Trudy Fair purchased her Weatherford ranch in 1994, continuing her career in the music and acting industry that began in 1970 where she worked with many icons before settling down at the age of 65.
“I started playing guitar and piano professionally in 1970 and I happened to be living in Fort Worth at the time because my dad had just retired from the [U.S.] Air Force,” Fair said. “Like everyone else that retired from the Air Force in the 60s, he went to work for General Dynamics.”
In 1976, Fair moved to Austin where she played in a club owned by Willie Nelson called The Backstage and that’s where she was discovered by American blues, rock and country artist Lonnie Mack.
“I met a limo driver who told me she was driving around these guys from New York who had come down looking to put a band together and said she thought I was just what they were looking for,” Fair said. “I went out to meet these guys and it ended up being Lonnie Mack, of all people, so that’s how I ended up in Lonnie Mack’s band. Literally the next day I had a one-way first-class ticket to New York.”
Fair said the band lived at “The Jingle King” Ed Labunski’s home, on 25 acres on The Poconos Islands while traveling around playing gigs. In 1980, Labunski died tragically in a car accident in Milford, Pennsylvania after one of the band’s gigs.
“That ended all of that, it was over just instantly,” Fair said. “So the recording engineer and I went to Nashville where he got offered a job.”
That’s when Fair met Leon Russell, who was working with The New Grass Revival.
“Leon was putting together another one of these rock and roll bands and he didn’t do open auditions for singers, he just told the guys in the band if they knew anybody that was a singer, set them up with an audition,” Fair said. “Because I knew the recording engineer I went down and auditioned and got the job — I’ve actually gotten everything I’ve auditioned for. I auditioned with Leon on a Tuesday and our first show was Friday night in Raleigh, North Carolina. We crammed on a bus two days after we met each other and that was our first show.”
While in Russell’s band, Fair got to play with Edgar Winter, Eric Clapton and George Harrison.
“Leon was involved in the very first rock concert for charity that was ever done, which was the Concert for Bangladesh with George Harrison, and Leon was the bandleader for that,” Fair said.
Fair played with the band for seven years until it dwindled. She then moved to Los Angeles and took a break from music, buying a horse and riding through the hills of LA for five years.
“I didn’t work there, my boyfriend at the time was an actor and he made more in a week than I did in a year, and I didn’t want to go back on the road immediately, so I just bought a horse — I had grown up with horses and had them my whole life — and spent about five years riding my horse in the hills in LA,” Fair said.
But music was her calling and she got into playing early western music stylings from the 1930s and started playing regularly at the Gene Autry Museum in LA in the early 1990s. That’s when she met artist Red Steagall who invited her to come back to Texas and play in the Fort Worth area. Fair moved back to Texas in 1994 and purchased her ranch in Weatherford.
Fair played at festivals around the state, in the Stockyards, the World Championship Ranch Rodeo in Amarillo and even played with the Texas Playboys for a stint. At that time, Fair also got involved in some theatre, writing for the Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show and doing a little acting.
In the early 2000s, Steagall was writing a play and asked Fair to be a part of it.
“Red and one of the guys I had known from doing all the festivals named Andy Wilkinson were writing a play about Texas and the West. They hired me to be Cynthia Ann Parker, who was from this area and had been captured by the Comanche Indians when she was 9 years old,” Fair said. “She ended up marrying Chief [Peta] Nocona. Their son, Quanah Parker was the last war chief of the Comanches and he was half white and had one blue eye and one brown eye, which was so symbolic.”
Fair said the first performance of the play, which was called “Soul of the West,” was done in Washington, D.C. and it became a hit.
“We had a lot of great western actors in this play. We did it at Bass Hall two or three times and it was sold out every time we did it there,” Fair said. “Then we took it to the Palo Duro Canyon Amphitheater, which was a really cool place to do it because it was set around a campfire and it was like ghosts from the past coming out and joining people around the campfire.”
Around the time she got involved in theatre, Fair started getting pain in her hips and legs that progressed over 13 years and got to the point where she could barely walk or complete small tasks. But Fair said she worked through the pain until it was unbearable.
Fair found out she was suffering from osteoarthritis and got her first hip replacement surgery done in 2013 by Dr. Ajai Cadambi at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth.
“She was very motivated because other treatment options weren’t providing adequate pain relief,” Cadambi said. “After a hip replacement, patients wake up from surgery with little to no joint pain. You might be sore from the incisions, but the bone-to-bone aches are gone.”
Fair said she was pain-free when she woke up, but the journey didn’t end there and Fair had four other joints replaced — her other hip, both knees and her right shoulder — as well as a spinal fusion.
“Other treatment options like steroid shots and physical therapy work for some people, but there are other times when you just have to go in and fix the problem,” Cadambi said. “And my goal is to give patients a better quality of life.”
Fair said she followed all of the instructions for physical therapy to get back on her feet — using a walker was not a great option for someone who has spent her life traveling the country, Fair said.
Although her music and acting journey has ended, Fair continues to be enthusiastic about life and resides at her ranch in Weatherford, writing.