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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

Picturing the Past 19: Shelbyville rocks!

Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2009, at 10:18 AM

(Photo)
The Fabulous Playboys in a mid-1960s publicity photo. Bottom row, from left, are Don Baker (bass), Tony Gregory (vocals) and Sonny Smotherman (rhythm guitar) and, top row from left, Mark Tate (drums), Jerry Woodward (lead guitar) and Gary Petty (keyboards). (Photo submitted by Jerry Woodward)
Meet the Fabulous Playboys, as those who were around and listening to rock music in the mid-1960s may have seen them.

Bottom row, from left, are Don Baker (bass), Tony Gregory (vocals) and Sonny Smotherman (rhythm guitar) and, top row from left, Mark Tate (drums), Jerry Woodward (lead guitar) and Gary Petty (keyboards).

Jerry Woodward brought by this photo and a brief bio of the band a few weeks ago.

He says the Playboys formed in 1963 and drew crowds of over 1,000 at dances at the American Legion Center as well as at Middle Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt fraternity parties, officers and NCO clubs at military bases and country clubs and Moose Lodges in Tennessee and Alabama through 1967.

The band was eventually reorganized and became The Vicars, who had at least one 45 rpm release on Varsity Records, a small Nashville label.

Hear them sing "Love Has A Way" on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=RILhTEohDJ8.

"Love Has A Way" is available on a Bear Family label import CD titled "Wyld Sydes #9," part of a series of releases of American "garage bands" singles of the 1960s.

"Tony Gregory became extremely popular with endless material of Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, James Brown and countless others, " Woodward said. "He was endless in his showmanship while performing.

The original drummer, Mackey Brasher, left due to a shift change on his job and was replaced, Woodward said, and Sonny Smotherman joined due to demand for Ventures music. (The Ventures were a guitar-driven instrumental band with several major hits in the 1960s, just in case a few younger readers may not be familiar with them.)

James Arnold, a tenor horn player, left due to travel with a major construction company and Gary Petty replaced him.

But, like most bands, they eventually broke up, even though their music lives on in listeners' memories.

Woodward lives in Shelbyville and is retired. He says Mark Tate owns an insurance company in Dalton, Ga.; Petty worked for Ray Stevens' production company for years (is this the same Gary Petty known as "Gary Lynn" for years on the old WMTS-AM radio in Murfreesboro?); Gregory died some 20 years ago and Don Baker died several years ago.

Interested in other Middle Tennessee bands you may have rocked to during the 1960s? Check out http://nashlinks.com/sixties.htm for more. And look around on the other Nashlinks memories pages to get a feel for Nashville in the 1950s and 1960s. Fascinating site.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog.


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Shelbyville rocks music awesome

daniel martin

Caravan Insurance Compare

-- Posted by danielmartin343 on Tue, Sep 7, 2010, at 12:39 AM

Tony Gregory was my uncle. I remember so well the James Brown shows he put on for me. He was a sweet and amazing man.When my grandparents passed, I was given a framed photo of The Playboys and the 45 everyone is referring to. We all still miss him very much.

-- Posted by bcootes@verizon.net on Mon, Aug 3, 2009, at 9:41 PM

This photo brings back memories. I grew up around Sonny Smotherman, and Jerry Woodward; our parents were friends. Went to high school with Mackey Brasher, class of 1964. Wow!

Joyce N.

-- Posted by jp1946 on Fri, Jul 31, 2009, at 10:49 AM

OMG!! What a walk down memory lane. . .the old National Guard Armory. . .the American Legion. . .the Cellar. . .and Tony. I remember when that photo was made. Don Baker was a friend in school. So sorry to hear about his death. That band brought a lot of good quality entertainment to this area and set the bar for local musicians and wannabees.

There were dances every weekend either here or in Tullahoma. (Seemed like there were also a few fist fights and rivalry between the two towns, if memory serves me correctly.) And there were "hootenannies" (on remote brides and roads) that went on, (usually all night) after the dances.

