Launching a songwriting career is not always glamorous. It also comes with a lot of rejection, with your most beloved songs turned down in the most depressing fashion. Joining John Solleder for a two-week special is songwriter Bill Nash. He reflects on how numerous producers rejected him before hitting the jackpot by writing Reba McEntire’s hit single “They Asked About You.” Bill shares how building his successful career taught him to develop a tough skin against all odds and the right way to nurture relationships within his network. He also talks about Champions Kids Camp, an organization he co-founded with his wife Kim after going through a challenging yet miraculous time in their lives.
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Bill Nash Saint, Sinner, Singer Part 1
We have a special two-part episode that we’re going to be conducting. It’s beyond words who I’m going to welcome to the show and that is Bill Nash. Bill has been a songwriter and an influencer for well over 60 years not only in Nashville but throughout the country music scene throughout the United States and the world, for that matter. Everybody who’s anybody, Bill has known over the years. I also want to welcome my colleague and friend, Keith Hooper, who’s going to co-host. This is going to be a privilege. Bill, welcome.
Thanks for having me on. I love hanging out with you guys. We’ve had some great conversations. Keith Hooper, I’ve known him a long time. I could tell you some stuff on him so he’s got to be good to me.
We could have a whole show about Keith Hooper. There’s no question about that.
Bill, this is the same as when you were in NBC Studios. We’re right there with that level, NBC Studios and Mercury Records.
Everything creates a memory. When you talk about NBC, I was in New York City. Gene Rayburn, the host of the Match Game, is the guy that discovered my family and took us to Columbia Records. If you fast forward that to 1970 when I signed with Capitol Records, I became a pop singer instead of the gospel singer. Instead of a country singer, now I’m a pop singer. I’m in LA and I’m on a promotion tour for Capitol Records. We go to New York and they called Mr. Rayburn. He took us to NBC Radio.
When I got there that morning, guess who was there in the studio? There was Neil Diamond. That is one of my greatest regrets. We didn’t have cell phones in those days, much less a camera in our cell phones. We would walk past each other in the hall and he said, “Bill, I’d like you to meet Neil Diamond.” I’m starstruck already.
The guy had on those tight jeans that had pockets in the front with the flared bottoms. He had them slit on each side where they go down by your shoe. We used to do that. That’s a fun thing for showbiz. He was smoking a cigarette. They introduced him to me. I shook his hand and he said, “Nice to meet you.” That was it. I wish I had a great thing to say, “I’m glad to meet you,” but that wasn’t what happened. He was nice to me. He was friendly. I got interviewed that day. We’re at NBC. That’s a worldwide radio. Mr. Rayburn was a great friend of mine. I’m sorry when we lost him. He was a wonderful friend.
Bill, let me ask you this. To your left shoulder, I see Miss Reba McEntire. I know that you wrote the song They Asked About You along with your wife, Kim. Why don’t you tell that story? It’s remarkable. Also, explain a little bit about what’s to your left there with the picture of Reba.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me about how do you get a song to a major star like that. It’s not an easy process. I think about this thing in a spiritual term. It’s God that gave me the talent to write. I had to develop it on my own, work on it and try again to write those dumb songs that you’re always going to write as a neophyte writer.
My wife, Kim, is my writing partner. She’s an incredible lyricist as well. She has tunes but I have more tunes. I had a tune for everything. When we travel and we’re on the road and I see a signboard go by, “I got a tune for that words on that sign. Most of the time, I can make them rhyme.” See how that happened, the sign and rhyme? If people are reading this, they’d go, “That guy had a hit song?” All of the silly songs are in there, along with the hit songs and fun things that you do.Songwriting is a huge competition. You just need to believe in yourself that you have something the world hasn’t heard before. Click To Tweet
What happened is Kim and I had moved to Nashville and we were writing. We had a couple of different writings about the positions. To our good fortune, we did not realize that, at the time, we were between writing contracts at Sony, which is the largest publisher in the world thanks to Michael Jackson. That’s a whole another story that I won’t get into. There we were between fixing and signing new deals. At that time, we recorded a song that we had come up with an idea for.
