Walter “Tex” Dixon: from Hillbilly Bop to mainstream Country (1950 to Seventies)

Mason Dixon, here is an artist who went under a number of different sobriquets, billed variously during his career as “Tex” Dixon, Walter Dixon, Walter “Tex” Dixon, and of course Mason Dixon. Although he is not the Mason Dixon who recorded for the Memphis METEOR label, that was Merle “Red” Taylor.

The Mason Dixon here is one Walter Dickey, regular on the Dixie Hayride from Florence, Alabama, who made his recording debut, as
Walter Dixson, for the Birmingham, Alabama BAMA label in 1951 Both sides (« Honky Tonk Swing » is a rockin’ bopper. The B-side, « i’m Feelin’ Sorry » is an uptempo ballad. Years later, “Hello Memphis” was obviously a popular song as Dixon re-recorded the number for the Memphis ZONE label a few years later .

Although a thorough research, no biography data ever surfaced about him. So all we must consider is his music.And his recording history is far from complete, his records in some cases (1960’s) seemingly are quite uncommon, and it’s been quite a task to discover several of them, sorry.

His first record was issued on Bama 2200 under the adventurous name of Walter Dixson {sic}, it’s a romper (fabulous piano) « Honky Tonk Swing » on the very same label that « Sydney » Hardrock Gunter made also his debut with « Gonna Dance All Night », Bama # 201. One can assume, sudging aurally from the sounds, that they shared the same band on their first record. A second issue by Dixon is rumoured to exist, but never came to light. Then came his rarest records, on Dixie : . nobody seems to own them. Even a great collector of Hillbilly in U.S., Dave Sax didn’t answer to me about these Dixie records. Hell, maybe he’s got them !

Then Atkins relocated later employed Dixon for gigs.
Next Dixon was in 1957 on Starday (regular serie) # 564 (« Your Lovin’ Lies » / »I’m Feelin ‘ Sorry For Myself ») as « Tex Dixon ». Both songs are very good uptempo ballads. Steel guitar is prominent, and both are well sung with some extrovert vocal. His only known picture was taken during his stay at Starday.

We now jump ro 1959, on Reed Records (out of Alabama), and Dixon went on this Alabama label and cut 5 records, picking again his name of « Mason Dixon ». The highlight was the first version of one of his successes, the renowned « Hello Memphis » (Reed # 564) : it’s a an uptempo adorned by a fine steel and a lowdown backing. Other good tracks of this era do include « Somebody Else Is Taking My Place » (# 545), a nice fast bopper (with trumpet backing), the flipside, « I Wanr My Baby Back » is a rocker, nice guitar. Then « Big Blue Waters » (# 1060) has a folky taste, while its flipside « Open the Door (Liza Jane) » is a folk rocker. # 1064 do couple the already discussed « Hello Memphis » and « Queen Of My Heartaches » (doubled vocal).

Col Cold Heart

by Mason Dixon

(unheard -not found)(

I Don't LIKE This Kind Of Living

by Mason Dixon

(unheard - not found)

Cold, Cold Heart

by Mason Dixon

(unheard -not found)

I Just Don't like This Kind Of Living

by Mason Dixon

(Unheard -not found)

In 1960 Walter Dixon relocated in Memphis for 4 records, respectively on Zone and Stomper Time labels. The first has # 1150, a good rendition of two Hank Willllam’s songs, « Cold, Cold Heart » and « I Just Don’t Like This Kind Of Living », # 1150. «  I Had To Let You Go » and « Mind Full Of Memories » # 1158: two passable country-rockers (double vocals) – in 1962 – « She Can’t Stand The Light Of Day »/ a very good revamp of « Hello Memphis » (Zone # 520) suming at 2’43, instead of the Reed 1015 version.

There begins a serie of 4 non-secular tunes cut for Loyal Records under again the name Mason Dixon  : « Precious Memories »/ »There’s A Light Guiding Me » issued on Loyal # 112, (and the Datson Brothers, as backing vocal chorus?)

