Who Says An Old Tiger Can’t Learn New Tricks

Who Says An Old Tiger Can’t Learn New Tricks

Who Says an Old Tiger Can’t Learn New Tricks


While lis­ten­ing to Wiley Ole­son dur­ing our inter­view, I couldn’t help but think back to the first time I heard the band Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” from the big screen while Rocky Bal­boa was gear­ing up for the tough­est fight of his career. As he spoke, I had images of him push­ing him­self to the lim­it in the gym where he shed pounds and built mus­cles as he pre­pared for his first MMA (Mixed Mar­tial Arts) match since 2011 in Okla­homa City.

But unlike Rocky who had his tough­est fight ahead of him, Ole­son has already fought his and emerged vic­to­ri­ous­ly. The fact that he is step­ping into a ring at all is already a vic­to­ry and also what makes his sto­ry so unique. Hav­ing always been com­pet­i­tive and enjoy­ing phys­i­cal con­tact sports, Ole­son began par­tic­i­pat­ing in wrestling and foot­ball from child­hood. These child­hood activ­i­ties would set him on a path to become a pro­fes­sion­al wrestler lat­er in life. As an adult, he began pro­mot­ing him­self as a wrestler while mov­ing up the ranks and mak­ing a name for him­self with five “try­out match­es” for World Wrestling Enter­tain­ment (WWE).

In 2007 a motor­cy­cle acci­dent and sub­se­quent 21 surg­eries would end that dream. The wreck result­ed in bro­ken ribs, a punc­tured lung, torn mus­cles from his neck to his groin area, knee dam­age, shoul­der dam­age, both of which required recon­struc­tion, and even the loss of a few teeth. Also, he had a reti­na detach­ment which required anoth­er 11 surg­eries. The acci­dent was not even his fault, but one of a lapse in judg­ment by a motorist who ran a stop sign.

As a result of the mul­ti­ple surg­eries, recu­per­at­ing times and loss of his dream, depres­sion set in and the pounds began stack­ing on until he reached 305 pounds. Hav­ing a com­pet­i­tive nature and the need to feel fit again, kept his desire alive to be in a ring of one type or anoth­er. He need­ed a push through. The Army Nation­al Guard would give him just that when they ordered him to lose weight or leave the ser­vice. He has been in the mil­i­tary as a Black­hawk heli­copter mechan­ic for 19 years and did not want to leave. So he hired a per­son­al train­er, hit the gym and lost 75 pounds, 30 in the first month alone.

I’ve always been a com­peti­tor, and it’s just always going to be there,” he said. Because of this, it is not sur­pris­ing that he would seek out a new oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­pete.  He soon met a pro­fes­sion­al kick­box­er who gave lessons for the sport. This man helped train and encour­aged Ole­son to get back into a ring with the new skills he was learn­ing – which was all the encour­age­ment he need­ed to begin seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion for fight­ing again.  The hard work and ded­i­ca­tion have paid off, and Ole­son said he is excit­ed for this first fight that the many surg­eries post­poned begin­ning in 2011 with that last fight. By the way, he won that match in the sec­ond round.

I am pret­ty excit­ed about this fight because I want to prove all the naysay­ers wrong. I have peo­ple who ask me why I am doing this and telling me just because I lost weight doesn’t mean I can fight. My goal is to prove to myself and every­one else that I, or any­one my age, can do it. I am 48 years old,” he said. As if the motor­cy­cle wreck, surg­eries, and his age were not enough bad luck, Ole­son has also had three heart surg­eries with­in the last year, the most recent in Decem­ber.

Once I win this fight, I want to declare myself a pro­fes­sion­al and then get a few pro­fes­sion­al fights under my belt. I am just so old now that no orga­ni­za­tion is going to take me on seri­ous­ly, so I will just have some fun at the local cir­cuits and make the best of it,” he said. As a result of his age and thus lack of spon­sor sup­port, Ole­son pays for all the costs asso­ci­at­ed with fight­ing him­self. He did say that he would love to have a spon­sor or two though since train­ing and equip­ment are so expen­sive.

The crowd may not hear “Eye of the Tiger” on the night he fights, but it’s a good bet that they will at least be ask­ing who let that old tiger out of his cage. Ole­son is fight­ing Lee Bell on August 3 at Riv­er Spir­it Casi­no for Dale “Apol­lo” Cook’s Extreme Fight Night.


How One Oklahoma Woman Gave Us Back Our History

How One Oklahoma Woman Gave Us Back Our History

How One Okla­homan Gave Us Back Our His­to­ry


History Lesson

I have this vivid mem­o­ry while in junior high school of sit­ting in a class­room with oth­er stu­dents my age and feel­ing the bore­dom in that room as being suf­fo­cat­ing. Or maybe I was hop­ing that some­one would put a pil­low over my head and suf­fo­cate me to end the bore­dom. Either way, you get my point…It was a snooze fest! Back to my mem­o­ry though, this old man, who must have been in his six­ties, was ram­bling on about some world his­to­ry event in a monot­o­ne voice out of a big text­book. I don’t recall what it was, but I do remem­ber think­ing why is this old guy read­ing that from the book. I mean, hell he is old enough, Why not just tell us about his life in his own words? So I thought at the time any­way. But, I was onto some­thing. As I grew old­er, I did cul­ti­vate a love of his­to­ry and remem­bered lat­er as an adult how fas­ci­nat­ing it would have been if that old man had told his class about his­tor­i­cal expe­ri­ences through­out his own life. Or at least weaved the his­to­ry he was a part of into the his­to­ry that he wasn’t involved. If my math is cor­rect as to his age, this means that he would have been a child dur­ing the Great Depres­sion, prob­a­bly fought in WWII, wit­nessed the Kore­an and Viet­nam Wars, the tumul­tuous six­ties gen­er­a­tion and its Civ­il Rights Move­ment, JFK assas­si­na­tion and the Nixon res­ig­na­tion, among count­less oth­er his­tor­i­cal events. Why was this foun­tain of his­to­ry spout­ing out bor­ing bits of infor­ma­tion from a book when he could have been shar­ing real-life his­tor­i­cal accounts?

Pho­tos from For­got­ten Okla­homa Group on Face­book

Find­ing Fla­vor In Tech­nol­o­gy

I would ven­ture to guess that there were oth­ers like me who thought the same, many of whom left high school with dis­taste for his­to­ry. For­tu­nate­ly though and as tech­nol­o­gy advanced, his­to­ri­ans began to rec­og­nize a need to record his­to­ry from the peo­ple who lived it through doc­u­men­taries. This renewed inter­est as peo­ple was able to hear real-life accounts of actu­al bat­tles, human expe­ri­ences of pain and tri­umph and become emo­tion­al­ly involved in the expe­ri­ence. As tech­nol­o­gy pro­gressed even fur­ther into the social media soci­ety of today, peo­ple like Amy Hedges of Cleve­land, Okla­homa got involved. Not only did she just get involved, but she has also brought 60,000 oth­ers along with her to be a part of it as well.

I remem­ber when I got my first 500 likes, I freaked out! Holy cow there are 500 peo­ple who like what I am doing,”

Hedges said. She was refer­ring to her Face­book page For­got­ten Okla­homa. Like many of us, she was dis­en­chant­ed with her expe­ri­ences in his­to­ry class­es and did not ini­tial­ly have a great inter­est in the sub­ject. What she did have though was a love of pho­tog­ra­phy and old hous­es. These inter­ests cul­mi­nat­ed in a large col­lec­tion of pho­tos of old homes through­out Okla­homa; her father con­vinced her to post them on Face­book. Appre­hen­sive at first think­ing no one else would be inter­est­ed, she final­ly set up the page and began post­ing.

