An oral history finds the rural South Georgia institution bidding farewell after nearly 60 years of top caliber haircuts and genial customer service

The fading red, white, and blue barbershop pole leads to the compact red brick building where Becky’s Beauty Salon founder Becky Davis humbly learned her craft in the early 1960s. It’s also the setting for a warmhearted get-together for fellow beauticians Linda Faye Hattaway [center] and Cathy Harrell [right] in Alapaha, Georgia. Photography by Jeremy Roberts

The Becky Harper Davis Interview

I began cutting hair when I was in the seventh or eighth grade. Bonnie Owen recently reminded me that she was one of my earliest experiments. There were a lot of people in my extended family that were barbers and beauticians. Mama [Cozetta Harper]’s brother George Moore was a barber, and he had two sons also in the same profession. Once I entered high school I earned pocket money during each summer cropping tobacco and helping my cousins in Douglas. Ruby Williams, Ruth Moore, and Marie Ragsdale were sisters who owned Modern Beauty Shop. I’m the only one left in…


Two weeks into shooting penultimate period drama “The Trouble with Girls [And How to Get Into It]” and less than a month before the 60-minute “Elvis” special premiered on NBC and unshackled his career ennui, under the cover of darkness a 33-year-old Elvis Presley sets aside time to acknowledge fans outside his 1174 North Hillcrest Road estate in Beverly Hills, California, on November 10, 1968. Photography by Charlie Hodge / For Elvis CD Collectors Only message board user “Matt Ashton”

Nashville music biz power broker Tony Brown detours through his three-year tenure with Elvis Presley, midnight gospel sing-alongs, hyperventilating when encouraged to play piano on “Bringing It Back,” “Way Down,” Moody Blue, fellow TCB Band keyboardists Glen D. Hardin and David Briggs, Conway Twitty, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, hospitable Memphis studios, money outweighing character in presidential elections, and Donald Trump.

The Tony Brown Interview, Part Eight

Being engaged on sessions, the road, producing, and running record labels, did songwriting ever enter the equation?

I composed a handful of songs in the ’70s and ’80s. My early gospel ones are really obscure. In country, the most popular…


Image Credit: The Estate of B.J. Thomas / Honeyman Music

Mark James wrote Elvis Presley’s last number one — “Suspicious Minds” — but the tall Texan also buttressed the discography of fellow Houstonian B.J. Thomas. “Eyes of a New York Woman,” the million-plus selling, career-ensuring “Hooked on a Feeling,” “It’s Only Love,” and “Everybody Loves a Rain Song” conspicuously kept Thomas on Billboard’s pop chart between 1968 and 1978. Scheduled for Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame induction, James, who pocketed Song of the Year at the 1982 Grammys for Willie Nelson’s emotionally stripped cover of “Always on My Mind,” composed 25 corroborated songs for Thomas. …


A vigorous, evidently bionic 80-year-old Ringo Starr commemorates the 57th anniversary of the Beatles’ iconic first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on February 9, 2021, outside his Los Angeles residence. Image Credit: Ringo Starr’s official Twitter

In 1987 Beatles drummer Ringo Starr decamped to “Suspicious Minds” producer Chips Moman’s 3 Alarm Studio as well as Sam Phillips’s legendary Sun Studio in Memphis in pursuit of a comeback. His previous album, 1983’s Old Wave, had been barely distributed in spite of Eagle Joe Walsh’s raw guitar and pen. “A Dose of Rock ‘n’ Roll” stood as his most recent Top 30 hit over a decade earlier. …


With tongue planted firmly in cheek, North Carolina Music Hall of Fame inductee Tony Brown and Punkin, his pride and joy Jack Russell Terrier, familiarize themselves with the sights and sounds of a sunny Nashville afternoon, summer 2020. Image Credit: Tony Brown Enterprises

“It ain’t easy being easy, but Tony’s sense of humor makes it easy.” Lionel Richie’s 2012 comeback was Tuskegee, accommodating 13 of the erstwhile Commodore’s greatest hits reimagined as country music duets. Hotshot Nashville producer Tony Brown commands an exclusive interview about the album that bagged Richie an American Idol hosting gig and sold over a million copies in the USA, exceeding anything since 1986’s Dancing on the Ceiling.

