Doak Snead


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The son of a banker/rancher and a nurse, Billy Doak Snead was born in the west Texas town of Bronte on December 24, 1949. His first musical interests were in his sister’s Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Fats Domino records. He learned them by heart and pantomimed them at the age of six.

He started playing guitar at the age of 13 while on a two week stay in the hospital with pneumonia. He studied songbooks and learned the folk music of "Peter, Paul, and Mary," "Johnny Horton," and "The Rooftop Singers." During this hospital stay he heard The Beatles' tune "I Want To Hold Your Hand" on the radio and his course was set.

In the mid-'60s, Doak moved his base from Bronte to the nearby 'metropolis' of San Angelo (pop. ~ 60,000, then) to begin seriously honing his skills in cover bands. He started writing his own songs in 1969, finishing 100 titles in his first year and, with fellow San Angeloan T. Gosney Thorton, he formed the duo 'Tom and Billy.' In 1971 they played, for the first time, at the infamous "Hungry Horse" folk club in Austin.

In 1973, Doak formed the original 'Doak Snead Band,' garnering critical and popular acclaim during the earliest days of redneck rock, aka 'progressive country.' One of the first bands of their kind to do all original material, the 'Doak Snead Band' opened many shows for Willie Nelson, John Prine, Asleep at the Wheel, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and Loudon Wainwright, III, among others, at the legendary 'Armadillo World Headquarters', in Austin. Thus blossomed and flourished the love affair between Austin, Texas and Doak Snead that endures to this very day.

In 1975 The Doak Snead Band initiated what became a long-running program with the Houston Pops Orchestra at the Miller Theater, entertaining crowds numbering 10,000 fans.

When the band finally broke up, Doak pursued a solo career touring colleges and universities around the southwest and was eventually asked to play at the then up-and-coming Kerrville Folk Festival, now one of the largest country festivals in the United States.

Doak recorded three albums on different labels from 1977 to 1988: Think of Me Sometime, Powderhorn (co-produced by Lloyd Maines, father of "Dixie Chicks" lead singer, Natalie Maines), and 1015 Main: the Bastrop Demos, (now available on CD).

In 1989, after a hiatus from the music business, Doak packed his bags and headed for Nashville, where the dues are mighty stiff. Doak already had 20 years of dedicated hard work behind him, but this was Nashville -- the big time -- and he was new to town.

So for three years Doak worked as a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame, using his spare time to write songs, make the rounds, and to make sure that everybody knew that Doak Snead was in town for the long haul. Finally, Nashville recognized Doak as a keeper, a talent that could not be ignored and would not be denied. In 1992 he was 'handed' a contract at Reba McEntire’s Starstruck Writers Group as a staff writer.

In 1997, Doak sold his first cut, "Headed For the Light," recorded by Jamie Slocum on Curb Records. Jamie and Doak developed a strong friendship. Jamie re-released the track on his 2001 album Someone Like You from Malaco Records.

In 1998, Doak's biggest writing success to date, "John Wayne Walking Away," co-written with Austin Cunningham and Jerry Boonstra, was released as a single by Lari White on Disney’s Lyric Street Records, and his "Only For the Weak," written with Michael Puryear and Scotty Krippayne, was released by the popular Christian group Avalon on their gold CD In A Different Light.

In 1999, country Christian artist Lisa Daggs recorded Doak’s poignant love story "Alfred & Omega" co-written with Lee Domann and Doak’s wife Kelley Sallee Snead, an accomplished singer and musician in her own right.

A multi-faceted writer, Doak's latest achievments include a 19 track CD of children’s songs, They Call Me Mister, a refreshing and unique approach to recordings for children. A little craftier than Raffi, though still 'family correct,' it was produced by musician Daylon Wear and engineered and mastered by Richard Barrow, creator of Sonic Lab Records. The track "Riding My Horse In The Sunshine" was selected by Playhouse Radio for inclusion in it's Joy and Peace for Our Children CD, a joint effort with the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), to be used by therapists to help children affected by the NYC and Pentagon attacks.

And offers a full download of "Was It April" from Doak's latest CD, Inside, which Doak says, "...chronicles a period in my life that just preceded my writing job at Reba McEntire's publishing company. It's a song-poet kinda thing... recorded mostly at my home in Nashville on a little 4-track machine. But to have recorded on more sophisticated equipment would have been like shooting 'The Blair Witch Project' on a Hollywood set."

Now that's honest...and pure Doak.