Like many country artists of bygone years, Eddie Kirk is hardly known to contemporary audiences – in this case particularly surprising as he was among the first of the country music artists on Capitol Records to enjoy chart successes and one of the busiest musicians on the West coast scene in the post-war years. Yet, in the majority of the country music reference books, he doesn’t even warrant a footnote.
He was born Edward Merle Kirk on 21th March 1919 and, as his birthplace was a ranch near Greeley , Colorado, it was almost natural that the cowboy songs of the ranch hands, along with riding and roping, should have been part of his childhood. Such songs were inspirational and, by the age of 9, he was singing and tap-dancing to the accompaniment of a small local band in Greeley. Then, knowing many of the tunes by heart and accompanying himself on guitar, he won himself a daily 15 minutes show on a local radio station, earning $ 2.50 per week.
In spite of spending two years in college, majoring in civil engineering, music won out in his future ambitions. He joined the Beverly Hillbillies, a group led by Glen Rice, and touring the western states finally led him to Hollywood where he continued his radio performances. Returning to Colorado, he mixed singing with a bref period as a flyweight amateur boxer before joning Larry Sunbrook’s band in 1935. There, in addition to his fine voice and impressive guitar work, he showed off his yodeling skills and, for two consecutive years (1935-36), won the title of National Yodeling Champion.
Eddie Kirk’s career was suspended when he joined the US Navy and, after the ceasing of hostilities in 1945, he returned to Hollywood and quickly built up his reputation performing on Gene Autry’s radio show, playing guitar in Johnny Bond’s band, touring with the Andrews Sisters and making several movies, four with cowboy hero Charles Starrett for Columbia pictures.
He began his recording career in 1947 on Capitol Records, the label that had already secured country success with other western singers like Tex Ritter, Tex Williams, Jack Guthrie and Jimmy Wakely. Kirk soon added to the company’s success story with The Gods Were Angry With Me in 1948 and, the following year, with a cover of George Morgan’s Candy Kisses.. He continued recording for Capitol for another three years and, although he never achieved another chart entry, he did met his wife Barbara while signed to the label. She was the secretary of Lee Gillette, Capitol’s A&R chief and his record producer, and the two were married n 1949. After almost two dozen singles on Capitol, his recording career continued on King, RCA Victor and Volt.
In 1951 one of radio’s foremost first country music shows, Town Hall Party, was launched and, besides attracting crowds of almost 3,000 twice weekly, the Friday night shows soon gained a massive audience, thanks to transmissions on Pasadena’s KXLA, and the NBC network broadcasting the Saturday shows. Eddie Kirk became one of its regular performers, joining an impressive « who’s who » of West Coast country music talent that included Tex Ritter, Eddie Dean, Rose Lee and Joe Maphis, Tex Williams, Wesley and Marilyn Tuttle, Freddie Hart, the Collins Kids and Johnny Bond, with the show making even greater impact when segments starting being seen on television via Los Angeles’ KKTV channel.
Keeping up an almost full time schedule, Kirk was also being heard daily on a KXLA morning disc jockey show, Harmony Hoedown as well as being a member of the Hometown Jamboree group, one of the offshots of Clffie Stone’s highly successful West Coast operations. The group, which ncluded Kirk playing rhythm guitar and singing, had over 300 members and guests during its ten years duration and was a serious rival to Spade Cooley’s Hoffman Hayride broadcasting at the same time until its station, KTLA, enticed Stone’s show into its weely schedules with a substantial financial offer. The Hometown band additionnally doubled as Capitol Record’s country studio band.
Eddie Kirk was also a proficient songwriter, his biggest success being So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed, a number one record for Merle Travis, and co-penned with Travis and Stone. The same partnership also created Blue Bonnet Blues. Bright Lights And Blonde Haired Women proved a popular title for Tennessee Ernie Ford, while Kirk’s other originals included Sugar Baby, Please Don’t Cry Over Me, How Do You Mend A Broken Heart and Remember That I Love You.
In his later years, he became less engaged with the entertainment industry, devoting time to his family and a new-found love of flying. He died on 27 June 1997, aged 78 years.
Biography written by Tony Byworth
« Saturday Night Time Blues » (Capitol 974) : a boogie lead-guitar (Jimmy Bryant?) on a shuffle rhythm, certainly given by Cliffie Stone’s bass, a good steel (probably Speedy West) and a someway forceful vocal make this a very nice bopper cut in March 1950.
