Corner Column

By Larry Tucker
Posted 7/14/22

I got to meet Charlie Daniels in the mid-1970s. The late fiddle master and country rocker was always a favorite of mine. He passed away a couple of years ago at a young 83.

It was a time in my …

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Corner Column


I got to meet Charlie Daniels in the mid-1970s. The late fiddle master and country rocker was always a favorite of mine. He passed away a couple of years ago at a young 83.

It was a time in my life when I was trying to work two jobs and be a single Dad of two young children. I was blessed to have parents who made my children a priority so I could work and pay bills.

I was a permanent substitute teacher at my old high school, W.W. Samuell, in Southeast Dallas by day and was a beer and wine pusher at night at the Full Circle Saloon on lower Greenville Ave. and the Longhorn Ballroom in downtown Big D.

The Full Circle was a neighborhood bar which was a Texas version of Cheers. It was owned by a pair of Samuell grads, Scott Cantrell and Cliff Hatzenbueler, and the clientele was mostly folks from surrounding East Dallas and old Grove Rats.

Grove Rats was a name given to describe people from Pleasant Grove where I grew up. The Grove Rats were originally supposed to have been gang-like group in the 1950s and early 1960s. By the time we came around, there was no gang, but we held on to that moniker out of pride. It distinguished us from the rest of Dallas and we were (and still are) quite proud of it.

The Full Circle Saloon became a daytime hang-out for local musicians and others in the music business. It was where I met many fascinating characters. I was able to get some part-time work doing security at concerts through a very interesting and unique personality. His name was Jay and he owned GBS Incorporated which was a security/public relations company. Jay passed away a few years ago, but he was a good friend. No need for his last name, he has relatives (former wives) in this area who might not remember him as fondly as I do.

Jay got me security gigs at Willie Nelson shows and many others who were in the Texas progressive country music scene at the time, but that is a whole other novel.

Jay lived in a big old two story house in Oak Cliff with a roommate who was a poster artist for some of the performers Jay worked for and for a local head shop. Downstairs was where folks from all walks in the music and Dallas underground music scene would gather. 

Upstairs were several bedrooms, and the front and back doors were always open for anybody who needed a place to crash and an after-hours haven when the bars closed. It was one of those after-closing-time things.

A bunch of regulars at the Oak Cliff house usually started getting there around midnight and then the rest of us started coming in about 2:30 to 3 a.m. after closing down our respective clubs. 

Jay had done some security work for Charlie Daniels in the past. Charlie was playing a show in Waco or somewhere south of Big D. He was on his way to Oklahoma for another. You must understand, I totally identified with Charlie’s “Longhaired Country Boy” and “Uneasy Rider.”

But on this early morning, ax big bus pulled up in front of that Oak Cliff house about 3:30 and out comes Charlie Daniels himself along with part of his crew. Jay had invited them to come by and stay there if they wanted to and Charlie decided that’s what he would do.

You know sometimes when you meet a hero or a celebrity type person they aren’t always what you expected. I would interview many a country performer when I later became a music journalist, mostly writing album reviews and doing interviews for a pair of underground and alternative newspapers in the DFW area and then during a 10-year stint in country music radio. 

Charlie Daniels was truly one of the nicest people I was blessed to ever meet. I was excited that among those at the Oak Cliff house that night, Charlie took out some time to just sit and visit with me. 

At that time Charlie wasn’t the fervent conservative right-wing philosopher he came to be. Although our politics the last few years parted ways, I will always respect Charlie for his love of country and not being afraid to say and sing his beliefs.

Charlie loved US veterans until the day he passed away and was always involved with anything to do to honor our armed forces.

But that night, almost 50 years ago, he told me something I have always remembered. I’m paraphrasing, but it went something like this, “Look man, to be successful, you have to believe in yourself, be honest with yourself, admit when you are wrong, and most of all, don’t lie to anyone, especially yourself.”

I try to remember those words and have failed to adhere to them many times, and by not doing so, really made a mess of some of the phases of my life. The older I have become, the words mean more to me with each passing day.

The “don’t lie to anyone, especially yourself” has been something I’ve tried to do daily. At least now when I mess things up, I have some tools to get back in the flow and I don’t blame others for my mistakes.

Charlie Daniels was a man of staunch belief and never afraid to speak his mind. I humbly thank him for advice I still carry with me today.