Eddie Jackson & his Swingsters: Detroit Hillbilly rock (1950-1960)

eddie jackson

Detroit’s country music scene of the 1950’s featured a solid mix of talents and clubs where folks could stomp ’till two o’clock every night of the week, with some of the wildest sounds this side of Mason-Dixon Line. One man who was there in the thick of the good times was Eddie Jackson, who assembled the hottest bands and shows in town for two decades straight !

He was born in Cooksville, Tennessee, and Eddie’s family, like many Southerners, moved to Detroit during a period a growth in automobile manufacturing. As a youngster during the 1930s and 40s, he took up guitar and singing, and idolized musical giants such as Hank Penny, Milton Brown, Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan (he even met Wills and Duncan in Stockton, CA, while Eddie served with the Navy during WWII). Upon his honorable discharge by Uncle Sam in 1947, Jackson returned to Detroit, and was offered to lead a band the same night he arrived ! From then on, Eddie Jackson and his various combos were crowd-pleasers at shows all over Michigan, parts of Ohio, and Ontario. Around 1950, Eddie’s first group, the Melody Riders, cut a record in Detroit. The song « I’m willing to forget » was his first composition (Fortune 134).

« I’m willing to forget »

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« New set of blues »

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BB 14-1-50 Fortune 134

Billboard Jan 14, 1950

(Accompanying the Riders was Hal Clark on guitar, who later changed his name to Hal Southern and co-wrote « I dreamed of a hillbilly heaven ».) Hal Clark sang his comp on the flip « New set of blues« . fortune 134 new set of bluesAs the scene got cooking, Jackson’s band started sizzling, and they found

Hal Clark (Fortune 146) « I don’t mean a thing to you »

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fortune-146a-hal-clark-i-dont-mean-a-thing-to-you sage373a_hal-southern-sleevethemselves booked nightly. Ted’s 10-Hi Bar, on the east side, was the sight of Detroit’s first C&W Jamboree, as hosted by Eddie Jackson and his Cowboy Swingsters (including Tracey White on guitar, and ‘Smitty’ Smith on bass). For several months, the trio performed 15-minutes radio broadcasts from WMLN-FM in Mount Clemens.Eddie Jackson also led a country music variety show, « The Michigan Barn Dance » on Detroit NBC affiliate Channel Four TV, during the early 1950’s.
« Baby doll »(first version)

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Throughout his career, Jackson performed with the finest musicians available in Detroit. Among the more famous were steel guitar players Chuck Hatfield (from Hank Thompson’s band) and Billy Cooper (from Ferlin Husky’s). When Elvis Presley brought rock and roll craze to country music, Eddie was sharp enough to add the big beat to his repertoire, and he wrote « Rock and roll baby » around 1956 (Fortune 186), with a fine accordion.

fortune 186 rock and roll baby

« Rock and roll baby« 

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« Baby doll »(second version) (Shelby 297) and « Please don’t cry » were recorded after that, and through the 1950’s the Swingsters played regular shows at a nightclub called the Caravan Gardens.
« Baby doll« 

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« Please don’t cry« 

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shelby 297 baby doll
Eddie Jackson solidified the band’s line-up with Joe Magic on bass & drums (played at the same time!), ‘Uncle’ Jimmy Knuckles on piano, and Tracey White on take off guitar. This group attracted big crowds, as well as popular country singers like Webb Pierce, Jean Shepard, Lefty Frizzell, Red Foley & many other top artists who often stopped in to perform songs with the Swingtsters ! Jackson also had his own program on Royal Oak radio station WEXL-AM, where he spun records and sometimes broadcast from the Caravan. In 1959 the Swingsters cut their most popular record record in Detroit : « I’m learning » backed with the rocker « Blues I can’t hide »(Caravan 101). Even though Jackson says he preferred « Blues… », the ballad « I’m learning » went through the roof of WEXL’s country & western charts. As a result, Eddie was able to pay cash for a new ’59 Cadillac with a convertible top !

« Blues I can’t hide »

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« I’m learning« 

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caravan 101 blues I can't hide
The Swingsters’ next recordings stayed in step with country music trends of the early 1960’s, with Jackson’s version of his buddy Ricky Riddle‘s tune « Ain’t you ashamed » sounding among the best.
« Ain’t you ashamed« 
caravan-102-eddie-jackson-aint-you-ashamed

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They also backed Betty Parker on the Elm label # 742.

Betty Parker « Couldn’t see »

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elm 742 betty parker - couldn't see

Eddie cruised down to Nashville and recorded two more singles, including « You put it there » (Caravan 1004), a song from his last session in a recording studio. By the late 1960’s he quit performing regularly, in favor a starting a successful business. Knuckles, White and others have since passed on. But whenever Eddie Jackson sings and entertain people, the crowd’s humor rises, and sparks fly.

« You put it there »

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caravan 1004 eddie jackson - you put it there

 

Notes by Craig Maki to « Eddie Jackson and the Swingsters – « Music with a Western beat » (Woodward LP WD-100, 1996). Reproduced by courtesy © Craig Maki. Additions from bopping’s editor. With appreciated help fro Drunken Hobo: thanks Dean!

