JL - 'Big' John 'T-Bone' Little, interviewee / LR - Lyn Royce, interviewer
JL: [coughs] ...practically everybody in the, in the, in the music business down there. I used to work with Ned Landry and Stompin' Tom ... if you read his book, I picked him up on the road; he'll ah, I'm in there.
JL: He tells everybody, 'Oh yeah man, if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today,' you know.
LR: That's great.
JL: I met... So I... I picked... I'll tell you a tale about him [pauses] I was working in Larder Lake, Ontario. And I'd just finished a job so I was going back to, I think I was going to Kirkla[nd]... no, coming back in, in through, uh, I think Matawa or something down that away. And I was coming down the road, and I see this guy walking down the road, with his old beat up guitar case and raggedy looking hair, long and just, just, just, ugh... you know, draggin' along the road. So he had a guitar so I said something in common so I said 'Hey how you doin?' 'Oh' he says, 'I'm trying to get my way to Toronto.' He says, 'I got no money, I haven't ate...' and all this kind of stuff. He's goin' on and goin on... I says, 'Well, come on, jump in, I'll give you a ride. Where you going?' He says, 'Well, I don't know...' 'I'll give you a ride back to my hotel where I just left,' I said, 'and we'll have a cold beer...' and that... He says, 'You don't mind?' I said, 'No, why?' 'It's not out of your way?' 'Nah!' It was only about 5 miles down the road so I turned around, he jumped in my car. I took him down to the hotel and, uh, took him in and ordered a couple of cold beers and the owner lady says, 'Oh! You back again?' I says, 'Yeah, I met a good buddy of mine on the road.' - never met the guy before in my life! - 'Met a good buddy of mine on the road and,' I says, 'I thought I'd bring him, come back, have a beer.' So we sat down, started talking. So she says, 'Can you play the guitar?' and, uh, T... I says 'Oh yeah, he can play, he can play.' - I never heard him play in my life, eh! 'Cause he wrote all his own stuff, eh? - So, uh, we're talking, she says, 'Well I could use somebody,' she says, 'this weekend.' she says. I says, 'Well,' I says, 'he'd probably do it,' I said, 'but he'd have to have some place to stay,' I says, 'you know, while he's working for the weekend. 'Cause, I mean, you know, he's just come from out west, and so, out east,' 'I says,' 'so, you know, he spent lot of his money.' She says, 'I'll tell you what.' she says, 'I'll give him a room,' says, 'I'll give him his food, and he can start playing Friday, Saturday and Sunday.' And, uh, I says, 'Well...' And he says, she said, 'What do you think he wants? Would he go for that?' 'Oh, well,' I said, 'give him $80 bucks a week, room and board,' I said, '$80 bucks a night,' I said, 'room and board;' I said,' 'he'll go for that.' I said, 'And he'll have a place to stay and have food and everything else.' And I didn't, I left him there and I didn't see him for 20 years.
JL: And now he's a big millionaire.
JL: So... 1 time I go... here's this sign come up in Fredericton, 'Stompin' Tom is comin' to Fredericton.' I said, 'Oh man!' I said. I say, 'He wouldn't remember me.' I said, 'But, ah, I'll go and see him.' So I took, I told my wife, I said, 'Honey, let's go down and see Stompin' Tom.' She said, 'You know him?' I said, 'Oh, yeah.' And, uh, I told her the story, and she says, 'Oh, great; let's go!' So we got a table down in the front and so Stompin' Tom is, uh, so... When I go to shows, I mean I'm not like this [gestures 'Beau Brummell' ] I'm dressed to the nines: I got the buckskins, 'n hats, 'n boots, 'n everything else. So I go down to the, the arena where he's playing, and there's about 6,000 people in the place, and he's playing and he's about 3, or 4 sheets to the wind then, working and travellin', yeah, you know... So he's up there doin' his show... So I'm takin' my camera an' I walk, I'm walkin' about here to the wall [approx 2 metres] takin' pictures and he come upstage... And when he come upstage, I got in front of him and put the camera, he sang a couple of songs, I put the camera on him, to take a picture, but I didn't click it far enough. It went, and nothing happened. And he stopped singing and he: 'Haha!' he says, 'Haha!' he says, 'You missed me! Haha!' You know, laughing, he's about 3 sheets to the wind. And there's 6,000 people all laughing at once, you know. I says, 'Well,' waited for a minute, and after it got quiet, I said, 'Tom,' I said, 'I haven't missed you since Larder Lake, Ontario.' He stopped the show. 'Wait a minute, I know that voice!' He's got a hell of a memory. 'I know that voice that's Long John, Long John... no, no, no' he says, 'that's Big John Little!' He says, 'That's the guy that picked me up on the road, ladies and gentlemen, and put me where I am today. Gave me so good advice, and all that kind of stuff, helped with my first job and all that...' for about 15 minutes he's ranting and raving about me, you know. I felt like [puffs out chest] you know, like this! This guy's a big star now, you know, and he's giving me all this stuff like that... And so then after, I go up to get something to drink and everybody's saying, 'There goes Stompin' Tom's special friend.' You know. You know. And, uh, oh yeah, we've, we've kept in touch; whenever I see him, I'll drop in and see him, we have a good time.