Dear Debbie & Ed,
Dusty Rhoads has sent me a copy of your 'web'(internet)scene depicting the stories of the 'Whiporwills' and your 'Mom' Marianne Lanham. My memory was slightly different but, very very close to the write-up you recently gave to the outer world.
My association with the 'Whips' was the start of hitting the BIG TIME. We joined Gene Austin, rather early we were all in our late teens. Doug,Roy,Bynam and myself about 1939(fall). Station WDOD was our regular job(Tn). Archie Campbell was the host of the show, then known as Grandpappy, etc. He had recently moved to Chattanooga from the Knoxville association with Roy Lanham and Doug, and Bynam already there.
One day I ventured over to WDOD and, talked to Roy and Doug. I told them you have a good group but,you'd be better with me playing bass! Well, they sorta laughed and said, would you audition for us? I said, immediately if not sooner. I didn't have my bass there so I used Achey Burns bass (who was bassist with the 'stringdusters' also on WDOD.) We went upstairs to the dressing rooms and tuned up.The first song they wanted to play was,'In The Mood' so fortunately I was up to that hit of the Glen Miller orchistra.
The 'Whips' have always crossed over from country to pop to jazz, etc. My memory tells me we didn't rehearse any more that day. But, suffice it to say, they hired me and from then on my life had a completely new outlook and meaning. Pappy Campbell and I hit it off pretty good, too. My basic salary was $6 per week.However, we worked school gymnasiums, and road houses,and other jobs which really paid us more than the radio show.
When Gene Austin hit town with a tent show soon after,he did a promo on our show and, for the first time Gene heard the 'Fidgity Four.' Well he was very happy to discuss with us the idea of joining his act. such "good fortune" in those days was hard to come by so, we agreed to hit the road with Mr. Austin. We signed a contract but, during the next few years we were with him I became physically weak and, run down. So, I had to leave the group due to exhaustion. Well, Gene didn't like it but I went home to rest and try to get well again. The 'Whips' again needed a bass player. That bassist was 'Dusty' Rhoads from Dayton. Ohio. Also a great guitarist. And soon they brought in Gene Monbeck, also from Ohio. That was the 2nd group of 'whips' Monbeck was guitarist also. I did not return again until the Whips had reformulated and were holding on to a 'gig' in Las Vegas (Flamingo Hotel). This was mid 1954. Meantime the 2nd group held on for about ten years before I returned. During my - absence from the Whips I had used those ten years to hit the "BIG TIME" again, this time through the BIG BAND scene. Some of those bands were the late, Tony Pastor, Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman and the late Benny Goodman and, also the great, Red Norvo.
And, in 1959 I toured with the late, Frank Sinatra to "Australia" Roughest - plane ride of my career. Frank's handlers recorded that scene but, some how the recordings were lost and not found again till 1997. The Sinatra band was Bill Miller(pno) Norvo(vib) Wyble(gtr) Markham(dr) and, Jerry Dodgion (sx). His fan club made Frank release this album to 'Blue Note' records. It was a 4 star album and was on the 'Billboard' charts for many months(1997). And, we did 2 movies with Sinatra while in his employment. Meantime we worked the Sands Hotel (Vegas again) and did many TV shows with our quintet. In New York we did the Dave Garroway show(TV)and Hollywood, the Dinah Shore show many times.
During that period, late 50's, I was introduced to Eva Summers (Mary Ford's) sister, and, we were married May 7 in Tijuana Mexico. Roy Lanham and Marianne were our best man and bridesmaid.That was my 3rd marriage and, MY LAST!
We have 3 fine children now most of them married and left home.But back to
'the 'Whips' Sometime in 60 or 62, Gene Austin called me from Vegas and, asked me to round up the guys, Dalton, Lanham, Dusty Rhoads (this time on bass) and myself to record at 6000 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood. This album has not been released as yet either. It was done at Bill Putnam's studio and the added players to the 'Whips' were Ted Painter (bnjo) John Markham (dr) Don Fagerquist(tr) Bob McLaine (also pno). Gene was playing electric organ on some sides. During this session, Lawrence Welk strolled in and Gene introduced us all to him and he liked the music he heard.
In 1976 I authored a bass book while here in Hollywood. Published by TRY PUBLISHING, Vine Street. That same year there were about 50 other bassists writing books also. Yes, along with Roy Lanham and Dusty Rhoads we did an awful lot of recording. Sometimes good, sometimes great, sometimes so-so but, we managed to stay alive. But, Roy bringing me back to the 'Whips' was great luck for me. Everything was uphill and shady after that. Suffice it to say, we worked hard, we played hard, and we partied hard. When you work a late gig until 2 in the morning and get up to go to record at 7am anything can happen and will, 'nuff said!' But, Roy and I and Dusty pioneered many new scenes. Doug Dalton went into the electrical welding scene for a long time after he left the 'whips'
Many times I have been completely exhausted after too much work and,not enough rest. But the friends I have made over the years were 'I mean' REAL FRIENDS,and not a bunch of 'COOKS'I am retired and slightly disabled at this time but,I wouldn't trade my life for ten thousand others!
Now. Marianne Lanham. She came to work with Nu Nu Chastain after my moving to Atlanta after my breakdown(stress,etc) She and I worked the WGST radio station for quite some time and she also worked other stations as she says in her description(early write up). The Marianne Lanham story is accurate to a 'T' but,there were some 'weird' happenings along the way also. Chastain was the small band I got Roy onto from his WLW job. Sheldom Bennett was a guitar man(and also fiddle)who was leaving his gig to go into the service to work for the aircraft industry. Roy eased into this gig also.Now. NU NU introduced us to a partying that Roy and I didn't know about. Every weekend was a drinkin' scene until the next M~n morn.Being in the fast lane isn't always easy work,Pal! But,Roy and I were steadfast buddies from my first association with him and the country jazz oriented musicians.
