HAPPY BIRTHDAY FLOYD TILLMAN
The Greatest Show on Earth was held tonight 12/16/99 in the LanTex Theatre in Llano, Texas, population 2,969 folks.. the Llano Theatre has usually seating for 400 people..Tonight there were 470 in the theatre for the "Floyd Tillman's 85th Birthday Bash,"a Country Music Hall of Fame Member, and one of the greatest legend's of this Century. The sold out..Plus ..audience really got their money's worth !! It was truly three hours of " Hillbilly Heaven".
Numerous friends, fans and family were there, on and off the stage.. The show began with Jimmy Eves of Ft. Worth, followed by Al Dean " Mr. Cotton Eyed Joe", Frankie Miller " Blackland Farmer", and one of the best in the business.. Johnny Gimble and his famous Fiddle...the next surprise for Floyd was his great friend Johnny Bush. Johnny pleased the audience with several great classics.. Johnny took his 'Hat" off to Floyd stating that he very rarely took his hat off to anybody because the glare was too bright, but he said, " My Hat's Off To You Floyd".. The Llano Country Opry House Band members are: Justin Trevino, Bass Guitar.. Kelsey Behrens, Lead Guitar.. Don Ricketson, Steel Guitar, Melanie Reeves, Drums... Sammy Geistweidt, fiddle... Denae' Coleman-Brown, on the Keyboard...Pete Mitchell played for the special occasion.
Justin Trevino, Kelsey Behrens and Sammy Geistweidt each opened the show singing a favorite for Floyd. The Master of Ceremonies was the gifted Tracy Pitcox of KNEL Radio in Brady, Texas.. Tracy cleverly read greetings from the many friends and fans throughout the United States, Europe and Canada..over 60 greetings were received including Bill Anderson, Ernie Ashworth, John Conlee, Mac Wiseman, Warner Mack, Charlie Dick, John Hughey, Johnny Paycheck, Joe Sun, Dugg Collins-KFDI of Wichita, Kansas and so many more..He was so pleased that so many had remembered him on his special day.
A brief intermission:
Never will this be seen again, not only was Willie Nelson singing, but the band now had added Johnny Gimble on the fiddle..You could not believe the performance and the audience response..Willie called Floyd "the greatest songwriter in the world"..Floyd was truly pleased and proud..Then the "Main Event"...FLOYD TILLMAN, the crowd was even louder than for Willie Nelson..Not only was Floyd Tillman singing, Johnny Gimble was playing fiddle but when you add Johnny Bush on the Drums tell me, "Where could it be better".. At 85 years old, Floyd told jokes, sang, and he picked so hard he broke a string but Floyd just kept on pickin'..Floyd's bounce and his bigger than Texas grin carried the yelling crowd through 16 songs..The longer he played , the stronger he played..You could not tell that this great songwriter,singer and picker was 85 years old, the same "bounce" was still there, especially on the upbeat songs.
A proclamation by Gov. George W. Bush declaring December 16,1999 as "FLOYD TILLMAN DAY IN THE GREAT STATE OF TEXAS". I was honored to present Mr. Tillman with a Texas flag that flew over the STATE CAPITOL OF TEXAS on his birthday and the certification from the House of Representatives and our State Representative Bob Turner of Voss, Texas and a personal greeting from Rep. Turner.
Closing with the All Star Cast final number " I Saw The Light" a specially designed cake was served.. The cake was in the shape of a song book.. the right page had "Happy85th Birthday Floyd Tillman". On the left page was a collage of "original sheet music." The background was black and white printed "HappyBirthday" with the music printed on the paper. Colored copies of 1939, "It Makes No Difference Now", the 1948 "I Love you So Much it Hurts" and the 1949 " Slipping Around"with a photo of the 1949 Floyd Tillman making the collage with was laminated and placed on the left page and icing trim..The cake was 4' X 4' and served all guests.
I personally will never forget last night and I know everyone in attendance feels the same..I am sorry not all of you could not be there.
Thank you for your letters and good wishes.. I am taking all the e-mails which are still coming in today to him personally..So if you want to send something now please do.. Do Not send BlueMountain, etc. because they will not print. Personal notes/letters/greetings only and please put your town and country if outside the US. I am putting them in a book for Floyd.
Billie M. Veach