Notes by Phillip J. Tricker to the Collectables CD 5335 « Long gone daddy »(1990)
The name LOU GRAHAM (rn Lewis Lyerly) is best known for his superb rocker ‘Wee Willie Brown » cut for Coral (# 61931) in late 1957, but Lou had been active in a recording studio as early as the beginning of 1951.
He was born on July 15th, 1929 in the tiny community of Woodleaf (pop. 300) in North Carolina. One of ten children, he soon showed an interest in music and after three years of wearing Navy Blue in the services he got into radio as a singer and DJ. He spent 18 months at WPWA in Chester , Pa. where he met Bill Haley and the Saddlemen : it’s quite probable that Haley helped Lou secure a contract with Gotham (hence, Gotham 416). The second batch of recordings are certainly backed by the Saddlemen. The labels of Gotham 433 were ordered on July 9th, 1952, and at this time Lou was working in TV at WDEL in Wilmington, Delaware and as a DJ with his « Roundup time » program at radio station WTNJ in Trenton, NJ. During the mid-to-late fifties he was busy on a schedule of appearances at nightclubs and hillbilly parks asnwell as TV and radio, and playing on the « Big Western Jamboree » in Camden, NJ.
Notes by Bill Millar & Rob Finnis for BF 15733 « That’ll flat git it » (Decca) (1994)
When LOU GRAHAM dipped into rock’n’roll with Willie Brown in November 1957, he was already 28 and a veteran of local radio in Chester, Pennsylvania whose most famous resident, Bill Haley, became his mentor. One of ten children Graham was born Lewis Lyerly in Woodleaf, North Carolina in 1929. After serving in the US Navy, he worked as a country vocalist and broadcaster joining WPW, Chester in 1950. It was there that he befriended with Bill Haley, then jobbing on the local bar-room circuit with the Saddlemen while holding down the post of announcer at the station.
Graham signed with Philadelphia’s Gotham label in 1951, and made his recording debut accompanied by members of Haley’s band with whom he occasionally appeared on stage. By the time of his second Gotham release, Graham had moved to WTNJ in Trenton, New Jersey leaving Haley to pursue the musical career which would soon make him an international star.
Who’s Lou Graham?
Slap that bass!
By 1956, Haley, flush with riches, had assumed the role of benefactor, granting recording favours to a number of acolytes in an ill-fated attempt to create a music publishing and recording empire. Graham was signed to Haley’s Clymax label and he cut « Wee Willie Brown » backed by the Comets. The master was assigned directly to Coral when Haley’s enterprizes ran into financial difficulties.
LOU GRAHAM, a track-by-track appreciation (notes by bopping.org editor)
« Two timin’ blues » is an uptempo shuffler. A bit of yodel vocal. A good steel. Backing by a fine piano (+ solo). « Long gone daddy » is, of course, the Hank Williams’ song, and this is a good version. Morever I have the same comments than for « Two timin’ blues ». All in all, a successful 2-sider for a first recording (Gotham 416)
Now on to the 4-tracks second session. « I’m lonesome » has an inventive steel over an uptempo shuffle pace. The piano is well to the fore and Graham adopts a somewhat harsh vocal. « Please make up your fickle mind » is a nice shuffler too (Gotham 433, from 1953). « A sweet bunch of roses », as expected, is a sentimental, although agreeable song (Gotham 429). More of the same with the medium-paced « My heart tells me (I’m still in love with you) ».
Of course, the Coral sides from 4 years later are a complete contrast with the Gotham sides. « Wee Willie Brown » (Coral 61931) is a solid rocker : Bill Haley’s saxman Rudy Pompilli blows his fuse, and Franny Beecher excells on lead guitar as on the Comets’ better days. « You were mean baby », although noted as recorded at the same session, is very different : big band type rocker, male chorus ; it reminds me of the Johnny Burnette Trio‘s « Shattered dreams » cut in NYC, already for Coral too.
Back from Summer holidays, we begin with the incomparable MERLE TRAVIS with a little known opus cut on December 4, 1952, « Louisiana boogie » (flipside « Bayou baby »), which permits the pianist Billy Liebert (long-time musician at Capitol sessions) to shine with a boogie 12-bar pattern. This side can be found on Capitol # 2902. Two fiddles are also heard, these of « Buddy Roy » Roy and Margie Warren, while Travis is in good form both on guitar and vocals.
LOU GRAHAM was one of the earlier rockabilly-style artists to show up on record, courtesy of Ivin Ballen’s Philadelphia-based Gotham Records. Born in rural North Carolina, and one of 10 children, his full name may have been Lou Graham Lyerly. He showed an early interest in country music, and following a hitch in the United States Navy, he entered radio as a singer and disc jockey. Vocally, he was similar to his somewhat older contemporary Hank Williams. Graham spent 18 months at WPWA in Chester, PA, he made the acquaintance of Bill Haley, leader of a locally-based country band called the Saddlemen, who helped Graham get a recording contract with Gotham. Graham cut « Two Timin’ Blues » and « Long Gone Daddy » at a 1951 session with an unknown backing band, but early the next
year, he was backed by Bill Haley‘s Saddlemen on a quartet of sides, « I’m Lonesome, » « Sweet Bunch of Roses« , « Please make up your fickle mind » and « My Heart Tell Me. » all issued on Gotham 429 and 433. Graham kept busy working as a deejay at WTNJ in Trenton, NJ, and on television as an announcer, on WDEL in Wilmington, DE. By the late 1950’s, he was also working regularly in nightclubs, parks, and western jamborees playing country and hillbilly music, playing on the same bills with Webb Pierce, Hank Thompson, and Ernest Tubb. In 1957, he made his most lasting contribution to recordings with his single « Wee Willie Brown » for the Coral Records label.
