exclusive access to these gems from the birth of rock & roll."

Courtesy Los Angeles Times: By ERNESTO LECHNER

Short Career, Long Shadow

Repeatedly ignored by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters, Ritchie Valens is finally being inducted. It's recognition for eight months of work that had a lasting impact.

When 17-year-old Ritchie Valens died with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper in an Iowa plane crash in 1959, the pop world was left with two intriguing questions. The first is the easy one: What kind of future would Valens--who already had three hits, including "Donna" and "La Bamba," in his short, eight-month career--have had if he hadn't made the last-minute decision to take the plane rather than ride the tour bus to the next city? Chances are that the Mexican-American singer from Pacoima would have kept playing the snappy, tuneful rock songs he loved. Most likely, Valens would have also continued to explore his Mexican heritage by recording the traditional songs, such as "La Bamba," that he had learned from his mother, Connie Valenzuela, and his aunt, Ernestine Reyes. Some of the early demo recordings included in "The Ritchie Valens Story," a 1993 compilation on Rhino Records, hint at the material the singer might have recorded on future albums. The most revealing is a rough, guitar-only version of the Mexican standard "Malaguena." Although Valens didn't even get to record his vocals on the track, this choice suggests that he would have continued transforming popular Spanish songs into rock anthems. As it stands, however, Valens' recorded legacy only hints at everything that could have been. That leads to the harder, more common question: Was his career enough to qualify him for membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside such luminaries as Elvis Presley and the Beatles? Holly was elected to the Hall of Fame with the first inducted class in 1986, but he had nearly a dozen hits over two years. Valens was eligible for induction the same year but was bypassed by the voters for the next 15 years, much to the chagrin of his fans.

"Ritchie really didn't have enough of a track record for the voters," says Bob Keane, owner of Del-Fi Records and the man who discovered Valens. "They have their own way of evaluating these things. I mean, he wasn't even nominated until two years ago. "They didn't consider the fact that somebody who had been a performing artist for only eight months had three Top 50 records, a motion picture on his life and a postage stamp of his very own." Keane and other Valens fans, including family members, launched an aggressive postcard campaign in the mid-'90s in hopes of persuading hall of fame voters of Valens' artistic validity. The late singer certainly was getting attention elsewhere. Both the biographical film "La Bamba" and its soundtrack album by Los Lobos were big hits in 1987. Three years later, Valens was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His youthful face appeared on a U.S. postage stamp in 1993.

And the long wait for hall of fame membership ends Monday. Valens will be inducted by Ricky Martin at the annual dinner in New York, along with Aerosmith, soul singer Solomon Burke, the Flamingos, Michael Jackson, Queen, Paul Simon and Steely Dan. Keane, who has just finished a book on the history of Del-Fi Records, won't be attending the ceremony, he says, because members of Valens' family decided to accept the award themselves. But he's thrilled with the recognition.

"Ritchie was an exceptional person in a lot of ways," says Keane, 79. "Coming from the barrio and growing up with delinquents, he managed to overcome all that, not get involved and still gain the respect of his people. He was a tough guy, but he didn't want to fool around. He was into music like [nobody else]. Music was his life." Valens' reputation rests chiefly on two recordings he made in Keane's home studio in Silver Lake in 1958. "Donna," a plaintive tune he wrote for the girl who stole his heart, is one of the quintessential ballads of the '50s. The single entered the national pop charts on Nov. 24, 1958, and soared to No. 2.

The flip side of "Donna" was "La Bamba," a historic merging of soulful Mexican tradition and riotous rock 'n' roll, a wedding huapango from Veracruz reincarnated as an American party song. This side of the single entered the charts Dec. 29 and climbed to No. 22. But Valens' legacy goes much deeper than the two recordings. It also includes the influence he has had as the first Latino rock star. "Ritchie Valens was the first Mexican American who took American music to the four corners of the world, and we're very delighted he's finally being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," says guitarist Carlos Santana, who was inducted himself in 1998. "He and Selena carried the dreams and aspirations of a lot of people."

