|Posted by Darlene on September 6, 2010 at 8:33 PM||comments (1)|
The new CD "WATCHING IT GO" can be purchased or songs downloaded by clicking HERE.
Thank you for your interest,
|Posted by Darlene on July 14, 2010 at 9:11 PM||comments (3)|
-This article was originally posted on Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"
Forgotten Singers and Songwriters – Gene Thomas!
July 11, 2010
Gary: I do not know whether anyone reads my little stories, but I think this one is interesting. I own a series of CD’s called the “The Golden Age of American Rock and Roll“. Now I was transferring some of the music on Volume 5 to MP3′s (this series is excellent and has some rare songs) when I found something confusing.
Let’s be honest up front; I had transferred some music to mp3s. But as I was putting the CDs back in their cabinet, I noticed a track listed on the back of the CD cover called “Sometimes” by Dale & Grace.
Now, if only I had looked at the liner notes for the CD, a “mistake” I am about to share with you would not have happened; but in the end it turned out to be a good mistake.
Playing the mp3 “Sometimes” did not sound like Dale & Grace! Windows Media Player said the writer was Gene Thomas, so this got me going and I started some investigation. Well, after a large number of hours I discovered that this song was actually written and recorded by Gene Thomas in 1961, not Dale & Grace.
There is very little on the Internet about Gene Thomas, so I broadened my search to include “Facebook”. Then, on a whim I sent a facebook message to a Gene Thomas and would you believe I found the correct person!
So what I am about to post to our Blog is really, Gene’s very own words and comments. I have never met Gene, but he has been very kind and forthcoming to me, a total stranger, and that says a lot about his character.
Forgotten Singers and Song Writers
Gene Thomas working the crowd
A personal email from Gene Thomas
to me, Gary Copeland:
I was born in Palestine ,TX.(at home) Dec. 4th ,1938. father was a carpenter, among other things. Grew up on the move, as my family moved a lot, following work. changed schools constantly & after parents divorced when I was 12, my father was awarded custody of my sister & I. Lost interest in school. Ran off to live with my Mother in a small E.Texas town. Eventually dropped out of school in the ninth. Worked odd jobs as a teen in the 50′s. Having become intrigued with music as a young boy,I left to come back to Houston to play music. Not knowing how to go about recording nor finding any hope. Gave up & married. One day while visiting my -then wife’s-cousin, he heard me ‘plinking’ on his wife’s new organ, & asked if I’d like to cut a record. I said “Of course” & basically forgot about it. Later however, we did go to a local studio where we recorded “Sometime” which I had written a couple of nights before.(March 7, 1961-recording date)
Long , long story short. no one in Houston ,TX. would play it. After a couple of months we took it to a small station (Texas city) From there it made it’s way to KPAC , a station that covered a large area.(Beaumont, Pt.Arthur,Orange, Tx.) Made # 1 in 3 weeks on their top 20. from there it spread to become # 1 in all major Tx. cities.
All this time I was working as a shipping clerk. Our distributor set up a deal with United Artists. the song had played out in the gulf coast by then. Still, with little promotion , it crept it’s way to a wide area -slowly. By Oct. 61, it had hit in California,and in such diverse places as Jamaica ,where it was # 1.
It eventually reached # 53 in Billboard Pop charts., in spite of lack of momentum. Roy Orbison heard it on one of his trips to the Houston area & contacted U.A. & asked to produce a session on me. And did —one in 62 & one in 63. We had little luck tho. One “Baby’s Gone” reached the 80′s (don’t recall the exact #) .He pretty well gave up ,due to lack of promotion by U.A. (It was # 1 for 5 weeks in Houston for instance)
Back in Houston, I began focusing more on writing, due to the fact, I didn’t like any of the songs offered by the Nashville publ. Remember. if you’re low priority on a record co’s roster, you get offered the lesser tunes.
In ‘ 67 I wrote a song titled “Go with Me’ & recorded it as a duo (Gene & Debbe) . It reached the billboard charts( don’t recall the # -60 something I think?) Good enough to land a contract with Acuff-Rose in Nashville. Wrote & recorded “Playboy” which reached # 17 in Billboard Pop charts.( On the TRX label) Earning a BMI award & Gold Record. had a couple of other small chart. songs. But no equal to “Playboy’
I wrote for Acuff- Rose and had quite a few artists record my songs. The biggest of which was Don Gibson & Dottie West’s “Rings Of Gold” in 69. reached # 2 in country charts. ( BMI award) & Glen Barber’s “Kissed By The Rain-warmed by The Sun’ # 24 in Billboard Country charts.
