In1971 I was sixteen years old. My family lived on Fairmont St. in Jackson Tennessee. I was in high school and working at Liberty Supermarket as a stock boy.
I was at home one Saturday afternoon with my mother and siblings when there was a knock at the front door. When we answered it there was a woman and her son standing there. They told us that they’d like to come in and preach the gospel and talk about God. My mother let them in, and I saw that the son, who was a little younger than me, had a guitar.
After my mother and the woman spent some time talking, the young man began to play the guitar and singing old spirituals. He had a very deep singing voice and sang beautifully. He sang several songs and by the time he was finished, my mind was whirling. I had been interested in playing guitar at various times during my childhood, but this was different. There was something about the experience of seeing this young man and listening to him doing live, heartfelt music right before my eyes, that inspired me like nothing had before. I knew I had to learn to play guitar and sing. I became obsessed that day. It was learning to play music that took up all my spare time from that point on. I went to the music store for books on how to play guitar. There was an old beat up electric guitar around the house that I tried to practice with. It was useless; I needed a real guitar and amp. I saved money for a down payment and bought a Gibson SG guitar, a Gibson amp, a microphone and stand. I learned basic chords and sequences of chords. It took some weeks of nightly practice before I could actually play and sing a song. After 3 months of practicing, I had a song list, and auditioned for a job at a local pizza parlor. Eleven other acts auditioned for this position and I was surprised to be selected. I played 6 nights a week during the dinner hour. Playing in front of people was both scary and exhilarating and I loved it. This was the start of my music career.