Jack Morris, bopper, D.J. and label bossman in California (1955-1958)

JACK MORRIS had three claims to fame. As a D.J. first on Pasadena, Ca. KXLA radio station ; then as founder of a sage Morris Teasin'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.billboard jack morris DJ

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.toppa 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

Merrill Moore “Cooing to the wrong pigeon”


merrill moore pic

Merrill Moore

capitol Moore Pigeon"

Jack Morris:”Cooing to the wrong pigeon”


was ‘offered’ « Cooing to the wrong pigeon » (which perhaps reveals the actual forname, « George » of Jack Morris, its co-writer). His partner was Wes DelRoy.



Jack Morris:”My Pony wants to go


starday Morris Pigeonstarday Morris Pony

billboard  morris 57


This gentleman was to co-write more Morris sides, although he seems moreover unkwnown under this name. “Cooing..” and “My Pony wants to go” are two Western boppers, not excluding soe pop overtones (with te use of discreet choruses.) This Starday issue (late 1955 or early 1956) was reviewed by Billboard as late as November 1956, by the time Morris had his first record, out of two, on Sage # 228. « White line » is a fast Bopper, backed by the excellent Night Owls (possibly Roy Lanham on lead guitar – he seems to have been the house player, and a long double-bass solo) ; « Stop teasin’ me » is in the same vein, a sort of mix of Western swing (semi-spoken, semi-sung) and Country boogie, again good guitar.

White line


Stop teasin’ me


The second Sage issue (# 232) sees in the same format as previous issue « Four wheel bungalow », a lovely Country-rocker paired with « Glad I’m lookin’ back on you » (again a double-bass solo) : it looks that the 4 sides were cut at the same session.


sage Morris bungalowsage Morris Glad
Four wheel bungalowbillboard 57 sage morris


Glad I’m lookin’ back on you




Finally in a completely different syle, Morris went early in 1958 on Pep 116 with the frankly poppish « She’s gone, she’s gone » : obstrusive male chorus ; Morris tries to croon. I can’t really figure out who he’s resembling on. Actually the chorus have the better part of the song. The flipside « River San Gabriel » has a « western serie B » type feel, aided by a male/female chorus.

pep Morris Gonepep morris river

She’s gone – she’s gonebillboard pep 106


River San Gabriel




After the Pep issue, Morris has seemingly concentrated his activity on the Toppa label he founded in late 1958, and he disappeared as an artist from then on.

With special thanks to “Armadillo Killer” for the Pep issue.

early March 2013 fortnight’s favourites

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 !

sage muniz seven

excellent whittaker tappin'




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

all-star everett what

sunrise lail need

mar-vel' thomas bros. Way












billboard 5-8-56 thomas

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.”

late December 2010 fortnight favourites

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.

gene hensleeimperial henslee dign

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. premium thomas rock

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.


Bob Newman

sage ep  georgia crackers

jack tucker

Jack Tucker

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.   4 star tucker door

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.

walton walls kiss

A merry Xmas to you all. Enjoy the music!

Bob Newman & The Georgia Crackers


Bob Newman & The Georgia Crackers

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.