music morsels scott turner February 2007  


Farewell to the Great Entertainer

Scott Turner

A moving memorial service was held at the Ryman Auditorium for one of my former artists - namely Del Reeves who passed away recently. Many of the old guard Opry Stars showed up and quite a few stories about Del were exchanged.

When I took over production duties on Del in 1969, I hadn't met the man but was well aware of his accomplishments. When Del walked in my office, he said "I know that over the past few years you've been doing things your way, but now that I'm in charge, we're going to do things my way". Then I paused and said, "Here's what my way entails. You tell me which songs you'd like to record. You tell me which musicians you'd like to use and finally, you tell me which studio makes you feel most comfortable." That broke the ice.  Del cracked up and we spent many happy hours both in and out of the studio.

There are many great stories about Del, but my favorite has to do with an appearance in Detroit. Del asked one of his musicians to go check out the audience and the musician came back to the dressing room and stated that the audience was comprised of about 80% black people. Everybody was confused until the solution was figured out. The radio spots had people thinking that Della Reese was appearing!!! What happened - Del went out and did one of his best shows ever and gained respect from a brand new sector.

As opposed to those luminaries that just stand there and sing, Del was the ultimate entertainer. Not only dd he have countless hits to his credit, he did numerous imitations of artists from Roy Acuff to Johnny Cash and left audiences in stitches.

What I admired most about Del, and I personally saw it when I would go on tour with him, is that regardless if the audience was 200 people (and that happened one night because of a tornado warning), 2000 people, 10,000 people or a full house at the Opry, Del always did his entire show and came off stage exhausted. That, my friends, is a true entertainer and Del did it all. He has a new audience now and I know that the angels are waiting for the curtain to rise.

So long, old friend, and thanks for the good times - and the many hits.
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