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 question reply.  Gary didn’t aspire to resonate with skepticism,  but these were Ruth Sallee’s accolades and that was his response. Ruth, 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 were 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 Hennessy

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

Roy Clark

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 ever-increasing 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 his position on the bandstand the pianist recognized a possible problem as several ladies, leaving they male companion,  continued to advance on the celebrity.  Roy’ seated directly below Gary was aware of the situation, motioning to him to get his attention.   Gary responding, Roy having a request, asking if he could join the band on stage as a sit-in 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.

Roy “Lightning Fingers” Clark

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 and his sitting-in with the band was something to be remembered.

 With the conclusion of Roy’s 12:00 o’clock show,  Gary inquiring about Roy’s transportation back to Oklahoma City, finding that he had flown from Los Angeles, rented a car and would be returning to L. A. in the morning.   Gary making it a point to thank Roy for the opportunity to work with him, but it was Roy who was the appreciative one thanking the band.  On the way home the three agreed that working with Roy was an enlightening experience,  the character of his person, his showmanship and his amazing guitar dexterity leaving a lasting impression.  The pianist having a lingering question that 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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