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Sorrells Pickard wrote 4 of the songs on Ringo's Beaucoups Of Blues album, and also played guitar on it. I had the opportunity to talk with him in January 2000, and this page records some of his memories of working with Ringo.
Before we get started, let me suggest you do a web search for "sorrells pickard" (after you've finished with my site.) You'll find some pages devoted to Ringo's Beaucoups Of Blues. I thought it was kind of neat that the album had a similar effect on other people as it did on me. I got it back when it came out in 1970, and at that time I was a pop-rock music fan, which didn't include country. Still, I thought, "Hey, this album is really nice!" Everything about it seemed top-notch. It's been one of my pet records ever since.
You'll also find that Sorrells is a peanut farmer and one of the forces behind "Sorrells Pickard Gourmet Peanut Butter." Coincidentally, this is how we crossed paths in the first place. The company found my web page giving a recipe for "gourmet" peanut butter. I guess they felt threatened by the competition (ha ha) and tried to butter me up by sending me a couple of free jars. (The web's quite an amazing little trick, isn't it?)
Sorrells remembers Ringo as a real nice guy and a hard worker. In fact, he describes the sessions themselves as "hard work". This makes me feel a little better. After reading so many accounts of pop groups taking months to finish an album or song, it's heartening to hear that when country artists crank out an album's worth of brand-spanking new songs in 3 days, it requires at least some exertion!
Sorrells described the daily routine, where each morning the writers of the songs Ringo was to record would go to his hotel room and teach him the new songs. Then they would record the songs that evening. Sorrells did this for the 4 songs he contributed.
Some accounts indicate there were another 12 to 15 songs recorded at the sessions that didn't make the album. If that's really the case, I was wondering if any of those songs were by Sorrells, but his memory has gotten vague on the outtakes. He did remember Coochy Coochy, the obscure B-side, and that Ringo drummed on that and maybe one more. (Would that be the "Nashville Jam" included on the CD?)
Sorrells played guitar on the album, but I was wondering if any of the other voices we hear on his songs might be his. In particular, there is a harmony vocal on "Without Her", and the "awww, one, two" at the beginning of "$15 Draw". Sorrells doesn't think his voice is on the album anywhere. Sorrels did record an album for MCA, which also included "$15 Draw".
I had always wondered about Ringo's line at the end of "$15 Draw": "I got my dawg and he's reeeal mean!" Sorrells confirmed my suspicion that Ringo added that; it wasn't anything he wrote! He laughed and said he has to ask Ringo someday what that means. I'm supposing that Ringo was just goofing around, figuring the song would be faded out before that point. Anyhow, it's cool.
I asked about "Bolton City" which is mentioned in "$15 Draw". I've read that Sorrells mostly performs close to where he lives in Florida, and thought Bolton City might be near his home town. The funny thing is, he started telling me about Bossier City, which is across the Red River from Shreveport, La. It has a strip of juke joints and honky tonks and is "on the circuit". That's the city he wrote into the song! Sorrells wasn't aware, or has forgotten, that Ringo sang "Bolton", which is also what the printed lyrics say. And keep in mind that Sorrells keeps tabs on his lyrics. For instance, he was a little bemused when another country artist, Hank Thompson, changed the last line of the same song: "I'll send the $15 soon as I get to the club and make a draw." Hank sang, "when I do the club..." (Hank is on the verge of having hit records in 6 different decades. Top that!)
I've read that Pete Drake encouraged Ringo to do the country album. Pete was in London helping on George Harrison's All Things Must Pass album. Sorrells said that Chuck Howard, who also wrote 4 songs on Beaucoups Of Blues, was in England with Pete Drake, and that Chuck became good friends with Ringo and was the main influence on getting Ringo to come over to record the album. Ringo had some apprehensions at first, feeling like he didn't want to leave home for all the months it would take to record the album. It took some convincing that country musicians don't work that way!
By the way, Chuck Howard is gone now, but his son Chuck is very successful producing and recording country music. For example, he co-produced one of LeAnn Rimes big hits, "How Do I Live".
Ringo came over with Neil Aspinall, whom Sorrells described as a nice guy, too.
I know that Ringo is not an accomplished guitarist, but has fooled around with the guitar. So I was wondering if by any chance the picture of him playing guitar on the inside album cover meant that a few of his strums might have made it on the album. Sorrells said no, and speculated the picture may have been taken at Tracy Nelson's place. This is where they all went Sunday evening after the sessions. The picture on the front cover of Beaucoups Of Blues shows Ringo sitting in the doorway of Tracy's smokehouse. That's kind of neat to know (even though I doubt that's where Ringo was playing the guitar. The picture shows him wearing a different outfit.) Tracy Nelson was known back then for leading the '60s San Francisco group Mother Earth, and is still a successful blues/r&b/country singer.
Finally, Sorrells told me about the fat-free peanuts which the University of Florida has finally developed. It took them years. He says the fat-free peanuts taste just as good to him as the ordinary ones with fat. He just (January 2000) had a batch of the fat-free peanuts sent off to be made into a trial batch of peanut butter.
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