If your audience is reading, how do you come up with an idea for a song? I can’t explain that. I found out from a friend of mine who went to college and was taking a music appreciation course and the professor said, “I can’t teach you how to get an idea for a song. I can’t teach you how to write a song. I can teach you how to arrange a song once it’s written.” You’re getting the hand. That ability to create a song is a God-given talent and you work on it.
Kim and I had been writing for a little while together, although we’d written separately. We had this idea that I got. One day, we were in Nashville at a place called Stockyard. That’s where the real cattle stockyard used to be. There’s a guy that bought the place and turned it into a restaurant. Down in the basement, it was a big nightclub. All the most famous stars from all over the world have come there and they’ve signed above that stage. It’s replete with autographs.
I went to see a friend of mine. We moved to Nashville and we’re living there. A friend of mine named Tommy came into town with this band. That was fun. They had cigarettes in the clubs still. This is back in the ‘90s. I sat Kim way in the back because she’s allergic to smoke. Imagine that we’re singing in nightclubs and she’s allergic to smoke. You got to stay on stage and go to your dressing room on a break.
I sat her down back there and I went up said hi. This is the honest truth. When I came back to the table, I said, “Kim, they asked about you.” We almost said it together once again, “They asked about you.” We wrote it on a napkin. You’ll hear those stories. It’s a true story. That’s what happened. We wrote it down, “They asked about you.” On the way home, we wrote the chorus.
There’s an inspiration that goes along with songwriting. We were still under that inspiration when we wrote the first verse. We let it sit for a while and longer and we would go back to it once in a while. The second verse was elusive. If you’ve ever studied songwriters, they will tell you that the second verse is the hardest one to write. It’s not as inspired as the first one that got you going on it.
There’s a guy named Freddy Weller and he used to play lead guitar for Paul Revere & The Raiders. If you got some older fans out there that know that, that group from the ‘60s was big. Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere & The Raiders had a great relationship with Columbia Records. He took Freddie Weller from LA to Nashville, introduced him and got him a record deal. That’s how he started. He has some hit records. He re-recorded some of the old Joe South tunes that were pop hits and made them country hits.
We were introduced to him through some folks. We had threatened to write together and finally, I said, “Kim, let me call Freddy because of this second verse we’re recording.” In the back of our minds, it was like, “I know that Reba is fixing the album. I’m not sure when and on and on in it.” It’s a greatest hits album. I know you all surely know the difference between a greatest hits album and a regular album. The greatest hits will have every song on there that is a million-seller. She was only looking for two songs. Everybody in Nashville, New York and LA was shooting for this album. They were all writing to get on that album because they knew how significant it would be.
Kim, me and Freddy Weller wrote They Asked About You. We finished the second verse. We had some good input that sparked all of us and we ended up finishing it. We demoed it at a studio. We found out when she was recording. We’re in the business so we have that channel in. I took it by her office. This is before she created the new offices on 17th Avenue, which are incredible. You should google that one. Even the basement parking garage is air-conditioned and heated.
When she would drive from her country home 40 minutes away to her office down on 17th Avenue South, she would pull underneath there and it would be heated in the winter, which is a big deal. It’s pretty hot in the summer too. She’d pull in there to her parking space in her big old Suburban. This little, tiny woman comes in driving this huge SUV and parks in there.
In the previous offices, there was a sign once you walk in the front door of the old offices. There was a basket over there and there was a paper sign that says, “Place tapes here,” with an arrow pointing to the basket. It was homemade. I’m thinking, “Is this how you pitch a major star a song?” I don’t know but that’s what her people did to do her publishing and that’s what they set up. When I dropped the tape of this song, when I turned around, I’ll never forget thinking, “Fat chance of that.”
You got to have faith. You can’t do this business without faith because you’re going to have many more rejections of your songs than people that take your songs. Every song we write is not a hit, even though your mother says it is. It’s not for some reason. I walked out of there and went home. It was raining that day. I told Kim, “I pitched it in the basket.” It was like, “That’s such a great song for Reba.” We thought it right away. We even tailored the end of the chorus, “All the walls around my heart.” We could hear her doing her little curlicues. That word, all, was where you could let your voice ring. We could hear it even before she even recorded it but we hadn’t heard it yet.
