About Willie's Place on XM Satellite Radio
Update: I also write for The Country Classics. For the latest on Eddie Kilroy, Catfish (Gary Hightower) and XM-13 Willie's Place see my article here.
This page is not so much about the details of Willie's Place on XM satellite radio as it is about the history and tradition of country music, Texas swing, and the Nashville and Bakersfield sound.
Many of us in Windsor Missouri listen to country music, and we might go to Raymonds Restaurant to discuss songs and artists, concerts we went to, and our opinions. This page gives some insight to where it all came from.
There is more to Willie's place that you might think. On air personalities - what you might call the D.J.'s - bring history and tradition to the job. Kilroy is Eddie Kilroy, who has produced fourteen number 1 singles, six number one 1 albums, thirty-three Top 10 singles and forty-seven Top 20 singles for artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Marty Robbins, Faron Young, Louise Mandrell and others. Consider that Marty Robbins recorded "El Paso" in 1959 and you have an idea of how much Eddie Kilroy contributed to country music.
Catfish, the music director at Willie's Place, was born and raised in southwest Missouri so we think of him as a neighbor. Catfish spent thirty years working in neighboring Kansas Let's face it - none of us are that young any more, as the gray hair might tell you. But the traditionalists and new young musicians keep the country sounds alive while Catfish and Kilroy play them for you every day.
I remember when Ray Price and I were young men, as I saw Ray perform at the Long Beach Civic Auditorium in 1966. A newcomer opened for Ray that night. A young kid from Sledge Mississippi stepped on to the stage that night and we got to know Charlie Pride.
Biff Collie (his real name was Hiram Collie) did the promo's on KFOX in Long Beach California, and the KFOX DJ's owned a record shop in Long Beach. Biff also did a great promo for Buck Owens at the Hollywood Bowl.
Just a few years before, around 1963 or so, Bakerfield started to emerge as 'Nashville West.' Waylon Jennings came to Bakersfield, as a young man, to record his first album "Leaving Town", while Merle Haggard convinced songwriter Leonard Snipes to come to California. You can heard about in Merle's song "Leonard", as Merle sings about Tommy, referring to Tommy Collins, a stage name Snypes took. Bakersfield featured the "Telecaster sound."
Down in Lousianna the Lousianna Hayride was broadcast of 50,000 watt KWKH, featuring artists like Jimmy C. Newman, Hank WIlliams Sr., and many others. The Lousianna Hayride was re-broacast on Armed Forces Radio. One person said "Shreveport was on the cutting edge back then. The Grand Ole Opry was too conservative" That was one reason why Bakersfield gained in popularity. Truckers were also listening to their version of country music on the all night radio from Lousianna.
In West Plains Missouri, other artists were trying to get a break. Porter Wagoner, Jan Howard, Dolly Parton, Norma Jean, and others hoped to get invited to the Ozark Jubilee in Springfield Missouri, getting televison exposure and an introduction by Red Foley.
In Jan Howard's book "Sunshine and Shadow" Jan said the 60's was a great time for country music, and it was. FM radio was new, California televison featured artists at Los Angeles' Palamino Club, Nashville and Bakersfield had fewer disagreements, and Harlan Howard was in demand at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge in Nashville.
The music selections we feature on this website keep the tradition alive. Every day you can hear professionals like Catfish, Elizabeth, Clarence, Ray Knight, and Eddie Kilroy as they keep the history and tradition alive. But there is time to reflect on Bob Wills, Texas Swing, cowboy music, and what we once called "country and western music."