ASK LEO JACKSON 

 

LEO JACKSON AT RCA STUDIO B, APRIL 2003

 

For a number of years, the late Leo Jackson answered questions that Jim Reeves fans sent to him through the fan club. Leo replied to each of them as best as he could. He replied to the last question  10 days before his death. We've added some Questions and Answers which were only published in issue 93 of the Fan club magazine, 5 years ago.

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Steve Johnson: Q: Did Jim ever sing the version of 'Wildwood Flower' (as opposed to the instrumental version)?

A: No, we  always played  the instrumental, Jim loved to play it too much.

Q: What was Jim's attitude and reaction when Dean Manuel recorded some solo material at Starday for release on his own?

A: Jim was happy, he was always  promoting the Blue Boys, he was all for that and encouraged it.

Q: Where did Jim stand politically? Was he a Democrat or Republican? Did he like President Kennedy and his politics?

A: I think he was more a Democrat than a Republican, but he did love President Kennedy. And he was really shook up, him and Dean walked in the motel room where we were staying  the day Kennedy got shot and Jim was really upset about it. 

Stephen Welbourn: Q: Since 1964 wonderful songs have been written and recorded. Can Leo think of any that he thinks Jim would have liked to have recorded?

A: I canít, Iím sure there are some good songs in the 80ís and 90ís. which I canít remember right now.  Jim wouldnít have cut the new sh*t  they write now, where it takes 5 minutes for these songwriters to tell a song.

Q: How long were you married to Joyce?

A:  We were married for 18 days and the marriage was never consummated.

Karl Jennings:  Q: What key did Leo play in and was it different to the one Jim played?

A: We all had to play in the same key  or it would sound horrible.  I played lead and Jim  played rhythm .I played up and down the neck of my guitar different variations of the same key Jim was in.  

 

Q.: Mr. Jackson, I was **finally able** to get a copy of "Jim Reeves on Stage," and the back cover showed both him and The Blue Boys in "Big Blue," your touring bus.  It also showed Jim in bed, and above him a 'pull down' contraption so I was wondering, being that Jim was the 'lead,' did he get the 'best' sleeping arrangements?
 

Secondly, during the time that you lived with Jim and Mary what did they ( and you ) do to relax at home when not on the road?
 

 Third, in all the years you were with him, did Jim ever say of a fellow artist, words like " I'd give my eye teeth to record with him/her?" (or words of that nature.)
 

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, take care..
Sincerely, Charles Ward. Summerville, SC, USA

A.:  Hi Charles, that ďcontraptionĒ Is a luggage rack. It doesnít let up or down. We all had bunks up toward the front. Jim is lying on the bunk in his dressing room. Sure, itís HIS dressing room because itís HIS bus and heís the one paying for everything. Iím not being rude but Iíve never known any major star that would turn over their private and comfortable room to one of their sidemen. Would You?

When we were home, which wasnít too often, we would listen to new material that Chet sent for Jimís consideration or we work on some harmony for a new song. If it was in the winter time we might be out cutting more fire wood for the fire place. Most often, though, we would probably be watching some TV.

No, I never heard Jim say heíd like to record with another artist. I know he really liked Patsy Cline and Marty Robbins but never heard him say he would like to sing with them. That wasnít as popular back then as today. Jim did duets with Ginny Wright, Alvedine Coker and Dottie West. If he liked you heíd try to help you. 

Thanks for your interest, Charles. Glad you asked. As always, Leo.

Q.: Hi Mr. Jackson.

I would like to enquire in which period Jackie Moffett was member of Jim's band. I would like to thank you so much for answering questions by fans, and for Arie to make this happening. The 'Ask Leo' page  is the very reason why I visit this site more than any other. John Prescott, England.
 

A.:  Hi John,  

Jackie Moffett started playing with the "Wagonmasters" after Jim brought me to Nashville in early 1956. Jim fired him before we went to Europe to do a U.S.O. tour in 1957.By that time, Louie Dunn was playing drums for us.
 

After hearing the un-overdubbed version of  'SHEPARD OF LOVE', I'm fairly sure the drummer  is not Jackie Moffett. It sounds like Mel Rogers to me. I vaguely remember Jim making Mel bring the big floor tom to get that kettle drum sound he wanted on one demo session we did. Also the piano could be Dean. Sounds like  it to me. When Larry Jordan called me and played the overdubbed version (to be found on  the VoiceMasters album by that name ) and told me it was done in the 1950s I'm afraid I made a snap judgment and told him it could be Jackie Moffet.
 
I'm with you! I think Arie and his Jim Reeves Fan Club has done more to keep Jim Reeves fans informed and to try and keep his music alive than anybody I  know of. I think if Mary was still alive, she would endorse Arie's site as  the one to unselfishly promote Jim Reeves and his music. I know I certainly endorse it.
 

Thank you for asking,  Leo
 

Q.: Leo, were non-paying promoters / club owners a major or minor problem for Jim through the years? And how did Jim react to those people initially, and over time? Fans have heard stories how Jim returned his fee to owners who were having financial difficulties, but we also hear stories about Jim despising those who did not pay him. How did Jim really react and feel about this problem that many performers face?

I know that during the time when Herb Shucher was Jim's manager, a Canadian club owner paid Jim for a show by check and the check bounced. I believe Jim recovered his fee by reporting the promoter to the musician's union, and then the union put pressure on the club owner to pay up. I believe Jim never did another show for that person.

And there is a story of Buck Owens not paying Jim for a show, and long-lasting bad feelings afterwards. What's the real story about that?

Was Jim initially angry when these people didn't pay him, and did he get over it and work with them again? Or did he refuse to do business with anyone who didn't pay him? Was it personal with Jim, or strictly a business decision?

Thanks, Frank Anderson
 

A.: Hi Frank,

Jim was very understanding and sympathetic with promoters when he thought they were being up front and honest with him. When they wrote him ďhotĒ checks or were just trying to cheat him, he didnít have much sympathy for them. He would try everything he knew to get his money back even if he wound up losing money on the deal. Jim really hated being taken advantage of. I wasnít with Jim every time he went to the promoter to get his money but I think I can safely say that if they didnít honor their contract and refused to pay him, heíd never work with them again. We worked with a lot of promoters through out Jimís career and never had a problem.

