John Pickering was born on March 8, 1933, near Murchison in east Texas. (He was called “Johnny” until the army changed his name in 1958.) Breaking precedent, John received the first name of his singer/songwriter father, John M., a custom usually reserved for the first son. He was, however, the second son of John M. and Elizabeth “Beth” Pickering. Bill, his only sibling, was 6 years older and already a professional singer. John grew up with a singing family and was certain that everybody sang, because everybody he knew did. His career began at age 5 and continued through Tyler, Beaumont and Lubbock, Texas; Clovis and Portales, New Mexico; Baytown and Houston, Texas.
From age 5 to age 20, John was a professional performer with The Pickering Family Quartet. After the death of “Pop” in 1953, John sang as a soloist and with various professional groups such as The Plainsmen Quartet and the gospel quartet, The Happy Rhythm Boys.
In 1954, he was master of ceremonies and soloist for Lubbock pianist Lawrence Ivy, with a weekly radio show on KDAV (the original) that came on immediately before a country group called “Buddy, Bob and Larry” (Buddy Holley, Bob Montgomery, and Larry Welborn). He became acquainted with Sonny Curtis, and knew Don Guess from early childhood in Clovis, New Mexico.
In 1957, he and his brother Bill and friend Bob Lapham vocally backed aspiring artists at Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico. Then, as a trio called “The Picks”, the group backed Buddy Holly as the vocal “Crickets” for Brunswick Records.
John married Vicky Billington of Lubbock on August 23, 1957, between recordings of “Oh Boy” (July 13, 1957) and “Maybe Baby” (October 12, 1957) and moved to Corpus Christi, Texas after graduation from Texas Tech University with a B.S. Degree in Petroleum Geology with a minor in Math. There, he worked for Humble Oil Company and commuted to Clovis and back (1,280 miles) for sessions at Petty’s Clovis studio. In December, 1957, John and The Picks recorded their Columbia Records “Moondreams” and “Look To The Future” at Clovis.
He entered the US Army Corps of Engineers as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1958, as a “six-monther”. More music followed his honorable discharge. In 1969-1974, The Pickering Brothers recorded at Nashville and Houston. In fact, John’s music career, beginning at age 5, now spans more than 60 years. It includes The Pickering Family Quartet; The Plainsmen Quartet; The Happy Rhythm Boys; Lawrence Ivy’s soloist; church soloist, quartets and choir director; The Pickering Brothers (Nashville’s Stop Records and Houston’s Daffan and Stoneway Records).
John established “Buddy Holly & The Picks”, overdubbing additional Holly solos in 1984. These were released on John’s Pick Records (owned by Pickering Enterprises, Inc.) Pick Records licenses “Buddy Holly & The Picks” recordings worldwide and has released LPs, cassettes and CDs of the material in the USA.
John has recorded country songs (The Picks 25th Anniversary Tape) and gospel songs for cassette and CD release on Pick Records, the latest being a soon-to-be-released 18-song gospel CD called “Only Jesus”. All 18 songs are written and sung by John Pickering. (In 1987, John released three gospel cassettes of mostly his own compositions.) From age 8 John has written songs. Secular songs such as Gene Watson’s “I’m Not Strong Enough” and Holly tributes: “Buddy Holly Not Fade Away” and “Forever 22” among them.
John continues to write, arrange, produce and sing songs for recording sessions, mostly at Sound Masters Studio. He still makes personal appearances as a soloist, both secular and gospel.
John and wife Vicky have 3 children: Daughter Lisa (Mrs. Craig Rees of Richardson, Texas), Daughter Paula (Mrs. Terry Robinson, Jr. of Flower Mound, Texas), and Son John Victor (wife Kathy, d. 2015) of Houston, Texas. They have seven grandchildren: Garrett, Landon (wife Rebecca), Rylie, Jansen Rees; and Zachary and Jacob Robinson.
Please Note: John Pickering died suddenly 02-28-2011 in Houston, TX of cardiac arrest. Daughter-in-law, Kathy Pickering died of breast cancer 1-23-2015.