‘Crash’ Craddock to perform at High Point Theatre
By: Jim Longworth
Growing up in Greensboro, Billy Wayne Craddock loved two things: football and music.
Jim: Who was your favorite singer when you were a boy?
Crash: I had a lot of them, Hank Williams, Faron Young, Jim Reeves, but my very favorite was Carl Smith.
Jim: So how did you get the nickname “Crash?”
Crash: A lot of people think I got it from racing cars, and where that came from was Marty Robbins introduced me one night as a “race car enthusiast.” Actually, I got it from playing football, believe it or not. I played right halfback, and my brother played left, and I was the smallest man on the team. So when the guard or tackle would open up a little hole, I was gone, ‘cause the other guys were so big I didn’t want to get hurt (laughs).
But young Crash dreamed of making hits, not getting hit, so in 1957 he made his first professional recording at a local studio, singing the rockabilly song, “Smacky Mouth.” The following year he was picked up by Columbia records as their answer to Elvis. In 1959, Craddock, the Everly Brothers, and several other performers were booked for a concert tour of Australia. Sometime earlier, Crash had filmed a black and white demo of “Boom Boom Baby,” but unbeknownst to him, the film had made its way to Brian Henderson, popular host of a Bandstand program on Australian television. “We played the film many times, and we were able to promote Crash Craddock so successfully that he was able to fill stadiums all over the country, and made several live appearances on Bandstand,” Henderson said.
Crash: When I landed in Sydney, there were thousands of fans waiting, and I thought they were screaming for the Everly Brothers, but they had turned out for me because of the video that had played on Australian T.V.
In fact, “Boom Boom Baby” became the number one hit down under, and Crash became a superstar in the Land of Oz. Over the next two decades, Billy became the international King of Country Rock music, and racked up a number of hits here in America, including the sexually suggestive, “Rub it In.” Not long after he was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, Crash went to see a comedian perform at High Point Theatre, and one of the ushers recognized him.
“You know, I’ve never played here,” Billy told the usher. “Wait a minute, I want to introduce you to somebody,” said the usher, who then brought Crash together with Dave Briggs, director of the Theatre.
Dave: Billy told me he had never played here, so I said, “We can fix that!”
Briggs and Crash finally got their schedules to jive, and Craddock headlined a special show in the Summer of 2016. On April 27, Crash returns to High Point Theatre for a much-awaited encore performance. On a recent visit to Triad Today, I asked Crash why he chose to remain in Greensboro when he could have lived in so many other cities.
Crash: Jim, I love it here. When I go somewhere, I know how to find my way back. They asked me to move to Nashville several times, but I told them, “Look I love my hometown. When I die, they’re going to put me in a pine box and send me back home anyway, so there’s no need to move. I’ll just stay right here” (laughs).
I also asked Crash, now 79 years old, if women still throw their undergarments at him on stage.
Crash: No. Now they throw Depends (laughs).
You can listen to and throw your underwear at Billy Crash Craddock, Saturday, April 27 at 8 p.m. at High Point Theatre. For tickets, visit www.highpointtheatre.com or call the box office, (336) 887-3001.
Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).