“He was a fantastic little guy. Gene could have been one of the biggest things on television. He could’ve had his own show nationally and been one of the biggest artists on TV. But you couldn’t depend on Gene. He’s be liable to be out at the horses races, you know, instead of being at the station, where he should be…but you couldn’t keep from loving the little guy.” (Speedy West)
Because he didn’t seem to take himself too seriously as an artist, he excelled at good-timey romps, as Boogie Woogie Fever, Texas Boogie, and was not totally convincing on tearjerkers. He was a major star on the West Coast for several years, with high-profile radio and television status on Cliffie Stone’s Hometown Jamboree. The musicians who backed him were the top ones of the West Coast: Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant, Billy Liebert, Cliffie Stone. He enjoyed only minor hits, like his cover of Hank Locklin’s “Pin Ball Millionaire”, but he sold consistently enough for Capitol to keep him around for four years in a very competitive and changing scene – surprisingly, given his undoubted feel for hillbilly boogies, it was the emergence of rock’n’roll that really knocked him out. (suite…)
Howdy folks! Thanks for visiting my site: you are never less than 35-50 people each day. This is the proof the site is of interest to you, and it gives me in turn enthusiasm and heart to go ahead, search and find more hillbilly bop gems for your own pleasure.
Robert AUTRY INMAN (as christened) from Alabama had begun his musical career as bass player for Cowboy Copas and George Morgan in the latter part of the ’40s. A first recording contract wth Bullet in Nashville occurred in 1949, I will tell more about him in a future feature, when I have gathered enough biographical information (which is actually very sparse for his early career). 1952 saw him inked by Decca records, where he enjoyed moderate success, fine boppers and ballads. In 1956 he embarked freely on the rockabilly bandwagon and cut the classic two-sider « Be-Bop Baby/It Would Be A Doggone Lie« , I’ve chosen the latter side, in my opinion the better of both.
Tommy Durden late 1990s
From Kansas City, early ’60s, a pleasant jumping country-rock tune on the ‘R‘ label, « There’ll Sure To Be Other Times » by OTHEL SULLIVAN. He had another 45 on Wonder, which I have not heard. Judging by the RCA custom pressing number, it dates from 1960.
The next artist in question, TOMMY DURDEN, born 1928 in Georgia, had a low-profile career for more than 40 years. Singer and steel-guitar player, he is best known today for being the co-writer of « Heartbreak Hotel », which gave him comfortable royalties, even if he never wrote a follow-up. Early ’50s saw him , no one knows how, cutting for Houston’s Sol Kahal’s Freedom label, backed by the Westernaires. He had a regional hit, « Crossroads » (rejected by Four Star’s Bill McCall as « too pop »); but fare more interesting was « Hula Boogie« : Durden on vocal, a deft mandolin solo by Boots Gilbert (one-time Durden’s wife, later to have the classic « Take It Or Leave It » on Fortune), and a stinging, hot steel-guitar by the young Herb Remington.
From the Ohio State comes now BOBBY RUTLEDGE. He recorded for the Akron Zipp label some Hillbilly bop sides (« Southern Fried Chicken« ); here you have the furious « Go Slow Fatso » from 1956.
BUSTER DOSS & his Arkansas Playboys recorded first for Dallas Talent label this « Graveyard Boogie » in 1949, aimed at horror/halloween followers. Fine steel, call and response format, and a romping piano. He was the uncle of Bob Doss, famed for his Starday sides of the late fifties.
Finally a boogie classic by CECIL GANT – he would die early February 1951 in Nashville, a mere 60 years ago, after a short 6 years musical run and innumerable boogies and ballads. Here I’ve chosen one of his best instrumental tunes, « Screwy Boogie« . Enjoy the selections!