I believe the Playboys played at frat parties at Sewanee, also, if I'm not mistaken. And don't forget about the area military academies and their formal dances. I still have long gloves and glittery purses from those. (Woops, gave away my gender. . .well. . . maybe not for this day and time. . .ha.)

Remember Randy Giles? A little later on, but a rocker none the less. Can't remember the name of his band, but I know they played a lot at the Cellar.

Thanks for mentioning Mr. Davis. He let a lot of people buy instruments and make payments. Great supporter of the music scene then. He also supported the local high school bands and band leaders.

Thanks David. You are an asset to exercising long term memory. Anything to help stave of Old Timer's and dementia. ha.

-- Posted by ridgeroamer on Fri, Jul 31, 2009, at 8:58 AM

The Richardson family owned the skating rink on Cannon Blvd. Jimmy would play the organ as you skated. He also played organ at the Celebation for a number of years. There were quite a few local bands that played rock and roll in the mid to late 50's. There was a dance almost every Sat. night in either Shelbyville,Tullahoma and Winchester at the National Guard Armory in those towns.

-- Posted by eyeavol on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 6:33 PM

I still have an old 45 of my uncle Tony. On one side is What AM I Living For? and on the other is Love Has A Way. He could really sing, may have been one of the first rock-a-billy sounds.

-- Posted by hammerman on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 6:30 PM

ilikeoldsongs, The other day I mentioned the songbook my Aunt had that had Patsy Montana in it. As I was going through one of the links you mentioned I found Asher and Little Jimmie Sizemore and immediately recognized them as being in that same songbook.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 2:09 PM

ilikeoldsongs, Thanks for the links. I am familiar with opry.com but I was not with arnet.pair.com.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 1:55 PM

To all the folks on here who might have an interest in country music, especially older music and artists,may I suggest a couple of sites that, to me at least, are very interesting.

For a look back at the artists of the Grand Ole Opry, all the way back to the 1920's, check out this address: www.opry.com Click on Meet The Opry, then click on Opry Timeline.

There are lists of performers of every decade, and lots of great photos. Nostalgia so thick you can almost cut it with a knife.

For a very outstanding, and lengthy article about Lonnie Glosson, one of the early harmonica greats, and numerous links to other information, check out this site: www.arnet.pair.com click on Harmonica Man-Lonnie Glosson

You might want to bookmark the Glosson article unless you have a lot of time to spare, as it is a pretty long read. I haven't finished it yet, myself.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 12:34 PM

"David, I may have this rink mixed up in my mind with another one somewhere else".

Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 11:15 PM

Murfreesboro. Well, I was only off about 30 miles, and that's not far if you look at it in this manner: Would you feel comfortable being as close as 30 miles from the point of explosion of an atomic bomb? Waaay to close for me.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 10:24 AM

David, thanks again for another great memory.

Tony and the Playboys were a fantastic band! I heard them play many times. They always played for our Chrismas parties where I worked. I believe they were the best band to ever come out of Shelbyville,and there are lot of good musicians here.

Jerry and James Ray were classmates of mine, I knew the others but they were a little younger.

Jerry, thanks for bringing the picture to David to share,also remember you drawing cartoons,and me getting in trouble for laughing at them.

-- Posted by katydid on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 5:08 PM

Yeah, I think that's on the flip side of the record I have, and it was very good.

-- Posted by What'sright? on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 3:04 PM

The Playboys had another song out that was better than Love has A Way, called What am I Living For. It really showcased Tony. And I still have a few of our old Venture style recordings. Just need to dig them out. Been with a lot of groups since Bill Barber recruited me, so I have a lot o memories to get me thru my down-slide, lol. I've worked with a lot of good musicians in my time. James Smotherman, Bill Ogles, Scott Palot, Johnny Stewart, Glen Simmons, Sheila Shavers (the voice of an angel) just to mention a few. And I cannot forget all the Shelbyville musicians honorary member of the band who helped most of us get our instruments, God bless him, Austin Davis of the Shelbyville Record Shop. If anyone deserves credit for what we did, it is him.

