Later I organized a group traveling with George Wallace (performing
on a flat bed truck}. He lost that first election and I never got
paid. I have been a Republican ever since.
After a short stint in the US Navy, playing with the US Navy band,
and once performing for the Queen of England. I returned home because
of family hardship. It wasn't long before I started flinging myself
into the “scene” again.
Attending Walker College, I played Trumpet with the “Collegiates”.
Still having a passion for the Drums, tinkering with Ralph Serrano’s
Drums, that were always setup in the student center. Wayne Gross
would play Bo Diddly and other Blues Artists while I pecked away
at the Drums.
Wayne later became a founding member of “Larry and The Loafers“,
having a small hit called “Panama City Blues”. This
group had some dynamite musicians; Chuck Giambrone, Dale Serrano
and of course Wayne.
Later I formed a group and only entered talent contests. I think
we always won, meaning nothing, actually!! But being still immature
we loved it.
After getting confident I could play drums as well as trumpet, a
group consisting of Bobby Goodman (Happy Goodman Family}, Ronnie
James, Sonny Sargent, Frank McAtee and I left for Bossier City,
La. to play at an all night club named “Club Dallas”.
believe it or not a great blues artist was fired to hire us. His
name, Roscoe “Chicken” Gordon. I never realized till
later years how strange that was!
Returning to Alabama with the group split up I chanced upon a group
that would later become very popular, "Dan Penn And The Nomads”.
Hollis Roberts, Clement Thomas, Billy Sherrill. I was hired as the
drummer and worked with them through several great events. I eventually
got Frank McAtee the job as saxman when Billy Sherrill left for
big time in Nashville. Charlie Rich was just becoming popular and
hired us to back him. I loved Charlie, but his problems got in the
way. Dan later became very important as a songwriter and producer
as well as a cult figure in Blues! Writing for Arthur Alexander,
Wilson Pickett, Odis Redding and many more. He was awarded Grammy’s
for several hits . The list continues today!! This group spawned
people like Dan Penn, Big Ben Atkins, Billy Sherrill, Carmol Taylor,
Ray Pennington, and “The Boxtops”.
I left “The Nomads” and was hired by J.C. Raynor. “Wilgus”,
as I had always known him, had a great high tenor voice. We had
exceptional musicians, such as Hoyt Johnson (vocals and guitar,
Grand old Opry Member), Mabron McKinney(Later to become Original
Bassist for Duane And Gregg Allman), and The Great “Scotty
Moore”, on guitar. Several other great musicians worked this
gig, just too many to mention. We were eventually called the “Cavemen”.
This was the Allstate club and people actually did come from all
over the state to hear this group! There were several recordings
made on Decca Records and Allstate Records.
I did contract studio work on recordings by several different artists.
The work was with Fame Studio (Muscle Shoals) and several independent
studio's in Nashville, Atlanta and Birmingham. Some of these sessions
were released on labels including: Decca, RCA, Chant and Allstate.
During this period of time I supplemented my income by playing on
The Country Boy Eddie Show. This meant long hours, playing clubs
all night and being at the Studio for live performances at 5:00
After Mabron left, I decided to pursue other interests. Soon finding
myself back into Music with an old friend," Jerry Woodard”.
We did a year together, including several recordings. Using great
talent at the time, including, Bill Burnette (remember Johnny and
Dorsey… same family) Barry Beckett, Larry Butler, Bobby Mizzel,
Larry Stryzlechi. Larry became well known as a bassist, drummer
and for traveling with Hank Williams Jr. Larry Butler became a famous
producer, also Barry Beckett (producer and original Muscle Shoals
We all supplemented our income by staying up all night and playing
the Country Boy Eddy Show. Something happened and we all split,
in all directions. I had a shot at playing on the Ed Sullivan show,
but it never happened for some reason. A later time finds me in
Mobile, Alabama. I Landed a Gig on the first day there. I was Drummer
for Ray Sawyer (DR. Hook). This didn't last long. He had plans with
some people from Up North, Dennis Loccorrie. They got famous! (Sylvia’s
Mother/Cover of The Rolling Stone.
Continuing around Mobile I met up with Jerry Lee Lewis’ Band.
