HUELYN DUVALL (by Johnny Vallis)
Born Huelyn Wayne Duvall on August 18, 1939 in Garner Texas to Bill and Ila Duvall. When he was born he was welcomed with a sister Doris (7 years old) and a brother Bob (3 years old). Then to be followed four years later by another sister Ruthie, two years after Ruthie, Carolyn was born. His Father was a school teacher, his mother was a housewife. He got his first guitar when he was 14, most of the influences were the local radio which was country music. Huelyn"s Father was the superintendent of the school in Huckabay, where he graduated in 1957. The school only had about 300 students total. It was in nearby Stephenville (population was about 10,000, known for Dairy Cattle Milk Production), that Huelyn got involved with recording.
In 1955-56 he started hearing alot of rock and roll artists such as Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Buddy Knox, Buddy Holly and several others. In 1956 while still in high school Huelyn met Lonnie Thompson (a lead guitarist) he was in college. They both liked the new music and started playing together. At a local radio station they would record enough songs on the weekend to have one played each day the following week. Next weekend start the process all over again. One day the owner of a dairy that Lonnie worked at (milking cows) said that we would sound better if we had a slap bass. Lonnie found Ralph Clark at another college close by and we began to work together.
Lonnie had a Les Paul custom guitar and Ralph Clark a blonde bull bass. Huelyn's dad bought him a Gibson J50 guitar (after his Harmony guitar had "Got Squashed under one of the new styled power seats"). James Mathison a drummer joined the group shortly after and Johnny Thompson (Lonnie's twin brother) played rhythm guitar and backup vocals with Lonnie. Between February and September 1957 the group did approximately 50 local shows from high schools to colleges to radio stations to theaters to sock hops to everything in between. They became regulars at the Majestic Theater in Ft. Worth at the Cowtown Hoedown and at the Big D Jamboree in Dallas. They weren't allowed to play rock and roll at the Cowtown Hoedown until one night with a packed house, Huelyn told the band that they were going to rock the house and see what happened. Several encores later, rock and roll was there to stay. The Group had even taken a country name (Huelyn Duvall and the Troublesome Three) to please management.
In the summer of 1957 Lonnie introduced Huelyn to Danny Wolfe who was a musician, singer and songwriter. They quickly started to put material together for a recording session as Danny had got Huelyn a contract with Challenge records, a Gene Autry company that had just gotten started. The first recording session was at the Owen Bradley Studio in Nashville on September 27, 1957, they recorded "Teen Queen", "Comin' Or Goin'", "Boom Boom Baby" and Pucker Paint. Grady Martin played lead guitar, Floyd Cramer on Piano, "Buddy" Harmon on drums and The Jordanaires. Huelyn was very disappointed that his band was not going to be used on the session. They had played so much together and all of them had become very good friends, but Huelyn had no control over that. They wanted to use studio musicians. (The Troublesome Three never played professionally again though they remain good friends to this day.) January 27, 1958 Huelyn did his second session for Challenge at Goldstar Studios in Hollywood. He recorded "Fools Hall Of Fame", "Friday Night On A Dollar Bill", "Hum-m-m-dinger" and "You Knock Me Out". This is where he met Dave Burgess. Huelyn did dates in Los Angeles and San Diego at the same time in Auditoriums.He also had a session set to cut a couple of instrumentals with some local musicians from the area. They had no lead guitar player and he was asked to sit in on the session. However, he declined because he couldn't play lead guitar. The main cut was called "Train To Nowhere" and needing a B side they hurriedly put together a cut called "Tequila". Huelyn provided some oooh's and aah's on "Train To Nowhere" and yelled Tequila! at the end of the instrumental. As Huelyn said "It turned out to be the closest I ever got to a hit record".
Before Huelyn left Hollywood Dave Burgess and him agreed to do a two month stint in Las Vegas. Dave had connections and the money was going to be very good. However, a Disc Jockey in Cleveland turned the record over to the B side Tequila and the rest is history. There went the Las Vegas show and it seemed all the promotion on Huelyn's records. It was the first hit for Challenge and they seemed to drop everything else.
