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Bands » Mac Curtis

Mac Curtis
Date of Publication -01 November 2009
Submitted by: kitti
Copyrights: Rockabilly Hall Of Fame
Category: 50s Bands and Artists
Country: United States

Wesley Erwin Curtis was born in Fort Worth, Texas January 16, 1939, Mac spent his formative years under the guardianship of his grandparents near the farming community of Olney, Texas. From these humble roots, Mac would one day realize his childhood dreams of becoming a nationally known performer. It was far beyond his dreams, however, that the music he made during those early years would even- tually be recognized world-wide as a truly stylistic innovation. An American Original.

In 1951, at the tender age of twelve, Mac purchased his first guitar. A neighboring farmer helped him select the instrument and taught him the basic chords. By the end of the year Mac had learned enough to convince him to enter a local talent contest. Placing second in the contest earned him $15 dollars. He had paid ten for the guitar. Mac quickly figured that Show business was for him.

In 1954 Mac relocated with his grandparents to Weatherford, Texas It would become a key move considering the close proximity to Fort Worth and the nearest recording studio. Mac became acquainted with schoolmates Jim and Ken Galbraith. They shared a common interest in music and began playing together. While each had been steeped in Hillbilly and Gospel music, they had begun to be enthralled with the music of Rhythm and Blues acts . . . Big Joe Turner; The Midnighters; Piano Red. And, of course, Fats Domino; Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

The group's teenage peers slowly began to "dig" the hybrid sound. Rock and Roll was on the horizon. the teens were restless, even rebellious. Ironically, an appearance by the band on a high school assembly program became a turning point. By the completion of Mac's first two vocals, the kids were on their feet stomping and screaming. Teachers and school officials were enraged. The boys were on the brink of suspension from school for what was termed "lewd and suggestive gyrations". Fortunately, the student council intervened and even convinced officials to allow a repeat performance. Thus, was born "The Country Cats".

Mac and his band began to actually make money for their gigs. They experimented with studio demo recordings and added a drummer to enhance the beat of their music. And, in late 1955 while working a gig at a Fort Worth auto dealership they caught the ear of a popular local DJ. He was so impressed with the style that he got the group an audition with a visiting KING Records executive. The label representative signed Mac to a recording contract on the spot.

In the spring of 1956 Mac and the band stepped into the Jim Beck studio in Dallas for the first of several King Records sessions. As a result, the classic "If I Had Me A Woman" was issued as Mac's first single.

The singles "Grandaddy's Rockin" and "You Ain't Treatin Me Right" followed in rapid succession. The records caught the ear of the famous Alan Freed in New York. Freed booked Mac on his 1956 Christmas Rock 'n' Roll Revue at the prestigious Brooklyn Paramount Theater. Mac shared the bill with numerous stars including the Moonglows; Shirley and Lee; Cadillacs; Screamin Jay Hawkins; Jessie Belvin; Teddy Randazzo and George Hamilton IV. It would become one of the biggest highlights of Mac's career.

Mac returned to Weatherford in early 1957 to complete his final year of high school. His musical fame prompted him to be hired as a DJ on local radio station KZEE. he broadcast by day and performed on nights and weekends for the balance of the year. But, by November, the US Army beckoned Mac to serve his country in the military service.

The lion's share of Mac's military duty was spent with American Forces Radio in Seoul, Korea. He was assigned the position of DJ and Network Country Music Director. And, in the evenings he sang with a GI Country band on the military club circuit. The band went on to win second place in the recorded division of the 1959 All-Army Talent Contests.

Upon return to civilian life in Texas in 1960 Mac found that the market for his style of music was no longer in vogue. The rapidly changing American music scene was not king to the artists such as Mac who had laid the cornerstone for Rock and Roll. It would be several years before his Rockabilly sound would be re-discovered and appreciated by fans in other parts of the World.

Throughout the 1960's, Mac's broadcast career took center state. He became a nationally known and respected figure in the Country Radio Industry. He served at stations in Dallas, Atlanta, Nashville and los Angeles. Simultaneously, he performed and recorded Country music. Stints with Epic Records and the GRT label produced a string of chart - placing singles and two albums. Along the way he developed his talent for song writing and succeeded in placing tunes with several other artists including his friend Bob Luman, Lynn Anderson and George Morgan.

By 1971 Mac was on the air in Los Angeles where a major milestone came about. Ronny Weiser approached Mac for an interview with his magazine. From these interview sessions Mac learned first hand of the popularity of his early Rockabilly recordings among a growing number of fans in Europe and the United Kingdom.

Ronny introduced Mac to fellow Texas Rockabilly Ray Campi. It was only a short time until Ronny convinced the two to record some songs for his newly-imagined Rollin Rock Records. Music Industry moguls looked askance at the concept. "These guys are crazy. You can't sell stuff that's been recorded in a living room. This stuff will never see the light of day. There's just no market for it!"

Undaunted, Ronny began to release his Rollin Rock records in Europe. By 1973 the Rockabilly revival was on!

For the next five years Ronny Weiser churned out a steady stream of releases by Mac Curtis, Ray Campi and several other artists. In 1977 the first personal appearance tour was organized to visit England. Mac, Ray and his band shared the bill. It would become known as "The original Rollin Rock Tour" Avid Rockabilly fans throughout England, Europe and Scandanavia turned out in force. And, they were by no means disappointed. The tour established a benchmark for every Rockabilly act to follow. It was the first of many Mac Curtis trips to follow.

With a number of foreign tours completed, Mac allied with British booking baron, Paul Barrett in 1986. The alliance proved to be a winning combination of music and business acumen that would build Mac Curtis into becoming one of the hottest drawing performers from the Rockabilly genre.

With the advent of compact disc technology, Charly Records of England became the first to jump on the Mac Curtis bandwagon, with it's 1991 issue of the entire original Mac Curtis King Records masters. The success of the project later prompted Tex Aicardi to compile a CD format of Mac's Rollin Rock singles and issued on the Rollin Rock Switzerland label in 1995.

Published with permission of Rockabilly Hall Of Fame

Rockabilly Hall Of Fame

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Mac Curtis - guitar


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