LOUIE INNIS (biography by Greg Adams, Allmusic.com). [Additions by Bopping’s editor.]
Louie Innis was born on January 21, 1919 (d. Aug. 20, 1982) in Seymour, Indiana. His role as a session guitarist is often emphasized but the fact is that, for us, it was not his most important role.
Louie Innis (sometimes credited as Louis) is one of those 50-year-old hillbilly boppers that thrill country music collectors. He never had a success [that’s not true], but his recordings for King and Mercury were cheerful, boogies uptempos and proto-rockers that show the musical mastery and the vocal work of Innis.
He was part of Hank Penny’s The Plantation Boys in the early 1940s, performing guitar and bass chores alongside Carl Stewart and Zed Tennis as violinists, and Roy Lanham’s solo guitar. Here is an example of Louie Innis work as rhythm player during a Hank Penny March 1945 session in Cincinnati, OH.: “Talkin’ about you” (King 512)
They worked with The Delmore Brothers, Merle Travis, Bradley Kincaid and Grandpa Jones. They also accompanied WLW pop singer Doris Day. After the march of Lanham, in 1944 the band toured with the USO before Penny traveled to California at the behest of [Merle] Travis, and the group undid. Later, when Penny was under contract with RCA, Innis composed a pair of songs to him, “No Muss-No Fuss-No Bother“(RCA 58-0183) and “Hold The Phone” (1951).
«(You ain’t nothin’ but a female) Hound Dog“, a duet with Charlie Gore, is an issue that has surfaced in rockabilly compilations, although it was recorded in 1953, indicating that Innis was on the road to rock & roll, though he was never permanently installed on it.
There are very few biographical data we could gather about Innis; however, on King Records’ promotional discs some details about the performer were outlined: on King 1225 (1953) he was defined: “Composer, vocalist, instrumentalist and emcee [presenter at Indiana Hoedown on WFBM], Louis innis excels in every facet. An Indiana guy who started on the radio at age 16, Innis has already made up a few hit songs. »
In King 1406 (1954) it was stated: “Indiana native Louie Innis became interested in music for the first time thanks to the local hairdresser who knew a few chords on the guitar, and both played and did duets between cuts of hair and shaved, almost every day. »
On the other side of the same single was noted: “A familiar figure among the broadcasts of folk music is Louie Innis. One of the outstanding rhythmic guitars in the business, Louie Innis worked with Red Foley for two and a half years at the Grand Ole Opry and has recorded with over fifty different artists ».
King 4861 (1955) noted: “(….) His work as a guitarist is much appreciated and is required by many great country stars. Louie is currently working as an emcee at the Indiana Hoedown in Indianapolis, Indiana. »
And on the flipside it was said: “Born in Shelbyville, Indiana, 35 years ago, Louie Innis was driven into music business when he was expelled from high school. He and some other students “played hookey” (skipped classes) one day. “The other guys lied about why they had gone away, but I told the truth,” he explains. “Later, when the director found out, he begged me to come back, but I said ‘no thank you’, and I took music seriously with the blessing of my parents.”
As a composer, in addition to his own songs, highlights “Seven Nights To Rock“, along with Buck Trail and Henry Glover, for Moon Mullican (1956), a classic rockabilly that he never got to record:
“Skip, Hop & Jump Country Style” is a German 23-track anthology of recordings of Innis on Mercury and King between 1949 and 1955, full of Innis novelties and a few hillbilly covers of pop and R & B hits such as “Oh! Babe by Louis Prima and “Hearts of Stone” by the Charms. «Stomp that thing» is a recent (2017) digital anthology to be found on Uncle Gil’s Rockin’ Archives blogsite.
Innis used a superb rhythmic section filled with resources like palms, bells, whistles and howls, as a precedent of what Sid King & the Five Strings would do next. Innis had a prominent band in which Zeb and Zeke Turner, Jerry Byrd, Tommy Jackson and Don Helms paraded in different stages, along with Maddox Brothers & Rose, to the category of talents that “should have been», but never received sufficient recognition.
LOUIE INNIS : an appreciation track per track (by Bopping’s editor)
If the reading of comments is boring you, go direct to the podcasts, label scans and downloads.
Sterling and Deluxe issues (1947-late 1948)
« LOUIE & THE INNIS CLAN » (on Sterling)
«Look in the looking glass» is a fast Western swing novelty. Good guitar, steel (Jerry Byrd?) + a welcome trumpet solo. (N.Y.C. Sterling 207 – probably recorded in Nashville).
