In the beginning, Richard Lee McDonald was born in Dallas, Texas, in December. I am the youngest of three children. My older sister is Ann and my brother is Gary. We were raised by our grandparents, Ewing and Georgia Pressnell. They were momma and daddy to us.
We grew up in Oak Cliff and attended J.S. Hogg Elementary School. My sister and brother attended Adamson High school. I only attended there about one year. Our family was in the automotive repair business, and I can remember dad having several shops in Dallas. One was by the Farmers Market in downtown Dallas (approx. 1952-54) and another in East Dallas on Samuelís Boulevard (approx.1954-55). He moved the business to Oak Cliff (approx. 1956) where we lived, and there we had a Sinclair gas station and auto repair shop on the corner of west Davis and Madison Ave.
My brother and I worked in the gas station and the shop for long hours almost everyday. I can remember pumping gas at 14.9 cents per gallon. My brother says he remembers pumping at 12.9 per gallon. Our family also went fishing, hunting and camping quite a bit. You can say we were also brought up at the lake and out in the country. We learned a lot about the water, how to operate a boat, and how to shoot guns from a very early age. Some Saturdays we got to go the Saturday morning kid show at the Texas Theater, which by the way, is the same place Lee Harvey Oswald was captured after he shot President John F. Kennedy. Lee Harvey Oswald use to live around the corner from us. I also threw the paper route in my neighborhood, so I am the little guy who delivered the newspaper in my area that sad day in Dallas.
Most Saturday mornings before my brother and I went to the shop to work, we use to watch the Porter Wagoner and the Wilburn Brothers TV show. Porter Wagoner and Teddy & Doyle Wilburn thrilled me so much. I can very well remember saying to myself, "that is what I want to do." As I walked to the shop one day to work, there was a house behind our gas station that had a guitar for sale, hanging from a rope on the front porch. I can remember running to Daddy and telling him about it and he said how much is it, I said $7 dollars.
That was a lot of money, but Daddy bought it for me. I was about 10 years old. Momma took me to Clyde Boydís Guitar School in Oak Cliff, on Beckley Street about one-half block south from Jefferson. I took about two years of lessons from Clyde Boyd, a loving, kind, and very patient man. Needless to say, I grew up working on cars and playing guitar from a very early age.
Some of the earliest dates I can remember playing live was at my 8th grade graduation at J.S. Hogg school. I played my guitar and sang "A White Sport Coat," by Marty Robbins, with a classmate named Kathy Kennedy. We nailed it. I can remember seeing a lot of flashes from cameras from moms taking a lot of pictures. (If you read this, and by some small chance you know who has some of these pictures, please contact me)
Shortly after that, I had a friend named David Pool who also played guitar and was a little older then me. We started a band and named it "The VIPíS" (circa 1962). We were the only two members. We played on the sidewalk in front of the Texas Bowling Alley in Oak Cliff on 7th street, almost behind where Lone Star Donuts were made at the intersection of Bishop and West Davis Street. He played lead and I played rhythm. About the only stuff we knew was a lot of Jimmy Reed and the Ventures. We played a lot of two-string stuff which is known today as power chords. We stood outside of that bowling alley for hours upon hours, pounding out all of the tunes we knew. which was only about seven songs. I think we played there about two or three times then it was over.
Then I met a friend who went to J.S. Hogg Elementary School named Charles Brodsky. His mom owned a tavern on East Grand Ave in East Dallas named the (Lookout Bar) and she let us play there several times. That is where I ran into Rocky and Dusty Hill. They use to play there also.
I had another friend in Oak Cliff who also went to J.S. Hogg School at the same time I did named Johnny Congleton(early to mid 1960í). Johnny was playing drums in grade school and went on to play drums in the Adamson High marching band. Johnny lived one street over and down about a half of block from me on Bishop street. We had known about each other being musicians for a longtime. Most of all this hooking up was in our freshman year at Adamson High School.
Also at Adamson High School was a guy named Carl Lowe. Carl had a knack for playing bass and somehow he meet Johnny. Then we all got started playing together and formed a band called The Tortians. We had a lead singer/front man who dropped out, and we were at a stand-still when we met a guy who moved in across the street from Johnny Congleton named John Tincher. He played sax and also played in the Adamson marching band. Johnny wanted to try him out to play sax for us and I said OK. So we ask if he could sing and he said he would give it a try and it worked. Then came a rhythm guitar player from Adamson High named Jimmy King who joined and played rhythm.
So the Tortians were, Johnny Congleton on drums, Carl Lowe on bass , Jimmy King on rhythm, John Tincher sax/ lead vocals, and myself on lead guitar. We played most all Adamson sock hops for several years and, at the same time, quite a few skating rinks that had sock hops, Broadway in Garland,Texas, Starlit in Dallas, Shamrock in Lancaster, We also played a lot of nightclub hot-spots like Louanns on Lovers Lane where we opended up for the 13th Floor Elevators. We also shared that stage a lot with Rocky and Dusty Hill. The name of their band was The Warlocks. They were Hot and as most of you know, Dusty now plays bass for ZZ Top.