I really donít know the Buck Owens story with Jim but do know Buck shafted a promoter in Norway out of several thousand dollars so you wouldnít have a very hard time convincing me Buck got Jim too. If he did, then yes, I think Jim would hold a grudge against him. Jim really loved singing and entertaining but it WAS a business. He worked hard to give the audience their moneys worth. About the only time he would get mad at any of The Blue Boys was when he thought we werenít giving them our best. He would say Ēthese people paid their hard earned money to come see us and they expected a good show so he expected us to give it to themĒ.

Thanks for some good questions, Frank.

As always, Leo

Q,:  Leo, I heard a recording once of Jim and you and the other Blue Boys doing impressions of other country acts. That was pretty funny. Was that a staple of your shows back then?

Dan Brown, Florida, USA.
 

A.: Hi Dan,

Yes. Mostly we did the impressions when we played auditoriums where there was no dancing. When we played clubs and dance halls we usually just played music.

Thanks for asking, Leo

Q.: Dear Leo

It is great to read your answers to the questions from Jim's fans. I have been a fan of Jim since 1960 (when I was 10). Unfortunately I never saw Jim perform, but my brother did when Jim performed in Copenhagen in 1964. However, I saw you at a concert in Viborg a few years ago - great!

My question is: Do you remember anything from the concert in The Tivoli Concerthall, Copenhagen (maybe there were two on the same day?) Parts of it were shown on Danish television, but unfortunately the masters have disappeared now.

Another question about The Blue Boys: Is Mel Rogers still alive? And James Kirkland? And Bunky Keels? I once saw Bunky mentioned as  playing piano on a Merle Haggard album. I think I have read that Bobby Dyson died several years ago. Please tell as much as possible about each. Also I read a long time ago that Dean, Mel and James played for Bob Luman before with you and Jim, probably also guitarist James Burton. Did they also play for Rick Nelson? Please bring a little light to this.
 

Best regards John Olesen, Denmark. 

A.:  Hello John,

Iím afraid I donít remember a whole lot about that tour. We did many shows. I do remember all the Hotels/Motels in all the Scandinavian countries had little souvenir gifts in all our rooms. I thought that was nice.

Iím sad to say Mel passed away about 10 or 12 years ago. Bunky died about 5 years ago. Youíre right about Bobby. Heís gone also. James is still alive and lives in Texas. James, Dean and Mel did work with Bob Luman before joining us. James Kirkland and James Burton were the only ones to play with Ricky Nelson. They also did the Ozzie and Harriet t.v. shows.

I hope Iíve answered your questions, John. Thanks for being a Reeves fan. We need more of you.

As Always, Leo

Q.: Hi Leo, Did Jim Reeves ever use a capo when he played guitar?
Best wishes - Frank C. Anderson

A.: Hi Frank,

Very good question. I donít believe Iíve ever been asked that one before. I never saw Jim use a capo. He was a very good rhythm guitar player and took great pride in playing what we all called ďbar chordsĒ. Thatís making chords without the use of open strings. A good example of him playing without a capo is on the song ďI Love You BecauseĒ which is in the key of F.

Thanks for a very interesting question, Leo


Q.: Hello Mr. Jackson, I was born far after Jim died but he was my great-grandfather's favorite and he passed that love on to his favorite grandchild, my father. Dad introduced me to him and I have never tired of playing his recordings.

I was wondering, if you could sum up Jim's philosophy on life, what would it be? Was he a Christian? If so what church did he attend? I saw that you lived with him and Mary for about three years so I figured these things probably came up in conversation at one time or another.

Another question I have is, did Jim ever have any association with Roy Rogers? If so what did they think of each other? Would Jim have considered any of the other stars close friends of his besides Chet Atkins? I saw that you were considering memoirs of Jim and I want to encourage the idea. Jim was a star of stars and the more he is remembered the better.

Thank you for taking time to answer questions, and helping to keep the memory of a great man alive.
Respectfully, Zeb Long

A.: Hi Zeb, I really donít know what Jimís philosophy was. I do know he loved to sing and entertain people. He believed in giving the people the very best show possible. Many times I heard him say that when they paid their very hard earned money to come see him he would give them his best and he expected the same from us.

I never saw Jim or Mary attend church. I do know he believed in God and Jesus Christ. I saw and heard him pray so I know he believed.

I hope this answers your questions. Iím glad to know we have another Reeves fan.

Sincerely, Leo

Q.: Hi Leo, Does you remember the towns and cities or some of them at least where Jim played during the tour of Ireland in 1963? What is your most outstanding memory of that tour? Did you come to Dublin first or the West of Ireland? - James Reddiough, Republic of Ireland

A: Hi, James!

Itís been a long time, of course, but there are a couple of places that I remember vividly. I recall a castle that had a Blarney stone that we all kissed. Somewhere I have a certificate that certifies that accomplishment.

I also remember having supper at a castle and the food was outstanding. They had four girls singing Gaelic harmonies and itís a sound I had never heard before. I was very impressed.

As I remember, Dublin was our home base. We stayed in a beautiful hotel in the downtown area. When possible, after we played other towns, we would come back to Dublin and get what little rest we could and get ready for a concert in another town. All in all I remember Ireland with fond memories.

I hope this answers your questions and thanks for thinking of us. - Leo
 

Q.: Hi Mr. Leo Jackson,

What kind of guitars you and Jim played at the Mountain View Park show? I like that part in which Jim changed a broken guitar string. - Karel de Ruiter

A.: Hi, Karel!

Iím playing a 1959 Fender Jazzmaster. Jim (I think) was playing a Rickenbacker that was specially made for him by the Rickenbacker Guitar Company.  I hope this answers your question. - Leo

Q.: Hi Leo, I've seen a picture of a Blue boy playing the saxophone on stage. Do you perhaps know when and where that picture could have been taken? Thanks Leo. - Maurice Vermont

A.: Hi, Maurice!

That was Bunky Keels playing the sax. Jim hired him to play organ and sax as the fifth Blue Boy. That photo was taken at a VA Hospital in Colorado. It seems like it was in early 1964. Thanks for asking, Leo

Q.: Hello Mr. Jackson, I enjoyed the BEAR FAMILY box of the Nashville tour very much, Your guitar playing was really superb. I thoroughly enjoyed the DVd which included the solo performance by Jim singing 'I Love you Because'. A Jim Reeves expert apparently didn't like the way Jim sang
that song, he used the term 'Micky Mouse', like if the recording played too fast' . Did Jim often sang in that way?  Mike Conners.

