Saturday, March 19, 2016

Forgotten Hits Interviews Tommy Roe (Part 2)

Our interview with Tommy Roe continues today in Forgotten Hits ...



Kent Kotal / Forgotten Hits:  I know that this is a show we were very excited to see come to Chicago ... especially after we heard about the Beatles Week show you guys did there at the Cavern Club Lounge in England and then recreating the very first Beatles concert here in America in Washington, DC, a couple of years ago for the 50th anniversary of that concert.    

Tommy Roe:  Well, what they're doing here is cool because it kinda throws it back to the beginning with The Beatles and all that so it should work … I mean, let's see what happens … but the concept definitely works and Chris and I, we've done a few shows like these now and it's great to come out and play the hits and tell some of the stories about what it was like to be there at the time, headlining for The Beatles!   

kk:  Well if you think about it, it's like the EXACT anniversary of when that tour took place.  I ran a poster on the website the other day that was dated March 13th, 1963 … and now you guys are here … ON March 13th ... doing the show 53 years later!


TR:  That's amazing.  Ron [Arcada President Ron Onesti] has a poster here that we'll be signing in the lobby after the show dated March 14th ...

kk:  Which is TOMORROW ... so it's just all that much cooler to know that this is REALLY the anniversary of those shows.  I mean who would have ever thought back then … 

TR: I know, I know! 

kk:  So let's talk about that ... when this whole thing started with you and Chris Montez being invited to go over to England to headline a tour.
In hindsight it seems like kind of an unusual pairing ... plus an INCREDIBLE opportunity so early in your career. Let's face it, you guys really didn't have the stable of hits that you would go on to have and can perform at a show like this today.  You guys were basically just kids who each had one big record under your belts. So how did that whole thing come about?  You and Chris each had had one big hit at that point so how does the idea of packaging you both together to headline a tour of England come about?   

TR:  Well, it's interesting how all that happened.   
"Shelia" and "Let's Dance" were both hits at about the same time … they were very close together and so when "Sheila" was #1 and I think "Let's Dance" was #2 here in The States, they booked Chris and I on a Sam Cooke tour and that's when I met Chris, when we were on the Sam Cooke tour, and we hit it off … we just clicked and we both enjoyed being with each other.  The tour went great … and we always used to laugh about how that tour was such a great learning experience, working with Sam Cooke, because he was quite an entertainer.   
So we did the tour down south, in the southeast, and I come to find out that it was an all black tour … Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Jerry Butler and the Impressions and maybe three or four other acts, I can't remember all of them … but it was a big African-American Tour … and this was in 1962, when you still had segregation in the south.   
So as we're out on the road I come to find out that they always booked one white guy on the tour because they couldn't stop in restaurants, so I was kind of like the runner.   
They would park the bus down the street from a mom and pop store … I mean they didn't have places like McDonald's and Burger King and all of that back in '62 ... so we'd stop at a little mom and pop roadside restaurant hamburger joint.  They'd park the bus and then they'd send me out to get sandwiches.   
I did for a few days and I thought, "Hey, you know, that's kinda weird … I've got the #1 record in the country and I'm  runnin' out for sandwiches!"  But they did that with all the white guys … in fact, Buddy Holly did it … all these guys that were booked on these tours … Dion did one of them … and that's just the way they did it down south at that time.  And with me, you know, I never thought … I mean I was born into segregation and I had no idea about it until I turned into my teens and then I began to realize this picture ain't pretty, ya know. But when I was a kid, you have to understand, that I was born into a situation.  You don't even think it's different because you've never been anywhere.  You think that's just the way it is, right?   
So here I am, a BIG fan of African-American music, all the rhythm and blues I listened to on the radio and I was just a huge fan so when I was booked with Sam Cooke I thought, "Oh man, this is fantastic!"  
So that's how Chris and I met and we had a great tour in the south and then right after that tour, my manager got a call ... I think from Chris' manager … we were both of the same agency at the time … I think it was GAC … and they wanted to know if Chris and I would like to go to England together since we had kinda hit it off and do a tour together over there.  
So they put the tour together, booked it, and we both had #1 records in England … "Sheila" was a big hit, "Let's Dance" was a big hit … and we went over to do the tour and The Beatles were like a featured act on that tour … and nobody knew who the hell The Beatles were at that time ... but we knew after the first couple of shows we did … I think Chris was closing the first half and The Beatles were opening the second half or something like that ... and it was just pandemonium once they got on stage.   
We changed the show around after about the third day and The Beatles ended up closing the tour.  And it's the only way we could have finished the tour because they would have just fallen apart, ya know.  
And it happened the same way right after that with Roy Orbison.  He was closing the show and then agreed that he would close the first half of it and let The Beatles close the night … because you just couldn't follow them.   
They released their album right in the middle of the tour and "Please Please Me" and "Love Me Do" went right to the top of the charts, so during our tour they were getting a HUGE fan following … they were really developing their fan following and that was really the whole kick off to their whole thing of Beatlemania.   
Remember "A Hard Day's Night", the movie?  That's EXACTLY what it was like … that's what our tour was, the pandemonium of that movie, you know, running from the fans and all that … and it was a GREAT experience and it worked for all of us and after that I ended up doing so much work in England thanks to the exposure of that tour.  We got so much press all over Europe … went to Germany and all these different places and it worked.
You know when you're young, you're 22 years old, the ego's huge and you don't want to see yourself upstaged by another act but, you know, we were upstaged by one of the best!


