Republic records started when Tennessee left. Bill Beasley had law troubles with Decca Records, who wanted Del Wood masters, and Decca won (but Del Wood went later to RCA). So Beasley started Republic. Billboard (March 1953) announced that “Republic company had to legally acquire the master recordings from the formerly Tennessee label”. By July 1953, there were well over 50 singles on the new label.
Significantly, Republic was launched in August 1952 with a pop singer, Snooky Lanson. This trend continued with Del Wood, Jimmy Sweeney and Pat Boone, but half the Republic catalog remained Country. Beasley transferred such Tennessee stalwarts J.T. Adams, Allen Flatt, Lee Bonds and Sonny Sims to his new label. There were a few new names on Republic like Ted West and Jimmy Simpson. Beasley also continued to record R&B and gospel: Edna Gallmon Cooke, Christine Kittrell, who had hits on their own. Bernard Hardison cut “Too Much”, a hit for Elvis in ’57. Apparently Beasley wrote most of the songs, published by a New York group, under the names of Norris/Beasley/Richards, or Rosenberg, the latter being Lee Rosenberg, Beasley’s secretary.
In June 1953, Alan Bubis connection came to an end. Bubis went to construction, coin machines and liquor stores, far more predictable thanrecord business.
In 1955, Beasley moved Republic to 714 Allison Street, and concluded with Murray Nash (ex-Acuff-Rose and Mercury staffer). Nash engineered most of the Republic sides.
The Republic name and logo was bought in 1957 by Ray Scrivener, and along with Gene Auytry, launched Californian Republic label..
After Republic folded, Dot bought Pat Boone’s contract. Other labels (Chess, Vee-Jay) bought Republic masters.
Ted West. He was an artist who seemed on the verge of making it, but never found the right song and the right number of circumstances to elevate himself from the also-rans. In 1943 he wrote “You’ll Still Be In My Heart” for T. Texas Tyler. Hank Williams later copied the melody for “Cold Cold Heart”, leading to a lawsuit. West had two releases on Republic, “She’s My Gal/She Bent My Pole” (# 7011), and “Parking Worries” (# 7098). Bill Beasley obviously had high hopes for the latter. He had figured out overdubbing and made good use of it with plenty of sound effects. The result is a slick talking blues in the style that Tex Williams had popularized in the late Forties. This was West’s last shot; within a few months, he settled down in Florida and came to M-G-M.
Floyd Huffman’s Republic single featured two very strong compositions, both written by Dick Stratton. “You Ain’t Foolin’ Me” is a catchy number, well performed, which attracted attention of Capitol’s Country A&R man Ken Nelson, thus he picked the song for Jean Shepard’s first session altho’ it failed the charts. The slower side, “My Heart Slowly Died” (# 7022), is highlighted by wonderfully expressive work on the lap steel. Right from the stirring steel instro, it is clear that this is going to be an excellent disc. The steel is well supported by the fiddle solo. Huffman was confined in a wheel-chair and appeared this way in Nashville clubs.
Sonny Sims was another of the Gadsden area acts that Chester Studdard brought to Tennessee-Republic. Born in rural Amabama in 1929, he was found playing in the street and started in 1947 on WGAD. He was in the Army from 1948 to 1950, by the time Studdard and Lee Bond had started the Midway Jamboree. Sonny signed up. He had a first record on Tennessee, then three on Republic, the best being “Walk Off And Leave It” (# 7035) . The song was co-written by Smiley Wilson and Bill Roberts. This latter was an ex-guitar player who, after losing fingers, had switched to trumpet. Sonny Sims stayed on the Midway Jamboree until the end, but held down a day job as a medical and surgical technician. The next disc he appears on is a duet with Lee Bonds.
Bonds seems to have become the closest Tennessee-Republic had a star act from Del Wood. He had three Republic singles: “How About A Date” (# 7007), a fine mid-tempo, a duet with Sonny Sims, “I’m Glad That I Love You” (# 7041), and a sacred one “Jesus Is My Leader/There Is A Crown” (#7099); then he went for television shows on the West coast. Ken Nelson signed him in March 1953, and the buzz surrounding his first single, “Okee-Fi-No-Kee”, seemed to indicate that his career was shifting into high gear. But the third single flopped and he was dropped (see more details in this site on Lee Bonds).
