"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)






Fifties musician recalls meeting Elvis

Back in the late 1950s, when rock 'n' roll was a relatively new sound on A.M. radio, a band called The Casuals was traveling across the country, opening for performers such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. "Right out of high school we went on the road," said Buzz Cason, a former member of The Casuals who went on to earn songwriting credits with major artists.

"In the beginning we played rock 'n' roll, rockabilly and early R&B. We weren't really good at country and western." Cason was with The Casuals when the band backed Brenda Lee. In 1959, under the pseudonym of Garry Miles, Cason had a solo hit with "Look for a Star." He is best known, however, as a songwriter. He wrote or co-wrote songs — many country and western songs — performed by artists including the Beatles, Gloria Estefan, Jan and Dean, Martina McBride, Ricky Nelson, Dolly Parton, Pearl Jam, T.G. Shepard and U2.

Perhaps his best known songs are "Everlasting Love" and "Soldier of Love." After living on the road, working in the music industry and meeting and working with a "who's who" list of performers during the decades, Cason compiled more than enough memories to fill a book.

In April, his book, "Living the Rock 'n Roll Dream: The Adventures of Buzz Cason," was published. The 200-page book features about 50 photographs of Cason and other rock 'n' roll pioneers. Cason writes about the highlights of his career, the people he has known and offers insight into the music industry.

There are stories about touring, meeting Elvis Presley and co-discovering Jimmy Buffet, just to name a few. "It wasn't easy trying to figure out what I would put in and keep out, but writing it really got fun," Cason said. He relived his past as he wrote.

In one adventure, The Casuals met Elvis, thanks to a disc jockey in Memphis. "We said, ‘How can we meet Elvis?' and he (the disc jockey) said he would stop by the radio station," Cason said. Not only did the band meet Elvis at the station later that day, Elvis talked about the house he had just bought and told the band they should see it. "That house was Graceland," Cason said. "He had not moved in yet. We looked through the windows and saw the (brightly painted) walls. Those pictures from meeting Elvis are in the book."

While the book offers many familiar names from music's past and song titles that will inspire humming, "A lot of the book centers around the adventures of a young rock band," Cason said. "It's light reading in between the heavier stuff of today. "I didn't get too risque in the book. We were a much cleaner-cut breed back then."

Cason will share some of his rock 'n' roll memories when he makes an appearance at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at St. Louis County Library headquarters, 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd. in Ladue. He also will perform some of his songs. "I give a little background," Cason said. "I sing and do songs acoustically. I think it'll be the first time there's been singing in the library." He said there are many things readers will take from his story but, mainly, "I just want people to capture the excitement and fun and freedom of that era," Cason said. (Source: Suburban Journals, October 2004)





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