Come along with me on my musical Savannah journey

Savannah, Georgia--wow! My wife and I knew how fortunate we were when, some four years ago, we moved to the “Hostess City of the South.” We knew Savannah had been home to the legendary musician, Johnny Mercer, perhaps best-known as the lyricist for “Moon River,” performed by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as well as dozens of other well-known tunes or lyrics, including “The Days of Wine and Roses,” “Autumn Leaves,” and, believe it or not, “I’m an Old Cowhand” (From the Rio Grande). Even now, when we take out-of-town friends and international visitors to Bonaventure Cemetery--itself a fascinating place--they always want to see where Johnny Mercer is laid to rest.

Living in Savannah, I find it inspiring and easy to continue to create and work on new songs. Music beckons all over town--from blues and jazz downtown to buskers performing on River Street. Savannah is the proud home of Savannah Live, the Savannah Philharmonic and the Savannah Children’s Choir. The internationally acclaimed American Traditions Vocal Competition—another wonderful, annual tradition of Savannah music—celebrated 25 years of awe-inspiring talent this past February! After moving to Savannah, I co-produced my song “Lately,” along with several other tunes, and am currently working with several folks in Savannah, Macon and Memphis for future projects


We had lived quite near another famous music town – Macon, Georgia---home to Little Richard, Otis Redding, The Allman Brothers Band and other well-known, talented artists. In Macon, I recorded my first CD, “Hangover Blues,” with local music studio owner and producer Goose Goodrich, and also became reacquainted with the renowned Clarence Carter (“Patches,” “Slip Away,” “Strokin’”), while attending one of his shows. I say reacquainted because, in the late 1980s, I’d had the privilege of helping Clarence with the cover of his fabulous album “Dr. C. C.”. Clarence was most gracious to me, my wife and our friends after his Macon show.

Stay tuned--my Savannah journey continues.


Out and About with Doc #15

2016 was a great year in music for me! A real highlight was having my song "Lately (Morning Dove, Mourning Sparrow)" as recorded by the lovely Kim Meeks on this super CD! Thanks Joey!

Out and About with Doc #14

Pam and I enjoyed visiting our British friends in Fort Myers, Florida recently. Paul is a true blues music lover and a great golf buddy. 

Out and About with Doc #13

My wife Pam and I enjoyed a lovely Italian dinner in London with British music producer extraordinaire Charlie Hoskyns and his wife Teresa. I am please that Charlie has agreed to produce my next blues number! Stay tuned!

Out & About with Doc #12

Beautiful Inverness in north Scotland. The River Ness flows from Loch Ness.... but no sightings of the Loch Ness Monster!

Out & About with Doc #11

Edinburgh, Scotland is an incredible city. My second visit during the famous Edinburgh Fringe festival and "Militay Tattoo" (parade).

Out & About with Doc #10

The Scottish Highlands. 

Out & About with Doc #9

Postcards from Scotland, Cheers!

Out & About with Doc #8

Excited to have seen the opening night of the touring production...fabulous! Highly recommended. If you love the film, you will love this show. 

Out & About with Doc #7

I am in England for the summer visiting my wife's family and seeing many friends. I am enjoying playing golf at some of the beautiful golf courses like this one, which has a large lily pond, complete with frogs and goldfish, on this course. 



