MERLE KILGORE is not a newcomer. He met in the ’60s and ’70s a lot of success as a songwriter in Nashville : wrote « Ring of Fire » for Johnny Cash, and « Wolverton mountain » for Claude King. But I am more interested with his beginnings for Imperial records, seemingly all cut at KWKH in Shreveport, La. Here’s « Everybody needs a lttle lovin’ » that Merle released on # 8300. A Rockabilly guitar
Tillman Franks on double bass with Johnny Horton
(fine solo), propelled by a thudding bass (Tillman Franks?) over an urgent vocal. Later Wyatt Merle Kilgore (his actual name, being born in Chickasaw, OK. In 1934) turned frankly towards Rock’n’roll with tunes like « Please please please », cut in New Orleans in Jan. 1956 with an-all Black group, that of Dave Bartholomew, and « Ernie » . So eclectic was the man ! He was also a board member of the Hank Williams Montgomery museum, being very close to Hank’s family. He was back to his Country roots in 1959 with Country rockers on the « D » label (‘Take a trip to the moon »). Died of a lung cancer in 2005.
I didn’t find anything on the next artist : TROY JORDAN & His Cross-B-Boys, except to location of the label: Midland, Texas. So can only comment both sides of his disc issued on Tred-Way 100. The A-side is a good uptempo, « Who Flung that mater », with a too-discrete steel-guitar and well-sung, although nothing rxceptional. B-side is really fine bluesy a tune: guitar, steel, a piano solo, lazy vocal for « Don’t cry on my shoulder». Jordan was a distant cousin of the Carter Sisters, so it may be they are the right way for a research on him.
HILLBILLY HERMAN, & his Tennessee Valley Boys, despite his name, is a Blugrass artist in 1966, who offers « Today I watched my dreams come true » (Breeze 366, located in Livingston, TN), a solid uptempo, with great backing in the background The main instrument is a very nice mandolin ; alas the guitar solo is very insipid. The Breeze label had issued a very rocking version of « Wreck of the old 97 » (# 381) by Jim Sebastian. A record to watch for. In the meantime, do YouTube searching! Herman had an elusive issue on Hatfield (no #)[untraced]
Patrick « Buddy » Attawaywas a Cajun musician (fiddle, electric guitar) from Shreveport, Louisiana, born on 5 January 1923. As a teenager he started the Rainbow Boys with songwriter and promoter Tillman Franks (also later bass player) and singer Claude King. After Army service they all left Shreveport to KLEE, Houston, Texas.
When KWKH started the Louisiana Hayride in 1948, they all returned to Shreveport. Attaway backed Claude King on recordings and in 1950 he recorded a duet with Webb Pierce on Pacemaker Records.
Two discs followed on Imperial in 1954. He was a featured Hayride star by that time, and he sang « Big Mamou » there the day Elvis Presley made his debut. He continued as staff guitarist on the Hayride into the ’60s. He died in Shreveport on 15 June 1968.
The biography above was published in a CD devoted to Ed Camp. It seems too simple and very limited. So I will add the biograhy of early Claude King (courtesy Imperial Anglares), as Buddy Attaway and King went very close during these years.
January 1946 : Claude, Buddy Attaway, Tillman and Merle Clayton went to Dallas to audition for Hal Horton, a dee-jay at KRLD. They ended up back stage at the Sportatorium meeting Roy Acuff. Things in Dallas didn’t work out so they headed back to Shreveport.
Both friends quickly joined Harmie Smith, known as the Ozark Mountaineer, on KWKH until 1947. Claude took Webb Pierce’s place and acted as emcee when playing little country towns in North Louisiana, South Arkansas and East Texas. In that band you could find Buddy Attaway (fiddle), who took Owen Perry’s place, also acting as comedian, and Harry Todd (guitar) aged sixteen years too. Harmie and that gang including Tillman Franks (bass) played the State Fair in Shreveport in November 1946.
A first record in 1947 was issued on President, in their Southern Series, “Flying Saucers/I Want to be Loved” (HB 10) under the name of Buddy & Claude with The Kentuckians. On that tiny label was also The Stamps Quartet. The session was done at KWKH radio in July 1947 with Buddy Attaway, Claude King, Tillman Franks, Shot Jackson and The Bailes Brothers. “I Want To Be Loved” (But Only By You), a Bailes Brothers song issued on Columbia 37341, later reissued 20119, later became a hit for Johnnie and Jack. Both songs are actually duet recordings.
