Sometime in 1983, not sure exactly when, I went to a club in downtown Greenville called Bumpers. My brother-in-law Larry Plemmons was playing there with his band Stepchild. They played a lot of dance music, beach and R&B. While they were setting up, Larry mentioned that the guy sitting at the bar was the drummer for Slewfoot. Slewfoot?!? I had heard a lot of great things about this band. They were the house band at The Bowery in Myrtle Beach, SC and had replaced Alabama when they had left for Nashville and country music fame. The buzz on the street was this was going to be the next big thing to come out of SC. Phil and Janet Bruce, Mark Ensley, Neal McJunkin and O’Dell Scott were the members.
Slewfoot recorded an album called “Slewfoot, Live at The Bowery”. My parents had bought a copy while at the beach and I listened to it a LOT! Phil was a great guitar player, Neal and Janet had some of the best vocals I had ever heard, and the drums and bass were tight as ever. And here sat the drummer for this band, and I was going to meet him. I walked over and introduced myself, this is not exactly what was said but this is basically how I remember the conversation:
Me: “Hey I’m Chris, nice to meet you.”
Him: “I’m O’Dell”
Me: “You’re with Slewfoot, right?”
Me: “Cool, you guys not playing tonight”
Him: “No, we’re off tonight”
Me: “OK, nice to meet you.”
I would later describe my meeting with O’Dell Scott with one word….”Asshole.” Sometimes “Jerk.” But I would of course later learn that O’Dell Scott is a very reserved person that takes some time to get to know and doesn’t open up to people right away. He really wasn’t an asshole during our meeting, he just wasn’t what I wanted/expected him to be, lol. I guess I immediately wanted to be his friend or whatever, but now I realize, I had to earn that.
I didn’t see O’Dell for another year until one day in 1984, The Scott Phillips Band was booked to play the Alibi where I was the DJ. Steve Campbell played guitar and banjo, Brothers Joel and Tommy Phillips played guitar, bass and fiddle and low and behold, the drummer was O’Dell Scott! What? Apparently things had not turned out as well as expected for Slewfoot and O’Dell had left and formed The Scott Phillips Band. TSPB played at the Alibi several more times and I began to spend time with Steve Campbell. Steve suggested to the band that I come on board as the sound man and could sing a couple of songs each night. All the big bands back then had sound techs and I believe it was a great way to get an extra set of hands to help load in and out. I was hired for $75 a week and we hit the road. My education in music and being in a band had begun.
TSPB played up and down the East Coast from Richmond, VA to Hinesville, GA. We worked up several songs for me including an Elvis Medley, Exile and David Allen Coe songs. We were tight. Joel would play fiddle while Tommy switched to bass and Orange Blossom Special brought the house down every night! Gene and Brenda hired us to play The Alibi for 5 weeks! Now, understand, the gig at the Alibi was 7 days a week! We played the Alibi for 35 days straight. Also realize that this was before Karaoke, before M.A.D.D and before all the DUI laws changed that really affected the club business and before video poker was outlawed. Clubs had a steady stream of cash revenue coming in and could afford to pay bands to play more than one or two nights. The Alibi was also an after hours private club that catered to, let’s say, people who liked to partake of artificial substances and the people that provided them. That’s really how we survived 35 straight days! We played hard and we partied hard! We were young and invincible!!
I began to learn a lot from O’Dell about timing, show prep, practicing, lighting, sound and all aspects of music. Our road trips were legendary and we still talk about them today. O’Dell and I were starting to form a friendship, we had the same sense of humor and we were brutally honest with each other, a trait that would serve us well later on.
We played from the summer of ’84 until December when it all came to an end….
Part 4 – Click Here