Monday, October 10, 2005

Subject :
Dothan bands

Just thought I'd mention some of the older bands that played around Dothan in the late 50's and early 60"s. One in particular was Joe Mac Beatey and the Sunliners. They played a lot at the old Plantation Club. I believe it was out Hiway 84. They had a great guitar player who's name was Little Ray Mathews. He played a lot of Chet Atkins style guitar.
Another band that was very popular in the 70's was Billy Gant and the Standing Ovation. Billy was a great singer and drummer. I think he started playing more religious type music and even had his own children's TV show.
There were a lot of clubs in and around Dothan in the 60's. The Plantation, the Flamingo club, the Oasis, Chuck and Eddies, The It'l do club, the Ranch, Don's Lounge just to name a few.
Bill Hanke

Subject: Re: Dothan bands

The Plantation Club was one of the first clubs I played after I got out of High School and started playing with the Webs (the second version, with Wilbur as the singer). The building, on 84 West, is still there, now occupied by a Shriners group. Chuck and Eddie's was a beer joint south of Dothan in Florida, possibly around Chipley. We played there several times. The crowds were large and boisterous, and the high sheriff was laying for anybody making the trip home in the wee hours (as Jerry Buie can attest). A tall skinny friendly black kid worked there, and later I was told that his name was Artis Gilmore.
Jimmy Dean

Artis Gilmore did more to integrate Dothan than anyone!

Check out Little Red Gruffie down in the right hand corner

GRUFFIE, the official mascot of Napier Field

The Napier Dance Orchestra, "Officer's Wives" Bridge Club, Kelly Springs & Fencing{?,must be Brits}

I would of hated to have been that Best Man at Napier Field's first wedding

The second installment of FLORIDA ROCKS AGAIN! on Garage Punk Pirate Radio is now available to download for your listening pleasure at This week's segment is part one of the "I-4 Corridor Battle of the Bands" episode, and features such rockin' Florida '60s bands as the Nightcrawlers, the Allman Joys, and We the People.

Now many of you will notice that the first installment (still available on the GPPR site by scrolling down a bit) was part two of the I-4 episode; So, in the tradition of the film MEMENTO, we now offer part one...

Requests, comments, suggestions? Drop a line to

Hope y'all dig it!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Subject: Re: Jon Stroll-how do you like that 70's hair???
From: "jon stroll"
To: "robert register"

Hi Robert:
Boy, are those some groovy haircuts, or what? Anyway, thanks for sharing that photo with me. One thing about the tour with BJ and the guys in the picture that I remember was:
We played a club in Omaha called "The Observatory" (which Rodney Justo nicknamed the "absorbatory"), and the same owners had an Observatory in Kansas City as well. After playing a week in Omaha, the band flew down to Kansas City, and we set up our stuff at the club, went to dinner and returned to our hotel. At 4AM I was awakened by a member of the band bursting into my room to tell me that someone had just blown up the club!!! So our stay in Kansas City turned out to be an insurance issue instead of live music.
If there's any way you can email me a JPG of that picture, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks again and please be in touch. I was just down in Nashville and I have a picture of me with the legendary "Memphis Boys"
who played on a lot of BJ's records, as well as hits by Elvis, Dusty Springfield, Neil Diamond, and many more.
I worked with them on my album Weinstein and Stroll, as well as records by Petula Clark, the Boxtops, Brenda Lee, Len Barry, and Ronnie Milsap.
Let me know if there's anything else I can send you.

Best regards,
Jon Stroll

Subject: Jon Stroll and the Memphis Boys ,left to right
Mike Leech, Elizabeth Leech, Jon Stroll, Bobby Emmons, Bobby Wood
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2005 09:31:01 -0700

Hey Robert:
This is a picture of me with the Memphis Boys that we took when I was
in Nashville in August. Left to right: Mike Leech, Elizabeth Leech,
Jon Stroll, Bobby Emmons and Bobby Wood. Along with Gene Chrisman on
drums and the legendary Reggie Young on guitar, they played on many hit
records out of Chips Moman's studio American Recording in Memphis, such
as "Cry Like a Baby" and "Sweet Cream Ladies" by the Boxtops (which I
wrote with Bobby Weinstein), "Hooked on a Feeling", "Son of a Preacher
Man", "Sweet Caroline", "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues",
"Suspicious Minds", "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show", "I Just
Can't Help Believin" (which I played on), "In the Ghetto", and many
many more. I worked with them on my album "Cook Me Up Your Taste" by
Weinstein and Stroll, as well as recordings by Petula Clark, the
Boxtops, Brenda Lee, Ronnie Milsap, and Len Barry. They are now
performing and there may be a concert special in the near future.

