A few weeks ago we woke up to the news that Ray Price had passed. We knew that was coming but still it leaves an emptiness when such a legend steps out of this world and leaves us with only memories. And I have some really good ones of Ray.
The music was fantastic. He, along with Eddy Arnold, brought strings to Country Music and made it acceptable to all those who only thought of a violin as a fiddle. We all followed suit and a new sound was born for an entire industry. We worked with Ray many times; concerts – early on in the 70s we opened and he closed. Later on in the 80s – he opened and we closed. Such is show business, but here is a story I just love and one that shows Ray for the true gentleman he was.
We were a young, struggling group in the very early 60s trying to get our foot in the music business door. A local promoter took us to Charlotte, NC one Saturday night (a long trip from Staunton for us back then). He said he thought he could get us on a big Country show there for a song or two. We arrived at the Charlotte City Auditorium, a place we would perform in and pack many, many times in subsequent years, and were amazed at the thousands of people who had come to see Ray Price, Ferlin Husky, and Mel Tillis (who was just beginning to get some notice). What we didn’t know was that no prior arrangements had been made and no one there even knew we were coming. So here we were, backstage, with this promoter trying to promote a spot on the show for us. A very awkward and embarrassing position for Harold, Phil, Lew and myself.
And then we looked up and saw Ray Price standing in the doorway of his dressing room in a resplendent black suit and black patent leather boots, smoking a cigarette and watching what was going on with these four young wannabes and this ill-prepared promoter. His very words still ring in my ears. He said, “Hey.” Everyone hushed and turned toward him. And then he said, “Give these boys some of my time. I don’t care. Let’em sing a couple of songs.”
And sing we did. Biggest crowd to date we had ever sung in front of and it was all due to the Cherokee Cowboy himself. We thanked him profusely and remembered him forever because if not for him, we would have driven that long trip back home in sadness and silence.
Ray’s last message to his public was: “I am at peace. I love Jesus. I’m going to be just fine. Don’t worry about me.”
And we won’t Ray because we know you are in good hands. God bless you and thanks again for Charlotte.
And then I wake this morning and hear of another hole left in our musical family. Phil Everly died.
I grew up on those guys. Danced at the record hops to them. Bought their records and watched them on TV. And then we did TV with them. Which brings me to the link you see below.
In 1970, we were regulars on the Johnny Cash TV show on ABC every Wednesday night. The summer replacement show for the Cash show was The Everly Brothers Show and they asked the Statlers, in June of that year, to come out to L.A. and do a guest spot with them. All that is left of that show, to my knowledge, is an audio-only clip. It’s the six of us, Don and Phil – The Everlys – and Harold, Phil, Lew and Don – The Statlers singing the old folk song Columbus Stockade Blues. Even after all these years, I have to say it’s pretty darn good.
Give it a listen. And our love to Don and all the Everly family. Those two guys gave some great memories to an entire nation.
DSR – January 4, 2014
More accurately, you may say, that should be “ten days until Christmas”; but in my mind these are the ten important days.
Each year Debbie and I try to make a concerted effort to have everything possible finished by the 15th so we can take a deep breath and enjoy the Christmas season for what it is meant to be. Yes, the decorating is done; shopping is over; the packages are wrapped and under the trees; we both have had our church groups in for the seasonal parties; and we feel confident in our hearts that if Christmas was suddenly moved to ‘in the morning’, we’d be completely ready for it. (Starting early is the trick.)
I asked the Sunday school class I’ve taught for 30 years this morning, “Is everybody finished and ready?” and got varied answers and a few dirty looks. (I’ll ask again next week in hopes that the yeses will be unanimous.)
The next ten days, God willing, will be restful and fun. We’ll see all the lights of the area; we’ll have family get-togethers; we’ll have lunch together at different places with and without other folks. There will be things to do for the next ten days and we will look forward to every one of them but with none of the pressures this time of year usually carries.
So to every person I have heard from and will hear from through my website and Facebook page, I wish you a happy and healthy Christmas. May God shower you with the blessings of the season and a peace that passes all understanding. Here’s hoping you have the best Christmas ever and that you take time to stop and enjoy it.
December 15, 2013 —-DSR