Buddy Attaway, a Cajun honky-tonk (1947-1954)

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Patrick « Buddy » Attaway was a Cajun musician (fiddle, electric guitar) from Shreveport, Louisiana, born on 5 January 1923. As a teenager he started the Rainbow Boys with songwriter and promoter Tillman Franks (also later bass player) and singer Claude King. After Army service they all left Shreveport to KLEE, Houston, Texas.

When KWKH started the Louisiana Hayride in 1948, they all returned to Shreveport. Attaway backed Claude King on recordings and in 1950 he recorded a duet with Webb Pierce on Pacemaker Records.

Two discs followed on Imperial in 1954. He was a featured Hayride star by that time, and he sang « Big Mamou » there the day Elvis Presley made his debut. He continued as staff guitarist on the Hayride into the ’60s. He died in Shreveport on 15 June 1968.

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The biography above was published in a CD devoted to Ed Camp. It seems too simple and very limited. So I will add the biograhy of early Claude King (courtesy Imperial Anglares), as Buddy Attaway and King went very close during these years.

January 1946 : Claude, Buddy Attaway, Tillman and Merle Clayton went to Dallas to audition for Hal Horton, a dee-jay at KRLD. They ended up back stage at the Sportatorium meeting Roy Acuff. Things in Dallas didn’t work out so they headed back to Shreveport.

 

Both friends quickly joined Harmie Smith, known as the Ozark Mountaineer, on KWKH until 1947. Claude took Webb Pierce’s place and acted as emcee when playing little country towns in North Louisiana, South Arkansas and East Texas. In that band you could find Buddy Attaway (fiddle), who took Owen Perry’s place, also acting as comedian, and Harry Todd (guitar) aged sixteen years too. Harmie and that gang including Tillman Franks (bass) played the State Fair in Shreveport in November 1946.


A first record in 1947 was issued on President, in their Southern Series, “Flying Saucers/I Want to be Loved(HB 10) under the name of Buddy & Claude with The Kentuckians. On that tiny label was also The Stamps Quartet. The session was done at KWKH radio in July 1947 with Buddy Attaway, Claude King, Tillman Franks, Shot Jackson and The Bailes Brothers. “I Want To Be Loved” (But Only By You), a Bailes Brothers song issued on Columbia 37341, later reissued 20119, later became a hit for Johnnie and Jack. Both songs are actually duet recordings.

« Flying saucers« 

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« I want to be loved »

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Bailes Brothers, « I want to be loved »

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Soon afterwards, Buddy Attaway and Claude got sponsorship from General Mills Flour and they moved to Monroe, Louisiana, working with Sleepy Watts (bass) and Jackie Featherstone (steel) as The Kentuckians. In early 1948, for a short time, Claude and Buddy went to work in Houston (Tx) calling themselves “The Attaway Boys” on their 30-minute KLEE radio show, and working in Elmer W. Laird’s used cars lot by day. Tillman Franks moved to Houston in April 1948 to work with them for Laird. They lost their jobs and radio sponsor after that guy was stabbed to death around late July 1948.

In December 1950, at KWKH, Claude King with Tillman Franks, Buddy Attaway and Webb Pierce cut “A Million Mistakes” and “Why Should I” issued on Pacemaker HB 1010. The record label was co-owned by Webb Pierce and Horace Logan, the boss/founder of the Louisana Hayride. These sides written by Claude were reissued on Gotham 409 in 1951, and were followed by “51 Beers”/”Beer and Pinball (Gotham 411), two songs from the same session, issued in August 1951.

 At the same session as Claude King’s that saw Pacemaker 1010 and Gotham 411, Webb Pierce recorded an uncredited duet with Buddy Attaway titled Freight Train Blues” (of course the old Roy Acuff song of 1936). When issued on Pacemaker 1006-B, the song didn’t even have a singer’s name on the label, without doubt because Pierce was still contracted to 4 * and Bill McCall. The flip side sung by Buddy Attaway is I’m Sitting on Top Of The World”, and even if credited to Buddy Attaway, that’s an old song, first recorded by The Mississippi Sheiks in 1930. The harmonica chorus is played by Rip Jackson (is there a relation with steel player Shot Jackson ? No one knows) and although Webb changed the words slightly, there is not enough to give him credit.

