“My Inlaws Made An Outlaw Out Of Me”: the LOU(IS) MILLET story on records (1949-1956)

Warning: this feature was first published in 2013, far from complete, and was revised during Summer 2019. I encountered many problems during the revision, and did waste a consequent time and work. The result is not up to the standard of bopping.org I confess. But lack of time prevent a further revision, and I decided to publish it as per se. I hope you understand my position, and that you will find however some interest there. Thanks for your following.

Louis Millet was born the 5th (or 19th) of April 1926 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. At the age of sixteen he bought his first guitar, but he did not get serious about playing music until he was in the Army. Meanwhile he was finishing college at Louisiana State University on a four-year football grant. After college he joined the Army. When he quit the Army he started a band, the Melody Ramblers. They played for the local radio stations WLCS in Baton Rouge, and WLBR in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

His career as a professional musician had not started yet, although in 1949, backed by his Melody Ramblers, he cut his first two sides for the Rouge label in Baton Rouge, La. Both songs, « Yesterday’s Memories» and «I Saw Them Lay Mother Away» (duet with one Ray, besides unnamed) being insipid ballads (# 103). During this time he was also working at Standard Oil in the daytime.

Around 1950-51 Louis met Jay Miller, who was running a number of record labels. Lou did two or three recording sessions for him. From these recordings two singles were issued on the Feature label : # 1031 «I Was Only Teasing You »/ »A Broken Heart», and # 1035, the first version [later re-recorded during the ’60s for Scenic Records] of «That’s Me Without ou »/ » »Your Own Heart You Must Mend». All four songs are slowies or uptempo ballads, nothing is really interesting yet.

From these recordings two singles were issued on the Feature label: # 1031 «I Was Only Teasing You», »A Broken Heart, and # 1035, the first version [later re-recorded during the ’60s for Scenic Records] of «That’s Me Without ou »/ » »Your Own Heart You Must Mend». All four songs are slowies or uptempo ballads, nothing is really interesting yet.

Sonny James and Pee Wee King had their version too. It must be noted that the co-writer (along J. D. Miller) was “J. Wyatt”, probably Jack Wyatt, a Hillbilly singer from New Orleans, who cut records for Meladee, Lyric (in Lake Charles) and Kuntry: see late October 2018 bopping favorites selection.

In the meantime , «That’s Me Without You» had also been a hit for Webb Pierce (Decca 28351). J. D. Miller did suceed placing to Randy Wood’s Dot (Gallatin, Tennessee) # 203 one more Millet song, yet they went nowhere (lack of distribution?) : «Heart Of Stone» and «That’s Me Without You»[second version]. A snippet of a split session (set in July 1952) subsists of a time when Louis was closely associated wit Lefty Frizzell, so much so that Millet was opening Lefty’s shows at that time. I’m Honky Tonkin’ With You is a superb shuffling bopper, too long forgotten in the J. D. Miller archives. The backing of this song is even provided by the musicians involved in he Frizzell’s songs, among them a version of Lou’s «That’s Me Without You”

Aided by Lefty Frizzell, Lou (meanwhile shortening his forname) signed with Columbia on the 15th of May 1952. The contract was for one year, with an option for another year. The first session was done some days later, on May 20. Four songs were recorded at Jim Beck’s Studio in Dallas, Texas. Two months later his first Columbia record was issued, both on 78 and 45 rpm. The songs were “Just Me, My Heart, and You”, and “Weary, Worried, and Blue” (Columbia 20979). The second single was issued on October 24, 1952 (Columbia 21029), and featured “Worried, Lonesome, And In Love” and “Your Own Heart You Must Mend”[second version]. The style they were playing was honky tonk, resembling the Ernest Tubb and Vin Bruce recordings of the same period, all four tracks being slow ballads, with the exception of «Worried, Lonesome And In Love» more Honky tonking uptempo.

While Lou Millet was at Columbia, Lefty Frizzell left his manager Jack Starnes. Because Lefty’s band was still under contract with Starnes, he was left without a band. He hired Jay Miller as a manager, who formed a backup band for Lefty. During this time Lou was assigned as the band leader. From the next sessions four songs were issued on two singles: Columbia 21086, featuring “Bayou Pigeon” and “Get A Grip On Your Heart”, and Columbia 21143, with “Memories from Cheddar Chest” and “God Only Knows”. Except for “Bayou Pigeon”, a cheerful Cajun song, they were comparable to the honky tonk style of the first recordings.

When Lefty went to California to perform at the Town Hall Party at KTTV, his band fell apart due to the distance. Lefty’s last recordings with Lou as a band leader were done between February 7 and March 9, 1953 (at the «California Blues» session).

When Lefty finished his four songs, Lou also recorded four songs. This was remarkable, since Lou’s contract with Columbia had ended on May 15. Two of the songs he recorded, “Since the Devil Moved In” and “That’s How I Need You”, were issued on Columbia 21225, both good boppers. The other two were never issued by Columbia.
Lefty penned several songs for Lou; a certain S. Burton wrote for him no less than 4 songs at Columbia.

