Interview with TG Sheppard
By CSO European
Contributing Journalist, Christian Lamitschka.
TG Sheppard put a massive amount of gold in the teeth of country musicís sales during the Golden Era of the late Ď70ís and Ď80ís.
CL: Can you tell me about your first number one hit Last Cheaterís Waltz?
TG: Well actually the first number one hit was Devil in the Bottle, then we left for a few years and came back with a second run which was Last Cheaterís Waltz. The first number one record Devil in the Bottle I was with RCA records as a promoter and vice president of sales and I found this song .I, kept pushing it to every artist trying to get somebody to cut this song and they all said itís not a hit, so finally one night I was downstairs in the studio recording some things and I remembered that song upstairs in my
desk. I went up and got it. I ran downstairs and recorded it. I wound up signing my own label deal because of it and the rest is history. I just found out last month Hank Williams Jr. just recorded it for his new
album, so Devil in the bottle was our first number one. The start of twenty number ones.
CL: TG, youíve had so many hits in your career such as Do You Wanna Go To Heaven, Party Time and War Is Hell On The Homefront Too. Which song is your personal number one favorite and why?
TG: Oh God Christian, there all like children itís hard to pick a favorite. Some of them go out into the world and disappoint ya. Some of them please
you. I think there are songs that any performer will say rolls off the tongue better or feels better vocally in concert. War is Hell was a great song in concert Party Time is a great song, Last Yearís Waltz and of course one of my favoriteís is a song called Slow
Burn, it's kind of a sexual kind of song. Of course a lot of our music has been that way but those are just a few of my favorites.
CL: Europe has many new fans who have just recently found country music. How would you introduce yourself and your music to someone who has never seen or heard you before?
TG: Iíd introduce myself as being a guy who loves music. I'd call my music
timeless. Because for some reason, our music today is as popular in some
areas, as it was twenty years ago. So, evidently we were cutting the type of records that have staying power. With thanks to great producers and musicians that weíve had through the years on our records I would introduce myself today as a guy who was raised in country music has been in country music most of his life and plans on staying in it the rest of his life.
CL: Elvis was one of your biggest supporters. There must be quite a story behind that. Could you tell it to us?
TG: Well I met Elvis when I was sixteen years old. Iíd always dreamed of just meeting him, but somehow I just always knew we would be
friends. I donít know how it was, destiny I guess. Fate, I believe in that
strongly. I was in Memphis late one night, Elvis found me and became my friend, took me home and we partied at Graceland and from then on we were close for many, many
years. He believed in me as a performer. When I first got started ,my first song Devil in the Bottle was one of his favorite country songs. I would hear him singing it running through the house, or at the Memphian
Theater. When we would have movies to hear someone like Elvis singing one of your songs freaks me out. It always freaked me out, but he gave me my first tour bus. He said, 'you need a bus to tour in" and I said ,"well Elvis I donít even have a band Iím just driving a car with a guitar player." He said ,"well I want you to have a
bus. "So he sent J. D. Sumner to North Carolina with a blank check! He just signed a check and said go get T. G. a bus. He bought me my first tour bus so thatís probably one of the best stories.
CL: The new news is that youíve signed with Destiny Row Records. Does this mean youíre looking for the gold with commercial number one hit songs or will you be doing projects that might be considered more artistically satisfying?
Both, I think once youíve been at the top of the mountain with having number one songs you would love to go there
again. But, if we donít itís okay. I mean Iíve already had more than I ever thought I would have
had. Destiny Row is giving me the opportunity to artistically do some things that Iíve always wanted to
do, but no one would let me. I want to go back and record on our new CD, the music of the 40ís and 50ís, the music of Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Dean Martin, Perry Como and Nat King
Cole. I love those old romantic songs. As a kid, I watched my mom and dad dance to these songs in our living room. They were instilled in me all my
life. Thatís were the romantic side of my music comes from. Those classic standards, and there is a return to that type of music today via people like Rod Stewart, Michael Bolton and other people who have recorded this music.
