By: Rebecca S. Jones
African-American News &Issues
HOUSTON – In the late summer of 1927, a legend was birthed into a little country town known as Magnolia Springs who would later become known as the giant who, “Brought a Mountain of Soul to Houston.” Mr. James and Mrs. Dora Lee Frazier became the proud parents of Skipper Lee Frazier and later (younger sister) Farris Lee. At the age of six, Skipper Lee and his family moved to Deweyville Texas, where he attended a three-room schoolhouse. Grades 1-4, 4-7, and 7-10 were divided into three rooms, as schools in this area of the state did not have grades 11-12 for Blacks. Towering several feet over the children in his age group, Skipper Lee stood out as a child. This fact alone did not leave room for question when he began working at the age of nine with his father at Pevey Lumber Company in Deweyville. In the 5th grade, Skipper Lee moved back to Magnolia Springs where he was under the guidance of his grandparents. There he lived a good ole’ fashion experience equipped with the joy of riding horses, raising and slaughtering cattle and hogs; and all the delight and adventurous thrills associated with growing up in the country at such a time. Skipper Lee records his account of being in the fields picking cotton and hoeing corn for merely .75cents a day. He can recall working in the fields with his friends and family and eating lunch prepared by the White farmers. Though the White farmers would prepare lunch for them, they were still made to eat it at the back door of the farmhouse.
In the 9th grade, Skipper Lee relocated to Orange, Texas where he graduated from Moton High School after a very successful reputation on the football team. He also worked at a cleaning plant while in school. After high school, he went on to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Furnished with the knowledge gained from working at the cleaning plant in Orange, he ran a cleaning shop in college. To assist with his college expenses he also sold hamburgers out of his dormitory throughout his tenure at Southern.
Following studies at Southern, Skipper Lee was sent to the army. Once discharged, he moved to Houston where he worked for Finger Furniture and later the United States Post Office. After experimenting in a few different industries, he finally found his trademark in entertainment. He went to school to become a dj and after graduating, he was recommended by George Nelson to apply for KYOK 1590am; a move that proved to be very rewarding and pertinent to his career. Immediately, he began to dj part-time with KYOK. He played Gospel in the morning, Rhythm & Blues during the afternoon and Jazz in the evenings and at night, at which point he became known as “Lee Frazier” and “Hip Skipper”. Eventually, Skipper Lee applied for a full-time position at KCOH 1430am, where he was hired and it was at this point that he became known as the, “Mountain of Soul.” He was very accomplished during his time at KCOH, where he served for over 22 years. Skipper Lee went from the local disc jockey that Houston had come to love to managing bands. Additionally, he devoted an enormous amount of time and energy into the community. He assisted several worthy causes by hosting and sponsoring talent shows, hops and events in support of the Red Cross and United Negro College fund.
To date, Skipper Lee has had the opportunity to promote, manage, emcee, dj, and host all manner of events from entertainers and people of prominence from all walks of life over the world. Personal friends and acquaintances of Skipper Lee include: Wash Allen, Muhammad Ali, George Nelson, Paris Elie, Gladys “GG” Hill, Clifton Smith, Charles Bush, the late Don Robey, Judson Robinson Jr., Barbara Jordan and Sammie Davis Jr. just to name a few.
A few of the bands, groups and individuals that Skipper Lee managed include: Archie Bells and the Drells, T.S.U. Tornadoes, The Masters of Soul, Mark Putney, Conrad Johnson, Beau Williams (BoBo Mr. Soul) and Sugar Bear. A snippet of his promotional work entails many great entertainers such as: Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Red Foxx, Lou Rawls, Little Richard, R. J. Rausaw, Jackie Wilson, Tyrone Davis, Johnnie Taylor, B.B. King, Wes Montgomery, and The O’Jays. These individuals are only a small drop in the bucket of those of whom Skipper Lee has promoted and/or supported through his career as a dj, promoter and manager. He also had a television show “Skipper Lee” that premiered on NBC Channel 2. Amos and Andy was an act that Skipper Lee promoted when they came to Houston. It was during a time of segregation where Whites came to see the duo perform and was privileged to sit on the main floor while Blacks were seated in the balcony. However, as luck would have it such a great crowd was drawn that seating for Blacks ran out in the balcony. As a result, Blacks and Whites were forced to sit in the same section and the event concluded without incident.
Skipper Lee is the author of his autobiography, “Tighten Up by Archie Bell and the Drells”, featuring subtitles, “The Making of a Million Selling hit Record”, “The Autobiography of Skipper Lee Frazier a Disc Jockey”, and “A Legendary Houston Disc Jockey”. He also has a video, “ The Many Years of Roasting and Toasting of Skipper Lee”.
The entrepreneur spirit possessed within Skipper Lee appears to be almost a fulfillment of destiny, as he has been the owner and operator of several successful business ventures. Venus Hotel located on Reed Rd., Former (Part-owner) KCOH 1430am and he is currently the owner of Skipper Lee & Sons Eternal Rest Funeral Home (with his sons, James Frazier and Michael O. Davis) located at 4610 South Wayside, 77087. He also sells pre-need burial insurance. Skipper Lee is a long-time member of Windsor Village United Methodist Church under the leadership of Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell. To hear Skipper Lee on the airways tune your dial to KWWJ Gospel 1360am from 2-3pm, Monday thru Friday, where he has been stationed for over 10 years.
African-American News & Issues would like to salute Skipper Lee Frazier and we declare that he is and will forever be considered the legendary giant who brought “A Mountain of Soul to Houston, Texas.”