Red And Carolyn
(Red Hilburn & Carolyn Harrison)
All Alone Blues
William "Red Hilburn
Hilburn grew up around the country music scene in Texas. He played with Willie Nelson before Nelson was well-known. He even interviewed Elvis Presley on the radio.
Hilburn laughs about a time when Willie Nelson was asking him for a job. At the time, around 1954, Hilburn was working as a disc jockey at a radio station in Pleasanton. Hilburn spoke to one of his superiors and said, "He's a great guitar player, but he doesn't sing too well."
"Willie was the kind of person that never forgot his friends. He was just easy going, didn't get upset if you made a mistake," Hilburn said. "He was a kind and generous person, and he loved farmers."
Hilburn grew up on a farm between Pleasanton and Floresville. "My dad never liked me to play," Hilburn said. "He thought it was a waste. He wanted me to be a farmer." But Hilburn's mother encouraged his music, giving him a harmonica when he was 4. "I learned to play it by the time I was 5 years old," Hilburn said. "And when I was 8 years old, I talked my mom into getting me a guitar." "
Hilburn is a self-taught musician. His family could not afford music lessons; so he did whatever he could to learn. At 15, he obtained a fiddle from a friend through a trade. When he graduated from high school, he insisted on getting a guitar for his graduation present.
Hilburn enjoyed his first success when he was 18. The local movie theaters in and around the Pleasanton area were organizing talent contests. Hilburn said he won the contest for eight weeks in a row. "KBOP outside of Pleasanton heard about me. The advertiser on the air wanted me to come out and audition. I was 18 years old, playing guitar and all the girls was looking. Right away I got me a spot on the station."
Hilburn went on the radio with his own show. Shortly afterward, Hilburn got his chance to make regular appearances on television. It seemed he was on his way. But when I turned 21, Uncle Sam decided he needed my services," Hilburn said. It was 1952 during the Korean War. Hilburn was called to Germany with the special services unit. He spent two years performing at clubs for noncommissioned officers. When he came back from Korea, he went back to the radio station and worked as a disc jockey.
Since then, he has watched many musicians come and go. He has organized many bands, and seen many fall apart. One of his biggest successes was during the period when he played at a well-known local hang-out, the Breezeway Club. He performed there from 1971 to 1976 and again from 1978 to 1979. He also played at Johnny Lee's Club in Pasadena.
Hilburn worked as a quality assurance manager for Taft Broadcasting at NASA, which broadcasts activities such as shuttle launches.
Red and Carolyn had another record on TNT, backing Red River Dave on a James Dean tribute EP (TNT 1/2, special release, 1956) and Red alone next recorded for the Warrior label (#502 : The Rambling Blues / Three Words, 1957). An unissued Warrior track, Pretty Pat, featured a young Doug Sahm.