West Texas’ Contribution to Rock & Roll

Just a reminder of how big a roll West Texas played in the 50’s & 60’s concerning Rock & Roll music? I recently read an article in which they had rated the Top 100 Rock & Roll Ballads of All-Time. The list was chosen for their lasting popularity. West Texas singers held down 6 spots with #4 Crying by Roy Orbison,#6 Only The Lonely by Roy O, #26 Last Kiss by J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers, #27 Running Scared by Roy O, #54 It’s Over by Roy O and #73 True Love Ways by Buddy Holly. Not only Rock & Roll but there are many country music hitmakers from West Texas.

 Charlie Dalton says he feels fortunate having grown up in West Texas where both Country and Rock & Roll was big. In 1955 Charlie got to see Elvis live at the San Angelo Municipal Auditorium. Also in attendance, that same night, was Carroll Smith who would help form The “Legendary” Cavaliers the following year. Charlie also tells about the night he and his band were playing a small “gig” in San Angelo in which Slim Willet (lived in Abilene) came up and introduced himself in which Charlie then invited him to sing a number or two. He obliged singing his #1 hit “Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes”.

 Speaking of West Texas Charlie & I just recently drove to San Angelo from Lewisville visiting friends and relatives. While there, we visited with Lewis Elliott bass player on the 1964 hit recording “Last Kiss”. Lewis said he doesn’t play music much anymore but still dabbles in Farm & Ranch Real Estate in the San Angelo area. After visiting with Lewis we drove over and visited with “Snake” Atkinson, the drummer on “Last Kiss” at his transmission shop on North Cadbourne Street. Snake said he still plays music locally from time to time.

 When Saturday rolled around Charlie & I decided to go dancing at the VFW in San Angelo that featured live music. We didn’t learn until later that “Snake” Adkinson just happened to be the bass player and one of the singers in the band that night. Charlie didn’t recognize him since he was wearing a cowboy hat and not his usual “mechanic’s cap”. We had a good time dancing to a good ole West Texas band and just like old times live music appears to be still going strong across West Texas.

 Until next time, Rosie Dalton

(roving reporter for The WTMHOF web site)