WS Holland and the Butterfly Effect

If W.S. “Fluke” Holland hadn’t owned a Cadillac in 1954, I wouldn’t have a job.

You think I’m reaching? Well, please let me proceed to state my case.

After graduating high school near Jackson Tennessee, WS, or “Fluke” went to work for the S.M. Lawrence Air Conditioning Company. He had a good job, making $35 a week. He bought himself a 1948 Cadillac.

On weekends, W.S. would to go see his good friends Carl Perkins and the Perkins brothers play in the honky tonks around town, sometimes keeping time on Clayton Perkin’s bass fiddle as they played. We’re talking beer joints. These were hard core, no stage bars where bands were shoved off up in the corner. Carl and the boys played a lot of Hank Williams songs at the time to keep the beer flowing.

One Saturday night, as the band was packing up, Carl came over to Fluke and said, “W.S., why don’t you borrow some drums and come down to Memphis with us next Thursday? We’ve got an audition with Sam Phillips.”

As was told to me by Fluke himself, W.S. went over to a friend’s house that he knew had a drum set and asked to borrow them. His buddy said, “W.S, you can’t play the drums,” to which Fluke answered, “Well, if you’ll let me borrow your drums, I’ll be playin’ by Thursday.”

I believe the he may have had one rehearsal with Carl and the band on Tuesday, so Fluke was ahead of the curve, but on Thursday, they all showed up at Sun Studio in Memphis where they piled out of Fluke’s Cadillac and laid down their first recording. “Movie Magg” was the song, a tune Carl had written back in 1946. At the end of the day, Sam Philips offered Carl a record contract and the rest is history. Music history. Rock and Roll History.

Not long after, Fluke bought a brand new set of Gretsch Drums and used a session in December of 1955 to help break them in. On that historic session, the Perkins Brothers and Fluke recorded the original “Blue Suede Shoes,” a song that sold over a million copies in just four months time.

Fluke later joked to me that when he had asked Carl why he wanted him to go to Memphis in the first place, Carl told him this. Besides the fact that he knew W.S. could keep time, he wanted to show up at Sun Records in a Cadillac, and Fluke was conveniently the only one he knew he could recruit. Hence the “butterfly effect.”

I rest my case, ladies and gentlemen.   Without the Cadillac and without that seemingly chance event in Jackson TN in 1954, the evolution of rock and roll music and the entire list of characters to follow, including yours truly, would have been altogether different.

Through Marty, I’ve been able to establish a true friendship with WS that I am proud of. I really respect the man, not only for his musical contributions, but because of his respect, for his family and everything around him. Not only that, but he’s a true character. He entertains me and keeps me laughing. Nothing is sacred around WS.

 

Back in Feb of 2014, on the way to Germantown for a show I took a side trip to Jackson TN for breakfast and a visit with WS.

We met up and he showed off his tour bus

 

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Then he took me for a drive to a top secret location.  I was blind-folded soon after snapping this shot.

 

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After the blindfold came off, I was introduced to the set of Gretsch drums that he recorded “Blue Suede Shoes” with. To me, these drums are more important then DJ Fontana’s.

 

 

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And of course, a pair of original Blue Suede Shoes.  For God’s sake, don’t step on ’em.

 

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And here it is.  The Cadillac that WS drove Carl and the boys to Memphis with in 1954.  THIS Automobile is exhibit #1 in my case for the Rock & Roll butterfly effect.  Without this car in Fluke Holland’s possession,.. rock and roll would not have evolved like it did.

 

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An early promo shot of Carl’s band, and an onstage shot with Clayton Perkins in mid-air.

 

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Fluke onstage with Johnny Cash. WS played with JR from 1960 till John retired.

 

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The Tennessee Three, Fluke, Marshall Grant, and Luther Perkins

 

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Are there any questions?

 

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The Father of the Drums (Johnny Cash gave him that nickname) sitting behind a cool set of vintage North Drums.

 

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On the set of our TV show. I’m joking around as Fluke is changing my kit around to suit his playing style. He sets up backwards because that’s the way he taught himself to set up when he borrowed that first set of drums to take down to Sun Records for Carl’s audition. He thought it made more sense to play the hi-hat on the right side with his right hand and the snare on the left with the left hand. He is not left-handed.  You know, you just can’t argue with success.

 

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My buddy,…I love you, Fluke,….thanks for being a Cadillac man,….and providing me with a career!

 

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15 Responses to WS Holland and the Butterfly Effect

  • Man, this was such a cool story and awesome pictures. Harry, you have really inspired me to want to start back playing the drums and get better. I have been watching so many videos on youtube of mainly early 90s stuff (my era) and you seem to be the guy in a lot of the videos I have watched. The 1993 women of country special (what great singers on that stage!) I even believe that was you in the Rodney Crowell “I couldnt leave you if I tried” video? I would love to have one lesson from you. I will continue to watch and listen to you play to try and help myself become better.

    Steve

  • Just fascinating information. Everything DOES happen for a reason, and thank goodness for this historical automobile.

  • I think that is one of the such a lot significant information for me.

    And i am happy reading your article. However wanna observation on few basic things, The web site style is great, the articles is really nice :
    D. Just right process, cheers

  • Greetings! I’ve been reading your website for some time now and finally got the courage to
    go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Tx!

    Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic work!

  • Yes

  • Really Nice Story & Awesome Photo’s. Thanks for Sharing

  • Simply awesome! Great historical reads like this…I could read ’em all day! Mr. Stinson, you are a class act! I highly respect Marty Stuart and all of the Fabulous Superlatives for their loyalty in helping to preserve the beautiful genres of classic country, country gospel, blues, and bluegrass music. You are each #1 in my book!

    God Bless!

  • Love Fluke, love Harry, Marty and the Fab Supers. Thanks for the great background and photos on WS. I sure would’ve liked to have been at a Carl Perkins show around 1955. Shout out to Harry–singing ‘Uncloudy Day”, w/ Marty on Pops’ ebony Tele. Pipes Stinson!

  • We got to meet Fluke last summer when my good friend Jerry Webb played a gig with him there on the square in Gallatin . What a wonderfully gracious man , and one who was RIGHT there and was such an integral part of the creation of so much rock and roll and country music history . He is a national treasure and I was honored to meet him , shake his hand , and spend a little time with him . They don’t make many like Fluke any more !

  • Thanks for sharing the story Harry, brilliantly told! A few years ago I had the honour of spending a few days with WS in Jackson (but not blindfolded!!) and being shown the same drums and all of the other amazing memorabilia that told the story of his remarkable journey. One of my greatest treasures is a pair of his used drumsticks. A truly gracious man who I respect deeply and who gave so much to the roots of Rock n’ Roll. God bless him and long may he be telling those wonderful stories!

  • What a great read, Harry! Thank you for sharing this story. Love the pic of Fluke reconfiguring your drums….priceless.

  • What a great story and pictures! Loved seeing you, Marty, Kenny and Chris again on Saturday night in Winterset, IA. Not only are you great on the drums you are a great singer also.

  • What an amazing story! WS is just the most down-to-earth person, so likeable, just like his entire family! I grew up in Jackson, TN so I have many wonderful memories of WS and his family!! 🙂

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