Who was/is Claude Gray ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Known as 'The Tall Texan', Claude Gray was from Henderson in east Texas (where he was born on January 26, 1932). He left the Navy in 1954 with the idea of getting into the entertainment business. After a stint as a dee-jay in Kilgore, Texas, he moved to Meridian, Mississippi, and first recorded for Minor Records. He joined Pappy Daily's D Records in 1958, and finally hit paydirt with this song. As most people now know, the composer credit (Walt Breeland, Claude Gray, and Paul Buskirk) is somewhat misleading. The true composer was Willie Nelson, who mistakenly hung onto the composer credit of Gray's flip side but sold Family Bible in one of his many moments of need. The song was Willie's sweet and sentimental evocation of family gatherings back home in Abbott, Texas. Buskirk was Nelson's mentor and pal, and, as Willie himself remembered, "I called Paul one morning and offered to sell him 'Family Bible.' He paid me fifty dollars for it. Then I sold him 'Night Life' for $150. My name wasn't on 'Family Bible' when it became a hit but I was really glad to know I could write a Number One song. I never harboured any resentment toward Paul. I needed that money in a big way when I sold the songs. Up until then I didn't know if I could write a song that was commercial or even acceptable."
Paul Buskirk in turn sold shares to Pappy Daily's employee, Walt Breeland, and Gray himself. Buskirk led the band on Gray's record and brought a child's electric organ to Houston's Gold Star studio. Clyde Brewer switched from fiddle to organ for the song. If we're being picky, it wasn't a #1 song (it peaked at #10), but it encouraged Willie to head for Nashville and enabled Pappy Daily to peddle Gray's contract to Mercury. Willie loaded his then-wife, Martha, and their two kids into his 1950 Buick, dropped Martha and the kids with his in-laws and went on alone to Nashville. "That was where the store was," he wrote later. "If I had anything to sell, it must be taken to the store." He stayed with Opry star Billy Walker before moving into a trailer park sandwiched between a used car lot and a veterans' cemetery. Roger Miller had just moved out.
Various Country & Western Hit Parade 1960
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