via Gene Thomas ~ the original by Darlene on 7/14/10
-This article was originally posted on Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"
Forgotten Singers and Songwriters – Gene Thomas!
July 11, 2010
I do not know whether anyone reads my little stories, but I think this one is interesting. I own a series of CD's called the "The Golden Age of American Rock and Roll". Now I was transferring some of the music on Volume 5 to MP3′s (this series is excellent and has some rare songs) when I found something confusing.
Let's be honest up front; I had transferred some music to mp3s. But as I was putting the CDs back in their cabinet, I noticed a track listed on the back of the CD cover called "Sometimes" by Dale & Grace.
Now, if only I had looked at the liner notes for the CD, a "mistake" I am about to share with you would not have happened; but in the end it turned out to be a good mistake.
Playing the mp3 "Sometimes" did not sound like Dale & Grace! Windows Media Player said the writer was Gene Thomas, so this got me going and I started some investigation. Well, after a large number of hours I discovered that this song was actually written and recorded by Gene Thomas in 1961, not Dale & Grace.
There is very little on the Internet about Gene Thomas, so I broadened my search to include "Facebook". Then, on a whim I sent a facebook message to a Gene Thomas and would you believe I found the correct person!
So what I am about to post to our Blog is really, Gene's very own words and comments. I have never met Gene, but he has been very kind and forthcoming to me, a total stranger, and that says a lot about his character.
Forgotten Singers and Song Writers
Gene Thomas working the crowd
A personal email from Gene Thomas
to me, Gary Copeland:
I was born in Palestine ,TX.(at home) Dec. 4th ,1938. father was a carpenter, among other things. Grew up on the move, as my family moved a lot, following work. changed schools constantly & after parents divorced when I was 12, my father was awarded custody of my sister & I. Lost interest in school. Ran off to live with my Mother in a small E.Texas town. Eventually dropped out of school in the ninth. Worked odd jobs as a teen in the 50′s. Having become intrigued with music as a young boy,I left to come back to Houston to play music. Not knowing how to go about recording nor finding any hope. Gave up & married. One day while visiting my -then wife's-cousin, he heard me 'plinking' on his wife's new organ, & asked if I'd like to cut a record. I said "Of course" & basically forgot about it. Later however, we did go to a local studio where we recorded "Sometime" which I had written a couple of nights before.(March 7, 1961-recording date)
Long , long story short. no one in Houston ,TX. would play it. After a couple of months we took it to a small station (Texas city) From there it made it's way to KPAC , a station that covered a large area.(Beaumont, Pt.Arthur,Orange, Tx.) Made # 1 in 3 weeks on their top 20. from there it spread to become # 1 in all major Tx. cities.
All this time I was working as a shipping clerk. Our distributor set up a deal with United Artists. the song had played out in the gulf coast by then. Still, with little promotion , it crept it's way to a wide area -slowly. By Oct. 61, it had hit in California,and in such diverse places as Jamaica ,where it was # 1.
It eventually reached # 53 in Billboard Pop charts., in spite of lack of momentum. Roy Orbison heard it on one of his trips to the Houston area & contacted U.A. & asked to produce a session on me. And did —one in 62 & one in 63. We had little luck tho. One "Baby's Gone" reached the 80′s (don't recall the exact #) .He pretty well gave up ,due to lack of promotion by U.A. (It was # 1 for 5 weeks in Houston for instance)
Back in Houston, I began focusing more on writing, due to the fact, I didn't like any of the songs offered by the Nashville publ. Remember. if you're low priority on a record co's roster, you get offered the lesser tunes.
In ' 67 I wrote a song titled "Go with Me' & recorded it as a duo (Gene & Debbe) . It reached the billboard charts( don't recall the # -60 something I think?) Good enough to land a contract with Acuff-Rose in Nashville. Wrote & recorded "Playboy" which reached # 17 in Billboard Pop charts.( On the TRX label) Earning a BMI award & Gold Record. had a couple of other small chart. songs. But no equal to "Playboy'
I wrote for Acuff- Rose and had quite a few artists record my songs. The biggest of which was Don Gibson & Dottie West's "Rings Of Gold" in 69. reached # 2 in country charts. ( BMI award) & Glen Barber's "Kissed By The Rain-warmed by The Sun' # 24 in Billboard Country charts.
Well, I'm running on & on here, and I'm sure you're not interested in all this. BUT- my career (as it were) has been one mixed bag. Ha!
Today I'm mostly retired & living in a small town in Texas with my wife of 33 years. I'm not in the best of health. Okay but not tops. (diabetes & such) . I make only very, very rare appearances, such as one coming up the end of this month. The 'oldie' show-up thing you know.
