Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends
of West Texas Music
"Indeed, Oglesby's introduction of more
than two dozen musicians who called Lubbock home should be required
reading not only for music fans, but for Lubbock residents and
anyone thinking about moving here. On these pages, music becomes
a part of Lubbock's living history."
Chris Oglesby Interviews
Chris: Jay Boy, thanks for having me out. I guess I just want to get started with - First: Tell me how you got to Lubbock.
JBA: My neighbor who was one of my best friends growing
up in Colorado City was going to Texas Tech and he was hell-bent
on me getting an education. He thought that I absolutely had
to have a college degree to fall back on. His name was Ron Witten;
We literally grew up next door to each other all of our lives
Chris: How old were you then?
JBA: I turned 21 living in Midland, Texas. So I was
20 when in started working for Johnny Hartsman in Midland.
I was this little wiry, about ahunnerd-and-five-pound White
boy that walked up to this big huge Black keyboard player, and
said, "Hey, I'd like to sit in and play."
Chris: Do you mind ? Let me digress for just a second As long as we're in Midland; How did you get there? I mean, how does Jay Boy Adams walk up to this big Black guy in a club in Midland?
JBA: The way that I got there is I had attended North Texas State University for two years. This was right in the middle of the Vietnam War. I had actually flunked out of North Texas And so, two things happen to you when you flunk out of school during this time-frame: Number one: I lost my "Student" draft status, and I was eligible for The Draft. And then secondly, in order to get your grades back up in order to get back into a University, your only option was to go to a junior college.
I was actually at a junior college in Big Spring, Texas. But I had met this person who lived in Midland, and I had gone over there on a Sunday to see her. And when I left that afternoon, I went by The Chateau Club.
Chris: Just looking for some excitement out there?
JBA: No, I was there for exactly what I went in there for: I wanted to go play with Johnny Hartsman, because I had heard about him. So that's how I got to Midland.
Chris: So did you, at that point, really have a goal of being a professional performer? Or were you just a college student with a guitar.
JBA: No. I was a college student with a guitar, but I wanted to play music. There was never any question about what I wanted to do. When I left home, I went to North Texas State University, which was a music school
North Texas State was a great experience for me. I had an English class with Don Henley and another guy by the name of Gary Nicholson. And I experimented with songwriting.
My roommate at North Texas was a folk-singer by the name of Ezra Shadow who essentially introduced me to "finger-style" pickin'
So anyway, that's how I got to Midland, Texas. I walked in
to jam with the guy and he said, "What do you wanna' play,
kid? What do you think you can do here?" This was kind of
a Blues joint
But I sat in with him, and my turn came up to play And the next night I went to work playing in his band. I stayed there for two years. I commuted to Howard County to continue to get a little college education over there, and then finally I quit.
After I dropped out for a year, the guy that ran the Chateau Club had a lot of connections with all the old Black acts: The Drifters and The Coasters and The Shirelles He booked a lot of N.C.O. military installations across the country. So I went out on tour with The Shirelles, and I toured for about eight months with those women playing in their back-up band.
When I came back from that tour, my friend Ron Witten -- who I kept in constant contact with throughout my whole stay in Midland -- convinced me to come to Lubbock and go back to school.
I said, "Well, I'll come up and hang out in Lubbock with ya' a little bit and see what I think about it." And while I was there, there were a lot of great Rock-n-Roll bands up there
Chris: Okay. Tell me about it: You show up in Lubbock and what's Lubbock like then? I mean: When is it, and what's it like?
JBA: Well, keep in mind: I had just turned twenty-one years old I thought Lubbock was a very strange place, because even in Midland you could walk in and buy a six-pack at the 7-11 but you couldn't do that in Lubbock; I didn't understand that. And as a matter of fact, they didn't even have liquor by the drink in Lubbock, yet. It had to be a private club for you to get served alcohol. I mean there was no Fat Dawg's, no Silver Dollar, no Rox-Z, none of those clubs
Chris: So where were the clubs? Where would you go?
JBA: There was a club called Eli's and that was really about it, with the exception of some of the Country honky-tonks.
Chris: Where was Eli's?
JBA: Eli's was out at 29th Drive & Slide Road the old bowling alley, which is almost across the street from where Putt-Putt is.