A.: Hi, Mike!

No, Jim never sang it this way. We had just flown in from the US and it was a very long flight. The news people wanted to hear Jim sing a song, so he got his guitar out of the case and sang 'I Love You Because' as a favor to them. He did sing it faster than normal because we were all tired and in a hurry to get to the hotel. Thanks for your interest, Leo

Q.: Hello Leo, huge fan of your long career. Hope you can answer a question for me. I own the Jim Reeves Rickenbacker  Blue Boy "Martin". Looking through old pictures, it is apparent that the lucite pickguard and "J R" initials changed color at some point in the early 1960's from the original Rickenbacker gold to its current deep blue. Your Jazzmaster went through the same transformation as well...Just wondering when the band had this done and who did the color change for you guys? I see too that you must not have cared too much for the big blue Rickenbacker 360F... not many photos of you playing it (can't blame you as the Jazzmaster is one terrific guitar). Thank you for any help and all the best. Bill Nelson, USA

A.: Hi Bill,

Good question. To be honest I didn't know Jim's guitar had changed until I read your email. The last time I saw Jim's Rickenbacker, the pickguard Jim's initials and headstock truss rod cover was old. My 1959 Jazzmaster was originally a sunburst finish but in mid-1960 Jim asked me if I'd consider having it refinished to match his. I told him no problem so this guy Jim knew who lived ext to Jim's office in Madison, Tn. said he would do it for me. He just sandblasted the guitar including the Fender Jazzmaster decal and spray painted it with a car paint. That's when he told me it was his first time to refinish a guitar.

I liked my Rickenbacker o.k. except Jim was adamant about everybody being in tune and my Rickenbacker was very hard to keep in tune.

I hope I've answered your questions. Thanks for your interest, Leo.

Q.: Thank you Leo for your response. Yes, I also do think the gold lucite looked sharper on Jim's acoustic. About the lucite color change, I am thinking it happened by 1963, because in the movie "Kimberley Jim" the color is blue already (also, Jim removed the "JR" letters for the film- you can see the screw holes in some shots). Maybe Rickenbacker themselves did the color change- on their website they have a picture of Jim's guitar with the blue parts- though we know in 1961 it was made with the gold, like in the promotional postcard. Anyhow, I know this is a long time ago- but I thank you again for taking time to answer. Best Regards- Bill Nelson.


Q.: Hi Leo, Nice picture of Bobby Davis, Jim Reeves and James Wardlow from 1955. What make of guitars are they playing? Greetings from Piet Gerritsen, Holland

A.: Hi, Piet!

Bobby was playing a Fender Telecaster and Jim was playing a Gibson ES 125. Youíre welcome! Leo

 

 

Q. ; Dear Leo, Here's a bit of history you may remember.

I spent quite a bit of time at Elk Mountain, Wyoming, last summer, staying at the beautifully restored Elk Mountain Hotel. There's a picture of Jim Reeves on their wall, along with other contemporary performers. Jim (and probably you) performed there in 1956, Back then, they had the Garden Spot Pavilion out back with a "floating" dance floor which would get to bouncing under the dancers because it was suspended over the foundation on long oak logs with no supports under the middle. Do you remember performing there? They kept a record of all the artists who performed there in the 1940s-1960s (many famous names there) and I was thrilled to see Jim on the list. I became Jim's fan in 1965 as a teenager. which makes me an old-timer by now. Thanks for being a link to Jim to those of us who still love him.

Carol Rhiley, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

 A.: Hi Carol,  that place does ring a bell, especially the" floatingĒ dance floor. Also the thing about keeping a record of who has played there. I remember it having a big stage. I can guarantee you that if Jim was there in 1957, I was there. Thanks for still remembering Jim.  As Always, Leo .

Q.: Hi Leo. First of all, I want to offer my sympathies on the loss of your mother in law, and I have been a life long fan of Jim's music. I do have a few questions about life on the road with Jim.

Before Big Blue, what did Jim use for touring? When did Jim purchase Big Blue? Have you ever performed in either Loveland, Colorado; or Kearney, Nebraska? And, finally, what did you guys do to pass the time on the road between gigs?

Pat Kistler, Native of Loveland, now living in Kearney

A: Hi Pat. When I first started working with Jim in 1954 we toured in a  Cadillac Fleetwood, I think a 1951 or 1952 model, pulling a custom made teardrop trailer for the instruments and stage clothes. In 1955 he traded that for a new Fleetwood Cad. also with a trailer for the equipment. When we moved to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry he got away from Cadillacs and went to a 1956 or 57 Chevrolet station wagon.

We got "Big Blue" in early 1961. We were all very pleased with this move. Now four of us could rest or sleep while one did the driving. The first three months we had a trained driver teach us how to drive the bus. Much more comfortable.

 I'm very sure we played in Loveland, Co.. I don't remember the venue but I do remember the name of the town. We travelled and played Colorado many, many times. One of my favorite states. I would dearly love to visit there when I didn't have to work.

 After we got "Big Blue" we played a lot of cards. Mostly, we rested up for the next gig. Back then the roads were nearly all two lanes and very curvy. Also the gigs were many miles apart.

We didn't know any better so it was GREAT fun. I wouldn't trade any two lives for it. I was playing with Gentleman Jim Reeves. What could be better? Thank you for being such a good Reeves fan. As Always, Leo Jackson

Q.:  Hello Mr. Jackson, Leo if I may. Through the internet, I learned that you are ill. I hope you will be better soon. I have a question for you as well: how did you decide what musical arrangement you were going to use on a new Jim Reeves song? I guess when Jim started working on a new song he only had just some idea of how the writer wanted his song to be played, but he didn't have an arrangement in written form. So how did you create an arrangement in a Jim Reeves song?. Did you just start playing things that came to your mind until you found something that you liked, or did you leave the arrangement part to other professional musicians, or was it Jim Reeves who decided how a song should be played? Thank you very much for an answer". Jean Loyens - Belgium,

A.: Hi Jean. When we went into the studio to do a session, Jim knew the songs completely. All the musicians did "head arrangements", which is to say, they would play the song to us and we would play what we felt or thought would best fit the song. If strings and brass was on the session, then the parts were written out for them. Very seldom would Jim make suggestions. He was very professional and so much fun to work with. Thanks, Leo

Q.: Dear Leo Jackson. I loved Jim Reeves ... the songs he sang and especially his flawless voice, both in singing and speaking. I wish I had such a voice! Anyway, to my question...
In the 70s my mother watched a 30-minute show (I believe) on PBS called "Country Classics" wherein a different country artist would host a show with various country singers, jokesters, and clog dancers (North Carolina Cloggers, I think they were). What was the exact name of that show when it first aired? And is it at all possible to get those shows on DVD or at least on VHS? My mom taped a few for me, but they are very bad quality ...especially after all these years. I am very interested in finding these. Thank You Much, Tony E. Denton, Lawrence, Kansas.