court. Imperial Anglares
SALTY (HOLMES) & MATTIE (O’Nell) had a long, long career, either as single artists, either in duet, like with this « Long time gone » (M-G-M # 11572, recorded July 7th, 1953). In fact, Salty only wails his harmonica, while Mattie has the vocal duty on this marvelous fast Hillbilly bopper (good picking guitar a la Merle Travis and a steel reminiscent of Hank Williams’ Don Helms). Of course Mattie O’Nell was also known (RCA, Sun) as JEAN CHAPEL.
We jump in 1963 on the K-Ark label # 296 (Cincinnati, OH) with HARVEY HURT and his « Stayed away too long ». An aggressive vocal on the front of a chorus (handclaps during the solo), and a nice guitar+steel solos, make this a very agreeable record, even not listed in 45rpmrecords.com.
From Avery, Texas, Chucklin’ CHUCK SLOAN offers his « Too old to Rock’n’roll » (Cowtown # 806) cut in 1961 . A fast Rockabilly/Country-rock novelty issue : very, very fine guitar, indeed influenced by blues guitarists. The song appeared long ago on a Swedish Reb bootleg.
More from Fort Worth, Texas in 1958 on Majestic (# 7581). J. B. BRINKLEY (aka Jay Brinkley) gives a splendid bluesy « Buttermilk blues »: really biting and agile guitar, backed by a solid piano, over a powerful voiced singer.
Brinkley also had previously issues on Dot (# 15371 « Crazy crazy heart/Forces of evil » – both pop rockers) in March 1955, and Algonquin 712/3 (a New York label) (« Go slow baby », a fine bluesy rocker, with a thrilling guitar) in 1957, plus some instrumentals. first on Kliff 100 (1958) , the good « Guitar smoke » which reminds one of Bill Justis‘ monster « Raunchy » ; then on Roulette 4117 (« The creep/Rock and roll rhumba »).
download(addition on Jan. 19th, 207. Thanks to Pierre Monnery)
DAYTON HARP cut records as soon as 1952: his « Foot loose and fancy free » (Gilt-Edge 5038) is a good bopper with excellent mandolin over a really ‘hillbilly’ vocal. He hailed from Florida, and he recorded there a duet (with Dot Anderson who gives Harp the replica) in 1958 for the Star label (# 695) « Man crazy woman » : a nimble guitar and a too short steel solo. A really good record. The flipside sees Harp alone : « You’reOne in a million » is a fine uptempo ballad with the same instrumentation (really good guitar!). Both these tracks were issued as Starday customs.
Sources : the Capitol label discogaphy (Michel Ruppli a.o.) ; 45rpmrecords.com ; YouTube ; Terence Gordon’s Rockin’ Country Style ; 45-cat ; rocky52.net ; Tony Russell’s « Country music » (1921-1945) ; Bruce Elder’s Lou Graham biography on Allmusic.com.
Let’s start this batch of fortnight’s favorites with a mysterious CURT HINSON. He hailed from S.C. and was at one time tied with WDLC in Dillon, S.C., where he was known as « Curt Hinson & His Sunset Troubadours ». Nothing is known about him except for two, maybe three records. The first one on Gotham 431, « Let’s see you smile » (1952) was coupled with « Down deep in my heart ». The first side is a nice uptempo, partly duetted (with the mysterious « Molinaro », who co-penned this track and the A-side on Carolina ?), over a chanting steel all along and a good swirling fiddle. The same songs were apparently reissued straight out on N.Y.C. Carolina label # 1001.
On Carolina 1003, Hinson has two « new » songs, « Cotton picking baby », a nice uptempo – weird and fooling fiddle, a steel solo and Troy Ferguson on the lead guitar. The flip side « You’re old love is haunting you still »[sic] is on a par with the presumably A-side. Fine relaxed vocal from Hinson, ably backed by a fluent guitar player. The identity of the guitar player was given by « HillbillyBoogie1 » on his Youtube chain, and I wonder where the information came from.
From East coast we go now to Texas and the Fort Worth area. EARL WRIGHT& Texas Oldtimers has a good double-sider on Cutt-Rite in 1962 (# 100). « Married man blues » and « You don’t know it » are good Western swing flavored (prominent fiddle, even a solo) boppers. Nice guitar too, with jazzy overtones and a fine piano. A very nice relaxed record. Wright had at least another record, Jimmie Rodgers’ « T.B. Blues » on Bluebonnet 325 (untraced).
