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Hank, Moon, Rex and Me

Hank, Moon, Rex and Me

Last Wednesday, a reader called to tell me that two shrimp factories and two buildings were left out of my column. As a former Assessor, I know that’s wrong so I’ll correct that in this column.

First, let me say that I am a semi-successful songwriter with over 130 songs published by 9 different publishing companies, and recorded by 18 different singers of which eight are national known artists. One song “Cheatin’ Traces” was recorded by eight different artists.

Although I had many local and regional hits, I never got a national hit although eighty percent of my songs (some co-written with Vin Bruce and others) were exposed nationally and abroad and some came close, but no cigar.

I still receive royalties but less than $2,000 per year … $5,000 at my peak.

For your information, a recording artist only gets paid for the number of records sold, while the song writer gets 3 cents every time a song he or she wrote is played on the radio, TV, airline flights, elevators, etc. from the publisher and B.M.I. until the copyright ends.

The average copyright will last an average of 75 years. (I’ll explain how this works and show invoices in future columns.) All this time, I was doing radio, TV, dance jobs, newspaper columns, and holding on to my regular job in the Assessor’s office. I was also emcee for non-profit functions such as beauty pageants. This was gratis and a tough job, but someone had to do it.

The shrimp factories omitted last week were Picciola’s and Falgout’s, and the buildings were Owen’s Clothing Store, Bouziga’s Café and the Marshland Hotel. My good friend Donald Owen had taken over from his father “Bagin” and in 1950 he and I were to fly to Fort Reilly, Kansas to enroll in the National Guard Officers Training School, but that’s a future (should I have one) column. To the south, the highway curved and there was more land on the batture where the hotel was built, but it also is long gone.

Bouziga’s Café is where Hank Williams claims to have inspired to write “Jambalaya”. We know he was there, because many people saw him put coins in the jukebox. (It was a nickel then). He might have been inspired to write the words, but the melody was borrowed from a song called “Big Texas” written by Moon Mullican, a song that we musicians had sung for years. Mullican sued Williams and won and he and his wife lived off of the royalties for the rest of their lives.

Mullican had recorded such hits as “I’ll Sail My Ship Alone”, “Jole Blon” and “Cherokee Boogie” and was well known in our area.

On his first trip to Nashville to record for Columbia Records, my good friend Vin Bruce was buying a belt in Hank and Audrey’s store, when Hank Williams walked in. They met and became friends and were to meet again when Hank played at the Belvue Club, (later the Safari Club, which was later destroyed by fire).

Hank arranged for Vin to play for his wedding in New Orleans, and many people told me that Vin drew more applause than Hank. There were so many people that another show and wedding was held that night. Hank and Billy Jean had also been married the night before in Shreveport, but his marriage to Audrey was not final, so they had to do it all over again. Vin told me that he had been so nervous in Nashville that he forgot to pay for the belt. Just so you’d know.

Rex Griffin, from Gadsden, Alabama, was a great singer and songwriter in the 30’s and 40’s. He was in a New Orleans hospital, where he died, when he called me on the phone. I was dumbfounded, because I had just played one of his 1937 records on my Saturday afternoon show on KTIB, Thibodaux.

Griffin is in the songwriter’s hall of fame for songs like “The Last Letter”, arguably the greatest country song ever written, “Just Call Me Lonesome”, “Little Red Wagon”, and in 1936 wrote and recorded “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby”. The Beatles recorded it in the 1960’s but someone else was listed as the writer. I now quote from Wikipedia “Carl Perkins” is listed as the writer, but it is an undeniable fact that Rex Griffin wrote it, recorded it and released it as a single in 1936.

The local connection? His granddaughter, Trorine Richoux and her husband, Harry live in Galliano.

I turned 85 on August 4th (I hope so since I wrote this beforehand). O G I M tired so it’s 30 4 me. Bye now!