Thursday, October 29, 2015

Kendall Hayes

1936 - 1995

Photo: Danville  Advocate Messenger
Made available to me by Bill Randolf.

Kendall Hayes was a song writer from Perryville (Boyle County) Kentucky. Ken never made it big as an recording artists or entertainer in the country music field. However he did record a few singles and I just happen to have a couple of them! And though Ken may have not made it big as an entertainer or recording artist, he did write one monster hit that opened up an important spot for him to always be remembered in his field. Ken wrote LeRoy Van Dyke's super hit "Walk On By". In 1961, "Walk On By" was No. 1 on Billboard magazine's country singles chart for 19 weeks, and reached No. 5 on the pop chart. I would say Hayes and Van Dyke both did well with it!

I knew Kendall, but not very well. We both were from Boyle County Kentucky, but I moved from there just short of my 18th birthday, and just about the time Walk On By was topping the charts for Hayes. I did have some nice phone conversations with him in the years following moving from Kentucky, but never saw him again. Kendall died in 1995, he was 59 years old.

Below is both sides of a 45 I have be Kendall, Just click on title to listen. I think I can round up a few more, but for now you're welcome to enjoy these two by Kendall Hayes, the man who wrote "Walk On By"

And Kendall's super hit "Walk On By" by Leroy Vandyke

Please sign my guestbook so others will know you were here. You may also read what others have had to say by viewing the guestbook!

Please note: I realize no profit from the music on these pages. They are from my personal collection, and for educational purposes, or maybe just bring back a memory for you!

And remember: Come back any old time, as the latchstring's always out!!

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Tags: Sam Thompsom, Kendall Hayes, Johnny Noles, Jack Hall. Gary Link, Carl Bowyer, Burley Morris, Lonnie Mills, Kathy Fiscus, Jimmie Osborne

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ralph Mckee & Roy Cunningham (Ralph & Roy Show)

Cast of the Ralph & Roy show, WHIR studios, Danville KY. Probably mid to late fifties

If you should be from the Boyle County area in the fifties and sixties, then you probably remember Ralph McKee and Roy Cunningham. Below is a YouTube presentation I put together of their last show back in 1968. Thanks to Ralph's daughter Doloros McKee for sending me this historic broadcast! This was their last broadcast. Ralph died a short time later, but make no mistake, he is remembered well to this day by the folks in Boyle County KY., as well as many other areas of Kentucky!

Ralph & Roy often hosted a Saturday night show at the Danville KY State theater back in the fifties and sixties. It was an armature/open mic kind of show. There were many there including Clarence and Jimmy Walls,  Earl Vanhook, Tommy Long and many others! It was a great small town show where everyone regardless of their talent level had a great time. Kids dancing in the isle and down in front of the stage! It was a real down home knee slapping shindig! One young man that was there regularly and often won the contest was Carlos Toadvine,  later to be known as Little Enis! Carlos was a great entertainer. I have a page about Carlos on this site. So why not pay him a visit for some great music and photos, as well as some great stories others have told about him. Just click on his name in the right side bar on this site.

Now why not rare back and enjoy a good half hour of The Ralph & Roy show?!
Just click below. Also not there's more music tracks below for you to enjoy!

Below are some single tracks from Ralph, with "Barbados Bells Were Ringing" being sang by Roy Cunningham. A great big thanks to Ronnie Coffman of Danville KY for sending me the titles to these tracks, as I wasn't sure about them! Thanks, Ronnie!

Ralph McKee
About mid fifties
Courtesy of Doloros McKee
Roy Cunningham & Ralph McKee
Probably mid fifties
Courtesy of Doloros McKee

Photos and radio show courtesy of Doloros McKee
YouTube video and this page by yours truly,
Gary Carico

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Pleas note, I realize no profit from the music on these pages. They are from my personal collection, and are for your personal listening and musical education.

Tags: Jack Hall, Sam Thompson, Johnny Noles, Carl Boyer, Kendall Hayes, Gary Link, Little Enis, Carlos Toadvine

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Gary Link - Shell Factory Billboard Blues

A little slide show I made using some SW Florida photos to go with Gary's Shell Factory Billboard Blues.
Just click on arrow to watch slide show and hear song!

