Glen Hunter emails

Date:Fri, Mar 2, 2001, 7:08pm
Subject:Mr. Tupper Saussy, especially his song "Melissa"
From:"Glen D. Hunter"


    I'm contacting you at the suggestion of a fellow whom I only know as "Brandon K.," whose acquaintance I made over eBay, in response to an auction of his for an album (SAID I TO SHOSTAKOVICH) of music by Mr. Tupper Saussy. Brandon said that ostensibly you are in touch with Mr. Saussy and might be able to help me.

      I'm a former educator, having taught for six colleges, three universities, and three public high schools, and am 56 years old and a competent pianist (played at The Durham Hilton for a year). For close to forty years I have been wildly enthusiastic about Mr. Saussy's song "Melissa," having been introduced to it by the 1963 album SWING ALONG WITH FLOYD CRAMER (I have two copies of that LP and the 45 with that song). I've also heard Mr. Saussy's recording of it and have the one by Al Hirt, but Cramer's has always struck me as the most sophisticated thing he ever did and very special (the liner notes of that LP indicate that Cramer's rendition also highly impressed Mr. S). I must admit that I have done enough digging to know that Chet Atkins also recorded the song, but the only LP of Atkins' music I ever bought I gave away, so I haven't been particularly eager to   move in that direction. I'd really like to get the music to "Melissa" in some form (I can read lead sheets with no problem--have written out quite a few myself), and it would be especially gratifying if I could get it directly from Mr. Saussy, maybe even with a note from him.

      I've tried to contact him before, and most recently I telephoned a Tennessee chamber of commerce (near Nashville, where there was a phone listing for a Saussy) and the Georgia penal system, having heard that he was incarcerated in Atlanta. I grew up playing a lot of fairly simple stuff, and "Melissa" isn't the sort of thing that ANYBODY's going to go to the piano and pick out easily. But the folks that had the publishing rights to it, Athens Music, say they no longer have it--they're pointing me to the Library of Congress, which I will only use as a last resort.

      I understand that Mr. Saussy is very bright, and I'd love to be able to talk to him. My educational background has been mainly in the field of English, but that's a bit misleading. I've been an avid reader and have read about 90% of the world's acknowledged fiction masterpieces, so I've lived more vicarious lives than anybody I know. A test that I took some twenty years ago estimated my vocabulary at 60,000 words , and I'm one of the few people I know who've read the likes of WAR AND PEACE, ANNA KARENINA, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, THE IDIOT, LES MISERABLES and the like without having had to. I should add that in college I also taught math, physics, psychology, small business operation, reading improvement, piano, music appreciation, human relations, journalism, and creative writing. Please help me if you can; I'll be most appreciative!

        Sincerely, Glen Hunter
(, 3/2/2001, 5:50 p.m. EST).

RSM replies:


you want tupper saussy?

i got tupper saussy.

write back soon,

From:    "Glen D. Hunter"
To:    "Moore's Code"

Dear Stevie,

           Thanks (abundantly) for your reply.

                        I feel about like the proverbial kid in the candy store, after a search that's lasted nearly twenty years and come to a rather abrupt halt not long ago with no leads. When I was in North Carolina (1971-1991), I tried contacting one musicmaker of stature, Norman Luboff, only to hear shortly after of his death from cancer. Life has a strange way of tantalizing, so--to answer your question, Yes, yes, yes, let's cut to the chase.           My e-mail address is below; my telephone number is 912-524-6153. How do I proceed?

                        Sincerely, Glen Hunter (, 3/2/2001, 11:30 p.m. EST).

RSM replies:

hello glen.

can certainly appreciate your enthusiasm.

what is it you desire, exactly?

merely a copy of the TS song "melissa"?

or much much moore? like a new pen pal? welcome!

briefly, i am r. stevie moore, son of bob moore, famed nashville bass player. if you checked out my tupper tribute webpage, you'd see that bob played on all the great saussy monument sides. i've known (and owned) this music since i was a youngster. i can help.

check this out:

i myself am somewhat of an underground music legend.

the saga's too long to describe here... will explain fully.

til later,


Dear Stevie,

    I'm making connections pretty fast--you see, I've had the 45 of "Mexico" for about 25 years.

When I was growing up in southwest Georgia, my best friends were big Roy Orbison fans, and I saw Roy in concert twice--once in '62 in Alabama and once in '64 in Georgia. Two of my favorite records as a teenager were Jack Eubanks's "Searching" and Jerry Byrd's "Memories of Maria" (which Orbison cowrote, of course), and I read LP cover notes religiously--for instance, Mr. Saussy's notes for the MORE OF ROY ORBISON'S GREATEST HITS album. I own a copy of BOUDLEAUX (BRYANT)'S BESTSELLERS. The point is that I've known superficially a good deal of the Monument music and the names of the people that helped make it. When Orbison left Monument, 99% of the magic went with him. I really liked "Ride Away," but that was the only thing he ever did for MGM that appealed to me (heaven knows I must be the only one who didn't go crazy about "Oh, Pretty Woman," but from a purely musical viewpoint I think it's trash).

