Dick believes his career really started on the Jimmy Dean show on CBS, late 1957 or early 1958 with The Country Lads. He and Billy Graves went down to the auditions and performed solo, but Mr. Dean asked them to become a duet. After some rehearsals, they won a contest in Arlington, Virginia and played in a national contest. At this point they lived in Washington DC, sang Monday through Friday at local venues, and on Saturday they started performing on Jimmy’s show.
The Country Lads did a USO tour of Europe and Africa. Lots of the Jimmy Dean artists wound up playing on the USO tour.
After serving in Korea, Dick waited for Billy to get out of the army, which was 6 months after him, and they joined up with the band as The Fourth Ends. In the Philippine Islands, the band was called The Luzon Valley Boys – and the band played for the president of the Philippines after he had finished his tour of duty, and played old country tunes.
There was a different guest on the Jimmy Dean show every week – and Dick got to know all of them. Got to be close with June Carter and Johnny Cash before they got married.
He moved to Nashville in 1959 and went to Friday Night Frolic, which was a show at recording studio. Dick went there to network, which led to him being a guest at the Grand Ol Opry – and then he became a regular guest on the show (all without a hit record!)
Then, he worked with Monument Records, and Dick played regularly with Roy Orbison, writing the song “Here Comes That Song Again” for Roy.
He also wrote a song for Anita Bryant called “It’s a Cold, Cold Winter” – released on Columbia. These songs were all written while Dick was in Nashville.
He would perform his older songs, and then some covers. He’d follow the biggest acts who had standing ovations.
He wrote the hit Ed Blackman song “Please help me I’m Fallin” – Regarding the Grand Ol’ Opry: “It was a thrill and a nightmare, ” they paid $11.45 per song, which was union scale.
He was able to play the Opry since many other musicians really commanded more money. That’s where he met June Carter, who was then doing comedy at the Opry.
Floyd Kramer played on a lot of his sessions, also met Jerry Lee Lewis at a house party in Memphis, and shared the stage with him while playing at an enlisted club for the troops.
He got the nickname “Flipside Flood” –and his songs appeared as the b-side to many big records, including “Only The Lonely”. George Hamilton IV and Porter Wagoner both sang songs written by Dick.
Lots of Dick’s career was dedicated to live shows for the military, and he visited our troops all over the globe. “The poor man’s bob hope” – playing bases, and clubs. All over Europe, all over the far-east and the states.
During this period he was very busy booking his shows, supporting his family, and taking on a lot of responsibility as an entertainer. He gave his songs to many different publishers, and had to do that in order to support his family. The live shows were to support the family in between writing songs for other artists.