Obituary of Howard Vance Surles
Please click link below to view livestream: September 30, 2023 at 11:00 PM Mountain Standard Time
Curly Surles, 86 years young, from the small town of Orangeburg, South Carolina. A man of many talents and a hometown hero that calls Mountain Home… Home. A loving husband to Lynda Surles, Father to Mark Surles, Renee’ Dickinson, Jennifer Kennedy & Chad Tipton, and Grandpa to Krystal, Amber, Marquee, Tina, Wade, Jerimiah, Jazlynn, Austin, Jadyn, Taylor, Skyler, Catrina, Aaron & Zackary, Great Grandfather to Makena, Matthew, Milania & Quinn, Zander, Zeke, Trinity, and Stella (that all love him more than he would ever know!). Many would say he is a Country music aficionado that has captured the hearts and souls of many through his grace with his music and horses. For many, he is considered one of the real ones! A true American Cowboy! He unfolded a part of life that many will never see. This man has seen the sky and heard the birds with his time served in the US Airforce. Had the spotlights reflected from his eyes as he played his classic country style on stages of all kinds. Felt the dust cross his face on the back of a freshly broke mare. Created a legacy through a family that loves him deeply... A cowboy’s dream…
His first gig landed him at old Joes Club in Mountain Home, where he decided to settle down with his family. Soon he bought “The Winchester”, playing countless shows here and at “John’s Barn” for many years before “The Winchester” was, sadly, burnt down. His perseverance eventually led him to playing music with many great Country music stars at that time, such as Tex Ritter, Lefty Frazell, Little Jimmy Dickens, Johnny Bond, Lonzo & Oscar, Hank Snow, Laura Collins, Charlie Rich, Conway Twitty, Kitty Wells, Joe & Rosalee Mathis, and Melba Montgomery, and the list goes on. Playing on stages with the great names led him to recording opportunities and quite a few albums. His very first fully mastered album “Makin’ Believe” featuring Kitty Wells, had the song “John Deere Letter” that hit the Charts at 62nd on the billboards in the late 80s! His sound is sweet like a southern peach and as raw as a Tennessee whiskey. Something that made him unique and cherished by so many. Influencing people to listen intently to the high chords and the hard strum each time he played. In January of 2006 they remastered the “Makin’ Believe” album with a special song added to it called “Just a Dream” written by Jeff Sorenson and four other songs: "Just a Dream", “Don't Go", “Love Letters in the Sand" by Pat Boone (remake), and "The Dear John Letter" by Jean Shepard. They were honored to have the album remastered by, Tom Peck, a six-time Grammy award winning engineer. Jean Shepard, Little Jimmy Dickens and Kitty Wells sang on the album with Surles, and musicians such as Hoot Hester, staff fiddler player at the Grand Ole Opry; Jimmy Capps, staff lead guitar for the Grand Ole Opry; Gene Chrisman, Elvis' previous drummer and Weldon Myrick, steel guitar for Grand Ole Opry, also performed on the album. (Sawhill, 2007) He played with Mark Chestnut in Branson Missouri in the late 1990’s and as far back as Jim Stafford and Charlie Pride in the 1970’s.
When it comes to his amazing talents and heart; this man has left so many of us astonished, especially when he started losing his sight… then his hearing… A devastation for him to say the least but he still kept kickin’. Like kickin’ the spurs on that mare, he never quit! Using vibrations from the guitar and memorizing lyrics like a preacher remembers scripture… The show must go on! There was a time there where he would have great shows and parties at his very own horse arena on the property. Feeling like they were lighting up the town! Bringing many of the locals together, building great friendships along the way. He even hosted live Facebook shows during the Covid lockdown, playing some of the great classics like “Wake Up Little Susie”, “Daddy Frank”, and “Circle Be Unbroken”. Keeping many hearts full during that hard time in everybody’s life. He is a man for the people. He loves the good Lord. A genuine American Cowboy that holds his music, horses, friends, and family close to his heart.
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