A.: Hi Tony. I believe the shows you're asking about are the old Gannaway shows. They were the first country music shows done in color. I'm not on those, because I was not a member of the Nashville union at the time, so I don't know the name of it. I think Bear Records plans to release them on D.V.D. soon. We can always hope. Leo
 

(Arie: Leo didn't know the Shanachie label released a couple of DVD albums with compilations of the series. There's one with Ray Price, Jim Reeves, and Ernest Tubb. Jim sings 8 of his songs. The DVD album may be found in record shops, on on the internet: eBay, Amozon.com, etc. )
 

Q.: Dear Mr. Leo Jackson, When Jim Reeves and the Blue Boys came to my native country South Africa, the single "From A Jack to A King" got released here. I read in a magazine Jim had recorded the song in Johannesburg. Can you tell me was it done at the film set? Daniel Pretorius,  Nelspruit, South Africa.

Hi Daniel. No, it wasn't done at the film site. We went straight from the airport to a lounge set up to record the song. We were very tired. Thanks, Leo

Q.: Hi Leo, Hope you get well soon! Did Jim use drums early in his carrier? I have seen an early Jim Reeves picture which shows Bobby Garrett on steel and a musician playing drums too! John Reading

A.: Hi John, yes, we did use drums. As a matter of fact, the early bands Jim put together, namely "The Wagonmasters" used a full set of drums. You'll notice "The Blue Boys" used only a snare and a cymbal. In the early days we played more dance
clubs. Later, we did more show dates so we didn't need the full drum kit. Hope this answers your question, John. Thanks,Leo

Q.: Dear Mr. Leo Jackson, I wish you a happy New Year! One of Jim's guitars had the initial JR on it. Can you tell me hat make and model it was and since when did Jim play on it , please? Gerard de Vos

A.: Hi Gerard, the guitar in question is a Rickenbacker made especially for Jim. I think it was in 1961 that Rickenbacker outfitted Jim & The Blue Boys. As for the model Jim told me the neck was a Rickenbacker and the body was a Martin. Jim's favorite guitars was just about any Martin D-28.He swapped back and forth between the two. I hope this answers your question. Thanks, Leo.

Q.: Hi Leo, I was wondering how you and Jim always came in at the same time and in the right key for the song 'Stand At Your Window'? It would be extremely difficult for 2 people to get that right without an intro. - Connie Saunders

A.: Hi, Connie! I watched Jim very closely and I could tell when he was about to start singing. One clue was the way he strummed his guitar beforehand. Very simply, I paid attention because that's what Jim wanted me to do and it worked very well.

I hope you are doing well back at the old home place. Take care and keep in touch!

Leo


A few questions by Brian from Rothschild, Wisc.

Q.: Hi Leo. Since Jim Reeves and The Blue Boys played on the Hayride radio show what was that like compared to the Grand Ole Opry?

A.: Playing the Louisiana Hayride was a thrill but playing the Grand Ole Opry was a dream!

Q.: Also, Iím a big fan of Johnny Horton and was wondering if Jim or The Blue Boys ever toured or performed with Johnny Horton?

A. : We did a lot of package shows with Johnny Horton (concerts). To my knowledge one of the last shows we did with Johnny was almost a disaster. We were in route to Canada and Jim had flown in from Nashville and we were to meet him. Jim borrowed one of Johnnyís coats for the show since we had his stage clothes with us. We barely got there in time to walk on stage so Jim did the show wearing Johnnyís coat!

Q.: What was Johnny Horton like on stage?

A.: He was friendly and did a very professional show. He was well liked by the crew and the audience alike.

Q.: And my last question is did Jim Reeves like hunting and fishing like Johnny Horton and Johnny Cash did?

A.: Yes, Jim liked to hunt and fish. He would take a week off every year and visit friends in San Antonio and do some serious deer hunting. But his main interest was golf and he dearly loved playing it!

Thanks for your interest, Brian and I hope Iíve answered your questions satisfactorily.

Leo

 


Q. : Hi Leo. When did you first meet Jim and what songs did you play on at the first recording session with Jim?
Greetings from Tom Orie


A.: I first met Jim in late March 1954 but I didn't start working with him until May (or June) 1954. It was the same time that the Jimmy Rogers Day in Meridian. MS is held.

The first song I ever recorded with Jim was "Penny Candy." We recorded it in the studios of KWKH radio station. I'm pretty sure that was in August, 1954. I'll never forget it. Thanks for asking,

Leo



Q.: Hi Leo, I read somewhere that Henry Strzelecki of the Blue Boys played Electric Bass on some of Jim's records back in the states. I am just curious to know what songs he played on. Thanks, Craig McQuivey, Pleasant View, UT

A.: Henry was a studio musician who recorded a few sessions with Jim. Actually I was the only Blue Boy that recorded with Jim. The rest of the players on the sessions were all recording musicians. He was a Blue Boy for an RCA European promotional tour in April, 1964. Kenny Buttrey was also hired to play drums as a Blue Boy for this particular tour.

Get back in touch with me later to give me time to research the songs that Henry played on. At the moment; I don't recall.
 

Thanks, Leo


Q.: Hi Leo, how are you doing today? Hope you have had a very nice birthday. I have 2 questions for you regarding some records.

The Blue Boys featuring Bud Logan released an EP "Four For The Road" (songs: Bulldog, He's Just Mack To Me, Big Western Mack and Careful Drivers) on RCA Victor PRM-223. The single was prepared expressly for Mack Trucks, Inc. by RCA Victor. The cover reads: "Many songs of the open road have been written about Mack Trucks and the men that drive them. Here are four of the best selected and sung by an internationally famous foursome - THE BLUE BOYS - with Bud Logan as lead singer.