Soon afterwards, Buddy Attaway and Claude got sponsorship from General Mills Flour and they moved to Monroe, Louisiana, working with Sleepy Watts (bass) and Jackie Featherstone (steel) as The Kentuckians. In early 1948, for a short time, Claude and Buddy went to work in Houston (Tx) calling themselves “The Attaway Boys” on their 30-minute KLEE radio show, and working in Elmer W. Laird’s used cars lot by day. Tillman Franks moved to Houston in April 1948 to work with them for Laird. They lost their jobs and radio sponsor after that guy was stabbed to death around late July 1948.
In December 1950, at KWKH, Claude King with Tillman Franks, Buddy Attaway and Webb Pierce cut “A Million Mistakes” and “Why Should I” issued on Pacemaker HB 1010. The record label was co-owned by Webb Pierce and Horace Logan, the boss/founder of the Louisana Hayride. These sides written by Claude were reissued on Gotham 409 in 1951, and were followed by “51 Beers”/”Beer and Pinball (Gotham 411), two songs from the same session, issued in August 1951.
At the same session as Claude King’s that saw Pacemaker 1010 and Gotham 411, Webb Pierce recorded an uncredited duet with Buddy Attaway titled “Freight Train Blues” (of course the old Roy Acuff song of 1936). When issued on Pacemaker 1006-B, the song didn’t even have a singer’s name on the label, without doubt because Pierce was still contracted to 4 * and Bill McCall. The flip side sung by Buddy Attaway is “I’m Sitting on Top Of The World”, and even if credited to Buddy Attaway, that’s an old song, first recorded by The Mississippi Sheiks in 1930. The harmonica chorus is played by Rip Jackson (is there a relation with steel player Shot Jackson ? No one knows) and although Webb changed the words slightly, there is not enough to give him credit.
On all these Pacemaker songs recorded at KWKH by night, Webb is backed by Tillman Franks (bass), Buddy Attaway (guitar), Tex Grimsley (fiddle) and Shot Jackson (steel guitar). On all those songs, Buddy Attaway plays great guitar licks in a Jerry Byrd style, and we can only regret his passing at 45 years old on 27th May 1968. His guitar work on “Hayride Boogie” (a song he co-wrote with Webb) was replicated on the version recorded in 1956 for Decca under the title of “Teenage Boogie”. He is also responsible for the great boogie guitar on Pierce’s « California blues » or the Tune Wranglers‘ song « Drifting Texas sand ». These 3 songs were credited to Tillman Franks.
Buddy Attaway also recorded for Imperial in January 1954 a cover of Claude King’s “Why Should I”, issued with “Rock-A-My Baby On The Bayou” (8258) both fine waltz uptempos. « Why did I leave Cloutchville » is a fast opus, very much in the Cajun tradition, while »Doubtful heart » is a quieter tune (8238). All in all, Attaway had between 1947 and ’54 a consistent high level production, be he soloist or lead player for anyone else.
After the Imperial sides, he never recorded again, concentrating apparently on his work for the Louisiana Hayride, where he was a regular until mid-1957.
March 30th, 1956 leaflet
The scheduled issue of a 20-CD on Bear Family in 2017 of Louisiana Hayride tapes should bring some surprises, in this aspect. Attaway will have « Y’all come » (1956) and « In the jailhouse now » (1958) issued.
Warm thanks go to Dominique ‘Imperial’ Anglares and the generous loan of a Claude King early biography : this formed the nucleus of the Buddy Attaway’s one – as both were intimately tied from the beginning. ‘Imperial’ furnished also a good amount of personal pictures..Ole’ Ronald out of Germany as usual furnished rare label scans and music.
