HPT Vernon: Small town feel, big time hits


VERNON,TX(RNN Texoma) - Music has the power to take you back in time.

For Preston Carey, the curator of the Wilbarger Historical Museum in Vernon, it is a big part of his life.

That is why it is the place to learn who took the stage back in the day and what musicians helped put the city on the map.

Like the one and only Roy Orbison.

"I mean what can you say about Roy Orbison, he was the greatest thing that ever was," said Carey. "Elvis Presley said that Roy Orbison was the best thing there ever was."

Orbison was born in Vernon in 1936 and went to Parker School.

"He left here when he was 11-years-old," said Carey. "By then he already had been singing on KBWC the radio station here, and he was already recording for 'Ooby Dooby' which was one of his first records out."

He would later be known as a Founding Father of Rock and Roll and record nine top ten singles between 1960 and 1965.

Including his most famous 'Pretty Woman.'

"The one everybody relates to is 'Pretty Woman,' but I mean my gosh he's done so many you couldn't even name them all," said Carey.

Orbison is not alone in the Vernon music hall of fame.

Native Jack Teagarden holds another title, King of the Blues Trombone.

"He was really popular in the 20s and 30s," said Carey.

He adds the jazz man played in the band at Vernon High School.

He would go on to make a name for himself as one of the best to ever pick up his instrument.

Laying down some tracks there, Kay Adams. She was born in Knox City but raised in Vernon.

At the First Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, in 1965 she was named the 'Top New Female Vocalist.'

Vernon was also a stop for many well-known artists.

"As far as music you had all these people that traveled here that played the Sportatorium," said Carey.

Like Jerry D. Lewis, Hank Thompson and The Platters to name a few. 

Someone else whose name might ring a bell, a little duo known as Sonny and Cher.

In the museum hangs a picture of the singers that was taken right in front of the Plaza Theater in downtown.

Carey hopes Vernon will once again be center stage for famous artists.

"I think it would be good, good for everybody," he said. "Good for them, also good for the town."

The Santa Rosa Roundup also brought in big stars. In 1975 country singer Tanya Tucker was at the rodeo and in 1972 Ferlin Husky.

Bringing musicians to Vernon is something this event is still doing to this day.  

This year at the 73rd Annual Santa Rosa Roundup Chris Clerihew and the West Coast Turnarounds and Drake Hayes Band are taking the stage.

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