Hometown Heroes


CARL BELEW 4/21/1931 - 10/31/1990

   Carl Belew was born in Salina, Oklahoma on April 21, 1931 to Carl and Leora Belew. He was married to Katherine May Stover on August 16, 1951. Like many aspiring artists of the Mid-50s, Carl switched from making small rockabilly records to country music. Despite recording eight albums between 1960 and 1972, Carl Belew is best remembered as a songwriter whose work was covered by an eclectic group of artists ranging from Patsy Cline to Gene Vincent to Andy Williams. Carl was introduced to Four Star Records in 1955 by Marvin Rainwater (Gonna Find Me a Bluebird) and subsequently released the rockabilly singles "Cool Gator Shoes" and "Folding Money." After that, he won an amateur contest in Pasadena, California which led to a recording contract with Decca Records. With backing from the major label, Carl launched his recording career in the country music arena. During that time, he made appearances on a pair of radio programs; Town Hall Party and The Cliffie Stone Show.

   From there he had a brief stint on the famed Louisiana Hayride and then in 1959 he relocated to Nashville. The move allowed him the opportunity to appear on the Grand Ole Opry and continue pursuing his recording aspirations. Carl's breakthrough composition "Stop the World (And Let Me Off)" hit the Top 10 in 1958, when Johnnie & Jack released their rendition of the song. The song was later covered by Patsy Cline. The following year, Andy Williams hit the Top 5 with "Lonely Street," a song which would become Carl's trademark tune thanks to a cover by Patsy Cline. Gene Vincent, Tony Booth and Rex Allen, Jr., also covered the song.

   Carl wrote "Am I That Easy to Forget," a Top 40 pop hit for actress Debbie Reynolds that was subsequently recorded by Engelbert Humperdinck, Skeeter Davis (No. 11, 1960), Don Gibson, Jim Reeves (No. 12, 1973) and Leon Russell. Carl's own rendition of the song, which was his chart debut single, rose to No. 9 in 1959. The song was generated from his initial Decca recording sessions.

In 1960, Belew released his self-titled debut album on the Decca label. That same year, he notched a Top 20 song with the single "Too Much to Lose." Two years later, he was recording for RCA Records and turned out seven lower level singles. The song "Hello Out There" broke into the Top 10 and was his biggest chart hit (No. 8, 1962). The song was covered by LaWanda Lindsay in 1974 (No. 28). Carl followed up with "In the Middle of a Memory" (No. 23, 1964) and "Crystal Chandelier" (No. 12, 1965), and "Boston Jail" a Top 40 in 1966, "All I need is You" (Decca, 1971) and "Welcome Back to My World," (MCA, 1974). 


   Throughout his career, Carl's songs continued to be popular with (and popularized by) other singers. Eddy Arnold hit No.1 in 1965 with "What's He Doing in My World," while Jim Reeves scored a posthumous chart hit with "That's When I See the Blues (In Your Pretty Brown Eyes)" (No. 9, 1968). "Stop the World (And Let Me Off)" also reached the Top 20 twice more thanks to a 1965 cover by Waylon Jennings which was one of his early RCA singles and a 1974 version by Susan Raye. Strangely for such a great writer as Carl, two of his most popular songs, Crystal Chandeliers and Hello Out There, were not penned by him.

   The following is a list of original albums Carl recorded between 1960 and 1972: CARL BELEW (Decca, 1960), CARL BELEW, (Wrangler, 1962), Hello Out There (RCA, 1964), Am I That Easy to Forget (RCA, 1965), Another Lonely Night (Hilltop, 1965), Country Songs (Vocallion, 1966), Carl Belew (Allegro, 1966), Lonely Street (Vocallion, 1967) and 12 Shades of Belew (RCA, 1967), His last studio album, When My Baby Sings His Song, a record of duets with Betty Jean Robinson, was issued in 1972. Singing My Song (Buckboard, 1975), Greatest Hits (Plantation, 1979) and Big Time Gamblin' Man (Picadilly, 1980), were reissue material.


   Carl died from cancer at 59 years of age on October 31, 1990, in Salina, Oklahoma. Two years after his death he won the Music City News award for Best Song with "Look At Us," which was a No. 4 hit for Vince Gill in 1991.

Carl is buried in the Ross Mayes Cemetery 1 mile East of Salina on Kenwood Road . He preceded his wife Katherine (Sissy) Belew in death. Sissy was born on April 21, 1936 and passed from this life on December 1, 2007. Their son Bobby and his family still reside in Salina.



   Steven Ray Crawford a former pitcher in Major League Baseball was born April 29, 1958 in Pryor, Oklahoma to Opie and Lorraine Crawford. He is the youngest of 6 children, all of whom played whatever sport was presented to them. Steve was a standout in football, basketball and definitely baseball. With his 6’8” frame people thought he would be a pro-basketball player. It was just the opposite. He was on scholarship at RSU for baseball as a pitcher. He ruined several hind catchers’ mitts in his two years there. In his sophmore year, all 26 professional baseball teams had an interest in him. Because his idol was Carl (Yaz) Yastirmkie he chose the Red Sox. He went through their A-AAA camps within 1 ½ years. A versatile hard-thrower, Crawford did everything a pitcher was asked to do. He filled various relief roles coming out from the bullpen, as a closer or middle reliever, serving as an emergency starter as well. He was called up in 1980 and played for Boston until 1987. Listed at 6' 8", 225 lb., he batted and threw right-handed.

   His most productive season came in 1985 with the Red Sox, when he set career-numbers in wins (6), saves (12), strikeouts (58) and innings pitched (91.0). During the 1986 postseason, he went 2-0 including a win in Game 2 of the World Series.

   After Steve left Boston, he went on to play for 3 years with the Kansas City Royals from 1989 to 1991, winning 11 games and averaging 60.0 innings of work in each season. In a 10-season career, Crawford posted a 30-23 record with 19 saves and a 4.17 ERA in 277 games, including 16 starts, two complete games and 562 ⅔ innings. His career ended when he threw his arm out and had to have surgery.

   Steve now resides in Claremore, Oklahoma, not far from his childhood home of Salina, with his wife and daughter Jade. Steve has three other children, Ashley, Blake & Casey, two of whom have went on to be stand out athletes. Son Blake played basketball for UMKC, Casey played basketball for Colorado University and went on to play semi-pro all over the world.

   Steve opened Crawford’s Pro-Sports in Pryor, Oklahoma, just 10 miles from his hometown. It is a baseball and softball facility with batting and pitching cages, where professional players give lessons in both sports.

   Steve is proud of his small town roots where many of his family members still reside. He is living proof that whatever you set your mind to can be accomplished. He had the discipline to achieve this goal. His strict upbringing at home taught him to be respectful of all people, especially his teachers at Salina Schools. His faith in God was a big factor in his life and God helped him accomplish his goals. To this day, he still holds on to the faith that his father preached about growing up. His encouragement is simple, respect others, discipline yourself, work hard in whatever you do and dream big. Steve knows that dreams do come true.


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