Getting History Rolling

Fol­low­ing this mile­stone, Don Tay­lor of Ral­ston joined in and began post­ing too. He is a Pawnee Coun­ty his­to­ry enthu­si­ast and has a large col­lec­tion of state his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ra­bil­ia which he felt fit nice­ly with what Hedges was doing. Tay­lor had set in motion a prac­tice of vol­un­tary sub­mis­sions into play, and sud­den­ly they were com­ing in from all over the state. Hedges explained that it was ini­tial­ly only aban­doned hous­es, but when Tay­lor began post­ing old pho­tos of oth­er objects and peo­ple, it start­ed to take on a life of its own.

We were real­ly rolling on this deal! Word got out, and more peo­ple were send­ing in pho­tos want­i­ng me to repost them. I had so many that it was out of con­trol,” Hedges said. She had struck a vein and hit a gush­er it seemed. Try­ing to keep up was becom­ing a full-time job. She want­ed everyone’s sub­mis­sions to get expo­sure, but it was over­whelm­ing to keep up with the flow. She thought chang­ing the page into a group would help. At this point, she had 20,000 peo­ple on her page. She said many peo­ple were con­tact­ing her by mes­sen­ger ask­ing why their pho­tos had not been shared. She had a year back­log and was work­ing to get post­ed.

The group idea seemed like less work because peo­ple could post their own pho­tos and mem­o­ries. As with most things in life, it was, and it wasn’t. New prob­lems arose such as peo­ple want­i­ng to post entire fam­i­ly pho­to albums or just pho­tos of the state with no his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. This led to the need for more new rules, guide­lines and page admin­is­tra­tors. How­ev­er, Hedges dealt with each new issue, and the group con­tin­ued grow­ing. In fact, she even expand­ed out­side of cyber­space and orga­nized “group meet-ups” every few months which are field trips to his­tor­i­cal places. These meets give mem­bers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet and share per­son­al his­to­ries.

Also, the group sells mer­chan­dise, sell­ing t‑shirts and cal­en­dars and then donates part of the pro­ceeds to muse­ums in need of repairs.

I am still flab­ber­gast­ed every day. It’s crazy! I nev­er imag­ined that it would get so big.

From Snooze To Schmooze

I am still flab­ber­gast­ed every day. It’s crazy! I nev­er imag­ined that it would get so big. And hon­est­ly, we are grow­ing so fast that we have almost one hun­dred requests per day to join. And our engage­ment lev­el in the group is so high, it’s unbe­liev­able. When I checked recent­ly, we had 253,000 engaged,” Hedges said. She also receives fan mail. She said that peo­ple mail her cards telling her how much the site has touched their lives and the dif­fer­ence she is mak­ing. In some cas­es, mem­bers have even con­nect­ed with fam­i­ly mem­bers they didn’t even know they had. She is in awe as to how many peo­ple have con­nect­ed through the group and became friends. Many of these peo­ple have become such good friends that they take “For­got­ten Okla­homa vaca­tions” where they trav­el and take pho­tos for the site, she said.

Hedges said what she loves most about the group is that it gets peo­ple excit­ed about his­to­ry and com­pels them to research their own fam­i­ly his­to­ries. It encour­ages them to take the bore­dom out of his­to­ry and brings the old mun­dane pages of a text­book to a liv­ing breath­ing his­to­ry. Hedges and her group mem­bers have tak­en the next step in the evo­lu­tion of learn­ing his­to­ry. They have tak­en the tra­di­tion­al snooze­fest of old and turned it into a vibrant schmooze­fest for any­one who wish­es to under­stand the peo­ple who made Okla­homa his­to­ry. So for­get about the Okla­homa class that killed off your inter­est in his­to­ry and become revived with the For­got­ten Okla­homa that has brought the sub­ject back to life.

Check it out Here

Pho­to from For­got­ten Okla­homa Group on Face­book

Oklahoma Brewer Looks to the Renaissance of Today

Oklahoma Brewer Looks to the Renaissance of Today

Renais­sance Brew­ing Brings Okla­homa The Time­less Taste Of The Ages


APRIL, 2018


It’s Beer Thir­ty! Yes, it is time to soak up the suds, open up the taps, and let the gold­en elixir flow. It is a potion of old dat­ing back over 5,000 years to Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Chi­na.  It was history’s first keg­ger which began with the world’s first civ­i­liza­tions.  Inter­est­ing, don’t you think…as soon as man real­izes he can use fire for some­thing else oth­er than stay­ing warm…he brews a beer with it? Beer is one of those man-made cre­ations that appear to just keep get­ting bet­ter with time, nev­er los­ing its lus­ter.  It’s a recipe that tran­scends bor­ders and beliefs with its ingre­di­ents that draw peo­ples togeth­er into a toast to cel­e­brate a taste for life…and the occa­sion­al buzz of course.

Thanks, in part, to some new alco­hol-relat­ed laws in Okla­homa and the con­tin­ued desire to brew and toast, the state has seen an enthu­si­as­tic jump­start to what could become a thriv­ing indus­try. Beer brew­ing is heat­ing up. Although it has been legal to home brew beer since 2010, sell­ing to the pub­lic on a brew­ery site has not been a legal option since August of 2016. With these and oth­er legal changes, the oppor­tu­ni­ties for brew­eries to make income out­side the whole­sale mar­ket have cre­at­ed quite a buzz them­selves amongst wannabe brew­ers in the state.

The tap­room at Renais­sance Brew­ery.

C.L. Har­mon

One of those beer enthu­si­asts is a real Renais­sance man by the name of Glenn Hall. The def­i­n­i­tion, accord­ing to the dic­tio­nary, is a man who has exper­tise in sev­er­al dif­fer­ent sub­ject mat­ters. Hall def­i­nite­ly fits into this cat­e­go­ry when it comes to build­ing Oklahoma’s first brew­ery from the ground up.  The project began six years ago when he and his wife Sarah began look­ing for indus­tri­al zoned prop­er­ty to build what is now Renais­sance Brew­ing Com­pa­ny locat­ed in the heart of mid-town Tul­sa.

This loca­tion was orig­i­nal­ly three sep­a­rate lots with dilap­i­dat­ed homes on them and zoned for com­mer­cial use.  He spent 2011-12 acquir­ing the prop­er­ties and then the fol­low­ing year he spent doing intern­ships at dif­fer­ent brew­eries and acquir­ing his for­mal edu­ca­tion in the beer brew­ing sci­ences. He also attend­ed the World Brew­ing Acad­e­my achiev­ing his Mas­ters in Brew­ing Tech­nol­o­gy and spent time in, Munich, Ger­many for his appren­tice­ship in 2013. He then spent the entire year of 2014 get­ting his new prop­er­ties zoned for indus­tri­al use.  It was an ardu­ous endeav­or, but suc­cess for the cou­ple and paving the way for oth­ers to get prop­er­ties zoned indus­tri­al much eas­i­er was the result.

We were the first brew­ery to ever chal­lenge any of the zon­ing laws in Tul­sa and the first and only brew­ery in Okla­homa to build from the ground up”.