Born on May 13, 1941, in Pacoima, Richard Stephen Valenzuela was one of four children of Steven Joseph Valenzuela, a native Californian, and his wife, Concepcion, who came from Arizona and was known as Connie. Steven, who suffered from diabetes, worked at a variety of jobs, including pipe setter, janitor and horse trainer. Connie (who died in 1987) was employed at a Saugus munitions plant and worked as a waitress. The couple separated when Ritchie was about 3. He lived with his father until the latter's death in 1951, then moved in with his mother and siblings.

He was fascinated by music at an early age, idolizing such rock pioneers as Little Richard and Bo Diddley. But Ritchie also absorbed the old Mexican canciones he would hear at family gatherings. In 1957, Valens, who built his first guitar, became a member of the Silhouettes, a Latin garage group from the San Fernando Valley (no relation to the group of the same name with the hit "Get a Job"). The following year, he was discovered by Keane, who also helped launch Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Sam Cooke. "I saw him at a little concert in a movie theater," recalls Keane, sitting in Del-Fi's Hollywood headquarters surrounded by gold records and rock memorabilia. "There he was, a Latino kid doing just a few riffs and a couple of songs. But I was very impressed by his stage demeanor. The girls were going crazy, screaming."

"Bob was like a dad to him," offers Reyes, Valens' aunt and president of his fan club, which she says numbers about 400. "He was the one who discovered him, and he was always taking care of him. We were very happy when we found out that he gave Ritchie money to buy a house for his mom. It was one of the biggest thrills he had in his life." Keane brought Valens to his home studio, where they began recording demos. Valens' career got off to a fast start when his first single, the raucous "Come On, Let's Go," peaked at No. 42 on the national pop chart in November 1958. The next month Valens recorded an album at Pacoima Junior High School and lip-synced a song in the movie "Go, Johnny, Go." The next month marked the beginning of the fateful Winter Dance Party tour. On the tour, Valens was having a hard time adjusting to the merciless weather. Desperate to avoid a long ride from Clear Lake, Iowa, to the next show in Moorhead, Minn., on a bus with no heat, Valens asked Holly to take him on the small airplane that the Texas rocker had chartered for the night. The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) had already claimed a seat, and Holly's guitarist, Tommy Allsup, also wanted to fly, so he and Valens tossed a coin to decide who would take the coveted final seat. Valens won.

At about 1 a.m. on Feb. 3, the plane crashed in a frozen cornfield minutes after takeoff, killing everyone on board. The event was memorialized in Don McLean's "American Pie" as "the day the music died." While many artists from the '50s with more hits than Valens have become forgotten names in the oldies bins, Valens' stature has grown in the intervening decades--and not simply because of his cultural significance. "Valens was more than just a teen prodigy," says Tom Waldman, co-author of "Land of a Thousand Dances: Chicano Rock 'n' Roll from Southern California." "I'm always amazed at how many different styles of music he was comfortable with. He was also instrumental in the development of the California guitar sound, which you hear in surf music a few years later. Given that he died at 17, his body of work is pretty extraordinary. I mean, listen to everything he did and compare it to what John Lennon, Mick Jagger or Bob Dylan [did at that age]. Those guys were barely getting started at 17."

