1974 - Bentley, JBA, Culver

In 1974 I added bass guitar and piano. This is the first line up of additional instrumentation. Paul Culver (Midland, Texas) actually bought a piano and started learning the instrument just to play with me. I haven’t been flattered as greatly since. His action has always been very special to me not to mention the fact of how very talented Paul actually is. He would quickly become my right hand man. Paul’s instrument at the time was acoustic guitar. When we met, Paul was a flat picker and was very close to learning a finger style. I taught him the exact four finger style that I used. This made our guitar styles mesh beautifully. He played a D18 Martin. David Bentley (Big Spring. Texas) was the bass player. David is probably the most technical and talented musician I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. With my very limited knowledge of stringed instruments and unorthodox way of explaining my ideas, he wrote all of the string arrangements and conducted the Memphis Symphony Orchestra on my first album. David’s brother snapped this shot.

Paul Culver and his D18 Martin

Paul Culver and I met in 1972. Our musical tastes definitely ran a parallel. We listened to a lot of Buffalo Springfield, Moby Grape, Byrds, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and of course the Allman Brothers. When I met Paul he was playing a Martin DI8 and learning to finger pick. I had discovered Jackson Browne and Paul was the first one of whom I shared my new discovery. We quickly decided that there had to be a "song writer piano style" added to my songs. Paul purchased a Wurlitzer Electric and began practicing very regularly. Paul's piano style quickly became a trademark in my original songs.

David Bentley with his Double Bass

David is originally from Big Spring, Texas. He received his degree in music from Texas Tech University. We met in the music department and played together in the Texas Tech lab band. I could not read a lick of music. The pieces we played in the band were all numbers that had been recorded by popular groups so I would listen to the record and memorize the music. When it came time for me to do a solo, I would just cut loose and David would tap me on the foot with his foot as a signal when to end the solo. I do not think the instructor ever caught on to what we were doing.

Me and my D41 Martin

Looking back on this period I am reminded of the material I chose in addition to original songs. We did cover material such as Jamaica Say You Will, Song for Adam, These Days, and many others by Jackson Browne. This was a great period. We traveled in a yellow Chevy van with my dog. Now we travel in a tour bus with Paul’s dog Maggie. We must have opened the show for just about everyone imaginable. Art Follows, cellist from the Lubbock Symphony, had joined us for a show with Jackson Browne. We were warming up and I looked over my shoulder to find Jackson listening to us do Song for Adam. He asked us to play it that night and we did. The crowd went nuts. My friend, Ronnie Witten, had booked this show. I became friends with Jackson and David Lindley. The next time these guys came through town Bonnie Raitt was the opening act. I was playing at the Main Street Saloon. They all came by after the show and joined us on stage. We burned the place down!

Culver, Freeman, JBA, Bentley, McLarty

This is the first full band line up to do my original music. We took this photo in front of an old cafe in Dallas sometime in 1975. By this time I had added pedal steel guitar and drums. The two new members pictured here: Cal Freeman on pedal steel guitar with a very long beard which could have been the seed for a great idea Cal was actually the first one to introduce pedal steel to pop music. He played in the band who had the giant hit ITS SO NICE TO BE WITH YOU in the sixties. Davis McLarty was my first drummer. I could not have picked a better one. He has perfect timing. Davis is a brilliant technician and went on to play with Joe Ely. However, he could have played with anyone. One of the most endearing months of my life was spent with this line up except for Cal in the mountains of Colorado rehearsing in a cabin on the Conejos River owned by Mr. and Mrs. McLarty. They thought I was a driven mad man.