Stories From the Road #18

STORIES FROM THE ROAD!A series of first-hand tales from a Texas Musician and songwriter...

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 bus 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.

Rick:

“I had a tall skinny bass man that we used to play tricks on. His name was Thomas Jenkins but we all called him Red because he had red hair. He wore glasses with thick lenses. He had a lot of trouble with his eyes. I remember one time we were in a motel out in California when he went to sleep on the floor watching TV with his glasses on.  My brother, Bobby, had some watercolors and he painted the lens on his glasses with red, yellow and orange paint. When it dried on them, after a minute or so, he put a paper sack in an aluminum pan and set it on fire. Once the room filled with smoke, everybody started hollering, “Fire, fire, fire.” Red woke up. He jumped up off the floor and of course, all he could was red, orange and yellow and he could smell the smoke. He was panicking until he pulled his glasses off. Of course, he failed to see the humor in it but we were all rolling on the floor laughing.

Another thing we used to do to him when he would zonk out like that was spray shaving cream on his glasses. He would wake up and couldn’t see anything but white shaving cream and he’d think he’d gone blind. I suppose that was pretty cruel, but it was all in fun. No harm was ever meant by it.

This same guy, Red Jenkins, greased his hair down with Brilliantine oil, that was popular back then. He was bad about falling asleep; one of those guys that nodded off real good, kind of a Rip  Van Winkle sort of guy. So anyway, this time, someone else was driving, Red was in the middle and I was on the passenger side. Three other guys were in the back of the car and we were heading to a gig. I was wearing a white western shirt. Red went to sleep and fell over on my shoulder with that greasy head so I pushed his head back up. He didn’t even wake up. We went a little farther down the road and he fell back over on my shoulder again. I raised his head back up but by this time I was getting a little perturbed. So, the third time he fell over on my shoulder, I popped him upside the head and told him to wake up. He said, “That’s alright, you sonofabitch. You’re gonna want to sleep someday.”  It was kinda funny though. The guys all cracked up when I popped him good.

I will say this about Red Jenkins. He always had my back. I met him when he was hitchhiking through Texas on the way to California. I stopped to give him a ride. He wound up staying with me and playing in the band for many years and even went to prison with me. I felt responsible for him. He wasn’t real bright, but he could play good and he was loyal. I often wonder whatever happened to him…”

Thomas Red Jenkins

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Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels at London Hall – Red Jenkins far right
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Rick Sikes and Red Jenkins

Stories From The Road #16

STORIES FROM THE ROAD!A series of first-hand tales from a Texas Musician and songwriter...

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 bus 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.

RICK:

“As any road musician will tell you, you meet all kinds of strange people in your travels. There was one guy I hired in a pinch when I needed a drummer. I didn’t have any idea when I hired him just what a weirdo he was. But, he told us that he and another guy had gotten busted when they were younger for digging up corpses in the cemetery, opening the caskets, lighting candles, and reading poetry to dead people. He was only hired as a temporary fill-in, but he was damned sure more temporary than he realized when I found this out.

Anyway, me being me, I asked him, “How come you guys to do that?”

He said, “Oh, man, you can really relate to those people.”

I replied, “Oh yeah?”

He got all excited. “You know, there’s something special about that.”

I tried to keep the sarcasm out of my voice, but am sure I failed, when I said, “Yeah, I bet there is.”

He went on. “We never would have got busted if we hadn’t started digging them high bones.”

“What do you mean, high bones?” I asked.

“Oh, them rich people. As long as we were digging up poor people’s graves, nobody ever said anything about it, but we started digging up the rich people’s graves and that is when they got cops out there and started watching. That’s how they caught us.”

I said, “Okay, Okay, sure.”

This guy was obviously a little messed up in the head.