After his Columbia contract Lou left for California to attempt a solo career. This apparently failed, since he went home in 1955. Here he signed with the Ace label, owned by Johnny Vincent from Jackson, Mississippi. Although based in Jackson, the Ace label was to become a key player in the New Orleans R&B scene, but before that Vincent had briefly explored the sales potential oh Hillbilly music.

To return to Lou Millet, his self penned «Just You And Me” (# 506 )(mid-1955) is a superb example of the Rock & Roll/Rockabilly sound, reminiscent in part of his later Rockabilly masterpiece «Shorty The Barber» (Republic 7131).(Value: $ 300-400) Millet continued to move towards Rock & Roll with another self-penned offering in the same vein: «My Inlaws Made An Outlaw Out Of Me» (# 510) (value $ 200-300) which, as you will detect, is much more polished than i<«Just You And Me». Whilst there is no question as to Millet’s Rockin’ credentials, he was first and foremost a Hillbilly singer, which is abundantly evident when listening to the mid tempo opus «Whisper Of Doubt»(# 506), and «Humming bird» is a strange, dramatic ballad. During this time, he also started working as a DJ for WLCS. Later on he would add a weekly TV show.

In the following year (January to March 1956) he recorded a single for the Republic label, and also one for Ekko Records. And these two records are the ones Millet is best remembered by Collectors and Rockabilly aficionados for. Shorty The Barbe» is a Rockabilly classic, as the flipside «Slip, Slip, Slippin’ In»(Republic 7131) and we all would like to know who’s the lead guitar player on both tracks. Anyway, the Republic single is attaining $ 1000-1500 when it changes of hands (to B.J.’s, the single is only worth $ 600-750). Note that an entirely different «Shorty The Barber» had been recorded in mid-1950 by Charlie Burse, a Blues artist, for Sam Phillips in Memphis, who didn’t release it then.

Lou Millet and his band, 1956

The Ekko sides, from early 1956, are more in Hillbilly bop style; the good uptempo «When I Harvest My Love» (nice guitar)(# 1024) is backed by the fine, sincere, fiddle-led «Chapel Of My Heart».(value $ 100-200, according to Lincoln & Blackburn; B.J.’s only credits it of $ 30-40)). A bizarre detail: on Republic and Ekko, the Lou Millet records do exactly follow the preceding Lloyd McCollough records (Ekko 1023 and Republic 7130). Is that only an accident?

SHORTY THE BARBER
(Millet)
LOU MILLET (Republic 7130, 1956)
Have you ever passed by Shorty’s barber shop
Hey, Shorty bops the boogie on the razor’s strop
He snaps the scissors and he blows the comb
It sounds just like a saxophone
He nods his head and he bats his eye
He shuffles his feet and twitches his thighs
Everybody gets hep to the bop
But shorty bops the boogie on the razor’s strop
Oh, a snap from the scissors, jig-a-shoo, jig-a-shoo
And a blow from his comb, olee-aye olee-aye
Sounds just like a saxophone
People passing by, never fail to stop
When Shorty bops the boogie on the razor’s strop
Well, he charges me a dollar just to cut my hair
Enjoyed all the while I’m in his chair
take it easy is all I have to do
I feel like a million when gets through
He hand in my collar, he hand in my tie
He looks at me with a gleam in his eye
He brushes me off and before he’s through
Says to me, man, what else can I do
Oh yeah, he bounced to me as he opened the door
Says, thank you sir, come back some more
That’s Shorty the barber, now he’s the top
When he bops the boogie on the razor’s strop
Oh, a snap from the scissors, jig-a-shoo, jig-a-shoo
And a blow from his comb, olee-aye olee-aye
Sounds just like a saxophone
People passing by, never fail to stop
When Shorty bops the boogie on the razor’s strop

Courtesy Rockabilly Europe http://www.rockabillyeurope.com

SLIP, SLIP, SLIPPIN’ IN
(Bob Belyeu – Charles Wright)
LOU MILLET (REPUBLIC 7130, 1956)
Well, I went out last evening
Left my little woman at home
Thought that I would have some fun
The night was all my own
I stopped a-down the road and I bopped a while
I made every spot in town
But now I gotta tip-toe through the hall
Or I’ll be trouble-bound
I slipped up to the front door
I eased it open wide
I made sure the coast was clear
And then I slipped inside
Slipping through the doorway
Quiet as I could be
When on came the light and there she stood
Staring straight at me
I’m a-slip, slip, slip, slip, slipping in
Slip, slip, slip, slip, slipping in
Slip, slip, slip, slip, slipping in
I’m a-sneaking, slipping in, sneaking in
I slipped up to the front door
I eased it open wide
I made sure the coast was clear
And then I slipped inside
Slipping through the doorway
Quiet as I could be
When on came the light and there she stood
Staring straight at me
And the moral of this story is plain as it can be
Slipping around goes a-hand in hand with woe and misery
There stand my little woman, asking where I’ve been
Slipping out is a lots of fun, but oh that slipping in
Lord, a-slip, slip, slip, slip, slipping in
Slip, slip, slip, slip, slipping in
Slip, slip, slip, slip, slipping in
I’m a-sneaking, slipping in, slipping in
Slipping in, slipping in

Cactus CD (bootleg)

Lou Millet recorded more during the ’60s as “Colonel Lou” (for Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long), “with the Swingers”, but the music was close to era’s trend.

