TOM PERRYMAN - HUSTLER EXTRAORDINAIRE, ALWAYS ON THE BALL, BRIGHT AS A BUTTON & SHARP AS A TACK, REST IN PEACE
The 20th century Jim Reeves legend has lost another important player. Tom Perryman was a walking mouthpiece on the life & times of Gentleman Jim Reeves from the early fifties to 1964. While his script was well rehearsed & stereotyped, and his voice booming, brusque & authoritarian, one never ceased to listen to his tales with respect, awe & wonder. Yes folks, unlike all these latter day so called " internet experts" who reckon they know it all, Tom was a likeable, empathetic character who was there, & saw it all happen, firsthand..
Tom was foremost a hustler, shrewd businessman and radio personality who knew how to work the system, and who, in 70 years must have earned a good living from country music radio & broadcasting. He would rank alongside Fabor Robison, Col. Tom Parker, Charlie Lamb & countless other country music wheeler-dealers, connoisseurs & go-getters who were around Texas, California & Nashville, Tennessee in the fifties & sixties. He soon realised the vital role promotion had to play in the success or failure of new record releases, and that the radio listeners & fans of a particular artist could dramatically influence air play & sales.
In his long broadcasting career, Tom never forgot this, & was always quick to credit & thank the fans & fan clubs who continued to pester the radio stations with their requests. When on air, he would always namedrop a fan, & most often tell one of his stories, borne of a lifetime in country music.
Today, a week after the posting of the
funeral service video, I watched it through, and after all the eulogies (nearly
all were his KKUS The Ranch radio colleagues,) I realised that no one spoke of
his career prior to 2002 at the station. I couldn't believe I'd first got to
know Tom 30 years before this, and I too had personal stories to tell.
I first met Tom in the early 70's at the International Country Music Festival, held in London over the Easter weekend. He was managing Jimmy C. Newman at the time, who was appearing that year with his band. Jimmy was renowned for his brand of genuine Louisiana cajun music.
In 1973 I'd been running the UK fan club
for 7 years. Mary Reeves was attending the International Festival, & invited me
to Nashville to ostensibly research for a book. My Jim Reeves knowledge was
minimal (like everyone else's at the time). I soon realised it was an impossible
& I was green round the gills when it came to interviewing country music people,
and only dear Joyce Jackson provided any real assistance by arranging
contacts/interviews with friends & colleagues. Tom Perryman was the first I
talked to in Mary's office. Talk about a baptism of fire! I didn't have my
little Grundig tape recorder, so I had to make scribbled longhand notes which I
later found hard to decipher. Tom & Mary Reeves jointly owned a successful radio
station WMTS in Murfreesboro. Tom managed the station & asked me in for a live
interview. That evening Mary, Terry Davis & myself attended a fish fry at Tom &
Billie's house in Murfreeboro.' I was walking from the lounge to the patio when
I walked straight into the glass patio door & head butted it!! All I remember
was seeing stars & feeling the pain.
Fast forward 42 years, to March 13th 2015. Tom was doing his regular daily morning 2hr. stint on KKUS The Ranch out of Tyler, Texas. I had sent in a request for a Jim Reeves song. That afternoon, 6 hours later, I'm listening to the show sat in a chair, when suddenly hear my name. What I heard next almost caused me to fall out of the chair! It was like a bad dream. Tom was recounting like a running commentary, the tale from 1973 of my "accident" at his home. That experience had been expunged from my memory. I had long since forgotten it. He hadn't!
Thanks for the memories. To those who knew you, Tom, you're a legend."