I’m not sure what happen, it’s all like a blur. My marriage had gone through a lot of ups and downs. In the late part of the 80’s we were up
to our necks in debt. We had a new house, new cars , new furniture, two beautiful kids and 20 years experience. It seem like everything
was going our way. It wasn’t enough! Brenda, my x just wanted out, it came to light why shortly after our separation. I’m not going in to
that right now. I could not work, and the kind of work I did took all my attention. A few weeks before our breakup, like a dumb ass I quit my
job of 15 years. For what ever reason, in May of 1990 we separated. I waited to the last minute to look for a place to live, that never was my
thing, Brenda always took care of that. My bother-n-law at the time Frank, was driven down Getwell and a dude was putting up a for rent
sign, he got the phone number for me. It was a small run down 3 bedroom house, I didn’t feel like dealing with anything, so I just rented it.
I was one very lost soul, everything that was anything was no longer with me. I didn’t even know where they were, or who they were with.
This was the low of all lows, and now I had to deal with house work.
The place was in bad shape, the kitchen was a mess. I wouldn’t put a dog in the bathtub. I was use to a very clean home, I didn’t have any
experience in cleaning a house, I rolled up my sleeve, rolled a joint – got a beer and dug in. I’m a very clean and orderly type person. With
in a week or so it was in much better shape. The only thing I got out of our old house was what was in my studio, not much. An old couch,
that’s itan old couch we got when I went to work for Buckeye in 1978. So I had a set of drums, 2 guitars and a bass, an 8 track recorder,
reverb, echo – 2 power amps – 2 sets of speakers and dam old couch. So now I needed to make a decision on where to put all this stuff
while I was only interested in getting my studio back up, it was going to be a long row to hoe. I thought about giving up before I started. I
was standing in the living room listening, and the noise from traffic going down Getwell was unreal loud. How was I going to record with
all this, I was just as worried about sound getting out as I was for it getting in. I like recording at 3 o’clock in the morning sometimes, that’s
a very cool time.
So the first thing I needed to do was stop the sound from going out the windows. Bert a friend of mine got me some sound board. It was
really signs from the sheriff race, but they worked great for me. I looked and found a place down off of Getwell that made huge custom
form pads. I talked to the foreman about getting some, he said I could get a truck load of remnant for $50. I think I went down there 3 or 4
times.The studio kind of moved around for the first few weeks, the drum booth was up front one day and in the back bedroom the next.
The living was going to be the main room, it’s about 15x18 or so. With one big double window, with all kinds of noise coming in. This was
the first room I worked on. I framed the window on the inside with 1x6, put 6” of form and 2 pieces of sound board. I could not believe it, it
stopped 80% of the noise. I went outside to look and the house was fieldstone that the owner had painted white. I formed up the front
door and that room was ready. It made working on the rest of the room a whole lot better. I set up the main room as a work room, with
saw horses and everything. I worked all night and day on it, some times 3 o’clock in the morning sawing and hammering.
All my friends were mostly Brenda’s family, so I didn’t have any friends coming by. I had been working very hard on the studio for about 3
weeks. Harry B from The Triffids invited me to a backyard party in midtown. I decided to go, I still wasn’t much in the mood for a party. It
was in a backyard of the band Dangerous Lighting that Harry was jamming with. They had a small stage set up and when the band stop
playing a dude, Trent Hesterman got up and started playing his own original music. That got my attention and he kind of reminded me of
Kay Moore. After he got through I introduced myself. I told him I was building a recording studio and he could come by if he wanted. A few
days later he did, and he helped me hang the carpet in the control. I did most of the work by myself, Frank help cut the hole in the wall
between the control room and the main room where the look through glass is. About a week or so later Trent came by with his girlfriend,
Chris. She had a room mate, Rene she wanted to fix me up with. Trent was 27 as was Chris and Rene, I was 40 at the time. I did go out with
Rene a few times and got to be good friends with them all.
After all the work I had done on the studio, the 8 track Fostex was looking a little small. I had some money so I decided to up grade to 16
track Fostex and a 18 channel Fostex console. I got all this at Strings & Things here in Memphis. It was about the end of October 1990 and
most everything was up and running. A year before Brenda and me broke up I had started drinking a lot more, and pot was a daily routine.