«Tennessee Central» is of course a train song that’s « Rockin’ and reelin’». Fast. No fiddle. Trumpet main instrument. Steel effects of train. Agile lead guitar. (N.Y.C. Sterling 209 – probably recorded in Nashville).
«I guess you just don’t care» is a mid-paced ballad. An accordion; fiddle, guitar and bass. Vocal is a bit Hillbilly crooning. (New Jersey Deluxe 5059, also probably recorded in Nashville). First song written by Louie Innis. Leased by King ? The session has nos less than 7 unissued songs left.
= On December 22, 1948, Innis did the rhythm guitar duty for the Hank Williams‘ session that released « Lost on the river » and « Lovesick blues ».
Mercury issues (July 1949-November 1951)
« LOUIE INNIS & THE STRING DUSTERS »
«Better back up mama» (# 6217) Billed on label «Country boogie and blues» : uptempo Bopper ; prominent fiddle, Jerry Byrd takes a steel solo. Probably Zeke Turner on lead guitar. Innis on energetic rhythm guitar.
= On August 30, 1949, Innis accompanied on rhythm guitar Hank Williams once more (and for the last time) on «I’m so lonesome I could cry», «I just don’t like this kind of livin’», «My bucket’s got a hole in it». Tommy Jackson was on fiddle, and probably accompanied Louis Innis on his first Mercury session, with Ernie Newton on bass, at E.T. Herzog Studio in Cincinnati, OH.
«She’s mean to me» (# 6225, reissued # 6273) is a real fine shuffler. Zeke Turner in good form. Byrd has his solo. Certainly Tommy Jackson on insistent fiddle.
One more «Country boogie» as noted on the label : «Jug band boogie» (# 6244). A novelty by the use of a washboard, handclaps, and the growls of Innis (imitating T. Texas Tyler). A fine bopper.
«I thought she was a local (but she was a fast express)» (# 6273). Not written by Innis, it’s his second train-inspired opus. Very fast song, an harmonica (for the only time in Innis’ records), fiddle is prominent. Discreet steel, imitating a train bell.A promising «Woman hating blues» from this August 1950 session remains unissued.
Another pop novelty from the pen of Louis Prima, given the Hillbilly bop treatment, «Oh ! Babe» (# 6293). Tailor-made for Prima, a very nice version by the versatile Innis. An insistent guitar riff.
More to come with the next pairing. «Honky-tonk man» (# 6335) from May 1951. Strong country boogie guitar, loud drums, great steel. Same goes for the flipside, «Stomp that thing» (penned Innis-Turner) is a tour-de-force, his fastest song ever, without fiddle, and proto-rockabilly. Great song !
In June 1951, Hank Penny cut the Louie Innis songs that were specially written for him : «No muss-no fuss-no bother» and «Hold the phone», although the session took place on the West coast (Innis not present).
So strangely «I’ve got a red hot love» (on the label, «Louie Innis » alone) (# 6370) from late 1951 returns to classic style Hillbilly bopper – the theme song is as usual. The fiddle is back, and the voice is always winkling. From the same session remained unissued «I’m the lonesomest guy».
Remember. If my comments are boring you, go direct to podcasts, downloads and labels scans.
Louie Innis didn’t have in 1952 any recording pact, and without doubt he devoted himself to his work on WLW (Cincinnati, Midwestern Hayride) and WFBM (Indiana Hoedown), or recording sessions for others artists.
Billboard March 1953
February and March 1953. «Who’ll give me, you’ll give me, who’ll give me kisses» (# 1180) is a fast novelty and unpretentious very good bopper with its catch phrase.
“Who’ll give me, you’ll give me, who’ll give me kisses”
Then the very fast «I got a round trip ticket» » from November 1953. Train effects by the steel payer ; pizzicato played fiddle, which seems mandolin . Plus, «There’s a red hot fire (in the old locomotive)» (# 1392) (penned Roberts = maybe Bob Newman under his usual pseudonym as writer), again a fast train song.
Finally a cover of another R&B hit, “Hearts of stone” (# 1392), originally done by the Black vocal group The Charms. Innis does a fine mid-paced rendition of the song. Good steel and guitar. This crossover use of R&B and C&W songs was common at King for years, and gave many a new, fresh song.
Finally from October 1954 to May 1955. – Innis aided by Al Myers (lead guitar), Jerry Byrd and a bass player, formed The Country Cats for a 4-instrumentals session. Fine relaxed boppers : «Hot strings» (# 1410) and «Sun shadows» (# 1430).
