What little recognition Carvel Lee Ausborn enjoys today is due to the fact that he hosted a show called « Pickin’ and singin’ hillbilly » on WELO, Tupelo, Mississipi, starting in June 1944. Originally a 15 minutes Saturday show, it increased to 30 minutes and finally to one hour, five days a week. It preceded WELO’s Saturday afternoon Jamboree sponsored by the Black and White store, and on those who got up to sing on the show’s amateur spot was none other than Elvis Presley. The musical influence that Mississipi Slim had over a pre-pubescent Elvis wasn’t that great, but for awhile in 1945 and 1946, Slim epitomized all the glamor of the music business for ten or eleven-year old Elvis. The customized guitar, the easy patter…how alluring it must have seemed to an impressionable kid from the poor end of town. Elvis probably hung around Slim until the Presleys left town at the end of 1948.
By all accounts, Slim (born in Smithville, MS., ca. 1923) was a quiet, easy-going fellow who sang country songs, but liked to call himself an actor and paid as much attention to « giving a show » as to singing. He was a Jimmie Rodgers disciple, and a cousin of the Opry comedian Rod Brasfield. In 1948, he went to WSIX in Nashville with Goober & his Kentuckians. He got onto Opry once or twice.
Read the rest of this entry »
Despite 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.
« Take me back to Michigan«
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)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/sun-197.Earl-Peterson-Boogie-blues.mp3download
« In the dark« (Sun 197)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/In-the-dark.mp3download
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.
« Boogie blues« (Columbia 21364)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/21364-Boogie-Blues-Earl-Peterson.mp3download
« Believe me » (Columbia 21364)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/21364-Believe-Me-Earl-Peterson.mp3download
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)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/21406-Earl-Peterson-Im-Not-Buying-Baby.mp3download>
« Be careful of the heart you’re going to break » (Columbia 21406)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/21406-Be-Careful-Of-The-Heart-Youre-Going-To-Break-Earl-Peterson.mp3download
In 1960 Peterson and his family established radio station WPLB in Greenville, Michigan. In 1962, 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.
« I ain’t gonna fall in love » (Columbia 21467) http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/21467-Earl-Peterson-I-Aint-Gonna-Fall-In-Love.mp3download
« I’ll live my life alone » (Columbia 21467) http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/21467-Ill-Live-My-Life-Alone-Earl-Peterson.mp3download
Earl Peterson’s music, a survey by bopping’s editor
« You gotta be my baby« (Columbia 21540)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/21540-Earl-Peterson-You-Gotta-Be-My-Baby.mp3download
« World of make believe« (Columbia 21540)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/World-Of-Make-Believe.mp3download
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)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/You-Just-Cant-Be-Trusted-Earl-Peterson.mp3download
Texas Bill Strength (Aug. 28, 1928 ~ Oct. 1, 1973): Although much better known for his career as a radio personality, Texas Bill Strength also cut a series of country and rockabilly efforts, including a session for the legendary Sun Records backed by former Elvis Presley guitarist Scotty Moore. Perhaps his biggest success came as a songwriter, having penned the blockbuster hit, « He’ll Have to Go » for Jim Reeves [actually written by J. Allison & A. Allison].
Born August 28, 1928 in Bessemer, Alabama, Strength was sixteen when he won an amateur contest at Houston’s Joy Theater. Local station KTHT was in the market for a cowboy act and soon he was working part-time on the air. In 1945 Strength began working as a DJ full-time for St. Joseph, Missouri station KFEQ, followed by a stint singing for Sioux Falls, South Dakota radio KSOO. After tenure with Denver’s KMYR, he returned to Houston, in quick succession appearing on KLEE, KATL and KNUZ. During that time, Strength also cut a serie of minor singles for the 4-Star label. Among them were « Who’s the lucky one » and « I’m doing a peach of a job ». By September of 1949 Bill was in Birmingham, Alabama doing daily radio programs at WRBC, which was a network of thirty-seven stations throughout the Southeast. In late 1949, Bill’s career had taken him back to Houston, Texas. Bill was one of the mainstays at a new venue in Houston along with others such as Floyd Tillman and Leon Payne. In early 1950 he was hired by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) to promote the organization via radio and convention.
Biff (Hiram Abiff) Collie, pioneer country (DJ), show promoter and trade paper reporter, was born on November 25, 1926 in Little Rock, Arkansas, but raised in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from Thomas Edison High School (San Antonio, Texas) in 1944. Biff’s professional career spanned forty years working such major markets as Houston and San Antonio, Texas and Los Angeles and Long Beach California.