Leo, Can you tell anything about this record as there is so little known about it: when and where it was recorded, were you asked to record these songs by Mack Trucks Inc. and did the EP sell well? or was it just an intermission to do something else?

A.: This was recorded as a promotion for Mack Trucks and in addition it was to further promote the Blue Boys. It was recorded in RCA Studio "B" which was the same studio we always used for the other sessions with Jim. I don't know how many it sold but Joyce Jackson may know. I'll ask her the next time I talk to her. It was released on RCA but Mack Truck paid for it.

Can you tell anything about the LP just titled "The Blue Boys" released on RICE LPS-101 and, according to the cover, recorded in the studio Queen Of Sound, engineer: Jack Logan and produced by Jimmy Key. The Blue Boys recorded 10 songs such as "Snowbird", "Bridge Over Troubled Waters", Raunchy", "For The Good Time" "Games People Play" etc. Songs from the 1970's. Is this LP ever released as I have not seen many copies floating around and were this the same "Blue Boys" that were involved in the "Four For The Road" EP?

Thanks for your time to answer - Eimbert van den Oetelaar - The Netherlands.

A.:  The producer, engineer and the studio information is correct. This album was recorded to sell off the stage at our concerts. It was not available in the stores. We had a different group of musicians we used as the Blue Boys than we used for the Mack Truck project. The "Mack Truck" Blue Boys was Bunky Keels, Jimmy Orr, Bud Logan and me. The Rice LP musicians were Jewell Dukes, Larry Handley, Bud Logan and me. We also added two players to save time on the Rice project; Steel (Stu Basore) and Rhythm guitar (Joe Edwards). I enjoyed this session more than any we did without Jim being the lead singer.

I hope this answers your questions, Eimbert.

Leo

 

Q. : Hey Leo,  Iíve admired you through the years; almost 50 of them now, and feel very envious that you actually were quite close to my greatest heroes, Jim Reeves and Chet Atkins. My question is; I know there were probably three recordings of, ďWaitin For A TrainĒ, by Jim, but did Hank Garland play guitar on one of the studio versions? Or was it Chet? I assume that you did the live version where Jim yodeled? Also,  was Chet fun to pick with?

How lucky you are to have picked with Jim and Chet, the greatest singer who ever lived, and the best guitar picker of all time!WOW!!!  - Bill Duncan

 A.: Hi Bill,` I hate to disappoint you but I'm playing on the RCA recordings and most of the live versions. Chet's name is on the time card but he didn't play. He was the producer so he was in the control room. I remember this vividly because I knew Chet could hear every note I'm playing. We were listening to a play back and Steve Sholes walked in said to Chet "that sounds great Chet" and Chet said "that's not me, that's Leo". That's when I knew I could play with the big boys. Yes, Chet was very fun to play with. I agree with you. I think Chet was the greatest. And Jim, vocally. To this day I still feel very blessed to have known and worked with the best. This was a great question, thanks.  Leo.

Q.: Hi Leo. In 1958, Jim was on a radio show for the boats sports and travel show in Kansas city Missouri.  I was so excited to see him.  However, while my son Jim and I were watching at a distance, his manager  Herb Shucher , tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I would like to meet Jim Reeves.  To my astonishment, he went in and got Jim and brought him out. Herb took a picture of Jim with me and my son  and I left on cloud nine.

Some years ago, I e-mailed this picture to Larry Jordan and had some conversation with him about his book.  I am so grateful to Herb for what he did almost fifty years ago.  Can you advise me if he is still living or what he is doing?  I don't think Herb was with Jim too much longer and I always wondered if their parting was on a friendly basis.  I truly hope it was. Best, Clinton Laws,  St. Charles, Mo.

A.: Hi, Clinton!   I'm sorry to say that Herb Shucher has passed on.  He and Jim did have falling out because Herb wanted to take on more artists rather than handling Jim on an exclusive basis.  They did not separate on really friendly terms but as the years passed they were on speaking terms once again.

I hope this answers your question.  If I can help you with other questions, please feel free to ask me again. Leo

Some questions by  Henk Brederode.

Q.: Hello Mr. Leo Jackson. , Today is the 83rd anniversary of Jimís birthday and October the 22nd, on YOUR birthday, Iíll be performing Jim Reeves repertoire at the annual fan club meeting. It will be my fourth time. I will dedicate a song to you, so if you have a favourite please let me know and Iíll be honoured to oblige.

A.: Hi, Henk! I donít really have a favorite because he had so many great songs.

Q.: As a singer I have a couple of burning questions about Jimís voice and singing. IMHO Jim evolved from an O.K. vocalist in the late forties to one of the all time best in his later years. Of course recording techniques improved a lot in those days, but so did Jim. In 1991 I met Mary Reeves and I asked her if Jim ever took any singing lessons.

 A.: Maryís right.  He never had a singing lesson.  He was a natural talent and got better with age.  But in my estimation, he was always better that an ďokĒ singer.  Fabor thought Jim should sing his songs in the highest register possible.  The old school thinking was the higher key you sang in the more power and feeling you would have in the vocal.  Jim was able to utilize his full range after he went on RCA.

 Q.:  She said, "No, Jim was a natural talent and if he got better through the years he achieved that all by himself.Ē Still I wonder if he, while at home, did vocal exercises apart from the obvious rehearsing of songs.  (Scales and that sort of thing). You lived with them so you might remember if and what he did. Also, did he warm up before getting on stage? Maybe a little humming or a few songs with his guitar in the dressing room. (If there was one).

A.: I never heard Jim do vocal exercises around the house but if we were performing a concert; he would practice octave warm-ups and scales.  Heíd only do this for a minute or two.  When we played dances, (9PM to 1AM), he would do no warm-ups.

Q.: Did he pick up any tips or tricks from fellow singers?

 A.: As I said Jim was a natural. Really, in the country field, Jim had no peers.  He was one of a kind.  To quote Chet Atkins:  ďJim Reeves was the singer that Eddy Arnold wished he was.Ē

 Q.:  Were there any songs or particular notes he found noticeably more difficult than others in a live performance?

 A.: No.

 Q.: And if he had a cold, would the band play a little less loud or maybe lower the keys on certain songs or skip potentially problematic ones?

