Jimmy Murphy is one of the more enigmatic figures to come out of the country/rockabilly scene of the early to mid-’50s. A virtuoso guitar player and a gifted and inspired songwriter, he had a knack for composing and performing quirky, clever songs that hooked into unusual thematic angles — his first song, “Electricity,” equated rural electrification with religious salvation, while the closest he ever got to a real hit, “Sixteen Tons Rock n’ Roll,” was a satire of the 1956 Tennessee Ernie Ford hit of the Merle Travis song. His music was also strangely archaic in both its form and content, elements that may have doomed his chance for a successful recording career. ??Murphy’s music drew from a multitude of influences, most notably the blues. His father was an admirer of numerous bluesmen, including Blind Boy Fuller and Leadbelly. He joined his father in the bricklaying trade and always split his time between construction and music. (more…)
Aubrey Cagle (reprint from Derek Glenister’s article in « New Kommotion » # 19, 1978)
He was born on September 17, 1934, in the town of Lexington, Tennessee, the early years of his life being spent on his parents’ farm. He purchased his first guitar at the age of eleven years, doing odd job around the town, to get the money together to buy the instrument.
He got a regular band six years later, one of his first engagements being a radio show spot in Jackson, Tennessee. Later on, he secured his own radio show on WDXL, in his home town.
During 1955, due to lack of work, Aubrey moved to Indiana, where he still resides today. Four years later he cut his first record for the House of Sound label, owned by Mr. Chesney Sherod, and based in Memphis. The titles made up Aubrey’s best-known recordings, Real Cool b/w Want To Be Wanted Blues. He was accompaned by local Memphis session musicians, who included Chips Moman on lead guitar.
In 1960, Aubrey decided to form his own record label, Glee – which he co-owned with his brother-in-law, Johnnie James. Johnnie died early in 1968, so Aubrey became sole owner. His initial release on the label was Be-Bop Blues b/w Just For You, he followed it up the same year with Come Along little Girl b/w Blue Lonely World, and leased to Esquire Records in the U.K. who issued it on their Starlite subsidiary label.
The following year Aubrey decided to use the stage-name of ‘Billy Love’, as he thought it would be more readily remembered by D.J.’s. Two records were issued on Glee under this name, Oh What A Memory b/w Sweet Talkin’and I’ll Find My Way b/w My Empty Arms.The Glee material was recorded at RCA-Victor’s studio in Nashville, all the back-up musicians being members of Aubrey’s regular band.
Towards the end of 1977, Aubrey found the masters on two previously unissued titles, Rock-a-Billy Boy and Bop And Stroll. Both were cut in a garage in Indianapolis, owned by a friend of Aubrey’s, named Jan Eden. The recordings were made in 1959, sometime after the House of Sound disc. These two tracks have now been coupled, and issued on Glee and distributed worldwide by Record Mart. Both are above average rockers, each containing powerful guitar and piano breaks.
Now for some personal facts on Aubrey ; he has been married nearly twenty-five years, his wife’s name is Sue and they have one son Ricky, who is a talented drummer. When he is not playing, Aubrey enjoys fishing and ten-pin bowling. He still does club work in his home town, and hopes to record some new country songs in the near future.
Aubrey Cagle340 Beale St., Memphis, 1959
(vo/g) with Chips Moman (ld g), unk. p, b, d.
45-1005-AWant to be Wanted BluesHouse of Sound 504
Aubrey CagleJan Eden studio, Indianapolis, 1959
(vo/g) with Don Rivers (ld g), Mike Freeman (d), prob. Bill Williams (b), James Smith (p)
LO 9593Bop & StrollGlee (issued 1978) 10013
LO 9594Rock-a-Billy Boy10012
Aubrey CagleRCA-Victor studio, Nashville, 1960
(vo/g) with same personnel. Add st-g *
1582-1Just For You *Glee 100
Aubrey Cagle RCA-Victor studio, Nashville, 1960
(vo/g) with Freddy Vest (ld g), Bill Williams (b), George Abel (p), Buddy Crawford (s), Morgan Shuamker (d), unk. chorus
L7OW-0182Blue Lonely WorldGlee 1001
L7OW-0183Come Along Little Girl–
Aubrey Cagle (as Billy Love)RCA-Victor studio, Nashville, 1961
(vo/g) with same personnel. Omit sax and chorus.
M7OW-9495Oh What A MemoryGlee 1005
M7OW-9496I’ll Find My Way10010
M7OW-9497My Empty Arms–
M7OW-9498Cindy LouGlee unissued, Solid Gold CD 102
Best known for his self-penned chart-topper “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes,” Skeets McDonald was a honky tonk singer and songwriter whose work helped serve to bridge the gap between country and rock & roll. The youngest of seven children, Enos William McDonald was born on October 1, 1915, in Greenway, AR, and earned his nickname after an incident involving a swarm of mosquitoes. He became interested in music at a young age and, according to McDonald family legend, even traded his hound dog for a guitar and six dollars. When his older brother moved to Michigan several years later, McDonald followed and joined his first band, the Lonesome Cowboys, in Detroit in 1935. He continued to perform on local radio stations until he was drafted to serve in World War II in 1943.After returning from battle, McDonald began performing on a Detroit-area television program and in 1950 cut his first records with fiddler Johnnie White & His Rough Riders. In 1951, McDonald and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he was signed to perform on Cliffie Stone‘s TV program Hometown Jamboree. Soon after, he joined Capitol Records and in 1952 released “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes,” by far his biggest hit. McDonald remained with the label until 1959, the year he released the LP Goin’ Steady With The Blues, and while he scored few chart successes, his music’s evolution from honky tonk to straightforward rockabilly proved to be influential with other musicians. Meanwhile in 1956, he teamed wth the aspiring Honky tonk singer Wynn Stewart. The pair recorded “Slowly But Surely” (with a young Eddie Cochran on rhythm guitar), backed by “Keeper of the key” (later cut at Sun by Carl Perkins).
