Paxon Music History
Mae Boren Axton
Mae Boren Axton was the sister of Oklahoma congressman Lyle Boren and the aunt of former governor and U. S. Senator David Boren. After graduating from East Central State College in Ada with a teaching degree, Mae Boren met and married John Axton. John Axton was serving in the Navy and eventually was stationed in Jacksonville, FL Mae Axton was teaching high school English in Jacksonville at Paxon High School and in her spare time writing songs and helping to promote local recording artists. Thus, in 1955, those two vocations came together. Mae had a program on a local radio station in Jacksonville and was promoting an appearance by country recording star Hank Snow. A young singer from Memphis was the opening act for that show. Mae interviewed that young, largely unknown, singer, Elvis Presley, on her radio show Heartbreak Hotel.
That interview in May 1955 led Mae to meeting Col. Tom Parker who had just signed on to manage Elvis. Parker hired Mae to help with publicity. At that point in her career Mae had already written songs for Perry Como and Ernest Tubb. Later that summer, Mae’s co-writer Tommy Durden read a story in a newspaper about a man who had taken his life. There was no identification on the body, just a hand written note that read ‘I walk a lonely street’. Mae and Durden were struck by that line, and Mae came up with the idea of a Heartbreak Hotel at the end of that lonely street. Mae played the song for Parker then Elvis. Elvis loved it and began using it in his live shows. On January 10, 1956, Elvis recorded ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ at the RCA Nashville studio.
Hoyt Wayne Axton
Hoyt Axton son of Mae Axton, was an American folk music singer-songwriter, and a film and television actor. He became prominent in the early 1960s, establishing himself on the West Coast as a folk singer with an earthy style and powerful voice. Attended Paxon and graduated from Lee.
James Tennant aka Jimmy Velvet
Velvet was a Paxon High student of Mae Axton’s; she arranged his appearances on Toby Dowdy’s McDuff Hayride TV show alongside fellow Axton protégé, Johnny Tillotson. Through Axton, Velvet became a friend of Elvis Presley’s and a collector of Presley memorabilia; he later founded the Elvis Museum. As a recording artist for ABC-Paramount in the early to mid-1960s, Velvet remade sappy ballads like “Blue Velvet,” “(You’re Mine and) We Belong Together,” and “Teen Angel.” He left music to join the Air Force; returned in 1968 with an album on United Artists. Later acquired Chips Moman’s American Recording studio in Memphis, where Elvis recorded his comeback hits. In 1992, Velvet recorded the Presley tribute album Did You Know Elvis in Nashville with producer/co-writer David Allen Coe, released on Velvet’s own Music City label. He reportedly sold his Elvis collection for $2.4 million. Now living in Nashville, he is curator of the Legends Collection of showbiz memorabilia that includes many priceless artifacts of pop culture.
Member of The Strawberry Alarm Clock.
After the band Jimmy stayed in Hollywood and proofed movie scripts.
Paxon class of ’63.
Original Atlanta Rhythm Section Drummer
Robert got his start as part of Roy Orbison’s band The Candymen. During the ’60s and ’70s however, he freelanced to befriend and jam with southern rockers like The Allman Brothers Band and Ronnie Van Zant, while spending time with the era’s A-listers like the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin . Brother of Faye Nix class of ’65.
Paxon class of ’62.
James (“J.R.”) Cobb Jacksonville guitarist and songwriter who co-wrote most of the hits for The Classics IV, including their 1967 top-10 smash, “Spooky.” Cobb left the touring band to concentrate on writing and producing. He later co-founded the Atlanta Rhythm Section with fellow Jacksonville native Robert Nix, and co-wrote much of that group’s material as well. He also performed alongside Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson in country supergroup the Highwaymen.
Paxon class of ’62.
Blackfoot toured and had hits from the 70’s to the 90’s. Ricky Medlocke, Jakson Spires, and Greg Walker all attended Paxon in the late 1960’s. Medlocke, as a child, appeared on the Toby Dowdy T.V. show with Shorty Medlocke and is currently with Lynyrd Skynyrd.