Messing around with the Blog name. You’ll get used to it. It’s a bit of a hat tip to my padre. His radio show in Los Angeles was called “Collie’s Corner.”
I got an email the other day from a gentleman in Colorado. Read:
I’m sure you have hundreds of stories like mine. My name is Don and I’m 75 years old. In the early 1960’s I had a country music radio station in Pueblo, Colorado. Your father was pioneering the idea of syndicated radio shows while he was at KFOX. He was taping his shows and interested in making them available.
I was an early believer in radio station automation so we got together. He flew out to Denver one weekend and we became instant friends. I really knew nothing about country music but it was the right position for my station so that’s what I did. Biff took me under his arm. We went off to Nashville in 1965 for the Grand Old Opry birthday celebration and he introduced me to EVERYBODY in country music because he knew them all.
This was the early days of the Country Music Association and he was on the Board. Gene Autry was the first president. Biff and I shared a motel room and he took me to all the “in” events. At the BMI Dinner we sat next to this well dressed woman named Sarah Cannon who I learned, to my surprise, was Minnie Pearl. He took me to Audrey William’s house full of Hank Williams memorabilia including the Cadillac that Hank Sr. had died in. There was also a 14 year old boy named Randal Hank who was more interested in finding civil war gun shot in nearby battlefields than anything else. His mother later turned him into Hank Williams Jr.
I’ve often told the story of going to a party there with your father where he introduced me to this song writer named Willie Nelson and how cordial that entire event was. Biff came to Pueblo many times. He turned me into a country music promoter and mc’d shows he helped me put together. When I sold the station and moved into other activities we drifted apart. I last saw him in Nashville after he had moved there and it was shortly after he had put his radio station on the air. I recorded a couple of commercials for him for old time’s sake. I met your mother briefly. I had known about her after they became involved in Los Angeles with the record store. He told me about his illness which was under control at the time. I was very sad when I learned of his death.
A quick Walter Brennan story. Biff once told me that the stupidest question he had ever asked in an interview was of Walter Brennan. As you may know Brennan was born in Massachusetts and his normal speaking accent was very New Englandish. Biff asked him how he was able to play a role like Grandpa McCoy in the Real McCoys with an accent like that. Brennan paused, gave him a condescending look and said, “I’m an actor.” Biff said he never felt so stupid in his life.
Your father was a rare and beautiful person whose friendship I treasure if not at the top of my list certainly in the top five over my life. He was great to me, my radio station staff and my family. My daughter made no bones about the fact that she planned to marry Biff. The fact that she was five or six at the time and he was in his thirties made no difference. She was not pleased when he married your mother.
Buried in my attic are some great pictures from his visits to Pueblo and the country acts that came through there at the time. At some point I’ll try and dig them out and get copies to you . . . but don’t hold your breath. As I began, there are hundreds of stories about “This is your big, bad, bellowing boy Biff – BI double F – Biff, CO double l, – Collie like a dog.” I’m grateful mine is one of them.
Don’s email was a real gift. I LOVE stuff like that. This here blog has allowed me a number of “Wow” moments like that. Thank you, Don.
I’ve been throwing around the idea of a podcast with a pal o’ mine. Stay tuned…(It may happen, it may not)