There was a guy, I can't remember his last name but I can see him in my mind's eye, his name was Lonzo, it was either Lonzo or Alonzo This guy man was one of the baddest piano players that I've ever heard reflecting back, maybe he wasn't all that good but to me - this guy his fingers were like ballet dancers. Anyway, Lonzo, Albert King all them guys, Hoss, there was a guy named Hoss, piano player in Osceola, he was in the time of Alvin somebody, anyway Hoss was his rival, they were supposed to be the baddest piano players around Osceola. These guys man they used to come around, my old man he bought him a electric guitar, he thought he wanted to be a little novice you know, Albert taught him a few chords and stuff but there was nothing serious, it was fun you know.
Albert Nelson, that's his real name, we used to call him Black Albert, that was his nickname around town. Everybody 'Hey Black Albert'. He used to drive a big trailer truck for a living, for his normal job, hauling seeds, cottonseeds. I was pretty young but I was a man, I knew what I was doing. Music was a natural thing, it wasn't no thing that I had to struggle to get into or nothing. And there was quite a few guys around school like me, we would just beat on tin pans, anything. You know shoo-wop, Five Royales and people like that came out, Clovers and all that.
Did you have any gospel experience?
A bit, not a lot. My gospel experience was limited to the local church which I wasn't forced to go to, which I didn't believe in anyway. I was only there for the chicks. If you didn't go to the church you were left out, you couldn't get any of the chicks because everybody had to go to church on Sunday. You know choir practices, things like that, so you want to get in the choir because that's where everybody was, you had more fun. And you get a chance to be away from home sometimes, go and visit other churches. I was never a serious gospel singer but I always loved gospel groups like the Five Blind Boys, Sam Cooke And The Soul Stirrers and all them, Mighty Clouds Of Joy.
Did you see the In The Groove Boys?
Yeah I saw the In The Groove Boys playing a lot of times. 'Cause my old man, like a town like that in the South you always get took around to these juke joints and stuff with your old man. They be drinking beer and stuff Sunday afternoon, things like that, dress me up, show me off - loved it. The T-99 that was a little bit later after I got a little bit older. There were clubs like Distance's place. Distance was a guy who had a club outside of Osceola, one of them juke joints where everybody went.
What was it like there?
Oh great man, great. Lovely hamburgers that's what I remember, I loved hamburgers. Distance had one eye.
I tell you one that was real famous.
In your travels did you ever hear of a club called the State Line Club, north of Blytheville?
Missouri and Arkansas state line. That's where everybody used to go to get the liquor and stuff man, oh it was great. Let's see there was the State Line Club, there was Distance's, these places were outside of town. I can't remember who ran the State Line but it was a club where all the cats from Memphis and places used to come up to, like Wolf and all them guys. It was up north of Blytheville and Blytheville was eighteen miles north of Osceola and then the State Line was about three miles north of Blytheville. Blytheville is the first town you come to on Highway 6I coming south from St. Louis after you cross the Arkansas state line. Let's see, there's another place I wanted to tell you about man, this place was out on Highway 40 going west of Osceola, oh shit what was this guy's name? It'll come to me later, these joints outside town where people get in their cars ... anyway.
Distance was west of town, I got him confused with another club north of town, sort of north west between Osceola and Luxora called ... a guy named Black Willie. Now Black Willie's place was another hot place man, it burnt down, it burnt down before I even left.
Would this be Willie Bloom's?
No Willie Bloom's was in town, that was our little teenage hangout. It used to be a grown up club but for some reason he turned it over to us. Oh yeah, shit Bloom's man that was our place. No playing there, it was just a cafe, just a hangout spot. It wasn't a joint but I think they used to gamble, they used to have a gambling joint somewhere in the back, back of his house somewhere but we never knew, we never went in there, we never knew about that place, we were just in the cafe part.
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