An Hillbilly impersonator? – not just that: RED GARRETT (1953-1956)

Red Garrett is another classic Hillbilly singer of the golden 50s who missed the boat to fame. Not only his own personality was excellent, he was also a fantastic impersonator which he proves in “They Got Me Singing That Way”. He also copies Hank Williams in “May You Never Be Alone” to insert his tribute recitation of “A Bed Of Roses”. At first listen you think it is an alternative take of the ole master because the original Drifting Cowboy Don Helms was employed on the steel guitar. Also Bud Isaacs is audible along with Chet Atkins . Other possible musicians are Tommy Jackson and Dale Potter .
(Notes from « The complete Red Garrett » Cattle 331)

Red Garrett was born in Barston, Tennessee. He developed a fondness for the music with a country flavor early in his life. Later, he formed a band called the “Tennessee Pioneers”. He started his singing career in 1945. A late 1953 magazine article, Cowboy Songs magazine included him as one of the “Stars On the Horizon”. It also indicated he was working broadcasts back in Vincennes and Princeton, Indiana. In 1951, folks from the WSM Grand Ole Opry in Nashville had heard of him and sent for him. By 1953, he was still a member of the Opry. During his time with the Opry, he appeared on the same billing with such stars as Cowboy Copas, Eddy Arnold, Elton Britt, Slim Whitman and Webb Pierce among others.

Around that same time, he signed a recording contract with RCA Victor. His first release for them was “Blame It On The Moonlight” b/w “Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Past”(47-5242, issued March 26, 1953).

But, shortly after that it seems, another article mentioned he had disappeared from the music scene, but by about 1955, he had come back to performing.

In 1956, he had a record out on the Decca label entitled, “May You Never Be Alone – and A Bed of Roses”. The song was a tribute to Hank Williams – it was said he actually imitated Hank when he sang the tune “May You Never Be Alone” but in the middle of the tune, he does a recitation, “and a Bed of Roses”. The article that mentioned this tune also told us that the flip side, “Clear Sailing” was “weak.”

(Red Garrett: an appreciation – by bopping’s editor)

To be frank, I’ve not taken a great pleasure listening to Garrett’s music. The vast majority of his output is the same in a review of rhythm: medium paced uptempos. No track us some apart from the others, except for two Louisiana inspired tunes (with a rhumba beat): “Papa Joe’s Place” and “Please”. The rest is quite ordinary, in truth typical Nashville honky-tonk or the 1950’s. This perhaps explains why his recording career was so short.

It appears he also did some songwriting, too as we found he co-wrote a tune with Boudleaux Bryant called “Moon Tan”. We found a hint as to the type of artist he was for they wrote in the article, “..never refused to play in a town just because it was small and lacked celebrities to take notice of him.”

Sources: Cattle and HillbillyBoogie YouTube chain for biog. details. Sounfiles from Hillbilly Researcher # 67, entirely devoted to Red Garrett (his complete output); labels from 45cat or 78world.

Discography (from Praguefrank)

SINGLES
RCA Victor (1953)
47-5242 Blame It On Moonlight / Don’t Be Shamed Of Your Past – 26-03-53
47-5363 They Got Me Singin’ That Way / Please – 07-53
47-5499 Moon Tan / Smoke Screen – 11-53
47-5621 Too Late To Plow Now / Bullseye – 01-54
47-5692 That’s Why I’m Happy / You Played Taps To My Heart – 04-54
47-5783 Tell Me Again / Long Gone – 07-54
Decca (1955-56)
9-29742 Papa Joe’s Place / Standing At The End Of The World – 11-55
9-29811 Don’t Believe A Thing I Say / My Search On Earth Is O’er – 01-56
9-30047 Clear Sailing / May You Never Be Alone;A Bed Of Roses – 09-56

Late October 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

There was NO early October entry: too much work on other things.

Clay & Christine The Kentcky Sweethearts: « These Tears » Sun-Ray 118. Very good mid-paced ballad (main male vocal) duet, nice steel.
B-side : « They say », same formula. A good « provincial country record » from Lexington, Ky., 1967.

Tony Douglas « Baby, When The Sun Goes Down » issued on D 1005 (Houston, Tx). Energetic bopper. Nice vocal and interplay between steel and fiddle, plus piano – really a Starday “feel” (1958), the first of a long career.

Gene Snowden on Hi-Fidelity OP-121/122 « Quit Your Triflin’ On Me » : good guitar. A favorite song for Ray Campi. B-side « Angel Darling » less fast, a good honky tonker in its style.OP- serie was a 4 Star outlet for “Other People”.

Arizona hillbilly Jimmy Spellman « Give Me Some Of Yours » released on Viv 3000 : a fast bopper with steel solo (1955). On Viv Spellman also released “It’s You, You,You” (1002) and the great rockabilly “(She Wants A) Lover Man” (# 1005) with Al Casey on lead guitar. Later he went on Dot, Vik and Redstart, all teen rockers.