Now that I was on my own I stayed high all the time. I got a lot done, but it was all in a fog, it almost didn’t feel real, like a dream. There was
a night club, Poor Red’s just up the street from the studio. It had live bands 7 nights a week. When I went out Red’s was the first stop, to
see who was playing – and after a night of running around Red’s was the last stop too. I got to know everybody, the owner Randy,
soundman Dan, bartenders, waitress, most of the bands, the drunks like me and so on. It had a few real dark booth in the back, they were
my favorite place. I could set there and do a little blow and no one could see me. Brandy a waitress was the first person to start talking to
me, to ask if I needed a drink – and I always did. She was a very attractive girl, with all the girl stuff in all the right places. I was heart
broken but not dead,so she was my first try at getting back to living.
I got my new Fostex equipment from Strings & Things, and they sent some one ( Martin Anderson ) out to help me hook it up. He was a
singer songwriter and a very nice person. Him a his wife, Ginger - would become a very big part of my life for the next few years. We did a
lot of drinking and some music too, some good stuff. Martin was a good singer, he ended up doing a couple of my songs. I mostly tried
staying to myself, I wasn’t ready to let anyone in my life. I was how ever thinking more about working with other people. Martin pick up a
guitar one night and started showing me some of his stuff. One of the songs he played his brother Michel had wrote, ‘Maybe It Was
Memphis’. About a year and a half later it became a number 1 hit for Pam Tellis, I didn’t see that coming. That was one of the first songs we
did a demo on in my studio with Martin. Ginger was a good looking little thing too, but after a few beers nobody could talk to her. I’m not
sure why, but she would help Martin and then have a few beers and go to a very weird place.
My first attempt at music with my new recorder happen early one morning. After working all day getting everything buttoned up it was
ready to turn on. So I smoked a joint got a beer and throw the switch. The first thing I did was hooked up my R-5 drum machine. After
playing with that I got out my small moog and did a few passes with it. The pot had me in the mood to experiment a little. So I turned the
tape around backwards and got out a mic. I did a few sounds and thinking about Lennon I started saying number 9 over and over again. I
got tired and called it a night. It was a few days before I got back to the recorder, but when I did I turned back around the tape. When I
started listening to it I was freaked, it was cool. The number 9 backwards was saying yonderman as clear as a bell. I know it’s not a word,
or it wasn’t a word. I decided to add some stuff off The Beatles white CD. The first thing was number 9, backwards and forwards. I put so
much time in it I decided to keep it, I named it ‘Yonderman’. At the time I was hanging with a friend, Bruce. He started calling me
yonderman and does to this day. Sometimes I would introduce myself as yonderman, every time they would ask what kind of name is
that, I would say it’s a man over there, and I am that man..
I had a party one night, that’s a joke – at that part of my life was a party. Anyway, after the party had die down a little, with just a few
friends.I think it was, Bert, Frank, Donna, Jim and maybe Bruce. I ask them to help me name the studio. Now we had been drinking and
smoking and a few other things. We came up with every kind of name under the sun, had a lot of fun but wasn’t getting it. When I move in
the studio I had decided not to use the front door, it was easier to secure one door and that was the back door. I came up with the idea,
BackDoor Studio.The next day I was in the mall and a dude was painting tee shirts. I told him I wanted a music theme of BackDoor Studio.
He came up with the O’s being tape reels, I loved it. That’s how that came about, nothing to do with sex, I am not a back door man. I don’t
want anybody wife and I’m not in to the gay thing.
I was talking to Brandy one night and she had a friend she said I had a lot in common with. His name was Crow ( Len Renfro) he was a few
years older then me. We did have a lot in common, music mostly. Crow had a friend, Danny Patterson who was playing saxophone in Little
Milton’s band. I had already talked to Danny a few time in Red’s. Crow and me had something else very much in common, drinking and
blowing smoke. We did a lot of both together. I knew he was a musician, but we bonded in drink and smoke before music ever came in to
play. Over the next five years we three play a lot of music together. One of my fondness memories with them happen after a night at Poor
Red’s. It was Crow on guitar and Danny on sax, Bobby Tait on bass and me in the control room. I started the R-5 drum box and Bobby
jumped in, and the jam was on. It was going straight to DAT, live no overdubs. Take a listen, click here. Close the page to come back here..
