Session Meshin'

Grashey oversaw Loretta's rehearsal in Vancouver and then arranged to meet her and Mooney in Hollywood for her first recording session. The Zero president booked her into Western Recorders on Sunset Boulevard, a large, state-of-the-art facility. Don Blake was the engineer for the session, as he had been when Grashey recorded Buddy Reynolds. The first-rate backup musicians were Speedy West on steel guitar, Harold Hensley on fiddle, Roy Lanham on guitar, Al Williams on bass and Muddy Berry on drums.

As Grashey explains in My Rambling Heart: "Loretta was thoroughly rehearsed and made few mistakes." The session, he says, went smoothly and resulted in "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl," which charted #14 on Billboard, high enough to open doors for the singer in Nashville.

Loretta's memory of her first recording session is very different. In her book Coal Miner's Daughter, she says she and Doo went down to L.A. with money from Mr. Burley and went knocking on studio doors. They found one where Speedy West worked. It was tiny, "about half the size of a motel room," writes Loretta.

"After I sang a few lines, Speedy West said, 'Hey, let's hold it up a few hours and get a few more pickers.' What he did really, was to get better pickers. He must have heard something he liked, because he brought in some good musicians from around town and they picked up on my song real well."

Loretta's account of her Hollywood recording debut infuriated Grashey. Not only does the singer fail to credit him with scheduling the session, she describes it as getting off to a shaky start. Grashey was convinced that she confused the March session with a second one held in the fall of 1960, after he had clashed with Burley over how to run the company and resigned from Zero. From My Rambling Heart: "The trials and tribulations described in the book [Coal Miner's Daughter] took place when Burley sent Mooney and Loretta down to L.A. for the second session. I was long gone from the scene by then and only the timely intervention of Speedy West saved the session from becoming a disaster."

Loretta does not mention Grashey at all in her second autobiography Still Woman Enough (2002), nor in her book Honky Tonk Girl: My Life in Lyrics (2012), which contains the words to many of her songs, as well as random thoughts about her career.