8 February 2006

FARON FIFTY-FOUR YEARS AGO: In January 1952, Webb Pierce and the Southern Valley Boys helped the Shreveport police raise money for the March of Dimes. They played four shows at locations around town one Saturday, playing on the back of flatbed trucks. Faron fronted Webb’s band. Appearing with them that day was 11-year-old Jerry Kennedy, guitarist and future Mercury Records producer. He was taking lessons from Tillman Franks, who played bass fiddle for Webb. Tillman, in his memoir, called Jerry his best student.

INTERVIEW: I met Jerry Kennedy at the book release party for “Tillman Franks: I Was There When It Happened” in Bossier City, Louisiana, in October 2000. We later did a telephone interview. Jerry told me he vividly remembered a summer day in 1952 when Faron returned from Nashville with an acetate of “Foolish Pride.” Faron walked into J&S Music (where Jerry took lessons from Tillman) and told Jerry, “Hey, come here. I want you to hear something.” They went into a sound booth and listened to Faron’s next release, “Foolish Pride.” That’s the day Jerry became a diehard Faron Young fan. He said Faron “always treated me great, when I was a little kid, that was one thing I really did appreciate. It was never, get out of the way, kid. He always tried to make me feel at home, when we showed up to play at the same place.” Faron turned twenty in 1952.

Who could know that pair would someday produce 20 Mercury record albums? They had one Billboard number one, “It’s Four in the Morning.” I told Jerry that, ever since the song became popular, I have never been awake at 4 AM without thinking of Faron. He said whenever he sees 4 AM on a clock or somebody mentions that time, his line is, “Well, it’s four in the morning.”

Gene Dunlap, one of the last Country Deputies, says, “I really enjoy your articles as I was 16 in 1955 and remember those days well as I was playing on Radio station KAPB in Marksville, LA and TV in Alexandria, LA with my brothers. Those were wonderful times and thanks for the added info on Faron and people around him.”

Tom Lipscombe, who regularly posts my newsletter to his Alabama Talk Line at http://pub3.bravenet.com/forum/243824250, writes, “I really liked the part about Elvis being on the bottom of the bill, while Faron was on the top. That didn’t last too long! I agree, that Elvis, Scotty & Bill could put out a great sound with the upright bass & hollow-body Gibson, with Ole El banging away on the rhythm guitar….”

Patricia May in Yucca Valley, California, asks, “Didn’t Faron have a record ca 1952 called ‘Tattle Tale Tears’? Is it still available?”

Response: Yes, it was his first release for Capitol Records, recorded in March 1952 and released in April. His second single was “Foolish Pride.” Both are on the CD, “Faron Young: Live Fast, Love Hard (Original Capitol Recordings, 1952-1962).”

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