This is part of a series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a van full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.
“There was a singer back in the sixties named Warren Smith. He was very good and charted some records. In fact, “I Don’t Believe I’ll Fall In Love Today,” got to #5 on the charts in 1960. He also did some recording for Sun records. I thought he was an excellent talent. We did a lot of backup gigs at that time and we backed him up at Round Rock, Texas at the Big G Club. Then, later on that night, we found out that after he finished the gig, he had gone into Austin and robbed a drug store for some drugs. That was the last I heard of Warren Smith.”
“Kenny Price was a musical genius. He could play almost any instrument exceptionally well and could sing at least three parts of harmony. I booked Kenny on his first gig in Texas through Jimmie Key at New Keys Talent. I booked Kenny in at Pat’s Hall in Fredericksburg, Texas. He met me in Brownwood and I drove him down to Fredericksburg. We stopped at a restaurant in Brady, Texas to eat some lunch. Well, Kenny damn near cleaned ’em out. That guy could put away some chow. We got to Pat’s Hall and they had a Lone Star sponsored band out of San Antonio to back Kenny. There were seven guys in the band. Kenny asked one of them if they would tune his guitar with them and the guy said, “What’s the matter? Can’t you tune a guitar?” Kenny said, “Damned right I can tune a guitar, you sonofabitch, and if you guys get smart-assed with me, Rick and I will take your instruments away from you and play the gig ourselves. I can play every damned instrument you’ve got on that stage and probably a damned sight better than y’all can.” The whole band looked kinda’ stunned.
We went to a table and drank a little whiskey while the band warmed up. This curvy blonde came up to the table and gushed over Kenny. She was obviously star struck. She went on and on. I remember her saying, “I can’t believe it. I just saw you on TV last night and here you are in Fredericksburg.” Kenny grinned and said, “Ain’t it a miracle, darlin’. Here, sit down.” He patted a chair beside him and she sat. “What’s your name, darlin’?”
I can’t recall what her name was, but she sat down and Kenny laid it on strong. After a couple of drinks, he told her, “Honey, I’ve got to go up and play, but I sure would like it if you’d come to the motel tonight with ol’ Uncle Kenny.” She giggled and batted her eyelashes and said, “Oh, I don’t think my husband would like that too much.” He pulled her up real close and said, “Oh hell, just tell him you’re going with me. He won’t mind.” She giggled some more and then said she had to go.
I told Kenny, “Man, these people down here are pretty clannish and they’re probably all kin in some way or another. If you fight one, you’ll have to fight them all.” He replied, “Hell, I’m from Kentucky and everyone is clannish there. I ain’t afraid of these bastards, are you?” “No,” I said, “but I don’t see any use in getting into it with ’em.” He slung back another whiskey and said, “Well, are you afraid to get an ass whipping?”
I leaned back in my chair hoping we would both get out of there without a fight. “No, I’ve had it before.” Then we both just started laughing. The old gal never came back over.
Kenny could tell a joke like nobody else. He could imitate the male and female voices and he was funny. I booked him several other gigs in Texas over the years, but I’ll never forget that first time.”
**Six-foot tall, 300-pound Kenny “The Round Mound of Sound” Price was best remembered for his work on the long-running television show Hee Haw; he was also a talented singer/songwriter and musician who never quite made it to the big-time, despite having 34 chart singles over his 15-year career.**