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The Waylon Jennings Years at KLLL (Part Two) The introduction of Buddy Holly

by JR posted Apr 11 2014 11:53AM
Read Part One, Here.

When I was looking at different radio stations around the country as an out of work DJ in San Angelo, I came across KLLL. And was immediately fascinated by the history in these letters. I'm proud to say that Waylon is one of the reasons I accepted the afternoon position at KLLL. In this chapter, you'll find out how forward thinking the radio station was, even back in the late 50's.
Here is Sky Corbin, Former Program Director of KLLL with Part Two- @JRKLLL

In the (last chapter), I wrote about Waylon Jennings as a young deejay in l957 at KVOW, Littlefield then KLVT, Levelland (both Texas) and my hiring him to join me and my brother Ray "Slim" Corbin, at KLLL, Lubbock, Texas, which we were buying, with our Dad, H. E. Corbin--- .

FCC approval came in April, '58, and we took over at KLLL May lst. "Slim" had been a deejay for about 6 years at stations in West Texas, and at KHOB, Hobbs, N. Mex. and his experience and ability far outshined either mine or Waylon's. Like me, he was impressed with Waylon's singing and guitar
playing, and less with his deejay work. Waylon didn't read very well and was less than smooth with his "production" or "boardwork", despite having been at it off and on for about 5 years. He sounded particularly tense and rough his first weeks at KLLL, intimidated by working in a much bigger town--with competition. "Slim" and he, and Dad and he, hit it off, though, and were instant friends. Waylon had gotten to the point at Levelland that he wound up with no transporation. His old car had coughed it's last.
Still living in Levelland, with his job 30 miles away, he had a problem. "Slim" and I had both moved to Lubbock, but Dad had not. Having retired from farming, he had time on his hands, and was interested in his investment, so he agreed to bring Waylon to work temporarily. He served as Waylon's "chauffeur" until Waylon moved to Lubbock a few weeks later, then went with him to see a banker about a car loan. Suddenly Waylon was cruising in a long, shiny, but "used-up" DeSoto convertible. It was fun while it lasted. Something less showy and more reliable would have been wiser. He was soon "afoot" again a good deal of the time, and this time, I gave him a ride home or took him to the shop to pick up his car on occasion.

Meanwhile, back at the station---Waylon's deejaying was working pretty well for us. We ran a mostly country format, but with a "Top 40" influence...lots of Country-Pop, Rockabilly and Folk and not much hard country---except for artists like George Jones and Ray Price, who though quite country, were hot. We called ourselves "The Modern Country Sound" and emphasized the difference between us and the old-line country station, KDAV, which had, about 3 years earlier, gone on the air billed as the world's very first all-country station, though they had a gospel show and an after-school rock and roll show. Mostly they played a lot of Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells and bluegrass, which, at that time, the Elvis-era, left the younger folks cold. We played Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves, Elvis, Don Gibson, Johnny Cash, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Brenda Lee, the Kingston Trio.... and our presentation was personality all the way. (Going too far on occasion!) KDAV also ran too many commercials. (while our bank account showed we didn't run nearly enough!) "Slim" was a far better musician than Waylon or I, and a real expert at producing commercials and jingles. He could play guitar and sing a jingle, then over-dub vocal harmony and instrumentation VERY well, and we did a lot of jingles for the station and for advertisers. While "Slim" did most of them, Waylon did quite a few, usually imitating Johnny Cash, and I was vocalist and the writer on some. It all made for a very colorful, entertaining radio station.

Waylon's laid-back attitude, mistakes, and general goofing-off went over well with the young folks, especially the teen-age girls, who obviously heard that certain something I had recognized in his voice, and we often had a studio audience.

The Great Plains Building-The NTS East Building Today

We were located on the 20th (top) floor of the Great Plains Building, the tallest in town, with a restaurant down the hall, so we were easy to find. We must have seemed a lot like an early version of the Beverly Hillbillies come-to-town to the bankers, lawyers and accountants in the building, but the local girls liked all the deejays and many came to "see what those crazy guys look like!") We were all "married, with children", and some of us took that seriously. Some of us didn't. We also had two older deejays, "Hi-Pockets" Duncan, and "Mr. Sunshine", both 50-ish. Some of the young ladies were so deejay "star-struck" they even made eyes at THEM. I, as manager, finally had to invoke a "watch the
deejay 5 minutes, then please leave" policy. (Meanwhile, the Lubbock radio "industry insiders" were making bets we wouldn't last a year. They just didn't understand that radio was "show-biz"!)      

4th of July weekend---I was standing on Broadway in downtown Lubbock, listening to Waylon sing with a local band on a temporary bandstand in the middle of the street. We were participating in a Lubbock Downtown Merchant's Association promotion. A middle-aged gent with a friendly smile approached me with a 45 rpm record in his hand. He introduced himself as "L. O. Holley, Buddy Holly's dad", and handed me a copy of Buddy's new record. I told him we'd be glad to spin it. We listened to Waylon finish his song. Mr. Holley asked me who that was, and I told him it was Waylon Jennings, one of our deejays, He said he'd been listening to us a lot and enjoyed our programs. I said, "You know, Mr. Holly, if Buddy would be interested in helping another West Texas boy make it, Waylon is the one I'd recommend." He told me that Buddy was, in fact, planning to begin producing other artists, and wanted to start his own record company. He told me that Buddy and the Crickets were in England but were due home in a few days. I said, "Tell him to come see us. I'd like to meet him." ("Slim" knew him, and Buddy and Waylon had met a few years back at KDAV's live show, the Sunday Afternoon Party. Buddy was one of the stars and Waylon "just a kid from Littlefield" who was occasionally allowed to sing a song.)

A few days later, about 8:00 a.m., a tall, slim, bespectacled young man came into the KLLL control room where I was doing the morning show, offered his right hand, and said "I'm Buddy Holly. Got home last night. Dad says you think Waylon has possibilities." Right to the point! As I was to find, that was Buddy's way. Maybe he somehow knew he didn't have time to fool around......(to be continued)

-Sky Corbin

(Posted With Permission)

Click Here For Part Three

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04/11/2014 11:44AM
The Waylon Jennings Years at KLLL (Part Two) The introduction of Buddy Holly Into The Story
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