Forgotten Singers and Songwriters – Gene Thomas!

By Gary:

I do not know whether anyone reads my little stories, but I think this one is interesting.  I own a series of CD’s called the “The Golden Age of American Rock and Roll”.  Now I was transferring some of the music on Volume 5 to MP3’s (this series is excellent and has some rare songs) when I found something confusing.

Let’s be honest up front; I had transferred some music to mp3s.  But as I was putting the CDs back in their cabinet, I noticed a track listed on the back of the CD cover called “Sometimes” by Dale & Grace.

Now, if only I had looked at the liner notes for the CD, a “mistake” I am about to share with you would not have happened; but in the end it turned out to be a good mistake.

Playing the mp3 “Sometimes” did not sound like Dale & Grace! Windows Media Player said the writer was Gene Thomas, so this got me going and I started some investigation.  Well, after a large number of hours  I discovered that this song was actually written and recorded by Gene Thomas in 1961, not Dale & Grace.

There is very little on the Internet about Gene Thomas, so I broadened my search to include “Facebook”.  Then, on a whim I sent a facebook message to a Gene Thomas and would you believe I found the correct person!
So what I am about to post to our Blog is really, Gene’s very own words and comments.  I have never met Gene, but he has been very kind and forthcoming to me, a total stranger, and that says a lot about his character. 
 Unfortunately today August 26, 2012 we lost Gene Thomas to Cancer.  Although we never met, we talked, discussed music and I found him to be a really pleasant and engaging personality  and a friend.  I will miss him.

Gary

Forgotten Singers and Song Writers

Gene Thomas

Gene Thomas working the crowd

.

Video:

.

2011/ Rings of Gold / from his home /

.

  and letter from my darling /

.
.

His Songs:

1. Sometime (Sometimes) United Artist 338/ 1961/ #53 Billboard (I still just love this song – Gary)

.

Additional Music

.
.

thomasneville

Gene Thomas and Debbe Neville


A personal email from Gene Thomas

to me, Gary Copeland:

I was born in Palestine ,TX.(at home) Dec. 4th ,1938. father was a carpenter, among other things. Grew up on the move, as my family moved a lot, following work. changed schools constantly & after parents divorced when I was 12, my father was awarded custody of my sister & I. Lost interest in school. Ran off to live with my Mother in a small E.Texas town. Eventually dropped out of school in the ninth. Worked odd jobs as a teen in the 50’s. Having become intrigued with music as a young boy,I left to come back to Houston to play music. Not knowing how to go about recording nor finding any hope. Gave up & married. One day while visiting my -then wife’s-cousin, he heard me ‘plinking’ on his wife’s new organ, & asked if I’d like to cut a record. I said “Of course” & basically forgot about it. Later however, we did go to a local studio where we recorded “Sometime” which I had written a couple of nights before.(March 7, 1961-recording date)

Long , long story short. no one in Houston ,TX. would play it. After a couple of months we took it to a small station (Texas city) From there it made it’s way to KPAC , a station that covered a large area.(Beaumont, Pt.Arthur,Orange, Tx.) Made # 1 in 3 weeks on their top 20. from there it spread to become # 1 in all major Tx. cities.

All this time I was working as a shipping clerk. Our distributor set up a deal with United Artists. the song had played out in the gulf coast by then. Still, with little promotion , it crept it’s way to a wide area -slowly. By Oct. 61, it had hit in California,and in such diverse places as Jamaica ,where it was # 1.

It eventually reached # 53 in Billboard Pop charts., in spite of lack of momentum. Roy Orbison heard it on one of his trips to the Houston area & contacted U.A. & asked to produce a session on me. And did —one in 62 & one in 63. We had little luck tho. One “Baby’s Gone” reached the 80’s (don’t recall the exact #) .He pretty well gave up ,due to lack of promotion by U.A. (It was # 1 for 5 weeks in Houston for instance)

Back in Houston, I began focusing more on writing, due to the fact, I didn’t like any of the songs offered by the Nashville publ. Remember. if you’re low priority on a record co’s roster, you get offered the lesser tunes.

In ‘ 67 I wrote a song titled “Go with Me’ & recorded it as a duo (Gene & Debbe) . It reached the billboard charts( don’t recall the # -60 something I think?) Good enough to land a contract with Acuff-Rose in Nashville. Wrote & recorded “Playboy” which reached # 17 in Billboard Pop charts.( On the TRX label)  Earning a BMI award & Gold Record.  had a couple of other small chart. songs. But no equal to “Playboy’

I wrote for Acuff- Rose and had quite a few artists record my songs. The biggest of which was Don Gibson & Dottie West’s “Rings Of Gold” in 69. reached # 2 in country charts. ( BMI award)  & Glen Barber’s “Kissed By The Rain-warmed by The Sun’ # 24 in Billboard Country charts.

