Grand Junction’s Famous ‘Clyde’ Celebrates Another Birthday
Happy birthday, Clyde! One of Western Colorado's musical icons is celebrating another trip around the sun. Let's catch up with the Clyde half of Grand Junction's "Ralph N' Clyde."
I've never known a world without Clyde Jorgensen. He was bouncing me on his knee back in 1970. Hey, that rhymes. In any event, everybody in Grand Junction knows Clyde Jorgensen and his brother Ralph Smith.
Why Different Last Names?
Let's take this opportunity to clear something up. Somewhere around 1993 I finally had to ask Clyde a question which had been bugging me. If he and Ralph are brothers, why do they have different last names? Are they half brothers? As it turns out, they are full brothers. According to Clyde, his original last name was Smith. When their mother remarried, Clyde chose to take his stepdad's last name.
Left: Ralph Smith, Right: Clyde Jorgensen
Grand Junction's "Jungle Bar" at the Cafe Caravan
Chances are the name "Ralph N' Clyde" probably rings a bell. I first remember hearing them at the old Jungle Bar at the Cafe Caravan back in the 1970s. Don't ask me what I was doing in a bar while under the age of 10. My parents were friends with Ralph and Clyde, so they would take my older brother and me to go hear them. Check out my brother sitting in with the band.
The 1980s and 1990s
Later, I would catch them out on Horizon Drive at the lounge at the Holiday Inn. After that, it was JJ's Lounge and The Branding Iron. Somewhere along the line, you could catch them at Chaser's in Fruita, and at a number of establishments around Montrose, Delta, Steamboat, and Craig.
Hazel Jensen and the Flamingo
I never caught Ralph N' Clyde at the Flamingo. That was a little before my time. I know both Ralph and Clyde were very close to Hazel Jensen, the proprietor. I did know Hazel, but only because she was on my paper route when I was six.
What is Clyde up to nowadays?
I see him from time to time. He's still busy songwriting and recording with his wife, Lola. It seems he spends the bulk of his time in Sun City, Arizona. Every once in a while you'll hear one of Clyde's songs on the radio. He's on the Daffy Dane Music label, cranking out Country albums and the occasional Gospel album.
The Waylon Jennings / J.J. Cale Connection
There's one more burning question to address. As you may already know, Clyde used to play bass for Waylon Jennings back in the Phoenix days. Was Jennings' hit tune "Clyde" written about Clyde Jorgensen? I hate to say it, but no. I asked Clyde a few years ago. The tune was written by J.J. Cale. According to Clyde, the song, unfortunately, has nothing to do with him. I do recall, however, back in 1993, Waylon Jennings giving a big shout-out to Clyde via the JumboTron at Country Jam.
Happy birthday, Clyde. I don't know how old you are, and I'm not about to ask. I do know I've known you for the last 51 years. It's been a pleasure. Here's wishing you many more joyous birthdays.