In 1985, Sandy and I had dreams of launching an entertainment career. After “Blue Christmas” had created such a buzz in Charlotte during the 1984 holidays, I was approached by a movie promoter and entrepreneur named Dan Burris. Dan told us he thought we had a national hit on our hands.
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This concludes our shameless self-promotion… now, back to our story….
So on a sticky Carolina afternoon in July ‘85, we met Dan at a popular Charlotte restaurant (Gus’ Sir Beef for you Charlotteans) to discuss that possibility. The thinking was to first, get the rights to the song from the radio station who played it, then put out a single (a 45 rpm record, not long before those newfangled CDs started showing up). Through Dan’s tireless efforts, by late October, we had about 20,000 copies pressed, and shipped to record stores (remember those?) throughout the Southeast, ready for the Christmas season. The first copies (I don’t remember how many) were red vinyl with a pink label. Traditional black vinyl copies came later.
By the end of Christmas 1985, we had sold a modest 5,500 or so copies of my single – but hey – I was now a recording artist! Though sales didn’t break any records (pun intended) the song became the #1 requested holiday tune in several major markets like Atlanta, Miami and Nashville!
That’s when the real work started… mostly for Dan. In early 1986 we recorded an EP (5 songs) at Reflections Studios in Charlotte. What a blast! Then Dan (not one for flying) took trains and automobiles to both New York and Nashville, and began diligently shopping the songs to music people: agents, lawyers and labels.
In late summer 1986, we heard back from the A & R department (those who choose the songs/artists that will be produced) at CBS Records in Nashville. They left this message on Dan’s answering machine, “We want the pig!”
I was about to get laid off from my construction job, but suddenly, I didn’t care! I just knew I was moving to Nashville… how ironic.
But here’s where the dream took a hard left turn.
Days after being laid off, we learned that the president of CBS decided against the recording contract. There was a lot of in-house turmoil, records were being replaced by CDs, and he didn’t feel like taking on a novelty act.
And just like that, we fell off the mountain. While Dan continued to pursue some pretty big leads, that was as close as we came. Soon the song made its way all over the country: Kansas City – Honolulu – Detroit – even Dr. Demento’s show in L.A., where it played once again this year.
Yep, Dan was right – we had a national hit, alright. In fact since those early days, it has played all over the world. Places like Kuwait, Iceland, and Australia, to name a few. We just didn’t get to “ride the wave.”
No, the dream didn’t pan out as intended. But since hanging out with John-Boy and Billy way back then, I’ve been blessed to entertain and bring laughter to thousands, and “Blue Christmas” has played only a small part. I even received a letter once, from a very sick man who used that song to bring laughter- and healing – to his body. He gives the song credit for helping save his life. To God be the glory.
Turns out that silly song has done things… I never dreamed of.
And I’m certainly not done dreaming.