Never Say No To Opportunity……..#110 (the 60’s)

Backing Roy Clark

Backing Roy Clark

.  “Lightning fingers,  fastest guitar in  the west” was the statement.  “who are you talking about Ruth?” was the reply.  Gary didn’t aspire to resonate with skepticism,  but these were her accolades and that was his response.  Ruth Sallee, the bands booking agent venturing a name, Roy Clark,  but it still didn’t register with the musician until she mentioned a song title, a current caption on all the juke boxes,  a country song,  ‘The Tips of my Fingers’.   “Yes”,  he was familiar with the song and “yes” the Untouchables could be available to back Roy Clark for his appearance at the Bamboo Club in Enid.   Gary having concluded long ago,  never say no to opportunity,  especially from an agent.  The Bamboo Club was no stranger,  the Sallee Agency having booked the band on prior occasions in Enid.  In reality it resembled a large barn with a stage and dance floor rather than a private club,  its demur essentially exhaling country music.  A typical weekend night finding a nominal cover charge instilled at the door, the patronage bringing their own indulgence, purchasing the accompaniments,  soft drinks, water and the always invariable bucket of ice.  The amenities and decor was non-existent, but what it lacked was over shadowed by the hospitality and flavor of the local Oklahoma residents in attendance.

Glenn's 1954 Cadillac Limo

Glenn’s 1954 Cadillac Limo

Common sight approaching Hennesy

Common sight approaching Hennessy

.  It never failed to amaze Gary of the perplexity of Glenn, still having an affinity for Cadillac Limousines that was insatiable, trading his 52 Limo for the wrap-around windshield 1954 model.  The Enid excursion finding Gary and Jerry with Glenn the piloting chauffeur traversing north on highway 81 thru the towns of Okarche,  Kingfisher.  On the horizon the ever-present glow from the refinery gas burn off and the numerous wild cat oil-rig companies encrusting both sides of the  roadway approaching Hennessey, Enid being the next stop.  The three disembarking at the Club, saxophone and clarinetist Larry already present, the posters advancing the appearance of Roy Clark donning the clubs entrance.   The group having just finished setting up the band equipment when they were joined by the reason for their appearance, Roy Clark with a guitar case, amp and a bottle of scotch.  The congeal star introducing himself,  setting up his equipment, then entreating a table in front of the four-foot high stage.  Gary questioning as to what degree the band would have in his show, discovering he and Jerry were familiar Roy’s show selections and all that was needed was for him to give the key they were played in.

Roy on stage

Roy on stage

.  The band taking the stage, Gary’s first annotation to Jerry during their first song was  “the crowd knows who Roy Clark is”,  both observing the number in the audience as more and more arrived, the club filling rapidly.  Roy was scheduled to perform two shows,  the first at 10:30  the second at 12:00,  the entertainer at the front stage table kept continually occupied by a parade of fans wanting to visit and seeking autographs.  From the bandstand the pianist recognized a problem when steady group of ladies continued to advance on the celebrity, Roy’ seated directly below Gary motioning at him trying to get his attention.   Gary responding, Roy had a request, asking if he could join the band on stage as a rhythm guitar player until his scheduled show time,  asserting that some the ladies had  escorts and he would feel more secure on stage with the band.   Showtime,  Roy Clark stepping forward to center stage addressing the applauded crowd,  his first words being an acknowledgement of Oklahoma and its citizenry, then showcasing his fast as lightning reputation with the guitar. His presentation continuing,   highlighting  his vocal artistry with his current hit,  The Tip of my Fingers.  Gary very much impressed with the laid back professional,  his sitting-in on guitar with the band was something to be remembered.

Roy 'lightning finers' Claark

Roy ‘lightning fingers’ Clark

.   With the conclusion of Roy’s 12:00 o’clock show, the band finishing the night, a curiosity arose,  Gary inquiring about Roy’s transportation back to the City, finding that he had flown from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City, rented a car and would be returning to L. A. in the morning.   Gary thanking Roy for the opportunity to back him, but it was Roy who was appreciative thanking the band for an excellent job.  All agreed that working with Roy was an enlightening experience,  the character of his person, his showmanship and his amazing guitar dexterity left a lasting impression.  A questioned did  remain unanswered,  why would a relatively unknown booking agent,  fly a relatively unknown artist, to appear at a relatively unknown club,  backed by a relatively unknown band?   Gary having already answered his own question earlier,  never say no to opportunity.


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