Howdy, folks ! This is the early June 2017 bopping fortnight’s selection, between 1937 and 1947, with some projections in the very early ’60s.
Here we go before WWII with BILL NETTLES & his Dixie Blue Boys for his first recording session, held in Dallas, TX on June 22nd, 1937 (nearly 80 years ago…) His story has already been written in this site, and I will focus on one track, « Oxford (Miss) Blues », described on the label as « hot string band with singing ». Really hot fiddle (Dock Massey, who’s also singing, among cheers and yells) and strong slapping bass (by Nettles’ brother Luther). They didn’t do such great tracks so often, even in the ’40s and ’50s.
ALSIE « REX » GRIFFIN (1912-1959) made most of his career during the ’30s on Decca, as a follower of Jimmie Rodgers, and a fine yodeler too. Here on the decline (one of his last records) in Cincinnati on King 584 (February 1947), I chose « I’m as free as the breeze » : nice hot guitar player (obviously inspired by the late Django Rheinhart) and a discree steel for a good mid-paced bopper.
Griffin was also responsible for three classics, « Everybody’s trying to be my baby » (one feature in this site is devoted to this song and its continuation), « Won’t you ride in my little red wagon » (the signature song of Hank Penny), and the morbid « The last letter ».
HANK STOLLINGS went on the RCA-pressed 1961 Versatile 101 « Date with the blues » (vocal Chuck Louis) with a deep-voiced country rocker ; 2 fine fiddle solos, and a good loud guitar too.
From the same or similar era (late 1959) we find also BEN JACK & Country Boys for «I’m entitled to your love», a mid-paced light country rocker with fiddle emanating from Tulsa, OK, to be found on the Cimarron label # 4048. This label was owned by Leon McAuliffe, former steel player in the Bob Wills’ Playboys.
Back to TOMMY FAILE (reviewed early May with « That’s all right » on Lawn 104, NYC label) and the flipside of this December 1960 issue, « The rest of my life ». Arthur Smith is seemingly on lead guitar (on bass chords) for this baritone-voiced, female chorus backed (unobstrusive) country rocker.
Indiana born, on a Chicago label, comes BOB PERRY for two tunes. First a famous small Rockabilly classic,« Weary blues, goodbye » on the Bandera label (# 1303, from 1959), valued at $ 150-200, it has a very strong rhythm guitar (obviously played by Perry himself) and a fantastic steel guitar solo . So tame in comparison is the second Perry issue on Cool 158, « Gone with the wind », which is a gentle Rockabilly/rocker (all the same attaining $ 75-100). Perry went later on Top Rank and BandBox.
Jimmie Dale got his start in hillbilly music with the guidance of Dave Miller, who was a famous New Jersey-Newark disc jockey.
He organized his own band and they made personal appearances in the New York night club circuit. Jimmie also appeared at Carnegie Hall, Frank Daly’s Meadowbrook and the top spot on Dave Miller’s television show. By 1953, he was being heard over radio station WAAT in Newark, New Jersey.
Dale had other boogies in the same style.
Sources : 45cat and 78rpm-worlds, YouTube (e.g. Rockin’ TomKat for Bob Perry on Cool) ; Hillbilly-Music.com (picture of Rex Griffin and Jimmie Dale) ; also Wikipedia for Rex Griffin bio. My own archives.
Notes by Phillip J. Tricker to the Collectables CD 5335 « Long gone daddy »(1990)
The name LOU GRAHAM (rn Lewis Lyerly) is best known for his superb rocker ‘Wee Willie Brown » cut for Coral (# 61931) in late 1957, but Lou had been active in a recording studio as early as the beginning of 1951.
He was born on July 15th, 1929 in the tiny community of Woodleaf (pop. 300) in North Carolina. One of ten children, he soon showed an interest in music and after three years of wearing Navy Blue in the services he got into radio as a singer and DJ. He spent 18 months at WPWA in Chester , Pa. where he met Bill Haley and the Saddlemen : it’s quite probable that Haley helped Lou secure a contract with Gotham (hence, Gotham 416). The second batch of recordings are certainly backed by the Saddlemen. The labels of Gotham 433 were ordered on July 9th, 1952, and at this time Lou was working in TV at WDEL in Wilmington, Delaware and as a DJ with his « Roundup time » program at radio station WTNJ in Trenton, NJ. During the mid-to-late fifties he was busy on a schedule of appearances at nightclubs and hillbilly parks asnwell as TV and radio, and playing on the « Big Western Jamboree » in Camden, NJ.