Much goes by and we get a call from Tony Brown’s office. Tony Brown is her record producer. Tony Brown’s secretary said, “Bill, would you please bring a copy of that song, They Asked About You, by our office? Tony needs to listen to it.” It’s that thought of, “Oh my God.” The way Music Row is close together there. I was there in ten minutes. It’s a little bit longer than that but I showed up and I’m so excited, I can hardly breathe. That’s only the thought I might even have a cut.
I go in and asked the receptionist. She’s used to all these people coming in because Tony is famous. I said, “Here’s the song from Bill and Kim.” I was calm, at least I thought I was. I turned around and walked out and I went, “Maybe a little chance to that since we got that far.” A month later, we get a call from Cliff Williamson and he says, “Is this Bill Nash?” “Yeah.” “Are you the writer of the song, They Asked About You?” “Yes, my wife and I are songwriters.” “Would you like to come here and help Reba cut your song?” I went, “What?”
I was in front of the house and I ran to the back bedroom and Kim was sound asleep. We were still in our nightclub hours. I opened the door and there she was sound asleep and I said, “Reba cut our song.” She’s out of a dead sleep. She popped up and says, “What?” I said, “Reba, cut our song.” She screamed. What would you do? Cliff Williamson is hanging on the phone hearing all of this going. I’m not sure what he thought. He was probably used to that. When you get a Reba cut, you got something. He said, “Tomorrow, she’s going to be in the office. Would you like to come to hear it?” I said, “Amen. What time?” 11:00 was the time.
We kept our little boys out of school. I have two sons and they were 8 and 10. I kept them out of school. The whole family went down to Reba’s office. She was gracious to us. I wish the whole world could meet her on a one-on-one basis like that. She was herself and relaxed. She welcomed us. Cliff took us into the listening room and they played the song.
If you all get a chance to listen to that word, “All the walls around my heart,” she rang it and we cried. She nailed it and it was beautiful. It ended up on that album. You’ll see it back there, MCA Records Greatest Hits Volume 2 and because it’s a greatest hits album, it is still in circulation. You can still buy it. On her website, it shows that it has sold over 11 million albums and we’re on that Diamond album. That’s her only Diamond album. I’m not sure. It could be more. We didn’t see it anymore on her website.
We are thankful to God that he listened. If you want to know some personal stuff and when you go to Nashville to write and you have such competition of many great songwriters that already have had hits and they’re still pitching their songs, it can be discouraging to a neophyte writer. You got to believe in yourself. You got to know that you’ve got something the world hadn’t heard.
I have a book out, by the way, and it talks about songwriting a bit. We even have a DVD. It’s called Say It With A Song. It was done by one of the producers of The 700 Club. It’s well done and they took us to Nashville. We went around and we talked about things that could be in songwriting. We’re going to talk about Kris Kristofferson because I’m the first artist to cut any of his music. He was a janitor when I met him. He was living in abandoned buildings in Nashville. He didn’t have money for shoes and clothes. When I met him at Mercury Records, that was my first venture out from my gospel singing family because my brother got drafted so The Nash Family Trio went by the wayside.
I got to Nashville as a single artist. I got discovered while I was still in college at the University of Houston. Those things come about with someone like Kris. I have remorse that when he crosses his leg at the first meeting with me and him in our producers’ office, Jerry Kennedy, a famous country record producer, he had holes in the bottom of his Hush Puppies shoes. I should have known it. Being selfishly inclined at 24 years old, I’m thinking, “Where’s those hit songwriters Jerry Kennedy told me? This guy can’t be successful.” He’s got the most worn-out jeans and t-shirt I’ve ever seen and he’s got holes in his shoes. Yet, he would become the Shakespeare of country music.If you can bring hope to others, they will soon discover faith. Click To Tweet
You’re laying some stories out here. We want people to understand this because it’s that storytelling and that persistence. You made a comment that you’re going to pitch that song but not everybody’s going to hear it and understand it. I know you were extremely successful in the network marketing world. The show here with John is about people in network marketing. We talked about dreaming and understanding. Not everybody’s going to say yes. That’s a powerful process of dreaming and understanding that not everybody’s going to say yes.
That’s right. You can write the song you think is the greatest hit in the world and your mama loves it. She even cried when she heard it. First of all, it’s one heck of a process getting in front of a producer. Those guys are inundated on a daily basis with people who have the next hit song for their artists.