Well, I’m running on & on here, and I’m sure you’re not interested in all this. BUT- my career (as it were) has been one mixed bag. Ha!
Today I’m mostly retired & living in a small town in Texas with my wife of 33 years. I’m not in the best of health. Okay but not tops. (diabetes & such) . I make only very, very rare appearances, such as one coming up the end of this month. The ‘oldie’ show-up thing you know.
Ironically, the biggest (tho-unknown) song I’ve written is a song titled “Lay It Down) Big overseas for 30 some yrs. It has been recorded by Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings, Lonnie Mack-my favorite, on his early “Hills Of Indiana’ album” Buffy Sainte Marie. Tina Turner & so on.
well I guess I’ll let you up & let you ponder all this mess. wish you well, in making some kind of sense of it. This is difficult for an old one-fingered typist.
take care & thanks,
P.S The original official title was/is ”Sometime” but actually should have been “Sometimes” in order to be correct. Don’t know what happened there, but I guess “Sometime” it will remain. Kinda like your oldie glitch with the Dale & Grace thing, I guess.
|Posted by Darlene on July 14, 2010 at 8:34 PM||comments (1)|
This article was originally posted on http://texashotcountrymagazine.com/
BY LEON BECK
Singer/songwriter Gene Thomas, best known for pop classics like “Sometimes,” “Playboy” (a duet with Debbie Neville), “Baby’s Gone Away” and “The Last Song,” a juke box favorite at Garner State Park, has a track record as a songwriter that most aspiring songwriters can only dream of attaining.
Artists who have recorded his songs have included some of the most legendary figures in the music industry, including Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, Tina Turner, George Jones, Kenny Rogers, the Gentrys, Buffy Sainte- Marie, Don Gibson, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Lee, Mickey Gilley & Charly McClain, Freddy Fender, Doug Sahm, Joe Stampley & the Uniques, Carl Smith, Eddy Raven, Dottie West, Nat Stuckey, Connie Smith, Floyd Cramer and many others. Dean Martin also sang one of Gene’s songs, “A Perfect Mountain,” on his television show, which can be viewed on YouTube.
Gene, who has been off the music radar in recent years, just released a new CD of previously recorded material, Watching It Go, which includes the title cut, as well as 21 other gems, including “my old antique version of ‘Lay It Down,’” “Sometimes” (Gene’s first-ever recording), “The Promised Land,” “The Train” and “Remembered By Someone.”
In the CD’s liner notes, Gene explains the spirit and heart of his latest project. “This CD,” he writes, “is a collection of songs spanning a few decades, including my very first recording of “Sometimes” from 1961 in a local one-track studio in (Houston) Texas, to the ‘then’ state-ofthe art studios in Nashville, on through to the 90’s. Also included is my original version of my most recorded song, ‘Lay It Down,’ from the early 70’s. Mostly my own compositions, but also my versions of a few from songwriter friends. All but a couple of these songs were unreleased or unpromoted, so I’m sure you’re apt to hear many never heard by the public-at-large.
“I truly hope you find some you will like. I consider them some of my best efforts. Just my opinion of course, but here’s hoping you might agree.”
“You know,” Mickey says in the liner notes, “Gene once said to me, ‘We’re different from most people. We sit around with noise always in our heads. It kills us—and it gives us life.’ Complex simplicity is the only way to describe Gene Thomas. Understood only by his closest friends, and then, never completely. He writes with the insight of an old man, and like the rest of us, at times, closes his mind to the wisdom of his own words. He’s human, intensely idealistic at times, and at times a prisoner of himself. Gene is not one of the ‘new breed’ of country writers that seems to find its’ label on so many the past few years. He’s just a writer of beauty in the same tradition as Stephen Foster. Unfortunately, most people will never see the diamonds for the sequins.” In the early ‘70s, singer/songwriter Mickey Newbury wrote the liner notes for one of Gene’s albums, which defined his perception of the mystique of the man and his music.