The Tortians had a record out called "Red Cadillac" that went absolutely nowhere, but it showed up in England on a garage band album that was put together by some folks who love American garage bands. By the way, my brother Gary sang on our record, "Red Cadillac," and "Vibrations" on the flip side. CLICK HERE to listen to "Red Cadillac." CLICK HERE to listen to "Vibrations."
NOTICE! I have no pictures of the Tortians at all. If by any chance you stumbled upon this web site and lived in Oak Cliff or in the Dallas area during this time frame, and have any pictures or information about The Tortians playing at any of these locations, please send them to me at the address on the home page of this web site so I can make copies of them and post them on this web site. I will pay all costs.
During the summer of 1965, after returning from a trip to California, John Tincher and Carl Lowe had found new work in Irving, Texas, with a band called "The Devells." John and Carl came over one day and ask me to play lead guitar, and I accepted. Pat Reiner ran the band and his son Joel played drums. Joel was 14 years old at the time. Pat managed the band and was very strict. You came to practice, worked on the show, and went home. The best I remember, Pat didnít put up with a lot of bull. I think it was the business side that made the band work so well. Pat was also was the sound man and he ran the light show. If you had somebody back then who did sound and lights well, then you had it made.
The picture of "The Devells" was taken at Lee Park In Dallas, Texas. From left to right is Joel Reiner, Irving, Texas drums; Rick Surratt, Mesquite, Texas, lead guitar; Richard McDonald, lead guitar; John Tincher, lead vocals and sax; Carl Lowe, bass; and Little David, keyboards. We donít remember Little Davids last name or whatever happened to him. Myself, John and Carl were from Dallas (Oak Cliff). At the time this picture was taken, Showco was booking us. Showco was owned Angus Wynne.They also owned Wynne Wood Shopping Center in Oak Cliff. Showco booked some real good jobs, like playing for the Clint Murchison Family. They owned the Dallas Cowboys. (They sure had a nice house.) The band uniforms came from Irving High School and they fit our show just fine as we played a lot songs from The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Album. As a matter of fact, it was almost like one whole set.
After The Devells, the music door closed for me because of my actions, and the automotive door opened up.
The next 20 years of my life I worked on cars and paid some very heavy dues. For 12 years I owned an automotive repair shop in Oak Cliff and raced circle track for 10 years. However, the music still burned in my heart but this time it was different. I went back to listening to country music just like In the beginning, and all of the country music I heard, It seemed that all I listened for was the steel guitar. I had wanted to play steel for so long, but I guess the time was not right. That changed when a friend of mine came by the shop in Oak Cliff and he had an MSA pedal steel guitar for sale for $125 bucks. That was all the money I had, and I jumped on it. At that point the automotive door closed and the music door opened back up (1989).
It was time for me to leave Dallas, and one of my best friends, Harvey Simpson, who lived at Lake Oí The Pines in Harleton, Texas, Just north of Longview, took me in. His family was very good to me. I had The steel about 6 months and went straight to the band stand and started making money with it playing around the lake.
I went down into Marshall, Texas, and got a job teaching guitar in Head Music Store. Charles and Louis Head treated me very good, and I thank God for them. While working at Head Music, I meet some very good musicians and put together a band called "The Wild horse Band."
In the picture from left to right is Eddie Turner, acoustic guitar and lead vocals. Behind him, in the white shirt, was Leon Lee on keyboards. Leon Lee use to play with Joey D and the Starlighters. They had a hit called "The Peppermint Twist." Remember that one? Next to him was Butch Barton, the drummer. Butch use play for Johnny Rodriguez. On the end is Hubert Collins. Hubert played bass and was he smooth. That's myself sitting down behind my MSA and, holding an Applause strat-style guitar. I played both lead guitar and pedal steel. It sure was a jolt coming from not playing for 20 years to playing full-time on stage. We played lot in Marshall, Texas, and the surrounding areas. The amazing talent of the guys helped me so much. They took me under their wing, helped me to stand up, and got me straight on some stuff. I hope to see them again someday. (Thank you, Sharyn Simmons, God bless you)
After leaving Marshall, Texas, I moved to Cedar Creek Lake (Payne Springs). I found a little town called Caney City and they had a small strip of beer joints there. That is where I met Larry and JerriAn McPhail. They owned the Texas Honky Tonk. Every Sunday afternoon they had a fish fry and a jam session, so I thought I would show up and pick. Boy, was I in for a big surprise. I had not played with such hot pickers in my life. Larry McPhail Played bass so well, JerriAn sang and, wow, could she front. Rest in peace, JerriAn. You taught me how to duke it out and keep going. Lonnie Taylor, their son, played drums and Dickey Lee Taylor played keyboard, sang lead, harmony, and could front all night. A guy named Ronnie Newell played steel and was the best Iíve ever heard. Rest in peace, Ronnie, I often think of you when I play. You taught me so much. The Texas Honky Tonk was like I had walked into chamber of musical talent. I learned so much from them. They help polish me out.
