G.D. « Bud » Deckleman was born on 2 April 1927 in Harrisburg, Arkansas. After spending the war in the Air Force, he worked in Chicago where he met songwriter and fiddle player Bill Cantrell, formerly of the Blue Sea Pals. While Cantrell was in Chicago his co-Pal, Quinton Claunch, was in Memphis. By 1954 both Cantrell and Deckleman were back in the Memphis area. Bud had a band with his brother Thadeus (known as Dood) and Claunch recalls : « One day Cantrell met Bud again at a club and said I should go on down and check him out. He was a natural. He had a voice that just knocked me out. He had great tonal quality and he could sing rings around some of the star names, like Webb Pierce.
« Bill and I had this little song called « Daydreamin ». When Bud started singing it with us, we knew it was a great song and renamed his band the Daydreamers. We took the band to a little studio at Poplar Avenue and cross-town to demo the song. We took the tape to Sam Phillips at Sun, who liked the idea but said we needed to do this and that to it. But we thought we knew as much about Country music as he did, so we left the arrangement as it was and took it over to Les Bihari. The song flipped him out and he wanted to get together and record it right away. »
After patching up Meteor’s recording equipement, Deckleman recorded the song with Dood on acoustic guitar, Cantrell on fiddle, Dan Chambers on bass, Eddie Emanus on steel guitar, and Claunch playing rhythm. The result was a hillbilly classic, a fine song sung by a really good singer in an up-dated version of the still popular Hank Williams sound.
Claunch recalled : « It just too off. It went #1 locally in Memphis, and #1 in country charts in New Orleans, Cleveland and in Des Moines. That set Sam Phillips on fire. It shocked the hell out of him. So he talked Bill and I into coming over to Sun to work with Carl Perkins and Charlie Feathers and some others. »
The song’s popularity also caused Lester Bihari to use the name, the Daydreamers, though not the same musicians, for studio bands on Meteor discs backing Jess Hooper, Barney Burcham and Jimmy Haggett. « Daydreamin » was widely recorded by many different artists, including Jimmy Newman (who had a #7 country hit with the song in spring 1955), and later, Carl McVoy and Wanda Jackson.
Lester was excited at the potential extra income from publishing the song. « Daydreamin » had about five covers on it and one was on Dot records, who were good friends of mine. They had Jimmy Newman and they recorded him on the song, and they sent me through a contract. So I called up Randy Wood on the phone and said « We gotta have a three cents a record, and you got in the lease one and one-eight, I said ’This is a little different, you know, these are white guys, these guys can read. Um-hum, can’t screw them’, Randy said, ‘Whatever you say, Les’. »
« Let’s not pretend », an original Deckleman song, did not quite have the impact of « Daydreamin » but was an almost perfect hillbilly recording with a plaintive vocal about the end of an affair and excellent solos with steel and fiddle filling every space. It also had the trademark Claunch/Cantrell sound. Deckleman had written several good songs at this time, including « Now She Cares No More For Me » which Doug Poindexter had recorded at Sun six months before.
« Lester Bihari really believed in Bud, the songs and the artist », said Claunch. « He was very cut up when Bud went and signed with MGM, though he understood that Bud had to do the best for himself. » He made six singles for MGM in Nashville starting in 1955, scoring a small hit with « No One Dear But You », but never fulfilling the promise of the first record. He toured with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson and others through the mid-South, Texas and Ohio areas during 1955-1957, but his style was too rooted in Country to succeed at a time of emergent rock’n’roll. Claunch remembered : « Bud was a very likeable guy, very personable. But he was sometimes a problem. His priorities were screwed up. He’s often get him a bottle and take off somewhere and miss a show or whatever. You’d never be quite sure you could rely on him. »
Deckleman’s stage band included Doug Cox and later on Bud’s brother, Bob, on steel guitar. Their cousin Sonny Deckleman also recorded a few years later. He remembered « Bob was by far the best picker in the family, but he was very shy. It’s been told that he is so shy, even his wife hadn’t heard him play. » When MGM dropped him, Bud Deckleman resumed working at a sheet metal company as his day job, with sporadic musical performances. He also ran the Shelman publishing company with Cantrell, and made a few more recordings. His « I’ll Be The One » and « I’m Sorry Now » on Stompertime from 1960 are the best known, yet untraced.
Bud Deckleman died on 28 February 1998 in De Soto, Mississipi just outside Memphis.
There is no reissued MGM material available now by Bud Deckleman. That is why I included as podcasts the whole Cattle album from 1983.
Sept. 10th, 2012. There is at last a Cattle reissue on CD of every M-G-M track cut by Deckleman . Here it is:
“Let’s Not Pretend”
“I Gotta Find A Way”
“Fallin, Fallin’, Fallin'”
“For So Long”
What Is It, Darling”