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Date News Posted: January 31, , 2004

Hillbilly Heaven is going to have to wait a while longer for our Tex-Mex friend Freddy Fender.  Freddy received a kidney transplant about ten years ago and then in January got a call that they had a liver waiting for him which he needed due to cancer on his own, but doctors said they would not do the transplant if the cancer spots were larger then a golf ball, they also told him a few other things that one might just say to himself, I will just take my chances with what I have>> But he decided to go ahead with the operation despite the fact they told him one in ten transplant patients dies on the table and if he lived through that there was only a 50-50 chance he would live longer then a year.
Freddy Fender just sit the world on fire with a song old stories say he didn’t want to do in the first place, it had already been recorded by a young guy by the name of Duane Dee in 1967 and was doing pretty darn good on ABC’ release on Dee but Freddy’s manager Huey Meaux heard something in the song that he thought would fit Freddy and despite not wanting to do it, he did do it, part in Spanish, part in English and also as the old story goes in a garage studio>and it is my guess if Freddy Fender tried to get off the stage at any show he has ever done with out singing “Before The Next Tear Drop Falls” they would shoot him.
Here is a little story for ye: some years ago we had a good friend by the name of Don Pippin, now Don would do MC’N for local shows and did a little bit of everything else like some of us do and his wife Patty Pippin wrote for a few country publications, Don was a pretty darn good singer in his own right and wrote a good song but never did anything with them, he tried his hand at promoting a few people and now and then would take a trip to Nashville from California where he lived.
It was on one of those trips that he visited an aunt that he was very close with and sitting at her kitchen table one morning she ask him if he would look over a song she had written and put a good tune to it, so with his old guitar he said he sat there half the morning fiddlin’ with it and finally told her he thought it was hopeless and really didn’t think the words were worth it.  She must have thought different because later on she showed the same words on the same paper to a guy who is certainly no stranger to the world of great song writers and it didn’t take him long to figure out the tune, The lady? Vivian Keith, The man? Ben Peters, The song? “Before The Next Tear Drop Falls”.
Even though I don’t speak or under stand a word of Spanish, and I don’t think many people did that bought Freddy’s record of “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” it was just the whole idea and the good feeling the song had and the great voice Freddy had to sing both English and Spanish with that sold the song, and to this day it is still a most requested song (on real) country radio stations, it is my belief that the right song even if it has been recorded before was done with the same feeling Freddy put into that song regardless of the way country music is today, that it would go straight to the top.  Real country fans are so hungry to hear a good country song again they would burn down the lines to radio stations requesting it.
Anyway Freddy, we miss the heck out of your music on the old radio, and not only yours but so many of the greats that this generation has chosen to ignore.

There has got to be 17 billion people out there smarter then me, so if you are one of that 17 billion answer this one for the other 17 billion of us that are not as smart as you, why in the world do these new guys think they can’t sing unless they have a hat pulled down half way over their face, and the girls have to have dresses cut to their belly buttons for people to understand their songs.  This past year I have seen enough belly buttons both bare and with an ear ring stickin’ through them to last me six life times, I have seen enough tattoos on girls and old lady’s to last the next six and men and boys with six or eight holes punched in their ears that they should lay sideways and let mama sift flower through um.  We reckon there is only one conclusion one could draw from all this and that is all these dudes are bald and the girls want to show off their implants.

If you know anything at all about country music then you know Gene Watson can sing a song and make you feel it, now old Gene may get a perm now and then but he ain’t got no hat coverin’ his eye balls.  And don’t tell me this is a new generation, hell, the old one ain’t dead yet.

A few weeks ago we were asking about Don Deal and sure nuff we heard from him living down on the outskirts of Branson.  Now when we first saw Don he was on Town Hall Party down in Compton, California, a show that anyone who ever saw it still remembers and talks about because of all the great talent that was there every Saturday night and the hundreds of guest stars that graced that stage with every new show, he was one good looking young man and could sing a great song and is still in the business which we were really glad to hear, he has offered to send us some of his old and new CDs which we haven’t received yet but as soon as we do we will let you know about them , anyway, it was really great to hear from him and wish him all the best.

