Perry’s research led him to rediscover some well-known entertainment personalities such as James “The Godfather of Soul” Brown and “Johnny Bee” Mosses, and some not-so-well-known ones, such as “Happy Howard” Williamson and Tony “Young James Brown” Wilson. Deep dives into high-tech studio engineering and music copyright law also were necessary. And, yes, it took quite a few dollars to make it happen.
After all that, Perry is happy to announce that “Kirby’s Junkyard Dawgs” is now available for download for a nominal fee on iTunes or for free on kirbysjunkyarddawgs.net. It’s hot off the presses, as they say.
“It was a total labor of love,” said Perry, a 52-year-old political watchdog and 1993 graduate of UGA. “A lot of that was related to me knowing nothing of the music business, as well as the typical stories of people trying to take advantage to make money.”
Georgia fans certainly will recognize the chorus. The melody of “Kirby’s Junkyard Dawgs” remains very much the same as the song that has been known as “Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs” for 47 years. It was recorded by the late, great Brown in 1975 and has been played at Georgia tailgates ever since.
For Perry, that has been one of his favorite tunes since he bought the red cassette of Bulldogs songs that was sold at the UGA bookstore in the 1980s. But as the years passed, Perry began to think that the song needed to be updated. Now it has been.
The original song was written by Williamson and was over six minutes long. Williamson was the manager of radio station WXBQ in Eatonton but was better known as Larry Munson’s sidekick on Georgia football’s radio broadcasts in the 1970s.
At the time, Williamson just wanted to have fun and pay homage to the Bulldogs’ fierce defensive teams of the mid-1970s era coached by famed defensive coordinator Erk Russell. So, he penned a bunch of lyrics featuring a lot of names of the stars of the day.
Dooley’s junkyard dogs; Dooley’s junkyard dogs. They’ll hit ya, they’ll knock ya, they’ll haul right off and sock ya.
When it came to trying to put it to music, Williamson reached out to an old disc-jockey friend known in the music business as “Johnny Bee.” Born with the name John Mosses, Johnny Bee eventually became well-known in the Atlanta music scene and for his work at rock station Z-93 and other outlets. But he worked his way up through the ranks in the industry by organizing teen dances and booking Black music acts in South Georgia in the early 1960s.
It was then, while working as a DJ in Waycross, that Mosses befriended Brown.
“The first big act I booked was Otis Redding, and the next one was James,” said Mosses, now 83 and living in Brookhaven. “I’m not exactly sure how we got to be such good friends, but James used to call in on the air. Probably because I played his records a lot.”
Their relationship didn’t get off to such a great start. When Mosses first booked Brown at the City Auditorium in Waycross, “Johnny Bee” found himself on the short end when it came time to “split” the take.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute now, James, this ain’t right,’” Mosses recalled. “He wanted everybody to call him Mr. Brown back then. But I said, ‘I’m gonna call you James and you call me Johnny, and my wife and I have been all over this county for weeks putting out flyers and posters. We devoted a lot of time to bringing you here.’ There was this big, ol’ pile of money sitting in front of him he started throwing stacks at me across the table. He said, ‘Just let me know when you’re happy.’ And we were buds from then on.”
So, when Williamson asked Mosses if he knew somebody who might want to sing and record his song, Mosses said, “I might know somebody.” What he didn’t know was whether Brown would be interested.
Turns out, Brown, like Mosses, was a huge Georgia Bulldogs fan. Not only did Brown agree to do it, he said he’d pay for all the studio and distribution costs and include it on his next album.
Weeks later, “Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs” was born in 1975. Brown would perform the tune live before Georgia fans twice, once Oct. 22, 1977, during halftime of the Kentucky game at Sanford Stadium – with Prince Charles in attendance – and again two weeks later in Jacksonville, Fla., when the Bulldogs played Florida. For what it’s worth, Georgia was 0-2 in those games.
Credit: Photo courtesy of the University of Georgia
Credit: Photo courtesy of the University of Georgia
Fast forward to a few years ago, and Perry reasoned that Kirby Smart deserved to be feted and that “Kirby’s Junkyard Dawgs” had a nice ring to it. So, casually, at first, then more doggedly, Perry began to look into what it would take to remake that familiar old song.
“It was actually during the COVID shutdown,” Perry said. “I started a few projects. I’ve always got all these ideas, and I said to myself, ‘Now I’ve got the time; I want to get this thing started.’ So I started working on it.”
Little did Perry know what he’d be getting into.
Brown, of course, died in 2006. Perry’s research led him to Brown’s old record label, Polydor Records. That label had since been sold and is owned by a company out of London.
