Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bill Piatt

I posted this 45 record on the blog way back in December 2014. It created somewhat of a stir. People wanted to know more details about the record. I was fortunate to make contact with Bill Piatt a while back and he was gracious to write me about his career in the music business and to share his memories of traveling to Memphis in 1965 to record the 45. I hope you enjoy the story. Thank you Bill.

  
   I was born in 1946, in the northeast Arkansas city of Jonesboro and grew up 30 miles east in the small northeast Arkansas town of Leachville.  I have many happy childhood and adult memories of all my school classmate friends and family. I always loved seeing our favorite cowboy movie heroes at the Saturday afternoon Matinee, in the grand old "Melody Theater", where I got to sit next to my "sweet Betty" (Broughton)!  After the movie, me and my two "trusty sidekicks" Jimmy (Turnbow) and "Bubby" (Jones) would strap on our "six-shooters", mount up on our "broomstick horses" and "head out"! On a huge downtown vacant dirt lot, behind our parent’s retail stores, we could stir up more dust than a "Texas whirlwind"! Our mission was to protect the town folks from any local "desperadoes"! Billy, Jimmy and Bubby, "Little L.A.'s fearless threesome"! Some called us "the three musketeers "! My parents owned and operated the "D&M variety store" also referred to as the "dime store". The warehouse building next door would be opened up during the Christmas season for toy sales, and called "toy town". They also owned and operated "Leachville Mercantile", a clothing store. Both stores were in business for 35 years. Being raised in a very busy retail environment, they taught me the importance of a good faith-based "work ethic", customer service and the ability to interact directly with the public at a very young age. In addition to their business expertise, my mom "Winnie" was a very talented and accomplished pianist professional performer and piano teacher. After graduating high school, she was accepted to study at a music conservatory, occasionally performing with some local orchestras. She taught me the keyboard basics. My dad "Matthew" was not a professional musician, but he had played clarinet in his southeast Missouri, hometown high school band, at Bernie. I also began playing clarinet in my hometown marching band at the former Leachville public school system where I graduated high school in 1964. That summer, I enrolled at Arkansas state university in Jonesboro, Arkansas with a business major in mind. I was also active in the R.O.T.C.(reserve officers training corps) program, with studies in military science my first year at A.S.U. while attending college. I became interested in singing, after buying and learning a few chords on an acoustic guitar and purchasing a set of drums that I taught myself to play. I first sang and played guitar before a crowd, with my hometown "Methodist church family" in Leachville, performing an old gospel/folksong, titled, "Michael, row the boat ashore". Shortly thereafter, I got a chance to make my nightclub singing debut, thanks to the generosity of a local entertainer, Bill Reeder of Paragould, Arkansas. He was a singer, musician, and recording artist. I was introduced to him by a hometown friend, Norman Maynard of Leachville, who was the drummer in Bill’s back-up band. I was invited to sing a few songs where they were booked to perform that night. It was a small, downtown tavern on main-street in the northeast Arkansas city of Blytheville, called "Jodie's Jet Club". It was a greatly appreciated opportunity and a boost to my confidence level! I began performing professionally with some of my very talented former high school musician friends, and other great local musicians. I had the opportunity to perform again in Blytheville at the former "Castaway Club", thanks to a recommendation from local-area entertainer/ recording artist, Paul Lovelace of Paragould, Arkansas. Paul was a lead-singer and drummer during his early years as a performer. In fact, he inspired me to become a singing drummer! After graduating college he worked in broadcasting, and in 1969, while still performing, he began a very successful music business career in record promotion with the "Decca Records" label in Nashville, Tennessee, then went on to work with the "20th Century Fox Records" label in Los Angeles. Later Paul came back to Nashville as vice-president of promotion with the "Capitol Records" label before starting his own promotion and distribution company in 1990,"CDX Music" in Nashville. I've always been grateful for Paul's encouraging support when I was starting out in the music business! My very first recording session experience was at the "Variety Recording Studio", which was located in downtown Jonesboro, Arkansas. Joe Lee of Jonesboro, was my first producer. Joe was studio owner/operator, and recording engineer, a very gifted musician, vocalist, recording artist, and also owner of the "Alley Records" label. "Folk music" was very popular at that time. One afternoon between my classes at A.S.U. with just an acoustic guitar, I recorded three "cover songs": a gospel/folk tune titled, "Michael, row the boat ashore", plus a tune called,"500 miles", along with an older country song titled, "have I told you lately that I love you?" I really enjoyed my learning time with Joe in the studio! Joe Lee passed away in may-2013, and is greatly missed by his family, friends, and all the performers who knew and worked with him!
     In the early summer of 1965, I went to the "Sonic Recording Service" studio on Madison Avenue, in midtown Memphis, Tennessee. The studio was owned and operated by Roland Janes. Roland was a Clay-County, Arkansas native, and a legendary record producer, recording engineer session musician and music publisher. Before opening his own "Sonic Studio", he had previously worked with Sam Phillips at the famous "Sun Studio and Sun Records" label in Memphis as a session guitarist! Sam Phillips passed away in 2003, but Sam's sons, Knox and Jerry, Sam's nephew, Jud, and granddaughter Hallie are keeping his "pioneering innovative legacy" alive today at the Sam Phillips recording studios! Roland passed away in october-2013. My first recording session at the "Sonic Studio" in 1965, included myself doing only lead ­vocals, Gene Reid of Leachville, Arkansas ,on lead guitar, Spencer Johnson, also from Leachville playing rhythm guitar, Jerry Ward of Paragould, Arkansas, also on lead guitar, bass, and organ, and Roger Frey, also from Paragould, Arkansas, on drums. While there, we were pleasantly surprised when Sandra and Donna Rhodes stopped by and introduced themselves. We greatly appreciated their words of encouragement! They have always been such greatly talented musicians and vocalists, having worked with Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty, Al Green, and many other great entertainers!  "Guitar man" Travis Wammack also stopped by the studio while we were there to say hello and wished us well! We were already great admirers of Travis' work too! It was a real "motivational treat" to meet all three. The recording session produced the original version of a song I wrote called, "If you really love me", plus two "cover songs". One was a previous hit-record by Trini Lopez, titled, "What have I got of my own". The other song was also a previous hit-tune, recorded by Lee Dorsey, called "Ya Ya". After our session that day, I dropped off a copy of our studio recordings at WHBQ-TV in Memphis. George Klein was a disc jockey with WHBQ-Radio and was also the "host" of a weekly TV show called, "Talent Party", featuring nationally-known celebrity guests, plus many performers and bands from the mid-south area! The show premiered in 1964 and was one of the most-watched TV shows in the mid-south for 12 years, on WHBQ-channel 13!

