19 July 2006

Laurie Matheson, Acquisitions Editor at the University of Illinois Press, told me my revised manuscript looks terrific: “tight and clean, and the tone is just right.” A big thank you to Sandy Cooper in Kansas for reading the manuscript and advising me where to cut. Her advice helped me condense 33 chapters into 24. I’m still working on getting photographs and quotation permissions.

FARON YOUNG, FORTY YEARS AGO: In the early morning hours of July 20, 1966, Faron was barhopping with a group that included non-drinker Johnny Russell. Faron loved to play pool, as well as drink and brag, and he did all three in the Professional Club at 810 16th Avenue South. He and his pool opponent, a stranger to Faron, started arguing about which of them was richer. “There was a possibility the guy was an oilman from Texas, and extremely rich,” Russell said. “But Faron was convinced he was richer, cuz he was Faron Young.” The friends went outside to get away from the escalating argument. When Faron didn’t show, they walked back inside. The stranger had Faron down on the floor near the pool table, holding Faron’s head with one arm and hitting him in the head with a cue ball. Faron looked up and said, “Will somebody DO something?” After Russell and the others pulled Faron’s assailant off him, they insisted Faron go to the hospital to stop the bleeding. One of the friends took him to nearby Vanderbilt Hospital, where he remained overnight with a concussion.The incident made the newspaper. A four-inch column in The Nashville Tennessean carried the title, “Cue Ball Hurts Faron Young.”

Joann Collier asks, “Do you have any idea where I can find some of Faron’s live shows on either video tape or DVD? My uncle is a huge Faron fan and he’s been looking for these live shows ever since Faron died. Any ideas? Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated.”

Response: Pure Country (http://www.purecountrymusic.com/catalog.ez) and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop (http://www.ernesttubb.com) might still sell the 12-volume set of the Opry Stars of the 50s videos, as well as Hee Haw shows. You can watch videos of Faron by typing his name in the Search box of www.youtube.com. And there are sometimes shows for sale on eBay.

Sean F. Spokes writes, “I found your Faron Young newsletter today and would appreciate it if you could add me to your mailing list. I’ve always been interested in Faron, ever since I discovered at the age of 5 where my Father had come up with my unusual second name. Looking forward to reading your biography next year.”

Tom Lipscombe sends this comment: “Congratulations! Many folks are awaiting next summer. I’m sure that your book will be a smash hit, and you will be traveling around the country, visiting bookstores for promotional signings etc. You may even come up here to Canada…and maybe even U.K.!”

Response: I hope so! I’ve never been to Canada and I’d love to return to the U.K.

SUMMER TRAVELS: A month ago I made my first trip to Branson, Missouri, and I highly recommend a visit there. Just don’t think about the parts you’re missing; you couldn’t possibly see everything. I attended five shows in two days. All were two-hour shows with intermission, and all were excellent. The headliners had supporting singers and comedy, all very talented and enjoyable. I chose Mickey Gilley first because I wanted to know if it was the same theater where Faron did his live album in 1992. It wasn’t; that theater burned down and Mickey rebuilt it. The next morning I went to see Jim Owen, whom I’d interviewed for Faron’s book. That night I saw Moe Bandy. He told me he knew Faron well and I should have called him for an interview; I said I wished I’d known.
What a surprise to get home to South Dakota and learn Moe would be appearing in Flandreau. My sister and I went to see the Country Gold show, hosted by Leroy Van Dyke. Jean Shepard was also there, and I asked her before the show if she’d received the permission request I sent. Both she and Leroy are in Faron’s biography. My question must have put Faron in her mind, because several people told us later that Jean, Leroy, and Moe were telling Faron Young stories backstage. I wish I’d been backstage instead of sitting out in the audience.
While in Kansas I drove to Wichita and dropped in on Johnny Western, who was doing his KFDI Radio show. When he say me, he played “Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young” and then put me on the air. We talked about various people, on the air and off, for almost half an hour.  On my way back to my cousin’s house near Salina, I heard Faron sing Johnny Western’s “Paladin.” Johnny then came on the air to tell about Faron recording his song, and that Faron’s biographer had been a surprise special guest. Surprise and special because he’d had no idea I was within a thousand miles. He mentioned the book and publisher and said it would be out next summer and that he’d be sure and let listeners know where to get it. He said he knew it would be accurate, because I’d been working on it several years and had interviewed everybody who knew Faron. (Well, not quite, but I tried.) Thanks, Johnny!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.