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Memoirs of the Original Rolling Stone
By Andy Anderson Erika Celeste
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 The Original Rolling Stone LLC.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIn the Beginning ...
Long before the days of the popular British rock band, a group of boys from Mississippi started the original Rolling Stones. I n those days the music they played was so new, that it was difficult to find on records or hear it on the radio. Each time they composed a new tune they were helping to create a new sound-part blues, part country, part gospel and totally unique. Sam Phillips and his famous Sun Studios in Memphis helped bring many young bands and musicians together. They fed off of each other to inspire the rockabilly sound. They were the godfathers of rock and roll, and I am one of them. The Rolling Stones was my band and this is my story ...
I remember my mother playing the piano when I was very young. She wrote poetry and then sang what she wrote. It didn't seem important or even that unusual to me when I was young. Later, I realized I ' d inherited her creative genes. I began to pay attention to music.
My mother was very creative, yet down to earth in her every day life. She loved to garden. Not only did we have beautiful flowers, but she grew our own horseradish! She also loved to cook. One night a week she would make some exotic dish and we had to eat it, whether we liked it or not. To this day I thank her for teaching us so much about food and life. Through her creations, she gave us an appreciation of many cultures. Many friends that parked their feet under our table remember the "clean your plate" rule. Most of the time it was no problem, but once in awhile when it came to things like brains and egg casserole, it was tough to handle. Yet somehow we endured.
My mother could also fish and party with the best of them. She always told me it was better to know how to do a little of everything instead of excelling at one thing. I n other words 'be versatile'. I have followed her guidance all of my life and she was right. I can do anything I need to.
She started my music career very abruptly. My parents had come through the Flapper and Big Band Era. They loved Tommy Dorsey and the like, but times were changing. I liked the Grand Ole Opry and would listen start to finish every Saturday night. I also liked the Randy Record High Life Show, sponsored by black products like Royal Crown Hair Pomade and Silky Straight. They played the Blues and R&B. With country in one ear and rhythm and blues in the other, I was getting an education in what would be the basis for what would become rockabilly.
My sophomore year of high school, my parents sent my cousin Billy and me up North to Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana. Billy had developed a rebellious streak, and they thought he needed some discipline. Since I was like a brother to him, they figured I ' d better go too, before I got any notions of my own.
When I came home for Christmas, my family had just purchased our first TV set. It was 1951 and my mother and I were watching a Saturday morning show out of Memphis. It was a country band thing and they were all pretty bad. My mother turned to me and said, 'I bet you could do better than that!'
The next day she took me to Memphis on a Christmas buying trip and the rest is history. We went to the O.K. Houck Music Store, and bought my first guitar and a book of easy chords. For awhile after that the Anderson House was a rather loud and less than in tune place to be. But ever supportive, my mother was always there to help me tune the guitar with the help of her piano.
On Saturday nights I would sit in front of our Scott Radio and listen to the Grand Ole Opry, trying to copy their songs. It was an arduous task. I could barely play rhythm and God knows I couldn't sing the lyrics in sync. But when I finally concentrated on a couple songs I liked, I did learn how to play and it all came together for me. Hank Snow had the best rhythm, so I learned his songs first. He was really the first rockabilly. My father was very supportive too and enjoyed the few songs I could play.
I began to play in high school talent shows and around town with cousin Billy and a friend, Jimmy Giles. Little did I know that in just a few years, 1953, I would lose my mother when she was only 42. Music would become a great outlet for dealing with her loss. Later, I would also lose my younger brother when he was 28 to cancer. Music would also be one of my greatest comforts through his loss.
Whatever led me down this path; it must have been in the stars or water. Elvis Presley was born in January of 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Just a few months later in May of the same year, I was born on the opposite side of the state in the Delta. My Aunt Marjorie taught Elvis in school and has many memories of him playing his guitar while waiting for the school bus. She always said he was distracted and inattentive in school. Later, Elvis and I shared the same voice teacher, Zelma Lee Whitfield in Memphis. We both recorded at Sun Studios and played several shows in the early days together. I n the end, we both lost our guiding forces, our mothers, too soon.
I strongly believe it is the responsibility of each generation to record their events and experiences for future Andy, Elizabeth, Brooks Anderson generations. I was blessed to be a part of the greatest music era ever-the founding of rock & roll and the blues. It was not only entertainment, but defined a nation and a new era of modern living. You must remember the stories you are about to read are from the deep South, just as the language and attitude towards desegregation were beginning to change and I believe the kind of music we played, helped make that transition. Therefore, our stories are as real as it gets no sugarcoating-just a reflection of the time.
