By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD
Real country fans will recognize his name, his distinct voice, and his list of hit songs. If you’re not a fan already, you will be after you see John Conlee perform at Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.
His hits include “Rose Colored Glasses,” “Backside of Thirty,” “Lady Lay Down,” “Friday Night Blues,” “Miss Emily’s Picture,” “Busted,” “I Don’t Remember Loving You,” “Common Man,” and many more.
Since 1981, Conlee has had 26 singles reach the Top 20, with eight of those reaching No. 1.
Shreveport native Kix Brooks was a songwriter on Conlee’s fourth No. 1 – “I’m Only in It for the Love,” which was released in 1983 and spent a total of 12 weeks on the country chart. Conlee shares the story behind the song in today’s feature.
Your fourth No. 1 single, “I’m Only in It for the Love,” was released in 1983 and was the first single from the album In My Eyes. One of the songwriters on that hit is Shreveport native Kix Brooks (who wrote a number of hits for other artists before becoming half of the legendary Brooks & Dunn). How did you get hooked up with Kix?
Kix co-wrote the song with Rafe Van Hoy and Deborah Allen. “I’m Only In It For The Love” was written when Rafe and Deborah came home after buying a new piano. Kix was sitting on their front porch waiting on their return for a writing session. They all went in, unpacked the new piano, and started playing it. The song came from that “noodling” session with the new instrument. I guess the piano paid for itself right away!
Have you played in Shreveport before? If so, when and where?
We have but I have no idea when it may have been. After 45 years on the road, I don’t retain the “whens” and “wheres” very well. In fact, I have trouble with two weeks ago.
Who were your biggest influences when you started?
I’ve always listened to people who sell what they sing. Soul singers. My all-time favorite artist is Ray Charles, and it’s also B.B. King, Etta James and Aretha. In country, Haggard, Jones, and Lefty, and in pop, Sinatra and Tony Bennett. In other words, those with distinctive voices — no matter the format.
Which one of your hits gets the biggest reaction when you perform it today?
I suppose it will always be “Rose Colored Glasses.” Of course, it’s my signature song and first hit from 1978. It has become a standard in music and those are rare!
You’ve enjoyed over 40 years of success in the country music industry. What keeps you performing after all these years?
Communicating music is what I’m supposed to do and, as long as my health and voice hold up, I have no plan to stop.
How has country music changed since you started in the industry?
Unfortunately, the format is not as song and sound oriented as it was when I started. It’s harder to find songs with a great story line these days and there are so few distinctive voices. I’m thankful that I got to work with some of the great songwriters and artists of the previous decades.
What does a John Conlee audience look like these days?
I’m always amazed to look out and see a good number of younger people singing along with songs that are older than they are! It’s very flattering to think that they would be attracted to music that pre-dates them. I credit the content of the songs for that. All of us prime lifers are glad to have them with us!
What do you like to do when you’re not on stage?
I live on a farm so I’m usually in work clothes when I’m home. I also do much of the maintenance on my bus between trips. Just a “Common Man,” you know.
Tickets: $29 for Handicap, $39 for General Admission, and $49 for Reserved Seating. Tickets available at http://www.Outhousetickets.com or by phone at 936-554-5822.
Contact Harriet at email@example.com