Musical legacy left behind
May 31, 2011
Music has lots of ways of connecting people, sometimes when we least suspect it.
After writing a newspaper column for close to 25 years I’ve learned not to fight it when a good topic comes along. Sometimes they don’t come seeking my muse at all, the good Lord and my editor know only too well. So this week when one began clubbing me about the ears I eventually snapped to attention.
It all started with an email from a lady by the name of Vicky Pickering from Texas. She liked last week’s column in which I bemoaned the aging of rock ‘n’ roll and its fans.
I thought it was sweet of her to write but the name meant nothing to me. Then towards the end of her message I made the connection.
She said her late husband John and his family had made a lot of radio and personal appearances back in the 1930s in the Clovis and Portales area as the Pickering Family Quartet. She also attached a photo of her husband when he was 5 years old in front of a KICA microphone in the station’s Clovis studio.
The boy is wearing the latest in Hop-Along Cassidy headgear and a Lone Ranger and Tonto belt and buckle. Freckled and gap-toothed he looked like he had the world by the tail.
According to the website buddyhollyandthepicks
.com, after growing up under the Southern Gospel influences of their parents Johnny and his brother Bill later returned to Clovis in the 1950s where they were asked to supply background vocals for several Buddy Holly (Crickets ) songs being recorded by Norman Petty. They later became known as The Picks but evidently never got a lot of recognition though they were featured on nine of the first 12 Holly recordings.
Knowing enough about the fans of the so-called “Clovis Sound” I originally shied away from writing about the Pickering email. I like the music and got a good dose of it on the radio growing up here but what I don’t know about its history would fill volumes and I know there’s someone out there waiting to trip me up.
But it wouldn’t go away.
Wednesday I had a meeting to attend at the Chamber in Clovis and another a little while later. Turned out that in between I had just enough time to tour the Clovis Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum, something I somehow hadn’t managed to do since it opened. I looked for mention of the Picks or John Pickering and only found one in the short time I was there.
At the lunch meeting fate kept picking at me as I found myself seated next to Randy Petty. I asked him about John Pickering and he said he knew him but was a little surprised to find out he had died earlier this year.
Then the capper that evening as I was running through Facebook posts was the news that May 25 was the late Norman Petty’s birthday. Such a perfect storm of Clovis music coincidence couldn’t be ignored any further.
The loss of the likes of Petty, Holly and John Pickering have definitely left holes in the tapestry of the “Clovis Sound.” Fortunately the rock ‘n’ roll and the musical connection lives on.