With dedicated hard work, Mrs Gloria Miers presented
the 18th annual Legends Of Western Swing Music Festival
at the Multi-Purpose Event Center, Wichita Falls, Texas
over the 2nd - 4th June 2005. Some of the best western swing
bands from Texas and New Mexico gave three days of stunning
music for the thousands
of fans who attended this three day event to either sit
and enjoy the music or two-step the hours away on the dance
This year's Legends Of Western Swing Music Festival
paid tribute to one of the most prolific songwriters in
the country music genre…Miss Cindy Walker. A true living
legend, Cindy Walker has penned over 1,000 songs during
her career, recorded by stars of the calibre of Bing Crosby,
Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Roy Orbison, Cher, Perry Como,
Ray Charles and a host of country artists too long to mention
from Roy Rogers and Tex Ritter to the likes of Eddie Arnold,
Merle Haggard, George Jones and everyone in-between. The
recording artist most noted for the songs written by Cindy
Walker is the iconic western swing bandleader Bob Wills
who along with his Texas Playboys recorded some 50 of Cindy's
songs. Just a few of those songs that are now classed as
western swing standards include, "You're From Texas"
(1944 Top 3 hit), "Cherokee Maiden", "Dusty
Skies", "Miss Molly", "Bubbles In My
Bear" (1948 Top 5), "New Playboy Rag" and
"Warm Red Wine". Other country classics include
"When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again", "Going
Away Party", "Sugar Moon", "China Doll",
"Blue Canadian Rockies", "Distant Drums",
"In The Misty Moonlight" and oh!!! so many, many
more wonderful songs. Cindy Walker wrote all 39 songs performed
in the eight movies Bob Wills made with Columbia Pictures
and was inducted into Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1997.
the three-day period from midday - midnight, eleven different
bands gave two performances each, plus two more bands played
for the diners during the hour-long break for refreshment
(Texas Sand and the Lone Star Troubadours). The Legends
Festival saw the famous Bob Wills Texas Playboys with Tommy
Allsup & Leon Rausch, Clyde Brewer with the River Road
Boys, (home of the famous Nocona boot company) Nocona's
own legendary Bill Adams & In The Mood featuring Susan
Riley on vocals, Tom Morrell & The Time Warp Tophands,
Bobby Flores & His Yellow Rose Band, Dave Alexander
& His Big Texas Swing Band, Jody Nix & The Texas
Cowboys, from New Mexico Ted Scanlon & The Desperados,
Wichita Falls own Eddie McAlvain & The Mavericks and
Dugg Collins & The Brazos Valley Band, while the whole
festival was compared by the renowned Mike O'Daniel and
Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996,
a true legend in his own right at the age of 79, the critically
acclaimed Ray Price drew a full house on the Thursday with
his velvety vocals and band The Cherokee Cowboys thrilling
the crowd with two electrifying sets. Ray registered seven
country #1 hits during his career.
Between 1954 and 1974 he amassed a total of 64 US country
chart hits with only 11 that failed to make the Top 20 and
13 crossed over to the pop charts. Many of the songs he
is known and loved for were there. Starting both sets with
Bob Wills "New San Antonio Rose", he gave us "Crazy
Arms", "City Lights", "For The Good
Times" (#1 1970) which Price received a Grammy for
in 1971, "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened
To Me" (#1 1973), Willie Nelson's "Night Life"
plus the song Ray announced that goes back to "B H"
(Before Humperdinck)…" Release Me" (#6 1954).
Ray Price finished both sets with a tribute to his good
friend from the early days…Hank Williams and "Mansion
On A Hill".
Following the afternoon show a congenial Ray Price signed
autographs for a long line of fans and then found time to
invite me onto his tour bus for an interview and talk about
his career, with Ray spending several minutes telling me
about his great passion as a racing pigeon fancier. Though
he doesn't race his pigeons he does keep several for the
sheer pleasure of their plumage and breed. In September
2004 Ray Price had a heart attack while in Houston and needed
It's a real pleasure to meet you Ray…I believe that
you had a little bit of heart trouble last year. Can I just
ask how you're doing now?
I'm doing fine, I didn't have an operation…they put a stint
in one of the blood vessels and I've been doing just great!!!"
That's good to hear.
"You've got to just hang in there!!! Ha, Ha, Ha"
You've had a wonderful career that came in two parts.
You started out with The Cherokee Cowboys dressed in the
western gear and then you started to dress more in a dinner
suite or tuxedo that changed your career. What period did
you most enjoy in your career.