Back to Louie Innis recording sessions. He did a good version of the old spiritual « Nobody knows you when you’re down and out », another crossover (# 1406). «The kissing chain» (which he didn’t write) is another mid-paced good novelty. Al Myers makes prowesses on lead (# 1415). The flipside «Let’s make up tonight» goes same, and is equally good bopper. The final side «Sing your song baby» (# 4861) has chorus and a fine guitar. Innis is tending clearly toward rock’n’roll, that he never really reached. Actually he never recorded anything after this last King 1955 session.
In 1961, King issued a remaining track from the Deluxe session of 1948 (unheard). Why this occurred ?
Further adventures of Louis Innis after 1955
He seems to have devoted himself to writing songs for others. Here below is a partial list of artists whom he’d work for :
Chet Atkins, « Mister Misery », 1954
Chet Atkins, « Set a spell » (vocal by Red Kirk), 1954
Fuller Todd, « Old fashioned », 1957
Brenda Lee, « I’m learning about love » (with Grady Martin), 1960
Charles Brown, « Christmas questions », 1961
Conway Twitty, « Portrait of a fool » (with Buddy Killen), 1961
Joe Henderson, « Mr. Voice », 1962
Jimmy Logsdon, « The life of Hank Williams » (with Hawkshaw Hawkins), 1963
Lois Williams, « Don’t take my child away », 1970
and a lot more into the ’70s.
Louie Innis also arranged songs for Don Lane (M.C.A.), date unknown.
Those songs were rejected for certain reasons (primarily because they’d take too much room) :
Oklahoma City/Foggy river (Sterling) ; I’d be ashmaed if I were you (DeLuxe)
Good morning Judge/My dreamboat stuk a snag/I grabbed for the engine (Mercury)
It don’t pay to advertise/Mexican Joe/What a way to die/Suicide/You’ve got it/What’s she got/She rurn’t it/Nobody knows you when you’re down and out/You’re not happy till you’re mad/Jealous hearted woman (King). A good amount of them is on the « Stomp that thing » compilation (on Uncle Gil’s Rockin’ Archives blogsite: unclegil.blogspot.fr)
My thanks go first to Uncle Gil’s Rockin’ Archives blogsite, and as usual, Ronald Keppner for the loan (scan and music) of rare 78 rpm’s. Then to Greg Adams (all music site) for the only biography available on Louis Innis ; to the people of the « King Project » (for Hank Penny King side) ; 78rpm and 45rpm scans on always fruitful « 45worlds.com ». My old fellow Tony Biggs for « Whammy… ». YouTube was useful too. There had been a whole lot of work for this issue : it’s really been a « labor of love » ! I hope you’ll appreciate the result of the study. Thanks for your comments : they always give me courage to go further and deeper into Hillbilly bopping music..
First two selections for this late February 2017 fortnight do come from Florida. Absolutely nothing is known from the vocalist/bandleader JOE ASHER. Apparently unknown on the Net, and not associated to another of the same name, he was a one-off record man. His record was first issued at Rockin’ # 515 in 1953, then reissued by DeLuxe ( # 2001) for a perfect Bopper, « Photograph of you », a fast, fantastic tune : very assured vocal, great solos – fiddle, guitar and steel. The flipside, « Daddy dear », a mid-paced opus, is just as good (steel is prominent). I wonder why this guy never recorded more, at least under his name.
Then to early ’60s in Birmingham, AL. with OTHELL SULLIVAN& the Southern All-Stars (are they the house band of the label?) on Reed 1053. The song is written by Leon Bowman, a prolific songster and singer in is own right. « There’s sure to be goodbyes » is a jumping tune, sympathetic backing (steel and discreet drums) over a good vocal : a nice tune for 1961. Sullivan had had already « Call me, baby » on Wonder (unheard) in 1958 ; later he joined the Longhorn stable (# 513).
JIMMIE STONE (acc. by Coy McDaniel guitarist) had on the New Jersey Cross Country label 45-22 a great Country rocker, « Found » in April ’56. Strong lead guitar and good backing over an assured vocal (lot of echo). The disc must have had a certain impact under chart-angle, because the big N.Y. concern Gone reissued it next year as it was on Gone # 5001. The flipside « Mine » is an insipid slowie, largely forgettable.
