I was hoping today that we’d have a chance to…to go back a little bit and let you recall some times here at the University of Georgia in Athens on campus. Would that…would that be a…an okay deal for you?
Well, I can tell you, I can recall a night in this very room where we’re sitting that I didn’t even dare to dream at the time. I was jump - starting my career in the country music business so this is like really coming full circle.
This is back to your roots.
To be right here in this very room.
Talk about that a little bit, will…
This room, of course, is in the Continuing Education Center as a part of the University of Georgia, and when I was here in the late '50s they were building a television station facility here and they had not yet completed the room for television. There were no lights, there were no cameras, no anything for television, but the audio portion of the studio had been completed and we got a phone call somewhere, somehow, and I’m not really sure…I was trying to think this morning…there was a disk jockey here on radio station WDOL…
…which was the top 40 station in those days, played the rock and roll hits, named Bob Ritter and I think somebody contacted Bob Ritter and asked Bob, because they knew he’d moved in and out among the music scene that was here such as it was at the time, and said we’d like to get a band in this studio to test out some of the audio equipment. Well, Bob knew me and he knew a friend of mine named Chuck Goddard that had a little band with me here and so Bob called us and said, “Do you wanna come over to the new studio and help them test out the audio equipment ? “ Well, we were game for anything, you know, at that point, and so I grabbed a couple of new songs that I had written and just stuck them in my guitar case and brought them over here and we ended up recording them that night. One of them was a little rockabilly song called “I’ve Got No Song to Sing” and we thought the night that we made that record that that was probably the side that would get played, if anything did, because that was right kinda in the trend of what was happening in the late 50s - rockabilly and the advent of rock and roll – and we put a little country ballad on the other side that nobody thought a whole lot about called “City Lights” and it ended up that “City Lights” was the hit, not by me, but my record got to Nashville and got heard by some of the right people. The song got recorded by a great artist named Ray Price. It became the number one record in the charts for 17 weeks, and in some polls was voted the Country Music Record of the Year and it opened all the doors for me in Nashville as a performer and as a song writer, and it all started right here in this room. And it’s so amazing to be sitting here again.
We need to have a plaque.
We need to have a plaque in this room.
Well, I…I’ll never forget it. You know, its…its kinda like going back to the house where you grew up...
…many years later. The front yard doesn’t look as big as it did. (Laughs) When you were having to mow it as a kid and…and I thought this room was about twice this big. (Laughs)
Some of the things still look the same…
A lot of things look the same. There’s an old speaker hanging on the wall back there that I’ll bet you…I’ll bet you the night we were in here and they played our recording back…I bet my recording came through that. That may have been the first speaker I ever heard myself on in a recording studio.
Another plaque…another plaque.