Interview By Steve Kelemen
My family came from Holmes County, Florida. It was in the northwest part of the state. My parents
were sharecroppers. We had to move about every winter to where we could find a place to sharecrop.
We grew up on the farm, picking cotton etc. just before WW2. When the war started we moved into town
and started getting bigger jobs that paid quite a bit of money. We were poor folk but we were happy.
We had a loving close family. My mother played the piano and dad sang and could read music. He sang
what was referred to as 'sacred heart singing' . He was very good at it. I did pick up some music
learning from my family.
I was too young for the war but my brother was just old enough and was drafted into
the paratroopers. He jumped into Fance and then into Belgium where he got his arm all shot up.
He came back to the States and was in and out of the hospital until the war was over and even
after that for about six months before he wasdischarged from the army. When the Korean
War came along I was of age and served in the Marines from 1952 until 1954. We were both
proud Americans and served our country.
"BIG NOISE, BRIGHT LIGHTS"
My brother and I learned to play the guitar at a very young age. Speck traded an old type
of whip for it. It was busted up but we learned to play cords on it.
We got our little band together in the mid 50's after Speck got to know some people at our
local radio station. He managed to get a job as a DJ and we were able to get our little
band onto the radio. We then moved on to T.V. but still did radio for quite a long time.
"MUSIC TO MY EAR"
We did a lot of country music but when the music scene began to change after Elvis
came along, we had to start making adjustments and we started using drums. Speck went on
to become a very good drummer. We played local theatres and school houses but mostly clubs.
We played country, bluegrass and rockabilly to satisfy the audience. We did the best we could
and must have done all right because we did it for years. We also recorded for the Imperial Record label.
It was recorded at our local radio station after sign-off time at night. I believe there were
500 copies pressed at a place in Cincinnati.
We did it just for promotion and to play around a bit and had no idea that it was going
to do anything. 500 copies isn't a whole lot but somehow or other this record got overseas.
Anyway, I received inquiries from Germany, France and England about this record.
We were very proud that our music had traveled around.
At the time we had to perform all types of music to communicate with the audience and
rockabilly was part of that scene.
I went to Nashville just before I was 20 years old. I was very naive but the
highlight of my career was when I played on the Grand Ole Opry stage at the
Ryman Auditorium beside Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Monroe. I will remember that all my life.
© Rockabilly Hall of Fame ®