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“You realize, after a certain point, that you have lived a life extraordinary,” is Cleve Hattersley’s excuse for writing a book.
Hattersley has put in his time as a band leader for Greezy Wheels out of Austin, Texas; music booking agent; convict; business proprietor; columnist; and now, author. Greezy Wheels can be found at the Austin Music Hall Of Fame.
His life has taken some unexpected turns and, in his book, “Life is a Butt Dial: Tales From A Life Among the Tragically Hip,” many of those rather unexpected turns are reflected humorously and sometimes quite touchingly.
“When you go on a tour with your own band and you are on a bus and you are going city to city, everybody knows you are living a different kind of life,” he said. “So, you kind of just live it. You don’t think about how you met this guy or that guy until you start adding them all up.”
Hattersley said people he encountered wanted to know what it was like, because it’s something they never did. The life experience adds up and eventually “you realize, you know, I’ve got to put this down.”
The first one to admit his ego is “huge,” Hattersley said he has been the leader of everything he has ever been in.
“I don’t follow instructions well, and that’s how it all starts,” he said. “Not only did I do the booking, I ran the band, I organized rehearsals, I collected the money and all that stuff. That’s what got me into running clubs. Mort at the Lone Star Café (in New York City) immediately knew that I could be good for his club because not only did I run stuff well, I knew all those people, all the stars he wanted.”
Hattersley represented his friend Kinky Friedman, singer, songwriter, novelist, humorist and politician and did ghost writing for some of Friedman’s material.
“I had to learn how to be funny like Kinky,” he said. “I had to be someone’s front man and that combination gave me the confidence that maybe I could do this (write a book).”
During touring with the band, Hattersley found he could make a lot of money in small trips by selling marijuana.
“Being a smuggler looked like a good out for me,” he said. “That proved to be a mistake because you have to be an actual criminal to do that. I had to do time.”
At one point Oui Magazine contacted Hattersley about doing some writing which turned into a regular column called “The Idiot and the Odyssey,” which led to adventures like doing an expose of “the magic mouse at Disney World and trying to join the church of Scientology (which didn’t work out well).”
Some of those columns appear as basis stories in “Life is a Butt Dial,” like “Bow hunting with Ted Nugent.”
He said he laid down two conditions to Oui Magazine for publishing his column, “nobody edit me and don’t put me opposite a (pornographic) shot.” Oui was owned by Hugh Hefner at the time and even racier than “Playboy.”
So don’t be surprised by some spicy language as Hattersley makes no apologies for who he is or how he talks.
“I curse (in the book) just like I do on stage,” he said. “That’s my language.”
Hattersley will also be the first to admit his world, and his ego, would not amount to much without his wife and fiddle player, Mary Hattersley (nee Butler), of 49 years at his side.
He saw her one day, on stage, playing the fiddle in another band and, even though she was married at the time, he knew he was going to marry her.
“Mary and I do have a notion that there is an energy that encompasses everything, we are all part of the same materials,” he said. “We have the notion we could end up as twin suns out there in the universe.”
Mary puts it in a simpler way: “We like to work together.”
And these days, they never travel without being together.
Cleve will be reading from and signing copies of “Life is a Butt Dial,” at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at Downtown Blues Coffee, 130 S. Main St., Las Cruces. The event will include tunes played by Cleve and Mary as well as appearances from some special guests. For information about the event contact Frankie Juarequi at 575-523-8828.