A .: If he had a cold, the band would play a little softer at his request but we never changed keys or cancelled a performance.  He didnít skip singing any of his material.

Q.: Was he such a perfectionist that he would cancel a show when he knew he could not deliver the very best (we all have our off-days) or would he just do his very best on any particular occasion even if he wasnít in absolute top shape so that the audience at least got to see and hear him?

A.: No matter how sick he was, the show always went on.  We might play a few more instrumentals though.

Q.: Thereís a chance of disappointment in both options. And finally, when he discovered the beauty of his lower range, did performing become easier (fewer high notes to hit) or did he have more trouble being heard over the band (more difficult to make volume on low notes)?

A.: He always had the ability to sing the lower notesÖ it was always there and he wasnít allowed to do that until he went with RCA.  So it was not discovered it just wasnít utilized!

Q.: I have many more questions but I donít think itís appropriate to ask them all at once, so Iíll do one subject at a time.

A.: I hope this answers your questions. Leo.

Q.: Leo, I saw an auction for a telegram that said Jim made $10,000 for 12 days of performing. Another web site mentioned this and inferred that this was not a large amount. I was wondering what Leo's comments are about this.

Connie Sanders

A.: Hi, Connie! Nice to hear from you and hope you are well. Wow, back in the early sixties, Ten Thousand Dollars was a lot of money for twelve days! Jim was the highest paid country artist at the time. I donít know who said that this was not a large amount of money but who ever it was, he didnít know very much about the sixties!!!! If you want to discuss this at length, you know my phone number, give me a call anytime.

As always, Leo.

 

Q.: Hi Leo, I've been a Jim fan for about 41 years. I'm now 44. He was the best and still is. I live in Scotland. I like singing Jim songs. What is your favourite song of Jim and one you sang with him. Thanks, Eddie Punton.

A.: Hi, Eddie! Itís really hard to really pick just one song because Jim had so many great ones. If I had to pick just one, it would have to be, "He'll Have To Go.Ē Every time we played the song on stage, the audience would become really quiet and attentive. People loved this song and they gave it huge respect.
 

My favorite song I sang with Jim was ďStand at Your Window.Ē I really enjoyed singing this with Jim. Thanks for your interest. Leo


Q.: My father turned me on to Jim Reeves when I was 6 years old, when I was in the first grade we were aloud to bring in records for the class to listen to, while the other kids brought in Mary had a little lamb , I brought in the "According To My Heart" Long play album. My teacher said she had to take it home to listen to it first, after a week I told her I need it back, she thanked me for bring it in , but didnít play it for the class, just for herself, anyway my father told me about a time that there was this big concert, canít remember who all was there and where it was, But this storm came up and cut the concert shot or canceled it, and while all the other entertainers went out drinking, Jim went to a radio station and talked and played a few songs , Is there any way you can tell me where and when this was. My father has since passed away so I canít ask him.

Thanks Robbie McCurdy

A.: Hi, Robbie! Believe it or not, this happened to us a lot. Jim was so professional and caring about his personal appearances that he always went the extra mile for his fans. I wish I could be more specific but itís difficult to remember that far back. But I can tell you this; we performed ďAccording to My HeartĒ on almost every concert and it was a big song for Jim. Thanks for being such a great fan of Jim Reeves. Leo

Q.:  Leo, I  am wondering if you were with Jim and the band in the fall of about 1959.  I and my parents and my aunt went to this concert in 
Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Jim had his sequined red jacket and red boots on at this concert.  He had about 4 curtain calls before he told the audience that he just had to go because he was scheduled to be in another town the next day.  I specifically remember him doing the song ďThe Blizzard,Ē I was approximately 14 at the time.  Jim really touched my heart and have never forgotten how great he was and always will be.  I am 61 years old now. Best regards,  Hicks Owens.

A.:  Yes, I was there.  I got out of the army in July 1959 and played every concert with him until his death in 1964.  I so glad it was such a memorable experience for you.  Good Luck, Leo.

Q.:  Leo, It's great to be able to get into contact with you!!! I have a couple questions for you: first of all, I have been watching some Jim Reeves videos on youtube.com. They are very fun to watch and I really admire your guitar playing. I noticed you were playing a white Jazzmaster on the televised Oslo, Norway concert from 1964 and what appears to be one of the, now rare, San Marino Blue Jazzmasters with a gold anodized pick guard on a separate performance (Grand Ole Opry???). It's hard to tell because the clip is b/w. Are these the only two primary guitars you used with Reeves? Do you still have them?

 Also, I read in one of the earlier questions that you guys toured with Johnny Cash quite a bit. Did you get to know Luther Perkins? Maybe you can tell use what you remember about Luther?  Thanks a lot, Tyler from KY.

A. : Hi, Tyler!  The first guitar I used with Jim was a Gibson ES-5.  I used this guitar on the song "Penny Candy" which was my first recording session with Jim.  I used this guitar up until 1956 when I got my 1956 Fender Stratocaster.  I used this guitar up until July, 1959 when I got out the army and traded this guitar for a 1959 Fender Jazzmaster.  This guitar originally was sunburst but in early 1960; Jim had me get the guitar painted light blue.  This might be what's confusing you.  I know definitely I'm playing this guitar on the 1964 Oslo concert.  I played this guitar on everything I did with Reeves....sessions, concert dates, TV shows, Grand Ole Opry and etcÖup until Jim's death in July 1964.  There were a few months that we used Rickenbacker because Jim had made deal with them but it didnít last long.

In 1965, Mary Reeves got the Blue Boys a deal with Fender and Christmas 1965 they gave me a custom made (Factory painted) Jazzmaster.  I never played this guitar with Jim.  I just used it with The Blue Boys.

Yes I did get to know Luther Perkins.  We were friends since the early days on the Louisiana Hayride.  We kept in close contact until his death.  I miss him a lot. Luther wasn't the best guitar player out there but he had the best tone and feel of anybody I ever knew.  His style at the time really fit Johnny Cash's voice and gave him a different "sound."  I don't think Johnny could have done it without him.