But, no male country performer had taken the chance to step across the
line, but just this once I thought artistically, maybe I could. My mom kept saying, when are you going to do an album for me and my era? My momís eighty-four. I finally called her a few months ago and said mom Iím gonna do your album now so weíve done the new album itís titled Timeless .It will be out in September.
CL: Which is your personal favorite song off of your new album Timeless?
TG: From the new Timeless album the classics music that Iím doing from the 40ís and 50ís my favorite song on there is called The Very Thought of You a very, very romantic sensuous type song and we recorded it a little bit differently than people in the past. Thatís my favorite.
CL: What are your plans for the future and how can new fans keep informed about you?
My plans for the future are to continue to tour about a hundred days a year. Iím going to be doing a lot of charity work this
year. I work with children building orphanages all over the world. Iíll be taking my Timeless album and doing some symphony dates like the Detroit Symphony and the Phoenix Symphony with all the proceeds going to charity. People can contact me through Destiny Row records on the internet or they can keep up with my life at
CL: Do you know at this time when you will be touring?
TG: The rest of this year. The Timeless tour probably wonít start until after Christmas of next year. We may start doing a few of those dates with the symphonies in September. When I tour I will always do an hour of the number one songs and come back and do another hour of the Timeless music.
CL: You have been in the country music industry for so long now and seen various stages of popularity. Tell me were you think country music is headed today and do you like itís direction?
TG: Christian, any time a new era comes in the era being left behind feelsÖ.left behind. Thereís
bitterness you become jaded. But, the performers who arenít, are the oneís that continue on. Because they embrace new music new sounds. New performers are able to go with them. I embrace new performers who come in this business. However, I am glad to see a return to classic country with Haggard and George Jones hopefully T. G. Sheppard. Iíd like to see everyone of the Gatlinís Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers.
So, I think finally the way country music is going right now is that there is a mix thatís been missing for a year or two. Now that this mix is starting to happen I
now look for country music to finally go to a new plateau.
CL: TG, you played at the Golden Voice show this week. What was your opinion about the show and how did it feel to see all your good friends together again?
TG: Well the highlights of the show for me was backstage visiting with people like George Jones, Ronnie Milsap and George Hamilton IV. Oh God,
it went on and on and on, it was Stonewall Wall Jackson, Little Jimmy Dickens these are all very dear friends of mine that you donít get to end up in the same room with very
often. That was a very special day for me to get a chance to visit and to have them all together at one time thereís not many days youíll get to see that. Having all of them
together, so it was a very special day.
CL: T. G. I heard you have a very unique hobby of collecting watches. Can you tell me when this started and what your friends have had to say about you wearing a different watch everyday.
TG: Itís kind of a joke among my crew and musicians. They think Iím insane because Öwell you buy a watch and wear it until it wears
out. Because it tells time. But, people like yourself and me, and people who are reading this
article, how many times a day do you look at your wrist to check the time? Occasionally I like to look down and see something different on my arm other than a beautiful lady, which ainít bad
either. Iíve got a beautiful lady in my life, Kelly Lang which is a super, beautiful woman and a great singer. I started collecting watches back when I was a kid and through the years I would give a lot of them away to people. They see a watch that Iíve got on, Iíll give it to them but Iím fascinated with
time. Iím fascinated that we live by it. We canít control it and thereís just only so much of
it, so I like to look down and see something different on my arm. I am quite the watch collector.
CL: Iíd like to wrap up this interview with your message to your European fans and please tell us how we can keep up to date with you.
TG: The European fan, is the fan Iíve always wanted and Iíve never had basically because itís difficult to reach the fans here in Europe. Iíve never been able to tour Europe. Iíve always wanted to, maybe someday I can. There is a huge fan base in Europe if the performer will take the time to try and reach them. The country fan in Europe will try to reach the performer, so maybe through this article and other articles like it maybe I can reach people who have never heard of me. People who have heard of me, maybe they will try to contact me through
or through Destiny Row Records. I would love to get to know the fans in Europe just as well I have gotten to know the fans here in America for the past thirty years. Hopefully we will be able to do that soon.
Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de