So I let Martin talk me into renting the studio. He was going to engineer and produce a new young band, Nine Daze Wonder. I made a deal
with the guitar player’s daddy. He had a limo service, and we were going to trade services hour for hour. It ended up being 25 hours or so.
We went out one Sunday in a brand new stretch catti, Martin & Ginger and their two kids and we pick up my little one, Anna. It was fun for
the first few minutes, but after that. We partied one night, Donna, Frank, Chris, Trent, Rene. It just wasn’t me, but I could have gotten use to
it if I could do it all the time, I only used 15 hours out of the 25. The first thing Nine Daze did was kicked out their drummer. They got pretty
well known around town, I’m not sure what happen to um. I hate to see bands lose members, it’s like a spoke in a wheel. Lose one and it
comes apart, you can fix it but it’s just not the same.
I started working with Brandy, I liked her writing. I loved being around her, she was so cool – like a 60’s chick, but she wasn’t even born in
the 60’s. I was just going straight to DAT with her vocal and acoustic guitar. She went out of town for Christmas and I decided to produce
one of her songs for her Christmas present. I got Crow , Danny and Bobby and we listen to her stuff. I had 6 or 7 songs on DAT of hers, all
acoustic guitar and vocal – no overdubs. We decided to do ‘All Those Dreams’. Brandy had a way of telling some pretty deep stories with
her music. I would have love to have put a band together behind her, she look good and had a very good voice. She also had a weird
boyfriend, there’s always something. I worked with her for hundreds of hours, most of the time just the two of us. At first I really enjoyed
helping her get her songs together, and see was very grateful. But her dudefriend just got in the way, not sexually, productively. Brandy
had a dark side too, she would often have knockdown drag outs with her demons, mostly brought on by alcohol.
I can’t talk about anybody’s demons, I had a head full of um. I was mad at my wife for leaving with my kids, so mad I wasn’t even talking to
my kids. My little one Anna, 7 at the time was my world. It was so crazy not being able to see her every day and night. The more I hurt the
more I drink, the more I drink the more I hurt, until I would just pass out. Get up the next day and start all over again, it was never ending.
My first Christmas on Getwell, my first Christmas ever by myself – was bad. Trent and Chris came by on the way to a Christmas eve party.
I was pretty close to being drunk, I hated not seeing Anna for Christmas. Anyway, I ended up going with them. Got a big bottle of 101 Wild
Turkey on the way. I had been drinking beer all day and smoking pot, my afternoon valium was needing another. The people’s house we
went over were a couple with kids. I really didn’t want to go, and I didn’t want to stay. The party was in the living room, I stood in the
kitchen with my 101. I never even met the people there. I think Chris could see my pain, she stay in the kitchen talking to me most of the
time. I knew I was close to falling down, just in time we left. I past out on the bathroom floor, I don’t remember Trent and Chris coming in
or leaving. I got off the floor about 9am and went to bed. I got up about 7pm and went out to see my mom at my brother’s house. I didn’t
talk to my kids tell after the new year, 1991. I lost my dad in 1980, the 80’s were a drag – the 90’s were setting up to be worse.
The first 5 or 6 songs I wrote were started and sometimes finished on my back porch. I wrote over half my songs out back, there’s a lot of
traffic on Getwell but it’s fairly tranquil in the back of the house. My first song was ‘I Would Have Thought’, aka ‘Nothing For Sure’. I did a
solo on it, I truly enjoy working alone. But one night partying with Martin & Ginger we decided to do some overdubs on it. Martin did a
couple of main vocal tracks and a harmony on top of that. We were pretty well toast and Ginger wanted to and a girl part, mostly heavy
breathing. I didn’t use her part on the CD, but I did do a mix of it – I still have. What I don’t have is the 16track master. The only thing I can
figure is it got tape over, I’m not bad about doing that, but I have a few times. Before I lost the tape Trent put a lead part on it, one of the
only things he did for me. It’s a wonder I did anything under the conditions. If nobody was here I would get blasted by myself, but it seems
somebody was always here. Some time I rented out the studio and would end up so messed up I would go upstairs and lay down, with 10
or so people I didn’t know running my stuff. Between 1990 and 1995 I did some really stupid stuff, some good – but mostly bad.
