The Mississipi legend LUKE McDANIEL (1952-56)

Born 3 February 1927, Ellisville, Mississippi. Died 27 June 1992, Mobile, Alabama.

luke pictureLuke McDaniel, like many a good singer was born in the good ole southern state of Mississippi, in Ellisville on February 3, 1927. He started in music as a mandolin player, and was influenced by hillbilly singers like The Bailes Brothers. He formed his own band and turned professional in 1945. He opened for Hank Williams in New Orleans in the late 40’s and appears to have become hooked on the lonesome sound of Hank. In 1952 he recorded “Whoa, Boy” for Trumpet Records (# 184) in Jackson, Mississippi. It’s a hillbilly boogie belter (call-and-response format) : strong steel guitar and sawing fiddle over an insistant fast rhythm. The flip side « No more » is a good uptempo hillbilly weeper, nicely done. He also cut as a tribute single, “A Tribute To Hank Williams, My Buddy“, a forgettable morbid slow weeper. The Trumpet records were all high quality hillbilly, but as with many at the time, showed him at this stage as little more than a Hank Williams clone.

trumpet 184 luke 78 whoa, boy!
trumpet 184 no more

Whoa, boy!

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No more

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In 1953 he was introduced to King Records by fellow artist Jack Cardwell (The Death of Hank Williams/ Dear Joan). He joined King but failed to register any hits despite half a dozen fine singles. He cut them either in radio station KWAB in Mobile, AL ; either at KWKH in Shreveport, La.; either in Cincinnati King studio.

« The automobile song » (King 1336), a fast hillbilly bopper, is done in gaiety, “Money Bag Woman” (King 1380) was particularly strong, fusing his hillbilly with a rhumba beat.

bb 10:4:54 luke king 1336

Billboard April 10, 1954

King 1338b 45 the automobile ong

The automobile song

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« I can’t go » (King 1276) is also a strong, although ordinary bopper. The mid-paced « One more heart » (King 1426) is less interesting as the slowie forgettable « Let me be a souvenir » (# 1356) and « Honey, won’t you please come home ». « Crying my heart out for you » (# 1356) renews with the « Money bag woman » rhumba beat with a welcome mandolin (maybe played by himself?). « Drive on » (# 1287) is a strong although ‘quiet’ bopper in the Hank Williams vein.

I can’t go

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It has been reported in a music paper circa 1954 that Luke was « spinning country records » at WLAU in Laurel, MS.

 

King 1276A luke mcdaniel - I can't goking 1356 luke - crying my heart out for youKing 1247b 78DJ - drive on

 

Crying my heart out for you

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Drive on

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When the King contract expired, he went back to New Orleans where he recorded for the Meladee label in 1955/56 under the alias Jeff Daniels at the legendary Cosimo’s Studio with the pick of the city’s black musicians. Only one single was released, the great frantic “Daddy-O-Rock” coupled with the quieter “Hey Woman” (# 117)

Daddy-o-rock

downloadmeladee 117 daddymeladee 117 woman

Hey woman

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In 54 he joined the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport and became a part of the touring Hayride show. It was no doubt here that he saw Elvis Presley and started to move towards a more rocking sound. Around this time, McDaniel wrote “Midnight Shift” [a song about prostitution] under the pseudonym of Earl Lee, which Buddy Holly would later record on Decca.

Buddy HollyMidnight shift

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In 1956 Elvis and Carl Perkins urged McDaniels to submit a demo to Sam Phillips. Sam was impressed and signed McDaniel to a contract with Sun Records. It’s unsure whether he cut two sessions or just one at Sun (either September 56 or/and January 57). Nothing was issued though, as Sam and Luke had a financial disagreement. The unissued Sun sides have now seen the light of day thanks to reissue labels like Charly Records (Ferrero/Barbat 600 serie reissues). “Uh Babe” (Sun 620) is seminal-Sun rockabilly with Jimmy Van Eaton on fine form behind the skinned boxes. “High high high” is more a good uptempo rocker and sounds like a cross between Hayden Thompson and Gene Simmons.

620A huh babe620B high high high

Uh babe

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High high high

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Later McDaniel went to pure rock’n’roll on Venus, Astro, Big Howdy or Big B, but never achieved the big time.

Some songs he published : “Out of a Honky Tonk” and “Six Pallbearers” – co-written with Bob Gallion; “Blue Mississippi” and “You’re Still On My Mind”; and finally, “Mister Clock”, co-written with Jimmie Rogers. Another song credited to “Earl Lee” – “Seven or Eleven”, co-written with Jimmie Rogers and someone named Ainsworth, perhaps Arlene Ainsworth.

Biography taken on « Youzeek.com » and « hillbilly-music.com ». Additions from bopping’s editor. 

early August 2010 fort-night

Howdy folks! Just another batch of good ole’ Hillbillies, Honky tonks, and Hillbilly boogies (all from the 50s/early 60s). No label shots, sorry: I just re-formated my Macintosch hard drive, and lost all my sites in course! Sometimes I own the actual record, wish I had them ALL! But, you know, it’s not a matter of time neither of money to get them, they are really THAT rare…

We begin with a very rare USAF live transcription of HANK SNOW, early 50s. Hank does 3 tunes, first his signature song, “I’M MOVING ON”, then he embarks on a track that is known to me, but at the moment I cannot remember the title of the song. He finishes with the famous “HONEYMOON ON A ROCKET SHIP”. Fine, powerful rhythm guitar from Hank himself, I would assume; if the band which is backing him is the same as on recording sessions, then the great steel should be played by either Joe Talbot, or Melford Gentry.

Honky Tonk now with CARL SMITH on Columbia, with the fine 1955 “Baby I’m Ready”, lotta bird-dogging in this song, with the perfect Nashville musicians staff.  On to early 60s I’d assume. I don’t know the location of the CLET label, perhaps Texas? I’ve chosen the uptempo “Honky Tonkin’ Baby” by BOB SMITH. September 1960, Cincinnati, King records studio. My own tribute to a great singer/songwriter, LATTIE MOORE, who just passed away on June 13th (he was heartsick since the 90s); here we have “Drivin’ Nails (In My Coffin)” – is it the same number popularized circa 1947 by JERRY IRBY? I have not the time to compare the songs.

Next comes from Texas or Oklahoma a minor classic  by AL VAUGHN, “She’s An Oakie” (Four Star) from 1952. Good harmonica throughout, and fine steel. Then to Tennessee and on the DOT label, out of Gallatin. BIG JEFF & The Radio Playboys for the fine offering “I don’t talk to strangers”, from 1950 or 1951. Could Big Jeff be…LUKE McDANIELS, or as he was billed on MEL-A-DEE out of New Orleans (“Daddy O-Rock” from 1956), JEFF DANIELS? His actual story is yet to be written…Finally we have Danny (name forgotten!) as HANK THE DRIFTER and the great “Bill Collector Blues” – late 50s on the NEW ENGLAND label. Hope you N-joy everything! Comments welcome.