 

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Late June 2015 fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks, I am back from Corsica isle (« l’île de Beauté ») where I visited my girl friend and did help her to set up her fairytales’ exhibition before children. While I was there I couldn’t get access to my files, thus not allowing to myself to set up early June fortnight’s favorites.

glen reeves2

Glenn Reeves

 

Let’s begin in Texas with GLENN REEVES, born 1932 in Shamrock, TX. He had his first two records on the T.N.T. Label (owned by Bob Tanner, who billed proudly his labels records as « Tanner’n’Texas »!). « I’m Johnny on the spot » (TNT 120) is already a proto-rockabilly classic. But its reverse, the plaintive hillbilly « The blues are out tonight », is not so well known, although a very good ballad. Listen to the real hillbilly pronunciation of Reeves, over a nice fiddle and steel. I love such a record like this. 

« The blues are out tonight« download

Later he had on TNT 129 « I ain’t got room to rock », before switching to Republic (the great « That’ll be love ») and Atco (« Rockin’ country style »/ »Drinkin’ wine spo-dee-o-dee ») in 1956, yet before turning teen on Decca in 1957. Meanwhile, he had relocated in Florida, pushing himself as a performer and D.J. On WPDQ out of Jacksonvile, FL. That’s where he met Mae Axton, her fellow-composer, and Tommy Durden, who both looked for someone who could demo their « Heartbreak hotel ». At first, Reeves denied, before agreeing – and the result was presented at a Nashville D.J. convention late 1955 to Elvis as his first million seller (the promise of Mae Axton), which he cut January 1956, in a style very close to Reeves. Here is the Reeves’ demo.

tnt 120A glenn reeves -  the blues are out tonight

Glenn Reeves « Heartbreak hotel« download

The third compere was TOMMY DURDEN. He had a long story as steel player for Tex Ritter, and later for Johnny Cash, and composer (e.g. « Honey bop » for Wanda Jackson). In 1951 on the Sahul Kahal’s Freedom label out of Houston, Texas, he cut the great « Hula boogie » (# 5025). Later on, he had his own version of « Heartbreak hotel » (« Moods » LP, religious songs), before relocating in Michigan. He retired in the early ’90s.

tommy durden

Tommy Durden

 

 

 

Tommy Durden « Hula boogie« download

 

 

freedom 5025 hula boogie

 

 

On the next artist, GEORGE HEFFINGTON, I know litterally nothing, except he was one of the first to record on the growing Toppa label (owned by Jack Morris, out of Covina, Ca.), and is backed for the fast « Ghost of love » (# 1007, 1958) by, among others, Ralph Mooney on steel. Good piano too.

George Heffington « Ghost of love« download
toppa 1007A ghost of love

Real name to next artist was Wilcoxson, but he’s known now as JIMMIE DALE. And there were in the ’50s two different men with the same name. The first to jump on my mind is an Indiana artist, who cut two Starday custom records in 1958. First on Jeffersonville, IN Saber label (# 707), he cut the fabulous two-sider « Baby doll » (great slap bass, energetic drums and lead guitar) and « Darlin’ » (very nice piano, à la Teddy Reddell over a mambo rhythm). In Louisville, KY, he had in 1958 too on the Farrall label (# 687) « Man made moon », more of a country record. Nice vocal, and again a rinky-dink piano and good steel. I couldn’t locate the flipside « For a day ».

The second JIMMIE DALE was a Nashvillian, who cut « Tennessee ghost train » in 1953 on the Original label # 501. The credits don’t give any clue. Lot of echo on the steel, a train song of course.

 

 

jimmie dale

Jimmie Dale (Saber, Farrall)

Jimmie Dale « Baby doll« download

Jimmie Dale « Darlin’« download

Jimmie Dale « Man made moon« download

Jimmie Dale [different artist] »Tennessee ghost train« download

saber 708 baby dollsaber 708A Darlin'farral 687man made moonoriginal 501 tenn. ghost train

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all for this fortnight, folks. Comments welcome, as usual.

Sources and credits : internet, RCS, Youtube, lot of labor !

early July 2014 fortnight favorites: traveling way up north from Mississipi to Nebraska, via Kentucky and Indiana!

Howdy folks,
Hope you’re all well and ready to visit some more boppers and rockabillies. The name JAMES MASK isn’t that familiar (he had not big hits), although he appeared on Bandera (Illinois), Arbet (Tennessee, « I miss my teen angel », a teen rocker), and later (1972) on MGM-Sound of Memphis (the country rocker « Humpin’ to please »).
Here we find him on the Pontotoc, MS (where he was born in 1932 – Tupelo area) Tom Big Bee label (# ) with a fine early ’60s version of the Rocky Bill Ford‘s classic, « Beer drinkin’ blues ». Honest country rocker. He had some tunes (unissued in the ’50s) on an old White label LP  2305 « Mississipi R’n’R ». The Dutchman wrote there that Mask was backed by his two brothers Charles and Willie.

tom big bee
James Mask « Beer drinkin’ daddy » download

Let’s stay in Mississipi with an otherwise very well known artist, at least in Europe (he drives, latest news, a taxi at Chicago Int’l Airport), Mr. HAYDEN THOMPSON. I offer his first record, on the Booneville, MS, label, Von [which issued Lloyd McCollough and Johnny Burnette’s first records,] « Act like you love me » b/w « I feel the blues coming on« . (original in 1951 by Elton Britt, although not credited on the label) Great slow Hillbillies, whispering vocal over confident backing. Same last tune was done (but it’s a different song) by Loy Clingman on the Arizona Elko label in 1956. Penned byLee Hazlewood, it’s a soft Country-rock effort. The third Thompson track is taken from his sessions at Sun in Memphis, and he retains the same feeling with « Blues, blues, blues » (U.K. Charly 605B) – although more echo, as usual from Sam Phillips’ manner.