Had a nice long talk with good friend Lawton Williams who lives down around Ft Worth, Texas, Lawton is still writing, still recording and still helping others get their music heard like Billy Jack Davis who just released one of Lawton’s songs on the Reba label called “Angeles Over Baghdad” want a copy? Try this 972-579-9816.
Warner Mack called this week, he is doing interviews with country stations everywhere it seems like, one thing about it good ole Warner is a good talker and DJs love talkin’ to him, now if you are trying to remember a Warner Mack hit and he had many of um, one that had a title half as long as the song was “The Bridge Washed Out And I Can’t Swim And My Baby’s On The Other Side”.
Warner’s title reminds me of a title of one of Freddie Hart’s songs “If Fingerprints Showed Up On Skin, I wonder Who Would Show Up On You?”  Now it is pretty clear that song was written before the days of DNA my goodness, can you imagine what they can do now, ah, we better forget that one.

There is a good ole boy down in Jacksboro, Texas that just sings and puts together an outstanding country CD, he sings a great country and equally as good a gospel song and has just released his 20th. CD.  Some time ago, maybe two CDs ago, he had one on there called “Jesus Is The Same In California” it is a song about a lady who is writing her son who is in prison, he is to ashamed to let her know he is in prison but she finds him and sends him this letter, if you like good country then this is one.  His name is Joe Paul Nichols and his phone # is 940-567-2779 or you can write to Joe Paul at 301 Church Street>Jacksboro, Texas 76458 and if you buy it and don’t like it, (I) will give you your money back.

Now you may not remember the name Jon Locke unless you were at the right place at the right time, if you are from the days of Broderick Crawford’s “Highway Patrol” which Jon was a Sgt. in the Highway Patrol, or you were a fan of the TV series “The Virginian” which Jon worked the road shows with James Drury, anyway Jon has got more credits then you can shake a stick at and is still at it.  But right now him and his banjo has just released a new CD called “Happy Roving’ Cowboy” and is just a nice little piece of music to put into your car CD player and head south, or north or up.   Ole Jon will probably sign a picture for ye, and sign the CD and sign your T shirt for ye if you want to buy one, he didn’t say but ten bucks is a good price, you have got our address there some place and we’ll pass it on to Jon.

It still seems pretty amazin’ to me that Freddie Hart’s CD we have been sending out got a pick hit of the month for the cut “Only You” in Warsaw Poland where as far as I know they don’t even speak English, but they like many other countries really love “REAL” country music.

This past year has got to be a record breaker for all of the great country artist and writers we have lost this year, and come to think of it, some mighty good actors have left this old earth, maybe it was their time I don’t know, all I do know is, we will miss them a lot, the music they gave us, the songs they sang, and the words they delivered on that big screen at the picture show and one more time we need to give thanks to Bob Hope who risk his life and that of others to go where our fighting men were so they might (if only for a few minutes) laugh at a bad situation.  And we still think they should re-name coast to coast highway 40, Bob Hope Highway, and along the way a few Bob Hope smiley faces so we could smile and laugh with him for ever, God Bless ye Bob.

