Hi, Fans, me and Mine. Thanks for your indulgence.
Marty Whiddon Started singing and writing songs before he was ten years old. Even
before he got his first guitar, which was about the age of 12, for a Christmas present. "Mama and Daddy didn't have the money, but one or two of my older sisters chipped in to make my dream come true."
I learned my first three chords from an Uncle, Dewey Buckner, my Mama's only Brother, and a few more later from a Blind Man, Luther Dixon. In later years, I wrote a song about Luther, and how he overcame his handicap and with his wife became successf
operating his own Newsstand Business in Selma, AL. Many years after those first guitar lessons, --and they were free -- I had the privilege of visiting with him there.
Marty soon began to play for family and friends at social gatherings and Old Time Peanut Shellings.
At about the age of fifteen he and his twin Brother John joined a Saturday afternoon radio
Jamboree in Dothan, Alabama at Radio Station WOOF. "Long John" as his twin became known to be, because he was about a foot taller than Marty who was born twenty minutes later than he, soon became more interested in Baseball and had a remarkable high sc
ol record of shutouts Pitched and the number of strikeouts per game.
After high school he signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians, and went on to play professional and semi-professional baseball for a number of years. (Pardon me, I'm getting ahead of myself two or three years.)
The first Grand Ole Opry Star Marty and his brother had an opportunity to play on the same bill with, was Wally Fowler and his Oak Ridge Quartet when they came to Troy, AL. The opportunity was not fulfilled however because the local booker and Jamboree
anager was late picking up the Musicians, most of whom were teenagers at that time, and they were late getting to the show, There was such a little crowd in the auditorium which was only a big room over the City Hall, that Wally Fowler cut short his per
rmance and only the harmonica player that went with the local group got to play one number. A big disappointment to a bunch of young "wanted-to-be" singers and musicians.
Later, when Marty was old enough to get a driver's license, he and a younger cousin, Harold Harrison, started an early morning radio show on the same radio station, WOOF, getting up to drive ten miles and be on the air for fifteen minutes at 4:30 in the
orning. Then they had to get back home and catch the bus to school.
One incident of note when Marty was on that early morning show: They got a postcard
from somewhere in California saying they had heard the show. We could hardly believe
that a 5,000 Watt Station could skip across the top edge of the Gulf of Mexico all the way
into California. That is until we read where they told us some of the songs we had sung that particular morning.
They were pretty sure we wouldn't have believed them otherwise. At 650 on the dial
though, 5,000 watts can go a pretty long ways if the weather's right. Guess it was that
Marty, some ten or fifteen years later got Harold a recording session with a Summit Records label in Mobile, Al. doing a couple of Marty's songs. The record label at that time was owned by a friend and fellow Fiddle Player whom Marty met in Montgomery
ile playing on the Bar 20 Barn Dance. His name was Freddy Beach, and he and Braxton Schufert both had played with Hank Williams when he was still working out of Montgomery. They were both on the WCOV Barn Dance, Also.
Freddy, who worked with The Good Will folks went to Mobile to Manage a Facility for them down there, and he later set up his own Recording Label and Publishing Co., Azalea Trail, which also published some of Marty's songs.
Other Publishers of my songs include: Granny Music, Trio, Beechwood, Tangi, API, Amqi, Al Cartee Music, later sold to Buddy Killen, Central Songs and Hit Kit, publishing arm of Sound Wave Records, which was run and managed by Joe Gibson and sons, at N
ionwide Sound Distr. in Nashville. And the Co. publishing the most of my songs , in later years, is Woodrich Recordings, a Company initiated back in the beginning of the Muscle Shoals Sound era by legendary Producer, Writer and Singer, Woody Richardson.
Marty later did a stint at Radio WOOF as Copywriter (ads) before he moved to Montgomery, AL. in 1951, after getting a job with Western Electric, the Installation Unit of the Bell Telephone System. But music and radio was in his blood, and he soon found
n early morning radio show with a singer by the name of John Williams at Station WMGY which was located right around the corner from where he worked, so he could do the show at 7 AM and rush around the corner to be at
work by 7:30.
