Howdy folks, I am back from Corsica isle (“l’île de Beauté”) where I visited my girl friend and did help her to set up her fairytales’ exhibition in front of children. While I was there I couldn’t get access to my files, thus not allowing to myself to set up early June fortnight’s favorites.
Let’s begin in Texas with GLENN REEVES, born 1932 in Shamrock, TX. He had his first two records on the T.N.T. Label (owned by Bob Tanner, who billed proudly his labels records as « Tanner’n’Texas »!). « I’m Johnny on the spot » (TNT 120) is already a proto-rockabilly classic. But its reverse, the plaintive hillbilly « The blues are out tonight », is not so well known, although a very good ballad. Listen to the real hillbilly pronunciation of Reeves, over a nice fiddle and steel. I love such a record like this.
The third compere was TOMMY DURDEN. He had a long story as steel player for Tex Ritter, and later for Johnny Cash, and composer (e.g. « Honey bop » for Wanda Jackson). In 1951 on the Sahul Kahal’s Freedom label out of Houston, Texas, he cut the great « Hula boogie » (# 5025). Later on, he had his own version of « Heartbreak hotel » (« Moods » LP, religious songs), before relocating in Michigan. He retired in the early ’90s.
On the next artist, GEORGE HEFFINGTON, I know litterally nothing, except he was one of the first to record on the growing Toppa label (owned by Jack Morris, out of Covina, Ca.), and is backed for the fast « Ghost of love » (# 1007, 1958) by, among others, Ralph Mooney on steel. Good piano too.
Real name to next artist was Wilcoxson, but he’s known now as JIMMIE DALE. And there were in the ’50s two different men with the same name. The first to jump on my mind is an Indiana artist, who cut two Starday custom records in 1958. First on Jeffersonville, IN Saber label (# 707), he cut the fabulous two-sider « Baby doll » (great slap bass, energetic drums and lead guitar) and « Darlin’ » (very nice piano, à la Teddy Reddell over a mambo rhythm). In Louisville, KY, he had in 1958 too on the Farrall label (# 687) « Man made moon », more of a country record. Nice vocal, and again a rinky-dink piano and good steel. I couldn’t locate the flipside « For a day ».
The second JIMMIE DALE was a Nashvillian, who cut « Tennessee ghost train » in 1953 on the Original label # 501. The credits don’t give any clue. Lot of echo on the steel, a train song of course.
Howdy folks! Thanks for visiting my site: you are never less than 35-50 people each day. This is the proof the site is of interest to you, and it gives me in turn enthusiasm and heart to go ahead, search and find more hillbilly bop gems for your own pleasure.
Robert AUTRY INMAN (as christened) from Alabama had begun his musical career as bass player for Cowboy Copas and George Morgan in the latter part of the ’40s. A first recording contract wth Bullet in Nashville occurred in 1949, I will tell more about him in a future feature, when I have gathered enough biographical information (which is actually very sparse for his early career). 1952 saw him inked by Decca records, where he enjoyed moderate success, fine boppers and ballads. In 1956 he embarked freely on the rockabilly bandwagon and cut the classic two-sider “Be-Bop Baby/It Would Be A Doggone Lie“, I’ve chosen the latter side, in my opinion the better of both.
Tommy Durden late 1990s
From Kansas City, early ’60s, a pleasant jumping country-rock tune on the ‘R‘ label, “There’ll Sure To Be Other Times” by OTHEL SULLIVAN. He had another 45 on Wonder, which I have not heard. Judging by the RCA custom pressing number, it dates from 1960.
The next artist in question, TOMMY DURDEN, born 1928 in Georgia, had a low-profile career for more than 40 years. Singer and steel-guitar player, he is best known today for being the co-writer of “Heartbreak Hotel”, which gave him comfortable royalties, even if he never wrote a follow-up. Early ’50s saw him , no one knows how, cutting for Houston’s Sol Kahal’s Freedom label, backed by the Westernaires. He had a regional hit, “Crossroads” (rejected by Four Star’s Bill McCall as “too pop”); but fare more interesting was “Hula Boogie“: Durden on vocal, a deft mandolin solo by Boots Gilbert (one-time Durden’s wife, later to have the classic “Take It Or Leave It” on Fortune), and a stinging, hot steel-guitar by the young Herb Remington.
From the Ohio State comes now BOBBY RUTLEDGE. He recorded for the Akron Zipp label some Hillbilly bop sides (“Southern Fried Chicken“); here you have the furious “Go Slow Fatso” from 1956.
BUSTER DOSS & his Arkansas Playboys recorded first for Dallas Talent label this “Graveyard Boogie” in 1949, aimed at horror/halloween followers. Fine steel, call and response format, and a romping piano. He was the uncle of Bob Doss, famed for his Starday sides of the late fifties.
Finally a boogie classic by CECIL GANT – he would die early February 1951 in Nashville, a mere 60 years ago, after a short 6 years musical run and innumerable boogies and ballads. Here I’ve chosen one of his best instrumental tunes, “Screwy Boogie“. Enjoy the selections!