Odie and Olivia Head – Shorty & Sue Thompson – and Wayne Thompson aka “Wayne Carson”
This married country duo came out of Nebraska into the Denver area sometime in the early 1940’s. Their son Wayne was born in Denver (below) in 1943. Odie and Olivia performed as a country duo as “Shorty and Sue Thompson” and hosted radio programs in Nebraska and later after departing Colorado in Springfield, Missouri.
Shorty Thompson recorded a few singles on Denver’s had performed as a member of the “Tall Timber Boys”. While in Denver he recorded solo on the Ace record label. Some have attributed this release as being from the mid 1950’s but this is quite unlikely. Ace Records was listed as an entity in Billboard magazine in a June, 1948 edition. Since Shorty’s release is Ace catalog number “001” it is highly likely that this record was indeed released in 1948 or 1949. It would be quite unusual for 78 RPM’s to be stamped as late as the mid 1960’s although not impossible.
Wayne Carson Thompson (Wayne Carson)
Wayne was the Head son who go onto composing fame writing for rock and roll acts as well as country and many in between or beyond depending how you look a it. He composed many songs in the classic country style such as “She’s Actin’ Single, I’m Drinkin’ Doubles” (recorded by Gary Stuart and others) and “Bar stool Mountain” (by Moe Bandy and others). His songs were recorded hundreds of times in all genres.
Eddy Arnold & Carson
Wayne was born in 1943 in Denver where he spent his growing up years. During his teen years he played with different groups around Denver eventually becoming a guitarist for “Freddie and the Hitchhikers” – My friend Joe Holonbek who was a member of Denver’s “Saints” told me at one our our breakfast meet-ups “Wayne was out of high school and was a very good guitar player. He needed a place to stay and so he moved in with me renting an apartment.” Joe says that soon after that, Wayne would begin playing guitar for the Saints. Both the Hitchhikers and Saints recorded on Vicki Morrosan’s Denver Band Box record label.
By 1962 he was off working in Nashville. He returned to his parent’s residence town – Springfield in the mid 1960’s. His initial major country success was a song called “Somebody Like Me” which he pitched directly to Eddy Arnold. Arnold suggested a little tweaking and the result was a number one country hit in the fall of 1966 topping the Country charts for 4 weeks.
The Letter – The Box Tops to the Top
According to writer Mark Steyn in is obituary for Carson, the opening line for “The Letter” – “Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane” was passed along to him by his father who was prone to throw out a line as a song idea to his son. Wayne took if from there. By the way – the lead singer for the Box Tops – Alex Chilton – was only 16 years old when he recorded the song fronting the then nameless “Box Tops”. Carson was not pleased with the final cut – the group performing it or the lead singer and the special effects. Carson more or less walked away from the session putting it behind him. He probably wasn’t prepared for the huge success that followed.
“The Letter” landed him in the big time racing to the top of the Billboard Charts in 1967 and remaining there for 4 weeks. The song would also chart in 1967 in a very different arrangement by the Arbors (February, 1969 – #20) and by Joe Cocker ((April, 1970 #7). Carson would enjoy additional Box Top success penning both “Neon Rainbow”, “Soul Deep”.
In 1973, Carson would achieve a Nashville writer’s dream when The King recorded “You Were Always on My Mind” which would rise to number 16 country. Oddly, the song failed to chart on the Hot 100 giving way to what was meant to be the “flip” side “Separate Ways”. But the die was cast and the song would be recorded often – and most prominently in 1980 when Willie Nelson took it to the top of the Country charts and to number 5 on the Hot 100.
Wayne passed away this summer on July 20th, 2015. He is an inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Wayne Carson Discography
Carson did partake as a performer on occasion entering the Country Charts on four occasions:
“You’re Gonna Love Yourself in the Morning” – Charted September 29th, 1973 – Peaked #77
“Barstool Mountain” – Charted December 26th, 1976 – Peaked #82
“Bugle Ann” – Charted June 25th, 1977 – Peaked #99
“1 Yr 2 Mo 11 Days” – Charted April 2nd, 1983 – Peaked #61
Carson’s one LP is shown below on Monument
Carson as Performer – 45 Releases
Carson Compositions by Others
Carson’s other notables include “(Don’t Let The Sun Set On You In) Tulsa” – Waylon Jennings; “No Love At All” – B. J. Thomas; and “Do It Again, A Little Bit Slower” – Jon & Robin and the In Crowd. Shown below are several releases of Carson compositions through the years.