For those old enough to remember, rock ’n’ roll was originally called rockabilly, a genre made famous by Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and other popular musicians of the 1950s.
When Holly died in a plane crash in February 1959, Texas singer and local radio disc jockey Naylor, barely out of his teens, did the unthinkable: He stepped up to the mic and into Holly’s shoes as the new lead singer of The Crickets.Fast forward a half century to witness another achievement by Naylor – “The Rockabilly Legends: They Called It Rockabilly Long Before They Called It Rock and Roll,” a full-color, coffee-table book that includes a one-hour DVD celebrating the original rockabilly royalty he knew first-hand.
Naylor, who has a wealth of firsthand knowledge of the “cradle days” of rock ’n’ roll, was helped by Kris Kristofferson, Charlie Daniels and others in putting the book together.
The author has woven his personal recollections of the mythic beginnings and sometimes tragic endings of the epic men of rockabilly history: Presley, Carl Perkins, Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Holly, Johnny Horton, Gene Vincent, Buddy Knox, Bob Luman, Charlie Rich, and Johnny and Dorsey Burnette
The book is interspersed with hundreds of photographs (some never before seen), and is designed with 1950s typography, cover art and posters from the era.
In addition to the book, Naylor has founded an organization called “Rockabilly Legends,” which celebrates the legacy of past stars, including Holly, Presley and Lewis. Naylor’s company produces books, CDs and DVDs chronicling the early years of rock and roll, including a lengthy video documentary which aired nationally on PBS.
Naylor will be joined in Gold Beach by Steve Halliday, who has authored dozens of books, including inspirational Christian titles including “How Great Thou Art” and “Forgive to Live.”
The weekend will begin when Naylor and Halliday will present a mini-concert with rockabilly standards, followed by the men signing copies of their books. This event will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Gold Beach Books, 29707 Ellensburg Ave., Gold Beach.
“We’ll have a limited number of glossy color photographs, which Jerry will sign for lucky fans; he’s one of the few living legends of early rock and roll, and we’re honored he’s appearing at our bookstore,” said bookstore owner Ted Watkins. “Patrons should arrive early, because it’s sure to be standing room only.”
The musicians will then move to Sheriff John’s Classic Cars and Happy Days Malt Shop, 29935 Harbor Way, at the Port of Gold Beach for an informal discussion, followed by a concert featuring not only Naylor but also several local performers including Paul King, Tony and Stephanie LaTorre, and Don and Shay Hayes.
“The two hour concert will begin at 7 p.m., but you should get here early as we’re expecting a standing-room-only crowd.” said Bob Minshew, owner of Happy Days Malt Shop. “And be sure to come hungry and enjoy a great burger and shake.”
On Sunday, the public will have one final opportunity to experience rockabilly as Naylor and friends host a gospel sing-along from 1 to 3 p.m. at Sheriff John’s Classic Cars and Happy Days Malt Shop.
During a visit to Gold Beach last year, Naylor was so impressed with the authentic period décor and 1950s atmosphere of Sheriff John’s and Happy Days, that he has since made that locale the official “West Coast Headquarters of the Rockabilly Legends,” Watkins said.
Naylor has helped produce a music video celebrating Gold Beach and its new status as a rockabilly venue. The video can be viewed for free at www.sheriffjohnsclassiccars.com/video.htm.
Admission to all events is without charge and open to all ages. Those unable to attend the events may pre-order signed copies of the authors’ materials by telephoning the bookstore at 541-247-2495.