Our good friend Steve Bartlett grew up in Beaumont, Texas, and has a lot of stories and anecdotes from the musical scene down in East Texas. He emails,
During JP Richardson’s funeral (The Big Bopper) Beaumont DJ Gordon Baxter did an hour long tribute to JP on his radio broadcst, and made the comment, “We’ve got your golden records, Jape, but now everything you have is gold.” That later became this song, recorded by Beaumont hillbilly Benny Barnes. I have a 45 copy, but this is a nice, clean audio cut on youtube:
I also have a slightly noisy tape of Baxter’s broadcast. I heard it live when we were driving from the funeral home to the cemetary (yes—I went to the Bopper’s funeral!!!) and recorded a rebroadcast from another station that evening, which suffered from some interference. I used my dad’s elaborate Hallicrafters receiver which had all sorts of selectivity and sensitivity adjustments, which let me pull in the station. That thing had 16 tubes and was in a relay rack size case. Very versatile once you learned all the knobs and adjustments. State of the art in 1941, it went all the way up to 43 MC. There was not much to listen to up there, back then. Now that freq is left behind in the dust. I met Benny a few times, but that was about the time I finished college and left the area. He was a very nice person.
We have a few Benny Barnes tracks on LP compilations at WHRB, but not, I think, “Gold Records in the Snow.” Maybe one day we can induce Steve to make a trip up from Barnstable, where he now lives, and bring some of his audio memories. /CL