Eddie Cochran was a young man that would have probably went a long, long way had his time not run out when he was slightly over 21, he was born in 1938 and died in 1960 and even though he had teamed up with another guy by the name of Cochran they were not related, the other Cochran who really wasn’t into Rock and Roll or much into Rockabilly was into just plain old country music.  The two Cochran’s, Eddie and Hank worked a lot around southern California as the “Cochran Brothers” they cut some things for a small label out of Memphis but had a office here in California called “Ekko Records” they didn’t have to many releases I don’t think, but maybe some of the other artist faired better then the Cochran’s because the trades didn’t have much to say about what they were putting out, how ever as it sometimes happens when a guy, Gal, duo or what ever it may be, records for a small unknown label and then later hits a big lick on a major label, those old records on that unknown label becomes meat and taters for who ever has them, I would like to find a couple of them for our Museum.  Hank Cochran finally made Nashville his home and Eddie got himself a contract with “Liberty Records” and also a few movie parts in what are now “Classics” like “The Girl Can’t Help It” staring Jayne Mansfield, Tom Ewell and Edmond O’Brien with a long cast of supporters like, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Fontaine, Nino Tempo, Fats Domino, Julie London and Eddie Cochran and several more.  About this same time in late 56 early 57 a producer or scout for the record company found a song that a young guy back east had recorded on a small label and thought this would be the one for the young Eddie Cochran to do, he was right, “Sittin’ In The Balcony” was a smash for Eddie, it got him a few more movie parts, put some money in his pocket and an Australian tour.  Hank Cochran home in Nashville, where it wasn’t long before his name would be forever etched in stone in the walls and halls of country music, in the Hall of Fame and in the minds and lips of country singers and fans all over the world, the list of Hank Cochran songs seem to have no end but here are a couple you know doubt remember>Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces” and “She’s Got You”, Eddie Arnold’s “Make The World Go Away” and of course the great Burl Ives classic “Funny Way Of Laughing”.

Who could ever know what a person might have done a week, a month or forever after they have passed away, but no matter what the story is or who wrote it about Eddie Cochran they were all the same, Eddie lived for his music, soda pop, a shot of coffee now and then and a heap of macaroni and cheese.

It just wasn’t to be.

We were down at “Borders Books” today looking through some of the new stuff that had just come in, I really like finding poster books and books that have great stories in them about the old actors and I am always looking for stuff like old movies and facts on Walter Brennan, even though I did the cover story on Walter for a Tennessee magazine a few years ago and got more pictures of him then we have walls to hang um’ I still like to look, I don’t think there has been or ever will be another actor like him, he started off old and got young, he had a voice you could recognize behind a hard wood door and he could really take a part and make something out of it, not just a shadow to the big star but a burst of thunder that kept it all together and you dang well knew he was there and we have been told by those that were there when Walter was working the one thing you didn’t want to do was get in his way, in other words, if it’s my shot, keep your mug out of it.  What we were really looking for was a video book of those old film to see if “Swamp Water” was ever transferred to video before the film fell apart, it was made and then re-made, Walter was in both of them but most of the other cast members were changed in the second one, the second one was in color but the first one I think was in black and white, what I got the biggest kick out of was the revues it received, and we quote: “This movie was so bad you’ll have to love it”.

As I have written here on our web page before and in the magazine we mentioned above was close to what people said about a song that Walter recorded years ago and in the beginning was the “B” side of a 45>The “A” side being, “The Epic Ride Of John Glen” which only seven people in America ever heard (so far we have only been able to find 4 of um) but, the other side>> By doggies Luke, sold a million and a young country DJ told us about a week ago that not a week goes by on his station down there in Texas that he don’t play “OLD RIVERS” and>>>>>you may not know this little bit of tid-bit but there really was an old Rivers.(but that’s another story)

When I said we were going to quit writing this thing a few weeks ago we received a bunch of email and a few letters and even a phone call or two asking us to keep doin’ it, we been doin’ this thing dang near seven years give or take a few.
We have been dog gone lucky over the years to meet so many great people that filled my noggin with stories and tales of things they went through and my years with an old retired cop by the name of Steve Stebbins that he said I was the only one he ever met that could make him laugh every day, he couldn’t tell a joke worth a hoot but he was one slick dude when it came to booking people he had faith in.  We have mentioned that he was Lefty’s manager for 11 years, ole Lefty was scared of flying, but if he just had to fly Steve would have him had write up a will, it has been a while since I read the last one but ole Steve probably had him leave everything to him, and knowing Steve he would have made sure Lefty’s family got every penny of, I never knew if it was because of him (Steve) being an ex cop from the days when law and order meant something or just what it was but I have seen statements and checks to artist where they had over paid him in commissions by a $1.97 and sometimes even less and he would write and then mail them a check back for that amount, but on the other had if you owed him 65 cents he would deduct it from your next club date check.

