100 songs that helped bring rockabilly into existence
100 songs that helped bring rock a billy into existence recorded from 1950 to 1959. when these songs were recorded there was no rock a billy. many of these artist began their careers as country singers. others had blues roots but had been influenced by country music or their producers or label owners had some type of influence that brought them to understand country music.
most the white artist who ended up making what was to be called rock a billy liked blues and were most likely influenced by blues artist. some of the blues artist of the ’40s and early ’50s were howlin wolf, muddy waters, john lee hooker, joe turner, lloyd price, junior parker, jimmy reed, slim harpo, sonny boy williamson, guitar gable, to name a few.
many of the blues singers could be heard over wlac in gallatin,tn at randy’s record shop, and you could hear the blues from juke boxes in juke joints.not the safest place to get introduced to the blues.
some honky tonks had blues on the juke box mixed in with the country selections it depended on who serviced them. the record companies wanted the record distributors to get as many records from their label on the juke box as possible.
some of the blues record companies of the ’40s and ’50s were chess, checker, atlantic, peacock, duke, rpm/modern, excello, king/federal, class, specialty, and aladdin. the juke box had a variety of selections that ranged from country, pop, and blues. when you add gospel and bluegrass into the music mix you get a lot of variations. the young musicians of the ’40s and ’50s were experimenting with all kinds beats and different sounds. you add a note here, a chord there, tap you feet a little faster, sing the song to a different tempo, speed it up, slow it down ,add a little foot stomping slow grinding jive beat to the whole deal. now you may have rock a billy no one knew what it was.
it was a creative time in america and a musical explosion was about to bust wide open. someone in a musical laboratory was going to make history, hundreds were working on it. there were already jumped up step it out and go recording that already been released on the radio as country music. but the perfect beat and sound with the right song and voice was not out yet. it soon would be. as in any race to the finish line the guy that comes in first gets all the attention. that would be “elvis presley” and his band scotty moore and bill black, and his producer sam phillips. yes sir they got the trophy and from july 1954 they were the team to beat. from then on they had plenty of competition. every musician close to elvis’ age was looking for the sound that he got there first with. after “that’s alright” every hill billy cat that could get into a recording studio was trying to duplicate the same sound as elvis and the record companies were more than willing to help this new breed of hillbilly cat get the records to the radio stations and to the juke boxes.
elvis, scotty and bill weren’t the only musicians who could play what is now called rock a billy. there would be hundreds of thousands of recordings made. many never made it far past the record pressing plant and were never removed from their shucks. some recordings made it to the radio stations got played and many became all time hits.
these 100 songs helped start a musical revolution that has stood the test of time down through the years and have become a part of our lives and will be remembered as some the records that rock a billy possibly was born out of. they are listed from 1 to 100 and in no order as they are all equal as historical value. i hope you enjoy your trip down rock a billy memory lane. – widmarc clark
1. bill haley – rock around the clock
2. buddy knox – party doll
3. buddy holly – peggy sue
4. jimmy bowen – i’m stickin’ with you
5. elvis presley – that’s alright
6. jerry lee lewis – whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on
7. rick nelson – believe what you say
8. bob luman – red cadillac and black mustache
9. billy lee riley – red hot
10. gene vincent – be bop a lula
11. johnny burnette – the train kept a rollin’
12. link wray – rumble
13. eddie cochran – sittin’ in the balcony
14. lloyd price – lawdy miss claudy
15. sanford clark – the fool
16. bobby lee trammell – shirley lee
17. the big bopper – chantilly lace
18. gene summers – straight skirt
19. sonny burgess – red headed woman
20. vernon taylor – sweet and easy to love
21. ray vernon – evil angel
22. warren smith – so long i’m gone
23. carl perkins – blue suede shoes
24. dale hawkins – susie-q
25. johnny cash – big river
26. clint miller – bertha lou
27. joe bennett & the sparkletones – black slacks
28. jack scott – the way i walk
29. danny & the juniors – at the hop
30. jody reynolds – endless sleep
31. ray smith – right behind you baby
32. eddy bond – rockin’ daddy
33. roy orbison – ooby dooby