Blue Bonnet Blues
« Blue Bonnet Blues » (Capitol 1287) from April 1950 is one of the very best Kirk’s songs. Speedy West shines on a discreet steel as soon as the first christal notes of the song. He’s joined by Billy Liebert on accordion. There’s even an harmonica player for good on this shuffle beat superlative bopper.
The third selection is another shuffler, well suited to Kirk’s voice, who yodels gently during « Drifting Texas Sand » (Capitol 1591, from May 1951) : the usual batch of guitars, bass and harmonica (solo) comes up. From the same session I chose « Freight Train Breakdown » (Capitol 1790), a very fast song with drums and a very agile lead guitar by Jimmy Bryant (train effects by Speedy West on steel).
In 1952 Kirk signed with RCA-Victor and cut two sessions. The first one provided a super bopper (fiddle) « Country Way » (RCA 47-5247), while he supplied us with a strange banjo led country-bopper, « Wanderin’ Eyes » (RCA 47-5287). And that was it.
It has proven near impossible to find any biographical data about DANNY DEDMON. He may have been born in Louisiana, since his career was often confined to this state. His professional career begun in 1946, so he must have been in his twenties then, and already an accomplished guitar player being recruited by a ‘star’, Bill Nettles, for the latter’s Dallas recording session.
The Monroe Morning Star (March 23, 1947) showed the only certain known picture of Danny Dedmon (far left).
Bill Nettles & the Dixie Blue Boys
He was associated to KSAM in Huntsville, Tx. when Bill Nettles took him to KMLB in Monroe, La. and made him join as lead guitarist his Dixie Blue Boys. He then cut his first records under the leadership of Nettles in Dallas, Tx. for Bullet, a Nashville label, on July 7th 1946. Jim Bulleit was present at the session, as he was seeking for new talents for his label.
Bullet 637 (Too Many Blues/High Falutin’ Mama) and 638 (Hungry/You’re Breaking My Broken Heart Again) were good sellers for Bill Nettles, and not long after, he was approached by Lew Chudd’s scouts and subsequently signed a contract with Imperial Records, the then rising label in Country music with its 8000 serie launched during Summer 1947.
Danny Dedmon & the Rhythm Ramblers
Dedmon went solo with a contract on his own, and had 7 singles released under his name between Summer 1947 and October 1949, backed by his Rhythm Ramblers, who actually were Nettles’ Dixie Blue Boys in disguise.
« Hula Hula Woogie » (Imperial # 8019) is a call-and-response ditty ; a fine uptempo bopper (a sort of fast bluesy tune) with a fiddle all along the song (Robert Shivers), a mandolin (Nettles), guitar, and steel (« Cowboy » Thomas) solos, all propelled by the bass of own Nettles’ daughter Loyce, while Dedmon had an assured voice, that of a man accustomed to sing.
Billboard, Jan. 23, 1948
Reverse side « Too Many Blue Eyes » is slower, although equally good.
This first Danny Dedmon recording session may well have been cut at KOGT station in Orange, Texas, whom he was associated then with, or in Beaumont, Texas, where many early Imperial sides were recorded. Anyway Billboard noticed him in its early 1948 edition.
Autumn 1947 saw Danny Dedmon back in Beaumont studio for a long 8-tracks recording session. 4 tracks do remain unissued, but it’s obvious Imperial executives had faith in him cutting an entire session. Imperial 8023 (Why Should I Want You Now/It’s Time To Say Goodbye) escaped to my researching antennas, so cannot comment ; two other tracks out of this session however were finally released surprisingly during the second half of 1950. Why Imperial issued them so late is anybody’s guess. « I Don’t Want You Anymore » (Imperial 8099) is a fine, bouncing bopper. Every instrument involved has its solo (although except the string bass). The reverse side, « Lane Budded With Roses », a mid-paced weeeper, is forgettable. This # 8099 was credited to Danny Dedman : a typing error from the labels’ printer ?
In October 1947 Imperial files reveal one more unissued session (3 tunes), and one must wait December 1947 for a 4-track session more. Two tunes went also unissued : « That Chick Was Just My Size » sounds a promising track, talking of a bopper, while Imperial 8045 has two excellent numbers, namely a bluesy, mid-tempo shuffler, call-and-response format with « Hoochie Coochie Woogie » (Pee Wee Calhoun, a newcomer in the Dedmon team, is called before his piano solo) while « Drinkin’ Beer All Night » is a fast item.
