|Posted by Darlene on July 14, 2010 at 9:11 PM|
-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.