Dedicated to The Late, Great Marty Robbins
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I would like to sincerely thank Don for taking the time to talk to me and answer these light questions here. He has promised to do anything in the future to help with the web site in keeping Martin's memory and music alive for the many, many devoted fans out there. Martin seriously treasured the fans who came to his shows and bought his records and Don expresses the same appreciation as well.
Question: My first question is a simple one. Can you recall the very first time that you met Martin and what were the circumstances of him asking you to join his band?
Answer: I first met Marty in 1953 at the WSM studio. Then in 1960, I was recording on Decca Records, not doing so good when he asked me if I would join his band. I said 'yes!'.
Question: In your travels with Martin and the band to the many different countries outside the U.S., were there any places that the show didn't go over as well as the group were used to...like his shows here went over?
Question: Along these same lines, did you ever do a show in a different country where the audience weren't that fluent in English and probably didn't understand the lyrics to Martin's songs and especially his antics and jokes on stage or in that instance, would he just forgo the jokes and such and stick mainly with the music?
Answer: He just forgoes the jokes and such and stick mainly with the music.
Question: (THIS IS AN OPTIONAL QUESTION) The comradery had always seemed so great and close in the group, were there ever times when that closeness was strained for any reason, where the gang just didn't get along? If so, what, if anything, was done to get things back on track?
Answer: We were always close to each other.
Question:(OPTIONAL) I know there's always hecklers in the audience no matter who the entertainer is, even someone as likable and loved as Martin was. I personally witnessed an occasion many years ago when he did a show at the Indiana State Fair and a drunk in the audience just would not let him do his show. It nearly came down to a showdown between Martin and this guy but the guy was taken away without too serious an interruption. Is there any incident such as this that sticks out in your mind where you thought a show might be abruptly ended due to some inebriated member of the audience that just wouldn't let Martin do his show? And if so, how did Martin or you handle it?
Answer: Don did decline to answer.
Question:Is there any one place in particular that stands out in your memory as more special than any other?
Answer: No, not really, we enjoyed about all the places we traveled to.
Question: Besides being a great musician...he chose his band very precisely, apparently, with all the great music you guys gave us. Did he (Martin) have some particular criteria in selecting who would join the band?
Answer: No, except that he always tried to pick the good ones.
Question: I know that in some of the early years and songs that he did, TomPall and the Glaser Brothers were his backup....and a great sound with a perfect blending of tone, timing and everything else that goes into doing great backup for a star. Then, when you and Bobby did backup for him, the sound was again close to his own, so much so that on the recordings, a lot of his fans couldn't distinguish yours and Bobby's singing from the Glasers. Did Martin choose the two of you because of this great sound that just fit like pieces of a musical puzzle or was that sound just a coincidence that just happened to turn out perfect and beautiful?
Answer: Smiley & Kitty Wilson did some of the early things with Marty. The Glaser Brothers, as I remember, only did Five with him. Bobby Sykes & Jim Glaser did El Paso and others. I started with the recording of Jimmy Martinez, El Paso City and on the road.
Question: I know Bobby wore many 'hats' over the years with Martin, singer, musician, and also he booked Martin's show dates. Did he prefer any one of these over the others and would have preferred doing them on a regular and more permanent basis?
Answer: No, really, he liked doing them all.
Question: Before Martin passed away, he mentioned in a magazine article that he was considering some offers of doing other 'things'. I know that he at one time, was being considered for the voice of YOSEMITE SAM in a cartoon series for television. Do you think he would have ebbed his concerts for other things? And the bit part he had in HONKY TONK MAN, was that an opening perhaps, for more movies out of Hollywood for him?
Answer: Maybe, he had some things in the planning.
Question: Most of the fans are aware of your and Martin's penchant for pulling pranks on each other. Is there any one GREAT and UNFORGETTABLE prank that either one of you pulled on the other that you can tell us about?
Answer: Lots. He cut off my pant legs while I was on stage one time. Ths was my street pants too. (This is a cute and typical story on Martin and his pranks and is posted on "STORY 1" section.)
Question: One last question, Don. I know that Katz is now doing the Florida Opry and you still are connected with doing music. Can you tell us what the rest of the gang is doing and where they are? Everyone wants to know especially what Jack Pruett is doing now. He was with Martin a long time also wasn't he, as well as Bill Johnson?
Answer: No, I've lost contact with all but Wayne Jackson and he is doing free lance work. (Note: Katz Kobayashi is in Florida playing at the Florida Opry)
I want to thank you again for your kindness and your time. Martin left behind a great, warm, beautiful and rich musical legacy as well as a lot of warm memories for his fans. A legacy that should always be remembered simply because he was probably, no not probably, but WAS the greatest entertainer ever....and a great gentleman. This legacy should always be with us to enjoy and for the upcoming fans of the qualities that make a true legend, both in writing and performing as Martin was blessed with.