Bobby Roberts: “I’m gonna comb you outta my hair” ! (1955), from pure Hank Williams-style honky-tonk to wild rock’n’roll..

One of the newest members of the King country andEP sky

western roster is eighteen year old Bobby Roberts.

Young Bobby was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on

September 12, 1937. Bobby always dreamed of becoming a

recording artist and he started getting his experience

young. He appeared in a musical show when only nine.

Both his mother and father encouraged Bobby in his

chosen career. Young Bobby Roberts did part time work

to help him through high school. He was graduated in

June 1953 and began going about the task of gaining

experience in the music world. His biggest thrill was

when over three thousand persons attended one of his

personal appearances. Roberts has worked as a grocery

clerk, car hop, shined shoes, polished cars and washed

dishes, always dreaming of becoming a professional

musician‘.(as written on the DJ bio copy of King 4868)

 

At least some factual data can now be gleaned on

Roberts’ origins. He recorded one session for King in August

1955 and I’m assuming that it is the same Bobby

Roberts that recorded for the Memphis based Hut label

in 1958. However, I’m not entirely convinced that the

Roberts on Sky is the same person. I base this

assumption on aural evidence (the vocalists on both

records contrast distinctly) and the fact that Sky was

based in Mississippi. Having said that, from a logical

point of view it most likely is the same Roberts on

all three labels, as Joe Griffith, a high school

friend of Roberts, covered both of Roberts’ Sky

recordings and both were apparently based in Memphis

at the time. Further, considering Roberts Tennessee

origins, it possibly is the same Roberts on all four

discs.

 

My query here is, can anyone confirm that the Bobby

Roberts on King, Sky and Hut is the same person? Or

can anyone else shed any light at all on this? It has to

be noted Roberts wrote all his material.

 

Using a number of different sources, I managed to

compile the following Bobby Roberts discography,

 

19 August 1955. Cincinnati, Ohio

Bobby Roberts And The Ozark Drifters.

Bobby Roberts – vcl, other personnel unknown : steel, fiddle,st-bass.

 

K3995 ‘Her And My Best Friend’ King 4868

K3996 ‘I’m Gonna Comb You Outta My Hair’ King 4837

king roberts friend

king roberts comb
Her and my best friend

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I’m gonna comb you outta my hair

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bb 5 nov 55 B. Roberts

billboard Nov. 5, 1955

My undecided heart

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I’m pulllin’ stakes and leavin’ you

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king roberts undecidedking roberts stakes

bb 21 jan 56 king 4868

billboard Jan. 21, 1956

 

 

 

K3997 ‘My Undecided Heart’ King 4837

K3998 ‘I’m Pullin’ Stakes And Leavin’ You’ King 4868

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1956.

Bobby Roberts with Highpockets Delta Rockets. Mississippi labelsky roberts sandy

Bobby Roberts – vcl, other personnel unknown : ld-g, b, d .sky roberts woman

 

45-S-34 ‘Big Sandy’ Sky 56-101

45-S-33 ‘She’s My Woman’ Sky 56-101

Big Sandy

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She’s my woman

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1958.

Bobby Roberts with Bad Habits. Memphis, TN, label.

Bobby Roberts – vcl, other personnel unknown : ld-g,b,d.

Hop, skip and jump

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Cravin

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4706 ‘Hop Skip And Jump’ Hut 881

4707 ‘Cravin” Hut 881

hut roberts  hophut roberts cravin'

 

from the notes of Shane Hughes, « Yahoo » « rockin’ records» group.

 

This Roberts has obviously nothing to do with the one on U.S.A. label and the other on Cameo, who came later early ’60s, and drastically change in style. Nothing to do too with Media (Philadelphia) or GMA artists.

 

Bobby Roberts’ music, from editor’s point of view.

 

It is hard to imagine such a change in so little time in style between the King session and the Sky one.

All 4 sides cut at King (« with the Ozark Drifters ») are pure dreamed hillbilly a la Hank Williams. All medium paced tracks, they feature a strong string-bass, and a weird steel-guitar, both propelled by a crisp fiddle. Vocal is a dream, Roberts has a firm voice, even some semi-yodelling vocalizing over nice lyrics.

In complete contrast, the Sky sides are out-and-out rockers. « Big Sandy » is a screamer, and the whole thing is a gas. « She’s my woman », a bit slower, fetches to Rockabilly. Note on the reissue the presence of the Jennings Brothers.

« Cravin’ » is a routinely rocker, while « Hop skip and jump » (not the Collins Kids’ number, neither the York Brothers’ on Bullet ) is an average rocker – even a sax – which Billy Riley could have cut this style. Actually it bears a little similarity with « Pearly Lee »..

