Linden is synonymous with music in East Texas. From the early days of Scott Joplin, T--Bone Walker, and The Cass County Boys, there has always been a song in the air of this Piney Woods town. Young people grew up listening to Country & Western, Jazz, and Blues played by native sons. This legacy was later augmented with Rock n' Roll. Musicians like Don Henley, Richard and Mike Bowden, Jerry Surratt (as "The Four Speeds"), and others, honed their skills at the American Legion Hall. The Legion Hall was "the" place to be on Friday or Saturday nights in East Texas. Bands from all over the area vied to "book" the Legion Hall for a concert or a dance. There was music literally 52 weeks a year!
The Legion Hall was artfully renovated and reopened in May 2003 as the Music City Texas Theater.
AARON THIBEAUX WALKER, (1910-1975). Aaron Thibeaux Walker, also known as T-Bone or Oak Cliff T-Bone, the only son of Rance and Movelia (Jamison, Jimerson) Walker, was born in Linden, Texas, on May 28, 1910. A blend of African and Cherokee heritage, T-Bone's family lived in the Bear Creek Community outside Linden. In his youth his mother left her husband and moved to Dallas, where Aaron attended Northwest Hardee School through the seventh grade. His mother played guitar, and his stepfather, Marco Washington, played bass and several other instruments. Family friendship with country blues artists Blind Lemon Jefferson and Huddie (Leadbelly) Ledbetter familiarized him with the blues from infancy.
Bobbie “Mercy” Oliver was born in 1939 in Atlanta, Texas. He was one of twelve children born to former sharecroppers, Claude and Mary Lee Oliver. His father was musically gifted and played the guitar and entertained his family after a hard day’s work. Bobbie inherited this talent, and taught himself to play on a cheap Sears & Roebuck guitar that his sister ordered for him (to the surprise of his father when the bill came). Bobbie was influenced by Jimmy Reed, who combined the harmonica and guitars with vocals. Bobbie also taught himself to play the harmonica. Shortly after graduation from high school, he moved to Chicago.
The term “ Paying your dues” took on a new meaning when this man came along. D. Royce Baird has seen 40 years of music history pass before his very eyes... from the hallowed halls of the recording studios to sleeping in the backstreets and alleys of Nashville , Tn. The phrase “Been there....Done it!” are a familiar sound in this camp. If you are looking for total entertainment .....then you've come to the right place. Church and school functions were both early outlets for his burning desire to create music. At age seven the young musician began taking piano lessons for four years until making the change to guitar and vocals. Songwriting would become a natural addition to his many talents. To date, D. Royce Baird has released five albums with record sales in excess of 2.5 million. His most recent release," From The Barroom...To The Cross” is most definitely destined to break those records.
Don Henley was born July 22, 1947 in Gilmer, Texas and raised in Linden, Texas. In 1963 he joined with some friends, Richard Bowden, Jerry Surratt, and Freddie Neese in forming a band – the FOUR SPEEDS. Freddie Neese was replaced by Joey Brown and the band’s name changed to FELICITY. In 1969 Joey Brown left FELICITY, and Richard Bowden took over guitar duties. Mike Bowden, cousin of Richard, joined the band as their bass player. Jerry Surratt was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1970 and was replaced by Jim Ed Norman.
J. R. (Sparky) Martin was born in Atlanta , Cass County , TX , in 1956 and grew up just across the State line in Ida, La. Music and construction took him to many places, but he always came back to his roots deep in the ARK-LA-TEX. He came back to Cass County as a permanent resident in 1990. J.R.and his wife Diana now reside in Bloomburg, Cass County, Texas. Through the years J. R. has performed with many groups playing a wide variety of musical styles, from Traditional Country to Rock to Blues to , well you name it. Drumming became a passion to him at a young age, and at the age of 16, J. R. was playing in a Louisiana Honky Tonk with a Cowboy Band. From that point on, the thrill of performing was in his blood. His style has been described as aggressive, with an emotional dynamic that leaves no room for doubt, that he puts his Heart & Soul into every beat of every measure.
John Early is one of Cass County 's treasures. A gifted songwriter & musician, John was born in Jefferson , Texas on June 14, 1952. John heads the popular Texas bluegrass band - Hickory Hill . He is also a member of the Moon and the Starz - a pop/county/comedic band which includes Richard Bowden , Greg Attaway , Pat Roberson, and Joe Hamilton. John is on the Board of Directors for Music City Texas, Inc., which operates the Music City Texas Theater and is developing the MCT Texas Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Dan " Lucky" Boyd ( Linden) - Lucky Boyd might be a newcomer to Linden, but he is far from new on the Texas Music scene. Lucky's song-writing carves out a wide path through Texas' music genre, spinning diverse tales of broken hearts, American pride , feeling the blues , poking fun at life , or just rocking the night away at a roadhouse bar .
Musically, his original songs and arrangements sprawl across a limitless expanse as wide as the Lone Star State. His influence of southern rock , country , gulf coast blues, rootsy folk music and even gospel, blend into his own unmistakable sound ("Texas-Billy" per his manager) that has helped him garner a strong following .