We were the first brew­ery to ever chal­lenge any of the zon­ing laws in Tul­sa and the first and only brew­ery in Okla­homa to build from the ground up,” Hall said. He also helped city lead­ers under­stand what brew­eries are real­ly about. Although the city did have some expe­ri­ence work­ing with Marshall’s Brew­ing, also in Tul­sa, that brew­ery had been zoned indus­tri­al from the begin­ning. So Renais­sance Brew­ery and the City of Tul­sa became class­mates of sort of Build­ing a brew­ery 101.

After nine months of wait­ing on per­mits, the Halls began build­ing in Decem­ber of 2015. The con­struc­tion would take two years to com­plete. The colos­sal effort of build­ing as opposed to tak­ing a much eas­i­er job work­ing for an exist­ing brew­ery boils down to a sim­ple phi­los­o­phy; “I just like my own stuff,” he quipped. In actu­al­i­ty, he is one of those peo­ple who believe in invest­ing in his own ideas over those of oth­ers.

I had a real­ly good job in IT for 16 years with a good salary. I basi­cal­ly let that go to move back­ward,” he quipped. “I have been brew­ing since 1994 and so I have always loved the brew­ing aspect. I like the engi­neer­ing side of brew­ing and the equip­ment even more than the beer. I have want­ed to do it pro­fes­sion­al­ly for a long time. This has actu­al­ly been a 20-year plan or vision if you will.  When Hall com­plet­ed his appren­tice­ship in Munich, Ger­many, he knew it was time to fol­low the teach­ing of philoso­pher Pla­to who said, “He is a wise man who invent­ed beer”.  The time had come to become a real Renais­sance man and apply his new knowl­edge to the art of craft beer. In his efforts, he became the gen­er­al con­trac­tor for the con­struc­tion, along with han­dling many oth­er aspects of design­ing, financ­ing and build­ing a brew­ery from the ground up.

Hall explained that the brew­ery itself is debt free, leav­ing only the con­struc­tion loan and oper­a­tions costs. In essence, the cou­ple already has over 50 per­cent equi­ty in the enter­prise.  The brew­ery paid for itself with­in two months of its pub­lic open­ing on Jan­u­ary 11. In addi­tion, he and his wife are proud of the fact that they have made the neigh­bor­hood a bet­ter place and increased prop­er­ty val­ues by remov­ing decay­ing struc­tures and build­ing an asset with­in the com­mu­ni­ty.

The busi­ness is real­ly doing what we believed it could. Of course, we have to grow it more to get where we want to be. One of those future visions is com­plet­ing two bed and break­fast type apart­ments on the sec­ond floor where ‘beer trav­el­ers’ can stop in Tul­sa and spend a cou­ple of nights”.  The vision begin­ning to bring peo­ple into the brew­ery and allow them to expe­ri­ence some of the craft beers Renais­sance has to offer. They believe the idea of peo­ple being able to stay in a brew­ery and be exposed to the oper­a­tion will be very entic­ing to beer enthu­si­asts.

Our main focus is here at the brew­ery,” Hall said. He explained that it is not their intent to sat­u­rate the mar­ket and push the beer into the main­stream.  He and Sarah want to use the brew­ery as some­what of a social gath­er­ing. A place for tasters in the tap room, occa­sion­al beer din­ners where din­ers can try new beers and have meals pre­pared by chefs, have short order foods and even become a place to host events.

We are not going to beg and plead to get our taps every­where. We want those places that like our beer to car­ry us. We want to estab­lish rela­tion­ships with var­i­ous estab­lish­ments that we real­ly like and who like us,” Hall said. Renais­sance actu­al­ly got start­ed and was able to get into the whole­sale mar­ket by using its own equip­ment to brew at the Dead Armadil­lo brew­ery loca­tion. While there, they were able to get their four flag­ship beers per­fect­ed and avail­able to the whole­sale mar­ket.

Since the open­ing of the brew­ery, the main focus has been to get the tap­room open. Now that this is com­plet­ed and patrons are stop­ping by to try their beers, they have begun to work on brew­ing new ones. They pride them­selves on hav­ing a vari­ety of spe­cial­ty beers every week, along with their sea­son­al line-up for the year.  Every Wednes­day they release a new beer list which always sells out with­in that week.

We now have peo­ple show­ing up ear­ly in the week to try some of our new spe­cial­ty beers.” Thus far, the brew­ery has pro­duced 40 dif­fer­ent beers that are “proven recipes,” Hall said. The tap room is vital to the exper­i­men­ta­tion process, he explained. As they pro­duce these spe­cial­ty beers, the cus­tomer demands them allow them to see which ones are pop­u­lar and could even­tu­al­ly become flag­ship brews. Cur­rent­ly, there is Renais­sance Gold, Indi­an Wheat, Gam­ma Ray IPA and Black Gold as flag­ships.  Renais­sance Gold and Indi­an Wheat are light beers, Gam­ma Ray IPA is more of a hop­py beer and Black Gold is a dark beer.

We are sell­ing every­thing we can make right now,” Hall said.  This is with nine cur­rent part-time employs and a few tanks. Renais­sance has built in the capac­i­ty for sev­er­al more tank oper­a­tions, but Hall said that grow­ing slow­ly and using earned cash flow to move for­ward is much more of a pri­or­i­ty than quick expan­sion.

I am a Renais­sance man because I like to do so many of the things myself,” Hall said about his involve­ment with the day to day oper­a­tions of the brew­ery. Although he calls him­self own­er and brew­er, he is also the book­keep­er, jan­i­tor, recipe mak­er and pack­ager as well.  With his renais­sance men­tal­i­ty, and the neigh­bor­hood being known as the Renais­sance area, it seemed as though the name was meant to be.

Still 5,000 years lat­er that crisp and often bit­ter drink we call beer is still as pop­u­lar as it has been through the ages. Hall has now joined the ranks of many before him who have tak­en what nature pro­vides to quench a thirst that seems nev­er-end­ing. Although it is dis­put­ed that Ben Franklin ever said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be hap­py,” some­one cer­tain­ly said it. And who­ev­er it was, I bet that man was a Renais­sance man just like Glenn Hall.

The Renais­sance area is in the heart of Tul­sa’s his­toric mid­town, bor­der­ing streets are East 11th to 15th and from South Har­vard to Lewis with the brew­ery locat­ed at 1147 S Lewis Ave. Hours are Wednes­day-Fri­day from 4–9 pm, 12–9 pm on Sat­ur­day and 12–6 pm on Sun­day.  For more infor­ma­tion about their flag­ship beers, vis­it renaissancebeer.com. To try one of their spe­cial­ty beers, stop by and bel­ly up to the bar.

The Oklahoma Music Legend You Missed — Part 3

The Oklahoma Music Legend You Missed — Part 3

On A Col­li­sion Course



It’s as though one is stand­ing inside his mem­o­ries while gaz­ing at the walls of his office. Rem­nants of almost 50 years aboard a metaphor­i­cal train that has sped through the years on a mys­tery track lead­ing him on a jour­ney that most only dream of. As the con­duc­tor, this man chose to trav­el through melod­ic scenery as well as the dark­est recess­es to dis­cov­ery for the des­ti­na­tions only avail­able to those who believe in them enough to board a train to nowhere in hopes of find­ing every­where.


When we left off last, Lar­ry Sha­ef­fer had decid­ed it was time to return home to Tul­sa after hav­ing spent sev­er­al years on the road with Hank Williams Jr., pro­mot­ing his shows. Now a fam­i­ly man with his wife and one-year-old son Jake, it was time for him to eval­u­ate his pri­or­i­ties. As he would soon dis­cov­er, act­ing upon those desires would be much more dif­fi­cult than he ini­tial­ly believed.

