[Audio] Coryell & Thompson Remember Paducah's Burgeoning Music Scene in the 60s

Sep 28, 2015

Todd Hatton, George Coryell and Tommy Thompson on Sounds Good
Credit Matt Markgraf, WKMS

With bands from Red Ember, The Legendary Shack Shakers, Bawn in the Mash, Solid Rock'it Boosters and many others, Paducah has a very prominent local music scene. This scene burgeoned in the 1960s, with bands like the Moxies, Palisades, The Paducah Dukes, Stormy & The Shandels and The Rivals to name a few. Todd Hatton goes back to 1965 with a look at the music scene of the day with Paducah native and musician Tommy Thompson and George Coryell, one of the founding members of the Moxies. Their single, "I Must Apologize" topped the Beatles on the 1964 charts in Paducah.

In 1965, most of the music venues had at least one and sometimes up to six live bands. There were roughly 12 to 15 active bands that year, and many of them were high school-age groups. A popular venue was the JC Civic Cetner on Friday nights for the WDXR Sock Hops, which often had energetic crowds. They also played in Calvert City, teen dances at the Knights of Columbus Hall, Fancy Farm's prom, and some nightclubs and bars with older patrons, too.

Coryell says when he saw that the Moxies' "I Must Apologize" topped "Ticket to Ride" on the local charts, he was very flattered. He says much of his influence came from the Beatles and enjoyed writing dance music. He says he got a guitar when he was 12 and learned how to play. Tommy Thompson entered the scene after a call from Dwayne "The Brain" Spees. As juniors at Paducah Tilghman High School, teachers approached them to perform a couple songs. They learned "Wipeout" by The Ventures and "All My Lovin'" by the Beatles. The crowd of 1,200 students loved it, he recalls.

On writing the songs Coryell says, "You really don't write the songs. God writes the songs he just shares them with you." He'd sit down and start working on it. Once he got the pattern going, the whole song came together. He wrote a lot of the songs for the Moxies on his own and then the band members would come together as a unit to fill out the tune. Thompson says he usually begins with the chord progression and then will write the lyrics to fit the the music.

The Paducah music scene of the '60s peaked at a Battle of the Bands event on New Years' night in 1966 at the JC Civic Center, hosted by WDXR. There were six bands on each of the two stages on either side of the hall and music went all night to a packed crowd. Coryell says it was one of the events that many of the band members of the time remember fondly and the only time all of the bands were together in one place.

While Coryell was at Murray State, he left the Moxies and teamed up with Mike Jones of Murray. They went on to record sessions in Hollywood and Nashville, including the song "Paddle Wheels" which was recently entered into Paducah Life Magazine's "Sing A Song of Paducah" contest.