Cash Box, April 11, 1953

Out of Knoxville, Tn. label Valley mostly known for Darrell Glenn (pop country) and Reese Shipley (« Catfish boogie » #106) or Shorty Long. (# 108, « I Got Nine Little Kisses »). Here’s the first record of the label : # 101 Joe Stuart « Shoot Again, Mr. Cupid « : a fast, average hillbilly – strong fiddle.

A short note from Ronald Keppner mnentioned a Valley 100 by Archie Campbell (unheard). Yhanks Ron!

Arlie Duff : Decca 29987 « Alligator Come Across » recorded May 15, 1956.
The best open space between hillbilly and rockabilly. Both styles present, great although short rockabilly solo (certainly Grady Martin). Duff was on the birth of Starday too (1953).

Vancie Flowers on Pike 5921 (1959) with « Six Days In Waiting » – does remind of « Six Days On The Road ».Tough guitar, weird instrumentation.

Joe Franklin (1929-2001) & the Mimosa Boys – « Hillbilly boy » b/w « Hitch-hikin’ blues » MGM 11612 (1953). North Carolina artist. Here’s the ultimate in Hillbilly piano bop (Darryl Petty). Urgent vocal, and strong, way too short fiddle too. Joe Franklin’s story is to be found in this site.

Sources : as usual, soundfiles from Youtube or compilations. Vital research by Yours Truly. 45cat useful for many a label scan.

Late July 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

howdy, folks. This is the plain summer 2020 fortnight’s favorites selection. 9 tunes cut between 1949 and 1961.

As the title implies, « Guitar Shuffle » by the guitarist HANK GARLAND i(1930-2004) is a fine bopper. The rhythm is given by Garland, who does also a good solo on Decca 46250. Recorded July 4, 1950.

Merle Matts II

On the NJ label Cool (# 111, released 1958), now the fast « Tennessee Baby » by MERLE MATTS II. Rhythm given by a banjo. An urgent vocal, good steel (played like a bottleneck).

« I’m Sorry Now » by BUD DECKLEMAN is the lastest tune this time (1961). He’d cut his most known « Daydreamin’ » on Meteor in 1954 – a fair sized hit ; then a string of hillbilly releases on M-G-M (1955-56), before dropping into semi-obscurity (according to a sideman, he wasn’t reliable). He reappears for a swansong : medium paced, good steel. A typical early 60s Country.(Stomper Time M80w-3355).

Sam Nichols

Back to 1949 on M-G-M 10440, « Keep Your Motor Hot », indeed a truck song, by SAM NICHOLS. Fast bopper, Western tinged.

On the Circle Dot label (# 1006), out of Minneapolis, DAVE DUDLEY released the fine uptempo ballad (aggressive steel) « Picture Of My Heart »(early 60s).

Dave Dudley

Out of Nashille on the very small Jamboree label (501), DICK STRATTON offers « Fat Gal Boogie »in 1950-51. A guitar boogie rocker. Steel and string bass solos. Stratton was also on Tennessee 795 for « Pistol Boogie ».

Dick Stratton

Ralph Collier

A medium shuffler now : « You’ll Come Runnin’ Home To Me » by RALPH COLLIER on the Blazon label # 105 out of Nashville.

Lee ‘Red’ Melson

Lee ‘RED’ Melson did « Boss Man Blues » on the Grand Prairie label # 501 : a very expressive vocal for a medium uptempo with solid fiddle but uninventive guitar. Melson was also on the Georgia Ridgecresst label.

Jimmy Boyd

JIMMY BOYD, singer/actor, releases « Rockin ‘ Dow The Mississip », a Country rocker from June 1956 (Columbia 21471).i

Sources : my own archives. « Rockailly Hoodlums, vol. 2 (Collector); Bert Martin’s old tapes (Hank Garland, Dick Stratton, Sam Nichols, Bud Deckleman); Tom Sims’ cassette (Dave Dudley); eBay 45s (Lee ‘Red’Melson, Merle Matts II).

Late June 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks.

The first three releases were all done on the West coast and published by Capitol records, the big California concern.Then at the end of the selection, here are more Little Richard tunes, some very rare. Enjoy!

Billy Strange

The multi-session guitar player BILLY STRANGE (1930-2012) sang a truck driver’s song in 1952, « Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves », complete with truck honkers effects, braking grinding sounds and woman’s yellings, which goes faster and faster until the final break. (Capitol 2032).

Cliffie Stone

Then the ubiquitous CLIFFIE STONE, bass player, bandleader and entertainer (Hometown Jamboree) for the jumping, jiving « Jump Rope Boogie »  (Capitol 1496).

Third Capitol exposure goes with OLE RASMUSSEN, leader of the Nebraska Corn Hunters. Defintely a Western flavoured Hillbilly. Medium paced « Gonna See My Sunday Baby Tonight ».(Capitol 1323). lazy vocal with yells to the backing musicians.

