Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hot pants and panty hose

Dick Curless is mostly known for the trucker’s anthem “A Tombstone Every Mile”. He had twenty other hit records but that that’s not most memorable thing about him either. It’s Curless low rumbling voice that I’ll never forget. He reminds me of Jerry Reed without a southern accent.

Curless was born in 1932 in Maine, his family moved to Massachusetts. It was there that Curless joined a band called the Trail Blazers. In 1951, Curless was drafted into the army and sent to South Korea. During the two years he was there, Curless was a truck driver and radio host. He called himself the Rice Paddy Ranger.

Back in Maine after the war, Curless started performing professionally in 1956, traveling as far as California. He recorded for small labels and had a few small hit records. “A Tombstone Every Mile” was released independently in 1965. The record did very well regionally, Tower Records picked it up and the record went all the way to the top 5. Curless joined the Buck Owens show and spent the next three years with the tour. There were 11 more top 10 hits in the sixties.

After that, Curless slowed down and the hits occurred less frequently. The quality didn’t disappear though. “Loser’s Cocktail” is a great drinking song and Curless cover of Joe Henderson’s “Snap Your Fingers” is very cool. Curless greatest moment though, is a song he recorded in 1973. “Chick Inspector” is one of the all time great really weird country songs. Featuring quite a few words you just don't expect to hear in a country song, it’s a mix CD staple for me. In 1974, Curless recorded LIVE AT THE WHEELING TRUCK DRIVERS JAMBOREE, one of country music’s great live albums.

Curless probably dropped “Chick Inspector” from the act when he became a born-again Christian and a regular in Branson, Missouri. He died of stomach cancer in 1995.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for recognizing the greatness of "Chick Inspector"! How this failed to become a top 10 hit is one of the great unsolved mysteries. Its quite sad to think of all those truck drivers attending a Dick Curless show in Branson and not hearing his greatest hit played.

2/6/07 10:11 PM  

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