Erwin : « Slowly Dying » # 212), « Funny How Love Can Be » (750) and « Goodbye She’s Gone » (# 1100), one of his best rockers on Zone 1093

From then on, Dixon always cut mainstream country until the early ’70s . Things like « Radar Blues »/ »Running The Grapevine » (Brite Star 2458) « Big City »/ »Little Bitty Woman »(Crown 128), « i’m Crying Happy »/ »Just You» All those sides « Just Outside The Door » (GMG 187) and Macho 7803 « The Po ‘Man’s Blues ») are only of interest to hard-core country music fans, I guess. His Macho single seems the latest, and he disppeared afterwards, record-wise.

For several years I have been looking for material (biographical and/or records) of this important, although unknown nowadays, artist. The resulting story is quite meager, and I am conscious of his relative modesty. But it’s been all those recent years to gather material and setting up this story, indeed far from complete. Meanwhile, this is all I can say about Walter/Tex Dixon, and i hope someone will care and share his knowledge about him, in order to complete this story.

Aknowledgements: Big Allan Turner (Bama, Alfa sides); various compilations for 60’s material; a a special big ‘thank you’ to Kent Heinemann for later sides (60’s and 70s).

Early May 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks! This is the early May 2019 fortnight’s favorites selection: 6 artists, most of them having their records issued between the late ’40s and the mid-50s, with a brief entry into the late ’50s.

First song, “Too Young To Get Married”, is a fast item – rural hick vocal, fiddle solo and steel. A gas! Released on Birmingham, AL. GG # 516 label.

The second Bill Lancaster selection, “It’s Saturday Night (And I’m Going To Town)” has a rinky dink piano. A pure heaven Hillbilly bopper from 1955, also on GG label # 519.

Bill Lancaster’s Roving Gamblers

“Past Love” by Bill Lancaster (R.S. of # 519) is medium honky tonk – sincere vocal with steel. Lancaster had another record on his apparently own label, Bills-45 (untraced)

Fiddlin’ Willie & the Ozark Pals

Accordion was a very popular instrument in the late ’40s Country. It’s the main one in Fiddlin’ Willie’s “Knocking at Your Door” recorded on Saint Louis, MO Disco label # 1500. A fast number with of course a nice fiddle solo. Vocal is by Leon Key, one of the brothers Robert, Richard and Willie Key, respectively mandolin and/or guitar, and fiddle.

Fiddlin’ Willie & the Ozark Pals on Sarg

Gone was the accordion for this August 1956 item, “Our Secret Rendezvous”, a medium paced number with of course a nice fiddle solo. Accordion is replaced by a steel. Vocal is by Leon Key, one of the brothers Robert, Richard and Willie Key, respectively mandolin and/or guitar, and fiddle.A strong Louvin Brothers influence in the vocals. This record was cut in Saint Louis and offered by the Key Brothers’ manager to Charles Fitch (it’s the only non-Texas Sarg recording) who agreed to issue it.

Leroy Dobson

From the West Coast on the Ludwig label (1958), owned by Rodney Morris (it has been reported that the label was named after his son’s name), one Leroy Dobson for “I Wanta Make Love” (# 1005). A fast and uptempo number, a lot of steel = almost Rockabilly. Last time it was sold, $ 314!

Roy Harris & his Happy Hillbillies

Roy Harris was touring in Mississippi. He was signed by Lilian McMurry on her Trumpet label in Jackson and released “No One Else” (# 134) accompanied by the Buzz Busby Orchestra [for a future fortnight). Here we find him in 1954 on the Johnny Vincent’s Champion label, which was eventually forerunner to Ace.”Too Much” (# 105) is a medium paced ditty, with piano and fiddle to the fore. Harris also released records on Flair and Modern.

Walter (Tex) Dixson & his Radio Ramblers

Tex (or Walter, or even Mason) Dixon hailed from Birmingham, AL. and released many records all along the ’50s. We at bopping are now trying to set up his entire story to be published in a near future. Here it’s his first one, backed by the same band as on “Birmingham Bounce” by Hardrock Gunter and on the same label (Bama 2200). “Honky Tonk Swing” is an energetic performance, with a romping piano. Guitar and steel are great. A very rare record.