Don Windle recorded two singles for Republic in 1953, launching a long career in the music business. Born in Tuscaloosa, AL, in 1932, he was a D.J. in 1950. Then he drove to meet Bill Beasley in Nashville. The latter offered him a song about Russians (“The Iron Curtain Has Parted”), but the flipside is better: “I Want You Too” (# 7045) has top sessionmen including Tommy Jackson on fiddle. Windle’s vocals are smooth and assured, but lead guitar and steel are remarkably deft and innovative in their alloted solo space. The rollicking “When My Baby Gets Home” (# 7060) is equally good, a very fast outstanding combination between singer and band.
Jimmy D. Simpson is a real character, with songs telling the story of his long, eventful life. Born 1928 near Ashland City, TN, the son of a farmer, he hitchiked at 14 as far as Houston, before returning to Tennessee to work on oil pipelines. Discharged from the Army in 1950, he married and went to Texas, still as an oil piper, before hurting his back and taking interest in music. He then had shows on KPXL-TV, and even on the Big D Jamboree. By 1953, he was in Nashville, looking for a recording contract. Beasley immediately cut him singing “Ramblin’ Blues” (# 7050), with Cedric Rainwater on bass and Mitch Neely on the fiddle. Simpson could easily compete yodeling with Hank Williams. He returned with “Oilfield Blues” (# 7064), of the same strong calibre as his first issue. Flipside , “I Hope That Someday You’ll Think Of Me” is a powerful hillbilly ballad. See elsewhere in this site for his complete story.
Allen Flatt came from the Tennessee label, and had this solitary issue on Republic 7068, “That’s All She Wrote”, written by Jesse Rodgers (who said he was Jimmie’s cousin). The disc is an engaging mid-tempo that Ernest Tubb could have recorded.
The only Republic (# 7077) by Clay Eager was his first. Very few is known about him: he had dee-jayed on WFTW in Fort Wayne, IN, while day-jobbing as plumber. Then he went to WLOK in Lima, OH, before moving to the Renfro Valley Barn Dance in 1951. After Republic, he made transcriptions for XERF in Del Rio, TX, and even had his own Clay Eager label as well as having a record on Sage. At last sighting, he was in Florida. “Don’t Come Crying On My Shoulder” is full of energy and enthusiasm. Later on the song was picked up by Tommy Ruick who recorded it Rockabilly style for Sun in 1956 – although it remained unissued at the time. The flipside « Bobbie Lou » was equally fine, a nice fast Hillbilly bop.
Larry Dexter was, in 1954, a 26 year-old salesman from Salisbury, MO, who had worked as entertainer for the Far East troops and WDAF-TV in Kansas City. He went to Nashville and was recruited by Beasley. The result is “Throwing Kisses (And Making Eyes At You” (# 7079): breezy and somewhat lightweight outing, well in the 1954 mould. Dexter had two others on Republic, the last one (# 7107, “‘Cause I Love You”) with Betty Jo Foster being a bit sugary and lukewarm. He stayed in Nashville, working as salesman for Beasley’s labels.
Born 1932 in Shamrock, TX, Glenn Reeves had a solitary issue on Republic (# 7121), “That’ll Be Love”, with a distinct Rock’n’Roll feel. Previously he had been on T.N.T. (“I’m Johnny On The Spot”), and later went to Atlantic and Decca, before moving to the promotion side of TV shows in Florida. In the ‘70s he managed the WWVA Wheeling West Virginia Jamboree.
Our penultimate issue on Republic is by the Kelleys, a Bluegrass combo which came from Hazard, KY. Brothers Don on fiddle & Ben on mandolin had toured as early as 1947 with the Sauceman Brothers or Flatt & Scruggs. Noticed in Nashville by Murray Nash, they cut “Leaving Tennessee” (# 7122), a minor classic, in 1955, before Bill Monroe found them dates in Indiana. Later they settled in Florida.
Last Republic # 7127 “I Can’t Run Away (From These Blues)” was cut by the prolific and well-known Billy Wallace, who had just issued Rockabilly classics for Mercury the year before. It’s him who went over the most numerous labels than anyone else on Republic.
In 1957, name and logo of the Republic label were bought by Ray Scrivener, and transferred to California.
Sources: most of the information came from Martin Hawkins’ works (« Shot in the dark » booklet on Bear Family, and book of the same title). Many label scans were given by my good friend Tony Biggs. Several were cut from ebay or Youtube.