Now who else but Gary Link could have talked then Sheriff Frank Wanicka (in suit) to pose for this record album?
More of Gary's music listed below, but first a little about the singer and our relationship.

Back in 1980, Fort Myers Florida recording artist Gary Link recorded a song titled "Shell Factory Billboard Blues". It was a humorous song about a man running from a gambling debt, and he just keeps on seeing that same old sign....The Shell Factory! Though I wasn't running from the law, I remember when I moved to Florida in 1962, I just couldn't get over how many of those billboards were scattered around the state.

My wife Debbie and I had the pleasure of being business neighbors of Gary's back in the early 1980s. Gary had a recording studio, and I had a photo studio next to him. My wife also had a beauty salon a couple of doors down.

While Gary wasn't actually a country artist, he did do some country flavored songs. As for "Shell Factory", well I'm not sure what the genre of the song is, but it really doesn't matter. The fact is it's a funny song that touched the hearts of many folks in the Southwest Florida Area. I think it made the folks at the world famous Shell Factory pretty happy too!

Gary was a very talented singer, writer and piano player. Sadly we lost him much too early. He died in a auto accident in 1986. He was only 48 years old.

Give a listen to Gary's version of Shell Factory Billboard Blues. This is a good song for anyone. But for those who live in, or have visited the Fort Myers Florida area, it will have a special meaning for you, just as it always has for me.

More info, photos, fan and friend comments below, but first how about a few songs from Gary? Just give songs time to load, then click on title to listen in the MP3 format.

More On The Way! Please Stay Tuned!

In the mean time, please feel free to sign the guestbook so folks will know you were here! Or leave a message in the space below!

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Little Enis (Carlos Toadvine)

Little Enis (Carlos Toadvine)
1936 - 1976
Above LP Cover Photo by John Alexander

Make sure you sound is on to enjoy this site!
Enjoy the music, photos and info here, and please leave comment or sign guestbook!

Back in the 1950s, When I was growing up in my hometown of Danville, Kentucky, I would often go to the Saturday night amateur contest and country music show at the old State theater there. There would be many local performers who would come to show of their talents. There was one who would often win the contest, and that was Carlos Toadvine. Carlos was a left handed guitar player. Now I know left handed guitar players are pretty common. But there was nothing common about the way Carlos played the guitar. Instead of reversing the strings on the guitar as most left handed pickers do, Carlos left them as they were, and played the instrument upside down and backwards. He chorded over the top of the neck with his right hand, and strummed or picked upwards from the bottom with his left hand. But that was only one small part of this teen’s talents. He could sing you a song that would make you jump up, clap your hands and dance a jig, or he could sing a tearjerker that would have you reaching for your hankie.

I moved away from Kentucky in 1962, and don’t know too much about Carlos’s career after that. I do know that he took on the stage name of Little Enis, with his band being “The Table Toppers. He worked the clubs in the Lexington Kentucky area, and toured for a while with Jerry Lee Lewis.
Little Enis is remembered by many as a rockabilly artist, and is listed in the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame. He is also remembered as a rocker and Elvis impersonator who could tear the house down. But I know down deep his true roots were in traditional country music, which will come out on the songs listed on this page
Carlos died in 1976 at only 40 years old while visiting his sister in Florida. He was never a major star, but he did have his fans. More than 1000 people showed up for his memorial service.
There are many of us who will never forget the little left handed boy who played his guitar backwards and upside down. And to this day, I believe he’s a folk hero in Kentucky. Especially to the folks of Hogue Hollow, Danville, Lexington, and many other Kentucky counties.

I would like to extend a personal thanks to Virgina Hammons of Kentucky and Pamela Manning of Florida for making this music available to me, so I could make it available to you. And a great big thanks to Michael Cassidy of Canada for sending me the tape of Little Enis songs. And also to Ed McClanahan for sending Michael the tape in the first place. Now I ask you, ain't this internet somthing?

Also, many thanks to Carlos' daughter Cindy Toadvine for the many photos she made available to me. Thanks Cindy, I would have never gotten them without you!

Enis' version of "So Plain To See" lots of nostalgic photos here!

Give music time to load, then click on title to listen in the MP3 format.