WHBQuties  with  George Klein
   After reviewing our studio recordings George Klein called me soon after, inviting us to appear on his show, to perform those two "cover songs" he liked! Jerry Ward (passed away in april-2016), and Roger Frey (passed away in march-2011) were unavailable on the day the show aired, due to previous commitments.  My former high school "musician buddies" Gene Reid and Spencer Johnson did appear on the show with me along with another former hometown musician friend Norman Maynard.  He had recently moved to Memphis and filled-in playing bass with us. I doubled-up on drums and lead vocals. We had a lot of fun doing the show with those gorgeous "WHBQuties" go-go dancers! I will always appreciate our "television debut" opportunity, thanks to George and the great folks at WHBQ-Fox 13 in Memphis. 1965 was a fabulous summer! George and "Elvis" had always been very close friends since their 8th grade schooldays together in Memphis. George Klein's "Talent Party" show, was a real "jump-start" for performers like myself and many others!  Our friends Jim "Dandy" Mangrum and Ricky Reynolds, with "Black Oak Arkansas", all appeared on "talent party" too!  My congratulations for all their hard work and great success through the years!  Back in the mid 1960's, Jerry Ward, Roger Frey, and myself, had the chance to work with Ricky Reynolds! He played bass several nights with us, at the former "C & R" club, in the northeast Arkansas town of Trumann.
    Around that time, I was hoping to work with producer Roland Janes again. Shortly after our TV appearance on the WHBQ’s "Talent Party" show I went back to the "Sonic Studio" later that summer in 1965 and recorded a revised version of my original song "If you really love me", adding background vocals, and also recorded an original song written by my fellow musician, Jerry Ward titled "Fool that I am". In addition I covered an older country hit-song, previously made famous by Eddy Arnold called, "Make the world go away". I had always enjoyed the melody of an instrumental hit-tune recorded by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass titled "A taste of honey". I chose to cover their tune with a vocal arrangement. The musicians assembled for the session included Jerry Ward of Paragould, Arkansas on lead and rhythm guitars, Jim Hudson from Jonesboro, Arkansas (passed away in 2010), playing keyboards, Danny Helms of Tuckerman, Arkansas on bass, Terry Ishmael from Jonesboro, Arkansas on drums, Janet Wood and friends, from the Memphis-area, with background vocals. Janet was the wife of Memphis-area entertainer and recording artist, Bobby Wood. "If you really love me" and "A taste of honey", were the only songs released from that session in late-1965 on my privately-owned label, "Majestic Records" in Leachville, Arkansas which was my former hometown residence at the time. I chose the record label name to acknowledge "grace", as the source of my "God-given" musical abilities! Our memories of Roland Janes, Joe Lee, Jerry Ward, Jim Hudson and Roger Frey will always live on through the music we created together! They're all "jamming" with the "angels" now! After my record's release, I did no touring. My dad had recently passed away during my senior year of high school in October-1963, leaving only my mom and myself to look after the family business. However, I was very pleased and encouraged by some national and local radio air-play, since it was my first try at getting into the record business at the age of 19!