It’s hard to figure out what’s going on here. There were four versions of « Big door »…a sort-of « Green door » sequel.The first version appeared in 4 Star’s AP (Artist Promotion) and was by the writer, Gene Brown. Some say that Eddie Cochran is on guitar. That version reappeared on 4 Star (# 1717) and reappeared yet again identical on Dot, the label that had scored with « Green door ». At almost the same time, circa April 1958, that 4 Star licensed Brown’s master to Dot, Jack Tucker‘s version appeared. Was this the same Jack Tucker who worked hillbilly nighspots in Los Angeles for many years ? Probably. According to Si Barnes, who worked for both Jack Tucker (real name Morris Tucker) and his brother, Hubert, aka Herb [« Habit forming kisses » on Excel 107, 1955: see elsewhere in this site the Rodeo/Excel story], the Tuckers were from Haleyville, near Oklahoma City . Jack (rn Morris) was born on April 19th, 1918.
Both brothers led bands in Los Angeles, playing spots like the Hitching Post, Harmony Park Ballroom, and so on. Jack had a Saturday night television show on Channel 11. Tommy Allsup graduated from Herb Tucker’s band, and according to Barnes, Herb led the more musically sophisticated outfit. Jack Tucker, said Barnes was « pretty much stuck on himself. A very basic guitar player and vocalist. He was really limited in musical talent. I’m surprised he let the band record [Bob Wills‘] « Big beaver » [at the same session as « Big door»]. He didn’t understand the Wills beat or anything about that style. Jack was a two-chord guy. Both Herb and Jack faded out in the early 1960s when the ballrooms closed or switched over to rock ».
Nevertheless, Tucker’s recording career was quite extensive. There was a demo session for Modern in 1949 and his first 4 Star record was a reissue of a 1953 disc for the 4* custom Debut label. Other records, usually with the Oklahoma Playboys, appeared on Starday (1954), RCA’s « X » imprint (1955), Downbeat, with Bob Stanley (1956), Audie Andrews on Debut, himself on Bel Aire and Nielsen (1957). Guitarist Danny Michaels remembered that Tucker was playing at the Pioneer Room on Pioneer Blvd, when they did the 4 Star session. According to Michaels, he played lead and Al Petty played steel guitar, but he couldn’t remember the others. Following Tucker’s brief tenure with 4 Star, he recorded for Ozark Records in South Gate, California. One of their singles (with Don Evans on lead guitar), « Lonely man » was acquired by Imperial. Another, « Honey moon trip to Mars », may have been revived by Larry Bryant (Santa Fe 100, or Bakersfield 100).
Tucker appears to have bowed out with a clutch of records for Toppa in 1961-1962, and later for Public! and Young Country. He had backed Lina Lynne (later on Toppa 1008) on Jimmy O’Neal‘s Rural Rhythm label, and Bill Bradley on Fabor Robinson‘s Fabor label in 1957-58.
Tucker died on September 26, 1996, but no one has an idea what he was doing between the mid-60s and his death.
Notes by Colin Escott to « That’ll flat git it vol. 26 » (Four Star). Additions by Bopping’s editor.
The music of Jack Tucker (by Bopping’s editor)
To follow Barnes’ assertion about limitations both on guitar and vocal of Jack Tucker, one must although admit his discs were good enough to have him a comfortable discography over the years 1953-1965. I cannot at all judge his talent but I’d assume his music is generally pretty good hillbilly bop or rockabilly.
First tracks I discuss are his « X » sides (# 0093) from 1954 : the fast « Stark, staring madly in love» has a tinkling piano and a loping rhythm, a fine side, and the equally good « First on your list » (much later re-recorded on Public!). Both are billed X songs by Allan Turner.
This is without forgetting two 1949 demo tracks for Modern : apparently Dusty Rhodes is on lead guitar for the instrumental « Dusty road boogie », and Jack Tucker is vocalist for a version of Hank Williams’ « Mind your own business ».
Later on, we had Tucker on Starday 136 : « Itchin’ for a hitchin ‘ » and « I was only fooling me », typical hillbillies on the Beaumont, TX label – probably recorded on the West coast, as later did Jack Morris [see the latter’s story elsewhere in this site].
More earlier on the 4 Star OP (« Other People ») custom Debut label (# 1001), later reissued on the regular 4 Star X-81, Tucker had cut in 1954 « Too blue to cry », a good song with band chorus, and had backed a fellow Oklahomian Audie Andrews on the same Debut label (One side written by NY entrepreneur Buck Ram).