"Well I still do the country. And
I still call my band The Cherokee Cowboys. The only thing
I did was add strings to the country songs. Strings have
a way of blending with voices, because they are close to
voices themselves. I took a lot of heat for it for a while,
but everything turned out, everything's great."
But that was how country music was going, as today it
was going towards the pop side in those days.
"Yeh, Yeh. Country mus ic was still the same. What
you hear as country is rock 'n' roll and they use country
to sell it. And at the time…it broke loose for these big
radio stations that owned most of the audiences. And at
that time they just blew everything away and wouldn't let
any of the old ones in. But it hasn't changed anything;
they're going out too. I understand that England doesn't
like that new country sound!"
On the whole No! It has a following with the younger
audience, but the majority of fans still want the traditional
"Well I have nothing against the music, but they
should stop calling it country. It's just a poor rock 'n'
I believe that you wrote a lot of the music that you
"No that's a misnomer! Only one or two. Willie
[Nelson] wrote a lot of them; Willie was in the band for
a long time. Willie, Johnny Paycheck and Roger Miller…they
were all in the band and it's their songs and Hank Cochran's
Hank and Willie were part of Sony Tree publishing
house for many years.
"Well see, I owned the publishing company they
were in, Pamper Music. Then they sold it to Tree and it
became their big catalogue, so they've done really well with
How did you get into the publishing business?
"A friend of mine, or a fellow that I met out in
California…. Claude Gavness said I've got a great song for
you and I recorded it………it was a great hit "Crazy Arms".
He said I'm the publisher and I'd like to know if you'd
like to go into the publishing business with me. So I said
yeh I'd go into it. What we'll do is…if we can give a third
to a fellow I know to run it, because I can't run it either.
So we did and it was a Cinderella story…a huge success!!!"
Well I believe that "Crazy Arms" is the best
loved of the songs that you did…particularly in Britain
and especially with me.
"It's a great old song!!! I did it in 55…it knocked
Elvis off the number one spot and I think stayed up there
for twenty something
weeks on #1and my first million seller. And the first cross-over
song in the industry I guess, but I'm not sure."
It must be a great achievement to knock Elvis off
"Well Elvis and I were real good friends! So it
was kind of fun, when he was real hot and it done goes without
saying that Elvis was Elvis. But I just happened to have
a song that was strong enough to take the plays. And I wish
I'd had a bunch like that!!!"
You were also good friends with Hank Williams in your
early days. How did you get to know Hank?
"Hank got me on the Grand Ole Opry and I was with
Hank the last year of his life. I've done a couple TV
interviews with the BBC in London that they've been showing
over there. Hank was a fine feller…it was just had a
tragic life was all."
More recently, I believe you have a new album.
"I've got one recorded and Willie's on three of
the songs with it. And last year Willie and I were nominated
for a Grammy with one of the albums and this year…right
now we are in the throws of getting this thing set, so we'll
be coming up with a new album. That'll be first one in a
long time besides the one Willie and I did."
Will there be any new songs on it?
"No they're all old hits…they are all my old
friends that's gone! That what the album's about…it's a
tribute to them."
Your playing at the Legends Of Western Swing Music
Festival at Wichita Falls, which is a small hometown
festival. And it's wonderful to see in a festival of this
enjoy it! I've played Wichita Falls for many, many years.
It's one of my favourite places. I played here last year
with the sheriff's convention, but this year is the first
time I've got to play for the people in a long time…and
I enjoy it. I have a lot of fans out there."
Is there anything else in the future they we should
be looking for?
"I don't know…maybe some videos. And maybe a
lot of work in Europe. I'm hoping!!! I want to get over
before I'm just too old and can't work. I'd like to play
England and I believe Sweden's great for country music and
Ireland of course. I'm just hoping to get over…we'll just
have to wait and see!!!"
We'll look forward to seeing you!!! It has been a real
pleasure meeting to you and talking with you.
"Yeh!!! Me too. I'd like to say Hi to everybody
in England and maybe someday I'll get to come and sing for
them….that's what I'd like to do!!!"
We'll look forward to you coming over….thanks very
Ray Price one of the nicest artists that I've interviewed
in a long time was the hit of the event at Wichita Falls.
The Legends Of Western Swing Music Festival takes place
again over 15-16-17 June 2006. I highly recommend going
to the Legends festival. And just what does Miss Gloria
have up her sleeve for next year??? We will just have to
wait and see!!!
Graham Lees August 2005