Gene Watson Features: Curtis Potter – Country Music People: March 2016

Gene Watson Features

Country Music People: 'Real Country Music Singer' (March 2016)

It is here where you have an opportunity to read ‘Curtis Potter: 1940 – 2016’, an article written by Heart of Texas Records boss, Tracy Pitcox, which was published in the March 2016 issue of Country Music People.

CURTIS POTTER
1940 – 2016
‘A tribute to the late singer, who passed away recently, by Heart of Texas Records boss, Tracy Pitcox’

Curtis Potter (Thursday 18 April 1940 - Saturday 23 January 2016)

Heart of Texas recording artist, Curtis Potter (Thursday 18 April 1940 – Saturday 23 January 2016), passed away in Abilene, Texas on Saturday 23 January 2016, at the age of 75.  Curtis Potter had been battling congestive heart failure and peumonia, for two weeks prior to his passing.

Curtis Potter was born in Cross Plains, Texas and raised in Abilene, Texas and enjoyed singing and playing the guitar at a very early age.  Curtis Potter caught the attention of local country music promoter, Bill Fox, and started working for KRBC television in Abilene on ‘The Bill Fox Show’ and ‘Slim Willet Show’ at the age of 15, and was given his own show at the age of 16.

‘Bill Fox was a great guy and took a liking to me for some reason and would feature me not only on television but on some of his personal appearances as well’, Curtis Potter said.

‘Can you imagine, a 16-year-old country kid from little ole Cross Plains, Texas with his own television show?  They must have been crazy, but that early television experience gave me the entertainment bug’.

Curtis Potter started his recording career by releasing his first recordings for the Fox label, including ‘I’m A Real Glad Daddy’ and ‘Footsteps In The Night’, before recording some 45s for the Winston label in 1958.

Hank Thompson (Thursday 3 September 1925 - Tuesday 6 November 2007)

Hank Thompson
Thursday 3 September 1925 – Tuesday 6 November 2007

In 1959, Curtis Potter joined the Hank Thompson (Thursday 3 September 1925 – Tuesday 6 November 2007) organisation.  Hank Thompson was impressed with the young vocalist and invited him to front The Brazos Valley Band and play bass guitar for him.

Hank Thompson (Thursday 3 September 1925 – Tuesday 6 November 2007) played in Abilene and Billy Gray invited me up on the stage to sing a song with the band’, Curtis Potter said.

‘At that time, Hank Thompson (Thursday 3 September 1925 – Tuesday 6 November 2007) was getting ready to disband his group.  I actually started working for Billy Gray at that time.  After two or three months, Hank Thompson (Thursday 3 September 1925 – Tuesday 6 November 2007) hired the whole band and we all became Brazos Valley Boys overnight.  We were the number one band for thirteen years in a row.  I played bass and opened the show’.

In the thirteen years that Curtis Potter was with Hank Thompson (Thursday 3 September 1925 – Tuesday 6 November 2007), he travelled throughout Europe, the Far East and all over the United States, including a Carnegie Hall appearance.  They also appeared on all the network television shows, including ‘The Jimmy Dean Show’, ‘Joey Bishop Show’ and ‘The David Frost Show’.

‘I watched Hank Thompson (Thursday 3 September 1925 – Tuesday 6 November 2007) every night and appreciated how he carried himself and how he presented himself to the public’, Curtis Potter said.  ‘We were working some of the biggest concert halls and dance halls in the country at the time.  Hank Thompson (Thursday 3 September 1925 – Tuesday 6 November 2007) always knew how to handle any audience that he appeared before.  I admired him so much and learned much of what I know about the country music business from Hank Thompson (Thursday 3 September 1925 – Tuesday 6 November 2007)‘.

Curtis Potter on Dot Records

While still working with Hank Thompson (Thursday 3 September 1925 – Tuesday 6 November 2007), Curtis Potter signed his first major label deal with Dot Records in 1968.  Curtis Potter enjoyed success with the single, ‘A Drowning Man Will Reach For Anything’, which was written by Harlan Howard (Thursday 8 September 1927 – Sunday 3 March 2002).

