The “Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

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(Wayne Cochran)

Josie 923

No. 2    November 7, 1964



“Last Kiss” was one of those short love stories about a guy, a girl, and a car crash.   The tune, based in part

on a true incident, was written by blue-eyed soul singer Wayne Cochran.  Wayne, whose own vocal perfor-

mances inexplicably never cracked the Hot 100, was a wandering Georgia boy who had been screaming his

guts out for years in an effort to bring home the bacon.   In the early ’60s, he lived in a $20-a-month shack

on Route 1941.  It was a main drag, so over the years he witnessed more than one gory car accident.   One

night in 1964, three couples  in a Chevy Impala were killed after crashing into a flatbed truck.   With this

tragedy as his inspiration,  Cochran penned “Last Kiss.”


Gala Records took an interest in Wayne’s dirge and offered him a chance to record it.   Locally, sales of

the disk were promising enough for Syd Nathan to sign Cochran to the King label.   Another rendering

of the ode was waxed, but, according to Cochran, Nathan did not like the teen-death tune and failed to

adequately promote the single.


Hundreds of miles away fate would strike…  “We’re the longest rockin’ band in the world,” said Sid

Holmes, Jr. lead guitarist/manager for 40+ years with the Cavaliers, in an exclusive interview.   “We ain’t

never stopped; never will.”


Sid got the band together in the Spring of 1955, in San Angelo, Texas.   The boys–Alton Baird (vocals),

Carroll Smith (upright bass), Ron Stovall (drums)–and Sid would play the bars, West Texas theatres and

make appearances on the “Louisiana Hayride” and with Johnny Horton.


“We flipped over the original Sun recording stuff; Bill [Black], Scotty [Moore], Elvis.   That was our

influence,” explained Sid.  “We got offered a deal to record one record; over in Dallas.   A banker had heard

us, liked us, and got this deal with Jay-Gee Records in New York.”   “Crazy Guitar” sold well locally.   Baird

soon joined the military and San Angelo DJ Jerry Naylor (b. Jerry Naylor Jackson) filled the slot as the

Cavalier’s vocalist.   When Buddy Holly died, the Crickets called on Naylor to do what he could as Holly’s



Over the years, Sid remained a constant; the line-up changed often.    In the early 60s, Sid’s sis Sylvia

Holmes was a DJ. at WHHM and a member of Elvis’ night-life scene.   Hanging out there in Memphis, Sid

got the shot at recording some with Bill Black, accompanied FRANKIE FORD and THOMAS WAYNE in

concert; jammed with Ace Cannon.   In 1962, with the band broken and homesick, Sid returned to San

Angelo to restart the Cavaliers.


As a three-piece, Sid, Lewis Elliott (bass), and Bob Zeller (sart) packed them in, playing “Happy Hour” at

Tiny’s.   “They told me, Man, you need a singer.’   Some one said they knew this guy getting discharged that

was quite good.   So, I went and picked him up at the base, nearby [the Goodfellow Air Force base].   We

tried him out that night.   Everyone, in the band, said ‘No way.’   I over-ruled them, thinking this guy had a

recording voice.”


J. Frank Wilson (b. Dec.11, 1941, Lufkin, TerL.) was the guy.    “We got popular so fast with him singing

with us, that we got booked six months at the Dixie Club, the hottest spot ’round.   Man, we were doin’ the

Blue Note club in Big Spring, in Midland, the Rock & Roll Club…and it was there that we met ’em, Sonley

Roush.   Strange man, he was; lived with his ma, had no money, always request this one song from Frank.

He’s the one that introduced us to ‘Last Kiss.’   I didn’t think anything good ’bout the song; still don’t



Sonley, who was buddies with Ron Newdoll owner of the tiny Accurate Sound studio, made arrangements

for J. Frank and the Cavaliers to record a duplicate of Wayne Cockran’s tune.   “Everybody was beat, man,

worn-out, when that thing was cut,” said Sid.   “They did 64 takes on that damn song.   Sonley and I got

into it…and left.   Lewis stayed; Zeller was gone.    They had to pay this piano guy, Jim Wynne, $100–that

was all he ever got for the record–to play the session.   Rowland Atkinson was there; Buddy Croyle played

badly on my guitar with my amp.   Gwen Coleman sang back-up; had to leave to go to attend church.   I

believe they double tracked her voice.”


Sonley persuaded Tamara Records and then LeCam Records to issue “Last Kiss”; with Jay-Gee eventually

picking up the disk for national distribution via it’s Josie label.   As luck would have it, the remake was to

become a flash hit…but all was not well.


‘”Last Kiss’ was the very worst thing that could happen to Frank,”  said Holmes.  “He had problems.   He

didn’t need all that.   Frank had hit his head bad when 10 and he never was right again.    He just couldn’t

handle it.   One day he was playin’ the joints; next day up there is the Beatles…lt all messed his head.  He

[had] thought he was a superstar.  And now it was fadin’.


“After a few more damn jobs, the Cavaliers quit him.   Frank had gone ape-shit, booze, up all night.   He

couldn’t handle it; and Sonley couldn’t keep him together.  No one could.  Sonley was driving, falls asleep,

and they had a wreck; at a slow speed head-on into an 18-wheeler.   It killed Sonley and busted Frank up

bad.   Understand, the records going up the charts.   When he appeared on ‘American Bandstand’ Frank

was on crutches.”


While Lewis Elliot reformed the Cavaliers with a replacement lead vocalist, James Thomas–both still

carrying the Cavaliers name into the 21st Century–J. Frank Wilson and Josie Records continued to use the

Cavaliers name, with assorted session musicians.   That year, in addition to the Texans’ successful debut

album and their top 10 tune, a reworking of DORSEY BURNETTE’s 1960 hit “Hey Little One” charted at

number 85.


Over the years, a number of other disks attributed to J. Frank appeared on varying labels–April, Charay,

LeCam, Sully.   In 1971, an hard-to-find LP appeared on Dill Pickle; in 1974, a re-release of “Last Kiss” made

number 92.


“All his stuff was bad.   Bad bands, bad material, bad arrangements…  “It’s sad, though,” said Holmes.

“Frank never could get his lost fame outta his head.    He drank beyond the limit, OWL’s, married eight

times…worked in a nursing home and as a cook on a rig outta Houston.   His health got worse…”   J . Frank

Wilson died October 4, 1991, in Lufkin, Texas.   He was 48.


Doings of one-time Cavalier members:  Lewis and Thomas continue the Cavaliers name; as did Sid Holmes

with a competing Cavaliers group between ’72 and ’87.   Ed Logan recorded with the Memphis Horns.

Bobby Wood, injured in the crash that took Sonley’s live, made the C&W listings with “That’s All I Need To

Know” (#46, 1964) and for years worked sess1ons.   Ronnie Blackwell was a long-time band man for Porter

Wagner.   Jerry Naylor charted near a dozen singles on the C&W listings and fronted the award-winning

radio series “Continental Country,” in the ’70s.


A slightly modified rendition of “Last Kiss” by WEDNESDAY, a Canadian pop unit fronted by Mike O’Neil,

made the top 40 during the winter of ’73.