Dottie West Interview
In Syracuse for a State Fair appearance with Kenny Rogers, Dottie West, best known for her song "Country Sunshine," talked with us.
Her recent album with Kenny Rogers titled "Every Time Two Fools Collide," has sent Dottie West's career skyrocketing even further.
Managed by Jerry Weintraub (who also handles Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, and Kenny Rogers) and booked by ICM (the booking agency for artists such as Fleetwood Mac, the Beach Boys, Linda Ronstadt, and Olivia Newton-John), Dottie West's career couldn't be in better hands.
The following interview took place at the State Fairgrounds, backstage, prior to the Kenny Rogers/Dottie West/Oakridge Boys Show.
Q. Your career was helped along by Jim Reeves. How did Jim Reeves come to hear about you?
A. I recorded one record for Starday Records called "Is This Me?" Jim Reeves heard it in 1961, brought a copy to Chet Atkins of RCA and said, "Sign this girl!" It was the first song I wrote and Jim later published and recorded it.
Q. Why did you want to become a singer?
A. Probably because it's the only fun I ever had. I was the oldest of ten children and we lived out in the country on a farm. The guitar was my companion. My father played banjo, fiddle and my mother sang, but not professionally. We were the only ones around with a radio and every Saturday night folks would come over to listen to the Grand Ole' Opry.
Q. Did people try to discourage you when you started out?
A. Yes and they still don't consider it work. It's "play" music, as if it's not work.
Q. How many times have you performed on the Grand Ole' Opry stage?
A. I've been a regular member of the Grand Ole' Opry since 1964. In order to do this you have to make 20 appearances a year there. The last couple of years I haven't performed there that many times, but they still consider me as a regular member.
Q. How do you maintain your enthusiasm for every show you do, seeing as how you perform so much?
A. I love what I'm doing, and all audiences aren't the same. It just happens. I'm starting to get excited about tonight right now.
Q. Some of your fans may be interested in finding out about your bus, since it's so special. How much did it cost to customize it?
A. I bought the bus for $102,000 without tires and a driver's seat. I put in another $80,000 to customize it. We call it the "Sunshine Express" — that's our CB Handle too. My other bus had 2,000,000 miles on it and I sold it in 1970 to a Nashville company that leases buses out to rock 'n' roll acts.
Q. About the Coca Cola commercial: your song was selected over 32,000 entries. How did it feel when they told you it was your entry that won?
A. It's still unbelievable. "Country Sunshine" did it. I believe I'm the only country artist who has a Cleo.
Q. What recording artists do you listen to?
A. Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson — everybody listens to Willie, Kenny Rogers — I was a fan of his before I even met him. I like "Bread," the "Eagles," Gladys Knight.
Q. What's your impression of rock 'n' roll acts like "Alice Cooper," "Kiss," "The Sex Pistols," the "Tubes?"
A. They have a special talent. They must have something about them because they're so popular, right? I have a 16-year-old at home who listens to "Kiss."
Q. How important is crossover appeal to a country artist?
A. It's important because you want to sing to as many people as possible.
Q. Have you ever helped out someone's career?
A. I brought Larry Gatlin to Nashville. He played bass in my band for 6 months. I also helped Steve Wariner, now on RCA Records, who's being produced by Chet [Atkins]. His second release is on the charts. Steve played bass for me for 3 years.
Q. For all the singers out there who would like to become Dottie -Wests, what advice would you give them?
A. It's hard to say. Sing everywhere anyone will listen. Go to Nashville. Dreams will come true.
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