Photo by Guy Mendes

I searched for this record for many years, and only found it two or three years ago.
It's Enis' version of Good Old Mountain Dew. I first heard this on WAKY radio
in Louisville, probably about 1958. Not sure if it was his first single or not, but it's
the first one I recall hearing from him. When I first listened to this record, I thought
they had hired Boots to play sax, but then I remembered, Enis already had a great
sax player in the band. Give a listen, and see some great photos!


Here's a rare one I found online. It's on the Klondike label. Enis at his rockin' best!

A side

B Side

Some comments taken from my guestbooks. You to can sign the guestbook at the bottom of the page

We used to know a great left handed guitarist and singer they called Little Enis, in Lexington Kentucky. Playboy Magazine did an eleven page story on him. They wrote that he had a fine band, but the "tackiest go-go dancers you've ever seen!" 

I thought they were perfect. One day I got a call from our friend. He said, Jack, I'm dying. I'm calling to say goodbye." His real name was Carlos Toadvine. We loved him and we miss him.

Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan

Hi Gary,
I happened onto your web-site by accident, it is great. In 1976 when Carlos Toadvine died I was a Junior in high school in Lexington. My days of going to Boot's Bar to listen to country music had not arrived, but I had heard him around town a few times. Many of the men I knew were big fans. I am fairly certain that the brick building on the album cover was on South Limestone Street and once housed a small grocery and a restaurant called Alfalfa's there were apartments upstairs, it was only a few blocks from Boot's and Comer's. Last time I ate at Alfalfa's they still had photo's of Carlos on the wall nicely framed, so I suspect the connection.  Alfalfa's is now on Main Street.  The building may have been torn down, I seldom get back home anymore.
Buzz Lail

I knew Little Enis, Bucky, Frank and Johnny, mostly at Brocks also at Comer's and The Palms. I loved dancing to the Table Toppers back in the 60's. I live in Florida now, but I will never forget them.
Nancy Hamilton Reynolds

"Little Enis" Toadvine. He was one of a kind, and we miss him.
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan

Hi Gary
I really enjoyed reading this page. So many nice things you said about him and we still miss him to this day. I'm his youngest daughter and he has one granddaughter. Her name is Hannah Toadvine. I have some old pictures that I would like to share with you if you're interested let me know. Take care and thanks again for the many compliments you made about my Father.
Cynthia Toadvine

Hii Gary--my name is Ed Mcclanahan, and i wrote the article about little enis for Playboy, back in 1974--the piece also appears, in slightly different form, in my book Famous People I Have Known--i'm aware that some members of the toadvine family disapprove of my essay, in the belief that it casts carlos in a bad light--but my motives were deeply affectionate, and i believe the essay contributed much to the longevity and durability of the enis legend, especially here in kentucky, where it continues, more than 30 years after its original publication, to be read with pleasure by a great many people--Famous People I Have Known has never been out of print--the current edition was published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2003, and is available from UPK ($20), or from friend discovered your website, and directed me to it-i enjoyed  it very much by the way, i think you're absolutely right that enis's roots were in country music; his album, I Kept the Wine and Threw Away the Roses, proves that, indisputably Little Enis Lives!
all best, Ed Mcc

Thanks for the memories. I remember Little Enis mostly from Comer's Restaurant and Bar. Best Hot Brown Sandwich ever! My Mother was a teacher at Cassidy Elementary School, and had both of Carlos' daughters in 5th or 6th grade; one in each, I think. When Donna arrived, Mom expected trouble, due primarily to the "Little Enis" reputation. She was astounded at the little girl's manners. It was always, "Yes, Ma'am",  "No, Ma'am", "Please" and "Thank you". She was an excellent student, too. Mom was better prepared when Hannah started in her class!

More photos, music and fan comments coming soon!

Please note: I realize no profit from the music on these pages. They are from my personal collection, and are here for educational purposes or to just bring back a memory.

#Little Enis, # Lexington KY, # Left Handed, # Carlos Toadvine

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Friday, April 24, 2015

The Death Of Little Kathy Fiscus

The Death Of Little Kathy Fiscus.....

On April 7, 1949, in San Marino, California, three year old Kathy Fiscus was playing with some friends in an open field, when she fell into an open well shaft. For days rescue workers worked day and night to save the little girl. But when they got to her, she had died. Louisville Kentucky radio personality and recording artist Jimmie Osborne wrote and recorded a song about this tragedy. It was called "The Death Of Lttle Kathy Fiscus. The song was a top ten hit for Osborne. Legend has it that he gave most of the profits from the song to the Fiscus family.

