Late July 2017 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hello, people ! Let’s begin this new July 2017 fortnight’s favorites selection with EARL PETERSON (b. 1927, d. 1973), a well-known figure out of Michigan. Apart from an early issue on his own Nugget label in 1949, he cut two sessions for Columbia in 1955 ; one of the songs involved was « I ain’t gonna fall in love » (# 21467). Light vocal, bass guitar, piano, all these combine for a fine bopper written by Vernon Claud. Peterson’s story is to be found in this site, was published January 2016.

« I ain’t gonna fall in love« 

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Next artist KENNY ROBERTS was an ubiquitous one : Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, although he was born (1925- d. 2012) in Tennessee as George S. Kingsbury. His speciality was yodeling, and more than one of his songs showed this : « I was born to yodel », « She taught me to yodel » or « The Arizona yodeler ».

« Hillbilly fever »

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The song I chose of him is the fine « Hillbilly fever », issued February 1950 on the Coral label (# 64032) : his puffed vocal comes to a good effect, and he yodels lovely, mentioning Hillbilly songs of the era. Main instruments are harmonica and fiddle.

Now two Rockabillies by DANIEL NIX on the Zion, IL N&R label (Starday custom) from 1959. « Compensation blues » (# 741) is a medium-paced opus ; strong vocal and guitar to the fore. The follow-up is « Unlucky man » (# 756), the fastest of both tracks.

« Compensation blues« 

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« Unlucky man »

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On to Texas and Louisiana with RAY ROGERS, Western swing bandleader. His first selection comes from the 1950 Star Talent label (# 758B) : « Mississipi blues » is mid-paced and includes a muted trumpet and a fine steel. The second issue « How can you be so mean » is a fast bopper on the Delta label (# 2840) from an unknown year : chimes and trumpet are the main instruments.

« Mississipi blues »

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« How can you be so mean »

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Way up North in Indianapolis with BOB HILL & his Melody Boys on Nabor 105. « This old train (is leaving my blues behind )» is a fast Rockabilly from 1959, lot of echo and a prominent fiddle. The second issue, « Empty dreams and empty arms » (Nabor 114B) is a shuffler from 1961-62, which has a lot of nice steel, a loud bass and a prominent rhythm guitar. A good record for this era. The song was revamped by Eddie Hill, unknown label. (The muddy sound, I’m sorry, comes from an old Tom Sims cassette).

« This old train »

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« Empty dreams and empty arms »

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Finally « Wild cherry » by LEROY WASHINGTON is a pure R&B rocker on the Excello label (# 2144) from 1958. Guitar Gable plays the lead guitar.« Wild cherry »

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Sources : UncleGil for Daniel Nix files ; YouTube for Kenny Roberts. Ole’ Tom Sims’ cassettes for Bob Hill.

EARL PETERSON, the Michigan’s Singing Cowboy (1950-1955)

earl pic1Despite a long career that spanned almost 45 years, comparatively little is known about Earl Peterson. He was born in Paxton, Illinois, on February 24, 1927 and moved to Michigan when he was 18 months old. He apparently became proficient on both guitar and drums and formed his own band, the Sons of the Golden West, when he was still in high school. The group secured a regular spot on WOAP, Owosso, then moved to WMYC in Alma, Michigan, before settling at WCEN, Mount Pleasant. WCEN gave Earl and his group a regular show, Earl’s Melody Trails, and made him the talent director, staff announcer and farming news editor. Earl was to study Law after high school but he switched to a musical career instead.

Earl made his debut in the record business when he formed a record label, Nugget Records, with his mother, in January 1950.

nugget 1B earl peterson - take me back to michigan

« Take me back to Michigan« download

Peterson also undertook road trips to publicise his record and, at the same time, worked guest dee-jay spots at various stations. It seems as though his mother, Pearle Lewis, was the driving force behind Peterson. Sam Phillips recalled that the pair arrived on his doorstep early in 1954 pitching « The Boogie blues ». Phillips located some country session musicians to work with Peterson and the result of the session was released in the Spring of 1954.
« Boogie blues« (Sun 197)download
« In the dark« (Sun 197)
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/In-the-dark.mp3
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sun 197 earl peterson - boogie bluessun 197 earl peterson - in the dark

The story becomes more convoluted from that point. In October of that year Peterson, with a healthy disregard for contracts and AFM regulations, re-recorded the same song for Columbia. The song was re-copyrighted and probably sold more than the 2500 copies that Phillips had shipped.

columbia 21364 earl peterson - boogie blues

columbia 21364 earl peterson - believe me

 

 

 

