RAB Hall of Fame: Billygram
A ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME EXCLUSIVE FEATURE

BILLY GRAM

Hi Fans,
Welcome to the "Billy Gram!"

The Billy Gram is my personal letter to all of my fans everywhere. The Billy Gram contains all the latest information concerning me and my comeback career. Now to the latest news!



June, 2013

"Tucson Or Bust" Part Three

by Billy Adams

Somewhere along the way between St Louis and Springfield, Missouri, before old Flattery started breaking down, we put an upright bass on top of her along with the sign bearing our name. The old bass suffered with a broken neck just above the tuning keys that made it shorter and gave us the appearance of a back porch hick band. On a Saturday night we stopped at a restaurant that provided entertainment and went inside the packed out facility. They had a great country band occupying the small stage, and the audience seemed to love their music. But the problem I had with them was that they played the same old repetitious music of that day. They had not heard yet of the coming Rockabilly storm that would turn the entire music world upside down. When their band took a break, I told them that we were a traveling band and asked them if we could set in for awhile. After they gave me the yes answer, it was like saying sick'em to a bulldog. And quicker than the beat of my racing heart, the boys were coming through the door with the instruments. As Fritz came in carrying that old broken bass a voice came from the audience saying "if you are looking for the pawnshop it's on the next corner.

When we took the stage and started with "Blue Suede Shoes" the dancers went crazy and started screaming. Soon the whole audience got the feel of the new beat and started yelling more, more, more. Needless to say, it was a long night for us. After exiting the place and reloading the equipment in the ole ailing jalopy, we were once again on our way to Tucson. In downtown Springfield, Missouri we met a man that I will call Jim Wilson, and he told us that he owned an apartment that we could hold up in until we could afford something better. But as my ole mother used to say "never count your chickens before they hatch" for our troubles were far from being over. We continued to perform at Doc's Twenty One club for quite awhile and during that time Fritz and Charles (my brother) begin to pop the cork and empty the bottle to the point where it began to hinder their performance. To be honest I don't have any idea what happened to the piano player and his female companion that we had picked up in Springfield, Ohio while playing the Brazil Club. But now trouble in paradise began to surface between Charles and Fritz. At first I just shrugged my shoulders and whispered to myself that it would all soon blow over, but that was far from being the case. One night after we finished playing, and returned to the apartment, Fritz and Charles decided to settle their differences. With the alcohol persuading them, the fight was on. Then all at once Fritz picked up a hammer that was laying nearby and threatened to end Charles's life. Immediately I jumped into action, and threw Fritz out in the hallway in his underwear. That was the busting point of the trouble laced journey and the breakup of the band. The next morning Fritz was gone. I didn't see him again until twelve years later when Charles and I were conducting a revival meeting near Waterloo, Ohio. The years have erased the part of how Charles and I got back home, but I do recall that I sold Jim Wilson that old '49 Ford for fifty dollars. Now since Charles and Fritz have both passed on, I suppose their differences have truly been settled. The thought of going to Tucson has vanished away, but the thing that still haunts me sometimes is that we "Busted".



June, 2013

"Tucson Or Bust" Part Two

by Billy Adams

After the rejection of Floyd Goo Goo Rutledge and a broken down car with a fouled up transmission, we decided to hold up in Springfield for awhile until better conditions come our way. All the time I was thinking about artists like Red Foley, Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson, Dottie West and Brenda Lee and was whispering to my wounded ego if they could make it I could. But I had no clue of what was up ahead for me and the band for just as we left the city limits of Springfield the ole Ford began to make a grinding sound like metal against metal and quicker than strike lightening the transmission blew. At that point I thought it was all over but writing the letter back home. Now as the busting became more evident attitudes began to change and the confidence levels reached an all time low. However since my desire to succeed was much stronger than the fear of failure, I quickly pulled those levels up by my proverbial bootstraps and continued to keep my burning dream blazing like a red hot volcano. I started dreaming that dream in 1947, when my brother Charles and I heard the Grand Ole Opry over a whistling battery radio. Then we would go out under the big oak trees and try to imitate the singers on the show. While accompanying ourselves by banging on lard bucket lids with our bare knuckles, we created several different new rhythm patterns. So with all of those refueling thoughts running through my mind and my heart beating as fast as I was thinking, I began to see green instead of copper and silver. On this very hot summer day I saw a bus load of prisoners broken down and pulled over on the left side of the two lane road. Over on the right side there was a big building with a large parking lot and a sign that read "Doc's 21 Club". After we finally got the gear shift in neutral we got out of that ole crippled Ford, pushed her into the parking lot and went inside. As we entered the building we saw that one of the prisoners from the bus had ventured inside and was spinning a silver dollar around on the bar like a scene out of a western movie. Since I had my own band from the time I was thirteen years old, I was the chief cook and bottle washer. One of my many duties in that capacity was to play the role of a booking agent, so I went in and negotiated a deal that supported us as long as we were in the area.

The End Of Part Two. Be Sure To Read Part Three.



May, 2013

"Tucson Or Bust"

by Billy Adams

Welcome fans and friends to another long awaited addition of "The Billy Gram". I will begin by going back to the early days of my career.

Squeak, squeak, ping, ping went the old '49 Ford as the Rock And Roll Boys were shaking it up and down to break loose the stuck gear shift. Now this was the first indicator that the dream of going to Tucson was too big for our proverbial britches. But hearing Elvis in our mind and money jingling in our pockets, we said goodbye to Ma and Pa and soon we were heading down the Rockabilly Highway. When we finally got the old sputtering Ford going we never looked back at those rugged Kentucky hills. With our minds made up and a sign on top of the car that said, "Billy Adams and The Rock And Roll Boys", like Sergeant Preston of the Yukon I mushed that loaded down husky along the narrow two lane highway that would take us to the famous Route 66 and eventually on to Tucson. Soon we begin to realize that the trip so far was a piece of cake compared to the rest of the journey. For just when we thought it was going to be a breeze little did we know that a storm was brewing up ahead. Because just outside of Columbus, Ohio a small town cop spotted the loaded down Ford and radioed the Columbus Police Department to be on the lookout for us. As we continued on our way through the big city of Columbus all at once it was like a scene from the Dukes of Hazard as police with cruisers and motorcycles with lights flashing and screaming sirens positioning themselves all around us. Then I heard a loud voice yell, "spread eagle" as a policeman slammed me up against the side of a building. It quickly turned into a scene from Elliot Ness and the Untouchables as they yanked up the trunk lid and started going through, and throwing out, our stuff. Then I calmly asked the police officer that had a hold of me if we were going the right way to Tucson? He replied, "you were" and then I heard a lifted voice say let these boys go and soon we were once again on our way to Tucson.

Before we began our unforgettable Tucson journey we had picked up a piano player in Springfield, Ohio who caught up with us in his own car somewhere near St. Louis, Missouri. Rock Pretty Mama had been recently released, and somewhere between Columbus and St. Louis I stopped and used a pay phone. The call I made was to Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, and the man that answered introduced himself as Jack Clement. I told him that I was a sixteen year old boy from Kentucky with a new record and I would like to come down there and talk to them. He told me to come on down. By this time my brother, Charles, had joined the piano player and his female companion in their car. This left me and Fritz, the upright bass player, to deal with the old '49 Ford with a bad transmission. We were trucking along fine for a while until we got to St. Louis and discovered that there were one way streets in that big city. Wouldn't you just know it, the car that Charles was in stopped at a red light, and then proceeded without knowing that we were absent in their rearview mirror. We didn't see them again for nearly two days. By this time we were slowly approaching Springfield, Missouri but we didn't realize this would be the closest to Tucson we would ever be. One of the things that came to my mind was that Red Foley's Ozark Jubilee was nationally broadcast from there. I immediately started trying to get an audition for that show.

Now at that time Rockabilly music was just beginning to make its indelible mark upon the mundane music world. Some of the wild rhythms of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent and mine were standing ready to change the entire music world by wild rhythms and rockin' songs. But when I finally got my audition, it was with one of the show's comedians Floyd "Goo Goo" Rutledge who was also the proprietor of a second hand store in Springfield. Furthermore He was not fond of the musical sound that was approaching beyond Mt. Mundane that would shake the musical cookie cutters into crumbs.

So as one of the originators of the Rockabilly sound, I started playing my version of the Carl Perkins classic "Matchbox" when Goo Goo reached and got me by the hand and stopped me and said in lifted voice, "You Are Beating That Guitar to Death". Then I politely cased my guitar and left the store. When Rockabilly became a musical force to be reckoned with, I wonder if he ever thought about his stopping a little sixteen year old boy from Kentucky in the middle of an audition.
Keep-A-Rockin,
Billy Adams




January, 2012

"Missing My Morning Call"

by Billy Adams

It was a joyous occasion on June 17th, 1965, when my second child, Teresa Louise, was born. As her father, she really made me proud. Every evening when I came home from work she often laid her head on my chest and with a cute little smile she would roll those big beautiful eyes at me and talk in baby gibberish, which her Daddy joyfully interpreted as "I love you."

Though she fought the battles of the "middle child syndrome" in her early life, Teresa was still fighting when she was attacked and raped at gunpoint to spare the young girls that were with her. We tried to raise our children according to the scripture found in Proverbs 22:6 where the very wise Solomon said, "Train up a child in the way it should go: and when he (or she) is old, they will not depart from it."

But Teresa, like so many others, chose the broad way for a time, but in her latter days she surrendered her heart and soul to Jesus Christ and grew up to be a very intelligent Christian lady. I still miss her phone call every day and her excited voice saying, "This is your morning call!" But now I have to write about another call - and her last call.

I was sitting in my office in Spring Hill, Tennessee when I got a very joyful call from Teresa saying, "Dad, you are going to love what I'm fixing for dinner tomorrow!!" However, within fifteen minutes, the phone rang again and little did I know that it would be my last call from her.

This time, she was fighting for her life as she cried out, "Dad, pray for me! pray for me!"

After praying with her, I asked if her husband was there, and when she told me he was, I told her to have him call 911. In about forty-five minutes, I heard the helicopter going over my house heading to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. My first born, Tina, accompanied by my last born, Janetta, her husband Kelly, and I, went in breakneck speed to the hospital with our emergency lights flashing.

We arrived at the hospital just as the helicopter was landing. The emergency crew was rushing out to get her. At that time, I made haste toward the emergency room door. As they passed by, I yelled to her and she shouted "Daddy, Daddy," and I loudly called out to let her know that I was there - then I was told to "Get out of the way."

Soon, I made my way into the emergency room where she was lying on a small bed. When she saw me standing there, she very faintly asked me to come to her bedside. As I bent over her, she whispered, "Daddy I want you to know that I have always loved you and I will always love you." Those were the last words she ever spoke to me before the Lord came and took her home on January 1, 2010.

Teresa was laid to rest on Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 at Bellefonte Memorial Gardens, in Flatwoods, Kentucky, not very far from where she was born.

Still today, it seems that I can hear her outstanding tenor voice when she sang on stage with the group, Mountain Harmony, a gospel trio that featured Teresa and her two sisters, Tina and Janetta, to whom this Billy Gram is dedicated. I also dedicate this to my beautiful granddaughter, Hannah Kellene Grace Blevins, because Teresa loved her so much.

In closing, let me say that since Teresa gave her heart and soul to the Lord Jesus Christ, I am confident that she is now singing on a "higher stage." Sometimes, when the morning sun stands to melt the morning dew, it seems I can hear a ringing phone and a familiar voice saying, "This is your morning call!"

Until He Comes Again,
Billy Adams



November, 2011

"A Girl Named Sue"

by Billy Adams

Welcome fans and friends to this special edition of "The Billy Gram".