In 1959, McDonald signed with Columbia, which mandated that he return to country music. In the early ’60s, he notched a handful of hits, including “Call Me Mr. Brown” which reached the Top Ten in 1963. A year later, he issued the album Call Me Skeets!. As the decade wore on, he began branching out from the West Coast music scene, recording in Nashville and appearing on the Grand Ole Opry. Despite the country industry’s shift towards slicker, more pop-oriented productions, McDonald remained a purist throughout his career; he died on March 31, 1968, after suffering a massive heart attack.
Recommended listening: Heartbreakin’ mama (Bear Family) Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes (6CD boxset Bear Family)
article revised December 5th, 2011. It still doesn’t please to me! It was one of my very first articles, and I didn’t know Photoshop and page mage make-up…Someday I will have to write it again entirely.
First a tribute to two bopping artists recently deceased. HANK LOCKLIN, famous Hillbilly crooner, had also done Hillbilly Bop, as here “Down Texas Way”. BUCK GRIFFIN, a Rockabilly great (LIN/MGM sides) – it was hard to choose, but I decided finally to include his “Stutterin’ Papa” complete with hiccups a la Charlie Feathers.
Then we got to unknowns. JOE ‘Cannonball’ LEWIS, whose “I’m gonna tear your playhouse down” (Kentucky label) is already a hillbilly bop classic. Then KED KILLEN. His “Worried blues” (Western Ranch) is dramatic.
Don’t quit! Now Bluegrass with The CHURCH BROTHERS (Ralph, Bill & Edwin) from North Carolina with their powerful “I Don’t Know What To Do” (Blue Ridge). And we go to the end with Cajun live: PAUL DAIGLE’s “I Told A ie”.
Essential component of Rock’n’Roll, this Country stream goes as far as the 30’s. Following the Boogie Woogie wave (1928, Pinetop Smith), everyone includes a boogie in his repertoire : swing big bands (Count Basie : « Basie boogie »), western swing orchestras (Spade Cooley : »Three way boogie », or smaller combos – Country (Tennessee Ernie Ford : « Shot gun boogie », 1951) or Blues (Amos Milburn : « Amo’s Boogie », 1946 – one of thousand artists). And the phenomenon will last a good twenty years. Fast tempo is good for dancers, as in « Hillbilly Boogie » (Jerry Irby, 1949 –Pete Burke at the piano).
Piano style was transposed to
–guitar (Arthur Smith, « Guitar Boogie », 1945),
–harmonica (The Milo Twins, « Truck Driver’s boogie », 1949),
–mandolin (The Armstrong Twins, « Mandolin Boogie », 1949),
– accordion (Nathan Abshire, « Lu Lu Boogie », 1947),
– banjo (The McCormick Brothers, « Red Hen Boogie », 1954),
– vocal too of course (Wesley Tuttle, «Yodelin’ Boogie », 1949).
You can recognize a Hillbilly boogie by the presence of a powerful stand-up bass, often slapped : you can hear here the monumental « Bull Fiddle Boogie » by PeeWee King (Redd Stewart on vocal)(1949).
Numerous other instruments can be found in hillbilly boogie such as saxophone, muted trumpet or clarinet.
And until now I’d only speak of titles including « boogie » ! There were thousands others on this tempo, not always fast, but « uptempo ». Finally it became the standard in hillbilly music, what we call now Hillbilly Bop. One example between hundred is Downie Bowshier’s « Tight Shoe Boogie » (King, 1953). The song complains about shoes too tight to dance to the bop. It is doubly ironic, since Bowshier was confined to a wheel chair.
Recommended listening :
We are well treated these times, because there is a plethora of compilations.
– « Country boogie 1939-1947 » (Frémeaux et associés 161) – 36 classic recordings just before and after WWII, from « Oakie Boogie » (Jack Guthrie) to « Square Dance boogie » (Johnny Lee Wills), to « Saturday night boogie » (Al Dexter). A good choice from Gérard Herzaft, the famous compiler.
– « Hillbilly Bop, Boogie & The Honky Tonk », a serie of 3 double-CDs from Jasmine (UK) at bargain price. Buy in confidence, you won’t be sorry !
– « Hillbilly Boogie » Proper (UK) boxset (4 CD). 100 tunes for £ 10.99. All the greats are here.
– « King Hillbilly Bop’n’Boogie » (UK Ace 854) does concentrate on one of the genre’s best postwar labels. Many uncommon tracks.
– If you are looking for something else, try to find (remoted from current catalog) « A Shot In The Dark – Tennessee Jive », a 7-CD Bear Family boxset devoted to Nashville’s small labels from 1945 to 1955.