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.
As for the past, here are a good amount of boppers cut between 1947 and as recent as 1966.
Fiddler TEX GRIMSLEY was a Louisiana Hayride resident, and played his part on almost – if not all – Pacemaker sides of 1949-50. This label was co-owned by Horace Logan (boss of the Hayride) and Webb Pierce, and was constantly of high standard. Grimsley & his Showboys included guitar player Buddy Attaway [his story is somewhere told in this site], Shot Jackson on steel and the inevitable Tillman Franks on bass, while the vocal duties are taken by (supposed related) Cliff Grimsley, and the tune « Shuffle on down » (Pacemaker 1005) is really a lazy, shuffling call-and-response format bopping song. Shot Jackson produces really wild effects on his steel.
“Shufflin’ on down”
»One little teardrop too late » is a crazy-paced item issued as by PLAIN SLIM & the O’Dell Family on the Davis, WVA Cozy label (# 570) from as late as 1966. Two soli each by fiddle and lead guitar over a strong rhythm guitar. One can wonder how this type of record was launched in a world of current pop music, even commercial Country. The name itself sounds like a pseudonym.
From 1951 and by a veteran, PHIL HARRIS, for the fine « Tennessee hill-billy ghost » on a RCA EP-702. He’s been before during the Forties on Ara (« That’s what I like about me », certainly not the Terry Fell’s song) or Okeh.
Another mystery comes from WVA, that of KED KILLEN, and his superb Hillbilly boppers cut between 1966 and 1969 on his own Western Ranch label. Here are both sides of WR 119. Uptempo side is « Hey pretty mama » , while « Lonesome blues » is slower. Plaintive, wailing voice over a top notch accompaniment – a welcome echo too, and a fine guitar. Both sides could easily have been cut a good 10 to 15 years before.
DICK HART on the Texan label Cowtown Hoedown (# 778) delivers a very fine uptempo bluesy « Time out for the blues ». Solid rhythm, pounding guitar and a wild steel (June 1957). Who will get interest with this important and rich label, Cowtown Hoedown ? Its name was changed a short time later to just Cowtown.
From Texas to near Oklahoma with BILLY WEBB & his Seminoles for « Burdock road » on the Stardale label # 50611 ; label was located in Morris, OK. It’s a solid Hillbilly bopper with good fiddle solo and steel/piano over a shuffle rhythm. There were 3 Stardale labels around the same time.
To get to an end, here are two 4* custom issues on the Nugget label (# 190 and 191) by DUSTY TAYLOR and his Rainbow Valley Rangers. « My shining star » and « Down grade » are very fine Hillbillies. Taylor was also in 1947 on the West coast label Westernair (# 107B) with the great « Ranger boogie » : typical romping ’40s music, accordion to the fore, fiddle is well present. The record is billed “instrumental’ but Taylor has a great, swinging vocal in it. A very pleasant record !
I just found “Boogie blues“, apparently issued on Westernair (untraced label), and on a French compilation, “Country Boogie”. And it’s a romper too!
Howdy, folks! Finally moved. More room for records, more space for living. Hope all of you are fine, still prepared for good ole’ Hillbilly music. Two classics will be discussed this time. All the podcast will be 78 rpm but only one 45: many a hiss! (more…)