The Summer of 1985 was probably the best time of my youth. I was 20 years old, living in Myrtle Beach, working at one of the biggest night spots on the Grand Strand, major Country Artist performing on our stage, and working at the biggest country radio station too.
Silver was going to Nashville sometime after the first of the year to record an album. Jimmy and the band had written some great songs to record. I had hoped to travel with them to see the process and really wanted the learning experience, but I later found out it wasn’t in the budget for me to go.
Late summer in Myrtle Beach is a strange time, the beach going tourists start to thin out and the golfers arrive. It’s hard to get a tee time at many of the more popular courses, so I continued to play at the “locals” friendly courses. I had entered into a long distance relationship with a girl from Columbia, SC, about 150 miles from the coast. We met while she was on vacation, and really hit it off. But, long distance relationships rarely work and this one was no exception. November came and The Beachwagon began to operate on the “Winter” schedule of just 4 days per week. It’s really weird to live in a tourist driven town when the tourists leave. Businesses that you’ve only ever seen open, close their doors for the off-season. “Back To The Future” came out that fall and I went to the theatre in Surfside Beach to see it….I was the only person there! It was great!
As fall approached I began to think about returning to Greenville and pursue a career in radio. Greenville/Spartanburg was a small to medium radio market, but had two great country stations, WESC and WSSL. These two stations were legendary in Greenville, especially WESC. Wally Mullinax, Wayne Sumner, Bob Hooper and Francis, Allen Power, Charlie Munson, John Landrum, Dan and BJ Nash were all icons in Upstate radio. I grew up listening to WESC and WQOK. But, I had no clue how to get a job in radio, even after I had already worked in radio! I had “lucked” into the WYAK job and had never really talked to anyone about resumes and air checks, etc.
In December I decided to leave the beach and return home for Christmas and surprise my parents. After a stop to see my girlfriend in Columbia, who by the way, wasn’t my girlfriend anymore but I didn’t know it until I got there, I headed for home. Needless to say, it was awkward spending the night there, but we said our goodbyes and parted amicably.
O’Dell stayed at The Beachwagon for a few more years before moving to Charlotte, NC to play at Coyote Joe’s. Believe it or not, over about 8 years we only saw each other about a dozen or so times. Usually when I went to the beach on vacation or when I went to Charlotte after leaving my first wife because she didn’t know where he lived. More on all of that later.
1986 rolled around and I’m back home in Greenville with Mom and Dad. I landed a job as DJ at Billy Bob’s in Taylors, SC. Billy Bob’s was a popular local country bar just down the road from The Alibi, Gene and Brenda Burch’s place. Billy Bob’s would have various bands perform on the weekends and National acts from time to time. David Allen Coe, Keith Whitley, The Bellamy Brothers, Steve Wariner, Randy Travis and many more. Slewfoot would play from time to time during the winter break from the beach. The Danny Shirley Band who would later become Confederate Railroad was a popular act there as well. Super nice guys.
I was kind of stalled in life and in the pursuit of my radio career, I couldn’t get anyone to return my calls. My resume and air check were probably not the best. But then one night, I met Jack Pyles. Jack was a local radio personality who went by Jack Melvin, and had worked in radio for many years. Jack had moved into advertising sales at WSSL because, in radio, that’s where the real money is! Jack was super nice to me and put in a good word with the Program Director, Dave Welchel. Dave hired me to work Sundays running the Countdown Shows and of course the Nascar races!
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