Hav­ing been in the midst of the fast lane lifestyle since the ear­ly 1970s with the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll asso­ci­at­ed with that scene, becom­ing fam­i­ly a man was a lifestyle that was on the oppo­site side of the tracks for Lar­ry. Being in the music busi­ness had been all he had known since those ear­ly days of flip­ping cars and sell­ing fire­works and t‑shirts to make a few bucks. Even with a degree from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Tul­sa, he still only had his music busi­ness expe­ri­ence and the desire to keep the music play­ing in Okla­homa. For­tu­nate­ly, though, he still owned Cain’s Ball­room and had a hefty bank account from his suc­cess­ful pro­mot­ing ven­tures. He believed at that point that there would be “no more big mon­ey” but he was okay with that sit­u­a­tion.

Lar­ry with Van Halen

One of the rea­sons I came back to Tul­sa was that I thought I had enough mon­ey to last for­ev­er. I had done very well finan­cial­ly and I had proven to myself that I could do some big­ger things than what I had been doing…but, then I got into a mar­riage that did not last forever…and it took a lot of mon­ey,” Lar­ry said. He also felt that he had not real­ly put the effort into Cain’s that he should have and it was time to rem­e­dy that.
By his own admis­sion, his best years were 1975 to 1995. His focus on Cain’s was pay­ing off and it became a mec­ca for live music in Tul­sa. Yet, even as a fam­i­ly man, he still could not stop chas­ing the big mon­ey and was “scratch­ing and claw­ing” with the com­pe­ti­tion to bring in are­na shows. His efforts were able to bring Prince, Judas Priest, Tina Turn­er, Van Halen, Willie Nel­son, Kiss, Aero­smith, Metal­li­ca, Ozzy Osbourne and even the great Frank Sina­tra among oth­ers in this attempt and desire to con­tin­ue grow­ing in the busi­ness.

He was ini­tial­ly hap­py to be home and enjoy­ing the absence of trav­el. But in many ways, he was in unchart­ed ter­ri­to­ry. He admits lov­ing the lifestyle and the women who were involved in the music scene as well the wild side of the busi­ness. He had nev­er seen him­self as mar­ried with a nor­mal home life, but there he was, just that. The love for his sons and daugh­ters inspired him to learn how to be a good father, but this alone was not enough for him to keep from drag­ging the chaos sur­round­ing him into his mar­riage and home life. It would soon become obvi­ous to him that the train was on a col­li­sion course. Yet, he still con­tin­ued gain­ing steam to feed what he believed to be chas­ing the Amer­i­can dream.


He admits that the stress of his home life cou­pled with the chaos of the busi­ness pushed him fur­ther into drugs and alco­hol.

I had been warned that drugs and alco­hol don’t mix with mon­ey. But I just wasn’t lis­ten­ing. So I made a lot of tac­ti­cal errors. This is where my demise starts,” Lar­ry said. On a more philo­soph­i­cal note and one of ret­ro­spect, he explains that when asked if he would do it over dif­fer­ent­ly, the answer is a resound­ing YES! Per­haps, the best way to describe his response as it relates to this sto­ry is look­ing back at the tracks from where a speed­ing train had just been. Review­ing what had been on the tracks and dec­i­mat­ed by its sheer force and the real­iza­tion that what had been so close was now gone for­ev­er in the dis­tance.

Maybe there were regrets. Maybe even life lessons. What­ev­er they may have been, it was most cer­tain­ly a real­iza­tion that he was destroy­ing what he had so hoped to build by com­ing back to Tul­sa. There would be oth­er obsta­cles on the track in the near future as well such as a rape accu­sa­tion and tri­al before a jury. But those obsta­cles would be just what he need­ed to slow down. He would be cleared of the rape charge, but the dam­age to his rep­u­ta­tion and the con­tin­u­ing spi­ral into drugs and alco­hol were enough to almost derail him.


It’s been one hel­lu­va par­ty, hasn’t it?”  ~ Lar­ry Sha­ef­fer


I became my own envi­ron­ment. I woke up in the morn­ing being me and doing the same things I did the day before and hoped that it would work,” Lar­ry said. “I also nev­er thought that the flow of mon­ey would quit com­ing. It was so easy to get. This thought process, along with the sub­stance abuse, would ush­er in con­se­quences detri­men­tal to his pro­mot­ing enter­prise. He admits that there were show set­tle­ments that he closed while high that was not han­dled as well as they should have been and this caused riffs between he and the artists. Many of these would have long-last­ing effects.

The show may have sold out and we all made good mon­ey. But I did not make a good impres­sion with the artists I was work­ing with.  There were sev­er­al instances when I nuked myself because of the drugs and alco­hol.” Lar­ry said. One exam­ple of this behav­ior was casu­al­ly offer­ing Garth Brooks’ man­ag­er Bob Doyle cocaine after a show. Doyle was so insult­ed that he informed Brooks, who then refused to work with Lit­tle Wing again. He kept true to his word and has nev­er worked with Lar­ry since.

Some mis­takes you make, you nev­er get through pay­ing for,” Lar­ry said about the Brooks’ inci­dent. He went on to explain that though there were not a large num­ber of those types of mis­takes, there were enough to crip­ple his posi­tion in the busi­ness. He admits that at the time, he had no idea as to how much dam­age to his career he was inflict­ing upon him­self. Inter­est­ing­ly though, he knew to some degree that he was going to derail if things didn’t change, but had no clue as to how to get off the speed­ing train or to stop it.


Dur­ing this peri­od, he had been arrest­ed on mul­ti­ple occa­sions for what he refers to as alco­hol offens­es and his par­ty lifestyle. To add some per­spec­tive about where he was at this point in his life, it should be not­ed that it was not ego that had land­ed Lar­ry into this myr­i­ad of issues he was bat­tling. In fact, it was quite the oppo­site.

This lev­el of fatigue had set in and I had man­aged to keep three balls in the air for many years and I didn’t know how much longer I could do that.  I nev­er real­ly thought I was equipped or even qual­i­fied to be in the busi­ness I was in.  I kind of thought I was pulling off a fast one here,” Lar­ry said.

I also had the false illu­sion that suc­cess was mea­sured by mon­ey. I think that is one of the flaws in the Amer­i­can dream…that we all get mea­sured by how much mon­ey we make,”. When asked if he had giv­en any thought at this stage of his life as to how much joy and how many mem­o­ries he had giv­en to music lovers over the years by his efforts, he replied, “absolute­ly not, I nev­er thought about it”. He felt good about how far he had been able to build Lit­tle Wing. But on the sim­ple lev­el of how he had touched so many lives or that what he was doing had sig­nif­i­cant his­tor­i­cal val­ue, he was obliv­i­ous. “I am real­iz­ing it now, final­ly” he quipped.


I final­ly had an epiphany that my val­ues were wrong and had been for decades. I want­ed to get away from it,” he said. And the cost to own such an awak­en­ing? Every­thing I owned. “I had to lose every­thing! I filed for bank­rupt­cy in 2001 with noth­ing left. I sim­ply walked away from Cain’s Ball­room.  It was not a big sale where I gar­nered any mon­ey. But I final­ly learned that you can’t buy hap­pi­ness at all. I had just bought into the idea that too much is nev­er enough,” he said. He went on to say that if los­ing his wife, every­thing he owned and almost his chil­dren wasn’t enough to wake him up, then he was in a lot more trou­ble than even he thought pos­si­ble.

