Monday, April 1, 2013

R.I.P. Odis Echols

The Associated Press is reporting that former state Sen. Odis Echols, Jr., a Clovis Democrat, has died at the age of 82.

Stolen from
Joe Monahan's blog
Echols served in the Senate from 1967 to 1976. He ran for governor in 1974, but lost to another senator, Jerry Apodaca, who went on to be elected governor.

Following his tenure in the Senate, Echols went on to become a lobbyist. During those years he was known for throwing large expensive parties -- in 1999 The New Mexican described that year's $40,0000 Echols shindig at Sweeney Center as "a musical and culinary extravaganza."

Some of his parties featured entertainers like the Kingston Trio, the Four Freshman and Johnny Wiessmuller, best known for playing Tarzan in the movies.

Echols had some show biz connections. He and his father, Odis "Pops" Echols were involved in radio and concert promotion in the Clovis area. The elder Echols helped found the influential Louisiana Hayride country music radio program and co-wrote the song "Sugartime." Here's a story from the Clovis News Journal about this side of the late senator.

I didn't know Echols well. Sometimes during his later years as a lobbyist we'd chat about music and radio.

But I remember the first time I became aware of him. I was at a Kris Kristofferson concert in Albuquerque in the spring of 1974. Apparently Echols had been backstage. At one point between songs in the show, Kristofferson came out and endorsed Echols for governor.

"After all this Watergate stuff, if you don't vote Democratic or liberal, you can drink my bathwater," Kristofferson said. (I never saw that on any campaign ads though.)

So long, Odis. This song's for you.