In tribute: Man played backup for Elvis

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Clyde Norris loved music, and life was a never-ending song.

Norris, a long-time musician and a Clovis business owner, died Feb. 20.

Norris was born May 19, 1934, in Swenson, Texas, and moved with his mother and seven siblings to Lubbock. In Lubbock he came to know the two loves of his life: music and his future wife, Shirley.

They were married in 1955, less than a year after they met, and they moved to Clovis a short time later.

“We had a lot of in-laws in Lubbock,” Shirley said. “We moved here to be close, but not too close.”

In Clovis, Norris spent six nights a week drumming or playing guitar at a variety of clubs.

“Musicians couldn’t make a living being musicians, so he was a butcher during the day and a musician during the night,” said Debra Norris-Rich, his oldest daughter. “It just didn’t pay well enough for somebody to make a living full-time.”

Tiny Lynn of Clovis said Norris was a versatile and dependable musician, so he fit in with the city’s many musicians.

“If one guy was sick, another guy would come and play for nothing,” Lynn said. “We used to loan each other microphones and speakers. We were a bunch of friends.”

Norris played in local bands with Lynn, Tommy Hancock and William Roach and was in backup bands for Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, among others.

A recovering alcoholic since 1975, Norris later owned several businesses.

However, his daughter and family came first.

“My dad was always there,” Norris-Rich said. “You always knew if you had a problem, you could talk to him. He’d help you figure out what you could do, and probably what you should do.”

He did everything in his life despite having only a sixth-grade education, Shirley noted.

“He truly believed if you worked hard enough and you wanted something bad enough, you could have it,” Norris-Rich said. “He never taught us we had limits in terms of achieving personal goals.”

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ managing editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail: