Lotsa Rock”Roll, some boppers anyway too !

CHARLIE GRACIE (rn Graci) was a precursor of Rock’n ‘Roll as early as 1951.

He then cut for the Cadillac label (# 141) a fine R&B tinged hillbilly boogie : « Boogie Boogie Blues ». As planned it’s a R&B rocker, fine guitar, vocal OK (Gracie was only 15!), even a good sax solo.

The second offering (same era), « Wildwood Boogie » was published by 20th Century Fox # 5035. Same pattern for this stop-and-go rocker.

Being an excellent guitarist, he played live a tremendous « Guitar Boogie » in 1987.

Finally he paid homage to Eddie Cochran with « I’m allright ».
Some 6 yeas later, he turned pop-rock on Cameo wih « Butterfly », or « 99 Ways » and hit it big. He didn’t although completely ceased Rock’n’Rolling, as heard on live gigs released in UK, eg. on Rollercoaster.

Way up North with RAY TAYLOR and his Alabama Pals for the brilliant « Connie Lou » on the Clix 802 label. His son backs him on drums. Urgent vocal, great, great guitar. The reverse side « My Harmtrack Baby » is equally good at least.

Several years later he turned modern Country, as heard in this « Another Yesterday » on the Voice of Country label (# 107).

Let’s turn back the years. On Clix 801, he had released the fine « Clocking My Card », very bluegrass styled with its mandolin backing all through.

Now we go on the West Coast for an artist who did not seem his career seriously ; he had a great hillbilly voice and the finest musicians team in town (L.A.) GENE O’QUIN missed the train to stardom, being more interested with horses than his own music. Nevertheless he left behind him some of the best ever boppers ever cut and released in the early ’50s by Capitol Records. Heres he is with the funny « I Specialize In Love » (# 2715), circa 1951-52. Excellent backing, steel to the fore.

And now we’re entering the Rock’n’Roll field with another Gene, the Screaming End, born in Norfolk, Va. GENE VINCENT found national success in 1956-57, then he relocated in Texas where he was immensely popular. Here backed by a very young (17 years old at the time, 1958) Ronnie Dawson on lead guitar, he belts out « Hey Mama » (only available until recently on an acetate record), which became the same year a regular « Say Mama », one of his signature songs on Capitol 4105 in December 1958.

The following extract is a transcription of a show he gave in San Francisco in 1971, backed by the Commander Cody Band. Enjoy his rough voice ! Here is a pot-pourri of covers of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and of course Gene’s songs!

RONNIE DAWSON from Dallas had a great career, even with pseudonyms. I chose the great rocker « Rock The Blues Tonight », issued 1982 on Demon (« Monkey Beat »).

And Dawson is for the last two tracks of this selection, cut live in Lyon, France, in November.1991.
First the great rocker (the original was released by Champion Jack Dupree), backed by the Dutch group the Sneat Sniffers (note the prodigious 15-years old lead guitarist, and the good work of both the bassman and the dummer) « Shim Sham Shimmy ».

For a change, we got the old Sam Nichols tune « Who Put The Cat Out (When Papa Was Out Of Town )», sung bluesy style. Very nice lead guitar, before Dawson takes his own solo. Good Lord!

Sources: Ronnie Dawson live (personal collection); Ray Taylor’s “Voice Of Country” 45rpm from Armadillo Killer archives; Gene Vincent’s “Hey Mama” from Internet, as Ray Taylor’s Clix 801; more of Gene Vincent (SF gig) from Internet; Gene O’Quin from my collection; Ray Taylor’s Clix sides from my collection; Charlie Gracie tracks from Internet. Enjoy all the tracks and your comments are welcome!