Now on to Ohio, with GLENN & VIVIAN WATSON, who do a good duet with « Just keep on going » on the Dayton, OH label BMC # 1000, from 1959. Fine picking guitar throughout a la Merle Travis. Vivian did in 1956 a solitary tune « Hoping that you’re hoping » on a budget Big 4 Hits EP # 195.
« Just keep on going« download
Finally I chose from Nashville a Murray Nash production [see Mellow’s Log Cabin i (hillbillycountry.blogspot.fr) for more info] by RALPH PRUETT and the song he wrote (not the blues/ traditional classic) « Louise » on B.B. 226, the very last one on this label, which saw no less than 3 Dixieland Drifters records. Topical lyrics, « Be-bop-a-Lula » is named, « Louise she’s my queen », over a relaxed vocal, with fine steel in the background plus n excellent fiddle solo.
« Louise« download
Sad news in France : a GREAT guy is gone, Bernard Boyat. Fine discographer, essential writer and reviewer for many magazines [more than 50, among them the vital French « Rock’n’Roll Revue » or « Le Cri du Coyote ») since the ’70s, a true gentleman, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of Rock’n’roll in general, with a special sympathy for Louisiana and Cajun people. He did help the launch of « bopping » with the co-writing of the article NATHAN ABSHIRE in January 2009. May God Almighty save his Soul and let him keep Rock’n’rolling in Heaven !
As usual, my special thanks to Internet, Alexander Petrauskas for his site « hillbillycountry.blogspot », and Youtube « HillbillyBoogie1 ».
The story of Frank Rice and Ernest W. Stokes goes back to 1933, when they were known as « Mustard and Gravy« . They came from Virginia, and discovered by Smiley Burnette, doing minstrel-shows. In 1950, they cut for Gotham the fine « Be Bop Boogie« , accompanied by a trombone! The song found its way several years later in a Calypso style by Don Hager on the Oak label.
Nothing is known on Les Willard, surely a Nashville singer, here backed by Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys, for the romper « Double Up And Catch Up » in 1955.
Red Mansel was from Texas, and had a contract with Dan Mechura‘s Allstar label ca. 1958 for the equally fine « Johnny On The Spot« . He had already cut for Starday Custom (# 523) in 1955, the piano-led medium tempo « Broken Fickle Heart » (see elsewehere in this site for « Starday Custom serie (# 500-525).
From Texas came also on the T.N.T. (« Tanner’n’Texas ») label the duet The Jacoby Brothers (George, the uncle and Boy, the nephew), respectively on mandolin and guitar. They offer here the very fast « Bicycle Wreck« , with a fantastic mandolin solo.
Red Woodward and his Red Hawks were familiar in the period 1945-1950 on WBAP radio from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I’ve chosen his « Cowboy Boogie » from 1947, on Signature label. Relaxed vocal, fine backing, and a guitar solo which seems being acoustic one!
Finally a R&B Rocker from 1954 by the great Lightning Hopkins. Hope you enjoy the selections. Don’t forget to have a look at my « contact Me » section, for records and books for sale from my collection. You could be amazed! Bye
Hi! there all, friends, visitors, listeners. This is not April fool! Another batch of good ole’ Hillbilly Bops, Hillbilly Boogie and Honky Tonks from the golden age, and various sources.
Let’s begin with the earliest track, from Texas, 1950-51. TILMAN FRANKS was an entrepreneur, bassist, and associate with various labels and artists. For example, he launched the carrers of very young WEBB PIERCE (Pacemaker label, before 4 * and Decca) and FARON YOUNG, recording them in Houston, then placing the products with East Coast labels. FARON YOUNG made his vocal debut on Philly GOTHAM with this « Hot-Rod Shotgun Boogie N0. 2« . Way before Young specialized on Capitol with sweet ballads, this is raw Hillbilly Bop, Texas style!
Second then, a legend, the great MERLE TRAVIS, with a little known opus, « Louisiana Boogie » – fabulous piano by Capitol session man Billy Liebert. Indeed Travis takes his solo too…
More on Capitol with very recently deceased FERLIN HUSKEY, who disguised under 3 personas. As a comedian, as Simon Crum. As Honky-tonker (early in carreer) as Terry Preston. Here he’s attempting as FERLIN HUSKEY on Rockabilly in 1955 with the famous classic « Slow Down Brother« .
More Hillbilly Bop from Detroit, 1953- almost Rockabilly in spirit: FOREST RYE and « Wild Cat Boogie » on the Fortune label. Like the sparse instrumentation and lyrics! More on « Cat music » on the site with the « research » button above right!
1956, from Louisiana, hence his name, CURLEY LANGLEY (l’Anglais, in French) and the minor classic, « Rockin An’ A Rollin » on the Arcadia label. Fine backing. Langley made more quiet Hillbilly on the same label.
Finally, a 1957-58 disc from Indiana (Iowana label) by WES HOLLY, « Shufflin’ Shoes« . Holly had already cut the same song as « Shuffling Shoes Boogie » in 1952 for the Nashville TENNESSEE label (see elsewhere in the site the story to this label).
Enjoy the selections, folks! You also can see what’s available for sale from my collection (overstocks, as new) on « Contact Me » button.