“SMOKEY” STOVER, D.J. and Hillbilly (1951-1963)

smokey stover picture young

Courtesy Bear Family & Imperial Anglares

Born Noble F. Stover on Nov. 16, 1928 in Huntsville, TX, Smokey had his own band and was playing the honky tonks of Texas at 16. In 1949, a new radio station went on the air in Pasadena, TX where he landed his first deejaying job at KLVL-AM, an on-the-air learning experience. A year later, KRCT-AM in Baytown, TX lured him away. Over the next year, Smokey’s show became so popular, the station changed their format to country and hired two more deejays. Meanwhile late 1951, backed by his band, The Stampede Wranglers, he cut his first sides for the Kemah, TX Stampede label (# 101)[Galveston Cty, Houston vicinity] : « I’m planting a rose/It’s the natural thing », two good boppers – side A is mid-paced, side B is a fine Hank Williams inspired Honky tonker. Of course this label was that of a future promising Rockabilly & Country performer, Glen Barber. Imperial picked the Stampede masters up and reissued them (Imperial 8141) in December 1951. According to Michel Ruppli, the fiddler was Sleepy Short.

“I’m planting a rose”

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Billboard Dec. 26, 1951

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Kemah (ca. 3000 inhabitants), Houston vicinity

It’s the natural thing

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His next offering was recorded exactly one year later on November 15, 1952 at KWKH studios in Shreveport, La. for Specialty hillbilly short-lived serie (# 715) : « What a shame » and « Because I loved her » are two uptempo ordinary ballads. Stover is in good voice, although both sides are pretty common.

specialty Stover shame

specialty Stover Because “What a shame”

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In 1954, he moved on to KBRZ-AM in Freeport, TX where he stayed for three years except for a six-month interval in 1956 when he helped launch KLOS in Albuquerque, NM.

In the meantime he was signed by producer J.D. Miller out of Crowley, La. on his Feature label, and recorded two songs, among them the better side was « Go on and leave my baby alone », a fine uptempo with great steel a la Don Helms (Drifting Cowboys’ member). Flipside is a quieter mid-paced ballad, « That’s how true my love is for you »

Go on and leave my baby alone

feature Stover leave feature Stover love

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That’s how true my love is for you

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The initial pressing order by J. D. Miller (dated January 1954) for “Go on and leave my baby alone” was for 800 78s and 500 45s – rather more than Miller’s usual order. Fiddle and guitar are by Doug and Rusty Kershaw respectively (later cutting records on Hickory on their own right), with steel guitar by Louis Fourneret.rusty & doug kershaw

Later he became a well-known Texas D.J., remembered by Eddie Noack as having played Elvis Presley’s first Sun release twenty times a day! He had a fan-club in Baytown, Texas, in 1954 and two years later had a show, “Smokey’s Big Stampede” on KRBZ, Freeport, Texas, switching to KVET Austin later in the same year

Circa May 1955, Stover entered the Starday studio in Beaumont, TX, and recorded two songs in the same pattern as the previous ones : once more a mix of slow and fast sides. The A side «You wouldn’t kid me, would you » is the good bopping one ; now the B side was a ballad, on a theme that seemed to please him, because he made another version of «It’s easier said than done » 4 years later on Ol’Podner.  “You wouldn’t kid me, would you, baby

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It’s easier said than done
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1956 was a good year for Stover. He cut two more sides for the young Sage & Sand label (later Sage) # 209 in California : « I’d never thought I’d see the day » and « Don’t ever take her love for granted » are solid Country boppers, with a fiddle well to the fore and some strong bass and rhythm. They could well have been Starday cuts, with regards to their atmosphere ; also some Bakersfield touch. One of Stover best records.

sage Stover granted

sage Stover thought

Don’t ever take her love for granted

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I never thought I’d see the day

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In 1958, he moved to KCIJ-AM in Shreveport, LA to be near the Louisiana Hayride, hoping the move would push his singing career. Seven months later, the station changed owners who brought in their own deejays. With the help of a friend, Claude Gray, Smokey found a job at WDAL in Meridian, MS where he stayed until late 1959 when he received a call from his old Freeport boss, Ken Ferguson. Ken was opening KMOP in Tucson, AZ and wanted Smokey to be his sign-on man. Smokey hit the airwaves there in Jan. 1960 and remained there for eight years when he took a couple of years out to concentrate on his singing and songwriting.