Obviously, BJ is a great southern Rock 'n' Roller. Don't also forget
Alex Chilton, the former lead singer of the Boxtops. If I find any
more pics, I'll fire them off to you.

Best regards,

Re: Jim Hodges' Reminiscenses Of His Uncle John & Aunt Lena Plus Tanton Pitch...

Well, we all got lucky when Frank Tanton jumped into this mix. He remembers stuff that I am totally fogged out on about Dothan music. Larry Coe could also offer a lots of info. I remember Frank as a very talented musician and one of the nicest guys I ever met, and am happy to still know him today. I went to high school with his older brother, who we all considered to be a genius. The Morris boys were so good I sometimes got embarrassed to act like a musician around them, and who can forget Norman Andrews! Me and John Rainey used to worm into the joints out on the Strip (Napier Field Road in the late fifties and early sixties) to hear him do his thing way before I was old enough to do that. Does anybody remember Obie Lee? He shouldn't be forgotten. I think his last name was Daughtry. And Lamar Alley is like kinfolk to me; he and my brother Robert are very close.
Roll on, Roberto---this stuff brings back a lots of memories of the Dothan music scene, which are worth remembering.
Jimmy Dean

P.S. Wonder if we can get Rondy Justo, to recall when he played the Farm Center at a Buie concert when I was still in high school and he jumped off the stage ( a flatbed trailer) and incited the audience to dance when the local police decided to enforce a no dancing ordinance at concerts. I think Jimmy Clanton's brother Ike was booked at that concert as a Mystery Guest. Buddy Buie can also clear that up.

"Hodges James"
Re: Jim Hodges' Reminiscenses Of His Uncle John & Aunt Lena Plus Tanton Pitch...
"robert register"

Obie Lee .... I believe he was a Creek Indian. Had a
Mohawk haircut. He had a band named Obie Lee and the
Indians .... Dean Daughtry was his piano player after
Candymen and before ARS and Classics IV. Obie was a
hell of a singer .... didn't need a mike he was so
damned loud.
Robert Dean used to have a club named Checkers in a
building which was the old Lum's Restaurant on
Montgomery Highway. The Baptists in Dothan wouldn't
let Lum's steam their hot dogs in beer, which was
their tradition.
Obie Lee and his band was playing there one night. I
honestly cannot remember the year. Some of the 70's
are as blurred as the 60's. Wilbur Walton was in the
audience and Obie asked him to come on stage. They did
an incredible version of "The Thrill is Gone." Damn!
BB King would be proud of that interpretation.
Around that same time .... maybe a little before,
Wilbur had a BBQ joint in an A-frame building on
Montgomery Highway. You guys remember that?
I remember Kenneth Griffin's fretless bass .... I had
heard a fretless bass player in a Brazilian Jazz band,
but that was the first time I ever heard Rock & Roll
played that way. He was great.
Thanks to Frank Tanton & Jimmy Dean for awakening a
few more memory cells.

This is similar to the insignia of The Southeast Army Air Forces Training Center at Napier Field during World War II. That insignia had a griffin,a mythical bird,above the shield and the motto,"PREPARE FOR COMBAT", below

Captain John R.White of Camden,New Jersey, with a Curtiss P-40 fighter at Napier Field Dothan, Alabama

Received more reminiscences of the Dothan music scene from Jimmy Dean and Jim Hodges.

The thing that impressed me the most were Dean's recollections of the clubs out on old U.S. 231 going out to Napier Field. I happen to have a book entitled Napier Field Alabama: Army Air Forces Advanced Flying School which was published by The Public Relations Office of Napier Field during WWII.

matchbook cover from Napier Field

It has some great photos of Dothan, Napier Field and Kelly Springs. The shots I'll be getting online tomorrow include The Napier Dance Orchestra, the Officers' Club Lounge & Bar, plus the cartoons of the Napier Field mascot which at first to me appeared to be a sea gull. In reality, according to my book, the cartoon bird is GRUFFIE, "the mascot of Napier Field, is of regal ancestry, but to the men of the post he looks very much like a sad dodo." GRUFFIE is depicted as a paratrooper, a tough guy, a dice player and cigar smoker.