kk:  Did you end up moving to England for some period of time after that?  I thought I read somewhere that you had moved to England.  

TR:  Yeah, people thought I moved there but what actually happened was I was over there so much that the press said "Tommy Roe lives in London now" ... but really I lived in hotel after hotel ... I never really got an apartment over there … but in '63 and '64, before I went into the army, I was over there more than I was over here.  I just sorta stayed over there and did a lot of work … worked with all the British acts before they came over here.

kk:  There seems to be a REAL affection for the American artists over there ... even now, some 40 or 50 years on … they've never really lost sight of the fact that this is where it all started.

TR:  Oh, absolutely, and they know rock and roll began as a southern thing down south but all over the US it spread in the '50's and they're big fans in England … HUGE fans … and LOYAL fans, too.

kk:  Now Rick [Rick Levy, Tommy's Musical Director and Guitarist] was telling me that when you came back from that tour you actually brought some Beatles records with you and went to ABC with them.

TR:  I did … well, we got to be real close friends on the tour and this is a story I can tell now … it's even more interesting now because John Lennon's acoustic Gibson guitar just sold at auction for I think $1.2million dollars … and on that tour he had that guitar with him all the time and him and Paul were writing songs and he would let me borrow that guitar … and I actually wrote "Everybody" on that guitar … so now I like to joke that that guitar's gotta be worth at least $2 million dollars now (lol - both laughing) since I wrote one of my hits on it.   
And what happened during the tour was I got to talking to Brian Epstein … actually he was talking with my manager at the time about managing me in Europe, so we were actually trying to put together a deal for Brian to manage me over there.  I mean he had no clue The Beatles were going to become The Beatles! Nobody did … they didn't either!   
So we were negotiating for him to manage me in England and all of Europe and by the end of the tour, we had developed a good working relationship and they never dreamed that they would actually get to come to America.  I mean their whole dream was to come to America but they thought that they would never get there.   
So Brian asked me if I would take their records back with me and see if I could maybe get my  label … I was on ABC-Paramount … maybe get my label to sign them … which I did.  And I hyped it … I called Felton Jarvis, who produced "Sheila" and "Everybody" and I took the Queen Elizabeth back from South Hampton … it was a five day trip across the Atlantic and I landed in New York at the docks there and Felton met me at the docks with my luggage, my guitars and everything and we went right from the docks to the president's office over at ABC-Paramount Records 'cause he was so excited about The Beatles because I had been talkin' to him the whole tour about The Beatles and how fantastic they were.   
So I went up to the president's office and we walked in and I was prepared because I had a little promo pack with me … which was actually just a NEMS Music Store bag that Brian had given me and it had all The Beatles stuff in it … it had the first album and a bio and the normal kind of promotional kit … and so I walked in with my little promo kit and they congratulated me on the tour and Sam Clark, who was the President and Larry Newton, who was the Vice President and they knew I was all excited so they say "And Felton tells us you found an act you'd like us to sign to ABC Records" and I said, "Yeah, it's The Beatles … and they're really phenomenal … I was really sellin' it, you know what I mean … I said "They're like Elvis Presley and they create pandemonium everywhere they go and their music is great … it's so different" … and I'm doin' my whole schpiel, and so Sam says, "Well let me hear 'em … have you got something we can hear?" 
And I pull the album out … and that first album, remember, they were in that stairwell with the hair and everything and the whole office just got quiet when they saw that album … and they must have been thinking "Holy Crap, what has this kid brought us?", right?   
So Felton blurts out something to the effect of "Well, you've gotta hear 'em" … so he takes the album out of the cover and puts it on the turn-table and puts the needle down and the first song was "Love Me Do" or "Please Please Me" or one of those and he plays a few bars and picks up the needle and says "Kid, that's gotta be the worst piece of shit I've ever heard in my life!"  Let us be the talent scouts.  WE know music … you just concentrate on writing us some more hits and we'll put your records out and you'll be a big star … don't you worry about finding us other acts."  And I was like Man, you just feel like you're so sold on something … and then to have it shot down like that was pretty disheartening.

