On the second release for the label, Joyce Webb sings "Right Here!", and is backed by the Slades in 1958. The flip side, "After You've Gone" was also backed by the Slades. Notice that the Slades group members names are listed on the label. To hear my interview with Joyce and see what she is doing now, go HERE.
Barney Tall's real name was Bernard Samuelson, and he lived in Austin. He stood about 6'8", and was legally blind. He suffered from Marfan Syndrome, which is a connective tissue disorder that affects tissues connecting tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, heart valves, and the like. People who suffer from this disease are often extremely tall and thin, have long extremities, and eye problems. Barney was no exception. He could see objects
at extremely close range, though Roger recalls that Barney's pupils were always in a state of flux.
As heard by the Domino recordings, Barney's music was in the Texas dance hall vein, which was primarily country swing and popular numbers. He played a Gretch White Falcon guitar. Roger recalls that Barney did an outstanding job performing "Young Love," made popular by Sonny James.
Barney and Roger played numerous nightspots in and around the Austin area, including the Flamingo, Shorthorn, Longhorn, and 5 nights a week at the Split Rail. Their group would also back more established stars who passed through the area; Arleigh Duff of "Y'all Come" fame was one that comes to Roger's mind.
"I'm Only Human" on Domino was a regional hit for Barney; the song is still performed around Austin today by country dance musicians. Steel guitarist Bert Rivera, who today is best known for his years with western swing great Hank Thompson, played on the record. Joe Castle performed the violin duties, multi-tracking several parts.
Roger Beck, who is also a barber, joined with Barney shortly after "I'm Only Human" came out. The two chanced to meet when Barney visited Beck's barber shop. They began playing together, and Barney secured backing from both the Lone Star and Jax beer distributors. According to Roger, one Lone Star representative took offense when he found out that Barney was playing for a competitor, and subsequently smashed a beer bottle across Barney's face, damaging the retina in one of his eyes. Roger had to drive Barney to Houston in order to be treated by an eye doctor, as nobody in Austin could perform such work at the time. It is said that the Lone Star rep remained in hiding for a very long time, as Barney was a very large man and could pack quite a wallop.
Barney's career peaked when they secured a steady gig at HemisFair '68 in San Antonio, which ran from April to October. Barney died shortly thereafter in early 1969 from complications stemming from Marfan Syndrome. He was in his early 30's. According to Roger, Barney started experiencing heart difficulties during a gig; on the outset, it looked like a heart attack. Roger drove Barney to the emergency room at Brackenridge, Austin's city hospital. The emergency room attendants were more concerned with a drunk who had cut himself up and was bleeding, and did not attend to Barney, who finally walked out of the hospital proclaiming, "If I'm going to die, I'm going to die at home!" Roger took him to Seton, another hospital in Austin. Barney's aorta had partially separated from his heart, and was bleeding internally. At that time, nobody in Austin could perform what was then complicated heart surgery. So, within about 2-3 days, Barney bled to death.
Roger relates that Barney was always a jokester. Even during his final days in the hospital, Barney would jiggle the heart monitors just to see the nurses come running into his room.
Barney was married and had about 5 kids; two of which reportedly inherited Marfan Syndrome. From all accounts, Barney's widow is still alive, and Roger recounts that at least one son for a time followed in his father's musical footsteps.
Story by Paul Schlesinger from an interview conducted in October 2007 with Roger Beck, an Austin, Texas musician who performed with Barney throughout the 1960's. Center Photo by Donald McDonald.
In the mid 1950‘s, my mother, Maydell, and dad heard about Bernard Samuelson (Barny Tall) and that he sang and played the guitar very well. They had previously known of Bernard’s parents because they had attended the same church with them at one time. Shortly after hearing of Bernard Samuelson, my parents had contacted the Samuelsons and we had an invitation to the Samuelson home one evening, which was in about the 4600 block of Speedway, in central Austin. At that point in time, Bernard was a young adult and still lived with his parents. The evening of the first meeting with him, my parents took my younger brother, Kenneth and I, with them to the Samuelson home.
I was only about 8 or 9 years old at the time, but I vividly remember that first visit to the Samuelson home and our first meeting with Bernard, who was a very tall, thin, sharp featured young man with dark curly hair. Although Bernard had a severe sight impairment and was considered legally blind, he was very musically gifted. In order to see anything with any degree of clarity, he had to hold it up very near his face and everything beyond a few inches from his face was a blur. That did not prevent him from singing and playing his guitar like a professional musician. Bernard had a Martin acoustic guitar at that time when we first met him. It was covered with a tooled leather cover with hand stitched leather lacing where the top and bottom of the leather cover met the sides. Hand tooled leather covered most of the guitar body except for the round sound hole and the area beneath the strings.
Bernard sang some Hank Snow songs for us and he sounded exactly like Hank Snow. He also expertly played his guitar exactly like Hank Snow. I remember that he had a big stack of Hank Snow 78 rpm records and he and his parents told us he learned all of the Hank Snow songs from listening to those records and that he taught himself to play the guitar. Bernard’s mother had an old pump organ and I remember her playing it for us at some point back then. I remember that she played it with much vigor and enthusiasm. At that first meeting with Bernard Samuelson, he indicated that he would like to try some of my mother, Maydell’s, songs.
