Theatre Professor’s Project Picked for ’63 Assassination Compilation

Rockin Guys ABI Cover_Press ReleaseCONWAY, Ark. (November 8, 2013) – Hendrix theatre professor Danny Grace was a third-grade student when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

Years later (in the mid-1990s), his band The Rockin’ Guys paid tribute to the fallen President on Assassination, an album of cover songs inspired by the assassination of political figures in the 1960s.

On the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, one of those songs, “O.H. Lee,” was recently selected for Conspiracy A-Go-Go, a compilation of assassination-inspired songs performed by garage rock bands.

The project is produced by Todd Gardner of Washington, D.C. Gardner, who does research and research support for the U.S. Census Bureau, has an Internet radio station called Turn Me On, Dead Man on Live365.com and plays garage, punk and psychedelic music from the last five decades.

The Turn Me On, Dead Man website includes a list of every song Gardner could find that references the JFK assassination (http://turnmeondeadman.com/category/jfk-assassination/). 

According to the Conspiracy A Go Go liner notes, “O.H. Lee” is the Rockin Guys interpretation of “Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine,” a novelty country song by Homer Henderson & the Dalworthington Garden Boys in 1985.

Grace’s group’s retitled the tune to reference the pseudonym Oswald used to rent a room in the Dallas boarding house where he was living at the time of the JFK assassination.

“Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine/O.H. Lee” is told from the perspective of a boy who lived across the street from Oswald.  He denies Oswald’s role in the JFK assassination because he can’t reconcile this crime with his warm memories of Oswald (“He used to take me fishin’ all the time/He used to throw the ball to me when I was just a kid/They say he shot the President, I don’t think he did”). Asserting that the “backyard photos” were faked, the narrator only believes what he sees with his own eyes. In contrast to his views about Oswald’s role in the JFK assassination, he knows that Jack Ruby (“the biggest sleaze in town”) killed Oswald because he saw it broadcast live on television. Jay Cotton, a Dallas artist, co-wrote the song with Henderson.

“The killing of JFK is an early memorable event,” said Grace, who worked part-time in radio as a graduate student in Cleveland and later in the New York and New Jersey area before joining the Hendrix theatre faculty.

“I did radio for several years and theme sets were fun,” he said. “I just ran into a couple of the songs. When I formed the Rockin’ Guys, we specialized in theme sets, so it was pretty natural.”

While the Rockin’ Guys are retired as a band, music fans can check out the Rockin’ Guys’ Assassination EP and other works, as well as Grace’s new group Frontier Circus on iTunes and MySpace. 

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.