Dennis Yost

Bill Lowery, Paul Cochran, and Dennis Yost—Excerpt from “Atlanta Pop in the 50s, 60s and 70s: The Magic of Bill Lowery”

“Bad decision on my part. The longer I had Dennis, the crazier he got.”

The stress also resulted in a falling out with Lowery that changed the course of Paul’s career. At that point Yost was in his one-year contract with MGM South. The contract stipulated that if they picked up the option on Yost for a second year he would get a $10,000 signing bonus. They seemed to be still interested, so Paul and Dennis went into Lowery’s office to sign the contracts, but when Paul asked Lowery, “so when does Dennis get his ten thousand?” Lowery shot back, “there ain’t no ten thousand.” Paul reminded him of the contract, Lowery all the while turning redder and redder. Evidently he didn’t have quite the faith in Yost’s prospects that he once had. Then suddenly he exploded, came out from behind the desk just as he did when he thought he heard a hit, and cried, “I’m tired of your bullshit! I’m not putting up with your bullshit no more! You ain’t getting no ten thousand!” Yost sat there looking terrified. Paul had seen this side of Lowery once before, in the early days; he had “let it go,” but hadn’t forgotten it. He was also aware of a similar eruption with Tommy Roe, which he felt had been the impetus behind Roe’s move to California. “It scared him to death—which, the first time he did it to me, it scared me to death—I’d never seen anything like that.” But this time, Paul blew up. He came out of his chair, kicked it over, grabbed Dennis and ushered him past Lowery to the back door, and threw him out saying, “You get your ass out of here right now. I am your manager. Bill Lowery don’t have shit to do with you—you get out.” Then he took off his shirt, went outside, and yelled out, “Come on, fat man! It’s me and you this time!” He stood there cussing Lowery, ranting and raving, with Dennis off to the side looking scared to death. Then after a few minutes Lowery came to the door, said, “Paul, I’m sorry,” and went back inside. Paul cooled off; he and Dennis left, without the bonus, but Paul and Lowery made up and stayed in business together with a couple of Paul’s newer bands—Beaverteeth (a post Candymen band with John Rainey Adkins and Rodney Justo), and The Back Alley Bandits.

Bill Lowery coming around the desk: “When he did it, let me tell you, it was showtime. He did the dance—and he was a big man—and wave them arms. But I loved Bill. I went to see him the week before he died—and we hugged and I told him I loved him—he said he loved me—and a week later he was gone. He was southern music.”