I hope this answers your questions and thanks for being a Jim Reeves fan.  Leo

Q.:  Leo, What a hoot. You won't remember me. I am Mel Rogers sister, Charlotte. My husband is taking guitar lessons, and is realizing that he has learned several chords wrong. He  was just playing around on the computer and  I made the comment about how poorly my brother Melvin read music when he played for Jim Reeves. The conversation developed from there. He then typed Jim Reeves in "Ask Jeeves" and amazingly came information about you. I was absolutely thrilled to hear a name from my childhood. I remember you having breakfast at my house when I was just a little kid. It was about 2:00 AM in Shreveport, LA. My mom and dad got up and made eggs and bacon and biscuits. The bus pulled up and you guys came in and ate. I think it was after playing at the Rio Palm Isle in Long View, Texas. Don't suppose you remember that. A big event in a little kid's life.  Well from the little sister of a big, big guy.

A.: Hi, Charlotte: Actually I DO remember stopping by at your house and your folks making breakfast for us. Iím like you, I donít remember if it was after we played The Rio Palm Isle or just passing through but I DO remember Melís baby sister Charlotte because he talked about you a lot. He was very proud of you. I have your address and plan on dropping you a note soon. It was good hearing from my best friendís sister. 

 Q.:  Hello Leo!! Can you please tell me what guitars Jim played and when? I also heard something about a Baby Martin. Did he take more than one guitar with him on tour? Thank you, Leo. - Bob Chudicek. Beaver, PA.

A.:  Hi, Bob! Jimís favorite guitar was a Martin D-28. When he went with us on the bus, which was most of the time, he carried the ďBabyĒ Martin you referred toÖ which I believe was a 00018.

Q.: Hi Leo could you tell me what year Jim Reeves recorded "Pretty Little Snowflake", and also were you with Jim Reeves, Mac Wiseman, and Hank Locklin when they performed in Stettler, Alberta, Canada in the late fifties.  Mavis Storch

A.: I'm pretty sure we recorded 'Snowflake' late 1959. I believe the Christmas album was released October 1962. Yes, I was probably on the show in Stettler, Alberta, Canada

Q. : What different instruments did you use when you were a member of the Blue Boys? Jo Luyckx

A.: I played electric guitar and my main instrument was a Fender Jazzmaster.

Q.: Leo, what is your all time instrumental hit song and do you still play it? -  Thank you, Piet de Klerk

A.: The ones that I still play are Wildwood Flower and Alabama Jubilee, although there are several more that I really enjoy.

Q. : Hi Mr. Jackson. have you ever thought about writing your memories? What is your best memory about Jim? Best wishes from Gerard Pronk

A.: There were so many good memories but probably the one that stands out in my mind is when I auditioned but didn't realize it. I went with friends of Jim to see him perform at the Louisiana Hayride. before the show we went to Jim's house and he asked me to play for him and we jammed for a while. Little did I know that he was considering hiring me!

Q.: Mr. Leo Jackson, when are you going to record a Jim Reeves tribute album
yourself? would that not be great? -  Thanks, Piet Groen

A.: I may do that at some point. You're right it would be great. Thanks for the idea.

Q.: Hi Leo, it's nice you write on the website and have replied to my previous question . Will there be a book about Jim Reeves published when you are still with us? Jan de Graaf

A.: There was supposed to be a book already written by Larry Jordan but seven years later...and still no book... so I don't know. hopefully he'll finish it in my lifetime.

Q. : Leo, what is your favorite Abbott record? Have you met Elvis Presley? - Bert Bossink

A.: My favorite Abbott record by Jim was Penny Candy because it was the first record I did with Jim. my second choice would be Mexican Joe, Jim's first number one record. and yes, I knew Elvis Presley. we used to make jokes with each other backstage at the Louisiana Hayride.

Q. : I can't believe it! I remember when you were just 31. Anyway, hope you are having a good year - and many, many more. I live in Gulf Shores, Al. now. Best regards, Darla Kent Dorris

 A.: Thank you, Darla!  I'm glad somebody can remember that far back. :)

Q. : Iím late but I want to congratulate Leo very much for his Birthday!

A.: Thank you ,Jan.

Q.: Hello Leo - my very best wishes to you on your birthday.  You always were my very favourite "Blue Boy" - you seemed to have so much fun out there  alongside Jim especially when you sang Bimbo with him at the Norway concert in 1964. Where are you now????? - Margaret Buck

A.: I live in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.  When I left the Blue Boys, I stopped singing!   I started working as an acoustic guitar session player and worked with some of the biggest names in country music. Such as: Alabama, Hank jr., George Strait, Merle Haggard, Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley, to mention a few. I hope you're doing well and thanks for the birthday wish!

Q.: Hi, Leo! - Happy birthday. Hope your day will be great. Thanks for being so kind to answer my questions regarding the former members in Blue Boys. Best wishes from Thomas SÝrvik, Oslo, Norway

A.: You're welcome, Thomas!

Q.: We wish you a very happy birthday Leo, from all your fans County Louth, Ireland. - Jimmy Neary

A.: I really enjoyed playing there and hope to do so again soon.  Thanks for the Birthday wish!

 Q.: Leo this is just a question about Jim's favorites such as what was his favorite song, album [what was he most proud of and who was his own favorite singer??? Also did Jim ever meet Johnny Cash?

 A.: His favorite song to sing on stage was ĎYonder comes a suckerí, because it was a fun song!  His favorite album is difficult to answer because he liked so many of them.  In the country field: probably Marty Robbins and Patsy Cline. Yes we all knew Johnny Cash and played on a lot of shows together.

Q.: Thanks very much Leo, I am 16 years old and you are such an inspiration on guitar and your dedication and loyalty to Jim. Also one of my uncle's has been diagnosed with cancer and I told him you overcame it Ė his reply was "well if Leo Jackson- Jim Reeves' guitarist can do it so can I" So I thank you very much Leo - keep up the good work - and also happy Birthday on the 22nd there are many more years to come!!!!! - Kind regards, Ritchie Clarke

A.: Thank you, Ritchie for the best wishes for my birthday.  I'm glad your uncle has a positive attitude.  It worked for me and it will work for him as well.

Q.: Hi Leo, you mentioned the song Caribbean in your earlier answers. Are there to your knowledge many recordings of this song in existence? Julie Jordan told me there was one from a television show but the quality is too poor to overdub. I believe Jim was in negotiations with Joe Brown enterprises to tour New Zealand and Australia just prior to Jimís death - were you aware of that and how Far were negotiations advanced. Thanks, Daryl Waldron.

