TJ Mayes has always been interested in music. The Bethel native said it goes all the way back to his elementary school days when he was banging his head to grunge and rock and roll.
Yet, Mayes had no idea he would wind up living the life of a rocker, traveling around the world and playing his roots rock and roll music from Wild Records.
Mayes’s passion for music extends far beyond what he’s able to create on stage or in a studio. One visit to his Oklahoma City residence and that is easy to see.
Over the past 13 years, Mayes has built up an extensive collection that says a lot about him and his home state.
It all started with Vicki France. Well, to be more specific, it was Vicki France with the Kings and their rendition of ‘Cry on My Shoulder’ that put Masey on the collector’s journey.
“It was a female singer named Vicki France on the Sparkette label,” Mayes said. “The Sparkette label was a Tulsa label. There were probably five or six records on the Sparkette label. And Vicki France was kind of like a 50s pop kind of record. But it was the very first one, I still have it. And now I have everything else that was actually on that Sparkette label too.”
Mayes freely admits Cry on my Shoulder is not his favorite album by any means. However, it is the one that kick-started it all for him when he was 25 years old.
Mayes has gone on to collect close to 900 albums in his collection. But the musician/singer isn’t just grabbing any album he can get his hands on. They have to fit a special niche.
“So it’s both eclectic and also with a very narrow scope, which is kind of weird to be saying it out loud,” Mayes said. “But when I say narrow scope, I like music from all over the world, but the collection is very specific to Oklahoma. And so that’s why I say the scope’s real narrow. It’s anywhere from hillbilly gospel to country and western, rock and roll, rockabilly, garage rock, psych,” Mayes said. “It’s a real, real big mix of stuff. It’s basically anything that’s Oklahoma from, I’d say late 60s, anywhere back beyond that. So probably the earliest record I have is that’s Oklahoma’s is probably late 30s, early 40s.”
The 37-year-old Mayes had bought plenty of albums before he got his hands on ‘Cry on my Shoulder.’ But it was at that point that he decided he wanted to focus on his home state.
“So the record collecting started with the whole punk rock thing. So I actually was collecting punk records from all over for a little while. And so I already had kind of a little bit of a collection of those,” Mayes said. “So there’s a web site out there called Rockin Country Style. And can you go in there into this web site and it has a geography section where you can click on Oklahoma and I just kind of happened onto it. And I found there’s a whole list of Oklahoma labels on this web site. And you go, start clicking on the name of those labels. And you can see these artists and see samples of the record labels and stuff. And I just thought that was amazing.”
It came as a shock to Mayes that there were so many record labels that had sprung up in Oklahoma. So the more research he did, the more fascinated he become with the history of music in the state.
“At that time had no idea that there were all these small record labels that were just all over Oklahoma and even then, even looking back on that, there’s so much more, that’s even not on that website that I didn’t know about,” Mayes said. “And it just kind of blew up and I just started digging in. I started searching for the stuff that was listed on that website. And as I got more and more into it, I started looking for stuff that wasn’t on that website. And so, yeah, that’s kind of where it started. I just kind of accidentally happened upon a website and then just kind of exploded from there.”
Mayes’s collection includes 800 45s and close to 80 records in the 78s category. For those who under a certain age, this lingo may sound like an alien dialectic.
Before they had MP3, CDs, and even tapes, music was recorded on vinyl albums. They came in three speeds: 33, 45 and 78.
Mayes said the most prized album in his collection is Trip to the Moon. It’s a 45 from Wesley Reynolds off the Rose Label out of Stillwater.
The actual album itself wasn’t too difficult to find. But, being a prime collector, Mayes wanted it to be in pristine condition.
“This label actually had a lot of good rockabilly, late 50s rockabilly stuff. But it’s Wesley Reynolds on Rose and the record in Trip to the Moon. Now, the record itself, I mean, it’s attainable. You can find it. It’ll usually pop up on eBay once in a while,” Mayes said. “What I didn’t even know about for probably a good eight years of my collecting is it was there’s actually a picture sleeve that came with it and it has a picture of him. And there was a contest to guess which date the record reaches a million sales and you win a thousand dollars or something like that. And so that’s probably my favorite record, is that Wesley Reynolds Trip to the Moon picture sleeve record. It’s just super obscure. That picture sleeve is just not found. The song Trip to the Moon, it’s a really good rockabilly tune, has really good echo guitar on it. And the combination of the song being as cool as it is. And then the fact that it’s as obscure as it is makes it one of my favorites.”
You can purchase all of TJ Mayes albums here wildrecordsusa.com/tj-mayes