  So I know some about Fred Foster, Bill Porter, Bill Justis, and Bob Moore. But I cut my musical teeth, so to speak, on the music of Floyd Cramer. Three of my first four LPs were Cramer music (and was I disappointed that sheet-music folios of it don't include "Melissa"!), and I won a talent contest while in high school by playing "Last Date" as a piano solo, blindfolded. It has one full octave jump which is the real test, but I pulled it off without a mistake.

          Another early love was the music of Bill Pursell--especially Grady Martin's instrumental "Loved," which I got the music to and transposed to D Flat, my favorite key, and have enjoyed playing. I was very disappointed that Pursell didn't get to make a lot more albums.

              Yes, the music to "Melissa" is my highest early priority, but we should have fun sharing musical experiences. I played back to back in college programs with Ronnie Milsap, but I don't like much country music--I can feel my IQ going down if I listen for very long.

Glen (1:05 a.m., 3/2)

RSM replies:

Some fascinating anecdotes. You know your stuff.

We lived around the corner from Mr. Cramer in Nashville suburb Madison.

I always dug Pursell's music too.

As for getting sheet music for "Melissa," sheesh, who knows? It seems to have extremely tricky chord patterns, don't think I could write it out.

Clarify: you DO own the 3 Saussy records? Or NEED them?

Your correspondence made me & my wife pull out "Shostakovitch" to hear again. Stunning disc.

Wonder who Brandon K is, and how he would know of me. Ask him sometime.

I wouldn't know how to reach Tupper directly, but he does have a website. I believe it's . Dad & he had a recent reunion!

Wow, I don't know of "Memories of Maria." Roy co-wrote a steel guitar instrumental?

I own Boudleaux's Bestsellers LP too!

Country IQ, ha haha. You betcha.

Good day to you sir,
R. Stevie

From: (Glen D. Hunter)
Date: Sat, Mar 3, 2001, 11:28am
To: (Moore's Code)
Subject: Re: Follow-up to Previous Discussion

Dear Stevie,

            Last night I visited the Saussy website. Funny thing, I think he'd be bored with me. He's writing about so many sociological factors, and here I am, never met an -ism I enjoyed discussing. He's apparently a man who's comfortable attaching 1,000,001 labels to things, and here I am, went to Italy a couple of years ago and am looking for some additional mountaintop experiences musically, just excited at the prospect of hearing good music or making it. Somehow, considering where his life has taken him, I don't think he'd be ecstatic to hear that I've encountered a song recorded by Jack Jones entitled "Don't Talk to Me" (cowritten by Bert Kaempfert) that I find one of the finest ballads I've ever heard--or "The Shining Sea" by Peggy Lee and Johnny Mandel, which plays much better for me as a piano solo than the omnipresent "The Shadow of Your Smile."

            I neglected to tell you, but I'm working on a book, of profiles of 600 songs with exceptionally strong melodies, and I'm about 80% done (I have a 5" notebook that's overweening). I indicate who made the songs popular and how popular (listing all the recordings that charted), then give a comprehensive list of the artists who've recorded it. Within the past two weeks I finished work on "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)," and I've logged 323 recordings of it. One happens to be by my old chum Ronnie Milsap, but knowing what I do of him and his style, I can't imagine that he'd do anything of lasting value for the song, so I don't want to hear it. Would you want to hear James Brown do "Send In the Clowns"?

      You must hear "Memories of Maria," which has all the drama of "Crying" but is ideally suited for the steel guitar. There was a MOM album, but a couple of years later it was reissued as SATIN STRINGS OF STEEL. Byrd is, of course, a rock-solid instrumentalist. (In the early Sixties I saw Pete Drake in concert, and you feel about Byrd the way I did about Drake--there won't be fluffs.)

          At one time I had the DISCOVER TUPPER SAUSSY album but didn't keep it. Don't think I've ever heard the one you just listened to, or the other. I enjoyed hearing "Feed the Birds" on the Saussy website--it was a quick favorite from MARY POPPINS. But it doesn't play well for me.

          I reviewed sheet music for 11 years, for SHOW MUSIC and SHEET MUSIC, and I got all I asked for, gratis. There are only about a dozen songs on my sheet-music want list that have eluded me (one is "Prayers," by Ernie Freeman). I found one outfit that can transcribe songs , but they want about $30 per song, based on the time it takes for them to do a job, and that's steep for me. I'd prefer to see what Saussy wrote and then work on a modified chart of my own.

          I've been fortunate enough to talk to Pursell by phone, about twenty-five years ago, and tell him of my admiration. He said he was dissatisfied with his 2nd & 3rd albums for Columbia, but I love the 2nd, especially "Columbine." I paid for a lead sheet of that, only to discover what a great chart Bill Justis did and how well Pursell executed it. That glissando at the end, leading to a 9th chord, is absolutely brilliant! (How many 9th chords do you think Milsap plays? By contrast, I'll bet Saussy's known 9th chords about as long as he's been able to walk!)

    Think I'm going to try to contact Saussy through one of the websites I've just discovered. Will keep you posted. Thanks for all of your comments!

Glen (, 3/3/2001, 11:25 a.m. EST)