Ray “SMITTY” Smith and I talked and jammed a lot. We
later ran into each other at the Domino Lounge, in Atlanta, Ga.
I was playing house band and Jerry Lee was booked for a week. Smitty
was sick one night and I played Jerry’s shows. I don’t
remember ever getting paid extra for that.
I was booked in a country-western Club in Mobile. It was with two
Brothers. Sorry I can't remember your names... Another singer came
to sit in, and he later became big time. (Gary Stewart)
Woodard called me at the Club in Mobile. He offered a deal I could
not refuse. After hopping a plane the following day, I was picked
up at the Atlanta Airport by Woodard. It is hard to remember the
rest of the night. I was very tired!!
Woodard and I never rehearsed. For some reason he would hit a note
and I knew the next phrase. He could spout a joke and I would know
the punch line. We got so good at this that everyone was trying
to book us as a duo! This was eventually our demise. We still needed
a large band to pull off the Blues, R&B, ETC.
After finally exhausting our chances in Atlanta, we made a decision
to move on. Now mind you, we were already popular for backing Red
Foxx, Johnny Tillotson, The Four Freshmen, The Clovers and numerous
big timers, plus our own music..
.I was hired to do 3 nights with Joe South.
Things were getting tense between Woodard and his wife. He promised
to settle down somewhere. Well, that somewhere wasn't where I wanted
to be, because I had offers from Johnny Tillotson and Red Foxx,
to move to California and work with them.
My weaker moments led me with Woodard. We drove to St. Simons Island,
Ga. Working there for a long time, having repeated visitors we had
known, Brother Dave Gardner, Charlie Rich, Jack Nicholas (the Golfer)
Once Charlie came, we locked the doors and played jazz all night.
Bro. Dave came to see me while being booked at Jekyll Island. He
plays great drums even though he is a comedian. Great night!! I
will always miss him. (Charlie you should be in the hall of fame)
Upon times slowing down, and other conflicts, I started “The
Jerry Grammer Trio”. Originally it consisted of Rick Drummond
(Guitar), Ed Burnett (Bass) and Me. We did soft rock, blues and
Society. I later used Dave Oyler (Guitar), Jim Morgan (Bass). (This
group played everything, I sang blues and Pop, while Dave Oyler
took the country. We became popular enough to book anytime and almost
anywhere! Playing many clubs and concerts. Once appearing across
the street from Jim Stafford. Jim came over on his breaks and listened
to us and we did vice versa!
I went back to St Simons Island on several occasions and worked
gigs with Woodard, however his inner Demons were driving us apart
musically. He died and is buried on St. Simons (I never go a day
without thinking of him)!
I eventually drifted through the New England states, booked with
a Jazz Combo. Finding myself back in the Jacksonville, Fl area I
worked with a group called Gene Crews and "The Cruisers".
We did gigs in Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Cocoa Beach and
I started another group of my own "Gabriel".
Things continued for a long time. Then my wife died from cancer
and my children were more important. Thank God for them!
After Semi-retirement from music, I was booked a week with Gatemouth
Brown!! I slowly eased out of the business completely. Just sitting
home trying to teach myself Guitar after all these years.
Thanks for listening,
Ralph Raines-----Brother Dave Gardner----Bill Burnette----Dorsey
Burnette----Johnny Burnette----Charlie Rich----Jerry Woodard----Ray
Hammond----Hoyt Johnson---Ben Burnette---Duanne Allman---Sonny Sargent---Gene
Hayes---Joe Milligan---Acie Grammer---Wayne Stewart---Scotty----Sam
Middleton---Sam Kinard----Gene(Butterbean )Flippo----Piggie Pignatelli----”Old
George”----Red Foxx----Whitey Puckett----Gene Garrison---Jimmy
Elledge---Carl Stewart----Carvee Hatcher---Happy Hal Burns----Lee
Hood----Leroy Wires----Robby Roberts----Don Putman---Frank Russo----Bob
Cain----“Rudy”----Red Barry----”Bill The Man”----Jesse
Smith----”Pappy” Wallace---Any Nebor---Ralph Serrano---
Dale Serrano--- Charlie Walters---A.J. Grammer, many more who touched
my life with their music and presence.