Thursday, June 26, 2014


When I was a teenager, Mr. Rudolph, the Physical Education teacher, overheard my quoting to another girl something that Jack Paar had said the previous night. He said, "You shouldn't be staying up that late." I asked, "Why not?" He telephoned my mother at home and told her that he thought it wasn't a good idea for me to be staying up late watching television. Of course, she told him it wasn't any of his business and asked why would he think that kids needed ten hours of sleep.

All that my mother cared about was whether we had our homework done; we could stay up as late as we wanted. Fortunately, our mother didn't care what music we listened to either.

My brother Norman and I listened to 1510--WLAC, a 50,000 watt radio station from Nashville, Tennessee. Norman had strung a wire up our television antenna to be able to get reception. After all, this was when television stations quit broadcasting after the Tonight Show.

Listening to WLAC in the late 1950s was how Norman formed his lifelong appreciation of Ray Charles. There we were, listening to Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley while other kids were listening to Pat Boone. Whatever it was which struck a chord (can't resist a pun, can I?) with us two kids from rural Ohio, it kept us enjoying that music and fueled our rebellious spirits. Letting others know that we listened to this music was something we shared only with closest friends.

Of course, I also loved Elvis, but we all know he was only white because of his birth, as he brought black music to popularity while Pat Boone did pedestrian "covers" of the songs of Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Ivory Joe Hunter. The "50,000 Watt Quartet" of disc jockeys at WLAC were: Gene Nobles, John Richbourg, Bill "Hossman" Allen, and Herman Grizzard (see picture). They were the "Pied Pipers of Rhythm and Blues". Imagine my shock when I just learned today that John R was WHITE!

Listen below to an interview with John R.

We would hear the advertisements for Randy's Record Mart, in Gallatin, Tennessee, which was, according to the advertisement, "The World's Largest Mail Order Phonograph Record Shop". I was disappointed to learn that the owner of Randy's Record Mart, Randy Wood, was the founder of DOT Records, which was the label of Pat Boone and others who did "covers" of songs by black performers and songwriters. It pissed us off that "they" were singing "our" songs which we had already heard performed by the "true artists". I don't know if DOT was among the unscrupulous record companies which cheated black songwriters of their royalties, which was a prevalent problem.

I was saddened to learn that WLAC now has a talk-radio format.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Being more sheltered than you guys, I didn't come to R & B until much later! ML