                                                                      Bill Piatt - Taste of Honey

                                                      Bill Piatt - If You Really Love Me
    
   At that time I was considering my military service obligation and whether to continue my education as well as getting married. After a year at Arkansas State University, I chose to enroll at the former, "Jonesboro Business College", in Jonesboro, Arkansas and continued performing with occasional nightclub work. In 1966, I joined the U.S. Army/Arkansas National Guard (875th Engineer Battalion) in Jonesboro, Arkansas. I completed my Federal active-duty in basic/infantry, and advanced combat/ engineer training in 1967 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In 1972 I continued with my enlistment obligation for two additional years of inactive duty in the U.S Army Reserve, and was honorably discharged in 1974. I am "blessed" with two "wonderful daughters" and five "fantastic grandchildren”, plus!!!!!!! Our oldest grandson is a very talented musician/drummer, and became a member of the United States Marine band"!
 
     In 1968, I began a cumulative, 25-year broadcasting career in the Jonesboro northeastern Arkansas market-area. I received my "on-the-job­ training" start at a small radio station that was very close to my former home town the former KBIB-AM at Monette, Arkansas. I've worked in "Christian television and radio" but mostly as a "disc-jockey" in "commercial radio" formats, including gospel, pop, rock, country and easy- listening genres. My broadcasting work also included news/talk­ radio, producing, directing, writing, advertising sales, marketing, and management. Many thanks to each one of you for listening during my years working in radio! In addition to my broadcasting activities, in the early 1970's, I operated a 350-acre/ "working cattle ranch”. Like one of my favorite old western-movie/character-actors, George "Gabby" Hayes would have probably said "I was a real rootin tootin ridin ropin and shootin cowboy"! Maybe that's how I got the nickname "Wild Bill"! One evening in 1971, I was invited as a guest vocalist, and sang a couple of songs with recording artist Narvel Felts and his band at the "American Club" in Cardwell, Missouri. Narvel grew up and started performing in my dad's hometown of Bernie, Missouri. After my ranching days, in the late 1970's through the early 1980's, I started doing a lot of nightclub work again in the southeastern Missouri "Boot Heel" area at the same club, which had been renamed the "Cardwell Country Club". I was performing mostly as a DJ and occasional guest vocalist with some of the bands appearing there, including recording artist Terry Ray Bradley. One of the groups I also enjoyed working with, featured Roddy Holmes the lead-singer and front-man with the group Trout-McGhee. He and his cousin in the band Jamie Holmes, plus fellow musicians "Whiz" Parker, Mickey Webb, and Terry Dees all sort of tagged me with my other nickname "Mr. Bill"! Actually, it was a crazy spin­off from the NBC-Saturday Night Live" shows that included those satirical /cartoon- spoofs in the "oh no, Mr. Bill" featurettes. The live-audience interaction was always great fun! To all who were there to make it happen, a very special "thank you" for all the good times we had together! At that same time, I was dealing with my mother's worsening condition from a terminal illness, and chose a total career-break to be her home care provider until she passed away in november-1984. Later in 1986, I did return to my work in broadcasting at Jonesboro, Arkansas, and also operated a small part-time recording studio in Jonesboro doing commercial voice-overs, producing some local and regional recording artists, including a gospel album with local Jonesboro, Arkansas-area recording artist Doug McQuay and family titled, "behold the lamb". I produced programs featuring local-area pastors and bible teachers for broadcast. I co- produced and co-hosted with Bob Hester of Jonesboro, Arkansas who was affiliated with the American Family Association, a broadcast-aired program to raise public awareness regarding the dangerous and devastating consequences of drug-abuse and pornography related addictions. In 1987 with the worst stock market crash since 1929 followed by a terrible recession and changes occurring in broadcasting and the music business, I decided it was time to consider a more reliable source of additional income! In 1990 I closed my studio. Thanks to a long-time friend and trucker from my former hometown of Leachville, Arkansas Bert Puckett, I received the required training needed to become a professional "big rig" truck driver! For a combined period of ten years, I ran cross-country, coast-to-coast, border-to- border and Canada. I also felt very fortunate and honored when I received a safe driving award from the American Trucking Association. My most recent work activities, the past several years, have been in real estate/"turn-a-round"/investment properties. I'm hoping to get back to work on some "old" and "new" studio recording projects! My thanks to numerous singers and musicians who not only helped me get started in the music business, but provided opportunities to continue performing as an occasional guest vocalist with their bands. In the beginning, one of my former hometown/high school/musician friends, Mike Bearden of Leachville, Arkansas with the "Four Speeds" group, invited me to sing with them at one of the local "Miss Leachville" beauty pageant venues.  