In his reminiscences of Napier Field in WWII, Roy Benson Jr. mentions "camp followers".
These were pretty girls who traveled from post to post, hanging out in servicemen's clubs and who would "marry as many guys as they could and have the man's army life insurance put in their name." Ain't love grand!

All of this will help us to understand the wellsprings from which the post-war Dothan music scene emerged as well as the origins of the Wadlington, The Half-Way House, The Supper Club and all those dives on old U.S. 231.

Hope ya'll enjoy some of this stuff and let me hear from ya.

Click on this link to read the origins of the Napier Dance Orchestra.
The music stands of the musicians are illustrated with GRUFFIE playing various instruments. I'll post the photos tomorrow.

The regimental band of the 111th Field Artillery quickly reported to Napier Field in Dothan, Alabama, in March 1942 to support the Army Air Force's Flying School. During the band's three years in Alabama, it held four different designations: Band, Air Corps School, Dothan, Alabama, and 99th Army Air Force Band in 1942; 599th Army Band (27 December 1943); and 599th Army Air Force Band (25 March 1944). The unit sailed from New York harbor on the S.S. Argentina and landed in France on 19 April 1945. It never entered a combat area and was inactivated in France on 5 December.

The Mexican Expeditionary Air Force, 201st Fighter Squadron received their wings at Napier Field in 1945. This was the only Mexican unit to conduct combat overseas during World War II. The Army Air Corps used a lot of British instructors at Napier Field and pilots from many Latin American countries, Ireland, England, France, Spain and China received their wings there.
Click here for the Mexican unit's history:,13476,701286,00.html

an excellent description of flight training at Napier Field during World War II
At the end of March 1943 I graduated from Basic and went to Advanced
Training at Napier Field in Alabama. We were beginning to know a lot of
the other students and would stay together with them right on through,
except for the ones who washed out. In Advanced we flew the AT-6 which
was a faster plane and easier to fly. We had about the same schedule at
this field flying one or two hours a day. There were several small
level fields in the area that were used for practice landing and
takeoffs. I had an Englishman for an instructor. After the Americans
were flying out of England, some of the English pilots who had flown a
lot of missions were sent to this country to be instructors as we had a
shortage of them. Like school teachers, it took a special kind of man
to be able to teach flying in a short period of time. They had to have
a lot of nerve also to be able to get out of the situations an
inexperienced student could get them into! The one I had wasn't worth
much as he would fly to one of those other fields and let me land and
then he would get out and stand around smoking cigarettes for half an
hour. I was supposed to be getting an hours instruction and I was
afraid I would be washed out. I went to the commanding officer and
requested a change of instructors and got it. Perhaps others had done
the same. I can't remember the name of my new instructor but he was
tough and strict, which was okay with me as then I knew I would learn

We now started to practice landing on instrument only. The instructor
rode in the seat behind you in the AT-6 and when you were in the air
there was a black hood that you pulled over the front cockpit. The
instructor would then give you compass headings, height and speed and
you would follow his directions to approach the field. Following his
direction you would line up with the runway and begin coming down. All
you could see were the instruments. If you were coming in perfectly, he
would let you go ahead and land by yourself. On the other hand, he
might take over the controls about 20 feet off the ground and take you
up again. It was quite scary as you never know whether you were going
to land or not. After we had the okay on these daylight landings, we
were allowed to fly the planes alone at night.

The AT-6 was designed with places for machine guns in the wings and we
were sent in groups to Elgin Field in Florida for gunnery practice.
This was the field where General Jimmy Doolittle trained his crew for
the bombing of Japan. They practiced for months at bomber takeoff from a
field the same length as the deck of a carrier which had never been
done. That was the only way they would be able to reach Japan. We were
assigned there for about two weeks practicing by shooting at ground
targets on a large restricted area. We didn't do any shooting at
targets in the air, Just dove down shooting at the ground. I recall it
being very hot and muggy there off the Gulf of Mexico.