“I couldn’t get in touch with them,” Perry said. “There were no phone numbers or mailing addresses or anything like that. I tried sending messages through Instagram, but I just never got anywhere with it.”
Perry decided to seek the services of a copyright attorney, who would have access to BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) records. His lawyer informed Perry that the rights to “Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs” actually were not owned by Polydor, but by some outfit known as “Holly Bee Music Company” in Atlanta.
No phone number was listed, but there was an address.
“So, I drove over there expecting to find some kind of little warehouse building or strip mall or something like that,” Perry recounted. “It turned out I went into a residential neighborhood to a house. I wasn’t even sure if I was in the right place, so I wasn’t going to go up and knock on the door. Instead, I wrote out a little note and left it in the mailbox. A few days later, I got a call.”
That call came from the one and only Johnny Bee. Turns out that he founded Holly Bee Music back then, naming the company after his first-born daughter.
“James gave me the publishing as a gift,” Mosses said. “He was on Polydor, and he got Polydor to produce I think it was about 100,000 copies of ‘Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs.’ The rest is history, I guess.”
Said Perry: “I’m just so thankful because that’s what really allowed me to find Johnny and get it done.”
Credit: Photo courtesy of “Johnny Bee” Mosses
Credit: Photo courtesy of “Johnny Bee” Mosses
Turns out that Johnny Bee remains a huge Georgia Bulldogs fan and was more than happy to oblige Perry’s wishes to remake his song. Accordingly, Mosses signed off on all the necessary paperwork to make that happen.
“Been a Bulldog all my life,” Mosses said. “I graduated from (Emanuel County Institute) in Twin Cities, Ga., and we were the Bulldogs. Then I went to the University of Georgia in 1957, graduated in ‘61, so I’ve always been a Bulldog. I’ve lived as a Dawg, and I’ll die as a Dawg.”
That gave way to the next part of Perry’s journey, which was to physically remake the song. That’s harder than you might think.
He was able to employ the services of record producer Walt Cusick of Atlanta’s Rock-2-Def Music recording studio. One of the things that Cusick does on the side is he donates his time and talents to remaking existing songs into parodies each year for Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge. It was in that capacity that Perry was familiar with Cusick’s work.
“So he knows how to arrange music,” Perry said. “He was able to do all that music electronically. That all worked out well wonderfully.”
Next on Perry’s worklist was finding someone to sing the song. He went back to his trusty Google search engine and found Tony Wilson.
“He’s known as ‘Young James Brown,’ even though he’s not that young anymore,” Perry said with a laugh. “And he’s just been incredible. He’s based out of Chicago but lives in Fort Lauderdale. Walt reached out to him, told him about the project, and he was interested in doing it.”
It’s Wilson’s vocals that can be heard on the new recording. Aside from some tightening and a few other musical modernizations, it sounds much like the original.
“Maybe even better,” Perry said.
You can listen for free at Kirbysjunkyarddawgs.net. It “dropped” Nov. 29.
“Neither of us are interested in making a bunch of money from it or anything like that,” Perry said of him and Mosses. “We just kind of wanted to recapture the glory like the original James Brown song did.”
Said Mosses: “William’s the one who created all this fuss, so you can blame him.”
The Bulldogs (13-0) remain the No. 1-ranked team in college football a year after winning the school’s first national championship in 41 years in January. When Georgia plays Ohio State in a College Football Playoff semifinal Dec. 31 (8 p.m., ESPN), it will do so with the hopes of becoming the first repeat national titlist in football since Alabama in 2012.
Perry will be in attendance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He said it will be the 425th Georgia game he has attended in the 489 the Bulldogs have played since Perry went to his first game in 1988.
Yes, he keeps count.
Certainly you can see where all this is going. Perry’s dream is that the Bulldogs repeat as national champions this year and that athletic director Josh Brooks and the UGA brain trust will incorporate “Kirby’s Junkyard Dawgs” into the celebration parade.
“Not to put the cart before the horse, but we’d love to bring ‘Young James Brown’ to town to do the song for a celebration and give it a real kickoff,” Perry said. “But, no matter what, I was just wanting to recognize all Kirby has done and will continue to do and have an anthem for him that stands against the test of time.”
As for Mosses – or “Johnny Bee” as he still prefers to be called – he, too, hopes to be able to celebrate another Georgia national championship.
“I made a deal with the Lord last year,” Mosses said. “I said, ‘Lord, I saw the 1980 championship. Please let me see one more, and I’ll be ready to go home.’ And then after we won, I said, ‘Lord, can we renegotiate the deal?’”