It was followed by Curtis Potter’s first major hit, ‘You Comb Her Hair Every Morning’, which was written by Hank Cochran (Friday 2 August 1935 – Thursday 15 July 2010) and Harlan Howard (Thursday 8 September 1927 – Sunday 3 March 2002); the track, which was released in May 1969, would gather enough attention to become the catalyst of a 55-year recording career.

George Jones (Saturday 12 September 1931 - Friday 26 April 2013)

‘The first song that got me some attention was ‘You Comb Her Hair Every Morning’, Curtis Potter recalled.  ‘It was the back side of a George Jones (Saturday 12 September 1931 – Friday 26 April 2013) record.  I flipped out over it and knew that it was a hit record.  That song did some great things for my career and I still think it’s a hit record today’.

Capitol Records

In 1973, Curtis Potter joined Capitol Records, and saw the release of the honky tonk shuffle anthem, ‘(A Walking Talking Breathing) Case of Sorrow’, which was written by Boudleaux Bryant (Friday 13 February 1920 – Thursday 25 June 1987) and Felice Bryant (Friday 7 August 1925 – Tuesday 22 April 2003).

Curtis Potter was able to work many of the same venues that Hank Thompson (Thursday 3 September 1925 – Tuesday 6 November 2007) had played due to his connection with The Brazos Valley Boys.  Curtis Potter’s road date schedule was extremely busy throughout the 1970s while working with his band, and booking out for single dates with various house bands across the country.

In 1978, Curtis Potter moved to Dave Franer’s Hillside Records.

Darrell McCall

Darrell McCall recalls Curtis Potter calling him in 1979, while he was mowing his front lawn.  Curtis Potter asked Darrell McCall to come over to the Jack Clement Recording Studio, and sing a little harmony with him on his new album.

‘I met him at the studio and the first thing that Curtis Potter asked was ‘Well, what are we going to record today?’  Darrell McCall recalls.  ‘I said, ‘Curtis, this is your recording session and your record, so you should be telling me what we are going to record today’.

That day resulted in what was called the ‘Texas Dance Hall Music’ (Hillside Records, 1980) album and has become one of the most historic dance hall projects in the history of the business.

Step One Records

In February 1984, Curtis Potter helped to form Step One Records in Nashville, with Ray Pennington (Friday 22 December 1933 – Wednesday 7 October 2020) and songwriter, Mel Holt.

Ray Pennington

‘I really enjoyed working for Step One’, Curtis Potter said.  ‘There was a very kind business woman I knew in Abilene, that wanted to invest in a record label.  I talked to Ray Pennington (Friday 22 December 1933 – Wednesday 7 October 2020), who had produced some projects for me in the past.  It was in the middle 80s and Step One allowed me to focus some on the business end of the industry’.

Step One Records (February 1984 - 2000)

Step One Records would become the largest independent record label in country music in the 1990s.  Curtis Potter not only recorded for the label, but spent extensive time as part of the A&R Department for the label.  Curtis Potter helped promote the artists that were on the label, and personally travelled with many of those to radio stations across the country, including Gene Watson.

Gene Watson at Step One Records

‘I had been a fan of Curtis Potter’s singing for years’, Gene Watson remembered.

‘When I was signed to Step One, Curtis Potter and I became even closer friends.  We worked many shows together.  He was one of the greatest voices in the business and one of the finest ballad singers in country music’.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v=ohBDIyfI67o

Curtis Potter and Willie Nelson had a number one video on Step One Records in 1995.  ‘Turn Me Loose & Let Me Swing’, which was written by Ray Pennington (Friday 22 December 1933 – Wednesday 7 October 2020) was taken from the album, ‘Six Hours At Pedernales’ (Step One Records, 1994).

Willie Nelson, with special guest, Curtis Potter: 'Six Hours At Pedernales' (Step One Records, 1994)

‘We named the album ‘Six Hours At Pedernales’ because that is exactly how long it took us to make the record’, Curtis Potter said…‘And then we played golf’.