Ca. late 1947 and late 1948 Dedmon went to work with Jelly Jolly in clubs and touring, but made no records with him. February 1949 found him again in the Beaumont studio, for 4 more tracks, all released. Imperial 8058 bears two fine sides, and one can detect a Hank Williams influence from then on « You Can’t Hen Peck Me », an uptempo bopper ; « The Blues Keep On Hangin’ On » is a particularly effective fast bluesy tune with its two steel solos (by « Cowboy » Thomas) and the good fiddle of Robert Shivers. The piano takes a solo too, and was played either by Pee Wee Calhoun, either by the newcomer in the Dixie Blue Boys Pal Thibodeaux [see his study elsewhere in this site]. The remaining unheard sides included « That Lonesome Old Moon » and « That Blond Headed Gal Of Mine » and were released as Imperial 8061.
The remaining tracks, and nearly the last Dedmon ever recorded, were cut in October 1949 with the same line-up of Bill Nettles’ Dixie Blue Boys. All these are rousing tunes. « Gin Drinkin’ Mama » (# 8065) is definitely one of his best songs : shouting vocal (although the voice is barely recongnizable), fast rhythm, as the reverse « Gonna Trade My Red Head For Blonde » (a mid-tempo). The long steel solo and the shiny fiddle playing make this a typical pure Honky tonk shuffler.
« Mama-In-Law Troubles » (# 8068) keeps along the same pattern as « Gin Drinkin’ Mama », when « Sweet Little Sweetie Pie » is also a romper : it’s another fabulous shuffler typical of the era.
How versatile he was is shown by 2 snippets taken in early 1949 from the Billboard. In January he had joined once more Bill Nettles at the time of the first Mercury session which gave in April “Hadacol Boogie” (but he was not present on the session); then in March 1949, he joined Cal Maddox (guitarist of the Maddox Brothers) on KTRM out of Modesto, California. Finally March 1951 found him back in the band of Jolly Jelly.
We find Danny Dedmon (this time backed by the Cain River Boys) once more on the L.A. Flair label (# 1005) released 1953. Things are very different from the previous Louisiana discs. The backing is a limited one : exit the fiddle. Accent is put on the omnipresent steel-guitar (NOT « Cowboy » Thomas, with aural evidence) and a tendency toward pop, particularly in « Sally Anne » ; « Maybe Things Will Work Out Right » has a pizzicato played lead guitar, and no rhythm at all. Both sides are written “Pee Wee (Calhoun?)-Dedmon”. Does it suggest that his band had followed him in California, or the Flair issue was simply recorded in Louisiana before its release on a near-major label (Flair had been launched in 1953 by Modern for issuing Southern artists)? This record is a question in itself.
At this point, Danny Dedmon disappears from the music scene, except one big mention. He’s credited in October 1956 as co-writer of the Rockabilly classic « Hot Dog » by Corky Jones (actually Buck Owens) on Pep 107. Had he put his hand on this gone unnoticed little gem that he should have tickled all the record collectors since then.
Very little is known about GORDON JENNINGS. He seems to have spent some time in Philly as well as West VA. , Tennessee and Missouri. He was for sure D.J. for certain stations in Saint-Louis, MO (KMOX and WEW), and Bluefield, W.Va. (WHIS and WKOY). He made between 1954 and 59 four records in a Hillbilly style and all four are very good boppers.
West Va. bordering Ky, Tn. and Pa.
Bluefield, Mercer Cty, bottom of the State of W. Va.
What follows is what « Johnn Maddy », seemingly from Arkansas, wrote about Jenning’s « I saw you cheatin’ last night » (Skyrocket) in his YouTube chain :(additions in  by bopping’s editor)
« A tune Gordon co-wrote with two other artists, and released on a Skyrocket single in 1959. He was born on Oct. 21st 1916 and came to a very serious Bluegrass group called The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers back around 1938-39. Together they really became popular on W.H.I.S Radio in Bluefield West Virginia [but they never recorded on discs at this time]. Jennings had several Radio shows out of St Louis as well, when is unknown, but we did find another single Gordon done in 1958 for another label in Philly called ”Arcade”, but that is the extent of what we learned of Gordon Jennings and his singing career, friends, but still looking for more. Enjoy it Folks, I’ve heard this one done by several artists [Rex Zario on Arcade 202 – other versions by Skeets Yaney and Marty Collins have different credits], but now hearing Gordon the lead composer do it, a good one it is.!!! »
His first record was done in Kingsport, Tennessee for the famous, although quite scarce now, tiny Kingsport label, primarily devoted to Bluegrass (Jimmy Gregg), with some advances towards Hillbilly bop (Reece Shipley, L. C. Smith). It’s the last record of the label, cut around 1954 (#112), and it combines a great bopper « Quit teasin’ me » (uptempo – a bluesy guitar led and a boogie piano – and a nice vocal) and « The telephone girl » (unheard, Allan Turner collection). How Jennings came to this Tennessee label is unknown: one can speculate a leasing of masters by Kingsport label due to radio relations. Anyone has got an idea ?
