Sharing My Personal Greatest . . .
Hello. I'm your host, 'Bambi' Ballou. Welcome to Kenneth Avery's Personal List of his Greatest people from music, comedy, dancing and automotive excellence...
I do hope that you are comfy. Relaxed as I am, for this is the only job I have is to introduce Kenneth's story to you. Kenneth is a pretty-decent guy. More decent than pretty. A little female host humor there. He paid me well for this one job and I will forever be in his debt for taking me from an unknown artwork website somewhere in the obscure worldwide web and made me an overnight-sensation. You might want to let me introduce your next story. I do not charge that much. Just average artwork scale. And I will do a great job for you. But for now. Let's get rolling and enjoy Kenneth Avery's List of Personal Greatests.
Thanks, 'Bambi,' isn't she marvelous?
This is my personal lists of the greatest in their selected fields of music, comedy, dancing, looks, celebrity status, creativity, and overall human achievements. You will most-assuredly disagree with some, maybe all of my choices. You may have your list of personal greatest, and that is cool (as a cucumber) with me.
My First Greatest
in the automotive field, is my all-time favorite automobile, the 1957 Chevy Bel-Air. This photo is a convertible model, but it doesn't really matter. The '57 Chevy was 'the darling' of the automobile lovers in her day. You could take a '57 Chevy, wash it, vacuum it and fill it up with gas, and you, looking your 'Saturday Night Best,' could have girls begging to ride with you in a matter of minutes. You can ask my life-long friend, also from Hamilton, Alabama, Allan Coons, who just happened to own a '57 Chevy hardtop. Was this car hot! Coons put Cherry Bomb glass packs on this car, lowered the back-end, and he was the 'toast of Hamilton,' for he was the only guy with a car as nice as his '57 Chevy. I saw Allan a few months ago. He looked pale. Sick. Depressed. Naturally, me being a nosy person, asked, "Allan, what's wrong, buddy?" He confided that he has sold his '57 Chevy a year or so back and since then he had been sick as could be. He said that selling his '57 Chevy was the biggest mistake of his life. Besides the woman he married. I didn't argue with him on any of the points he made.
My next Greatest...
is Fred Astaire. What a smooth dancer Fred was in his day. Always dapper, dressed to the nines, in or out of the spotlight, Astaire was, in my opinion, the greatest male dancer on two-feet. That includes Gene Kelly, Arthur Duncan, Gregory Hines, and many more who were great, but not the greatest like Fred Astaire. No telling at the hit movies he made. And with the lovely Ginger Rogers, his dance partner, they made millions of movie-goers very happy. And talk about good for the economy, Astairie's natural talent for dancing, I would assume, helped to open numerous dance studios where girls and boys could learn to 'step' like Astaire. Hollywood, probably the world, will never have another male dancer as smooth as Fred Astaire.
Next Greatest for Comedy . . .
is the modern comedy stylings of Mr. Brian Regan. Watch him in-person, on YouTube, television, and I promise you that you will be in tears in about five minutes of his opening dialogue. Regan has 'that' certain something that most comedians would pay dearly to have. 'That' certain something is more than raw talent, it's above the sparkling level of charisma and a little ways beneath reaching the ceiling of the universe. I have enjoyed Brian Regan on Comedy Central and on YouTube and cried every time I listened to his stories about everyday events that he takes and molds into hilarious anecdotes. Follow his facial expressions along with his dry sense of humor and Regan will have you on your face in the carpet laughing like a horse. Yes, there are thousands more modern comics, but for me, Brian Regan is my greatest.
Red Skelton . . .
would be now, and always, my choice of greatest comic icon. Gifted is the most-appropriate word I can use to describe Skelton's comic talents. Versatility is another word I can use to describe his numerous creations on stage--Freddie, the Freeloader; San Fernando Red and his famous heart-touching pantomimes. It was said that Ed Sullivan, the famous host of The Ed Sullivan Show, once cried while sitting in Skelton's audience as Skelton did the sad pantomime about an astronaut who had become loose from his space capsule. That says it all about Red Skelton. He always insisted on clean, family-related comedy. And over the years of his career, he never strayed from his convictions. I love Red Skelton. For his comedy, and for touching so many lives and blazing the trail for many of Hollywood's most-creative comedians.