Notes by Bill Millar & Rob Finnis for BF 15733 « That’ll flat git it » (Decca) (1994)
When LOU GRAHAM dipped into rock’n’roll with Willie Brown in November 1957, he was already 28 and a veteran of local radio in Chester, Pennsylvania whose most famous resident, Bill Haley, became his mentor. One of ten children Graham was born Lewis Lyerly in Woodleaf, North Carolina in 1929. After serving in the US Navy, he worked as a country vocalist and broadcaster joining WPW, Chester in 1950. It was there that he befriended with Bill Haley, then jobbing on the local bar-room circuit with the Saddlemen while holding down the post of announcer at the station.
Graham signed with Philadelphia’s Gotham label in 1951, and made his recording debut accompanied by members of Haley’s band with whom he occasionally appeared on stage. By the time of his second Gotham release, Graham had moved to WTNJ in Trenton, New Jersey leaving Haley to pursue the musical career which would soon make him an international star.
Who’s Lou Graham?
Slap that bass!
By 1956, Haley, flush with riches, had assumed the role of benefactor, granting recording favours to a number of acolytes in an ill-fated attempt to create a music publishing and recording empire. Graham was signed to Haley’s Clymax label and he cut « Wee Willie Brown » backed by the Comets. The master was assigned directly to Coral when Haley’s enterprizes ran into financial difficulties.
LOU GRAHAM, a track-by-track appreciation (notes by bopping.org editor)
« Two timin’ blues » is an uptempo shuffler. A bit of yodel vocal. A good steel. Backing by a fine piano (+ solo). « Long gone daddy » is, of course, the Hank Williams’ song, and this is a good version. Morever I have the same comments than for « Two timin’ blues ». All in all, a successful 2-sider for a first recording (Gotham 416)
Now on to the 4-tracks second session. « I’m lonesome » has an inventive steel over an uptempo shuffle pace. The piano is well to the fore and Graham adopts a somewhat harsh vocal. « Please make up your fickle mind » is a nice shuffler too (Gotham 433, from 1953). « A sweet bunch of roses », as expected, is a sentimental, although agreeable song (Gotham 429). More of the same with the medium-paced « My heart tells me (I’m still in love with you) ».
Of course, the Coral sides from 4 years later are a complete contrast with the Gotham sides. « Wee Willie Brown » (Coral 61931) is a solid rocker : Bill Haley’s saxman Rudy Pompilli blows his fuse, and Franny Beecher excells on lead guitar as on the Comets’ better days. « You were mean baby », although noted as recorded at the same session, is very different : big band type rocker, male chorus ; it reminds me of the Johnny Burnette Trio‘s « Shattered dreams » cut in NYC, already for Coral too.
Very little is known about GORDON JENNINGS. He seems to have spent some time in Philly as well as West VA. , Tennessee and Missouri. He was for sure D.J. for certain stations in Saint-Louis, MO (KMOX and WEW), and Bluefield, W.Va. (WHIS and WKOY). He made between 1954 and 59 four records in a Hillbilly style and all four are very good boppers.
West Va. bordering Ky, Tn. and Pa.
Bluefield, Mercer Cty, bottom of the State of W. Va.
What follows is what « Johnn Maddy », seemingly from Arkansas, wrote about Jenning’s « I saw you cheatin’ last night » (Skyrocket) in his YouTube chain :(additions in  by bopping’s editor)
« A tune Gordon co-wrote with two other artists, and released on a Skyrocket single in 1959. He was born on Oct. 21st 1916 and came to a very serious Bluegrass group called The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers back around 1938-39. Together they really became popular on W.H.I.S Radio in Bluefield West Virginia [but they never recorded on discs at this time]. Jennings had several Radio shows out of St Louis as well, when is unknown, but we did find another single Gordon done in 1958 for another label in Philly called »Arcade », but that is the extent of what we learned of Gordon Jennings and his singing career, friends, but still looking for more. Enjoy it Folks, I’ve heard this one done by several artists [Rex Zario on Arcade 202 – other versions by Skeets Yaney and Marty Collins have different credits], but now hearing Gordon the lead composer do it, a good one it is.!!! »
His first record was done in Kingsport, Tennessee for the famous, although quite scarce now, tiny Kingsport label, primarily devoted to Bluegrass (Jimmy Gregg), with some advances towards Hillbilly bop (Reece Shipley, L. C. Smith). It’s the last record of the label, cut around 1954 (#112), and it combines a great bopper « Quit teasin’ me » (uptempo – a bluesy guitar led and a boogie piano – and a nice vocal) and « The telephone girl » (unheard, Allan Turner collection). How Jennings came to this Tennessee label is unknown: one can speculate a leasing of masters by Kingsport label due to radio relations. Anyone has got an idea ?