In the meantime (1959), he recorded 6 sides for the small Ol’Podner label located in Lake Jackson, TX. All these sides are pretty traditional for the era (fiddle omnipresent). Stover’s voice reminds one at times of Eddie Noack, while « Ballad of Jimmy Hoffa » is a rocker sung in duet, like George Jones’ « White lightning ».”My building of dreams” is another song to watch.

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It’s easier said than done

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What more

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What’s wrong with me

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ol'podner Stover buildingol'podner stover easier

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Lifetime of forgettin’

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Ballad of Jimmy Hoffa

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sims Stover commontoppa Stover warpath

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One thing in common

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On the warpath

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Other songs during the ’60s are more and more country-pop oriented, and one can retain the better ones, like «One thing in common » (Sims 172), or the fine Indian country-rocker « On the warpath » (Toppa 1061) from 1962, and « I want the cake, not the crumbs » (Boyd 153) . His most elusive record was made for Na-R-Co (# 105) and « Remember me/This hurt inside me ». He succeed as a songwriter when George Jones in 1962 chose his « Sometimes you just can’t win » he had already cut on Toppa #1061.

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Sometimes you  just can’t win

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Sometimes you jst can’t win“(Geo. Jones)
UA Jones Sometimes

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On Jan. 1, 1970, Smokey went back on the air at KRZE in Farmington, NM. A year-and-a-half later, his mother’s illness forced him back to Houston, TX. He more or less retired from radio then until 1992 when a friend built a new station, KVST in Conroe/Huntsville, TX. Smokey went on the air there in early 1993 and ran a midnight ’til 6 am show for a year until it “got old” and he re-retired. In 1995, Ernie Ashworth lured him to Gallatin, TN to get the “Country Classic” station of WYXE off the ground. Smokey enjoyed romping and stomping with the Oldies for about eight months when he hung it up and returned to his native Texas where he’s retired from radio, but still pickin’ and singin’ every weekend. His latest recording is titled, « I May Be Getting Older, But I Ain’t Stopped Thinking Young ». Also Eagle in Germany issued a White rocker « Let’s have a ball » by him, but I doubt he ever cut this song. You can judge by yourself.

“Let’s have a ball

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Smokey was inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame in 2000 and died in 2005. He had nothing to do with the Bill Holman cartoon figure, neither with the Dixieland bandleader.


sources : as usual the great Ronald Keppner, alias « 78-Ron » : then Kent Heinemann, alias « Armadillo Killer » ; then Gilles, alias « UncleGil » ; plus 45-cat and 78 RPM sites, among others.

early December 2012 fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks. My selection for this fortnight will be made, as usual, of lesser known artists up, and various times, ranging from approx. 1953 to early ’60s.

SHORTY LONG in 1961 was certainly no newcomer to music, as he had been cutting records on King in 1951, sharing a session with BOB NEWMAN. The latter in 1955 was reported as having joined Long’s Santa Fe Ranchers. Here  Long offers the fast “Forget Her“, an hybrid song containing a slap-bass as well as banjo, mandolin and steel on the Smiling 2675 label. Long is billed here “Kentucky”, no doubt his original state. Both Shorty Long and Bob Newman paired in 1955 as Dalton Boys for a solitary “Roll, Rattler, Roll” on the X label: next fortnight.(April 2, 2018. Note the Shorty Long  here has probably nothing to do with the Pennsylvania born Shorty Long – records on King, Valley and RA-Victor; see his story elsewhere in this site)

On a Evansville, IN Eunice 1007 label, DARRELL LEE offers an average Country-rocker/Rockabilly “Really Do You Care?“.

