This is part of a new series of posts I’ve entitled, “Stories From the Road.” Each week I will post a new story from Rick Sikes, a Texas musician who traveled the roads of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and out to California for well over twenty years. With hours to pass in a van full of sweaty musicians, they found ways to entertain themselves. These stories are told in Rick Sikes’ words. I’ll do my best to correct grammar, but I want to keep them in his own voice.
“I started out playing rodeos with George Sadler and the Saddle Pals. We’d go out all day on Saturdays to various little towns around the area and advertise the rodeo. They’d have an old flatbed trailer set up as a stage on the courthouse square or somewhere downtown. We would play for fifteen or twenty minutes and plug the rodeo that night, then load up and go to the next town. George was a fiddler and loved to play hoedowns. I played rhythm guitar for him and sang. Then, we’d play the rodeo dance that night. It was a good experience for me.
At one point during my time with The Saddle Pals, a guy came along named Gene Dunn. He was a tall slender fellow and a damned good lead guitar player. He worked in the oilfield (pipeline). His son is Ronnie Dunn of the famed Brooks & Dunn. Ronnie was born in Coleman during the time Gene worked with us.
We cut a record or two on King Records that never got pressed. George Sadler was quite a songwriter. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, he actually wrote, “Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes,” that Slim Willett and many others had huge hits with. I say this because I heard and played that song many times before Slim ever cut it. Slim came to me and asked me to teach his guitar player the riff when they were learning it, and that’s a true story. I don’t know the deal, whether George sold it to Slim or if he just cut it and claimed to be the writer. Lots of stuff like that went on back then. No one hardly ever copyrighted their songs. It was a different time. But, that song went on to be huge and I don’t know if George ever got a dime from it. He lived very poorly.
I’ll tell one more story about George Sadler. They lived in an old run down house out in Novice. They must have had ten kids. And, they had chickens. But, they let the chickens run in and out of the house, so needless to say, it wasn’t the cleanest place I’ve been. When I’d go out to talk to George, I’d have to shoo the chickens off the couch and try not to sit in chicken shit. But, this was just the way they lived. There’d be a baby crawling around on the floor and kids in stair-step ages running around. But, he was a great songwriter and fiddle player and I learned a lot from him. I just never stayed for dinner.”
**I scoured through hundreds of photos looking for one of George Sadler, but found nothing and uncovered nothing on the internet. Another thing that was not commonplace back then was cameras.**