Latest News & Releases
April 11, 1998
News Posted: April 14, 1998
It was late, two in the morning I guess, we were just kicking back in the easy chair in our little old studio when the phone rang. I said to myself, "Now who in the heck can that be?" Myself said "How in the heck would I know, but you can find out if you just answer it".
I let it ring a few more times, knowing it must be a wrong number and sooner or later they would just hang up, but they didn't, it just kept ringing, so with coffee cup in one hand and a pillow in the other we just rolled off the chair and crawled over to the phone, thinking if it was a wrong number we'd just lay there on the floor and keep listening to the pile of old records we were playing.
Hello, "yea, who's this ?" "It's Fred," "Fred who ?" "Freddie Smith," "what, are you tryin' to be funny? "Fred's dead". "Well I may be what you call dead, but this is great. Look, remember what I told you one time about my Grandmother falling into the slop jar and asking you to never tell another soul?" "FRED !!! It is you, where in the heck are you ?"............."I'm up here in Heaven and it's great, you can't believe all the people I've met."
Well dog bite my chicken I said to myself, thinking back to the good old days when Fred and I used to be Country D.J's on the same station, we would always get in early so we could pick out our records for the night. I would pick a Ray Price, he would pick a Sonny James, I would pick a Johnny Cash, he would pick a Johnny Paycheck, and I would..,well, you get the picture, then we would spend the next hour just shooting the bull about Tex Williams or Roy Acuff or whoever had a new one out>>>>>>>>>>>>>
And I said, "Well, you mean there's a phone up there Fred "? He said "Yea, they just installed them last week and I meant to call you then but thought I had better call my wife first." I said "What did she say ?" "She didn't say nothin' but I sure scared the heck out of her new husband. Anyway, I want to tell you how the Man is arranging the new D.J's as they die and come up, mind you now, they don't all make it but for those who do">>>>>
AND WITH THAT, Fred told me this story. He said, you see when they die they are sent to a process area, they are given a sheet of paper and on that paper is the name of every Country singer that ever lived. Beside each name is a little square, at the top it says, did you play any records by this artist in the past six months, of course they don't know whether to lie or not because they don't know what will get them the best job up here so they are pretty much forced to tell the truth.
After the paper is completely filled out and signed, they slip it through a slot in the cloud where it is examined by a heavenly official, and this is where the good part comes in, Those that played a Johnny Cash or Johnny Paycheck or a Merle Haggard or a Willie or Waylon song, and well you know, any of the good stuff, they go on the right side of this big cloud, the one's that didn't go on the left side-----well, I didn't have any idea what the guys on the left were doing at all until last week when El Nino blew a hole in the cloud and I peeked through.
Don't get me wrong now Don, they are good guys, but, somebody steered them in the wrong direction. When I peeked through the hole in the cloud, well let's put it this way, you remember the job Andy Griffith had in one of his movies as a latrine orderly? They fix bricks in the yellow brick road and stuff like that, and really not bad jobs but me and Tex and Ernest really got a kick out of one of them old Jocks talkin' to another one, he said, "Wonder if we checked the right things"?
About that time Don, the hole closed up in the cloud and it's probably best that it did because I had to run to the post office anyway, I was expecting some tapes from Cal Smith and Hank Snow and I was hoping that new Johnny Cash and Warner Mack album would be there, why just last week Hank Thompson and Moe Bandy sent us up a couple albums that are just somethin' else, and man I can't wait for........
Wait a minute Fred!!!! you mean you got a post office up there to?
I guess Fred's quarter ran out because he didn't answer, but I know he'll call back, maybe not tomorrow or the next day, but he'll call back.
Luck or being in the right place at the right time, well, we don't rightly know the answer to that one, but, whichever it was it was and what it was, years ago we had the good fortune of meeting a humble man, a man that just was trying to make a living for his family and get through life, a man that one night he went to sleep and the next morning when some friends came to pick him up to do some work in a studio, he said to them, "You know, last night I had this dream, it was the dog-gone-ist thing that ever happenned to me and I just can't get it out of my head". One of the other guys asked him what it was and he said, "Well, it may seem strange, but I died and went to Hillbilly Heaven."
Right there in the back of the car he sang them his dream. The driver of the car made a "U" turn and the others asked him where he was going, he said he was going over to Eddie Dean's house. And on that day on Eddie's back porch, the song was worked out and a few days later it was recorded at the Sage & Sand studio in Hollywood, California.
Hal Southern had the dream, Eddie Dean sang the song and Hi-Wayne & Hal, then known as the "Frontiersmen" were the background pickers and so was born "HILLBILLY HEAVEN".
My friend Hal Southern, now lives down towards Oceanside, sorry to say he is blind now and he has his good days and his bad, but he is hanging on.
Now here is the saddest part of all. Several years ago it was reported in one of the big trade magazines, (and years ago there were only three that anyone paid any attention to,) that Tex Ritter alone had sold over ten million copies of "Hillbilly Heaven" and I think anyone that knows beans about Country Music would agree it was a great rendition of the song, it had to have been to sell that many records.
That song has been recorded by so many artists in so many ways that neither Hal or Eddie know how many. It has been recorded as Cowboy Heaven, Truck Drivers Heaven, Jazz Heaven, Hollywood Heaven, Sidemeat Heaven (Riders In The Sky) and only God knows how many more ways it has been recorded or by how many people, but many of them have been the biggest names in Country Music----SO, what's the sad part? You would think they would have a wall full of Gold Records for that song. But for almost 50 years they never received doodle-squat.
About four years ago we decided to start writing letters. Of course if you have ever tried to track down who's who when a song gets that old, then it won't take you long to know you're in a heap of "Do-Do" but then if you don't plan to finish something, don't start it. But finally, we got them two Gold Records each for "Hillbilly Heaven".
But here is something even sadder, Hal was already blind and couldn't even see it, all he could do was hold it and cry, and Eddie was almost ninety years old.
So to all of those who filled their pockets with money, lived high on the hog and drove them big cars from the money made on this song, two old men would like to say, Thanks A Lot.
Marty Martel has got a great song that every Country D.J out there should be playing or at least listen to it himself, it's called "YOU WON'T PLAY THEIR RECORDS ANYMORE", today we received a copy of this C.D. and so far have played it 9 times.
If you want a copy of it drop us an e-mail or a fax or something and we'll get it to Marty, we will be doing more on the song before the week is over.
We received a Super package today from Jett Williams, we'll be doing a story on her P.D.Q.
We really want to thank all the D.J.'s who are playing the Classic Country music and to those that have asked us for promotion copies on some of the Classics or where they can get them to play on their station, we really do appreciate it. We also want to thank all the D.J's and good Country music fans from all the countries we have received mail from this past couple of weeks, that also is much appreciated.
If you do play the Country Classics on your show, and are short of some great music by Johnny Paycheck, we can take care of that also.
To all of those who died today before they had a chance to say goodbye, rest in peace
We'll see ye soon, but just in case we don't, Take care of yourself
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