In 1956 Bob Stanley [not to be confused with the pop orchestra leader] on Downbeat 204 had « Your triflin’ ways/Heartaches and tears », backed by Tucker and his Oklahoma Playboys : two very nice Hillbilly boppers: Stanley adopts the famous growl-in-his-voice, a speciality of T. Texas Tyler. Both of them had also a disc on Downbeat 203 (still untraced). Jack Tucker backed also in 1957 Lina Lynne on the fine bopper « Pease be mine » (Rural Rhythm 513 [see above].
Same year 1957 saw Tucker record two sides among his best on the small California Bel Aire (# 22) label, « Let me practice with you » and « Surrounded by sorrow », good mid-paced boppers (fine steel). His band, « The Okla. Playboys« , backed Roy Counts on two excellent boppers on Bel Aire 23: the medium-paced « I ain’t got the blues« , and the faster « Darling I could never live without you« , both have strong steel guitar. Tucker also had « Hound dog » on the Nielsen 56-7 label (untraced).
1958 saw the issue of « Big door » already discussed earlier (plus the B-side « Crazy do » a good instrumental), as the other 4 Star record, « Big beaver /Nobody’s fool» (4 Star # 1728), both average instrumental sides.
In 1959 Tucker had three records on the Ozark label. The original of « Honey moon trip to Mars » (# 960) [later by Larry Bryant on Santa Fe/Bakersfield – otherwise, who came first?]
then « Lonely man » (# 962), which was picked by Imperial and reissued (# 5623), finally # 965 and the ballads « Don’t cry for me/Trade wind love ».
insert of an Ozark issue, found on the Net
In 1960-1961 Tucker had four Toppa records. All are fine boppers, despite a tendancy to go pop, and include Ralph Mooney on steel guitar at least on # 1030 : « Oh what a lonely one ; one is » , « When the shades are drawn » (# 1041), « Just in time » (# 1052) and « It’s gone too far » (# 1106).
I mention quickly the following issues, less and less interesting (more and more poppish) on Public! (a new version of « First on your list ») and Young country (even an LP # 103) along the ’60s.
« First on your list »
Sources: Colin Escott notes to « That’ll flat git it vol. » (Four Star); 45cat and 78-world sites; Toppa’s best 3-CD;; Roots Vinyl Guide; YouTube; Praguefrank’s country discography (discography); my own archives and records;
Dub Dickerson was one of those artists who toured constantly, mixed in the right circles of musicians and made a fair handful of recordings, but didn’t leave us much in the way of historical information. Even the performers he toured and played with don’t recall a great deal about him and, like countless other singers, he just seems to have spent his fifteen year musical career just outside of the spotlight.
Born Willis Dickerson on September 10th 1927 in Grand Saline, Van Zandt County, Texas, his first love of music came whilst growing up on the family farm, in the shape of Gene Autry and his familiar style of Cowboy tunes.
Although he enjoyed no hits on Decca and Capitol (1952-1955), he played the Opry and the Big D. Jamboree, and scored as a songwriter – he wrote « Look what thoughts will do » , a huge hit for Lefty Frizzell, and later « Stood up » for Ricky Nelson, in addition to his own recordings, like « My gal Gertie » (a number which enjoyed some currency among Hillbilly boogie and early Rockabilly fans.) He took to calling himself « The boy with the grin in his voice » and threw little catches – little ‘grins ‘ – into many performances, regardless of appropriateness. (suite…)
For a reason unknown, most of podcasts won’t open. Just click on the « Download » button to hear the music, when the player fails.
Onto the first Fortnight of this Autumn 2016. SMOKEY ROGERS (1917-1993) was a personality of the West coast and bandleader for s strong number of singers (Tex Wlliams, Ferlin Huskey) and releases (Capitol, Coral, Four Star, Starday and Shasta) from 1945 to 1965. On his (apparently) own label, Western Caravan, he even cut the first ever version of the classic « Gone » (# 901) in 1952. His label lasted with a handful of issues until 1955, among them I chose the great instrumental [not often in bopping] « John’s boogie » (Western Caravan 903). A real showcase for any musician involved (including ex-Hank Penny steel player virtuoso Joaquin Murphy), and every of them takes his solo or shines a way or the other. Splendid piano, horns, guitar, and of course steel, over an irresistible shuffle beat.