Hoyt Scoggins & The Georgia Boys

On a Starday Custom serie # 606 (from January 1957), the very nice, fast « What’s The Price  (To, Set Me Free » by HOYT SCOGGINS & His Georgia Boys. An agile guitar, on a very fast Hillbilly boogie. A splendid track..

Jim Harless & the Lonesome Valley Boys

JIM HARLESS next one, from Bristol, TN in a mix-up of Hillbilly and Bluegrass (good banjo all through) for « Rock’n’Roll Fever Ain’t Got Me ». A bit of fiddle and a strong rhythm guitar.(Shadow 104, unknown date).

Ted Brooks

It’s impossible to fix which version came first on of « The Hot Guitar », either by Eddie Hill on Mercury 6374 (backed by MM. Chet Atkins and Hank Garland) or by TED BROOKS (Vocal by Henry Kimbrell) on Decca 46374, both issued in October 1951. Guitar tour-de-force in both cases.

Rick Rickels

A double-sider Rockabilly now with the mysterious RICK RICKELS (& His Wild Guitar) on the MH label, late ’50s or early 60s. « I’m Gone » and « You Gonna Go Away » are both frantic rockabillies,

Ray Coats, Cotton Collins & his Ranch Boys

Finally RAY COATS, backed by Cotton Collins & His Ranch Boys for the fine bluesy bopper « Texas Blues » (1953, on the Shamrock label, no #) from Houston, Texas. A fine steel (solo), a lazy vocal, and a good rinky-dink piano.

Sources : 45world (for 78rpm label scans), old Tom Sims’ cassette (Ole Rasmussen, Jim Harless, Ray Coats), RCS for Rick Rickels’ label scans (where came the soundfiles from, I can’t remember..) ; Ted Brooks from 78-Ron ; Hoyt Scoggins from the Starday Project (Malcolm Chapman among others).

And now for the last time, here are some more Little Richard’s rarities.
– “Taxi Blues”, 1951;
– “Little Richard’s Boogie” (1953) with the Johnny Oui Orchestra;
– “Valley Of tears” (1961) with the Upsetters;
– “Ytavelin’ Shoes” from 1963;

More sides
– I’m Back” from the comeback (1965)
– “Hurry Sundown”, from the motion of the same name (1967)
– “Rockin’ Chair”, cut in January 1967
– “Dew Stop Inn”, last entry in the charts (1971)

Early May 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks ! Let’s embark for a new journey into bopping music ! It begins in the late forties and extends until 1965, with an emphasis for the 1954-59 period.

T. Texas Tyler & the Oklahoma Boys

T. TEXAS TYLER & his Oklahoma Boys were a very popular outfit in California during the late ’40s. Here the man « with a million friends » deliver a really hot instrumental « Guitar Boogie Woogie » on 4Star 1114 (recorded May 1946) : a fast, furious guitar showcase (James Pruett or Stan Walker) (plus a steel solo by Joaquin Murphy).

Eddy Raven

Twenty years later EDDY MARVIN, also on a Fort Worth, Tx. label (Oakridge # 117) offers a downhome shuffling bopper. Good piano, cool vocal in « I’m Packing My Duds & I’m Head-in South ».

Bill Goodwin

Here’s a Starday custom, issued on the main label in the 500 serie. Starday 710 by BILL GOODWIN. April 1958 « Teenage Blues », a fast number with Rockabilly guitar. Later on, Goodwin was also on the Starday sublabel Dixie # 2014 (1959) ; with his Western Ramblers,he did « Your Lying Ways ». A bopper with great guitar.

David Gates

The Oklahoma born DAVID GATES, for his second record (the first was issued by Mala), on East-West 123 (a sublabel of the giant Atlantic outlet) : « Swingin’ Baby Doll » is really bopping and rolling. (February 1959)

Clyde Moody

CLYDE MOODY (1915-1989) was the King of Waltzes ; he also had several good boppers, as this « Tend To Your Business » on King 977. It’s a bluesy mid-paced hillbilly tune, piano and fiddle .

Cash Box July 14, 1951

Sandy Walker & His Country Boys

Back to California with SANDY WALKER’s back-to-back sides of Sage 227 (November 1956). Two uptempos : steel, fiddle, piano solos for « Beatin’ Round The Bush » and « So Long Baby Blues ».

Jeanie Pierson

At last a woman ! JEANIE PIERSON from White Cloud, Kansas, came up in Nashville in 1953, providing her solid version of Lefty’s « Run ‘Em Off » (co-written by Onie Wheeler)(Decca 28967).

Cash Box Dec. 28, 1953

Big Bill Lister

Finally a long-time Hank W. impersonator, BIG BILL LISTER, does offer « Countryfied » on Capitol 1551 (June 1951). An uptempo with fiddle, by the way Hank’s styled.

Sources : Country Hicks LP (Eddy Marvin) ; HillbillyBoogie1 YouTube chain (Jeanie Pierson), 4 Star Starday Custom serie (Bill Goodwin) ; Praguefrank (T. Texas Tyler data) ; my own archives from anywhere, piled up through the years..