Memphis Days | The Keller Club, Mid-South Fair & Johnny Matson

MID-SOUTH FAIR PUBLIC RELATIONS & ADVERTISING I After winning the Mid-South Fair Youth Talent contest, Anita and I were called on to do lots of promotions for the fair. I took a room with the Mid-South Fair, Memphis, TN in the early 60's - the fair was open in September and October and in advance of the fair, I worked with the public relation and advertising department, travelling a three-state area to visit radio stations and newspapers that the fair advertised with. As a fair representative, I personally invited readers and listeners to come to the fair and shared highlights of entertainers and rides in order to entice folks to come to the fair. I was able to do this work in conjunction with other work I had going on as well - I really enjoyed working at the fair, seeing people having fun with their families. The Mid-South Fair was a great fair, and this gave me two months of additional work each year.

HARLO McCALL & TREADWELL HIGH SCHOOL BAND | 1959, Harlo McCall was director of the Mid-South Fair Talent Show and Band Director at Treadwell High School in Memphis. Harlo started featuring me singing at different engagements with Treadwell High School's band. He was a good promoter, a smart man and a friend that wanted to help me. He took me on big band trips, I was featured with the Treadwell Band on stages at The Texas State Fair, I sang the National Anthem at the Orange Bowl in Miami and marched in the Orange Bowl Parade. In Memphis at The Overton Park Shell's Spring Concert, he featured myself and Anita Wood as vocalist, I also served as MC.

THE KELLER CLUB & JOHNNY MATSON | Nights after working at the Mid-South fair, I was singing at "The Keller Club", a well-known Memphis nightclub. While working the club, I met a man named Johnny Matson who was having dinner at the club and also working one of the big featured shows at the fair that year. Johnny was booked by an agent out of Chicago. He had heard me sing at the club and asked where I was booked next. I let him know I was going back to a job I had in Tupelo and he said with my voice I should be in show business full time. He invited me to come and see his show at the fair. After finishing my jobs and shows at the fair, I started visiting him at his show. We became good friends. Johnny felt like I needed to be in Chicago and since I had no idea how to get started in such a big city, he said he would introduce me to some agents and help me get started finding some club work. He offered to let me stay with his family in Griffith, Indiana and I could stay there until I could afford my own hotel room. I went back to Tupelo, quit my job, and headed north to Chicago to be in Show Business full time. 

note: pictures to be added here ...

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Jim Nabors & Billy
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