Houston Barks was his name and he was said to have been born in Sallisaw, Oklahoma.
They say he started strumming a guitar when he was just eight years old.
When he was 18 years old, he moved to Visalia, California and got a job
picking cotton. He did that for about a couple days and started thinking
that there must be a better way to make a living. So, he decided to try
the music business a bit and began finding work in towns such as Fresno,
Bakersfield, Tulare, Dinuba and also Visalia.
He did that for about ten years, but was getting frustrated, feeling like
he wasn't really getting noticed in the entertainment business. He packed
up and moved to Santa Paula, California about 1956.
There, he got work for a one-night stand at a place that Buck and Sunny Smith
owned. It may have been an audition, but the audience and Buck and Sunny
were impressed. He was hired by the Smiths to front the band at their place.
The crowds began to grow, with people starting to come from miles around.
He had written a couple of tunes and apparently Buck and Sunny thought
they were good. They decided to have him do a recording session on their
Buck and Sunny record label. He recorded "She's Gone" and "A Stranger".
Billboard wrote a review of that record and stated that Houston's style was
a bit like Johnny Cash. They termed both sides of the record as 'weepers'. The 'A'
side was about a train that took his gal far away; the 'B' side was about a stranger
that took his gal away.
Credits & Sources
- Folk and Country Songs; Vol. 4 No. 16; June 1959;
American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
- Billboard Magazine; November 10, 1958