Biff Collie began his radio career at KMAC radio in San Antonio as a teenager. After brief stints at Browning and Alice, Texas, he moved on to KNUZ radio in Houston and later to KPRC. Biff started with KNUZ (1948) working as sports reporter, before moving into a disc jockey role. During that time, Glad Music Company had a record store on 11th Street. KNUZ had regular remote broadcasts from their store. Popular recording artists were frequent visitors to the shop. Hank Williams was one of the many artists to stop by. Biff was conducting a remote broadcast from Glad Music in 1948 when Hank Williams visited the store.
Biff was the first country disc jockey (see note below) in Houston, which remains one of the premiere markets for country music radio. While in Houston, he also promoted and booked shows, becoming one of the first to ever book Hank Williams, Sr. and Tennessee Ernie Ford. In 1957, he became manager and emcee for the Philip Morris Country Music Show, which was broadcast nationally on Mutual Broadcasting Radio and CBS Radio. Later he worked mornings on KPRC and hosted a certain up and coming singer from Memphis by the name of Presley at the Grand Prize Jamboree.
In 1960, Collie moved to Los Angeles where he remained for the decade, gaining huge popularity over KFOX Radio. He was consistently in the top ten radio personalities in Billboard and Music Reporter magazines and was also named « Best Radio Personality » by the Academy of Country Music, an organization which he served on the Board of Directors and produced the annual awards show in 1967. He moved to Nashville in 1969 and produced the first syndicated radio show, « Inside Nashville, » which ran on stations across the country for many years. He also was a morning man (Collie’s Coffee Club) on KLEE radio in Ottumwa, Iowa.
Collie made an attempt at recording, first on Macy’s records in Houston and later for Specialty. His only charted hit was as Billy Bob Bowman in 1972 on United Artists. Collie married the former wife of country legend Floyd Tillman in 1953. Biff later married Shirley Simpson, who as Shirley Collie recorded several duets with Willie Nelson. It was Biff who introduced Shirley to the up-and-coming singer/songwriter and Shirley eventually divorced Collie to marry Nelson.
Before his death, Biff earned the Ernest Tubb Humanitarian Award for his contributions. Biff is a member of the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame (1978). Collie died on February 19, 1992 in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Radio stations where Biff worked: KMAC (San Antonio, Texas, 1944-45), KWD (Browning, Texas, 1945-46), KBWI (Alice, Texas, 1946-47), KNUZ (Houston, Texas, 1948-55), KPRC (Houston, Texas, circa 1955-57), KLAC (Los Angeles, 1959), KFOX (1960-69, Long Beach, CA), KLEE (Ottumwa, Iowa, circa?), KSIX (Corpus Christie, Texas, circa 1958)
Note: Some articles claim that Texas Bill Strength (8/28/1928 — 10/1/1973) was the first country DJ in Houston, but that may not be the case. Texas Bill Strength was a sixteen year old teen in 1944 when he won an amateur contest at the Joy Theatre in Houston. A representative from KTHT radio happened to be present and decided to give Bill his first radio job as a fledgling western singer. In remembering that episode, Bill was quoted, « My Mother thought for sure I was dying and I can’t say what the old man said. » Texas Bill Strength had a modestly successful singing and recording career. He recorded for 4Star, Capitol and Coral records.
About KFOX-AM 1280: KFOX was called The Country King. It was the original country music heavy weight in Southern California. It broadcast from the International Tower in Long Beach. During the 1960s, the country music hosts consisted of Dick Haynes, Biff Collie, Charlie Williams and Clifford « Cliffie » Stone. (RJB: Country Music Historian, 9/2010).
About the recordings of Biff Collie (bopping’s editor)
The earliest were made for Macy’s in Houston, first with Collie as vocalist fronting Smitty Smith orchestra for « Broken memories » (# 109, November 1949). As you could expect from such a title, it’s a slowie, well sung, but nothing else. Superior lazy backing.
« Broken memories« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/macys-109-Smitty-Smith-Broken-Memories.mp3download
On Macy’s 126, the record is credited to Biff Collie, either a sign of greater popularity as a D.J, either of his exposure on stage. Both sides, the macho « I want a gal (that cook for me) » and the uptempo « I’ve said it before » are somewhat ruined by an organ, and partly saved by a nice steel guitar.
