Singer. Songwriter. Radio & Television Personality. Stage & Film Performer. Texas Music Legend. Jerry K. Green is as versatile as he is talented, and with decades of life and entertainment experience under his belt, he says he’s just getting started.
His 2019 highlights began with a four-page center-fold feature in the TEXAS MUSIC magazine's 2019 Winter issue, published in January. February brought a double feature. First, Participation in the Grammy Nomination celebration of the Bear Family Records 20-CD/224-page-book Box Set titled "At The Louisiana Hayride Tonight," at Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium where the Louisiana Hayride was conducted when Green was a featured performer in 1952 and 1953, before drafted into the army. Also in February, release of the Bear Family Records 40-track/24-page insert CD titled "Winter Party 1959,"a 50th anniversary tribute to Richie Valens, Buddy Holly, and The Big Bopper, who all died in a small plane crash in February of 1959. The CD includes "The Ballad Of Donna And Peggy Sue" written by Green and Rockabilly Pioneer Ray Campi, and recorded by Campi. Plus, the insert relates the story of how the song came to be written. In October, Green was inducted into the Lewisville (Texas) High School Hall of Fame, where he graduated in 1951.
Born and raised in the state of Texas, Green realized early in life that music was in his soul and his future. After graduating high school, his big dreams, intense motivation and fresh talent caught the attention of the popular show, Louisiana Hayride, where he was invited to perform. Having impressed the producers, he became a frequent performer on the show “second only to the Grand Ole Opry as a showcase for country music acts,” according to NPR’s Fresh Air host, Terry Gross. While at Louisiana Hayride, Green experienced his first recording session produced by Tillman Franks, a music producer and manager who also worked with legends Elvis Presley, Hank Williams and other great performers featured on the show.
By 1953, Green’s first two records were released, nationally, on Specialty Records, including songs “Naggin’ Women and Braggin’ Men,” “I’ll Find a Way,” “Are You Goin’ My Way,” and “Maybe Someone Else.” He also had his first major label cut as a songwriter, with fellow Hayrider, Columbia Records artist Billy Walker, recording “I’m Looking for Love.” The new artist had to take a break from making music after being drafted and serving in the United States Army’s Special Services at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, but his success in music continued. In 1954, Green had his second major label cut, “My First Love Affair,” by Jimmy Heap (Capitol Records).
1955 was a year with a surprising twist. Green, who was used to being the song on the radio, moved to other side of the console when he accepted his first job in radio at KFPW in Fort Smith, Arkansas. By 1958, he had graduated from The University of Texas and landed his first job in television as a Staff Announcer at KTBC-TV in Austin, Texas, followed by a Sports Director position at KTAL-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana, News Anchor at KDUB/KLBK-TV in Lubbock Texas, and DJ/Program Director at KOKE-AM in Austin, Texas. Green enjoyed his work in radio and television but continued to perform in musicals and across Texas with his band.
Before leaving Austin in 1961, Green landed acting roles in two films. He played the villain, German Colonel, in Mission To Death, which was renamed None But The Brave. He was also cast as the cowboy who walks leading lady Marilyn Burns across the road to the cemetery in the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
It was the death of his father in August of 1966 that led Green to Nashville only 10 days later. He needed to find out if success in the Mecca of Country music was possible, rather than some day becoming a bitter man wondering, “What if?” He left his wife and three kids at home in Austin until he could get sufficient work in Nashville to justify moving them. He arrived in Music City with his guitar and a box of lyrics, and entered a new chapter in his music career. He came armed with a catchy song he had written about his Houston, Texas friends’ singing dog, Tripod, who lived the happiest, adventurous life…even after losing his leg from being hit by a car.
As luck, or maybe fate, would have it, Green ran into hit songwriter and publishing company manager Glenn Douglas Tubb, an old friend from Austin, during his first day on Music Row. After explaining to his friend why he’d suddenly moved to Nashville, Tubb connected Green with another publisher, Dana King, the same day for an in-office performance of some of his original songs. King was intrigued by his voice and ballads and quickly organized his first Nashville recording session where he recorded four songs, “Tripod the Three Legged Dog” being the last song of the day. At the end of that recording session, the bass player, “Lightnin” Chance, revealed to Green that he was also music director for the Eddie Hill TV morning show on Nashville's Channel 5, and invited Green to be a guest on the show for a week. The hype around the singer-songwriter and Tripod began to spread.
A week later, Green was given the opportunity to audition for WSM-TV, who promised him the next Staff Announcer opening at the station, if he was still available and interested when such an opening occurred. Meanwhile, thanks to another friend from Austin, WENO Radio DJ Neal Merritt, Green was offered a part-time DJ position with Merritt at WENO. The stars were aligning.
By February of the following year, Green was invited to perform the song on the Grand Ole Opry with Tripod howling along beside him. Making quite the impression with the show and its audience, the pair performed together at The Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree, WSM-TV, and The Flatt & Scruggs Show, and were featured in The Tennessean, Houston Post and many other acclaimed publications. The song’s success landed Green 40 performances on the Grand Ole Opry in 1967. In June of that year, he finally got that ‘next opening’ at WSM-TV as a staff announcer and moved his family to Tennessee.
Two years later, family responsibilities took the family back to Texas, where Green continued working in radio, television and acting. In 1977, he played himself, radio DJ Jerry K. Green of KVET, in the movie Outlaw Blues, with Peter Fonda and Susan St. James. In the same year, he released two Billboard Top 100 Country Singles, "I Know the Feeling” and "Genuine Texas Good Guy,” produced by legendary producer and TV Specials Music Director Bill Walker.
By 1980 and for the next 30 years, Green stepped away from the entertainment world to focus on family and pursue work in the corporate world…that would eventually, and ironically, bring him back to his passion and to Music City. He retired from Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation’s world headquarters in Nashville in 2008. Within two years, he was a full-time singer-songwriter once again.
Today, Green’s passion for music is as strong as ever. Having released two albums, Now and Then, Volumes 1 and 2, in less than eight years, you’ll find him writing songs with hit songwriters like Jan Buckingham, who has written chart-topping songs for Pam Tillis, George Jones and Whitney Houston, and in the studio collaborating with award-winning session guitarist and producer, John D. Willis, whose credits span from Alabama and Willie Nelson to Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift.
Most recently, Green has been working to bring the inspiring story of Tripod the Three Legged Dog back to the world with a 13-track album titled, “Tripod Legacy XIII.” The album includes 13 unique versions of the song performed by Green and some of Nashville’s most popular voices. The versatile record includes Matt Dame’s raspy country rendition, Stephanie Willett-Willis’ Kesha-inspired pop version, Adam Cunningham’s Spanish performance, and every genre in between.
As part of the Tripod Legacy Campaign, Green is partnering with animal rescue groups to put Tripod, and the many renditions of his song, to work. By raising awareness and funds for rescue organizations, Green aims to give homeless dogs a voice…and hopefully lives as big as Tripod’s. Learn more about the Tripod Legacy Campaign here.
In his famous song, Green says, “You could do twice as much, if you tried half as hard as Tripod the Three Legged Dog,” and it’s safe to say he has and will continue to follow his own advice.