Curtis Potter: 'Walking On New Grass' (Startex Records, 2003)

After Step One Records closed, Curtis Potter moved to Southland Records, before making one of his personal favourite albums with his steel guitarist, Jim Loessberg, for Startex Records titled ‘Walking On New Grass’ (Startex Records, 2003).

In 2005, Curtis Potter signed with us at Heart of Texas Records.  Curtis Potter released ‘Them Old Honky Tonks’ (Heart of Texas Records), ‘Chicago Dancing Girls’ (Heart of Texas Records), ‘Down In Texas Today’ (Heart of Texas Records) and ‘The Potter’s Touch’ (Heart of Texas Records, 2010), with Justin Trevino producing.

‘The Potter’s Touch’ (Heart of Texas Records, 2010) would help to make one of Curtis Potter’s lifelong dreams come true – his one and only appearance on The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Little Jimmy Dickens‘ manager Robbie Wittkowski was playing ‘The Potter’s Touch’ (Heart of Texas Records, 2010) while he and Little Jimmy Dickens (Sunday 19 December 1920 – Friday 2 January 2015) were driving to The Grand Ole Opry; Curtis Potter was singing ‘You Wouldn’t Cross The Street To Say Goodbye’ (written by Willie Nelson).  As Curtis Potter hit one of the high notes perfectly, Little Jimmy Dickens (Sunday 19 December 1920 – Friday 2 January 2015) poked Robbie Wittkowski in the ribs and said, ‘Just listen to that’.

Little Jimmy Dickens (Sunday 19 December 1920 – Friday 2 January 2015) told Robbie Wittkowski that, when they arrived at The Opry that night, he wanted to go and see Pete Fisher, the Opry manager.  Little Jimmy Dickens (Sunday 19 December 1920 – Friday 2 January 2015) did something that he hadn’t done in decades and asked to have a friend join him on the Opry.

‘Mr. Fisher, there is a man in Texas named Curtis Potter that sings a country ballad as good as anyone that I know’, Little Jimmy Dickens (Sunday 19 December 1920 – Friday 2 January 2015) said.  ‘I would count it as personal favour for you to allow him to sing on the Opry stage’.

After sixty years in the business, Curtis Potter finally stepped on the Opry stage at the Ryman Auditorium.

‘Being on the Grand Ole Opry was one of the highest honours in my career’, Curtis Potter would later say.  ‘I was so nervous, but so very honoured as well’.

In 2010, Curtis Potter, Tony Booth and Sammi Smith (Thursday 5 August 1943 – Saturday 12 February 2005) were booked to headline a show in Llano, Texas.  Sammi Smith (Thursday 5 August 1943 – Saturday 12 February 2005) had to cancel at the last minute, and Darrell McCall volunteered to fill in.  At the conclusion of the show, the three long-time friends joined each other on stage for an impromptu trio set.

Curtis Potter, Tony Booth & Darrell McCall: 'Survivors' (Heart of Texas Records, 2011)

That would spawn two very successful albums, ‘The Survivors’ (Heart of Texas Records, 2011) and ‘The Survivors II’ (Heart of Texas Records, 2012) for Heart of Texas Records.

The Survivors would work dozens of concert and dance hall appearances, allowing each to do a set of their own songs, followed by the grand finale of the three being on the stage together.  It was a fan pleasing show that earned them an Academy of Western Artist Award as well.

Curtis Potter: 'Songs of The Cherokee Cowboy' (Heart of Texas Records, 2013)

Curtis Potter’s last album, ‘Songs of The Cherokee Cowboy’ (Heart of Texas Records, 2013), was a tribute to his hero, Ray Price (Tuesday 12 January 1926 – Monday 16 December 2013).  Willie Nelson joined Curtis Potter once again in the studio to record the title track for the album.  Curtis Potter and Janie Price were soon to embark on a series of tribute concerts to Ray Price (Tuesday 12 January 1926 – Monday 16 December 2013) all over the United States by putting The Cherokee Cowboy Band back together with Curtis Potter doing the vocals.  Curtis Potter was extremely excited about those prospects.