Well, I’m running on & on here, and I’m sure you’re not interested in all this. BUT- my career (as it were) has been one mixed bag. Ha!

Today I’m mostly retired & living in a small town in Texas with my wife of 33 years. I’m not in the best of health. Okay but not tops. (diabetes & such) . I make only very, very rare appearances, such as one coming up the end of this month. The ‘oldie’ show-up thing you know.

Ironically, the biggest (tho-unknown) song I’ve written is a song titled “Lay It Down) Big overseas for 30 some yrs. It has been recorded by Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings, Lonnie Mack-my favorite, on his early “Hills Of Indiana’ album” Buffy Sainte Marie. Tina Turner & so on.

well I guess I’ll let you up & let you ponder all this mess. wish you well, in making some kind of sense of it. This is difficult for an old one-fingered typist.

take care & thanks,

gene

P.S The original official title was/is  “Sometime” but actually should have been “Sometimes” in order to be correct. Don’t know what happened there, but I guess “Sometime” it will remain. Kinda like your oldie glitch with the Dale & Grace thing, I guess.

 

Advertisements

11 responses to “Forgotten Singers and Songwriters – Gene Thomas!

  1. Thanks for putting out the article about Gene. Gene Thomas is one of the best songwriters and singers I have ever known, and yet, you see very few articles about Gene. He has an album on cdbaby,com, you can get this album at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/GeneThomas
    There are some great songs on this album, and if you check it out, you’ll be in for a real treat.

    • Hi Buz
      Great to hear from you and thanks for the appreciation! Gary worked hard on researching Gene Thomas and I have passed your message on to him. I will check out Gene’s album on cdbaby… sounds like a winner.
      – Russ
      P.S. I have an album on cdbaby called Steppin' Back – a sax and piano duo with some easy listening jazz, if you like that sort of thing.

  2. I was thrilled to stumble onto this site. We were transfered to Houston in 1989 and because of our love for good live music, made the acquaintce with many of the area musicans. Gene Thomas, Roy Head, Kelley Schoppa, Ron Dickson and many more. Since retireing and returning to Texas have reconnected with Roy and Kelley. We would love to see Gene perform again.

    Lynne and Ronnie
    .

  3. I remember Gene-he had some great song–although haven’t heard on radio for a good while–I totally remember him and the songs he made popular–
    It seems radio stations do not play 50s or even 60s song in some cases .

  4. “Sometimes” by Gene Thomas has been my favorite ever since I first heard it, and when it comes up everybody dances to it. I always asked for it to be played and if the band said they didn’t know it, I said “Please just fake it”. His song on a 45 was given to me because the DJ was tired of my asking him to spin it, I put it in my purse and it got cracked, then was told there was not another one in captivity. I would love to have this song by him on CD. If anyone knows how I can get the CD please let me know. Thanks, L.C.

  5. I was the first person to find the missing Gene Thomas; help him have a small understanding of his musical contributions and give a small hand up to self recognition and thankfully many took over from there. He was the most popular singer in my home town of Corpus Christi – and I walked around singing his songs all the time. After a short burst on the scene Gene simply went away and nobody knew what happened. Later, I began workinig for UPI – and still wanted to find out this mystery. I started in Houston and in about a month I found him. While asking him a number of questions he told me he’d never been interviewed by anyone before in his whole life – no radio, no TV, no nothing. Simply unbelievable. I had communicated with him many times since that first time. Although I didn’t really know him well, I was quite saddened by his death. Gene was a good and humble man and a great talent.

  6. Pingback: One Hit Wonders / 1968 | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  7. Pingback: A-Z Billboard Singles – Letter G | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  8. Gene was my uncle. My father, Ray Ferguson, was his half brother. Since Gene decided to not elaborate on his mother, my grandmother, or his father I will not. Just like my father Gene made it on his own from a teenager up. Literally on his own. Music like many things in life was being in the right place at the right time. I vaguely remember him from my childhood. Closer to his death he reconnected with my father after several years. He and my father look similar in many ways. I’m glad people get enjoyment from his music. Songs are powerful things and do so many things for so many people in both good times and bad.

    • Kevin: This is Gary the writer. I met Gene only via the internet, but over the two years we talked, we kinda became friends. He seemed like a great person, he was always great with me and we had some great discussions. I had planned to meet with him when I was in Georgetown TX, but I didn’t, my mistake, my loss.
      Gary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s