A Current Interview with Tex LeBeauf, 5-00

Cultural Historian Gary Plenth caught up with Country and Western legend Tex Lebeauf at a Coco's in Ventura, California.

GP: A lot of people credit you with the birth of TechnoTonk.

TLB: Of what?

GP: TechnoTonk...it's a kind of hybrid of honkytonk and techno, and you were one of the first--

TLB: Aw, look at this. "Wine and beer served after 11 AM." Reminds me why I left Kansas, would you?

GP: Some kind of legal problem, according to my--

TLB: Down the street. Come on.

Several minutes later, the interview continues at the bar of the Sportsman restaurant several blocks away.

TLB: That's better.

GP: In 1963, in September, you laid down the basic tracks for "Why Don't You Just Kill Me (And Get it Over With)" at Jimmycrack Studios in Belleville, Arkansas...

TLB: Whose boy did you say you were?

GP:...and over the next three days you recorded what ended up being the "Drunk on the Tracks" LP. You had probably the best lineup of sidemen you ever had--

TLB: You ever been with a Polish girl? Czechoslovakian?

GP: --none of whom will talk about you on or off the record.

TLB: I made records, lots of 'em. If you want to ask about my records, you fire away. All anybody wants to ask about is aliens this, beamed up that. Extraterrestrial sex girls, whoooeee, sure, but nobody cares about my career in C&W.

GP: Okay, well, let me ask you then. You went in to record a sure-to-fail single, and you walk out with the most bootlegged unreleased album ever recorded apart from The Beach Boys' "Smile," and no one knows what really--

TLB: Now hold on. We were bootlegged way more than "Smile." Anyway, half of that fucker came out on legitimate records! I am the king of the bootlegs! Anybody says I ain't is looking for an ass kickin', I'll tell you what.

GP: Sure, okay.

TLB: Don't humor me, son.

GP: All right, then, what happened? What is the story behind the hypnotic appeal of this crappy record? It sounds like you were singing into a tin can, the musicians are out of it in the worst way, you sound like the bastard offspring of Tennessee Ernie Ford and Minnie Pearl--

TLB: That's entirely possible.

GP: --the songs are among the worst of your entire career, which covers a great deal of ground.

TLB: Thank you.

GP: But I can't quit listening. I wish I was home right now, listening.

TLB: That's a little hypersonic soundwave woven into the background of the record. More addictive than heroin. You hear it once, you want to hear it again and again. That was the aliens' plan, get everyone hooked on the record and then they'd step in.

GP: And that's why it never came out? You saved Earth by tying up the rights to the masters? You sacrificed your career for humankind?

TLB: Well, shit, Columbia offered us an amount I won't even dignify by repeating it. Same with Capitol. Finally we got an offer we liked from Reprise, Frank Sinatra's label...

GP: On Warner Brother's.

TLB: Right. But at the last minute they said no hypersonic soundwave. And at that point the aliens approached a guy I'd pointed them to from some gigs I'd done in England, Jim Lennon.

GP: You mean John?

TLB: Did I say Jim? Yeah, John. He had a group, and the rest is history. I'm not bitter, though, good for him

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