I first want to sincerely apologize for the long delay since the last edition, but due to the death of my wife and daughter, my mind and memory had been filled with haunting faces and faint voices in the wind.

The story you are about to read did not come from Hollywood. It is a true story. Instead, it came out of a dark hour prayer and God's answer to that prayer.

The cold fall rain fell gently that early Monday morning in '55 as I drove my sister, Kay, to the Greenup County High School. The big red brick building that housed the 100-plus students was located just inside the Greenup, Kentucky city limits. Since my sister had always been a little on the sneaky side, I should have known that this morning was not going to be an exception to her method of operation.

It was just another sleepy-eyed morning for a fifteen-year-old boy whose ducktail had not yet greased the pillow real good; for every morning I was awakened by the glaring sun that descended through the window and melted into the slick linoleum floor.

On this particular morning something happened that changed my life then - and many years later would change it forever. Now sit back and read a real love story that you will never be able to forget.

Like a hungry woodpecker testing its beak against the trunk of a giant oak tree, my ol' '52 Studebaker knocked its way along the narrow gravel road that was in a tobacco spitter's reach of two steel rails owned by the C&O Railroad. One thing I will always remember about that ol' Studebaker is that she couldn't get rubber if you drop-clutched her in low gear with the pedal to the metal.

When Kay and I got in the car I realized that this beautiful fourteen-year-old girl named Sue had walked over from her house to join us. When we all took our positions in the front seat, I then noticed that Kay had her sticky little paws on Cupid's arrow that was aiming straight toward my heart. She had intentionally arranged the seating so that our lovely passenger would sit next to me.

Well, it didn't take long 'til that ol' "love bug started running up and down my spine" (to quote a 50's hit by Jimmie Edwards) and sank it's long sharp teeth into a heart that offered no resistance. Now with my left hand on the steering wheel and my right arm around Sue's back, my cool dude heart began to keep rhythm with the sputtering sound of the red hot green machine. Soon our young love blossomed into a two year long romance where every day seemed to drag by and the nights were but a fleeting moment.(Here I would suggest that the reader go to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and read my May 11, 06 Billy Gram.)

In the fall of '55 when Rockabilly Music begin to turn the music world upside down and sent the teeny boppers gathering around the jukebox and their feet flying at the sock hops, my brother, Charles, said to me: "Bill, why don't you write us a song?" So with my guitar in my hand, I quickly walked into my bedroom, and while looking out the window straight at my first sweetheart's house, I wrote "Rock, Pretty Mama," which was later named a "Top 20 Classic" of all Rockabilly recordings, according to Universal Records.

In the late fall of '55 the Rock & Roll Boys (who later went on became the world famous Rock-A-Teers) featuring myself on the rhythm guitar, my brother, Charles, on the electric guitar, Curtis May on the upright bass, and a studio drummer recorded that world renowned classic.

Now in case you are among those who have wondered over the years who that girl was that I wrote about in the classic rocker - well, if you don't have a clue, she was Sue Justice, the beautiful neighbor girl that I took to school on that cold rainy morning. But this is not the end of the story, hang in there for the exciting conclusion.

It was a beautiful spring morning when it seemed the tree limbs were all full of singing birds headed back north for the coming summer. On May 6, 2010 I was scheduled to perform at Kingsbrook Lifecare Center and to my surprise Sue's beautiful mother, Ruth, was a resident there.

For the event, I was accompanied on bass guitar and vocals by my daughter, Janetta (who had recently blown the audience away when she rocked the stage in England while accompanying me on a tour there). Soon after arriving at Kingsbrook, we proceeded to the large room where several residents eagerly awaited our arrival.

After greeting the attentive audience, I took a seat at the piano and Janetta sat down in a chair to my right. Not realizing that the piano button that shifts the piano down a pitch had been activated, we had a little problem since the bass guitar was still in standard A-440 it was a little off pitch at times. Little did we know that it was not the people that booked the show it was our Blessed Lord that was firing the gun and calling the shots.

Though it was not Sue's routine day to visit her mother at the facility, she just had the urge to come that day. When she arrived at her mother's room, the room was empty. Startled and surprised, she ask an attendant, "Where is my mother?" The attendant answered, "We took her down to the first floor to listen to the music."

By that time, the concert was well under way. Little did I know that standing in the hallway looking through the huge window into the room was that first sweetheart of mine saying to the man in charge " That looks like Billy Adams." The man excitedly answered, "Yes, that's him!" She said, "I've got to go in and talk to him." By the time she came into the room the concert was over and I was greeting the residents.

All of a sudden she walked up to me and ask "Do you remember me?" And I replied "I vaguely remember - but I'm not sure." She replied "I'm Sue" and my look was "Okay, Sue who?" she answered "Sue Justice." And then my face turned rose colored. Those same feelings we had for each other fifty four years earlier came again like an arrow from Cupid's bow and struck our hearts even greater than it did in the beginning.

On the 14th day of August 2010, we walked down the aisle and exchanged those precious vows. Now we are two of the happiest people that God ever joined together - and with His help, we intend to stay that way.

The End
Billy Adams



May, 2011

"Special Edition"

by Billy Adams

Welcome fans and friends to this special edition of "The Billy Gram."

I first want to sincerely apologize for the long delay since the last edition, but due to the death of my wife and daughter, my mind and memory had been filled with haunting faces and faint voices in the wind.

The story you are about to read did not come from Hollywood, because it is a true story. Instead, it came out of a dark hour of prayer, and God's answer to that prayer.

The cold fall rain fell gently that early Monday morning in 1955 as I drove my sister, Kay, to the Greenup County High School. The big red brick building that housed the one hundred-plus students was located just inside the Greenup, Kentucky city limits. Since my sister had always been a little on the sneaky side, I should have known that this morning was not going to be an exception to her method of operation.

It was just another sleepy-eyed morning for a fifteen-year-old boy whose ducktail had not yet greased the pillow real good; for every morning I was awakened by the glaring sun that descended through the window and melted into the slick linoleum floor.

On this particular morning, something happened that changed my life then - and many years later would change it forever. Now sit back and read a real love story that you will never be able to forget.

Like a hungry woodpecker testing its beak against the trunk of a giant oak tree, my ole '52 Studebaker knocked its way along the narrow gravel road that was within a tobacco spitter's reach of two steel rails owned by the C&O Railroad. One thing I will always remember about that ol' Studebaker is that she couldn't get rubber if you drop-clutched her in low gear with the pedal to the metal.

When Kay and I got into the car, I realized that this beautiful fourteen-year-old girl named Sue had walked over from her house to join us. When we all took our positions in the front seat, I noticed that Kay had her sticky little paws on Cupid's arrow and was aiming it straight at my heart. She had intently arranged the seating so that our lovely passenger would sit next to me.

Well, it didn't take long till that ol' "love bug started running up and down my spine" (to quote a fifties hit by Jimmie Edwards) and sank its long sharp teeth into a heart that offered no resistance. Now with my left hand on the steering wheel and my right arm around her back, my cool dude heart began to keep rhythm with the sputtering sound of the red hot green machine. Soon our young love blossomed into a two year long romance where every day seemed to drag by and the nights were but a fleeting moment.

(Here I would suggest that the reader go to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame website and read my May 11, '06 Billy Gram.

In the fall of '55 when Rockabilly Music begin to turn the music world upside down and sent the teeny boppers gathering around the jukebox and their feet flying at the sock hops, my brother, Charles, said to me, "Bill, why don't you write us a song"? So me and my guitar slipped into my bedroom and while looking out the window straight at my first sweetheart's house, I wrote "Rock, Pretty Mama," a Top-20 classic of all Rockabilly songs according to Universal Records.

In the late fall of '55 me and the Rock & Roll Boys (who later became the world famous Rock-A-Teers), featuring myself on the rhythm guitar, my brother, Charles, on the electric guitar, Curtis May on the upright bass, and a studio drummer recorded that world renowned classic.

Now in case you are among those who have wondered over the years "Who was that girl who was mentioned in that classic rocker?" well, if you don't have a clue, she was Sue Justice, the beautiful neighbor girl that I drove to school on that cold rainy morning. But this is not the end of the story: Don't miss the big surprise ending of "A Girl Named Sue" in my next "BillyGram!"

Until then,
Keep-A-Rockin,
Billy Adams



August, 2009

"Rock-A-Billy Farewell"

by Billy Adams

A few years ago, my manager, Clif Doyal and I, met a man with an award-winning smile and a captivating personality that made him stand out in the crowd like a mighty oak in a knotty pine forest. I will never forget his vice grip hand shake that made a first meet seem like an old friendship.

When Billy Lee Riley spoke to me that day in Green Bay at the huge festival, he seemed to be in harmony with all that I had faced and endured along the musical trail of illusive dreams.

Billy realized, as I had so long ago, that in spite of the neglecting, rejecting, and all of the broken promises along the way, that real dreamers dream on. "Hey Billy!" he said, "I just told my wife the other day that I had always wanted to do a concert with you." Both Clif and I responded with "That would be great, lets do it!" and we agreed to work it out someday, but here on this earth so many somedays never come.

In my personal opinion, he was the greatest man that I had ever met in Rock-A-Billy Music. One day soon, perhaps we will be a part of that great heavenly concert far beyond Memphis and Nashville.

If I had been reading this article from some other writer and they never mentioned his name, I think I would have known that it could be about no one else but my great friend, Billy Lee Riley.



April, 2009

"THE STORY OF THE DOUBLE HYPHENED -A-"

by Billy Adams

In 1958, the band and I were playing in Portsmouth, Ohio, a booming river city located about fifteen miles south of Piketon, the home of the Atomic Plant. This plant was huge and was the financial pipeline into many surrounding cities, including Portsmouth.

This pipeline even trickled out more than a few dollars to the empty pockets of two hungry teenage boys, who made many of their first musical marks in the Portsmouth area.

When I recorded "Rock, Pretty Mama" in the fall of 1955 my band was named "The Rock & Roll Boys," and by 1957, while I was on the Dot Records label, the band had no name at all.

Since I had grown up listening to the music of such great artist as Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys, Hank Williams and The Drifting Cowboys, I thought I would also include by band's name on the record label.

At that time, I was making a label change to Mac Recording Company located in West Portsmouth. When my band and I recorded our first record for them, they were called Nau-Voo Records, named after an Indian Tribe that at one time had settled there.

In those days racketeering was often in the news, and those who were involved were called "Racketeers." One day while sitting in the club where we were playing, I changed a couple of letters and put in a capitol A and the name for my band had arrived.

Even though the new name had surfaced, from the deeper regions of my mind I knew there was something still missing. Then, it came to me if I would double-hyphen the capitol -A- it would appear to be rocking back and forth. So from that Rocking -A- came the world renowned band, the legendary "Rock-A-Teers."

The double hyphened -A- first appeared on my 1958 Nau-Voo record "You Gotta Have A Duck Tail," and was used by that label until I singed with Fern Records in 1960.

At the time of this writing, the double-hyphened -A- has survived for more than five decades. And, thanks to other groups such as "The Rock-A-Teens," it is now being used in many circles to spell Rock-A-Billy.

***Special quote note; As the late Paul Harvey would say, "Now you know the rest of the story!"



June/July/'06

You Heard Me Knocking" Story

by Billy Adams

The weather was bitter cold that February night back in 1956 when The Rock-A-Teers and I took the stage at the 440 Club in Portsmouth, Ohio. The club was located on Second Street near where the half frozen Ohio River lay. That night was one that I will always remember as the time when my musical career was to turn down a long winding road that would change my life forever.