Jimmie Osborne

Click HERE to listen to The Death Of Little Kathy Fiscus by Jimmie Osborne

Jimmie Osborne was a very popular recording artist, entertainer and radio personalty in the Louisville area in the forties and fifties. Jimmie took his own life on Dec 26, 1957. He was 34 years old.

Please sign he guestbook or leave a comment at the bottom of this page so I will know you were here!

Thanks a million, and come back any ole time, as the latchstring's always out!

Comments from viewers: You can leave comments too, or sign the guestbook at bottom of page!

Hi Gary
My name is Kathy Lynn. I was born in April of 1953 and was named for the little girl who fell down the well. When I was a small child, my Mom had the old 78 record of the song about her. Have been searching for it for years know the artist. How thrilled I was today to find it on your site. What memories!! Thank you for making my day!

Kathy Lynn

I was born in 1945 and as a small child I use to play this record at my Aunt's house. Unfortunately she got rid of her old 78's before I knew about it and I have been searching for this record. Like Kathy Lynn I was thrilled when I found not just the artist but was able to hear the actual song for the 1st time in about 55 yrs. Thank you so much!


My Grandmother told me about her and the song. I looked for the song and found your site. I did much research as it makes me feel closer to my Grama. I did not find many photos. But I did discover that I live walking distance from her grave site ( Glen Abby here in Bonita. If you would like I can take a picture and e-mail it to you for your site, since I plan to place flowers on her grave marker on her birthday and aniversary as a favor to my Grama... Thanks for your site it helped me with old memories.... I am only 43 but felt like I was there with my grama waiting for her to be rescued...

Carina, Bonita, CA

#Kathy Fiscus # Jimmie Osborne #Louisville KY

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Jack Hall

Gather 'round boys and girls and we'll listen to Huntsville Alabama recording artist, writer, guitarist and good friend Jack Hall. Jack first contacted me back in about 1999 and sent me a list of songs he had written and recorded back in the sixties. When I started listening, I instantly liked what I was hearing. Jack's writing, singing and guitar playing is second to none. Some of these songs are studio songs, some he recorded at home with just himself, a guitar and a cassette deck. Which ever way he got it done, the results were all the same.....outstanding! Also listed here is a couple of songs Jack wrote about me personally,  one (Bottles) about my battle with alcohol and another one about a dear friend of mine, and her Gibson Arch Top Guitar.These are two songs that are very dear to my heart and will be treasured by me as long as I'm on this earth. There's also a couple he wrote for our discussion group "An Old Country Song." These are also very special to me, because he wrote the songs for a group of men and women who were and ARE second to none when it comes to their knowledge of classic country music. I might add that their sense of humor and kindness was also second to none! So whether it's a novelty song, love song, sad song or a happy song, if Jack wrote it, then it's a GOOD song!  Now, let's rare back and give a listen to what real country music is supposed to sound like!  Here's Jack Hall!

Please take a moment to sign the guestbook or leave a comment at bottom of page so I and others will know you've been here. Thanks!

Give music time to load, then click on song title to listen.

Jack talking about the above song "I Don't Need You Anymore"

"In 1948-49 I was stationed in Berlin Germany working on the Berlin Airlife. In my spare time I started to teach myself guitar by practice and watching other players. In 1957 or 58 I met Bill Hutson. We both loved Classic Country Music. We hit it off. Bill was a very intelligent man..yet a plain old country boy. He taught himself, like me, to play guitar, some banjo and especially the Steel Guitar. He later made a foot pedal steel guitar which he used on the recording. We formed bands a few times in Germany.He was an inventor and he and his son Robert invented a motor that he had a patent on .Bill was a good friend, a good man and a good soldier. He went to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. He passed away from Agent Orange in 2010 where he served in Viet Nam. We made this record in 1964. Listen as he intros, turns it around and ends it and follows the entire song. Don't listen to me..listen to his self taught steel. He always called my wife Ursula " Uskie muski" I remember when he made Warrant Officer. I was the first one to salute him. He was supposed to give me a dollar. " You still owe me $1.00, Bill" Go rest high, friend"  Jack Hall

In 2010 I told Jack the story of a dear friend and neighbor of ours for some 20 years, and about her Gibson Arch Top Guitar that her husband gave her in 1938. Jack took my story, his guitar, a duel cassette deck and wrote this beautiful song "The Lady With The Gibson Arch Top Guitar" Thanks Jack, I will always treasure this!!