After returning to Napier Field we were nearing graduation time. We had
now developed a lot of confidence in our flying and fooled around when
flying without our instructors. We would fly very close together and
tap our wingtips and the wing of the plane flying next to us. Flying
close to the ground was fun also and gave you a better idea of how fast
you were actually going than you had at high altitudes. In Primary I
flew 60 hours, in Basic 72 hours, and in Advanced 97 hours for a total
of 220 hours. There were about 250 of us in the class and by that time
we had become acquainted with most everyone and close friends with
many. We went all the way through combat with some of those same

After our final flight with the commanding officer we were ready
for graduation. We then filled out forms giving our preference for the
type of flying we wanted. Just before graduation they put on an airshow
for our benefit. Little stunt planes would fly straight up and all
types of fighter planes did acrobatics and speed. Naturally we almost
all wanted to get into single engine fighters so that is what we had
listed on the forms. I don't remember much about graduation except many
of the fellows had their parents there. We were now second lieutenants
in the Army Air Force which was a wartime addition to the regular U.S.
Air Force.

We received $250 in $50 bills to purchase our new officers uniforms,
lieutenants gold bars and our silver wings. We bought these clothes on
the base and they were of wonderful material. After the war I wore the
pants and shirts for years, and after they were too old, I wore the
pants for hunting as they were very warm and wore like iron. I still
have one of the wool shirts. We graduated at Napier Field on May 28,
1943 and waited nervously to see the notice on the bulletin board
telling us where we would go next. When they were finally posted I got
fighter plane and was as happy as the others that did. Some pilots went
to Twin Engine, Transport, Troop Carrier, Light Bomber, Medium Bomber,
Dive Bomber, or Heavy Bomber. The poorest fliers went to Piper Cubs and
flew observation over the battle lines to direct the field artillery. I
am glad that I didn't go to Bomber planes as they were sent to a field
in Alpena, Michigan and flew out over Lake Michigan. We had to report
to the commander to receive our active duty orders and my friends and I
were hoping we would go to the same place.

Here's a description of The Tuskegee Program which was for venereal disease control. It was later adopted by the entire Army Air Corps. Notice the mention of "honky tonks and dance halls".

The Tuskegee Program

None of these varied plans and improvisations worked so well as a program begun at Tuskegee Army Air Field, later prescribed for the Air Forces at large and, still later, in slightly altered form, for the Army as a whole. This program was essentially a combination of measures already in effect at other places plus some innovations which were to spell the difference between the success of the Tuskegee program and the failure of so many others.

Tuskegee, essentially a flying school with roughly 1,300 men in addition to cadets, found its venereal rate climbing steadily through the first half of 1942. The post was located in a high civilian incidence area near several other airfields and camps. As the military installations in the area expanded, infected women flocked to nearby towns where honky-tonks and dance halls offered easy pickings for the soldiers of Gunter, Maxwell, and Craig Fields, near Montgomery; Camp Rucker and Napier Field to the south; Fort Benning at Columbus and Fort McClellan, near Birmingham.
Tuskegee's new venereal disease control officer, Maj. George McDonald, who had operated a successful municipal control program in Baltimore before entering the Army, found early that the simplest control measures- getting rid of infected women or of the places in which they were to be found- were not simple where Negro troops were concerned. "Some might argue," he told the Alabama governor's conference on venereal diseases, "that if we could get rid of the honky-tonks we would get rid of the chief meeting places of a large group of prostitutes. The answer to that was forcefully brought out to me during the beginning of our VDC Program. We found that fully 70 percent of all our venereal disease cases were contracted in Montgomery. We went to the Commanding Officer and seriously begged him to put Montgomery off-limits for our station. His answer was a question- 'Where else or what else have you got to offer in its place?' I must admit, I was stumped." 37

Here's a guy who thinks he found a P-40 crash site near Napier but because of the .50 calibur ammo, he probably found a P-47 Thunderbolt. The P-47 was the most destructive single engine aircraft used in WWII. It had 8 wing-mounted .50 calibur Browning machine guns and carried over 2000 pounds of bombs, rockets and napalm.

Looking for Napier Field, AL, P-40 photos and info. I have located a P-40D, E, or F (one of the three versions) crash site north of Dothan Alabama and have reason to believe it came from Napier Field. Please help me identify this aircraft. If you know of any P-40D,E or F losses from 1943-1945, have any info on P-40 operations in the area (why was this aircraft loaded with .50 cal ammo?), or any P-40 photos I'd love to hear from you, Regards, Don Hinton Major, USAFDon Hinton <>Millbrook, AL USA - Tuesday, January 07, 2003 at 14:21:05 (EST)

click here to read about the Rodney Bingenheimer documentary
Any of ya'll who went out to Hollywood remember Rodney Bingenheimer? Check out the documentary of his life that's running on SHOWTIME right now and the movie review from the link above.