You finally get that meeting. If you’ve ever done this, you guys haven’t because you are not in the music thing like me but I have. I sat in front of a famous producer one day. I led with my best song for his group and he played it. He got to about the first half of the first verse took it all and said, “What else you got?” First of all, it hit me in the chest, “What else you got?” I’m expecting him to get on his knees and say, “Can we please cut this song?” It went the opposite right then.
I had enough to have 4 or 5 more lined up and each one of them turned out to be like that, “What else you got? Bill, I’ll give you a call. We’re looking for something.” They’ll go through things trying not to hurt your feelings because they don’t like rejection themselves. They know what it feels like as a writer to be rejected. I got in and I go, “Yipee.” I walked out sad. I finally made it to the office. The reception has all recognized this. They recognize the guy who’s going home. When he’s leaving, his tail is between his legs. He’s slowly walking back out to his car.
Let me tell you something. What you do is you keep believing that those are the greatest songs that the guy could ever choose. You get yourself another meeting as soon as possible and go pitch it again. That’s what Kristofferson did with For the Good Times. Here’s an inside note for you. They said he was ahead of his time because he used the word body in the song.
That song that I cut for him was his first major cut. I was the first artist on a major label to cut his songs. It said, “Hold your warm and tender body close to mine.” In 1967, when that song was released, they called it a porno song. Can you believe that? People are shocked, “What? They say everything in a song now.” All the expletives are in at that point. That song got up into the 30s and people were calling the station and objected to the warm and tender body line. Mercury Records pulled it off for that. Do you want to hear this next thing about Kristofferson?
He was such an honest man and he still is. He’s a Rhodes Scholar. He’s incredibly intelligent. For the next six months, I went back to do another session. Jerry Kennedy would tell him when I was coming to town and he would come and we’d go have lunch. We had a great time. Somebody that intelligent, you enjoy being around them and talking to them because they have something to add that teaches you something out of everything that’s going on in the world.
We’re sitting there having lunch and I said, “Kris, I need another song and another session.” You know how Kris talks with that gravelly voice. He said, “Bill, I have nothing for you now.” I don’t know another songwriter that would have been that honest. They would have pulled out whatever they had. He knew what my voice took. He passed.
Six months later, I come back, have lunch again and have the same conversation. Here’s what he said this time, “Bill, I got a song I got to finish but I got to get drunk to do it.” I said, “What would that take?” He said, “A six-pack of beer.” I pulled out $3. I was generous that I gave him $3. He disappeared that morning from at 10:00 AM from Music Row down to Printers Alley.
If you’ve ever been to Nashville, that’s all the way downtown. That was such an inspiring place to him because that’s where a lot of the stars played in Printers Alley. I told him, “Our session is at 2:00. We’re going to wait as long as we can before we walk across the street to Columbia Studios.” I was recording in the same studio I did with my family. Now I’m on Mercury Records. They called me the new Roy Orbison. That’s what they called me in those days. I said, “You got to have it by then.”
Jerry Kennedy and I had listened to songs and we picked them all for the session. We were looking at the clock wondering, “Will Kris make it back?” Five minutes to 2:00, when we were fixing to walk out, here he comes and he came in the door and said, “Bill, I got you the song.” He was drunk as Hooter Brown.
See if you recognize this song, John, “Take the ribbon from your hair, shake it loose and let it fall. Lay it soft upon my skin like the shadows on the wall. Come and lay down by my side until the early morning light. All I’m asking is your time. Help me make it through the night.” I almost fell down on the floor. “I don’t care who’s right or wrong.” I said, “Kris, that’s a smash.” Jerry Kennedy beat his hands and went, “That’s a smash.”
We went across the street. We cut it within fifteen minutes of him writing. I got home and my draft notice was waiting for me. The Vietnam War was calling my name. I lost my contract. It still makes me tear up, wondering what could have been. What Might Have Been? Do you remember that song? That was a great song. I don’t know but I know that God is directing my life for his purposes. I took it like that.