Von B 1001

von A1001605B

Hayden Thompson, « Act like you love me« download

Hayden Thompson, « I feel the blues coming on« download

Hayden Thompson, « Blues, blues, blues« download
Elton Britt « I feel the blues coming on » (RCA, 1951)download

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s get up north in Lancaster, KY, and with HAROLD MONTGOMERY. His fine sides on Sun-Ray were documented in the site (see « Sun-Ray » label). Here he comes once more with a good side, similar style, on Wolf-Tex 103, « How much do you miss me », from the ’60s. Great mumbling vocal, similar to early Elvis!

Way north a little further. Muncie, Indiana on the Poor Boy label. A small one, but important artists, the best known being its owner Wayne Raney (« We need a whole lot more of Jesus (and a lot less of Rock’n’Roll »!) ; others are the Van Brothers (« Servant of love », to name only one) and Les & Helen Tussey (already recently posted in fortnight’s favorites).
Harold Montgomery, « How much do you miss me« download

The artist was named DANNY BROCKMAN & the Golden Hill Boys, on Poor Boy 107. First side is Hillbilly bop, « Stick around » from 1959, when Brockman was D.J. at WTMT in Louisville, KY. Great Starday sound, a powerful rhythm guitar, great interplay between lead guitar and steel during the solo, fabulous (altho’ too short) fiddle solo. A ‘must ‘ record for Starday sound lovers. The flipside is sung in unisson duet with a certain Carl Jones. Nothing exceptional with « Don’t you know it’s true », a real Everly Bros. -alike. With fine steel and fiddle solos. Brockman also appeared on Dixie 859 (« Big big man »), more on him in a future fortnight.
Danny Brockman, « Stick around » download

Danny Brockman & Carl Jones, « Don’t you know it’s true« downloaddanny brockman

Finally in Omaha, Nebraska (frontier to Canada). 1958, with the wild double-sider « The itch/Baby doll » by CARL CHERRY on the Tene label. « Baby doll » is a typical White doo-wop rocker, good although average. THE side is the garage Rockabilly « The itch » (Tene 1023), prettily sensual. Cherry has got the feel and itch, and the drummer and lead guitar player (RaB HOF says the guy was legally blind!)  too ! Fantastic garage sound…They don’t play this way anymore, even with the wilder neo-rockabilly European bands.

Carl Cherry & Wild Cherries, « The itch » download
Carl Cherry & Wild Cherries, « Baby doll »
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/tene-1023A-CARL-CHERRY.-BABY-DOLL..mp3download

tene CarlCherryphoto1

Carl Cherry & Wild Cherries

Starday Custom series, part 3 (# 551 to 575) (April to July 1956): from Hillbilly bop to Rock-a-Billy

For introduction on « Starday Custom » series, see the feature : « Starday Custom series: an introduction ».

This article takes the third place, after « Starday Custom Series », part 1 (1953-1955), part 2 (1955 to March 1956), to be found in this site. Just type in the research bottom, upper right.

MID WEST RECORDS 551 MOWEE JOHNSON (April 1956)

Wichita, KS

551-A – I Hope Tomorrow Never Comes

(No Writers Credit) (No Publ. Info)

551-B – What Am I Going To Do

(No Writers Credit) (No Publ. Info)

Yet again, another artist had slipped past my radar and vanished into that « Bermuda Triangle » of obscure artists.

STARDAY RECORDS 552 LUCKY WRAY (April 1956)            lucky wray & palomino ranch gang

(Artist based at time of disc in Washington, DC)

ST-2421 – It’s Music She Says552a 2

(Cindy Davis / Larry Stone) (Starrite BMI)

ST-2422 – Sick And Tired552b sick & tired

(Cindy Davis / Joe Drew) (Starrite BMI)

Lucky, Doug and the more famous sibling, Link hailed from North Carolina, although by the early 50’s they were playing in and around Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia. Lucky (real name Vern) took the name ‘lucky’ because of his luck at gambling. The original band were called Lucky Wray and the Lazy Pine Wranglers, playing mainly C&W / Hillbilly music. They worked mainly at the Fernwood Farms Dance Hall in Virginia. By 1955, they had renamed themselves Lucky Wray & the Palomino Ranch Hands and had relocated to Washington, DC, which included Shorty Horton on bass. The tracks above (and the other two singles) were cut at Ben Adelman’s studio. The A side on this disc bops along with Links’ guitar to the fore and an unknown steel guitarist – a hillbilly bopper that’s almost Rock-A-Billy. Flip is more mainstream hillbilly with Vern in fine vocal form and nice harmonies in the chorus. Both sides sport a Starday matrix which makes wonder if Starday were considering placing this in their main series instead of pressing it up as a custom.

ARKANSAS RECORDS 553 ALTON GUYON and his Boogie Blues Boys (April 1956)

Box 336, Judsonia, AR

45-553-A – River Boat Blues  553a river553b leave

(K Murphy / A Guyon)    (Starrite BMI)

45-553-B – Leave My Baby Alone

(K Murphy / A Guyon)    (Starrite BMI)

Tough as old boots hillbilly bopper, bordering on early rock-a-billy from Alton and his Boogie Blues Boys from Judsonia, Arkansas. About a year after this disc was pressed, Guyon’s manager sent Starday four more sides for consideration which were (sadly) rejected. Quite why they didn’t press these onto a Starday Custom is anybody’s guess. As an aside, the A side was recorded by Buddy Phillips for the CKM label from Bald Knob, AR, with the flip (Coffee Baby) also written by K Murphy and Alton. I wonder if this track is also one of the remaining unissued sides, the last one being « Bop Bobby Sox Bop » (first time the word « bop » appears on a Starday recording).

