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Guest Blog by Dick Cooper: Delbert Needed a Drummer

By Dick Cooper

Delbert needed a drummer. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the truth was Delbert McClinton often needed a drummer. He had a pretty high turn over in that position.

He had come to Muscle Shoals Sound to record “The Jealous Kind.” It was his first recording for the MSS/Capitol label, and the effort resulted in his first Top 10 hit “Giving It Up For Your Love.”

I was often called upon to find something or somebody that would fix a problem. I worked for Barry Beckett who was one of the owners of Muscle Shoals Sound, as well as Delbert’s producer, and finding drummers was well within my job description.


Barry Beckett, Bonnie Bramlett and Delbert McClinton.

(Dick Cooper Photo)

So, I recommend Bebop Evans, and after that day’s session, Delbert and I load up to road trip to the VFW in Loretto, TN to check him out.

Bebop was filling in for someone, on a night off from his regular gig with FCC, the Funky Communications Committee, a Muscle Shoals band with a release on the RCA imprint label Free Flight.

When we got there the band was cooking. When you live in the Northwest Alabama-Southern Middle Tennessee area, you expect any band to kick ass. Around here any third string musician drunk off his ass can put one of those shiny LA cats to shame, and Bebop was hardly third string.

He had recorded with Percy Sledge, Ruth Brown, Dobie Gray, George Jones, Mac Davis, Andy Williams, Paul Anka, and a lot of others, including Delbert.

He played on the “Subject To Change” album that Delbert had recorded in Birmingham with Glen Clark, when they were billing themselves as Delbert and Glenn.

Delbert didn’t realize it was him when I had suggested Bebop, because he knew him by his full name, Howard Jimmy Evans.

Delbert is impressed. Bebop is a power house, but laid back like Roger Hawkins. So we listen some, talked a little, and drank a lot, while Bebop and company cause a bunch of  Tennesseans to shake a tail feather.

At the end of the evening we talked a bit with Bebop and made plans to go to Huntsville the next night to see him play with FCC.

 On the ride back to the Shoals, I’m struggling. I rarely drink much, but Delbert can bring that out in you. I put the top down on my Fiat and we’re heading south, when Delbert says, “Stop! I gotta piss.”

It’s late, everything is closed, and the last thing I want is to be standing by the side of the road pissing when the Tennessee Highway Patrol cruises by.

So I say, “Hold it, we’ll be home soon.”

Next thing I know, Delbert stands up, holds on to the windshield with his left hand and starts pissing out the passenger side.

I pushed on the gas and tried my best to go fast enough to make sure it all blew away.

The next day, Delbert’s wife arrives. That night we load up the McClintons, Billy Sanders, Delbert’s guitarist, and my wife and I in the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio van and head to the Plush Horse in Huntsville for the FCC gig.

FCC was a hot act. Their hit, “Baby I Want You” was produced by Terry Woodford and Clayton Ivey at Wishbone Studio across town from Muscle Shoals Sound. The band included Wayne Chaney, Dennis Clifton, Steve Gooch, J.B. Christman, Butch Ledford and Bebop.

All were veterans of the local music scene, great players and good songwriters.

The night was wild; we bought controlled substances in the restroom and beer at the bar. By the end of the night, we had spent every dime between us, and walked out the bar with a six pack of opened beers stashed in the girls purses.

I was wired. Vickie and I were in the front bucket seats, Delbert and his wife were in the next seat and Billy was all alone in the back. Before we cleared the County Line Billy found an acoustic guitar case stashed under the seat, pulled out the guitar and handed it to Delbert.

Next thing I know Delbert is playing and singing. Billy is harmonizing, and I’m keeping it between the ditches. Pretty soon, there’s flashing lights in the rear view mirror.

The Rogersville Police pulled us over for running 74 in a 55 MPH speed zone. I got out and walked back to the cops before they reached the van, and Delbert never stopped singing.

I lied. I told them I had just picked up Delbert and company at the Huntsville airport, and was taking them to Muscle Shoals Sound for a recording session.

I said I had just gotten caught up in the singing and hadn’t noticed the drop in the speed limit when I crossed into Rogersville.

The cop checked my license. Delbert never did stop singing, and the cop let us go.

Delbert hired Bebop, and fired him a few gigs later. Bebop didn’t miss it. He found out Delbert had fired five drummers and four base players during the previous few months, and despite some hurt feelings, he got over it.

These days, Bebop owns Lee Street Recording Studio in Rogersville, AL.


(All Photos by Dick Cooper)

Read our archived Delbert Interview Here

Read our archived Dick Cooper Interview Here

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