Dub Dickerson was one of those artists who toured constantly, mixed in the right circles of musicians and made a fair handful of recordings, but didn’t leave us much in the way of historical information. Even the performers he toured and played with don’t recall a great deal about him and, like countless other singers, he just seems to have spent his fifteen year musical career just outside of the spotlight.
Born Willis Dickerson on September 10th 1927 in Grand Saline, Van Zandt County, Texas, his first love of music came whilst growing up on the family farm, in the shape of Gene Autry and his familiar style of Cowboy tunes.
Although he enjoyed no hits on Decca and Capitol (1952-1955), he played the Opry and the Big D. Jamboree, and scored as a songwriter – he wrote « Look what thoughts will do » , a huge hit for Lefty Frizzell, and later « Stood up » for Ricky Nelson, in addition to his own recordings, like « My gal Gertie » (a number which enjoyed some currency among Hillbilly boogie and early Rockabilly fans.) He took to calling himself « The boy with the grin in his voice » and threw little catches – little ‘grins ‘ – into many performances, regardless of appropriateness. (suite…)
“He was a fantastic little guy. Gene could have been one of the biggest things on television. He could’ve had his own show nationally and been one of the biggest artists on TV. But you couldn’t depend on Gene. He’s be liable to be out at the horses races, you know, instead of being at the station, where he should be…but you couldn’t keep from loving the little guy.” (Speedy West)
Because he didn’t seem to take himself too seriously as an artist, he excelled at good-timey romps, as Boogie Woogie Fever, Texas Boogie, and was not totally convincing on tearjerkers. He was a major star on the West Coast for several years, with high-profile radio and television status on Cliffie Stone’s Hometown Jamboree. The musicians who backed him were the top ones of the West Coast: Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant, Billy Liebert, Cliffie Stone. He enjoyed only minor hits, like his cover of Hank Locklin’s “Pin Ball Millionaire”, but he sold consistently enough for Capitol to keep him around for four years in a very competitive and changing scene – surprisingly, given his undoubted feel for hillbilly boogies, it was the emergence of rock’n’roll that really knocked him out. (suite…)
Riley was born on his parents’ farm in Mount Pleasant, Texas, in 1912 as the youngest of eight brothers and sisters. At age two, he contracted infantile paralysis (polyo), so he depended on crutches for the rest of his life. Perhaps this handicap forced him to make a career in country music. His bluesy voice is genuine and comes from the heart. The life he lived is reflected in his songs, as he had a lot in common with his idol Hank Williams.