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Published on Sep 22, 2007
READ THIS: Charlie Dunn loved this song and his friends sang it at his funeral in 1993. Charlie was in his early 80's when he made my boots back in 1973. Jerry Jeff Walker's ode to Charlie is a classic tribute to custom bootmakers and aficionados.
I remember when Charlie was tracing my foot measurements and questioned me about the t-shirt and boots I was wearing. Before I could utter a word Charlie said, "Clarks beeswax desert treks--English". Aside from dress shoes I've only wore Clarks boots (I think he liked that). He was puzzled though by my explanation of the, 'Wishbone Ash' English band t-shirt. I told him I worked for Jerry Jeff Walker's record company . And Charlie just smiled and went on and on about Ol' Scamp Walker, his new best friend. Note: 'Buck' was the owner operator of the Capitol Saddlery (my boots cost $310 and Buck required a $150 cash deposit...such a deal). Looking back, I'm glad Henry Withers (MCA/Universal Music Group-Houston office) brought his camera to capture the moment on film.
Video features archive photos of Charlie and I at the Capitol Saddlery in Austin, my monogrammed Charlie Dunn boots, and me wearing the boots for a promotion shoot on the backlot of Universal. Also includes photos of Jerry Jeff and Jimmy Buffet.
If I was ever to own custom monogrammed cowboy boots in my lifetime, I was indeed fortunate to have them handcrafted by the legendary Charlie Dunn. As the story goes, it was this song, that inspired Lee Miller to make boots. Lee Miller came to Austin to apprentice for Charlie Dunn when his shop first opened, in 1977. Charlie taught Lee his way of making boots, including the secret of shop specialties, like interlaced monograms and mirror lettering. Lee and his wife Carlyn bought the shop in 1986, and have since carried on Charlie Dunn's work at Texas Traditions.
I managed to keep my Charlie Dunn boots in reasonably good shape over these past 35 years. And each time I had them re-furbished shoemakers and artisans alike would compliment me on the 'custom' boots--giving me opportunities to tell of the legendary bootmaker (always singing a few bars of the song).
As National Promotion Director for MCA/Universal Music Group, I worked on three albums for Ol' Scamp Walker: 'Jerry Jeff Walker' (1972, L.A. Freeway - Guy Clark, Her Good Lovin' Grace, Hill Country Rain, Charlie Dunn); 'Viva Terlingua' (1973, Desperados Waiting For The Train, Gettin'By, Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother - Ray Wylie Hubbard, London Homesick Blues - Gary P. Nunn); and 'Walker's Collectibles' (1974, Will There Be Any, My Old Man, Rock Me Roll Me - Gary P. Nunn).
I had the best local and regional promotion staff in the biz. We all loved Ol' Scamp Walker-- MCA/ Universal Music Group promotion managers Henry Withers, Don Wasley, and Bob Osborne did an extraordinary job of launching 'L.A. Freeway' on KLIF Dallas and KFRC San Francisco (RKO chain)...the entire staff pushed for that miraculous convergence of AM-Top Forty and FM-album oriented/ alternative radio stations. At the end of the day there were no gold record awards, but each year at the annual Thanksgiving MCA/Universal Music Group reunion at the Smoke House Restaurant in Burbank, CA -- the team reunites and among many tales...speak fondly of Ol' Scamp Walker.
Today, Jerry Jeff Walker operates his own recording and publishing company, Tried and True Music. He writes on his web site about his new book: 'Gypsy Songman' offers an insightful and entertaining look at the life of a gypsy songman. Written by Jerry Jeff Walker (assisted by Earl Casey and foreword by Bud Shrake).
For more info contact: www.jerryjeff.com
From the forthcoming Dennis Morgan semi-autobiography, "All The Dark Horses; All The King's Men