In the audience that night was Glen "Mac" McKinney and his wife Mamie, who were the owners of Mac Recording Company, later called Nau-Voo Records, which was located in West Portsmouth. This man was a recording genius.

I had been wearing out a little 45 on the jukebox by Smiley Lewis titled "I Hear You Knocking" and that's where I got the inspiration to write "You Heard Me Knocking" which was somewhat of an answer to the Lewis record. Two years earlier I had written and recorded my signature song "Rock, Pretty Mama" which was released on the Quincy Record label. The McKinneys somehow knew about the earlier recording, and had apparently gotten some positive feedback from the 440 Club about us. So, it didn't take long for me to realize that the band and I were being auditioned for a recording session that would eventually land us on Dot Records in Hollywood, California.

When the band and I took our fifteen minute break we were quickly invited to join the two record executives at their table. After the official greeting and a few minutes of musical chatter, the recording deal was offered and before the night was over it was accepted and the session date was set.

Armed with "You Heard Me Knocking" and a song that I was inspired to write by the late Eddie Cochran, entitled "True Love Will Come Your Way," on March 7th 1957, we arrived at the studio with empty pockets and hearts filled with dreams. Musicians joining me for the session were my late brother Charles Adams on the electric guitar, Curtis May on the upright bass, Randall McKinney on drums and Bobby Lawson on a second rhythm guitar. In a small garage-like room with primitive equipment and a fuel tank for an echo chamber, Glen McKinney captured the true Billy Adams sound that is known around the world.

As I recall both songs were done in one session and they were as rough and raw as the sunburned face of a country boy. They would not be up to par by today's multi-track standards. What was captured that day was not only a recorded sound picture - it was life-like. It was who I was, a young teenage boy venting all of his frustrations through a cheap fist-sized microphone.

Then came the behind-the-scenes "shady deals" that reached all the way from West Portsmouth to Germany - and beyond. It would be nearly fifty years before I would receive any compensation from any of my early records. In 1974, I received my first royalty check for "I Saw The Man," a Gospel song that I wrote and recorded that reached the number six position and remained on the Gospel Music Charts for ten months. It is still being covered by other artists, and is still charting today. As on all roads - there are ups, downs, blessings, curses, shattered dreams and disappointments - all along the way. As I write this Billy Gram I wish somehow that my early musical journey could have been better - but as I near the end of that road, I must admit that it wasn't that way. Although it probably was much better than I deserved, I must write that it could have and should have been much better.

In closing, let me say that over the years I have had different managers and agents from Portsmouth to Memphis and Nashville, but I really have had only one great manager and that's Clif Doyal. For the last five years he has not only been my manager/agent/drummer, but he has been, and still is a great friend to me and my family. It was his idea that we put into a workable plan to reclaim all of my early songs, and today I can say that this has become a reality. Now I am being compensated for not only "You Heard Me Knocking," but all of my other records as well. And as I approach the end of this long half-century journey, I would like to say to Clif personally, "Buddy, if you had been my manager a long time ago, this would have been a different journey."

Thanks My Friend,
Billy






May 11, '06

The Rock Pretty Mama Story

by Billy Adams

The year was 1955, when the hourly wage was .75 cents per hour and you could buy a loaf of bread for .18 cents. For those who could afford one, a new house was going for $17,500. And how about a new car to sit on your driveway four only $1,950.? And oh for those days when you could pull up to a gas station and say to a real person at the pumps, "filler up!" at a cost of .23 to .27 cents per gallon!!

Musically speaking, like the river that flowed out of Eden to water The Garden and then parted and became four heads, there were new heads beginning to form out of the old established streams of Country and Western, Rhythm and Blues and Tin Pan Alley. New horses were entering the race and heading for the winner's circle. Great new artists like Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley and Buddy Holly were swelling the river to high tide level as they began to dominate the Billboard chart with the new sounds of Rockabilly and Rock and Roll.

It was in the fall of '55 when my late brother, Charles, said to me "Bill why don't you write us a song?" Knowing that I had been writing little ditties since I was about seven years old, he just turned and walked away not even waiting for my answer. What happened then is a memory that went with him to the end of his journey, and will be with me 'til the end of mine. With those eight little words still stinging in my heart, I quickly tore off a piece of an old brown grocery bag and with a ready pencil and my old rhythm guitar, I eagerly slipped into my bedroom.

While listening to the sound of the little gas heater that filled the room with an odor that I can still smell to this day. I looked out of the small narrow window where I could see in the distance the cold steel rails where the George Washington came whistling through every night at 8:20, you could set your watches by it. As I pounded out a new rhythmic beat, I began to hum a little melody and very soon (I think it was about 15 minutes or so) I emerged from my bedroom with "Rock Pretty Mama" in my hand.

Early one late Fall morning, my brother Charles, Curtis May, and I, (The Rock & Roll Boys) stopped at a little "Mom and Pop" country store located at the junction of US 23 and State Route 1 near Greenup, Kentucky to pick up some Vienna Sausages, potted meat, and a box of crackers. Then, with our coat collars up around our necks to shield us from the bitter North Wind, we headed to Rite Recording Studio in Cincinnati, Ohio - and the rest is recorded history.

Keep-A-Rockin',
Billy Adams






April, 2006

The Message Of The Empty Tomb 

by Billy Adams

On Easter Sunday, millions of people from all over the world will gather at churches and other religious institutions to worship. While many will do so with hearts melted by the flame of sincere joy, others will just go through their yearly ritual of paying respect to a dead man. With guilt feelings sticking to their soul like a leach, they come sing their song and walk away unchanged --because they have missed the message. Still untold numbers will arrive all decked out in their uptown frocks and frillies while trying to outdo the Jones's or to make a fashion statement, and like those before them, they too have missed the message.

To understand the true message of that first Easter morning, we must realize that Jesus Christ who was Fathered by The Holy Spirit and mothered by the Virgin Mary came to this earth and lived over three sinless decades. In His short earthly life, The Carpenter, who never cut a board too short or drove a crooked nail, walked mile after mile preaching the Gospel Of The Kingdom Of God. During His many travels, He healed the sick, cast out devils, raised the dead, and set the captive free. Even at the time of his death, He prayed a prayer that shook the dark regions of hell and gave hope to the hopeless. Then He returned to His Father leaving behind a conquered cross, an empty tomb, and the blessed promise of His eminent return.

In order for sinful men to have eternal life, someone greater than man would have to die and be the first of the resurrected. This is what separates Jesus from all the other so called gods that have, or ever will, come down the pike. As it was so wonderfully written by my good friend Rusty Goodman of the Legendary Happy Goodman Family who penned these simple but awesome words: "He was born to die that I might live." There could never have been an empty tomb without the old rugged cross on Golgotha's Hill. For it was there that God made His own Son who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Just before He bowed His precious head and died, He prayed for you and me, "Father Forgive Them For They Know Not What They Do."

On August the 8th 1965, God in answering the prayer of His dying Son, saved my sinful soul. I still remember that wonderful night as though it happened only yesterday. After hearing in church that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, later on that night, joined by my brother Charles and my brother-in-law Charles Riffe, I bowed at a couch in the preachers' living room. With tears running down my face, I whispered these words. "Lord I don't know you, I don't even know what to say to you, but I know one thing Lord, I've gone as far as I can go without your help." That's when He reached down His loving hand to me and when I got up from that old couch altar, I knew the man that got up was not the same man that went down.

Since that time I have, by the marvelous grace of God, been able to walk in the newness of the resurrected life. Then in the late fall of that same year I was called into the wonderful ministry to preach the death, burial, and resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ. Over the many years that I have preached the gospel, I have witnessed great numbers of weak and weary pilgrims coming to him from all walks of life and I have yet to see even one of them whose life has not been changed for the better.

On that first Easter Morning many messages were delivered. First by the women, who were first to arrive at the tomb, and later by others including the Apostles. But beyond all doubt, the greatest of all messages was delivered through the lips of angels who said "He Is Not Here, For He Is Risen."

In closing my friend, let me leave you with this, if you are one of those who have the desire to frequent the house of God only at funerals, weddings, or other special events, and never have heard, in your heart, the sin conquering cry from the cross, or the emptiness of the dark and lonely tomb shouting "I could not hold Him, I just could not hold Him," then my friend, there's a possibility that you too have missed the message.

From My House To Your House,
May God Be With You Always,
Billy Adams And Family

P.S. I want to correct a mistake made in the last issue. The true value of the 1958 Les Paul Sunburst Gibson Standard is from $190,000.00 dollars to $250,000.00 dollars.






March 23, 2006

My Interview With An Old Guitar

by Billy Adams

Last month I told you that in the February issue I would interview an old guitar, well I want to apologize for being a month late but sometimes young rockers like mysel f have to have a little stay in the hospital to make sure that the old ticker is still ticking properly. Well, it seems that all the highly professional physicians on my team at the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Franklin, Tennessee, gave me a good report, and I sure praise The Lord for that.

In the following you will notice that the planned interview has been changed into a very interesting story that I feel must be shared with you. So, like a good engineer that knows when the recording heads are sticking something great to the tape, I just let the old guitar talk while the tape rolled on, and like magic, this unforgettable story stuck. So without further delay, Ladies and Gentlemen, speaking in its original deep rich tone, I now introduce you to a legendary 1958 Les Paul Gibson Standard Guitar.

Thank you, thank you, as my longtime friend Billy said, I am a 1958 original Les Paul Gibson Standard. It was the first year that they made me with a cherry sunburst finish. I am one of only seventeen hundred ever made. Although Gibson is still making me today, I'll never be made again like I was in '58. You see, the wood that provides my deep rich tone had been seasoned for forty years prior to my construction. Though they can duplicate everything else about me, the wood is no longer available today.

I was purchased in 1959 at Wrights Music Store in Portsmouth Ohio, by the young and very talented Dave Thornhill. On the way home, I asked myself how could anything so pretty and rich in tone as me be sold for $289., including my plush hard shell case? But what really steams my sunburst finish is to find that after 47 years I am now worth between $90,000. to $250.000., depending on my condition, and with my original frets still like new I guess that speaks volumes about the shape I'm in.

In the late 50's I was heard on several recordings including "You Gotta Have A Duck Tail" by Billy Adams and The Rock-A-Teers. If you have the picture of The Rock-A-Teers with an upright bass on each end, look to the left of Billy and you will see me and Dave and if you look behind Billy, you will see my twin being played by Charles Adams who bought it at the same place and time that Dave bought me.

After a short stint with Billy Adams and The Rock-A- Teers, Dave joined Bobby Lawson and became a member of his band The Golden Rocks. For a little while I was played as the lead guitar for that band. Then Dave left Portsmouth, and headed up north to Bellefontaine, Ohio and used me in a small club as the lead guitar for local singer Donnie Ballinger. It was during his time with Ballinger that Dave began to lean more toward the straight country sound, and I was replaced by a Gretsch Country Gentleman. Then the unthinkable happened, Dave sold me to his brother Junior, who several years later sold me to some fellow in West Virginia for $500. In 1969, Dave got a job with Loretta Lynn and I got shoved under a bed somewhere in them dark lonesome West Virginia hills.

For six long years, with no hand to slide up and down my neck or press a string against my frets, I lay there watching the busy spider build his web and wondered if I would ever hear from Dave again. Then one day while rubbing shoulders with some of the country greats, he began to hear feedback about the worth of the 1958 Les Paul at that time, and thought of me. Soon, he called his brother Junior and asked him if he knew where I was, and he replied yes, I think I do. Then Dave told him to see if he could locate me and then get back with him. Junior searched until he found me, and for $500. he freed me from my lonely bedroom prison. The next evening he rang Dave's phone shouting the good news that he had found me and that he had me right there in his hands! And with great joy Dave told him to name any guitar that he wanted and he would get it, bring it to him, and bring me back home. The guitar that Junior wanted was a solid red 335 Gibson with a Bigsby.

