Tag Archives: country singer

COOL PEOPLE – JOHNNY CASH A TRUE OUTLAW

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Johnny Cash was one of country music’s first “outlaws,” but the music industry was still surprised in 1957 when he played a concert at Huntsville State Prison in Texas. Over the next decade, Cash performed over 30 prison shows and recorded albums during at least three of them. (The shows at California’s Folsom Prison and San Quentin became the most famous). Here are ten little-known facts about the Man in Black’s prison concerts.

1. Columbia Records repeatedly rejected Cash’s requests to record a prison concert.
Cash started playing at prisons in response to fan mail from inmates who identified with his songs (especially “Folsom Prison Blues”). Soon he discovered that “prisoners are the greatest audience that an entertainer can perform for. We bring them a ray of sunshine into their dungeon, and they’re not ashamed to respond and show their appreciation.” He suspected that their excitement and gratitude combined with the thrill of performing in a dangerous venue would create the perfect setting for an album. His record company disagreed -they thought the concerts would kill Cash’s career and hurt the label’s image. But when Columbia brought on producer Bob Johnston -known for being a bit wild himself and for bucking authority (as well as producing for Bob Dylan)- that stance changed. Johnston readily approved the country star’s idea.

Columbia remained tight-lipped about the performance and the release of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison in 1968, still believing the album would never sell. But it did… an incredible 500,000 copies in one year. Sales were boosted by Cash’s tough guy image (he wore solid black clothing, used profane language, had a gravelly voice, and fought an on-again-off-again addiction to drugs). To help the cause along, Columbia released exaggerated ads claiming Cash was no stranger to prison. Which brings us to…

2. Cash never served time at Folsom, or any other prison.
He did seven short stints in jail, though, for drug- and alcohol-related charges. his song “Folsom Prison Blues” was instead inspired by the 1951 movie Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison. According to biographer Michael Streissguth, another influence was Gordon Jenkins’s song “Crescent City Blues,” from which Cash “borrowed” so heavily that when his version was recorded on the Folsomalbum, the original artists demanded -and received- royalties.

3. Cash inspired future country music star Merle Haggard.
Haggard was serving three years at San Quentin Prison for armed robbery and escaping from jail when Johnny Cash took the stage there in 1958. When Haggard later told Cash that he’d been at that concert, Cash said he didn’t remember Haggard performing that day; Haggard replied, “I was in the audience, Johnny.” In fact, he was sitting in the front row and was mesmerized by Cash. He and his fellow inmates identified with Cash’s lyrics about loss and imprisonment.

Haggard reminisced, “This was somebody singing a song about your personal life. Even the people who weren’t fans of Johnny cash -it was a mixture of people, all races were fans by the end of the show.” Haggard also soon realized that he shared Cash’s talent for making music and for speaking to the struggles of the working class. He joined the prison’s country band shortly after Cash’s concert and penned songs about being locked up. After his release in 1960, Haggard sang at clubs until he eventually became a country superstar himself.

4. The Live “Folsom Prison Blues” was too grisly for radio play.

Cash’s declaration “I shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die,” followed by an inmate’s shriek of joy, was edited by radio stations. But the hollering wasn’t real. It had been dubbed in by Columbia Records since the prisoners had been too enthralled by Cash’s performance to whoop it up during songs.

5. Cash’s band smuggled a gun into Folsom.
Johnny Cash and his bassist, Marshall Grant, often performed a comedy skit with an antique cap-and-ball gun that make smoke. It was a prop -but it was a real gun. Grant accidentally brought the weapon inside his bass guitar case to the 1968 show. A prison guard spotted it and politely took it away to the warden for safekeeping until the concert ended.

6. Folsom Prison inmate Glen Sherley wrote the song “Greystone Chapel” and credited Cash with changing his life.
Glen Sherley was in Folsom Prison for armed robbery, but he also loved music. Before Cash arrived for the 1968 show, Sherley recorded the song “Greystone Chapel” at the prison chapel. Appropriately, it was about a man whose body was imprisoned but his soul is freed by religion. Cash’s pastor, who also counseled inmates, smuggled the tape out to Cash, who learned to play the song the night before the show. After seeing Cash perform his song, Sherley vowed to make a mark with the musician. Once he was released from Folsom, he went to work for Johnny Cash’s publishing company, House of Cash. Sherley later remarked, “I was a three-time loser when John reached out his hand to me in 1968, and since then I sincerely believe that I have become a worthwhile person and can contribute to society.”

7. Cash’s concert at Folsom landed him his own musical variety show: The Johnny Cash Show.

FOLSOM PRISON BLUES


Cash noted, “I’ve always thought it ironic that it was a prison concert, with me and the convicts getting along just as fellow rebels, outsiders, and miscreants should, that pumped up my marketability to the point where ABC thought I was respectable enough to have a weekly network TV show.”

8. When Johnny Cash recorded At San Quentin in 1969, he didn’t know the lyrics to one of his most famous songs.
I was the first time cash had performed “A Boy Named Sue,” written by poet Shel Silverstein, so he had to read the lyrics from a sheet he’d stained with coffee. And before playing “Starkville City Jail,” cash explained that he was thrown in the slammer for picking daisies and dandelions at two in the morning. (By other accounts, he was breaking curfew, drunk in public, and trespassing.)

