City to induct A.C. Littlefield, more to Austin Music Memorial
Editor’s note: This article was originally published December 5, 2013
The city of Austin has announced this year’s inductees for the Austin Music Memorial. 2013 inductees are Nemecio Carmona, Ermant Franklin, AC Littlefield, Randall “Poodie” Locke, and Jesse Taylor. The Music Division will host an induction ceremony from 7 to 9 p.m. on December 5 at Austin City Hall, 301 W Second Street.
From the press release:
The Austin Music Memorial is a program of the Music Division of the City’s Economic Development Department. The Austin Music Memorial honors deceased local music legends who had a unique and significant impact on Austin’s music community. An engraved plaque honoring each inductee is permanently installed at the Joe R. and Tereza Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts. The Music Memorial builds a living legacy that threads the past to the present in Austin’s musical heritage, and serves as an annual event that unites Austin’s citizens in a celebration of our unique culture and the people who have created it. More information about the Austin Music Memorial can be found at http://austintexas.gov/department/austin-music-memorial. 2013 Inductees:NEMECIO CAMARILLO CARMONA(1914-1982) Born on Dec. 19, 1914 in Edinburg, TX, Nemecio Camarillo Carmona rose from his station as a migrant farmworker to become a well-known Tejano musician and bandleader in Austin and in South Texas. In 1950, Nemecio and his brother “Chano” formed their own orquesta, performing traditional valses, polkas, boleros and huapangos, as well as English compositions. After “Chano” died, Chris Carmona took over as bandleader before the orquesta moved to San Jose, CA. While on the West Coast, they performed with luminaries such as Tito Puente, Ray Barreto, and Little Joe y La Familia. In the early 1960s, they also helped to open up the Bay Area for Tejano music.
Nemecio Camarillo Carmona passed away in San Jose, California on May 3, 1982.
ERMANT “JUNIOR” FRANKLIN(1931-1996) A giant in the realm of gospel music, Ermant “Junior” Franklin was born in Austin on March 20, 1931. The son of a preacher who was also a member of the Paramount Singers, Junior was encouraged to sing by his father.
After graduating from Anderson High School, he moved to Los Angeles, CA and organized a group called the Sensational Wonders. In 1961, that group merged with Joe Ligon’s Mighty Clouds of Joy, essentially becoming a new group while retaining the same name. Franklin became the group’s manager.
Performing with that group for almost 20 years, Franklin penned some of their biggest hits, including “Family Circle”, “Nobody Can Keep Me Down” and “Ain’t Got Long To Stay Here”. Some of the honors bestowed on the Mighty Clouds of Joy include two Grammy awards, six Grammy nominations, the NAACP Image award and three Gospel Music Workshop of America awards. They also became the first gospel group to record for Houston’s famous R&B label, Peacock Records.
Resigning from the Mighty Clouds of Joy in 1980, Franklin returned to Austin the next year and worked as a manager and singer for the Golden Echoes and other local groups.
Ermant “Junior” Franklin passed away in Austin on Jan. 17, 1996. A.C. LITTLEFIELD(1925-1999) A.C. Littlefield, the lead vocalist with the phenomenally successful gospel group The Bells of Joy, was born on Jan. 16, 1925 in Sealy, TX.
Littlefield’s family moved to Austin in 1938, and after serving in World War II, he joined the Baptist Church and married. He had a natural talent for singing and in the late 1940s became the lead vocalist of the Starlight Singers, an East Austin group that also included his brother Ester.
By 1951, having been rechristened The Bells of Joy, the group was recording in Houston for Don Robey’s R&B label, Peacock Records. Their single, “Let’s Talk About Jesus,” which featured A.C. on powerful lead vocals, became a hit on the Billboard R&B charts. The record sold over a million copies, the most ever for a black gospel group up until that time.
Resisting offers to cross over into secular pop music, the Bells of Joy continued to perform for decades. They filmed a video with Willie Nelson and in 1991, performed as part of the Texas Festival at the Kennedy Center.
Despite his touring and recording schedule, Littlefield remained active in the Austin community. For almost 20 years he worked at the Texas School for the Deaf, and served as a foster grandfather to students at Andrews Elementary. He remained engaged in his church both as a deacon and a singer. A.C. Littlefield passed away in Austin on Jan. 22, 1999. RANDALL “POODIE” LOCKE(1948-2009) Though he never played an instrument, Randall “Poodie” Locke, born Oct. 3, 1948 in Waco, TX carved out his own place in Texas country music history. For 34 years, Locke (he acquired his nickname as a baby when his sister Cindi Lou tried to describe him as “pretty”) was the stage manager for Willie Nelson, the logistical linchpin of the eternally touring gypsy caravan that was the Willie and Family organization.
Locke was the one who set up Nelson’s vintage Baldwin amp and battered Martin guitar named “Trigger” each night and made sure the show came off smoothly. But he was also an important interface between Nelson and his fans, many of whom came to regard Poodie as fondly as they did his boss. Locke joined Nelson in 1975, just before the phenomenal success of Red-Headed Stranger catapulted Nelson into the show business stratosphere. When he came on board, he was the band’s only crew member, carrying instruments and band members, he recalled, in “an old green Blazer.” He told Texas Monthly, “When I started, I was the only guy that did it, and there was no one here to teach me what to do.”
Locke created his own irreplaceable role with Willie and the Family, one that far transcended the job description of stage manager. “Poodie was the gatekeeper,” said Texas Monthly, “He was a colorful character in a group of colorful characters.” Though he never retired from the road, Locke opened Poodie’s Hilltop Roadhouse, a bar and grille that featured food, drinks and live music not far from Locke’s home in Spicewood, TX near Nelson’s own home and recording studio. The motto of the bar is the same maxim by which Locke lived his life: “No bad days.” Randall “Poodie” Locke passed away in Spicewood, TX on May 6, 2009. JESSE “HERCULES” TAYLOR(1950-2006) Jesse Taylor was born April 10, 1950 in Lubbock, TX. The possessor of an unusually powerful blues/rock guitar style, Taylor’s nicknames of Jesse “Guitar” Taylor and Jesse “Hercules” Taylor were handily earned. A member of the tightly-knit cadre of musicians who arose in Lubbock in the 1970s, Taylor first came to widespread prominence as a guitarist in the first iteration of the Joe Ely Band. His fiery interplay with steel guitarist Lloyd Maines helped create a signature sound that in turn helped make Ely a national figure. Taylor performed with many of the other notable musicians who called Lubbock home, including Terry Allen, Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, John X. Reed, the Supernatural Family Band, Angela Strehli and more. He liked to tell the story of the day when he was hitchhiking across Lubbock and a big black man in a Cadillac offered him a lift. The man was C.B. Stubblefield and he took Taylor to the tiny barbecue joint he owned on East Broadway. Taylor became the first white musician to play regularly at the original Stubb’s BBQ, and he inaugurated the celebrated Sunday afternoon Stubb’s Jams that attracted hometown and touring musicians alike. He recorded a solo album, Texas Tattoo, in 1998.
Jesse Taylor passed away on March 7, 2006.