Buzz Cason ~
As 2006 arrived, Buzz was the only songwriter credited with cuts by pop icons, the Beatles, Pearl Jam and U2. It started in 1956 when Buzz, then an Inglewood, TN teenager and junior at Isaac Litton High, was given the opportunity to lip-synch "White Christmas" on the Noel Ball Saturday Showcase, a local talent show on WSIX-TV (ABC), then Channel 8. Reluctant to delve into a television musical, Jim Seymore, a fellow art student organizing the show told him, "It'll be fun and there'll be lots of girls there!" His intent has been to be on the other side of the camera, possibly studying film directing in college, but the idea of performing (with girls!) suddenly appealed to Buzz. Musically in those days, rhythm and blues and early Elvis recordings were having their influence on him. Buzz sang in the youth choir at his local church, learning harmonies from his mother, Rosa, an alto.
Buzz indeed enjoyed performing on camera and met the musicians at the television station, soon forming a group they called, "The Casuals", generally recognized as Nashville's first rock-n-roll band. Ball produced the band. Their first album, which contained Buzz's first song, "My Love Song For You", co-written with Richard Williams, vocalist and keyboardist with the Casuals. The record came out first on Nu-Sound, Ball's label and was later picked up by Dot where the song made the local top ten. By 1957, The Casuals had become a touring act, replacing The Everly Brothers on a tour of 60 fair dates. Later, legendary manager, Dub Albritton heard the group and The Casuals became Brenda Lee's backing band. The original Casuals, in addition to Richard, were Billy Smith, Chester Power and Johnny McCreery.
During this same period, Buzz met Bobby Russell, an aspiring writer at the old Globe Recording Studio in Nashville located above Mom's Tavern (now Tootsie's Orchid Lounge) and the two began to co-write. At the urging and support of Gary Walker of Lowery Music, they wrote and recorded "Tennessee" as a studio group, The Todds, which also boasted Bergen White, now a noted arranger/composer, for Paul Cohen's Todd Label. The song was covered in '58 by Jan and Dean on Liberty, produced by Lou Adler. Thus came their first Hot 100 record on the BILLBOARD chart and an association of more than 25 years began. Prior to moving to California, Buzz wrote another Todd's single with Russell. "Popsicle" was also covered by Jan and Dean and was a top 20 hit in 1963.
Meanwhile, he was introduced by former Jordanaire, Hugh Jarrett, to Snuff Garrett in between engagements and became a vocalist for Snuff's first recording group called The Statues. The group, which included Buzz, Hugh Jarrett and Richard Williams, released a hit single, "Blue Velvet" on Liberty. In 1960, Buzz began to pursue a solo career and hastily recorded (under the name Garry Miles) "Look For A Star", to beat British singer Garry Mills' version to radio. His version hit #16 on the charts and outsold the British version. After this point, Buzz reinvented himself between each set. He would back up Lee with The Casuals, slip back stage, change his coat and his glasses and reappear as Garry Miles. Buzz and the group appeared with virtually every popular act of that era.
In 1962, Buzz moved to Los Angeles as Snuff Garrett's assistant. During this period, Leon Russell was a session player. He and Buzz produced a group called The Crickets in a version of the song "La Bamba". The song did well in England and he toured with the group. LaBamba was also featured in the film “Girls On The Beach”. When in Nashville, he worked for the noted arranger, Bill Justis, who was also known for his Memphis smash hit production of the song, "Raunchy". Through Justis, Buzz met Bucky Wilkin, lead singer of Ronny and the Daytonas. They co-wrote "Sandy" and the song became an instant top 20 record. An album of the same name followed.
In 1966, Buzz and Bobby started a publishing and record company, Rising Songs, with Fred Foster (then president of Monument Records). From this association came "Everlasting Love", co-written with Mac Gayden and recorded in 1967 by Robert Knight.
In 1967, Buzz and Bobby returned to their successful partnership by forming their own publishing company, Russell-Cason Music. Out of this partnership, they published and wrote songs including "The Joker Went Wild", "Honey" and "Little Green Apples". In addition to Rising Sons, the duo performed an innovative feat by founding yet another independent label, Elf, for their productions with Larry Uttal of Amy Mala Bell. "It was cool", says Buzz, reflecting back on those exciting days. "I had a red phone on my desk. Larry wanted us to have a hotline to New York always clear to get right to his desk." Buzz produced "She Shot A Hold In My Soul" on Knoxville R&B great, Clifford Curry and it was Elf's first chart record. Other Elf hits included Russell's "1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero" with Russell as the artist and "Cry Baby Cry" by Van and Titus, and R&B act co-produced and co-written by Buzz and Mac Gayden. Russell-Cason was quite a successful combination, but both men felt it was time to move on and the publishing company was sold to Welk Music in 1974. (Russell moved to Los Angeles and formed PixRuss Music).