One time he was playing drums with another band and he had taken some fighting roosters in with him in a bowling bag. Then when the dance floor filled up, he opened the bag and threw out three roosters. Of course, the roosters were flapping their wings and squawking and people scrambled and hollered. The guy that owned the club came up on the bandstand and politely grabbed him by the nap of the neck out from behind the drums and threw him, not out a door, but through a wooden door out back. He then took his drums, kicked the heads out and threw them out on top of him with a warning. “Don’t ever let me see you again!”

When I fired this same guy, I handled it as delicately as I knew how. I told him I had to let him go because someone else I had promised the job to had shown up. I just wanted to break it off easy.

But, that night, he came out to the club where I was working.

He said, “I brought a pet rabbit for your girlfriend.”

The girl I was with at the time spoke up and said she didn’t want a rabbit and I told him no as well, but he wouldn’t accept that.

He said, “Well, you’ve gotta take it.”

I started to get mad then, so I said, “Man, I don’t want the damn rabbit and she don’t want the damn rabbit so the best thing you can do is take your rabbit and head on down the road.”

“Well, okay. You’re so mad at me you won’t even let me give you a gift?” He asked.

I got a little more firm and he finally left and took the bunny with him.

Another crazy stunt he pulled was in San Angelo. He went into a bar without his ID and he was pretty young back then. So, when he ordered a drink the bartender asked to see his ID. His response was, “Well, let me see your Bartender’s license.”

The bartender ran him out. He went home and came back with an old army trench coat on, an army hat, belt with a canteen and a holster that he had a 45 revolver stuck in. He walked through the door, pulled the 45 out and hollered, “This place is under Marshall Law. Don’t nobody move.”

He walked up to the bar and pointed the 45 at the bartender and said, “Now I want a drink.”

So, the bartender served him. He had a drink or two and when he left, he told everyone, “At ease, men,” saluted them, snapped his feet together and marched out the door.

The bartender turned him in and they locked him up for a few days for bringing a gun into a bar. When he got out, he put on a bikini bathing suit, a wig, lipstick, and makeup and rented a Ford tractor from the farm supply house. He drove around the parking lot at the bar holding a sign that said, “This place is unfair to women. This place is unfair to everyone.”

He pulled some more stuff and I don’t know whatever happened to him, but he had some screws loose. His tenure with me was very shortlived. But this is just an example of some of the characters I ran across over the many years I traveled the roads.”

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                                 Top Row L-R Tommy “Red” Jenkins, Rick Sikes, Clyde Graham                                                      Bottom Row L-R Mel Way, Bobby Sikes “Doc Dow

 

 

I hope you've enjoyed this segment of-STORIES FROM THE ROAD-from Texas SingerSongwriterRICK SIKES

Stories From The Road #4

STORIES FROM THE ROAD!A series of first-hand tales from a Texas Musician and songwriter...

This is part of a new 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.

This segment involves the dedication of Hords Creek Lake, located 8 miles west of Coleman.

“We still lived out in the country when they dedicated Hord’s Creek Lake. The Corp of Engineers had Lefty Frizzell, Harry Choates, and the Chuck Wagon Gang out to provide entertainment for the day. At that time, Lefty was about the hottest thing happening. I was a big ol’ dumb country kid out there in the sticks thumping on a guitar. I thought Lefty was great. They had an old touring car – stretch car – not exactly a limousine, but what they used back then, to tour.

My, mom and dad, took me and my younger brother out to spend the day. Most everybody in Coleman County turned out for this thing. I went and sat in the backseat of the car with Lefty Frizzell and talked to him. I can only imagine now, what he must have thought about some hick country kid talking to him. I told him all about my aspirations of becoming a singer. I was starstruck and thrilled to talk to him. He told me he was going to California when he left. He had some gigs out there. He said, “Do you want to go to California with me?” I said, “Well sure, man. Are you joking?” He said, “No I’m not joking. Do you want to go to California with me? I’ll take you with me.” I told him I would be back in a little bit. I ran to find my mom and dad and told them what Lefty said and that I needed to go home and get some clothes.

