If, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, these three pictures are worth their weight in gold. They were taken on one of Mel Tillis’ last appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. You can see from the smile on my face how easily he could make me laugh…and in the last picture you can see how much we genuinely cared for one another.
I probably knew Mel longer than I knew any other Nashville artist. We met in late 1957 or early 1958 on a show called the Peach State Jamboree in Swainsboro, Georgia. I was one of the “local” entertainers and Mel was the week’s special guest from Nashville. Our first conversation, after being introduced, went something like this:
Mel: I…I…I heard your rec…record on every damn ra…ra…radio station in Ge…Ge..Ge…Georgia on my way d…d…down here. Hoss, it’s a sma…sma…smash!
Me: Thank you. Are you talking about the ballad called, “City Lights?”
Mel: Hell, n…n…no. It’s tha…that…that one with the crazy drum be..beat.
Me: Oh, you mean “No Song To Sing.” Yeah, that’s on the other side.
Mel: W…W…Well, every station I lis…lis…listened to was p…p…playing it. Do…do you have an extra cop…copy I could have?”
I assured him that I did, and I gave him one. Next thing I knew, he had returned to Nashville and recorded his own version of “No Song To Sing” on Columbia Records. It wasn’t a hit for Mel, but it was the flip side of his first national hit, “A Violet And A Rose.”
In later years, he confessed to never having flipped my record over and listening to “City Lights.” “Hell,” he stuttered, “I cou…could have had the hit in…in…stead of Ray Pr…Pr…Price!”
In 1989, toward the end of his recording career, Mel started his own label called Radio Records. Believe it or not, his first release…and the last record he ever had on the Billboard charts…was an incredible version of “City Lights.”
Rest in peace, my friend. And thanks for a lifetime of laughs, music, and memories.
I probably knew Mel longer than I knew any other Nashville artist. We met in late 1957 or early 1958 on a show called the Peach State Jamboree in Swainsboro, Georgia. I was one of the “local” entertainers and Mel was the week’s special guest from Nashville.
I thought you might like to see a short video taken Saturday November 4th on the campus of MIddle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. My friend and longtime singing partner, Jan Howard, was being honored with the Gold Star Award for her tireless efforts in support of the U.S. military. This video is an edited […]
So many of you continue to ask about my grandson, Gabe, and how things are progressing in his battle with cancer. I received this letter from his mom, Beth, while I was on vacation, and I want to share it with you.
Thank you SO much for your continued prayers and concerns. Please don’t stop now!
For the past several years, many of you have been following my grandson, Gabe, and his battle with a very rare type of cancer. Gabe is now twelve years old, and a straight-A student in middle school, in spite of the fact he misses at least one week every month as he deals with his chemo treatments. His mom, Beth, sent out an update on his condition last week, and I wanted to share it with you:
I had the sweetest telephone conversation over the weekend.
My daughter-in-law, Beth, has been telling me that my 8-year old granddaughter, Hallie, really wants to go to the Opry with me one night….just the two of us. So last night we decided that a Friday night would be best because Hallie doesn’t have to get up early on Saturdays like she does on Sundays for church. I sent Beth my Friday night schedule for the next two months and told her to pick the date that worked best for her.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! I hope you get to spend it with the ones you love the most. My friend, Jerry Dowling in Cincinnati, did this drawing, and I thought you’d get a kick out of it. If you like his work (he did the 94th birthday drawing of Little Jimmy Dickens back in 2015), you might […]