After being in the place for a year, it was kind of fixed up. It was a recording studio down stairs and my bedroom up, not a home. But I
decided I wanted to see and be with Anna, she was 8 now. The only time I’d been around her in the past year was in the limo with Martin &
Ginger. She came over for the weekend, and we had some bonding fun. I really didn’t know what she was going through at the time, but I
was going through hell. I hated only having her for a few hours, and another man living with my wife and telling my kids how to act, it was
a living nightmare. When it came time Sunday night to take her home, I was really felling bad – I didn’t like it at all. We were on the
expressway a few minutes from her apartment and she laid her head over on my arm. I knew she had to be tired. I felt something on my
arm, at first I thought she was asleep and drooling, and then I heard her crying. I ask her what was wrong, she said she didn’t want to go
home, she wanted to stay with me. That broke my heart, with all I could do I couldn’t hold back the tears. I pulled up in front of her
apartment and got out, I got down on my knees and put my arms around her. She was crying, I was crying. The hardest thing I ever done
in my life was to tell her to go on in. I couldn’t walk her to the door being afraid of what I would say to her mama, and when she walk away
from me I wanted to die. I didn’t stop at Red’s that night, I just went to the studio. I didn’t feel like doing anything. Just about the time I
walked in the backdoor the phone was ringing. It was Anna, saying her mom said she could come and stay all summer with me. So she
was feeling better, but I knew she didn’t need to be around me and some of the people coming in here.
All the people around me were new, I really didn’t know very much about any of them. Martin came in one night with a friend, Greg ( Davis)
Roberson, a disc jockey at 103 a local radio station. We needed a guitar part or something, Martin and Greg were going to get a picker. It
was midnight when they left and 2 hours later they came back with out one. That was the way my life was going, some times it happen
and some times it didn’t. Greg knew everybody in music in Memphis, he was by far the most knowledgeable music person I’d ever met,
and he was only 27. Like me he was crazy about 60’s music, The Beatles, Byrds – a very cool dude. He had a group he wanted to produce,
Broken Silence. Just another average young band with one exception, Brandon McGovern. Brandon was in his late teens, he reminded
me of a young David Crosby. Beautiful voice and played guitar very smooth. He could set around and play Beatles and Byrds and stuff
you wouldn’t think a person his age would like. Greg and him started writing together, some really good stuff. Brandon dropped out of
Broken Silence and started working with Greg full time. I let Greg use the studio to produce their songs, no overdubs or just a few – but it
was on 16 tracks. They worked good together for a few years, I’m not sure what happened, like George said – ‘All Things Must Pass’.
Greg wanted to help me make some money to live on, so he booked an all girls band, The Merlyns to come in and do a demo. Greg was
going to produce and I was going to engineer. The girl were real cool, very nice – not great but good enough to keep my attention. They
put down a full reel, 6 songs and did the 2nd song twice. It was a long day and everybody worked hard. As always I was doing to much
smoke, drink and powder. Greg was totally running the show, I like that it gave me less to do – just making sure it all got to tape, cause
you can pretty well fix anything in the mix. We listen to all the tracks and made plans for the next session. It was decided to use the 2nd
take of the 2nd song, that made it the 3rd song on the reel. The next time they came in was for overdubs, vocals and guitars. It took about
an hour to do the 1st song and a little longer to do the 2nd one. Well !! when we got ready to do the 3rd song it was the 2nd take of the 2nd
song. That was a real downer, the girls were upset putting a hour on the wrong take. Greg jump on me, it made me feel about an inch tall. I
was medicated but not enough to let that go, I got mad but I didn’t want to show it in front of the girls. I ask Greg out of the room, I never
even seen the track sheets and he was saying it was my fault, I said it was his – Oh Well.. We didn’t work together after that, still friends
but I didn’t need that in my life – I don’t know what I needed.
Most of the girls I was with were one night stands from Red’s or some other bar. The next day I wouldn’t even know their names, some I
really didn’t want to know. Trent’s girlfriend Chris had a roommate they wanted me to meet, Rene. She was a looker, 27 and full of life.
They brought her over to the studio one night. I didn’t know any of the three, but booze has a way of bonding people. We talked for a few
hours and the beer went over to liquor. The girls had to get up for work the next day and the time came for them to leave. We were having
a good time, so they said for me to come home with them. We were all drunk and they were in two cars, so I was going to ride with Rene’s.