Ironically, the biggest (tho-unknown) song I've written is a song titled "Lay It Down) Big overseas for 30 some yrs. It has been recorded by Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings, Lonnie Mack-my favorite, on his early "Hills Of Indiana' album" Buffy Sainte Marie. Tina Turner & so on.
well I guess I'll let you up & let you ponder all this mess. wish you well, in making some kind of sense of it. This is difficult for an old one-fingered typist.
take care & thanks,
P.S The original official title was/is "Sometime" but actually should have been "Sometimes" in order to be correct. Don't know what happened there, but I guess "Sometime" it will remain. Kinda like your oldie glitch with the Dale & Grace thing, I guess.
Things you can do from here:
On the night of August 27th 1990 Stevie Ray Vaughan died on a fog shrouded hill at Alpine Valley in East Troy, WI.
|STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN|
By Robert Santelli
On the night of August 27th 1990 Stevie Ray Vaughan died on a fog shrouded hill at Alpine Valley in East Troy, WI. Had Stevie Ray Vaughan not suddenly surfaced in the early 1980s, guitar in hand and a nearly uncontrollable urge to play it, then the blues might have willed him into existence. These, after all, weren’t the best times for the blues, which had been the bedrock of all American music for nearly a century. MTV was making pop music more physical and visual: Think Michael Jackson and Madonna. Most of mainstream rock was all about big sound, arena shows and elaborate stage sets. And new wave, though it rebelled against rock’s more ornate sounds and superstar mindset, was as style-conscious as it was interested in a simpler approach to making records. The blues connected to none of this.
The 1960s had been the music’s last golden age, a time when masters like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and B. B. King played to eager young rock audiences fascinated by its emotional power, and guitar kingpins like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Duane Allman, Johnny Winter, Carlos Santana and Mike Bloomfield – a member of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band – collectively created a new hybrid: blues rock. From blues rock came heavy metal and the likes of Led Zeppelin. But in the 1970s, rock also became increasingly diversified, with other new sounds and styles running rampant. It got crowded, with glam, country rock, Southern rock, singer-songwriters, funk, punk, reggae and disco all competing for attention and fans. This left little room for blues, and by the end of the decade, its status as a vibrant, relevant music tradition was being seriously questioned. What the blues needed most was an exciting new artist, one knowledgeable and passionate about its long and important history in American music, yet original enough to make a new mark. It needed someone dazzling enough to grab the attention of rock fans who had lost interest in the blues, yet authentic enough to keep longtime true blues fans in his camp.
The music turned not to Chicago nor Memphis nor the Mississippi Delta – the traditional wellsprings of great blues – but to Texas, and in particular, to Austin, where it found Stevie Ray Vaughan. Texas already had a rich blues tradition before Vaughan arrived on the scene. In the 1920s, Blind Lemon Jefferson became one of country blues’ biggest stars. A decade later, T-Bone Walker introduced the electric guitar to the blues, dramatically changing its sound and scope. Lightnin’ Hopkins’ vast recording catalogue reflected his blues virtuosity on both the acoustic and electric guitar, while players like Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Johnny Copeland, Freddie King, and Albert Collins brought blues closer to R&B and rock and roll. Then, in the 1960s, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter and ZZ Top contributed to the blues-rock explosion. Vaughan’s name would be added to this distinguished list of legendary Texas blues artists.
Born in 1954, Vaughan was raised in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. His earliest and most important influence was his big brother, Jimmie.
“We shared a room that had a little record player in it,” recalled Jimmie. “He listened to the records I listened to – Jimmy Reed, Bill Doggett, Lonnie Mack. He watched me play the guitar. And he got hooked.”
Jimmie left home at age 14 to pursue a music career, arriving by 1970 in Austin, a college town with plenty of music clubs and a small but growing blues community. Before he left, he gave 11-year-old Vaughan one of his electric guitars and the batch of worn blues records they had listened to together.
“I gave him my Fender Telecaster. It replaced the cheap ones he’d been messin’ with,” said Jimmie. “He fell in love with it. I don’t think he ever put it down.”
Vaughan quickly found that the guitar was an ideal emotional outlet, and that the blues was a music language he could easily translate on guitar. After high school, he joined Jimmie in Austin, anxious to grow his guitar talent and to play the clubs where Jimmie’s group, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, were tearing it up.
“Stevie saw that the Fabulous Thunderbirds were playing every night in Austin,” Jimmie recalled. “And that’s what he wanted to do: play every night, anywhere you could. The idea was to play.”
Vaughan played guitar with the Austin band the Cobras, but he was meant to be a bandleader, where he could more fully define the blues sounds he heard in his head. He formed the Triple Threat Revue with African-American guitarist W.C. Clark and local blues-rock singer Lou Ann Barton.