kk:  Well, you had experienced it first hand, too …

TR:  Right and later on I realized that if you just heard The Beatles without seein' 'em, I don't know if they would have took off like they did because it was the image … you had to see them … and then hear the music … and of course you didn't have videos back then … you had to go to the concert or see them on TV … and it was that whole thing of not visualizing the act and just hearing the music.  Because you know their early records were really basic … I mean they were just a four piece band playing simple stuff … it wasn't like the stuff you would hear in The States at the time … we were making great records, ya know … so that was an interesting experience.

kk:  So a year later, I imagine there was a heavy round of "I told ya so's" going on … 

TR:  lol … less than that!  I think it was February of that next year when they came over and then I opened for them in Washington, DC, and then every time they would see me comin' they would run for the exits … they just couldn't face the guy who brought them The Beatles.  It was funny 'cause I remember we had a deejay convention in Miami the following year and I used to always go to these conventions to promote my records and they were all sittin' around the pool and I come walkin' up with Felton and they're smokin' their cigars and everything and then they said "Hey, that's the kid that brought us The Beatles!"

kk: Well, think about how Ed Sullivan first discovered The Beatles … he had never heard a note … he just saw the thousands of fans waiting for them at the airport and thought the Queen must be coming in … and said "What's this all about?"  Then when he found this reaction was for a rock group, he signed them up for three shows on the spot!

TR:  That's right! (lol)  Everything fell in place for them.  I mean, you could credit a lot of that to Brian … he was a great manager and there ended up being a lot of controversy between the group and him … some people hated him, some people loved him … but without Brian they never would have made it the way they did.

kk:  Well it's known that he left a lot of money on the table because it was all so new … and so much bigger than anything anybody had ever seen before … but he TRULY believed in them and that's what made it happen.

TR:  Boy he did, he sure did.  And then when they did the show with Ed Sullivan and they invited me to open for them in Washington, DC, three days later, which I did, it was the same thing … the pandemonium came right to the American shores just like it had over there in England.

kk:  And actually, that's one of the things I wanted to ask you about … because obviously, something was struck there during that month in England when you guys were performing together that they would invite YOU back to be part of their opening performance here in America.

