Next Thursday (Feb. 21) at 7 p.m. in the Payson High School Auditorium, the Tonto Community Concert Association is presenting “The Legacy of Floyd Cramer,” a musical tribute to Cramer by his grandson, Jason Coleman. It promises to be a finger-pounding-ivory good time.
Jason Coleman is quite an accomplished pianist himself. It appears he inherited his grandfather’s skill on the piano, performing with him on television and in concert when he was barely 5 years old.
At age 17, Coleman played “Please Help Me, I’m Falling” with Hank Locklin at the Grand Ole Opry and two years later played piano for the Medallion Ceremony at Floyd Cramer’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. To this day, he carries on his grandfather’s legacy with recordings and current tribute tour, sharing the piano arrangements and story of Cramer’s contributions to American music.
Born in Shreveport, La., Floyd Cramer grew up in the small town of Huttig, Ark., teaching himself to play the piano. After finishing high school, he returned to Shreveport, where he worked as a pianist for the Louisiana Hayride Radio Show.
In 1953, Cramer cut his first single, “Dancin’ Diane.” He then toured with an emerging talent who would later figure significantly in his career — Elvis Presley.
Cramer moved to Nashville in 1955 where the use of piano accompanists in country music was growing in popularity. Before long, he was one of the busiest studio musicians in the industry, and along with playing with Presley, was accompanying such stars as Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold and the Everly Brothers. (It was Cramer who played the piano background on Elvis’ first national hit “Heartbreak Hotel”).
He launched his own solo career in the late 1960s, recording many albums and landing 11 singles onto Billboard’s pop chart and five onto its country chart, three of his songs making it into the Top-10.
This week’s music trivia question is: What was the title of Floyd Cramer’s breakout hit (which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard chart for four weeks in late 1960)? Was it: A) “Last Night,” B) “Last Dance,” C) “Last Date” or D) “Last Kiss”?
This week, if you’re the seventh caller and have the correct answer, you’ll win two tickets to next Thursday’s “Legacy of Floyd Cramer” concert, courtesy of the Tonto Community Concert Association. (Single concert tickets will be available at the door.)
Last week’s question
Last week’s music trivia question asked if you could name the late-’60s, early ’70s rock band that recorded the Top-10, 1968 hit song, “Touch Me.” Among the group’s 18 charted hits were their two No. 1 hits, “Light My Fire” and “Hello I Love You.”
The choices were: A) Creedence Clearwater Revival, B) Blood, Sweat & Tears, C) The Doors or D) The Animals.
The right answer was the Jim Morrison-led band, The Doors. Each of the other three choices were also highly popular rock bands from the same era.
Congratulations to last week’s first-time music trivia winner, Kathy Reese, who won a one hour massage, courtesy of Payson Hair Company-based, licensed massage therapist Betty Marsh and one dozen mouth-watering chocolate truffles from Lady D’s Wine Bar, Chocolate & Art in the Swiss Village.
A little about Kathy — She was born and raised in the Valley and is a 1973 graduate of Phoenix’s West High School. She worked for Arizona’s Department of Economic Security for 28 years and is now retired. She has a son and three grandchildren.
Kathy and her husband, Sam, permanently moved to Payson just this past October. She said, “We just love the closeness of the community, its beautiful nature and the peacefulness of the area. We live in the Twin Lakes Mobile Home Park and couldn’t be happier.”
Kathy’s interests include cooking and walking her pug dogs. She is a fan of classic country music and oldies-but-goodies rock and roll. Her three favorite artists are Ray Price, Peggy Lee and David Gilmore (the guitarist for the rock group Pink Floyd).
A couple of final notes
Don’t forget to support our local high school students this Saturday night. At 7 p.m. in the PHS auditorium, the Optimist Club will be hosting its annual Lip Sync Contest.
Twelve local teen contestants will be squaring off to win part of the $1,200 in available scholarship money. There will also be over 75 silent auction items on hand for the bidding.
At the door ticket prices are $12 for adults and $6 for students. Call Optimist Club member Joan Young at (928) 472-2264 for more information.
And lastly, I’d like to offer a very sorrowful goodbye to “Cowboy” Carl. I will remember you for your contributions to KMOG and to the community, your knowledge and love of classic country music — and mostly for your kind and gentle ways. Goodbye, my friend.
DJ Craig — (928) 468-1482
Web site: www.djcraiginpayson.com