Chris: Oh, yea. I know where that is. There's been clubs there for years.
JBA: It was attached to that bowling alley. That was
really about the only "Rock club" happening, at the
time. There was an old movie theater downtown on Broadway, down
a block East of the Courthouse, and I don't remember the name
of it; [Note: I believe he's talking
about the Tejas - c.o.]
That's about all that was goin' on there And fraternity jobs; If you came to Lubbock in those days and you were a musician, about all there was to play would be college things.
Chris: So you got there, and you weren't really very sold on goin' to school there You were more interested in being a musician, and all that.
JBA: I was not sold on goin' to school at all. But I was ready to get Witten off my back. He kept goin', "You gotta go to school. You gotta go to school," and I said, "Okay, I'll come to Lubbock and I'll check it out." And as a result, I did enroll in school.
But I also ran into some musicians up there that were good players. Joe Don Davidson was there at the time; however, he had drifted down to Austin And Jesse Taylor had been in Austin playing with a band called Crackerjack, but he was back in Lubbock for a short stay. And I ran into a bass player by the name of Tom Jones, and a drummer named Curtis McBride, and a keyboard player named James Gernadt...
But at any rate, the weekend that I moved to Lubbock -- after I had met Tom and these other musicians -- was the weekend that the Tornado hit. [Note: May 11, 1970]. I was in Midland getting my last load of stuff from where I lived to move up to Lubbock. That's how I was not there when the Tornado actually hit.
Chris: So did these guys convince you that it was gonna be cool to be up there? Were you thinking, "These are guys I could possibly be in a band with to continue playing?"
Chris: So you had kinda already started jammin' with those guys, playin' some ?
JBA: Yea. I had been up two or three times to see Ron and had nosed around to try to kinda get a survey on what was happenin' up in Lubbock. So Boot Hill is what we called that little band.
Chris: Did you play at Eli's or ?
JBA: We played at Eli's but there were several things you could do: Like I said, there was that theater downtown Dunlap's [department store] out at Town-and-Country Shopping Center also had music every Saturday afternoon
Chris: That's weird!
JBA: Yea! In this big department store! And everybody played there! Everyone that had a band played there.
Chris: Where would that happen?
JBA: [Laughs] It was right in the middle of the store; They had like a stage built up there, that during the week was full of mannequins and different clothing displays.
Chris: So it was just a gimmick to get people in there on the weekends? They'd have music? Crazy!
JBA: Sure. To get people in there on Saturday afternoons.
So anyway, that's how I came to be in Lubbock. From that point on, we just played whatever dates we could muster up, a lot of fraternity parties
Chris: You were playing Rock-n-Roll, or what were you playing?
JBA: Oh Yea! We were playin' Rock-n-Roll. A few original tunes but mostly cover tunes, y'know, from The Zombies and Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills & Nash, and we did some Blues numbers, from B.B King, and Albert, and Freddie, guys like that
The future of that band was kind of iffy for awhile, and we split up and I kinda joined a band that was already in progress called Felix, had some great players in it: Danny Darling, Woody Key -- which actually were in the Jay Boy Adams Band, those two guys. Danny took Davis McLarty's place but I'm kind of getting ahead of myself here I stayed with Felix until late 1971, early 1972.
At this point I had made the decision that I didn't want to
be playin' in clubs and I didn't want to play copy material;
I wanted to write songs. A friend of mine had a cabin in Ruidoso,
so I took off up there and I started experimenting and writing
songs. And then I met a guy named Steve
Chris: So who was Steve Moss to be able to do this? I mean, what was his connection to ZZ Top?
JBA: Steve didn't have a connection to ZZ Top; Steve had a connection with the promoter in Lubbock who was doing the show, and he knew that they needed an opening act. So I made a tape for him, and he took it back to Lubbock.
Moss was a loose cannon back in those days, just like he is
now. The guy's mind goes a hundred miles an hour, all the time.
He's a great idea man, and if you could bottle his energy you
would really have a very important product that you could probably
sell for a lot of money.
I had met [Billy] Gibbons in a little short stint that
I had done down in Houston when he was playing with a band called
The Moving Sidewalks, so I knew the guy. And really,
I did it for two reasons: I did it to experiment, to get a kind
of a reading on my material in front of a crowd; and also, I
wanted to see Gibbons
I was a ZZ Top fan.
