Don Woody was born on June 29th 1937 in a very small town named Tuscumbia, Missouri. He started as a disc jockey when he was a junior in high school, where he also played drums in HS band. After graduation Don attended college (Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri) and got job as a DJ on "Top Forty" Rock and Roll station. In the college he met Paul Simmons, his room - mate, who was also interested in music. So they wrote some songs together and made some demos of those. During that time besides being a disc jockey Don did a stand-up comedy routine, performing at various local night clubs. One of the guys from "the Ozark Jubliee" saw him and invited Don to do warm-up for this national television country show, hosted by Red Foley. As a result of that Don Woody met a lot of the people involved with "the Ozark Jubilee", among which was Gary Walker, who became kind of his manager.
One day they brought in 11-year-old girl named Brenda Lee, who was looking for material for
Decca Records. Then Gary played some of the Don Woody's demo tapes. In 1956, September of the 17th,
Brenda Lee recorded "Bigelow 6200". It was her first release and she had "Jambalia" (written by Hank William)
on the other side. Paul Bradley liked Woody's tapes and signed him to cut some demo records for Decca.
So Don Woody flew down to Nashville, Tennessee. Grady Martin and the "Slewfoot Five" (session group, which Grady Martin led for Decca in the 50's) were the band for his records. Owen Bradley produced the sessions.
Don Woody recorded four songs in Nashville (at the Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue, South Nashville, Tennessee).
Only the first two songs were released by Decca at that time and even though "Bird Dog"
sold pretty well, probably due to the success of a song with the same title by "The Everly Brothers",
Decca couldn't be persuaded to renew Woody's contract and decided not to release 'Morse Code' and Make Like A Rock And Roll'.
Then Gary Walker decided to put out another record and Don Woody cut two more songs - 'Not I' and Red Blooded American Boy'. They found a record company called Arco (which was located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) to record them. The session was cut in 1958. But Arco was quite small and didn't have any money for promotion, so that record faded away too.
By the year 1961 Don Woody was married and had a child, so he needed steadier job to support the family. As a result he went to work for Sears-Roebuck & Co, became a store manger and then a Regional Vice President. Thirty years later, in 1991, he retired from Sears and moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he currently lives with his wife Betty.
Don Woody's Barking Up The Wrong Tree backed with "Cast Iron Arm" by Peanuts Wilson was released on 9th
of April 1976 by MCA in the UK. The record received considerable airplay, especially on Capital Radio, and appeared
bubbling under the British Top Fifty. As a result Roger Scott interviewed Woody for Capitol Radio and in the same it
was published in the issue 12 (1976) of rock'n'roll magazine "New Kommotion". Also In 1976 the British band "Matchbox"
covered "Make like rock'n'roll" on their first album "Riders in the Sky" (Rockhouse LP 7612).
The songs of Don Woody were re-released several times, the most well known re-issues in supreme quality are probably the ones on the Bear Family series "That'll flat git it! - Volume 2". Morse code unfortunatly is not included on this compilation, but Bear Family included it later on "That'll flat git it! - Volume 6". It can also be found on other obscure mixtures like on the "Rare Rockabillies" series (Volume 1). The two Arco songs can be found on the Eagle records release "The Chicken Are Rockin' - Volume 2". So we can see and hear that Woody's songs are still being played by many well known as well as unknown and obscure rockabilly bands around the world.
To read interviews of Don Woody click HERE