Princess Di, or Dianna . . .
sadly, is gone from us. I, and the world around me, has never come to grips with this waste of pure and innocent life that was the life of a true princess, on and off the throne, Princess Dianna, wife of Prince Charles of Wales. Di had the gift of not working at being humble, but just being humble with both common folk and celebrities. Princess Di, as the was lovingly nicknamed, worked tirelessly for her chosen charities. Not for more glory. Not for more fame. But because she had a burning desire of heart to help all types of people--no matter the background, race, or nationality. Reams of paper and thousands of column inches were filled about Princess Di before and after her tragic auto crash that took her away from us way too soon. I still hold to the fact that Di's leaving us too soon, was not fair. And a waste of pure, unpretentious humanity. Di is my personal choice for the greatest royal person in my lifespan.
My Greatest for Guitar . . .
is Mr. Chet Atkins, Nashville, Tennessee. What can I possibly say that has not already been said about his musical icon, genius, prouducer and music legend? Nothing worthy comes to mind except Atkins loved the guitar. Not just occasionally, but round the clock. Tirelessly and feverishly-dedicating himself to learning how to play this complex instrument, he succeeded, but only after grueling months of playing the same chords over and over until the guitar was second-nature to Atkins. I was blessed many years ago to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee where I stood in awe of Chet's first guitar they had on display. With it's worn-down fretboard, and aging body, this guitar was more than an instrument in the hands of a master guitarist, but a priceless first step to a career in country and pop music that would last for decades. Atkins not only played to sold-out auditoriums and concert halls, but was instrumental in designing the 'track system' of recording groups in the RCA Victor studios. And Atkins also was known to help many struggling Country Music artists find their way to success.
You just mention 'blues,' . . .
and you have to mention the name, Robert Johnson, known for his bluesy style of slide-guitaring. Johnson became a fast-legend in the blues joints of early Mississippi singing the songs about hard work, left by girlfriends, and out of work, the basic ingredients that help to make a man of any race feel blue and down and out. There was a rumor, or more correct, a stigma attached to Robert Johnson, who was not in Chet Atkin's style of music, but blues, as he, Johnson, was said to have travelled to a certain crossroads in Greenville, Mississippi, a home for vintage blues even today, to make a deal with the devil. Johnson was said to have sold his soul to Lucifer for the natural talent of singing and playing the blues for fame and fortune. Storytellers who tell this Johnson epic, have not discovered how the story ended. But I do know that of all the blues musicians, I love Robert Johnson and his song, "Crossroads," that was rerecorded by the rock group, Cream and many more artists. Johnson is my greatest in the blues guitar business.
"Foggy Mountain Breakdown," . . .
has been recorded by numerous professional and up and struggling banjo pickers. Note: Pickers is the accepted term among banjo experts. Not banjo players. Earl Scrugss, is the 'dean of banjo pickers,' with his patented, self-designed three-finger roll system of picking the banjo strings, he made a name for himself virtually overnight. Partnering with his friend, and fellow musician, singer, Lester Flatt, these two Country Music 'kings,' held court early in their careers in high school gymnasiums, National Guard Armories, and small arenas in the back roads of America. Known as Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and The Foggy Mountain Boys, this group was well-known for their down-to-earth syle of performing and knowing that their audiences loved to hear. Flatt's soft country tone of singing and managing the group's business matters made way for the biggest deals ever made by a music group-country or otherwise. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs negotiated with the people at the Martha White Flour Company, already an American fixture, to sponsor their shows and there it was. The marriage of music and biscuits. What a lasting and popular relationship Scruggs had with his friend, Lester Flatt. And later, after Flatt's death, Scruggs recorded several albums with his sons, Randy, Gary and Steve, also accomplished musicians in their own right. Scruggs to me, will always be my personal greatest banjo picker.
Who's the Greatest . . ."
in boxing? Some will argue vehemently that Muhammad Ali is the greatest boxer of all-time, but Ali was defeated in the later years of his career by Leon Spinks. Rocky Marciano retired undefeated leaving a trail of bloody noses, bruised ribs and sweaty canvas material in Madison Square Garden and other known boxing arenas in the United States. Known to his friends as "Rock," Marciano lived up to this title night after grueling night in the 'squared circle'--facing foes such Ezra Charles, who's face was on the cover of LOOK magazine for the massive amount of cuts and bruises left by Marciano in their title fight. Out of the ring, Marciano was a gentleman. A friend with a soft-spoken voice, and a knack for making more money out the money he had. Shrewd and calculating, Rocky Marciano invested in several lucrative business deals that would secure his family for years long after his controversial and misunderstood retirement. He was quoted in one sports reporter's column as saying, "I'm done. I'm through with fighting." And that was that. No elaboration. No fanfare. But Rocky Marciano, to me, is my persona greatest boxer that I or my late dad, will ever talk about.