Uncle Bob Helton, a legend in his day, and Doug Benton were the prime DJ's of Country Music in Montgomery at that time. Marty played one or two shows with them, and on one Radio Show with Uncle Bob, he met and played steel while a young Lamar Morris, -14 years old at the time,played electric quitar. Lamar was an excellent guitar picker even at that age and later went on to play with Hank Williams, Jr. a good many years.
While in Montgomery Marty played on several radio stations with various bands, most of the time playing steel guitar with various local bands like "Dot Conway and Sadie", The Barker Brothers, and The Bill Eubanks Band, and Big Carl Reeves. Carl helped a young teenage fiddle player, who was just learning, get started in his Band, named Ra
Andrews who went on to become a well known Pedal Steel Guitar Player in Country Music. In the meantime while Marty was playing Steel and rhythm guitar , he was continuing his writing and singing whenever and wherever he got the chance.
Later, when working with the Barker Brothers on WJJJ, if memory is right, he was able to follow them to WCOV Radio which was in the process of opening Montgomery's first TV Station. The Country Music DJ on WCOV Radio, Walt Spiro, lured us over to his staion with the idea of starting a TV Country music Show soon as the Company went on the Air in 1953 with the that First TV Station in Montgomery.
I went with the Barker Brothers to WCOV, along with a friend of mine whom I talked the boys into letting come on and sing solos since most of the Brothers' songs
were done as duets. They were reluctant, but finally agreed, and that's how me and my friend Jack Turner got to be on that First TV show, "The Bar 20 Barn Dance" the first
day, the first Saturday they were on the air.
After about six months, Jack and I left the show and went to the first 50,000 watt radio station in Montgomery to do a Saturday matinee Jamboree type of show with local artists
and country music groups. Renowned DJ's like Paul Simpkins, Fred Wambles,and Joe Rumore who was legendary in Birmingham, AL radio, also, broadcast and worked on "The Big Bam" Radio, WBAM.
(Rebe Gosdin, and Rabe Perkins were also Bluegrass and Bluegrass Gospel favorites on that station.) known as Rebe and Rabe.
I played Steel Guitar with a number of groups and artist on that original show for awhile.
Jack Turner hired a 'better' and more prominent steel player, Jimmy Porter who had previously toured some with Opry Star, Curly Fox, after we were on WBAM a few months.
But before that I went with Jack when we went to Nashville for him to audition for Steve Shoals of RCA. We were both to audition but as fate had it, I never got the chance. Jack had been referred to Mr. Shoals by Hank Williams' Mother, Mrs. Lillian Stone, after Hank died, and through her and Hank's wife Miss Audrey, the interview and audition was set up.
Mrs. Stone had 'taken a liking to Jack', especially after he painted a full size Portrait of Hank and gave it to her. She invited all the group from our TV show over to her house once or twice for dinner. My wife, Robbie, and I got acquainted with her and Hank's cousin, Marie Harvell, and had several visits in the home of Mrs. Stone. It was there that we first saw Hank's little daughter, just a toddler, now known as Jett Williams. This of course was after Hank had died. I never got to meet Hank in Person, though I did visit in his Nashville home with Miss Audrey a couple of times when Hank Jr. was about six years old and Audrey's daughter, Lycretia was a beautiful ten year old, --again if memory serves me well.
But, back to the Audition: When we got to the old Bradley Barn Studio down town, Johnny and Jack were just winding up a pretty long recording session, and Mr. Shoals, they said, was just too tired to listen to anyone audition. But, with Marie's persuasion... (Hank's cousin, who went with us as an intermediary,) he finally did let Jack Turner sing one or two songs, and that was it. Jack had intended to ask him to listen to me sing a song or two, but I think he was a little hesitant to push his luck, so as far as I know he never got around to it. In fact, he was a little disappointed in the way things had gone, and told me that he didn't think he would ever hear from RCA again. But he was wrong.