Gene Wyatt

Once more a West coast record. Ebb was owned by Art Rupe and was an outlet for Southern artists. I release here Gene Wyatt and “Lover Boy” (# 123, from 1957). Fine rinky dink piano, two great guitar solos and heavy drums. “Lover Boy” is a nice Rockabilly rocker.

Sources : my own archives ; 45cat (Bill Lancaster; Mellow’s Log Cabin (Walter Dixson); YouTube for Fiddling’ Willie, Gene Wyatt and Roy Harris.”The Sarg Records Anthology,1954-1964″ (BF)

early December 2013 fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks, here’s the new batch of Bopping goodies early this month.

From Arkansas, a state not already known for its music. Nevertheless one can find with Internet some very nice records. I knew HERSHEL PARKER for years (through a Tom Sims’ cassette) and his “Hey-Pa” on the Fort Smith, Arkansas, Pla-an-tak (# 510-25) label. Very solid Country bop from the early ’60s. He also had on the Fort Smith UBC label (# 1023) the fine double-sided (one side uptempo, the other a great ballad) “Can’t go home tonight” (very sensitive ballad with fiddle and steel solos) backed with the upt. “I can’t forget“. I couldn’t find a picture n the net but the music only. All sides from early ’60s. UBC also issued Bob Calloway‘s fine Rocker “Wake up, little boy blue” in 1960. See for information on Arkansas labels.

UBC hershel parker

Hershel Parker “Hey-Pa”


“Can’t go home tonight”


Hershel Parker I can’t forget”




pla-an-tak parker hey

Seemingly a Tennessean, HOMER MONROE cut in Chattanooga, TN, the nice “Headin’ on down the line” on the Spann  label (#1764). We find him once more – same piano to the fore, so he’s presumably playing it – on an Alabama  Silvia label from Silvania for “It’s many a mile from me to you” (# 1161), Country Drifters backing him. Judging by the sound, I’d assume both records being from the late ’50s.

Homer MonroeHeadin on down the line

download spann monroe headin'

Homer MonroeIt’s many a mile from me to you

download silvia  monroe mile

On the Linda label – there has been a few by the same name: “Country Music From Midway USA” – REBEL WRIGHT offers “I’m a long gone daddy” (not the Hank Williams’ song) (# 002B) and finally from “the heart of Dixie” on the Bama label (# 00001B) (not THE Bama label for Hardrock Gunter‘s “Birmingham Bounce” from 1951) by LEFTY PRITCHETT and the Country Kats, “Just an ole has been“. Enjoy the selections, bye! Next fortnight early January 2014. Have a Boppin’ Xmas and a happy Hillbilly New Year!
linda  wright Idaddy Rebel WrightI’m a long gone daddy

(March  31rst, 2018. I add a short snippet (1’04”) to Rebel Wright’s “Back To Love again” on the Central label 314012.)



Lefty PritchettJust an ole has been

bama protchett been









Sourve: primarily Internet.

Chuck Murphy, piano pounder from Montgomery, Alabama (1951-1955)


Born Charles Hurt Murphy, Jr., 7 March 1922, Montgomery, Alabama Died 18 August 2001, Charleston, South Carolina

Chuck Murphy was a piano pounder who made two interesting records that you could call proto-rock n roll. Born in March 1922, he always celebrated his birthday on March 8, but, when he looked at his birth certificate years later, he found that he was actually born on March 7. Born in Montgomery, he grew up in Decatur, Alabama. His mother played piano and Chuck and his brother Huel both took up the instrument. Chuck loved Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong. His first gigs were in pop bands during the mid-1930s and by the 1940s he was making a living from music. Most of his work came from the lounges in and around Birmingham. Country music came into the picture in a minor way (he gigged with the Red Mountain Wranglers and was on their television show, and hung out with Hardrock Gunter), but pop music was his bread-and-butter. At one point, he was among the highest paid entertainers in Alabama.

bama murphy ribbon

In February 1951, Murphy had his first record released, “They Raided the Joint”/”Blue Ribbon Boogie” (Bama 301), accompanying himself on what sounded like an old barrelhouse piano.

