JACK TUCKER, « Big Door » , « Honey Moon Trip To Mars » and « Lonely Man » (1949-1961)

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It’s hard to figure out what’s going on here. There were four versions of « Big door »…a sort-of « Green door » sequel.The first version appeared in 4 Star’s AP (Artist Promotion) and was by the writer, Gene Brown. Some say that Eddie Cochran is on guitar. That version reappeared on 4 Star (# 1717) and reappeared yet again identical on Dot, the label that had scored with « Green door ». At almost the same time, circa April 1958, that 4 Star licensed Brown’s master to Dot, Jack Tucker‘s version appeared. Was this the same Jack Tucker who worked hillbilly nighspots in Los Angeles for many years ? Probably. According to Si Barnes, who worked for both Jack Tucker (real name Morris Tucker) and his brother, Hubert, aka Herb [« Habit forming kisses » on Excel 107, 1955: see elsewhere in this site the Rodeo/Excel story], the Tuckers were from Haleyville, near Oklahoma City . Jack (rn Morris) was born on April 19th, 1918.

Gene Brown « Big door« 

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Jack Tucker « Big door« 

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 Both brothers led bands in Los Angeles, playing spots like the Hitching Post, Harmony Park Ballroom, and so on. Jack had a Saturday night television show on Channel 11. Tommy Allsup graduated from Herb Tucker’s band, and according to Barnes, Herb led the more musically sophisticated outfit. Jack Tucker, said Barnes was  « pretty much stuck on himself. A very basic guitar player and vocalist. He was really limited in musical talent. I’m surprised he let the band record [Bob Wills‘] « Big beaver » [at the same session as « Big door »]. He didn’t understand the Wills beat or anything about that style. Jack was a two-chord guy. Both Herb and Jack faded out in the early 1960s when the ballrooms closed or switched over to rock ».

1940 issue

« Big beaver »

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Nevertheless, Tucker’s recording career was quite extensive. There was a demo session for Modern in 1949 and his first 4 Star record was a reissue of a 1953 disc for the 4* custom Debut label. Other records, usually with the Oklahoma Playboys, appeared on Starday (1954), RCA’s « X » imprint (1955), Downbeat, with Bob Stanley (1956), Audie Andrews on Debut, himself on Bel Aire and Nielsen (1957). Guitarist Danny Michaels remembered that Tucker was playing at the Pioneer Room on Pioneer Blvd, when they did the 4 Star session. According to Michaels, he played lead and Al Petty played steel guitar, but he couldn’t remember the others. Following Tucker’s brief tenure with 4 Star, he recorded for Ozark Records in South Gate, California. One of their singles (with Don Evans on lead guitar),    « Lonely man » was acquired by Imperial. Another, « Honey moon trip to Mars », may have been revived by Larry Bryant (Santa Fe 100, or Bakersfield 100).

« Lonely man« 

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« Honey moon trip to Mars »

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Larry Bryant « Honey moon trip to Mars« 

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Tucker appears to have bowed out with a clutch of records for Toppa in 1961-1962, and later for Public! and Young Country. He had backed Lina Lynne (later on Toppa 1008) on Jimmy O’Neal‘s Rural Rhythm label, and Bill Bradley on Fabor Robinson‘s Fabor label in 1957-58.

Lina Lynne « Please be mine »

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Bill Bradley « Drunkard’s diary« 

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Tucker died on September 26, 1996, but no one has an idea what he was doing between the mid-60s and his death.

Notes by Colin Escott to « That’ll flat git it vol. 26 » (Four Star). Additions by Bopping’s editor.


 

 

The music of Jack Tucker (by Bopping’s editor)

To follow Barnes’ assertion about limitations both on guitar and vocal of Jack Tucker, one must although admit his discs were good enough to have him a comfortable discography over the years 1953-1965. I cannot at all judge his talent but I’d assume his music is generally pretty good hillbilly bop or rockabilly.

First tracks I discuss are his « X » sides (# 0093) from 1954 : the fast « Stark, staring madly in love» has a tinkling piano and a loping rhythm, a fine side, and the equally good « First on your list » (much later re-recorded on Public!). Both are billed X songs by Allan Turner.

« Stark, staring madly in love »

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« First on your list« 

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This is without forgetting two 1949 demo tracks for Modern : apparently Dusty Rhodes is on lead guitar for the instrumental « Dusty road boogie », and Jack Tucker is vocalist for a version of Hank Williams’ « Mind your own business ».

Later on, we had Tucker on Starday 136 : « Itchin’ for a hitchin ‘ » and « I was only fooling me », typical hillbillies on the Beaumont, TX label – probably recorded on the West coast, as later did Jack Morris [see the latter’s story elsewhere in this site].

Billboard April 14, 1954

« I was only fooling me« 

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More earlier on the 4 Star OP (« Other People ») custom Debut label (# 1001), later reissued on the regular 4 Star X-81, Tucker had cut in 1954 « Too blue to cry », a good song with band chorus, and had backed a fellow Oklahomian Audie Andrews on the same Debut label (One side written by NY entrepreneur Buck Ram).


