JOE LEONARD (By Shaun Mather)
Born Joe M. Leonard, Jr., 20 June 1919, Gainesville, Texas
Joe Leonard was born in the Texas town of Gainesville. He will be known to Shakin' All Over members as the owner of the Lin and Kliff labels which hosted such revered rockabilly artists like Buck Griffin and Andy Starr. Leonard's activities far from end there - he's enjoyed a colourful life which perhaps reached its peak last year when he celebrated his 60th Wedding Anniversary to his beloved wife Mary Sue.
He graduated from Gainesville High School in 1937 and four years later left the University of Texas, Austin with a major in Government and a minor in economics/journalism. With World War II in full fling, he joined the Army and was shipped of to Europe in the 113th Signal RI Company, attached to First U.S. Army, SHAEF. He was at the D-Day invasion of Normandy and at the front line of the Battle of the Bulge. By the end of the War he'd been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Signal intelligence work/ the European Theatre of Operations Medal with Five bronze stars for the campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe; as well as the Victory Medal. When he left in 1946 he'd achieved the rank of Captain.
He became Advertising Manager for the family owned Gainesville Daily Register (the first newspaper in Texas when founded by his grandfather) but a year later made his first move into the music business. He co-founded the Gainesville Broadcasting Co., Inc. and the area's first radio station, KGAF AM/FM. Eventually he started recording some local talent, mainly in the country vein. It was when he discovered Buck Griffin in 1954 that things really picked up. Griffin's dozen or so sides sides were released on Leonard's Lin label and included Let's Elope Baby which picked up a cover from Janis Martin. Some of his best work like Stutterin' Papa, Jessie Lee and Watchin' The 7:10 Roll By were leased to MGM in a package that also included another Leonard protegee, Andy Starr.
Starr's records are the epitome of rockabilly, Rockin' Rollin' Stone, Round And Round, Dig Them Squeaky Shoes, She's A Goin' Jessie and Give Me A Woman being just some of his highlights. Other rockabilly classics that Joe Leonard was responsible for include Lonesome Baby Blues, Jitterbugging Baby and Lonesome Feeling (David Ray), The Fickle Chicken (The Atmospheres), If You Can't Rock Me and Come Back To Me (The Strikes) and Wild, Wild Woman (Steve Wright). The closest he ever got to a major hit was with local boy Ken Copeland who scored nationally with Pledge of Love in 1957.
After leaving the music business he founded his own Merger and Acquisition Consultancy in Dallas. When he and a group of consultants joined together to form NAMAC/INTERMAC (National and International Consultants), they became the world's largest company in the field of small-mid size mergers. Through the years he served as their President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Emeritus. Other achievements have included being President of the Texas Association of Broadcasters, 1959-60, Secretary-Treasurer, Daytime Broadcasters Association, 1959-62. Director, National Association of FM Broadcasters, 1960, Director and Vice-President, Red River Authority of Texas, 1960-67, President, Gainesville Junior Chamber of Commerce, 1951, Director, Texas Goods Roads Association, 1967-82. director, Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, 1948-50.
And if he gets any spare time he likes to fish!!!!
Recommended listening: That'll Flat Get It Vol.15 - Lin/Kliff - (Bear Family). Link/Kliff STory 4CD box- (Bear Family). Buck Griffin - Let's Elope Baby - (Bear Family). Andy Starr - Dig Them Squeaky Shoes - (Bear Family).
Recommended reading: Gainesville Daily Register :-))
P.S. by Dik: Shaun is far too modest to mention his own book, which has just been published: Joe M. Leonard, Jr., Rockabilly, Radio, and WW II. As told to Shaun Mather. Austin, TX : Eakin Press, 2003. 126 pages. ISBN 1-57168-758-0 : $ 17,95
More info: http://www.rockabillyhall.com/JoeLeonard.html
|These pages were originally published as "This Is My Story" in the
Yahoo Group "Shakin' All Over". For comments or information
please contact Dik de Heer at email@example.com