-- Posted by cherokee2 on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 2:06 PM

Hey! I think I actually have an old 45 of the Vicar's singing "Love Has A Way". My husband had the record when we married. I really enjoy reading about the past here in Shelbyville. Now I'll have to see if I am able to find the record!

-- Posted by What'sright? on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 1:32 PM

David, we are really getting some good feedback on this one. I am really enjoying it.

ilikeoldsongs, I did not know the answer to your question so I cheated and did some research. I now know the answer but I will not reveal it because someone else may know and want to chime in with it. I do remember "I'd Rather Die Young" and loved that song. I agree with you and abner_t about growing old. I am enjoying every minute of it. The first thing I do every morning is to thank God for another day. Until today I did not realize that the Hilltoppers organized in one of our neighbor states.

dianainnc, Billy is a buddy of mine. We were classmates. I had lost touch with him and had not seen him for several years. Then I saw him at the funeral home when I was pre-arranging my Mothers future funeral. I believe this was after your Dad had sold out.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 12:16 PM

I remember James Ray Arnold, Jerry Woodard and Johnny Boyce playing in a band in high school. My dad was an electronics and hi fi nut. I hung out with them and made home recordings on a ten inch reel to reel recorder of their practice sessions for playback so they could hear their performance. I also made a recording with Jerry where we overdubbed him playing lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and bass. These guys were really good then, I'm not surprised they were successful. I inherited my dad's old equipment, and have several reel to reel tapes. I need to find out if some of their music is on these tapes. I was a classmate of these guys and would like to see them again. I joined the Navy after school and did not return to Shelbyville.

-- Posted by chs61 on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 12:00 PM

I can't recall the Hilltoppers but i would like to get the people that have made music in Shelbyville under one roof. My memories go back to sneaking in the Celler and Garlands Yard i even got into the King Of Clubs once to hear some great music and witness a small fight. So lets talk it up. Jerry Woodward would be a great resource for this history. Ernie Cook Joe Bowman just to mention a couple more.

-- Posted by abner_t on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 11:51 AM

leeiii, since you are aware of McDonalds location, Badcocks is next door, toward Handy Dandy.

As abner_t noted, the trade school buildings are gone. I think there are three buildings on the right side of Sunlite Rd. still standing, one of them, I believe is the old Bedford Steel Erectors building, and I think there is a building on either side of it, but wouldn't swear on it without going by and taking a peek.

And abner_t, I fully concur with your view on growing old. I firmly believe that growing old is a far better situation than the alternative of dying young.

I wonder if anyone remembers The Hilltoppers, and their 1953 hit "I'd Rather Die Young", and which group member would later become one of the best orchestra leaders of the 50's and 60's? Hint: The orchestra's first hit was "Melody Of Love", one of the most hauntingly beautiful instrumentals I've ever heard.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 10:46 AM

Shelbyville has had plenty portable skating rinks. I recall them being at the intersection of Tullahoma Hwy and Wartrace Hwy in the triangle on the left through the TRAFFIC LIGHTS. Also, on the property behind Economy Liquors where the DHS office is now. I also recall one that set up on the property where Badcocks is but only a couple times. In the late sixties on Jackson Street just past Pencil street on the left a quantum hut housed a skating rink that operated for a couple years before going out of business. Then there was the one on Anthony Road in the eighties. And when most of us wanted to skate we were taken to the rink in Chapel Hill. The Pracital Trade buildings are now torn down of recent. A couple of the buildings they built on the road by McDonalds are still standing. And remember as long as we ae Healthy growing old is better than the alternative for earthly purposes.

-- Posted by abner_t on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 9:54 AM

leeiii, you're correct about the skating rink as the first building on the left after the bridge on Cannon Blvd. It was owned by Richardson Bros. and was also site of their piano company. During the mid to late 50's, skating parties were held by parents to entertain their teens. If I remember correctly, Jimmy Richardson played the organ while we skated. Billy Richardson was the "skateboy" who helped us sort out the pile-ups and keep order. It was great fun and good clean sport!