STARDAY RECORDS 554 MARTY LICKLIDER (April 1956)

(Artist based in OH at time of release)

45-554-A – Cold Hands, Warm Heart

(Licklider)    (Starrite BMI)

45-554-B – Our Anniversary Day

(Licklider)    (Starrite BMI)

Mr. Licklider was business manager, singer, guitarist and song writer for a band called the Fox Hunters. Marty was also a DJ on WICA (Ashabula, OH) in 1952. The Fox Hunters consisted of Marty, Buell Licklider (Marty’s brother) on mandolin and bass fiddle, Andy Hill (violin), Eddie Allen (accordian) and Marty’s son, Larry who also played a violin. Marty had at least one disc issued on Coral (64126) (« Down By The Missouri River » / « I Don’t Want My Darlin’ To Cry. ») The A side of this disc is a very pleasant hillbilly bopper with good steel & lead guitar. Flip is a ballad about the joys of marriage. Billboard described this disc on the 28th April, 1956 as:- « Cold hands, Warm Heart » – Licklider, new to the label, has a deep voice and relaxed style that reminds the listener of the incomparable Ernest Tubb. He employs his voice to good advantage on this humorous, bouncy tune. » « Our Anniversary Day » – « The singer portrays the feelings of a couple that has been happy in marriage for many years. A thoughtfully presented reading that many country deejays will want to program. »

STARDAY RECORDS 555 LUKE GORDON Acc by C. Smith and the Tennessee Haymakers.     (April 1956)

(Artist based possibly in Quincy, KY at time of release.)

45-555-A – Let This Kiss Bid You Goodbye

(Gordon) (Starrite BMI)

45-555-B – Baby’s Gone

(Gordon) (Starrite BMI)

Another offering from Luke. The A side is more in the sad Hank Williams vein. Flipside is a superior country rocker with some fantastic lead guitar bubbling behind his vocals. . Luke’s got one of those voices a cross between Hank Williams and Luke McDaniels.

555b refait


H and C RECORDS 556 OKLAHOMA MELODY BOYS 556b your heart

Vcl by Jearl Ritter (April 1956)

Tulsa, OK

45-556-AWasted

(Goldie Hood) (Starrite BMI)

45-556-B – Your Heart And Mine

(Thelma Conrad / Goldie Hood) (Starrite BMI)

Nothing on this band. Possibly T. Texas Tyler’s band that he used on some of his 4-Star recordings. Nothing again on Jearl Ritter or Goldie Hood (who penned both sides.) Both sides of the disc is pleasant hillbilly.

SULLIVAN RECORDS 557 THE LEWIS FAMILY

(No known location)

557-A – Lights In The Valley

(No credits) (No publication info)

557-B – My Jesus is the one

(No credits) (No publication info)

SULLIVAN RECORDS 558 THE LEWIS FAMILY (April 1956)

(No known location)

558-A – Did You Do What The Lord Said To Do

(No credits) (No publication info)

558-B – Wait a little long please Jesus

This and the previous disc are yet another in a long line of blanks where info is concerned. The « Lewis Family » were a reasonably successful gospel band, but there may have been two different groups with the same name so I’m not sure which one is which – without hearing them and seeing the discs of course which, after 20 years, I’m still waiting to do.

STARDAY RECORDS 559 DON OWENS and the Circle « O » Ranch Boys

(Artist based around Arlington, VA)                    (May 1956)                   559a something

45-559-A – Somethings You Cannot Change

(Owens) (Starrite BMI)

45-559-B – Adios Novia

(Owens) (Starrite BMI)

This Don Owens was a DJ who broadcasted over WARL (Arlington, VA)and he once appeared on a Jimmie Rogers Memorial Show with the likes of Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb. (Billboard lso mentioned that attendance was very good despite the almost torrential rain that poured from the heavens that day. He also appeared before the Pastore Senate Subcommittee in 1958, saying that  » … The strongest condemnation of rock & roll and country music comes from people who have never spent five minutes paying attention to it. » (Good for him, although, as a DJ & musical director of Arlington’s only country music station, I doubt if he was defending R&R – but still … kudos to the man for speaking his ind in public.) A further tale from this artists was mentioned in Billboard in Oct 55 which states … « Don Owens, WARL, Arlington, VA debuted a new ballad recently on one of his shows that was composed by a local detective and his prisoner. The unusual writing team got together when detective Alvin Fuchsman picked up 24 year old Ted Borrelli of Hoboken, NJ on a vagrancy charge. Upon discovering that the prisoner had with him some 50 odd poems that he had written, the detective put music to a few, tape recorded one of them (« Underneath The Lamp Post ») which was later played by dee-jay Owens.

Sadly, Don Owens was killed when he fell asleep at the wheel of his car (this was the second, or third time he had fallen asleep at the wheel.) It is said this was due to the long hours as a DJ, and his TV Show.

Musically, Don almost talks his way through the A side instead of singing. It’s a nice love song I guess and the band are excellent. Flip side is more of the same really. I could hear Hank Williams singing this song better.

STARDAY RECORDS 560 JERRY HANSON (May 1956)  560a cry560b doing

45-560-A – Cry

(Jack Rhodes / Jerry Hanson) (Starrite BMI)

45-560-B – I’m Doing All Right

(Jack Rhodes / Jerry Hanson) (Starrite BMI)

In 1954, Hanson was appearing on the « Western Star Serenade » Hillbilly show out of Tyler, TX and somehow ended up at Jack Rhodes cozy little motel out of Mineola, TX, where he probably cut these sides. Sometime later (or even perhaps earlier), Jerry cut a faster take of B-side (issued on « Gene Vincent Cut Our Songs » CD.

