15 November 2006

FARON YOUNG, FIFTY-FIVE YEARS AGO: The contract that Webb Pierce signed with Gotham Records on November 12, 1951, resulted in Faron’s first recording session. It took place in the KWKH studio in Shreveport shortly after Faron dropped out of college. Webb owned Pacemaker Record & Transcription Company, but he was under contract to another recording company, so he listed the non-singing Tillman Franks on his Pacemaker releases instead of his own name. He used that same title, “Tillman Franks and His Rainbow Boys,” on Faron’s first release. The 78-rpm record (Gotham 412) said “Vocal by Faron Young” along the edge of the label. Webb wrote both songs, “Hi-Tone Poppa” and “Hot Rod-Shotgun Boogie No. 2.” The other two songs from that session, “Have I Waited Too Long” and “You’re Just Imagination,” were released on Gotham 415 as “Faron Young with Orchestra.”

Dominique “Imperial” Anglares writes from France about “Faron Young, Hi-Tone Poppa,” a new CD by Bear Family Records. He says, “That record features some of Faron’s best recordings from 1951 to 1961 including the rare Gotham sides Hi-Tone Poppa/Hot Rod Shotgun Boogie, n2. I have them in 78 rpm’s and I can tell you they sound great here even if there’s some hiss. What can I say about those fabulous selections of songs except there’s a slight error about ‘Sweet Dreams’ session staff. Jimmy Lee Fautheree was there and that’s him who plays the guitar intro. His and Lennie work with Faron is often overshadowed in spite they were his front men for almost one year. . . .Webb, Faron, Jimmy Lee, James Burton … all those Shreveport guys were great and we just can wish some more records from Bear Family … or other labels. And the last, but not the least, the booklet written by Deke Dickerson is a blast with some real great pictures. If you ain’t buyin’ it (You ain’t livin’)!”

Response: Thanks, Dominique, for the info about the new Bear Family CD. The 32 songs, in addition to Faron’s Capitol hits, include his rock ‘n’ roll releases from the late ’50s and his “When It Rains, It Pours” from the movie that was a holiday from country music, “Country Music Holiday.”

Charlie Roberts sends this memory: “Years ago I happened to be shopping in the record department of a large department store. . . I happened to spot an album by Faron that I had been looking for. Since it was the only one they had I grabbed it, paid for it and brought it home. I began to open it and was getting ready for some more great Faron music. Alas, it was not to be. When I removed the record from its sleeve you will never believe what came out – a record of Rod Stewart. Not a Faron record in sight. I carried it back to the store and told the young lady what had happened. She was very gracious but as I was preparing to leave I heard her ask another young lady standing there with her, ‘Who in the world is Faron Young?’ and received only a blank stare and a shake of the head from her companion. Then as I walked away I heard her say. ‘Personally, I would rather have the Rod Stewart record.’ On my way home I began to imagine Faron’s reaction if I got a chance to tell him of the episode. . . . I met him at a lounge in Nashville the next time I had a business meeting in Music City. Always the gracious host, he allowed me to buy him a drink. As a form of revenge for getting stuck with the drinks which I seldom did, I proceeded to unload the tale of the Faron record that never was. After I finished my tale of disappointment there was a long minute of silence. I started wishing I had kept this little bit of trivia to myself. I have seen Faron when he is unhappy about a situation and I had no desire to witness such a scene now, but in a minute I noticed that twinkle starting to build in his eyes and I knew I would be spared for yet another time. Diane, I’m sure you are familiar with his dry sense of humor and this time was no exception. He rubbed his chin and grinned and said, “Don’t let it bother you none. This world is full of damned people who got no taste for the finer things in life such as my golden voice on a record. I know people who would kill for that”. With that he threw his head back and had a good laugh. Then he said, ‘But to think she didn’t even know who I was, damn, that hurts.’ Then he laughed again. Diane, I hope I haven’t bored you with my reminiscing but I have such fond memories of those days and knowing they can never be again make them even more dear to me. I am enjoying your newsletter so much and I read every word of each one. Please keep up your good work.”

Harvey McFadden asks, “Do you still plan to have a book signing in Dallas in 2007? If so, any idea of where and when?”

Response: I hope that will be possible, Harvey, but the University of Illinois Press hasn’t settled on a publication date, so it’s too early to plan a book tour.

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