TR:  Oh yeah, we were close … and we got close … John and I were like pub buddies … we hung out together and he was a big drinker … and so he got me drinkin' the Guinness, which I'd never experienced before … so we turned out to be real good friends.   
Once they made it … once they took off in The States … I lost contact with them 'cause they were in a different world and you couldn't get to them and there was no sense in trying to pursue the relationship because it was just pandemonium again.

kk:  Yeah, I wondered about that because they were here quite a bit at that time

TR:  Yeah, and in California, which is where I lived …

kk:  I wondered if you were able to keep in touch with them once they clicked over here.  Which reminds me of something else I wanted to ask you … I know when Del Shannon toured over there with them, he came back and recorded "From Me To You" … and his version pretty much flopped but he obviously saw or heard something in the music that he felt would work over here … so I was just wondering if you ever had any thoughts about trying to record some of their songs and see if you could capture some of that magic back here in The States.

TR:  I did record a couple of things … I recorded "I Wanna Be Your Man" in Muscle Shoals (sings a little bit of it ... "I wanna be your man ... I wanna be your man) … I think Ringo sang that … so I recorded that in Muscle Shoals when I came back and recorded "Everybody" … you know I wrote "Everybody" on the tour and I went to Muscle Shoals to record it and I cut "I Wanna Be Your Man" on that session and I also cut "A Taste Of Honey" which was on their first album.  



And I recorded another song that was a big hit at the time, "Dominique", which was sung in French in England and they wanted me to do it in English … the label thought it could be a big English hit but it wasn't.   
I recorded their songs, I brought their album back … LOVED their music … and the whole experience of them live on stage … you know they were very good on stage, too … I mean what they did, they did well … I mean they were a tight band, very tight.

kk:  Until they couldn't hear themselves!  (lol)

TR:  You couldn't hear them.  Even backstage, on the sides, you could tell out in the audience you couldn't hear them.  Like I said, it's like when I saw Elvis, they just ran over me to get to Elvis.

kk:  Talking about recording some of their songs, I'm sure you're aware that The Beatles used to perform "Sheila" as part of their stage act before making it big on their own.  Did you guys talk about that at all when you first started performing together? (I believe George Harrison sang it.  In fact, it was probably within a month or two of your tour together that The Beatles were still singing "Sheila" in clubs!)

TR:  Yes, the Beatles were doing "Sheila" in their show before I met them on our tour. On our first day on the bus John came to me with his now famous Gibson acoustic guitar and said to me, “You know we have been doing your song “Sheila” in our show.” John then started playing “Sheila” on the guitar and asked me if the chord progression he was playing was correct. Well, the chords he was playing were correct but in the wrong order. He handed me his guitar and I started playing “Sheila” with the proper chord progression. John said I knew it, I just knew we were playing it wrong.  
After this initial interchange with John, he was very generous and allowed me to use his Gibson guitar during the tour and I actually wrote my next big hit, “Everybody" on John’s guitar. 
 



kk:  It was a pretty exciting time.

TR:  You know, I don't know if there'll be another time like that because of our media situation today …

kk:  Yeah, well it's a much more immediate, instantaneous situation today.

TR:  It's true … there's no mystery today … there's no mystery about anything anymore … it's all out on the table.

kk:  Think about it … it was all word of mouth back then … yeah, you had newspapers and tv with three channels and kids listened to the radio but it's not like the world is today where something happens now and five minutes later it's all over social media and youtube and everybody's talking about it.  And then wait another five minutes and there's two million hits on it already!  It's just not the world we grew up in.

TR:  I think Michael Jackson may be the last one … we'll see.  Because you had Frank Sinatra, he was a phenom, and then Elvis, The Beatles and Michael Jackson … and that's it.  Everybody else did great but I'm talkin' about just totally phenomenal success, superstar status.   

kk:  Really though, and we were just talking about how quickly things happen today in this "instant society" but quite honestly, things happened pretty quickly back in 1963, too.  We didn't have things like the Internet or Twitter and Instagram and all of that but if something big was happening, the news spread pretty quickly, all things considered.  And it all happened because of good word of mouth and radio airplay and TV.  I mean think about it, you had a record out and within a couple of weeks, boom, you're going to England … I mean I would imagine this was like your first major tour … first time out of the country …   

TR:  Oh yeah, it was … well, the Sam Cooke tour and then The Beatles tour were like my first two big tours … I mean, I started right at the top!  