We were all pretty proud of our group name "And Old Country Song" Jack sat down with his guitar and a cassette deck and wrote this very touching song, titled, well, "An Old Country Song"

We had a world of fun with our imaginary band.  The AOCS Band! :)

During an AOCS discussion thread about drinking I talked about my 35 year battle/love affair with alcohol, and how I quit cold turkey with no professional help. Here's the song Jack wrote about it. He titled it simply "Bottles" Thanks Jack, you sure pegged it!

Our good friend Burley Morris in Louisiana wrote this one and sent a copy to Jack in Alabama for him to record. At the time Jack did everything on cassette tape. So he recorded Burley's song on cassette, then sent me a cassette in Florida. I converted it to a digital file, and well, here 'tiz!

Please note: I realize no profit from the music on these pages. They are from my personal collection, and are here for educational purposes or maybe to bring you a pleasant memory of what country music used to sound like.

Thanks a million for your visit. Please leave a comment or sign the guestbook before departure! And DO come back any ole time, as the latchstring's always out!

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Tags: Jack Hall, Burley Morris, An Old Country Song, AOCS, Gary Carico, Obscure Country Music, Huntsville Alabama

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Carl Bowyer

Carl Bowyer 1939 - 2014

Where ever anyone was singing, Carl would try to be there, 'cause singing was his life. He lived and breathed it 7 and 24! I first met Carl in the early seventies at the , where else, The Big Still lounge in North Fort Myers Florida.. Like so many of us, Carl was there for the Sunday night open Mic session. Like I said, if there was singing, Carl would be there if he could! 

Hey, Let's Make A Record!
Somewhere around 1974, Carl and local performer, writer and producer Allen Wolfe jumped in Allen's VW bus and left Fort Myers heading for Lakeland to make a record of a couple of songs Carl had written, "Barbara" and "Princess With The Raven Black Hair." Now they didn't have any money to say so and were renting the studio by the hour. Carl was a bit concerned, because they didn't actually have a band, but Allen insisted that they already knew the song very well and that he could play all the music himself, and have the record mixed and ready for publication in just a few hours. Well, it didn't work like that! Nope, they worked three days getting those songs done. Needless to say they were not in a great mood on the way back to Fort Myers. Now if enough hadn't already happened, Allen's bus caught on fire! The only damage was to the wiring and no harm was done to Carl, Allen or the instruments, but they did have to get the bus towed back to Fort Myers. In spite of all their troubles, their work paid off, at least musically, because they recorded one of the finest pieces of country music I've ever heard. I never knew the record existed until 2007 when Carl brought a new 45 RPM of the song to my house. When you here the great music on Barbara and Princes With The Raven Black hair, remember Allen Wolfe played every instrument himself, and Carl's vocals are outstanding!

In the early eighties Allen Wolfe took his own life. Way to young to leave us, but for his own reasons, he made that choice.

On may 31 our friend Carl Bowyer passed away in a Fort Myers hospital. He had been fighting several health conditions for the past couple of years. I saw him go in, out, in, out of the hospital several times during those years. What I didn't see was Carl giving up. He didn't know what the words meant, but on May 31, 2014 at about 9PM on a Friday night, Carl just couldn't fight anymore. I was with him right up until the end, and though he couldn't talk, he could hear me, and gave me signals that he knew what I was talking about. RIP, Carl. The world isn't and never will be the same without you!

Original 45 RMM of Barbara. Print has become very faded and doesn't seem to show in photo, but can still be read when in hand. Press records was owned by Allen Wolfe.

Please take a moment to sign the guestbook or leave a comment at bottom of page so I and others will know you've been here. Thanks!

"Barbara"  One of Carl's finest, a song he wrote about his wife Barbara.  When I first heard this I told Carl that the song had no clear ending. He said you just had to make up your own ending for this one. I said "She didn't come back, did she?" He said  "Nah, she didn't come back!"

