Bill Goodwin interviewed February 2011.
1951 Bill Goodwin was serving at Camp Carson (later Fort Carson), in
Colorado Springs. When his hitch was over, the Tennessee native and his
new wife went back to his home state, for his next career move.
I got discharged from the military, I went into this government program
that retrains you for a private sector job. I wanted to be a
journalist. So I went to work at a local newspaper (Henderson Star
News), and stayed there for eight years."
time his wife longed to come back to Colorado – so the couple packed up
and moved back to her hometown, Cañon City. There he found a job as the
advertising manager at the local newspaper. While writing story leads
and ad copy paid the bills, Goodwin started to segue his talents into
"It was just kind of out of the blue.
I started to tinker with words and music. I was trying to write a few
songs while I was in Colorado, with the intention of having other
singers sing my songs.”
In 1957 he decided to cut a songwriter demo – something to hand out to performers, highlighting his lyrics.
got to the studio and started to sing, and the producer stopped the
tape. He said that he needed to bring in some more musicians, and wanted
me to record my own songs.”
The session would produce
two singles on the Mystic label (part of the Starday package)“I’ll Stand
the Line” and the flipside “So Wrong” (Mystic 679), “Angel in Disguise”
/ “It Don’t Cost a Dime to Dream” (Mystic 689). While the singles would
not receive any radio airplay, Goodwin was now bit by the performing
bug. He put together his own band, the Western Ramblers. The following
year Goodwin released the rockabilly “Teenage Blues,” and the flip
“Second in Your Heart” (Starday 710), and “Your Lying Ways” / Will You
Still Love Me” (Dixie 2015).
1962, the group recorded a series of singles for Vicky Morosan’s
Denver-based Band Box label including the George-Jones penned "Revenooer
Man" (misspelled on the label as “Revenuer Man”) /” Too Many
Heartaches” (Band Box 287), “Those Same Old Heartaches” /”Pardon my
Tears” (Band Box 293), “Heartaches” / “Don’t Take My World Away” (Band
Box 309), and “You Did This to Me “/”Making it Easy on My Heart” (Band
Box 323). The discs were backed by Goodwin’s next band, The Country
“I never even got to first base with those Band Box records,” he admitted.
then his marriage began to fall apart. After his divorce, he left Cañon
City, based himself out of New Mexico, and toured the country. Pueblo
performer Warren Robbe was the opening act on the bill (NOTE: Warren Robbe interview in the next issue of
Pueblo City Limits). The Country Tunesmen would also appear as the
backing band on Warren Robbe’s own Band Box recording “I’ve Had My
Chance”/”Life’s Not Worth Living” (Band Box 303 – 1963).
1963, Goodwin signed with husband and wife Vivian Carter and James
Bracken’s Vee Jay records. The duo, who had previously been known for
releasing only R&B recordings, had just inked a deal for the
distribution rights to The Beatles, and The Four Seasons. By 1963 they
expanded their catalog to include country acts such as Mac Davis and
Luningham of Farmington NM is handling the bookings of Bill Goodwin and
His Country Tunesmen, who have been keeping busy in the Southwest the
last two months. Bob is also handling the promotion of Goodwin’s new Vee
Jay recording “Shoes of a Fool” – Billboard, May 11, 1963.
May 1963, "Shoes of a Fool" (Vee Jay 501) made its way up the Top 20
charts, sandwiched in between Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams," Bill
Anderson's "Still," and "Act Naturally," by Buck Owens. Goodwin would go
on to record a handful of other singles for the label, including "I
Won't Wait Up Tonight"/"The Stand In" (Vee Jay 564), and "The Saddest
Eyes"/"The House at 103" (Vee Jay 602). With major label representation
under his belt, he decided to move to Nashville, where he had access to
local, influential radio stations - as well as the movers and shakers of
the country music scene.
this time he married "the love of his life," Elizabeth Ann McGrady.
"We just celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary," he said.
Goodwin would leave Nashville, for the Great White North, to record an LP for the ARC label, Walk Through This World With Me (ARC 717).
"I forgot about that album," he said. "I recorded it in Canada, with a Canadian band - it was an one album deal."
Toronto-based ARC label was founded in 1959. The label was mainly known
for recording local artists, but by the early 1960s, it contracted with
Hit Records of Nashville to produce its own Hit Parade series. Anne
Murray recorded her first LP, What About Me, with the label, in 1968 (ARC 782).
the next several years Goodwin toured the country, eventually signing
with the MTA label in 1967 - joining the ranks of Roy Drusky, Frankie
Roberts, and Gene Crawford, who were also under contract. There, he
recorded a number of singles including "Johnny Fast" (MTA 124), "I'm the
Most Successful Failure" (MTA 133), "Lonely Rider"/"Theme from Will
Penny Condition" (duet with Sharon Roberts - MTA 139), "Top Dog" (MTA
144), "Empty Sunday Sundown Train"/"Shoes of a Fool" (MTA 163), and
"Arkansas Soul"/"Shoes of a Fool" (MTA 182).
MTA, I guess this was around 1971, I just got out of the performing
business," he said. I was being booked by Hubert Long (Stable of Stars)
back then, and one day I just told him that I was quitting - I was sick
of it." But instead of walking out the door, Hubert Long offered him a
job. "He made me executive vice president."
one year into Goodwin's new job, Long died. While a few of Long's
clients moved on to other representation, Bill Anderson, Roy Drusky,
Leroy Van Dyke, Billy Walker, and Jean Shepard approached Goodwin with
an offer - open up his own agency, and they would be his first clients.
So he did.
"It was interesting work, but it wasn't an
easy job. To be honest, it's kind of like a babysitting job," he said.
"But it was a pleasure, since they were all my friends."
Bill Goodwin Agency would stay in business until 1985, when Goodwin
decided to retire. At 81 years old, he still has ties to Colorado. Until
recently he maintained a second home in Colorado Springs, and his
daughter lives in Cañon City.
"We don't have country
music now - it's not country," he says about today's version of the
genre. "This younger generation has never heard of us."
Goodwin's "Teenage Blues" has received a resurgence of interest, as
rockabilly collectors search for obscure recordings. The record has
appeared on two compilations, Country Hicks, Vol. 2 (Bark Log 2 - 1991), and The Lost Starday Recordings
(Starday 218 - 1997). Copies of the original single have sold between
$114 (2009) and $483 (2008), on eBay. Goodwin's 1958 recording of "Your
Lying Ways" is also an in-demand collectible, selling on eBay for $200.
Even Goodwin's "never got to first base" Band Box records have gained
new appreciation. The single "Revenuer Man" would appear on the Swedish Various Artists Diggin CD in 2000.
COMING NEXT POST: Warren Robbe