The years to follow proved to be very successful for Buzz, not only as a vocalist behind superstars such as Elvis Presley and Kenny Rogers, but also as a songwriter. He felt the need for a studio to produce and bring writers and artists together in a relaxed, state-of-the-art atmosphere, so in 1970, he founded Creative Workshop, a two-studio recording facility where Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, The Judds, The Doobie Brothers and Emmylou Harris have recorded material. Papa Don Schroeder cut Carl Carlton's million selling version of "Everlasting Love" for Duke Records there as well. This studio was the start of the Berry Hill Music Scene.
Just prior to the founding of Creative, Buzz had been introduced to Jimmy Buffett from Mobile by Travis Turk, an engineer at Spar Studio in the Baker Building. The pair had produced Jimmy's first album for Barnaby, "Down to Earth". The subsequent album, "High Cumberland Jubilee", was cut in the new Creative Workshop, where Turk was its' first engineer. Buzz continues to publish approximately 50 of Buffett's early compositions. Buzz sang background on Buffett's first five LPs for ABC, produced by Gant.
The formation of Southern Writers Group coincided with the opening of Creative Workshop, and the catalogue has been spawning hit songs ever since. "Bluer Than Blue", written by Randy Goodrum, was produced there by Brent Maher and Steve Gibson and published by Maher and Cason. But the biggest copyright of the '70s for Buzz came when piano bar entertainer Steve Gibb turned in "She Believes In Me", a mega-hit for Kenny Rogers, produced by Larry Butler. The song has achieved sales of over 20 million units and also received a "Song of the Year" Grammy nomination.
Buzz with Voynich, popular metal band from Granada, Spain recording at Creative Workshop
After remodeling the original room in 1976, Creative Workshop with its' Tom Hidley designed control room, Nashville's first "from the ground up" Westlake" room and the beautiful Sphere Eclipse console, the studio became a state-of-the-art facility. Olivia Newton John's 1976 album for MCA, produced by John Farrar, "Don't Stop Believing" and "Sam" were hits from that project. "Just When I Needed You Most" by Randy VanWarmer was also a hit recorded at Creative.
In the late 1970s and into the eighties, Buzz continued to write songs. He had a number one, "Ann, Don't Go Runnin" by Tommy Overstreet. He co-wrote "A Million Old Goodbyes" with Bobby Russell and Steve Gibb; a hit for Mel Tillis, "Another Woman" with Dan Penn for T.G. Shephard and "Timeless And True Love" by the MacCarter Sisters with Austin Roberts and Charlie Black. In England, Robert Knight's '74 release of Cason-Gayden's "Love On A Mountain Top" was a pop/dance hit and later a UK hit by Selena in 1990 on Atlantic.
During the '80s Buzz built and later sold Creative Workshop II, at that time, Creative Recording, to Brent Maher and the Dan Williams Music Group. The Judds hits were recorded there as well as numerous national jingles. The studio is now known as Blackbird and is owned by country superstar, Martina McBride and her husband, John.
The '90s arrived with good news! The Beatles released the long awaited "Live at the BBC" recordings, which contained Buzz's "Soldier of Love", co-written by Tony Moon and previously cut by Arthur Alexander in 1962. In 1995, "Everlasting love" was re-cut by Gloria Estefan. River Road had a minor hit with "I Broke IT, I'll Fix It" in 1997, a song co-written with Byron Hill and "Forgotten But not Gone", co-written with Johnny MacCrae is included on Gary Allen's latest CD from Decca, "It Would Be You". Buzz continues to write and produce working out of the original studio. In 2002, he co-produced RADIO CAFE with Anthony Crawford on ArenA Records.
Five decades and Buzz is still rockin'! He said, "If I hadn't met Bobby Russell, I never would have known a real songwriter and never would have made it in the business. He was not only a true genius, but a great, great friend." "Every song has a life of its' own. I try to make mine unique and fresh and not get hung up on trends unless a groove is out there so neat that you cannot resist it. A great song will find its' way like a person chases their childhood dreams. Hopefully, someone eventually falls in love with them!!"
Buzz once heard Sinatra say, "I loved every minute of it", referring to his life in entertainment. Buzz also says, "That pretty much sums up my career. God's been good! My family and I have been blessed and I wouldn't change a thing. I've met and worked with wonderful people and look forward to the new millennium with excitement and a positive outlook!"
Buzz is currently President/Owner
of SOUTHERN WRITERS GROUP USA, a unique collection of writer-owned
publishing catalogs, and CREATIVE WORKSHOP recording studio.