Another Smokey Rogers’ record has a young vocalist FERLIN HUSKY in April 1950 for « Lose your blues » on Coral 64063 (October 1950). It’s a nice shuffler with Huskey in good voice, and again Joaquin Murphy on steel.
Billboard Aug. 5, 1950 – a proof of popularity of Red Kirk
Several months later (February 1951), RED KIRK, another singer himself modeled on Hank Williams, took at his turn «Lose your blues » for an acceptable version, quite impersonal but backed by the cream of Nashville (Zeke Turner, Louie Innis, Jerry Byrd, Tommy Jackson) , on Mercury 8257. Kirk had many other good songs, for example « Can’t understand a woman (who can’t understand her man »)(# 6288), « Knock out the lights and call the law » (# 6409), or later on Republic 7120 the double-sider « Red lipped girl/Davy Crockett blues » from 1956, , the good ballad « How still the night » on ABC-Paramount 9814, or his version of Loy Clingman‘s « It’s nothing to me » in 1957 on Ring 1503. I chose another Mercury disc, »Cold steel bues » (# 6309) from February 1951 and in the same ‘bluesy’ vein as « Lose your blues ».
From Nashville, TN to Texas and Fort Worth for an Imperial session held in September 1954. FREDDY DAWSON (vocal) backed probably by himself on steel-guitar, Billy Chamber or Buddy Brady (fiddle), Jimmy Rollins (guitar), George McCoy (bass) and Phillip Sanchez (drums) cut 4 tracks, among them the above average « Dallas boogie » (# 8274)(nice fiddle and steel). 2 tracks do remain unissued, and « Why baby why » may not be the George Jones track, an original Jones song cut in August 1955.
We stand in Fort Worth, this time in 1957 with GENE RAY on the Cowtown label # 646 and « I lost my head », a good uptempo bopper. In November he was to cut for the same label the great Rockabilly cum Rocker « Rock and roll fever » on the EP-677, which contained also the good « Love proof ». Was he the same artist as on Playboy 300, who committed on wax « Playboy boogie » ? Nevertheless as front singer of the Dusty Miller’s band, he also had the great rocker « I’m going to Hollywood » in 1960. All these tunes are to be easily found on YouTube or various compilations.
Now to the early ’60s in Orlando, Florida. WEBSTER DUNN, Jr. delivers a good country rocker on first side, « Black and white shoes » on the Dunmar (owned by DUNmar Peckam and MARy Yingst) label # 101. Echoed vocal, nice crisp guitar (+ a bridge), a welcome steel : a well-produced record. The second side has a sort of poppish vocal, although saved by the same guitar (ordinary solo) and steel : « Go go baby » is a typical Country uptempo ballad. (Record valued at $ 75-100).
Next artist seems to have possibly emananated from Dallas, Texas, as his label Amber, one out of three at the same time. It’s a 4* custom # 275 out in December 1957, and the artist is BOB GARMON, who delivers with « His Studio Combo », a neat and tight little band, one of the best Rockabillies ever, « I’m a-ready baby » (valued $ 500 to 1000). Great guitar solo, cool vocal on topical lyrics, the song has everything a Rockabilly devotee could dream of. The flipside, although bluesy, is equally good : a Rockabilly combo trying its hands at Blues for « Positively blues ». A very desirable record !
Finally a R&B rocker by one of the greats, the albino « Blonde Bomber » (remember the Little Richard-esque « Strollie Bun » on Hull?), here under his other alias, LITTLE RED WALTER for « Aw shucks baby » on the N.Y. Le Sage (# 711) label. Walter is on guitar and harmonica (1960).
The Blonde Bomber, alias of Walter Rhodes, or Little Red Walter
Enough for this time ! Sources are 45cat for label scans, or YouTube or Roots Vinyl Guide, even Rockin’ Country Style. 78Rpm-world (mainly Ronald – thanks to him). My own researches on the Net and my archives. Praguefrank’s Country discography (Smokey Rogers, Red Kirk discos). Michel Ruppli’s « Aladdin/Imperial labels » book. Values from : Barry K. John guide or Tom Lincoln/Dick Blackburn book.