« Freight train blues »

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« I’m sittin’ on top of the world »

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On all these Pacemaker songs recorded at KWKH by night, Webb is backed by Tillman Franks (bass), Buddy Attaway (guitar), Tex Grimsley (fiddle) and Shot Jackson (steel guitar). On all those songs, Buddy Attaway plays great guitar licks in a Jerry Byrd style, and we can only regret his passing at 45 years old on 27th May 1968. His guitar work on Hayride Boogie (a song he co-wrote with Webb) was replicated on the version recorded in 1956 for Decca under the title of Teenage Boogie”. He is also responsible for the great boogie guitar on Pierce’s « California blues » or the Tune Wranglers‘ song « Drifting Texas sand ». These 3 songs were credited to Tillman Franks.

Webb Pierce, « Hayride boogie »

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Webb Pierce, « California blues »

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Webb Pierce, « Drifting Texas sand »

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Buddy Attaway also recorded for Imperial in January 1954 a cover of Claude King’s Why Should I, issued with Rock-A-My Baby On The Bayou (8258) both fine waltz uptempos. « Why did I leave Cloutchville » is a fast opus, very much in the Cajun tradition, while »Doubtful heart » is a quieter tune (8238). All in all, Attaway had between 1947 and ’54 a consistent high level production, be he soloist or lead player for anyone else.

« Why should I »

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« Rock-a-my baby on the bayou »

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« Why did I leave Cloutchville »

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« Doubtful heart »

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After the Imperial sides, he never recorded again, concentrating apparently on his work for the Louisiana Hayride, where he was a regular until mid-1957.

March 30th, 1956 leaflet

 

The scheduled issue of a 20-CD on Bear Family in 2017 of Louisiana Hayride tapes should bring some surprises, in this aspect. Attaway will have « Y’all come » (1956) and « In the jailhouse now » (1958) issued.

Warm thanks go to Dominique ‘Imperial’ Anglares and the generous loan of a Claude King early biography : this formed the nucleus of the Buddy Attaway’s one – as both were intimately tied from the beginning. ‘Imperial’ furnished also a good amount of personal pictures..Ole’ Ronald out of Germany as usual furnished rare label scans and music.

early May 2010 fortnight

Hi! Here are my new favorites, be it Hillbilly bop, Bluegrass, Honky Tonk, Country rock-a-ballad, or even a bit of Western swing. CARL BUTLER was on Capitol, and cut mainly unclassifiable Hillbilly/Bluegrass sides. I’ve chosen his great « No Trespassing » from 1951, complete with hiccups and banjo/fiddle. Then to early Honky tonk with WEBB PIERCE. One of his very early sides on Decca (1951): « California Blues » (78 rpm – I will be moving soon, so already packed all my precious shellacs and can’t have a label scan). Back to Hillbilly bop with a fairly obscure artist, JACK HUNT (Capitol, 1953) and lazy vocal on « All I Can Do Is Sit Ad Cry ». A short insight into MERLE LINDSAY’s career. He fronted the Oklahoma scene from the mid-forties, and had numerous sides on many labels; here we hear « Mop Rag Boogie » (MGM). A nice Country Rockaballad from 1958 on the Sandy label out of Alabama by JOHNNY  FOSTER « Locked Away From Your Heart » (# 1028). I love his sincere vocal. Finally a late 60s Hillbilly Bop by KED KILLEN (Western Ranch), « Hey Pretty Mama ». I don’t know an awful lot of him, except that his style dates from at least 15 years earlier. Couldn’t find his work except on a Cattle LP moons ago, or a Tom Sims Cassette. Enjoy the selections! Bye…