His second offering was cut in Pittsburg for the tiny Alba label (# 400), and coupled two good sides again, backed by a « String quartet » : the mid-paced « Drivin’ home » and the faster «Three day pass ».
Well-assured vocal fronting a solid backing. The Alan Schafer named in the credits could have been the label’s owner as well as co-writer of the songs. The short Billboard snippet is learning that the disc was going strong in the Pittsburg area.
We jump to 1958 for a third Jennings issue on the famous Philly label Arcade. « Is it yes or is it no » (# 146) is a fine bopper, and has, for the first time in a Gordon Jennings record, a steel guitar, while the lead plays on the bass chords for good effect. The flip side « I wonder if you miss me too » is unheard (Allan Turner collection = unavailable).
Next and final record is to be found again in Philadelphia on the new up-and-coming Skyrocket label, in 1959 [other good records are Rex Zario’s « Go man go, get gone »(# 1001) and Ray Coleman’s « Toodle-oo mambo » (# 1002)]. First side of the Jennings’ disc bears a very good version of Hank Williams’ « My sweet love ain’t around » (Skyrocket 1003), and the flipside is an original, written by Jennings, aided by Tex Zario (himself being an artist and owner of the label) and the unknown to me Lucky Taylor. The song « I saw you cheatin’ last night » is a nice country-rocker (insistant drums) backed by a good embroidering steel guitar, the lead guitar is fine too over a wave of fiddle.
So popular must this song have been that in 1968 on Arcade 202 it was revived by Rex Zario (it’s unclear if Rex and Tex are the same person) in a more rocking style: drums are louder, the steel is more discreet (a short solo), the vocal is a bit smooth. Rex Zario, “I saw you cheatin’ last night”
Sources : YouTube (Johnn Maddy, CheesebrewWax Archives) ; Hillbilly Researcher (Alba) ; 78rpm-worlds (Kingsport) ; 45rpm-cat (Arcade and Skyrocket) ; my own record (Rex Zario) ; Hillbilly-music.com for radio stations and Gordon Jenning’s picture; Billboard archives for personal data.
No image available of the boys neither of Bill Morgan at the moment. Maybe someone has one picture? Pease help!
This Bill Morgan has nothing to do with the Columbia songwriter and artist (1954-55), brother to George Morgan.
By the mid-1955, Texans Bill [Morgan, rhythm guitar] and Carroll [Hunt, lead guitar] came from Beaumont, Texas, to Lake Charles’ (La.) Goldband recording studio and cut their first sides. They were issued on Goldband 1034 early 1956, comprised of two Hillbilly boppers tunes : « Love me just a little bit » has harmony vocals in the bridge, the rest
being sung by Bill Morgan ; fine backing of fiddle and steel by the Netche Valley Boys; « My blue letter » is faster and equally good. The boys try with brio to sing harmony all along the track. Again great aggressive fiddle, as on « Honest to goodness baby » (Goldband 1053) issued 1957. The B-side « Love grown cold » is a slowie ; the vocals are plaintive but the spirit (a piano is added) of the other sides remain intact.
Departing from Goldband Bill & Carroll left behind them 5 unissued songs only published in France and U.K. during the late ’80s. A first version of the future Dixie classic “Feel so good“, a perfect example of Hillbilly bop heading towards Rockabilly (great guitar and fiddle backing).The medium paced « Shadow on my heart » is reminiscent of « Love grown cold », but a little faster. Enters even an accordion player. Some mambo rhythm for « Boo hoo », then « Hold me baby » is a fast number, quasi-rockabilly (at least for the guitar playing), a bit Everly-ish. The last tune, « Bluff city rock » is pure rock’n’roll, with heavy drums and tickling piano, and again that fine guitar.