kk:  I was gonna say, you can't get much bigger than that! (both laughing)  

TR:  But when we made records back then, you're right, it was very instant.  I mean we walked out of the studio with a record under your arm … you didn't do tracks … I think when I cut "Sheila" we had two tracks and then it was a monaural record … I don't think there's a real stereo version of "Sheila" out there … there may be one of those rechanneled things for artificial  stereo and then when I cut at Muscle Shoals, we cut right to quarter-inch tape … everything was done live in the studio and the engineer mixed it as we went … there was no going back and changing things … it was all done at once.  So when we left the studio we had the master under our arm and all we had to do was press records and they'd be out the next week … in days, actually, the radio would be playin' 'em.  I used to walk into radio stations with my records and say, "Hey, I've got a new one", and they'd put it right on the turn-table and play it on the air.

kk:  Yes, a much more exciting time to be sure … and that was back in the day when you had to do four singles a year!  Now people take four years just to do an album and back then you'd be putting out four singles a year.

TR:  Yeah, it's amazing how many singles they put out on me after "Sheila" was a hit … I think I had SIX out in one year.  (lol)  That was incredible!

More Tommy Roe tomorrow in Forgotten Hits ... as we wrap up our EXCLUSIVE interview!  Stay tuned!  (kk)

 
 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Forgotten Hits Interviews Tommy Roe (Part 1)


Last Sunday (March 13th) we went to the Tommy Roe / Chris Montez / Beatlerama Anniversary Show at The Arcada Theatre in beautiful downtown St. Charles, IL ... and before the concert, I had the chance to visit with Tommy Roe backstage for a little while.  (Tommy and his band leader / guitarist Rick Levy have been big supporters of Forgotten Hits over the years so it was nice to finally meet both of them in person.)

Frannie came with me backstage to snap a couple of pictures ... (her very first comment afterwards was, "Boy, he's still really cute!"  lol) ... and I've got to tell you that I have to agree with her ... Tommy still looks and sounds great.  (He told me that he's about to turn 74 but he easily looks 20-25 years younger than that ... and displayed a lot of energy on stage during his excellent performance.  (Scroll back to Monday, March 14th, to read our full review.)

We talked about all kinds of things ... going back to the very start of his career ... on up through his headlining tour of England in early 1963 when The Beatles were one of the opening acts on the bill ... his stint in the army ... his big late '60's resurgence with some of the biggest hits of his career ... what he calls his "five retirements from show business" (lol) ... right up to his brand new 2012 Album "Devil's Soul Pile" and this new reunion / anniversary tour which has taken Tommy and Chris back to England, back to Washington, DC, where they opened for The Beatles' very first American concert and now out on the road so other folks across the country can enjoy the excitement of this music again.

Because we were all over the board when we were talking, I've reworked this interview to run in a more chronological order ... so get ready to join us as we talk to Tommy Roe!

*****

Kent Kotal / Forgotten Hits:  You recorded "Sheila" a couple of years before it became a hit … a completely different version … and really a whole different sound … that got some airplay locally down in Atlanta ... 



Tommy Roe: Yeah, while I was in high school.   

kk: And then you re-recorded it again a short while later and that's the one that finally clicked ... it had a "Buddy Holly" kind of feel to it, which I'm assuming was a very intentional kind of sound you were going for on your part …

TR:  Yes, yes it was … here's the deal.  
I recorded "Sheila" when I was in high school with my band in high school called The Satins.  We put a band together and we played at dances and sock hops and after the basketball games in the gym and so I recorded the song locally with the band in Atlanta and it got a lot of airplay in Atlanta.  Paul Drew was a deejay there on the 50,000 watt WGST station and he played it on WGST so it got a lot of recognition and Felton Jarvis was in the marines at the time and he heard the record while he was in the marines and when he got out he wanted to become a producer and he got with Bill Lowery and they worked out a thing for him to start producing some records, which he did with Ray Stevens … and they produced Gladys Knight and the Pips' first hit "Every Beat Of My Heart", which was produced by Felton in Atlanta.  

kk:  And of course he went on to produce everybody!

