I got a rocket in my pocketWarning: I am trying a new way of setting the podcasts up, but encountering some problems. Sorry for inconvenience!
There were several country singers who cut rock’n’roll records pseudonymously in the mid-to-late ’50s. There was George Jones who barely disguised himself as ‘Thumper’ Jones, Webb Pierce who tried it on as ‘Shady Wall’ (« The new raunchy » on Decca 30539), Buck Owens who was ‘Corky Jones’ for a while on Pep…and a few more. It was a ploy that never really worked in a commercial sense, so no one had to figure out what they would do if they actually had a hit under the new name. The one who looked likeliest to score big under a pseudonym was Jimmie Logsdon, who recorded some wholly convincing rock’n’roll as ‘Jimmie Lloyd’. His rock’n’roll records were a better class because, like Elvis and Carl Perkins, he had a natural feel for the rhythm’n’blues that underpinned the music.It was although not a new tune for him, as he sounded good, as pretty good as earlier a hillbilly singer too. The son of a preacher man, Jimmie Logsdon was born on April 1, 1922, in Panther, Carroll County, Kentucky (he would be 91 today). Music, for the first fifteen years of Jimmie’s life, was gospel music. He and his sister sang in the choir. They put on shows and entered amateur contests. Then, when the family lived in southeastern Kentucky, Jimmie heard blues singers and secular country music at ice cream socials and weinie roasts. Later, he latched onto R&B, and especially remembered Erskine Hawkins’ « After hours » as a record that made a deep impression on him. Glen Miller, Gerschwin and the popular music of the day also had an impact, but not as much as blues and country. His record collection did range « from Mahalia Jackson to Jimmy Reed to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee to Frank Sinatra to…whatever. »
Carroll Cty, Ky
In 1940, Jimmie graduated from high school in Ludlow, Kentucky, just south of Cincinnati, and in the fall of that year he married his first wife. He started working for Schuster & Schuster in Cincinnati installing public addresses, then selling appliances. In 1944 he went to war in the Air Corps, but never got further than technical training school in Madison, Wisconsin and an air base near San Antonio where he repaired the wiring on B-17s. Down in Texas, he heard Ernest Tubb and the other Texas honky tonk singers. Out of the service, Logsdon started a radio shop in La Grange, Kentucky, 25 miles northeast of Louisville on the Cincinnati highway. He picked up records to re-sell, and, after two years, decided tat he would take a stab at the music business. After borrowing other people’s guitars for a while, he finally bought one. He learned a few basic chords, then cut some demos on an old recording machine he had in the radio shop. « I went to WLOU in Louisville in 1950,» says Jimmie, « and I asked for the leader of the country band that performed on the station. He listened to my acetates and introduced me to the announcer, and they asked me to sing with the band. » The band was led by Howard Whited, a blind guitarist, who later led Jimmie’s band. After a year of no pay but plenty of exposure on WLOU, Jimmie switched to WINN, playing the honky tonks around Louisville. With the help of Art Rhoades, a furniture store owner in La Grange, and three hundred dollars, Jimmie cut his first record at the E.T. Herzog studio in Cincinnati (where Hank Williams had cut « Lovesick blues » a couple of years earlier) and issued 5 hundred copies of the Harvest label, mostly sent to D. J.s. class=”alignleft wp-image-9721″ alt=”harvest401B jimmie logsdon it’s all over now det” src=”http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/harvest401B-jimmie-logsdon-its-all-over-now-det.jpg” width=”256″ height=”256″ /> It’s all over (Harvest)DownloadHank Williams introduced Logsdon for an appearance at the Louisville Memorial Auditorium in 1951, and told him he’d talk to someone down in Nashville for him. It was also around this time that he hooked with songwriter Vic McAlpin, who secured him several months later a contract with Decca, which lasted a good one year and a half, from October 1952 to February 1954, and 5 sessions resulting in 17 songs, nearly all issued at the time. McAlpin became Jimmie’s agent. One must mention a point: when other people were slowing up the tempo and did ballads, Logsdon cut bluesy things, like “You ain’t nothing but the blues“, “These lonesome blues“, or later (Dot) “Midnight blues” and “Folsom prison blues” (Jimmie Logsdon Sings 1004). First Decca session featured acoustic guitar breaks, something of an anomaly on country records at that time, and probably an idea of Owen Bradley, who A&R’d Jimmie’s sessions. « I wanna be mama’d » was issued in early December 1952. Download Then Hank Williams died, and Jimmie decided to put his feelings into a song he wrote :mg Hank Williams sings the blues no more Download The death of Hank Williams Download « Hank Williams sings the blues no more », because