34. charlie feathers – tongue tied jill
35. johnny carroll – rock it baby – rock it
36. jim lowe – the green door
37. chuck miller – the house of blue lights
38. hayden thompson – love my baby
39. malcom yelvington – wine spo-dee-o-dee
40. jimmy dee – henrietta
41. luke mcdaniel – uh baby
42. aurther smith – guitar boogie
43. jack earls – slow down
44. thomas wayne – this time
45. jimmy edwards – love bug crawl
46. eddy cooley – priscilla
47. the everly bros – wake up little susie
48. carl mann – mona lisa
49. bill justice – raunchy
50. sonny james – young love
51. ferlin husky – gone
52. chuck willis – c.c. rider
53. robin luke – susie darlin
54. the chrickets – that’ll be the day
55. johnny horton – i’m a honky tonk man
56. the crescendo’s – oh julie
57. boyd bennett – seventeen
58. bobby charles – see you later alligator
59. chuck berry – maybellene
60. the bell notes – i’ve had it
61. ersel hickey – blue birds over the mountain
62. jimmy clanton – just a dream
63. jack clement – black haired man
64. johnny powers – your love
65. shirley sisk – mean ole memphis
66. paul richy – the legend of the big steeple
67. faron young – alone with you
68. jimmy rogers – honeycomb
69. the royal teens – short shorts
70. santo & johnny – sleepwalk
71. ray sharpe – linda lu
72. johnny & and the hurricanes – crossfire
73. the hollywood flames – buzz – buzz – buzz
74. bobby helms – jingle bell rock
75. jimmy reed – ain’t that loving you baby
76. frankie ford – sea cruise
77. duane eddy – ram rod
78. marvin rainwater – gonna find me a blue bird
79. johnny preston – runnin’ bear
80. conway twitty – it’s only make believe
81. ed bruce – rock boppin’ baby
82. tommy blake – shake down
83. rudy grayzell – judy 84. barbara pittman – handsome man
85. cliff thomas – treat me right
86. carl mcvoy – you are my sunshine
87. dicky lee – dream boy
88. junior parker – mystery train
89. mack self – easy to love
90. sonny fisher – rockin’ daddy
91. webb pierce – your in the jailhouse now
92. roy hall – all by myself
93. onie wheeler – onie’s bop
94. ronnie self – be bop a lena
95. marty robbins – a white sports coat
96. cleveland crochet – sugar bee
97. bobby cisco – go – go – go
98. billy barrix – cool it off baby
99. john hampton – shadow blue
100. al ferrier – hey baby
if anyone has this complete record collection on the original labels, you can retire immediately.
swamp blues rock ‘n’ roll
dale hawkins began his music career when he was 15, working the gaudy rough bossier city nite clubs. where if you didn’t know how to take care of yourself you would be found in the alley, behind the club bleeding to death from a knife, whiskey, wine, or beer bottle.
bossier city wasn’t no cute sweet town like orlando, florida. this was no disney world. it was as far away from a florida retirement community filled with rich yankees as you can get. bossier city was a rough tough working mans town. this was the environment dale hawkins grew up in.
dale picked cotton with black field hands to make a buck. he learned their lingo and they taught him to play guitar and how to sing the blues. you can get no better education than from the folks that originated the blues. if you sing the blues the louisiana swamp style, foot stomping, grinding it out, down and dirty, the way its meant to be sung. you’ve got to be born into it or forget it. dale hawkins grew up in the middle of it. he learned from the people who lived it. when those field hands said, ” i ain’t fattin up no mo frogs fo snakes,” it wasn’t from a song it was every day life that was later made into a song. somebody had messed up and a beatin, a cuttin, or a shootin was about to happen.
“i got my mo jo workin,” wasn’t getting extra horse power out of a car engine. it was casting a spell on some good lookin woman to get some love makin goin on. that’s the stuff the blues is made out of. muddy waters said,”the blues got pregnant and they called the baby rock n roll,” most likely that’s how rock n roll came to be, if not muddy waters was right about the blues most of the time anyway. so by now, you begin to get the idea of this music style called the blues. go down to “the big easy” on a hot summer night and watch the stars dancing out on a moon lite bayou and listen to the sounds coming out of the swamp, that’s the blues your hearing. if you can’t understand what that means go home and play some of your perry como records. your not ready for the blues yet. most likely if your names not recorded in the louisiana state record book as being born there it’s going to take you a little longer to understand “swamp blues.”
dale hawkins didn’t need any introduction to “the blues,” he knew what it was at the age of l5. when he wrote “susie q,” he knew the beat he wanted and he knew the sound he was looking for. he went over to kwkh in shreveport and recorded “susie q,” one of the all time classic’s of rock n roll.
