Tommy Collins was a native of the Oklahoma City area. While in high
school, his brother Bill encouraged him to take up the guitar. Not
just interested in music, he was part of the National Honor Society
in high school and was chosen as Oklahoma's "Who's Who" representative
in 1945. After high school, he attended college for three years and
was a chemistry major.
His career started over KLPR in Oklahoma City, OK. He had his own show
there for about two years and was on Cousin Jay's "Mountain Jamboree"
show there, too. He also appeared on other Oklahoma City stations, including
WKY, WKY-TV, KBYE and KOCY.
Tommy had to serve a stint with the Marines. After he got out, he went
out to California where he met none other than Ferlin Huskey. He credits
Ferlin for helping him out quite a bit, including living at Ferlin's house
in Bakersfield. Ferlin also introduced Tommy to Cliffie Stone of Central
Songs, Inc. Tommy was signed by Central and later, also by Capitol Records.
Almost as soon as he wrote them, artists started recording his tunes.
For instance, Gene O'Quinn recorded his "I'll Stop Loving You" and
"I Believe in Lovin' 'Em". Chester Smith waxed "Wishing My Life Away".
Ferlin Huskey recorded a handful of his tunes, too including hits such
as "Are You Afraid", "I'll Never Have You", "Hank's Song", "Watch The
Company You Keep", "How Much Are You Mine", "Undesired". Freddie Hart
scored with "Whole Hog or None". Recent Country Music Hall of Famer Faron
Young recorded his "Just Married". And the Carlisles did "I Need A Little Help".
When he joined Capitol, his first tunes released for them were "You Gotta Have
A License" that had "There'll Be No Other" on the flip side. Later on,
he did "You Better Not Do That" that had "High On A Hilltop" on the B side (a tune
that was later recorded for a hit by Merle Haggard).
Along about mid-1954 or so, Tommy was working with Cousin Herb Henson
out of Bakersfield, doing radio, television and personal appearances.
Even by 1954, he was quite a prolific songwriter as they mentioned he had
already written over 200 songs. Stay tuned as you know we'll find out
more about him as we go along the trails of hillbilly music history.
Credits & Sources
- Country Song Roundup No. 32; June 1954; American Folk
Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT.
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