Clyde Lindley, left, presents Eddie Hodges with a replica of a Grammy Award 53 years after he became Mississippi's first Grammy winner. Hodges was part of Broadway's The Music Man cast that won for Best Original Cast Album in 1959, but none of the members received a trophy. (image credit Dorothy Thames/Special to The Clarion-Ledger)
Jackson, MS (by Billy Watkins/The Clarion-Ledger) -- Eddie Hodges enjoyed childhood as a Broadway music star in "The Music Man" and then became a teen heartthrob as a singer. He performed with the likes of Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra. His 1961 tune "I'm Gonna Knock On Your Door" was a worldwide hit, peaking at No. 12 in the U.S., No. 11 in the United Kingdom, and No. 1 in Australia.
Clyde Lindley, 61, is a retired educator and former head of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus. He is an avid historian whose apartment resembles a Hard Rock Cafe, with autographed guitars from dozens of artists, including the Beatles, Gregg Allman and Charley Pride.
Hodges, a Hattiesburg, Miss., native, and Lindley, who lives in Starksville, became friends after Lindley tracked him down in Hattiesburg -- where Hodges returned in 1973 after tiring of life in Hollywood - for an autograph. They became friends, often exchanging emails and occasionally meeting for lunch.
But Lindley was bothered by something he read in a Feb. 26 article about the 64-year-old Hodges in The Clarion-Ledger: Hodges, who in 1959 at age 12 became Mississippi's first Grammy Award winner for his contribution to the show's soundtrack album, had nothing to show for the honor. He never received an actual Grammy trophy.
"I called the Grammy Recording Academy in California and told them the situation," Lindley says. "They told me they only replace trophies within the past five years and couldn't make any exceptions."
So Lindley went to work.
And following a casual lunch recently in Collins, where Hodges serves as director of a mental health clinic, Lindley set a gift-wrapped box on the table.
Hodges couldn't imagine what it was. "I was like, 'Clyde, you didn't have to buy me anything,'" he recalls. "I opened it, dug through some paper used for padding, and all of a sudden I saw this gramophone spray-painted gold. I couldn't believe it."
It was a replica of a Grammy Award, complete with inscription.
"I decided if the Grammy people weren't going to give him one, then I was," Lindley says. "It's only right. Not only was he the first Mississippi Grammy winner, but it was the first year the Grammys were awarded. So that makes it even more special.
"Sure, he's got plenty of awards from 'The Music Man.' But I wanted his collection complete. I not only did it for Eddie, I did it for his two children and six grandchildren."
Says Hodges: "If the Grammys sent me an award now, I'd put it in a drawer somewhere and keep the one Clyde gave me on my shelf at home -- because this one came from the heart. This one ... it made me realize that maybe people haven't totally forgotten me."
Lindley's friend Dorothy Thames said the presentation was an emotional one.
"Eddie was in shock," she said. "It really took him a while to gather himself. And Clyde ... he got so much enjoyment seeing Eddie's reaction."
Lindley wouldn't say how much he spent.
"I'm just astounded somebody could be that thoughtful," says Hodges' 84-year-old mother, Sue Fortenberry. "Eddie was always joking, 'I guess I won a Grammy. I really don't have any proof of it.' Well, he does now."
Finding something similar to the iconic Grammy trophy "took a couple of weeks" of combing the Internet.
"What I finally came across was a rust-colored decorative box with a gramophone on top of it," Lindley says.
He bought it and took it to Bob's Paint & Auto Body in Columbus. Lindley explained what he was trying to do for Hodges.
"They painted the gramophone gold, just like the real trophy," he says. "And they didn't charge me a dime."
Lindley had the box welded shut and a plaque attached to the base.
"I'm a sentimentalist," Lindley says. "I can't help it. I have a pair of loafers I wore when I was 17 years old that I refuse to throw away. Every time I see them, I think about all the good times I had while wearing them.
"And when Eddie was opening the box, my mind went back to 1959, to when I was 9 years old -- and to what could have been, what should have been given to Eddie Hodges. He says it's a moment he'll never forget. Well, I definitely won't, either."