First With Promos
How early is too early to count a story-in-progress as a victory
for television news coverage? Well, its less than eight hours.
After the Klan-rally debacle Saturday, WREG Channel 3 had a promo
package all ready to run going into commercials by the 10 oclock
newscast, fashioned from the footage that viewers had just seen
as part of its reports. News Channel 3 was first on the air from
downtown Memphis, it trumpeted, with more live pictures and
the most complete information. And then, the stinger:
If a local story makes a difference in your life, keep it on
the station where local news comes first.
And self-promotion runs a tight second.
Local television news directors were tough to get on the phone
the day before the Klan rally. After all, it was cold and there
was some ice that at any time could turn treacherous, although
it never really did.
A Flyer reporter called WMC Channel 5 news director Ken Jobe Friday
afternoon to ask how the station had decided to cover the rally,
but was told questions would have to wait until a thaw.
Weve got crews all over with the weather, said Jobe.
Learning the Ropes
|PHOTO BY JOHN LANDRIGAN
It looks like Harold Ford Jr. might still have a little to learn
about how to get his way in the House of Representatives. In a
recent letter to Representative Bill Archer (R-Texas), the chairman
of the House Ways and Means Committee, Ford passionately urges
Archer to support the Medicare Venipuncture Fairness Act, legislation
that would repeal a cut to Medicare home-health benefits. Unfortunately,
the persuasiveness of the letter might come to naught, since it
begins Dear Chairman Bliley, who is a different guy altogether
Topless-Club Attorneys Want D. A. Disqualified
by Jacqueline Marino
Criminal Court judge is considering whether to disqualify District
Attorney General Bill Gibbons attempts to close a local topless
club because he and his staff allegedly accepted private contributions
from special interests.
Earlier this month, the clubs attorneys told Criminal Court Judge
L. Terry Lafferty that Gibbons and former District Attorney General
John Pierotti appeared at one well-attended fund-raising event
in 1996. They say the DAs office used private funds to pay for
expenses incurred in the investigation and prosecution of Memphis
The DAs office has denied the claim.
Neither the District Attorney General, nor any member of his
staff has accepted any money from any special-interest groups
or individuals sympathetic to such groups, the states attorneys
wrote. They also said the DAs staff often speaks to groups about
crime in Shelby County and that whether they spoke at a fund-raising
event is totally irrelevant.
During the two-day hearing, however, special prosecutor Larry
Parrish, who was asked to help prosecute the cases because of
his experience in obscenity law, explained that he has raised
almost $411,000 so far from individuals, businesses, and other
sources to pay for his legal fees and other costs.
In certain instances, Tennessee state law allows for the appointment
of special prosecutors attorneys who are paid by private individuals
usually by victims families. But Ted Hansom, attorney for Valentines
club owner Don Culbreath, argues that Parrishs fund-raising efforts
should not have been allowed.
The issue in this case is that we believe a group of individuals
put together a sum of money and said, Were going to put somebody
out of business, he says. There is a fundamental danger in
that. We dont want to throw open the doors for people with checkbooks
and allow them to buy a result.
Lafferty has taken the matter under advisement until March 6th.
Since the state raided and temporarily shut down eight topless
clubs in July 1996, it has been trying to close the clubs permanently
as public nuisances. More than 200 indictments against club owners
and managers have been issued for various charges, including prostitution
Parrish, a former assistant U.S. attorney, won indictments and
convictions against a number of porn stars in the 1970s. He has
been in private practice since 1977. n
Death Claims Three Music Greats
by Mark Jordan
Triple tragedy struck music fans around the world last week as
three artists with strong Memphis ties blues harpist Junior
Wells, bluesman Junior Kimbrough, and rockabilly pioneer Carl
Perkins all died within five days.
On Thursday, Memphis-born harmonica player Amos Blakemore, better
known as Junior Wells, died in Chicago of lymphoma. Wells, 63,
had been in a coma since September.