But it was enough. For the first time in his adult life, he had become avail­able to those he loved and cared about. In this action rests the wis­dom of how impor­tant it is to be there for oth­ers dur­ing this jour­ney through life. It took the bat­ter­ing of obsta­cles to final­ly bring the slow­ing down of the speed­ing train he was on. He final­ly under­stood what was most impor­tant in life had been pass­ing him by while he had been roar­ing that speed­ing train through the sta­tions with­out so much as a thought to see what beau­ty was around him.


There was a time after the bot­tom had fall­en out that I had no inten­tion of book­ing even one more show. I just had no direc­tion at that point. I was done with the busi­ness and it was done with me. I was drift­ing and won­der­ing what my next move was.” Lar­ry said. That next move would come a short time lat­er. An agent in Cal­i­for­nia called him and offered him an oppor­tu­ni­ty. Know­ing that Lar­ry was on a bad roll, he told him point blank that he may as well take the oppor­tu­ni­ty since he didn’t have any­thing else bet­ter to do. Lar­ry accept­ed. He began book­ing shows for Willie Nel­son. With­in a year, he was mak­ing mon­ey again and back on the upswing.


He loved it! There were no more big shows to scram­ble for and no more drugs and alco­hol. He was a “handy­man” as he calls him­self, book­ing shows for Willie Nel­son in the “B mar­kets” between his big are­na shows in the larg­er cities. This led him into doing the same for oth­ers such as George Jones, Mer­le Hag­gard, Ray Price, Don Williams, Gor­don Light­foot and B.B. King.  He had found zeal again and was able to work with only those whom he con­sid­ered to be pro­fes­sion­al and easy to work with artists. He had found a niche that worked and made him hap­py. And he was sober to boot.

For the bet­ter part of the last 17 years, Lar­ry has main­tained his busi­ness with these “elder states­men” of the music busi­ness. In recent years though, many of those great per­form­ers have passed on and now near­ing 70 years of age, he has no desire to add any more per­form­ers. He is hap­py with pro­mot­ing shows for Willie Nel­son and Gor­don Light­foot while enjoy­ing time with his fam­i­ly,  11  stray dogs and a 1961 Cadil­lac which is often as tem­pera­men­tal as any dif­fi­cult artist on a bad day.


The days of the speed­ing train may be over but he is more than okay with this fact. He has final­ly learned that it’s not about how fast he gets some­where or the num­ber of cars he has attached behind him; it’s about enjoy­ing the scenery with­in this world he has cre­at­ed for him­self and for count­less music fans.

It’s been one hel­lu­va par­ty, hasn’t it?”  ~ Lar­ry Sha­ef­fer

Com­ing soon is the release of a pod­cast con­tain­ing the inter­views I have con­duct­ed with Lar­ry for these series of sto­ries. These record­ings are col­or­ful and enter­tain­ing, giv­ing insight into the man and his career. They con­tain amus­ing anec­dotes about inter­ac­tions with artists and shows as well as per­son­al infor­ma­tion not includ­ed in the writ­ten sto­ries. We at Unique­la­homa tru­ly appre­ci­ate Larry’s can­dor and will­ing­ness to open up about events in his life that are very per­son­al. It is nev­er easy for some­one to open up to the pub­lic about the choic­es made dur­ing life and any sub­se­quent neg­a­tiv­i­ty result­ing from them. It has been our great plea­sure and hon­or to have been cho­sen by Lar­ry to con­vey so many details about his per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al life.

Thanks for Read­ing!


The Road To Success: Larry Shaeffer’s Legacy

The Road To Success: Larry Shaeffer’s Legacy


The Road to Suc­cess

CL Har­mon

15 March 2018

Some make his­to­ry while oth­ers pre­serve it. It is rare to find an indi­vid­ual that does both. It takes one who mar­ries the past to the future and forms a union which intro­duces igno­rance to wis­dom, wrong to right, arro­gance to humil­i­ty and fear to hope to tru­ly under­stand that every­one can own a part of his­to­ry if only will­ing to make their own while sav­ing the his­to­ry of oth­ers. Lar­ry Sha­ef­fer is such a man.

The skin­ny kid from the Lake Key­stone area now had a band to pro­mote with Black Oak Arkansas. Lar­ry was about to make his debut per­for­mance into the music busi­ness with his then part­ner David Miller and their com­pa­ny Lit­tle Wing Pro­duc­tions, a name that comes from the Jimi Hen­drix song of the same name. He knew that he had a lot rid­ing on this. In those days, Black Oak wasn’t a sold-out show band and so he had to become cre­ative in order to sell enough tick­ets to make the show suc­cess­ful.

Although he did have his first show on the books, he had no idea what to expect or how to even sell a show.

There was no road map or set of instruc­tions on how to do this,” Lar­ry said.  Park­ing cars for a liv­ing mak­ing $44 per week with the occa­sion­al quar­ter as a tip, Lar­ry had a lot of hopes on this first show if he was ever going to go from park­ing cars to dri­ving ones oth­ers would park.  Always being one who can spot an oppor­tu­ni­ty, he took advan­tage of the state fair in Tul­sa and was on the look­out for any hip­pie that reeked of weed and/or rock n’ roll.

Using $3,000 bor­rowed from his local bank which he secured as col­lat­er­al with his 1965 Volk­swa­gen and 1950 Harley-David­son motor­cy­cle, he bought a radio ad from a Tul­sa sta­tion, rent­ed out the Tul­sa Munic­i­pal The­atre (Now the Brady The­atre) and print­ed out mini-posters which he hand­ed out at the fair to those hip­pies for its dura­tion of ten days. It turns out that his efforts paid off. The show sold out. (For a fun anec­dote about the day of the show, tune into the pod­cast with Lar­ry which will be released soon.)

Infor­ma­tion com­ing soon.

Pho­to­graph by Com­ing Soon

It’s Rain­ing Mon­ey!

By his own admis­sion, Lar­ry says that he was not astute enough to know if he was going to make any mon­ey from the show. But he was final­ly in the music business…and a con­cert pro­mot­er no less.

I made enough mon­ey that evening to pay the band and the bank and still put $4,000 in my pock­et! I had a bag of cash at set­tle­ment. One of my favorite mem­o­ries is get­ting back to my apart­ment in down­town Tul­sa after the show, open­ing that bag of cash and sling­ing it in the bath­room floor, liv­ing room floor, on the couch, in the kitchen, on the TV and every­where else. It looked like it was rain­ing mon­ey,” Lar­ry remem­bered as he grinned from across his desk.

This was his first redemp­tion as he called it that he was on the right track. Lit­tle did he know back then that all shows aren’t that suc­cess­ful. How­ev­er, his tenac­i­ty and bold­ness would once again strike gold before he would even­tu­al­ly con­ceive the thought that gold mines have shafts. His next move would cer­tain­ly be bold and show how com­mit­ted he was to his endeav­or.

I was pumped! So the next day, after pick­ing up the mon­ey, I had it in the back of my head that Mer­le Hag­gard was going to be a big star. I don’t know why but that was the name I came up with,” Lar­ry said. After some quick research, he learned that Hag­gard had played Tul­sa the year before when he had been drunk and “played a half-ass show”. How­ev­er, he still believed that Hag­gard would be a hit.