She was hungry so she pulled into Krystal’s. We were talking and when she pulled up to the window to get the food she went to far, just a
foot or so to far to reach. So we were laughing as drunks will, she put the car in reverse and without looking backup. Well! some dump ass
had pulled up close be hide us. She hit him, we were still laughing but knowing we had to get out and talk. I got out to see what was up,
she got the food and pulled over to park. It was 1 o’clock in the morning; I’m thinking the dude we hit was drunk too. He started going off
about the piece of junk car him and his wife or girlfriend were in. I had a few hundred dollars, I ask him if a hundred would make him go
away. I don’t think he wanted to talk to the police either and fifty could have done it. He took the money and got back in his car. I was
afraid the police were going to drive by and see us out talking by the pickup window. I told Rene to slide over and I drove us to her house.
I was really looking forward to being with her, she was very pretty and young.
The next morning she woke up in a very good mood having stayed up all night partying. Chris and her had to go to work, Trent and me
got up about 9 and he brought me back to the studio. I didn’t see her for a few weeks and then I ask her our to go to a night club. I hadn’t
been on a date in twenty years, I didn’t like the idea of it – but I did like her so it was worth the price. I was 41, she was 27, but I had booze,
smoke, uppers, downers, sideways and a few things I’m not sure of. I didn’t think I would see 42, and I loved to enjoy things, Rene was a
joy. She wanted to go to a club I had heard of, Desperado’s a more popular country type club, it wasn’t my thing, but I like looking at her.
The place was full, we played a little pool and talked. I couldn’t believe I was out with this good looking girl. We were there about 2 hours
or so, she ask if I wanted to go. I ask were ?? She said she had a bottle at her place, I wanted to come back to the studio. So we went by
and got the bottle and came back to the studio. We laid in bed and talked tell the sun came up. I knew her a lot better and felt a little closer
to her, I guess I wanted her to like me. She had to go to a family reunion, and she did it without any sleep. She call a few hours later just to
say hi, I thought to myself maybe she cares a little. Wrong!!
I really did enjoy being with her, it took my mind off my x for a few minutes. She had told me she was going out with a dude that was
married, and it wasn’t over. Rene wasn’t the only girl I was partying with either, but I did like her a lot. I started to feel my old self-esteem
coming back. The biggest things in my life in order were – drink, drugs, music, sex, and somewhere in-between all this was my kids and a
very deep love for my x-wife. I knew I wasn’t ever going to get back to a life like I had had, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it – no matter
how low I got in self-abuse. Rene had a little boy about 3 or 4 that I would not let anywhere near me. My little girl was 7 and it was
absolutely killing me to be away from her ever day and night. To let someone else’s little one in was something I couldn’t do. I know,
and I knew at the time that I could have got closer to Rene and other girls that had kids if I would have picked them up and play with
them – I just couldn’t. I love kids, specially little girl about 7 or so – it takes me back to a happier time. I’ve got some kind of mental block
going on I guess. I know Rene like me, but she was in love with her married friend. I was around her all the time because of Trent and
Chris, and now and again we would end up together but only because of convenience.
Back in the 70’s playing bars all over town there were two girls that use to come in from time to time. Donna Cornelius and Debbie Downs.
Both were knock-outs, I’m talking when they came in everybody knew it. Donna was Bobby Cornelius’s little sister. All Memphis musicians
back then knew of Bobby, a great guitarist and vocalist. Donna could sing her ass off, sounded a lot like Janis Joplin with all the energy. I
was newly married at the time but I would often fantasize about being in the sack with Debbie and Donna at the same time. Through the
years I would see Donna from time to time in different clubs around town, she was very close to a good friend of mine, Jim Anderson. All
my close friends knew I was divorced and living in a recording studio. I talked to Jim one day on the phone and he wanted to bring Donna
in to look around at what I had. Frank my x-brother-in-law was over when Jim and Donna came in. At BackDoor Studio in the early 90’s it
was always a party - this was no exception. We talked and laughed for hours about all the old times. Being drunk like I was I told Donna
about my fantasy, she just laugh. About 3am and they were getting ready to leave; Donna and I were setting on the back porch talking.
Frank lifted and Jim ask Donna if she was ready to go, I was embarrass to say anything thinking she would tell me to kiss off in front of
Jim – but I ask her to stay. To my delight she told Jim she was staying, Jim like the idea too – seeing two people that needed each other.
1990 / 95