Sources: Uncle Gil for the Cactus CD ; Jean-Guy Meunier for the Dot and Scenic sides ; Willem Agenant for a nice portion of the biography as well as Columbia sides ; Feature sides from HBR virtual CDs ; Black Cat Rockabilly Europ.nu site (blackcat@rockabilly.nl) for the Republic lyrics ; notes by Allan Turner on the Jasmine CD « Rock me » ; my own archives and researches ; hillbilly-music.com for a picture of Lou.

Late March 2017 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks,

As for the past, here are a good amount of boppers cut between 1947 and as recent as 1966.

Fiddler TEX GRIMSLEY was a Louisiana Hayride resident, and played his part on almost – if not all – Pacemaker sides of 1949-50. This label was co-owned by Horace Logan (boss of the Hayride) and Webb Pierce, and was claude king-tillman franskconstantly of high standard. Grimsley & his Showboys included guitar player Buddy Attaway [his story is somewhere told in this site], Shot Jackson on steel and the inevitable Tillman Franks on bass, while the vocal duties are taken by (supposed related) Cliff Grimsley, and the tune « Shuffle on down » (Pacemaker 1005) is really a lazy, shuffling call-and-response format bopping song. Shot Jackson produces really wild effects on his steel. pacemaker Grimsley Shuffle
Shufflin’ on down

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Tex Grimsley had another disc in this style : « Walking the dog » (Pacemaker 1001, reissued by the big NYC concern Gotham # 408), as well as a fine double-sider out on Red Barn 1071 (« It’s all coming home to you/Sorry for you »), and probably did the fiddling part on the Shreveport Specialty sessions (1949-1954). 

cozy Slim Plaine»One little teardrop too late » is a crazy-paced item issued as by PLAIN SLIM & the O’Dell Family on the Davis, WVA Cozy label (# 570) from as late as 1966. Two soli each by fiddle and lead guitar over a strong rhythm guitar. One can wonder how this type of record was launched in a world of current pop music, even commercial Country. The name itself sounds like a pseudonym.

One little tear drop too late”

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rca Harris Ghost"
From 1951 and by a veteran, PHIL HARRIS, for the fine « Tennessee hill-billy phil harrisghost » on a RCA EP-702. He’s been before during the Forties on Ara (« That’s what I like about me », certainly not the Terry Fell’s song) or Okeh.

Tennessee hill-billy ghost

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Another mystery comes from WVA, that of KED KILLEN, and his superb Hillbilly boppers cut between 1966 and 1969 on his own Western Ranch label. Here are both sides of WR 119. Uptempo side is « Hey pretty mama » , Killen Kedwhile « Lonesome blues » is slower. Plaintive, wailing voice over a top notch accompaniment – a welcome echo too, and a fine guitar. Both sides could easily have been cut a good 10 to 15 years before.

Hey pretty mamaWRM Killen mamaWRM Killen Blues"

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Lonesome blues

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DICK HART on the Texan label Cowtown Hoedown (# 778) delivers a very fine uptempo bluesy « Time out for cowton Hart Bluesthe blues ». Solid rhythm, pounding guitar and a wild steel (June 1957). Who will get interest with this important and rich label, Cowtown Hoedown ? Its name was changed a short time later to just Cowtown.

Time out for the blues

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From Texas to near Oklahoma with BILLY WEBB & his Seminoles for « Burdock road » on the Stardale label # 50611 ; label was located in Morris, OK. It’s a solid Hillbilly bopper with good fiddle solo and steel/piano over a shuffle rhythm. There were 3 Stardale labels around the same time.

Burdock road

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stardale Webb Burdock

To get to an end, here are two 4* custom issues on the Nugget label (# 190 and 191) by DUSTY TAYLOR and his Rainbow Valley Rangers. « My shining star » and « Down grade » are very fine Hillbillies. Taylor was also in 1947 on the West coast label Westernair (# 107B) with the great « Ranger boogie » : typical romping ’40s music, accordion to the fore, fiddle is well present. The record is billed “instrumental’ but Taylor has a great, swinging vocal in it. A very pleasant record !

I just found “Boogie blues“, apparently issued on Westernair (untraced label), and on a French compilation, “Country Boogie”. And it’s a romper too!

My shining star

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Down grade

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nugget Taylor Star

Ranger boogienugget Taylor Gradewesternair Dusty Ranger

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Boogie Blues” (with Cal Shrum)

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Sources : YouTube as usual ; 45cat and 78rpm-worlds ; Hillbilly researcher blog ; my own archives.