Personalities | Tommy Collins | West Coast Scene | Country
(Vocals, guitar, songwriter, 1930–2000)
One of the earliest pioneers of the Bakersfield Sound, Oklahoma City-born Tommy Collins (Leonard Raymond Sipes) began activities on the West Coast thanks to the encouragement of dj Ferlin Husky. Securing deals with Cliffie Stone’s Central Songs and Capitol Records, he began putting Bakersfield on the map with nationwide humorous hits like ‘You Better Not Do That’ (1954) and ‘Whatcha Gonna Do Now’ (1954), and featured Buck Owens as lead guitarist on his recording sessions. After a short spell in the ministry, he returned to songwriting and developed a lasting friendship with Merle Haggard, for whom he provided No. 1 hits with ‘Carolyn’ (1971) and ‘The Roots Of My Raising’ (1976). Haggard composed a beautiful tribute in ‘Leonard’ (1981).
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