Hello, folks. This fortnight’s favorites selection will be very various and pointing in different directions.
First artist whom a virtually nothing is known about, and not more on his band. DON HAGER & the Hot Tots had in Autumn 1957 several sides cut for the Oak label out of the very small (ca. 800 souls) town of Whitakers, N.C. These guys had a tendency to Calypso rhythm, fact is obvious with « Bebop boogie » (Oak 0357), and it brings a lot of freshness to their composition. Fine rinky-dink piano, an hopping drum and a good (although discreet) steel make it a very fine Rockabilly, yet different..That very same song had been cut by Mustard & Gravy in 1950 and issued on Gotham 403, a sign of its later popularity. I already posted their fine version in the early June 2011 fortnight’s favorites selection And even earlier back, it had been recorded by Harry Gay, and published on…Oak 1000 [untraced, but according to the notes to « Long gone daddy », a compilation on Collectables 6335]. Hager had also « Calypso boogie », same style, on a ’70s Rockin’ Stars issue and « I love you dear forever », from a 1990 compilation (Oldies 5374) – this is an alternate take – with the steel much more to the fore. Finally « Liza Jane bop » (Oak 0358), also strange in its rhythm, yet is a more conventional Rockabilly. Nobody knows what happened to Hager and his group afterwards.
From Alabama comes the second artist : NORRIS MIMS [not to be confused with the Texan of similar name Morris Mills] in 1959 on the custom pressed (CP-1987) Birmingham, AL, Arlington label (# 101B) for « Sweet sweet baby ». It has an urgent vocal over a very fast backing, a fine guitar and a piano break. It is stunning such a good record is not worth an entry in Tom Lincoln’s book, as I am sure it’s very highly treasured. Incidentally the tune had been first cut in 1956 by Buddy Hanes [according to « 50sRock’n’roll » Youtube chain], but had remained unissued until our era (I didn’t find on which support).
The third record is not by a newcomer. The song « Chili dippin baby » was issued twice : on Blue Hen and on Raymor by its composer, Raymond McColister with different singers. Here is the Raymor version (# 6004A) with vocal by Mz. Melody Mack.
JIMMY HEATH & the Rhythm Rollers did record « Little darlin’ » for the Modesto, Ca. Mega label (# 2261) . It’s a typical late ’50s bopper. Lot of steel (a solo which reminds a bit of Ralph Mooney), a jumping little tune with a good expressive vocal and a fine Rockabilly guitar.
Now on to Texas, in the apply named town of Center, with REGGIE WARD & his Sons of Texas. They do offer a fast bopper « Juke box baby » from early 1951 with vocal by Jack Ford. Could the latter be the same man who cut « No not now », backed by Curley Williams (Columbia 20633, January 1950), or the Hayrider who recorded the fine hillbilly bop « That’s all you gotta do » (Chess 4858) in 1954 ? A final detail on Nemo Records (owned by Mrss. Jack McLendon and Leon Sanders) : the Wilburn Brothers [Theodore & Doyle] (later on Decca) apparently cut their first sides for this label.
BILL WATSON on the Demorest, GA Country Jubilee label (# 525) recorded a fine double-sider reviewed by Billboard in February 1960. The songs are similar in structure : over a strong guitar, a very melodic vocal partially sung in unison, they are very enjoyable and catchy « You’re the one for me » and «I’m dying darling ».
For this third feature specialized in bopping duets, we begin with the aptly named HARMONY BROTHERS. Their « Baby, tonight » fom 1959 was cut for St-Louis, MO label Bobbin 109, and it’s a very solid backed Everly Brothers styled opus. They had another one « Saturday night bop » on Bobbin 116 which sounds good (alas, untraced). March 22nd, 2018: I tracked both tunes of Bobbin 116. They are below: “Saturday Night Bop” and “Don’t Be Cold“. Very good Everlyish rockers!