Curtis Potter’s last professional appearance was on Thursday 31 December 2015, with Darrell McCall, at the Heart of Texas Events Center in Brady, Texas.  Curtis Potter was doing great that night, and he spent an hour on stage singing, and then three hours visiting with everyone in the sold-out house.  Curtis Potter ended the night shortly after midnight singing ‘The Night Life Ain’t No Good Life But It’s My Life’ with Darrell McCall as his final performance after countless dance halls, concert halls, high school auditoriums, schoolhouses and knuckle orchards.

After 18 albums, 35 singles and 55 years in the business, I asked Curtis Potter to reflect on his career and his life in 2010.  Curtis Potter humbly told me: ‘I really don’t know why anyone would want to remember me.  If they do, I guess I would just like to be remembered as someone who enjoyed country music, and enjoyed the people who enjoyed listening to it’.

Curtis Potter was wrong about people not wanting to remember him.  There are so many of us that will never forget him.  He was ‘A Singer’s Singer’.
 

Country Music People: 'Real Country Music Singer' (March 2016)

This article, ‘Curtis Potter: 1940 – 2016’, which was written by Heart of Texas Records boss, Tracy Pitcox, and was published in the March 2016 issue of Country Music People, was republished within Gene Watson’s Fan Site with the prior permission of Country Music People.



Duncan Warwick
Country Music People
March 2016

Willie Nelson & Curtis Potter: 'Six Hours At Pedernales' (Step One Records, 1994)
Gene Watson: 'My Heroes Have Always Been Country' (Fourteen Carat Music, 2014)

On Tuesday 2 August 1994, Willie Nelson & Curtis Potter (co-founder of Step One Records) saw the release of ‘Six Hours At Pedernales’ (Step One Records, 1994), which was produced by Ray Pennington (Friday 22 December 1933 – Wednesday 7 October 2020), and included one track, which was a hit single on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks Chart:

‘Turn Me Loose & Let Me Swing’, which was written by Ray Pennington (Friday 22 December 1933 – Wednesday 7 October 2020) (No.86, 1994)

Willie Nelson & Curtis Potter’s ‘Six Hours At Pedernales’ (Step One Records, 1994) also included the following tracks:

‘Nothing’s Changed, Nothing’s New’, which was written by Ray Pennington (Friday 22 December 1933 – Wednesday 7 October 2020)
‘Chase The Moon’ (written by Sharon Pennington and Jesse Shofner)
‘Are You Sure’, which was written by Buddy Emmons (Wednesday 27 January 1937 – Wednesday 29 July 2015) and Willie Nelson

‘The Party’s Over’ (written by Willie Nelson) / this track was also recorded by Gene Watson, who included it on ‘My Heroes Have Always Been Country‘ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2014)

‘We’re Not Talking Anymore’ (written by Mel Holt)
‘Once You’re Past The Blues’ (written by Mel Holt)
‘It Won’t Be Easy’ (written by Don Silvers)
‘Stray Cats, Cowboys, & Girls of The Night’ (written by Jesse Shofner)
‘The Best Worst Thing’, which was written by Ray Pennington (Friday 22 December 1933 – Wednesday 7 October 2020)
‘It Should Be Easier Now’ (written by Willie Nelson)
‘My Own Peculiar Way’ (written by Willie Nelson)

Personnel involved in the recording of Willie Nelson & Curtis Potter’s ‘Six Hours At Pedernales’ (Step One Records, 1994) included the following:

Willie Nelson (guitar, vocals)
Bobby All (passed away on Thursday 19 March 2009) and Roger Ball (acoustic guitar)
Gene Chrisman (drums)
Buddy Emmons (Wednesday 27 January 1937 – Wednesday 29 July 2015) (steel guitar)
Gregg Galbraith and Brent Mason (electric guitar)
Rob Hajacos (fiddle)
Bunky Keels (piano)
Curtis Potter (Thursday 18 April 1940 – Saturday 23 January 2016) (vocals)
Gary Prim (keyboards)
David Smith (guitar)
Kristin Wilkinson (strings)