9. Cash brushed up on his Swedish for a show overseas.
In 1972 Cash went to Stockholm, Sweden, where he recorded the album Pa Osteraker at a Swedish prison. Between songs, he impressed and thrilled the inmates by introducing some of his songs in their language.

10. At the 1969 show, Cash’s song “San Quentin” nearly incited a riot there.
He’d just written the song the night before, and its inflammatory lyrics like, “San Quentin, may you rot and burn in hell,” clearly struck a chord with the audience. The prisoners clamored and stomped until he repeated the song. Shrieking and jumping up on tabletops, they were so close to rioting that the guards drew and cocked their guns and the camera crew backed untoward the exit doors. According to producer Bob Johnston, Cash later said of the hair-raising moment, “I knew that if I wanted to let those people go, all I had to do was say, ‘the time is now’ And all of those prisoners would have broken…I was tempted.” (But of course, he didn’t.)

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HIWAY AMERICA -AND COOL PEOPLE, THE LIFE OF RODGER MILLER AND THE RODGER MILLER MUSEUM, ROUTE 66 ERICK OKLAHOMA

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RODGER MILLER AND HIS BIG HIT -KING OF THE ROAD

http://youtu.be/OmOe27SJ3Yc

RODGER MILLER AND JOHNNY CASH  1971

http://youtu.be/74uv5FmWu0w

RODGER MILLER SINGS BOBBY MAGEE

The Life of Roger Miller (1936-1992) Laudene and Jean Miller (L to R) Wendell, Duane, Roger Elmer, Armelia, & Roger Miller Songwriter, singer, guitarist, fiddler, drummer, TV star, humorist, honky-tonk man, Broadway composer, and perhaps above all else, an awesome wit- Roger Miller was all of these and more. Roger Dean Miller was born January 2, 1936, in Fort Worth, Texas, the youngest of three boys. His father, Jean Miller, died at the age of 26 from spinal meningitis. Roger was only a year old. It was during the depression and Roger’s mother, Laudene Holt Miller, was in her early 20’s. She was just not able to provide for the boys. So each of Jean’s three brothers came and took one of the boys to live with them. Roger moved in with Armelia and Elmer Miller on a farm outside Erick, Oklahoma. Roger later joked, “It was so dull you could watch the colors run,” and, “the town was so small the town drunk had to take turns.” Roger had a difficult childhood. Most days were spent in the cotton fields picking cotton or working the land. He never really accepted the separation of his family. He was lonely and unhappy, but his mind took him to places he could only dream about. Walking three miles to his one-room school each day, he started composing songs, the first of which allegedly went a little something like this: “There’s a picture on the wall, It’s the dearest of them all, Mother” Roger, of course, painted a somewhat more humorous and inventive picture of his school days. “The school I went to had 37 students,” he once said, “me and 36 Indians. One time we had a school dance and it rained for 36 days straight. During recess we used to play cowboy and Indians and things got pretty wild from my standpoint. Nevertheless, Roger, who also liked to tell people that he “even flunked school bus,” did let his humorous guard down now and then to comment on the insecure loner he truly seems to have been as a child. “We were dirt poor,” he once explained. “What I’d do is sit around and get warm by crawling inside myself and make up stuff… I was one of those kids that never had much to say and when I did it was wrong. I always wanted attention, always was reaching and grabbing for attention.” Roger in grade school – bottom row, 3rd from left Roger was a dreamer and his heart was never in pickin’ cotton. He said, “We used to raise cotton ankle high.” Most days his daddy would catch him daydreaming. “It’s really a good thing that he made it in the music business ’cause he would have starved to death as a farmer,” says entertainer Sheb Wooley (1921-2003), an Erick native who married Roger’s cousin, Melva Laure Miller. Sheb Wooley & Melva Laure Miller Fifteen years older than Roger, Wooley’s career would lead him to Hollywood and the movies. One of Wooley’s biggest hits was “The Purple People Eater.” In those days, Wooley and little Roger would ride out “fixin fence, chasing steers and talking about stardom,” Wooley recalls. The two would listen to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights and the Light Crust Doughboys on Fort Worth radio by day. Miller came to idolize Bob Wills and Hank Williams, but it was Wooley who taught Roger his first chords on guitar, bought him his first fiddle, and who represented the very real world of show business that Roger wanted so much for himself. Eager to follow in Wooley’s long tall footsteps while he was still in high school, Roger started running away, knocking around from town to town through Texas and Oklahoma. He took whatever work he could find by day and haunted the honky-tonks by night. His drifting came to an abrupt halt when he stole a guitar in Texas and crossed the state line back into Oklahoma. He had so desperately wanted a guitar to write songs on and this seemed the only way to get one, since pulling bowles would never earn him the kind of money he needed for a guitar. Roger in the Army – c. 1952 Roger in the Army – c. 1954 Roger turned himself in the next day and rather than put him in jail they offered to let him join the Army. Although he was only 17, he chose to go into the service. He was eager to be going someplace else and before long he was shipped to Korea, where he drove a jeep and earned one of his favorite one-liners, “My education was Korea, Clash of 52.” Roger was terribly homesick, but his world was growing larger. Towards the end of his tour with the Army, he was sent to Fort McPherson in Atlanta. Assigned to Special Services, he played fiddle in the Circle A Wranglers, a well known service outfit previously started by PFC Faron Young. After Roger’s discharge from the Army, he headed directly for Nashville to see Chet Atkins. He told Chet he was a songwriter and Chet asked him to play something. Seeing that Roger didn’t have a guitar, Chet offered his to him. Roger just couldn’t believe he was sitting in front of Chet Atkins and playing his guitar. He said, “I was so nervous, people thought I was wavin’.” Roger proceeded to sing in one key and play in another. Chet was kind about it but suggested he work on his songs a little more and come back. Roger used to say, “I was everywhere at once.” He had an energy that was new to Nashville. Needing to work while he pursued his dream, Roger took a job as a bellhop at the Andrew Jackson Hotel. “It had more dignity than washing dishes,” he later said. Situated right in the thick of Nashville’s downtown music district, the Andrew Jackson gave him proximity to the small but vibrant Country scene. Roger soon became known as the “Singing Bellhop.” He would sing a song to anyone who would listen on the way up or down the elevator.   continued on page 2:

RODGER MILLER AND JOHNNY CASH GOOFING OFF AND KING OF THE ROAD http://youtu.be/PVdi-JO0Q5I

HITCHHIKER -RODGER MILLER http://youtu.be/1mxZE0Ef5Tw

INVITATION citation TO THE BLUES LIVE 1989  RODGER MILLER http://youtu.be/SKuxJz5oiiE

Roger Miller Museum 101 E Roger Miller Blvd Erick, OK 73645 Phone: 580-526-3889 580-515-1540 Fax: 580-526-3331 E-mailWeb Site View all Photos Description Located in Erick at the corner of Sheb Wooley Ave and Roger Miller Blvd, a renamed section of Route 66, the Roger Miller Museum gives travelers and visitors a one-of-a-kind glimpse into the life and times of Roger Miller, one of Oklahoma’s and Erick’s favorite sons. The newly renovated museum features exhibits, memorabilia and personal effects celebrating the life and accomplishments of this unique songwriter and entertainer. Among the items on display are music, photographs, videos, instruments, clothing, Roger’s high school FFA jacket and essay, handwritten lyrics, Roger’s army shirt from Korea and even the motorcycle he was riding when he met Elvis. In addition, visitors can watch DVD footage on the big screen TV in the audio/video room of past performances by Miller, plus many tributes made by his colleagues. Come and share the wit and wisdom of Roger Miller. He was a true original, whose dreams and talent led him to be considered one of the most influential country artists of the 20th Century. The museum also includes a gift shop with music CDs performed by Miller, King of the Road caps, t-shirts and more, along with other unique items relating to western Oklahoma.

Willie Nelson Remains the Culture’s Favorite Counterculture Hero

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WILLIE NELSON SINGS WHISKEY RIVER

http://youtu.be/HiVunqkZ1RM

By Lauren Wise Tue., Dec. 17 2013 at 10:12 AM

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Categories: This Week

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David McClister
Willie Nelson is your favorite outlaw grandpa.
Country music legend, activist, author, poet, actor–Willie Nelson fits into any one of these categories. He helped shape outlaw country towards the end of the 1960s, by bringing country artists who felt restricted by the Nashville sound together with “hippie” rock musicians, and his classic, low-key voice, timeless melodies, and ironic delivery branched him out even further to wide pop audiences.

Over the past five decades, he has respectfully bridged several artistic mediums, made even more impressive by the fact that he has also become the epitome of the “outlaw grandfather”–two characteristics that don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. The major success of ’70s records like Shotgun Willie, Red Headed Stranger, and Stardust made Nelson one of the most well-known country artists around. In the ’80s his musical reputation broadened with singles like “Always on my Mind” and “On the Road Again”–songs that roll off the tongue even for those who think they don’t know the words.

On the other hand, he’s the perfect picture of the proverbial pothead.

Nelson adamantly supports the legalization of marijuana, and has periodically found himself in trouble with the tax collector; he released The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? as a double album with all profits earmarked for the federal government.

Put those two sides of his life together, and you can see how Willie Nelson has become a counterculture folk hero who’s somehow a culture hero, too. Nelson is even more than just a musician that has bridge many mediums and released more than 100 albums and collaborations. He’s pretty much the epitome of a musician’s American Dream.

Born during the Great Depression and raised by his grandparents, Nelson was just seven years old when he wrote his first song. At age 10 he joined his first bands, playing guitar in German and Czech polka acts. Then he joined the air force, attended Baylor University, sold Bibles door-to-door, and taught Sunday school in Fort Worth. He also played honky-tonk clubs on the weekends, and when parishioners told him he needed to choose between church and music, well, we all know how that ended up.

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