Late July 2017 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hello, people ! Let’s begin this new July 2017 fortnight’s favorites selection with EARL PETERSON (b. 1927, d. 1973), a well-known figure out of Michigan. Apart from an early issue on his own Nugget label in 1949, he cut two sessions for Columbia in 1955 ; one of the songs involved was « I ain’t gonna fall in love » (# 21467). Light vocal, bass guitar, piano, all these combine for a fine bopper written by Vernon Claud. Peterson’s story is to be found in this site, was published January 2016.

« I ain’t gonna fall in love« 

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Next artist KENNY ROBERTS was an ubiquitous one : Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, although he was born (1925- d. 2012) in Tennessee as George S. Kingsbury. His speciality was yodeling, and more than one of his songs showed this : « I was born to yodel », « She taught me to yodel » or « The Arizona yodeler ».

« Hillbilly fever »

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The song I chose of him is the fine « Hillbilly fever », issued February 1950 on the Coral label (# 64032) : his puffed vocal comes to a good effect, and he yodels lovely, mentioning Hillbilly songs of the era. Main instruments are harmonica and fiddle.

Now two Rockabillies by DANIEL NIX on the Zion, IL N&R label (Starday custom) from 1959. « Compensation blues » (# 741) is a medium-paced opus ; strong vocal and guitar to the fore. The follow-up is « Unlucky man » (# 756), the fastest of both tracks.

« Compensation blues« 

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« Unlucky man »

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On to Texas and Louisiana with RAY ROGERS, Western swing bandleader. His first selection comes from the 1950 Star Talent label (# 758B) : « Mississipi blues » is mid-paced and includes a muted trumpet and a fine steel. The second issue « How can you be so mean » is a fast bopper on the Delta label (# 2840) from an unknown year : chimes and trumpet are the main instruments.

« Mississipi blues »

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« How can you be so mean »

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Way up North in Indianapolis with BOB HILL & his Melody Boys on Nabor 105. « This old train (is leaving my blues behind )» is a fast Rockabilly from 1959, lot of echo and a prominent fiddle. The second issue, « Empty dreams and empty arms » (Nabor 114B) is a shuffler from 1961-62, which has a lot of nice steel, a loud bass and a prominent rhythm guitar. A good record for this era. The song was revamped by Eddie Hill, unknown label. (The muddy sound, I’m sorry, comes from an old Tom Sims cassette).

« This old train »

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« Empty dreams and empty arms »

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Finally « Wild cherry » by LEROY WASHINGTON is a pure R&B rocker on the Excello label (# 2144) from 1958. Guitar Gable plays the lead guitar.« Wild cherry »

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Sources : UncleGil for Daniel Nix files ; YouTube for Kenny Roberts. Ole’ Tom Sims’ cassettes for Bob Hill.

EARL PETERSON, the Michigan’s Singing Cowboy (1950-1955)

earl pic1Despite a long career that spanned almost 45 years, comparatively little is known about Earl Peterson. He was born in Paxton, Illinois, on February 24, 1927 and moved to Michigan when he was 18 months old. He apparently became proficient on both guitar and drums and formed his own band, the Sons of the Golden West, when he was still in high school. The group secured a regular spot on WOAP, Owosso, then moved to WMYC in Alma, Michigan, before settling at WCEN, Mount Pleasant. WCEN gave Earl and his group a regular show, Earl’s Melody Trails, and made him the talent director, staff announcer and farming news editor. Earl was to study Law after high school but he switched to a musical career instead.