May 25, 1958, Huelyn had just recorded his third session at Owen Bradley's studio in Nashville. He recorded "Juliet", "Three Months To Kill" and "Little Boy Blue". Huelyn recalled "No one seemed to care at Challenge even though it made #88 on billboard top 100 and the top 10 in Los Angeles. At that time you could have a hit in one part of the country and never heard in another. Even though I had 2 managers I was getting very few bookings. I suppose everyone was waiting for one of the songs to hit without promotion. Once again what does an 18 year old from Texas know?"
"Three Months To Kill" was never promoted in the USA. Huelyn had one other opportunity that he was not told about until later. Lew Chud of Imperial wanted to sign him to do a song that he"d cut a demo for Rick Nelson. "They would not let me out of my contract." recalls Huelyn. After the May 1958 Nashville session he kept waiting for something to happen but it never did. He signed a seven year acting contract with Republic Pictures to do a movie a year. Once again nothing ever happened.
Huelyn played a show in New Orleans right after "Little Boy Blue" came out with Bobby Darin, Jimmy Clanton, Dale Hawkins and several others. The Memorial Auditorium held 6,000 people and it was packed! The stars signed autographs for 2 hours. Huelyn remembers "It seemed every where I ever performed I was well received."
Danny Wolfe built his own recording studio in 1958. They recorded the two remaining records on Starfire "ACROSS THE AISLE" and "ITS NO WONDER". Also on Twinkle records "BEAUTIFUL DREAMER and "TEAR STAINED LETTERS". The studio musicians included a local songwriter and guitar player named Jimmy Green and Tooter Boatman's group The Chapperals. Danny wrote a lot of songs and Huelyn recorded most of them at one time or another. Huelyn kept thinking that Joe Johnson at Challenge and Danny Wolfe were going to set him up some tours and shows as they had promised. They were both managers at 10 percent each per contract. They kept saying that the next release would be a hit. In 1959 he went to Tarleton State College in Stephenville where Lonnie also went to school. At that time without a hit record and no management support, there was no way of make a living in music and supporting a band. Between 1959 and 1960 Huelyn played Friday and Saturday nights at a place called ANDY'S in Strawn about 25 miles from Stephenville. They were called Huelyn Duvall and THE ARROWS. The posters on the wall read "DANCE To The Sharp Music Of The ARROWS". Tooter Boatman's Group played there during the week and on Sunday. Things were looking up personally. Huelyn met Sandy at her job in Ft worth, the same placed his brother worked. "I went to see him one day and fell in love with a beautiful young secretary." Huelyn remembers. He found out later that she had been at one of his concerts at her high school and she knew of him.
Huelyn and Sandy married July 1, 1961 and moved to Houston where they spent nine years. From 1962 through 1969 Huelyn worked in computers for Systems Services Co. in Houston and also attended the University of Houston. Their first daughter DeLayna was born March 28, 1962 and Leah (Named after the Roy Orbison classic) was born April 2, 1965. In 1970 worked for a large electronics component manufacturer in Mineral Wells as Director of Data Processing until 1980. In 1980 went to work for Brazos Valley Computer Center in Mineral Wells doing bank computer processing as the Executive Vice President and later owner of the business.
The mid-80's saw a resurgence in original rockabilly artists and many of them started to perform again. In 1985 Huelyn was approached by Cees Klop to perform in Europe. The first show was in Eindoven, Holland at the Rockhouse 25th Annual Rock and Roll Meeting with Eddie Bond and Janis Martin. Next it was to London for the famous "Mean Fiddler" venue produced by Willie Jeffery. The Dave Travis band played for both shows. All the shows were sold out and the crowds were excited to see Huelyn back singing the great songs he had recorded in the 1950's.
Huelyn states "It's not that I couldn't or wouldn't do it on my own, I just feel if I had been with the right management things might have been different. Different for the good or bad I will never know."
"Little Boy Blue" was a charted Billboard hit in 1958. Eddie Cochran told Huelyn it was one of his favorite songs when they worked together in Fort Worth. He recorded "Boom Boom Baby" two year prior to Billy "Crash" Craddock. His version's of "Double Talkin" Baby" was sent to Gene Vincent as well as "Modern Romance" for Sanford Clark.
|These pages were saved from "This Is My Story" for reference usage only. Please note that these pages were not originally published or written by BlackCat Rockabilly Europe. For comments or information please contact Dik de Heer at email@example.com|
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