Jerry Naylor – The Rockabilly Legends: Roots of It All – The Rockabilly Roots – Examining the Roots
The Roots of Rockabilly began with a classic combination of African American Spirituals and Slave Songs, Delta Blues, Southern Gospel, Hillbilly Country, and Bluegrass, however, the nurturing of these roots was carefully tended by a top line pitch-man show promoter named Tillman Franks. To his credit, Franks was also a hot songwriting bass-slapping personal manager for Johnny Horton and other Country music stars of the day as well as the talent coordinator for the legendary Louisiana Hayride. It was Tillman Franks who brought two of the world’s greatest entertainers of all time, Hank Williams, Sr. and the little known Elvis Presley, to the stage of the Louisiana Hayride. It was also Tillman Franks who booked these would be legends, along with Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash and a long list of other performers, into small town auditoriums and county fairs throughout Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas, which fueled the flames of their rocket to super stardom. I’ve said it publicly before, and I’ll say it again and again, “Without Tillman Franks, overtaking the odds and pushing and shoving us on every stage he could rent, there may not have been this genre we now call Rockabilly and Elvis Presley may not have become the King of Rock and Roll”.
However, Tillman did, Elvis did and fortunately I did what they did and have enjoyed an amazing fifty-plus years of a successful entertainment career because TILLMAN FRANKS DID! Therefore, when you next examine the Roots of Rockabilly, please take time to dig deep into its soul, and just a few blocks from the Shreveport, Louisiana Memorial Auditorium, you will find my dear friend, Tillman Franks – the Tender of Rockabilly Music.