His second offering was cut in Pittsburg for the tiny Alba label (# 400), and coupled two good sides again, backed by a « String quartet » : the mid-paced « Drivin’ home » and the faster «Three day pass ».
Well-assured vocal fronting a solid backing. The Alan Schafer named in the credits could have been the label’s owner as well as co-writer of the songs. The short Billboard snippet is learning that the disc was going strong in the Pittsburg area.
We jump to 1958 for a third Jennings issue on the famous Philly label Arcade. « Is it yes or is it no » (# 146) is a fine bopper, and has, for the first time in a Gordon Jennings record, a steel guitar, while the lead plays on the bass chords for good effect. The flip side « I wonder if you miss me too » is unheard (Allan Turner collection = unavailable).
Next and final record is to be found again in Philadelphia on the new up-and-coming Skyrocket label, in 1959 [other good records are Rex Zario’s « Go man go, get gone »(# 1001) and Ray Coleman’s « Toodle-oo mambo » (# 1002)]. First side of the Jennings’ disc bears a very good version of Hank Williams’ « My sweet love ain’t around » (Skyrocket 1003), and the flipside is an original, written by Jennings, aided by Tex Zario (himself being an artist and owner of the label) and the unknown to me Lucky Taylor. The song « I saw you cheatin’ last night » is a nice country-rocker (insistant drums) backed by a good embroidering steel guitar, the lead guitar is fine too over a wave of fiddle.
So popular must this song have been that in 1968 on Arcade 202 it was revived by Rex Zario (it’s unclear if Rex and Tex are the same person) in a more rocking style: drums are louder, the steel is more discreet (a short solo), the vocal is a bit smooth. Rex Zario, « I saw you cheatin’ last night »
Sources : YouTube (Johnn Maddy, CheesebrewWax Archives) ; Hillbilly Researcher (Alba) ; 78rpm-worlds (Kingsport) ; 45rpm-cat (Arcade and Skyrocket) ; my own record (Rex Zario) ; Hillbilly-music.com for radio stations and Gordon Jenning’s picture; Billboard archives for personal data.
Kall Record Company – Greenville, South Carolina .
The little known Kall Records are pretty much a forgotten label owned I believe by Alan Riddle . They were producing some good Country/Honkytonk/Gospel records from 1960 onwards but only ten releases are known and there are some gaps within the run that I hope to fill within the coming months.
There seems to be a connection with local label ‘Plaid’ (also Greenville, SC) owned by Charles Rush , who were also releasing some decent country/Rockabilly around the same period and area , the connection being Alan Riddle who saw releases on both labels and I believe was also a co-owner of the publishing company ‘Duride’ along with record producer Don Dudley, hence the ‘DU’ and ‘RIDE’ from Riddle ?.
The Kall label is pretty recognisable with the bold blue lettering ‘KALL’ across the top with the small boy wearing a baseball cap shouting ! (this later changed to a smaller label design with psychadelic Orange/Yellow colouring )
The label numbers changed a few times but I am pretty sure ALAN RIDDLE was the first with his release in 1961 ‘It Takes You’ B/w ‘I Love No One But You’ # 0041. Before this release, Riddle had his song ‘The Moon Is Crying’ released in America on ‘Plaid’ # 1001 in 1960 and also on ‘Fling’ #219 in 1961 and then in Canada on the ‘Zirkon’ label # 1010 . Both ‘The Moon Is Crying’ and this Kall release were both produced by Don Dudley.
This 45 was straight country/Honkytonk up tempo shuffle and the A side moves along at a decent pace. The flip is a more basic slow number with girl backing vocals but has some nice guitar work during the solo.
The second release # 0042/246 by WALLACE HOOPERand the Dixie Ramblers . Again published by ‘Duride’ and is a pretty darn good Country tune. ‘In The Middle’ B/w ‘Third Stool Down’. Both songs were written with the help of top Nashville writer Jesse Evatt . The A side is a slow number but shows some decent guitar and the flip is your typical mid tempo bar room drinking song which has some lovely steel and fiddle. I have no info on who were the Dixie Ramblers !
CHARLIE and FRANK “The Country Lads” were next to see a release with Kall # 0043 . Again ‘Duride’ were the publishers of both songs and again both produced by Don Dudley. Both songs were recorded at the legendary Mark V Studios in Greenville. SC .