« I want a gal« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/macys-126-Biff-Collie-I-Want-A-Gal-To-Cook-For-Me.mp3download
« I’ve said it before« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/macys-126-Biff-Collie-Ive-Said-It-Before-Ill-Say-It-Again.mp3download
Bill & Marge courtesy Imperial Anglares
« I don’t care who knows« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/20776-Biff-Collie-I-Dont-Care-Who-Knows1.mp3download
Next record by Biff Collie was on the short-lived Specialty Country serie. He’s here nicknamed « Bellerin’ bowlegged boy ». I didn’t put until now my hand [see note below] on « Everybody wants me but you »(Specialty 709). « Don’t talk about love (the way you do)» on the other side is a fast ditty, with a wild piano well to the fore, added by a typical (for the era) fiddle and a steel. Collie is in good vocal form.
« Don’t talk about love« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/specialty-709-Biff-Collie-Dont-Talk-About-Love-1952.mp3download
« Everybody wants me but you« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Everybody-Wants-Me-But-You.mp3download
(Note) « Everybody wants me but you » is a good shuffler. Thanks to Steve Hathaway.
Then he was signed to Starday and cut 4 singles for them between January 1955 and July 1956. Several tunes remained unissued. The first issue « What this old worlds needs » (# 178) has the typical Starday sound and combination of fiddle, guitar and steel over an assured vocal. Nobody can say if Collie, as a D.J., was not pushing a little more his own record ! I don’t ever heard the flipside « Lonely ». In any case, he returned to the Gold Star studio in Houston for « Goodbye, farewell, so long », a nice piano led uptempo (# 203); Its flip « Look on the good side » is fast, same vein.
« What this old world needs« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/starday-178B-Biff-Collie-What-This-Old-World-Needs.mp3download
« Goodbye, farewell, so long« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/starday-203A-Biff-Collie-Goodbye-Farewell-So-Long.mp3download
« Look on the good side« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/starday-203B-Biff-Collie-Look-On-The-Good-Side.mp3download
As a proof of his success, he was called again in January 1956 for 4 sides (2 remain unissued).. « Doodle-doo » ( 230) is a novelty, happy side, while « Empty kisses » is a forgettable weeper.
Last session for Starday in July 1956,and it’s a completely different style : »Joy joy joy » (# 251) is an out-and-out rocker, with sax (Link Davis?), in the manner of Glen Barber. The flipside is untraced (« All of a sudden ») nor of course the unissued « Baby let’s mix », which looks promising. There is a lot of music stilll to unearth from the Starday vaults.
« Doodle- doo« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/starday-230B-Biff-Collie-Doodle-Doo.mp3download
« Joy, joy, joy« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/starday-251-biff-collie-joy-joy-joy.mp3download
One must wait 1972 for the next record of Biff Collie, cut in Nashville under the name of « Billy Bob Bowman ». « Miss Pauline » (U.A. 50597) is plain main Country music, with steel and chorus. Not disagreable music, but nothing exceptional. Another label in 1974 : Collie cut for Capitol 6 sides, 4 remain unissued, and the 45 is untraced.
« Miss Pauline« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/U.A.-50597-Billy-Bob-Bowman-Biff-Collie-Miss-Pauline.mp3download
Sources : biographical details from HillbillyBoogie1 Youtube chain (my sincere thanks to him, whoever he may be), with additions. Scans from 45rpmcat and 78rpmworlds. Music from Hillbilly Researcher serie (Macy’s) or Cactus (Specialty). « Starday » (scans and music) is easily found on the Net. Discography [partly inaccurate] from Praguefrank site.
[I really don’t know where I picked this biography from (a great lack of tidiness on my part in my archives), but it’s so complete and living that I decided to publish it without changing an iota. If any way the pages below are copyrighted and/or authored, I’ll gladly credit it to the right person. My thanks to him/her. Now let’s go.]
« A few years ago an old friend gave me a wonderful gift. I was visiting him at home when, without warning, he suddenly produced a Swan 4 slice toaster box saying, « This is for you. » I insisted I didn’t need a toaster whereupon he laughingly invited me to look inside. I nervously opened the box and my eyes almost popped out of my head (actually they popped out, bounced off all four walls and popped back in again). The box was crammed full of 7 inch singles, all country, all 50s to 70s, rescued from American jukeboxes and included records by George Jones, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Ernest Tubb, Willie, Dolly, Tammy and a whole lot more.