Performing on Studio 41
I’ll be appearing on Studio 41 in April 2015!
Connect with me for more details!
New Website!
Hey everyone!
I’m so excited about my new website. I’ve been working on music for a while and I hope you enjoy browsing through the pages.
Doc Henderson
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Article on Doc Henderson - 2009
Article on Doc Henderson
Written 2009
Where do you originate from and where are you currently based?
Hi, Natasha. Thanks for interviewing me. I’m an American, born in Rome, Georgia in the heartland of the American South. I grew up around Atlanta, Georgia, but moved to Augusta, Georgia to attend medical school in the 1970’s. Since then I have lived in quite a few interesting places, including being a ship’s doctor in the Caribbean and living and working for two years in Saudi Arabia. My second wife, Pam, and I now live in Milledgeville, Georgia, where I still practice medicine, while finding some time to get to the music studio and to play some golf. Milledgeville is the home of famed author Flannery O’Connor and it is located very near Macon, Georgia, which I can talk about a bit later I guess.
When did your musical career begin and how would you describe your music?
I actually wrote one song while at university and recorded it my first year as a practicing physician. I still have an acetate copy of the song, called “You Don’t Know Yet.” But until I turned 30 and got back my old piano from my parents’ home, I had not tried any further songwriting. While I had taken some piano lessons as a child, I wasn’t much good at it, really. Then, one day, sitting at the keyboard with my piano in front of me, I just realized that the key of C was made up of the “white notes” and you couldn’t really make any mistakes if you just played those white notes on the piano! So, I started composing music, and songs, right then and there. True story, though I would imagine most pianists didn’t have to have an epiphany to realize what the key of C was. Then, again, I’m left-handed and right-brained, which I think has the most influence on my own creativity. I’m definitely not a linear thinker. (Laughing) Now I can write songs in several keys, by the way, and each key tends to bring out a different “sound” and feeling, which seems to help when I write.
If I had to describe my music, I would say it mainly involves sounds of country, rockabilly and ballads. Occasionally I’ll write a song with syncopated riffs – you know, not the usual strong/weak pattern of a typical four-beat song. I’ve also written a few comedy songs and children’s songs. Haven’t recorded them yet, although my brother, Wayne, who also has written some songs, took one of my hooks and recorded a really funny song with it. I plan to put several more of my songs down this year. It’s a lot of fun.
What music are you currently listening to?
Well, Natasha, funnily enough, I don’t have the radio on all the time. I like classic country music, and some current country music, and I have always enjoyed singer-songwriter artists. Among my all-time favorites would have to be Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffett, Jackson Browne and Van Morrison. I have old vinyl album covers by each of them up on the wall in my library at home.
I like Southern rock and songs from David Allen Coe and Willie Nelson to Leonard Cohen. I certainly enjoy the blues and many of the standards from Motown soul to “Georgia On My Mind.” My wife, Pam, is English and when I’m in England or she brings over some British pop CDs I really enjoy the great variety I hear and vow to listen more. The latest country singer whose work I admire is Jamey Johnson, from Alabama. Just to be complete, I do like some operatic arias – they can bring a tear to the eye – and some Beethoven, Mozart and a bit of jazz when the mood strikes.
Who or what do you think is your greatest inspiration?
While I really couldn’t say who might have influenced me directly as to actual songwriting, I think the singer-songwriter, as a profession, has been most inspirational. I think there are two types of songs: storytelling ones and emotional ones. A lot of times, of course, they are mixed. The folks I mentioned above, and many others, give me the belief that putting your authentic emotions into words, especially words in a song arrangement, provides a powerful way to express yourself. I’ve never been shy in talking or expressing an opinion, though I do try very hard to be diplomatic about it. But emotion, real raw emotion, has always poured from me as a poem or a song rather than, say, as an essay or a speech. As to storytelling, well, I hope that listening to my songs would provide evidence of stories, some a bit autobiographical but most not. Songs seem to come to me very easily when the spirit moves.
Musicians can often take influence from the music that surrounded them during their early years; what was the sound of your childhood and do you think this influences your music today?
I grew up near Atlanta, outside the heart of the city, back when what is now the busy suburbs was somewhat rural. My father was a Baptist minister and my mother had the role of the church pianist, organist and sometime church choir director. So, from an early age, church music – from hymns like “Amazing Grace” to upbeat songs like “I’ll Fly Away” – were as much a part of me as eating fried chicken at Sunday dinner!
And we had Stamps-Baxter songs, too. These are southern gospel songs, usually sung by a quartet or trio. When I was very young several famous groups, from the LeFevres to Wendy Bagwell and the Sunlighters, sang on Sunday afternoons at my dad’s church. Probably most people these days might recognize some of this style from the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
I would hasten to add that having gone to church from the age of six weeks, words themselves surrounded me throughout my childhood. I love words, and wordplay. That certainly counts in my songwriting ability and I continue to grow in appreciation for what my parents and teachers gave to me at such an early age.
When I went away to med school, I learned a little guitar from my first love and broadened my appreciation to include folk and rock. But I’ve had no formal training other than a couple of years on piano as a child.
I understand your musical life runs alongside your career in medicine. Would you like to see it become your main focus or do you like the variation/ does it provide inspiration for your work?
