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The remaking of a Rudy Love holiday classic: 'I Miss You Most Of All At Christmas'

John Salem and Bob Love.jpg

Rudy Love's I Miss You Most of All at Christmas is getting a 2022 update for those missing a loved one during the holidays.

By now you've heard a Christmas tune or two this holiday season. One you may not have heard is I Miss You Most of All at Christmas by the late Wichita musician Rudy Love. He wrote the song with friends Doug Terbush and John Salem 40 years ago. Salem recently produced a remake of the tune in part to remember Rudy, who died last year. KMUW's Carla Eckels spoke with John Salem and Rudy's brother, Bob Love, about the origins of the song.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Interview Highlights

Recording the original song, I Miss You Most of All at Christmas

BOB LOVE: I think it was right in 1982; we had lost our grandmother; we had lost a brother to drowning; we had lost a brother to dying on the basketball court. So, we had a lot of tragedies going on and Rudy was thinking about doing something in honor of them. He started working on it and then he contacted John.

JOHN SALEM: Well, Rudy brought lyrics and a melody to me and said, "Would you help me finish this out?" The lyrics were done; the melody was pretty much done. So, he sort of made me a writer, but mostly what I did was come up with the accompaniment, the chord progression and sort of intro and then the ending. I've got a slice of it in there, but the lyrics are all Rudy.

We recorded the original with Keith Post, a local, Wichita-born bassist, and Rusty Russell on guitar. I played piano and then also the only other instrument on there is a little string synthesizer from the early eighties. But those were the people who helped make that first record.

I Miss You Most of All at Christmas 1982 Video (2022 Remastered version)

BOB LOVE: We were with some friends of ours when we all came up with an idea. I think my sister Audrey Love Wattree was working at Fox 24. The old Marple Theater, which is now Vorshay's here on Douglas, was the venue. We were just dibbling and dabbling with trying to make a video. And so, Diane Payne and Suzy Allen came up with the theme of, "Let's do it at the Marple." Once we started doing it, it just kind of snowballed.

People said you can use my car, and he [Rudy] pulled up in a burgundy Rolls Royce and he stands there in front, and then he walks inside and then sings the song. And that video has clips of family members, as well as footage of us being in a Christmas parade. There are excerpts on YouTube, but we are having the original video restored and it will be shown in its entirety.

The legendary R&B group, the GAP band also recorded the song

BOB LOVE: I remember at the time, we've been good friends with Charlie and Robert and Ronnie of the Gap Band since way back in the day. His record company was called Total Experience — Lonnie Simmons. They called and they heard the record and they were looking for some Christmas music, and so they decided to, "Hey, let's do that." And so, they put it on their Total Experience Christmas album. And then, as a matter of fact, my mom loved it. She really loved that version of it. We were honored to have the Gap band, the legendary Charlie Wilson sing, I Miss You Most of All at Christmas.

Remembering Rudy Love

JOHN SALEM: When we co-wrote this song, it was early on in our friendship, but he just ... he made me his brother. He just accepted me in and he was just one of my best lifetime friends of all time. When my mother passed, he was there with me and when his mother passed, I was there with him, and we just were like brothers from different mothers in a lot of ways. It was, you know, how you have those friendships where you call them, they pick up the phone and you just start the conversation? You just pick up where you left off. And I was very fortunate to be able to have that kind of friendship with him.

BOB LOVE: Well, I tell you, what I miss most about Rudy is the camaraderie of, you know? I could look up and glance at him and we could speak a language without even saying words, you know? And that's unique to be with somebody for over 70 years. And that's what I miss about him. His laughter, his sense of humor, and his sincerity about how much he loved everybody, and how much he really was such a religious person, and he thanked God for every minute that he was on this earth.

How the new remake came about

The whole idea of doing the 2022 version was that Rudy and I were actively involved in doing little projects together, and I rebuilt the track for I Miss You Most of All at Christmas based off of the original and he agreed to sing it again. So then I had this isolated audio track of just Rudy singing, and after he passed, I thought, "You know what? It's time for me to do something with that." That was very healing for me to get to work on that.

So, I reached out to Susan Mayo, a local cellist who plays with Wichita Symphony Orchestra, and I asked her if she would help me do an arrangement, a string arrangement, for this. I wanted to turn it into more of a traditional sort of Christmas Carol sound, and we brought in Rob Loren, Mark Foley, Ramiro Miranda and Elizabeth Wallace as our string quartet, and they played this beautiful arrangement, and we did it all at my house and that's what the 2022 version is. Mainly it was a project for me to pour myself into after I lost my friend Rudy. I just needed some way to kind of reconnect with him. And I think that was, that was very healing for me get to work on that and hear his voice all the time on that project.

I Miss You Most of All at Christmas 2022 Remake Video

BOB LOVE: Oh, I love it. It's ... it's different. When I first heard it, I was listening to it, and it made me think of traditional Christmas music. I was pleasantly surprised because, sometimes, you hear songs that are covered and, somebody says, "Well, you shouldn't do this to the original. That's why music is out here." It takes on many different forms and I was pleased that John, and all the wonderful musicians, gave themselves to it because it just shows you that the music of Rudy, and with the help of others, the love that went into it continues to live, you know? That's what we want … music to continue to live. And that's what he always talked about, is to keep the music playing and so that's a version of keeping the music playing.

The song hasn't really actually been out nationally, and hopefully with the different versions now we can get it out there, but we want ... I would like for it to be an anthem for anybody who's missing anyone, especially at Christmas time.

For more information about the original 1982 and the 2022 updated version of I Miss You Most of All At Christmas email Luvfammusic@gmail.com.

Correction: A previous version of this article had the names of Audrey Love Wattree and Suzy Allan misspelled.

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.