most of all Logsdon idolized Williams and considered him the ultimate in country and a blues singer. The song was issued with a cover version of Jack Cardwell’s « The death of Hank Williams » ; Logsdon began to edge his sound a little closer to Hank’s. It was evident during the next session in August 1953, backed by the Drifting Cowboys themselves. Best songs were « Where the old Red River flows » (often sung by Williams on radio shows), an old Jimmie Davis song Paul Cohen, Decca A&R man, wanted Logsdon to record. Alas, Logsdon could not yodel like Hank. Where the old red river flows Download two pop hits tunes of the day he turned into very nice country boppers : « Papaya mama » and « In the mission of St. Augustine ». The last Decca session didn’t produce the breakthrough single and Cohen dropped Logsdon, who was still on radio and playing clubs around Louisville before getting a year later another contract on Dot. Pa-paya mama Download Midnight boogie Download Again Vic McAlpin landed the deal with a label less and less committed to country (and increasing with Pat Boone and the Hilltoppers). Jimmie brought his own band from Kentucky. « Midnight blues » (# 1274) showed he was still on his Hank Williams kick. « Cold, cold rain » had an hiccupy vocal that seemed to predate Buddy Holly. The single went nowhere. Jimmie got another one-off on Starday though, thanks to Jimmie Skinner. The songs « No longer do I cry » and « I can’t make up my mind » were recorded in April 1956 in the bedroom of Jimmie’s fiddle player Lonnie Peerce. Logsdon wanted a Johnny & Jack Latin percussive sound so Peerce filled up a baby bottle warmer with beans and shook it. Pappy Daily, whom Skinner introduced Logsdon to, issued 500 copies, which they sold off the bandstand and used to promote the band. Cold, cold rain Download Midnight blues Download Can’t make up my mind Download In 1956, Jimmie left WKLO for health reasons. After recovering, he was back in business, and Vic McAlpin secured him a deal with Roulette and its short-lived country serie. Logsdon had got the idea for « Rio de Rosa » when he was down in San Antonio during the War. He gave a half-share of the song to McAlpin in exchange for the Roulette deal and working up the arrangement. He told « I wrote the song in 1951 with Moon Mullican in mind ». « « Where the Rio de Rosa flows » (7001) was a big hit in several markets, including Memphis where Carl Perkins obviously heard it because he covered it on his first Columbia album a few months later. Jimmie was brought down to appear on Wink Martindale’s TV show. « We went in, and Wink was on the air. He looked at me and turned white. He put a record on, shut down the microphone, and he said, ‘I thought you were black. I’ve got you a room at the black hotel here.‘ Broke me up. » Another promotional foray took Logsdon and McAlpin to the Louisiana Hayride. On the way back, they wrote « I got a rocket in my pocket » (Roulette 4068) . « It was just a nonsense thing », he says. It was a joint decision of Jimmie and McAlpin to issue the Roulette records under the pseudonym ‘Jimmie Lloyd’, because of the loyalty of country fans, and the way Jimmy sang so differently. Where the Rio da Rosa flows (Roulette 7001) Download Roulette dropped Jimmie after the second single. He realized that, at 35, he was too old to rock’n’roll. It took another five years before he went back into the recording studio, for King Records (one album, « Howdy neighbors » LP 843, and some singles). He was dee-jaying from 1962 to 1964 on 50,000 watt WCKY in Cincinnati, then for the next decade, as he had always done, moving from one to another station. He launched his own record label Jimmie Logsdon Sings in 1962, cutting no less than 23 songs, some religious, on 6-tracks EPs. In 1963 he went to Rem Records, for an EP of Hank Williams’ songs. Finally he cut a Jewel album (83021) in 1981 with old compere Rusty York (« Now and then, I think of the 50s ») comprising standards of his or others. Particularly good are his renditions of his unissued-in-the-’50s-Decca-recording of “One way ticket to nowhere” (really bluesy), Slim Harpo’s “Rainin’ in my heart“, and the traditional “Midnight special“. Less interesting were his versions of Bill Monroe’s “Rocky road blues” or the traditional “Match box blues“. Nevertheless a nicely backed (piano, harmonica) album. Already a collector’s item in Europe. Making believe (King 5827) Download Truck drivin’ daddy (King 5795) Download When God comes and gathers his jewels (JLS 1002B) Download One way ticket to nowhere (Jewel LP) Download Trouble in mind (Clark Country 1031) Download
note “JimmY” on King
« Logsdon died Sunday October 7, 2001 at his daughter’s home in Louisville, Ky. », reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. He was 79. The cause of his death was not given. From the notes of Colin Escott to Bear Family CD « I got a rocket in my pocket » (1993). Label scans mostly from Anthony Biggs. Thanks Tony! Also Pierre Monnery for the loan of Rem sides scan.
