Ralph Smith of Grand Junction’s ‘Ralph N Clyde’ Passes Away
I just received news from Clyde Jorgensen, half of Grand Junction's Country music group Ralph N' Clyde, his brother and sidekick Ralph passed away early this afternoon, Monday, October 4, 2021.
If you spent any time at all in Grand Junction in the 1960s, 70's, 80's, and well into the 90s, you knew Ralph N' Clyde.
Message From Clyde
Clyde sent me the following message via email earlier today:
Hello Waylon, sad news, Ralph just passed away a few minutes ago. I must say, it was for the better as he got in terrible shape so now, he’s not suffering. I would like to send you a few lines for you to share with the folks there and, I thank you for all the times you shared your radio time with Ralph n Clyde through the years.
Came to Grand Junction for a Six Week Gig - Stayed Forever
Check out the Daily Sentinel clip at the top. That's Ralph on the far left. Clyde told me he and Ralph first came to Grand Junction to play a six-week engagement at the St. Regis hotel. They ended up staying the rest of their lives. For decades you would see Ralph N' Clyde at the Flamingo, Cafe Caravan, J.J.'s, the Branding Iron, and countless other Western Colorado venues.
Why Different Last Names?
I asked Clyde 30 years ago why he and Ralph had different last names. They are full brothers. As Clyde explained it, his last name used to be Smith as well. After their father died, his mother remarried to a man with the last name of Jorgensen. Clyde assumed his stepfather's name. Here's a Robert Grant photo of Ralph and Clyde, with Ralph at left, from the early 1970s.
Do You Recall the Time Ralph N' Clyde Were In a Molly Ringwald Movie?
Did you know they were in a movie with Molly Ringwald back in the 1980s? The movie was called "PK and the Kid." It starred Paul Le Mat, Molly Ringwald, and Alex Rocco. According to Wikipedia, the movie was filmed in 1983 but wasn't released until 1987. For what it's worth, the movie received fairly strong reviews, receiving an 81% on the "Tomatometer" at Rotten Tomatoes.
Paul Le Mat was an absolute pleasure to work with:>) - Clyde Jorgensen
Ralph N' Clyde first appears in the movie at 24:06. The scene was shot at Grand Junction's old Flamingo. Do you remember the Flamingo? It was in the corner building at 2nd and Colorado. The building is still there, but it has undergone a major facelift.
The plot of the movie involves something of a cross-country trek with the star, Molly Ringwald. Portions were filmed in Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, as well as parts of Utah, and Monterey, Petaluma, and San Francisco, California.
So, when it comes to Ralph N' Clyde, which is which? Ralph Smith is at the center of the group singing lead and playing guitar. That's Clyde Jorgensen at the far right playing bass and whistling. I've never known Clyde to whistle. Here's the story behind that:
Not sure if we ever told you how it came to be that I whistled in that song. As you know Duane and Deed Eddy came over from Lake Tahoe to do that session with us. They came in the Flamingo and Duane got up and done some numbers with us. We had mentioned the night before he might come in . Well, the place was packed from floor to ceiling with folks wanting to see and hear our buddy do some picking with us. As usual, he was fantastic and everyone in the place LOVED him. As always I whistled on "Lights" as we did to make it last longer for folks dancing. In the studio, I wasn't planning to whistle at all. When it came to that part Deed wanted to know why I wasn't whistling. I quickly explained why I had did so at the club but, she insisted I do so on the session as well. Duane backed her up so I did. It was a hoot for sure. - Clyde Jorgensen
This movie is definitely worth checking out. While it's kind of hard to find, it just so happens you can watch the full movie on YouTube.
A Fantastic Musician and Wonderful Family Man
In addition to his work as a vocalist and guitarist, Ralph was a loving family man. His son Richard, whom everyone calls "Dickey," has gone on to be a magnificent musician and a doting father, too.
Thank you, Ralph Smith, for decades of wonderful music and memories. My parents were already good friends with Ralph by the time I was born. We used to go see them at the Jungle Bar back in the early 1970s. Those were great times. It's my sincere hope you had the opportunity to catch at least one show with Ralph Smith.