September 5, 1915 - February 24, 2010
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A.J. Winn, 94, of Bryan, passed away on Wednesday, February 24, 2010.
Burial will be on Saturday March 6, 2010, at 2 p.m. in Gum Springs Cemetery, one mile East of Flynn, Texas on FM 977. Arrangements by Cozart Funeral Home in Normangee.
Born on September 5, 1915, to Claude and LouWeta (Jones) Winn, in Leon County, Texas, Alexander Joe Winn was the second born of seven children. He attended schools in Flynn and Marquez.
In the late 1930’s and early 40’s, while farming and ranching in the Clear Creek area, he played fiddle and guitar in a band composed of his uncle, brother, and cousin. They would play on Saturday nights in the homes of people that enjoyed early day entertainment. During the depression, he broke horses and also worked on county roads for fifty cent a day. He was paid an extra two dollars a day for the team of horses he provided.
Having some of the best hunting dogs around, he would coon hunt at night during the week catching as many as ten to fifteen coons and ringtail cats in one night. He would sell those hides to Sears & Roebuck Company for five dollars a hide. In those days that was a lot of money, which he often told his grand children, when telling them about his hunting experiences and how good his dogs were at hunting.
It was said by “ole timers”, that when A.J. was about 15, he was offered ten dollars to ride a horse that had never been ridden. The horse was tied to a tree by the icehouse, in down town Flynn, on a busy Saturday morning. He asked his brother Claude Maxwell, to hold the horse until he could get in the saddle, where upon the bucking took place, down main street, up the railroad tracks, over piles of crossties, back down main street, scattering people right and left on the sidewalks, back across the railroad tracks and up the road toward Marquez! The horse bucked so hard that A J’s nose bled, but he rode that horse! When the owner of the horse refused to pay him the ten dollars, saying it was a joke, A J’s brother, Claude Maxwell, who was only 13, hit the man in the mouth for reneging on his offer, knocking him off the porch. The man landed on the wagon tongue between two horses, scaring the horses. They ran away with the wagon, with the man still astraddle the tongue. A J said he never did get his ten dollars for the ride, but did get a good laugh at seeing a fat man bouncing on the wagon tongue, as the horses ran through town.
In 1937, while playing for a dance in Bald Prairie, he said he met a pretty girl named Esther Price, and told her that night that he was going to marry her. Six months later, they were married.
In 1947, he formed a hillbilly band, A.J. Winn and the Melody Playboys, and played dance halls, square dances, SPJST halls, and rodeos though out Central Texas. The band was so popular, WTAW AM radio, then owned by the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas, allowed the band to play a one hour show each Saturday. Within six months, the A J Winn radio show hit the airways for three hours everyday, six days a week. The show was such a success and received so much fan mail from local fans and fans from the surrounding counties, the post office put on a special delivery to the radio station.
In 1954, A J Winn was recognized by the Country Music Disc Jockey Convention in Nashville, as the number 3 disc jockey from the top 50 country music stations in the nation. He was also considered to play the role of Hank Williams Sr. when the movie of Hank’s life was being considered.
In the early 1960’s, the country music program, Pop Goes The Country show was being considered for television and A J was offered the job to host this new country show in Nashville. He turned down the offer because he did not want to leave Texas. Ralph Emery was hired and remained as host for many years.
Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Horton, David Houston, Hank Thompson, Carl Smith, Charlie Adams, Hank Locklin, Sonny James, Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, George Jones, Gabe Tucker, Loretta Lynn, Webb Pierce, and Elvis Presley stayed in the Winn home when A J scheduled them for shows and dances in the area.
Elvis came and stayed a whole week with the Winns in 1952, so “I can travel with A J Winn and learn the music business”, as he stated to A. J. when he arrived at the radio station one morning, driving an old black 1948 Chrysler car.
A. J. inspired many local talents such as Jimmy Copeland, Johnny Lyons, Fred Heine, Billy Bishop, George Young, Vernon and Dickey Newland, Nick Nichols, Bob Mabry, Sonny Sikorski, and Billy Cargill. He also wrote and co-wrote songs with Jerry Jericho and others.
After leaving the music business in 1967, he help John Carrabba get Gooseneck Trailer Company started by setting up a nationwide dealer network to market gooseneck trailers. Several years later, he moved back to Flynn to manage a cattle ranch owned by son Buddy Winn, and was regarded as “the best hand” at catching bad bulls and wild cattle that folks could not pen. He loved good horses and good dogs.
He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers and two sisters; wife Esther, and sons, Joe and Dwayne Winn.
His is survived by a sister, Geraldine Hatchett; one son, Gerald “Buddy” Winn and wife, Sheri; nephew, Perry C. “Jimmy” Copeland and wife. Shirley. He is also survived by numerous grand children, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews in addition to many fans and friends who remember growing up and hearing him say, “this is your ole DJ A.J. saying so long, keep those cards and letters coming. If the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be right here tomorrow, same time, same place, WTAW 1150 on your dial”.
In lieu of flowers, you can donate to a favorite charity or local food bank.
Published in The Bryan-College Station Eagle from February 26 to March 1, 2010
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