Tag Archives: The Amazing Rhythm Aces

The Musical Legacy of Cumberland University

23 Dec

Cumberland University, my alma mater and place of employment, has a rich history with graduates who have gone on to great success.

Cordell Hull served as Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt and won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Howell Edmunds Jackson was a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Horace Harmon Lurton was also a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

There have been numerous governors, United States Senators and members of the House of Representatives.

We talk about those people all of the time. However, we tend to neglect those who have gained fame in the music industry. In the past few days, this has been brought to my attention.

Chloe Kohanski, one of our former students, won this season of The Voice. She now has a recording contract, and all of us at Cumberland wish her great success.

After her victory, my friend Tick informed me that others who have walked our campus have gone on to musical success. Yes, this is the south, and we have people named Tick. I also know people named Squirrel, Burrhead, Buckwheat, Pee Wee and Honeybun.

Anyway, Tick provided a few names that I found interesting.

Fred Young, drummer for The Kentucky Headhunters, went to Cumberland University. The group started playing together in 1968 and became an “overnight” success in 1989 when they had four Top 40 hits. They also won a Grammy. Unfortunately, they were not able to follow up that success.

Russell Smith was the lead singer for the Amazing Rhythm Aces. In 1975, they had a huge hit with “Third Rate Romance.” Smith went on to become a successful songwriter in Nashville. Ironically, he grew up next door to my father-in-law in LaFayette, Tennessee.

Of course, this list would not be complete without the former Cumberland student with the greatest musical legacy – my friend Tick.

He has been performing around here for years and has his own Youtube channel. You should head over there and check him out. There are some great performances and more information about local musical history. You will learn about the days when the Allman Brothers and Paul McCartney hung out in town.

The Lafayette Expedition

17 Jun

Over the weekend, my wife and I visited her uncle in Lafayette, Tennessee. Before we go too far, you need to know that it is not pronounced in the French way. Around here, the emphasis is on the long A in the middle syllable.

I was looking forward to this visit because I had a few questions for her uncle. First, where is the Butler Cemetery? You may remember a few posts back when I wrote about John Washington Butler, the man who sponsored Tennessee’s anti-evolution bill in 1925. He is buried in Butler Cemetery, and I wanted to find it.

Her uncle had an idea where it was, and, after our visit, we went looking for it. Luckily, we found it not far from the main road. The small cemetery sits it a grove of trees between a small house and a cattle field.image-39

We found Representative Butler’s headstone and looked at some of the others. One was a Civil War veteran who fought for a Kentucky regiment. I would bet anything that he fought for the Union.

As we walked around the markers, I wondered how many people realized who was buried there. Butler’s bill sparked a debate in this country that continues 90 years later. Now, he lies in a shady cemetery on a country road.

That was interesting, but I also had some other questions for my wife’s uncle. Next, did he go to school with Rita Coolidge? She grew up in Lafayette before going on to marry Kris Kristofferson. She also broke up Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and sang the theme song for a James Bond movie.

While talking about her, my wife’s uncle said that Russell Smith grew up next door. He wrote “Third Rate Romance” and recorded it with The Amazing Rhythm Aces.

I had a third question for her uncle. Does he ever see Nera White? She farms and lives a reclusive life, but she is considered by many to be the best female basketball player of all time. One of the first women to be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, she led the Nashville Business College to 10 AAU national championships. In the late 1950s, the US National team won the world championship, and she was chosen the Best Woman Player in the World.

My wife’s uncle is younger than Rita Coolidge and did not know her. He never sees Nera White. However, he lives in an interesting town that has produced some interesting people. I still have the same thought that I had while walking through the Butler Cemetery. I wonder how many people know about those who came before.