Notes by Phillip J. Tricker to the Collectables CD 5335 « Long gone daddy »(1990)
The name LOU GRAHAM (rn Lewis Lyerly) is best known for his superb rocker ‘Wee Willie Brown » cut for Coral (# 61931) in late 1957, but Lou had been active in a recording studio as early as the beginning of 1951.
He was born on July 15th, 1929 in the tiny community of Woodleaf (pop. 300) in North Carolina. One of ten children, he soon showed an interest in music and after three years of wearing Navy Blue in the services he got into radio as a singer and DJ. He spent 18 months at WPWA in Chester , Pa. where he met Bill Haley and the Saddlemen : it’s quite probable that Haley helped Lou secure a contract with Gotham (hence, Gotham 416). The second batch of recordings are certainly backed by the Saddlemen. The labels of Gotham 433 were ordered on July 9th, 1952, and at this time Lou was working in TV at WDEL in Wilmington, Delaware and as a DJ with his « Roundup time » program at radio station WTNJ in Trenton, NJ. During the mid-to-late fifties he was busy on a schedule of appearances at nightclubs and hillbilly parks asnwell as TV and radio, and playing on the « Big Western Jamboree » in Camden, NJ.
Notes by Bill Millar & Rob Finnis for BF 15733 « That’ll flat git it » (Decca) (1994)
When LOU GRAHAM dipped into rock’n’roll with Willie Brown in November 1957, he was already 28 and a veteran of local radio in Chester, Pennsylvania whose most famous resident, Bill Haley, became his mentor. One of ten children Graham was born Lewis Lyerly in Woodleaf, North Carolina in 1929. After serving in the US Navy, he worked as a country vocalist and broadcaster joining WPW, Chester in 1950. It was there that he befriended with Bill Haley, then jobbing on the local bar-room circuit with the Saddlemen while holding down the post of announcer at the station.
Graham signed with Philadelphia’s Gotham label in 1951, and made his recording debut accompanied by members of Haley’s band with whom he occasionally appeared on stage. By the time of his second Gotham release, Graham had moved to WTNJ in Trenton, New Jersey leaving Haley to pursue the musical career which would soon make him an international star.
Who’s Lou Graham?
Slap that bass!
By 1956, Haley, flush with riches, had assumed the role of benefactor, granting recording favours to a number of acolytes in an ill-fated attempt to create a music publishing and recording empire. Graham was signed to Haley’s Clymax label and he cut « Wee Willie Brown » backed by the Comets. The master was assigned directly to Coral when Haley’s enterprizes ran into financial difficulties.
LOU GRAHAM, a track-by-track appreciation (notes by bopping.org editor)
« Two timin’ blues » is an uptempo shuffler. A bit of yodel vocal. A good steel. Backing by a fine piano (+ solo). « Long gone daddy » is, of course, the Hank Williams’ song, and this is a good version. Morever I have the same comments than for « Two timin’ blues ». All in all, a successful 2-sider for a first recording (Gotham 416)
Now on to the 4-tracks second session. « I’m lonesome » has an inventive steel over an uptempo shuffle pace. The piano is well to the fore and Graham adopts a somewhat harsh vocal. « Please make up your fickle mind » is a nice shuffler too (Gotham 433, from 1953). « A sweet bunch of roses », as expected, is a sentimental, although agreeable song (Gotham 429). More of the same with the medium-paced « My heart tells me (I’m still in love with you) ».
Of course, the Coral sides from 4 years later are a complete contrast with the Gotham sides. « Wee Willie Brown » (Coral 61931) is a solid rocker : Bill Haley’s saxman Rudy Pompilli blows his fuse, and Franny Beecher excells on lead guitar as on the Comets’ better days. « You were mean baby », although noted as recorded at the same session, is very different : big band type rocker, male chorus ; it reminds me of the Johnny Burnette Trio‘s « Shattered dreams » cut in NYC, already for Coral too.
Back from Summer holidays, we begin with the incomparable MERLE TRAVIS with a little known opus cut on December 4, 1952, « Louisiana boogie » (flipside « Bayou baby »), which permits the pianist Billy Liebert (long-time musician at Capitol sessions) to shine with a boogie 12-bar pattern. This side can be found on Capitol # 2902. Two fiddles are also heard, these of « Buddy Roy » Roy and Margie Warren, while Travis is in good form both on guitar and vocals.