One thing I remember about that session: Johnny and Jack's last song was the old Spiritual Gospel song, "God Put A Rainbow In The Cloud." And, Shot Jackson, the maker and builder of The Shobud Steel Guitar, was their Dobro Player. He was also helping to sing the Bass Part. He was supposed to put a tag on the last line with a low-low, bass note. For some reason he just couldn't pull it off just right. after about a half-dozen or so takes, Mr. Shoals said, "well let's just let it go and we'll come back
and over do it" (or add it on) later. To this day I don't know if Shot did it or someone else came in and added it to that last line.
Somewhat to his surprise, Jack Turner subsequently got a contract with RCA for a couple of releases and a song writing contract with Acuff-Rose. But with limited success he was dropped from RCA and Fred Rose helped him get a release with MGM, and following that, a release on Hickory. He never caught on Nationally, but it did help him get local bookings as he continued his Artist Career with Civil Service at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. He was an excellent Graphic Artist and Painter. He later returned for a stint on television with the newest TV Station in Town, WSFA. Both WSFA and WCOV are still operating, though the latter station had a pretty big fire in later years and had to be rebuilt, at least part of it.
I did some guests appearances on WSFA with Wiley Walker of Gene Sullivan and Wally Walker fame, ("When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again") after he returned to Alabama, semi- retired. In fact we were to do a show together in a little town south of Montgomery, I think it was Ramer, or little place called Ada, maybe someone reading this can refresh my memory... the night of the day President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. We knew there wouldn't be anyone to show up, just a handful, but true to the adage "the show must go on' we were booked and we showed up, did a short interlude, returned the money to the few fans, and went home.
When I left Montgomery in 1970 to transfer to Orlando, FL, I slowed up on my weekend playing and started concentrating more on my writing, singing more in churches than clubs. After a double by-pass heart artery surgery in 1973, I was eventually retired from W E. Co. after 23 plus working years and a year's sick leave and returned to my old homestead near Headland, AL where I graduated from High School.. I moved back to the old home site where I grew up after the house I was born in burned down when I, and my twin Brother John were only about five or six years old. We had four sisters older than we were still at homeat that time.
But I soon got back into playing music as a singer and fiddle player on the Taylor Made Opry, a WTVY radio station show broadcast from the old Houston Theater in downtown
Dothan. There I got to mix, mingle and play fiddle some with such Grand Ole Opry stars as Dell Wood,
Duke of Paducah, Ernie Ashworth, the late Nat Stuckey, and David Frizzel.
After that show folded a couple of years later I went to the J & J Opry which was a community type Opry house in Ashford, Alabama which was run by Mr. Jack Cochran,
now deceased, but he became a good friend of mine and helped make it possible. along with another good Pharmacist Friend in Midland City, Al. named Jack Sewell, for me to
get one of my record albums produced. We stayed with the
J & J about ten years.
During all the above mentioned years I was writing and recording some of my material and
getting a few songs by some local artists recorded in Nashville and some local studios.
That's where I got to record with some of the best in country music. Such legendary studio musicians
as Bunky Keels, who played with Jim Reeves up until the time Jim died in a plane crash. Bunky just
missed being on that plane because of a prior committment down in the state of Georgia, he later told me.
Also, Fred Carter, Hargus Robbins, Lloyd Green, Dave Kirby, D. J. Fontana, Scotty
Moore, Vic Jordan and Al Gore, who both played some and engineered on a dozen or so
of my first recordings in Nashville, both at The Old Starday Studio, and at Music City
Recorders, and others, including Porter Wagoner' Studio. Al is the same big ol' loveable guy that was a co-writter on "Diggin' Up Bones" with Paul Overstreet. He played a demo cut of the song for me on one of my visits to Nashville, just before it was
eleased. He told me that he was really excited that it was going to be released by a young singer named Randy Travis, whom I hadn't heard of at that time. I agreed with him though that it was gonna be a hit, and it was. I sure was proud for him, beca
e he had been working in those dimly lit studios for 12 to 16 hours a day and night for about 20 years and he deserved a break. Al and his wife Jean are still my friends and I always try to see them and visit in their home in Hendersonville where he ha
those big Gold and Platinum Records hanging on the wall.
