Bob Richard's BIO and BS
I was born in Arkansas, way too many years ago. We came to California in 1942, just in time for the start of World War 2 with Japan. When I was 12 my mother bought me a windup console phonograph for $3 from a Goodwill store. Two records came with the player. "It’s My Lazy Day," by Smiley Burnett (He was Gene Autry’s sidekick in the movies), and the other was "Breezin’ Along With The Breeze" by the Hoozier Hot Shots.
At noon every weekday in 1947 I listened to KLX radio in Oakland. The announcer was named “Cactus Jack” and he played an hour of Bob Wills music from records and transcriptions every day at noon. When the band came to San Jose, I persuaded my Uncle to take me to the dance. I actually met and talked with Bob Wills. He was very nice to a 12 year old. I’ve been a fan ever since. But that was not the last time I would meet Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan. I remember buying my first, used, Bob Wills 78 record from a juke box place for 25cents. It was called “Oozlin’ Daddy Blues.” It’s a rather suggestive ditty. I was always fascinated by music and the recording process.
I still remember the first record I ever bought when I was twelve. It was Cow Cow Boogie by Ella Mae Morse. It was a big hit on the radio. I was visiting my grandparents in Los Angeles and they took me to see Bob Wills and Texas Playboys at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown LA. What a thrill. At that same time, I listened to a lot of radio. Comedys, dramas, Sci-Fi (before it was called that) and Music shows. Bing Crosby was on the radio a lot. At night we listened to the important shows. Blondie and Dagwood, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and a particular favorite, “Our Miss Brooks,” starring Eve Arden. I remember recording that one on a wire recorder. Inner Sanctum would scare me, but I loved it.
In 1955 I got a part time job at KEEN in San Jose. I noticed a record on the charts by someone named Elvis Presley on the Sun label. I special ordered two by him. I played “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” on the air. I’m sure I was the first on the west coast. The other Elvis record was “Baby Let’s Play House.” There was no way I could have played that one on KEEN. I also remember playing Johnny Cash’s first record…Cry Cry Cry.
I moved to Downey in Southern California and got married there in 1958. I had a job with General Telephone. My next venture into radio was 1959. There was a local DJ named Texas Tiny (400 lbs at least) who worked on KFOX in Long Beach. Joe Allison, who wrote “He’ll Have To Go,” the Jim Reeves hit, also worked there as a DJ. Joe later became an A&R man at Liberty Records and reunited Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan in 1960 by signing them to separate contracts and putting both names on the albums. Tommy Duncan had left the Texas Playboys in 1949 after being fired by Wills. Some of the band members went with Tommy to LA where they worked at the 97th St. Corral in LA. They had a remote broadcast from the club, too.
Tommy got a Capitol Records contract and appeared on local TV on Town Hall Party. He had one hit in his own name. The song was "Gambling Polka Dot Blues." He had first recorded it with the Wills Band in 1935. It was re-recorded by Capitol in 1949 and used one of the first echo chambers. It went to #8. His next hit was 21 years later...once again with Bob Wills on Heart to Heart Talk. Here's The Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan interview story. In 1960 I was working for a country entertainer known as Texas Tiny (real name was Guy Cherry). He had a remote broadcast on KGER 1390 in Long Beach, Ca. This station was 5000 watts and covered the entire West Coast at night. When Tiny had a gig, I would do the show. Truckers loved the Program.
Joe Allison of Liberty Records had signed Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan to separate recording contracts and put out an album called Together Again. They had a #5 single called “Heart To Heart Talk.” They were appearing together at George’s Roundup, a country night club, located near Texas Tiny’s Drive Inn, where the show originated. Tiny knew Bob and Tommy for many years from back in Texas. So they came and joined Tiny and me for an interview. I had prepared a reel to reel tape of songs that I thought Bob might like to hear, and I wrote some questions for Tiny to ask that we all wanted to know about.
The show was recorded in a glass booth built into this restaurant, but the top was open, so it tended to get very noisy. In the booth is Texas Tiny, Bob Wills, Tommy Duncan and Me. I asked the engineer at the transmitter to tape the show from the phone line as it aired. He did. Later, however, my car ended up in a ditch, under water, and the tapes were water logged. I salvaged them by cutting out everything except the interview. I have now reconstructed them, and I have added the opening and closing themes. The interview part of the show started with “Nancy Jane” and “Sunbonnet Sue.” Milton Brown sings, Bob Plays the fiddle and two guitars round out the band, billed as the Fort Worth Doughboys and recorded in February of 1932.
When I heard they were recording a second album for Liberty, I got an invite to the session. What a thrill that was. They recorded tracks for the second Liberty album that night. I suggested they record "I Wonder If You Feel The Way I Do," Bob said, hell yes, I wrote it. Note the Liberty version is shorter. Note also the story of the original Columbia recording on the Bob and Tommy interview. Hear it here
In 1962 I got a job in Oxnard, CA at KACY. A top 40 station with 250 watts! I got promoted to Chief Engineer (and morning man), and we increased the power of the station to 10kw. The ratings were fantastic. This was the days of great music. The Beach Boys, Elvis, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and the whole British invasion.I was teh first in the country to play "Surfing USA by the Beach Boys. I played the Beatles in the summer of 1963; nobody cared, but in January of 1964...all hell broke loose. Tha station owned the audience. I met a lot of great people in those days, including some very big stars in both pop and country. That's Sam the Sham in the photogrph with me above. His big hit was "Wooly Bully."
In 1967 I moved on to ABC in Los Angeles, and later to CBS which was all news and talk. I was a studio engineer at both stations. 1969 I returned to Ventura County to pioneer a new country format on 1590AM…KBBQ..K-Bar-B-Que. Top 40 Country, and it was a big hit.
In 1978 I was program director of KARM in Fresno. It was a typical country music station. I arranged an interview for the all night trucker show, featuring Eddie Briggs, an award winning DJ. The guest was Joe Holley, left-handed fiddle player, and long time member of the Bob Wills band. I have edited it down to the good stuff...it's about six minutes. Hear it HERE
In 1991 I worked for Paul Bowman in Las Vegas at KOW-AM. My air name was Longhorn Bob. Paul now has an online radio station using the music library I created...nothing but #1 country hits. Check it out. “History of Country Music Radio Show”
In 1992 I was hired to build KNJO-FM in Thousand Oaks, Ca. after a fire wiped out everything on the mountain, and burned the transmitter building right down to the slab. After it was rebuilt, I stayed on as Operations Manager. When Dick Whittington was hired, I became his morning board operator, and I soon joined the general chaos. He dubbed me Tabloidbob, because I read them a lot. Finally he asked me to do a weekly report on the show about tabloid gossip for the week. Great fun. I miss everthing but getting up at 5 a.m.
In February of 1995, KEY-TV in Santa Barbara did a video report on Dick working at KNJO. This video is on YouTube under Radiobob805.
TV report about Sweet Dick Whittington on KNJO-FM in Thousand Oaks, CA. with Bob Richards
Click here for my YouTube channel...Radiobob805
The History of Rock and Roll - click to listen
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