He began call­ing Haggard’s office in Bak­ers­field, Cal­i­for­nia hop­ing to talk with his man­ag­er Tex Whit­son. As had been his luck for most of the pre­vi­ous year, no one called back. The recep­tion­ist would take his mes­sages but the phone on his end wasn’t ring­ing.  He need­ed an in…and it soon came when final­ly a dif­fer­ent recep­tion­ist answered the phone. As impos­si­ble as it may seem today, She non-cha­lant­ly told Lar­ry that Hag­gard was in Nashville at the annu­al DJ Con­ven­tion. She then went fur­ther and pro­ceed­ed to tell him that Hag­gard and Whit­son were stay­ing at the King of the Road Hotel. That was what all that he need­ed to hear.

I knock on the door and a man named Fuzzy Owen answers.”

Fly­ing High On Stand-By

My father worked for Amer­i­can Air­lines back then and so fam­i­ly could fly stand-by for free. The very next day I am fly­ing to Nashville. As soon as I land, I take a cab to the King of the Road Hotel, walk in and ask what room Hag­gard was in.” And with­out any hes­i­ta­tion from the desk clerk, he was giv­en the room num­ber. (Oh the times of innocence…how they have fad­ed.) That knock on the door in the King of the Road Hotel would open to the oppor­tu­ni­ty of which he had so dreamed.

I knock on the door and a man named Fuzzy Owen answers. These guys stay up late and it’s obvi­ous that they are just wak­ing up. I see Mer­le through the door­way rub­bing his eyes. I looked like this ane­mic blond guy who was too young to be talk­ing to them. (Or so he thought that’s what they thought.) Fuzzy was very gra­cious as I told him why I had come there. He then told me to go down to the lob­by and he would join him in 45 min­utes.”  Sure enough Owen came down and asked what he want­ed. Lar­ry informed him that he is the con­cert pro­mot­er in Tul­sa and that he believed they could do huge tick­et sales with Mer­le. After an hour of dis­cus­sion, Owen agreed.

I went up to the check-in desk and asked for two pieces of King of the Road Hotel sta­tion­ary. We wrote up the deal, I signed it and Fuzzy signed it. It was a big win! I flew home as soon as I found a cab. Upon his arrival back home, he went to the then “pow­er­house” Coun­try music radio sta­tion in Tul­sa, KVOO. He need­ed them on his side and so pro­ceeds to tell the man­ag­er who he has booked. That expe­ri­ence would be his first les­son that the music busi­ness is not always a nice place.

Willie Nel­son & Lar­ry Sha­ef­fer

Pho­to­graph by Com­ing Soon

Music Busi­ness 101

The man­ag­er at KVOO goes bal­lis­tic! Because all of the sud­den, this nobody, me, had the Mer­le Hag­gard show. There is some hos­til­i­ty that comes out of that. He actu­al­ly calls Fuzzy Owen and Tex Whit­son and tells them that KVOO needs to bring this show and not some nobody.”  Owen tells the man­ag­er that the sta­tion isn’t get­ting the show. He then informs him that Lar­ry is the one who took the ini­tia­tive to fly out to Nashville and ask for the show and there­fore deserves the show. This gives Lar­ry much need­ed clout with the sta­tion. He then decid­ed to bring KVOO in as a media spon­sor. Now he has the show and free pub­lic­i­ty to pro­mote it!

Lar­ry booked the show in the Fair­grounds Pavil­ion which held 8,000 seats. He pro­mot­ed the con­cert with all the tenac­i­ty he is known for includ­ing con­vinc­ing Hag­gard to call in and do radio inter­views. He actu­al­ly over­sold the show putting the largest crowd that has ever been put into the Pavil­ion. Lar­ry walks away from the show with $40,000 in 1972. In today’s mar­ket, that equals right under $240,000.

I was cocky! I had two sell­outs for my first two shows. The worst thing that can hap­pen to a pro­mot­er is to make mon­ey on the first show. It’s bet­ter that he los­es his ass so he can go to sell­ing life insur­ance or park­ing cars,” Lar­ry quips with a hearty laugh. His sar­casm is not with­out mer­it as you will soon dis­cov­er.

The next thing I did was go out and lose all that mon­ey on more shows…as quick­ly as I could,” he quipped. On a roll or so he thought, he placed his mon­ey on Coun­try music singer Mel Tillis in Kansas.

I had bor­rowed my mom and dad’s Lin­coln Con­ti­nen­tal to dri­ve up there and I drove home sad. I had lost it all. I still hate Kansas because of those Mel Tillis shows,” he said in a com­i­cal tone. So now he began to regroup and a nation­al cri­sis would help him do it. At his time, his part­ner Dave Miller decides he is out. Miller felt like it was a good time to get out before suf­fer­ing anoth­er loss. Lar­ry, how­ev­er, felt it was time to delve in even deep­er. But first, he would need to regroup.

Lit­tle Wing Begins To Soar

In 1972 what would become known as the gas crunch hit the US and gas prices dou­bled. Peo­ple began imme­di­ate­ly sell­ing off their big cars with big block engines and look­ing to buy Volk­swa­gens to save on fuel costs. Broke now, Lar­ry saw this as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make some cash that would allow him to book more shows and get back into the game. Once again he bor­rowed $3,000 from the bank and began buy­ing cheap Volk­swa­gens, fix­ing them up and sell­ing them. This and a few oth­er small ven­tures such as sell­ing fire­works allowed him to con­tin­ue fol­low­ing his dream. (For a com­i­cal sto­ry on one of those ven­ture which end­ed in cease and desists let­ters, check out the upcom­ing pod­cast.)

These ven­tures kept him afloat and gave him enough mon­ey to begin mak­ing offers again to agents. He had two suc­cess­ful shows to give him cred­i­bil­i­ty and by 1974 things had begun to move for him.  He was able to bring sev­er­al shows through­out the course of the year and was build­ing Lit­tle Wing into a rep­utable busi­ness that could deliv­er the goods to music fans.

Step­ping into 1975, things con­tin­ued gain­ing momen­tum. A phone call from Bill Elson, the man who had sold him his first show with Black Oak Arkansas, would become a call that would solid­i­fy Lit­tle Wing and pro­pel Lar­ry into Oklahoma’s pro­mot­er.  Elson pro­vides him with a tip and tells him to book a large venue for June of 1976. He explains to Lar­ry that although he may not under­stand what was hap­pen­ing, he need­ed to trust him. The biggest thing is music was com­ing and he want­ed Lar­ry to be in on it.

Lar­ry took the advice and “Show Me The Way” as it were would be the way into a new endeav­or for him. In Jan­u­ary of 1976, what would become the largest sell­ing album of that year with over eight mil­lion sales was released. Peter Frampton’s album Framp­ton Comes Alive, would go to num­ber one and become album of the year. The Framp­ton show sold over 30,000 tick­ets. But more than that, it was a tick­et into the past that would become Larry’s future.

He prof­it­ed $90,000 the first week­end and knew that Hank was def­i­nite­ly the next biggest thing in coun­try music.”

