“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 October 2018 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks ! This is the late October 2018 fortnight’s favorites selection, that include 9 tunes.

Carl Dixon on Hood

Let’s start with CARL DIXON, about whom a virtually nothing is known. I suspect that Dixon came from Arkansas, because the mention « & his Ark. Five », although the Hood label was located in Louisville, Ky. Nevertheless, both sides are joyful Rockabillies/Hillbilly boppers on Hood 1031 (sole issue known on 45cat,. Both sides do feature an harmonica, are medium uptempos and have echo on both guitar and vocal.

The Meladee label

From New Orleans do come the next three tracks on the famous Meladee label. This one released also Gene Rodrigue, and most of all, the wild Jeff Daniels’ songs in 1956 («Daddy-o-rock » and « Hey Woman »). 
Let’s begin with the otherwise unknown cat C. L. ‘Curly’ HARE on Meladee 103 from 1953. « Hopeless Love » is a shuffler, with good steel (solo) and fiddle, and an insistent piano that tickles the listener’s ears. More of the same with the flipside, « Bundle Of Blues ». A very nice hillbilly bop platter.

Later on, Wyatt re-surfaced on the Kuntry label # 1000 (late ’50s or early ’60s) apparently run by J. D. Miller [publishing house Jamil], out of Crowley, La. for the fast Country rocker « I Taught Her How To Love ».

Finally I post « Poor Me » by CHANDOS McRILL & The Excellons on the Stardust label # 805, which was located in Kansas City, Missouri. Issued in October 1959, it’s a medium-paced Rockabilly. McRill has an husky voice perfect for this type of music. A good guitar solo. Indeed he had released in 1957 on the Starday custom Stardust label (# 655) the great bopper/Rockabilly double-sider « Money Lovin’ Woman »/»Little Bit Too Bashful ». You’re lucky if you can find « Poor Me » and would pay $ 300-400 for bying it ! Note that the singer’s name was hidden, perhaps as an attempt to promote his backing group.

This ends the selection. Sources : Internet ; HBR # 24 ; 45cat and 78worlds for label scans ; « Guide to Rare Rockabilly ».

Early December 2016 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hi ! Everybody.
Ready for this new Fortnight ? From New Orleans on the Meladee label (run by Mel Mallory – I wonder if he launched other labels), here’s JACK WYATT & his Bayou Boys and the fine, uptempo « Why did you let me love you ». Fiddle and steel all long the tune. Actually Meladee issued also discs by Gene Rodrigue («   Jolie fille ») Roy Perkins (« You’re on my mind ») and Jeff Daniels (« Daddy-o rock »). Wyatt had another record on the Kuntry label (# 1000) : « I taught her how to love », a good uptempo, out of J. D. Miller studio in Crowley, La., according to « Jamil » as publishing house.

Why did you let me love you?

download

I taught her how to love

download

meladee wyatt-whykuntry wyatt-i-taughtWay up north in Detroit, MI and on the Hi-Q label (a sublabel to Fortune), the out-and-out rocker « It’s all your fault » by FARRIS WILDER. He didn’t cut any other disc to my knowledge.

hi-q wilder-faultit’s all your fault”

download

« You promised me » is the next song by PAUL BLUNT on Bullet 674, backed by a Californian outfit, The Frontiersmen, later set-up in Dallas, TX as a house band for Jim Beck . Blunt is in good voice and plays apparently steel (he was also a capable pianist who found work with many sessions held at Beck’s, including Ray Price or Charlene Arthur). I have previously posted his very good « Walking upstairs” (Bullet 706) in the April 2013 fortnight’s favorites section.bullet  blunt promised

You promised me”

paul-blunt

download

JEAN SHEPARD (born 1933; deceased September 2016) began his career in a duet with Ferlin Huskey, « A dear John letter », a huge hit in 1953 even as a crossover between Country and pop charts. Herself later pursued a solo career. Here’s « Two whoops and a holler » (Capitol 2791, April 1954): a typical Capitol honky tonker with one of the best housebands around in Los Angeles, that of Bill Woods (piano), Lewis Talley (steel), Fuzzy Owen (guitar) and Skeets McDonald on bass. In 1955 Shepard is inducted in the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. All in all she recorded 73 singles !

bb-5-5-54-jean-shepard-capitol-

Billboard May 5, 1954

jean-shepard-pic-53Two whoops and a holler”capitol-ep-jean-shepard-anglarescapitol shepard-whoops

download

Then the veteran EDDIE DEAN (1907-1999) was more known for his crooning things than boppers. We can however remind of 2 great sides on the Sage label, « Impatient blues » being a fine shuffler (#188), and « Rock & Roll cowboy » (# 226), a rare example of Western swing flavoured Rocker (or the opposite).eddie-dean-pic-grande

Rock’n’roll cowboysage dean-cowboy

download

On a New Jersey label (Red Hed # 1001) we’re going to listen to LES MITCHEM and « How big a vool » (sic), a fast bopper with good steel.from 1959

How big a foolred-hed -mitchem-vool

download

From Cincinnati, OH, I’ve found SYLBIL GIANI in 1958 for « Within these four walls »(Esta 284) : the Lady is in good voice and the band romps along very lovely.

esta giani-wallsWithin these four walls

download

I had a dream of you

download

downloadlauel-leaf tussey-dream

Finally from 1969 (yes!) on the Laurel Leaf label (# 24172), JAMES TUSSEY delivers a strong and solid bopper (drums present) with « I had a dream of you ».

Sources : Kevin Coffey in the « A shot in the dark » boxset ; Praguefrank for several discographical details ; Hillblly-music.com to complete bios ; Youtube.Thanks Dominique ‘Imperial’ Anglares for the rare Jean Shepard EP.
Sorry, I was not able to give more precise info. this time. Will do better next Fortnight !