My mother, Maydell, had purchased a ukulele to use to accompany her singing while she worked out the melody for her songs. After we met Bernard Samuelson, my parents bought a Webcor tape recorder, which was a big, heavy tube type suitcase sized one; the latest technology of the day. My mother would sing her songs and accompany herself with the ukulele, and record them on the tape recorder. They would then let Bernard Samuelson use the tape recorder. He listened to the tape until he had learned the lyrics and melody of some of the songs, such that he could sing her songs and accompany himself on his guitar. At the point we first met Bernard Samuelson, he and a few other boys were regularly getting together to play at each other’s houses or garages but I don’t believe they were playing professionally at that point in time. Bernard Samuelson also came to our house in Austin sometimes back then. My parents went to get him because he did not drive because of his sight problem. I remember that one time he came over, I had gotten a little youth sized green Harmony flat top acoustic guitar for Christmas and my parents asked him if he would play it for me and he did. I’ll never forget how wonderful Bernard made that little green Harmony guitar sound. He had such long fingers and it seemed like he had a natural ability to easily get the sounds out of a guitar that others had to really work for. At some point after we met Bernard Samuelson in the mid 50‘s, he married and moved from his parents house on Speedway. He and his new wife moved into a small house just off North Loop in north Austin. They began raising a family there. During the weekdays, Bernard worked at a grocery store and on the weekends and evenings he pursued his musical ambitions. We went to their home a few times there and sometimes the other members of his band would be there. I remember one time when we were there and the bass player arrived (Don Keeling). He was in a green Chevrolet, about a 1952 model, and he had his bass, a big standup acoustic bass, strapped to the roof of that old Chevrolet. In the days before guitar sized electric basses, before vans and before Suburbans, the only way a bass player had to transport his instrument was usually by strapping it to the roof of a car. My mother, Maydell, said she believes the bass player was named Don Keeling.
Bernard and his band would record some of my mother’s songs, including "I’m Only Human" on the old Webcor tape recorder. My parents then took copies of the tape around to disc jockeys and played it to whoever they could get to listen to it. Bernard Samuelson and the other members of his band also played tapes of the songs to people they encountered who might have connections in the music business and I believe that is how the connection was made with the Domino record people. My parents encountered a country disc jockey and musician named Earl Aycock who worked at a country music radio station in Pasadena, Texas. He liked my mothers songs and Bernard Samuelson’s vocals. He was associated or connected in some way with Starday Records, where George Jones, who lived in nearby Beaumont, at the time, was an up and coming new country music star. Earl Aycock reportedly played the tape of Bernard Samuelson and his band performing my mother, Maydell’s, songs for the record company people. They reportedly acknowledged Bernard Samuelson’s talent and abilities, but declined to offer him a recording contract because they said he sounded too much like Hank Snow. After that, Bernard Samuelson shifted his musical Snow, to a style that was more uniquely his own.
Earl Aycock, the Pasadena, Texas disc jockey and his band also performed some more of my mother’s songs on some demo tapes or records and he continued to push them to other record company people he came into contact with. Later on, he was instrumental in bringing about the release of two other songs of my mother’s on the "D" record label. Those two songs were titled “Dear World" and "Cold Cold Ashes", and they were recorded by Bill Wilbourne. In the late 1950’s, Earl Aycock moved to Meridian, Mississippi, where he was originally from I believe. We took a family vacation in the summer of I believe 1960, and we drove through Meridian, Mississippi and stopped and visited with him at the Meridian radio station where he was working at the time.When my family first met Bernard Samuelson in the mid 1950‘s, he was working at an Austin grocery store during the day and pursuing his music; first as a hobby and then semi-professionally, at night. When he began performing professionally, Bernard Samuelson purchased a beautiful white Gretsch electric guitar with gold colored hardware which he played from that point on. We no longer saw him with the Martin acoustic guitar with the leather cover that he had when we first met him and I don’t believe he had the Martin after he started using the white Gretsch electric guitar. After we had known Bernard Samuelson for awhile, we went to a place one night where he and his band were playing. I believe it may have been one of their first few professional gigs. It was at a small honky tonk called the "Hilltop Inn", which was located on Jollyville road just northwest of the Austin city limits. Bernard Samuelson was still working his grocery store day job into the 60‘s that we knew of, but we didn‘t know if or at what point he might have given up the grocery store job after he and his band began performing regularly. After their family began to grow, Bernard Samuelson and his wife and children moved from the small house off of North Loop in north Austin, to a larger home in northeast Austin. We visited with them there at least once, and I remember they had several small children by then.
Summary: This is all of the Domino records released that I know of. It gives a good showing of the artists and groups that had the most popularity on the label. Domino was also very promotion minded, sending out artist information and pictures on many of their releases. Domino was a typical small record label that had better than average talent, but had only one truly National hit. But that was one more hit than 1000's of other record labels had at the time. Bobby Doyle has passed. Joyce Webb Is still singing and now resides in Wimberley, Texas. Joyce previously owned the nationally recognized Wimberley Stained Glass, and is quite an artist. I had the chance to interview her in August of 2003, and she is simply amazing. I didn't realize how talented she is and how many opportunities she has had performing throughout her career. She loves to laugh, and made me feel like we had known each for years when the interview took place. I don't think you could meet a nicer person. Listen to the interview Here. Recorded in September of 2003.
Gone Missing: I'm looking for 78's and Canadian pressings, probably on Reo. A few promotional inserts and sleeves are also needed to complete my collection.