Do you know what it came away with? A lifelong friendship with one of the greatest songwriters of all time who also put together the four horsemen, Kris, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings. Your audience is going to know exactly who that fourth guy is, Merle Haggard. They wrote and sang together. I got to go see them one night when they came to the Houston area. Kris came backstage out to see me, shake my hand and hug him again. That’s been worth a whole lot.
One last thing and I’ll quit talking about that song. For the Good Times, it didn’t go away, as you guys know. What happened was since Kris didn’t have the money to make a demo tape to pay for the studio and the musicians and all, he took my record to Ray Price and played it for him. There’s a story that goes behind it. Ray had a guy that picked music for him. Ray called him back on and said, “I don’t hear it for me.” He said, “Listen to it again. You got to listen to that song one more time.” Ray hangs up. Thank God he did. He listened to For the Good Times one more time and Ray Price called Ray Pennington.
I’m telling you all the trivia. This is Nashville stuff. Ray Pennington picked Ray Price’s song for years. He picked many hit songs. Ray Price told Ray Pennington, “You’re right.” That song brought Ray Price his career back up to the front. They sold over 1 million copies of it. I’ve always been proud that I was part of that because I’m a big Ray Price fan. I love Ray Price’s music. I’m sorry we lost him. What a great singer.
When you’re looking at all of this stuff that you’ve done and you look at many years of doing this, you had huge success in network marketing as well. It was all about dreaming what possibilities. In these times, you may not be aware of it but there’s some stress in this world. There’s stress going on right now. People are having a hard time imagining their lives being better. What would you say to them, Bill?
We have an entity called Champions Kids Camp. It’s for children who have been through trauma. They are the victim of an accident, an illness like cancer or a personal loss. This is the same analogy that we’re making here as we talk about these children who are 8 to 12 years old that ventured this trauma. If you can bring them hope, that hope will keep them alive. They will have faith. You got to have hope first that there is faith and faith will see you through. It’s the same thing in business.
When I was in multi-level, we achieved a quite high level there and made a lot of money doing it. You got to go through everybody that tells you no. They say that you got to go through the noes to get that one yes. I was a little bit more successful at recruiting. I would like to toot my horn there. I can only tell you that people will get involved with you but then they don’t all stay.
You have to keep recruiting because you’re pouring it in at the top. Half of them are going to come in and they’re going to get your product. They’re going to start or whatever it is and on and on. Life takes them in another direction or they get a different deal or they were looking for something to happen. The minute they signed up in ten days, they’re going to get a big check.People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Click To Tweet
You know that anything you do is going to take some groundwork. You got to lay some foundational stuff. You lean on your upline for their credibility. You lean on the company that’s producing the product. Who are they? What’s this? If you’ve got that all in place, you’re way ahead of the game. If you believe in what you’re pitching, keep pitching it. When you get a no, go, “Yes. They told me that 1 out of 10 would not do this. You’re 1 of 9.” Now I got to tell them, “The next one’s going to be a one. Who knows? Who knows will stay.”
I created some great friendships through that network marketing. I’ve seen what that can do for people. If you’ll stay with it, it can make you wealthy as well as present a great product that you will enjoy yourself. It’s a health-giving product. The product that Keith introduced me to has made a difference in my life because of the threat that I felt for my health. Now I no longer have it. I’m thankful.
Charlie Tremendous Jones said, “You’ll be the same five years from now as you are today except for the people that you meet and the books that you read.” Is there any better way to meet people than through network marketing and to leverage that into the rest of your life?
Network marketing creates a way for you to become lifelong friends. As you and I know, you’ll make friends at a marketing networking meeting, which is a good thing. You should always look in your area. For network marketing, there’s going to be several people there and they’re recruiting each other. I know they will hone your skills of what your product is and what your line is. If you keep repeating, it’ll come back second nature.
I don’t know of a better way to do that. I know that a lot of people will try to recruit you at church even. Do you remember that story I’ve told you, Keith, about Johnny Cash, going to church and coming to the altar to kneel and pray? A guy pulls up beside him and goes, “Johnny, I got this song out. I got to pitch it to you.” He’s like, “Not at church.” You can make friends at church and you can say, “I got something I want to talk to you about. Can I call you later?” That’s what I would do. “Let me come by for a few minutes.” I’ll never do it over the phone, “It would be great to see you again.”
