Richard and me talked on the plane coming back from Fort Myers and we were going to put another group together. I knew some musicians from my past, either they were doing something or we didn't want to go there. Some times things just don't go the way you want them to.
I wanted to do some thing of my own, I was living at home with mom and dad and my girlfriend lived right across the street. My brother got home from the service and bought a speedboat. We were going skiing every weekend and I was partying all week. Just a few weeks before my ninetieth birthday, I got drafted. The Vietnam war was going on big time, I was full of vinegar and looking for excitement. Two of my closest friends were expecting to get drafted any day so they wanted to join too.
The day we were to leave, we had already said our good-byes. The last thing you do before getting swore in is sign a paper saying yo haven't been in or around any kind of organized crime. Don't ask me why but for some dumb ass reason I ask if the Ku Klux Klan counted. It was a black female officer I asked, she jump up and left. After about five minutes she came back with another black officer dude. He ask me what I had said, I told him it was nothing.
A few years ago, the Klan was in Overton Park and our band ( The Teiffids ) was driven along and seen them, we stop to see what was going on. Somebody gave us a booklet and we all looked through it. The Ku Klux Klan hated long haired people more then blacks. I didn't want to get to boot camp and find out I'd lied on this paper and in up in jail. While all this was going on I could see my buddies over there getting swore in. The dude said I would have to come back in the morning to talk to somebody, he said for sure I would catch up with my friends. I was there the next morning and they told me the CIA needed to talk to me and they would call me in a few days. They were saying I could still catch up with my friends.
This went on for 17 days, they call and said for me to be there the next morning. I was standing out in the hall, smoking a cigarette. This dude came up and introduced himself, he ask if I'd ever talked to any one in the Klan. I told him the whole deal, he laugh and said o.k., that's it, you can go on in the army now. The dude in charge said for me to be there at 6am with my toothbrush. I told him a couple of places he could kiss and walked out. If that's the way the army's going to be they can do with out me. I got my draft notice two days later, I didn't go. I waited a week after time to report and call and told them some kind of crap, they sent me another notice.
This time I went I had to go through the whole physical again. I had a little bit of a attitude this time, the last doctor you see is a psychiatrist. I ask him what he thought about LSD, I had only done it one time, but I wanted to see what he would say. He wanted me to see a civilian shrink. I made up a few things, that came back to get me later in life. After everything was say and done, I was 4F. I called Richard to see what was going on and told him I wasn't going in the army. A local disc jockey was putting some stuff together at a studio ( Sounds of Memphis ). He was interested in Richard and was going to help us find a guitar player. After a few weeks he came up with Norman Brown. We hit it off pretty good, we had been down the same roads.
Norman had been in a semi successful group too ( Shad and the Kinglears ) which had a couple of records out. Now we needed a bass player, this came through a friend of a friend. Jerry Hearst was cool, his equipment needed some help, he said he would get some, if we were going to do something. We started out with standards, to see if we could work together and if it had feel. About two weeks into it Jerry went out and got some real cool Custom amps and a new bass guitar. The more we worked the more it looked like Norman would stay too.
We reheard three nights a week for about two months, mostly top 40.The main thing we needed was vocals, Jimmy, the organ player for The Shaparrails was great with Richard. But he was living in Fort Myers with Larry, they weren't playing any music so I decided to go try and get him to come with us. A friend of mine ( Richard H. ) had a 49 Ford pick-up and he wanted to take me. Richard pay for the gas, all we had to do was get him to come back. I didn't want to try and do it over the phone, so we were off.
We got down there late,10pm or so. Jimmy was at the movies, watching 2001 Space Odyssey. We went in and got him, he'd seen it before. He was interested but Larry owned the B-3 now and he couldn't leave for a while. He did however know where to get some very little pills, the dude with me had never done any and wanted to. They were calling it sunshine and blue cheer. We took the sunshine and keep the cheer for later. That was one of the worst nights of my life, up tell then. This girl we knew from the club ( The Everglades ) let us use a room at a motel up the street. The acid was full of strychnine and speed. We hadn't slept in about 30hr. so it was like a twilight trip full of bad vibes.
We had to drive back the next day with out Jimmy. Man! talk about a long ride, we were hoping to have the B-3 in back. Not having it gave us a place to sleep. So we decided to go ahead and keep the band 3pc. with a singer. We needed to get in front of people now so we got a gig at The Devil's Den in Frayser. This was a little hole in the wall beer joint in a basement, the old Frayser Lounge. After about a month there, Jerry and me decided to get an apartment together. Brenda and me had broken up and I was dating Martha a friend of a friend.
We got the top floor of a spooky house across the street from Hume High School. It was a place to party and take girls for me, it was home for Jerry, he still had a day job. I wasn't going with any one girl but Martha was coming over more then any other. She came over one afternoon and I was with some one else. She got mad and told the cops I was playing in The Den under age. It was about midnight on a Saturday and I was setting at a table talking to some friends.
The cops came in the back door and walk straight to our table. I wasn't hard to find, I was the only dude with hair passed my shoulders. He told me to hit the door, I said I was playing in the band. He said I had 15 seconds to get out or I was going to jail for drinking as a minor. This was the first time to get caught, I'd been doing it for 3 yrs.on the road. Richard had to finish playing drums that night. Mom and dad had to sign a paper from juvenile court saying it was o.k. for me to play.
The club had a back room I had to stay in on breaks, the only thing I could drink was vodka, because you couldn't smell it. It was about this time we decided to add another guitar player, we really needed more vocals, but for some reason we went guitar. Norman was a good guitar player but when he went to lead it got a little empty. Gundy came in on my recommendation, he was good. No fault of Gundy's, things were starting to fall apart, story of my life. Richard took a disc-jockey job at a friend's, Guy Rhodes' new club ( The Mecca ) for New Years Eve, he made some good money, and knocked us out of some.
The Mecca was one of the hottest club in Memphis, part of the reason was Richard, he had a way of talking to a audience. My old girlfriend from the neighborhood had come over to the apartment a few time, she call and said she had some thing to tell me. You guess it, she was pregnant and it was mine. I was in love with her at one time and I like her more then anybody I'd ever been with. I didn't have to think about it at all, I like the idea of being with her the rest of my life. We had already talked about getting married and she had already told her mom.
Her mom gave me a ride to the club one night, she came inside to talk. She ask me what I was going to do, I told her I wanted to do what was right. She was very supportive and happy to have me as a son-in-law. The only thing she ask was for me to never hit her daughter, and to teach which ever ( boy or girl ) to play the drums, I agreed. Right on time, the band fell apart, and I got married. The 60s were Over.... Next Story - Sandlin & Co.
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The Richard Beckham Band
The Richard Beckham Band
1968 / 69
Richard Beckham - singer / leader Norman Brown - guitar Gundy Owens - guitar Jerry Hearst - bass Roger-drums