The Continued Saga of Bobby Wayne, Spokane’s Rockabilly Original

Wayne hauled around the 78 rpm records of his song Sally Ann with the flip side, Warpaint in the trunk of his car selling them at his performances. One of his paying gigs was performing live at a Spokane radio and television station. Like a few years before when he performed in a country and western band also on the radio entertaining for a daily or weekly show, adding in music for commercials, they advertised their weekend performances at nearby grange halls. Ron Livingstone, a close friend of Wayne at this time, explained that a band would arrange to play at a grange hall, splitting the money taken in with the grange hall owners, and advertising each new gig at the radio station where they worked. It was pretty much do-it-yourself booking and promotion for these young country bands in the Fifties. But Wayne got fired from his job at the radio station for playing too much rockabilly style music, or Elvis type music, for the station manager’s taste.

After this Wayne booked gigs in the Northwest and in the Los Angeles area. He soon became well known for his guitar playing contributing to demo recordings of other musicians. In addition his song Sally Ann was reissued as a 45 rpm disc under an obscure label, LJV Records, who had acquired the master tape.

Wayne also hooked up with his old musician buddies Neil Livingstone and his younger brother Ron to play on Charlie Ryan’s first version of Hot Rod Lincoln recorded at SRC Studios in 1958.

Over the next few years Wayne was contracted to appear on the Grand Ol’ Opry concert circuit as a guitar player backing such musicians as Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Lefty Frizell, Freddie Hart, Tex Williams, and Little Jimmy Dickens.

Locally, Wayne contracted with record label executive and producer Jerry Dennon of Jerden Records in Seattle. Wayne recorded Big Train with drummer Vince Gerber and bass player Delmar Hawkins for Jerden. The song was a regional hit in the Northwest, and in Canada. Columbia Records took notice because the style of music Wayne was recording had similarities to their star recording artist, Johnny Cash. Cash had not had a hit song with Columbia for some time in those years from 1961 to 1963, some of it because of his debilitating addictions to drugs taking a toll on his musical abilities. But his manager argued that Columbia Records should give him one more chance. Cash then recorded Merle Kilgore and June Carter’s song, Ring of Fire, and went on to become the legendary Man in Black.

Wayne signed a contract with Columbia Records in 1963, but because Cash found redemption with his new song, Wayne recorded with a subsidiary of Columbia, Epic Records. They rerecorded and released Big Train. As Wayne became known for his guitar playing, he recorded with Warner Brothers, A&M, Quality Reo, W&G, P.Y.E, Panorama, Piccadilly, Liberty and ABC Paramount. His  instrumental Tip Toes, reached #3 in Canada. And in 1966 Cash Box Magazine rated Wayne, Roy Clark, and Glen Campbell the top three Guitarists in America.

Wayne still recorded extensively with Jerden Records, and in 1964 released an LP, Big Guitar of Bobby Wayne. He then appeared in a band called The Hummingbirds, also recording with Jerden Records under that name. Dennon as well had Wayne take on the stage name Deke Wade to record some songs. In 1966 Wayne recorded a dozen songs that became the basis for the album, Ballad Of The Appaloosa. One of the songs from this LP was used by Walt Disney for the title song in the movie Run, Appaloosa, Run. In 1967 Wayne’s contract with Jerden ran out, and was not renewed.

Wayne in 1973 recorded with a woman named Guylaine from Canada producing an album of songs in French and English. Since then Wayne’s career slowed down considerably. He continued to play with friends in Spokane as much as he could. In 2011 he was diagnosed with a number of different diseases spending more than a year dealing with health issues. He died February 26, 2013.

Interview with Ron Livingstone, 5 May, 2013, Spokane, Washington.

Interview with Marge Meyer, 5 July, 2013, Spokane, Washington.

Wilkinson, Tony. “BOBBY WAYNE .“ Black Cat Rockabilly Web site.

Snyder, Robert Wayne. “Bobby Wayne.” Rockabilly Hall of Fame Presentation.

Copyright 2013 © Robert G. Schoenberg

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About Robert Schoenberg

Writer - Blog is about the history of rock 'n' roll in Spokane Washington, from 1955 to 1980 View all posts by Robert Schoenberg

5 responses to “The Continued Saga of Bobby Wayne, Spokane’s Rockabilly Original

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