If you care about the person, that makes it even better. Whether they get involved or not, you still got a friend. Down the line, when they see your success, you can come back to them and say, “I know you didn’t get in with me at that time but it’s still a good time. I still believe in us working together and doing. It could be successful.” If you’re successful, talk them into it. I’ve seen that happen many times.
Let me ask you a follow-up question about that. Along those lines, Keith shared it with me. Your father-in-law was involved in the industry also in network marketing.
My mother was the drive behind the Nash Family Trio, which ended us up in New York City on Columbia Records with Gene Rayburn and then Johnny Cash, his producer in Nashville, the next year. When my brother got drafted, it devastated her. She never stopped doing stuff and that she had gotten involved in a company. She was after me for one solid year.
I had this large sphere of people that followed me in my music career. She knew the power of that. It took her a year to get me involved in it. I finally did to get her not to keep bugging me. I got hooked on the deal. It was like, “I love the people her and the convention.” If you have a product and they have a quarterly convention or a weekly meeting, go attend and invest in yourself. You’re investing time and money. It’s going to cost you but that’s part of what it takes in business.
Keith shared with me that in that experience, there was a breakout session type of meeting where there were 6,000 people for a sit-down dinner. Pat Boone was the emcee, host or entertainment. Tell us that story a little bit. To Keith’s point and question, getting people to dream again because of everything that’s gone on in the world, our country and everything else.
The proverb says, “A man with no dream will perish.” When you don’t have a dream and you don’t have anything to work for, what is there left? That’s where hope comes in. It’s both saved. Following that old adage is important. You must have a dream and you must pursue it. Say a little prayer and ask God, “What is it that I love to do?” I’ve seen some guys start taking guitar lessons that were 60, 70 years old. Why? Their dream was to play guitar.
Whether they ever played some of the famous guys like Chet Atkins or anything, they’re playing for themselves and it is a dream. The guy that I’m referencing, this guy came from totally broke. He learned his people skills. He learned how to think of the other fellow, get involved with them and help them build their business which built his business. He did it on a national basis. I learned so much from him.
This is a good adage for your audience, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you are doing this because you care not only about yourself but about them, there’s a coupling there that’s a spiritual thing almost. Work together and you’re adding another person. Pretty soon, you’ve got a group of 5 or 6 that are all believing like that. You help and encourage each other. You meet once a week. You have coffee, dinner or you have a meeting and invite some friends. It snowballs on you. That’s what happened to us.
Before we know it, a year or so later, we were pretty close. We were at a good level. I was able to retire from the six-night-a-week nightclub business. I was still singing, traveling and touring. It gave me a great risk in that. I remember the function in Denver that we did for this. It was one of our regional functions. My father-in-law, I married his only daughter because she was dang pretty. I then come to find out she’s a great songwriter. The people in Nashville that we worked with said, “We can’t believe what a great lyricist she is.” I said, “She has tunes too. She and I write together.” That’s one of those great blessings from God.
In Denver, we did a sit-down dinner for 10,000 people. It’s the largest number of people that the convention center in Denver had ever hosted. We filled up three hotels’ worth of people. That came from working in the business we were in and staying in it and believing in it. You’re on fire. If you’re going to pass that to the next guy, he’s not going to be quite as on fire as you but he’s on fire. It dwindles down until you get them to the function.
I remember Zig Ziglar speaking in one of our functions. It’s the first time I’d ever heard of the guy. I’ve been to nightclubs. I didn’t have time to go see Zig Ziglar. I didn’t realize how successful I can become by adopting some of the things he said. That guy turned us all on with his words. Words are important. You know that old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” That’s the worst poem I’ve ever heard because words can kill you. You see it on social media, words that are said in the wrong light or something.
You’re right. We need people to have hope. We need people to believe in themselves. They need to stay with what God laid out for America, for God, family and country, in that order. The Lord Jesus said, “Love the Lord God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself.” Those are the two greatest things. If you love your neighbor, you won’t steal from him. You will try to hurt him. You wish that he had all that he had. Jealousy will disappear. It’s an incredible thing, those two things. I live by those. I’m happy and glad to do it. It’s encouraged me. In Nashville, I even sold encyclopedias for a while, as Willie Nelson did. I’ve met Willie twice and he signed my book. I’m involved in a book with Clint black. Does anybody know who Clint Black is?
