Who’s Playing at the VFW Hall?

In the early ’60s I was working at radio station KSTT in the Quad-Cities. In addition to being on the air, I also did commercial production. One day during my air shift, the receptionist buzzed me on the intercom. “Ulysses is here,” she cackled, through the tiny speaker next to the dial telephone. I asked her to send him back to the studio. “He knows the way.”

VFW 02Ulysses Walker was a local promoter who, from time-to-time, would bring acts to town for a one night show. They were always up-and-coming black artists who were not well known. Whenever he had another act booked, he would come to me to write and produce the commercials for the event. He refused to talk with our sales reps about his advertising. He said I was the only one he wanted to work with.

“Not many folks have heard of these two singers,” Ulysses told me. “But, Bill, they are really good, got a good band, and with a good commercial on the radio I think we could maybe fill the upstairs room at the V.F.W. hall. It holds about five or six hundred people. I gotta fill the room to make any money.”

I told Ulysses I’d give it my best shot. He handed me a 45 rpm record on some obscure label, and told me a little about the group – a duo, with a band, from Tennessee. I had never heard of them. He liked the commercial I put together, handed me cash to pay for the ad schedule (he did everything by cash) and we started running the spot a few days later. It was a small schedule, Ulysses could only afford about twelve spots.

Well, it turns out the show did fill the V.F.W. hall to standing only capacity! Ulysses credited my commercial for the success, but as I told him, “It wasn’t me. It was those two. . .and their band. What a show! They were terrific!” Either the commercial did work, or more people than we realized had already heard about this group. . . (scroll down)
|. . . . . .Ike and Tina Turner


(originally posted 10/12/15 as “Gotta Fill the Hall”)

1 response to Who’s Playing at the VFW Hall?

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