Welcome to the first edition of the Billy Gram!
The Billy Gram is my personal letter to all of my fans everywhere.Appearing monthly, theBilly Gram will contain all the latest information concerning me and mycomeback career. Nowto the latest news!
Posted August 20, 2000
Welcome to the second edition of the Billy Gram!
Billy and "Satchmo" at the Rock Hill High School, Rock Hill, Ohio, June 24, 2000.
On June 24th I had the distinct pleasure of performing at the Rock HillSchool in Rock Hill,Ohio. The occasion ws the annual Schwab family reunion where table aftertable was garnished withthe beautiful results of a bountiful harvest.
The occasion was very special to me for several reasons but I will onlymention a couple ofthem here. One of the reasons that made this Sunday evening rocker sospecial was that mydaughter, Janetta Darlene performed with me. Now I don't mean to sound likeI'm blowing smoke,but this gal can sing (she must take this after her mother). Janetta havinghad a very impressivecareer in the Christian Country field, that rocked the house with herrendition of "HoundDog". But to me one of the highlights of the concert was when she joined meon the Buddy Hollysong "Every Day". While performing that great immortal classic I wonderedif anyone but meknew that history was being written, for on this hot July day in thebeautiful southernOhio valley, I performed my first rockabilly duet - and that was with mydaughter.
The other reason that I will mention here is that I had the distinctpleasure of having Bob"Satchmo" Schwab accompany me on the piano. That was the first time I hadseen him in 42years. When I looked over and saw that 61 year old original Rock-A-Teerplaying where once therewas a young boy of 19 wearing a ball cap with the bill turned sideways, Iwas taken back to anothertime.
It was 1958 the year of the hula-hoop and the sack dress. It was also theyear that I wroteand recorded "You Gotta Have A Duck Tail" and "Walking Star" for Nau-VooRecords. It wassometime in the fall of '58 that the legendary Rock-A-Teers and I in my s tr e t c h limo,a 1949 Ford, rolled down Valley Pike in Dayton, Ohio to play a series ofconcerts at the ClubLaredo. The Rock-A-Teers at that time included my brother, the late CharlieAdams, who playedthe electric lead guitar, the late Curtis May on the big "Dog House" bass,and BobSatchmo" Schwab on the upright piano. The piano was positioned so thatBob's back was alwaystoward the rest of the band when playing. Now it didn't take a Rockabillyscientist to figure outthat this was a perfect setup for a major communication breakdown.
During our hourly breaks at the club the juke box would repeatedly play"Susie Darlin'" by RobinLuke, "Spaghetti and Meatballs" by H. Baum Ferguson, a local artist, and "AWhole LottaShakin' Goin' On" by Jerry Lee Lewis, a young wildcat who stormed out ofMemphis at the risingof the Sun.
One night while the band was performing a slow dance instrumental I lookeddown on the dancefloor and saw an old man making his way through the dancing couples andheading toward the bandstand.When he reached the stand he looked me straight in the eyes and said "Playit again!" in a somewhatraised voice. At that time I tried the old "ignore him and he'll go away"plan. Now that's whenhe stared at me with one eye open and the other half closed and growled outof the corner of hisbearded mouth, "If you don't play Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On, I'm a gonnablow that stageout from under your feet!"
Billy with recording artists Rob McNurlin.
Now what happened next would cause a man to kinda straighten out the littlecrooked places backyonder in his life because about that time he put his hand in hisunbuttoned shirt and pulled outa 46. Well to me it looked a lot longer than a 45. At that time I looked atCurtis May, whowas standing to my left, and his normal rosy colored face had become a paleghostly white.To my right I saw my brother Charles with his eyes as big as the balls in apin ball machine.Now he was playing licks on that old silvertone that I never heard beforeand haven't heardsince.
Turning my head toward Bob, at least with one eye and you can guess thedirection the othereye was looking in, I said "Bob, play A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On." NowBob having noearthly idea what was going on shouted, "We just played it!" "Le's play itagain Bob." I saidwith a voice shaking like a bowl of Jell-O. Again he shouted, "We justplayed it!" At that time Imade one last desparate attempt to get his attention. I shouted, "Bob, lookaround here!" Whenhe looked around and saw the gun - he gave that Jerry Lee Lewis thumb rakedown the keyboard and kickedoff "A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" so fast that the rest of the handwondered if what wewere playing sounded enough like what we should be playing to keep thebullet holes out ofour white bucks.
Well, after this quick version of "A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" the man,who we later learnedhad escaped from a local mental institution, put the gun back in his shirtand walked outshaking his head at us as though to say "I'm getting out of this crazyplace, these guysare nuts!"
Until the next time...Keep-A-Rockin', Billy.
Billy with Bert Garvin and his grandson Michael. Bert is a 5-string banjo player that Billy has known since his early days (he played with Bill Monroe). Michaelis a 17-year-old excellent Merle Travis picker.
Special Note: While writing this article, I received a call fromBob's sister Mrs.Mary Clark who informed me that bob was very ill and was in the intensivecare unit of aMiddletown, Ohio hospital. Soon after receiving the call, my wife and Imade the 3-1/2 hourjourney to Middletown. At the hospital we stood at the beside of that OLE rocker and hada special time of prayer and fellowship with him, his wife Cathy, and hisbrother. TodayI received the word that bob is being released from the hospital and goinghome. We thankGod for that!
A WORD TO THE WISE -
"Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."-Jesus-
Billy with a new Irish folk band, "Wiley Dew," recently at a CD release party at the Paramont Arts Center in Ashland, KY.
Visit the "Billy Gram" posted July 3, 2000