Everyone is always asking me what it was like to be on the road playing rock in the '50s and '60s with several chart-toppers. Being one of the founding fathers, there were no set protocols. We created a lot of what is considered SOP today. Rock's a little like the early blues pickers, no one ever heard of half of them, they were never famous, music was just part of their lives. But the things they did, influence what so many musicians do today-that in a small way they are part of each of us.
We didn't even realize what we were doing at the time. By the time any of us knew we were the godfathers, life was moving on and we had things to do. We didn't play for money. We played for the fun of it and people paid what they could afford. It was all about fun. It was never our ambition to be famous super stars.
In some cases, kids weren't allowed to hear us, because their parents considered rock evil, and said we played 'Devil Music'. On several occasions, we were banned from auditoriums. Our 45s were burned in Selma and Gadsden, Alabama requiring a police escort to that auditorium. Funny when you consider, by today's standards how clean cut we were, no drinking, smoking, or drugs. We didn't even cuss in any of our songs! Rock was new and clean and everyone was hungry for it.
We were learning and maturing too. We never considered that we were a threat to anyone's character or religion. I guess with time most of that has gone away. We just kept playing rock & roll. If we took much notice of those crusading against rock, all it did was make us more rebellious.
At some point, they began to make documentaries, write stories and books about us. But so much of it was cold and sterile. It lacked the excitement and true feeling of what it had really been like. That's what this book is all about. It's the true spirit of those early days. It's the story of a group of friends, two bands, a new era, Hollywood, and life. It is a behind the scenes look at our private lives. If you'd like to learn more about our history please visit www.andyanderson.com.
Though it is impossible for us to remember everything, this is a taste of what we do remember. It was about the unknown, the unusual, the strange. It's a celebration because we survived when so many of our friends did not. Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Richie Valens, and later Elvis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash-this is also a way to honor their memories, guys who influenced our lives musically and on the road as friends. They are part of the inspiration. Our brotherhood helped change the pop culture of a nation.
I so often hear people refer to the '50s as 'The Good Ole Days'. I enjoyed those days, and I enjoy the good new times of today as well. It's exciting to see what our ever-changing world brings us in the form of music and more. May you enjoy learning about or reveling a bit of the glory days of rock & roll. In some small way, may it be a positive influence in your life.
Rolling Stone Hits
Johnny Valentine I, I, I Love You You Shake Me Up The Way She Smiled Tough, Tough, Tough
Part One Rolling Stones
Principles Andy Anderson-Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar Joe Tubb-Lead Guitar Bill 'Cuz' Covington-Bass Roy Estes-Piano Roger 'Bobby' Lyon-Drums
From time to time we had other band members too. Some played for awhile and left, others were supplemental for really big gigs, and some were our go-to men, when the principles couldn't make it. These guys helped to make the Rolling Stones one heck of a great band.
Otha Barham-Rhythm Guitar Martin Bittick-Piano Eric Birmingham-Drums Howard 'B.B.' Boone-Piano & Vocals Charley Carmichael-Horns Woody Coats-Sax Jimmy Elledge-Piano Bubba Jordan-Vocals Sammy La Martina-Piano Alton Lott-Guitar Allen 'Hoss' Smith-Drums Jay Stricker-Sax Key Traylor-Sax Al Tramelli-Sax Jimmy Whitehead-Drums
How the Rolling Stones Got Their Name
Joe Tubb (lead guitar)
Back in 1956, I had some compadres, which I will not refer to by name. These three friends of mine were pretty good at drinking. One night they got rip roaring drunk and somehow or other, they decided to rob The Bank of Flora. This was some brilliant thinking on their part. I was at Mississippi State at the time and hadn't had contact with them lately even though we'd been childhood friends.
So the story goes that they drove up to Flora, but got there too early. While they were waiting they went to the Shamrock and knocked back a few. By 8:30 a.m. when the bank opened they were ready to pounce. They busted in that bank and proclaimed that they were robbing the place of all its assets.
The tellers knew these were hardened criminals because while the robbers were duck taping everyone up, one of the guys accidentally stuck a teller in the eye and said "Excuse me ma'm."
They completed the job and got away with 30 thousand dollars. Now they'd done a lot of advanced planning on this little gig, but they didn't plan quite good enough, because when they got down to White Rock Road and turned onto the highway, they ran out of gas.
As you can imagine these geniuses were soon apprehended. One of them, a guitar picker, had stealthily hidden his portion of the take in his guitar case (which was also in the car). Despite the evidence, they wouldn't plead guilty and had to go to trial. So in the meantime, they were housed in the jail down in Jackson.
Well, I happened to be in town walking towards the courthouse when I heard someone calling "Hey Little Joe". I looked around and saw them hollering at me from the window of the jail. They said, "How about bringing us some cigarettes?"