A native of Nashville, Buzz dedicates most of his time
these days to writing and publishing songs through his
companies, which are affiliated with BMG Songs for international
sub-publishing. Buzz is not only well-known but also well-respected
by other music professionals in Nashville, and his list
of professional credits include: Board of Governors of
National Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), National
Trustee for NARAS, Southern Writers Advisory Committee
(ASCAP), East Coast Advisory Committee ASCAP, and a member
Hits Written or Co-Written by
Buzz Cason Include:
" Everlasting Love" (Gloria Estefan - 1994, Robert Knight, Carl Carlton & U2) - "Soldier of Love" (The Beatles "Live At The BBC" & Pearl Jam '99) - "Timeless and True Love (The McCarters) - "Ann, Don't Go Runnin'" (Tommy Overstreet) - "Another Woman" (T.G. Sheppard) - "Emmylou" (Oak Ridge Boys) - "A Million Old Goodbyes" (Mel Tillis) - "To Love" (Placido Domingo) - "Rainbow Valley" - "Love on a Mountain Top" - "Fantasy Island" - "Popsicle" & "Tennessee" (Jan & Dean) - "Bar Wars" (Freddy Weller) - "Sandy" (Ronny & The Daytonas) - "Forgotten But Not Gone" (Keith Palmer) - "I Broke It, I'll Fix It" (River Road/Capitol - "Love's The Only House" (Martina McBride) - "The Bird Song" (Meredith Edwards) "Glory Bound" (Oak Ridge Boys '03) "Timeless & True Love" (Jeannie Kendall and Alan Jackson '03) “The Bird Song” (Malibu Storm ’04), “Everlasting Love” (Jamie Cullum ’04)
Buzz Cason Publishing/Co-published
The Following Hits:
" She Believes in Me" (Kenny Rogers) - Several of Jimmy Buffett's earlier compositions including " "The Great Filling Station Hold Up," "In the Shelter," "The Captain and the Kid" - "Bluer Than Blue" (Michael Johnson) - "I'll Come Back as Another Woman" (Tanya Tucker) - "If It Ain't Dixie" (Alabama) - "New York Hold Her Tight" (Restless Heart) - "If I Ever Had to Say Goodbye To You" (Eddy Arnold) - "Honey" - "Little Green Apples" - And Many Others!
Buzz Cason's Credits as a
Backup Singer Include:
Back-up singer for artists including John Denver, Julie Andrews, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Andy Griffith, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers, Kris Kristofferson, Jimmy Buffett, Conway Twitty, Bob Wills, Billy Swan and Mel McDaniel and Willie Nelson on his recent Grammy nominated Willie Sings You Don’t Know Me and the Songs of Cindy Walker.
Member of Brenda Lee's back-up group, "The Casuals," a member of the group, "The Statues," appearing on Liberty Records with the hit, "Blue Velvet," a member of "Ronny and the Daytonas" and performed lead vocals for "The Crickets," also on Liberty Records.
Solo venture on Liberty Records
as artist Garry Miles with the pop
hit, "Look For A Star," and most recently formed his own Rock-a-billy style band, "BC & The Dartz."
Buzz Cason's Credits as a
Artists - Freddy Weller, Dickey Lee, Gary Dunham, Pepper Martin, Bobby Russell ("1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero"), The Crickets, Buddy Knox, South By Southwest and more; Music Videos - "She Loves Her Truck" (To The Max) and "Risky Business" (Buck Hall), both aired on CMT, Radio Café (Anthony Crawford). In 2005 Buzz was co-writing with Brian Hofeldt of the Derailers for the band’s current CD, Soldiers of Love. Newest projects include his production of a new Texas Americana artist, Amanda Shires.
Buzz's book, THE ADVENTURES OF BUZZ CASON - LIVING THE ROCK 'N ROLL DREAM was released April 11, 2004 with an accompanying acoustic CD. The book has been nominated for the Belmont Award, given to the best book written about country music in any given year. The CD, East Of Nashville which reflects stories of the book as well, has produced two singles, "Girl Do You Wanna Go Around Just One More Time" and "Goin' Back To Alabama" have charted on numerous Americana stations. He recently produced a singer/songwriter CD on Anthony Crawford, which was released on ArenA Recordings. The CD, "RADIO CAFE" has received critical acclaim and airplay on over 150 Americana and Triple A format radio stations. Crawford has co-written two songs with Steve Winwood for Winwood's '03 CD release. Buzz and Anthony Crawford also co-wrote "Glory Bound", a single by the Oak Ridge Boys. NIGHT TRAIN TO NASHVILLE, the Grammy winning Historical Album for 2004 includes “She Shot A Hole In My Soul” produced by Buzz Cason and “Everlasting Love” by Robert Knight which he produced and co-wrote with Mac Gayden. Buzz produced “SOLDIERS OF LOVE”, by the Derailers, their 2006 release, with Cold Beer, Hot Women and Cool Country Music as the first single, co-written with Brian Hofeldt. Buzz is currently producing female artists, Amanda Shires of Lubbock, TX and Stephanie Iverson of Camden, Delaware in two separate projects. Both recordings will contain mainly new, original material.
Buzz was nominated to the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2005 and was inducted into the Nashville Public School Hall of Fame fall, 2006. Buzz is also a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.