« Too blue to cry« 

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In 1956 Bob Stanley [not to be confused with the pop orchestra leader] on Downbeat 204 had « Your triflin’ ways/Heartaches and tears », backed by Tucker and his Oklahoma Playboys : two very nice Hillbilly boppers: Stanley adopts the famous growl-in-his-voice, a speciality of T. Texas Tyler. Both of them had also a disc on Downbeat 203 (still untraced). Jack Tucker backed also in 1957 Lina Lynne on the fine bopper « Pease be mine » (Rural Rhythm 513 [see above].

« Your triflin’ ways »

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« Heartaches and tears »

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Same year 1957 saw Tucker record two sides among his best on the small California Bel Aire (# 22) label, « Let me practice with you » and « Surrounded by sorrow », good mid-paced boppers (fine steel). His band, « The Okla. Playboys« , backed Roy Counts on two excellent boppers on Bel Aire 23: the medium-paced « I ain’t got the blues« , and the faster « Darling I could never live without you« , both have strong steel guitar. Tucker also had  « Hound dog » on the Nielsen 56-7 label (untraced).

« Let me practice with you »

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« Surrounded by sorrow »

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Roy Counts, « I ain’t got no blues »

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Roy Counts, « Darling I could never live without you »

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Billboard, No. 11, 1957

 

 

 

 

 

1958 saw the issue of « Big door » already discussed earlier (plus the B-side « Crazy do » a good instrumental), as the other 4 Star record, « Big beaver /Nobody’s fool» (4 Star # 1728), both average instrumental sides.

In 1959 Tucker had three records on the Ozark label. The original of « Honey moon trip to Mars » (# 960) [later by Larry Bryant on Santa Fe/Bakersfield – otherwise, who came first?]

« Honey moon trip to Mars »

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Larry Bryant « Honey moon trip to Mars »

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then « Lonely man » (# 962), which was picked by Imperial and reissued (# 5623), finally # 965 and the ballads « Don’t cry for me/Trade wind love ».

 

insert of an Ozark issue, found on the Net

In 1960-1961 Tucker had four Toppa records. All are fine boppers, despite a tendancy to go pop, and include Ralph Mooney on steel guitar at least on # 1030 : « Oh what a lonely one ; one is » , « When the shades are drawn »          (# 1041),  « Just in time » (# 1052) and « It’s gone too far » (# 1106).

« Oh what a lonely one; one is »

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« Just in time« 

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« It’s gone too far »

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I mention quickly the following issues, less and less interesting (more and more poppish) on Public! (a new version of « First on your list ») and Young country (even an LP # 103) along the ’60s.
« First on your list »

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Sources: Colin Escott notes to « That’ll flat git it vol. » (Four Star); 45cat and 78-world sites; Toppa’s best 3-CD;; Roots Vinyl Guide; YouTube; Praguefrank’s country discography (discography); my own archives and records;

late December 2010 fortnight favourites

Howdy folks. This time we are mostly staying in Texas. First with the legendary bandleader CLIFF BRUNER and « San Antonio Blues« , a late ’40s tune. He saw among his band members Moon Mullican or Link Davis.

Then GENE HENSLEE, aimed at Hillbilly bop/Rockabilly circles for his « Rockin’ Baby » on Imperial. He also had this jumping « Dig’n’And Datin‘ » with fiddle, piano and steel. Henslee was a resident D.J. at KIHN from Hugo, Oklahoma.

gene hensleeimperial 8227 henslee

BASHFUL VIC THOMAS was one of these Country outfits jumping on the Rock’n’Roll bandwagon in 1956. He delivers here the fine romping « Rock and Roll Tonight » on the Premium label. premium vic thomas

From the Sage label out of California comes now BOB NEWMAN (see elsewhere his story in this site), disguised under the family name « GEORGIA CRACKERS » and a remake of « Hangover Boogie » in 1957. He had already cut the song for King during the early ’50s.

bob-newman

Bob Newman

sage ep 316 georgia crackers

jack tucker

Jack Tucker

The tune « Big Door » was published twice by 4 Star in 1958. One version, as a Rocker, was sung by GENE BROWN (with a possible Eddie Cochran connection). Here I offer the other version by JACK TUCKER, more Country.   4 star 1719 tucker

Finally, way up North (Richùond, Indiana), here is JIMMY WALLS and the amusing title « What A Little Kiss Can Do » (from 1965!) for the Walton label, which also had Van Brothers‘ issues.

walton walls

A merry Xmas to you all. Enjoy the music!

late July 2009 fortnight

Welcome back to the recent finds in my collection! First we have Bluegrass/HIllbilly Bop with JIMMY MARTIN, former guitar player in Bill Monroe’s band, and the fine 1954 (Decca label) « Hop skip & Wobble ». ,Then onto ANDY WILSON for his fast 1952 version (Dot records) of the Delmore Brothers’ classic « Hillbilly Boogie » – done Hillbilly Bop style, very Nashville sounding. More Hillbilly Bop wit the torrid « I’m Turning Over A Brand New leaf » (King, Cincinnati, 1955) by the prolific (HILL) BILLY BARTON, who cut early in career with Johnny Horton. Still Country flavored Rock’n’Roll, this time, with West Coast’s GENE BROWN and « Big Door » (Four Star). Back to Delmore, a recent version of their classic « Blues Stay Away Away From Me » by BILLY & TERRY SMITH.Finally Black R&R with RON HOLDEN for « My Babe » (nothing in common with L. Walter) on Lost Nite records. Enjoy the sound!

dot 1127 wilson