Few realize the vintage of the YORK Brothers’ earliest recordings, and that their first and biggest record, « Harmtrack Mama », was actually recorded in 1939 ! Released in Detroit on the upstart Universal label, « Hamtramck Mama » (Universal 105/106) was the very first independant Hillbilly record of a new era which would only really get into full swings toward the end of W.W. II. It reached markets in many parts of the country (over the years selling at least 300,000 copies in the city of Detroit alone) and was as much an achievement for Universal as it was for the Brothers. The record can be found with many distributor names and label variations, some very crudely printed, indicating that they had big trouble keeping up with the demand.
Howdy, folks! We do embark for a new musical journey into Bluegrass, old-time Hillbilly, and border Rockabilly Hillbilly bop.
First from North Wilkesboro, Western North Carolina, do come the CHURCH BROTHERS. Three brothers, Ralph, Bill and Edwin (each’s instrument unknown) and a fourth partner, Ward Eller, provided on the Jim Stanton’s Rich-R-Tone label, later on Drusilla Adams’ Blue Ridge label, a nice serie of enthusiastic tunes between 1951 and 1953, before they were disbanded by the mid-’50s. The elder Bill was playing (certainly guitar) with Roy Hall & his Blue Ridge Entertainers before the WWII, and was joined later by younger brothers. Alas, they were reluctant to travel very far, and, being modest and straightforward country boys, they were less and less involved in music – and more and more tied in their farms and families. Here you can hear the fabulous banjo-led “I Don’t Know What To Do“, which I don’t even know the original issue number of, having picked it from an old Tom Sims’ cassette. This track escaped to Rounder LP 1020, a shame because in my mind it’s by far their best track ever. Final note: the Church Brothers backed Jim Eanes on his regional hit “Missing In Action” (1952).
GRANDPA JONES (Born Louis Jones, 1913 – died 1998) was a banjo player, comedian, and long-time associate with Grand Ole Opry. He had adopted the name ‘Grandpa’ at 22,because he sounded old on the radio. He recorded with Merle Travis and the Delmore Brothers as Brown’s Ferry Four for King (religious sides). Here you can hear his hilarious and stomping “Grandpa’s Boogie” (King 822) from 1948.
CHARLIE MONROE along with famous brother Bill was at the very beginnig of Bluegrass music, but he deliver also some very good Hillbilly, as here with “Down In Caroline” from the ’40s (RCA 48-0391B ). Note the boogie guitar for a song much covered afterwards, e.g. the Church Brothers.
From Texas and a bit later. The first issue on the Gainesville Lin label (Buck Griffin…) by a rather unknown WAYNE JETTON and “A Crazy Mind Plus A Foolish Heart” (Lin 1000). A good average uptempo ballad. Then, on the San Antonio TNT label, a bordering Hillbilly bop/Rockabilly bop, “Be Bopping Baby” (TNT 9009) by RANDY KING, from 1956. Good topical lyrics, and fine backing.
Finally a belter from 1956 by a R&B lady (unusual on Bopping!), “Alabama Rock’n’Roll” by MABEL KING on the Rama (# 200) New York label. Enjoy the selections! ’till then, bye-bye!
Howdy folks! Plain hot summer, so it’s time for a few more Hillbilly bop/Rockabilly tunes. Note that I will take holidays during this month, so next fortnight early September.
From California first, CHUCK HENDERSON and the fine, steel-guitar dominated 1959 romper “Rock And Roll Baby” on the Ozark label. No more info available.
