One Monday Night In Midland

I lived in Midland, Texas from 1969 to late 1970 and worked with the Johnny Heartsman Trio. "I turned twenty one in Midland" doing life without parole. The group performed six nights a week and I did a solo every Monday night at the Chateau Club in downtown Midland. We played enough pop cover tunes to keep the club owner off of our backs but mostly rhythm and blues was how we would wind up the night. Each Sunday afternoon Johnny would host an open mic jam session. One of those Sundays, I wandered in the club and asked to play. Johnny Heartsman was a rather large black man with a beard. He played Hammond B3, kicked bass, Stratocaster, flute and sang. When Johnny asked what I wanted to play, the answer was "Crosscut Saw." He sort of got a kick out of that and said, "How old are you, about twelve or thirteen? I guess you want to sing it too?" Of course the answer was yes and on Monday night, I was the new guitar player in his band. I was paid $100.00 a week. I was playing a Gibson SG. The club owner, D.M. Williams, also owned a small independent record company called Chateau Records. Most of the acts that worked his club would eventually record on the label. I recorded my first single for this label. "A" side was IN RAIN IN SPRING and "B" side was THE COLD WIND. The guitar in the photo is a Gibson Heritage. I'm wearing a leather vest that was made by Karen Cascio, my mentor and lifelong friend.


1971 - I moved to Lubbock the week of the big tornado. I happened to be in Midland getting the last of my stuff when it hit. Man was I lucky! If I would have been there, chances are I would have been with Tom Jones when the awning and part of the Pink Pig landed on his '70 Chevelle big block. This was a fun band. We played a few originals but mostly we played cover material that we liked such as the Allman Brothers and anything else that you could crank it up on. Needless to say club owners did not like us very much. This is the first time that I experienced harmony guitar lead lines and "Midnight Rider." It ruined me for life. The band members were Danny Darling (drums), Woody Key (guitar and bass), John Moore (Hammond and piano), Tommy Pogue (guitar and bass) and me (guitar and bass). I played a Gibson Gold Top with humbuckings through a Bassman head with a Vox Royal Guardsman cabinet. It screamed!
1973 - This is the first promo photo that was made by B.H. Associates, Houston, Texas. I didn't have a beard because I couldn't grow one. This was actually a live shot taken from the front of the stage at The Warehouse in New Orleans. I opened the show for ZZ TOP. It was the summer of 1973. I was still living in Lubbock and going to summer school at Texas Tech. My roommate was one of my best friends, Ronnie Witten. He is to blame or credit for my whole Lubbock experience. Ron and I grew up as next door neighbors. He could actually read a book and understand everything in it, even mathematics. He did his best to convince me that I needed a college degree and tried his best to help me pass two summer terms of General Math 101. I was excited to get the call to open the show for ZZ in Dallas, and even more relieved to get the offer that same night to go on the road with them. I would have never passed that math course. For the next several years I saw the entire United States and Canada several times. I opened every ZZ show and also doubled as guitar and backline tech for Billy and Dusty. I was playing a D41 Martin.
1975 - I was still thumping the D41 and still handling the big boys guitars. However I started showing THE REVEREND how to finger pick and he introduced me to the slide bar. We also grew beards. The routine was still about the same. Four or five shows a week as the opening act for The Little 'Ole Band From Texas then string a few guitars and sit back and listen to some incredible stuff that was coming through a wall of Marshalls. This whole time frame was unbelievable. I hear stories about Hendrix, The Allmans, Tucker Band, Skynyrd,and others' early years being unbelievable. I t was. I heard and saw it too. But believe me, you didn't hear it all if you didn't hear THE BOYS do about three hours of early stuff including Salt Lick, Little Wing, Goin' Down, Hideaway and The Stumble.
1976 - I was still writing songs and I was still experimenting with different instrument combinations. The string quartet was still my favorite but I could not let go of the Les Paul and all of that extended sustain. The band was starting to form and I was close to a record deal. We still lived in Lubbock and I still played the D41 and the Gold Top. However, I had gotten my hands on a Hard Tail Stratocaster which I used for slide.
1976 -1977 This is the first official promo photograph for Atlantic Records. It was taken by Mark Lee and Linda Lesser during a photo shoot for the record company. We were shooting in the country about forty miles north of Dallas. The reason for the serious look was because I had braces on my teeth.
1978 - FORK IN THE ROAD was released during this time period. This photo was shot by Jim Haughton in New York during the session for the album cover. I still had braces but I was still a country boy. I was real impressed when they rolled in a huge fan to blow my hair back. I thought you had to ride in the back of a pick up truck about ninety mph to get that effect. It was a lot of fun. A friend of mine made the vest out of deer skin and I wore a pair of Mary’s jeans. I had a 24 inch waist and so did she. The D41 still with me but needed a fret job.
1982 - This was near the end. I was about to need a loaf of bread. In the back ground, behind the tinsel town curtain is the front of a bus with the headlights on bright. And as far as a future goes, those lights were about the brightest thing going. I had been dropped from Atlantic and could not seem to find any record label interest. An alternative was imminent. I am holding an original Chiquita Guitar that was a birthday gift from Mary and Billy Gibbons. I was burned out and up to now if I had a dollar for every mile I made I would have about two million dollars. Of course I didn’t! The real kicker was the fact that my band was so tight and hot. We were a four piece by now and had played thousands of hours together, but it was time to move on. It was a big decision.