New CDs from Rollin' Rock Records

ALVIS WAYNE: "Proud Of My Rockabilly Roots" - Rollin' Rock CD-110
1.) Thanks A Lot (Ernest Tubb) BMI
2.) Going Down To The River (Jimmy Sweeney) Acuff-Rose, BMI
3.) You Better Take My Life (Mack Stevens) Ron Weiser Publishing, BMI
4.) Touch Me (Alvis Wayne) Ron Weiser Publishing, BMI
5.) Proud Of My Rockabilly Roots (Fritzie Samford) Ron Weiser Publishing BMI

Tribute To Johnny Horton:
6.) Hooray For The Difference (Autry Inman) BMI
7.) Sugar Coated Love (Johnny Horton-Howard Hausey) BMI
8.) I'm Ready If You're Willing (V.Claud-J.Organ) BMI

9.) Cross The Brazos At Waco (Billy Walker) BMI
10.) Watcha Doin' After School (Tommy Hill-Ferlin Husky) BMI
11.) Shame Shame Shame (Jimmie Reed) Arc Music, BMI
12.) Don't Go (Marvin Benefield) BMI
13.) One More Teardrop (Alvis Wayne) Ron Weiser Publishing, BMI
14.) That First Guitar Of Mine (Cy Coben)

Authentic Texas Rockabilly recorded and produced by Rockin' Ronny Weiser at the Rollin' Rock Studio in Las Vegas, The Wild Wild West. Piano and all guitars (except #11) by Billinghurst "Billy" Disonante of Mack Stevens' Hardcore Texas Cats. Slappin' Bass by Fernando Andres Lopez of Dragstrip77. Drums by Joe Perez of Blue Suede. Guitar on #11 by Jorge Harada of Dragstrip77. Background voices on #5 by Mack Stevens, Bobby Marlar and Derek Dugger.
Release date: April 4, 2001 - Bar code: 6 70213 21552 4 - RockRonny@aol.com

THE STARLIGHT DRIFTERS: "Thirteen To Go" - Rollin' Rock CD - 112
1.) Cold Fish
2.) Telephone Call
3.) Two Bottles An Hour
4.) Long Black Train
5.) You Can Make It
6.) Pretty Little Ring
7.) Wolverton Mountain
8.) I'm Not The Guy
9.) Never Felt Like This
10.) I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
11.) Log Goner
12.) Six Pack To Go
13.) End Of The Road

Recorded by Rockin' Ronny Weiser at the Rollin' Rock studio in Las Vegas, The Wildest West Possible, and mixed by Chris Casello. Sexy Soulful vocals by Bill Alton, Casello's killer guitar work, and solid harmonies by Casello, Billy Mack and Dave Roof, make this CD a stand-out! Bar Code: 6 70213 21572 2 - Release date: April 4, 2001 - RockRonny@aol.com

Check out a review of the Starlight Drifters' new Rollin' Rock CD at the Black Cat Rockabilly site: http://www.rockabilly.nl/ - and click on the Thirteen To Go link.

LOU HOBBS (please check out his web page and CDs for sale)... wanted to remind you all that he is featured in the AMERICA MUSIC MAGAZINE, Issue #86. An excellent article with many great photos.

Important Notice Regarding the "Americiana"

From Chris & Bev Jackson:

It has recently come to our attention that another show/event is being advertised as "The Americana Weekend" this is supposedly to take place in Kent early May. We legally own the following names that are connected to our world renowned event, they are:

We do not own the name "AMERICANA" singularly this is not allowed legally being a word used to describe items/music from days gone bye in America. However we can legally stop anyone using a 'like' sounding name that is used to promote a near identical item/event/festival etc. We do not wish to take legal action against anyone firmly believing that there is room for more professional events/festivals here in the UK. But we draw the line when the people concerned are blatantly advertising their event to be the same as "Americana International". With twenty one years behind us we have the skill, professionalism and credibility to give people a truly great event/festival, that will (and has) make them want to return year after year.

Therefore we want to make it perfectly clear to everyone that we do not have anything to do with other similar sounding events/festivals here in the UK. The event is staged annually in July at the County Showground Winthorpe Newark Notts and will be there for the fore-seeable future.

Under no circumstances will we ever stage/organise a similar event/festival anywhere eosle in the UK. Please do not be duped by these very silly people who are basically just jumping on the band wagon ...

Chris & Bev Jackson
(Americana Promotions Ltd)