Some time later in Oklahoma City, on a Sunday afternoon, while doing a show with Loretta and Conway Twitty, Conway introduced Dave to a friend by the name of Bob Woods who owned a music store nearby. While talking with Bob, Dave asked him if he had a Gibson 335 in the store and he informed him that there was a red used one with a Bigsby hanging on the wall, and it was just like new. After the concert, they went to the store and when Dave saw that the price for both the guitar and case was $300., he yelled sold! After paying the man, he loaded the 335 in his car and left.

As soon as he got a break in his heavy touring schedule, Dave drove to West Virginia and gave Junior the Gibson 335, plus the $500. he had paid for me, and brought me home. Looking back now, I realize that all of my perils are not to be compared to the great joy that was shared when Dave and I finally met again. So, I guess I really don't have that much to complain about, when I consider my fate could have been that of my twin - hock May, 2011

"Special Edition"

by Billy Adams

August, 2009

"Rock-A-Billy Farewell"

by Billy Adams

A few years ago, my manager, Clif Doyal and I, met a man with an award-winning smile and a captivating personality that made him stand out in the crowd like a mighty oak in a knotty pine forest. I will never forget his vice grip hand shake that made a first meet seem like an old friendship.

When Billy Lee Riley spoke to me that day in Green Bay at the huge festival, he seemed to be in harmony with all that I had faced and endured along the musical trail of illusive dreams.

Billy realized, as I had so long ago, that in spite of the neglecting, rejecting, and all of the broken promises along the way, that real dreamers dream on. "Hey Billy!" he said, "I just told my wife the other day that I had always wanted to do a concert with you." Both Clif and I responded with "That would be great, lets do it!" and we agreed to work it out someday, but here on this earth so many somedays never come.

In my personal opinion, he was the greatest man that I had ever met in Rock-A-Billy Music. One day soon, perhaps we will be a part of that great heavenly concert far beyond Memphis and Nashville.

If I had been reading this article from some other writer and they never mentioned his name, I think I would have known that it could be about no one else but my great friend, Billy Lee Riley.



April, 2009

"THE STORY OF THE DOUBLE HYPHENED -A-"

by Billy Adams

In 1958, the band and I were playing in Portsmouth, Ohio, a booming river city located about fifteen miles south of Piketon, the home of the Atomic Plant. This plant was huge and was the financial pipeline into many surrounding cities, including Portsmouth.

This pipeline even trickled out more than a few dollars to the empty pockets of two hungry teenage boys, who made many of their first musical marks in the Portsmouth area.

When I recorded "Rock, Pretty Mama" in the fall of 1955 my band was named "The Rock & Roll Boys," and by 1957, while I was on the Dot Records label, the band had no name at all.

Since I had grown up listening to the music of such great artist as Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys, Hank Williams and The Drifting Cowboys, I thought I would also include by band's name on the record label.

At that time, I was making a label change to Mac Recording Company located in West Portsmouth. When my band and I recorded our first record for them, they were called Nau-Voo Records, named after an Indian Tribe that at one time had settled there.

In those days racketeering was often in the news, and those who were involved were called "Racketeers." One day while sitting in the club where we were playing, I changed a couple of letters and put in a capitol A and the name for my band had arrived.

Even though the new name had surfaced, from the deeper regions of my mind I knew there was something still missing. Then, it came to me if I would double-hyphen the capitol -A- it would appear to be rocking back and forth. So from that Rocking -A- came the world renowned band, the legendary "Rock-A-Teers."

The double hyphened -A- first appeared on my 1958 Nau-Voo record "You Gotta Have A Duck Tail," and was used by that label until I singed with Fern Records in 1960.

At the time of this writing, the double-hyphened -A- has survived for more than five decades. And, thanks to other groups such as "The Rock-A-Teens," it is now being used in many circles to spell Rock-A-Billy.

***Special quote note; As the late Paul Harvey would say, "Now you know the rest of the story!"



June/July/'06

You Heard Me Knocking" Story

by Billy Adams

The weather was bitter cold that February night back in 1956 when The Rock-A-Teers and I took the stage at the 440 Club in Portsmouth, Ohio. The club was located on Second Street near where the half frozen Ohio River lay. That night was one that I will always remember as the time when my musical career was to turn down a long winding road that would change my life forever.

In the audience that night was Glen "Mac" McKinney and his wife Mamie, who were the owners of Mac Recording Company, later called Nau-Voo Records, which was located in West Portsmouth. This man was a recording genius.

I had been wearing out a little 45 on the jukebox by Smiley Lewis titled "I Hear You Knocking" and that's where I got the inspiration to write "You Heard Me Knocking" which was somewhat of an answer to the Lewis record. Two years earlier I had written and recorded my signature song "Rock, Pretty Mama" which was released on the Quincy Record label. The McKinneys somehow knew about the earlier recording, and had apparently gotten some positive feedback from the 440 Club about us. So, it didn't take long for me to realize that the band and I were being auditioned for a recording session that would eventually land us on Dot Records in Hollywood, California.

When the band and I took our fifteen minute break we were quickly invited to join the two record executives at their table. After the official greeting and a few minutes of musical chatter, the recording deal was offered and before the night was over it was accepted and the session date was set.

Armed with "You Heard Me Knocking" and a song that I was inspired to write by the late Eddie Cochran, entitled "True Love Will Come Your Way," on March 7th 1957, we arrived at the studio with empty pockets and hearts filled with dreams. Musicians joining me for the session were my late brother Charles Adams on the electric guitar, Curtis May on the upright bass, Randall McKinney on drums and Bobby Lawson on a second rhythm guitar. In a small garage-like room with primitive equipment and a fuel tank for an echo chamber, Glen McKinney captured the true Billy Adams sound that is known around the world.

As I recall both songs were done in one session and they were as rough and raw as the sunburned face of a country boy. They would not be up to par by today's multi-track standards. What was captured that day was not only a recorded sound picture - it was life-like. It was who I was, a young teenage boy venting all of his frustrations through a cheap fist-sized microphone.

Then came the behind-the-scenes "shady deals" that reached all the way from West Portsmouth to Germany - and beyond. It would be nearly fifty years before I would receive any compensation from any of my early records. In 1974, I received my first royalty check for "I Saw The Man," a Gospel song that I wrote and recorded that reached the number six position and remained on the Gospel Music Charts for ten months. It is still being covered by other artists, and is still charting today. As on all roads - there are ups, downs, blessings, curses, shattered dreams and disappointments - all along the way. As I write this Billy Gram I wish somehow that my early musical journey could have been better - but as I near the end of that road, I must admit that it wasn't that way. Although it probably was much better than I deserved, I must write that it could have and should have been much better.

In closing, let me say that over the years I have had different managers and agents from Portsmouth to Memphis and Nashville, but I really have had only one great manager and that's Clif Doyal. For the last five years he has not only been my manager/agent/drummer, but he has been, and still is a great friend to me and my family. It was his idea that we put into a workable plan to reclaim all of my early songs, and today I can say that this has become a reality. Now I am being compensated for not only "You Heard Me Knocking," but all of my other records as well. And as I approach the end of this long half-century journey, I would like to say to Clif personally, "Buddy, if you had been my manager a long time ago, this would have been a different journey."

Thanks My Friend,
Billy  






May 11, '06

The Rock Pretty Mama Story

by Billy Adams

The year was 1955, when the hourly wage was .75 cents per hour and you could buy a loaf of bread for .18 cents. For those who could afford one, a new house was going for $17,500. And how about a new car to sit on your driveway four only $1,950.? And oh for those days when you could pull up to a gas station and say to a real person at the pumps, "filler up!" at a cost of .23 to .27 cents per gallon!!

Musically speaking, like the river that flowed out of Eden to water The Garden and then parted and became four heads, there were new heads beginning to form out of the old established streams of Country and Western, Rhythm and Blues and Tin Pan Alley. New horses were entering the race and heading for the winner's circle. Great new artists like Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley and Buddy Holly were swelling the river to high tide level as they began to dominate the Billboard chart with the new sounds of Rockabilly and Rock and Roll.

It was in the fall of '55 when my late brother, Charles, said to me "Bill why don't you write us a song?" Knowing that I had been writing little ditties since I was about seven years old, he just turned and walked away not even waiting for my answer. What happened then is a memory that went with him to the end of his journey, and will be with me 'til the end of mine. With those eight little words still stinging in my heart, I quickly tore off a piece of an old brown grocery bag and with a ready pencil and my old rhythm guitar, I eagerly slipped into my bedroom.

While listening to the sound of the little gas heater that filled the room with an odor that I can still smell to this day. I looked out of the small narrow window where I could see in the distance the cold steel rails where the George Washington came whistling through every night at 8:20, you could set your watches by it. As I pounded out a new rhythmic beat, I began to hum a little melody and very soon (I think it was about 15 minutes or so) I emerged from my bedroom with "Rock Pretty Mama" in my hand.

Early one late Fall morning, my brother Charles, Curtis May, and I, (The Rock & Roll Boys) stopped at a little "Mom and Pop" country store located at the junction of US 23 and State Route 1 near Greenup, Kentucky to pick up some Vienna Sausages, potted meat, and a box of crackers. Then, with our coat collars up around our necks to shield us from the bitter North Wind, we headed to Rite Recording Studio in Cincinnati, Ohio - and the rest is recorded history.

Keep-A-Rockin',
Billy Adams






April, 2006

The Message Of The Empty Tomb 

by Billy Adams

On Easter Sunday, millions of people from all over the world will gather at churches and other religious institutions to worship. While many will do so with hearts melted by the flame of sincere joy, others will just go through their yearly ritual of paying respect to a dead man. With guilt feelings sticking to their soul like a leach, they come sing their song and walk away unchanged --because they have missed the message. Still untold numbers will arrive all decked out in their uptown frocks and frillies while trying to outdo the Jones's or to make a fashion statement, and like those before them, they too have missed the message.

To understand the true message of that first Easter morning, we must realize that Jesus Christ who was Fathered by The Holy Spirit and mothered by the Virgin Mary came to this earth and lived over three sinless decades. In His short earthly life, The Carpenter, who never cut a board too short or drove a crooked nail, walked mile after mile preaching the Gospel Of The Kingdom Of God. During His many travels, He healed the sick, cast out devils, raised the dead, and set the captive free. Even at the time of his death, He prayed a prayer that shook the dark regions of hell and gave hope to the hopeless. Then He returned to His Father leaving behind a conquered cross, an empty tomb, and the blessed promise of His eminent return.

In order for sinful men to have eternal life, someone greater than man would have to die and be the first of the resurrected. This is what separates Jesus from all the other so called gods that have, or ever will, come down the pike. As it was so wonderfully written by my good friend Rusty Goodman of the Legendary Happy Goodman Family who penned these simple but awesome words: "He was born to die that I might live." There could never have been an empty tomb without the old rugged cross on Golgotha's Hill. For it was there that God made His own Son who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Just before He bowed His precious head and died, He prayed for you and me, "Father Forgive Them For They Know Not What They Do."

On August the 8th 1965, God in answering the prayer of His dying Son, saved my sinful soul. I still remember that wonderful night as though it happened only yesterday. After hearing in church that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, later on that night, joined by my brother Charles and my brother-in-law Charles Riffe, I bowed at a couch in the preachers' living room. With tears running down my face, I whispered these words. "Lord I don't know you, I don't even know what to say to you, but I know one thing Lord, I've gone as far as I can go without your help." That's when He reached down His loving hand to me and when I got up from that old couch altar, I knew the man that got up was not the same man that went down.