« Boogie blues« (Columbia 21364)download
« Believe me » (Columbia 21364)
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/21364-Believe-Me-Earl-Peterson.mp3
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Peterson’s half-brother, Bob Lewis, recalls that Peterson was desperately unhappy with the quality of the Sun recording and that may account for his lack of reserve when Don Law approached him to re-record the tune. In any event, Peterson had a few singles released on Columbia but they were shipped into changing market conditions (released between February 1955 and July 1956) and Peterson may have tired of the constant touring necessary to support his releases. His mother ran a resort club, the Bass Lake Pavillion, and Earl formed a band that included twin steel guitars, two lead guitars, two fiddles and his half-brother on drums and he played here on a regular basis supporting all the acts that worked the area as singles. In this way, Earl and the boys backed Marty Robbins, Moon Mullican and many more. The ’53 Buick which Earl had driven all those miles was increasingly confined to short trips.

 

« I’m not buying, baby« (Columbia 21406)download>

« Be careful of the heart you’re going to break » (Columbia 21406)download

columbia 21406 earl peterson - I'm not buying, baby

columbia 21467 earl peterson 78 I ain't gonna fall in love

columbia 21467 earl peterson - I'll live my life alone

In 1960 Peterson and his family established radio station WPLB in Greenville, Michigan. In columbia 21406 earl peterson - be careful of the heart1962, they switched to the FM frequency and the following year saw Earl’s retirement from the performing side of the music business. By that point there was an undeniable quotient of rock and roll in country music and, in Bob Lewis’ words, « Earl wasn’t crazy about that stuff ». In 1965 Earl learned that he had cancer but he continued to work at the station until his death in May 1971.earl peterson2

« I ain’t gonna fall in love » (Columbia 21467) download

« I’ll live my life alone » (Columbia 21467) download
Earl Peterson’s music, a survey by bopping’s editor

  • any Columbia issue coupled an uptempo and a slowie. The vocal is firm and assured, and the backing is on a par with the best what Nashville did offer at the time. Although unknown musicians, there was a steel, a fiddle and on « Boogie blues » (remake of the Sun version) a welcome rinky-dink piano. I posted the tracks side-by-side to let yourself judge.
  • « Boogie blues » on Sun 197 has sewing fiddle, steel and drums. Peterson’s voice is very reminiscent to that of Jimmie Rodgers, and the song itself derives from pre-war country songs, like Gene Autry’s ‘blues’ songs. Its flipside « In the dark » is a strong shuffler.
  • « Alimony blues », although in the past (N.L. Redita LP) credited to Peterson, is in fact done by Gene Steele.
  • « You just can’t be trusted », found on Youtube (Mr. Honky tonk chain), is evidently a ’60s recording, nice done, although I don’t know the original label neither the flipside.

« You gotta be my baby« (Columbia 21540)download

« World of make believe« (Columbia 21540)download

Sources : « The country years » (1987) by Colin Escott ; page on Earl Peterson – also music from « Columbia 20000 » (Willem Agenant) ; scans from 78rpm-world ; « The Hillbilly researcher » for scan and music to Nugget 78rpm.

« You just can’t be trusted » (’60’s)download

columbia 21540 earl peterson - you gotta be my baby

SUN Records: Hillbilly Bop sides (1954-1956) (part 1)

Sam Phillips never had much chance with Country music. From 1950 to 1956 he cut Blues and Black R&B; from 1956 on he cut Rockabilly and Rock’n’Roll. Here below are his only attemps in the early years to record Hillbilly Bop. In the second part however, we will see names like Carl Perkins, Charlie Feathers, Malcolm Yelvington, Ernie Chaffin, Warren Smith, Mack Self doing Hillbilly Bop or Country music with much more success than Sam had had in the early days of SUN Records….

SunSamcontrol

 

Harmonica Frank Floyd (1909 in Tacapola, Mississipi ; died 1984). A phenomenon, who spent 30 years with medicine shows all around the South. He went in 1951 to see Sam Phillips and recorded several Country Blues : Swamp Root, the traditional Step It Up And Go, Goin’ Away Walkin’ and Howlin’ Tomcat, soon sold to Chess in Chicago. He sounded black, and many Blues collectors until the seventies (his rediscovery by Steve LaVere) were wrong with him…In 1954, Sun issued two sides (Sun 205) : Rockin’ Chair Daddy and The Great Medical Menagerist. « …Daddy » from 1951 is proto-rockabilly with strong rhythm guitar, wild vocal, and mouth harmonica. He had a strong career when rediscovered in 1974 and recorded for Adelphi.

p30031ch14751 swamp rootch1475d1 step it up & gosun 205

Earl Peterson (Feb. 24, 1927 in Paxton, Illinois. died 1971). made his beginnings at a radio station in Michigan. Become popular, he cut a first disc on Nuggett records, before signing at Sun in 1954. He recorded 4 titles, the best being « Boogie Blues » (Sun 197): sewing fiddles, steel-guitar, drums and bass, and a vocal very reminiscent of Jimmie Rodgers ; and the song itself derives from pre-war Country songs, like Gene Autry’s « Lowdown Blues ».