When Gene first decided to venture into the music business in the late ‘50s, the ninth grade drop-out from Palestine, Texas, made the journey to Houston in search of his golden star. “I was so naive,” Gene recalls of that first trip to Houston, “I looked in the phone book for RCA and Columbia Records. Of course, they weren’t there, so I went back to East Texas and worked in a sawmill.”
He eventually returned to Houston, but still didn’t find what he was searching for. In a word, he was discouraged. “I had already quit because I had no idea where you go, what you do, how you record, what to record. I had no idea. I was a country boy picker -- and at the time I didn’t even have a guitar.”
Gene was playing bars and dives in the Houston area when he hooked up with a couple of guys who led him to Gold Star Recording Studio (now Sugar Hill) where he recorded a song that he had just written, “Sometimes.”
In the studio, Gene say, he “played the piano with a mic stuck in front of me on a one-track machine. I played it once and it was OK, but it was too long because back then you had to be like 2 minutes, 15 seconds, so I chopped off one verse and did it again.” That was the first time that Gene was ever in a recording studio, and that date is etched in his memory.
March 7, 1961. “I don’t have a photographic memory, only for bits and pieces, but I remember that date.
“And we all kind of knew something was there. We got our little record printed, and we, of course, found out that no one would play it in Houston.” But they had better luck outside the Houston market. They did get airplay at a small radio station in Huntsville, and at a station in Texas City.
“A little bitty place out there with rattlesnakes in it. We left it there, they liked it and put it on the turtable.” Gene’s first break came when KPAC, “a powerful station that covered Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange,” played “Sometimes,” which jumped on their music chart from 19 to 10 to 1 in three weeks. So, then Houston started playing it.
“Sometimes” became the No. 1 song in Houston,” Gene says, “and No. 1 in Dallas, San Antonio and all the major cities in Texas.” That song landed Gene a recording contract with United Artists in Nashville. And when rock ‘n’ roll legend Roy Orbison heard the song while on a trip to Houston, he contacted Gene’s label and offered to produce him.
Roy produced several songs on Gene, including “Baby’s Gone Away” and “Peace Of Mind.” “Baby’s Gone Away” became Gene’s second Billboard chart single.
Gene admits that he was “scared” at recording at the one-track studio in Houston, and he was “absolutley terrified” at recording in the Nashville studio, working with the likes of Floyd Cramer, the Anita Kerr Singers, Bobby Goldsboro and Roy Orbison.
Working with Roy fueled Gene’s career, and in the ‘60s he played concerts with the likes of the Beach Boys, the Dave Clark Five and Rusty & Doug. In ‘68, he recorded his biggest hit, “Playboy,” with Debbie Neville, which hit No. 17 on Billboard’s pop chart.
As Gene edges close to the 50th anniversary of “Sometimes,” his body of work as a recoring artist and songwriter has given him his page in pop music history.
“What makes me happiest in life is when someone hears your song, and you see that look that you know you’ve reached ‘em.
“I live for that.”
|Posted by Darlene on June 28, 2010 at 11:19 PM||comments (2)|
Gene attended the 10th annual Mickey Newbury reunion in Houston this past week-end. It was a heartwarming event in remembrance of a great songwriter and singer.
Gene performed along with many others, to acknowledge their respect and admiration for Mickey. Gene has not performed, by choice, for several years, but felt honored to be a part of this event, to honor his longtime friend, Mickey.
For interested fans and friends:
Gene's time on stage was very casual, yet charismatic and since so much time has passed since he has performed, he was totally surprised that he received a standing ovation. Whether Gene thinks so or not, he is as good at performing now, as always, and this thought was shared by many friends and fans at the event.
A nostalgic and great job by Gene for Mickey Newbury.
|Posted by Darlene on June 7, 2010 at 11:04 AM||comments (0)|
I have spent an hour or so listening to songs by Gene Thomas. Abide with me here while I share some "danna" thoughts and opinions, that you have most probably heard/read before, but I think praise is far too lacking in todays world. While we are here breathing, moving and feeling, admiration and appreciation must be shared. While we are HERE.
