Dick Flood Interview Part 4
by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show
Lamitschka: What drives you?
Answer: In order to help me exlain what motivates or drives me let me take us back to 1960 and the Annual Disc Jockey Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. At the RCA Victor luncheon that year the then very famous comedy team known as Homer and Jethro were called up to sing their latest RCA Victor recording. I have never forgotten the first words spoken. I believe it was Jethro who said, and I quote,“We are Homer and Jethro, the Everly Brothers of the Stone Age.“
And after the laughter of the their enthralled audience of more than six hundred disc jockys from all over the world had somewhat died down he added,
“We are two ‘has beens’ that never was“
Well I may sound cynical but I feel like I am a ‘has been that never was’.
Oh I had my shots at the ‘Big Time’. Especially during the late fiftes and early sixties. Here are some of my highlights;
1956 -1958 I was one of the two Country lads on the CBS Network Jimmy Dean Show,
1959 My hit recording of “The Three Bells“ on Monument Records,
1960-1962 My frequent Saturday night guest spots the world famous Grand Ole’ Opry,
My 1962 chart recordings on Epic Records,
1962 My song “Trouble’s Back in Town“, recorded by the Wilburn Brothers and voted the # 1 country song of the year, (1962)
1962 And even though I had been voted the # 1 up and coming country singer of the year by both Cashbox and Billboard Magazine that same year, (1962), the bottom began to fall out. And my countless career setbacks began. It’s all in my book “My Walk Among the Stars“.
1959-1973 My personal appearances all across the world.
Back to what drives me;
Folks After l left Nashville and my sagging country music career behind I spent the next more that 40 years of my life promoting and building a career for my alter ego “Okefenokee Joe“, a song writing, singing, story telling ‘wildlife evangelist’. For almost 40 years he stayed very popular especially amongst school children of all ages throughout the South Eastern United States.
I have now more or less retired ‘Mr. Joe’ and at the tender age of 88 I have begun bringing DICK FLOOD back into the spotlight. For an 88 year old dinosaur it sounds like pretty much impossible doesn’t it? Well sir to me it is worth a try.
2020; I now have two DICK FLOOD CDs ready for market. And of course I can’t forget to mention my DICK FLOOD autobiography, “My Walk Among the Stars“. Now If I could just find the right record promotion and disribution I’ll be in business..
And that is what drives me these days.
Lamitschka: What does it take to be a music icon?
Answer: I have never been a music icon. And I have never pretended to be one. But knowing what I do know of the music business the number one most important item in anyone’s musical career is of course talent. Other extremely important traits or factors are; Originality, perserverance, patience and we can’t leave out experience.
But without plenty of proper promotion and distribution no matter how great an artist’s work may be, he or she might as well hang it up and go become a barber or work at some other trade.
“Teamwork is the key to success. Without teamwork nothing works.”
And you can quote me on that.
As I explain in my OKEFENOKEE JOE autobiography “Swampwise”,
“Every part in the engine of an automobile is part of the team that makes the engine run. One part fails and the engine ceases to run properly or as in some cases not at all.
It takes teamwork to make things work.
Every part of the human body is a team member. One part fails and the body ceases go function properly or God forbid maybe not at all.
Always and in all ways it takes teamwork to make things work.”
Teamwork between the artist’s original works, the promotion of those works and the distribution of those works is what it takes for the success of those works. It all fits together in what you might call one neat and succsessful bundle.
I talk a lot about the subject of teamwork both in my OKEFENOKEE JOE autobiography “Swampwise“ and in my DICK FLOOD autobiography of my 19 years as Nashville based singer/songwriter/entertainer. It’s full of the pros and cons and the dos and don’ts of the music business and advice for young hopeful entertainers.. My DICK FLOOD autobiography is titled; “My Walk Among the Stars“. Sub title; “Rubbing Shoulders with Country Giants“.
Look for all my books and all my CDs at my website; www.okefenokeejoe.com
Lamitschka: What’s unique about you that will differentiate you from other artists?
Answer: Back in the 60’s my greatest challenge as DICK FLOOD was to find a record label that had enough faith in me to keep trying.
Today my biggest challenge as OKEFENOKEE JOE is finding the right promotion and distribution for my CDs and my books..I suppose that the most unique thing about me if you want to call it that, is the fact that I am an 88 year old dinosaur who is still attempting to make a make it in the country music business. I have my own original 60s style country songs all of which I can sitll sing reasonably well and in my own style of singing. Truth be known ong with all my books I have several DICK FLOOD CDs and several OKEFENOKEE JOE CDs ready to go to market right now.
Lamitschka: What has been your greatest challenge in music business?
Back in the 60’s my greatest challenge was to find a record label that had enough faith in me to keep trying.
Today my biggest challenge is finding the right promotion and distribution for my CDs and my books..
Stage Fright can also be a real challenge I got over any kind of Stage Fright way back. As a youngster at the age of 16 when I was a counselor at a YMCA summer camp located in the beautiful Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania. The name of the camp was Camp Carson. I had learned all the guitar chords,the lyrics and the melodies to many popular country songs, and I would practice singing them to the kids under my care and to my fellow counselors at night after my charges were asleep in their beds. There is a whole chapter devoted to my Camp Carson days in my alter ego OKEFENOKEE JOE’s autobiography. The book is titled; “Swampwise“. You can find it at my website; www.okefenokeejoe.com
So stage fright was never much of a challenge for me Oh I always got really excited as I prepared to step up to the mike in front of a cowd of thousands of eager country music fans, or a TV camera, or a mike at a radio station for an inferview.. I believe that feeling of excitement or I suppose you might call it a thrill gives one more of an incentive to “Give it all you’ve got.“
Lamitschka; What moments in your career stand out in your memory as highlights and achievements which you are proud of?