Jerry Woodard and Tony Gregory were both classmates of mine. I had left Shelbyville by the time they formed their band. Wish I could have heard them play.

-- Posted by dianainnc on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 9:31 AM

Thanks ilikeoldsongs for spotting the location of the furniture store for me. I am trying to visualize it in my mind. Are the old Practical Trade School buildings still standing? They would be off the road behind McDonalds.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 7:32 AM

David, I may have this rink mixed up in my mind with another one somewhere else. What I based the time frame on is remembering that my wife and I took our oldest grandson to a skating party when he was around nine or ten years old, and he was born in 1990. I'll have to check with my daughter tomorrow, she was there also, wherever "there" turns out to be. It's rough being old, but it was fun getting here.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 11:15 PM

I remember the Anthony Road skating rink and it seems to me like its operating years were more like the 1980s.

-- Posted by David Melson on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 10:59 PM

bellbuckletn , there was never a skating rink at the Badcock location, as far as I remember, but there was a second rink on Anthony Road for a fairly short period of time, I'm wanting to say it opened in the late 1990's to early 2000's, for maybe a couple of years. It was about a couple hundred yards off Madison St., on the right.

leeiii, in case you might need it for future reference, Badcocks is located at 761 Madison, which is four doors past Handy Dandy at 753 Madison.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 9:01 PM

bellbuckletn, I am not sure where Babcock Furniture is located, but there was a skating rink in the first building on the left going South on Cannon Blvd. after you cross the bridge. It was there in the '50s and at least some of the '60s or more.

ilikeoldsongs, I do not remember Jackie bowling when I was bowling but that is not to say he did not. I gave up bowling in the mid '60s so he could have started after that. He was in Germany at the same time as Elvis and my understanding is that he jammed some with the group that gathered around Elvis during that time.

Like you I would not bestow World's Greatest to Chet but I really liked his playing and his style. Yes, he did tend to be somewhat of a perfectionist. My Grandmother used to play Spanish Fandango and Chet played that as well.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 7:59 PM

I think that Jackie Finley probably came as close as anybody including Chet, and including the Ventures.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 3:27 PM

Leeiii, is this the Jackie Finley that bowled some with Willard Baker and his team at Primrose in the 60's? If so, I never knew that boy could play the gitfiddle, but he was a pretty good bowler. Gosh, I haven't heard anything about Jackie in 40 years or more, I guess.

"Caravan" is a great song, clean, uncluttered, a great vehicle for a guitar. I have the Ralph Marterie version from 1953,real nice song.

Speaking of Chet, I always liked his playing, but never really subscribed to that award he was voted as "World's Greatest Guitar Player". And somehow in the transition to cd something was lost for me, as much of his music has an almost antiseptic quality to it. Almost like it's too perfect. I'm not knocking his ability, by any means, his skill is unquestioned.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 7:36 PM

I'm going to get off subject here but can anyone tell me if there was ever a skating rink where Babcock furniture store is now or when there was one in Shelbyville.

-- Posted by bellbuckletn on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 7:20 PM

ilikeoldsongs, you and cherokee2 are exactly right about getting the break. I can remember back in the mid '50s when a band from Cookeville played the American Legion one night. They had a lead guitar player that played Chet Atkins style. Even though "Caravan" was an old song, I heard it (I mean really heard it) for the first time that night. I can not even tell you what his name was but I have never heard it quite like that again. I think that Jackie Finley probably came as close as anybody including Chet, and including the Ventures.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 3:27 PM

ilikeoldsongs, since you are doing a Who's Who of harmonica players please do not leave out Mickey Raphael.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 1:31 PM

Definately another good one. You know, it gets a little sticky when you start to bestow "greatest" titles on artists, (except for Hank, of course) and I think this is especially true of harmonica players. When you consider how many tens of thousands of people have played, or at least attempted to play the harmonica, it is unreasonable to assume that only those few that we have heard on a record mastered it to a high degree. As cherokee2 alluded to the fact that his band didn't catch that "break", there surely have been at least hundreds of harmonica players that also didn't get heard by the right people at the right time. The players that we are familiar with are the ones that did get that break.

