Archetypal comedy duo Andy Griffith and Don Knotts sing about friendship, ill-advisedly demonstrate firearm and judo safety procedures, and tug at heartstrings in a color sketch not seen since 1965. Here former Elvis Presley “G.I. Blues” girlfriend Juliet Prowse, Griffith, and Knotts publicize “The Don Knotts Special,” a 60-minute CBS variety special aired on October 26, 1967. Prowse bears an uncanny resemblance to Aneta Corsaut [“old lady Crump” according to Opie], had earlier worked with Griffith and Debbie Reynolds in 1961’s “The Second Time Around” comedy western, and would later reunite with both Knotts and Griffith in 1970’s “The Don Knotts Nice, Clean, Decent, Wholesome Hour,” yet another 60-minute CBS musical variety special not seen since its premiere. Image Credit: CBS Television

The Andy Griffith Show, perhaps television’s first dramedy, remains one of the most beloved, iconic programs of all time. One late night spent browsing YouTube, the smorgasbord of mindless entertainment, inadvertently led to an eight-minute segment of The Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Jim Nabors Show. Jim Nabors, who was a big star at the time with the Top Three Nielsen-rated Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., is not seen in the clip. However, by good fortune the three minute cold open with Nabors present is also available below.

Written by longtime Andy Griffith producer Aaron Ruben and originally broadcast on CBS on…


B.J. Thomas serendipitously gambled on a career reboot when he pulled up stakes for Nashville and began tracking “The Living Room Sessions,” a stripped down album introducing his greatest hits to millennials. The “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” Grammy winner discusses the origins of the intimate comeback record in an exclusive interview. In the accompanying still the blue-eyed soul interpreter celebrates his 70th birthday on August 7, 2012, at singer-songwriter Jamie O’Hara’s beautiful Nashville home in a photo session for “The Living Room Sessions” CD liner notes. Photography by Angela Talley / Courtesy of Wrinkled Records

Grammy-winning recording artist B.J. Thomas rendezvoused in Nashville for his first album with indie label Wrinkled Records. The aptly titled The Living Room Sessions unleashed 12 of Thomas’s greatest hits like “Hooked on a Feeling”, “Eyes of a New York Woman”, “I Just Can’t Help Believing”, and “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.”

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Thomas successfully straddled the line between pop, country, gospel, and adult contemporary in his impressive 59-year oeuvre, notching 46 charting Billboard singles. …


“The King of Broken Hearts:” In his signature 10-gallon Stetson, blue jeans, western shirt, and giant belt buckle, an early dawn finds 39-year-old George Strait prepared should a calf need ropin’ on his family’s century-old, 2,000-acre cattle ranch in Pearsall, Texas, 1991. Photography by Michael O’Brien / 1stDibs

Tony Brown found himself playing piano on a Folgers jingle session that he’d been hired to do in 1983. George Strait had been signed to MCA Nashville for only a couple of years, while Brown was ensconced at RCA in artist and repertoire. Seemingly a flash in the pan introduction over coffee, a decade later Brown’s label boss Jimmy Bowen was lured away to Capitol. Strait’s producer’s transfer serendipitously placed Brown at the helm for an imperial phase of new traditionalist country smashes. Bookended by Pure Country and Love Is Everything, the duo’s studio partnership lasted 21 years, more than…


Seventy-two-year-old Charles Bronson’s final appearance on a cowboy set was not in the 1977 cult classic “White Buffalo” but decades later in the two-hour, all-star “100 Years of the Hollywood Western,” an overlooked NBC documentary broadcast on August 10, 1994. “Le Sacre Monstre” — the Holy Monster — intentionally favored an indelible fringe jacket in both projects. Image Credit: PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy

Short in stature but overflowing with intellect and determination, Elvis Presley sideman Tony Brown was bullied in school. Even as the third son of a fire and brimstone preacher advanced up the ladder into a MCA Nashville record label kingpin, his childhood tormentors were not forgotten. Vicarious revenge was attained through repeated screenings of Charles Bronson films. Serendipitously, Brown bumped knuckles with the twilight-approaching Death Wish action hero at a Whitney Houston fundraiser in New York City. …


Garish threads acquired from Dublin boutique shops dominate this unused color portrait for a spread featured in the June 1966 issue of New Spotlight magazine. Youngest Everly Brother Phil wears a matching red tartan jacket and hipster slacks, chanteuse Eileen Kelley [frontwoman for Irish showband the Nevada] opts for a floral print tapestry dress, while elder brother and lead singer Don Everly is content with a trendy neon red corduroy reefer jacket and blue checked hipster pants. In late April 1966 the Everly Brothers toured Ireland and sat for this series of predominantly black and white photos. Their most recent Top 40 pop single in the USA had been the propulsive “Gone, Gone, Gone” in 1964 — two years without a hit in the swingin’ sixties was cause for crisis — but European audiences offered a reprieve by approving “The Price of Love” and “Love Is Strange.” Photography by Roy Esmonde / Brand New Retro / appears in the 1990 book “The Swinging Sixties”

“Even If I Hold It in My Hand [Hard Luck Story]” was conceived by the Everly Brothers during the 1967 sessions for their 14th studio album The Hit Sound of the Everly Brothers. Deemed too taboo for its suicidal subject matter, the song, accented by a mind-blowing, extended Glen Campbell guitar solo, remained buried for three decades until Rhino’s box set Heartaches & Harmonies [1994]. The exhaustive Bear Family chronicle Chained to a Memory [2006] tracked down take 10 [versus the previously released take 2] which eliminated Campbell’s solo for an unplugged arrangement preambled by cello. …