On the Minneapolis, MN Circle Dot label (# 1012) , again from the late ’50s, we chose « Dream night » by the HOULE BROTHERS. Again Everly Bros. influenced, it fetches up to $ 250-300. Mike & Bob, the Houle Brothers, had another record on Bangar 642 in 1965, « I heard the bluebird sing ».
Jimmy Lee & Wayne Walker “Love me”
download Now a great wild thing with the classic « Love me » (Chess 4863) from Spring 1955, cut at KWKH studio in Shreveport, La. by JIMMY LEE & WAYNE WALKER. It has urgent vocals and a ferocious steel (Sonny Harville), all propelled by the thuding bass of Tillman Franks and the jumping drums of D. J. Fontana.
Let’s go west with the FARMER BOYS, and the very special Western rockabilly style from the Capitol studio on « My baby done left me » (# 3476). The staff is composed by Bobby Adamson and Woody Murray (vocals), Roy Nichols on lead guitar, Fuzzy Owen on steel and Cliffie Stone on bass, and the tune was out May 31, 1956.. The story of the Farmer Boys is on this site.
An unusual duet of uncle and nephew were the JACOBY BROTHERS on TNT 1004, from San Antonio, TX. Great harmonies and backing (guitar and mandolin) for « Warmed over love ».
From N. Wilkesboro (S.C.) we turn now on the CHURCH BROTHERS and « Broken vows and a broken heart » (Blue Ridge 209), a typical 1953 bluegrass bopper: nice vocal and chorus in unison. I’ve read that the lead was Buffalo Johnson, an important figure not so well known today. Research goes on him.
From N. Charleston, (S.C.) and July 1954 BILLIE AND GORDON HAMRICK, a sacred tune on Rangeland 504 (one of the very first Starday customs). « He’s gonna take his children out » has a lead vocal male) and a chorus, plus a good banjo solo.
Billie & Gordon Hamrick “He’s gonna take his children out”
PAUL (Boswell) & ROY (Pryor) out of Nashville on the Pace label (# 1004) had previously cut a dozen sides for Mercury. The Pace issue date from late ’50s, and offer two medium tunes, « Free, twenty one and ambitious » and « I wish you’d be a country girl ». Good, a bit above average boppers.
Finally the terrific sacred « I’m a millionaire » by the Tennessee Harmony Boys (Dillard Anderson & Solon Maynard) on the Fortune label out of Detroit (# 209). A great, great mandolin solo, and a lot of excitement.. They had previously cut on their own « The Tennessee Harmony Boys » label, and even had an E.P. on Fortune (# 1334).
The mainstay of this ensemble was Jimmy Lee Fautheree. Born (James Walton Fautheree) on April 11, 1934 in Smackover, Arkansas. When he was 12 years old, his aunt bought him a guitar and he was fortunate that his parents wanted him to be an entertainer : so Fautheree became an accomplished guitarist at the age of 16 He spent many hours and dayspracticing guitar and singing with two of his younger brothers, Lynn and Jackie, both of whom in adulthood would follow him in musical pursuits. Their father was an oilman and moved his family from town to town as jobs became available, but settled in Dallas in 1946. The family was very musical minded, so Jimmy came by it honest.Jimmy liked and was around most phases of music : blues and hillbilly were his favorites, but country and gospel also fell into place. Ernest Tubb and Jack Guthrie were big influences, but Merle Travis left a definite impression on Jimmy with his distinctive finger-picked electric guitar style.
Following a successful appearance on the Big « D » Jamboree, Jimmy Fautheree was soon a regular feature of the Dallas Country music scene. ‘Country’ Johnny Mathis, not to be confused with the pop crooner of the same name, hailed from Maud TX, where he was born in 1935. Mathis is arguably the most notable of the many individuals that made up the other half of the Jimmy & Johnny guise. Mathis had already garnered some experience in the recording field, having waxed a handful of sides for the JB [an extra-Bullet outfit of Jim Bulleit] in 1951 and Talent (Dallas, Texas) (1949) labels. Jim Bulleit acted also as manager for Jimmy Fauthereee (see below Billboard snippet).