Being the friend I was, I went and bought a carton of Lucky Strikes. Then went up to the top floor where they were and asked the guard if I could talk to them. He led me into a room and brought one of them out to me. All I could see was about four inches of old, dirty glass and my friend's nose.
I asked "What in the world possessed ya'll to do this? You've never been in trouble in your life. You've never even been close to being in trouble."
He said "Man when we left the Shamrock, we wasn't nothing but some rolling stones."
That always stuck with me. So when we were choosing a name for our group, I put it out there and everyone liked it. It fit us, we were travelers with few cares and like the ancient Greek proverb says, 'a rolling stone gathers no moss.'
First Paid Gig
In the beginning the Rolling Stones played a lot of shows at Mississippi State College (later University) in the auditorium and of course at the football stadium. But then came our moment of truth. There was a nightclub about 20 miles from campus, in Columbus called the Southern Air. We were unproven and the owner didn't know who we were. He was used to booking country acts, but we wanted to go big time. So we made a deal with the guy. If he'd give us a shot, we'd play for whatever he collected at the gate. He agreed.
That first night there were four of us; I sang and played guitar, Cuz Covington played washtub bass, James Aldridge played rhythm guitar, and Joe Tubb played lead guitar.
We were so excited. We made sure all our buddies came and had them bring as many girls as they could from the 'W' a local women's college. The Southern Air was packed to the gills.
Until that night, the only money I ' d ever earned was made at home working on my family's plantation. My father thought it a good lesson for me to work alongside the blacks picking cotton in the hot sun. I ' d drag that sack behind me stuffing as much as I could in it for 20 cents a pound.
In four hours, we had one of the best times of our lives and we each made more money than I could have made in a month working on the plantation. That was it for me. I'd always loved music, but I think it was that night that I knew for sure what I wanted to do with my life!
Old Main Water Fight
The Rolling Stones lived referred to as Old in a dormitory affectionately Main, while at Mississippi State.
The four-winged structure with an open center, was considered to be the largest college dormitory in the United States and was infamous for its water fights. We happened to come home just in time for one of the largest fights ever.
It was a Friday night and all of us had dates from the 'W'. As we headed back to Old Main, the whole campus was in chaos. It was time for class elections and this guy, Prof Hugo, had a band set up in the dorm's courtyard. He'd speechify and then play one twangy country song after another.
Finally somebody got tired of listening to the crap, so they poured a bucket of water out the fourth story window on the band. Well the band got mad. Old Main was four stories. Each story had four sections and a fire hose was in each section-so that's 16 fire hoses.
Somebody in the band got angry, pulled the fire hose from the bottom section out the door and started shooting it up at the window on the fourth floor. The guy up there thought that was a good idea and so they started shooting their hose down on the band. People coming home saw what was going on and thought "A water fight, let's get in on this." So before the whole thing was over, people had all 16 hoses spraying the courtyard and into the building.
Everyone was drenched. Guys were in their skivvies running barefooted. Water was everywhere in the halls and running down the stairs of the building. Outside the water was so deep, it was pouring out through the two entrances next to the cafeteria and drill field.
I was pretty innocent and thought it would be smart to get out of there. As I was going down the stairs, I ran into Malcolm Grey. He was the housing supervisor everybody feared. He recognized me because of the band and demanded my ID. Well hell, I couldn't give him my ID, or I wouldn't be able to get into the football game the next day. I told him I ' d have to get it in my room, then I got the hell out of there. By the time I made my escape, water was pouring knee-deep out of the courtyard!
The Piano Man
Roy Estes (piano)
My mother had enrolled me in piano lessons when I was small with the dream that I might one day become a classical concert pianist. It's important to note that my parents were very conservative people from Tylertown, Mississippi. Despite this I was enrolled at Mississippi State studying aeronautical engineering.
One night a friend and I entered a talent contest over at Lee Hall and easily won the thing. After dividing our winnings, I headed back to my dorm room.
I was barely inside my door when these two thugs barged in. They were dressed all in black and quite excited to see me. I thought they were going to attack me and take the winnings.
It turned out that Joe Tubb and Cuz Covington had seen the show and were impressed with my piano playing. They'd come to offer me a job playing with the Rolling Stones. I'd never played rock, but was intrigued with the idea.
One of the first things I asked the group when I arrived was 'what keys they played in?' They didn't play in any keys that were conducive to my training. So the first thing I had to do was learn to play in a completely new way.
Excerpted from Memoirs of the Original Rolling Stone by Andy Anderson Erika Celeste Copyright © 2010 by The Original Rolling Stone LLC.. Excerpted by permission.
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