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
"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
Country Style was an entertainment column
written by Russ Parsons for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal in
the 1980s, a fertile time in Lubbock music history. He has graciously
shared many of his articles with us at www.virtualubbock.com
for our readers' enjoyment.
Russ Parsons currently is the food editor for the Los Angeles
LUBBOCK AVALANCHE JOURNAL
(posted on www.virtualubbock.com by
permission of author)
And then there's Larry Welborn.
Of all the musicians that played with Buddy Holly, by his own
admission his is the least successful. Bob Montgomery is a record
producer with a Grammy award his credit; Jerry Allison is a studio
musician in Los Angeles; Joe B. Mauldin is studio engineer
and music publisher; Sonny Curtis is a successful songwriter
(he penned the theme song for the original "Mary Tyler Moore
Show"); Tommy Allsup is one of the leading record
producers in country music; Waylon Jennings is, well...
And Larry Welborn is a guitar and banjo teacher in Durant, Okla.,
playing only on weekends
"Everybody made money but me, I think," he says, without
rancor. "They were a bunch of good guys and there was a
bunch of talent too."
Welborn, who was a couple of years younger than Holly and Bob
Montgomery, joined the duo as a bass player and played with Holly
from high school to just before "That'll Be The Day"
hit the charts.
"Buddy and Bob were in high school while I was in junior
high," he remembered. "But I'd been playing for a long
time, since I was about 13"
"I was playing a little club at the time as a solo act;
I was only 16 years old really too young to do it legally. Buddy
and Bob came out and saw me and that is when I started playing,
"We started playing the radio show, a half-hour gig on radio
station KDAV on Sundays at 2:30, and we did that for a while.
We also did stuff like playing super market openings and car
lots and stuff like that, basically just learning what we were
At the time we played bebop, or what was called bebop. I don't
think Buddy was a rock'n'roll type at first. When we started
he was just doig country music. Then when Elvis came out, Buddy
got into that stuff and that's really where his style came from,
singing like Elvis, trying to sound like Elvis.
"After a while he got his own style and that's when he started
trying to use that hiccupping stuff, after that."
All the hoopla surrounding Holly since his death has turned the
singer into something of a rock n roll saint -- with as much
depth of character as the lead in an Elvis Presley movie
That's not how Welborn saw it. His Holly is an average Lubbock
boy with a lot of talent and even more drive.
"He was just a guy who was out on the road and trying to
make it, that was the main thing," Welborn said. "He
was just trying to do good.
"The last time I saw him was right before he went out on
the last tour, lie was trying to look good. He'd gotten his teeth
fixed and his hair done. He'd gone from a country boy to more
of a slicker type, wearing tight pants and all.
"I don't think he was putting on a show, he just realized
that to do better he had to look better. He was setting styles.
I think he matured into that. I think the main thing I learned
from Buddy was to be gutsy.
"Buddy was a hustler, he was after it all the time. Buddy
didn't have the kind of hang-ups that people seem to get nowadays
about playing. He went in there with the attitude that if you
wanted to watch him that was fine and if you didn't want to that
was fine too
"That's the way it should be because you're playing for
Which brings us to the heart of the Larry Welborn matter. Why
hasn't he achieved the same sort of success as the rest of his
contemporaries? It's not lack of talent or ability, as the common
opinion seems to be that he is as good or better a musician than
the rest of the crew.
That leaves drive. Maybe the reason he isn't "successful"
is because making music is reward enough for him, making a living
from it is kind of an afterthought.
The idea that you have to be poor to be artistic is just so much
sour grapes. but on the other hand there doesn't seem to be much
to support the idea that the best picker is the one who has made
the most money
"I guess I never really hustled it like I should have if
I was going to do it," Welborn said of his musical career.
"I'm really not one to go out and push that hard. It gets
to where it's too much work.
I'm just kind of slowing down here, teaching and enjoying it
really. Pay is not all that important anyway and I think I could
enjoy staying in it all my life. I think about those days with
Buddy quite a bit but I try not to linger on them too much. Something
like that is nice but it doesn't really seem important to me.
"What is important? That's a tough question. I guess living
with yourself, being satisfied with what you're doing. I enjoy
playing my guitar even if I'm sitting around the house, if I'm
doing something that I couldn't do six months ago. '
Some of those people coming down for Friday night's Buddy Holly
Memorial Concert at the Civic Center almost seem like they'd
be a lot happier if they never heard of Buddy Holly again. After
20 years, a ghost becomes a heavy weight to carry around. Does
Welborn resent the constant connection with Buddy Holly?
"Oh no, not at all. If we were talking about me, we wouldn't
have much to talk about, would we? In fact, I think I'll call
a friend of mine down there. If can talk to some of the guys
I might come down."
More articles by Russ Parsons
Butch Hancock - Joe Ely, Buddy Holly & Joey Allen - Jimmie Gilmore - David Halley
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