He and his brother, Kevin, started a charity. They did buy a coffee table book. They went to 200 concerts. The book is called Raising A Hand. If you look at the cover, you’ll see the last picture taken of the Eagles. There’s Dolly Parton. There’s the guy that’s on The Voice. There’s Merle Haggard, who’s gone. There’s Paul McCartney. There’s George Strait. Is that good enough for you?
That’s a pretty good band right there.
On page 179, can you believe Clint and Kevin included me in the world of singer-songwriter and entertainers? That’s one of the things that come about in the music business.When doctors cannot help you anymore, turn to God. Click To Tweet
I’ll tell you how big a fan I am of Clint Black. When my wife and I got married many years ago, we had this song When I Said I Do was our wedding song. I’m a New Jersey guy, believe it or not, that loves country music. Clint Black was born in New Jersey, which most people don’t know.
I didn’t know that because he was raised right here in Katy, Texas.
I don’t know how he got down here. I’m sure his parents have a story on that.
We’re coming up pretty close to the end of this particular segment of the program. Bill, tell us a little bit about Champions Kids Camp. Everybody needs to go there, ChampionsKidsCamp.org. They need to go there and they need to know what that is and what you and Kim are doing. They can even get your book through that.
Our book is Saint Sinner Singer.
You weren’t always a gospel singer. You weren’t always a good old boy, a good guy like you are now. At some time, you were at one of those honkey-tonk places.
When I came to Houston, Texas, to go to the University of Houston in 1965, a year or so later, I was making my first record by myself. I was used to singing with my family. We were on the Grand Ole Opry and all that stuff. I go to this studio on Blair Street here in Houston. In the control room, they introduced me to my engineer. They said, “Bill, this is Mickey Gilley. Mickey, this is Bill Nash.” I said, “How are you doing, Mickey? It’s nice to meet you.”
I went into the studio and I sang this little song. When I came out, he said, “Bill, I’m singing out here. Why don’t you come on out and sing with me and the band some time?” I said, “All right, I’ll do that.” I sang six nights a week and on Sunday, I was off. I went out there and there was Mickey Gilley. I come to find out, he and Jerry Lee Lewis were cousins. I’m like, “No way. Are you kidding?” Jerry Lee Lewis was there. I ended up on Mercury Records with Jerry Lee Lewis. I got a Jerry Lee Lewis story that you know and love when you get to that.
We’re going to get to that next segment. We got to get back to this Champions Kids Camp because this is a big deal. This is something that’s changing kids’ lives. This is something important to everybody reading. Our legacies are what matter to us and our children are what makes our legacy. Maybe share how that came about and how people can get on that ChampionsKidsCamp.org.
It started with my oldest son, Billy, when he was two and a half. He came down with leukemia. He got diagnosed here at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, one of the greatest hospitals in the world. They come from all over the world to get treatment there. We knew it was right. That’s where the trauma hit Kim and me. They told us, “He has a 50/50 chance to live. We’re going to do a three-year program. We’re going to do our best to bring him through this.” They were losing more children in those days than they were saving.
As you can imagine, even with our hope in God and Jesus, we went into depression. We went into darkness. I didn’t know what to do. We went back to Billy’s hospital room and we held hands and I prayed, “Jesus, if you’ll heal my son, I’ll tell it everywhere I sing for the rest of my life.” I was trying to make a deal with God and I know you can’t do that but I did the best I knew how. When the doctors can’t help you anymore, where do you turn? I highly recommend folks to turn to God.
We went home. They gave us one shot of chemo on the way. We came back to start the protocol. The first thing they do is take bloodwork all again. They did the finger stick where they take blood there. They did blood out of his arm. They go back and they stayed twice as long this time analyzing the blood. That threw us into more trauma, more fear. The doctor comes in and got tears in his eyes, Dr. Starling. I’m thinking, “They’re going to tell me that he’s going to die tomorrow.” That’s what I thought.
The doctor says, “I don’t know how to explain this to you.” He called me Mr. Nash, which scared me. Nobody calls me that. He said, “Your son’s blood has gone normal.” I was like, “What? Normal?” It was silence like that. There was a whole group of doctors in the room all in their white jackets, which is what my little boy saw, “The white jackets are coming.” He immediately went, “No.”