While listening to "Sometimes I feel like going home", I took into consideration that the song was not penned by you. You told me that the song had been recorded by someone else and manager or writer or studio wasn't happy with how it sounded. You walked in, nailed it, and pleased everyone. Gene, this song displays and showcases your vocal range in a way that none other (that I can recall) does. Not only that, but you OWNED this song. There are audible sounds that aren't expected or sought after by the unaware men in suits. Holding a low note so that your bass voice vibrates beyond the ending of the word. Releasing that word by parting your lips and allowing a quiet "uh" to finish the word "home". I can't imagine that this song would have sounded more sincere, more YOURS if you had written it. You possess the rare ability to take anothers song and with your skill, heart, and voice, give new life to it in a way only you can.
Could the discovery of this voice have been the reason you turned to music? Or was the voice developed by your genius and devotion to become the unique artist that you are? Either way it is miraculous. There are millions of people that would love to have a beautiful singing voice. There are probably as many who have an incredible voice that never sing publicly. In your life, not only have you had your astounding voice to work with, but the amazing writing skills, and the ability to self teach guitar and piano, and probably some instruments I don't know about. Self taught guitar resulting in leads like your smooth, impressive lead in “One more in the line”, or the tender classical guitar in “Poor man’s bouguet”. So many MAGICAL times, coming together and thank goodness were captured on tape. Darlene told me you were unbelievable on stage. I have no doubt that she is right.
I regret having never seen you impress crowds with all your skills, your presence. However, I am so very thankful every single day for finding your one of a kind, masterful, moving music. You have shared your beautiful gift with listeners of all levels. My ear is trained and fine tuned. Your voice landed in my heart and will remain there as long as I enjoy this life enriched by it.
With more gratitude than I can express, your devoted friend and fan,
|Posted by Darlene on April 7, 2010 at 7:37 PM||comments (0)|
Gene Thomas is probably the most extraordinary person I've met in the music business. Extraordinary in the sense of his talent for songwriting to be able to reach out and touch the emotions of people from all walks of life with his songs. His melodies are unique and beautiful, but it's in his lyrics that he shows his true genius. He writes mainly of love, and he weaves his rhyme with the skill of a master builder. His songs are powerful but never offensive, tender, but without weakness, and he instructs the listener without letting him know it. Gene is truly a moral man with a loving and tender soul and his love for truth is always apparent in his writing. His "Lay It Down" is a good example of this, and the proof of his being able to communicate, is borne out by the many different recordings of this song by artists, from all fields of music.
Gene's talents do not stop here, however, he is one of the most extraordinary recording artists I have ever worked with. He has a strong beautiful voice and the ability to draw emotion from listeners by his soulful interpretations of, not only his songs, but any song he chooses to perform.
Gene is also an extraordinary musician. He is a self taught guitarist, and his songs always incorporate his unique style of playing and the licks he uses often become the nucleus of an arrangement when another artist records one of his songs.
And this is Gene Thomas.
Don was not only a successful recording artist himself, with the million-selling "Morning Girl" (Neon Philharmonic), but a true inspiration to everyone who came his way.
|Posted by Darlene on April 7, 2010 at 7:01 PM||comments (1)|
"You know, Gene once said to me, we're different from most people. We sit around with noise always in our heads. It kills us---and it gives us life. Complex simplicity, is the only way to describe Gene Thomas. Understood only by his closest friends, and then, never completely. He writes with the insight of an old man, and like the rest of us, at times, closes his mind to the wisdom of his own words. He's human, intensely idealistic at times, and at times a prisoner of himself. Gene is not one of the "new breed" of country writers that seems to find its' label on so many the past few years. He's just a writer of beauty in the same tradition as
Stephen Foster. Unfortunately, most people will never see the diamonds for the sequins."
|Posted by Darlene on April 7, 2010 at 6:43 PM||comments (2)|
My own particular hunger and perhaps the truest love is simply to pick and sing a song or two for you to let you know that when you're feeling up or down, I feel somewhat the same.
After all, it is part of the plan----Birth, youth, earth, growing, loving, even in our worse moments, hating. It is being wounded, healed, sickness, health, marred, and scarred. Picking up pieces, losing them, and gathering again.
It's my belief that even though we seem to be losing all the time, it is only because we can't see the final end to it all, and let us pray
that is when we win. Our own efforts the future must measure and weigh. Let us find one another so that me may find ourselves.
Gene Thomas (197l)