The amazing thing was that it also contained records by artists whose names I knew but had never heard before and it was a treat to hear them at last. One record, however, intrigued me most. It contained absolutely fantastic versions of two Willie Nelson songs « I Gotta Get Drunk » and « Who’ll Buy My Memories » performed by a guy called Joe Carson. I tried books, magazines, the internet, friends, everything I could think of in an effort to find out more about him but drew a blank every single time, despite the fact that the record was on Liberty, a major label. Who was this guy? Surely with a voice like his he made more than one record? How come no one knew who he was? I didn’t even know which part of the USA he was from, or even if he WAS American. I finally admitted defeat and contented myself with the one record I had. All corrections/additions in [...]
[I already knew Joe Carson for years, via several Mercury and Capitol songs taped on the fabulous Tom Sims cassettes, and wanted other stuff from him. I bought in 1982 the French reissue of his solitary Liberty album, but was a bit disappointed: it sounded more Country than hillbilly, nevertheless well done 1960's Honky tonk. Anyway I couldn't last finding everything Carson had recorded before. Then I found the D single from 1959: wonderful Hillbilly uptempo ballads. All in all, he had published 11 singles only during his short career.] Read the rest of this entry »
Tennessean Eddie Hill (James Edward Hill) was born on July 21, 1921, in either McMinn County or Polk County. Being from a family with a rich musical tradition, Eddie already started singing and playing the guitar at very young age and he formed his first band while still in his teens. His first experience with radio work came while living in Knoxville, Tennessee, where his family had moved because of Eddie’s father’s work. Eddie first started working for local radio station WROL but in the early 1940s, he and his band moved to WNOX to work at the “Mid-Day-Merry-Go-Round” show, as “Smilin’ Eddie Hill and the Mountain Boys”. Some time later, Eddie moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where he joined WKRC, but in 1943 Johnny Wright convinced him to return to Knoxville to join the Tennessee Hillbillies, a group build around Johnny & Jack and Kitty Wells. In 1945, Eddie quit the Tennessee Hillbillies to try his luck in Hollywood’s movie business, but he soon moved back to Knoxville to return to WNOX, together with his Mountain Boys that now consisted of Leonard Dabney (guitar), Johnny Gallagher (bass), Billy Bowman (electric guitar) and Bob Sumner (fiddle). It was around this time that Eddie got married to his wife Jacqueline Adkins. Read the rest of this entry »
The Van Winkle Brothers (Arnold and Lee) were musically prolific from 1956 to 1962 . Nobody seems to have any informaion on their childhood, although U.S. 1940 Census gives for Arnold a birthdate in 1935 ; but the birthplace is in Tennessee, when they made their careers as far as Indianapolis.
Eddie Zack (Edward Zackarian, from Armenian ancestry) was born on March 5, 1922 in Providence, Rhode Island. His first introduction to country music was in high school and at age 17, he organized his first hillbilly band, consisting of a banjo player, a washtub- and washboard player, and various spoon- and harmonica players. Among the band’s members was Eddie’s younger brother Richard (also known as “Richie”, “Cousin Richie” and, later, “Dick Richards”) who was born on January 16, 1925. When both brothers joined the marines during the War, their band came to an early end.
Rambling Rufus Shoffner earned his nickname from his early hobo days when he hopped a train at the age of 16 from his home in Tazewell (or Harrogate?), TN where he was born in 1916 to go wandering: he led a band called the Blue Yodel Boys in 1939 on WROL Knoxville, Tennessee. His neighbor in Tennessee was Hugh Friar, who had later in the Detroit label Clix two fine and very sought after Rockabilly/Country issues (« I can’t stay mad at you », # 805 for example) . But Shoffner’s constant urge to travel resulted in his roaming across much of the country, hustling in one moneymaking scheme after another, before finally settling down in Monroe, Michigan, reuniting with his siblings in 1950. Read the rest of this entry »
With a mellifluous, deep voice often compared to western singer Rex Allen, Ricky Riddle was an Arkansas-born, Detroit-bred vocalist who gravitated to the western side of country music. His surname was apt, as he was a restless character, always on the go and never satisfied with life in one place for very long. Born Arvin Doyle Riddle on Aug. 22, 1920, in Rector, Ark., his parents moved him, two brothers and one sister to Hamtramck, Mich., around 1933. The Riddle family eventually settled in a house on McClellan Street in Detroit.