« Cry » is a nice song, more country than anything else and Jerry and Jack Rhodes were hoping to pitch it to a good and known country singer through Capitol Records. « I’m Doing All Right« , on the other hand is a tight, moody rockabilly classic with a threadbare feel, fronted by Hanson’s assured vocals. Although I can hear quite a few artists covering « Cry« , Jerry OWNS the B side and I can’t quite imagine anyone else covering the song as well as Hanson does.

Hanson later appears on Ed Manney’s Bluebonnet and Manco labels (Both are good vocally, especially the Bluebonnet 45) and on Colpix and then he disappears into thin air.

STARDAY RECORDS 561 JIMMY JOHNSON (May 1956)

45-561-A – Woman Love

(Jack Rhodes) (Central Songs BMI)

45-561-B – All Dressed Up

(J Rhodes / D Carter / D Nalls) (Starrite BMI)

Born in 1930 in Smith County, Jimmy Johnson played guitar, fiddle and sang in Jack Rhodes Ramblers(sometimes known as the Lone Star Buddies). Whilst appearing on RD Hendon’s Western Jamboree Club in Houston, he was approached and offered a recording contract by Solomon Kahal, who owned the local Freedom label. (« Salt Your Pillow Down » being recognised as a classic example of East Texas honky-tonk/hillbilly.) After a couple of sessions, Jack Rhodes got him signed up for Columbia records where he recorded some great tunes (« Eternity » & « Mama Loves Papa » being the best of the bunch.) Then the Korean war came along and Jimmy was drafted. He came back a changed man, haunted by what he experienced on that war torn peninsula. He married Billie Jo Spear’s sister (Betty Lou), had three children and worked for a local oil drilling company, with all the hopes of cashing in on his Columbia recording contract fading rapidly.

Like Jerry Hanson, Jimmy was frequently found recording at Jack Rhodes’s motel in Mineola, TX. For the session (recorded probably in March 56), Jimmy sang and played lead guitar, his wife on rhythm and Leon Hayes played an upright bass. Jack Rhodes mailed copy tapes to Cliffie Stone who had acetates made up for Ken Nelson, A&R supremo for Capitol Records. Whilst impatiently waiting for Ken to put the record out by somebody – hell, ANYBODY, Jack got 300 copies pressed up by Starday, who put it out on their custom series instead of on their main series . « Woman Love » was eventually recorded by Gene Vincent, although it was « Be-Bop-A-Lula » that became the hit, which brought in some nice royalty checks for Rhodes.

Johnson recorded many demos for Jack Rhodes but quickly faded from

musical history. (Some of these demos appear on the CD « Gene Vincent Cut Our Songs« . He passed away on Jan 8th 1980.

561b dressed561A (Starday) jimmy johnson woman love

« Woman Love » is a brooding shuffler with Jimmy’s deep and urgent vocals grabbing most of the attention. « All Dressed Up » is the faster side (but not by much) with Leon & Betty Lou joining in on the choruses. Quite why Jimmy didn’t go on to cut more records with that great voice of his is beyond me really. Still, I suppose cutting one of the most famous « Starday Customs » is something worth being remembered for.

GIBSON RECORDS 562 KING STERLING (May 1956)

(No Location)

45-HD-562-A – Slippin’ Out – Stealing In

(R L Blythe / J M Alstatt) (Starrite BMI)

45-HD-562-B – Alone, Lonesome And Blue                                                                             562a slippin'

(R L Blythe / J M Alstatt) (Starrite BMI)

Apparently, this artist became Sterling Blythe who recorded for Sage & Sand (can anybody confirm this?) A quick trawl through Billboard magazines found a few titbits on this artist. He was signed up to the KWKH Artist Services Bureau, run by Horace Logan, (booking manager of the Louisiana Hayride), and around Feb. ’57, he was listed as one of the Hayride’s personnel. By March 57 he was also appearing over KRBB (El Dorado, AR) on the King’s Corrall Show. By then, he’d managed to get on the Starday main series with « What Will The Answer Be » / « Not Much » (#298) which was reviewed by Billboard on the 3rd of June that year. (They described the A side as a … »highly effective weeper. »

That description pretty much described the A side of this disc as well. Sterling’s got a nice voice for these kind of songs, a little like Werly Fairburn in places. Flipside is a mid-tempo hillbilly number with nice steel and lead guitar with fiddle filling up the spaces behind the vocals. (I especially like the slight miss-fingering by the guitarist on the solo.

STARDAY RECORDS 563                             HOYT SCOGGINS and the Saturday Nite Jamboree Boys              (May 1956)

45-563-A Why Did We Fall In Love    563b tennessee

(Scoggins) (Starrite BMI)

45-563-B Tennessee Rock

(Scoggins) (Starrite BMI)

Having not heard the A side, I make up for it with having the B side all lined up for me to swoon over. Not the usual gospel stuff, just a clear stab at breaking into this new fangled « Cat Music. » He sounds a little unsure of himself while he’s wailing away at this type of music but it’s a winner of a song. Band provide good support (as Billboard would say).