My dad said, “Are you crazy, boy? You’re not going anywhere with that drunk son-of-a-bitch.” Lefty was very drunk that day. I told my dad, “This is my big chance.” And Dad said, “You’re not going anywhere with him. You gotta be out of your mind if you think we’re gonna let you go off with him to California or anywhere else.” And that was that.

I was pretty mad at Dad for a while. Of course, I thought I’d just blown my one big chance to “make it big.” Looking back, I know Lefty was just drunk-talking. But, it was another event that made a big impression on me at a young age.”

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And while this is not the exact car Lefty was touring in that day, it is a historically accurate example of what they used.

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What do you think would have happened if Rick had gone with Lefty that day? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

I hope you've enjoyed this segment of-STORIES FROM THE ROAD-from Texas SingerSongwriterRICK SIKES

Stories From the Road #1

Road_Sunset

I’m beginning a new 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.

I hope you enjoy this series, but before we get to the “road” stories, I want to go back a little farther to the beginning.

Rick Sikes got his first guitar when he was twelve years old. He recalls, “My uncle gave me an old Montgomery Ward guitar. The thing was an F-hole guitar and the strings on it were old and rusty. They were more like saw blades than guitar strings when you would run your fingers down them. The neck was warped, but I like that guitar a lot. Some of the strings were two strings tied together. They’d break where you could get up above the nut and tie them back enough to get them wrapped around the key. I loved plunking on that old guitar and trying to sing. I did a lot of it. I was so bad and getting a little braver and louder and finally, my dad asked me if I wouldn’t like to take the guitar down to the barn to the feed room where it was dry. I could go down there and get some practice and sing loud. In other words, he’d had about enough of that damn racket in the house and it was time to take it elsewhere. So, my first real audience was cows.”

Rick Sikes Junior High

(Just an interesting side note. Rick’s family moved to Odessa for a short time and during these years, 1948-1949, Rick attended school with Roy Orbison.)

Now on to the first stage appearance:

“Sometime in the late Forties, at the Coleman City Park, they had a Pavillion where guys would gather to sing and play music on Saturday nights. I would go and listen a lot. Some of the older musicians kept after me to get up and sing with them. So, I finally did. I’ll never forget the first song I sang. All those people were looking at me as I was singing “Your Cheating Heart.” I sang it through. The old guys in the band knew I was scared because my knees were knocking together. They wouldn’t stop and the band played on through the bridge and told me to sing another verse, and another and another. They wouldn’t let me quit. I just kept singing. I came home and stayed awake most of that night because I was a nervous wreck. Then I got to thinking…’Well, if I’m ever going to sing, I’m going to have to get up there and do it. I can’t put it off any longer and I can’t be afraid.’ It took me a few days of kicking it around trying to decide whether I ever wanted to get back up there again. I made up my mind it was what I wanted to do. I copped an attitude that the worse they could do is kill me and they probably wouldn’t want to eat me. So, I got back up there for many, many years afterward. I don’t recall a time during the first minute or two when I walked out on a stage that I didn’t have what I can only call an adrenaline rush. It was a moment of tension until after I got into the first song. By the time I was half through that first song, I was okay…I had it. Five minutes into the gig, I had the audience exactly like I wanted them. They didn’t have me, I had them zeroed in…”

 

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Rick Sikes on the left and Bobby Sikes on the right – 1956

I hope you’ll come back each week as I share some of the “Stories from the Road” with Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels!

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Congratulations, Jamie Richards!!

Jamie Richards, one of the most consistent and best singer/songwriters in the business, celebrated another #! hit this past week!!!

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“When You Love Somebody” is not only a chart-topper, but a song with a beautiful message!

Lyrics: “When you love somebody,  when you know you’ve found the one. You can can’t remember life without her. You can imagine life alone. When you love somebody they have your heart and soul. And everyone will know when you love somebody…”

Give it a listen here and congratulate Jamie!! When You Love Somebody

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