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A Tribute to Jim Reeves by Ray Winkler

 
 

View a video clip about Ray's Tribute to Jim Reeves, recorded in 1964, after Jim's untimely death.

Interview provided by Arie den Dulk. Arie interviewed Ray Winkler in London the weekend of July 31 and August 1, 1994 on the 30th anniversary of the death of Jim Reeves. www.jimreevesfanclub.com

                             
Please  tell us about yourself?

I was born on October 13, 1920 in Bonham, Texas, which is 98 miles northeast of Dallas. I lived on the farm and worked in the fields till I was 17. I began in radio as a station announcer in Longview in East Texas. In world war two I served in the US Navy. After the war I branched over to sports broadcasting in Little Rock, Arkansas.
I left radio in 1949 to become General manager of the Clovis, New Mexico Pro Baseball club which at the time were owned by Dizzy and Paul Dean, the former big league pitchers.

Ray WInkler

I remained baseball, as a club owner of the Lubbock, Texas Pro Baseball club and as president of the West Texas - New Mexico Pro Baseball league until 1955. In 1955, a friend of mine, Dave Stone, one of the all time great country music announcers in Lubbock, Texas at his station K-DAVE, invited me to become part owner of a new station in Amarillo, Texas, K-ZIP. I remained there until 1964, at which time, my family and I moved to Dallas, Texas, from where we had started in 1941. In the mean time and in between time, John Hatchcock was already a most prolific song writer, having written several songs for Hank Thompson, such as What Will I Do On Sunday, Wake Up Irene, Tears Are Only Rains and others. I had just begun becoming more interestedin writing songs. Even though, John worked at an other station in Amarillo, he and I became close friends. Later he came to be employed by me at K-ZIP, at which time, we got to writing together, etc. He was a terrific lyricists and fine melody writer. He taught me a whole lot about the business. John has written hundreds of songs and is still turning 'em out; and he and I have written so many together....and still do when the spirits hit us.

Can you remember when you first met Jim?


Oh, yes. I had a salesman at the station and his father-in-law owned a night club and then I guess Jim was playing dance halls and night clubs. So the salesman said: "My father-in-law can ask Jim Reeves to come to the station, he knows him and booked him before and I know he'll come down for an interview". Well to precede that, before we came on the air in March 1955, I had never heard Jim Reeves. I knew of him through the salesman, he thought he was so good, and when we went to the local record store and I asked for Jim Reeves records, they said: "We have one recording, go behind the counter and see what you find". So I found this recording and took it to the station and we kept on playing it and wore it out. One side was My Mary, which I think he wrote about his wife and WHERE DOES A BROKEN HEART GO was the hit side. So the salesman took Jim down to the station and we couldn't wait. I really enjoyed it. We were supposed to talk for 7 to 8 minutes and I guess we talked for 45 minutes and I wasn't exactly surprised.



 

Jim Reeves

When you hear some one sing, try to figure out how they look and what their appearance is, how they talk. Jim had been a professional baseball player and before we moved from Lubbock, to Amarillo. We operated Lubbock professional baseball so we had a lot in common to talk about professional baseball. After that we became very good friends. He played the dance that night but from then on we booked him for concerts. You know we could have got hours of conversation, broadcasting live from the Auditorium but we never taped anything as a taperecorder was in its infancy, we recorded on records (transcriptions). If we had tape as you have today or even half as good we would have taped no telling how much.


In 1961 John Hathcock and I wrote Welcome To My World and we had another demo (of Welcome To My World), I don't know who did it, he only sang the words and play the chords real rough. After a show Jim said: I like to take this recording with me. I said: I've got a kid in there who knows it. Jim said: Well, I'll get the Blue Boys. I had an announcer called Dean Kelly, he was a good singer, but he was a high tenor, and we never could get him on country records. We had a little studio and Dean Manuel had his little portable piano that he could just get out of the coach. They set it up, Dean Kelly sang it and that was the demo that Reeves took with him. He said: Ray I like this song. I like to take it, if you don't care and listen to it. Sing it on the bus and on the golf course two or three weeks, where I do all my songs. If I still like it as much as I think I do, I would like to record it. So two or three months later I was in Nashville at the D.J. Convention. He came up to my room with his manager Clarence Sellman, I was gonna leave that day. We talked and talked about everything and we didn't even mention Welcome To My World during the conversation. I stood in the hall and he walked out to the elevator down the hall and turned around and said: Hay Ray, if you do not mind, I like to record that song Welcome To My World. And I said: Man, the pleasure is all mine, take it, you got it. He had two publishing companies but I published Welcome To My World for 100 percent, after he recorded it and came out, he never asked for publishing or anything. I went to him and said: Jim, you recorded a song and it sounds great, we think it's gonna be a hit, and he said: I think so too. I said: You never asked for publishing but I know you have a publishing company and anybody as great as you record one of my songs, I'm gonna give you half of the publishing rights, just for recording it. He put it in one of his companies called Tuckahoe Music. Then when he died his wife Mary sold it to Buddy Killen, a good friend of theirs, at Tree Publishing, and Tree later sold it to Sony for a lot of money.

 
 
     
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