It's the weekend and time to try to leave the blues behind for a minute. What with one reminiscence leading to another, I first met Rufus Thomas when he came around to sell ads on his WDIA radio show to my dad's appliance business in Walker Homes that he set up to fill some space in a strip center he built, to get better prices for appliances he bought for homes he built, and to give my mom a job. It was around this time that Rufus came out with a monster hit, "Walkin' The Dog":
Somehow we became buds, and one afternoon I was over at his house on Trigg, I think it was. He kept wanting to demonstrate his new "clapper" switch, turning his stereo on and off by clapping his hands. A pretty young lady opened the front door, wheeling a bicycle in. "This is my daughter Carla," he said. My favorite of hers is "B-A-B-Y":
Another afternoon years later, I had what I thought was a great idea; so I went over to Rufus' new place in the Sharpe Avenue area and laid it out for him. Cable and music television had come about, along with all the ads for obscure products not available in stores. Rufus had had more records about dances than anybody, so it seemed a natural for him to have a videotape preserving all these teen dance steps for posterity. He liked the idea, but asked that question older musicians ask who feel they have been cheated out of royalties, "How much front money can you get me?", figuring that's all the money they'll ever see. Well, I was in no position to produce the damned thing; and unfortunately it never got done. I miss you, my friend.
One final anecdote: I had just read a biography of Jim Morrison which contained the following description of part of the goings-on on the singer's last day alive:
I called Rufus on the phone and asked him, "Have you ever heard of Jim Morrison?" He said no. I added, "Had that group called the Doors?" That didn't help either, so I said, "You remember the song 'Light My Fire.'?" Yeah, he remembered that. So I read him the passage above. Weird. I think he much preferred my call alerting him to WEVL-FM playing his music non-stop when the station got a re-release of Stax records stuff, because less than an hour after I alerted him, he had gotten himself invited down to the station to help DJ the stuff and sounded sooooo happy.