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Johnny Cash the Legend and me

Updated on September 23, 2011

Session group

Judy, Maxine, Ann, Darlene
Judy, Maxine, Ann, Darlene

Back-up Session

I never met Johnny Cash, but I helped him become a legend. In the early '50's I sang in the choir at Park Avenue Baptist Church in Memphis,Tn. It was announced that Sam Phillips was trying to form a group of singers for back-up for a couple of new artist. Place: Sun Records. I was 21 and jumped at it. Unlike the relaxed atmosphere of today, we were 'all dressed up." And Sam, well he looked like a Philadelphia lawyer. Silk shirt, cuff links, tie, and his black shoes had a Chattanooga shoe shine.

He played a few tracks laid down by Johnny. "I'm going to make this boy a star, he said. The album is just a little dull in places, and I LOVE gospel music. I want a gospel sound." We, (about 10 of us) gathered around 3 microphones and did exactly what he instructed us to do. He would dash into the recording room and adjust a microphone, and run back to the control room. Excited. He really did like gospel.

The last recording was "I Walk The Line". Sam said, "No harmony on this one. I just want to emphasize the chord changes. And just hum." And hum, we did. It was strange, but we did it. That was the original recording. It has been recorded many times since, in different ways. But when Johnny performed it....he, himself would always hum on the chord changes.

That night, being around Sam, such a driven man and his ideas made me realize that I was in the presence of something big. The group dwindled down and we were called The Gene Lowery Singers. Our next recording was for an old country boy....Charlie Rich. I never met him either.

Today, I am in my 70's, and sometimes when I'm pushing a cart in the grocery store or shopping at Walmart, I hear the songs played on the intercom. I feel a bit proud. By golly, this old dude backed up a legend. In a small teeny weeny way, I helped 'make him'. Kudo's Johnny! and Charlie! ...... RIP





Johnny 1956

Charlie-Lonely Weekends, Our group The Gene Lowery Singers

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    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      ....can't believe no one has enjoyed this story as much as me and I will post this most fascinating hub to my FACEBOOK page with a direct link back here in hopes of reaching a wider audience for you .....have you ever heard of Martha Carson - check her out on You TUBE.

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    • anndavis25 profile image
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      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Thanks Epi. for trying to help me reach a wider audience. I don't know how to do that yet. I appreciate it. I a young hubber. I will take all the help I can get.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      ...well if you are so inclined - to check out some of my hub buddies here - they are all nice people and talented too - and this will bring you back an audience and more comments too:

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    • anndavis25 profile image
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      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Thank You!!!!!

    • clara kish@yahoo. profile image

      Clara Kish 5 years ago from Mt. Perry. Ohio

      Ann, I don't know how much I can write on here.I really enjoyed Johnny Cash , he was one off my favorites.How can I talk with you , some places it says email and yours looks like a letter ,My email is clarakish@yahoo.com I am on Facebook ,too,so is about half of my family. Can you tell me how I can notify Hub Pagesand Google Adsense that I am on Pay Pal ,I changed banks and I had never turned it in that I was on Pay Pal , didn't even think about it till I got a message that I hadn't signed for it .I put it on questions today but I don't know if I will even get back to there,I am 82 years old or young whichever you want to say and I use my dictionary to check my spelling anymore.Old age brings a lot of changes, Hope to be able to write for years yet,Have many poems from years ago ,too. clara

    • anndavis25 profile image
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      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Clara, I will check you out on Face Book

    • clara kish@yahoo. profile image

      Clara Kish 5 years ago from Mt. Perry. Ohio

      Okay, I am going there right now, clara

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 5 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Fascinating story. A few years ago in was in Azel Texas visiting a life long friend of mine who has a studio. I was putting together a CD of my originals. Not to market, rather something to leave behind to my kids and grand kids. We went to lunch and Dave said I want you to meet someone. We pulled into the parking lot of a place called Common Ground Studios. We went inside and he introduced me to the owner. He was sitting on an old Alamo amp right there in entry way of the studio and was playing a tricked out, beautiful Les Paul. He just kept playing, and it was some beautiful, crazy licks that just flowed like honey. After a bit he stopped. and Dave said, "Tommy this is Jim, and as we shook hands he finished, "Jim, this is Tommy Alsup" I was sitting in front of the luckiest Cricket in the world. We talked, and after a few minutes, Dave said, "Jim, play Tommy the Mama Song." This is a three chord dity that I wrote to my mom years ago. I dang near died. I started sputtering and making excuses. There was an old Gibson Mocking Bird sitting behind the counter and Tommy told me to grab it and play the damn song. My face got red, but I picked up the guitar and played The Moma Song. After I finished there was a long uncomfortable pause as he looked me straight in the eye. These were his words Ann .. "Jim, that song is heart breaking and I'd love to have it for myself, but I can tell it ain't for sell. You've got a very sweet voice but yet it's very strong. Boy when you open your mouth I can feel your heart beat, but son, either learn how to play that damn guitar or find someone to play it for you!" We all laughed and had some really good conversation about the old days. He was so good about talking about the Buddy Hollie stories and answering questions I know he'd been asked a hundred thousand times about Buddy.

      Well, that's my story. I sure enjoyed yours. Those days are framed in time, and all we can do is look back and smile ..

      Jim

    • anndavis25 profile image
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      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Dear Jim, what a moment for you! And it took a lot of nerve to sing in front of Tommy. But aren't you glad you did? Tell that to your grandkids.

      I sure would like to hear some of your stuff. That's what my life has been...music and song writers. We're a special kind.

      Thanks for the story. I really enjoyed it! Good luck to you and Merry Christmas........Ann

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 5 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Ann,

      I lost a grand daughter a while back. She had some problems when she was born poor thing. Both my daughters are in Omaha, and I wanted to be with Katie when she delivered, but could not make it. I was planning a trip two weeks later but the girls both encouraged me to wait until Christmas as I'd be able to spend more time. The baby was coming out of the woods anyway. My inner voice told me to go, but I didn't listen and little River died on my birthday Nov. 28th last year. I got the news and went out back with my guitar, my dog Clyde, and a pencil and paper. The song wrote itself in about ten minutes. I had to sing it a dozen times before I could do it without losing it of course. I flew to Dallas (Azul) the next day and recorded it in the studio. Second take, no dubbing, stand up live. Three days later it was played at our little angel's funeral. Sending you a copy of the CD is a little crazy, but I have a You Tube thing of the song. The sound quality is crap of course. I've written over a hundred songs. Probably way more than a hundred. I didn't like being broke though, so I went into the business world. This song, and The "Mama Song" aren't my best work, but they're the ones closest to my heart. Heres a link to the forementioned song. Not good reproduction as I was just screwing around trying to figure things out with You Tube, but it's called "I wish You Could Have Stayed With Us A While." Oh yeah, I look like an idiot as this was my first You Tube experience. Later on I did a few open mics and karaokes, but it was just fun stuff.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzmnJvgdB2w

      jim

    • anndavis25 profile image
      Author

      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Oh Jim, that was so sweet. What a lovely heart you have. Over on the side, I clicked on two others you recorded. Even though the microphone was not of good quality, your good strong voice came through. Wonder how you would do in a bonified studio?

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 5 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Thank you Ann. Actually I've got quite qa bit of studio time under my belt. My old band recorded two albums that never did anything. As I said, I have a friend up by Dallas/Ft.Worth who has a studio. It's state of the art, and he almost gives away studio time to Christian musicians. He gives me studio time free and we've been working on the "Waiting For The Storm" CD for over three years. I live in Arizona full time now and the work on it is very speratic. I love doing it live, but studio work is extremely blah for me. It always amazes me at what a good producer can do though. The mic I use is the old Shure 58 unless I'm in the studio of course. The poor You Tube quality is due to the music coming out of amps in the back ground and being bumped into the mic. You really need to do it differently if you want a professional You Tube sound. I was just goofing around. Perhaps I'll look into putting something decent together for You Tube sometime.

      Problem with my voice is range. I wish I was gifted with better range. Sorta leaves you leaves me stuck in the middle. Lot of stuff I can't do that I'd like to do, but I don't beat myself over what I don't have. I'm just thankful God's given what I have. It's more than I deserve for sure. lol

      jim

    • GlstngRosePetals profile image

      GlstngRosePetals 5 years ago from Wouldn't You Like To Know

      I really enjoyed your hub. I like Johnny Cash and I love the movie Walk The Line. Thanks for sharing

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Wow! That is really neat (awesome is the term these days) that you had a part in the making of Johnny Cash's sound :)

    • anndavis25 profile image
      Author

      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Nice of you to stop by GistngRose. Have a great day. AD

    • anndavis25 profile image
      Author

      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      You never know Dee....at the time we thought that he was a dull boring singer who sang every song in the same key. So much for my judgemental qualities.

      Thanks for the view.

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