During World War II, Riddle enlisted with the Navy in Chicago, Ill. He served aboard the U.S.S. Adair in the Pacific Theatre. After an honourable discharge in 1946, He returned to Detroit and found a booming country music nightclub scene waiting for him; a result of thousands of new migrants from the South who moved north to build Detroit’s “Arsenal of Democracy.” Riddle pursued the life of a singing cowboy in earnest, writing songs and performing in nightclubs and showcases, sitting in with other entertainers and headlining his own shows.
In 1949, Drake’s Record Shop, located on East Jefferson Avenue, sponsored appearances by Hank Williams, Cowboy Copas and others at the convention center on Woodward Avenue. When Riddle’s friend, singer Eddie Jackson, was hired to open for Williams, Riddle shared the stage with him. Riddle was probably living in Nashville, Tennessee, by then.
Jackson visited Riddle in Nashville during ’49, and Riddle took him to witness his new buddy Clyde Julian “Red” Foley record what became a major hit for Decca Records, “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy.” Compared to the size to which it grew a decade later, the country music business in Nashville was small, thriving through the projects of independent record labels, music publishers and promoters who tapped local artists working at Nashville clubs and radio stations; particularly members of the “Grand Ole Opry” barn dance at clear-channel WSM. In January 1950, Riddle’s first commercial recording appeared as the premier issue of the Tennessee label, a record company created by three Nashville businessmen, including a jukebox serviceman. Riddle’s “Second Hand Heart” on Tennessee no. 711 (numbered for luck, no doubt) was a good seller, and a hit in Detroit. Riddle cut several more releases for Tennessee over the next two years:
Second hand heart http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/tennessee-711A-Ricky-Riddle-second-hand-heart.mp3download
“Second Hand Heart” and the song on the record’s flip side, “Somebody’s Stealin’ My Baby’s Sugar,” were both covered by several artists, including Houston’s Benny Leaders (4-Star), Bill Johnson and the Casanova Boys (London) and, more than a decade later, Everett “Swanee” Caldwell remade “Second Hand Heart” for King.
« Somebody’s stealin’ my baby’s sugar » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/tennesse-711B-Ricky-Riddle-somebodys-stealing-my-babys-sugar.mp3download
By 1950, Riddle was operating a nightclub in Nashville. He befriended Arizona singer Marty Robbins, whose first appearance at the “Grand Ole Opry” occurred in early 1951. Probably in 1950, Riddle bought author rights to Robbins’ song “Ain’t You Ashamed,” (# 715) which became Riddle’s second release on Tennessee, # 713. (Detroit musician and Capitol Records distributor Bob McDonald purchased a share in the song from Riddle.) Cowboy singer Bob Atcher covered the song for Capitol. The flipside of “Are you ashamed” was a good honky-tonk, a version (later by Skeets McDonald) of “Smoke comes out my chimney just the same”.
Ain’t you ashamed http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/tennessee-713A-Ricky-Riddle-aint-you-ashamed.mp3download
« Smoke comes out my chimney just the same« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/tennessee-713B-Ricky-Riddle-smoke-comes-out-my-chimney-just-the-same.mp3download
Riddle recorded Robbins’ “Heartsick” for another Tennessee release. He attempted to present Robbins with a recording contract, but the company’s artists and repertoire man passed on the deal. Robbins went on to launch a storied career with Columbia Records in May 1951.
Among other releases on Tennessee, Riddle sang a duet with Anita Kerr, leader of the Anita Kerr Singers, on a heart song called “The Price Of Love,” again attributed to Riddle and McDonald. On “Boogie woogie Tennessee”(# 717) (a take-off to “Tennessee saturday night”), Riddle had Ernie Newton, the bassman who wrote much later “Country boy’s dream” for Carl Perkins. He seems far from young on this recording, and the suave assurance of both Riddle and the backing group is almost at odds with the subject matter. Riddle made 8 records for Tennessee, one of them being “Heartsick”, the first Marty Robbins’ song he recorded commercially. After the label’s biggest hit played out in 1951-52
(Del Wood’s “Down Yonder” of 1951), the Tennessee label closed its doors.
Boogie woogie Tennessee http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/riddle-boogie-woogie-tennessee.mp3download
I got other fish to fry http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/tennessee-732A-Ricky-Riddle-I-got-other-fish-to-fry.mp3download
The tall, easygoing Riddle persevered; he worked on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance as Wayne Turner, but was canned for habitual drunkeness. He then cut a single for Decca’s subsidiary Coral Records in 1953, the fine double-sider “What do you do” and “You belong to another” (# 64157). In early 1954, he recorded the bouncy “Steamboat Boogie” for M-G-M Records # 11741, with steel guitarist Don Helms and Chet Atkins on electric guitar. Framing the clever lyrics of the song was the refrain: Steamboat boogie / Rock, rock, rockin’ along. But for the fiddles, the song rocked like Bill “Rock Around The Clock” Haley’s earliest efforts. The flip side, “A Brand New Heart,” was written by Riddle as a follow-up to “Second Hand Heart.”