Later on, one night at the former Ramada Inn of Blytheville, Arkansas, I got the chance to sing with "Elvis tribute show"/entertainer, Bill Haney. Just prior to my nightclub /DJ work, I was invited up on stage to sing with the "Jessie Mac Band, at the former "25 Club" in Paragould, Arkansas. I appreciate all who have been willing to share the stage with me! In addition I will always be very thankful for the golden opportunities to have worked with such greatly talented people like Joe Lee Roland Janes, Jerry Ward, Jim Hudson, Roger Frey, Danny Helms, Terry Ishmael, Gene Reid, Spencer Johnson, Janet Wood and friends, plus, the DJ’s for playing my music, broadcasting colleagues, friends and my loving family, for all the inspiration, encouragement, and support through the years! Also, special thanks to the "Artyfacts In Wax" web-site, along with all the other "social media" sites for presenting my work!  Extra-special thanks to my hometown public broadcasting service, KASU/91.9-fm, for sharing my life and music around the world by "streaming live" at KASU.org, from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro! My life-long love for the great gift of music comes from how it can lift our "spirit" and produces a therapeutically-soothing effect for the "soul"! A great song can lighten the load of anxiety, and helps us "detach" from the daily "rat race"! It's simply an amazing way to draw us together not apart! I recall the lyrics from some of my favorite songs, by one of my favorite poets, Bob Dylan, reminding us of a "slow train coming"! Just be sure you've got your ticket to board! Our departure time is very close! Thanks for your interest.
Bill Piatt   (aka: Mr. Wild Bill) Jonesboro, Arkansas



 Additional Notes:

Jerry Ward, back in the early 1960's, performed very often with his hometown friend from Paragould, Arkansas, Paul Lovelace. Paul had recorded a "cover song" at Joe Lee's "Variety Recording Studio" in Jonesboro , Arkansas on the "Alley Records" label titled, "This is dedicated to the one I love". Jerry played on that record and worked many club gigs with Paul. Jerry was a singer/songwriter as well. In the early 1970's, he recorded and released an album with his original material titled, Jerry Glenn Ward "Focus". He had written some hit-tunes recorded by other artists. One of those songs called "Six pack of trouble" was recorded by artist O.B. McClinton. There is also a video available with the "Focus" album. Jerry passed away while living in Augusta, Arkansas in April-2016. Jim Hudson, formerly of Jonesboro, Arkansas, also performed with Jerry Ward and Paul Lovelace. Jim was blinded in his younger years from "glaucoma", but was a greatly talented musician on keyboards! Working with Jim and Jerry at "Club Gigs" and in the recording studio was always fun and a great learning experience for me! Back during the 1960's era Jim also played with a local Jonesboro band called, "The Countdowns". The group included Kent Vivrette (formerly of Jonesboro, Arkansas) who currently resides in the Philippines and is the older brother of Jonesboro resident Keith Vivrette who operates a recording service called, "Studio V" in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Other members of that group featured Gene Barnett of Jonesboro and Warren Dupwe, a local Jonesboro attorney. Jim had been residing in the Little Rock, Arkansas-area for several years, where he passed away in 2010. Danny Helms at the time I began performing with him at "Club Gigs", and in the studio was living in Tuckerman, Arkansas. He currently resides in Piggott, Arkansas and works as a commercial/charter-flight pilot! He recently told me about the opportunities to fly entertainer, "Jerry Lee Lewis" around the country for some show­ dates! Danny is also a very talented musician, and has always played great bass! Terry Ishmael, formerly of Jonesboro, Arkansas (currently living in New Orleans), has always been a very gifted and accomplished musician/drummer! He is the younger brother of Jonesboro, Arkansas attorney, Randall (Randy) Ishmael. I really enjoyed working with Terry in the recording studio, and at "Club Gigs"! He's a fine drummer, and we had the opportunity to perform together at the famous, "Silver Moon Club", Newport, Arkansas! Through the years, he has toured with several big-name/music acts, including recording artist, Jeannie C. Riley, of "Harper Valley PTA" record fame! Roger Frey, formerly of Paragould, Arkansas was also a very talented musician and accomplished drummer! I always appreciated the chance to work with Roger at "Club Gigs", and in the recording studio! Through the years, he had performed with some mid­ west-area bands. While living in Pensacola, Florida since 1980. He passed away march-2011. Gene Reid my former hometown/high school/musician friend from Leachville, Arkansas has continued as an occasional performing guitarist, while residing in the Little Rock, Arkansas-area where he has been a practicing psychiatrist for many years! Spencer Johnson, also my former hometown/high school/musician friend currently resides in the Conway, Arkansas-area and is still a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Skavengers (MAYN)