Wells learned the basics of the harmonica in Memphis under the
tutelage of Junior Parker. While still a young boy, however, he
moved to Chicago, where in 1952 he replaced Little Walter in Muddy
In 1958, Wells began his longest professional association when
he teamed up with guitarist Buddy Guy, a partnership that produced
classics like 1966s Hoodoo Man Blues. The success of the Guy-Wells
collaboration also boosted Wells solo career, and he continued
to tour and record up until just before his illness. At last years
Handy Awards held in Memphis, Wells Come on in this House won
in the Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year category.
Saturday, North Mississippi bluesman David Junior Kimbrough
died of a heart attack in his hometown of Holly Springs, Mississippi.
Kimbrough, 67, had long been a favorite performer in area juke
joints and an influence on area artists like rockabilly pioneer
Charlie Feathers and the late Lee Baker. However, in recent years,
Kimbroughs fame had spread outside the sleepy hill country of
North Mississippi with a series of recordings on Oxfords Fat
Possum label that featured his hypnotic riff style and which,
along with the work of contemporary R.L. Burnside, are largely
credited with breathing new life into the blues and winning over
new, younger fans.
Born in Hudsonville, Kimbrough began playing in the 50s but didnt
cut his first record until 1966s Tram on the Philwood label.
He didnt record again until 1982 when University of Memphis professor
David Evans and Rust Colleges Sylvester Oliver began recording
him for the U of Ms High Water label; those recordings were just
reissued last year by Hightone Records on the CD Do The Rump!.
Throughout the 80s Kimbrough cultivated his reputation as an
area juke artist, opening his own place in 1990 on Highway 4 outside
of Holly Springs. In 1991, he was featured in Deep Blues, a documentary
on Memphis and Mississippi music that gave Kimbrough a new shot
in the arm. He recorded three popular disks for Fat Possum 1992s
All Night Long, 1993s Sad Days, Lonely Nights, and 1997s Most
Things Havent Worked Out. (Another Fat Possum record is expected
to be released next year.) He also had begun to tour more extensively
before his health problems, which included a history of high blood
pressure, began to take their toll last year.
Services for Kimbrough will be Saturday at the Rust College Doxey
Auditorium with burial at Kimbrough Chapel Missionary Baptist
Monday rockabilly legend Carl Perkins died in Jackson, Tennessee,
after suffering a heart attack. Perkins, 65, who in recent years
had survived cancer, had suffered a series of strokes in the past
few months which had left the singer/songwriter/guitar player
Perkins was famed as the writer of the quintessential pop-country
hit Blue Suede Shoes and as one-fourth of Sun Records Million
Dollar Quartet, which also included Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis,
and Elvis Presley.
Perkins was born in Tiptonville, where he worked as a child picking
cotton. It is here that he first heard the music country and
blues along with traditional work songs that would fuel his
later work. Inspired by Elvis first single Blue Moon of Kentucky,
the 22-year-old Perkins drove to Memphis with the band he formed
with his brothers to audition for Sun owner Sam Phillips.
Phillips signed the band and soon released their first single,
Movie Magg, which Perkins had written when he was 14. In 1956,
the group released Perkins biggest hit, Blue Suede Shoes, which
sold 2 million copies. But that success was tempered months later
by a Delaware car wreck. The traumatic effects of the accident
led to his long bout with alcohol that ended in the mid-70s.
Though he never again attained the heights of Blue Suede Shoes,
Perkins continued to write, record, perform, and inspire. He played
guitar in Cashs band in the 60s and 70s. In 1964, he struck
up a lifelong friendship with the Beatles that resulted in many
projects. Nineteen eighty-one also saw Perkins establish the Carl
Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. In 1985, he
reunited with fellow Million Dollar Quartet alumni Cash and Lewis
for the Class of 55 album, featuring one-time Sun artist Roy
Orbison filling in for Elvis.
In 1987, Perkins was inducted into the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame.
Last year he published his autobiography, Go, Cat, Go!, co-written
by David McGee. n