Thurman P. Woodfork

JACKEY AND JOHNNY

Jackey Beavers
Jackey Beavers

Johnny Bristol
Johnny Bristol
Many of you will remember the Diana Ross song, “Someday, We’ll be Together”[•]. I just discovered that I was stationed with two of the three guys who had a hand in writing that song. I met Johnny Bristol and Jackey Beavers back around 1956 while I was stationed at the 661st AC&W Squadron on Selfridge AFB, MI, near Detroit. I knew they sang together and that they knew some people at a small Detroit recording studio (it was the then mostly unknown and fledgling Motown). But, until now, I had no idea they had achieved any lasting success in the music business.

I lost track of them when I left the 661st for Spain, although I did run into Beavers in the BX parking lot on Andrews AFB quite a few years later. I don’t remember now what the hell he was doing there, since he must have been out of the Air Force for a good twenty years by then. Both he and Bristol left the 661st before I shipped out; it’s been so long, I don’t remember clearly now when they left or where they went. Both of their biographies mention they were stationed at Fort Custer in Battle Creek, MI, so I assume that’s where they went from the 661st before leaving the Air Force altogether. Of the two, Bristol apparently had the more successful musical career after they split up, from what I just read. He also married Berry Gordy’s sister. Bristol died of natural causes in 2004 at age 65.

Interesting what you run into while surfing the ‘Net. I was looking at a list of ‘One Hit Wonders’ when I saw the name ‘Johnny Bristol’ and a bell went off. Years ago, I saw his photo in Ebony magazine. He was sitting on the hood of a Mercedes parked in his driveway and looking suave. I remember thinking, “Looks like old ‘Hollywood’ made it.” He was living in California at that time. The guys in the 661st sometimes called him ‘Hollywood’ because of his show business ambitions – seems like he made good on the name.

In any case, both ‘Hollywood’ Johnny Bristol and Jackey Beavers did pretty well for themselves after leaving the Air Force. They both did some producing in addition to simultaneously pursuing their own singing careers. Beavers wrote over a hundred songs that were recorded by well-known artists. After his performing career slumped, he opened a nightclub called “The Brothers Three”, but found he didn’t like that part of show business, so he gave the club to his brothers. He eventually became an ordained minister as well as a newspaper columnist.

Beavers passed away in 1988. I remember him as one of the sunniest-natured people I’ve ever known. He was always smiling and upbeat. Wonder if he and Bristol are back together now, singing on some celestial stage?