Tribute to rockabilly Hall-Of-Famer
Frank "Andy" Starr
died September 12th, 2003
|Here's my tribute page to one of the most interesting and special people
I've ever known. Frank Starr was one of the original roots rockers,
experimenting with the music back when it was all starting to happen in
the 50's. He developed a style all his own, and performed all over the
world in the years that he actively pursued a music career.
Last year (2002) I had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of actually
getting to do some recording with one of my main music heroes. Frank was
69 years old at the time and, if not always as sharp as he was in his 20's,
still was totally fun-loving, bigger than life, and super-smart whether
the topic was music, politics, philosophy or religion. From those sessions,
came the album "Starr Struck", which features Frank Starr, a California
band called The Haywoods, and (me) of Gail & The Tricksters.
I was very proud to be the only person Frank ever recorded a duet with,
rockin' number "Round and Round". We were in the same vocal booth and
shared the same mic for that recording . At the end, Frank turned
to me and
said, "Wow, you were great !". (One of the higher points in my life.)
Still to be released on Wild Oats Records is an 11-song CD which will
all of the songs Frank recorded at that time, including additional
never-before- heard originals. It's hoped that it'll be released by the
end of this year (2003).
When he was here in Nashville to do the recording last year, Frank told
in his opinion, labels in music didn't matter; it was whether the music
the was alive and exciting and original. "Back when we were first getting
into it, we just called it 'Hillbilly'" said Frank.... he didn't care !
But what he was doing WAS something important, something to care
and that was: being one of the pioneers, forging music
that became "American Music" -- part our roots and our heritage.
It was a little blues, a little country, swing, gospel, folk ... and something
else, something that was free and wild... something that expressed
the spirit of somebody who wasn't afraid to take chances no matter what
folks thought. Sure, Frank wasn't very well known, and certainly not the
most successful. But in my opinion, he was under-appreciated
... and deserves his place as one of the pioneers of proto rock-n-roll;
as a singer, a songwriter and a performer.
Frank "Andy" Starr died in a hospital near his home in Elkins, Arkansas
7:00 am, September 12th from complications due to pnuemonia.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Frank Starr, to me you are unforgettable, may your story and your
songs live on forever, I know that's what you wanted.
- Gail Lloyd
|About Frank's "checkered past" ...
Frank "Andy" Starr lived a colorful
life, spending his childhood growing up under extreme conditions in the
Ozarks during the depression, living in hobo camps from the age of 11,
and signing up for 2 terms in the Korean war at the age of 17. His career
as a singer was also intense and colorful, too. He got signed to the Lin
& Cliff Label, which then leased many of the tracks to MGM. These were
Frank's best early recordings, and he was
soon recording with Elvis Presley's session players at the legendary RCA
Studio B in Nashville. Starr even lived up in Alaska for awhile, where
he claims he introduced rock 'n' roll music, and would perform strip shows
as part of his music act.
I hear tell he broke A LOT of hearts a long
the way, got more than a few people REALLY mad at him... reformed, became
a preacher for a while, changed religions a few times, ran for President
of the United States ( ! ! )... and, who knows what else?? Created a few
myth's about himself and probably took some secrets with him, too. I'd
call that living a full life.
'course, all that extreme living left it's
mark on him, no doubt about it.... not only on his reputation, but his
state of mind. By the time I got to know him, he was -at times- pretty
shaky... sometimes, prone to panic attacks... and his mind would wander
a bit. The doctors said he suffered pretty severely from "post- traumatic-stress
syndrome" from his war years. It seems to me that most Mr. Starr's life
had been lived on the edge, certainly all his childhood and early
adult years; he struck me at the end of his life like someone who was still
searching for a way make sense of the world, maybe someone who never really
understood what it meant to have a settled existence and peace of mind.
But when he got behind the vocal mic for the
first time in years, he quite simply blasted us out
of our "blue suede shoes" there in
the booth at Beechwood studios. Like any true artist, Mr. Starr
knew how to tap into the raw and primal source...
and we who were there to witness it: session
players, engineer, fans and friends, all
loved him for it. Despite "it all" -- that week at the age of 69
FRANK "ANDY" STARR TOTALLY ROCKED !!
Well, you can read more about Mr. Starr's
life on some other archivist websites. These are just my
own personal feelings and rantings. I hope
that you didn't find it a waste of your time, and that you'll
leave this page thinking that Frank "Andy"
Starr was one of the coolest of cats.
I also hope all I've said here will help make
sense of a poem I've included below. I wrote it with a couple people in
mind (Frank Starr being one of them). I think it pertains to a certain
type of somewhat dysfunctional, hard-living, hard-drinking, hard-thinking,
outcast, artistic type (and Lord knows, there's still a lot of 'em left
here on Earth).
Once knew a soldier, had a way with
was once the fighting-kind, understand
But came to wage war on a different
here at home instead of some far off
There are different types, you know,
out there in the trenches.
Dealing with combat truth to hard truth,
day by day, hand to hand.
They don’t often get cast in the hero
The way-word ones
So what’s this type all about ?
all you have to do is ask
This particular variety of soldier’ll
‘round to it sooner or later,
after tellin’ you a bunch of other
about everybody else under his watch.
Yeah, so maybe he’ll pitch a fit
about a few
not measuring up.
But you take all that with a grain of
‘cause you sense he’s been
through some battles you maybe
haven’t known… real easy to take all
that for granted.
He’s the kind of fella makes it easy
for you to
treat as small beans. Y’know, the little
he’s likely to do for you, and the
that - - God know’s why - - matter
as much maybe as they seem to matter
to the rest of us...
Always has a way with words around
it all though,
way around, and through
The way-word soldier.
Yeah, will put you at ease and no-never-mind.
‘ cause he’s out there on the outer
keeping an eye on the boarders
keeping careful watch
on most matters most us think of in
But what really matters ?
When you’ve been stripped down,
broken apart & dragged up to face
the big “what ?”
That sublime face of God the rest of
haven’t had the misfortune of,
the undoing of, the privilege to…
But that’s OK, because when you come
face t face with the STARK FACE
then you know there’s nothing that
the place of that … wordless,
and ALL you CAN know THEN, is the THE
and that is ultimately to know
the difference of when others have…
and havn’t faced it.
The way-word soldier knows
What is the ultimate price of
and what is the ultimate armor against
truths learned along the way ?
… but words ? and the knowing.
Once knew a soldier
or thought I did,
- Gail Lloyd
to Gail & The Tricksters Homepage