for Marc, Natalie, and Sophie;
for Grandmother Reeves;
for Mom and Dad;
for Dr. Adam S. Garden, Dr. Gary L. Clayman
and the good people of MD Anderson Cancer Center;
and for the many colorful characters along the way
who made these stories possible.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ONE: PASSION TROVE
RAVENS & NIGHTHAWKS
BUDDY & WAYLON
127TH & ST. NICHOLAS
TWO: UNIVERSITY DAZE
DE LEON PEACH & MELON FESTIVAL
THREE: A BITE OF THE BIG APPLE
A FEW BIG BITES
GREENWICH VILLAGE GLUE BLUES
THE ITALIAN STALLION
CRAFT & CRAFTINESS
THE MUSIC BID-NESS
FIVE: NASHVILLE CATS
THE BOOK OF MARK
KOBE HAPPY BIRTHDAY
SINGERS & SONGWRITERS
SIX: GOODBYE OL' PAINT
SEVEN: BEFORE THE MUSIC
EIGHT: MEANWHILE…I WAS THINKIN'
BEYOND THE BLUE
TIME & SPACE
NINE: MEANWHILE…I WAS STILL THINKIN'
WOMEN & MEN
WHO KNOWS WHAT DANGER LURKS?
WHAT CONDITION OUR CONDITION'S IN
The first rock 'n roll band originating in Amarillo, Texas was formed in 1956 with Bob Venable as lead guitarist and vocalist, Eddie Reeves as rhythm guitarist and vocalist, and Billy Sansing as drummer. We proudly adopted Combo Kings as our moniker, but in the summer of 1957 after Mike Hinton replaced Sansing as drummer and John Thompson joined as bass player we were known as the Ravens. On July 25, 1958 our band recorded "When Sin Stops" (written by Bob Venable) at the Norman Petty Recording Studio in Clovis, New Mexico and during our recording adventure we learned there already was a recording group named the Ravens, which led us to rebrand as the Nighthawks—the first use of this name by a rock band.
On November 17, 1958 (my 19th birthday) a 45-rpm single of our recording was issued by Hamilton Records, a subsidiary of Dot Records. Airplay on local radio station KLYN landed the record at #1 and generated sales of about 1,500 records, but no other success followed. On many Friday and Saturday nights from the fall of 1957 to the fall of 1958 the Nighthawks performed for Amarillo High School dances at the YWCA, the YMCA, the high school gym, and on one occasion at the National Guard Armory. In the fall of 1959, Mike Hinton joined Bob and me at the University of Texas in Austin where we often performed (but without participation of John Thompson) for Delta Tau Delta fraternity events. After the spring of 1960, the band performed only three times—at the 20th and 25th Amarillo High School Class of '58 reunions in 1978 and 1983, and for the final time in November 1989 at my 50th birthday celebration in Nashville, Tennessee.
From the fall of 1958 to the spring of 1964 I often visited Clovis to play songs I'd written for Norman Petty—several that he recorded with local talent but without commercial success. On two separate occasions during these visits I saw Buddy Holly and a few years later met Waylon Jennings—each minor but memorable encounters. While being employed as Petty's New York representative during most of 1964, I experienced two unique events—co-writing a song with famous songwriter Doc Pomus and having a few brief, but novel, encounters with young folksinger Bob Dylan. These occurrences along with a passion for rock 'n roll were kindling enough to ignite a 40-year music adventure.
When developing the book cover design there was no particular reason to use six vertical bars instead of four, or eight. But possibly something deep within begged for six—the number of different labels I recorded for as an artist: Hamilton (Dot Records), Warwick, United Artists, Kapp (MCA), ABC Dunhill, and GRC (General Recording Corporation). Six is also the number of companies that employed me: Norman Petty (producer of Buddy Holly and others), United Artists Music, ABC Dunhill, Chappell Music (later Warner Chappell), Eddie Reeves Music (my own music publishing and artist management company), and Warner Bros. Records. And six is the number of different jobs I engaged in: songwriter, recording artist, music publisher, record producer, artist manager, and record company executive.
It's unfortunate that collectively these three career perspectives prompt the number 666—not only the sum of the numbers 1 through 36, thus the sum of all numbers on a roulette wheel, but also a number representing Satan and the Antichrist as described in Revelations, which most likely is a reference to Nero Caesar, the fifth Roman Emperor infamous for torture and persecution of Christians, political murders, debauchery and incest. Because 1st century Hebrew had no independent number system, various letters of the alphabet represented numbers—similar to Latin Roman numerals where V=5, X=10, L=50, C=100, etc. The number 666 is the sum of the letter numbers of "NRWN QSR," the Hebrew translation of Nero Caesar.
Even though my daughter Natalie has noted that each of my three birth names, Edward Benton Reeves, contains six letters, I'll put aside all superstition (at least my own) by noting in Kabalistic Judaism the number 666 represents the creation and perfection of the world—a world created in 6 days, that has 6 cardinal directions (North, South, East, West, Up, Down), and where physical objects have these same 6 symmetry descriptions that we recognize as the 6 sides of a cube and experience as three dimensions. In China the number 666 is viewed as the luckiest number, thus making it a popular choice for personalized license plates.
Pop music stars and stars in the cosmos share commonality—how brightly they shine, how long they burn and the nature of their demise. The greater a star's size, the brighter it burns and the shorter its life. Once fuel is spent, smaller stars quietly fade while the largest end in cataclysm. Had I achieved stardom at a young age it's likely a perilous fate awaited whatever my prominence. But as it happened, hard work and good fortune nurtured a 40-year music adventure, and through the lens of that experience I have written from a spoken-word inner voice that too often makes for poor written word. My struggle to untangle the many word-knots falling from my brain has on occasion led me to claim "word wrestler" as my occupation.
© 2016 WORD WRESTLER