This is going to be another post about me and my brothers and our Country Music days. I don’t think I do these things all that often but I’m aware some of you don’t like them. For those who don’t, I say stop reading now. I don’t want to get your blood pressure up on a Sunday.
But unlike the other posts about those days where the people my brothers and I met were all very nice, this is about someone who wasn’t.
That photo over to the right is “The King of Country Music,” Roy Acuff. Who would have ever thought that Mr. Acuff wouldn’t be a nice person? Not my parents. During a trip to Nashville, they decided that “The King” should hear us sing.
This was back before my younger brother joined the group. My twin brother and I had to be seven or eight years old. Acuff ran his Roy Acuff Museum, memorabilia from his long career, close to the Ryman Auditorium. That’s where the Grand Ole Opry was before it moved to Opryland. My parents figured the museum would be a good place to run into Acuff.
See that man in the photo over to the left? That’s Bashful Brother Oswald, a member of Acuff’s band. When we got to the museum, Oswald was there handling ticket sales which wasn’t a hard job as my parents and us kids were the only ones in the museum. Whatever the price was to walk through the place, my parents paid it.
Acuff wasn’t around, but Oswald said he would be there in about an hour. My parents let Oswald know that their little boys sang and, of course, we sang for him—what song I don’t remember. Oswald liked us, or so he said, and thought Acuff would too.
We never got the chance to sing for him. Oh, Acuff did indeed come to the museum, but when my mother asked him if her sons could sing for him, he had this to say.
“Don’t ever sing for free, boys,” Acuff said. “Don’t get in the habit of that.” He said his words in an almost nasty way.
The King of Country Music walked away from us looking annoyed. My mother had her mouth open and Bashful Brother Oswald looked—well, bashful.
Frankly, it made no difference to me at all, but it upset my mother and she talked about Acuff’s rudeness for years afterwards.
Thinking about Acuff’s remark now, I think he offered pretty bad advice. If someone is trying to break into the music business, one is going to sing plenty of times for free. Acuff was probably just busy or was having a bad day or whatever.
If Oswald was alive today, I would thank him for being so nice to us. If Acuff was alive, I’d tell him no hard feelings.
To show I mean that, I’m posting a YouTube video of him singing one of this biggest hits, “Wabash Cannonball.”
YouTube is letting me post the video for free, therefore Acuff is singing for free. Something tells me he probably wouldn’t like that.
(Photo of Roy Acuff from royalfeltner.com. Photo of Bashful Brother Oswald from well.com)