TOP PHOTO: Vic Graves stopped by the old radio station on Wednesday morning to visit with WLAF’s Big Josh Etter (left).
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Back in 1954, Vic Graves was born at Doc Pryse’s hospital on South Tennessee Avenue, and on Saturday afternoon, just up the street from his birthplace, he’ll be among the performers entertaining at the City of La Follette’s 125th anniversary celebration.
Graves has been performing since he used the family coal shovel as a make believe guitar while singing his version of Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog. “I went from that shovel to momma’s broom. I’d break apart a clothes pin and pick that broom as straw went everywhere,” said Graves during his Wednesday morning visit to WLAF.
He was raised in church at Speedwell and remembers his mom Delores and Aunt Bonnie singing on Sunday mornings without instruments. “It’s like they were one voice even though momma sang lead and Aunt Bonnie tenor. That sound is embedded in my soul,” Graves recalled.
Graves has to give some credit to his brother Dennis, because without him saving up and buying a guitar at Powell’s Five and Dime, the opportunity to use a real guitar may never have come about. “It was a Stella guitar, and I had to wait until Dennis and his teacher were finished before I had my turn. Finding all those chords just came naturally,” added Graves.
His first own guitar came at Christmas time in 1965. “Daddy moved us from Speedwell to Michigan for a few years for work, and a new guitar was my gift that year. He took me to Folin Music Store in Monroe, and I picked out an acoustic Fender Malibu. Sure wish I still had it,” said Graves.
Graves says he was a renegade as a young man. “Momma’s prayers kept me alive. She’d go out to our old smokehouse and pray for me and the rest of us kids. You could hear her praying and weeping a half-mile away,” Graves said.
He’s played music since Hound Dog and has been all across the country performing. “From New England to California, and even overseas, I’ve been around. Dale Ann Bradley even took me along on tour to Ireland once,” Graves notes.
His momma’s prayers were answered in 1982 when Graves decided that it was either God or Hell for him, and God was his choice. “I was sitting on the living room couch at Dillard Archer’s house up at Duff when I was born again. I guess you could say that that was my Damascus Road,” Graves explained.
Graves has a new CD due out next month which includes nine original songs along with the first song he ever wrote, God’s Family. “I recorded it at Les Butler’s studio down at Smyrna; Butler Music Group,” said Graves.
Saturday will be a homecoming of sorts for lots of folks when La Follette blows out the candles on its 125th cake, and Graves will be no exception. Born just down the street from the stage where he’ll play and sing and across the way from where that Stella Guitar came from at Powell’s Five and Dime, Graves will be right at home. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 07/07/2022-6AM)