Plainview's Music Scene of the Sixties & Seventies
by Rockin' Robin Brown

robin brownSinger, songwriter and guitarist Robin Brown was part of the Amarillo-Canyon scene in the mid to late sixties. When not playing onstage he hawked the best bands of the area and heard (and knew) some of the better musicians. Late in life he now enjoys kicking back in his garden furniture, reliving those memories through his personal articles which appear in print often.

photoAlthough Plainview, TX is known as the hometown of Country Music crooner Jimmy Dean who hit it big in 1960 with Big Bad John another group of local musicians were interested in other forms of music such as doo wop, rock'n roll and blues. Watching Elvis movies had also made some of these young'uns want to play a guitar and sing so they could get chased by the girls too. Then when the String-A-Longs came along and recorded 'Wheels' which led them to tour nationally the musical spark had become a flame in Plainview!

photoAside from Jimmy Torres, Richard Stephens and Keith McCormack there were other guitar pickers (and drummers) in town that the residents soon discovered had talent. Lonnie Brown and Eddie Lewis were one grade behind the String-A-Longs and their singing drummer (Jim) was about the same age. However, unlike their local competition they had no hit records or national following, yet they had started a rival band and called themselves the J.A. Jays. Initially Brown played bass guitar, Eddie Lewis played lead and Jim Ferguson was on drums. This was about the time that Fats Domino and Bo Didley were on the charts and Ferguson was a good imitator of these blues singers. On one ocassion in about 1959 they set-up and played in front of the old Montgomery Ward's building across from the Hilton hotel. I think one of them was a Ward's employee and this had given them the inside track on getting the job. I recently heard an old musician state seriously, "They were the first rock'n roll band that i'd ever heard that could actually play a complete song." Nevertheless, I was just barely in my teens when I heard the J.A. Jays play and I must say 'I was quite impressed'!

photosLike most rock'n roll bands they lacked longevity however and within a couple years Brown was on his own and playing lead guitar in another band. Somewhere along the line he also moved over to the microphone and started singing blues songs and current hits. Whenever a lot of West Texans try to sing rock or blues, they usually have thin voices and a rural accent and it just don't work. Lonnie Brown however was one of those few singers that have thick sounding voices and can actually sing blues and soul songs effectively. Sometime near perhaps sixty-five he founded the rock-soul band 'Flick' and started playing night clubs and parties around town. As fate would have it Lonnie Brown the guitarist also had a younger cousin named Lonnie Brown (a drummer) so he took on the nickname 'LB' perhaps to avoid confusion.

photoThe second Lonnie Brown was scheduled to graduate from PHS in c.1966, so he didn't join LB in music until he was out of high school probably. During the meantime he played in several fledgling rock bands around town with such musicians as Lloyd and Dennis Watts, Wallace Shackelford, Allen Dale Garner and Joe Birchfield. Aside from LB's Flick band, some of the younger rock and soul bands of this period included the Torquays, Pedestrian Crossing, Together, Sixth Column and the Sandmen. Since good drummers like Don Allen and Charles Edmiston were sparse in Plainview at the time Lonnie played in many ot the bands listed above at various times as did the Watts brothers. The Watts brothers first band was the Torquays and they played guitar instrumentals after the Fireballs and Ventures until later when they became Jeckle and the Hydes.

Eventually, the young Lonnie would work his way through a lot of the above mentioned groups including the 'Country Knights' until he eventually joined his cousin LB and began playing with Flick at the El Toro Club in west Plainview. By this time LB was doing good version's of Joe South songs including 'Games People Play' and a number of blue's standards while throwing in guitar instrumentals such as 'Hide-a-way' when he could! Lonnie was with him on every 'beat' as was Tony Poston and Dennis Watts who switched off on bass and rhythm guitar. Occasionally Lloyd would sit-in with the band also.

photoLloyd Watts had written a couple of original songs in about seventy-five and he invited Lonnie to play drums on these two love songs, recorded in Lubbock. They were published by one Harold Franklin and released on the Uptown-Downtown label and were made available through the OK Radio record shop locally. At the same time another local singer Mike Wells had several songs he had recorded in Nashville selling there also, on the Playboy label. Probably not long after LB moved to Austin temporarily in the late seventies Flick disbanded and eventually Lonnie also moved to South Texas where he lives today. LB didn't stay in Austin long and is today back in Plainview where he and Lonnie correspond regularly and visit about the old music scene they once were a big part of!