Since 1955, Central City’s WMTA radio showcased every Saturday night a live show named “The Saturday Jamboree“. Among the performers Royce Morgan can be found ; also Eddie Gaines from White Plains, Billy Harlan (the « I wanna bop » cat) on double-bass – in the late 50’s he also worked as disc-jockey on WMTA and WNES. Also Tag and Effie Willoughby, and Jimmy Piper.
During 1958, the station moved in city’s suburbs on the Greenville Highway. Johnny Tooley was then a DJ and Bobby Anderson, the commercial executive/sports reporter. Bobby wrote two tunes for Tooley: “King Of Dreams” and “Looking Glass Heart“. Tooley cut them and had the chance to see them issued on Starday (custom serie, # 696).
The local success of the Johnny Tooley single then enabled singer Eddie Gaines, to approach Bobby Anderson, who launched his own label, Summit Records. All the Summit recordings (36 sides were issued in the main 100 serie) were done in WMTA studio. The records were pressed by Rite (Cincinnati) and Southern.
Later, Royce Morgan would handle the “Royce” record label and produce 8 singles. Among the classic cuts on that label are “Bonfire” (Jimmie Piper on Royce 0001) and “Long Black Shiny Car” (Mike Page on Royce 0005).
French musicologist Jack Dumery met Bobby Anderson in 1997 , although it was not possible to meet Eddie Gaines, who had turned into religion and didn’t want to hear about Devil’s music. However they met Royce Morgan and several other Travis picking guitar players, who played for Jack and his friend a whole ‘noon. They only realized afterwards who were Royce Morgan and Bobby Anderson!
Alas, a fire destroyed the WMTA studio in 1960, and all the Summit (and probably Royce too) masters were then lost.
Virtually nothing is known on the most prolific (he had three 45s) Summit label artist, Eddie Gaines. The « Be-Bop Battlin’ Ball » side is a gas : wild vocal, insistent guitar riff (the Rockin’ Five). A classic. It’s been told nevertheless that Gaines prefered country music, and so, not suprisingly, he excels in that style. I like very much Summit 109 with the great « She Captured This Heart Of Mine » – strong vocal and bass, a really nice late ’50s hillbilly bop. Fiddle appears welcome on the flipside « You’re Welcome Back », and one can only regret female chorus and uninspired guitar solo. The « Out Of The Shadows »/ »I Quit Livin ‘ » (Summit 104) 45, backed by the Spartones, is of far less interest : girlie chorus, slow tempos. Actually it’s uneasy to associate the Eddie Gaines of « Be-Bop Battlin’ Ball » of some months earlier and the one of these pityful sides. Gaines had another 45 on the Tri-Tone label (# 3001 « I Never Had It So Good »).
Second artist in notoriety on Summit : Dwain Bell was born in Central City, Kentucky, and presumably lived most of his life in the Blue Grass State. In the 1950s and 1960s, Bell often played with the Turner Brothers (not to be confused with Zeke and Zeb Turner of the Cincinnati, Oh. area) at local dances. In addition, sometimes the Turners’ father (fiddle) and mother (drums) as well as a great uncle (dobro) joined the trio on personal appearances. By the time of his Summit recordings, he lived in Evanston, Indiana.
It is not known if the record sold well but it is a fact that neither Bell nor the Turner Brothers made a living out of music.
Jimmie Piper comes next with the double-sided « Don’t Play Around With My Heart/Down By The Moonlight Bay » : it’s Hillbilly bop with echo, and a strong guitar. Actually, almost rockabilly (Summit 108).
Other artists went for a one-off record.
J.D. Orr‘s « Hula Hoop Boogie » (# 105) is a chorus backed rockabilly, which I find ordinary. I could not put my hands on the flipside « Lonesome Hearted Blues » (Tune added below on April 3, 2018). The guitar player is James O. Gass, from Clay, KY.
J.D.Orr, “Lonesome Hearted Blues“(Summit 105)(added April 3, 2018)
I don’t know if J. D. Orr and Cheryl Orr ( # 107), backed by the Lonesome Valley Boys, are related. Neither I can comment Miz. Orr’s sides, « Why Does My Daddy Come Here » and « What I Saw On Christmas Night », having heard neither one.
Shadie Oller had a good, although ordinary (for my taste), two-sided rocker (# 114) with « Come To Me, Baby » (fast and lively) and « You Sure Look Good To Me » (medium paced).
Of interest also is the nice hick hillbilly side of Tag & Effie, « Baby You Done Flubbed Your Dub With Me » (# 106). Flip unheard (»There’s only one star »).(Tune added on April 2, 2018)
Gus Pate & the Jokers do offer a nice rocker, « Man Alive » (# 111), backed by the typical for the era instrumental, « Kicks Off ». Agreeable if not essential.
Of the others, I only heard the good hillbilly « Lonely Street » (# 113) by Junior Ferguson. Two guitars in action, some picking. A nice little record.
Also the Rhythm Rockers‘ « Wild Side Of Life » (# 117), with the deep-voiced Dewey Rothering – not the old Hank Thompson song. The same group had even an instrumental, « Wild Fire », and « Dick’s polka/Banjo Waltz » (# 118), which was the last Summit issue.
Completely unheard are the gospel issues, 102 (Noble Stewart) and EPs 550 and 551, as supposedly Hillbilly sides by Bob Bethel (# 103), Dude Rhomberg (# 112), Gayle Russ (# 115) and Bill Russ (# 116), which escaped to my finding engines. (Note. April 3, 2018: Bob Bethel and Bill Russ sides included below)
Dude Rhomberg “Either you do or you don’t” (Summit 112)
Bill Russ, “You Changed Your Name” (Summit 116a)(added April 3, 2018)
And that was it. Summit had its last issue during 1960. A relatively nice health for such a small label, without any commercial success, but which issued 18 records within a 2-years period (not to mention the gospel issues). All the artists returned to obscurity or hung up their musical carreer.
sources: 45rpm.com had a complete Summit listing, and many label scans. The spare details came from various sources on the net. Thanks to Jack Dumery for his help and encouragement: without him (and his recoveries meeting with Royce Morgan and Bill Anderson), this article wouldn’t have been published.