In 1951, the boys were invited on to the Louisiana Hayride and very quickly became part of the house band which was then run by bassist Tillman Franks (more on him in the article devoted elsewhere in this site to the early days of Webb Pierce in Shreveport). Recently unearthed tapes of the Hayride concerts stand testament to their talent. Shortly after joining the prestigious show, Fautheree was signed to a recording contract with Capitol records. His first Capitol session took place at the Louisiana Hayride in 1951 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Four songs were recorded – “Go Ahead and Go” (a Jimmy Lee original), the fine uptempo “I’m Diggin’ A Hole To Bury My Heart” (# 2153) and here, Fautheree was also renamed “Jimmy Lee“. He went on to be a great star in the hillbilly field. One of his Capitol records is interesting,”Blowin’ And Goin’” as it includes a muted trumpet, an unusual instrument in early ’50s Country, but in Lee Bond‘s Republic sides, e.g. “How About A Date“, cut at the same time as Jimmy Lee (see elsewhere for this label’s story)
Billboard 1952 snippet
In 1953, the pair Fautheree-Mathis recorded « If You Don’t, Somebody Else Will » for Feature (a Crowley, La. Jay D. Miller label), but it wasn’t until the following year, when they re-recorded the song for Chess, that it made the n°3 spot and became their only hit record. Jimmy Lee continued working and recording under the name of Jimmy & Johnny (Decca), albeit now with his brother Lynn. The new duet cut superb Rockabillies : the furious « Sweet Love On My Mind » (written by Wayne Walker, and shortly thereafter recorded by Johnny Burnette and the Rock’n’Roll Trio on Coral)(# 30061), the lazy uptempo Hillbilly bop bordering Rockabilly « Sweet Singing Daddy » (# 29772), the equally good « What ‘Cha Doin’ To Me » (# 30410), while the latter’s flipside, « I’ll Do It Everytime » was titled « Skiffle-Billy Beat » ! They were featured on Faron Young‘s band – Faron Young & The Deputies, on to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, performing there many times on the famous stage. Jimmy was featured in many shows of Elvis Presley’s early years, with Elvis being Jimmy’s opening act several times. Wow, how many can say that has happened for them ? Fautheree also did teaming up on Chess with Wayne Walker for the major 1955 Rockabilly classic « Love Me » with its furious steel-guitar and Fautheree’s own raucous, gutbucket bluesy guitar. In addition, he made later some solo recordings : in 1958, he cut the out-and-out rocker « Teen-Age Wedding » for the Vin label in New Orleans under the name Johnny Angel.
KWKH was a radio studio, also the only recording studio in Shreveport. Its studio was built as a room within a room : about two ft. away from the outside walls of the building, another wall was constructed stuffed with fiberglass. The only windows faced the annoncer’s booth and an area in front of the studio where the coffee machine and several chairs and tables were situated. The dimensions of the studio were approximately 25×30 ft. with a 12-foot ceiling, which was similar to the Dallas’ Jim Beck’s studio facility. Nevertheless, engineer Bob Sully excelled in being able to make the most out of what was available. For instance, he discovered that an echo effect was possible through feeding the output back into the board. Which he did, with Jimmy Lee & Wayne Walker « Love Me ».
Mathis teamed early in 1955 with a Dallas club owner, Les Chambers, who put on several singles on Starday by himself. The pair issued two nice fast Hillbilly boppers : « Everybody Else Does (Why Can’t I ») (Starday 181), as an answer to « If You Don’t, Somebody Else Will », and « Give Me A Little More » (Starday 206).
Chambers soon disappeared, recording-wise, while Johnny Mathis switched naturally under the protection of Starday, when this label and Mercury went to a common venture early in 1957. There he had «One Life » (# 71273), as several tracks on various artists albums, e.g. « Hillbilly Hit Parade ». He even cut uncredited for the
low-budget Dixie label a nice version of the, I believe he was
the originator, Porter Wagoner song « I Thought I Heard You Call My Name » (# 526). Later in 1958, he recorded Rockabilly on ‘D’ as Les Cole and the Echoes (« Bee Boppin’ Daddy /Rock-A-Bye-Baby», # 1010). He and Fautheree were reunited in the late fifties for a couple of releases on ‘D’, (“My Little Baby” , # 1089 ) and one for the Los Angeles Republic label (« Knock On Wood », # 2014), in 1961 before finally dissolving the act, and once again each one going their own way.
