Born in Bolt, W. Va, Jimmy Dickens began his musical career in the late ’30s, performing on WJLS radio station in Beckley, W.a. While attending West Va. University. He soon quit school to pursue a full-time music career, and traveled the country performing on various local radio stations under the name « Jimmy the Kid ».
In 1948 Dickens was heard performing on WKNX, a radio station in Saginaw, Michigan, by Roy Acuff, who introduced him to Art Satherley at Columbia Records and officials from the Grand Ole Opry. Dickens signed with Columbia in September and joined the Opry in August. Around this time, he began using his nickname, Little Jimmy Dickens, inspired by his short stature (4 « 11, 150 cm).
Dickens recorded many novelty songs for Columbia, including « Country boy », « A-sleeping at the foot of the bed » and « I’m little but I’m loud ». One day, after having told Jimmy he needed a hit, Hank Williams wrote « Hey, good lookin’ » in only 20 minutes while on a plane with Dickens, Minnie Pearl and her husband. A week later Williams cut the song himself, jokingly telling Dickens « That song’s too good for you ! »
In 1950, Dickens formed the Country Boys with musicians Jabbo Arrington, Grady Martin, Bob Moore and Thumbs Carlile. It was during this time that he discovered future Country Music Hall of famer Marty Robbins at a Phoenix, AZ television station while on tour with the Grand Ole Opry road show. In 1957 he left the Opry to tour with the Philip Morris Country Music Show.
Dickens was active in music until nearly his death on January 2nd, 2015.
Good solid early ’50s Honky tonk music as shown in the several examples below :
« F-o-o-l-i-s-h me, me » (Columbia 20692), a nice honky-tonker, was cut in February 1950, and covered the same year by Charlie ‘Peanut’ Faircloth [see a previous fortnight’s favorites section for the latter’s version). It has definitely the crisp guitar sound of Grady Martin.
« Rock me » (Columbia 21206), also known as « She sure can rock me », was an old Willie Perryman R&B belter, well adapted here by Dickens, obviously conscious of the « double-entendre » of the lyrics. As intended, piano is prominent instrument.
« Hillbilly fever », cut at the same session as « F-o-o-l-i-s-h me, me », was initially a Kenny Roberts song (Coral). Here Dickens is doubled on vocal by his rhythm guitar player. Note the rare label scan of a Japanese issue (« American folk music ») !
« Hillbilly fever« download
« Salty boogie » (Columbia 21384) is almost rockabilly. Fiddle is still present, but lead guitar is well to the fore as in « Hey worm (you wanna wiggle) » (Columbia 21491), and indeed there are drums.
We start with a fast bopper by RANDY WALKER, « If I held you in my arms » on the Ludwig 1004 label (1958). This label was named after Rod Morris‘ second name’s son and was located in Eureka, California. Any help to review the 16 sides issued by Morris on his label would be welcome !
PERK WILLIAMS is well known for his 10 years association as singer and fiddler with Jimmy Heap (Lasso, Imperial and Capitol sides, 1949-1959), and can be heard for best effect on « Release me », « Cat’n around », « That’s that », « Ethyl in my gas tank » and other boppers. See elsewhere in this site for Jimmy Heap. Here Perk Williams is backed by the Sidewinders for a solitary issue on the Twirl label # 103 out of Taylor, Texas. « Defeated » has a bluesy guitar, a very intense vocal, plus steel and fiddle solo. The flip side « Why the blues are blue » is a medium fiddle led ditty, again with this intense vocal. Both very nice sides.
Next artist is something of a mystery. Last time I heard of him was as part of the Dixieland Drifters, out of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the mid-60s. CHARLIE « Peanut » FAIRCLOTH was born 1927 in Georgia and was dee-jaying on Macon WNEX in 1950-51. Decca Records offered him a 4 tracks session cut in Nashville (April 1950), which I podcast 3 tracks on. First, the fast « F-O-O-L-I-S-H me, me » (Decca 46237), then the bluesy, lazy vocal of « Missississipi river blues » (Decca 46271), and its flipside the fast « Coffee, cigarettes and tears ». Both last tracks taken from a 78rpm I had sold a long time ago so no image available, only sound track. From this session only remains a version of Moon Mullican‘s « I’ll sail my ship alone« , never heard by Faircloth. On Youtube I found a 17 minutes snippet of a live show done at the Turner Club in Chattanooga, during the mid-60s. Nice sound and combination of tunes.
From Bloomington, Indiana comes JACK NOEL on Honey 1101. Hard to ascertain when this was issued, I’d say around 1955. « Ragged heart » has an accordion and the band singing chorus in unisson. Drunken Hobo says 1959!
Finally on Log Cabin 903 LEO GRAY does offer « After I have broke your heart », a good 1965 country-rocker, with a moving guitar, from Mt. Healthy, Ohio.