other artists have tried to recreate “susie q,” down through the years with little or no success and for a good reason. when dale recorded “susie q,” he caused the song to come into existence as something unique that could not evolve or be made by any ordinary process. “susie q,” was anything but ordinary. his imagination was a true work of art and his own artistic design and style that has a sensational effect on the music word to this day.
there will be more on the life and legend of dale hawkins as the time grows near for the 4th annual ponderosa stomp in new orleans april 26th and 27th 2005. the ponderosa stomp is held each year at the rock n bowl on carrolton avenue. dr. ike and the mystic knights of the mau mau present the show each year as a part new orleans jazz feast week. dale hawkins will be appearing at the ponderosa stomp. for more information visit the mystic knights of the mau mau web site or email firstname.lastname@example.org. if you would a complete package of all dale hawkins recordings or to do some professional studio recording contact:
the hawks nests
little rock, arkansas
widmarc & wendell at
the plastic cactus studio
i have this little friend named “wendell” you’ve probably heard of edgar burgen’s pal “charlie” mccarthy, my pal is “wendell”. we met awhile back and got to know each pretty good. have you ever been accused of talking to yourself ? if so then you might understand what it’s like having a conversation with “wendell”.in the long run. “wendell” makes a lot more sense than i do, however that’s what this whole thing is about, making sense. at least i hope so.
i took a course in ventriloquism at the maher school of ventriloquism in littleton, colorado. it is an experience not to be soon forgotten. you get to know yourself pretty good in the time you spend in the class room and you get to know a lot about speaking for someone who in all practically is not there, but yet they do exist because they are your own creation. it seems confusing doesn’t it? the fun part about ventriloquism you are talking to yourself but this little pal of yours sitting next to you lets you know that they don’t always agree with the fact that they can’t speak for themselves. some time things come out of your little “pals” mouth that you didn’t plan on.
wendell was built in placerville, ca. by tim cowles who owns the dummy works. when i got “wendell” he looked even better than he did as tim was creating him. tim cowles builds the best “vent dolls” in the united states. all his creations are just beautiful. tim will build you what you want from a picture or you can describe to him what you have in mind and tim can build it. to see tim’s beautiful creations type in (search) “the dummy works” and you’ll see the most beautiful “vent dolls” ever created.
“wendell” keeps me busy, seems as though folks can’t get enough of these crazy little pals who take on a life of their own. the older people “senior citizens” they laugh at “wendell” making fun of me, he pulls no punches and i’m always on the wrong end of it the joke. if you folks ever watched “shot gun red” on nashville now you know how the ventriloquist always ends up with egg on his face. “ralph” always the best of jimmy dean when dean would ask “ralph” a question on the jimmy dean tv show. jimmy moved from making records to television to selling sausage, i think these days jimmy dean sausage is owned by the sara lee corp.
the widmarc & wendell show comes out of “the mystical plastic cactus studio”, in plankwalk, texas. texas is big, wide, and long and difficult to track us down, if we get into trouble as we very often do. we can hide out in lone star state for months at a time try it some time down around dry well and gun pass junction no one can find you. the lone ranger on his best day with his buddy tonto couldn’t track you down not once you get on that ole path they call dangerous road that leads to the plastic cactus studio. 911 dangerous road, plankwalk,texas.thats our hideout. however the plastic cactus studio is a place you’ll want to spend some time especially if you like music from the 50’s it’s all here.
recordings of the ’50s remixed and produced to a beautiful “rock a billy ” sound like you have never heard before. the plastic cactus has a catalog of artist from the ’50s that is as rare as any in the “world” we have real “gems” stuff that you can’t find anywhere but the plastic cactus, that includes “blues”, rock, rock a billy, and country. we take you back to the ’50s to the ole 3 track recording system of 1954. where you get the feel of being there in the studio when elvis, carl, johnny and jerry lee and many other artist recorded for sun records in their early and most creative years. not just sun, we take you to dot, checker, chess, excello, vee jay, atlantic, mercury,jan and a hundred other labels where you will relive those thrilling days of yesteryear when rock a billy was young.
you’ll feel the excitement as though you were in the studio when the recordings were being made. the slap of the standup bass, the twang of the rock a billy guitar,and the beat of the drums driving the songs into a “hit”. the plastic cactus studio is a 3rd dimensional reality that gives a vividness to the factual significance of the sequence of the sounds of the ’50s rock a billy illustrating it’s happening as if you were in the studio the day the songs were recorded.
