After a few mouths of being stoned and drunk, not doing much of anything for anybody – I woke up. I started thinking about getting in or
starting another band. The first person I called was Richard, he was always up for music and he wasn't in a band at the time. Mike wasn't
in a band either, he was however now the manager over all the Central Hardware stores in Memphis, but he was up for some music too.
Jimmy was in for one more try too, he didn't have an organ but he could harmonize with Richard very good .We had played for the dude
that owned the El Toro over in West Memphis many times, so we were going to audition some guitar players over there. Richard lined up
Ray Tillie and Jim Pickham ( brother-in-laws ), we got along from the start. Jim was good with cords as was Mike, Ray played pretty good
lead, what he couldn't do on guitar he made up for on vocals. They had a few original songs they wanted to do, one good one, ‘When You
Were Mine’. Ray and Jim Anderson wrote it. It felt good right from the start, the  three-part harmony was great.

We decided to give it a try with them, the manager of El Toro wanted us to stay there Friday and Saturday and just do old standards.
They needed a name to put on the marquee so I came up with Bluff, after all, that's what we were going to do. We did that for a few weeks,
but we weren't making any money and it was a long drive so we started practicing over at Ray's house. Everybody was trying real hard,
three nights a week and Saturdays afternoons. We worked up three sets of good tunes, four of Ray and Jim's songs. It was time to look
for a club to try um out, that didn't take long. We were on our way to Four Way and there was one club on Summer Ave. we were going by
first. The manager there said for us to try the Ramada Inn down the street.

The Ramada Inn was in the middle of remodeling, the new theme was going to be Rosie O'Grady's, they were doing it right to. They gave
us the job, we set up in part of the old room. It had a full bar and fifteen tables, I've played smaller rooms. We got a pretty good following
going, we packed it out on week ends. We got fairly good money, drinks and one room to dress in. We rehearsed on Wednesday nights
and played Thursday through Saturday. I was the only one with out a day job, I needed the money bad. I got over ruled on the name of the
band, Ray came up with River Bluff, he new somebody that had a tug boat or something, so we went down and had some promo pictures
made. Bluff was a cool name for an underground group, we were totally above ground, top forty.

It was about time to open Rosie's and the club offered us a deal for six nights. We talked it over, Mike had the most to lose, we accepted it.
We went out and got some suits, Jimmy bought a B-3 and Lesley, Ray got a new guitar, Mike got a new guitar and amp and I got a new set
of drums. Jim wasn't into doing it six nights, so he was out. He still came in and played some, just not every night. The new look of the
club was nice and it was showing. A lot of cool people started coming in, one of which was Lance Russell of local TV . He came in on
Saturday nights with twenty people, Dave Brown was one of them.

They liked us and ask if we would be interested in doing a benefit for St.Jude at Blues Stadium, with The Gentrys. We all liked the idea of
helping by playing, so we did it. They said it sounded good out front, I couldn't hear anything from where I was setting. They put a fat bed
trailer on the pitcher's mound, it was pretty cool. After the show they had a soft ball game, disc jockey against wrestlers. The jocks needed
some help so Jimmy Hart, the lead singer for the Gentrys played on there side. He put on a great show, and after that he started showing
up on the Saturday morning T.V. wresting show, the rest is history.

With the grand opening of Rosie's came a new manager, he had only been there a couple of days. We always went to our room after the
show and changed and came back in the club and had a few drinks. They would lock the doors and we would talk and carry on. Well, this
one night I came back in and ask for a drink, the new manager said they had stop serving. It made me mad, I told him where to go and was
walking out. Jimmy was just coming back in, he asked where I was going, I told him in a few words what I thought about the new
manager. I got in my car and left, what happened next was crazy.

Jimmy got mad about me being mad and pulled up all the shrubs around the place, they had just planted them. The southern district
manager was in town looking at the new club, he didn't care much about the whole deal. He called a meeting with the manager and us the
next night. He was real nice about it, but he wasn't going to put up with it. He like us as entertainers and wanted to keep us, we got it
worked out. From then on, the manager was real nice to us, and we had drinks every night after closing time. On Saturday we wouldn't get
out of there till daylight, he turned out to be a cool dude.

