Monday, January 13, 2020

Our Adventure Jack Blanchard's Column January 13, 2020


In early March, 1970, 
the phone rang... 

It was Little Richie Johnson at Wayside Records.
He said, "You better get packed. We're selling 50,000 a day!"
A month later, on April 4th,
our "Tennessee Bird Walk" became the Number One Country record in the world
and our life changed completely.
A week later on April 11th, it was Number One again,
and we were doing a show with Jerry Lee Lewis and Waylon Jennings.
Waylon joked, "Please get off Number One. You're killing my record. "

Now a look back at Miami in the Early 1960s.
Misty and I had been struggling, mostly broke,
and even homeless on the street for a few days.
In the mid-1960s we had a trio on the road
playing small clubs all over the East and Midwest.
Our old car and homemade trailer kept breaking down and taking all the money.
Misty was "Mary" then.

Then we got lucky and landed a steady job at a Miami supper club,
where we met Richard Nixon and other famous people.
Things were getting better.

We started singing duets, Mary Blanchard became Misty Morgan,
and we got a one month booking at a lounge in Key West.
Two guys came in and signed us to a four song contract.
and we went to Nashville to record.
There were no hits, but our song "Bethlehem Steel" made the Billboard Chart,
and Wayside Records signed us.

In December, 1969,
Misty and I were entertaining crowds at Orlando's Everglades lounge
and commuting to Nashville to record.
We had had another Billboard charted single, "Big Black Bird".

We had a steady job, a nice home, and bought a new Corvette.
After struggling for years on the road playing low-pay gigs.
the stress was off and we were reasonably happy without any big hits.

Our song "Big Black Bird" had gotten a Pop Pick in Billboard,
along with Aretha Franklin and others the same week,
although we considered it Country.
Wayside Records got excited
and negotiated with Mercury Records for our distribution.

Mercury was ready to go with the record,
but the master sent to them by Wayside was faulty.
They had to call Wayside and wait for another master.
Radio stations were ready to play it but had no copies, and the record died.
But now we were on Mercury, a major label.

With three hit records, 1970 was the wildest year ever.
We were doing major network TV shows, state fairs and festivals,
recording "Humphrey the Camel", "You've Got Your Troubles, I've Got MIne",
and others, and dealing with big time agents and managers.
We were disoriented, facing new problems, and on the road all the time.
We were often exhausted, and didn't know where we were.
The money went through our hands to agents, managers, musicians,
roadies, travel expenses, and wardrobe for TV and live shows.

Our happiest times were in the studios, recording with great musicians.
It was a wonderful year, an exciting year, and a grueling year.
Then a bunch of IRS guys showed up at our house.

The hard times and the good times made it an adventure.

Jack Blanchard.

Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan
Billboard Duet of the Year, Grammy and CMA Finalists
© Jack Blanchard, 2020

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