Other Nashville musicians that I used several times were Jim Baker and his wife, Sudie
Calloway. And Sudie and her sisters did some great backup vocal work on one of my
Christmas Albums, titled: "Everyday Can Be Christmas." I also had Billy Linneman on Bass on a number of songs.
Also, Jeff Newman of Steel guitar fame played on a half-dozen songs for me.
One of the best Piano Players, I ever had record with me (and he didn't live in Nashville) was a Blind Piano Tuner who, with his wife Billie, (and she was almost blind, too)proved what determination, persistence and hard work can do -- they ultimately a
one time owned three Piano Restoration and Rebuilding and Selling stores in Atlanta, Smyrna, and Marietta, Ga. Charlie Parris could play country or Bluegrass in a Honky Tonk Style so invigorating that it made me want to write a song about him. In Fact
did, and one of these days I hope to record it, and dedicate it to the School for The Blind in Talladega, AL. where he and Luther Dixon, both learned to play music.
Mr. Jim Stanton, who was instrumental in bringing Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper to the Grand Ole Opry, as he related it, also befriended me when I did my second Christmas Album in his old Broadway Studio. Also, Roy Baham of "Charlie's Shoes" fame, who pr
uced that Album along with me, and was publisher on many of the songs...he and his wife, Mrs.Helen, befriended me, and put me up over night while we were there. Al and Jean Gore also took me in as their guest at least once or twice. That's the kind of
olks that have helped me in my efforts, and are the kind of folks any poor ole country boy from Alabama or else where needs when struggling to survive in the music business.
Some Montgomery musicians I was about to forget that also played on WBAM radio and toured with Shorty
Sullivan (borther to Lonzo and Oscar) who was making a name for himself, were Calvin Bodiford, Roy Gibson and a couple that I can only remember their 'nick names'. "Sugar Moon" and "Cue Ball". I think the latter, though, played more with the late "Ha
As Much" Curly Williams who had moved into Montgomery in the Fifties, and opened up a Club with his Georgia Peach Pickers. He later took over as the "Bar 20 Barn Dance Band" on WCOV-TV.
I would be remiss if I didn't also acknowledge with Grateful Thanks the Hospitality with which my Producer and Publisher with Woodrich Recordings bestowed upon me when I visited a weekend with them several years back as we worked on getting some recordi
s cut and released, and distributed. Mr. Woody Richardson is a super nice Friend, and I expect to record with him again.
And one more Record Producer, Publisher and Friend who helped me and Put Out my First Christmas Album, was Mr. Carl Queen and his wife in Smyrna, Ga. He has API Records, and a whole bunch of Bluegrass Artists are still available on API to this day as f
as I know.
And, lastly, Mr. Julian Tharpe, one of the best Steel Guitar Players that ever sat down at a Steel, tried to help me get my songs published and recorded the last year or so he was in Nashville, not too many years before he died. He even called up Bill
rlisle while I was in his office and told him about my 'Goof' Song, to be on another album, and tried to get him interested in recording again, but I understand Bill said he didn't think he would record anymore. He was getting on up in years by then, b
still on The Opry as ever. (Note: Seems like I was always a little late, eh, "Lefty", but that's another story for another time.
