By Kelly Baughman
One of the living Flora-Bama legends, keyboard player Larry Strickland, is bringing adventure on the island to life in his newest book ‘Red Beard’s Revenge’. The Novella, written by Strickland with Chris Warner, is the latest feather in the cap of a man who’s talent, spirit, and creative drive is as treasured and sought after as Red Beard’s gold itself.
Strickland, who also goes by the nickname Strick 9, is an Alabama native who moved to the Pensacola area at the tender age of 4. A graduate of Pensacola High School, Strickland spent time pursuing his education at PJC, but quickly realized the pull of music in his life was too strong to deny.
“I knew it was music that I wanted to pursue. I joined a band and traveled all over the southeast and abroad, but it wasn’t until I played my first gig at the Flora-Bama that I had found a place that felt like home,” Strickland said.
Upon befriending Flora-Bama’s Joe Gilchrist, Strickland became a staple at the world famous roadhouse, and by 1990 he was playing 5-6 days a week. “I’d sit in with anyone who’d let me play with them. While playing with other Flora-Bama legends like Lea Anne Creswell, Cathy Pace, and Donna Slater over the next decade, Strickland also found himself living across from the honky tonk in the iconic ‘Boystowne’ community.
Boystowne was a quirky neighborhood on a stretch of land, where the Flora-Bama Yacht Club now sits, filled with campers and trailers owned and occupied by musicians and Flora-Bama regulars who loved the life so much, they never wanted to leave. “Boystowne was pretty much dismantled after it was destroyed in Hurricane Ivan, but I remained,” Strickland said.
“John McInnis approached me when he wanted to build the Yacht Club and asked me if he could use my porch to keep the property grandfathered in to save him from having to build up off of the ground,” he continued. Strickland agreed, moving just to the east of the Yacht Club, where he continues to live as the last remaining resident of Boystowne today. “The tin roof that still hangs over the bar is a part of my old house. I guess I’m now officially a piece of Flora-Bama history.”
Now “semi-retired” as he called it, Strickland still works at the Flora-Bama running sound, setting up bingo, and remaining on call for whatever the staff may need.
Always a creative force at heart, in his latest venture, Strickland is taking on the literary world. His first book, ‘Tales From the Davenport’ is a collection of stories that tell the tale of Strickland’s life, one anecdote at a time. A revealing and sometimes tearful account of the life of a musician, Strickland takes the reader on a journey from his days as a taxidermist, high-rise painter, fisherman, and more.
With a big imagination and years of stories and experiences that are so unbelievable that they begged to be told, Strickland knew he wanted to create a novel that combined partial truths with outlandish adventure that everyone who has ever visited the area could relate to.
His newest book, ‘Red Beard’s Revenge’, tells the tale of the sinking of the fierce-some pirate’s ship, The Ravager, and her cursed treasure which happens to be buried under the world famous Flora-Bama Lounge on the state line.
This fast paced thriller takes you on a ride in a quest for Red Beard’s bounty through the music filled stages laden with colorful and precocious characters at the Flora-Bama, down in the depths of the Escambia County morgue, trudging through the sugary white sands of the beaches of Perdido Key, and into the mystery of two murders that occur along the way.
With characters loosely based on some of the locals you know and love, like a psychedelic mushroom eating biker from South Florida, a burned-out local meth-head, a gullible Viagra-snorting professor who believes he himself embodies Red Beard’s spirit, and a character based on Strickland himself, a honky-tonk keyboard player turned private detective, Strick-9, this humorous murder mystery will keep you laughing and guessing right up to the surprise ending.
“I know so many people around here with big personalities, I knew that I wanted to base some of my characters on them. That’s part of what makes the Perdido Key and the Flora-Bama so special is the people who call it home,” Strickland said.
A novel that will keep you guessing, make you laugh, and maybe even bust out your treasure maps and metal detectors, Strickland’s ‘Red Beard’s Revenge’ is a read that will keep you turning the pages faster than the Perdido Key weather can change.
To order your copy of ‘Red Beard’s Revenge’ or ‘Tales From the Davenport’, visit Larry Strickland’s website at www.larrystrickland.net, download it on Kindle, or contact Larry Strickland on Facebook messenger.