b. Benjamin M. Barnes Jnr., 1 January 1934, Beaumont, Texas, USA, d. 8 August 1985, Beaumont, Texas, USA. At the age of 15, Barnes, like his father and grandfather before him, was working in the Texas oilfields. He learned to play guitar and developed a love for country music, and actually played guitar on an early George Jones Starday recording. In 1956, after an oilfield injury, he began singing locally and joined Starday himself. The following year, he enjoyed a number 2 country hit with ‘Poor Man’s Riches’. This led to him making appearances on the Grand Old Opry and becoming a regular on the Louisiana Hayride, but he found a follow-up hit hard to find. In 1959, he recorded ‘Gold Records In The Snow’, a tribute to Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens. In 1960, he gave up singing and relocated to Beaumont, where he opened a bar, The Blue Lantern. He gained a number 22 hit in 1961, when Mercury Records decided to release his earlier recording of ‘Yearning’. He ran his bar for several years, during which time he wrote a song called ‘Bar With No Beer’ which, to anybody except perhaps Barnes and his family, was literally nothing but a very slight variation of Australian Gordon Parsons’ ‘Pub With No Beer’ (a major hit, in 1959, for Slim Dusty). However, in the USA, Barnes’ 1965 recording achieved some success. In 1970, he moved to California but returned to Beaumont the following year and built his Benny Barnes Melody Ranch, where, with his band the Ranch Hands, he proved a popular entertainer. He made various other recordings, namely for Hallway (1962-65), Musicor (1965-68), Kapp (1968), Mega (1972), Starday (1973) and Playboy (1976). Only ‘I’ve Got Some Getting Over You To Do’ on Playboy made the charts - a very modest number 94, in 1977.
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