From Indiana on a rather devoted to Blues/R&B label, Falcon, here’s to be found the Hillbilly bopper/Rockabilly of CURLEY SHELTON (# 609) « with Doug Oldham & his Dixie 6 ». « Have you seen my baby » is a medium bluesy tune, assured vocal and an embroidering very good guitar.
Finally a song, « Hillbilly wolf », wrongly attributed to Dave Dudley on a low-bdget album cover, is actually sung and played by LINK WRAY. A medium uptempo, good vocal but rather uninspired guitar. This tune may come from the late ’50s or even the early ’60s.
[two_fifth_last][/two_fifth_last]Howdy folks ! It’s never been done before : this fortnight will begin with two R&B Rockers. HARMONICA FATS (rn. Harvey Blackstone) appears to have cut a good amount of records in Los Angeles during the early to late ’60s. His output vanished in obscurity, except for those die hard Blues buffs, and he’s mostly remembered today for his best well-known song « Tore up ». Brawny R&B, heavy harmonica over solid backing of guitar and saxes on Skylark 602, reissued on the more affordable Darcey 5000 label. The original song had been issued in 1956 on Federal 12270 by the Midnighters (lead and writer : Hank Ballard) in a typical vocal group style. Sometime later Sleepy LaBeef covered « Tore up » as Tommy LaBeff on Wayside as a solid rocker – watch out his harsh vocal ! Finally Harmonica Fats had also his wild version of J. B. Lenoir’s « Mama mama talk to your daughter for me » on Darcey 5003, a song he credited to himself and seen on Youtube…He covered Hank Williams‘ “Mind your own business” on Kris.
Second R&B artist is even more obscure : AL SIMMONSwith Slim Green & the Cats from Fresno cut in 1957 on the (I believe) Johnny Otis‘ Dig label a great « Old folks boogie » (# 138). An half screaming/half spoken vocal over an hypnotic lead guitar and a nice sax solo for a Little Junior Parker’s/ John Lee Hooker “Feeling good” type song..
We turn now to usual Country records in this site. EVERETT SPEARS has his own version of the Terry Fell‘s classic «Truck driving man » on the Epto (no °) label. A cool vocal , lot of echo and heavy drums do combine a very nice mid-60’s country rocker, although of unknown area.
RAYMOND WEBB now is an unknown artist from the Kentucky or Tennessee. He had only two records. On Rich-R’-Tone 1063 issued in 1953, he gives us a very bluesy track, « Hot water blues » : wailing vocal and a great piano backing. The flipside, « Bucket special » noted on labeI « Instrumental boogie woogie », is a good side too. I ought not be surprised if the piano player was a Black one.
He can also be heard 5 years later on the microscopic label Kyva [KentuckY–VirginiA] (the only other record known on this is Luke Gordon‘s) and « Wherever you are ». On a waltz tempo with a prominent steel, it’s a good record for 1958.
GEORGE STOGNER cut in Miami, FL ca. June 1953 on the Rockin’ label # 522 the great double-sider « Hard top race/Big yellow moon », arguably the best ever and the fastest hot rod type song. Label’s owners Henry Stone and Andy Razaf sold it to King’s Sid Nathan in August of the same year. The latter reissued part of the Rockin’ masters on his own DeLuxe label, hence Stogner had the honour of opening the new Deluxe 2000 serie. Back to « Hard top race », with its urgent vocal, fabulous piano and steel, it’s really a berserk wildie taken at an ultra-fast tempo, while the flip « Big yellow moon » is an uptempo ballad with sentimental words, written by Rod Morris : a good song anyway.
Finally here is the unknown HAROLD MORRISON, who seemingly never got to issue any commercial record ; only remains an acetate of the fabulous « I gotta have her », a supercharged Rockabilly : great vocal, very fine guitar. I wonder if someone ever took notice at the time of such a talented guy.
Note: the indefatigable visitor Phil Watson sent about Harold Morrison (March 27):”Not sure if it’s the same man, but Harold Morrison was a respected singer/comedian who recorded for several labels including Starday. I have two LPs by him. He started out with Red Foley on the Ozark Jamboree, then worked for the Wilburn Bros for seven years, followed by six years with George Jones & Tammy Wynette, up to 1975 when a now-single Tammy fired him.” also, “Yes, according to Praguefrank, this acetate is by “the” Harold Morrison, and was his first recording in 1956. He recorded for RCA and Decca but not Starday. He died in 1993.”. Thanks Phil!
Sources : Raymond Webb material provided by Allan Turner – thanks to him ! Other selections from my collection (Harmonica Fats and Tommy LaBeff, George Stogner reissues). Label scans as usual from 78rpm-world or YouTube.
