Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes?

When Mr. Nashville mentioned he was looking for writers for a new website he was developing I
raised my hand like an excited child. Pick me! Pick me! I started to get cold feet when I realized
it had been years since I had been out in the land of celebrities. Most of the names I don't even
recognize anymore. Larry started giving me ideas for subjects my column could be about. He
suggested I write about music legends. I know plenty of those. He suggested maybe I could even
write about TV stars of the 80s and whatever became of them. The 80s????? WHOA! If he
thinks the 80s is the “olden days” I sure DO have something to contribute! I really didn't think I
was that old but I remember when people actually had to have talent in order to become a
celebrity. Actors could act, singers could sing, and musicians actually played instruments. True
LEGENDS the likes of which probably will never be again!

My first subject readily came to mind and why he was worthy to be included started immediately
forming into my first article. Then four famous people who influenced me greatly over the years
passed away in the space of a month. I decided I needed to tell you about a couple of them right
away. I will get back to the first guy later.

John Allan Seay, Jr. was born in Gulfport, Mississippi on July 15, 1940. His father's job forced
the family to travel quite a bit so he got his schooling in Georgia and Florida. He quit school
during his senior year to join the LOUISIANA HAYRIDE in 1957. He won a talent contest at
the Georgia Jubilee at Eastpoint, Georgia beating out of all people Bill Anderson. His prize was
$50.00. This turned out to be a major break. He was offered a recording contract and the
privilege of appearing on the LOUISIANA HAYRIDE and the GRAND OLE OPRY. His first hit
on the country charts was “Frankie's Man Johnny” in 1959. He scored again in 1960 with
“Nobody's Darling But Mine”. After that, he left the music business behind for a while. He
moved to the Hollywood area and became a cowboy working on a ranch belonging to the fatherin-law of actor Ben Johnson. He loved ranch work but hadn't gotten the music out of his blood.
He went back to Nashville and began recording again in 1964. “My Baby walks All Over Me”
and “My Old Faded Rose” were country hits. It was about then that I discovered Johnny Seay. I
was a young girl in the teenybopper stage and he was a gorgeous young man with thick curly hair
and a deep rich voice. I still have my copy of the issue of COUNTRY SONG ROUNDUP with the
two page story about him. A lot drooling on my part I can tell you!

In 1966 Johnny recorded a song called “Day For Decision”. At this time the country was in
turmoil with student unrest and protests of the war in Vietnam. This song was a very patriotic
call back to respect for the flag and the country. The record went gold (a HUGE deal back then)
and earned a Grammy nomination. You can find this song on You Tube if you would like to hear
it.


1967 brought an opportunity to co-star in a movie called “What Am I Bid?” with Leroy Van
Dyke, Tex Ritter, Al Hirt, and Faron Young. Johnny had several more hits among them “Willie's
Drunk and Nellie's Dying” a song written about his neighbors when he lived outside Nashville.
He became disillusioned with the music business after realizing he could have hit after hit and
still not make any money. He left the music business behind and went to Texas to work as a
cowboy on the Miller Ranch for a couple years. He had a career on the railroad first as a
conductor and retiring as a steam locomotive engineer. He became a pilot and was Commander
for the 131st Air Search and Rescue Squadron, U. S. Air Force Auxiliary and Civil Air Patrol. He
became an artist, sculptor, and engraver of fine guns. Most of all he enjoyed flying crop duster
aircraft.

I became Facebook friends with Johnny in 2011. He was still very active and handsome at age
70. It's amazing how people who have never met can find many things in common and hit it right
off like longtime buddies! For five years we talked often about things we both had on our minds:
the state of the country, the 2nd Amendment, music, growing older, family, tragedy, wavering
faith, miracles, and finding faith again, his joyous love for flying. He never failed to offer words
of encouragement when I was having difficulties in my own life.
Johnny died doing what he loved. On May 14, 2016 he was dusting a field near the town of West,
TX when his plane hit a cable from a cellphone tower and he was ejected from the plane. The
news reached me late that night via a Facebook post from a mutual friend. I was devastated like
I had lost a brother!

Johnny Seay lived a life of adventure and satisfaction. He left behind his beloved wife Star, nine
children, nineteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and many, many friends. I was
honored to be one of them.

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