Shorty Long

1958, TIM JOHNSON on the West Monroe label Leo (# 784) – which is actually a Starday custom issue – do come with the fine shuffler. A bit George Jones vocally, good fiddle and steel.

On Kasko 1643 (Santa Claus, IN) from 1965 RED LEWIS has a country-rocker “Yes, Indeed“(nice guitar, discreet steel) “I’ll Move along“.

The earliest track do come from Nashville in 1953. JOHNNY ROWLAND is a kind of mystery, although his voice seem very  professionnal. He founds himself on Republic 7023 with the fine “Ohio Baby“.

Finally SONNY MILLER on the Boyd label, no doubt early ’60s. Good steel in “Lonesome Old Clock

Sonny Miller

early September 2012 fortnight’s favorites

A NEW HEADER HAS BEEN PUT AT THE UPPER RIGHT: every artist or label cited in bopping.org since the beginning is this way all of a sudden within easy rich.

Hi! to everyone, for this new entry in the “fortnight’s favorites” serie in the bopping.org site. If you came in by accident, or while searching on the web for particular things, you are welcome! This is the site of happy, well-living hillbilly bop music – anyway the form is: hillbilly, rockabilly, country boogie or later country-rock. This article is published bi-weekly and contains 6 selections of what I noticed and liked recently.

All 6 selections have something in common: I nearly know nothing on the artists involved neither few on the labels they recorded on. So all things do come from records themselves!

First on the Detroit, MI.  based Fortune label. It is very well known now that many an artist from the Southern states, once established in the Motor City, did record for small labels over there, the most important being Jack & Deborah Brown‘s Fortune label. This said, I know NOTHING on the Tennessee Harmony Boys, except what is written on their Fortune # 209 issue label. It’s a cross between Bluegrass and Hillbilly, with a foot firmly set on the religious side. Instrumentally one can only be stunned at two thrilling mandolin solos of “I’m A Millionaire“. Remember this came as late as 1956-57.

Second selection, on the Dixie label. No one can seem to find the end of this one, although their mainstay was from ca. 800 to 1100 – maybe different labels. I kept this time Malcolm Nash and the great  “I Guess I’m Wise” (# 833) . Acc. by the Putnam County Play Boys: Putnam Cty is located in the NY state, on the lower Hudson River region. Is this helping? Musically, this is a duet vocal, in the cross manner of Memphis, TN, Sun label Howard Seratt (for rhythm guitar and harmonica) and Doug Poindexter (for the shuffle beat). Very strange and excellent item, maybe from 1956.

On to New Orleans, and the Meladee label. You know Luke McDaniels had, as Jeff Daniels, one of his best-ever rockers (“Daddy-O-Rock“) on this label. Surprising Don Ray. Here it’s a fine shuffling Hillbilly bop/Rockabilly, “Step Aside“, with good steel. Ray apparently was to have 2 records on the Los Angeles Rodeo label in 1956 (“Imogene/Those Rock’n’Roll Blues“). Later on the Rodeo/Excel labels soon!

 

 

Returning North, in Shreveport, La. on the tiny Clif label with Roy Wayne (“Honey, Won’t You Listen“, # 101). Good lead guitar, on an insistant drum backing. Clif also had issued T.V. SlimFlat Foot Sam“, which was picked up by Checker in Chicago, before being re-cut by Louisiana Tommy Blake on the Memphis Sun label. If I manage well, Sun Records may be the secret link between all numbers!

From New Jersey state comes Verlin Speeks on the Cevetone label (# 1866, “Mountain Boy“). Fast hillbilly bopper, nasal vocal, on backing of mandolin, banjo and fiddle (brilliant solo). I could hear that type of music all the time!

Finally, early ’60s, in Oklahoma on the Boyd label (# 3297); Sonny Miller belts out “Through That Door” on heavy bass and fiddle Bakersfield influenced country rocker.

Hope you will enjoy all the selections.

Remember to take a look through the “contact me – I’m selling CDs header: there are a lot of CDs and vinyl albums for sale, at bargain prices.

Till ‘then, bye-bye!