It was at the Texas Honky Tonk that I hooked up with the outlaws. In the picture standing is Jerry Spivey, he was the front man / rhythm / lead guitar and he booked the jobs. On the right is Bobby Dunnum, lead guitar. Lonnie Taylor, drummer, is in the middle, and myself sitting down. I think this picture was taken in Lewistown, Montana, or Torrington, Wyoming. We played five 45-minute sets, 6 days a week, for $275 a week. It was so cold that it took me two weeks to stop shaking once we got back to Texas.
After The Outlaws came the Last Ride Band. They also played Caney City, but they were mostly from Eustace, Texas. That band was put together by the Allen Brothers and mostly fronted by Mike McConathy. The Last Ride Band was a hard-working band. We were playing about 3 nights a week and some nights in between for I donít know how long. John and David wanted to go to school and learn music, so we enrolled in Trinity Valley Community College in Athens and took two years of music theory. I never had formal training in music. I sure needed it playing steel.
In the picture we are on stage at the Athens Bowling Alley. From left to right is John Allen, lead guitar/vocals/harmony vocals; Mike McConathy, acoustic guitar / lead vocals/harmony vocals; David Allen, bass/vocals/ harmony vocals; Roland Mitchell, drums, and myself on steel.
After the Last Ride Band, I moved to Grand Prairie, Texas, and played on the strip there with Bobby Mac. I must have played at Bobby Macís for about seven months. Bobby Mac was Bud Carter's brother's son. There are no pictures of us playing in Bobbyís place. I donít remember the name of it. While living in Grand Prairie, I worked at GFI Musical Products. Gene Fields was very good to me. He is a very intelligent man.
I moved to Nashville in 1995 and lived there three and a half years. There is where I meet Doc Worlington. Doc played lead guitar for Hall & Oats. He also owned a club named Cotton Eyed Joes, where I played for about six Months. I did a Christmas party and some small stuff, then the music thing went dry. I got discouraged and was going to quit playing.
I drove an 18-wheeler for about two years and wound up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, going to Bible School. I was going to quit playing steel and start preaching. Yes sir, thatís what I was going to do, but God had different plans. He blessed me with Spirit Steel Guitar. He blessed me with meeting Bert & Beverly McCutchin. Bert had just opened Harmony House Guitars at 923 S. Main in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Bert gave me a job teaching and doing guitar repair. That is how I paid my way Through Rhema Bible Training center in Broken Arrow. Bert & Beverly were very good to me. They fed and clothed me. I can only hope to be as loving and kind as they were. I worked with Bert from 1999-2002.
Then with a very strong desire in my heart to pursue pedal steel guitar, and after graduation from Rhema, God opened the door for Spirit Steel Guitar. Spirit Steel Guitar, a full-service steel guitar shop, was birthed out of Harmony House Guitars, March 31, 2002, Easter Sunday morning. The picture of 707 Ĺ South Main is the first location in 2002. I was at this location for about a year and a half. This building was 12 feet wide and about 30 feet deep. Then I had the chance to move to a larger place at 703 S. Main and stayed there until about 2004.
In 2003-2004, I had a Christian coffee house in downtown Broken Arrow. It was called "His Place," and was on the corner of 81st & Main Street. I played there every Friday night for about 6 months, 3Ė4 hours non-stop, and then some other musicians came along to help with the ministry and boy was I glad to see them. I got the Idea from a Christian coffee house I went to when I lived in Nashville. It was called "The Foundry" and it was so cool that I wanted everyone to have a chance to see a place like that. I believed that if people could visit a coffee house like The Foundry, they would have a real cool experience with Jesus. A lot of folks wonít go to church but they will go to a Christian coffee house and hang out.
Mixed Company is a local band in the Tulsa area that plays some western swing. I played with them in 2010 -11 every Thursday night at the Western Country Diner on Sheridan Ave in Tulsa. The Mixed Company Band was where I learned a lot of how to play western swing. A lot bands donít play western swing and really, they are missing a lot. I think this is the only band I have ever played in that had their very own band pilot. The chemistry of this band was very good. Anytime you can have fun and play well with the others you have chemistry.
In the picture from left to right, myself on pedal steel, Robert Smith on lead guitar/Lead Vocals, Don Sullivan on Bass Guitar/Web Master/ Band Pilot, Adam York as drummer/music store owner/equipment purchasing agent.
Here is a poster from the latest work that I have just finished at the Tulsa Convention Center. "AlwaysÖ.Patsy Cline," presented by the Tulsa Project Theatre. There were no group photos taken.. The name of the band was ďThe Bodacious Bobcats Band.Ē
The band leader was Kent Dennis, piano / harmony vocals; Jason Swanson on lead guitar/ harmony vocals; Matt Hays, Upright bass/ harmony vocals; Doug Scott, fiddle/ harmony vocals; Al Smith, drums; and myself on pedal steel. I was honored to play with them. It took me to a higher level of playing and showmanship. For the dates and time of this event just click Calendar on the home page.