JACK MORRIS had three claims to fame. As a D.J. first on Pasadena, Ca. KXLA radio station ; then as founder of a successful California country recording label, Toppa (and his subsidiaries Toppette and Fedora). Then he had also 4 records on his own between 1955 and 57 on legendary labels such as Starday, Pep and Sage.
About his involvement with KXLA, he got the honour at least 2 times by the Billboard magazine, which held him up as « one of the five top C&W D..J.s in Southern California » between 1956 and 1958. His show had been going on 6 nights a week from midnight until 5.00 AM, that is in itself an uncommon achievement.
As founder of Toppa, a complete article on this label (the beginnings) is on this site. As a D.J., Morris undoubtly coasted as D.J. along young and unknown musicians out of the rich California state. He chose to record them in a Country vein, not without a more than precise pop touch. Anyway the label had its moments for the hillbilly bop fan : records by Bill Brock, Ernie Andrews, Johnny Leon don’t remove from a late ’50s Country collection. More about that in the article devoted to « Toppa Tops ‘Em All » label.
As an artist in his own right, Jack Morris (his real forname seems to have been « George », according to the credit of Capitol 3311 : Merrill Moore ‘covered’ (or
Hello folks ! Hi to returners, welcome to newcomers…
This is my bi-monthly choice of stomping, shuffling hillbilly boppers, sometimes rockers, and by surprise, R&B rockers.
Let’s begin on the West Coast, but I am not sure, as the Sage label used to sweep products largely from other areas along: the gentle rocker « Seven Come Eleven » by Al Muniz (# 262). It seem date from 1958. A prominent piano, a bit jazzy guitar solo. All this transpires laziness !
Then in Ohio, (Cincinnati) by Miss Joy Whittaker. She seems to have been a good seller, as she has records as soon as 1955 on M and J, and Esta in 1957. Excellent 215 is a label owned by Mrs. Estel Scarborough as the others. Dating this record « Toe Tappin Rhythm » has proven difficult : the only other I know is # 279 (Logan Valley Boys) from May 1957. So I’d assume this one as being from late ’55/early ’56. As from the bass beginning instro, we have a a mix of hillbilly bop (fiddle has its solo) and a rock-a-billy guitar. Exciting firm voice and many breaks. Could please to Rockabilly fans.
Down to Texas with the Corpus Christi DJ Kenny Everett, who does a fine country-rocker (1958) on All Star 7173 with « What Is It ». Accompaniment is a typical Houston one : fiddle (solo), steel (2 solos), piano (solo) and drums.
Marshall Lail then from Atlanta, Georgia for two tracks. On Sunrise first (# 001) for the energic late ’50s complaint « I need You So » (More Than You Know), before a more melodic and sentimental «Countless Hours Of Heartaches », podcasted by a certain « Mr. Honky Tonk » on his channel. No indication of the label. Finally way up North, in Hammond, Indiana, for the great bluegrassstune on the Mar-Vel 355 label by the Thomas Brothers, Melvin and Elvin, “Way High , Way Low“. Great interplay between the three voices (falsetto and barytone). A classic !
Billboard 17 Nov. 58
Billboard 8 Aug. 56
March 28th, 2013. Dan Nail wrote the following line: “Marshall Lail was my Father. He recorded “I Need You So” and “Countless Hours of Heartache” in 1960 at NRCO Studios in Avondale, Georgia. He printed up 500 copies on his own label called Sunrise Records.”
Howdy folks. This time we are mostly staying in Texas. First with the legendary bandleader CLIFF BRUNER and “San Antonio Blues“, a late ’40s tune. He saw among his band members Moon Mullican or Link Davis.
Then GENE HENSLEE, aimed at Hillbilly bop/Rockabilly circles for his “Rockin’ Baby” on Imperial. He also had this jumping “Dig’n’And Datin‘” with fiddle, piano and steel. Henslee was a resident D.J. at KIHN from Hugo, Oklahoma.
BASHFUL VIC THOMAS was one of these Country outfits jumping on the Rock’n’Roll bandwagon in 1956. He delivers here the fine romping “Rock and Roll Tonight” on the Premium label.
From the Sage label out of California comes now BOB NEWMAN (see elsewhere his story in this site), disguised under the family name “GEORGIA CRACKERS” and a remake of “Hangover Boogie” in 1957. He had already cut the song for King during the early ’50s.
The tune “Big Door” was published twice by 4 Star in 1958. One version, as a Rocker, was sung by GENE BROWN (with a possible Eddie Cochran connection). Here I offer the other version by JACK TUCKER, more Country.
Finally, way up North (Richùond, Indiana), here is JIMMY WALLS and the amusing title “What A Little Kiss Can Do” (from 1965!) for the Walton label, which also had Van Brothers‘ issues.
Bob Newman should have been a millionnaire : he was one of the best Country music composers of the Fifties, under his name or his aliases (Lee Roberts). His rich, vibrant voice could have given him a far more successful career than he had. He remains a minor Hillbilly Bop artist.
However, he didn’t begin as soloist, but in the shadow of his elder brothers, Hank (born Henry, 1905) and Slim (born Marion Alonzo, 1910) in a trio, The Georgia Crackers . They came from a town near Macon, Ga. where Bob saw the light of day on October 16, 1915. Hank & Slim formed a duo during the Thirties, in the manner of the then immensely popular Jimmie Rodgers, and toured extensively in the Midwest and the South. Vocalion label recorded them in 1934 in New York. Later on, they settled down in Columbus, OH, where they founded a club, the G-Bar-C.