"He's still a star,
He Plays with a band of anges
That's his ... Golden Guitar"
Country music fans will recognize that as the line from one of Bill Anderson's big
hits that was a recitation number. Bill originally put it on an album
called "Bright Lights and Country Music" but disc jockeys and fans soon
discovered this tune and eventually it became a hit single.
During that era, you might have expected that perhaps
Bill wrote the song, but it came from the pen of Curtis Alvin Leach,
a native of Catoosa, Oklahoma.
Texas Jim Cooper wrote a tribute article to Curtis in early 1966 and provided a few
more details about the short life and musical career of Curtis Leach.
Songwriting seemed to have come easy to Curtis - he wrote his first tune
when he was just ten years old. It was said his tunes ran a wide spectrum
of tastes. He could produce a moving sacred melody or 'set a standard to
a light-hearted composition. His lyrics were known to be 'straight-from-life'
or surrounding the age-old emotion, love.
Dewey Groom, owner of Saran Music publishing company and Longhorn Records
mentioned to Mr. Cooper that Bobby Bare was going to record three tunes
written by Curtis - "Big Railroad Man", "Two Sinners", and "Lightning Strikes
Twice". It was said that Tex Ritter was set to record a tune called "Ginny
Pour The Wine", said to be a gunfighter ballad.
One of Leach's first recordings was a tune he did called "The Highway Man".
He was co-writer on two tunes that Phil Baugh recorded on Longhorn Records
as well - "One Man Band" and "Country Guitar" - sharing songwriting credits
with Phil Baugh.
All told, Texas Jim Cooper mentions that Curtis Leach left behind about
20 recordings. Ten of which originally appeared in a Longhorn LP which
was titled "The Indescribable Curtis Leach" - which summed up the difficulty
they had coming up with a title for the album.
On December 14, 1965 in Mesquite, Texas, the musical career and life of Curtis Leach came
to a tragic end and many are left to wonder what may have been if he
had lived on.
His death was even reported by the New York Times, via UPI. The article reports that
he was stabbed in his left leg. The cut severed an artery and Mr. Leach was said
to have died on the way to the hospital. The article noted that no arrests had been
made at the time.
Dewey Groom noted, "I think his name will be immortal, like that
of Hank Williams. Curtis was a genius and left enough writing to take care of his
Mr. Cooper also tells the readers that other notable songwriters such as Willie Nelson
and Hank Thompson felt Curtis was "...unique as a master of the musical word."
Credits & Sources
- Country Music Life; March 1966; Country Music Life
Publications; Orange, California
- New York Times; "Singer Stabbed To Death" (UPI); December 15, 1965;
New York, New York