In 1963 I played my first gig using a Silvertone bass I bought from Roy Ferguson at Shields Music.
Roy ran Shield’s guitar department then, beginning in 1961. He had Charlie Noel, Bob Long, Jim Melton, Autrey Rutledge and Al Johnson working for him. He was also playing with Johnny Lee Wills and had his own band, The Royals and his own LP.
I heard The Royals at the union picnic at The Blue Moon kicking up some good Texas Boogie.
“In 1964 the business went crazy. We expanded the drum and guitar departments. I sold 100 sets of drums in one month. We sponsored a battle of the bands that went on for 13 weeks with 150 bands competing for equipment. That boom tapered off in the late seventies, about the time that CBS bought out Fender.”
“We backed up Willie Nelson the first time he played Tulsa at The Cains in 1963.” He recalled. “Nobody knew who he was then.”
He was on the road a lot with Wills. “We played seventeen states in seventeen days once.” He was with Wills for 24 years. Wills told him about one of Bob’s recording sessions.
“They used to cut the master right to the disk. More than once they’d be playing along, really getting it, and that cutting head would heat up and bog down. Bob would really get frustrated when that happened.”
“I’m from Gore. I started playing in high school. We played small town dances; a lot of ‘knife and gun’ clubs. My buddy Billy Craig would break the fights up. That guy would walk into a buzz saw. He had several scars on his chest.” Roy chuckled. Roy has probably seen everything, but he’s a calm, soft-spoken man.
Roy’s wife and partner is singer Candy Noe. Her brothers Vic and Brad are in the automobile business.
Leaving Shields in 1966 he traveled for Hohner five years and sold half a million dollars worth of harmonicas. Then he worked at The Guitar House for a couple of years when it was owned by founder Shirl Cummins and Charlie Noel, one of his salesmen from the Shield’s days. Autrey Rutledge and Tommy Crook worked there then.
Noel then started Charlie Brown’s Guitars and Roy opened the first Roy & Candy’s store at 21st & Memorial, next to Johnnie Lee’s Western Wear. “Then landlord had some wiring wrong. I found out I was paying part of Johnnie Lee’s utilities.” He was there three years and built his own store at 61st and Mingo in 1974. He’s a full-line Fender dealer.
“I worked in a grocery store first, so I kind of operated like that. I’d buy in bulk, stack it up and sell at a discount. I started selling packs; guitar, amp, strap, cord, pick, book, everything to get started. Then Fender started putting packages together.”
What does it take to be a good salesman? “Getting people to think you’re honest.” He laughed. “No, really, you don’t want to pressure people. Strike up a conversation; get to know them. Be honest about your product; back it up. Trust means a lot.”
The store will be a golf shop next. “I probably should have quit a couple of years ago. This business has its ups and downs. We felt it when Guitar Center came to town, but now that company is not doing so great. They’re $400 million in debt and they’re being sold and parceled out. So things are picking back up.”
We watched as a display case was loaded out the front door. “Every time they take something out of here I think, ‘there goes a little piece of me.” He said wistfully.
Roy has made a living in the music business for 37 years. He’s helped keep Western Swing Music alive, and he’ll still be out here making music and making people happy. Tulsa won’t forget Roy and Candy’s.