Red Perkins, nor related to the jazz trumpeter Red Perkins as with Carl Perkins, until today remains more or less a mystery within the country music since little is known about him. Not even a picture of him has ever surfaced. Nobody seems to know how he came to appear in 1947 on the country music scene, when he started as a singer for Paul Howard in its western swing band, the Arkansas Cotton Pickers to work. This group he belonged to until 1949, but Red at the same time also has his own career.
In May 1949, King let Perkins cut his first solo titles : « Aggravatin’ Lou from Louisville » and « Hoe-down boogie » (# 792) were the best of four tracks recorded. In November 1949, as well as in the course of 1950, followed other sessions,
We find him in on the amusing « Crocodile tears » (# 836) and « One at a time » (# 850). The titles of his last studio visit were published on Kings sublabel DeLuxe Records [ named Red Perkins and his Kentucky Redheads, perhaps Howard’s Cottonpickers in disguise]. In March 1950, Perkins played once again as a singer with Paul Howard and the band in the studio KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana for 4 more tracks, among them “The boogie’s fine tonight” (# 871)- great pounding piano from Harold Horner, and a good guitar from either Paul Howard himself or Jabbo Arrington.
Under Perkins’ recordings for King to songs like « A Long Necked Bottle »(# 920), « Hoe-Down Boogie » (# 792), « Rag man boogie » (# 903) or « Aggravating Lou from Louisville »(# 792) were, however, found none of his singles off the charts, not least was due to the poor marketing of the label. What Perkins did after that is uncertain.
All in all, a career that lasted not more than 2 years ; nearly not more than a dozen 78pm singles ; and a very few to remember as shufflers and good’uns.
courtesy Dan Tinsley and Red Perkins’ family. Chubby Howard on steel guitar
Sources: a short biography Wikipedia (which is confusing with the pre-War Red Perkins on Champion) translated from German language. A discography on Praguefrank site: http://countrydiscography.blogspot.fr/2009/10/red-perkins.html. Internet for label scans. With help from Ronald Keppner (DeLuxe issue).
Additions : March 12th, 2017
Out of an email from Dan Tinsley (Red Perkins’ nephew), here are some precious details on Perkins’ life. All pictures do come from his Family.
His real name was WUSTER LAMONT NUNEMAKER.
Born Aug 3rd 1920 in Breathitt Co. Kentucky
Died Aug 15th 1990 Columbus Ohio
He lived in Fairborn Ohio & is buried there in the Byron cemetery. He also lived in Springfield Ohio for a long time & was there that he passed. He was also a WWII veteran.
He was employed with the railroad most of his life from the steam engine days to diesel power. Brakeman, fireman, & engineer etc.
Syd Nathan recorded Long Neck Bottle & Big Water Glass on his Audio Lab label (think that one was autobiographical). Uncle Red was a rounder & honky tonk hero. He was the first artist to cover Big Blue Diamonds in 1950 I think. Aside from Paul Howard, The Kentucky Redheads, he last performed with his band Red Perkins & the Southerners in the early 1950’s. It’s my belief that he went to Korea with the USO & entertained the troops during that war. There is a post card to my aunt from him at Christmas time he sent & was on Formosa with the band, also there is a Korea & Golden Gate bridge sticker on the guitar case I have.
He also did some local TV out of Dayton Ohio on WLW-D I can remember him singing Old Shep to me once after my dad shot my dog for biting my cousin.
I (bopping’s editor) will have to ask Mr. Tinsley some more details, that I will publish later in bopping.org.
This time, very various records. SLIM DOSSEY hailed from Kentucky, but settled in Kirkland, Washington, late ’40s, where he had his own TV show. He was at one time a member of Smokey Rogers Western Caravan. Here you will find his Tubb (Ernest?) penned “Don’t stand just there“. on the JR (Seattle) label. Romping music! Slim Dossey “Don’t just stand there“. [March 23, 2018. I add Dossey’s version of Hank Williams’ “Ramblin’ Man“, issued Jan. 1954 on Ace-Hi Hits 5011. Good version!]
From Ohio, and in 1965, RALPH BUSH and the Brushwackers. He had one 4-track session for C-Flat (distributed by RCA), and three tracks are offered there. All fine Hillbilly boppers. “I’ve got the bluest feeling” (8543), “Troubles” (8544) and “My eyes don’t cry” (8545). Ralph Bush “I’ve got the bluest feeling”