Since that time I have, by the marvelous grace of God, been able to walk in the newness of the resurrected life. Then in the late fall of that same year I was called into the wonderful ministry to preach the death, burial, and resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ. Over the many years that I have preached the gospel, I have witnessed great numbers of weak and weary pilgrims coming to him from all walks of life and I have yet to see even one of them whose life has not been changed for the better.

On that first Easter Morning many messages were delivered. First by the women, who were first to arrive at the tomb, and later by others including the Apostles. But beyond all doubt, the greatest of all messages was delivered through the lips of angels who said "He Is Not Here, For He Is Risen."

In closing my friend, let me leave you with this, if you are one of those who have the desire to frequent the house of God only at funerals, weddings, or other special events, and never have heard, in your heart, the sin conquering cry from the cross, or the emptiness of the dark and lonely tomb shouting "I could not hold Him, I just could not hold Him," then my friend, there's a possibility that you too have missed the message.

From My House To Your House,
May God Be With You Always,
Billy Adams And Family

P.S. I want to correct a mistake made in the last issue. The true value of the 1958 Les Paul Sunburst Gibson Standard is from $190,000.00 dollars to $250,000.00 dollars.






March 23, 2006

My Interview With An Old Guitar

by Billy Adams

Last month I told you that in the February issue I would interview an old guitar, well I want to apologize for being a month late but sometimes young rockers like mysel f have to have a little stay in the hospital to make sure that the old ticker is still ticking properly. Well, it seems that all the highly professional physicians on my team at the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Franklin, Tennessee, gave me a good report, and I sure praise The Lord for that.

In the following you will notice that the planned interview has been changed into a very interesting story that I feel must be shared with you. So, like a good engineer that knows when the recording heads are sticking something great to the tape, I just let the old guitar talk while the tape rolled on, and like magic, this unforgettable story stuck. So without further delay, Ladies and Gentlemen, speaking in its original deep rich tone, I now introduce you to a legendary 1958 Les Paul Gibson Standard Guitar.

Thank you, thank you, as my longtime friend Billy said, I am a 1958 original Les Paul Gibson Standard. It was the first year that they made me with a cherry sunburst finish. I am one of only seventeen hundred ever made. Although Gibson is still making me today, I'll never be made again like I was in '58. You see, the wood that provides my deep rich tone had been seasoned for forty years prior to my construction. Though they can duplicate everything else about me, the wood is no longer available today.

I was purchased in 1959 at Wrights Music Store in Portsmouth Ohio, by the young and very talented Dave Thornhill. On the way home, I asked myself how could anything so pretty and rich in tone as me be sold for $289., including my plush hard shell case? But what really steams my sunburst finish is to find that after 47 years I am now worth between $90,000. to $250.000., depending on my condition, and with my original frets still like new I guess that speaks volumes about the shape I'm in.

In the late 50's I was heard on several recordings including "You Gotta Have A Duck Tail" by Billy Adams and The Rock-A-Teers. If you have the picture of The Rock-A-Teers with an upright bass on each end, look to the left of Billy and you will see me and Dave and if you look behind Billy, you will see my twin being played by Charles Adams who bought it at the same place and time that Dave bought me.

After a short stint with Billy Adams and The Rock-A- Teers, Dave joined Bobby Lawson and became a member of his band The Golden Rocks. For a little while I was played as the lead guitar for that band. Then Dave left Portsmouth, and headed up north to Bellefontaine, Ohio and used me in a small club as the lead guitar for local singer Donnie Ballinger. It was during his time with Ballinger that Dave began to lean more toward the straight country sound, and I was replaced by a Gretsch Country Gentleman. Then the unthinkable happened, Dave sold me to his brother Junior, who several years later sold me to some fellow in West Virginia for $500. In 1969, Dave got a job with Loretta Lynn and I got shoved under a bed somewhere in them dark lonesome West Virginia hills.

For six long years, with no hand to slide up and down my neck or press a string against my frets, I lay there watching the busy spider build his web and wondered if I would ever hear from Dave again. Then one day while rubbing shoulders with some of the country greats, he began to hear feedback about the worth of the 1958 Les Paul at that time, and thought of me. Soon, he called his brother Junior and asked him if he knew where I was, and he replied yes, I think I do. Then Dave told him to see if he could locate me and then get back with him. Junior searched until he found me, and for $500. he freed me from my lonely bedroom prison. The next evening he rang Dave's phone shouting the good news that he had found me and that he had me right there in his hands! And with great joy Dave told him to name any guitar that he wanted and he would get it, bring it to him, and bring me back home. The guitar that Junior wanted was a solid red 335 Gibson with a Bigsby.

Some time later in Oklahoma City, on a Sunday afternoon, while doing a show with Loretta and Conway Twitty, Conway introduced Dave to a friend by the name of Bob Woods who owned a music store nearby. While talking with Bob, Dave asked him if he had a Gibson 335 in the store and he informed him that there was a red used one with a Bigsby hanging on the wall, and it was just like new. After the concert, they went to the store and when Dave saw that the price for both the guitar and case was $300., he yelled sold! After paying the man, he loaded the 335 in his car and left.

As soon as he got a break in his heavy touring schedule, Dave drove to West Virginia and gave Junior the Gibson 335, plus the $500. he had paid for me, and brought me home. Looking back now, I realize that all of my perils are not to be compared to the great joy that was shared when Dave and I finally met again. So, I guess I really don't have that much to complain about, when I consider my fate could have been that of my twin - hocked in a Kentucky pawnshop for $50. and then finally traded for a cheap want-to-be that was only worth about 25 bucks.

Now I have come full circle and I am once again being played by Dave as the lead guitar with Billy Adams and The Rock-A-Teers. And since Dave and Billy are talking about finishing their long remarkable careers together and are back in the studio with plans to lay down enough hot tracks for three or four new albums, I'm left to wonder what do they expect of me now. But I am sure that when those two put their creative minds together with Billy's long-time friend Clif Doyal on drums and Dennis Digby on the bass, you can bet the Old Grey Goose-- we'll come up with another "Duck Tail."

Keep-A-Rockin,
Billy Adams






January 16, 2006

Shaking The Cornerstone

by Billy Adams

One night in late November, while walking the streets of Dodge City, I was abruptly awakened by the ringing of the telephone. While quickly wiping the gun smoke out of my eyes, I picked up the phone and low and behold, as my ole mother would say, it was my good friend and fellow picker, Bobby Smith, inviting me to attend the Brian Setzer concert at the world famous Ryman Auditorium. Since the invitation came with a ticket and a time of fellowship at one of the finest steak houses in Nashville, I took him up on it.

So on Wednesday evening December the 7th at about 6:00 p.m., my Son-in-law, Kelly Blevins and I, arrived at Demo's Restaurant which is located about a block or so from the Ryman. Shortly after, Bobby joined us we were sinking our teeth into thick juicy steaks so tender we wondered how the cow ever walked. But since we had about an hour or so before the opening act, we had plenty of time to chew the fat before the cold freezing walk to the great auditorium.

When we first entered the Mother Church of Country Music we could feel the excitement rising like the mighty Mississippi when she overflows her banks. What I was about to witness was Rockabilly taken to a high-tide level that could raise all other ships in the water. Immediately, it became very evident that the excitement was constantly growing while waiting for the pluck of the first guitar string, the roll on the first drumhead, the first sight of Brian Setzer. Then, after a friendly voice filled with good old southern hospitality welcomed the Elvis-like crowd to Nashville, the lights were dimmed, the big gold curtain went up, and one of the greatest shows on earth was underway.

The Slapshots, featuring three young multi-talented sisters and their father were first on stage. While pounding out a Rockabilly rhythmic beat that would have made Elvis and Carl proud, they quickly heated up the cold November evening while setting the stage for the main event. If you are a real rockabilly fan and enjoy a great concert, I would highly recommend The Slapshots.

When the curtain came down after the first act, it seem to take forever for the stage crew to arrange the setting for The Brian Setzer Orchestra and Band. Finally the curtain raised again to an indescribable light show that put a sparkle on music played so perfectly in time that it would challenge the precision of a Rolex watch. Every instrument was in perfect pitch while yielding to the touch of it's master's breath and hand. With each instrument pouring it's own special blend into the mix, the end result that came through the giant speaker system was as sweet as Grandma's apple pie. From the first song to the last, I sat there in total awe as these great musicians displayed the gift that God had given them in such a beautiful and professional way.

While accompanied by a musical cast that would rival Hollywood's best, Setzer offered up his own renditions of everything from old Christmas carols to "Stray Cat Strut," before getting to a knockout version of "The Nut Cracker" and then, he took us way down South to Dixieland. The infectious Rockabilly beat rumbled through the big hall for more than two hours, it was much like a tornado, it came, it hit, and it was gone. The flawless performance reminded me of a team of expert builders who constructed a magnificent musical structure from a solid Rockabilly foundation. So if your musical taste buds call for simple three chord Rockabilly or a classic touch of enhanced Rockabilly, I personally recommend the Brian Setzer Orchestra to my fans everywhere.

After the concert was over, all to soon we were brought back to reality as we sadly looked on three homeless young people snuggled together in the street on a heat vent while trying to shield themselves against the cold November wind. Even though this made it somewhat a high-low evening for me, I'm glad that I was there the night Brian Setzer and his band -- Rocked the Church And Shook The Cornerstone.

Be sure to catch the February issue of The Billy Gram for my "Interview With an Old Guitar." Tell all your friends to eyeball it too - for this is one they will never forget.

Keep-A-Rockin,
Billy






Posted December 8, 2005

Christmas In Your Heart

by Billy Adams

With all of the controversy concerning everything that is called good these days, I thought it would be good to share a few of my personal views about that wonderful day that we call Christmas.

First of all, I think that Christmas is the world's greatest Holyday because it was on that day that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea. Though we might have differences of opinion as to the actual day that He was born, most of us will agree that there was a time that God the Son paid a visit to this wicked earth. As it was then, so it is now. He was persecuted by the religious majority, rejected by His own brethren and blasphemed by the hot evil breath of those who hated Him.

Away with Him! Away with Him! Was the angry cry He so often heard from the days of Herod, whose evil plan to murder Him was foiled by divine intervention, to those who chose to set a murderer free while at the same time sending Jesus to His death on the cross. Today it's no different than it was then, in fact, it's much worse now. In that day, though the Prophets had foretold His coming, still many people were ignorant of the One born of the Virgin. While today the majority of the world has heard of Him at least once leaving very little room for excuses on that day when every man must stand before Him and give a full account.

Outside of The Bible, it would be impossible to understand why this world is getting in the awful shape it's in. But those who care to wipe the dust off of that old black book and glean from its inspired pages, will find that in these last days there will be a great falling away from the faith that was once delivered to the saints. As a result the whole world will be plunged into spiritual darkness because of its rejection of The True Light. But though many are turning away from Christ, multitudes are running to Him because they have discovered that the real Christmas Gift is a person - not a thing to be purchased, wrapped, or unwrapped.

To those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and made Him The Lord of their life, have discovered that the greatest Christmas they have ever had was when God laid the precious gift of His Only Begotten Son in the manger of their heart. -- for there, He can never be taken away.

Merry CHRISTmas,
The Billy Adams Family






Posted November 5, 2005

Nothing Short Of A Miracle

by Billy Adams

Thanksgiving Issue
November '05


As we approach another Thanksgiving season, I suppose all of us have something to be thankful for. Well, let me begin by saying that I am so thankful that my wife is still with me, for it was a year ago last month when the doctor told my family that if my wife did not take the recommended battery of treatments, or if the treatments were not successful, that nothing short of a miracle would keep her with us 'til Thanksgiving this year. Since my family has been trained for battles like this, by the many years in the ministry, we just refused to accept anything short of a miracle and by the doctor's own admission, a miracle is what we got.

