Thursday, January 28, 2016

Passings: Curtis Potter, Hank Thompson Bandleader, Texas-Based Recording Artist

Curtis Potter, who not only worked extensively with country great Hank Thompson but was also a recording artist and label owner, died on Saturday (January 23) in Abilene, TX from pneumonia and congestive heart failure. He was 75.

Although Potter never achieved mainstream success on the country charts, his style and work as a label executive had an impact across the industry.

Potter already had a start to his singing career in his mid-teens on local television in Abilene on The Bill Fox Show. Fox often took Curtis to appearances with him and, at the age of 16, he became host of his own TV show.

In 1959, he joined Hank Thompson's band the Brazos Valley Boys, eventually becoming the bandleader. Under his leadership, the band won the Billboard award for Touring Band of the Year fourteen times.

While still with Thompson, Potter began recording his own material starting with Dot Records in 1969. He moved to Capitol in 1973 after leaving the Brazos Valley Boys, and then to Hillside Records in 1978 where he scored two regional hits (Fraulein and San Antonio Medley).

In 1984, Potter started Step One Records in Nashville which issued a number of albums by classic country artists like Thompson, Ray Price, Kitty Wells, Gene Watson and Potter himself including Six Hours to Pendernales, which he recorded with Willie Nelson.

Later in his career, he recorded for Startex and Heart of Texas Records.

Curtis underwent successful heart surgery in 2006 and returned to recording and the road. He is a member of the Western Swing Hall of Fame and the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.

Potter is survived by his wife, four children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.