Princess With The Raven Black Hair
Another song about Barbara

"A Life Time Of Love"
Here's one Carl Bowyer wrote and was recorded by Grand Ole Opry legend Carl Butler, A Life Time Of Love. He was mighty proud of this one, as he should have been! Carl told me that he had gotten into big bucks with this one. He said he collected eleven dollars in royalties, one check for six bucks, and later another one for five! :)

"Take Another Look Around" 
Johnny Noles was more than glad to include this one from Carl on his first LP.

Allen Wolfe
Performer, writer, master of many instruments, record producer.
We lost Allen in the early eighties. He was much too young, and is missed dearly.

Please note: I realize no profits from the music on these pages. They are from my personal collection and are meant to educate or maybe just bring a smile of how country music used to be.

Please leave a comment in the comment section below, or sign the guestbook. As always, thanks for stopping in. Come back any ole time, as the latchstring's always out!

Tags: Carl Bowyer, Johnny Noles, Allen Wolf, Big Still, Honky Tonk, Gary Carico, Barbara, Carl Butler

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Johnny Noles and the Big Still Lounge

Johnny Noles
1937 - 2014
Photo courtesy of Sharon Noble

Music below! Please have your sound on to enjoy this page!!

What's that you say? What's the Big Still, and who s Johnny Noles? Well let's start with "The Big Still". The Big Still was a Honky Tonk located on the banks of the beautiful Caloosahatchee river in North Fort Myers, Florida. The Still opened it's doors as The Checker Club back in the 1940s,and in the mid 1960s changed it's name to The Big Still. During it's hey day, The Still had guest appearances by such country greats as Faron Young, Jack Greene, Charlie Louvin, Jeannie Seely, Billie Jo Spears, and many more. In June of this year (2005), after more than 60 years, The Big Still closed it's doors forever. It was a sad day for many of us old honky tonkers when the Still closed shop!
Big Still, mid eighties

Yours truly looking at empty lot where The Still once stood.
Photo by Debbie Carico, 2009

Please note: I realize that many other successful local artists have played the The Still, and this page isn't meant to take anything away from them. I just picked Johnny because he was the first I knew of to bring country music to The Still, and I am more familiar with his work than the ones who came later.

Now, who was Johnny Noles? Well Johnny was the first local entertainer that I remember playing at The Still. It was sometime in the late 1960s when I walked in the bar, and there on a tiny banstand in the corner was Johnny singing and playing guitar, along with Dave Harris on lead guitar, Steve Williams on bass and Kenny Byrd on drums. Together these four guys could put on country show that you would want to return and see over and over again. There were other house bands there after Johnny, but I don't believe any of them had that drive that Johnny and the boys had.

I believe it was in the early 1970s that Johnny recorded a song called "I'll Pretend". Pretend was a nice balled penned by Johnny and Florida entertainer Sam Thompson. After this, the band would be known as Johnny Noles & The Pretenders.

Johnny Noles The Pretenders never became big stars, but they did have their fans, and should be remembered well for their contribution to traditional country music.

I have managed to round up some of the songs from my personal collection from Johnny & The Pretenders. I think you will enjoy these classic country songs from a true classic country band.

You will also want to pay special attention to "Take Another Look Around", a touching song written by Fort Myers song writer, good friend and neighbor Carl Bowyer.

Johnny Noles and The Pretenders, early seventies. L-R: Kenny Bird, Dave Harris, Johnny Noles and Steve Williams   

Johnny Noles
Probably mid eighties.

Recent photo of one of Johnny's guitars. Photo courtesy of Johnny's Daughter Mellissa.
Thanks a million, Mellissa!

Now, here's 15 tracks and some of Johnny's very best. I searched  for several of these tracks for years, and just when I thought I would never find them, Johnny's daughter Mellissa sent them to me! So thanks a million, Mellissa! You're the best!!

Please take a moment to sign the guestbook or leave a comment at bottom of page so I and others will know you've been here. Thanks!

Writing Credits:
I'll Pretend - Johnny Noles & Sam Thompson
The Other Side Of Town - Lonnie C.C. Mills
Take Another Look Around - Carl Bowyer
Little Joey - Sam Thompson
Front Row Seat - Shel Sliverstein
California - Sam Thompson
My Story - Lonnie C.C. Mills
Thirty Year Old Hippy - Sam Thompson
The World's Greatest Nothing - Dave Anderson
Small Town Country Singer - Lonnie C.C. Mills
The Man Who Wheels The Steel - Dave Anderson
I'll Go Home With Me - Lonnie C.C. Mills
Ain't It A Beauty - Arranged by Johnny Noles
Six Days On The Road - Earl Greene

Thanks to Lonnie Mills for the songs he wrote in the collection from Johnny!

