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Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends of West Texas Music
by Christopher Oglesby
Published by the University of Texas Press:
"As a whole, the interviews create a portrait not only of Lubbock's musicians and artists, but also of the musical community that has sustained them, including venues such as the legendary Cotton Club and the original Stubb's Barbecue. This kaleidoscopic portrait of the West Texas music scene gets to the heart of what it takes to create art in an isolated, often inhospitable environment. As Oglesby says, "Necessity is the mother of creation. Lubbock needed beauty, poetry, humor, and it needed to get up and shake its communal ass a bit or go mad from loneliness and boredom; so Lubbock created the amazing likes of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, and Joe Ely."

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"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."
- William Kerns, Lubbock Avalanche Journal

Chris Oglesby Interviews
Jay Boy Adams
RoadHouse Coaches, Inc.
Comfort, TX; 2/8/02

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…
I was living down in Midland, Texas, working seven nights a week at a club down there, playing in a little Blues band called The Johnny Hartsman Trio.

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 had stumbled into that club one Sunday afternoon, because I had heard that they had an open-mic jam session there on Sunday afternoons. And I had also heard that this incredible Black guy that played keyboard, flute, guitar, and bass played there and I wanted to check him out, because I'd always been a big fan of the Hammond B3 organ. And sure enough, this Sunday afternoon that I went into the Chateau Club - that was the name of this place Johnny was playing; He directed a Jam session…Y'know, like if you wanted to play you had to go up and tell him that you want to play.

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."
And he kinda' eyed me and looked at me like, "What are you gonna play, toothpick?"

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…
I said, "Hey, Man, let's play some Albert King."
He really thought that was kind of comical. I mean, I must've looked like I was about fifteen years old. He was like, "How did you get in here?" was his main question.

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.]
But it was like a concert venue where the Rock bands would go play. Kids would go down there and pay to get in and watch different bands. There was no alcohol.

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?"

JBA: They had more to do with me moving to Lubbock than Ron did, because we had a great little band named Boot Hill

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 Moss.
I was in Ruidoso and writing these songs. And ZZ-Top was gonna' do a show in Lubbock in March of '72, and they needed an opening act. Moss had been coming over to my place in Ruidoso where I was living and listening to my songs - plus, I had a couple of little gigs up there, a couple of bars where I was playing. He said, "Make me a tape and I'm gonna give it to the promoter down in Lubbock, play it for the guy who's doing the show for ZZ and maybe I can get you the opening spot…

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.
At any rate, he comes back to me and reports to me that he had secured the opening spot for me to open for ZZ Top. And I said, "Well, Great! What do we do now? I'm gonna go play folk music in front of a Texas boogie band?"

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.
So I showed up and played the date that night; And their manager was there, a guy named Bill Ham. He listened to my set and said, "Hey, Man. I like your music and I like the songs you're writing. If you ever want to pursue this further, here's my card. Give me a call."

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…It just had a decent feel, y'know.
So that song…I only got to play 30 minutes, so it didn't take too many tunes…

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…I'd always 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.
Gary Nicholson and I saw that show together, because he had the same musical background and had cut his teeth listening to the same people I had. I wrote Jack Diamond shortly after I saw that show.

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?"
And I said, "Yes, I am," and he said, "Well, we need an opening act tomorrow night. Are you available?"
I said, "Yes." And he said, "Okay, we'll get you a plane ticket. We want you to fly to Dallas and you're gonna play with us tomorrow night."
I said, "Fine," and I flew to Dallas…I was gonna open for ZZ-Top. So when I get over to Dallas, I realize what's goin' on: They're playing at Memorial Auditorium, which is now Dallas County Convention Center downtown, and it was Sold Out! They'd sold ten-thousand tickets to their show that night, and I was the opening act!

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.
That night...ZZ was on tour, and Ham asked me what kind of suitcase I had brought with me…How much stuff.
And I said, "Well, I brought what I've got. Y'know, three or four pairs of blue jeans, half a dozen T-shirts, and my toothbrush."
He said, "We want you to go on the road with us; We want you to do this tour with us. Tomorrow night we're gonna be in New Orleans." He gave me the itinerary…

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!
I mean, for one guy to open for ZZ Top…

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…I 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 when I had met Lloyd…His little brother Steve played acoustic guitar as well, and he had a Martin. Steve loaned me his Martin guitar that night when I went to do the show with ZZ, and I took two guitars with me: my Martin and Steve's Martin. His Martin was a D28 and right up here on top it had "Steve Maines" written on it in black. I played his guitar on stage that night…

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.
I mean, Lloyd's married. Lloyd was always very serious minded about what he was doing. I mean, Lloyd needed to make a living. He wasn't foot-loose and fancy-free. He was married and had a house. I mean, Lloyd Maines has always been very very responsible, very conscientious about everything he does…He still is.
So the dates Lloyd could do were great, the one's he couldn't we missed him but I still had to do my shows. And then we decided I needed a drummer so I hired Davis McLarty. So we had a pretty rockin' little four-piece band, and with Lloyd it was REAL rockin'.

Chris: Yea!

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…
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