In a continuing attempt to remember and honor some of the lesser known groups from the 1960's, today I would like to feature The Skavengers. Rhythm Guitarist Randy Souviney was very gracious to shared a brief history of the group which I present for you on the Artyfacts In Wax blog. Thank You Randy.

Allan Pelletier     Nick Forest          Randy Souviney      Peter Trott
 
The Skavengers
                                                      (Maine & New Hampshire Band)

 The original Skavengers were formed in the early 1960s by Erlon Bailey, a fine guitarist and songwriter from central Maine, Chet Hinkley (bass guitar and vocals), Allan Pelletier (drums and vocals), and his brother Claude Pelletier (rhythm guitar and vocals). Randy Souviney joined the band in 1964 when Erlon left to join another group named The Things, and Chet and Claude soon followed. Nick Forest and Peter Trott were recruited as new members and the band continued performing as The Skavengers for more than a decade. When the group recorded its single, And She Lied / Lend Me Your Love at Ace Studios in Boston in 1965, the line up was of Nick Forest (lead guitar), Allan Pelletier (bass and vocals), Peter Trott (drums) and Randy Souviney (rhythm guitar and vocals).
  The band played hundreds of concerts throughout Maine, including the popular summer venue, the Merry Barn in Boothbay, the PAL Sock Hop in Lewiston, the Rosedale Barn in Bath, and the Capitol Theater in Augusta. The group stayed together in various configurations in Maine and New Hampshire well into the 1970s. Music has remained an important part of the lives of the four band members. They continued to write and record songs and perform in local groups as they pursued independent careers in public service, programming, retail and academics.
 
Recently, The Skavengers reunited in Dresden, Maine to record a new CD, Eastern River Blues, which was released in 2016 (available on iTunes, CD-Baby and most online services, including
                                                The Skavengers on Soundcloud

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Liberty Street (Freedom)

I would like to go back in time to 1973 and highlight a 45 by a group called Liberty Street. The record has two original songs "Free People" and "Ride The Train". I decided to post "Ride The Train" to showcase how talented the band was. The label shows that the 45 was recorded and pressed at the Mus-I-Col recording studio which was located in Columbus, Ohio. I'm assuming the group was from the Midwest area but so far I have not found any information about the band to know for sure. Maybe you might be able to help with this and provide more details about the group.
                                                                              Liberty Steet - Ride This Train

On the other side

Hi Everyone. To start the new year off I would like to feature the B side of a couple 45's that I think you will find enjoyable.  Both are instrumental and both were released in 1969.  The first of these is a record by Glenn Scott with Lee Kyles Indy Three. The label shows that "The Pill" was recorded live at the Idle Hour Club in Indianapolis , Indiana.
                                                            Glenn Scott with Lee Kyles Indy Three - The Pill

The second 45 is by a group called The Depoe Drifters. The record was pressed by Southern Plastic (SO) in Nashville, TN. The group's "Soul On Fire" has a garage / psych sound.
                                                                             The Depoe Drifters - Soul On Fire