Curtis Potter, Tony Booth & Darrell McCall: 'Survivors' (Heart of Texas Records, 2011)

In May 2011, Curtis Potter (Thursday 18 April 1940 – Saturday 23 January 2016), Tony Booth & Darrell McCall saw the release of ‘The Survivors’ (Heart of Texas Records, 2011), which included the following tracks:

‘Wasted Words’, which was written by Don Gibson (Tuesday 3 April 1928 – Monday 17 November 2003)
‘Your Memory Is Killing Me’ (written by Guyanne McCall)
‘(A Walking Talking Breathing) Case of Sorrow’, which was written by Boudleaux Bryant (Friday 13 February 1920 – Thursday 25 June 1987) and Felice Bryant (Friday 7 August 1925 – Tuesday 22 April 2003)
‘You Can’t Take It With You’, which was written by Hal Bynum (Saturday 29 September 1934 – Thursday 2 June 2022) and Jim Kandy
‘My Confession’, which was written by Bob Wills (Monday 6 March 1905 – Tuesday 13 May 1975)
‘Forever Yours’ (written by Jimmy Peppers)
‘Down At Ginny’s’ (written by Guyanne McCall and Justin Trevino)
‘There She Goes’, which was written by Edward Monroe ‘Eddie’ Miller (Wednesday 10 December 1919 – Monday 11 April 1977), Durwood Haddock and W.S. Stevenson (1900 – 1978)
‘I’ll See You In My Dreams Tonight’ (written by Weldon Lester)
‘Whiskey Man’ (written by Darrell McCall)
‘Love Don’t Care’, which was written by Don Wayne (Tuesday 30 May 1933 – Monday 12 September 2011) and Hal Bynum (Saturday 29 September 1934 – Thursday 2 June 2022)
‘It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)’, which was written by Stuart Hamblen (Tuesday 20 October 1908 – Wednesday 8 March 1989)

On Saturday 15 September 2012, Tony Booth, Darrell McCall & Curtis Potter (Thursday 18 April 1940 – Saturday 23 January 2016) saw the release of ‘The Survivors II’ (Heart of Texas Records, 2012), which was produced by Justin Trevino, and recorded at Heart of Texas Recording Studio in Brady, Texas; the album included the following tracks:

‘Kissing Your Picture’, which was written by Mel Tillis (Monday 8 August 1932 – Sunday 19 November 2017), Wayne P. Walker and Ray Price (Tuesday 12 January 1926 – Monday 16 December 2013)
‘Love Don’t See That Side of You’, which was written by Dallas Frazier (Friday 27 October 1939 – Friday 14 January 2022)
‘I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name’ (written by Lee Emerson)
‘Darling, Are You Ever Coming Home’, which was written by Hank Cochran (Friday 2 August 1935 – Thursday 15 July 2010) and Willie Nelson
‘She’ll Keep Bringing All Her Love To Me’ (written by Lou Rochelle)
‘Lucky Me’ (written by Dave Lindsey and Ernie Rowell)
‘I Saw My Castles Fall Today’ (written by Rex Griffin)
‘May Time My Lady’ (written by Mona McCall)
‘Touch My Heart’, which was written by Johnny Paycheck (Tuesday 31 May 1938 – Wednesday 19 February 2003) and Aubrey Mayhew (Sunday 2 October 1927 – Sunday 22 March 2009)
‘I’ll Keep On Loving You’, which was written by Floyd Tillman (Tuesday 8 December 1914 – Friday 22 August 2003)
‘If This Was Texas’ (written by Jesse Shofner)
‘Who Am I’ (written by Rusty Goodman)

Personnel involved in the recording of Tony BoothDarrell McCall & Curtis Potter’s ‘The Survivors II’ (Heart of Texas Records, 2012) includced the following:

Tony Booth, Darrell McCall and Curtis Potter (Thursday 18 April 1940 – Saturday 23 January 2016) (vocals)
Justin Trevino (guitar)
Jim Loessberg (steel guitar, drums)
Jake Hooker (bass)
Reggie Rueffer (fiddle)
Jarrod Bonta (piano)