When a guy gets married—I suppose this is true for women as well—he doesn’t necessarily know as much about the family he’s marrying into as he thinks he does.
No, this isn’t a negative story about my in-laws. I love and respect my mother-in-law and father-in-law as if they were my own parents—most of the time, anyhow—and Kathleen’s brothers and their families are pretty cool characters, too. No complaints.
But the family member I didn’t expect to become interested in is one step removed from being my in-law. That’s why I’m referring to him as an in-law-in-law. He’s the father of one of my wife’s sister-in-laws.
Before I tell you about him, I need to explain something. I’ve met a few well-known people in my life. I shook Spiro Agnew’s hand before he became vice president and got into so much trouble. I shook Paul Ryan’s hand, too, and commend him for not getting into any trouble after not becoming vice president.
But entertainers are higher on my interest list than politicians. One of my favorite people is a comedian and actor named Torry Martin. You’ve never heard of him? Hang on. You probably will eventually. I know him ever so slightly, although I’m not sure whether he knows he knows me or not.
Anyhow, famous people fascinate me.
And the most fascinating famous person I’ve ever met turned out to be that in-law-in-law you’ve been wondering if I’d ever get around to finishing my story about. Especially since he’s not famous in the usual way.
Drum roll, please. Let me introduce you to Stan Kesler. Google him, and you’ll find out far more than I can tell you in a single post. And go visit Sun Studios in Memphis if you want to get a real feel for his accomplishments.
He wrote or co-authored some of Elvis’s earliest hits, including his first gold record, “I Forgot to Remember to Forget.” At least one of Stan’s gold records is on display at Graceland. He has two more at home.
Even though I lost interest in Elvis when he started doing movies, Stan’s accomplishments fascinate me. The fact that he engineered a couple of Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs’ records is pretty interesting, too—even though I couldn’t stand “Woolly Bully.”
And he played bass on one of Jerry Lee Lewis’s hits—a song I actually used to own a 45 rpm recording of. Sure, they mixed the bass so low in the recording you can barely hear it, but it’s there nonetheless.
I met Stan at a special anniversary celebration for my parents-in-law. Didn’t really get to talk to him much then. Just enough to know I really wanted to talk to him more. Especially since he’s an older fellow and in poor health.
My mom-in-law was kind enough to invite him for lunch one time when Kathleen and I came to Memphis for a visit. I shared a few of my original songs with him. Despite his deafness—or maybe because of it—he said I played better than some of the guitarists he’d worked with over the years. My! Somebody grab my feet and bring me down to earth again.
I doubt that I’ll ever get to visit with Stan again. Not in this life, anyhow. But I’ll never forget him—or quit talking about him. Who wants to talk about Spiro Agnew or Paul Ryan when he can talk about Stan Kesler?
By the way, there’s a great article about Stan in a recent edition of Memphis’s Commercial Appeal newspaper. One of the pictures at the top of this post is of the beginning section.
Who’s the best-known person you’ve ever met? Leave a comment and let us know, please.
I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.
By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”—check it out here—to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.