Julian was born and grew up in Ozark, Alabama, and when he returned to Alabama in the 80's before his last run in Nashville, he and I worked together with a Video Production Co. which was seeking a cable channel, that never materialized, but we did reco
a Title song for a little comedy show script that I was working on with another writer or two. Ozark was about twenty miles from where I grew up, and a young Julian Tharpe cut his teeth with a local band called Bobby Jones and The Pine Valley Gang. Tha
group was one of the top country bands in our Wiregrass Alabama area, along with the King of Saturday Night Dance Hall Bands, Herman Callaway and The Pea Pickers who held sway for a good number of years back in the late 40's and 50's, every Saturday nig
on the east side of Dothan in Melvin White's Pea Picker Hall. Melvin was another blind musician, and had a younger brother, Mack White who went on to write some songs and had a space in Acuff-Rose's Publishing facilities. He had several good records
modest success before a tragic illness took his life. He recorded one of the most beautiful renditions of "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" I ever heard, and if Willie Nelson hadn't come out just after it's release with his simplistic vocal and Nelson G
tar version, I think Mac would have at least had a Top Ten, if not number one record. He was really excited about it as he told our good Fiddle Friend, Bill "Billdad" McGlaun who fiddled not only with Mac, his brother Melvin White, Herman Callaway, and
bby Jones (fiddlin and doing comedy) that he finally got to record with an orchestra that had sixteen (16) violins in it.
McGlaun had the opportunity to Fiddle one booking with Bill Monroe in his younger Opry days down in the Florida Panhandle in the Vernon-Caryville, area when Monroe's regular fiddle player, Vassar Clements, I believe it was, was late showing up for a per
Herman Callaway finally gave up the dance hall music, trading it for Gospel and Religious Music after he became converted and was ordained as a Minister in The Free Will Baptist Church. He was Pastor and Minister for a great many years, and I had th
privilege of visiting him and playing in his Church and Home a number of times before he died. I was so impressed with his conversion to The Gospel of Jesus Christ and his ministry that I later wrote a song about him and how he went from a 'Square Dan
Caller' to a Preacher, a "Caller of Men" to the Gospel of Christ.
Some of the latest Radio work I did was as an assistant to a Southeast Alabama DJ legend and Country Music Promoter, Charlie Gilmore on his WTVY Saturday night show. Six PM to midnight every Saturday night for several months until throat problems mad
it necessary for me to give it up.
Charlie is more than just a local DJ, he is known in many Country Music Circles and in Southern Gospel Quartet singing as one of the premier Bass Singers around the country, and in Nashville, where he worked the Tour Circuit with his three sons, "The Ra
ers" for several years. I believe he also sang some Bass on one of Monroe's Bluegrass recordings.
I'm still writing, and I plan on doing some more recording soon as the Lord lets me get this 'throat and coughing'
problem cleared up.
I think I'm like the painter (artist) who paints a little bit of every thing, not stuck in just one mold, but I'm
Southern Born and Southern Bred, so it mostly has to be country, real country or have a pretty good country flavor.
But in this genre can be a little humor - need it to survive -- Love songs and ballads - what
would the world do without Love? We need more of it, but I'm not so much on silly, mushy love stuff. -- too
Southern and practical for that I guess.
But I have to write something 'funny, comical, and novelty flavored for a Change of Pace,
and I can be serious on social issues, themes like "Stop And Think About It", and "Will Santa Claus Be There"
which I cowrote with a dear friend, Dewey Douglas, who passed away before I could get it recorded, but I
promised him I would, and so I did. It's on this CD. Dewey was an Old Time Fiddle Player and he, and I and
another good friend, Bass Player and Singer, Henry Head, played a lot of Nursing Homes, and some local auctions before they both passed away in 1999 with cancer, only about six months apart. That was a big blow to me, and slowed me down quite a bit. I
s hard to replace old musicians, especially when they're such good Friends. In fact, you can never replace them!
That's one reason I also felt I needed to put at least one Gospel--Southern Gospel Type Song on this CD, so I included one that I co-wrote with a good friend from Texas, Gladys Mitchell, owner and Publisher of Glad Way Music. It's titled "God Has Buil
A Bridge." I think it turned out really well and William Ray from Nashville did a great job on the vocals. Steve Cooper from Nashville also worked on that session. Gladys' brother Wayne Carter and I also cowrote a song on this CD, The Best of Maarty
iddon, titled "Little Willie's Cold." If it don't tickle your funny bone then you ain't 'country.'