We got close to the district manager, he was wanting to get behind us. He was over all the Ramada Inn’s in the south. We were the house
band for Rosie's, and he wanted us to do some other Ramada's. Now we were going to be a road band, I loved it. Rosie's let us out of our
contract a week before going to the Ramada in Augusta Georgia. There was a club just around the corner from Rosie's called The River
Club, we booked it for that week. Jimmy had met a girl at Rosie's he was really digging on. For some reason we packed up right after the
gig Saturday night and drove all night so we could be at the club Sunday afternoon. Jimmy's new girlfriend had really been hitting the gin
martinis, by the time we got packed up and ready to go that night, she was smashed.

They had to pick her up and put her in someone's car, so they could take her home. We didn't think any more about it, but Jimmy did. I
was so glad to get out of Memphis, thinking it would be like the old days, back in the 60's. Ray went out and bought a brand new Dodge
van, a nice big one. He also took along his wife, that wasn't the coolest thing to do. We all went down in Jimmy's car except Ray and the
wife went in the van, it wasn't like the 60's, we didn't even smoke a joint or drink a beer. It was more like business and one of the wives
were there. We got there late Sunday afternoon, they gave us a big house a few miles from the motel. We didn't do anything, looked at the
club and went to the house.

We set up first thing Monday morning and did a sound check. We all decided to hit the pool and drink a few beers. Jimmy got out and said
he was going to get the oil changed in his car, he said he would be back in a hour or so. After a couple of hour went by we decided to eat
in the motel restaurant. Two more hours went by, still no Jimmy. It was getting late so we went back to the house in Ray's van, Jimmy
wasn't there. Everybody showered and got dressed for the gig, still no Jimmy. We went to the club and talked to the manager, we're
thinking an accident or robbery or something. Jimmy was a big part of our show, rhythm and harmonies, and he did the lead vocals on
about ten songs. Talk about a long night, we were very worried about Jimmy, and our music was empty.

As soon as we got off we called the police, they wouldn't help until he'd been missing forty-eight hours. We called all the hospitals
emergency rooms, one thing we never thought of, he might have went home. We called his mom the next morning, she said he was still in
bed asleep. Man, what a downer, one big step backwards. There had been a friend of Ray's, that set in from time to time at Rosie’s on
organ. Steve Cinceola was a better keyboardist then Jimmy, but he couldn't sing. We had him fly down until we could figure it out, he
ended up replacing Jimmy for good. It took a lot out of us, losing the back-up singing was the main thing. We went from a full three part
harmonies, to two parts. Jimmy did the lead vocals on some of my favorites by The Beatles, Ray started doing more lead vocals. Ray was
a good singer, but it just wasn’t as full.

We also only had one vehicle down there now, so I got Brenda to bring down my 66 Mustang, it was a old hot rod, but better then nothing.
It wasn't a lot of fun but we got through it, Steve was doing some cool stuff on keyboard, but we sure missed Jimmy's vocals and
friendship. Luckily all of Jimmy's stage clothes fit Steve, and he left his B-3 too, he only took what he had on. We did our stay in Augusta
and came back to Memphis's Rosie O'Grady. We re-grouped, worked up some new songs to cover Jimmy's. Ramada was getting ready to
send us out on a long tour down through Florida. We had to do Rosie's for two weeks and then two weeks in Montgomery Alabama, back
to Memphis for two weeks at The River Club. After that we were off to Key West.

Something very unexpected happened in Montgomery, they woke me with the news of Elvis. The king of rock & roll was dead, I didn't
believe it. I called home and talked to Brenda, it was true, Elvis was dead. I was a big Elvis fan, I didn't go out and buy his records. He was
more like a part of the family, a brother you never got to see or something. The first thing most people ask when they found out we were
from Memphis, was do you every get to see Elvis. I'm sure we got a lot of jobs because of that. It hit me hard, it was truly like losing part of
the family. I'm sorry to say the rest of the band didn't feel like that. I got up and went down to the restaurant, Richard and Mike were there.