The A-side was written by Louis Jordan and Dan Burley and recorded by Jordan in January 1945 as “They Raided the House“, though it was not released at the time. Bama Records was owned by Manley Pearson, who had released the original version of “Birmingham Bounce” by Hardrock Gunter. Decca had tried to buy the master, but after Pearson refused, Paul Cohen recorded his own version of “Birmingham Bounce” with Red Foley, which went to # 1 on the country charts, leaving Pearson with piles of unsold copies. Having learned from this experience, Pearson leased “They Raided the Joint” to Coral this time (a subsidiary of Decca!), after the disc showed good sales potential. Coral reissued Chuck’s single in April 1951 (Coral 64090). It sold well in the southern states, but was not a national hit. Chuck did further recordings for Coral with Pee Wee Erwin’s Dixieland Band. There was even a Dutch Coral pressing (61014) of Chuck’s song “2-D Gal In A 3-D Town“.

coral murphy boogie
coral murphy beer
coral murphy honeymooncoral murpjy Waitin'
coral murphy jont

In 1951, Chuck had 4 times the honor of being reviewed by Billboard for his Coral records.

billboard51 murphy515151

In late 1953, Murphy signed with Columbia Records, where his first record was “Hocus Pocus“/”Hard Headed” (21258). However, it was his second Columbia single, “Rhythm Hall” (Columbia 21305), for which he will be remembered most of all. Recorded at the Tulane Hotel in Nashville on March 21,1954, “Rhythm Hall“was produced by Don Law, with Hardrock Gunter and Huel Murphy on guitar, Ernie Newton on bass and Farris Coursey on drums. Chuck’s family says that Chuck himself played piano on the session, and that would certainly make sense, but Hardrock Gunter alleges that Huel played the piano. Like “They Raided the Joint“, “Rhythm Hall” is an infectious piano romp in country boogie style.columbia murphy rhythm

Chuck made two more singles for Columbia and a few for other labels (MGM), but since the early 1950s he had felt the call to the ministry. In 1957, he entered what is now Samford University in Birmingham (then Howard College) and finished a four-year degree in three years, all the while working the nightclubs. In 1960, he went to Virginia Theological Seminary and graduated in 1963. From that point, until his death in 2001, he was a full-time minister in the American branch of the Anglican church. Along the way, he wrote several books.

Biography taken from BlackCatRockabilly (Netherlands – come visit the site!)

Pictures from various sources.

Chuck Murphy disco

Late August 2009 fortnight

Howdy folks, here I am back with some goodies. First, Ole’ Buck is back for a song he recorded late in career for kids, IF YOU CAN’T FIND A REASON TO BE HAPPY. Romping Country rocker à la Buck Owens, of course! Then back to late 50s, early 60s, the unknown (to me) Doug Davis on the obscure Nite Star label (from Texas, I think) and the beautiful Country-rockaballad ALL BY MYSELF – lot of nice steel and heavy bass, rich vocal too. Joe Franklin next had a rich career by himself, and I still wonder what instrument he plays here, since the piano is to the fore – maybe him? The nice HITCH-HIKIN’ BLUES on MGM (1953). A romper now with Hardrock Gunter and his first version (on Bama, out of Birmingham, Alabama, 1951) of GONNA DANCE ALL NIGHT (he recut the same track in 1954, and leased it to Sun). In 1950 there were Country singers chanting “Gonna Rock and Roll, gonna dance all night”, yes sir! Something different now. A fine duet Bluegrass style, already a classic of the genre, ROAD OF BROKEN HEARTS, by the Webster Brothers, from 1954. We come to an end with a Prestige recording of Otis Spann – he lays down a very atmospheric OTIS IN THE DARK on the 88; Enjoy the selections!