"He Can't Read Music but He Writes a Hit," headlined The Dallas Morning News about
the local policeman Kearney Williams, whose writing and performance
of "Travelin' Man" made Cash Box Pick hit in 1963.
The up-tempo studio recording directed by legendary producer Mitch Torok gained notice
for its upbeat rockabilly, lifting Williams onstage to regular performances at
the weekly stadium-style venue of Dallas' "Big D Jamboree."
Williams opened for Johnny Cash, The Wilburn Brothers, Ernest Tubb, Tex Ritter and
others whose personal autographs crowded onto the facing of Williams' guitar.
The record, produced first on Williams' own label, Tara, and then reissued on
Hickory Records, carried the "B" side lament "Two Worlds, One Heart." Williams wrote
additional songs about other soul-searching journeys, producing an unreleased demo
of an upbeat ballad, "That's The Life for Me."
In 1965, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith recorded "Travelin' Man," sparking
novelty interest for Meredith's break-through path to performing. Meredith extended
his career beyond football with a recurring role as a detective in
"Police Story" and the immensely popular Monday Night Football with
Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell. (Meredith's signature game-ending rendition
of "Turn Out The Lights, The Party's Over" was once upstaged
by the TV crew slipping-in Meredith's version of "Travelin' Man".)
Williams, however, unlike the persona of his "Travelin' Man," never took to
the road to promote his own singing career beyond the distance he could drive
to performances in Austin or East Texas, choosing family life over the lure of touring
on the road.
Credits & Sources
- Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to thank Keith Williams, son
of Kearney Williams for contacting us and graciously providing us with information and
pictures related to his father's career.