The A side ‘Just For Today’ is sung by Charlie Driggers ( Left) with Frank Adcox (right) on Rhythm Guitar, Bill Huffman on the upright Bass and Otis Forrest on Piano. A nice country tune sung and played well. The flip ‘Never Do Him Wrong’ a dual harmony tune with Charlie on lead vocal and Frank on tenor vocal, some lovely steel with superb vocals makes this a pretty good release. Charlie and Frank were joined by JR. Cisson on Steel and again Bill Huffman on bass but who played the drums is unknown.
Charlie Driggers passed away in 1996. Frank Adcox is still alive and strummin’ and the grand old age of 82. Below is a photo of Frank Adcox holding the 45 I found for him as a gift as he had no copy himself and another photo of him playing his old guitar.
Next saw Kall dip their toes into the Bluegrass/Gospel field with a release by ‘ FAMILY TRIO with JOYCE HAWKS’ . This saw a 1st time pressing by ‘Sheldon’ for the label . ‘He Rescued Me’ B/w ‘ When I Found Jesus’ are pretty good bluegrass gospel tunes that would have been sold locally and were very popular in this area of the States.
‘When I Found Jesus’ is the better of the two sides and really starts with some great mandolin and has a change in tempo throughout along with some super harmonies .
MAX HEDRICK was next with the first of his two releases on the label. Kall # 497 ‘Welcome Sign Upon My Heart’ B/w ‘Lonely Nights’. The A side was published by ‘Delrush’, most probably Alan Riddles new partner Alan Rush (owner of the previously mentioned ‘Plaid’ Records) . Both labels promote the ‘Riddle/Rush’ promotion and again this was a ‘Sheldon’ pressing.
Kall turned next to the fantastic ‘JIM SOUTHERN’ with the next release in 1961 on Kall # 499. A blistering country bopper that is right out of the top drawer. ‘Talking To The Angels’ written by ‘Plaid’ recording artist Gene Smith, ’Derush’ were again the publishers and is pure magic, sweet steel and Jim has some nice echo on his vocal and the flip ‘Darling, Where Is The Moonlight’ published by ‘Southern, another great tune and this moves along nicely with some sweet harmonies . The pressing plant for this 45 was again ‘Sheldon’.
Kall # 500 is next with some country by ‘BRENDA & ERNIE‘ , you get all the usual pedal steel and lashings of great harmonies . The A side ‘Just One Phone Call’ has Brenda taking lead and the B side ‘Foolish Pride’ has Ernie on lead. Both are real nice country tunes played with care and love. And again this record was pressed by ‘Sheldon’.
On a side note these two songs were written by ‘B. Hedrick & E. Hedrick’ (maybe a relation to Max Hedrick ? ) who had two releases on Kall.
MAX HEDRICK was next with his second and final release (as far as I know) with Kall # 501. Both songs written by ’Hedrick and Brown’. Released in 1961 this is a fantastic record and one of the best from the label. This again is a ‘Sheldon’ pressing . The A side ‘Actions’ is nothing spectacular and is just a slow country weepie and was apparently aired on ‘The Grand Ole Opry’ but the flip ‘Black Widow Heart’ a song about a girl who only wants to break his heart, this is a mighty fine tune and Max handles the vocals with ease and the whole thing shuffles along just right with some lovely steel and brush work on the snare drum.
Max was married to Norma Hedrick around this period and I do not know of any other releases by Max which is a shame as he had a decent voice.
The final two releases that I know of have the change in label colour and the Kall logo is smaller . The address has changed to PO Box 374, Travellers Rest, SC. This town is situated just north of Greenville.
Kall # 805 signifies a change in address and numbering system but strangely back to being published by ‘Duride’ (Dudley/Riddle). LESTER ELLER hits us with ‘The Fox Chase’ B/w ‘Chicken Reel’. I am yet to hear either but I imagine these are again country tunes from probably 1962 .
TOMMY HOOPERand The Nashville South are next with Kall # 6780 ?. The A side ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ B/w ‘Sunshine Girl’ are again unknown to me but I do know that Tommy and the group also saw releases on ‘Mowhawk’ and ‘Jed’ labels in the mid 70’s. I don’t think he was connected to or a relation to Wallace Hooper who had a release on Kall # 0042 but I cannot be sure.
If anybody has any further information on further releases or artists connected with the Kall label then please let me know.
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.
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 ».
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).
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.
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.
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].
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).
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].
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).
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?]
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).
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 »
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;