“Somewhere down the beach she has a house of her own alone, out of reach she won’t even answer the telephone, and I’m alone:” On a Malibu beach a boy fishes, a young woman jogs, a golden retriever waits patiently, and John Phillips, nicknamed the “Wolfking of L.A.,” is incongruously bedecked in a fur coat, scarf, white top hat, and tall brown boots. This is a circa February 1970 outtake from the cover photo shoot for the founding Mamas and Papas songwriter’s self-titled debut solo album released on Dunhill Records. Photography by Tom Gundelfinger O’Neal

None other than Elvis Presley rode motorcycles with Mamas and Papas mastermind John Phillips in Palm Springs, heard a demo of solo debut John Phillips [John, the Wolfking of L.A.] before its April 1970 distribution on Dunhill Records, and wanted to record the Top 40 country rock hit “Mississippi.” Colonel Tom Parker vetoed the notion, indignant that his sole client would wanna associate with a damn hippie. The long-buried anecdotes originally emerged in Phillips’ best-selling 1986 memoir Papa John and were recollected in the liner notes of the expanded Varèse Sarabande reissue of Wolfking.

An unlikely teaming upon first glance…


He went that-a-way! Trend-setting country music producer Tony Brown, with over 100 No. 1 singles to his credit, pokes fun at a road sign directing folks to the Tony Brown Homecoming Celebration in Stokes County, North Carolina, held during the weekend of October 17-20, 2019. Image Credit: Courtesy of Tony Brown Enterprises

That’s Tony Brown’s boogie woogie piano licks anchoring Elvis Presley’s final single “Way Down.” Entering the entertainment field as a Southern Gospel accompanist, by the nineties Brown had transitioned into a Nashville power player presiding over MCA and Universal South. His production credits range from George Strait, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Lionel Richie, to boatloads more. Prior to Barry Gibb’s reimagined duets LP Greenfields exceeding expectations with a Top 3 placement on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, Brown met with the “New York Mining Disaster 1941” song weaver at his Miami home. …


Paul Talbot unwraps 12-year-old Kurt Russell’s birthday gift, sex kitten Susan Oliver, ‘The Evil That Men Do,’ an uncooperative James Coburn shooting one of the greatest boxing movies, unfulfilled scripts, and Bronson’s haunting descent into Alzheimer’s

A marvelous oil painting renders Charles Bronson as the revenge-fueled gunslinger “Harmonica” hell-bent on facing the sadistic Henry Fonda in “Once Upon a Time in the West,” director Sergio Leone’s definitive spaghetti western. Painting by Igor Kazarin / Webneel Graphics Inspiration

When not supervising Blu-ray commentary tracks for such action flicks as The Valachi Papers and Chino, two-time Charles Bronson biographer Paul Talbot found the time to grapple with the bullshit-eschewing Death Wish architect’s early sagebrush sojourns Empire and The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters. That kindled a page-turning romp through other infrequently examined facets of Bronson’s 50-year career on a Tinseltown marquee. Ride back to the past chapter of the interview [“Scholar Paul Talbot Chronicles Badass Action Hero Charles Bronson”] if you’re just joining the rodeo.


Decked out in a dark gray striped suit, Roy Clark clings to a Gibson Byrdland sunburst hollow body electric guitar for the cover of “Urban, Suburban: The Fantastic Guitar of Roy Clark,” distributed in June 1968 as the musician’s ninth album and debut on Dot Records. The all-instrumental project sold moderately well, charting at No. 43 C&W. Photography by Jerry White / Universal Music Group / Discogs user “Road Worrier”

“Do You Believe This Town” was Roy Clark’s overlooked July 1968 social commentary on covert rural prejudice, recorded several months before Jeannie C. Riley’s much-ballyhooed “Harper Valley P.T.A.” A nameless pastoral community is not as it seems. Town pillars, from the mayor to the chief of police, are knee-deep in hypocrisy. The church deacon “preaches brotherly love every Sunday, and forecloses loans on widows’ homes every Monday.” The final verse is even more scathing — “Do you believe they burned a house down yesterday…if the folks who lived there had a-known their place, they could still be hangin’ around.” The…


Inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2020, the “Fourteen Carat Mind” country emperor plainspokenly probes stage fright, tough crowds, lucky charms, sycophants, guitars, COVID-19, and his looming 35th studio album, tentatively titled “Outside the Box.”

The back cover of Texas cowboy Gene Watson’s second greatest hits compilation — 1981’s “The Best of Gene Watson, Volume Two.” Willie Nelson’s mentor Ray Price placed the mutton-chopped Watson “right around the top of the list” of his favorite singers. And T. Graham Brown pulled no punches when he exclusively divulged, “When Gene Watson sings a country song, it’s been sung.” Image Credit: Discogs / Universal Music Group

The Gene Watson Interview, Part One

You’re a natural entertainer, but does stage fright ever rear its head?

It’s not a problem for me. Way down deep inside I’ve always been a people’s person. The audience makes up so much of my show. I go onstage and be myself. I never plan out a show or what song will be next. I always play it straight off the cuff and take note of whatever vein the crowd’s in. We try our best to do what the people wanna hear, and it usually works pretty good.

Was that always the case?

You do have to go through…

Jeremy Roberts

Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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