TR: Yeah, he ended up producing Elvis!   
So, Felton and I became real close friends and he said, "I'm gonna take you to Nashville and I'm gonna record you down in Nashville" and honestly, I'd already kind of given up because I'd made these records and they hadn't really done much other than locally so I was at a point where I was thinking "I'm not going to be able to make it in the record business" ... but Felton talked me into re-recording "Sheila" and he said "We're gonna do it different."  He said, "You know there's a vacuum left of Buddy Holly … there are still a lot of Buddy Holly fans out there so we need to do something to draw attention to you so I'm gonna put 'Buddy Holly drums' on 'Sheila'" ... and I wasn't really crazy about that whole idea because I was a big fan of Buddy Holly's and I felt like we were sponging off of him and his whole sound.  So anyway, that was Felton's whole idea … and we went to Nashville and recorded two songs … we recorded "Save Your Kisses" and "Sheila" and "Save Your Kisses" ended up as the A-Side of the record because "Sheila" … I HATED "Sheila" when we left the studio and I felt like we had really screwed my song up here.  
And radio worked on "Save Your Kisses" for awhile and it didn't do anything and then Buddy Dean in Baltimore, he was a deejay there and he had a tv show kinda like "Bandstand" but it was a Baltimore show with Buddy Dean, and he flipped the record over, played it, and it became #1 at his station there in Baltimore … and next thing it was #1 everywhere.  




And I was still working at General Electric at the time and Bill Lowery calls me up at work one day and says … and I had just taken this job and it was a great job … my cousin had got me the job … and he called me up at work one day and said that I need to think about turning in my resignation and quit my job at GE because it looks like I've got a hit record.  And he couldn't talk me into it.  I said, "Hey, I just landed this job!" and I was married and I had a little kid so he laughed and he said, "Come by the office and we'll talk" ... so that night I went by the office and we talked and I said, "Bill, I can't quit this job … I just got the job and I had a little girl and a family to support and it's a job that I can have for a long time and I felt secure about it" so he laughed and he leaned back in his chair and he said "So let me tell you what … let me give you an advance against royalties ... you take it home and you and your family talk it over and think about it" … and he wrote me a check for $10,000.  I didn't make $10,000 in a year … this is back in 1962 … and my dad and I together didn't make $10,000.   
So I was shocked with that and I went home with the check and my mom and dad looked at it and said, "Well look, you're young, so this is really your choice" ... and you know the thing that I was really upset about was that my cousin had got me the job.  You know, Jackie Densmore was my cousin and he went out on a limb to get me this job and what hurt me more than anything was telling Jackie that I was gonna quit the job after he'd stuck his neck out for me.  So I said "Dad, what's Jackie gonna think?"  And he laughed and he said, "Well, don't worry about it, I'll take care of Jackie" … he said "Go ahead and do what Bill wants you to do and see what happens" and so the next thing I knew I was on the road and I really wasn't prepared for it.  The very first tour I did was with Sam Cooke … I was just totally unprepared for it … I'd never played professionally before, just locally with my band so I had a learning experience here of what to do and I mean you fail and you learn from your failures.  But that's how it all happened … and I hit the road.     
Funny story ... right after the Sam Cooke tour they put me on a tour through the midwest and they had a lot of ballrooms in the midwest, if you remember, in the '60's and you could do like ten shows in a row in these ballrooms … so they sent me out on this ballroom tour with a promoter named Jimmy Thomas, who lived up in Minnesota, I think, and I was doing the tour and I was collecting cash, ya know, 'cause they used to pay you in cash when you were on the road.  
So I come home and Bill asked me, "You know, you've got all this cash … what do you do with the cash when you're travelin' around" and I said "I just put it in my suitcase" and he said "What do you do when you're flyin' around?" and I said "I put it in my suitcase and I check it on the airplane" and he's like "WHAAAT?!?!  You check your bag with $10,000 in cash in it on the plane?!?" ... but in those days I never lost a dime!  It was a different time and you didn't think about stuff like that.  And I was so na├»ve anyway but here I was going around and checking my bag with $10,000 in it and you do that today and man, it'd be gone in a minute!

kk:  So it sounds like your parents were very supportive of what you wanted to do. 