Becoming a physician was something I wanted to do since the age of 13. From practicing in the ER to general practice and prevention, I’ve been fortunate to help others. Through medicine I’ve gotten to know people pretty well and I’ve had the good fortune to see a lot of life and a lot of the world. I wouldn’t want to give it up necessarily, but spending more time in the music world would, to me, be fantastic.
A couple of names of people you have spent time with have been mentioned to me; Simon Cowell and Billy Roberts. How did you find meeting Simon Cowell? Did he offer you any advice? He is renowned for his brutally honest opinions, reducing many to tears; did he hear your music and what did he think?
Simon Cowell was very gracious and easy to talk with. It’s an interesting story, I guess, as to how I happened to meet him. My wife, Pam, and I were celebrating our fifth year of marriage on a Caribbean cruise, as we had met in the Caribbean when I was a physician there in the late ‘90s. The ship overnighted in Barbados and I was able to get us into Sandy Lane, the famous resort there, as I had played a good bit of golf there compliments of being a ship’s doctor. Anyway, Pam says, “Simon Cowell will be here.” I didn’t believe her, but sure enough he was there, lunching at the beach, along with his family and some friends. Pam made me go by and introduce myself, and she came over later. They didn’t mind in the least and after some banter, I mentioned that I wrote songs. Simon said, “Well, you must sing us a song.” I was floored. I mumbled something about not having a piano but he kind of insisted. So, I did sing a bit of “Story Of A Love Song.” Then, I was nervous and I forgot the words halfway through! Simon didn’t really critique me, but he did give me his address in L. A. and I did send a few songs, and a big thank you, to him. Never heard back, but again he was as nice as anyone I have ever met.
Billy Roberts - I understand he lived with you for a year, how did that come about? Did he work on any material during that time? On reflection, do you think you learnt from this experience?
Wow. Billy, as you know, wrote “Hey, Joe” which was the only song not written by Jimi Hendrix on his “Are You Experienced” album. There had been questions about who did write the song, once it had become a huge hit, but Billy did write it and has received credit and royalties ever since. He never had any other hits and only one album back in his California days. Sure had some stories about the times, including being at the Playboy Mansion, things like that. Billy’s parents were close friends of my first wife and me, and Billy kind of needed some friendship back in the early ‘80s. So, he called me from Australia and we talked and he came back to the States and lived with me and my wife and our young daughter for over a year in Atlanta.
Listening and watching Billy Roberts play his Tobias bass guitar, singing “Hey, Joe” in my living room, has to be one of the highlights of my life! Billy’s deep voice was so rich. People don’t know that he did some Levi’s 501 jeans voiceovers, I guess. That’s how good he was. I don’t recall Billy working on specific songs, but he and I hung out at some concerts and he played a couple of gigs, including some fine harmonica. I was backstage with him when some acts came to town and I think that helped introduce me to the music scene, mostly fine folks who had talent and loved life and were friendly and approachable.
How do you approach writing a song?
That is both a simple and a complex question to answer. Simply, I will sit down at the piano, hit a few notes and I’m off. Words tend to come to me based on whatever melody I’ve come up with. They truly do come together. I believe lots of songs are like that. Certainly many great books and films, too, I think, because upon reflection you can go back and say, it just had to be that way. By the time I have completed a song, I can’t think of any other way it might have been.
The complex part is that I cannot with any honesty tell you exactly how that happens; it just does. Still, I’ll have a thought, maybe about an episode in life, and a “hook” comes to mind. Then it’s a matter of kind of seeing it in my mind, somewhat as a film might roll by, and the words and notes build up pretty quickly. Also, I’ve scribbled verses on envelopes and scratch paper while driving down the road, obviously without a piano in front of me. And the melody is almost always there, too, at the same time. Goodness, one song that I’ve never even demoed, called “Barking Up The Wrong Tree,” I wrote completely – the first two verses anyway – on a golf scorecard out on the course! I still have that scorecard and consider it a memento. Songwriting is a gift, really. I’m honored and humbled to have that gift.
Where have you performed?
I can’t really call myself a performer as such, although I do sing all my own songs. I have only done some of my songs as karaoke for friends locally and at karaoke bars in Seattle and Montreal, even Montmarte in Paris. Also, at parties and a few groups, once for about 800 folks. That went over very well. And I won a song contest on a local radio station contest once (“Hangover Blues”) and it was played many times daily for a month. I had great feedback from quite a few folks, if I might say so.
Are you a solo performer? Who provides the backing for your songs?
I have been very fortunate to find and record at a fantastic 32-track digital studio in Macon, Georgia called “Wild Bean Studio.” Macon has a legitimate claim to fame as the home of Little Richard, Otis Redding and The Allman Brothers Band, among others. It is the home of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. It’s always been a very good music town. My producer and engineer is the studio owner, Michael “Goose” Goodrich. He and the musicians who back me are real professionals, having worked with well-known local artists and some big groups over the years. I sing lead vocal and have Machelle Palma as my backing vocalist. Phil Palma is my guitarist. Goose plays bass. My musical director, Tony Cooper, plays keyboards and a cool Hammond B3 organ, and he helps me tremendously with arrangements. Danny Lassiter is a great drummer – we never use a drum machine – and Elbert Durham came in on saxophone most recently and really knocked me out. I am blessed with these guys and lady. I have some friends old and new who I want to call on in the future to come in and add a special touch and sound to my future recordings.
Thanks, again, Natasha. It’s been a real pleasure to talk with you.