“My stepfather bought a little box guitar. He was gonna play church with it and left it sitting in the house on the wall. I had time on my hands and I picked it up and started funkin on it. I liked the sound of the guitar so I ended up loving it. I had a friend who was showing me a few strokes on it and when I learnt that….It was like self taught, a hobby, not looking to do anything great just…I used to call the guy Sarge cause he walked funny like he was marching. I don’t know if he was in military, but he was a nice guy, very nice guy. I was young, bout around 7, maybe ten, time pass so fast. I was probably bout ten.
Later on, a friend of mine that used to fiddle around on the drums, he followed the seasons, like a migrant worker but independent. He used to drive his car and I guess the Florida season was one of his favorite times to come picking fruits and watermelons and vegetables and stuff. He came home to Arkansas for the holidays. Not too far from the city I lived in. On the way back down to Florida he stopped through Forrest City where I lived to say hello. We used to sing a few BB King songs together. BB King had a song called “Sweet 16” and I played the guitar and my friend played the drums. He was good at playin’ the shuffle drums, that was back in the day. I could mimic BB a lil bit even at a young age, and so he told me as good as I play guitar I should come to Florida where all the stars and the big bands be in Miami. He built it up and built it up so much that I finally said ok. I said, “Ey Mom, I think I’ma go to Florida and see what they doing.” There was no musicians playing in my city. I was bout one of the best musicians around. No work. I wanted to go somewhere I could grow and meet other musicians. I left home with no money and my mom said ask stepdadddy to give me a few dollars. I never did. And me and my friend came to Florida together.”
Story ©Willie Hale. Article ©Jacob Katel.
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