Slim Willet started off as a songwriter as he related to Cowboy Songs
magazine in a March 1953 article. His first song recorded was a tune
called "Pinball Millionaire" by Hank Locklin in 1950, who at the time
was on the 4 Star label. That tune got recorded a few months later
on Capitol by Gene O'Quin. He said his tunes were usually novelty tunes
that he sang for the entertainment of his audiences.
Then in 1950, during the midst of the big oil boom in Snyder, Texas,
he wrote another tune. And that turned into his first record on the
Star Talent label - "Toolpusher
From Snyder". That tune sold like wildfire in Texas. He then recorded
a few other tunes after that hit, "Nobody Loves A Fat Man", "A Cold
Can of Beer", "My Story's Sadder Than Yourn". (Wouldn't you love to hear
those songs just by the title of those tunes?)
He then moved to the 4 Star label and his first release with them
was "Let Me Know" along with "Love's Prison".
Slim said his recording band was Shorty Underwood and The Brushcutters.
When this article was written in 1953, he was working as a disc jockey
for radio station KRBC out of Abilene, Texas. And was also hosting
the "KRBC Big State Jamboree" that was held down in Abiliene every
Saturday night. He was spinning records six days a week there until
he wrote a song that caught on like crazy - "Don't Let the Stars
Get in Your Eyes". Behind every song like that there is usually a story
of how it came to be. Slim told the readers how it came about.
He got a letter from a soldier stationed in Korea along about September
of 1951. It was one of those long letters, but wanted a song played
for his sweetheart that lived near Abilene. He wrote poetically that
his darling had stars in her eyes on moonlit nights. He told Slim, play
her a tune, tell her to wait for me and to not let the stars get in her eyes.
He said it didn't come to him right then, but about a week later,
he was strumming around on his guitar and singing. His style was a bit
different than most hillbilly singers then. He had a Spanish influence he said
that he had picked up years before. Not that he was Spanish himself, actually
one fourth Cherokee Indian and three-fourths Irish. He said when he was
16, he spent a year in Arizona at the CCC camps. There were about 15
Mexican boys at the camp when he was there and every night they would sing.
And Slim listened. And he said he had never been really to get too far
away from that kind of tempo and style that he remembered.
He wrote that tune, "Don't Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes" and wrote many
verses he said. Sang it for hours. It grew on him. It wouldn't leave him alone.
Finally, one night after the Big State Jamboree show, they set up the
recording equipment and cut the record for the 4 Star label.
But did the 4 Star folks think it was a hit? Slim said he kept the letter they
wrote him. "Here's a song that is off beat, off meter, off everything." ...
"..it wouldn't sell." Well, the legend goes, ten months later, they put it on
the back side of another oil song called "Hadacol Corners". Have you
ever heard "Hadacol Corners" he asks?
Credits & Sources
- Cowboy Songs Magazine No. 25; March 1953; American Folk
Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT.
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