Roy Head Remembers Gene Kurtz & "Treat Her Right"

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Gene Kurtz (left) and Roy Head wrote "Treat Her Right" in 10 minutes on a roll of toilet paper.
"I guarantee you one thing, Gene Kurtz is playing bass in the best band in heaven tonight," says Roy Head. Head co-wrote "Treat Her Right," one of the truly legendary Texas hits, with Kurtz, the bassist who passed away late Sunday evening in Austin at age 69.

When Kurtz and his Los Angeles-based publishers sued Head over mechanical royalties to "Treat Her Right" and other songs from the early days of Roy Head and the Traits, the two entered a rough patch in a long friendship that goes all the way back to early 1960s in San Marcos .

"Yeah, Gene thought I was screwing him," says Head. "But the suit was dismissed."

Head swears that he held no grudge against Kurtz, preferring instead to remember the good things from their past together.

"Gene had the greatest dry sense of humor," Head recalls. "We'd be driving down the road and he'd say something and 10 minutes later I'd get it."

As for their monumental hit "Treat Her Right," Head gives Kurtz credit for the idea.

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"Man, this is so stupid, but I was raised a country boy and we had this song called 'Talking About a Cow' that was this humorous take on all the attributes of a milk cow," he says. "I don't know how they got it, but Bear Family put it out in Europe a couple of years ago and when I found out I was just embarrassed.

"It had a great rhythm and it was popular with the dancers at our shows, but it really was a dumb song. And one day Gene says, 'Roy, we need to rewrite this and make it about a woman.'

"We were at this joint in East Bernard, Texas, where Joe Ladd [former KIKK disc jockey and longtime Houston music figure] is from, and we went in the bathroom and wrote the song in about 10 minutes on some toilet paper."

Head recently re-cut the tune on his latest album, Still Treatin' Em Right. Another song from the album, "Can't Turn 'Em Down At All," featuring Jeff Chance, rose to No. 6 on the trade magazine New Music Weekly's country chart this week.

"You never know what is going to stick with the public, but that one stuck," Head observes, claiming he had "the first cracker band with a horn section in Texas."

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