I have long held the belief that Wayne Raney, Lonnie Glosson and DeFord Bailey were the greatest harmonica players of all time. I think it would be more accurate, on my part, to say that they are the greatest, in my opinion, that I have heard play. There's no telling how many there are or have been, that I never have heard play, and some of those may be even better, just never got that break.

And can anyone out there name a better "harmonica" song than The Delmore Brothers version of "Freight Train Boogie"?

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 3:14 PM

I was fortunate to be an original member of this group, from the founding of it. Jerry and I had worked with another group before we founded this one called the Trebles (anyone remember them}. Ray Arnold was on Sax, Jerry played drums. Tommy Forrester played Bass. George "Bill" Barber was lead guitar, and was teaching me guitar. They needed a rhythm instrument so I was recruited. Talk about on job training. I give Jerry credit for the founding of Tony and the Playboys. But I named them. And he was very hard to beat when it came to the guitar. I've always said the Ventures got the break that we should have gotten. Anyway, these are memories that will live with me always. And Barbara Clifford (president of our fan club), if you are out there, Sonny says Hey.

-- Posted by cherokee2 on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 1:44 PM

ilikeoldsongs, since you are doing a Who's Who of harmonica players please do not leave out Mickey Raphael.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 1:31 PM

Since you mentioned the Hollywood Argyles, I wonder how many people remember "Alley Oop"?

Chubby Checker---I was waiting to catch a flight out of DFW back several years ago when an announcement came over the PA for Ernest Evans to report to the counter. I thought to myself, I recognize that name, and I turned around just in time to see Chubby Checker (big as life) walking right toward me and the counter.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 1:20 PM

ilikeoldsongs is really going to enjoy this one.

Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 11:39 AM

I've just been laying back, waiting for you to go first. I knew you were going to enjoy this one as much as I do.

Like you, I was already married and starting a family, so I never got to hear our local bands, but did know a couple of the members of this one.

The nashlinks site referenced above brings back a lot of memories of groups and individual members who moved on to bigger things, such as Charlie McCoy, who may be the best harmonica player since the days of DeFord Bailey, Wayne Raney and Lonnie Glosson.

And the Ventures, if no one remembers "Walk-Don't Run", surely if you watched any television in the 60's you'll remember "Hawaii Five-0", and the theme song by the Ventures. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't influence more guitar sales than all the other 60's acts together.

And although I was married, and on a short leash, and loving every minute of it, I didn't have to wear ear muffs, so I was able to absorb a lot of enjoyable music during the 60's, by artists such as Mark Dinning, Percy Faith, Hollywood Argyles, Brenda Lee, Brian Hyland, Connie Francis, Chubby Checker, Ernie K-Doe, Bobby Vee, Dion, Jimmy Dean, Lesley Gore, Jan and Dean, Roy Orbison, and the list goes on and on, almost without end, and thats the 60's.

David, once again I join leeiii, and say thanks for another memory fountain.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 12:47 PM

David, to answer your question, yes this Gary Petty is the same "Gary Lynn" from WMTS days. Mary Reeves the widow of legendary Jim Reeves was the owner of that station at the time.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 12:18 PM

David, I always look forward to Tuesdays to see what you are going to reveal next from the past. You have come up with another good one. I was already married when this group got together so my party days were over, but I knew the majority of these guys including James Ray, and was in the National Guard with some of them.

ilikeoldsongs is really going to enjoy this one.

You mentioned "The Ventures" (one of my all time favorite groups) and the popularity of their music. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in March of 2008 and to this day continue to be one of my favorite groups, along with Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, The Bee Gees, and many others from days gone by.

I did not realize that Tony and Don were dead. That happened after I left Shelbyville and I just missed seeing it. As soon as I get this posted I am going to youtube and listen to the music.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 11:39 AM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.