We started going, “It’s a miracle.” They said, “We can’t call it that. It’s instant remission.” You got to stay in the program because it’ll come back. Those cells are hiding in the spinal column and they’ll come back with revenge, with vengeance.” First day in the program for three years never. He never was sick again. He never had a bad test again. He was honestly instantly healed.
Three years after it was over, we kept playing our nightclub gigs. I’ll tell you the Lakewood Church story later if you want to. We did go there and they’re great friends of ours. We moved to Nashville and that’s when we started our dream. A man with no dream would perish. Kim and I still wanted to write and sing. We stayed there for ten years but then it was time to come back after the Reba hit, after the Dolly Parton. These things are going on. There was something in us.
Everything changes in Nashville every few years. The young writers come in and the new things. It came to us through a friend of ours and he said, “If you’ll come home and work with children and write some songs for them, we’ll help you.” Jerry and Natalie Lewis said that they had a business here. We came home. We started doing our thing for kids who had been through trauma, like my son, Billy. We thought it was only going to be Texas children’s cancer survivors.
As it turns out, we got asked, “My son came through a car accident and he was hurt. He came through it but it scared him.” I said, “He qualifies. Bring him.” We had that going on. We then had, “My child lost his daddy,” or, “He was killed in Iraq,” or, “He was killed on the job.” I said, “They’ve suffered trauma. They need to come to our camp.” Now our camp is for anyone who has survived an accident, an illness like cancer or a personal loss.
We’ve been doing this for over twenty years. I don’t know how many thousands of children have been to our program. We present positive music. We run the best songs they love because kids love to dance. The age range is 8 to 12. There’s a song we wrote called We’re All Different and It’s All Right. If we could get the politicians to agree, if we could get the people from around the world to quit killing each other, we’re all different and it’s all right. It’s rock and roll. We’re all different and that’s all right.
That’s how it’s supposed to be. We’re all different and it’s all right.
You made a comment that there are many kids that suffer and they suffer quietly and there’s no place for them to go. There’s nothing for them to do. You, Kim, Champions Kids Camp and all the people who’ve been affiliated with it. Those who are old like me remember AJ Foyt running that Indianapolis 500 and the stuff that was there. He’s part of that. Some of the celebrities that you have and all of the support. People can get to ChampionsKidsCamp.org. They can help support that. Working with Champions Kids Camp, maybe they start to do something themselves in their community to help people.
You never know. In every city in America and the world, there are children that have been through this trauma especially with the drug thing being huge. I’ve had the children at our camp that their parents OD’d on drugs at the house. They’re dead on the living room floor and the child finds his dad or his mom or whatever. It’s egregious. It’s selfish to think of yourself. Once you have a child, in my opinion, you’re no longer your own boss. They’re not your boss but they should be God, family and country. It should be in that order. That’s what I believe. We still supposedly have freedom of speech. I hope they don’t get me for saying God first, family second and business third. We need God back in this country.
There was a little song somebody wrote, “In God we still trust,” or some song like that. We’ll be discussing a lot for the next show too. Bill, I want to thank you for this show and for keeping this well. This has been phenomenal. We got a lot more to talk about in the next show. Leaving Nothing to Chance, you can follow us on Spotify, Apple. You can always go to the archives of LeavingNothingToChance.com. These shows live forever. Bill, we’re going to bring you back for the next episode.
- Bill Nash
- website – Reba McEntire
- Champions Kids Camp
- Raising A Hand
- Saint Sinner Singer
- Spotify – Leaving Nothing To Chance
- Apple – Leaving Nothing To Chance
About Bill Nash
In his autobiography, Bill takes you through the ups & downs of his music career, as well his own personal triumphs and failures. From a border town church in Texas, to major labels in LA, NY, & Nashville. From being hit by one heartbreak after another, & then finding faith, hope, & love, all over again, Bill Nash’s journey has been one unexpected turn after another. Two things have always guided him ever since he was a boy: God & music. He sang his way in, & sang his way out of every good & bad situation life has thrown at him. God has loved him at his best, & at his worst, & through it all, he kept on singing.