By Bill Lyerly
I grew up in Grifton, a small rural town located in Eastern North Carolina. When I was 12 years old my first rock & roll band, The Vagabonds, appeared on a local TV show called Talent Hunt.
The band had been together for about a year and we proudly played covers of Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Ventures songs – and NOW was our BIG chance! Talent Hunt was broadcast on the new ABC affiliate, WCTI Channel 12, located in New Bern, about forty miles away. Until recently we had had only CBS and NBC to watch- that was it- two stations.
A large viewing audience watched Talent Hunt each week and voted for their favorite act by sending in a postcard with the name of that act (this was 1965 and postcards cost a penny each- including postage). If you won 3 weeks in a row you were a champion and went on to appear on a 3 Time Winners Show. It was total variety and our competition could be anything from a juggler to four kids lip-syncing Alvin and The Chipmonk songs. I remember on our first appearance we played “Tired of Waiting” by the Kinks and an instrumental by the Ventures.
I have never liked the idea of losing, so each week that we performed I would buy 500 postcards and take them to school to get signatures. I wasn´t very good at math either because Grifton School, grades 1-12, didn´t have 500 students even if you included teachers, custodians and lunchroom staff. Now that I think about it I am pretty sure there weren´t 500 people in all of Grifton and the surrounding area, but I was not about to let a little hiccup like that stop me.
I already had the TV station address written on all of the postcards plus, “I vote for the Vagabonds!” In my enthusiasm, and need for additional names, I got carried away so I studied all the Beatles´ signatures on Beatle cards and learned to copy all of them pretty well. I would write things like, “I vote for the Vagabonds because they are better than us!” signed – George Harrison etc.
Anyway, thanks to my craftiness, we ended up being 3 Time Winners and later appeared on a Three Time Winner Show! We Were The Champions – The Vagabonds!
This post was submitted by Bill Lyerly.