I felt a little uncomfortable because, when I went in to the military, I was the main male vocalist they had and when I came out they had like two or three vocalists. Otis came in when I was in the military, too.
Some of my other heroes around that time were, oddly enough, Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole and people like that – I was always more inclined to listen to ballads.
I wear a lot of different hats – from writer to producer and artist. We all do 5 or 6 jobs, everything from creating our own graphic design to actually recording and the whole bit.
I stayed with them for about a year up there and, at night, worked over in Long Island at a club called The High Hat Club which was like a pseudo jazz / blues place.
When I came out of service, the first couple of releases didn’t really hit so I just took a little hiatus and sat down to see what was happening. I just glued my ears to the radio and then I started writing – the first hit record that came out was ‘Everybody Loves a Winner.’
Growing up in Memphis and listening to all kinds of music and dreaming… So that was one of the first times I wrote a complete song and set it to music and the whole bit. From then on, I was busy with it.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride. There have been some great moments and some low points… like when I was leaving Stax. That’s when I actually thought of getting out of the business.
There was some scene in The Blues Brothers movie, when they had the chicken wire across the front of the stage, and it was almost like that. They had a big guard rail around the stage, which kept the college kids from getting on… we had some good times.
We worked over at that place The Plantation Inn with The Del Rios. It was really wild over there.
When I came out of the military, I had a club in Memphis and I started using the The Bar Kays as my club band. They were still only in the middle school – but I’d take them on the road with me on the weekends, sometimes.
The first song that I wrote was when I was with The Del Rios. I was like 14 years old but I was always putting my thoughts down on paper even before then because it was like an escape – a way of unleashing all the stuff.