The Del Rios didn't really have big hits as a group, but were you big locally? Did you draw crowd when you played around?
Yeah, we were known throughout, say the tri state area, Memphis, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi. We played all the college places, and we played both The Flamingo Room here in Memphis, and over in Arkansas at the Plantation Inn. Which was depicted in the movie the Blues Brothers, where they had that chicken wire and all that stuff. We played the Plantation Inn a couple of years over there, yeah.
Both white colleges and black colleges?
Over at the Plantation it was more, back during that time, unfortunately it was all white. Over here at the Flamingo it was predominately black, but we did have some whites coming in and out. Elvis use to come in every now and then.
You would become known, and have become known as a great ballad singer, like you even said yourself last night.
Right, well I do everything live, but I guess most of my hits have been in the ballad arena.
That's actually quite unusual, isn't it? When you're comparing it to say, Eddie Floyd. I know Ace and Eddie both had ballad numbers, but probably their biggest hits were things like 'Knock on Wood', and the faster stuff.
Respect, and what have you.
Right, it was just that, I guess, for my background, ballads were like my forte, more or less. Most of my hit songs on Stax were a ballad, but I had some up tempo things that were pretty good too.
I did. Yes, I've written most of my hits, and some things for other people at Stax, including Albert King, of course. 'Born Under a Bad Sign', and the Nightingales, Otis, I wrote for a lot of people.
Can you remember the moment when you wrote You Don't Miss Your Water?
Do you remember what you were doing at the time that you wrote it?
Oh yeah, I was in New York City, traveling during the summer with a band called the Phineas Newborn Orchestra, and I wrote the song while I was there.
Was it based on any particular experience?
Well yeah, just missing home. We had been on the road for like three months almost, and that was what it was about.
It's a very country tuned song, I think you'd agree.
Thank you. It's a combination of, I guess, the music that I was exposed to, which was country, and blues, and gospel.
What was the first ... Well, how successful was 'You Don't Miss Your Water'?
Very successful. It was the first major hit by a male artist on Stax, yeah.
That got how high up on the charts.
I think it was, I'm not exactly sure how high it went on the national charts, but it was a number one R&B record. I don't know how, but we got into maybe top 50's of the charts.
What do you think is the favorite tune that you've written? Your favorite tune that you've penned?
My favorite tune, I would have to say a combination of 'Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday', and 'I Forgot to Be Your Lover', one of those two. I like 'You Don't Miss Your Water', because that's my very first song. But, my favorite, as far as creatively, I like 'I Forgot to Be Your Lover' and stuff, yeah.
I yelled that for 'Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday', and you gave me a look like you were going to do it.
Yeah, well, the time was cutting short.
Can you give us just a little bit of the verse.
Oh no, I didn't get much sleep last night, and you're the second person who have asked me to sing to you.
That song, or?
Are you serious?
I know, yeah. But, singers are notorious for, their voices don't wake up until nighttime.
That song starts with sleigh bells.
Yeah. Actually, that was Al Jackson's idea to put that in there. Kind of like a the near grabber or something, the attention getter. Because, actually it was not written to be a Christmas standard song. They've made it a Christmas standard now, but it was just another ballad tune, but Al had the idea of the holiday theme of putting sleigh bells in it, so that kind of put it into the Christmas mode.
You also wrote some, or sang some others, Share What You Got Keep What you Need.
Oh yeah, those were ... That actually was written by me and David Porter, I think. I think David was the one writing on it, or maybe Homer Banks. It's been a long time, but we wrote, David and I wrote a couple things together, along with a couple things with Homer Banks.
Yeah, and you also sang a duet or two in your time.
Oh yeah, the most prominent one, I did some things with Mavis, but the better known one would be 'Private Number' with Judy Clay. Yes, so I've done a lot of duets. Duets with Carla. We did a full album back in those days of duets, called 'Boy Meets Girl'.
Tell me just in brief, what was it like being around this place, Stax Records.
It was like going to University it was like, but fun. There was a lot of camaraderie, and creative energies flowing between writers, and artists, and musicians. It was a lot of fun, it was fun time.
Cool, and what did you do after the Stax thing ended? Talk about what you did after that.
After Stax I moved to Atlanta and started a label with my manager called Peachtree Records, and we had a quite a few acts, Johnny Jones, James Fountain, Mitty Collier, quite a few acts on those Peachtree tours that we signed up. I was writing and producing for a while on that. Then I went to drama school for a while, and for a couple years with the academy theater there in Atlanta, and then in New York I studied for a while. Then went to Mercury Records, and of course, started recording again with the first single turned into a multimillion seller, Tryin' To Love Two.
What part of your story, or the Stax story, do they most often get wrong, or did they just?
Do they get wrong? Well, I don't know. That's a hard one, I don't know.
Are there any things that ever stick in your craw when you hear them and you just, like they've become accepted history, but you know that's not the story, or?
Yeah, sometimes they get the birthdate wrong, or they get things like that wrong. That's throughout the years, a lot of stuff has been turned backward, turned around, but I can't think of one thing. It's just not anything monumental, but it's just one or two things, yep.
How do you feel when you get up in front of an audience of younger people than yourself in the moment?
Really, I'm more comfortable on stage than I am off. I'm just a people lover, and I love people, I love performing, and I guess if it came to a time when I was dreading getting up there, I'd retire. But, so far I'm still enjoying what I do.
Do you think it's interesting that this music still holds so much interesting, even with people from other generations?
It still amazes me to have been a part of creating music that has withstood the test of time. You think almost 50 years this music endured. As a matter of fact, next year Stax celebrates its 50th anniversary, which is unbelievable. But, it is amazing that as kids and everything we created something that has lasted this long, and is still viable music.