His talents have been noticed, and in a big way.
Matt Early was born in Linden , Texas on May 2, 1984. Growing up with the sounds of music from his father, John Early and his musician friends, he was influenced to start playing bass guitar at the age of 8. A 2004 graduate of the Dallas Sound Lab, Matt is the house/monitor engineer at the Music City Texas Theater, and frequently travels with Richard Bowden & Moon and the Starz. He currently resides in Linden , but performs with numerous bands and acts in the Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex, and East Texas as a bassist/vocalist/engineer.
Mick & Rick Wall were born in rural Cass County, Texas in the Dalton Community on September 12, 1947. They developed a love of music at an early age. In the early 1960s, they formed a band called The Extremes. The band consisted of Rick Wall (bass), Mick Wall (key board), Ronnie Franklin (drums), and Doug Loffer (guitar). They performed at various venues around Northeast Texas , including the hot spot for teen dances - the Linden American Legion Hall. During this period they became friends with Richard Bowden and Greg Attaway, who are currently on the board of directors of the Music City Texas Theater (the old American Legion Hall). Rick and Mick performed professionally on the road in the 60s and 70s. In 1978, Rick transitioned into construction management, got married, and started a family. He is the Director of the Safety Council of East Texas, and Board Member of the National Association of Reciprocal Safety Councils. In 2003 Rick came full circle by becoming a volunteer consultant to the Music City Texas non-profit corporation, and has been active in the rebirth of the music heritage of Cass County . In October of 2007, Rick became a member of the Board of Directors, Music City Texas, Inc.
Nathan Wright Stuckey II, born 17 December c.mid-30s, Cass County, Texas, USA (his date of birth has been variously given as 1933, 1934, 1937 or 1938), d. 24 August 1988. After studying for and obtaining a degree in radio and television, he worked as a disc jockey, first on KALT Atlanta, Texas, and then moving to KWKH Shreveport, Louisiana. He began to entertain and between 1958 and 1959, fronting his own band the Cornhuskers, he played the local clubs until his performances won him a spot on KWKH's Louisiana Hayride, which he played from 1962-66.
Richard Bowden was born in Linden, Texas on September 30, 1945. In 1963 he put his own band together with some friends, Don Henley, Jerry Surratt, and Freddie Neese – the FOUR SPEEDS. Freddie Neese was replaced by Joey Brown and the band’s name changed to FELICITY. In 1969 Joey Brown left FELICITY, and Richard took over guitar duties. Mike Bowden, cousin of Richard, joined the band as their bass player. Jerry Surratt was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1970 and was replaced by Jim Ed Norman.
SCOTT JOPLIN (1868-1917). Scott Joplin, black composer and pianist, called the "King of Ragtime," son of Jiles and Florence (Givins) Joplin, was born on November 24, 1868, at Caves Springs Community, Linden, Texas. His father, a laborer and former slave who possessed rudimentary musical ability, moved the family to Texarkana by about 1875. Encouraged by family music making, Scott, at age seven, was proficient in banjo and began to experiment on a piano owned by a neighbor, attorney W. G. Cook, for whom Florence did domestic work. At about age eleven, young Joplin began free piano lessons with Julius Weiss (born Saxony, ca. 1841), who also taught him the basics of sight reading, harmony, and appreciation, particularly of opera. Weiss lodged as family tutor for lumberman Col. R. W. Rodgers, and possibly introduced Scott to the same academic subjects he taught the Rodgers children. Indeed each of the Rodgers family learned a musical instrument, and young Rollin Rodgers became a lifelong opera enthusiast (the same subject which would haunt Joplin in his later years) due to Weiss's encouragement. The second-hand square piano that Jiles Joplin bought for Scott probably came from the Rodgers home when the family bought a new instrument during Weiss's residence there. After Colonel Rodgers died in April 1884 and following the subsequent departure of Weiss, Joplin may also have left Texarkana. September 1884 seems to be a seminal month in Joplin's life, signifying either his departure from the border town or the date when he became an assistant teacher in Texarkana's Negro school. Some authorities believe that he remained there until about 1888, performing in Texarkana and area towns.
In lieu of biographies, we would share this interesting, brief history of Linden’s The Bowden Boys Country/Western Band of the mid1930’s as told by Curtis Bowden, the only surviving member of “The Little Band That Quit Too Soon”.
The Bowden Boys Country/Western Band
If we start at the very beginning, we would have to start with my brother Elmer. My Dad had an old violin (we called it a fiddle) that had belonged to his dad. Dad could play it, but not too well, but Grandpa was a very good fiddle player. Since he didn’t live with us, the old fiddle was neglected until Elmer took a liking to it, and we could see that he had a special talent for it.
Will and Josiah Holland got their musical start in 2003 with their band “Somerset” while living in Nashville. They released a CD named Paper Tapes on March 7, 2006 through Tooth and Nail Records. The title of Holland's newest record is called “Photographs and Tidalwaves,” also released through Tooth and Nail records. Having been playing together for two years, Holland (originally Somerset) visited several labels deciding to sign withTooth and Nail records.