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My brush with stardom...

Ol Smoke

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1973, the Oakgrove Tavern in Redding, California.  We were a fill-in band for one weekend here.  It was Friday night and the place was packed.

A tour bus drives up out front and some people get off and come into the place to eat.  We had done a couple of sets and were getting ready to

take a break.  A guy comes up to the band and asks us if we let musicians join in at all?  Gary replied that we do if they know how to play.  To that

he said to us, "That young girl over there is the new California State fiddle champion".  Pointing to a dark headed girl about 21 years old.  He

then pointed to another younger girl, and said that she just recorded a new record.  So Gary said "Yeah we would love to have them come up"


So we took a break while they got their stuff together and we came back up on stage and introduced them.  The fiddle girl started out with "The

Orange Blossum Special" which we all new.  She played about 3 more songs and then turned the stage over to the other girl.  She handed us

the music with the guitar chording on it and we quietly went thru a verse and then went live.  We were blown away by her singing.


We took a short break to talk to them a little before they got back on the road.  The fiddler was a girl named "Jana Jae".  Now you might not have

ever heard of her but your parents probably have.  She married Buck Owens and was on the old TV show, "Hee Haw".


The little girl was a then unknown, "Tanya Tucker".  The song she sang that night was "Delta Dawn".  She became a big country star.


Years later Gary and I played with "Sam the Sham" for a week.  


In 1981 my wife and I were going from Reno to California in our RV when a big bus pulling a boat passed us.  Later on down the mountain we saw

the bus on the side of the road with smoke coming out of the rear of the bus.  I decided to pull over and see if we could help. (No Cell phones then)

a couple of guys were back there and I asked them if we could lend a hand.  So two of the fellas got in with us and we were going to take them to the

nearest town to get help.  Then another guy got out of the bus and ran back to our RV.  One of the guys opened the door and talked to him for a

second and then turned to ask me if it was okay for him to ride with us also.  I said sure.  So we got  going and about 30 miles later we saw this big

gas station with some diesel stuff around and they said it would be okay to let them off there.  They said thank you, but the third guy came up to me

and my wife and said he really appreciated the help.  I turned to shake his hand and it was none other than Merle Haggard.


Two years later, his guitar player was in Salem Hospital where I worked and I took his chest x-ray.  I told him about meeting Merle that day in the RV.

It turns out he was one of the guys riding with us.  Small world heh?


My band up here in 1978-1979 was recording a small LP for local sales and we were using a recording studio in Portland.  We were laying down some tracks

on a Saturday morning when these 4 guys came into the studio area.  (Our guitar player worked there)  He talked to these guys for about 20 minutes and then

they came into the actual recording room where I was, and apologized for interrupting me.  After they left, Brian told me they were a band that had

just lost their bass player and was looking for a place to practice with the new guy that was coming.  So we had to cut short my session that day.

I hung around for about 2 hours and listened to them.  The band was Chick Correa and the bass player was Jack Bruce.  Jack knew very little of their

music but with-in 2 hours he had every song down cold, as if he had been playing with them all his life.  They played a concert here in Portland that

night.  Now that is talent!


I think some of you guys might remember them, but I know Phoenix will.  Jack Bruce played with Eric Clapton and Manfred Mann and many others.

Edited by Ol' Smoke
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Hahaha man these stories are great! I do remember these people, and also Jana Jae, mostly because of Hee Haw and the fact she was married to Buck!  Smoke that is a pretty impressive resume man! I would love to have splayed with Sam the Sham.. Did ya get to play Wooly Bully?!?!


None of my stories are near as cool, they mostly have to do with work, but I do have a couple I will share..


I have played for years and years in and around Nashville, so I sorta have a little bit of a rep there as a good solid bass player.. One day years and years ago, a friend of mine Mark Good, who owned a studio there called and asked if I could come down and set in with a band that was coming to record.

At first I declined as I had other things I was involved with, but after enough phone calls and well lets be honest, the money getting just right, I decided I would

go.. I got there the day before and crashed at Marks place. That night he kept telling me how this guy that was coming was going to be the next big thing in country music and so on, but honestly I had heard this about so many people and musicians, I didn't let it get me excited..


The next day we went in a began to record, it was pretty standard stuff, it was all charted out in Nashville chart, so it was very robotic..

We recorded for a few days, and finished up to what amounted to a 4 song demo.. I thanked the guys for bringing me and I had a pretty good time.

They were really cool guys..  Well quite sometime had went by, and I had honestly forgotten about it.. One friday evening I get a call from Mark telling me to tune into CMT, I think, it may have been when TNT still did country music vids I am not sure at 8pm. I do and they are doing a world premiere video and when they said the guys name, it sounded familiar, but didn't immediately hit me, but when the music hit, I totally remembered recording this song.. Like Smoke, most of you won't remember probably, but it was Aaron Tippin and the song was There ain't nothing Wrong with the Radio..

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Here is the best of the best for me.  1992, Reno, Nevada air races.  Gary and I and our wives made a trip here to watch the air races.

I had to take a potty break and was standing in line when I heard a guy behind me say "It took less time to break the sound barrier".

I turned around and standing behind me was Chuck Yeager.  I didn't know what to say, I was totally caught dumbfounded, so I motioned

for him to step ahead of me.  There were three other guys ahead of me, so I went up to them and whispered,  "Chuck Yeager would like

to take cuts"   Needlessly to say, I got some pretty weird looks, until I motioned toward Col. Yeager.  They all moved aside.  I think the

Colonel was taken a bit by surprise.  He went in, did his business, and when he came out everyone applauded him.

Later on he took a plane up and it was amazing how he could drive that machine.

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Haha well GRilla he is pretty famous....  Smoke that's pretty cool man , he is an American Icon!   I met the guy who played Les Nessman on WKRP at a book signing, but he wasn't very happy when I was next in line and hadn't bought a book lol

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It was Sept 1967 and I lived outside of Klamath Falls, Oregon.  I was shooting trap a lot back then and I went to the hardware store in Kfalls to get more powder

and shot for the reloader.  I was nearing the store when I passed by a guy who looked familiar.  I turned to see who it was, and he turned around at the same time.

I said, "Are you George Peppard?"  He said yes.  I I said, "What are you doing in Klamath Falls?"  He laughed and said he lived outside of Dorris, California and came

up here to look around.  I told him I had just seen a movie he was in called "Rough Night in Jericho".  He asked if I liked it, and I said yes.  I told him to tell Slim Pickens

that the next time he came up to buy Deer Jerky from my dad, that I was going to have words with him about that character he played.  He laughed a second, then said, 

"your dad makes that wonderful jerky?"  I said yes.  "Slim had two cans of that stuff and would only give me one piece"  I replied, "That sounds like him".  "I would love to have

some, the next time you make it"  "Sure"  To which he gave me his mailing address in Dorris. 

That October we cooked up 24 cans of jerky and I sent him two.  We got a letter from him at Christmas time saying how much he appreciated the jerky.  Slim came up and

got his usual 12 cans and then went by to see George and tease him.  We stayed good friends George for a couple of years and then drifted apart.  But Slim was a lifelong

friend.  I would stop by his ranch near Columbia, Calif. and see him from time to time, and bring him a can of jerky.  After Slim died in 1983, I never made jerky again.


When Slim died, I sent a can of jerky to his wife in California, so she could bury him with it.  Slim was a genuine cowboy and I loved him.


**The cans were 3 pound empty coffee cans, that we used to store it in. Each one could hold 2 to 3 pounds of jerky.  Which we sold to him for $5 a can.

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Man that is awesome smoke.. You need to get all these together and do some sort of memoir or something for real!

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