Something I'd never done before, but for some reason I order a martini for breakfast. On an empty stomach, it didn't take long for the gin to
kick in, so I order another one. After three or four of them, Richard and me had a few words. We didn't see eye to eye on anything, much
less Elvis. I got in my head we should cancel our contract and go home, we had over a week left. They said we weren’t canceling. The only
thing I could do was watch the news on T.V. All the radio stations were doing specials, I got to hear a lot of songs I'd never heard. I went
out and got a book Red West had just put out, I couldn't get enough. I know Elvis wasn't a great actor, but there was something about his
movies that may me feel good, relaxed so to speak.

I think most people would agreed that he was the best singer of all times. The closer it got to time to go on that night the more I knew I
didn't want to play. We did a medley of Elvis's songs every night, tonight's was going to be hard. I wasn't acting very professional, that's
the story of my life, I always went on feelings. I took a shower and laid back on the bed, I just couldn't get my head straight. I really felt like
crying, I loved the guy, what was we going to do with out Elvis? I laid there till it was time to go on, all the T.V. stations were doing special
from Memphis live. I wanted to watch them, then I got an idea. Without thinking, I jump up, put on my suit, unplugged the T.V. picked it up
and headed for the elevator.

Ray and Mike had already tuned up and were setting at the bar with Richard. I set the T.V. on the stage and went to the bar for a stool,
everybody wanted to know what I was doing. I told them, nobody wanted to hear us, they want to know what's going on in Memphis.
There was about twenty or so people in the club, Richard said, you can't do that, we've got to play. I set the stool up on stage and set the
T.V. on it, got a mic and put it on the speaker and turned it on. It was 9:00, time for us to go on, just as I turned the T.V. on, a sixty minute
special report was coming on from Memphis. It was time for the show down, Richard and me were on the dance floor in front of the stage.
We were talking it over fairly loud, he was wanting to turn the T.V. off, I wasn't going to let him do that. Just in the nick of time, the couple
setting closest to the stage stepped in.

The guy said,"leave the T.V. on, we want to see it". Then a few other people said the same thing, then the bartender. Needless to say, we
watch the special. We ended up going on about 10:30, after all the news went off. Richard introduced the Elvis medley we did as some
songs by “the late great Elvis Presley”, talk about cold. I could have hit him in back of the head with my drumsticks. I had already had to
much to drink, by 2A.M. I was toast. I was setting at the bar after we got finished, there was a couple setting next to me talking about Elvis.
The girl asked me a couple of questions about him and Memphis. I bought them a drink, we (the band) were running a bar tab by the week,
I had a few doubles. I bought a round for everybody in the place and the bartender too, by then I had had to many, for sure. I did it again, a
round for the house, in the memory of Elvis. The third time I ordered a round for the house the bartender said it was on the house.

There were a few prostitute always hanging around and I was setting talking to two of them, I'm sure they could till from a far I was needing
some comfort. The whole band was trying to get me to go upstairs, I said a lot of things I wish I hadn't said. I was hurt, drunk and mad. At
one point Richard had to hold Ray off of me. The bartender cut me off, and the two girl took me upstairs. I got out of my suit and was
walking down the hall butt naked with these two hookers. I was bagging on Mike and Richard's door, Richard open the door and gabbed
me, he told the girls to go away. I got mad and hit the wall and try to open the door, they wrestle me down. If I could have got loose right
then there would have been a fight. Maybe not much of one, I was so drunk I could barely stand up. They held me till I come-down some,
and then put me in a cold shower. I was to tired to fight, I went to bed.

The next afternoon when I got up the hang over was terrible, but I still had a bad attitude about not going home. I went on and got it in my
head to stay, I just didn't feel the same about the band anymore. I felt so lost, away from where I wanted to be. If we weren't playing or
practicing, I was reading the book 'What Happen' and listening to Elvis specials on the radio. Listening to the radio one day I became a
Hawk Williams fan. I didn't like country music or Hawk Williams, they were doing one of Elvis' live concerts and Elvis said, "hear the
saddest song I've ever heard". It was 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry', I had heard that song a million time, it was on a lot of jukeboxes, but
it was the first time I really listened to the words.