TR:  Oh, they were.  Well, my dad played guitar, you know …

kk:  No, I didn't know that

TR:  Yeah, he taught me to play the guitar so he was very instrumental in me getting into the business.   
When he first bought me the guitar, I had wrote … and I'll tell the story on the stage tonight … I wrote this poem about this girl that I was going to school with named Freda and that's how that all happened. He taught me three chords on the guitar and I thought, "You know if I can put some music to these silly poems I'm writing, maybe I can be a songwriter", and that's how that all happened.
It was originally called "Sweet Little Freda".  So yes, they were very supportive.
And my dad had a band … he passed away a few years ago … he was 94 years old … and he passed away a few years ago … he died in his sleep, and that's the way to go.  Anyway, he had a little band, a little bluegrass band, in Alpharetta, Georgia, and he used to play at the barber shop and every time he'd go and get his hair cut, he'd sit up there at the barber shop and I used to love to listen to them play.  I recorded them one afternoon at my farm in Georgia and I've got this old tape of my dad and his band playing all this old bluegrass music and it's really cool.  

kk:  That IS cool ... but obviously, even as a southern boy, it was rock and roll that did it for you.

TR:  Well, dad didn't like that too much … he was a country guy, you know … and I was into … I used to listen to all that R&B stuff when I was a kid in Atlanta and you couldn't hear it in the daytime … you could only hear rhythm and blues, black music as far as that goes, in the south, late at night. And there was a station there called WALK and there was a deejay named Zenas Sears and he would come on like at 11:00 at night and I would turn my radio on and mother always wondered why it was hard to get me up to go to school because I was up all night till two in the morning listening to John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Bobby "Blue" Bland and all that stuff that they played, which you couldn't listen to in the daytime.  That's how I got into it.   
And then my band, when we first started out in high school, we did this stuff … I used to sing Jimmy Reed, believe it or not, all his songs I would sing ... and we had a harmonica player in the band called Drolet Bush and he would play the harmonica and we would do this blues stuff with my high little voice (lol) and play fraternity parties and they loved it, you know, they danced to it.  

kk:  I remember when I first started doing Forgotten Hits I would write about how I would go to bed at 10:00 and I always had my radio on under my pillow so my parents wouldn't know that I was still listening to the radio when I was supposed to be sleeping … and I'll betcha I got a thousand letters from people ALL over the country that said "You, too?" (both laughing), which is really funny because, you know, you thought you were the only one … and then you find out that EVERYBODY did that … EVERYONE was doing it … because back then we LIVED for this music … and we couldn't get enough of it.  We absolutely lived for it ... and those are the people that Forgotten Hits connects with.

TR:  Yeah, yeah.  I love the way you manage your site because you tell the real stories and you get all these readers to open up and share their memories and it brings it all back.
I never will forget the first record player they bought me … we bought everything at Sears … you know, my dad and mother, they always shopped at Sears … and the first guitar I had was a Silvertone, which he bought at Sears, and it had a neck like a two by four ... I mean I could hardly get my hands around it …

kk:  Yeah, and you needed like a vice to push the strings down!  (lol)

TR:  Yeah, Unbelievable.  And so the first record player they ever bought me was a Silvertone and it always sat right next to the bed with the volume in the front so I could play it real low at night, you know.

kk:  Yeah, once you're hooked you're hooked … there's just no escaping the music … no goin' back.

TR:  Yep, those were the days … it's like you say, once the genie's out of the bottle, you can never put it back in there but it was a wonderful time to grow up as a teenager, in the '50's and '60's.

Tomorrow in Forgotten Hits ...

Tommy Roe "Meets The Beatles" ...
And tries to get them signed to an American record deal.
(Think about it ... Tommy Roe COULD have been the guy who introduced The Beatles to America!!!)  kk