Curtis Leach ~ Born: October 10, 1928 - Died: December 14, 1965.
"He's still a star, He Plays with a band of angels - That's his ... Golden Guitar"
Country music fans will recognize that as the line from one of Bill Anderson's big hits that was a recitation number. Bill originally put it on an album called "Bright Lights and Country Music" but disc jockeys and fans soon discovered this tune and eventually it became a hit single. During that era, you might have expected that perhaps Bill wrote the song, but it came from the pen of Curtis Alvin Leach, a native of Catoosa, Oklahoma.
Texas Jim Cooper wrote a tribute article to Curtis in early 1966 and provided a few more details about the short life and musical career of Curtis Leach.
Songwriting seemed to have come easy to Curtis - he wrote his first tune when he was just ten years old. It was said his tunes ran a wide spectrum of tastes. He could produce a moving sacred melody or 'set a standard to a light-hearted composition. His lyrics were known to be 'straight-from-life' or surrounding the age-old emotion, love.
Dewey Groom, owner of Saran Music publishing company and Longhorn Records mentioned to Mr. Cooper that Bobby Bare was going to record three tunes written by Curtis - "Big Railroad Man", "Two Sinners", and "Lightning Strikes Twice". It was said that Tex Ritter was set to record a tune called "Ginny Pour The Wine", said to be a gunfighter ballad.
One of Leach's first recordings was a tune he did called "The Highway Man". He was co-writer on two tunes that Phil Baugh recorded on Longhorn Records as well - "One Man Band" and "Country Guitar" - sharing songwriting credits with Phil Baugh.
All told, Texas Jim Cooper mentions that Curtis Leach left behind about 20 recordings. Ten of which originally appeared in a Longhorn LP which was titled "The Indescribable Curtis Leach" - which summed up the difficulty they had coming up with a title for the album.
On December 14, 1965 in Mesquite, Texas, the musical career and life of Curtis Leach came to a tragic end and many are left to wonder what may have been if he had lived on.
His death was even reported by the New York Times, via UPI. The article reports that he was stabbed in his left leg. The cut severed an artery and Mr. Leach was said to have died on the way to the hospital. The article noted that no arrests had been made at the time.
Dewey Groom noted, "I think his name will be immortal, like that of Hank Williams. Curtis was a genius and left enough writing to take care of his children."
Mr. Cooper also tells the readers that other notable songwriters such as Willie Nelson and Hank Thompson felt Curtis was "...unique as a master of the musical word." (Hillbilly-Music, 2015).
Curtis was my father, I'm so glad people are still enjoying his music.
(Michael Leach, e-mail 28.10.2014): Jukka, funny thing about mister Grooms statement about "my father leaving enough music behind to take care of his children". We have never seen a penny. Well I guess that's the music business. Good article though.
(Michael Leach, e-mail 18.8.2015): THE STORY SOUNDS ALMOST LIKE A FAIRY TALE. "HE LEFT ENOUGH UNPUBLISHED SONGS TO TAKE CARE OF HIS CHILDREN". WELL, THAT NEVER HAPPENED. WE WERE SCATTERED TO FOSTER HOMES, BOYS HOMES AND JUVINLE HALLS. AND ALL THAT MUSIC NEVER DID A DAMN THING FOR US. I HAVE ALWAYS WONDERED HOW MANY OF HIS SONGS WERE RECORDRED BY OTHER ARTISTS. AND WE NEVER SAW A PENNY OF IT. BY THE WAY - MY NAME IS MICHAEL LEACH - I'M HIS SON.
Curtis Leach Singles:
135 A Highway Man
135 B Oklahoma, Home Of My Heart
562 A Golden Guitar
562 B Slick Sam The Salesman
568 A Wheelin' And Dealin'
568 B Lightning Struck Twice
(JJ - 28.11.2011): I went quickly through my collection and I could find these recorded songs written by Curtis Leach (recording artist mentioned):
Bobby Bare - Dear Wastebasket,
Curtis Leach - Golden Guitar,
Curtis Leach- Highway Man (Doggone),
Wynn Stewart - I Can Take It Or Leave It,
Ernie Ashworth - Lightning Strikes Twice,
Charlie Walker - Moffett, Oklahoma,
Wynn Stewart - Money Talks,
Curtis Leach - Granville Depot,
Curtis Leach - Jenny Pour The Wine,
Curtis Leach - Knock Me Off Of My Feet Again,
Curtis Leach - Lightning, Tree & Church,
Curtis Leach - Oklahoma The Home Of My Heart,
Curtis Leach - Slick Sam The Salesman,
Curtis Leach - That`s Between Your Conscience And You,
Curtis Leach - Two Sinners,
Curtis Leach - Wheelin` And Dealin`,
Curtis Leach - You Got Caught.