In 1972, after my Navy discharge I went home to Arkansas (Booger Hollow) and settled in to see what God had for me. It didn't take a month or so for me to figure I wanted to write and sing songs for the rest of my life.
I headed north for no particular reason and spent my first nights in the woods near what was then DOGPATCH, USA. One morning I traveled through Harrison, Arkansas and just kept going 'til I came to a little town on a Missouri lake called Branson. I walked into a little restaurant on Hwy 76 called The Hillbilly Inn with my guitar and asked the fellow there if I could "pick and sang" for tips in the lounge area and he said he'd allow that.
I ended up playin' all summer and made $5 and a fine steak dinner every night. I had a $60 a month one-room cottage in the woods up the road where a music theatre is now. I played pretty much every night until fall and the town "closed for the season". The winter of 1972-73 was lean, but by summer I found work doing odd jobs and playing music down on the waterfront of Lake Taneycomo in downtown Branson. Fall came and I decided to travel down to Houston, Texas and visit a Navy buddy of mine for a while in the warmer climate. While I was there I played bars and lounges to make a little money and came across a fellow that told me that his father was looking for a singer to promote. After a phone call I headed to Jackson, Mississippi to sign a ten-year personal management contract and was on my way to "stardom". I started recording, doing photo sessions for a promotional portfolio, interviewing musicians for a road band and planning the release of a single. It all stopped when my manager had a major heart attack that really put him down and he had to stop. We agreed to cancel the contract and I went back to Branson.
I almost got settled in on the Taneycomo waterfront again and got a chance to go to Chicago to do some recording and ran across a Chicago Symphony musician who happened to own the studio we were working in. He said he liked my style and would be willing to help promote me. We started to record an album and was looking for a single to push it when I wrote a tune about Jim Croce. Jim had just died in a plane crash and the tune was about his career. We recorded the new song and were really pushed to get it out on a single and the promoter missed our chance by putting off the release when the Righteous Brothers came out with "Rock and Roll Heaven" and it became a BIG hit. Well, that kinda blew the idea and I kinda got upset with the promoter and negotiated the end of the contract. I continued playing big lounges in the Chicago area until the union offered me a chance to do the "Holiday Inn" lounge circuit. I took the deal and traveled through the northeast till I ended up in Nashville, Tennessee. While I was in Nashville, I got a chance to play some of my songs for song publishers and learned a lot about the business.
After going back to Arkansas and working as a full-time firefighter because of my Navy experience I had a chance to sit and write a catalog of songs. With those songs in hand I picked up and went to Los Angeles and started pushing songs while staying with some cousins and made some pretty good contacts. After years of traveling, working, schooling, writing and singing I decided that Branson would be a better place for me. I needed a place to raise children, work in the music industry and write and sing my songs and Silver Dollar City was the place for me. I started on April 22, 1985 as "The Travelin' Minstrel of the Ozarks" on the streets of "The City" and have been doing it since.
I love what I do and love the people of Silver Dollar City. It's been good for me and my family for many years and with God's favor I hope to be able to sing and play for many more.