Chris: How did you do the set? I mean, how did you present yourself?
JBA: Well, at this time, what I had that was a tune
that was like my signature song was a tune called The Legend of Jack Diamond. It
was definitely a folk tune but it had some guitar playing in
it, and it was something that people could stomp their feet to
just had a decent feel, y'know.
JBA: Someone has described that song to me as similar to a version of Bob Dylan's "Hollis Brown" that he heard Stephen Stills play, like as far as the guitar goes
JBA: Well, actually, that's a good comparison, I guess,
and that's a flattering comparison. But I was actually inspired
to write that song by a tune that I heard Stephen play called
"Black Queen". While I was goin' to North Texas
State, I had seen Crosby Stills & Nash
been a Stills fan anyway; actually I was a fan of all of those
bands: I mean, I loved The Hollies, I loved The Byrds
and I certainly loved Buffalo Springfield.
Anyway, about two or three months later I called Mr. Ham and told him that I did want to pursue this thing. I moved back to Lubbock and became roommates with Ron Witten again. He was very perturbed with me because I had decided I was gonna quit school.
But one afternoon, I got a call from Bill Ham, and he said,
"Are you still writin', and are you practicin' and playin'
and still doing your songs?"
Chris: So this is the biggest thing you had ever done at this point?
JBA: Biggest thing I had ever done. I mean, it was
a wild deal. I had no idea what it was gonna be like to walk
out on a stage that two years prior, when I was at North Texas,
I had seen Jimi Hendrix play on, and Chicago; Crosby
Stills & Nash; Janis Joplin; and Poco; and all
these people that I was huge fans of! But I open the show for
ZZ that night, and it went very well.
So that night, I was hired to be the back-line tech -- Gibbons' guitar tech and Dusty's guitar tech -- and the opening act for ZZ Top.
Chris: Gah! That's huge!
JBA: It was huge! So from that point on until I got my record deal, that's what I did: I'd open for ZZ-Top on their tours.
Chris: And that was for how long?
JBA: That was for a couple of years. As a matter of
fact, that night
and we'll get to this later, but
had pursued Lloyd Maines
while I was in Lubbock, when I came back to Lubbock in '72, because
I wanted a pedal-steel guitar player. That particular night,
I needed two guitars to do that show, because in my set I did
one guitar that was standard tuning and I also played some songs
that was in G-tuning. But I only had one acoustic guitar.
And I had to get his guitar back to him in Lubbock, because Hell! I was gonna be gone! I couldn't keep Steve's guitar! So I got his guitar back to him
So anyway, I take off from there, and go out and get my experience playing on the road with ZZ Top, which was a great educational process for me. And during my time off, I would always come back to Lubbock, and I would play different places
Chris: So that was your "residence"?
JBA: Yes. I continued to live with Ron Witten until he graduated and moved on to Dallas and then I got my own place. I never technically left Lubbock. I stayed in Lubbock through my whole musical career.
So then, the more I wrote; I was having a shift from acoustic music to acoustic-electric music, and then to electric music Remember: I'm an electric guitar player, too; not just acoustic. So I started experimenting with different musicians The first musician I added was; I needed a piano player, and I hired a guy named Paul Culver, who played acoustic guitar and piano.
Chris: Is he from Lubbock?
JBA: Paul was from Midland And then the next move is I hired a bass player, and his name was David Bentley; He went to Texas Tech, was originally from Big Spring. And then I talked Lloyd into goin' out and playing a few dates with me on the road and playing steel-guitar in my band
Chris: Is this getting' around '74?
JBA: We're about somewhere around '73 now
Chris: And just to make sure I'm clear: That whole time you were touring, you were just opening for ZZ Top, right? That was your gig, right?
JBA: That's right; that was "my gig." And
so now I've got a four piece band: I've got Lloyd, David Bentley,
I've got Paul Culver and myself. And Lloyd can't play all the
dates because Lloyd has got his Maines
Brothers gig goin' on and he doesn't wanta leave town.
JBA: By this time, I was opening shows for other people
as well. I did dates with everyone under the sun, in those days:
I mean, from The Allman Brothers to The Charlie Daniels
Band; Jackson Browne; Bonnie Raitt
2007 Chris Oglesby
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