I have been blessed with many wonderful things in my life, it has been crazy at times... our experiences in life are what make us who we are today… right? I have been asked to share some my musical career, so here goes…
As far back as I can remember I’ve been surrounded by music. My parents were both entertainers and I can remember many nights watching them sing on TV or at shows all over. I guess one day Dad decided he was tired of me playing his old Gibson, so Santa brought a guitar of my own. I sat around the house or back at the shows and got to learn from some of the greatest musicians of the day. I received quite an education in some of the great Texas honky tonks and backroom bars.
I remember one night, sitting around the house with Dad and Mom and some of the old pickers that seemed to always be around. They were doing the usual, writing songs or picking some of the old ones. They were drinking beer and telling stories, just kind of loving life. I was just happy to be there… I was drinkin my root beer... yep, I was a picker too! That particular night, my Dad looked over at me and said, “Country music is all about how you feel.” I asked him what he meant and this is what he said… “Never sing any song that you don’t feel or believe in... and you can’t write a song without living life. If the people don’t believe you they won’t buy your songs.” So I practiced and played all the time.
So, the years went by and I played any place I could. As life has strange twists, I’d found a little honky tonk and snuck in and sat in with the band. One night the lead singer couldn’t make it and I was asked to cover for him and I did. All through high school, I was playing with different bands in those same smokey bars that I still feel right at home in. I guess it was only natural that my cousin Billy Eaves and myself started playing together. We did shows in different churches and some family gatherings, then went on play in my parents restaurant, where we met David Cooper, George Ancira and Ed Kayser… that was the beginning of a band called Moonlite Express. We named it that because we all had day jobs too. Billy was the frontman which made me very happy as (believe it or not) I am actually shy by nature! We started booking shows until we literally were working every night of the week and do 2 shows a day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. We kept the pace up as long as we could, but eventually the band split up with the various members going on to pursue careers of their own.
It was at that time that I put together the Blackhorse band. If you’ve ever put a band together, then you know it was the easy part, the hard part is keeping it together! Through the years many musicians have come and gone, and as I did when I was a kid... every musician I’ve played with I’ve taken a little bit of what they knew... and that I guess that’s how my “sound” was created. As time went on, the band name became JimmyLee and Blackhorse.
In the 80’s we started touring all over the U.S. and Canada. We wore out one Eagle bus twice and three trailers. We were still young and having a “honky tonk time”. We went from playing in little honky tonk bars where people pay a cover charge and dance to whoever is playing to playing in front of 20 to 30,000 people who actually paid to see us, which was amazing! At one point we were sponsored by CMT Today. We were in shows on CCMT, shooting commercials and hosting television shows.
A lot of years went by… great years… then it was time to start recording my first CD. I restarted that CD maybe 10 times! Eventually, after all those years of singing those songs I’d finally gotten it done. We released the Hello Cowboy CD in 1997. I think we sold one copy (thanks, Mom!) As we were traveling on the rodeo circuit, our songs about the cowboy way of life were very popular and it was a great ride for us.
I tried my hand at bull riding at an early age; let me put it like this… ouch! I decided that my best work would be behind a guitar. As the years went by, I kept writing songs and performing all over. Then one day I decided it was time to get off of the road and record another CD. This was an intense labor of love, however many, many hours in a recording studio will drive you insane! (Thanks, Romeo!) As I recorded that album it became apparent that I had a deep country soul, even with major influences of rock, blues, gospel, and bluegrass. That CD included more original songs as well as some of my favorites.
Life is interesting to say the least... keep checking back with me from time to time, as I’m sure I will be sharing some of my continuing adventures in the music world with you!