Swingin’ Into Cain’s

That past would be an old build­ing that opened its ‘swing­ing’ doors in 1924; a place of his­to­ry and ghosts of the past who spoke to Lar­ry as though invit­ing him to come and take part in mak­ing his­to­ry. With his prof­its from the Framp­ton show, he pur­chased the decay­ing prop­er­ty from its own­er Marie Mey­ers. He owned a piece of his­to­ry where Bob Wills and many oth­er great per­form­ers had enter­tained crowds of Oklahomans…he owned the Carnegie Hall of West­ern Swing. But now that he had the ‘House That Bob Built’ as it is often dubbed, what was he going to do with it. That loca­tion had become part of Tul­sa that peo­ple were mov­ing away from. Even the city wouldn’t come down to sweep the streets or change street lights, Lar­ry said. Per­haps, those ghosts from the pasts such as Bob Wills and his Texas Play­boys, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, John­nie Lee Wills, Tex Rit­ter and Ten­nessee Ernie Ford were ask­ing him to save their Tul­sa spir­i­tu­al pres­ence from being lost.  He oblig­ed.

Cain’s became Lit­tle Wing head­quar­ters and a spring board for ideas as to how he could make the ball­room prof­itable. Again Lar­ry reit­er­at­ed that he had no one to show him how. And yet again Lar­ry saw anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty. He began book­ing any­thing and every­thing he could get to play Cain’s. The oppor­tu­ni­ty arose a short time lat­er when record com­pa­nies, then in a sign­ing fren­zy for new artists, need­ed venues for these artists to per­form. These new musi­cians weren’t pop­u­lar enough to sell large venues, but would fit nice­ly into Cain’s. Lar­ry had been in a good rota­tion for a while and was on agents’ radar. This cou­pled with Tul­sa geo­graph­i­cal­ly in the mid­dle of the US placed Lar­ry on the front row of the suc­cess show.

It’s late 70’s and ear­ly 80’s by this time and Lar­ry was pack­ing the ball­room with acts that were not pop­u­lar yet but did have fol­low­ings and were on their way to the top. Some of those acts include Hank Williams Jr., Pure Prairie League, Van Halen, Moun­tain, The Pre­tenders, Bon Jovi, Annie Lennox, The Police and U2. Lar­ry was fed these “baby bands” by agents to help show­case them to the pub­lic. It kept the music going and the mon­ey flow­ing. It also cre­at­ed loy­al­ty between him and the bands. This meant that they were his in Okla­homa no mat­ter how suc­cess­ful they became. He was also still doing are­na shows in Tul­sa and Okla­homa City for the more pop­u­lar musi­cians.

One of those Cain’s shows would spark a 12 year friend­ship and oppor­tu­ni­ty that would grow into a very lucra­tive rela­tion­ship for Lar­ry. In 1978, he brought in Hank Williams Jr. At this time, Williams was still in his father’s shad­ow and des­per­ate­ly want­i­ng to find his own voice. The atmos­phere of coun­try kids at heart with rock n’ roll in their souls par­ty­ing at Cain’s would be the rev­e­la­tion he need­ed to find his voice.  In 1981, Lar­ry gets a call from Hank Jr.’s agent telling him that Hank Jr. was going to be the next big thing in music.

The agent then told him that Hank Jr. want­ed him to pro­mote his shows all across the US. Still involved with Cain’s and some­what strug­gling with that endeav­or, he didn’t have the mon­ey to fund Hank Jr. all the deposit mon­ey need­ed for a full tour. But Hank Jr. want­ed him bad­ly enough to accept Larry’s counter pro­pos­al to pro­mote week­end shows. He prof­it­ed $90,000 the first week­end and knew that Hank was def­i­nite­ly the next biggest thing in coun­try music.

Still young at this time and approach­ing mil­lion­aire sta­tus, he knew Hank Jr. shows was a ride he just couldn’t get off. His suc­cess was grow­ing and oth­er enter­tain­ers such as George Strait and Reba McEn­tire began approach­ing him to pro­mote them. Not to men­tion that he was still bring­ing big shows to Okla­homa. By 1990,  now perched high upon the mon­ey tree and hav­ing a one year-old son, he felt it was time to exit the Hank Jr. gravy train and come back home to Tul­sa. Hank did not take it well, Lar­ry said. Finan­cial­ly, he admits that it was stu­pid to end that rela­tion­ship. But he had enough and decid­ed it was time to go back home and make a lot less mon­ey but a lot more his­to­ry in Okla­homa.

We hope you enjoyed read­ing seg­ment two of our Lar­ry Sha­ef­fer sto­ry. Please check back as the third and final seg­ment will be out very soon. Thanks for vis­it­ing Unique­la­homa!

The Oklahoma Music Legend You Missed — Part 1

The Oklahoma Music Legend You Missed — Part 1

Lar­ry Sha­ef­fer­’s Lega­cy


MARCH, 2018

& The Best Music in Okla­homa

PUBLISHER’S NOTE:  Due to the expanse of Lar­ry Shaeffer’s career, we have opt­ed to release this sto­ry in three posts. The first seg­ment cov­ers the begin­ning of his career and his rise to suc­cess. The mid­dle and final seg­ments will touch on his own­er­ship of Cain’s Ball Room in Tul­sa, pro­mot­ing con­certs and the growth of Lit­tle Wing Pro­duc­tions.

There is a good chance you nev­er met this man or have even heard of his name for that mat­ter, but odds are that this man was prob­a­bly part­ly respon­si­ble for some great mem­o­ry in your life. This, of course, is con­tin­gent upon you grow­ing up in Okla­homa in the 1970s 80s or 90s and lik­ing music…and who doesn’t like music? If you are one of us who have met him, it’s a sure bet that you wouldn’t for­get him. Once you meet, it becomes clear as to how this man from the Key­stone Lake area became syn­ony­mous with enter­tain­ment in Okla­homa.


Rhine­stone Rev­e­la­tion

Grow­ing up in rur­al Okla­homa in the mid-fifties, wasn’t exact­ly a breed­ing ground for the type of dream that would become Larry’s career. There was, how­ev­er, one “win­dow to the out­side world” back then and it was tele­vi­sion. Music tele­vi­sion at that time was in its infan­cy, but it did pro­vide enter­tain­ment such as the Lawrence Welk Show, Ed Sul­li­van Show and Dick Clark’s Amer­i­can Band­stand. These pro­grams struck a chord in the pre-teen Sha­ef­fer and an inter­est in music began to cul­ti­vate with­in him.

A spe­cif­ic inci­dent on a day trip to down­town Tul­sa in 1955 or 56’ would fur­ther his desire to grav­i­tate toward the music indus­try. He and his par­ents were walk­ing along Den­ver Avenue one after­noon near what used to be the Cimar­ron Ball Room when he saw what he said was, “the most unbe­liev­able vision he had ever seen”. At that moment he was blind­ed by these beams of sun­light that were reflect­ing off the rhine­stones from the suit that Leon McAu­li­ffe of Bob Wills & The Texas Play­boys band was wear­ing as he exit­ed the ball­room.

Let’s start from the begin­ning, shall we?

I was so zapped by that event that I asked my mom who that man was. She said that was Leon McAu­li­ffe, ‘take it away Leon’. McAu­li­ffe was Wills’ steel gui­tarist and he was famous for the song Steel Gui­tar Rag, which just hap­pened to be a song Lar­ry knew well. Wills would intro­duce the song with the phrase “take it away Leon” which became every bit as pop­u­lar as the song itself. That moment would always stay with him. Years lat­er the two men would become friends and Lar­ry would even acquire McAuliffe’s steel gui­tar which he still owns.

This would be the first major event in Larry’s life that would guide him toward the music busi­ness. He would even­tu­al­ly take his first active step down this path by acquir­ing a gui­tar and tak­ing lessons.  The path ahead would be one that would shine on in Okla­homa his­to­ry as bright as any rhine­stones in the sun ever could.