Remaining Tennessee sides of interest: “Cold icy feet” (# 758) and the fast “I’m so lonesome” (# 801).
« What do you do« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/coral-64157-Ricky-Riddle-what-do-you-do.mp3download
« You belong to another« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/coral-64175-Ricky-Riddle-you-belong-to-another.mp3download
« Steamboat boogie« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/MGM-11741-Steamboat-Boogie-Ricky-Riddle.mp3download
« Cold icy feet« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/tennessee-758A-Ricky-Riddle-cold-icy-feet.mp3download
« I’m so lonesome« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/tennessee-801B-Ricky-Riddle-Im-so-lonesome.mp3download
In 1956, Riddle cut two releases for Decca Records. The first featured the trucker’s “Drivin’ Down The Wrong Side Of The Road,” backed with “I’m A Whip Crackin’ Daddy.” The single sounded like it was recorded at Owen Bradley’s Quonset hut in Nashville. Riddle’s second Decca single featured the Anita Kerr Singers for a country-pop production, “The House I Used To Live In,” and a song with religious content (he had cut similar material for the Tennessee label) called “If Jesus Had To Pray (What About Me?)” During the 1950s, while living in Nashville, Riddle performed as a guest at the “Renfro Valley Barn Dance” in Kentucky, and as a guest on the “Grand Ole Opry.”
His parents moved from Michigan to Tempe, Ariz., and Riddle traveled the country, visiting friends and family while singing in nightclubs along the way.
« Driving down the wrong side of the road« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/decca-29813-Ricky-Riddle-Drivin-Down-The-Wrong-Side-Of-The-Road.mp3download
« I’m a whip crackin’ daddy« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/decca-29813-Ricky-Riddle-Im-A-Whip-Crackin-Daddy.mp3download
Around 1968 Riddle settled in Arizona for a spell. There he recorded the finest vocal performances of his career for the Rio Grande label, based in Glendale. For starters, he cut a version of the traditional cowboy song, “Streets Of Laredo,” as well as “Reata Pass,” his own western composition. Riddle reprised “Ain’t You Ashamed” and “Second hand heart” besides coming up with some swinging shuffles like “Don’t You Worry” a cheeky ode to overdoing it at the bar, and “(There’s ) Something In Your Future.” and finally “Jo Ann”. The band was top-notch, delivering punchy performances with quality production and arrangements, including a stellar steel guitarist.
« Something in your future« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Ricky-Riddle-Something-In-Your-Future.mp3download
« Jo Ann »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Ricky-Riddle-Jo-Ann.mp3download
an untraced 45 by Riddle
With a broad, toothy smile, Riddle had a likeable personality and visited Michigan often, to see his siblings and their families, and check up on musician friends he grew up with in Detroit. While in town, he made the rounds of local radio stations and sat with country music disk jockeys for on-air interviews. At some point during the 1970s, Riddle moved back to Michigan and took a job as a security guard in Hamtramck. Late one night, Riddle walked out the door of a Detroit bar and was mugged. When police found him, he stank of liquor and the officers mistook his condition for simply being drunk. They placed the unconscious Riddle in a jail cell for the night. When he didn’t respond to attempts to wake him in the morning, Riddle was admitted to the Veterans Administration hospital. Doctors found that Riddle had suffered a stroke resulting from a blow to his head; he was paralysed on his right side.
Riddle’s brother, E. Marvin Riddle, arranged for him to live at the Clintonview Care Convalescent Home in Clinton Township. Relatives and friends visited regularly. Mentally, Riddle was the same person, but he was unable to sing and play guitar. To cheer him up, a niece often called a local country music station to request Riddle’s records, and they played them late at night when he enjoyed listening to his radio. Riddle passed away on Aug. 8, 1988. His ashes were interned at the top of the hill in St. John’s cemetery in Fraser, Mich.
© Craig “Bones” Maki, 2010
Thanks, as usual, to Ronald ’78rpm’ Keppner for scanning the rare Tennessee/Coral/Decca labels. Rest of the tunes do come from Internet, as: Ricky Riddle discography (Praguefrank)