DEAR JERRY: I always enjoy the obscure behind-the-scenes details you come up with on so many or our favorite artists and songs of the past. Now I've got a real dandy for you.
One of the more unusual acts of the late '60s is the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. Anyone who ever saw him perform has not forgotten the experience, of that I'm certain.
I know it's more than 30 years, but I would appreciate any information you can dig up on this guy.
Teresa Dunbar, York, Pa.
DEAR TERESA: I will now that the requests for info on the Legendary Stardust Cowboy are pouring in Charles P. Norman (Spring Hill, Florida) also sends a very similar request.
Here is what the Cowboy, best known for “Paralyzed,” has to say about himself, as excerpted from some 1969 notes that accompanied his second single, “I Took A Trip”:
“I was born Norman Odam, September 5, 1947, in Lubbock, Texas. “At 14, I started doing rebel yells and Indian whoops because I am part Shawnee. I taught myself to do bird calls and jungle sounds with my mouth.
“Chet Atkins inspired me to learn to play the guitar. My folks wished I would learn to sing with the guitar but I wanted to play like Chet Atkins. Later on, I started singing Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, and Elvis Presley's music.
“After high school, I put away my guitar and quit writing songs for one year while I was majoring in electronics technology in college. For three months I thought about writing a wild song that would captivate everybody. So, one day I sat down and wrote “Paralyzed,” which I recorded for a talent contest at a radio station. It made the Top 10 and got a lot of requests on the radio and at parties.
“Shortly after, I was signed by Mercury Records, and then I did my first national TV show, “Laugh-In.”
Without regard to the artist or style of music, which would you pick as the album with the best cover art? Since I am a fan of the art of Robert (Keep on Truckin') Crumb anyway, my favorite cover is “Cheap Thrills,” by Big Brother and the Holding Company.
Along with your opinion, perhaps other readers could offer their picks for best album cover art.
Bobby Klockers, Decatur, Ala.
DEAR BOBBY: You are correct about this topic being one we have not covered (pun intended).
As you know, my opinion only counts for one point no more significant than any others.
Having said that, I must confess it is very difficult to select just one favorite. They come in as many different categories as art itself, ranging from photos of the artists, cartoons and caricatures, still life and abstract, and on and on.
So if you don't mind, I'll pick two that stand out in my memory.
In the artist photo category, I like Ricky Nelson's “Ricky Sings Again” (1959). In the non-photo category, I think Mom's Apple Pie's self-titled LP (1972) is as creative as they come.
Yes, we do welcome thoughts from readers on this topic.
IZ ZAT SO? Norman Odam explains how he became the Legendary Stardust Cowboy:
“As a young boy, I was sitting in my backyard thinking about cowboys and stardust in outer space. I put them together and came up with Stardust Cowboy. After that, I just added Legendary to the name.”