On August 29, 2014 Johnny Noles, at 77 years old passed away. In early September a celebration of life service was held and  hosted by Johnny;s long time friend fellow musician and song writer Lonnie Mills. Below is a couple of photos from that celebration.

Below photos courtesy of Lonnie Mills and Johnny's daughter Mellissa

Click on photos to enlarge.

Lonnie Mills with friends at Johnny's service
Lonnie Mills with friends at Johnny's srvice

A few comments from some mighty fine folks! You can leave comments too. Just look at the bottom of the page for the "comments" field...

Finding your site tonight touched my very soul, I was moved to Fort Myers as a 10 year old, and lived there till I was in my late 20's I still have a daughter in North Fort Myers...the FIRST place I ever sang in public was The Big Still....took my first drink there lol.....was so sad to see the lot standing empty...and to see Gary met him...Thank you so much!
Robin Pike 
Harrodsburg, Kentucky 

Hi,I collect obscure country music,especially traditional shuffles, known as two steps. Johnny noles' I'll Pretend, man what a shuffle, you really feel that honky tonk atmoshere in that song. I guess what I am saying, is how does a person get a copy of these. Please let me know.

Thank you Gary for your help. Not only have I found and spoken to my father, I'm meeting him next weekend. You've helped fill in a large part of my life.

Just listened to Johnny Noles "I'll Pretend"! Now I know I'm going to throw away the one I wrote along those lines! It's truly the best there is!

From David Brooks
I enjoy your site. I remember the good times I had playing music with Ralph Raulerson and later playing the big still with Moonshine for 5 years. Thanks for the memories.
Dave Brooks

Love your site, especially the ones from Fort Myers. I moved here from KY in the early 50's. Have many fond memories of the Big Still. I would love to see something about some of the other bands that played there for extended times such as Bob Starling's band & the Sundown Band which was the last band to play a long running gig there. It truly was a sad day when they closed it. Many of us can relate important dates in our life to this landmark. I was very proud to have had my wedding reception there with all our friends singing songs for us & enjoying my first dance with my husband there. Keep up the good work.
Robin Pike
Harrodsburg, Kentucky

Please note, I realize no profit from the music posted on these pages. They are here for educational purposes or just to bring back a memory of the way it used to be!

Please take a moment to leave a comment below, or sign the guestbook, and thanks a million for stopping by! Come back any ole time, as the latchstring's always out!

Tags: Johnny Noles, Big Still, Lonnie Mills, Lonnie C C Mills, Kenny Byrd, Dave Harris, Steve Williams, Pretenders, Dave Harris, Sam Thompson

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Sam Thompson Tribute

Sam Thompson 1941 - 2000

Hey, I have an idea, let's talk about Sam Thompson!  Florida's honky tonk hero!!

I first met Sam in 1963 at a little bar named “The Riverside Kozy Kitchen", located between Okeechobee and Sebring Florida, very near Sam's home in Basinger!  He was there with just his guitar, picking and singing a few songs. After just a few minutes, I knew I was listening to one super talented wild man!  I learned that he also played at many of the honky tonks in South Florida. I would go listen to him every chance I got. Okay, so I wasn’t old enough to get into those bars, especially for the purpose of drinking. But remember, we’re talking about south Florida in 1963. There wasn’t many rules then, at least not enforced ones. But that has nothing to do with this here story anyhow! :)  In 1965, I moved to Fort Myers, and for a brief time, lost contact with Sam. But not for long, because one night in the Big Still lounge, to my surprise, there he was!

Sam was usually billed as a country act, and he could do you a mighty fine country song. Heck, he could even write you a great country song. But he was also a master of sound and a super guitar picker. He often enjoyed proving it with his highly wired rock and roll songs. Many said his music was sometimes too loud and that it overpowered his vocals. There was times I think that was probably true, but the fact is, Sam was a crowd pleaser, and just an all around nice guy . We lost Sam in 2000, and when we did, we lost a true honky tonk hero.  I lost contact with Sam several years before he died. My own health kept me out of the honky tonks, and I believe he was working away from the South Florida area. But make no mistake, I am proud to have known this super charged entertainer we called Sam Thompson!

