Luke Gordon was born Gordon Brown in Quincy, Kentucky on Friday 15th April, 1932; and was next to the youngest of 6 boys and 2 girls. Luke started his music career on radio station WPAY in Portsmouth, Ohio with the Rhythm Rascals and became good friends with Zeke Mullins who was a DJ at WPAY. Luke served in the US. Army during the Korean conflict and upon his discharge in 1953 he headed for Norfolk, Virginia where he met up with Jimmy Dean and did a show with him. He then went from there to Warrenton, Virginia with Jimmy and they won the ‘Best Vocalist’ at a JC contest. He also appeared on the ‘Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, Virginia. Luke then went to Tennessee and entertained the folks with Ray Price & The Western Cherokees.
After his stint in Tennessee he returned to Virginia and the Washington D.C. area to work with fiddler Curley Smith at radio station WGAY, Silver Springs, Maryland and do personal appearances. Curley set up a number of recording sessions for Luke with Ben Adelman and the result was released on L & C & STARDAY during 1956.
Luke started his own QUINCY record label which was based in Quincy, Kentucky. He also appeared on ISLAND, BLUE RIDGE, EMPIRE & NASHVILLE amongst others.
“Married Life” is a Luke The Drifter type monolog which bemoans how bad married life can be. I class this type of song as “Bar Room Advice”, the wisdom of an unhappily married man. (Then again, if they were so smart ……. ) “Goin’ Crazy” is a nice shuffling country ditty, supported by a fine lead guitarist.
And that is all I know on LUKE GORDON! His Starday sides are easily available on the Dutch compilation above. What happened to such a talented guy afterwards? He has records even in 2005!
Biographical information gathered from excellent Malcolm Chapman’s Starday Custom Series site.
Discographical data from Dick Grant’s researches on Ben Adelman’s archives and from famous Praguesfrank’s site http://countrydiscography.blogspot.com/search?q=luke+gordon
Pictures, as usual, from various sources, e.g. Rockin’ Country Style.
bopping editor’s notes:
Luke Gordon’s records are difficult to find, without doubt being poor sellers at the time. I couldn’t find but the Dutch compilation above.
The standout track is “Goin’ Crazy“, which is par to what Memphis had best to offer in 1955/56: name Bud Deckleman or other Meteor artists. Raw, crude medium Hillbilly bop; firm barytone vocal, top-class backing of fiddle, guitar and steel. BUT one thing: I first heard this track via a Tom Sims’ cassette way back in the 1980’s on the L&C label, and it has a dobro…not heard on the Starday track on Collector. Not same timing too. However, to my knowledge, nobody has ever noticed the difference. The dobro-backed “Goin’ Crazy“, which has a sort of Bluegrass feel to it, is superior, at least to me, to the “regular” Starday version. The voice is higher too. To confuse a little more tracks, “Dark Hollow” from 1958 (Blue Ridge label # 502) has also a dobro…It is indeed the Bill Browning tune issued on Island, and revived, among others by, by Jimmy Skinner who hit with it in 1958 on Mercury. Can anyone shed some light on this story? You can judge by yourself, since the two versions are podcasted below.
Note (November 14, 2011) on “Goin’ Crazy“. Praguefrank discography list this very first song recorded by Luke Gordon as “unissued”. But it mentions Buzz Busby on mandolin and John Duffey on dobro (+ the Stonemans Bros. on bass and fiddle), that’s exactly the aural line-up I did detect on the L&C issue (# 555) (as transferred from the Tom Sims’ cassette). Since, still according to Praguefrank, L&C 555 was reissued on Starday 555 (in its ‘Custom’ serie), one must admit that both versions of “Goin’ Crazy” (one with mandolin/dobro, the other without) were issued with the SAME number…Anyway you can hear the great difference between both versions in the podcasts below.
Quincy 932 has until now eluded my research, and must be the rarest Gordon’s record. However the mention of “The Rock and Roll Boys” as backing band sounds interesting, and proves that Gordon had well adapted to new trends. Note that in the discography he cut his sides during a split session (same backing band apparently) as Billy Adams. “Lonely Heartache” from 1961 is as fine as Gordon’s earlier sides: a nice Hillbilly uptempo weeper (fiddle/steel solo) propulsed by a loping bass. Don’t miss it in the podcasts.
Some 80’s issues on the World Artist Productions. I’ve still have to hear them yet!
FLASH: Luke Gordon died Tuesday September 14th, 2010 after a long illness. Hillbilly-Music.com has already published a biography on him at http://www.hillbilly-music.com/news/story/index.php?id=8932
Revised on November 14th, 2011. Thanks to a visitor, Bill Hancock, we now know the name of the dobro player on “Goin’ Crazy“: “Lew Childrey played Dobro in Goin Crazy” . So it could be not John Duffey? Also, I put my hand on Mount Vernon LP 156 (thanks YouTube), so I can now podcast 6 more fine Hillbilly bop tracks from late 1954 to 1959, cut in Washington, D.C. Among them is “Christmas in Tennessee“, whose lead guitar player is none other than young Link Wray!
Later addition (December 26, 2011). I got the 1980 album “Picture Show” on World label 5000. Very nice Country rockers, Gordon in fine voice, sympathetic backing (steel well to the fore). So I add in the podcasts two numbers: “Oblivion” and “Alimony“.