Albert Einstein was once asked what would happen if we ever had a nuclear holocaust. He thought for just a moment and replied: “There would be no music.”
Music is a part of everyone’s life — and Clovis and our area has been blessed by the amount of musical talent that has either been nurtured here or imported here through our good senses.
In a five-year period between 1954 and 1959 an explosion of music from this area was heard around the world. Most of that music, that major recording studios and producers called the “Tex-Mex Sound,” came out of a small Clovis recording studio created by Norman Petty, a hometown boy, with such notables as Buddy Knox, Roy Orbison, Wayland Jennings, Trini Lopez, Bobby Vee, Charlie Phillips, the Fireballs, String-A-Longs, Jimmy Bowen and, of course, Buddy Holly.
Clovis notables such as Bob Linville, Jimmy Self and Homer Tankersley were also part of that scene, as were other notables who have come and gone. “Blue,” the song that made Leann Rimes famous, was recorded here in 1977, with the expert help of Johnny Mulhair and his group at the new Petty Studio on Main St.
But before Norman Petty there were many who “made music” here in Clovis, some home-grown, some from out-of-town. The book, “Those Who Made the Music” which I finished in 2005 and published, is not about different kinds of music, but those who made it. I am no musician, but love music and those that made the music as they are a special bred, and I envy them.
My mother told me many times in her last years, “If I didn’t have music I don’t think I’d want to live.”
She was taught to chord on a guitar by her father in Alabama so she and her sister could accompany him when he played his fiddle at home and to a crowd with his Hilton Brothers Band, there in Alabama and later in Texas.
What kind of music were the first people in Clovis hearing? There was no electricity and the radio had not been perfected. Only one man we know of mentioned music — Arthur Curren, with the May 1, 1907 edition of the Clovis News.
“At the beginning the only sound to disturb the monotony of the situation was the mournful sound of the coyote on the distant prairie, except that occasionally ye editor would take his mandolin and get out in a daisy patch covering an alleged street in front of his office (113 W. Grand) and keep harmony with said coyote.”
Truth be, Otto Liebelt had the first musical instrument, a violin, when his four other brothers came to homestead. They lived in 1903 on vacant land northwest from where the courthouse is today. The town’s north city limits extended to what we now know as Seventh Street.
Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at: