Jerry Marlon Beach
Muscian - Guitarist

Jerry, one of five brothers, was born in Oklahoma City, soon after World War II began. "My dad left two weeks later and went to WWII and he didn't see me again until I was three years old." Because his father was a career U.S. Air Force officer, the family moved often. "I never went to the same school two years in a row," Jerry states. In a boarding school in England he learned to play the guitar. When Jerry's father retired from the U.S. Air Force, "he and I started to college together," he recalls. At Northwestern State University Jerry played in a band, The Rhythm Dukes. He returned to Shreveport when Louisiana Hayride was still on the air and met Roy Clark, who played with Jerry's band, Danny and Jerry with Danny Harrelson, often playing at the Airmen's Club at Barksdale Air Force Base. "Man, he could play, and a really nice guy, too," Jerry says of Clark. Soon Jerry began working the Bossier Strip. "At one time there were nineteen clubs in Bossier using bands probably six nights a week," he says. "We had a hot band with big crowds." Customers in most of the venues preferred "soul stuff," he remarks. "We played a lot of Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding and that kind of stuff," he says. For nine years he worked for Sam Craig who owned three clubs. Meanwhile, his father earned his master's degree and was principal of 81st Street Elementary School, where, Jerry states, many black musicians attended school. Through that connection, he began a relationship with Reuben Bell of Reuben Bell and the Beltones, a man he recalls as a "really, really good songwriter, musician and singer", who unfortunately passed away as a young man. Jerry and his band cut three singles for the Ron label of Stan Lewis of Stan's Record Shop. One song, I've Got Pride, earned national exposure in certain cities across the nation. The band also recorded at Robin Hood Brian's studio in Tyler, Texas, when the studio "was still in the living room of his mother's house." In the early 1970s he wrote and recorded at Sound City, where George Clinton was engineer. He still receives royalties from a song he wrote, I'll Play the Blues for You that Albert King recorded. The song earned Jerry a Grammy nomination. He says a musician recently told him, "There's probably not a blues band on this planet that doesn't play your songs." Over the years, he comments, that no one he's met in the recording industry "is actually, truly, totally one hundred per cent honest." He blames "city and parish government" for reasons why the area isn't more prominent in music business, and believes area churches pushed to get the Bossier Strip clubs closed. "We never did anything here because we never got any backing from the local government," he says. Beach has continued to play locally. "I loved playing. It's something I've always done. It's something I'm gonna do until I can't," he says. Jerry performs in a Monday night blues jam and teaches guitar. Several of his students are doctors who say the dexterity they learn playing guitar helps them in surgery. Jerry plays with the Bluebirds, with his daughter, Robin, fronting the band. He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 1998. He lists as some of his influences in guitar playing as James Burton, Freddie King, and bluesman Roy Buchanan. In all, Jerry has played in the Shreveport-Bossier City area for five decades.