Mundell and I are from the same town, Laurel, Miss. I was aware of him from my first encounters with the guitar. If you said “guitar” to anybody in Laurel, their response always included “Mundell Lowe.”
I first met him in 1958, during a trip to New York. He was doing the show Your Hit Parade and invited me to a rehearsal in Midtown. That experience is vividly burned into my memory. Clyde Lombardi played bass, Billy Bauer played auxiliary guitar, Bernie Leighton was on piano and Hank Freeman played alto sax, plus a full orchestra with strings. It shook my foundation. I wanted to be a part of that life.