When Barton and Clark left to pursue solo careers in 1978 and 1979, respectively, Triple Threat became Double Trouble. Now, with Chris Layton on drums and eventually Tommy Shannon on bass, Vaughan had his launching pad in place. “He was sorta like the rocket booster that you put on the spaceship to make it go a little further,” explained B.B. King, one of Vaughan’s early supporters.
Layton was the perfect drummer for Vaughan: young, aggressive, and a blues lover. Bass player Shannon brought big-time experience to Double Trouble. He had played with Johnny Winter and knew the ups and downs of stardom. Vaughan also benefited greatly by being in Austin. Blues giants like B. B. King, Albert King, and Muddy Waters were finding work in Austin’s blues clubs, particularly Antone’s, which had become the centerpiece of the scene. Vaughan often opened up shows for his heroes, then later jammed with them, picking up advice and ideas.
Vaughan might have remained merely a local or regional blues king had fate not intervened. In 1982, Double Trouble manager Chesley Milliken gave his friend Mick Jagger a live tape of Vaughan and the band. Impressed, the Rolling Stones singer invited Double Trouble to play a New York party, giving Vaughan valuable exposure far from Austin. That same year, legendary soul producer Jerry Wexler heard Vaughan and Double Trouble and got them on the Montreux Jazz Festival bill in Switzerland. That’s where David Bowie and Jackson Browne heard Vaughan; Bowie invited Vaughan to play guitar on his Let’s Dance album, and Browne offered up his California studio so the band could cut some demo tracks.
Finally, John Hammond, the man who signed Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and many other greats to Columbia Records, brought Vaughan and Double Trouble to Epic Records, a subsidiary of Columbia. Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s debut album, came out soon after, earning critical acclaim. Showcasing Vaughan’s striking guitar solos and featuring the crackerjack backing of Layton and Shannon, the album won two Grammys and numerous other awards.
The band’s followup, Couldn’t Stand the Weather, included “Voodoo Child,” the Jimi Hendrix classic that Vaughan made his own. Incessant touring lifted the album and brought in more fans. Keyboard player Reese Wynans, who’d briefly played in a band with future Allman Brothers Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley in the late 60s, was added to the group, broadening their sound. Vaughan was now being hailed as the “next Hendrix” and the "savior of the blues," a term not entirely an exaggeration.
To their credit, Vaughan and Double Trouble were careful not to act the part. Regularly, Vaughan praised those great blues artists who came before him, and, whenever possible, he shared the stage with them. Albert King, in particular, was grateful for Vaughan’s rise to stardom and his friendship. The pair even recorded together.
Two more studio albums, Soul to Soul and In Step, sandwiched a live album, Live Alive. More touring meant more time away from Austin and brother Jimmie, who had hit it big with the Fabulous Thunderbirds. The brothers were now blues royalty. But the fast life didn’t suit the Vaughans, particularly Stevie. Drinking and drugs began to get in the way of his music and his ability to cope with stardom. His marriage failed. His career faltered. He continued to rely on his guitar to get him through the increasingly frequent rough patches, but it was clear he needed help.
Fortunately, he got it. He entered rehab, cleaned up, clarified his vision, and renewed his passion for the blues. In Step, released afterward, was a major success. A long anticipated album with Jimmie, Family Style, was completed. The Vaughan Brothers, as they would bill themselves, seemed poised for even bigger success when tragedy struck.
On August 27, 1990, Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash just outside East Troy, Wisconsin, after performing with Jimmie Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and Robert Cray. He was just 35 years old.
Despite a quarter century since his passing, Vaughan’s presence is still felt – and missed – in American music. Nearly every blues artist today claims a Stevie Ray Vaughan influence. His intense performances, powerful solos, and deep, passionate love of the music keep his blues flame burning. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble received 18.3 million votes
Great news! I have hooked up again with my old pal Sam Kindrick of Action Magazine out of San Antonio and he is running Buffalo Gals in this newspaper and on line! Since I am self syndicated, adding a newspaper to the roster of papers that run the comic regularly is cause for celebration! I use to draw cartoons for Sam back in 1975 when I lived in Austin. Sam is receiving awards now and will turn 80 in October. He is incredible.
Main Street Crossing
111 W Main St, Tomball, TX 77375 Phone: 281-290-0431
This Wednesday night Willy and Cody Braun of Reckless Kelly will be on the radio show. They have played Main Street a couple of times before and it is a really good show. It you are a Reckless Kelly fan or if you are just looking for a great show this is it. Tickets are $25..and there are a few left so get yours today!
Thursday is the once a month Songtellng show...Matt will be sending an email about about it this week.
Friday is Adam Carroll and Owen Temple...always a good show. Tickets are $25 for premium and $15 for regular seats.
Saturday we have the Austin Lounge Lizards...they are a fun band...$25 for premium and $15 for regular tickets..if you have not seen them you really should!
**Tuesday is a special benefit for Congo Radio...info below and it is open to the public..
Have a great week!