LOU GRAHAM was one of the earlier rockabilly-style artists to show up on record, courtesy of Ivin Ballen’s Philadelphia-based Gotham Records. Born in rural North Carolina, and one of 10 children, his full name may have been Lou Graham Lyerly. He showed an early interest in country music, and following a hitch in the United States Navy, he entered radio as a singer and disc jockey. Vocally, he was similar to his somewhat older contemporary Hank Williams. Graham spent 18 months at WPWA in Chester, PA, he made the acquaintance of Bill Haley, leader of a locally-based country band called the Saddlemen, who helped Graham get a recording contract with Gotham. Graham cut “Two Timin’ Blues” and “Long Gone Daddy” at a 1951 session with an unknown backing band, but early the next
year, he was backed by Bill Haley‘s Saddlemen on a quartet of sides, “I’m Lonesome,” “Sweet Bunch of Roses“, “Please make up your fickle mind” and “My Heart Tell Me.” all issued on Gotham 429 and 433. Graham kept busy working as a deejay at WTNJ in Trenton, NJ, and on television as an announcer, on WDEL in Wilmington, DE. By the late 1950’s, he was also working regularly in nightclubs, parks, and western jamborees playing country and hillbilly music, playing on the same bills with Webb Pierce, Hank Thompson, and Ernest Tubb. In 1957, he made his most lasting contribution to recordings with his single “Wee Willie Brown” for the Coral Records label.
court. Imperial Anglares
SALTY (HOLMES) & MATTIE (O’Nell) had a long, long career, either as single artists, either in duet, like with this « Long time gone » (M-G-M # 11572, recorded July 7th, 1953). In fact, Salty only wails his harmonica, while Mattie has the vocal duty on this marvelous fast Hillbilly bopper (good picking guitar a la Merle Travis and a steel reminiscent of Hank Williams’ Don Helms). Of course Mattie O’Nell was also known (RCA, Sun) as JEAN CHAPEL.
We jump in 1963 on the K-Ark label # 296 (Cincinnati, OH) with HARVEY HURT and his « Stayed away too long ». An aggressive vocal on the front of a chorus (handclaps during the solo), and a nice guitar+steel solos, make this a very agreeable record, even not listed in 45rpmrecords.com.
From Avery, Texas, Chucklin’ CHUCK SLOAN offers his « Too old to Rock’n’roll » (Cowtown # 806) cut in 1961 . A fast Rockabilly/Country-rock novelty issue : very, very fine guitar, indeed influenced by blues guitarists. The song appeared long ago on a Swedish Reb bootleg.
More from Fort Worth, Texas in 1958 on Majestic (# 7581). J. B. BRINKLEY (aka Jay Brinkley) gives a splendid bluesy « Buttermilk blues »: really biting and agile guitar, backed by a solid piano, over a powerful voiced singer.
Brinkley also had previously issues on Dot (# 15371 « Crazy crazy heart/Forces of evil » – both pop rockers) in March 1955, and Algonquin 712/3 (a New York label) (« Go slow baby », a fine bluesy rocker, with a thrilling guitar) in 1957, plus some instrumentals. first on Kliff 100 (1958) , the good « Guitar smoke » which reminds one of Bill Justis‘ monster « Raunchy » ; then on Roulette 4117 (« The creep/Rock and roll rhumba »).
download(addition on Jan. 19th, 207. Thanks to Pierre Monnery)
DAYTON HARP cut records as soon as 1952: his « Foot loose and fancy free » (Gilt-Edge 5038) is a good bopper with excellent mandolin over a really ‘hillbilly’ vocal. He hailed from Florida, and he recorded there a duet (with Dot Anderson who gives Harp the replica) in 1958 for the Star label (# 695) « Man crazy woman » : a nimble guitar and a too short steel solo. A really good record. The flipside sees Harp alone : « You’reOne in a million » is a fine uptempo ballad with the same instrumentation (really good guitar!). Both these tracks were issued as Starday customs.
Sources : the Capitol label discogaphy (Michel Ruppli a.o.) ; 45rpmrecords.com ; YouTube ; Terence Gordon’s Rockin’ Country Style ; 45-cat ; rocky52.net ; Tony Russell’s « Country music » (1921-1945) ; Bruce Elder’s Lou Graham biography on Allmusic.com.