The Bea­t­les’ per­for­mance that night is when my inten­si­ty for my involve­ment in the music busi­ness start­ed.”

The Day Rock n’ Roll Came To Town.

For Lar­ry, every­thing real­ly got rolling for him on Feb­ru­ary 9, 1964, when he wit­nessed the sec­ond event which would fur­ther his path along the long and wind­ing road into the music busi­ness. That was the night the Bea­t­les played the Ed Sul­li­van Show. The fol­low­ing day in the cafe­te­ria at school, he and a few friends agreed that rock n’ roll was the life for them. Their eyes had been opened to an oppor­tu­ni­ty that had nev­er before seemed real, let alone attain­able. Already play­ing steel gui­tar at this time, an art that he quipped he was not very good at, it wouldn’t take long for him to form a band.

The Bea­t­les’ per­for­mance that night is when my inten­si­ty for my involve­ment in the music busi­ness start­ed.” He said.  He explained that Man­n­ford High School where he attend­ed had maybe 40 stu­dents in his class. The major­i­ty of these kids had an old car or at least access to their par­ents ‘cars and thus had a life if you will. The remain­ing stu­dents, of which group he was in, are what Lar­ry called the “school bus boys”,…the guys with no girl­friends, future or even rea­son to live he jok­ing­ly quips, were the ones most affect­ed by the Bea­t­les’ per­for­mance.

Tak­ing The Stage

From that came the cre­ation of their local band the Under­tak­ers. It was a way to cre­ate an iden­ti­ty for these school bus kids and make a few bucks to buy an old Thun­der­bird, Chevy or anoth­er car to cruise around in. So it wasn’t so much about fame and for­tune back then for the wannabe musi­cians as it was about girls, cars and a few more dol­lars than work­ing at a gro­cery store or gas sta­tion could pro­vide.

We were gig­ging on week­ends and going from school bus kids with three dol­lars in our pock­ets to hav­ing $100–150 on Mon­day morn­ings after the shows. “ That was a lot of mon­ey in the late 60s. He said that it changed the way we saw life.” Being able to afford cars and per­form songs in front of live audi­ences at sock hops and local func­tions fanned the flames of desire with­in these young rock­ers. It was just fun and excit­ing for a bunch of kids to be on stage and get paid for it. Hav­ing mon­ey to ditch the school bus prob­a­bly felt good too for these teens.

But for Lar­ry, there was more to it than just play­ing gigs. He saw an oppor­tu­ni­ty, the writ­ing of song lyrics on the wall if you will. There could be a real future in music. Since that per­for­mance by The Bea­t­les, young musi­cians began pop­ping up every­where. This was not a fad that was going to fade away.

Call­ing Dr. Sha­ef­fer…

Nor was it going to fade to black after he grad­u­at­ed high school, but col­lege, not rock n roll seemed to be in his future as far as his par­ents were con­cerned. They want­ed him to go to med­ical or den­tal school and so North­east­ern State Uni­ver­si­ty in Tahle­quah, Okla­homa is where he wound up…for a while any­way. It wouldn’t take long for the 17-year-old Sha­ef­fer to real­ize that the pre-med class­es were of absolute­ly no inter­est to him. Nor was pulling teeth and treat­ing ear infec­tions.

Wait a minute “,  he thought. “I don’t want to be a den­tist, doc­tor or sell life insur­ance. I don’t want to be a school teacher either…I want to be in the music busi­ness.” He told him­self this back in the late 1960s.  By his own admis­sion, he didn’t even know what the music busi­ness was, but he knew that what­ev­er it was, he had to be a part of it. How­ev­er, it would still be a while before he could make his pitch into the music busi­ness world.

Unwill­ing­ness To Adapt

By mid-Decem­ber 1970 he had grad­u­at­ed from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Tul­sa. The day after grad­u­a­tion, he was on a bus head­ed to the induc­tion cen­ter for the US Army hav­ing received his draft notice. Although he was will­ing to serve his coun­try, in his heart, he knew that he marched to a dif­fer­ent drum­mer than most oth­ers.

They wouldn’t run the [email protected]& !^%n army the way I want­ed them to,” Lar­ry joked. He and the army’s prob­lem of not see­ing eye to eye soon led to an ear­ly hon­or­able dis­charge for Unwill­ing­ness to Adapt to Mil­i­tary Life. (For more of Larry’s opin­ions and thoughts on the late 1960’s polit­i­cal sta­tus, the Viet­nam War and his col­lege degree, tune into the upcom­ing pod­cast due out soon.)

By June of 1971, he was out of the Army and it was “real­i­ty time” as he called it. He had a col­lege degree which was not worth the paper it was print­ed on as far he was…and is still con­cerned. So with col­lege and the Army behind him, he began haul­ing hay for a com­pa­ny out of Terl­ton, Okla­homa receiv­ing three cents per bale.

It’s Ele­men­tary My Dear Lar­ry

At this time, I had no idea as to how I was going to get into the music busi­ness. All I knew was that I was not think­ing about hay bales. I didn’t have any desire or hopes that I could be a pro­fes­sion­al musi­cian either”.  With pres­sure from his par­ents and oth­ers ask­ing about his future plans, the winds of fate blew an idea his way. An ele­men­tary school friend reached out to him after hav­ing moved back from Texas. His old friend David Miller was now a bar­ber work­ing in Prattville, Okla­homa. He had been a rock n roll singer in Lub­bock, Texas with a band called The Trac­ers and was inter­est­ed in keep­ing a foot on the stage in the music busi­ness.

After return­ing, he had heard that Lar­ry had had the band The Under­tak­ers. Larry’s band would per­form until 1969 when the draft­ing of mem­bers and oth­er issues forced them to quit. So with no band, no prospects and a job bal­ing hay, Lar­ry was eager to hear what David had to say. Miller tells him of a man he had met while in Lub­bock who had been a friend of the famous musi­cian Bud­dy Hol­ly. What he tells him about this man was just what Lar­ry need­ed to hear…his way into the music busi­ness. Miller told him how this man he met had become a local con­cert pro­mot­er and made trun­k­loads of cash.

Long Dis­tance Long­ing

That con­ver­sa­tion with David was the first sign of light of me tak­ing some seri­ous direc­tion toward any­thing musi­cal­ly ori­ent­ed. We part­nered up and decid­ed to pro­mote a show.” Lar­ry said.  Lar­ry start­ed call­ing agents in New York and Los Ange­les but was not hear­ing any­thing that was music to his ears. The two were using Miller’s bar­ber shop as an office using a show­er cur­tain to sep­a­rate two of the six bar­ber chairs as an office and the out­side pay­phone as their busi­ness phone.

For an entire year, not one sin­gle book­ing agent would take his call. Although frus­trat­ed, he kept pump­ing dimes and quar­ters into that pay­phone. Final­ly, an agent named Bill Elson from Pre­miere Tal­ent in New York City did take his call. More than that though, he lis­tened to Larry’s pitch and agreed to take a chance on him. Although Elson had some of the biggest names of the time on his ros­ter, he found one band to offer him. After that call, both men bor­rowed some mon­ey, had posters print­ed up and called them­selves con­cert pro­mot­ers. Elson had agreed to let Lar­ry bring Black Oak Arkansas to Tul­sa. And with that came Jim Dandy to the res­cue and the birth of Lit­tle Wing Pro­duc­tions.

Please check back in the very near future for part two of this sto­ry. Thanks for read­ing!