James Lamar Halladay (1973)

James “Jamie” Lamar Halladay was born in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1973.  His father was a musician, guitar player, Frank Halladay, who played in a series of bands, traveling Texas, Louisiana and eventually Nashville.  By the time Jamie was four, Frank Halladay stopped living with the family, which also included Jamie’s younger sister, Sadie, although not out of their lives altogether.  He would show up on birthdays and Christmas, when he could (see song “The Laughing Man at the Door“).

James Charles Halladay (1913-1995), Jamie Halladay’s grandfather, was a fighter pilot who served with distinction in the Army Air Corps during WWII. He learned to fly as a crop dusting pilot for the Huff Daland Dusters, as part of the eradication of the boll weevil. This company, moved from Macon Georgia to Monroe Louisiana, in 1925 but Charlie didn’t hire on until 1933, but stayed with the company as it became a regional commercial carrier, which eventually became Delta Airlines.

Hi son Frank showed a talent for music early on and learned to play the guitar listening to the Grand Ole Opry and especially Hank Williams when he was still pretty small. While in high school he started a band with some of his friends and they got pretty good. Good enough to become the backup band for Webb Pierce and played on the Louisiana Hayride.

It while he was playing with Webb Pierce that Frank met the woman who was to eventually become his wife and Jamie’s mother, Lee Ann Lucas. But while Frank and Lee Ann were in love and did get married, the itinerant lifestyle of a musician did not make for a stable home life and the marriage failed. Frank tried to see his kids as much as he could, but was not a regular presence in their lives.

Nevertheless, he did have an impact on Jamie’s life.

On his twelfth birthday, Frank gave Jamie a guitar and taught him a few chords, but that was just the start for Jamie. He eventually got good enough to move to Nashville and get some gigs there playing behind country stars. He ended up breaking into the studio scene and became a member of the “A list” players, i.e. first call musicians for recording sessions.

It was while he was living in Nashville, around 2003, that Jamie began visiting a bar, McLemore’s and became friends with the owner Jake McLemore (see song “McLemore’s“).

“The Laughing Man at the Door”

Jamie Halladay’s dad was a guitar player, in a traveling band, who only made it home for birthdays and a few Christmases. But he did teach Jamie how to play guitar, which Jamie also made his living from.

The Laughing Man at the Door
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

In Monroe, Louisiana, standing at a window
A four year old sees his father drive away
Cowboy hat on his head, six gun on his hip
Jamie waves goodbye until his next birthday

Say goodbye to a man you hardly know
As his car disappears down the road
Say goodbye, watch him go
On a gray December day in Monroe

His daddy plays guitar in a traveling country band
And don’ live there with them no more
Jamie has a sister, eighteen months old
Who don’t remember the laughing man at the door

Say goodbye to a man you hardly know …

When Jamie turned twelve his dad gave him a guitar
Showed him where to put his fingers for his first chord
His dad died in ’93, when Jamie was nineteen
And who played better than the laughing man at the door

Say goodbye to a man you hardly know …

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP)

“Sonny’s Boy”

Sonny Tate was a country singer who had moderate success. He was a staple of the Louisiana Hayride, but appeared every now and then on the Grand Ol’ Opry stage. His son, Tully, was often with Sonny when he performed.

Sonny’s Boy
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

You probably don’t remember a hillbilly singer
Name of Sonny Tate
You know he never had a big record
But came close in ’68

Sang ’til he died still at the Hayride
In his sequined suit and the same ol’ toupee
Singin’ hits of other singers who get younger and younger
Drinking up payday

Sonny’s boy
Stands in the wings
While Sonny sings
Softly sings along
Sonny’s boy
In a ball cap and shorts
Rocking back and forth
Sang all of Sonny’s songs

Now Sonny may not seem someone to esteem
His life was disappointment and lies
But he was the boy’s dad, the only one he had
Ten feet tall in that boy’s eyes

Kept Sonny goin’ just knowin’
There was someone who looked up to him
When I’m back in town and the old crowd’s around
Talk always drifts back to them

Sonny’s boy stands in the wings …

You probably don’t remember a hillbilly singer
Name of Sonny Tate

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Electric Mule/Warner Music (BMI)