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|Billie E. "Bill" Myrick|
August 6, 1926|
Simpson County, Mississippi, USA
|Died||March 12, 2011(aged 84)|
Odessa, Ector County
|Spouse(s)||Laverne S. Myrick|
Billie E. Myrick, known as Bill Myrick (August 6, 1926 – March 12, 2011), was an American Country musician, originally from Simpson County in south central Mississippi but a long-time resident of Odessa in West Texas.
He was one of ten children of James Martin "Jim" Myrick and his wife, the former Allie Artimissa Parker, tenant farmers who moved their family to West Carroll Parish in northeastern Louisiana, where they purchased their own farm shortly before the Great Depression. He is the brother of Louisiana State Senator W. Spencer Myrick (1918–1991).
Life and career
Spencer and Bill Myrick both at times worked for Governor Earl Kemp Long. Bill Myrick joined the United States Army directly out of high school at the start of World War II, and as a combat medic in the Pacific with tours of duty in Japan and the Philippines.
Myrick returned to Louisiana after the war. His first professional singing job came by chance. He sat waiting to begin a temporary job putting up a tent at a circus, and was spotted picking his guitar and singing. He was immediately hired to fill a vacancy that had just occurred in the band of Bluegrass musician Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. After a few years of performing at the Grand Ole Opry and on the road in concert with Monroe, Myrick put together the first professional bluegrass group Myrick and the Mayfield Brothers with the ranching Mayfield brothers, Edd, Herb, and Smokey, from the Texas Panhandle area of Dimmitt in Castro County. Myrick and the Mayfield Brothers performed on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana and became regulars on the show. Edd Mayfield was also invited to perform with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, precursors to the stylish, rancher look with starched and pressed blue jeans, crisp white shirts, cowboy hats, and cowboy boots, a look common in country music today but innovative in the 1950s.
Bill Myrick moved his wife, Laverne S. Myrick (born 1930), and toddler daughter Bellinda Myrick (born 1948) to Odessa, the county seat of Ector County, on the advice on Myrick's friend Hank Williams. Myrick, who worked for the Odessa Police Department as a motorcycle officer in the traffic division while developing his music career became known in the Odessa area where country, bluegrass, and rockabilly music had become popular as "The Singing Policeman."
Myrick had been hired to perform with the Williams band as a singer and guitar player as well as driving Williams' personal Cadillac. Myrick had asked for a week or two to spend with his wife and daughter because he had been on the road extensively with Bill Monroe. Williams agreed but before Myrick could join Williams, the latter died in his vehicle en route to his next performance.
Myrick was instrumental in the early successes of Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline, and Elvis Presley, whose recording career gained its first national momentum from Myrick's radio program, the Pioneer Jamboree, Myrick arranged the only joint appearance of Holly and Presley. Sony/RCA researcher Ernst Jorgensen has gathered critical evidence of Myrick's part in Presley's success. Presley appeared throughout West Texas and the Panhandle, sometimes with Myrick and the Rainbow Riders as the opening act. At the Ector Theater in Odessa, Myrick and Presley watched Presley's film Jailhouse Rock. Many Presley biographers, however, have reported that Presley never saw Jailhouse Rock because of grief over the death of co-star Judy Tyler and her husband in an automobile accident after the film had been completed.
Myrick appeared on West Texas radio stations KECK, KOSA, and KOYL where he worked with his friend Waylon Jennings, who had earlier been a member of Buddy Holly and the Crickets and had known Myrick since Presley performed in Lubbock. As country music then did not pay most musicians well, Myrick assumed other paying jobs periodically, having worked as a peace officer and a truck driver. He and his wife had two more children, Martin and Billy. Life on the road traveling with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, the Miller Brothers, Rex Allen of Arizona, and Jimmy Dean of Plainview, Texas, among others, took its toll. Myrick left behind his musical career and began a three-decade association with Big Three Industries, a major distributor of liquid oxygen to NASA and hospitals around the country. Big Three was later purchased by Air Liquide of France. He began driving trucks and ended his career as the transport and safety director.
On retiring from the company, Myrick returned to his first love of bluegrass music creating the National Public Radio show Silvergrass and Purple Sage which has a following in Japan and among American military serving in Iraq. He is also a master of ceremonies at bluegrass festivals. He resides in Odessa with his wife, Laverne. He is a member of the choir at First Baptist Church in Odessa. The Myricks have three children, Bellinda Myrick, former Miss Texas and Miss West Texas, singer/actress/and author; Dr. Martin C. Myrick PhD., an author and musician who lives in Southern California; and Billy R. Myrick, now a retired Police Chief, residing in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. In 2010, there were seven grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Myrick was sometimes a guest host on the Odessa country music station KXWT.
Bill Myrick received the Bronze Star medal on February 20, 2011 for his service during World War II in the U.S. Army as a Staff Sgt. and Combat Medic with the 25th Infantry Division, 35th Medical Detachment, Headquartered in Hawaii, seeing combat in the Pacific under General Douglas MacArthur. The award was presented before a standing room only crowd of nearly 2,000 people, including more than 30 family members, who flew in from around the country at the First Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas by U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway, just a few weeks before his death.
- Bellinda Myrick-Barnett
- Bellinda Myrick
- Spencer Myrick
- Earl Kemp Long
- Bill Monroe
- Elvis Presley
- Buddy Holly
- Roy Orbison
- Hank Williams
- Patsy Cline
- Waylon Jennings
- Bob Wills
- Rex Allen
- Jimmy Dean
- Gary Hartman; Gregg Andrews; Jimmy McWilliams (2006). Journal of Texas Music History. 6 (1). Missing or empty
- "Elvis Presley researcher looks at 1955 N.M. tour dates". Roswell Daily Record Online, Chaves, NM News. 1955.
- "HANSFORD COUNTY PRESS, Hansford County, Texas,". Spearman Reporter - THE MAYFIELD BROTHERS - www.spearmanreporter.com/newsviews/music.html. 1971.
- Joe Carr; Alan Munde (June 1995). Prairie Nights to Neon Lights: The Story of Country Music in West Texas. Texas Tech University Press. pp. 198–203. ISBN 978-0-89672-349-8.
- Michael L. Kurtz; Morgan D. Peoples (1992). Earl K. Long: The Saga of Uncle Earl and Louisiana Politics. Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 0-8071-1765-X. ISBN 9780807117651.
- Peter Guralnick; Ernst Jorgensen (1999). Elvis Day by Day: The Definitive Record of His Life and Music. Ballantine Books, Baltimore, Maryland. ISBN 0-345-42089-6. ISBN 978-0345420893.