During the 1960s, Jimmy Lee recorded for the Paula label in Shreveport : a more modern version of « Can’t Find The Door Nob » (sic, # 239) (1966) and one very tough, fine guitar-led instrumental: “Box Full Of ‘Git’” Next year, he cut the nice, loud rocker “Overdue ” (also on Paula 279), then on the Lodema label, more instro with “Project X-9” and the awesome country bopper “Laziest Man In The World” (Lodema # LR 101, 1983).
Jimmy produced several Gospel albums, his first in the late 1970’s. Lynn Fautheree died in 1989 from asbestosis. It would not be before 1995 that Jimmy & Johnny performed again together for the first time in 35 years, when they recorded a gospel tune “It Won’t Be Much Longer“, released on the Dallas based TIMA Records in 2000. It was their last recording together. It was however their last recording as Johnny became ill in 1999. He was invited to come back for a reunion on the Louisiana Hayride show on June 27 and 28, 2003, titled “One More Ride“, at the original Municipal Auditorium, 706 Elvis Presley Ave., Shreveport, Louisiana. Jimmy opened the Friday night show by singing one of his recordings, “Unknown Legends“, written by Johnny Mathis. That song was perfect for the night, and as many of the original performers such as Kitty Wells, Johnny Wright, Bonnie, Maxine, and Jim Ed Brown, Billy Walker, just to name a few, were present to once again perform their talents, and could say, “we are home once again“.
Also last year (2003), Jimmy performed a Rockabilly Show, “The Ponderosa Stomp”, in New Orleans, Louisiana, backed by Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics Band. That performance went so well that Deke invited Jimmy Lee to his Fort Horton studios in Austin, TX., to record with the band. The result is: “I Found The Doorknob“, Jimmy Lee’s first recording in forty years! The new CD features the hit “I Found The Doorknob” (answer song to “Can’t Find The Doorknob“), and many others including “Gotta Get You Near Me Blues“, “Overdue“, “Box Full of Gits” (Jimmy’s admirous guitar picking), “I’m Diggin a Hole“, “Big Mamma Blues“, “Nine Pound Hammer“, and many more. This CD is available through the web site – dekedickerson.com, his first album for nearly 30 years.
Jimmy went to Rye, Sussex, England, and performed the Rockabilly Rave Show on March 7, 2004, doing an outstanding performance playing his guitar and singing to many a fan who never thought they would get to see their favorite artist in person. This was also the first time he ever did perform in Europe. Three months later, he lost his battle against cancer : he passed away at his home in Dallas TX, on June 29, 2004.
As a solo artist, Johnny Mathis released several singles for D, United Artists and Little Darlin’. His final charting single was “Please Talk to My Heart,” released in 1963. He also encountered significant success as a songwriter, penning songs for Johnny Paycheck, George Jones and Webb Pierce, among others.
Mathis suffered a stroke in February 1999, and was no longer able to perform. He died on September 27, 2011, one day prior to his 78th birthday
There was also a release on TNT which is by a different Jimmy & Johnny duet; a Jimmy Lee has « Look What Love Will Do » on Vin 1010, and a record on Feature is by a Jim & Johnny, once again no relation to Messers Fautheree and Mathis.
Biography based on Dik De Heer work (www.rockabilly.nl), Walter Stettner’s own, from « Steel Guitar Forum » (published on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame site), and, most of all, from the very fine and indispensable book « Cowboys, Honky-tonks and Hepcats » written and published by my good friend Tony Biggs. Nearly all pictures were provided by Tony, too. And all the music comes from his fabulous collection…Thanks-a-lot, Tony!