STARDAY RECORDS 564 TEX DIXON (May 1956)     Tex Dixon(rcs)564a lies

(Possibly a Tennessee Artist)

45-564-A – Your Lovin’ Lies

(Jimmie Atkins / Walter Dickey) (Starrite BMI)

45-564-B – I’m Just Feeling Sorry For Myself

(Jimmie Atkins / Walter Dickey) (Starrite BMI)

This artist was pretty prolific during the 50’s and early 60’s. His real name was Walter Dee Dickey and he recorded under the name Mason Dixon for Reed Records (but the Mason Dixon on Meteor is a different artist), Walter Dixon on Erwin Records and Tex Dixon on this release and also on Zone and Stompertime Records from Memphis, TN. He was a regular on the Dixie Hayride (Florence, AL). Walter was blessed with a voice that could do stone-cold country and Rock-A-Billy in a blink of an eye. Both tunes here were co-wrote by Jimmie Atkins, an artist he shared billing with on a 45rpm on Alfa Records. Both sides represented here are similar, heartbreaking hillbilly songs with steel guitar being the main instrument.

Mr. Joel Russell wrote (Jan. 25, 2014) that: « I saw the record and the photo of Tex Dixon on your site.  The writers of the song was listed as Jimmie Adkins and Walter Dickey.  Walter Dickey was his real name and Tex Dixon was ONE of his pseudonymns.  My dad was Speedy Russell, and back in the fifties, dan and Walter were best buds and they played all the honkeytonks together.  Dad was THE steel guitar player back in those days in the Bessemer, Alabama area.  That is where Walter did most of his music.  Walter had high hopes of becoming a big nashville star, but he never made it.  There are several 45’s out there of him, and he paid to record every one of them.  My mom and his wife would go with them sometimes to gigs and walter would tell them to stay away from them so the women in the bar would think they were single.  Dad an walter used to go out, play music, dad would get drunk and go home with some whore night after night and when he would finally come home, he would beat up my mother.  Of course she was a bitch and deserved it.  I was born during all that.  Thought I’d give you some history of Walter « tex dixon » Dickey from Bessemer, Alabama. »

STARDAY RECORDS 565                                                 LUKE GORDON and his Lonesome Drifters

(artist based in Quincy, KY)           (label scans untraced — sorry!)                                                                                         (April1956)

ST-565-A Big New Dance

(L Gordon) (Starrite BMI)

ST-565-B Just Doin’ What’s Right

(Unknown Credits) (Starrite BMI)

Another fine offering by the excellent Luke Gordon. The A side fully embraces the new music style that was frequently pushing aside country music at the time, whilst staying true to his musical roots. The band once again are excellent. Once again, Luke ventured to Ben Adelman’s cool little studio on Cedar Street in Washington DC to record these tracks. I haven’t heard the flip side as yet, nor have I seen the record.

MOVIE CRAFT 566 ROD BURTON – Moviecraft Orchestra

930 West 7th Place, Los Angeles 17, CA                                                                  (June 1956)

566-A – I’d Like To Be A Baby Sitter

(Morris-Gerard) (Golden State Songs BMI)

566-B – « I’m Dolling You Up For » Somebody Else

(Morris-Gerard) (Golden State Songs BMI)

Another musical blank. Possibly a song-poem.

STARDAY RECORDS 567 FRANK EVANS and his Top Notchers

(Artist from Tampa FL at time of release.) (June 1956)

45-567-A – Go On And Be Carefree st 567B frank evans what is it

(Gene Rutland) (Starrite BMI)

45-567-B – What Is It (That I’m Too Young To Know)

(Gene Rutland) (Starrite BMI)

By the time Frank came around to recording another disc for Starday (albeit on the custom series), he had organised his own backing band – the Top Notchers. The band were Arnold Newman (ld gtr), Roland Newman (fdl), Pip Studenberg (bs) and Colin Thomas (Stl gtr – who doesn’t appear on this disc). The drummers name is long forgotten. This was recorded at WHBO in Tampa FL.

The A side is a pleasant enough hillbilly disc, but it’s the flip side that catches your attention. Taken at a fast clip, this has an almost « bluegrass » feel to it. Pretty cool stuff for a bunch of youngsters!

MOONLIGHT RECORDS 568                            CARL TANNER and IVENA BUCKINS and the Southern Pine Boys (June 1956)

Box 745, Waycross, GA

45-568-A – Together  Me And You

(Tanner) (Starrite BMI)

45-568-B – We’re In Love

(Tanner / Buckins) (Starrite BMI)

568a together A second offering from Carl, this time supported by one Ivena Buckins. A side is a slow hillbilly disc with sawing fiddles and Carl & Ivena take turns in singing portions of the song. Ivena’s voice is a little flat here and there – (in fact, Carl struggles a little too – almost like the key is slightly too low for him to sing in.). The flip side is taken at a breath-taking tempo, with both singers sound much more comfortable with the song. The band cook up a storm throughout this side.

STARDAY RECORDS 569                                           COUSIN ARNOLD and his Country Cousins           (June 1956)

(Artist located in Rock Hill, SC at time of release.)

45-569-A – Be My Baby, Baby Doll   569a baby

(A E Baynard) (Starrite BMI)

45-569-B – What is Life To You

(A E Baynard – Glenn Martin) (Starrite BMI)

Billboard reveals that Cousin Arnold is one Arnold E Baynard who was the commercial manager of WTYC, Rock Hills, SC (Summer 56). BB (August 13, 1955) mentions that Arnold and his band are  » … new to the South Carolina area and are doing a weekly half-hour sponsored show over WTYC. They were also doing a weekly bard dance at a lodge in Rock Hill. By November 1955 he was also doing « Day Break In Dixie » which was a 6:00 – 6:30 am segment in addition to his 1:00 – 2:00 over the same radio station. It also mentions he has penned two songs « Be My Love » & « If I Were A Millionaire » which he ‘s trying to get recorded. Did he ever record these? Anyhow, by the summer of 1956, he’d recorded the two tracks above and had them shipped to Starday for a pressing run of 300 copies.

