The “Long Gone Daddy”, LOU GRAHAM (1951-1957)

 

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)

Two timin’ blues

download
Long gone daddy

download

 

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) ».

I’m lonesome

download
A Sweet bunch of roses

download
Please make up your fickle mind

download
My heart tells me

download

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Wee Willie Brown

download
You were mean baby

download

download

 

WEE WILLIE BROWN

(Al Rex – James Ferguson – Billy Williamson)

LOU GRAHAM (CORAL 9-61931, 1958)

Wee Willie Brown from my hometown

Got itchy feet, can’t settle down

New Cadillac, retailer’s pack

But that don’t bother him

He goes around, ’round, ’round

And all the girls all love him (they really love him)

Yes, the girls all love him (they really love him)

He ain’t no square, been everywhere

He goes around and around and around and around

Ain’t got a cent, can’t pay his rent

Landlord don’t know, which way he went

But when he’s gone, he’s really sent

No matter where he goes

He goes around, ’round, ’round

And all the girls all love him (they really love him)

Yes, the girls all love him (they really love him)

He ain’t no square, been everywhere

He goes around and around and around and around

Ain’t got a cent, can’t pay his rent

Landlord don’t know, which way he went

But when he’s gone, he’s really sent

No matter where he goes

He goes around, ’round, ’round

And all the girls all love him (they really love him)

Yes, the girls all love him (they really love him)

He ain’t no square, been everywhere

He goes around and around and around and around

(Lyrics taken from Black Cat Rockabilly Europe)