Howdy folks! Beginnnig a New Year (and nearly two years of this site) with my Bopping wishes and a lot of good hillbilly music, here are BADEAUX (rn Ellas ) & THE LOUISIANA ACES. It’s Cajun cut during the ’80s, “I Can Live A Better Life“. Up onto North in Mississipi with MACK HAMILTON. He had records on Diamond and Feature out of Jackson. Here I’ve chosen the stomping medium tempo Honky tonk “Will You Will Or Will You Won’t“.
RICKY RIDDLE was a native of Rector, Arkansas (as Skeets McDonald), and as the former, moved with family during the ’30s to Detroit. Early ’50s saw him entertaining in Nashville, and recording his first sides (moderate success) for the Tennessee label (see elsewhere for the label’s story). In 1954, he had switched to M-G-M and cut “Steamboat Boogie“, with Don Helms, ex-Drifting Cowboys, on steel-guitar. The words “Steamboat boogie / Rock, rock” are contemporary to Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock”, and Riddle pursued in the same vein on Coral and Decca in 1955-56
Billboard advert, 1954
HAWKSHAW HAWKINS had several hits on King when he stopped in 1954 on RCA-Victor. As Riddle, he also used the new trend in “Waitin’ For My Baby (Rock, Rock)”. Nice uptempo Bopper, almost Rockabilly.
Now a real rarity by RED MOORE, about whom nothing is known. He revived on his own label, Red (located North in Iowa), the old traditional “Crawdad Song” during the late ’50s.
Finally way up North with Chester Burnett, aka HOWLING WOLF, for a classic Chicago Rocking Blues from 1961, “Little Baby” (Hubert Sumlin on lead guitar). Enjoy the selections!
January 2nd. Someone did visit the site and gave me the link to RED MOORE. Here it is:http://www.rockabillyhall.com/RedMoore1.html
Howdy, folks! We start this fortnight with a stalwart version of the classic Honky Tonk “I’m Moving On” (Decca) by the great HANK “Sugarfoot” GARLAND (1930-2004). He appeared at 19 on RED FOLEY records, and never gave up backing on thousands sides cut in Nashville. Fine Tommy Jackson fiddle backing, and a short but brilliant guitar solo.
Then I go on with JIMMY MYERS and an unissued tune for the Super label out of Georgia, “Go Cat Go” (recently published on an European anthology). I wonder if this is the same as the one JIM MYERS who cut marvelous sides for the FORTUNE label in Detroit (the frantic “Drunkman’s Wiggle” for example). Here it is raw, crude Rockabilly…
Leiber/Stoller’s “Hound Dog” (Willie “Big Mama” Thornton, 1952) was an enormous hit, and no one could know how many Country versions were made of. This time I chose the humorous version on King by CHARLIE GORE and LOUIS INNIS, “(You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Female) Hound Dog“, both artists I’d like very much set the story up in future articles.
Billboard March 11, 1950
Already a Country star, both under his own name, and as harmonica player for the DELMORE BROTHERS, WAYNE RANEY had many sides on KING. He also had sides on London under the disguise of LITTLE WILLIE EVANS, hence “Lonesome Railroad Blues“, in 1950.
One of the highlights of the regular Starday label: LONNIE SMITHSON for his double-sider “Me And The Blues“/”It Takes Time” (# 330) from 1957. Fine lead guitar and a firm vocal. Nothing is known about Smithson, who had another Starday disc, “Quarter in The Jukebox“, in 1958.
RUDY THACKER, a Kentucky guitar player, appeared on the Cincinnati, OH, Lucky label (with his String Busters). Here we have an instrumental (a rare opportunity in Bopping…), the romping “Guitar boogie Shuffle“.
Finally a Rocking Blues by ROBERT NIGHTHAW. 1964, Chicago, Chess label. Backed by Buddy Guy on guitar and Walter Horton on harmonica, he delivers a very nice “Someday“.
Hope you enjoy the selections. Comments welcome! Till then, bye-bye…