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  • Uncle Dave Griffin

Tail of the Weak 4.14

Updated: Jan 27, 2020

Tail of the Weak is a series of insights and musical memories from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin, singer/songwriter and founder of the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, from Waycross, Georgia.

There are notable geographical areas down south that foster the creation of legendary music. Rick Hall put together FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama; and with the Swampers, he created some of the finest hits in the world. The same held true for Macon, Georgia, when in the late Sixties, Phil Walden formed Capricorn Records, making The Allman Brothers, Wet Willie, Cowboy, and Marshall Tucker household names.

Down in Central Florida, among the cow pastures and orange groves around Winter Haven, there was an undeniable surge of talent that yielded top-tier songwriters, country music icons, an easy-listening balladeer, and a musical pioneer.

When 12-year-old Ingram Cecil Connor III's daddy, Coon Dog, shot and killed himself during the Christmas holidays of 1958 in Waycross, Georgia, it set in motion a turn of events that changed the course of modern music.

Ingram's mother, originally Avis Snively of the Winter Haven Snively Groves orange-growing millionaire family, packed her belongings and moved her children from Waycross to Winter Haven. She soon remarried a New Orleans businessman by the name of Bob Parsons, who adopted the children, changing Gram Connor's name to Gram Parsons.

By his teenage years, Gram was a talented musician—fueled by his fascination of Elvis, whom he met backstage at the Waycross City Auditorium at the age of nine and because of his Waycross piano lessons under the tutelage of Bessie Maynard.

In 1961, Parsons found himself in The Rumours, a Winter Haven teen band, that included future heavy hitters, Jim Stafford, Kent LaVoie, and Jon Corneal.

Jim Stafford, singer-songwriter from Winter Haven.
Jim Stafford, singer-songwriter from Winter Haven.

Jim Stafford went on to become a hit singer-songwriter penning “Spiders and Snakes” (cowritten with David Bellamy of The Bellamy Brothers, also from Central Florida), “My Girl Bill”, and “Wildwood Weed”—a star in his own television variety series, The Jim Stafford Show, which aired for six weeks on ABC in the summer of '75—and operator of the Jim Stafford Theatre in Branson, Missouri since 1990.

Kent LaVoie as Lobo, recording artist raised in Winter Haven.
Kent LaVoie as Lobo, recording artist raised in Winter Haven.

Kent LaVoie had major successes in the early Seventies as Lobo, releasing “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”, “I'd Love You to Want Me”, and “Don't Expect Me to Be Your Friend”.

Influential drummer, Jon Corneal of Auburndale.
Influential drummer, Jon Corneal of Auburndale.

Auburndale, Florida's Jon Corneal has drummed on tour with Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn, The Wilburn Brothers, and Connie Smith. His contributions to recordings on a remarkable list of country rock masterpieces include International Submarine Band's Safe at Home—The Flying Burrito Brothers' Gilded Palace of Sin—Warren Zevon's Wanted Dead or Alive—and Dillard and Clark's Through the Morning, Through the Night.

Bobby Braddock was born in Lakeland, Florida and grew up in Auburndale, spending time in rock and roll bands of the late Fifties/early Sixties. In 1964, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he played piano in Marty Robbins's band and found himself in demand as a gifted songwriter. Two of his biggest songwriting

Princeton, Alabama's Curly Putman and Bobby Braddock of Auburndale.
Princeton, Alabama's Curly Putman and Bobby Braddock of Auburndale.

hits—both cowritten with Curly Putman—are Tammy Wynette's “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”, and the George Jones country classic, “He Stopped Loving Her Today”.

Gram Parsons changed the course of modern music in the mid to late 60s by merging rock and roll and traditional country into what would be known to the world as Cosmic American Soul Music or country rock or Americana, etcetera, etcetera. Call it what you will, Parsons is considered by many to be the pioneer

who kicked open the door through which others followed.

Gram Parsons of Waycross GA and Winter Haven FL.
Gram Parsons of Waycross GA and Winter Haven FL.

His style was latched onto by Keith Richards and The Rolling Stones around the time of Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main St., shifting their musical sound from blues into a definitive country direction.

Parsons discovery of Emmylou Harris is enough in my opinion to legitimize his contributions to the world of music. To this day, she credits Gram as her musical mentor and inspiration for a career that has blossomed ever since she first sang on his solo albums, GP and Grievous Angel.

Muscle Shoals sits along the Tennessee River. The Ocmulgee River flows right through Macon, Georgia. Waycross, Georgia is a stone's throw from the vast Okefenokee Swamp. Auburndale, Lakeland, and Winter Haven, Florida are surrounded by lakes.

It's a little bit mystical and a little bit magical what the water has to do with the creation of music that flows from deep inside and touches so many on a universal level. I'm certain I can't explain it; but, people been drinking from that water for a long, long time.






Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin

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