A young guy brought a couple members of his band in to Steve’s office one day while we were there and ask Steve if he would book him and his band, now the boy was dressed bad, ripped jeans and a faded old shirt, Steve said, are those the best clothes you have? Do you work in clothes like that? The boy said, no I have better clothes but it don’t seem to matter anymore, look how Willie dresses, Steve said, well son, you get as famous as old Willie and I’ll book ye naked if that’s how you want to dress but ‘till then you go home and change clothes and come back tomorrow.  I was thinking as the young guy got up to leave that he would go out side and tell his boys with him, well pee on this old fart, we can find work on our own, but low and behold the next day the same three came back, they didn’t put Porter Wagoner to shame but they sure looked sharp, Steve said, now let’s hear you sing.

We just checked our web site counter it says we have had a million four hundred fifty five thousand four hundred and forty five hits since we started this thing, which is not right because three years ago all the power from a storm knocked the computer out and the count was lost to zero at that time, so we will never know what it would have been had that not of happened but it really doesn’t matter that’s still a lot of hits from good country fans and folks reading these stories which we really and I mean really do appreciate, we have made so many friends from this site that it really is un-real, we have found band members and friends of good ole pickers and band leaders that they hadn’t seen or heard from in years, we have been able to locate artists that just hung it up and took to raisin’ cattle or some other job of their choice, we have heard from three maybe four Presidents, some of them wrote a note themselves others had their secretary do it but it was always nice to see a letter with the White House Seal on it. 

We have sold a lot of CDs and old albums and 45s and cassettes on our web site catalog, if we didn’t have it new to sell but had it on one of the thousands of albums we have, we recorded the song they were looking for and sent it to um’ for nothing, postage and all.

So to make another long story short, we’ll keep it up ‘till we run out’a gas, if you’ll read um, I’ll write um.

We read the whole book the other night all 121 pages and two covers on the history of the “Burma Shave” signs, as kids going places with Dad and Mom I would sit behind Mom and my Brother would sit behind Dad who was driving, I would read the Burma Shave signs going forward and my Brother would read the signs on the other side of the road looking backward.  The signs graced the roadways of America from 1927 ‘till 1963, but then with TV and other means of advertising the signs were all removed, and some people got a kick in those later years of shooting at them with a pistol, rifle or even shotguns that they carried in their cars.  When that day came that Burma Shave decided the run was over they sent out their crews of sign planters to remove them, and they reported back that some of the farmers actually cried when the crew said they were there to remove those signs that America had grown to love, they also learned from the farmers and ranchers that they deemed it an honor to have those signs on their property, the royalties were small, just a few bucks a year but that never seemed to matter.
The first signs were put up on two roads out of Minneapolis one was route 65 to Albert Lea and the other on the road to Red Wing. It was almost winter time so they were working like the dickens to get them put up before the ground got so hard they couldn’t dig the holes for the ten or twelve sets of signs they had to put up.
Anyway within a short time the phones at Burma Shave started to ring the signs by the road were giving Burma Shave their first repeat orders ever.

Well, unless you are old enough to remember those old signs all this don’t mean much but to us that do it is just another of yesterdays memories in the back of an old head.  In each set there were 6 signs placed one hundred paces apart, at 35 miles an hour it took 3 seconds to get from one sign to the next 18 seconds to read all six signs, see if you remember a couple of these.



There were about 35 thousand of these signs placed around the country that turned into a good thing for the Burma Shave company, for the millions of people that read them over the years and for the farmers all over America that were proud to have these little signs on the edge of their property.  So here is my little sign, paint up some copies and put them 3 miles from every radio station in America:


It is time to close that squeaky door for tonight have a hot shot of coffee, kick back and watch COPS and Forensic Files and help solve a few more cold case murders on the old TV.

So we’ll see ye later, but just in case we don’t, take care of yourself
Don Bradley     


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