A Starday subsidiary label in Music City: the NASHVILLE label (1960-1965) – many Starday custom artists! modern Hillbilly bop

After Lonnie Irving‘s 1960 success with « Pinball Machine » (Starday 486) – staying on the charts for four months, reaching Billboard’s # 13 spot -, Don Pierce realized that a lot of the custom material sent in to Starday had strong commercial potential, so he decided to set up a label that would serve as a cross between the Starday custom serie (which lasted until # 1186) and the main series. Shortly after the success of the success of « Pinball Machine » in the summer of 1961, Pierce founded a subsidiary label, Nashville Records. Just as they had a custom service, artists would generally pay for their own studio sessions. But as was the norm for the his Starday productions, Pierce would usually pay for the pressing, shipping, and promotion. The goal was to establish another successful line of singles that, similar to the rock’n’roll label Dixie, could be shopped around on a local level. (suite…)

Johnny Tyler, the « Oakie Boogie » man (1946-1957)

Lehman Monroe « Johnny » Tyler was born in Pochontas, Arkansas, on February 6th, 1918. What he made during the Thirties and how he traveled so far to California in the mid-40s is unknown, neither if he had particular talent in his youth for music. He must although have been a good seller in 1946-47, because RCA-Victor made him cut no less than 35 tracks within a year.

Randolph Cty, Ark. Pocohontas at bottom center


Jimmy Johnson, a shooting hillbilly/rockabilly star from Texas

The location is the Trail ’80’ Courts, a motel in Mineola, about 90 miles east of Dallas, Texas. Inside a bunch of good ole boys have gathered for a songwriters’ jam session convened by the motel’s owner, Jack Rhodes. After various jobs, among them moonshiner and a back accident, he began writing country songs and putting on his first band, Jack Rhodes’ Ramblers, in 1947. They made their first professionnal recordings the same year, backing Rhodes’ brother-in-law Leon Payne. The acetates were sent to Jim Bulleit in Nashville, who issued 6 singles during 1947-48 by Payne. But in 1949, Payne switched to Capitol Records, forming his own band,the Lone Star Buddies, which led to a failure between he and Jack Rhodes. Rhodes’ Ramblers, later also named Lone Star Buddies did include the three Hayes brothers : Joe ‘Red’ and Kenneth ‘Little Red’ on fiddles, and Leon on bass. (suite…)

Sid King and the Five Strings: Texas Hillbilly bop and Rockabilly (1953-1957)

Sid King, a ‘nom de disque‘ for Sid Erwin, was born in Denton, Texas (in the Dallas-Fort Worth area) on Octber 15, 1936. Around 1952, he formed a band in high school as an extension of his appearances on a local radio station, KDNT. « I brought Melvin Robinson [on steel guitar], Ken Massey [bass] and my brother Billy [lead guitar], and then Dave White joined us a year or so later on drums. » Shortly after the band came together, Sid made a few appearances as a solo act on the Big ‘D’ Jamboree in nearby Dallas, but eventually he decided to concentrate on working with his band. (suite…)

early March 2012 fortnight’s favourites

Hello folks. Yes I am back, having moved and from a trip in Prague. Beautiful city, yet no Hillbilly sounds over there! Anyway, let’s go back to our favorites. This time I’ve chosen 5 artists. Let’s begin with an interesting late ’40s/early ’50s one, ZEKE CLEMENTS. I know very little about him, except he had many records on Blazon, Liberty (not the L.A. pop concern), Gold Standard, even in 1960 on his own Janet label. He was a prolific songwriter, and should be noticed « Smoke On The Water » for Red Foley. Here he delivers a fine shuffling (piano and guitar led) ditty on Liberty 8, « Oklahoma Blues« .

zeke clementsliberty 8  zeke clements oklahoma blues

Early 60s and on to Cincinnati area with the rather unknown SLIM FOSTER. I posted both sides of his K-Ark single (# 613), one side uptempo, the other medium, with a lovely steel-guitar for « Never Be Untrue » and « I Wish I’d known« . Good Country bop.

k-ark 613 slim foster never be untrue

From Texas I’d assume comes now CURLEY SANDERS and a nice bopper on the Imperial label (# 8226), « Too Much Lovin’« , complete with piano, fiddle and guitar and that immediately recognizable Imperial sound. Sanders would later (1956) have a Starday issue, « Brand New Rock And Roll » in the famous custom serie (# 590): see elsewhere in the site for this side.

imperial 8226 curley sanders too much lovin'lanor 503 bill matte parlez-vous l'francais

On to Louisana, early ’60s: BILL MATTE & the Five Classics for the presumably hard-to-understand for English speakers: « Parlez-vous l’francais » (Do you speak french) is sung in Cajun patois, and myself have trouble understanding all the lyrics!

Finally another inreresting artist from the Cincinnati area, AL RUNYON, on Kentucky for a revamp of Hank Snow‘s « I’m Moving On« . Not a bad version, as Runyon was covering others’ hits, as his labelmate Delbert Barker. He was also later on Starday for the famous Jimmie Skinner’s penned « Baby Please Come Home« . His story is a bit intricated, but I hope to have it posted in the future.

kentucky 537 al runyon I'm moving onAs a bonus. I just heard BILLY STRANGE passed away on Feb. 22th (aged 81). He cut many records and played on innumerable sessions from the late ’40s ‘way into the ’70s. Here is one of my favorite trucker songs, « Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves » on Capitol 2032 from 1952.

capitol 2032 billy strange diesel smoke