Interview With Ralph & Clyde

By Jim McDowell

In the winter of 1981-82 I was helping Lou Antonicello with the Duane Eddy Circle. We learned that Duane had recorded a couple of songs with 2 old friends from his Phoenix days that were living in Grand Junction, Colorado. The songs were "Lights In The Rain" and "Born To Lose" by Ralph and Clyde. These two songs were issued on a 45 for Big J records. They also released an album that included these two tracks with "Lights In The Rain" as the title track. I volunteered to contact Ralph and/or Clyde to see about getting a supply of the records to sell to Circle members that were requesting them. A letter and a couple of phone calls later the records were on the way and I found Clyde Jorgensen and Ralph Smith to be as friendly and genuinely nice guys as they were talented. They agreed to do an interview which appeared in "Guitar Star" (The official newsletter of the Duane Eddy Circle U.S.) in the winter of 1982. It's hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago. We still keep in touch on a regular basis. It really is the Duane Eddy Circle of FRIENDS!

Jim McDowell
May 2001

JM: When and where did you first meet Duane?

RALPH: I met Duane in 1957 in Phoenix, Arizona, Duane and Buddy Long were playing for Ray Odom.

JM: Have you ever played on any of his sessions or with any of the Rebels?

Ralph: Duane and Al Casey both played on my first 45 cut at Audio Recorders. This was before Duane hit it big. Donnie Owens sang harmony on it.

JM: You answered my next question. I was going to ask if you ever recorded at Audio Recorders in Phoenix. Did you use the famous (?) water tank echo chamber?

RALPH: This 45 ("Could It Be" and "Never With Your Heart") was recorded in the same Audio Recorders studio that Duane cut his first hits. We also cut a 45 ("Lying Lips and "Hurtin' Inside") at the new Audio Recorders in 1966. This was the first time Clyde and I recorded together.

JM: Did you ever play live with in the Phoenix area with Duane or any of the "others?" What type of music?

RALPH: I used to sit in with Duane and Al Casey every chance I got. Al worked for me at the Seven Seas in 1958 (this is in Phoenix) along with Joe Angel, Bud Isaacs and Bobby Boyd. We played mostly country.

JM: What instruments did you play?

RALPH: Guitar.
Clyde: Bass. I also bang on a guitar when I'm writing.

JM: What are your preferences on guitars and amps?

RALPH: Gibson guitars - SG or Fender amps.

CLYDE: Gibson guitars (I have one I got from Red Lane that was made in 1921) and Fender bass and amp. We both flipped out over Duane's amp that was special made for him.

JM: How long did it take to record the "Lights In The Rain" LP?

CLYDE: Several months, we had to juggle when we could get studio time with when we had time along with when all the fine pickin' that helped us could be there.

JM: Did Duane overdub his guitar parts on the two songs he played on?

CLYDE: Overdubbed seems so cold a word when you listen to what he put together for us, but we'll just go ahead and use it. By the way, we hadn't intented to include the whistling on "Lights." Duane and Deed heard us do it in the club where I always whistled on it. It was their idea to put it in the recording. I'm glad they insisted.

JM: In what way did Duane contribute besides his guitar playing?

RALPH: Duane mixed 9 of the 10 songs on the album. This in itself is truly an art. It was amazing to watch his concentration. Like his playing, he gives it his all.

JM: Any other interesting stories about the LP?

CLYDE: Cutting the album was fun, exciting and most certainly interesting in itself. I have to tell you this story. Ralph and I have lived in Grand Junction over 15 years. So, when we're up to something (the LP etc.) or go anywhere, people know us or about us. Well, you can imagine how long it took for everyone to know Duane was in town. One afternoon Ralph and Duane went shopping at our local city market. They were spotted by an employee who is an old friend of ours and most certainly a Duane Eddy fan. She gets all excited about seeing Duane of course and to top it off, Ralph introduces her to Duane. She makes Duane write a note so her husband will believe she really got to meet Duane Eddy. The next afternoon I go over to the store and chat with the lady. I asked her if Ralph had been in with a tall dark headed fellow. She tells me all about it. Then I tell her it's our cousin and that Ralph has been going all over town telling everybody it's Duane Eddy. It really got hectic, I thought she was going to cry before I tll her I'm just teasing. I told Duane and Deed about it and they really got a laugh.

JM: Who came up with the title?

CLYDE: Since we made "Lights" the title song we just went from there. I started the song in 1969. Mark Espy and I finished it right before we went into the studio. Try this one, it was a black, rainy Sunday afternoon when we finished it.

JM: Have you ever done any tours?

RALPH: We've never done a tour of one nighters, though we have played several cities including Denver, Dallas, Phoenix and Miami, Florida, our hometown. We have done cocerts with Waylon (also an old friend from Phoenix), the Oakridge Boys, Hank Williams jr. and Larry Franklin who is an absolute master of the fiddle.

JM: Are you planning any tours in the near future?

CLYDE: Not at the present though we hope to go to England.

JM: Are more recording sessions being planned?

RALPH: Yes! The sooner the better.

JM: Anything that we haven't covered that you'd like to add?

RALPH and CLYDE: Once again we give our sincere thanks to Duane for so very much help and introducing us to The Duane Eddy circle of Friends, both here and in Great Britain. It is a thrill to hear from you all.

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