Although Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on the year that has passed since we last gobbled that old turkey along with the cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and the ham and yam. Yet, that's really not what Thanksgiving is all about, so in this issue I want to look at the more serious side of this wonderful day.

First of all, I want to thank God for sending His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for me. I also want to thank all the men and women who are taking my place on dangerous battlefields around the world. Then, let me not fail to thank all of the Veterans of current and past wars who are in hospitals, and unable to join their family at the Thanksgiving table. My heart painfully aches for those who have paid the ultimate price for my freedom, and to all of their loved ones, I will forever be indebted. My, how a nation bleeds when one of its very best lies mortally wounded in the land of strangers. But to have peace and secure freedom, sadly, sometimes even the good must fall.

In this dog eat dog world that we live in today, it seems that the good are so often eaten up by the bad and the ugly. Nowhere is this more evident than in the ratings-driven media where the good are never worth much ink or tube time. But I would like to say that during my 57 years in music and ministry, I have met untold thousands of people and most of them have been kind and good. But having said that, I have also rolled by a few old squeaky wheels along the way, but they never squeaked long or loud enough to get much grease.

Though time would not permit me to write about all of the pickers, producers, engineers and many other professional people who have believed in me enough to jump on my wagon for a time, I feel that I must recognize my ever-growing fan base.

In Green Bay, Wisconsin, for instance, I was truly overwhelmed by the great number of fans that came to our show. There were fans from at least sixteen countries who came bearing something of mine for me to autograph. Items such as records, articles, and picture came through the long line. One precious fan came clinging to the headshot that is on my Rockabilly Hall of Fame® web pages. There were fans from Japan, England, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Canada, and France, to name a few, plus a great representation from the United States. I also recall that while I was in concert at the great festival in Hemsby, England, some dedicated fans came from Russia to attend the show.

So, to each and every fan that has been there for me, let me say thanks to you from the deepest regions of my heart. And as always, it is my sincere hope and prayer that I will either meet you again, or for the first time, at one of our future concerts.

So, in closing let me say that with you there reading, and me here writing about a career that has spanned nearly six decades, this too is Nothing Short of a Miracle.

Keep-A-Rockin',
Billy Adams






Posted October 18, 2005

"Hey Boys Let's Go Make Some Music!"

by Billy Adams

The cool autumn breeze blew gently through the tall oak trees shading Alcorn Road and the falling leaves made a beautiful multi-colored playground for the chipmunk and gray squirrel. This setting provided a suitable place for three country boys to meet for their first time. During that very short meeting, seven little words were spoken that forever helped to change the world of music. Because of those words, these three boys became a part of a musical revolution that radically altered everything, and sent the entire planet spinning in a changing mode. In less than a decade, with two guitars and a doghouse bass, they helped to create a musical sound that's still shaking the world today, and forever notched the names of those three boys in the tree of rockabilly and early rock and roll music.

It was in the late fall of 1953 when my brother, Charles, and I first met Curtis May. We were attending Walnut Hill Grade School that was located about seven miles east of Greenup, Kentucky on Alcorn Road. Hilda Helton, the teacher, had just rang the last bell of the day and we had just begun our decent down the steep grassy slope to Alcorn Road for that long walk home.

Just as we reached the road we noticed the kids who attended Wurtland High School had just got off the bus and they were within yelling distance. One of those youngsters was a boy that we had heard about who was causing somewhat of a stir with his singing and guitar playing in the local area. At that time, Charles and I were generating quite a following around the area, and Curtis had heard of us as well. All at once, somebody yelled and said, "Hey boys, lets go make some music!" Then, we saw Curtis with a charming smile on his cherub face that seemed to say, "I want to be your friend," and until his untimely death in 1972, what a true and great friend he turned out to be. Shortly after that meeting, Curtis started playing the doghouse bass with Charles and I. We were known as the Rock & Roll Boys, and we later became the legendary Rock-A-Teers.

"Hey boys let's go make some music." Well we went - and the rest is history in anybody's book.

Keep-A-Rockin',
Billy Adams

Special Note -- -Watch my web pages on The Rockabilly Hall Of Fame Site for upcoming exciting career news.






Posted Sept 20, 2005

The Hardest Person I Ever Tried to Be

by Billy Adams

In the last issue, I wrote about the rabbit lesson that I got from my father when I was just a boy. I also said that I would tell you what it cost my career not to obey that lesson. So read on, and maybe it will save you from making the same mistake.

In the fall of 1955, at the age of fifteen, I stepped into Rite Recording Studio, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and recorded a song that I had written sometime earlier. The song was written in response to my brother, Charles, when he said, "Bill, write us a song," so I went to my bedroom and returned a few minutes later with "Rock, Pretty Mama."

In those early rugged days of raw grass roots rockabilly, we didn't make a record and take a copy of it home with us. In fact, I never heard the song again until it was released about two years later. By that time, the music scene had changed tremendously and was still changing every day. The hound dog, Elvis, had jumped the rabbit and the worldwide chase was on. At this time, other dogs were entering the chase and were trying to run and bark like him. That's when I, like so many others, began to chase the hound dog and almost lost the rabbit.

My rabbit, metaphorically speaking, was "Rock, Pretty Mama," only this time, dad was not there to share his time proven wisdom with a boy who's ear was bending like a tender sapling to the force of a powerful rushing wind. Sadly, I made the mistake that I see so many young upstarts doing today. I started chasing the hound dog.

By this time, my dad had grown very ill, and with three young sisters at home to feed, I thought if I could only look, sound, and act like Elvis, then I would be financially able to stabilize a worsening situation at home. My thoughts were supported by a noble and worthy cause, yet to my career, they proved to be somewhat disastrous.

As the rockin 50's thundered on, though I had measurable success in the night club circuits, one day I sadly realized that I had gotten "all shook up" and let my own rabbit get away. Today, one of my deepest regrets is that I was so busy chasing the hound dog that I only performed "Rock, Pretty Mama" a couple of times in my early career.

One of the most important discovery's I ever made was that The Good Lord created all of us as unique individuals. He started with one man, and still today his plan is one person at a time. It's a well known fact that each person is endowed with their own personality and God given talents. It was after recording some of the Nau-Voo classics that I realized in the studio, no matter how hard I tried to sound like anyone else, the playback revealed the bitter truth that I was kidding myself and wasting my time.

Oh, if I had just been myself and kept playing my own songs, "Rock Pretty Mama" would have come full circle, a long time ago, like it has today. I have one thing to say to those up and coming new pickers: looking the part is not enough, you must first know what talent you have been given and chase that rabbit. The hardest person I ever tried to be was myself.

It is so disappointing to read reviews of new records where young artists who would have, and should have, gotten a five-star rating, came away almost starless, because the grooves were filled with nothing more than a repeat of the same melody, rhythm, and three chord patterns that have been used in so many songs by other artists in days gone by.

In my humble opinion, what the genre needs right now is more creations and fewer imitations. I think the rockabilly world is ready and waiting for the artist - young or old - who will take the basic elements of rockabilly, and create, develop, and perfect their own unique interpretation of that music. One lesson that is so important to learn - especially, for the young artist, is to be yourself. Rockabilly fans are some of the most loyal fans in the world. They expect the very best from their artists and producers. Give them something new and fresh.They deserve it. Keep-A-Rockin',
Billy Adams

P.S.
On my early records there were several mistakes made, some by me, some by the engineer, and some by the musicians. To this day, I regret every one that I made. In fact, I used to invite my friends and fans to listen to my latest effort and cough real loud when the mistakes came around. Today, with the great quality of reproduction systems being at high tide level, we must never forget that all ships rise with the tide and so will each mistake rise with the high level. Speaking for myself, and I'm sure there are many others who share my sentiments, those mistakes were not to be the norm, or set the standard for all rockabilly music which was to follow. To this day, I still regret that the records were released that way, when one more take could have fixed the problem.

Remember, don't accept anything but the best for your career and when you get that rabbit up and running, stand still and let that old rabbit "Return to Sender" and you will not spend near as many nights at "Heartbreak Hotel."      






Posted Sept 9, 2005

That Old Rabbit Will Come Back

by Billy Adams

When I was just a little boy, I was awakened one cold wintry morning by the voice of my dad, who was, as usual, up and at it before I could get the sleep out of my eyes. By the great excitement in his voice, I knew that he was ready for the rabbit hunt that we had planned the day before. Soon, with our trusty dog, Bullet, and dad's old double barrel shotgun, we headed out to face the cutting edge of the cold November wind.

After walking through a small tunnel-like hollow, I could see the tall majestic mountains, like giant pyramids, looming in the distance. My breath was simply taken away by those mighty mounds of raw earth and stone.

As dad and I stood there in awe of God's magnificent handiwork, suddenly, old Bullet let out a bloodcurdling howl that probably woke up every creature in the sleeping forest! Startled by that sudden howl, we turned just in time to see a big cottontail jump out of a pile of rotten leaves and start running as if he knew, for him, there would be no tomorrow.

As the frightened rabbit went zigzagging up the path just ahead of old Bullet's nose, I noticed that dad had come to a sudden stop. Not understanding his action, I shouted, "Dad! The rabbit is getting away! Let's follow old Bullet!" Then, with a little puzzled look on his face, dad quietly whispered, "Son, stand still, that old rabbit will come back to you."

At that time, dad, now with his voice slightly raised, said "Son, never chase the dog, let the dog chase the rabbit, and after making a complete circle, that old rabbit will come right back to where the dog got him up and running." About fifteen minutes later, we heard the pitter patter of little feet hitting dried dead leaves like brushes on a snare drum. We turned around and saw the rabbit quickly coming up the path. It was then that dad began repeating a little mournful whistle that stopped that rabbit in his tracks. Then, like the true marksman that he was, dad brought the gunstock to his shoulder, and while patiently taking aim, he squeezed off a shot that laid dinner at our feet.

In the next issue, I will tell how my failing to heed that lesson stalemated my career for forty years, and almost killed it. This is a must read for all young rockabilly pickers. Until then.

Keep-A-Rockin,
Billy Adams       






Posted August, 2005

Honey From the Carcass of the Lion

by Billy Adams

  Greetings Fans!

I want to take this opportunity to apologize to all my fans for the lengthy period of time that transpired since the last issue of "The Billy Gram". In the following paragraphs I will explain some of the reasons for the delay.



On September 2, 2004, Kathie, the wife of my long time manager, friend, and drummer, Clif Doyal, lost her battle with breast cancer. She was diagnosed in 2001, at which time the cancer was in stage IV. Though the battle raged on, Kathie labored hard, using her multi-talents to help with my comeback career in so many ways. I will never forget her.

During the life-drenching months following Kathie's leaving, my friend Clif walked in some of life's most rugged shoes while trying to fill the great void that her passing away left him. Oh how I wish the story could have ended here, but it didn't. For I was soon to learn that heart-wrenching pain is never really felt until it hits home.

On October 12, 2004, while spending a beautiful autumn evening with Freda, my lovely wife of 44 years - as quick as summer lightening streaking the beautiful Tennessee sky, our lives were changed forever.

At around 4:30 on that Thursday afternoon the phone rang and as she quickly went to take the call on the kitchen extension. I whispered to myself, "I wonder who that could be?" I soon learned that the voice on the other end of the line was that of her doctor calling with results from tests performed two days earlier at his office.

I heard her speaking as softly as a gentle breeze flows through the needles of the tall green pine. I listened with bated breath as she slowly returned the phone to its base. Then came the deadly silence just before the terrible storm.

