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Sid Spencer Tribute
October 2014
The Script

Sid Spencer - Dancin' Thru Texas (1993)

That was "Dancin' Thru Texas" by Sid Spencer, from his first album "Lovin' Strangers," from 1993. And this is Queer Music Heritage. I'm JD Doyle and on the show this month I'm paying tribute to him, as I feel that he was among the very best gay country artists. Sadly, he died of AIDS on July 17, 1996, at age 28. He packed a lot into his last three years. He would couple his music performances with also competing in rodeos, in the chute dogging event. And he released three CDs. A fourth was released posthumously, by his family. That's a lot of material for a short time and every time I listen to him I marvel at his talent. I easily compare him the best mainstream country singers, and while there are a lot of should've been stars, he is sure one I regret did not make it.

I'm going to take you through his discography in roughly chronological order. We already started with the "Lovin' Strangers" CD, and from it I'm showing his ballad side with "You're the One Who's Leavin'."

Sid Spencer - You're the One Who's Leavin' (1993)
Sid Spencer - The One I'd Never Find (1993)
Sid Spencer - Put You Out of My Misery (1993)

Also in that set was "The One I'd Never Find" and "Put You Out of My Misery."

Sid's second CD, from 1994, was called "Family Ties," and it was a Christmas album, and I think a very good one. He chose to cover material from some of the best, in this case Randy Travis and George Strait, with the songs "How Do I Wrap My Heart Up for Christmas," and "When It's Christmas Time in Texas."

Sid Spencer - How Do I Wrap My Heart Up for Christmas (1994)
Sid Spencer - When It's Christmas Time in Texas (1994)

Yeah, it's only October, but I just couldn't leave those songs out of this show. By the way, on the cover of that CD he is posed next to a Christmas tree and on it you can see as ornaments AIDS red ribbons and a clay rainbow flag. I know what it's made of because I have the same identical ornament.

By some stroke of luck I got to see Sid Spencer perform once, and it was a fluke. I'm not sure what year it was, probably 1994 or 1995. I was at the local country dance bar in Houston, the Brazos River Bottom, and it must have been a week night, as the place was almost empty. They announced a surprise guest and Sid Spencer came out and sang a few songs. I'm guessing that he was passing through town and just stopped by and asked if he could sing. We spoke for a few moments and he came across as charming as he was talented. I'll never forget it.

It was Sid's third album, from 1995, that in my opinion started to really attract attention, cause he was more out of the closet than ever, and it was called "Out-n-About, Again." Here's the title track.

Sid Spencer - Out-N-About, Again (1995)
Sid Spencer - It's Ain't Over (1995)
Sid Spencer - Four In the Morning (1995)

In the middle of that set was "It Ain't Over" and did you notice that last one. It's an old classic by Faron Young from 1971, but this time Sid made the lyrics male-to-male. This next set starts off with the very fun "You Gotta Swim." You'll want to pay attention to the lyrics.

Sid Spencer - You Gotta Swim (1995)
Sid Spencer - Just a Memory (1995)
Sid Spencer - Fallin' in Love (1995)

And that set included the song "Just a Memory" and another lyrically gay one called "Fallin' in Love." Again, all of these are from Sid Spencer's third CD "Out-n-About, Again."

Before I go to the next album I've got a special treat, or at least I think so. I have some unreleased material by Sid. Around 1997 I bought a VHS tape put out by Sid's family, called "Celebration of Life." It was edited from over two dozen camcorder videos from the years 1988 to 1996, and the tape is three hours long with over 40 songs. I really doubt many copies of it were sold, so it would be pretty much impossible to find now. And, as I said this was not professionally done; it was his family and friends filming him doing shows, mostly in bars, and therefore with some crowd noise, definitely not studio recordings. But this is material you cannot find anywhere else. Now the tape was non-stop video clips, with no song introductions or mention of location, or anything. So, here we go. I picked three from the tape, where he covers songs made famous by Clint Black, George Strait and Don Gibson.

Sid Spencer - One More Payment / The Chair / Oh Lonesome Me (Live)

Because this unreleased material is so, so rare, I decided to give you two more hours of it, in Parts 2 & 3 of the show. But for this segment we're up to Sid's last album, released posthumously by his family. From 1996, it was called "Chasin' That Neon Rainbow," after the Alan Jackson song, and he had told his folks once that it represented his dream. On the back of the CD cover you can also see his AIDS panel quilt, definitely made with a lot of love. From the album is the very pretty track "I Owe You," and I'll follow it with the Elvis song "Tryin' To Get To You."

Sid Spencer - I Owe You (1996)
Sid Spencer - Tryin' To Get To You (1996)

Oh, I so love his voice, and I feel sad to think of the terrific music he would have recorded, with increasingly lyrically gay material, had we been blessed to have him on earth longer. But I'm very pleased that he had recorded the Garth Brooks song "The Dance," as it seems very appropriate.

Sid Spencer - The Dance (1996)

This is JD Doyle and I thank you for letting me share with you the music of Sid Spencer, and I hope you check out the unreleased on-the-road material in the other two segments of the show. Now, if you have listened to my show very long, you kind of know that I always save my favorite song by an artist for the last. And very definitely I love, love a track from his "Out-n-About, Again" CD. Sid Spencer and "All I Can Handle."

Sid Spencer - All I Can Handle (1995)

This is JD Doyle, bringing you my Tribute to Sid Spencer. And as promised here are two hours of unreleased live performance, taken from the VHS tape called "Celebration of Life." There is no commentary, no song introductions or mentions of date or place, just solid music. In this hour there are 17 songs, and I wish I could show you the first one. Sid is in some kind of bar contest, at the club John L's, in Dallas, and he's doing the talent portion, singing Ronnie Milsap's "Button Off of My Shirt." There was a long instrumental section, that I cut out, during which he did a strip number, down to a leather thong. You just don't expect a singer to do that, but he would get my vote.

Button Off of My Shirt
Love Me
Oh, Lonesome Me
If Tomorrow Never Comes
Love Without End, Amen
Help Me Hold On
Next To You, Next To Me
The Chair
It Ain't Nothin'
Is It Still Over
That Just About Does It
I'm Gonna Be Somebody
Lovin' Strangers
The One I'd Never Find
When It's Christmas Time in Texas
Blues Stay Away From Me
Don't Let Our Love Start Slippin' Away

And we're back. I'm JD Doyle and I've got one remaining hour to share with you Sid Spencer singing live club performances, 19 songs this time.

Written in Stone
Houston Solution
Live and Learn
Killin' Time
The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
The Dance
If I Didn't Love You
Texas Tattoo
When My Ship Comes In
My Blue Angel
Hard Workin' Man
Cadillac Ranch
Somebody Paints the Wall
Somewhere Other Than the Night
American Honky-Tonk Bar Association
Statue of a Fool
Story of Love
Drinkin' Champagne
One More Payment