The son to Bobby Roberts once posted in « bopping » that his father was the same man on King, Sky and Hut ; so I asked for some details and a picture, if available – no answer..

With thanks to Uncle Gil (King 4868 sound file) and Dave Cruse (King 4868 label scan). Internet research.

Joe GriffithBig Sandy” (Reelfoot unissued)

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Joe GriffithShe’s my woman“(Reelfoot unissued)

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late July 2010 fortnight

Hello folks! This is REALLY a hot summer over there in France, lot of heavy clouds but…no rain at all. Perfect time anyway to keep oneself well dry inside and stomp to that good ole’ Hillbilly beat. We begin with a very elusive artist from the Cumberland Valley/Cincinnati area. I’ve told before in this site about him, and did promise I should post everything I gathered for one year and a half. This could be later this year, so watch out for the fullest possible story on Mr. JIMMIE BALLARD. The first cut in this fortnite is Ballard’s own version of “Birthday Cake Boogie” (Kentucky 508) kentcky ballard cake

of course, the same song was also recorded by, among others, BILLY HUGHES and SKEETS McDONALD, and stands out as a classic ‘risqué‘ or ‘double-entendre‘ song. Ballard was the front man then of BUFFALO JOHNSON‘s Herd (who was active in the D.C. area, and a full story on him is on the line.  And he keeps the vocal duties with the also ‘risqué‘ (Kentucky 520 ) “T’ain’t Big Enough“. Both songs are from 1953/1954, fine uptempo Boppers, altho’ just above average, except for lyrics.

kentucky  enoughimperial Briggs pole

Back to a Wildcat out of Texas, a very long career as steel guitar player as soon as 1936, then singer and front man of his band, the XYT Boys, BILLY BRIGGS. I will have some day a complete story on him. He was (maybe he’s still alive, I dunno) to have a sound on his own, and produced very strange ditties from his steel in 1951 for his greatest success (much covered) “Chew Tobacco Rag N° 2” . Here I’ve chosen the amusing “North Pole Boogie” (Imperial 8131, late Forties), complete with icy wind effects (on steel), and Briggs’ own barytone voice imitating a sort of ‘polar bear’ .

Back to Cincinnati and BILL BROWNING. I’ve written about him elsewhere in the site with the story of the LUCKY label. Today I listen to his composition “Dark Hollow“, which was a hit in 1958 when picked up by JIMMIE SKINNER, before the very nice version on BLUE RIDGE by LUKE GORDON (watch out for his story later in 2010), then even by The Grateful Dead in 1973, among others. I particularly like the recent version made by FRED TRAVERS (90’s) which I’ve included in the podcasts; almost falsetto urgent vocal and great dobro.island browning dark

More from Cincinnati. BOBBY ROBERTS (I think there were at least 2, or 3 personas by the same name during he 50’s). Here he’s the great Hillbilly singer, who cut late 1955 4 sides for KING records. I cannot rememeber if I posted earlier his great “I’m Gonna Comb You Out Of My Hair” (what a title!). This time, I offer the second KING (4868, unverified – Ruppli’s book still stored) “I’m Pulling Stakes And Leaving You”, same lyrics format. Great, great Hillbilly Bop. Later in 1956, Roberts (or one of his aliases) had “Big Sandy” or “Hop, Skip and Jump“, pure Rockabillies. I still wonder if it’s the same man; if so, he would have adapted very well and quickly (within some months) from pure Hillbilly vocal to almost Rock’n’Roll. By the way, he would not have been the first to do so: SKEETS McDONALD, GEORGE JONES, MARTY ROBBINS did very well the transition early in 1956.

Another elusive artist: guitar player/singer PETE PIKE. Recently deceased (2006) just after a CD ‘back to roots’ (Bluegrass) issued in 2005, he was active both in Virginia and D.C. areas from 1947 onwards, and associated several years with another interesting man, BUZZ BUSBY (Busbice). Pike had Hillbilly Bop records on FOUR STAR and CORAL in 1954-1955, among them I’ve chosen the superior ballad  “I’m Walking Alone“. Another future entry in www.bopping.org, research is well advanced.

Finally, on the Rocking Blues side, you’re in for a treat with L.A. ‘black Jerry Lee Lewis’ (as the Englishmen call him when he visits their shores), WILLIE EGAN and “What A Shame” from 1957 (Vita label). Pounding piano, wild vocal, strong saxes, heavy drums, the whole affair rocks like mad, althoug relaxed. Enjoy, folks. Comments welcome. ‘Till then, bye-bye.