After what seemed to be forever, she returned to the living room with a look on her face that would take me a million lifetimes to erase from my memory. And while weeping uncontrollably, she gasped, "I have cancer, I have cancer."

My friends, I don't have the time or space here to explain the great toll taken since her initial diagnosis of having the "meanest, most aggressive form of Uterine cancer", in stage 3C, her being rushed into extensive and exploratory surgery, and then the unexpected crushing blow announcement from her Oncologist/Surgeon that even after her extensive surgery, "we would be very fortunate to have her with us for a year from that date" - even with her taking his urgent recommendation of 39 strong chemo and radiation treatments.

I did what I have always done since I met the Lord Jesus Christ on August 8th 1965. I took our shattered life to Him in prayer and simply ask Him to make her cancer free and Praise God! She did everything she could do to follow the doctor's advice, and all of us believed that God would hear and answer our prayers. He did.

The doctors now are saying that she is cancer free. We just received a written statement from her Oncologist that she has "no cancer and no pre-cancer." God has put all the pieces back together. We will forever be grateful for all the prayers that were sent up from so many people. Somebody reached Him and He reached us.



In closing, let me say that down every dark road there's sunshine somewhere along the way. Please notice the enclosed photos of Kathie and little Kylie Cheyenne Doyal, the beautiful granddaughter of Clif and Kathie. Kylie's birth on July 24, 2002, was a ray of sunshine to help brighten the darkest final days of Kathie's life.



And then there's a picture of my wife Freda and our new little granddaughter, Hannah Kellene Grace Blevins, another blessed miracle, a precious gift from the Lord, born January 4th, 2005. Hannah Grace is a beautiful light that has helped us through the valley of the shadow.

You might say that like Samson of old in the Bible, "Judges Ch. 14", Clif and I, and our families found Honey in the Carcass of the Lion.

Keep-A-Rockin,
Billy Adams






Posted July 21, 2004

Reaching a Milestone


by Billy Adams

  It was in 1947 when I first heard the Grand Ole Opry on an old battery radio.  As a small boy of seven I envisioned that one day I would sing on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium where the show was performed every Saturday night. Ignited by an unquenchable burning desire, the vision cut through every setback and let down like a red-hot knife in a hard stick of butter. I saw giant obstacles burn and turn to ashes all along the way.

  If there was ever a man that mashed mud that could have personified the words of Jesus when He said: "Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 18:19), then that man was my dad.  When it came to my vision, we were like two oxen yoked together, and until his death in 1963 he still believed that one day I would reach that milestone that had, for such a long time, eluded me.

  The night before he died, I said to him "Dad, again I promise you that one day I will sing on the Grand Ole Opry stage." As I recall his weak and quivering response was "that would be good son, that would be good." The next day, while I was leading him to the bathroom, he fell in my arms, and began his journey home. Soon after his arrival at Our Lady Of Bellefonte Hospital in Ashland, Kentucky, he finished his race.  All these years since his passing I have often sensed those old hands, that taught me the styles of Jimmie Rodgers, and The Carter Family, still helping and nudging me on through the rough places.

  It was on Sunday morning, June 13, 2004, at the close of Fan Fair week, when I finally stood on  that hallowed stage, with my wife Freda, and our three daughters, along with a great choir singing some of those old gospel greats seldom heard anymore. We joined such country and rockabilly greats as Brenda Lee, George Hamilton IV, Freddie Hart, Johnny Counterfeit, Ed Bruce, the wonderful Skeeter Davis, and several others.

  As I stood there singing I was suddenly overwhelmed by uncontrollable emotions, and it was then that it dawned on me that I was standing on the milestone that once seemed so far away.  With tear-soaked eyes I looked up and with trembling lips my heart whispered "I'm here Dad, I'm here." --- Then I felt a hand let go. 
     -Billy Adams, July 2004   






Posted December 20, 2002

The Christmas Attitude


by Billy Adams

"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
Matthew 5:3


Here the master speaks the greatest sermon ever preached, with these simple words. Though simple they may be, yet they are rich with divine sweetness. As though they were hand-picked by the Master from the harbor of Heaven. Each time these little heavenly morsels are pressed, they give forth an indication of that which is to come to those who are joined to the vine.

As the fame of Jesus Christ went throughout all Syria they brought unto Him all people that were sick with various diseases. And because He healed them, great multitudes followed Him.

After looking upon the multitudes He went up into a mountain and sat down. And when He was seated His disciples (followers) came unto Him. Now we begin to see the picture here. These people that made up the great multitudes which followed Him, were not all the rich and famous, or the most brilliant scholars of their day. But men, women, boys, and girls of the street. People like some of us.

The people who followed Jesus were for the most part looking for answers that they could not find in the synagogues or in the self-righteous religion of the Scribes and Pharisees. They were hungry for truth, compassion, and love. The love they were searching for was unconditional. Not a love that was hinged upon the submission of the recipients to humble themselves under a yoke that was impossible to carry.

"The poor in spirit." To really know the true weight of these words as they weigh themselves upon the scale of human understanding and acceptation, they must be heard from one who has walked in the shoes of the one who wears them. In other words, it's hard for a king to understand the plight of a peasant. Or the rich man to feel the pain of the poor. But if we would turn to the other side of the coin, we would find it is just a hard for the peasant or the poor man to listen to, much less understand what is said, though it was spoken by the wealthy or royalty. The simple reason being that they have never experienced the lowly life of those they preach to. And their lofty, ineffective words fall miserably short of the outstretched hand of human need.

To fully understand the term, " being poor in spirit," we would need first to compare it with being poor in the physical, or flesh. To be poor in the flesh is to have the pain of extreme hunger, gnawing in the pit of your stomach like a hungry rat chewing through the floor of an empty corn crib. To really know what it is like to be poor, is to go to bed without any assurance, that come morning the cupboard would be any less bare than it was today.

Born in eastern Kentucky, in extreme poverty, I know first hand what the true definition of being poor is. Born the 10th of 14 children born to very poor parents during the Great Depression, I can never erase what has been chiseled forever in the hard stone of my memory. I learned at a very early age that we would live most of our young lives reaching up for hand-me-downs, and all that we would ever have to call our own was what someone else threw away.

The Master who spoke these words in the Sermon On The Mount, also knew first hand what it meant to be poor. Though He was the creator of all things and nothing was made without Him, yet for the sake of the little sinners who through the giving of His own life would be made rich, He became poor. In faraway Bethlehem, in a manger of straw surrounded by lowly animals, He was born.

The Son of God lived His life, though by choice, much like the homeless on the street. For it is written of Him that He had no place to lay his head. He knew what it was like to have one change of raiment, and one pair of sandals. To pay His taxes He called on the fish that He had created to furnish the coin.

When it came His time to leave this earth, He wore the crown of thorns that pierced His face and brought forth blood that was mixed with the spit of His tormentors. He was placed on a cross between two thieves and when He died He was buried in a borrowed tomb. Here we can see that though He was in the beginning with God, and the Word was God, yet the Word was made flesh and dwelt upon this earth John 1:1

Although His physical lifespan was only thirty-three and a half years, yet in this short period of time, He walked in the shoes of every human being that has ever been or ever will be on earth. Not only did He experience every situation known to man, He also faced their temptations and conquered them all. But it was not until His death and His will was written in red, that men began to understand the abundant riches left by the poor carpenter from Nazareth. Being lifted upon that cross, He became sin and was smitten by God for every sin ever committed by man from Adam to the man that drove the nails in His hands and feet. And He still reaches out today to every man, woman, boy, or girl, rich or poor, making available the un-searchable riches of His marvelous grace.

All of this from a babe born so long ago on Christmas Day.

Merry CHRISTmas and Happy New Year. From our house to your house.






Posted March 28, 2002

A Time Of Resurrection


by Billy Adams

Well, it's that time of year, when every thing is coming back to life. Spring is my favorite time of the year, because it represents a time of resurrection. Resurrection means that something, or someone, that was dead, has come back to life. In order for that process to be completed, there must be a time when that which was full of life was saved from total destruction, only, by its' root connection.

That's what I see for some of the genre's of music that are coming back to the forefront, Bluegrass and Rockabilly for examples. After a long period of time, when they were all but dead, are clearly having a time of resurrection. We now understand, that these two musical cousins were held by roots tougher than the elements seeking to destroy them.

As the trees begin to bud, and the flowers begin to bloom, we can recognize, immediately, that their beauty does not lie in the sameness, but in the difference, of each tree or flower. Likewise, when we turn on the radio and hear songs, each with a different melodious story line, served against a complementary musical background, we know that from the root up, life is springing forth again.

But, since it is Easter Season, let us turn now to the greatest example of resurrection ever known to mankind. It happened about two thousand years ago, on a hill called Mt. Calvary, when the creator of all things, including music, watched His Only Begotten Son die on an old rugged cross, for the sins of a world that hated him. But, that was not the end of the story, only the beginning.

After death, The Son of God was taken down from the tree, and placed in a borrowed tomb. But, after three days and nights, when death could no longer hold him, there was a shaking in the regions below: something was taking place.

The Bible says that the greatest power that God ever demonstrated to this world was when He raised His Son from the grave. And that, my friend, was the single act of God that delivered every human being in the universe from every sin that was against them. The only requirement is to believe it, and accept His Son Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior, and the real meaning of resurrection will become apparent in your life.

In closing, let me say, that as the beauty of the tree and flower is demonstrated by unlike, and not by like, so are all of us who have tasted the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Although we will all be connected to the same root, yet, we will all be different in so many ways.

My friend, just let Him live in you, and as you go through life, shining your light, and sprinkling a little salt along the way, you can resurrect the song that has died in so many hearts today. I believe that you will agree, this old world needs to sing again.

Until the next time,
Happy Easter, and as always,
Keep-A-Rockin,
Billy Adams
Special Note: Check my web page for some "Hot New Facts!"






Posted January 23, 2002

My Pick


by Billy Adams

Recently, while taking my daily walk in beautiful Franklin, Tennessee, I was so captivated by the hustle and bustle of the traffic, especially the rhythm of those big truck engines, that I found myself in a deep train of thought. Although I'm a country boy at heart, and love the quietness of that kind of life, I must admit that I also like the city life as well. And since so much attention was being focused upon the various awards shows, I thought that I would share with them a moment or two of my cool January morning.

With the exception of a few surprises, it seemed that things were about as usual this year. But the one thing that never changes is the fact those who won awards probably deserved them, and those that didn't, thought they did. But soon, I saw a pair of those familiar golden arches, and as the smell of a french fry came breezing by, I began to salivate like Pavlov's dog. With my walk being abruptly ended, I headed for the house to get Miss McDonald to prepare me something to eat. The car being parked some distance away provided enough time for me to overcome the hunger pains, and to remember a true story that I wanted to share with all of the Billy Gram readers.

The unforgettable incident happened when my band, The Rock-A-Teers, and I were performing at the Rockabilly Festival, in Jackson, Tenn., this past June. We had just finished playing our 45 minute set, when my manager Clif Doyal and I joined rockabilly legend, Billy Poore, who had graciously offered to share his booth with us. As the fans excitedly gathered at the table to purchase some of my records, or just to say hello and get an autographed picture, I just knew that this day was going to be different, but what I did not know was that I was about to meet that difference face to face. It was one of those real busy moments when I looked up and saw this little boy about ten years old staring at me. He was a chubby little fellow who looked as though he had one eye on Garth Brook's bank account, and the other on Billboard's top spot. Well, if I wasn't convinced already, what happened next sure made a believer out of me. Just before he left, the little guy looked at me, with one of those "I mean business looks," and said in a tone that would make a leaf stand still in a March wind "I want your pick." While my manager and I stared at each other as though to say "is this kid for real or what?" Then, in a somewhat raised tone he said again, "I want your pick." To that I replied, "do you want the one that I just used?" and when he answered "yep", I reached in my pocket and found the guitar pick, with which I had just played my song, "Rock, Pretty Mama", and I handed it to him. When the little businessman reached and took the pick out of my hand, he had a little "I succeeded" grin on his face, and he proudly said "thank you," and walked away. Now something tells me that this little super star is going places, and when he gets there, he'll be harder to stop than a bulldog after a tomcat.