MARY FORD DAYS.
My brother, Buddy Wootten, also a bassist called me from Atlanta to tell me he had just finished working the Fox Theater with Les Paul and Mary Ford. Mary also told me this later. This was while I was holding forth with Woody Herman 0rch. So, later when I had married her sister (Eva) we worked with her other sister-and Bob Summers (her brother) on guitar (sounds like Les Paul too,) and Mary's other Sister Carol. The 'gig' was The 'Crescendo Club' right in the middle of 'Sunset Strip' A very 'HIP' joint!
Mary used a drummer added to Bob, Mary and, myself on electric bass. We did almost all the Les Paul-Mary Ford recordings but with more heavy end on the bass. Les having used guitar on his bass tracks with Mary earlier. On all their recordings(as good as they were) I always missed that deep dark sound, (like a st bs) etc.
Mary (bless her heart) recorded a few of my compositions (never released). but, she did an excellent job as always. Mary divorced Les Paul, and, later married her old school friend from Monrovia Ca. Namely, Don Hatfield, who owned a large construction company in Calif. He is still with us and I see him occasionally. Doing great, but he missed Mary.
Bob Summers my brother-in-law has come into his own over the years too. Bob and I worked a lot on MGM records with the Mike Curb scene, early 60's He also was chief arranger for the Mike Curb Congregation, and they recorded some of my material, great too! Also Bob and I worked at Capitol records for 'Ken' Nelson and, Cliffie Stone, passed recently. Too many country artists to even name nearly all of them;Hank Thompson, Wynn Stewart, Rose Maddox and others. Roy Lanham did one of his better albums at, the Sound House, Merced, in E1 Monte (my old stamping grounds) and Mary Ford's home place, 9840 Kale St. Bruce Summers is still with us, a piano man whom I played with a few times; a real swinger too.
I will mention my oldest daughter, Jessica Leslie Reandeau of Thousand Oaks Calif. Associated with the 'Michael Thomas' Escrow experts. She is from my earlier marriage to Sandra Jones, Atlanta, Ga. Has 2 sons and yes! they are into the music scene.
I didn't mean to stray from Mary but, there has been so much water under the bridge since my moving to California. All my early recordings with the big bands, Herman, Dorsey, Charlie Barnet have all been transferred to CD's. Also my Benny Goodman works are still being released. How lucky can you get? You tell me, ha ha.
I'm currently writing with my dear friend (which I met at Roy Lanham's) house, her name is Ruth Arnold, and, we have some winners too! Both ASCAP!
Good mention. Rhoads, Wootten, Lanham, Widener, appear in Who's who, in country western music, Black Stallion Press.Thousand Oaks, Ca.Check it!
My 2 mentors, Gene Austin and Red Norvo have been instrumental in keeping me happening all over the map. Roy Lanham meantime has moved on into the "Sons Of The Pioneers". Following Karl Farr into the greatest country music of the century. That's how truly great Mr. Lanham was. I miss him so much I always used Roy on every session that I acquired.And there were always 'topnotch' music wise.
Another fine guitar player who joined the 'Whips' was, Jimmy Widener, who was one of the early guitar men for the late, Bob Wills. For some time, Jimmy was on guitar and Dusty Rhoads bass. And, Jim was leader of that, 'Country Gentlemen' band in Hollywood for quite awhile. Also worked for Tex Williams (Smoke, Smoke, Smoke, etc.) Incidentally Roy Lanham and I played on the last record album of Tex Williams, Selma Ave. Hollywood. And many times we would record at Capitol Records, Roy and I along with such notables as Merle Travis, Joe Maphis, Glen Campbell, Jimmy Bryant, and, others of equal fame. Yes we were a mixed breed but that is what was selling my friends!
Roy Lanham also worked a show I did for 3 years. The Gene Autry 'Melody Ranch' not together but later I joined lt. (TV) Carl Cotner was musical director of that saga. Recently 3 great western stars passed on. I knew and recorded with all of them, namely Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Eddie Dean.
My achievements have included; Academy of Country Music, ASCAP, Grove's new dictionary of Jazz, and as stated earlier author of 'Supplemental Studies for St Bs.E1.Bs. & Tuba. This book is still available. And for a few years, I worked with LeRoy Andrews (Ventura) near Roy's abode in Camarillo Springs.
Red Rowe still in Camarillo recuperating from heart etc. Roy and I played Red Rowe's CBS show several times. On these shows such stars as Red Foley, Johnny Cash, Stuff Smith, Joe Venuti, Lucy Ann Polk, and others. Oh what a lineup, don't you agree?
Recently I met my good friend,Harlow Atwood, Jr. He was a good friend of the late Bob Haggart(bassist of great renown.) Some of the music I accumulated over the years is being given to the bassists who are now getting into the beginning years of bass pickin' and classical too. Over the years I have never turned down a job,whether it be classical,or pop or jazz or rock!. I'm now into the electric bass (Yes A Leo Fender's product which Roy Lanham got me interested in in the early 60's.) Yes,we miss Leo Fender and,Forrest White and others employed by Fender Co. So many new instruments were being invented by Leo and his great side kicks like George Fullerton,etc.
I'm at the end of my rope.Not life, rope only, ha ha OK?
This is a narrative for my dear friend, Debbie and Ed Wilson of Tucson, Az. fame. And I must mention Nick Nicholos. My big band buddy. Best to ya all!
From the Red Wootten Archives. Red writing a new book, titled, Hallelujah Rd. Watch for it in your supermarkets, etc. Bye bye now, ya hear?