The Tony Brown Interview, Part Seven

What was your mindset when you were tasked with recutting eight of Lionel Richie’s greatest hits as duets [“with today’s hottest country artists and legends” according to the Mercury Records hype…


The stars are out tonight as former MCA Nashville President Tony Brown embarks on his next production. Image Credit: Tony Brown’s official Facebook

The Tony Brown Interview, Part Six

What projects are occupying your calendar these days?

Now that I’m not working at a record label [i.e. RCA, MCA Nashville, or Universal South], it’s become such a young man’s world. I’m starting all over again, which is fine with me. In the beginning I had no idea that you could make real money producing records. That finally happened when George Strait’s Pure Country soundtrack sold six million and Wynonna’s self-titled debut sold five [both albums were issued in 1992 on MCA Nashville when Brown was quickly rising through the ranks on his way to assume CEO duties]. Vince Gill’s…


Carl Perkins attends the Country Music Christmas Spectacular to Benefit Love Is Feeding Everyone [LIFE] on December 9, 1989, at the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California. Earlier that summer the 57-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer earned a Nashville comeback by co-writing Wynonna and Naomi Judd’s No. 1 C&W single “Let Me Tell You About Love.” Two years later he provided Dolly Parton with the biographical “Silver and Gold,” the “Jolene” chanteuse’s penultimate Top 20 A-side. Photography by Ralph Dominguez / MediaPunch / Alamy

Original “Blue Suede Shoes” singer-songwriter-guitarist Carl Perkins heavily influenced the Beatles and counted Elvis Presley as a comrade. Immortalized in both the Million Dollar Quartet and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, relatively little is known about the middle son of impoverished West Tennessee sharecroppers whose empathy laid the groundwork for the Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. In the nick of time, ’50s vinyl collector Larry Anderson confesses anecdotes about meeting the King of Rockabilly backstage, accidentally being seated among family and friends for Perkins’ 1998 funeral, and experiencing a double take when Fab Four lead…


Pick it, troubadour: The acoustic guitar-accented front sleeve of “What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life,” a double LP accommodating 20 of B.J. Thomas’ greatest contemporary Christian hits on Word Records from 1981. Image Credit: Curb Records / eBay user “Kokomocomics”

For 59 years, “Hooked on a Feeling” soul stirrer B.J. Thomas was a warmly received road companion. Effortlessly leapfrogging from one musical genre to another, Thomas intended to decamp to the hip Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with Memphis Boys songwriter Dan Penn [the Box Tops’ “Cry Like a Baby”] and Billy Lawson [Trace Adkins’ “I Left Something Turned On at Home”] for a project exploring artistically challenging original material until COVID-19 foiled his itinerary. A shocking advanced stage four lung cancer diagnosis, in spite of kicking cigarettes to the curb in 1988, inflicted the final blow on May 29, 2021. …


The seven-time Academy of Country Music Awards victor cites how the Keith Whitley-inspired Pitney was usurped by Luke Combs, confronts indie Nashville label head Mike Curb over unpaid production wages for Judd’s self-titled solo smash, Tim McGraw and Lovett’s exasperation with Curb’s iron-clad contract, and why he willingly released a ‘Honky Tonk Angel’ from her stagnant MCA deal

Image Credit: Tony Brown’s official Facebook

The Tony Brown Interview, Part Four

Longtime Los Angeles Times music editor Robert Hilburn published the ultimate Tony Brown profile in 1996. In “The Kingmaker of Country Music,” you stated, “Sometimes an artist just isn’t on the right label. It’s a sin to me the way that some labels hang onto them to spite the artist.” I interviewed Mo Pitney in October 2017, a year after his acclaimed debut LP Behind This Guitar dropped on the Nashville-based Curb label. You produced that Billboard Top Ten C&W record. After an agonizing four-year wait, Pitney’s follow-up materialized but any momentum was lost.

Absolutely! I’ve listened to Mo’s Ain’t…

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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