I want to close by saying that I am very thankful for every one of my fans, and that it is always a wonderful experience to meet them. But that little fellow, well, speaking of awards, Š he got my pick!

Until the next issue, Keep-A-Rockin'
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. -Jesus
Billy Adams
January 2002






Posted December 20, 2001

Darkness In Bethlehem


by Billy Adams

This year, having been marked by tragedy and devastation, will soon pass into the history books, and the life long memories of the devastated. When the final moments of 2001 have ticked away, it will leave most of us saddened, and emotionally drained.

We were horrified while watching those two jet planes plow into the World Trade Center. We all gasped for breath as those mighty Twin Towers staggered like a drunken man before crashing to the streets of New York City. We will forever remember all of the great heroes that gave their life for our freedom, and those who are still searching through the rubble for the remains of fellow workers, family members and friends. Thank God for them.

Just when I thought that I had seen and heard it all, I was shocked when the news reporter said simply "Bethlehem will be dark this year." As I watched, with my mouth open, the reporter continued his report by showing the darkness of Manger Square. Then he informed me that it was for security reasons due to recent terrorist action in the region. While trying to sort out all that I had just witnessed, my thoughts traveled back to Bethlehem to another time when it was the most lighted corner in the universe. For it was there that the Babe was born in whom was life, and the life was the light of men. He was the light of the world, that true and eternal light that was given to light the soul of every person that will call upon him.

Since this is the Christmas season, I think it would be profitable for us to focus on the greatest gift that was ever given. As we think on that gift, let us realize that it was in this same area of the world that this gift was given. The gift was The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish, but would have everlasting life." This gift was wrapped in humility, love, peace, forgiveness and compassion. It is free for the asking, and is still available to all.

Friend, in closing, let me say, it's not only Manger Square in Jerusalem that's dark, but I think that it is nowhere darker than in the hearts of many people. So this Christmas season let us check our lamps: fill up with oil: trim the wick: and light the fire --- in our Bethlehem!

Merry Christmas And Happy New Year!
From our house to yours,

Keep-A-Rockin'
Billy Adams






Welcome to this edition of the Billy Gram!

As the swinging 40's gave way to the fabulous 50's, new artists like Lefty Frizzell, Hank Snow and Hank Williams were paving the way for the greatest musical change this world had ever known. Though this change would be a few short years in coming, it proved to be just enough time for a set back - due to the sudden death of Hank Williams, to stifle the contagious hillbilly fever rampant in the land.

Musically speaking, no one since the death of Hank, was making an original statement. In 1958, while alluding to those early days, Elvis Presley indicated that everybody was saying the same thing. This period of temporary repetition proved to be a lull before the storm. For soon, a little rumble was heard out of Memphis, the wind begin to raise, the lightening flashed, and the rain began to pour -- the rest is history.

Now, the writer of this article, having been involved in the first storm, now observes similar preliminary signs and believes that the conditions are right for another storm that will make the first one look like an April shower. But the question must now be asked - Can this coming rockabilly storm be precluded? And though we may want to believe otherwise, yet the answer must be yes! But the sad thing is that this great revival storm can be prevented by those who seem to want it most.

One of those signs that are so apparent today, is that once again we are in the midst of a repetitious lull. Everybody is saying the same thing again.

Sometime ago, while sitting in a restaurant, I discovered that I could pat out on the table the same drum beat to 7 out of 9 top recordings in a row that was coming from the local radio station. And to be honest with you, had it not been for the natural difference to be heard between the male and the female voice, I would have thought they were all by the same artist. As it was in those early days, the great cry for change can be heard around the world and cannot be ignored any longer.

One of major elements of the possible preclusion, is division. Over the years I have seen this so many times in all walks of life, including religious circles, business circles and all phases of the music world, and all too often we must be taught by reality that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

As in all storms, there's rain and with rain comes growth, and when we have growth as the farmer and his field, we need a barn to put the growth in. As in all joint ventures, the same holds true here- togetherness is the key to success. You never build a solid house out of splinters, but with boards that are pressed together for the purpose of being part of the house.

Remember, Jesus Christ said a long time ago that a house built on the solid foundation would be unshakeable, regardless of the storm, while quick and great would be the fall of the house built on the sand. While we are now in the process of laying the foundation, we must be able to properly forecast the coming storm and build the house accordingly.

Remember, a wise builder will construct a house big enough for all of the family to exist under one roof together. This must be done now for the great rockabilly family that's coming together from around the world. Though we may be many miles apart and have different personal agendas, it is of utmost importance that every member have the secure feeling in knowing that we are part of an inseparable rockabilly family and the door is always open at home.

The rockabilly music industry needs to learn a lesson taught to us by our bluegrass sister, who after many years, came from a small spark in the night, to a giant beacon at the top of the Billboard charts. One artist, producer, writer or any one individual or thing did not obtain this lofty position, but togetherness brought them from the back burner to the front.

Over the last four decades, I've personally watched bluegrass music all but fade away, and I can tell you that though they seemed to be only a few in numbers at the time - they stuck together. They had one main goal, and that being that the great music created by Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, and many others, would never fade away - though it was badly wounded, they refused to let it die.

When I was sixteen years old, I co-hosted on a very popular disc jockey show on radio station WTCR in Ashland, KY. The show, called the Football Scoreboard, was aired on Saturday afternoon. While it's main purpose was to continually give out the national football scores, the thing that I remember most about the show was the many requests that came in on the open phone lines. In answering those requests, we would play Hank Snow followed by Elvis Presley, Flatt and Scruggs, then Carl Perkins, followed by Red Foley, George Hamilton IV and Gene Vincent. In other words, on the same turn tables, over the same airwaves, all these different genres of music were played and heard together.

Then came the changes that brought division and separation to much of the music scene. During those days of change we witnessed hillbilly renamed country, and rockabilly move on to rock'n' roll. But bluegrass, refusing to change it's name and resisting the temptation to hand it's music the fatal blow by modernizing it's sound, chose to stay connected to it's original roots regardless of the cost.

For over the last forty years we have seen part of that cost to include the loss of radio play, and other media exposure. But, armed with the support of the Bluegrass Music Association (BGMA), we have seen them take the music they loved and believed in to the fans all across America through small festivals, theatres and clubs. They braved the storms and conquered the hard times, until they found a pot of gold on the silver screen.

My purpose for writing so much about bluegrass is that maybe the rockabilly music industry would take their example and form a Rockabilly Association that could, and would support all of it's artists both old and new. And on a personal note, I like their return to the songs that when they start, the listener knows they are going somewhere, and when it is finished they know they have been there.

I think another lesson can be taken from the old jukebox. It never uses sex to sell it's product - no belly buttons, low cuts, or see-thrus, knowing that deep within there is enough talent to give a sufficient response to the one paying for the performance and all it does to expose that talent is play it.

In closing, let me say to all in the rockabilly family...don't ever let our bluegrass sister look around at the top and cry "Oh Brother Where Art Thou"!

Billy Adams - September, 2001




  • Posted Previously

    Recently I had the unforgettable experience of performing at the Rockabilly Festival in Jackson, Tennessee. During my three-day visit there I met some old fans and hopefully made some new ones. And since neither time nor space will permit me to share everything that happened with you, I think that you will enjoy a couple of shockers that happened to me personally.

    The first thing that made me see pink and black was when the great Narvel Felts very joyfully greeted me with "Hey Billy, well I haven't seen you since Elvis gave you the Cadillac!" Then like so many times before and this time I must admit it was a little more painful, I shook my head and said "Wrong Billy Adams". And as Narvel walked away greeting another of his many fans, I walked away whispering two words over and over again, Elvis and Cadillac! But it wasn't until after my performance that I received the greatest shocker of them all.

    Since my performance was a very short two-song deal, it allowed me more time to autograph copies of my new CD "Legacy". While at the autograph table I was greeted by a smiley bright eyed fellow from somewhere in Europe who slapped a big 33-1/3 RPM "Billy Adams Record" down on the table and said "Sign this!" I was so taken by the smile on his face that I didn't notice that there was something wrong with this picture. Since the title of the album was "Rock Pretty Mama" and contained all of my other 50's recordings, it wasn't until I started to sign the picture on the front of the cover that I realized that it was not me. But the big shocker came when I looked on the back and found my own obituary. I think they had the time of my final curtain call sometime in 1984. At least that's how the epitaph on my vinyl tomb read. At this time I began to better understand the huge smile on the fella's face and why he was so so eager to get my autograph. He just knew that I had been performing among the Greats and had come back to tell about it.

    Now, that I am back home in the beautiful bluegrass and gazing at those majestic Kentucky Mountains, I've had a little time to reflect on the situation. And if the gravediggers will move their shovel I will take my pen and try to un-fuse some of the confusion.

    In the 50's there were at least two recording artists by the name of Billy Adams. The Billy Adams whose picture appeared on the album cover was a drummer and recorded for Sun Records. I recorded for Quincy, Dot, MCA, ABC Paramount and other labels too numerous to mention here. More on this next month!

    The Billy Adams who recorded for Sun Records was a very talented person and to my understanding he accomplished some great things in the early days of our music. But I was saddened recently by the news of his passing. I think that this is where the obits confusion originated.

    My first record was "Rock Pretty Mama" recorded in the fall of 1955 and released originally on Qunicy Records and later was released on MCA and ABC Paramount to name a few. On this record my band appeared under the name of the Rock & Roll Boys. In March of 1957 I recorded "You Heard Me Knockin" and "True Love Will Come Your Way" which was released on Dot Records. On this record only my name was used. In 1958 I recorded "You've Gotta Have A duck Tail" and "Walking Star" on Nau-Voo Records as well as "Return of the All American Boy", "That's My Baby", "Blue Eyed Ella" and "The Fun House" all released in 1959. On all of my Nau-Voo Records my band was named the Rock-A-Teers they were the same pickers that were on my first record plus some new additions.

    All of the songs that I recorded in the 50's were written by me and I personally own all of the copyrights as well as all of the publishing rights. Well, in closing let me say that when that happy fella left the festival heading for Europe he had my record, my autograph and a drummer's picture. And the only thing that I had was a memory of his big smile and a question. I wonder who got my Cadillac?

    A special thanks goes to the great band that performed with me while at the festival in Jackson. Dave Roe played upright bass, Ken Loveland who played rhythm guitar, W.S. Holland who played the drums, Nick Cain who played the lead guitar, and Bobby Penson who also played rhythm guitar, Thanks Guys! Great Job! I couldn't have done it without you.

    P.S. I want to take this opportunity to say farewell to Keeno the King, my big Siberian Husky who was killed instantly when struck by lightning on April 20. Keeno was 2-1/2 years old and was the perfect embodiment of the old saying, "A dog is a man's best friend!" I miss him!

    Included in this edition of the Billy Gram, a photo of Keeno the King, a rare photograph of the legendary Nau-Voo Recording Studio where I recorded all of my Nau-Voo Records and a photograph of my old home place near Red Bush, Kentucky.

    Until the next time ... Keep Rockin,

    Billy



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