Now rare back and listen to these great songs written and performed by Sam! But don't forget to keep scrolling for some great photos and comments from some mighty fine folks who knew Sam!

Please take a moment to sign the guestbook or leave a comment at bottom of page so I and others will know you've been here. Thanks!

Below is four songs written or co written by Sam and performed by Johnny Noles. California, Little Joey and Thirty Year Old Hippy was written by Sam,  I'll Pretend was written by Sam and Johnny.

What some mighty fine folks have said about Sam!

I had the pleasure of meeting Sam at the Empire Lounge. He was playing with a lady and a darn good singer herself, Elaine Christensen! She was married to a friend of mine Rick Titus. We went back to their place, and I think Sam played and picked all nite long!

Sam Tohmpson was like cool hand Luke with a bit of Clint Walker mixed in! He used to **** other musicians off sometimes, especially if they weren't used to him. He never had a set list and he never had a set length, LOL. He might play two hours straight without a break and that would sometimes make some musicians upset because they were used to 45 on 15 off, but Sam played for the people and once he got momentum, he kept up the pace! He would go from one song to the next and you never knew what was next. The first Time we played with him he walked on stage and started playing and we just had to jump in and hold on for dear life, and that was one of the things that made him so great. I miss him .
Ray Highsmith jr.

I just wanted to say Thank you. My name is Joe Thompson and Brother name is Robert Thompson. We are Sam Thompson's Grandsons. We have been searching for Sam's songs for a long time. We were looking thourgh some old stuff of my parents and found one of the first record albums with his songs on it. Then we found your web site. My brother and I just wanted to say Thank you so much for having this web site to come listen to our grandpa.

Thank you, Joe
Moore Haven, Florida

I first met Sam in the early 70's'. I was playing drums around Ft.Myers and he was playing with Jose and Jim Short. He and Jose had a disagreement and parted company for a time. At that point Sam called to see if I would join the group. Would I? I jumped at the chance.
So began some of the best times of my life. worked with a number of really good singers and Sam never took a back seat to any of them .Some of my favorite songs he did was GETTIN' BACK TO NORMA, I'VE BEEN A FOOL , AND ANYTHING BY GEORGE JONES AND ELVIS. I thought the world of Sam, and miss him just like everybody else.HE WAS FUNNY, SINCERE and an all round good man. And I'm proud to call him my friend.

David Lovell

From Sam's LP Songs Of The Oil Field.  Written by Alex Zanetis

I can tell ya what, Sam was a hoss. He always had a smile for everyone. I used to do Okeechobee On My Mind at jam sessions at the Big Still. I remember when he played at the fin and feather, the good spirits on 441, the empire, and the everglades bowling alley. He always drove an old thunderbird. It was ragged as a mango seed. We went to see Sam the night he opened for Chralie Louvin. He was bare foot and no shirt. He did Okeechobee On My Mind and left. What a hoot!

Later Bro!!
Michael Wilhoite

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Wotring

Just out of the blue I decided to Google Sam Thompson.
I had been meaning to do it for a long time..I didn't know Sam had passed. I was privileged to have been in a band with Sam when I was young and he had a huge impact on me. He was lager than life on stage..and he had it all, a real natural.

In feb 2013 Sam's widow Marilyn Thompson and her friend Bobbie Conrad held a live tribute to Sam at the Top Draw lounge in Labelle, Fl. Musical host for the event was Miss Birdie Lee. A big thanks to these dedicated ladies and all who helped, as well as those who attended, for their work in paying tribute to Florida's honky tonk hero. Sorry Ole Gary couldn't make it!
Gary Carico

Other artists to come: Johnny Noles, Gary Link, Little Enis (Carlos Toadvine), Carl Bowyer, Jack Hall and more.

Note: I realize no profit from the music on these pages. They are from my personal collection and posted for educational purposes or maybe to just bring a smile or pleasant memory from the way it used to be!

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Tags: Sam Thompson, Johnny Noles, Okeechobee, Taz, Big Still, Long Branch

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