Billy Wallace had one of the most unique voices in rockabilly music and played a different guitar style than most of the guitarists back then would do. Both, his voice and full-bodied guitar play worked well together on his classic session with the Bama Drifters in 1956 for Mercury Records, on which he laid down four songs. But Wallace had also a long and more successful (but also unknown) career in songwriting. He never achieved the honor he should have.
Wallace was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1917, but his family moved soon after to Athens, Alabama. Previously, his father had worked on the oil fields in Oklahoma. He grew up on his father’s farm and learned to play the guitar at an early age. As a teenager, he began to write songs and was later influenced by the country music stars back then like the Delmore Brothers, Rex Griffin and Roy Acuff but also listened to Hank Smith, Ernest Tubb and Hal Smith.
The location is the Trail ’80’ Courts, a motel in Mineola, about 90 miles east of Dallas, Texas. Inside a bunch of good ole boys have gathered for a songwriters’ jam session convened by the motel’s owner, Jack Rhodes. After various jobs, among them moonshiner and a back accident, he began writing country songs and putting on his first band, Jack Rhodes’ Ramblers, in 1947. They made their first professionnal recordings the same year, backing Rhodes’ brother-in-law Leon Payne. The acetates were sent to Jim Bulleit in Nashville, who issued 6 singles during 1947-48 by Payne. But in 1949, Payne switched to Capitol Records, forming his own band,the Lone Star Buddies, which led to a failure between he and Jack Rhodes. Rhodes’ Ramblers, later also named Lone Star Buddies did include the three Hayes brothers : Joe ‘Red’ and Kenneth ‘Little Red’ on fiddles, and Leon on bass. (more…)
Howdy folks! Tired of spams changing my mailbox into a litterbin (an average more than 200 a day) , I put a very efficient filter. Indeed maybe some of you who wanted to post constructive comments cannot do it anymore. Don’t get rid of the situation and try again!
I ecountered problems of access to the site. Now everything is all right…
Ready for a new batch of bopping Hillbilly and Rockabilly? This time I concentrate myself on obscure artists..So I feel uninspired, and my comments will be minimal, sorry.
From Texas and Fort Worth comes RAYMOND PARISH for the fine medium hillbilly bop, including fiddle, “I’m Packin’ Up And Moving out” on the High Line label (# 102). Don’t know when it was recorded, I’d assume late ’50s.
Let’s turn back East: Natchez, Mississipi. GRAY MONTGOMERY offers a bordering Rockabilly tune, with “Right Now” on the Beagle label (# 101). It’s even billed “Rockin vocal”.
Later – 1963 – a Starday custom record from one of the Carolinas: Flop 1012 and the medium “Got It Made (in The Shade)“. Here LES WALDROOP is backed only by bass and lead guitar: Wade & Mickey, as shown on the label.
1961. JIMMY WELCH does a fast country-rock tune, “Searight Blues” on the Alabama based A-B-S label (# 146).
On the Mac label (unknown place), we have got now BOB ROARK & the Country Band for the fine melodic ” The Road To Your Heart” (# 467).
Finally the classic Nashville sound in Hillbilly bop, from April 1953: TOM ANDERSON, “As The Hands Go ‘Round The Clock” (M-G-M 11589).
Every art form had to deal with the arrival of the atomic age in one manner or another. Some artists were reserved and intellectual in their approach, others less so. The world of popular music, for one, got an especially crazy kick out of the Bomb. Country, blues, jazz, gospel, rock and roll, rockabilly, Calypso, novelty and even polka musicians embraced atomic energy with wild-eyed, and some might argue, inappropriate enthusiasm. These musicians churned out a variety of truly memorable tunes featuring some of the most bizarre lyrics of the 20th century. If it weren’t for Dr. Oppenheimer’s creation, for example, would we have ever heard lines like “Nuclear baby, don’t fission out on me!” or “Radioactive mama, we’ll reach critical mass tonight!”?
There are various subgenres (see below) that comprise the master genre we like to call the Atomic Platter, but mainly these compositions celebrate, lament or lampoon the Bomb and the Cold War that sprang from the mushroom clouds over Japan.
The earlier songs are less self-conscious, more naive (in some cases to the point of downright wackiness) and therefore more intriguing. Needless to say, another reason why many of these songs were selected is—put simply—they swing! Pondering the cultural climate that encouraged songs like 1957’s profoundly strange yet catchy Atom Bomb Baby is a lot more rewarding than, say, examining the obvious metaphors from a pre-electric Dylan protest song like “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.” And Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction is a memorable “important” song. (more…)