We came back to Memphis and The River Club, I was setting at the bar thinking about the past few weeks, just looking at how cool
everything looked. The pretty waitresses and how the bar was laid out, the red carpet, everything was so plush. I couldn't get Elvis off my
mind, he was so much a part of all that. Steve came up and set down beside me and asked how I was doing. I told him I was thinking about
quitting the band, not just the band, but music, drums. Ten years on the road was enough, every night in a bar, our job was to get people
drunk. I was really feeling sorry for myself, we were never going to be as big as Elvis. He had only been gone for a few weeks and already
he was just the late great. I started thinking I wanted more out of life then being in joints every night, maybe even be a daddy to my

We did our stay at The River Club, and decided to work up some new songs over at Steve's mom and dad's. I was the last one to get there,
when I walked in I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Larry Hill, a guitar player from the past was there. My drums were already set up, so I
got behind them and asked what was going on. Richard said they had talked it over and decided the music was to empty, and they were
going to add Larry. Now he was a great guitar player, but he couldn't sing and that's why our music felt empty. They kicked off a song,
I got half way through it and stop. There was to many people in there besides the band, and I couldn't talk like I wanted to. I got up from
behind the drums and headed for the door, I told Richard I needed to talk to him in private and I walked outside.

At first I was just going to tell him we didn't need Larry, but when he asked what was up, I said I was done. I just "don't want to play music
any more", and I walked off, never looked back. That was the first time I had ever quit a band, specially one that was making $300 a week,
my livelihood. Here I was out of work again, and now I didn't even want to play music, what the heck was I going to do. I worked in a piano
factory tuning pianos for a week, you haven't heard anything till you hear ten pianos being tuned at the same time. After that I went to work
in the machine shop at Buckeye, a P&G owned company. My brother worked there too, he helped get me on. After working there a few
months I started Scrap Music, my first studio. It was a spare bedroom and a cassette recorder, a guitar, microphone, headphone, and a lot
of dreams.

I had a lot of things going on, I was still drinking a lot of beer and smoking pot, but I was working in the daytime and taking care of my
family. I had a dirt bike and I was going to the stock car races on Saturday nights. I got a four track recorder and a small console, and I
wrote my first song 'Hemingway', it was about the first time I played drums in front of people. I was hooked then for sure, I loved writing
song and putting down all the parts, nobody to fuss with. I did about ten songs on that four track machine, it's all I thought about. Most of
my first songs were wrote in part running a lathe at work, it made the days go by a little faster. I couldn't wait to get home and put the ideas
to tape.

On my little girl's tenth birthday, my mom and dad came over for a little party. Daddy set in the studio with me listening to one of my new
songs and eating some birthday cake. I'm so glad that happened, three days later on October 16th, he pasted away. I loved my daddy and
still do, we had times in my life we didn't like each other, but we always loved one-another. I got real mad at God, how could he take him
away from me. But I knew in my heart, God was the only one I could turn to, and I did. Every day after work I would go over to mama's to be
with her, and I would read the Bible the whole time I was there. I just couldn't get over it, I felt so empty. I had some bad things happen in
my life, but nothing like this. One day it was like Jesus talked right to me, it was like waking up from a nightmare.

That was almost twenty-six years ago, and the one thing I regret the most, is after I started feeling better about daddy, I stopped reading
The Bible. That was the third time God had helped me when I asked Him to, and then I would turn away from Him.      
 Next Story - Scrap

                                                                                                                                                                               Back to band page
The Riverbluff Band
The Riverbluff Band
1976 / 77
Richard Beckham – vocal
Ray Tillie – guitar & vocal
Jimmy Crawford – B3 organ & vocal
Jim Pickham – guitar
Mike Lineberger – bass
Roger – drums
Steve Cinceola - B3 - replaced Jimmy