Next step was on Madison, TN, Dixie label. Both of the guys were reunited under the name « BILL CARROLL » for a second version of their previous « Feel so good » (Dixie 2010) – a sharp lead guitar, and a firm vocal. This is the best ever of their product – value $ 300-400, and one would hear their B-side « In my heart » , not available since its November 1958 issue.
From then on, it seems that both of them went separate ways, as further recordings are all assigned to « BILL MORGAN ». First in 1959 (reviewed by Billboard in August) on Pappy Daily’s « D » label (# 1092) . « Your wicked love » is a fast bopper: clear voice, nice backing of piano and an ordinary guitar, probably not by Carroll Hunt. Things are slower for the flipside « At home with mom », full of echo. Next step is on the Dart label (a sublabel to « D ») for « Red hot rhythm combo » (# 137) in 1960 : a good jumping little rocker. The guitar riff is fine and insistant, and Morgan is in good voice.
The man moved again to Texas, and had a good amount of recordings until 1972, when his trail goes cold. On Delta Records, he had late 1962 # 501 « I need your love » picked up by Chess and reissued on # 1841, a good little rocker. Then on Delta 504 in 1963, « She gave me lovin’ », once more a fine rocker. Then on Gem (1964-65) a similar instrumentation for the energetic « Tennessee moon » (# 5) or the lovely (female chorus) « Land of the midnight sun » (# 7)(not posted here). I did not hear further recordings on New World, Stoneway and Myra, so cannot comment neither podcast them.
Another Bill Morgan appeared on Rebel 249 (VA.), who had nothing apparently to do with this artist. Indefatigable visitor (and corrector) DunkenHobo points out a different version of “I need your love”(Chess) by a BOBBIE MORGAN on (Tx) Blackbird 505. It is aurally not an alternate of the Chess issue; a seemingly female vocal; no speeded up tempo I’d assume; and this time a good piano. Producer Bill Morgan, says DrunkenHobo. So maybe Bobbie was his wife? Here it is for what it’s worth:
Sources: 45rpm.com site; notes to Goldband LP 107 “Bop stop rock”; notes to BF 16408 “D & Dart”; YouTube.(53jaybop chain for the Goldband 1034 label scans)
Nothing or nearly has surfaced on the precise whereabouts of PAL THIBODEAUX (his actual Cajun name). Here are the details I could glean from his records, or from 45rpm-cat or even from Bill Nettles’ story as it appears on the CD « Bill Nettles & his Dixie Blue Boys : « Shake it and take it » – Cattle CCD248) and « Bill Nettles – « Hadacol boogie » – on Jasmine 3548 » . I even didn’t succeed obtaining a picture of Pal Thibodeaux, also known as LITTLE PAL HARDY (on Imperial 8282).
Vance Morris and the Alabama Playboys monopolized Nashboro’s early hillbilly releases with accomplished, zestful tunes like “Crazy ’bout the boogie” and “Slap-happy pappy“. That Morris, born in 1919, grew up near Oklahoma City probably accounts for the heavy Western swing influence in the band’s repertoire. “I idolized this kind of music“, said Morris to Martin Hawkins. After 1942 he had a band which at one time had no less than 13 pieces in the Play Boys. They fielded offers from King and Mercury.
He went to Mississipi in 1934, then on to Huntsville, Alabama. A local promoter, Robert ‘Big Deal’ Vann, got him on Nashboro. There were two sessions, no royalties, and only a little airplay. Vance sang and played guitar and bass; Hank “Dub” Williams played bass, rhythm guitar and sang. “Lefty” Haggard also sang on one side; Ronald Glenn played lead guitar. Malcolm “Buck” Buffalo and Cliff Luna played the fiddle.
After the Nashboro disks, the band members went their separate way. Morris at one time repaired cars, before the split of his band was complete.
from notes by Martin Hawkins for “A shot in the dark” boxset. Thanks to Ronald Keppner and his invaluable help (mp3 and label scans)
Notes from Bopping editor :
« Crazy ’bout the boogie » (# 1005) is by far the best of the 6 sides cut for Nashboro. An heavy boogie guitar (solo), the piano takes a boogie solo, and steel is driving throughout the tune. Sold recently (2016) for $ 103.
Nashboro 1009 combines again a vocal and an instrumental. « I’ll get by don’t you cry » is a shuffler, a bit sentimental, while « Slap-happy pappy » is a real showcase of the whole band. Each of the instruments (bass, piano, guitar) takes its solo, all propelled by a fine steel throughout. Add the vocal yells, and you’ve got a really fine fast Hillbilly boogie.