Wayne is another great Country-Western singer from Texas who also has an album on CD Baby. Take a listen to it.
This doesn't cover all my life's work an experiences, in Country Music but it sums up a good bit of it.
I've been fortunate enough to visit, Nashville many times, The Grand Ole Opry, and a good number of Fan Fairs where I got to perform on Star Banquet Showcases, etc. with such people as Jim and Jesse and The Virginia Boys, Joe Stuart,
and Joe Meadows, a fantastic Fiddle Player. I also got the chance to mix and mingle with others like
Jeanie C. Riley, Melba Montgomery, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jack Greene, Gene Watson, Martin Del Ray and Stonewall Jackson, and Conway Twitty, among others.
I had a song released on Woodrich Recordings, out of The Muscle Shoals Sound area, not too long back, that was later picked up and released in Europe on WIR Records, that received a good bit of air play, titled "Too Fat," which is a
spoof of 'Fad Diets'. (Please Note: Not making fun of people who like to eat a lot, or other wise overweight). We 'spoof' the folly of chasing one diet after another, usually with little or no results that last.)
I had another song that was picked up on Options down in Australia titled "Computers", but as far as I know it was never acted upon. But, we have included our version of it on this CD.
"Too Fat" is also on this CD, along with the "Private Turkey Shoot" which is a 'riot' about some ole boys who got in the 'cane skimmings' too much, and decided they needed their own little Turkey Shoot. It's a "hoot."
Dear Country Music Fans, Thank You Sincerely for Playing and Buying My Tapes, Records, and now CD's. I Hope you greatly enjoy everyone of 'em, and like 'em all a whole lot. I'm not trying to prove anything except you never get too old to write, play o
sing good songs, Country, Gospel, or Hymns - whether they're funny, sad, loving, or just plain ole enjoyable. I just happen to like mine with a little Real Country Flavor no matter what style it is.
Just like the ole Colonel's Chicken, I'm taking my Recipe for Good Country Songs on The Road with CD Baby. Like the old Kentuckian, I been cooking up Country Music a long time, like he did chicken, before he struck it big. I don't want to make millions
f dollars, I just want to sell a million records on CD Baby so they can keep on helping older guys like me get their music heard. They deserve it!
If anyone reading this, and I hope many do, I'd like to hear from you at my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org., or at CD Baby or what ever roads it takes to get here.
Perhaps there may be someone out there that remembers some of these people and events, that I've tried to list as a way of thanking them and honoring them for helping me and working with me down through the years. And, they may be able to fill in some
the blanks, names and dates, etc. that I don't immediately recall. I sure would appreciate that, and I'll be doing some brushing up and researching again, myself.
If I can ever help any of you, Please let me know. I ain't got a lot of money, yet, (I've just got on CD Baby, you know...) but whatever I can do I will.
Thanks a Million, and I hope to make a Million More Friends.
Post Notes: I played the National Peanut Festival in Dothan, AL opening the show for Jeannie C. Riley in 1968.
I had Bob Johnson (who I played Steel Guitar with at Gunter Air Base in Montgomery) on one recording session in Montgomery, along with a great Steel player, Tom Windsor and Bob's son Mike or Paul playing Drums when only about 10-12 years old. Mike and
is brother went on to Nashville and played with Bill Anderson and others. Both Bob Johnson and Tom Windsor are now deceased, I understand
Also had another well known Montgomery DJ, Wayne "Po-Boy Cobb" do a recording for me, a great recitation on a little Christmas thing I wrote called "Christmas With Po-Folk Kin." It was on a 45 rpm Universal Records. Leo Hudson, now deceased played som
beautiful Xylophone tones on it. I later changed it up a little bit and sung it on my first Christmas album as "We're Gonna Have An Old Fashion Christmas."