Louis (Dean) A. Mathis

Louis "Dean" Mathis was born in Hahira, Georgia to Eva Lee and Henry Hunter Mathis. Dean was the eldest of three children which included a sister Debbie a brother Jerry. His family was of modest means and as a child he found employment shining shoes at the local barber shop and throwing the Atlanta Constitution and the Atlanta Journal. Some of his favorite memories are playing touch football after school in Nashville, Georgia and also playing baseball, shooting marbles and playing `cowboys and Indians'. He learned to play the piano early in life and one day a Lion's Club member heard him playing and asked if he practiced a lot. When told he did not have a piano to practice on the Lion's Club bought one for him and delivered it to his house. He dropped out of high school when he realized he wanted a career in music and at age 16 was working a TV show in Rome, Georgia. Harold Shedd was the band leader for the show and he came in one day and told everyone that Billie Jean Williams, Hank Williams wife, was performing at the local theater. So, as soon as the show was over everyone went over to meet her and to get her autograph. Paul Howard was her manager at that time and later when he came back through Rome, Georgia, he picked up Dean - who was 17 years old at the time and playing in a band - and took him on the road with him and his band. The first show they played was with Ferlin Husky at the Grand Old Opry in Union, South Carolina. (Billie Jean was married to Johnny Horton at the time and Dean became friends with Johnny, Merle Kilgore and Dale Hawkins.) They performed in a number of places and at The Grand Ole Opry he was introduced to Ernest Tubb, Cowboy Copas, Roy Acuff, Carl Smith, Buddy Emmons and Harry Foster. Back in Shreveport, he played at the Louisiana Hayride and on KWKH where he also recorded some records. Later Dean and his brother Mark joined with Larry Henley to form the Newbeats and cut a number of records including Bread and Butter. They toured Australia and New Zealand with the Rolling Stones and Roy Orbison. In the states, they worked with Petula Clark, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Shangri-Las at the Apollo Theater and played ten shows with Roger Miller and the Everly Brothers. They also worked with the Four Seasons, the Byrds, Lou Christie, David Houston, Charlie Rich, The T-Bones, The Bobby Fuller Four and Jay and the Americans. The Newbeats toured and played for about ten years recording three albums and around 80 sides. In addition to being a musician, Dean was a songwriter and produced records for K-Tel. One of the highlights of his career was performing at the White House during the Nixon administration.