gather ’round cats and i’ll tell you a story
’bout how to become an all-american boy.
just buy you a guitar and put it in tune
and you’ll be a rockin and a rollin soon.
impressin the girls, hittin hot licks, and all that jazz.
i bought me a guitar about a year ago and i
learned how to play it in a day or so.
and all around town it was well understood
that i was knocking ’em out like johnny b. goode.
hot licks, showing off, ah, number one.
well i practiced all day and up into the night,
my papa’s hair was a gettin kinda white.
he didn’t dig that,ah, rock and roll.
he said, “you can stay boy, but that’s gotta go.”
he’s a square; just didn’t dig me at all.
so i packed my guitar, picks and all, and i said farewll to my poor old pa.
i split for memphis where they say ‘you all’
and them swinging cats are a havin a ball.
yeah, they love me down there, guitar picks and all.
i was rocking and bopping and getting all the breaks,
and the girls all said that i had what it takes,
when up steps a man with a big cigar. he said. “come here, kid.
i’m gonna make you a star.”
put you on “bandstand’, buy you a cadillac. sign here, kid.”
so i signed my name and became a star, having a ball with my guitar.
driving a big, long cadillac. and fighting the girls off’n my back.
but they just keep a comin, screaming, they love it.
so i picked my guitar with a great big grin
and the money just kept on rollin in.
and then one day my uncle sam said (thump, thump, thump) “here i am!
uncle sam needs you, boy. gimme that guitar. take this rifle. yeahhhh – gonna cut your hair off… .
a letter from don powell
most of your lyrics are on the money – i merely cleared up a few that you
apparently couldn’t distinguish from the record. i backed bobby with guitar on the original cut for all american boy. i was playing in r&r band in dayton, ohio when one night bobby and his manager showed up. they had a few beers, introduced themselves on a break and asked if we would be interested in backing bobby on a novelty song about elvis being drafted into the army. we practiced the song the next day, a sunday, drove to cincinatti on monday, and cut the record in king studios there. the third try was a take and became the song which became a hit. the band was given the option of taking a percentage of record sales, -ssuming it could be marketed and did well; or we could receive ‘session fee’, which was about $35.00/person. without exception the band members (all five of us) took the $35.00. you can imagine our surprise (and delight) to hear the song being played on the radio all over ohio and the whole midwest.
the reason for the confusion re bobby’s name not appearing on the fraternity label, who bought pressing and distribution rights, was that two weeks prior to the recording, bobby, ironically, had been drafted and knew that he would not be able to promote the song by touring or personal appearances. his best friend, bill parsons, was allowed to -ssume bobby’s role, and bill actually did record the flip side of aab with a jazzed up version of rubber dolly. when the record hit, bobby was in boot camp in the army, and i and the band (now called the “all american boys”) went on tour of the midwest with bill parsons, playing at small to medium venues in clubs and auditoriums from detroit to st. louis. but it could not be pulled off. bill parsons was no bobby bare and the we soon faded back into obscurity, playing at neighborhood bars in dayton, ohio. bobby was a true-born, gifted singer and songwriter with the magic ability to be at one with an audience. he was truly one of a kind.
i will be happy to share any experiences and anecdotes re bobby with you should you desire. dgp