The A side is a jolly old hillbilly song with a banjo as the main instrumental. It’s a bit of a « sermon » rather than an actual song, but pleasant enough I guess. Flip side is a torrid Country / Rock-A-Billy cross over which flies along at a fast pace. Good guitar and steel throughout with that rather annoying banjo threatening to take over at the slightest provocation. Marvelous stuff indeed! (MC)

STARDAY RECORDS 570                                                ARNOLD PARKER and the Southernairs

Cuerco, TX (June 1956)

45-570-A – People Laugh At A Fool570a people Arnold Parker

(A Parker – W Adams) (Starrite BMI)

45-570-B – Find A New Woman570b find

(W Adams – J Hill) (Starrite BMI)

Arnold was born on January 25th 1936 in Cuerco, TX and has been singing since standing up in his local church and belting out a song as a small child. Once Arnold graduated from high school, he became the featured vocalist for a popular dance band called The Southernairs, playing mainly around the south Texas area.

With regards to the record above, I’m gonna let Arnold do the talking – well – writing – which he sent to me by email:

« The musicians on the record were the exact 8 piece band that we had in the 1950s. The intro and the second guitar lead is Ken Williams. The first guitar lead is Jack Hill who actually wrote « Find a New Woman ». We recorded this at ACA Studios in Houston, Texas in 1956. Walter Adams was my so called manager at the time and he set up the recording and handled everything. I don’t remember the exact amount but I know we got quite a few copies to begin with and then went back and got more later. Radio stations in Texas and some in Louisiana played the song and we did perform it live quite a bit on our dance jobs. I also made some trips around to a number of radio stations plugging the record. There were a couple of local stations that conducted a weekly hit parade and the record showed up in the top 10 on those. »

sarg 106A arnold parker One way love

Parker first ever record, 1954

I’ve never heard the A side. But the flip is one of the best, killer Rock-A-Billy records ever pressed on Starday – some achievement when you think they also issued Sonny Fisher, Truitt Forse, Bob Doss and many, many others. Parts of the solo has an almost western-swing – twin guitar feel to it but it’s the biting intro and end part of the solo that gets my heart a-pounding. Arnold’s got one of those voices which can make a plain country record great and effortlessly slip into RaB without almost no effort at all! (His Sarg recordings are also darn good, although not as great as this disc) Billboard described this disc as follows: (17 Nov 56) « A side – Wistful warbling on an appealing weeper » B side –  » Parker sells a bouncy rock and roller with verve and good beat » Understatement of the year! In December of that year, it also mentions that he had joined the deejay staff at KULP, El Campo, TX. Again, in BB, on the 4th August, it mentions the members of the Southernaires.

BB Arnold Parker  4 Aug 56 starday 570

About the same time as the recording, Arnold and the band made their first appearance on the Louisiana Hayride. (He also met Elvis Presley here and discussed Arnolds home-made shirt his mother had made for him.) In February 1957, he met the love of his life – Jeanette Catherine Wendt in El Campo, TX and 3 months later he left the band and got married. The early 60’s finds him in Victoria, TX and he was fronting a band called The Mustangs and recording for Charlie Fitch’s Sarg Records. (He had recorded with the Sarg label before this disc too.) He continued playing until 1973 when he decided to spend more time with his family. But, as the music bug seems to linger in all true musicians, even today he steps up on stage and belts out a country tune and the odd RaB number for the crowd. Arnold also recorded for Wildcat Records.

ALABAMA GOSPEL RECORDS 571 THE TOM HARMON TRIO

(Unknown Location) (June 1956)

(Pno Acc: by Dan Garrett)

45-571-A – I’d Like To Know

(T Harmon) (Starrite BMI)

45-571-B – God’s Miracles

(T Harmon – J T Clark) (Starrite BMI)

Pleasant Gospel Music, spoilt perhaps by the « recorded at home » sound quality of the disc. Who ever the female vocalist is, her voice cuts through everybody else’s efforts.

BIG STATE RECORDS 572 572a tomorrow JACK FROST and his Band

No. 8 Manchester Road, Wichita Falls, KS (July 1956)

45-572-A – There Is No Tomorrow

(Ken Blackridge) (Starrite BMI)

45-572-B – Crying My Heart Out

(Ken Blackridge) (Starrite BMI)

No knowledge about Jack Frost and his Band. Both sides are western swing, like an early Texas Playboys with trumpet, guitar, fiddle – the whole nine yards of western swing sophistication. The B side is the better of the two in my opinion but they are kind of similar so it’s hard to chose on from the other.

MARYLAND RECORDS 573 LUCKY CHAPMAN and the Ozark Mountain Boys (July 1956)  Lucky Chapman

(No Address – Artist based in Frederick, MD)

45-573-A – I’ve Waited So Long

(Lucky Chapman) (Starrite BMI)

45-573-B – Blue Grass 573b blue grass

(John Duffy) (Starrite BMI)

Lucky Chapman came from Frederick, Maryland – moved to Florida in the 1960’s – died around the late 60’s. Other info: The band re-cut the side ‘Bluegrass’ on the Fonotone label, which Joe Bussard owned – it was cut down in Joe’s basement on July 26, 1959 – the flip side being the Bill

Monroe classic ‘Put My Little Shoes Away‘ (Fonotone 617) Lucky Chapman – guitar; Bill Berry* – mandolin; John Duffey – mandolin. The band were working out of WFTR, Royal, VA in 1951, where Frank Esworthy was the bass player. The band consisted of Lucky, Frank (???) & Bill Poffinberger at this time.