Grover Franklin “BIG JEFF” Bess is a Nashville legend. He sold beer, cure-all tonics and baby chicks on the Gallatin, TN, WLAC radio from 1946 for 16 years. Appeared in two Elia Kazan films and owned several night clubs, e. g. the famous Nashville’s Orchid Lounge Club. Virtually every major session player in Nashville was a member of The Radio Playboys at one time or another. In fact, the great Grady Martin started out playing fiddle for Big Jeff in the early days. He had records on World, Cheker (sic) and Dot, and today his 1951 “Step It Up And Go” stands as one of the most early Rockabillies. I’ve chosen his first on Dot, “Juke Box Boogie” (1004), strong guitar, and a swinging tight combo.
Indeed Bess has his own CD on Bear Family 16941 “Tennessee Home Brew“, which gathers all his issued sides, plus a lot of unissued or radio extracts. Big Jeff’s story is intended in the future in Bopping.
Then, from a Dutchman’s Collector comp’, KELLY WEST & His Friendly Country Boys and the great “Grandpa Boogie“. Don’t know anything about the original label, or which part of the U.S. it came from. I’d assume 1954-55. Fine fiddle (a solo) and lead guitar. On to Nashville again, this time late ’50s on the aptly named Starday subsidiary Nashville: KEN CLARK offers a folky “Truck Driving Joe” (very early issue on the label, 5009 – he had a 45 on Starday earlier) with a nice steel-guitar, typical of the late ’50s.
From Cincinnati, OH, on the King label (# 1403) and a 4-tracks session (held Oct. 15, 1954) comes the very good “Oo-Ee Baby” by RALPH SANFORD. Typical King instrumentation for this medium uptempo Hillbilly bop. The singer is unknown to me elsewhere, here in fine form.
Billboard March 26, 1955
On July 19, the famous, although long-forgotten LIL GREENWOOD passed away at 86. I enclose a Youtube snippet of a September 2007 live gig, “Back To My Roots“. She’s in real fine form! For more information on her, go to:http://inabluemood.blogspot.com/2011/07/lil-greenwood-former-ellington-vocalist.html
Howdy, folks. And the hillbilly bop goes on, with 6 new favorites. This time I’d dig deeper in my archives, taken from excellent mid-’80s Tom Sims’ collector cassettes. The guy owned at the time ca. 50 or 60.000 singles! Some 25 years beyond I still discover little gems out of these cassettes, as the three debut choices.
Mark Foster and a loping piece of fast Hillbilly, “My Baby Doll” – I don’t even know the original label. It could be from ’56 or ’57. ** See NOTE down the page. Then Robbie Shawn, accompanied by Wynn Stewart (1958?) on the Linde-Jo label for “It’s Time For me To Go” – I suspect the presence of steel guitar virtuoso Ralph Mooney. Now on the Joplin label, and the unknown Sammie Lee, for the very nice mid-tempo “Oklahoma Blond Headed Gal“, complete with rural vocal, fiddle and steel.
Unto “regular” finds, for The Drifter on the Maid label, out of Columbia, Tennessee (vocal Tommy Moreland). These Tennessee Drifters are not to be confused with earlier ones on Dot (with Big Jeff or George Toon). I know Moreland had other records, but could not find more information, or didn’t care to take time to it. Very fine mid-tempo Rockabilly, heavy echoey lead guitar.
The career of the Sons of the Pioneers goes back to early ’30s and they had big hits throughout until the ’60s, most well known being “Cool Water” (also done by Hank Williams). Here I’ve chosen their spirited rendition (April 1952) of the Billy Strange‘s original “Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves“.
Finally, the prolific Mac Odell, a native from Alabama, and his “Penicillin” on King. Fast vocal, one wonders how he came to sing that fast without stuttering!
NOTE about “Mark Foster” (first selection). A visitor whose great pseudonym “Drunken Hobo” from England hides a fine listener and connoisseur of Hillbilly Bop advises me the tracks “My Baby Doll” is actually by CLIFF WALDON & His Westernairs. Label: Mark 107. The label do come from Utica, NY. I finally found it: Waldon was apparently from Oklahoma and had “Indian Gal” twice, first on Stardale, second on Mark. Listen to this track: it has 5 solos! 2 by the steel player, 2 by the fiddler, and even the bass player has his own. No electric lead guitar audible. And a lovely happy voice by Waldon. Thanks again, Dean!