 A.: To my knowledge, we only did that song on live shows, as I remember. Mitchell Torok wrote and recorded Caribbean and the label he was on is no longer in business.  I wasn't aware of plans to perform in these countries. Jim's booking agent would let us know after the dates were already booked.

Q.: Mr. Jackson,  I grew up in a household filled with Jim Reeves' music.  My dad was an adoring fan, and during my early childhood, I don't think I knew anyone ever made a record other than Jim!  I still have my dad's original lp collection, plus some cd's that Iíve picked up over the years.  When Jim died, it was truly as if a member of our family had passed away.  Ironically, I am a huge John Denver fan, and As Iím sure you know, he was also tragically killed piloting a small plane.  However, my question regarding the Blue Boys refers to Peewee Kershaw.  I recently read somewhere on the internet that he was With the blue boys at least briefly.  Is he Doug Kershawís brother?  I know in his song "Louisiana Man", he refers to a brother named Peewee.  Did you ever have the opportunity to meet or work with Doug Kershaw, or even John Denver? Many thanks for all you do, and for keeping Jim Reeves' legacy alive and Well.  I'm sure he'd be pleased. - Best wishes, Charles

A. : Peewee did indeed work some with the wagon masters playing drums.  I think He was Doug's brother and yes, I did know Doug and worked with him on some live shows.  I never met John Denver but Iíve always liked him.  You're welcome, Charles! 

Q.: Hi Leo. I am an Jim Reeves fan and Elvis fan. Did Jim ever meet Elvis Presley? Best wishes from Norway.

A.: Yes, of course. We were on the Louisiana hayride before Elvis. His first appearance, Scotty Moore and Elvis asked me to be on stage with them because they were nervous. True story.

Q. :Have  you a personal notebook or something else which contained details about demo sessions and rehearsals and something like this. It would be a small way up to clear some facts on the demo/overdubbed recordings. Kurt from Essen, Germany

A.:  No notebook, just my memory. This is impossible to answer because there are so many untrue stories going around being told as facts but I know better. I was there most of the time.

Q.: I've read that when you joined "The Blue Boys" you actually were a bit 'underage,' and 'bunked in' with Jim and Mary at their home for a while. What was it like living with them? What did they do to 'relax' in the evening, i.e.; watch tv, read, etc? - Charles Ward

A. : Actually it wasn't the Blue Boys; it was the Wagon Masters. It would be some time before the group was called the Blue Boys, in 1960, as a matter of fact. I was 18 when Jim hired me and they were living in Shreveport at the time. I lived with him and Mary there about two years. When he went to the Grand Ole Opry he took me with him and I lived with him and Mary approximately three yeas in Madison Tennessee around 1956. It was great living with them and they were just normal people. We watched TV, visited relatives and friends, practiced and worked.

Q.: Did the Blue boys ever backed up any other artists after Jim's death? -  Gijs

A.: I was the bandleader. Bud Logan, the bass player, took over the vocal duties. The first tour we did after Jim's death, we backed up David Houston. After that, Mary decided that we should just work on our own as the "Blue Boys", as a featured act. We disbanded in 1972.

Q.: Which of the songs that Jim recorded, did he enjoy doing the most in concert. Which song, that Jim didn't record, did he enjoy doing in concert?  Thanks. - Ron

A.: He enjoyed "Yonder Comes a Sucker" and he sang it at almost every appearance. Jim's concerts featured his own songs. Jim sang other artists songs on dance dates. I'm trying to think of one... "Caribbean" comes to mind. It was written my Mitchell Torok. Who wrote "Mexican Joe", Jim's first number one record.

Q.: Hi Leo was Jim easy to work with, thanks. - Caroline

A.: I think he was. Jim was a perfectionist in performing and recording as well. He always felt, the people paying their hard earned money deserved our best. I agreed with him. Thanks for still showing interest in Jim Reeves.

Q.: Hi Leo I would like to know what was Jim's reaction when you were drafted into the army in the early 50s did he take it lightly or was he annoyed and did you have any thoughts that you would be replaced permantly as his lead guitar player when you returned from your army service. Also did you enjoy your time in the service of your fine country.

Best wishes Bob in the UK.

A.: Actually, Jim's management was able to keep me out of the army a year and a half after I was drafted so I could do the USO tour of Germany and England in early 1957. Before I left to go to the army, Jim reassured me that my job would be waiting when I got out of the army. They used this also to get me a ninety-day early release. So that worked out just great for me. 

Yes, I did enjoy my time in the service because Jim's manager got me in special services where I played guitar with the "Circle A Wranglers" of The Third Army. We did a lot of shows for recruiting purposes. That was a lot of fun and also kept me in practice to go back with Jim when I got discharged.

Thank you for your interest in me and Jim

Q.: When asked who their favourite DJ and/or station is most musicians seemingly respond by saying "anybody and/ or any station that plays my records" but as is often the case we find out later who that special person was. I have some people in mind when I posed this question but I would like to hear from Leo just who that DJ was for J.R. Thanks Arie and Leo!

Regards Paul

A.: It's been a long time ago but I don't recall any single one DJ. We stopped at hundreds of large and small radio stations to do interviews with the DJ of the hour. Jim was very friendly with Tom Perryman and Ralph Emory but there were many more. If you have a particular DJ in mind, I'm sure I'll remember when you remind me. Thanks for asking.

Q.: Hello, Leo.

I wonder: What are these members of Blue Boys doing today? Are they still alive? 

Best regards from Thomas SÝrvik, Oslo, Norway

A.: James Kirkland: is still alive and living in Texas
Mel Rogers: is deceased. We were very good friends and I miss him a lot.
Bobby Dyson: is deceased.
Jimmy Orr: is living in Las Vegas, the last I heard..
Kenny Buttrey: is deceased.
Bud Logan; is living in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. He occasionally does some
record producing.
Henry Strzelecki: is still alive and Jim Pierce thinks he is living in Kentucky.

Hope all is well with you. I'm doing fine, thank you and I just got back for a tour in Norway with Arne Benoni.

Q.: Did Jim drink Whiskey ?

Charles Ward

A.: I never knew he drank until one day I saw him sober!! (JOKE) Seriously, Jim did drink some. His favorite was scotch whiskey but I don't remember the brand. He also liked Crown Royal and Beef Eaters Gin from time to time. He only overdid it once that I know of but that's a long story and I'll save that for a book. Thank you for your interest.

Leo Jackson