Roy Moss started out in country music just in time to get caught up in rock’ n’roll when it began taking hold in 1954-55. Elvis Presley helped him get onto the Louisiana Hayride during his early days (uncertain detail). Roy got his first big break when he appeared on radio WNOP in Newport, Kentucky, and met up with the host, Jimmie Skinner. Skinner (1909-1979) was an important country singer who scored his biggest hits between 1957 and 1960, on Mercury (for example, « Doin’ my time » or « I found my girl in the U.S.A.« ).
In November 6, 1955, Roy Moss played a big country show in Cincinnati with Pee Wee King, The Stanley Brothers, Jimmy William, Betty Foley and Jimmie Skinner acting as emcee. He was then managed by Lou Epstein of Jimmie Skinner’s Music Center. Around that time Moss signed to Mercury.
Skinner got Moss signed to that label in 1955 and at the tail end of that year, Roy was taken to Nashville for his first recording session. Four songs were recorded, two of them written by Skinner and all four were released on two singles : « You’re My Big Baby Now« / »You Nearly Lose Your Mind » (Mercury 70770, released January 1956 – value $ 60-75) and « Corrine Corrina« / « You Don’t Know My Mind » (Mercury 70858, May 1956 – value $ 75-100). Authentic rockabilly with an effervescent acoustic quality. These four Mercury sides have all been reissued on the Bear Family CD « That’ll Flat Git It, Vol. 11 » CD (BCD 16101), devoted to the Mercury label. Alas, sales must have not been interesting enough, because Roy Moss’ contract with Mercury Records was not renewed. In the meantime, Moss was a regular of the Jimmie Skinner Show aired by WNOP from Newport, KY.
It was a 1000 watts radio station working daytime.
« You nearly lose your mind »
« You’re my big baby now »
« Corrine Corrina »
« You don’t know my mind »
In early 1958, Moss was signed to the Fascination label in Highland Park, Michigan, best known for the single « Big Green Car » by Jimmy / Billy Carroll. There Roy cut the single « Yes, Juanita’s Mine » (coupled with the equally strong « Wiggle Walkin’ Baby« ), with Cliff Allen’s band, # 1002 (value $ 50-60). The first song is best known as « Juanita » (Carl Adams on lead guitar), one of the classic tracks on Dale Hawkins‘s debut album, « Oh Suzy Q » (Checker 1429). Both sides were pure rock n roll [with female chorus which do spoil a bit the tracks, and do seem to have been added afterwards to the session tape ], but like the two Mercury releases, this single was less than stellar in its sales and Moss remained unknown outside various corners of the South. Roy subsequently worked with country stars like Pee Wee King, Cowboy Copas and Ray Price before retiring to make ends meet by raising beef cattle in the hills of Southern Tennessee.
« Yes Juanita’s mine »
« Wiggle walkin’ baby »
Dale Hawkins, « Juanita »
Roy Moss had a final single circa 1975 on the Discus label # 938 (located in Fort Worth, but the composers’ credits don’t give any more clue). Strong trucker song with « Nitro express » while « Don’t you come around me again » is a fine uptempo ballad. He then disappeared from view until 1994, when Eagle Records in Germany released a CD (« Rockin’ Roy« , Eagle 901070), with 18 tracks by Moss, twelve of them previously unissued. I disagree with Bruce Elder’s (All Music Guide) statement, as he describes this CD as « Eighteen classic cuts by Roy Moss, stripped-down high energy rockabilly. » Most of the twelve do lack of strength, are short-winded and smell the revival session, I am sorry. There are only 5 tunes to be kept, here as follow : Jimmie Rodgers‘ « Mule skinner blues » and « Waitin’ for a train » ; Carl Perkins‘ « 1143 » ; Red Foley/Billy Hughes‘ song « Tennessee saturday night » and the older « Blues in my heart ». His musicians included the faithful Johnny Patterson on guitar ; Jeff Ebner on drums, and Kelli Grant (unidentified instrument ; may be piano?)
« Now Dig This » magazine then carried news of a potential comeback. Moss planned on recording an album of rockabilly standards with the Rev. Horton Heat and duets with Barbara Pittman whose then husband Willie opined: « Roy’s in great shape. He still has that ’50s hairstyle and he sounds wonderful« . Sadly, nothing came of those schemes.
« Nitro express »
« Don’t you come around me again »
« Mule skinner blues »
« Tennessee saturday night »
« Waitin’ for a train »
Sources: Biography (incomplete) taken from www.rockabillyeurope.com; Eagle CD; notes by BILL MILLAR to « That’ll flat git it » Volume 11 (Mercury). Thanks to Steve Hathaway who gave sounds/label scans and location to the Discus 45 (from 45-cat). Million thanks to Dominique ‘Imperial’ Anglares: he revised the main text with interesting additions (in green or red) and provided some rare clippings of the era.