(B-573 is an instrumental featuring John Duffy on mandolin. The B side was reissued on STARDAY EP-258.)

The Maryland issue was cut down in Lucky Chapman’s basement – when they received, and listened to the record, they were not happy with the sound – Joe says that Lucky Chapman said that they wished they had cut the sides at Joe’s.

*Paul Chaney, *Bill Berry: They were Bill & Paul The Bluegrass Travelers – who cut an EP on Dixie 981 (Doin’ My Time, Bluegrass Hop, Change Of Heart, Cumberland Valley Special)

Bill Berry was killed over at Brunswick, when coming out of an exit his car was hit by another.

They also cut a record on their own Traveler label: ‘Banjo Stretch’/’Cherished Memories‘ (Traveler 500), cut at Joe Bussard’s Studio.

MISSISSIPPI RECORDS 574HODGES BROTHERS574a rock

Box 101, Osyka, MS (July 1956)

45-574-A – I’m Gonna Rock Some Too

(Ruth Thompson) (Starrite BMI)

45-574-B – Because I Loved You So

(Ruth Thompson) (Starrite BMI)

The Hodges Brothers were one of many old time bluegrass / hillbilly bands that lived in a musical time warp deep in the US south. Rediscovered by Chris Strachwitz of the famed Arhoolie Record Co in 1960, their music still harked back to the twenties and thirties before the great depression.

Originally recording for Lillian McMurray’s Trumpet label, rockabilly fans will be more aware of their gut-kicking monster « Honey Talk » on Whispering Pines 201 from Indianapolis, IN .. But recently, this disc appeared out of nowhere and it knocks that disc into the bleachers. A solid arse kicking country bopper with great guitar work and lovely back-in-the-woods vocals.

All three brothers were born and raised in a small rural settlement called Bogue Chitto, MS. Felix (1923-1979) was the fiddler in the brothers band. Ralph (1927-1976) was the guitar / mandolin player and did most of the singing. James (1932- was the rhythm player. He was still alive in 2003.

STARDAY RECORDS 575 LUCKY WRAY

Washington, DC area

45-575-A – What-Cha Say Honey   575a wray whatcha say honey

(C Davis / J Drew / J Williams) (Action Music BMI)

45-575-B – Got Another Baby 575b got

(L Wray / Cindy Davis) (Starrite BMI)

Another great hillbilly offering (on the A side) and a chugging, almost threatening rocker on the B side. The B side is certainly a musical highlight in anybody’s life. This is the second of 3 45’s they had issued on Starday, leaving the best one ’til last (Starday 608).


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All appreciations from Malcolm Chapman’s blogsite devoted to « Starday Custom series ». Used by permission.

Sounds from various sources, mainly from own collection, « Starday Custom » virtual CDs and YouTube.

early March 2011 fortnite favorites

Howdy folks! Here is a new batch of Hilbilly Bop goodies, even the odd Rock’n’Roll!

We are beginning on the West Coast with CASEY SIMMONS and his « Juke Box Boogie » on Crystal records from 1950. Call and response format, fine saxophone and a lot of electric guitar. The whole thing romps along lovely!

eddie jackson

Eddie Jackson

crystal 289 simmons

Fortune records offered many a Hillbilly Bop song in its 100 serie. EDDIE JACKSON, famous for his « Rock and Roll Baby« , turns up there with « Baby Doll« , dominated by a good piano.

Sol Kahal’s Macy’s Records had many fine discs, either in Blues field, either in early Hillbilly bop, i.e. by Ramblin’ Tommy Scott or Harry Choates. ART GUNN & his Arizona Playboys cut the decent « Cornbread Boogie » in 1949. Fine harmonica throughout.    macy's 106A art gunn cornbread boogie

They also had on the same label « Boogie Woogie Blues » (for a future fortnight), and later, on own Gunn label Arga in 1958, the superior « Pickin’ and A-Singin’« .

sam nichols pic

Cowboy Sam Nichols

Cowboy Sam Nichols had written (and recorded for Stanchell) the classic « That Wild And Wicked Look In Your Eye« , before he got a contract with MGM records. It was early to mid-fifties and the beginning of truck drivers‘ songs (Terry Fell for example); here the shuffle « Keep Your Motor Hot » from 1954. No label scan available, as I sold the 78 rpm, having only kept the music! Nichols was backed by West coast top musicians: Porky Freeman on guitar, Jesse Ashlock on fiddle, Red Murrell on rhythm and Curley Cochran on steel.

From trucks to trains. Grady CURLEY COLE was a resident D.J. in Paducah, KY, but he cut his fine « I‘m Going To Roll » for L.A. Gilt-Edge label. Nothing more is known about him. Let’s stay in Kentucky for TOMMY HOLMES, backed by Pat Kingery & the Kentuckians. A certain Mr. Vance asked Holmes a record for his politician career ca. 1954. The tune « Jam On The Lower Shelf » is pretty average, mostly when you hear Holmes six years later in an out-and-out Rocker on the Cherry label, « Wha-Chic-Ka-Noka« . Enjoy the selections!

tommy holmes piccherry 112 holmes