Stan Lee, is to blame . . .
for my wandering mind in the classroom when I was in the sixth through ninth grade in my early school years. Instead of listening to my teachers, no, I was content to hide my notebook behind a history or math book and sketch numerous pictures of my heroes, Spider-Man, The Hulk, The Thor, The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, Captain America and many more comic book icons whom I loved to draw and create stories about them just like my greatest comic book writer, producer, Stan Lee, of Marvel Comics, which is today hauling in millions of dollars with their Marvel characters making their way to the big screen. Lee was instrumental, along with his buddy, and master artist, Jack Kirby, who teamed-up to make Marvel Comics a success. And their fiery-popularity and track record speaks for itself. At one time, Stan Lee was the publisher of Marvel Comics, but now a days he has the title of publisher emeritus and hangs out at Marvel Comics corporate offices when he is not doing a personal appearance for a known charity. Stan Lee, is my personal greatest by way of creativity in a comic book and characters.
Walt Disney touched my life . . .
as a youngster through the antics of such characters as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie and many more characters that taught me at an early age it was perfectly-acceptable to follow 'clean and family-type' shows that Walt Disney produced. There's is not enough time or space to talk about all the contributions that Walt Disney gave to the film industry as well as the cartoon business. Disney was an innovator of the frame-by-frame shooting of a cartoon and later developed the system of animation that gave life-like colors to his creations who were designed for one purpose: to entertain the children of the United States as well as the world. Visit Orlando, Florida today and you will see only a segment of Disney Productions at work with the Universal Movie tours and other exciting Disney features. My personal greatest in view of early cartoon and films, is someone I longed, as as child to meet, but never got the chance, Mr. Walt Disney.
J.D. Salinger . . .
rates as my personal greatest in fiction-writing. Some contend that his rough-hewn style of writing is harsh, vulgar and not fit for anyone to read, (i.e. A Catcher In The Rye), but I have to humbly disagree. I spent the better part of two weeks a few years ago visiting with my good friend, Starr Montgomery, the head librarian at the Clyde Nix Public Library, Hamilton, Alabama, where Montgomery allowed me to sit (if I were quiet), and soak-in the book A Catcher In The Rye, by the writing genius, J.D. Salinger. I am not exaggerating. From the first paragraph, to time for me to leave that the library that day, I was hypnotized by Salinger's easy and very-colorful dialogue he had written for Holden, the lead character in this literary masterpiece. Actually, masterpiece is in adequate to use in describing just how real Salinger could be in his character depictions. Mrs. Ruth Palmer, a friend and retired English teacher from my high school, Hamilton High School, sometimes meet at the Hamilton Post Office and have our usual friendly argument about Salinger's writing. "How do you read that stuff?" she says with a laugh. "Easy," I reply and smile. "It's the work of a genius."
Neil Armstrong . . .
gets my personal greatest nod as the most-sensational discovery and achievement of the 20th century for being the first man on the moon, a personal 'first,' Armstrong will carry with him forever. And what a story to tell your grand kids. And great-grand kids, "Hey, I was the first man on the moon," Armstrong will, or has already said with a certain pride in his voice. And he should be proud. Who else can say that they were the first to set foot on the moon? Now you are going to swear that I have flipped, for not giving Armstrong THE GREATEST of ALL-TIME bests. I want to reserve that for the person or persons who discovers the cure for cancer and other deadly-diseases; the eradication of child and spousal abuse; drug addiction; wars; greed; useless killing in the streets and our homeless problems. Finding ways to do away with these diseases and the other useless and painful things in our world deserves to be THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME.
I couldn't resist.
This is Carmen Electra . . .
and she gets my personal greatest title for her pony tails! Yes, the pony tail. I love to see women wearing pony tails. Now do not get me wrong. I love women's eyes, lips, laughter, way of talking, expressing themselves, but the pony tail to me, is only only THE cutest, but THE greatest attention-compeller that a pretty girl can wear. I would wager here and now that there is not a guy in our audience who would disagree with me.
Feel free to move about the cabin. We are landing in an hour. Thanks for your courteous attention.