 

Doug Poindexter & The Starlite Wranglers. Born in Arkansas, he too went to Sun in 1954 and cut (May 25, 1954) two sides of Hillbilly weepers : Now She Cares No More For Me and My Kind Of Carrying On. Published on June 1rst, 1954 on Sun 202. Two of the Wranglers were…Bill Black (bass) and Scotty Moore (lead-guitar), soon to back up the young Elvis less than two months later. Good  hillbilly sides, tending towards Rockabilly. Poindexter then left for insurance business..

poindexter202

Earl Peterson (Feb. 24, 1927 in Paxton, Illinois. died 1971). made his beginnings at a radio station in Michigan. Become popular, he cut a first disc on Nuggett records, before signing at Sun in 1954. He recorded 4 titles, the best being « Boogie Blues » (Sun 197): sewing fiddles, steel-guitar, drums and bass, and a vocal very reminiscent of Jimmie Rodgers ; and the song itself derives from pre-war Country songs, like Gene Autry’s « Lowdown Blues ».earl peterson 197

 

 

howard seratt copie

Howard Seratt in April 1964 (rare picture from Martin Hawkins)

Howard Seratt, from Arkansas. Country gospel. Two sides (Sun 198), alone with his guitar & harmonica  for Troublesome Waters/I Must Be saved. Nice sincere vocal. 1954

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hardrock Gunter (Feb. 17, 1925 in Birmingham, Alabama). He had a long recording story behind him when he sold two songs to Sam Phillips in 1954 (Sun 201) : Gonna Dance All Night was a proto-Rock & Roll song, and a recut of a previous 1950 Bama issue. Fallen Angel is far quieter. Gunter had a long career afterwards, recording prolifically and still entertaining afficionados in Europe in 1995 !gonna dance 201

 

 

 

 

Slim Rhodes (Pocahontas, Arkansas, 1913 ; March 10, 1966 – thanks for the death info, Alex)). Guitar player and bandleader, very popular in the Memphis area in the late 40s/early 50s. Phillips leased several of his 1950-1951 recordings to Gilt-Edge. His first Sun single (Sun 216) was sung by Brad Suggs and billed « ordinary » by Billboard in May 1955. Rhodes would afterwards cut Romp and Stomp (Sun 238), a romping Hillbilly Boogie with steel-guitar and fiddle. It must have been a good seller, as the guitar solo was taken note-for-note on Harold Shutter’s « Bunny Honey » (Goldenrod 300 from May-June 1957), then Do What I Do (Sun 256), a superb Rockabilly in 1956 (vocal Sandy Brooks). He had several issues on Gilt-Edge. For Sun 238 and 256, please see SUN Records: Hillbilly sides (part 2).

 

Malcolm Yelvington (1927, Covington, Tennessee) led his first band, The Star Rhythm Boys, during the late 40s, wih pianist Reece Fleming. He cut his first sides in 1954 for Sun, among them his personal Western swing treatment of Sticks McGhee’s R&B classic Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee (Sun 211). The guitar player follows Brownie McGhee’s solo, and Reece Fleming plays the Your Red Wagon theme (it was then adapted for Rock around the clock). All in all, it is a pretty proto-Rockabilly song, a fine blend of black & white styles. Later on (see part 2), Yelvington came close to Rockabilly (Sun 246) with Rockin’ With My Baby.sun 211

 Clyde Leoppard & the Snearly Ranch Boys were a group firmly associated with Sam Phillips during 1955-1957. Clyde Leoppard (steel), Johnny Bernero (d), Smokey Joe Baugh (p), vocalist Bill Taylor, Buddy Holobaugh (g) backed Smokey Joe, Warren Smith, and numerous other artists during this period. They had a solitary issue on Flip 502 (Sun subsidiary label) in 1954, and they handle right the charming piece of nonsense « Split personality », a romping Hillbilly bop. Smokey Joe had his own issue on Sun 228 in 1956 with « Signifying monkey ». His vocal is crude, and, as once said, a sort of Rockabilly Fats Waller (see part 2).

 

See part 2 for 1956-1958 Sun Hillbilly sides elsewhere on this site!