Answer; First here are some of the highlights in the forty year career of my alter ego OKEFENOKEE JOE from 1974 til 2017;
OKEFENOKEE JOE has been dubbed “A living Georgia Icon“ by Don “Ramblin“ Rhodes of the Augusta Chronicle.
OKEFENOKEE JOE co-wrote and hosted the 1989 Emmy award winning Georgia Public Television documentary titled “Swampwise“.
OKEFENOKEE JOE was featured in the center of the front page of the February 21, 1996 issue of the Wall Street Journal.
OKEFENOKEE JOE has been inducfed into The Georgia Family Entertainers Hall of Fame, The Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame, and The Georgia Outdoor Writers Association Hall of Fame.
OKEFENOKEE JOE wrote, narrated and hosted his award winning documentary series “Know Your Snakes“ Volumes 1 & 2
FLASH FOWARD; Today OKEFENOKEE JOE is very busy promoting his fantastic musical audio book titled; “Secrets Songs & Stories from the Land of the Tremblin’ Earth“ and his two books; “Swampwise“. Which is Mr. Joe’s autobiography of his exciting life in the great Okefenokee Swamp and the many character lessons he was taught by what he refers to as his ‘wild animal neighbors’. And his special book for seasoned nature enthusiasts and all young herpers titled; “Snake Hunter Snake Talk“.
“Streetwise is Cool ~~ Swampwise is Awesome” ~~ Okefenokee Joe
I am very honored and very proud of my alter ego Mr. OKEFENOKEE JOE.
And here are some of the highlights of DICK FLOOD;
DICK FLOOD’s name is listed in the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame as the writer of “Trouble’s Back in Town“, Recorded by The Wilburn Brothers on Decca Records, and voted by both Billboard and Cashbox Magazine the number one country song of the year in 1962.
DICK FLOOD was a frequent special guest on the world famous Grand Ole’ Opry almost every Saturday night from mid 1960 until mid 1962.
DICK FLOOD was voted by both Cashbox and Billboard Magazine the number one up and coming male country singer of 1962
DICK FLOOD devoted his entire 19 year career in country music to entertaining our people in uniform no matter where they were deployed. His travels took him several times all over Africa, Europe, The Far East, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Greenland, Newfoundland and more.
During DICK FLOOD’s tenure as a song writer/recording artist with Combine Music Corp. and Monument Records more than fifteen of his original songs were recorded by various major artists of the times. Among them; Roy Orbison, Billy Grammer, Cathy Linden, Anita Bryant, Porter Wagoner, Cil Turner just to name a few.
FLASH FORWARD: Now-a-days many of DICK FLOOD’s old sixties style country songs with him singing them can be heard in such popular stateside TV series as; “The Man in the High Castle“,“The Leftovers“, “Wynona Earp“, “Dirty John“, “Van Helsing“,“I’m Dying up Here“,“The Good Wife“, “The Last Man on Earth“ just to name a few. His songs are also acheiving great success in movies such as “Roped“,“Hearts Beat Loud“,“The Driftless Areas“ and more. He sings his song “Everything Happens For the Best“ in Clint Eastwood’s 2019 movie “The Mule“. And two of his best songs will be heard in the new 2020 move “Stardust“; The story of David Bowie’s life.
And such are some of the highlights in the careers of
DICK FLOOD/OKEFENOKEE JOE
And I am very proud of both
Lamitschka: Any thoughts of retirement ahead?
Answer: I plan to continue to write my stories abut my life. I plan to contnue to write and sing my songs until I just can t. Can’t. So far so good. At times my old age gets in the way and somethngs I can no longer do. like playing my big Martin flat top guitar. My fingers do not cooperate anymore.
Lamitschka: Who is your biggest critic, yourself or others?
Answer: I am quite sure that I am my biggest critic. Me, myself and I. And I am not always right. I sometimes have teriffic fights with myself. As old as I am I still do not know all the answers. And yes I am my worst or maybe best critic of myself and my work.
Lamitschka: When you get time off, how do you like to relax?
Answer: When I take time off I love to sit in one of my old rocking chairs on my front porch,breathe the fresh clean country air, watch and listen to the birds, the deer, the rabbits or whoever else comes into my yard. There is no way I could ever live in a city again.
Lamitschka: Is there anything in your life that you would change if you could?
Answer: Oh boy! You bet there are things in my life that would change or do differently if given the oportunity.
Here is a DICK FLOOD experience that I would do differently if I had the chance; Way back in 1962 as my career had begun to sagg a man named Jim Phillips came to town. Mr. Phillips was a talent scout and he was woking for Warner Brothers Televison out of Hollywood, California. Along with every other country music personality in town I was given an interview with him and long story short; Believe it or not out of all the many truly great personalities in Nashville,Tennessee Mr. Jim Phillips offered me a contract. No one else out of the whole lot. Only me. I almost could not believe it. But there it was right in font of myeyes!Wow! What an opportunity!
The deal was Warner Brothers woud pay me $250 a week, put me and my family up in a motel, give me a six week crash training course in acting, and after that see about an acting role in one of their many television programs or quite possibly in a movie or two.. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?
Well guess what! My wife whom I dearly loved put her foot down and told me flat out that if I decided to go to Hollywood she would divorce me, and she was very firm about it. For almost three days and nights I tried to convnce her otherwise but to no avail.
Now I dearly loved my wife and my four little boys. And I would do anything for them. I could not bear the thought of life without them. And after those hectic three days and nights of me trying to convince my wife otherwise I finally gave up. I called Mr. Jim Phillips and refused his offer.
The full irony of my story; Several years later my wife of almost ten years divorced me anyhow.
More to come on that subject