Q: In the early-'70s, there was a song played on country stations in which the main character of the song is in a jam, needing help. The chorus went something like “I needed some help then along came Hopalong Cassidy, Buffalo Bill, Jesse James, I’d have been lost if they hadn’t showed up when they did. There was even Doc Holliday, Maverick and Billy the Kid.” The artist may have been Buck Owens. The style was very similar to his. Any help on the song title and artist would be appreciated.
A: The song you’re looking for is “Cowboy Convention.” Written by John Carter and Peter Barnfather, “Cowboy Convention” was first recorded by the pop band Ohio Express in 1968. A few years later, Buck Owens’ son, Buddy Alan, recorded a version of the song with his father’s guitarist Don Rich. Alan started recording in the late-'60s and had success with his first single, a duet with Buck called “Let the World Keep on a-Turnin,’” that made it to the Top Ten. He had a moderately successful singing career for the next decade with a few minor hits including “Cowboy Convention” which reached No. 19 on the country charts in 1970.
Q: What can you tell me about the origin of the name “Led Zeppelin”?
A: According to several published reports, the name was inspired by off-hand comments made in jest by the Who’s Keith Moon and John Entwistle during a conversation they had in 1966 with guitarist Jimmy Page. At the time, Page was a member of the Yardbirds, but the band was in its final stages of life. Page told Moon and Entwistle that he wanted to put together a “supergroup” and asked if they wanted to join him, knowing that there was some tension within the Who. In a play on the common phrase that “the idea would fly like a lead balloon,” someone used the term “lead zeppelin.” A couple of years later, when Page completed his obligations with the New Yardbirds and was finally ready to make the move to a new band, he remembered the conversation and suggested the name “Lead Zeppelin” to his bandmates. Their manager, Peter Grant, suggested dropping the “a” in “Lead” in order to prevent “thick Americans” from mispronouncing the name “Leed.”
Q: I recently heard the old ‘50s tune “Stagger Lee” on the radio. Is it based on a true story?
A: “Stagger Lee” is indeed based on a true story. On Christmas night in 1895, a man named “Stagger” Lee Shelton shot and killed William Lyons in a bar fight in St. Louis, Missouri. Both men were members of the notorious St. Louis underworld. Shelton was convicted for the murder in 1897. From the incident, a song was born, thought its original author is unknown. It was published in 1911 as “Stagolee” and was first recorded in 1923 by Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians. Since then, the song has been recorded numerous times by such diverse artists as Pat Boone, Ike and Tina Turner, Huey Lewis and the News, Dr. John, and the Black Keys. The song’s title and lyrics have likewise changed many times. However, the 1959 version recorded by New Orleans native Lloyd Price reached No. 1 and has since become the most popular version of the song.