Earl made his debut in the record business when he formed a record label, Nugget Records, with his mother, in January 1950.

nugget 1B earl peterson - take me back to michigan

« Take me back to Michigan« download

Peterson also undertook road trips to publicise his record and, at the same time, worked guest dee-jay spots at various stations. It seems as though his mother, Pearle Lewis, was the driving force behind Peterson. Sam Phillips recalled that the pair arrived on his doorstep early in 1954 pitching « The Boogie blues ». Phillips located some country session musicians to work with Peterson and the result of the session was released in the Spring of 1954.
« Boogie blues« (Sun 197)download
« In the dark« (Sun 197)
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/In-the-dark.mp3
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sun 197 earl peterson - boogie bluessun 197 earl peterson - in the dark

The story becomes more convoluted from that point. In October of that year Peterson, with a healthy disregard for contracts and AFM regulations, re-recorded the same song for Columbia. The song was re-copyrighted and probably sold more than the 2500 copies that Phillips had shipped.

columbia 21364 earl peterson - boogie blues

columbia 21364 earl peterson - believe me

 

 

 

« Boogie blues« (Columbia 21364)download
« Believe me » (Columbia 21364)
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/21364-Believe-Me-Earl-Peterson.mp3
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Peterson’s half-brother, Bob Lewis, recalls that Peterson was desperately unhappy with the quality of the Sun recording and that may account for his lack of reserve when Don Law approached him to re-record the tune. In any event, Peterson had a few singles released on Columbia but they were shipped into changing market conditions (released between February 1955 and July 1956) and Peterson may have tired of the constant touring necessary to support his releases. His mother ran a resort club, the Bass Lake Pavillion, and Earl formed a band that included twin steel guitars, two lead guitars, two fiddles and his half-brother on drums and he played here on a regular basis supporting all the acts that worked the area as singles. In this way, Earl and the boys backed Marty Robbins, Moon Mullican and many more. The ’53 Buick which Earl had driven all those miles was increasingly confined to short trips.

 

« I’m not buying, baby« (Columbia 21406)download>

« Be careful of the heart you’re going to break » (Columbia 21406)download

columbia 21406 earl peterson - I'm not buying, baby

columbia 21467 earl peterson 78 I ain't gonna fall in love

columbia 21467 earl peterson - I'll live my life alone

In 1960 Peterson and his family established radio station WPLB in Greenville, Michigan. In columbia 21406 earl peterson - be careful of the heart1962, they switched to the FM frequency and the following year saw Earl’s retirement from the performing side of the music business. By that point there was an undeniable quotient of rock and roll in country music and, in Bob Lewis’ words, « Earl wasn’t crazy about that stuff ». In 1965 Earl learned that he had cancer but he continued to work at the station until his death in May 1971.earl peterson2

« I ain’t gonna fall in love » (Columbia 21467) download

« I’ll live my life alone » (Columbia 21467) download
Earl Peterson’s music, a survey by bopping’s editor

  • any Columbia issue coupled an uptempo and a slowie. The vocal is firm and assured, and the backing is on a par with the best what Nashville did offer at the time. Although unknown musicians, there was a steel, a fiddle and on « Boogie blues » (remake of the Sun version) a welcome rinky-dink piano. I posted the tracks side-by-side to let yourself judge.
  • « Boogie blues » on Sun 197 has sewing fiddle, steel and drums. Peterson’s voice is very reminiscent to that of Jimmie Rodgers, and the song itself derives from pre-war country songs, like Gene Autry’s ‘blues’ songs. Its flipside « In the dark » is a strong shuffler.
  • « Alimony blues », although in the past (N.L. Redita LP) credited to Peterson, is in fact done by Gene Steele.
  • « You just can’t be trusted », found on Youtube (Mr. Honky tonk chain), is evidently a ’60s recording, nice done, although I don’t know the original label neither the flipside.

« You gotta be my baby« (Columbia 21540)download

« World of make believe« (Columbia 21540)download

Sources : « The country years » (1987) by Colin Escott ; page on Earl Peterson – also music from « Columbia 20000 » (Willem Agenant) ; scans from 78rpm-world ; « The Hillbilly researcher » for scan and music to Nugget 78rpm.

« You just can’t be trusted » (’60’s)download

columbia 21540 earl peterson - you gotta be my baby