you’ll be able to reach back into a point in time to the number of elements in a finite basis where you’ll find rock a billy as real at this moment as it was the minute the songs were recorded. it’s a experience you’ll never forget and enjoy for a life time.
what is the mystical plastic cactus studio? it’s where the past come’s alive. get on board and lets take a ride into the long lost ’50s, down memory lane back to the cobwebs of time to those oldie moldy sounds that you know and remember so well. as you enter the plastic cactus studio you are in a time zone where time stands still you are there now as it happens you are at that special place in “space time” that few mortals ever experience. as your mind begins to drift back slowly you can feel the ’50s coming into focus you are arriving there with excitement as you have never felt before of being at the perfect place where musical history is about to be made.
young artist are putting together sounds and beats that they don’t understand, but they know it’s the right sound and they have made a discovery that will change the world.
like so many others before them ben franklin, sir issac newton, robert fulton, thomas edison and alexander g. bell they will make history with their new sound. they don’t know what to call it. can they produce the exact same sound again? they must and they do,because the world is ready and waiting for it, it is the sound that will change the way young teens think forever. soon there where will be duck tail hair, baggy pants, tee shirts, cigarette’s hanging from the lips of teenage young men saying things like “man that’s cool” i dig it daddy o, and “man that was way out” . rock a billy will be brought out of it’s infancy, and matured to a musical science that will bare the words “turn it up man”, turn it up loud”. it will be the greatest musical discovery, since cave man beat a stick against a dried animal skin stretched between two trees and realized he had himself a “beat”, something he could dance to, something he could get out there in front of the “cave women” and shake his booty to. this is ” the magic of the plastic cactus studio”. wendell says come on over baby, a whole lotta shakin’ goin on”, that’s pure “rock a billy”.
new orleans looking forward
to 4th annual ponderosa stomp
(august 23. 2004) – i was in new orleans this weekend visiting with dr. ike. he and the mystic knights of themau may put on the ponderosa stomp each year during jazz fest.
the stomp is becoming an event that “the swamp dogs” of the big easy look forward to with great enthusiasm. dr. ike, like it or not, is becoming well know himself (dr.ike likes his privacy). the good doctor has his own practice in the city.
he is getting the 2005 stomp ready to go. he has to book well in advance to get all the acts together for jazz fest.
it’s interesting to know that some of the ole timers haven’t worked in over fourty years, they don’t think they can still perform. the good dr. tells them it’s a big rock a billy reunion all your ole buddies will be there and in some case’s you’ll be on stage with many of them at the same time. when he assures them the public they knew fourty years ago still wants to see them perform they can’t wait to get to the stomp.
a lot of planning goes into one of these events, i didn’t realize just how much planning it takes. as the artists get older most of them are in their late 60’s and 70’s, their health may keep them from appearing. you book them and by show time they may be sick and can’t attend.
one of the favorite stomp performers paul burlison passed away after the 2003 show. he played lead guitar for johnny burnette, who recorded for coral records. johnny and his brother dorsey and paul burlison made up the johnny burnette trio. they had hits with “the train kept rollin” “honey hush” “dreamin” “your sixteen” and other hits on liberty records. dorsey had a big hit on era records with “the tall oak tree”, both dorsey and johnny passed away several years ago.
dr. ike mixs in blue’s and jazz and some country at each event and it goes over well. new orleans likes all types of music and can’t seem to get enough of any one kind.
i couldn’t help but notice his tee shirt with the excello label on it which was home based in nashville in the 50’s. it had lazy lesters record “sugar coated love” on it. now that’s a tee shirt well worth having no matter how much the cost. blue tee and that orange record label. i ask him why some well known rock a billy and blues artist haven’t been on the stomp. he informed me that some artist who haven’t had a hit since 1958 or 60 want $25 to 35 thousand for one night. dr. ike said i tell them i want you for one night, not the full month.
this is a fun event were not out to break the bank, however all the artist who perform do so at their satisfaction. everyone is treated fair. we are not building sstars or eegos, our aim to give the artist a chance to perform where they might not have one. and for the artist to feel they were treated fair for their performance. the fans love to see these ole rock stars of yesterday. as long as the event works out the way it has in the past we’ll do our best to keep it going. so far it’s been a happy family reunion everyone swapping stories about where they worked on tours 40 years and some of the crazy things that happened way back when.
one blues artist that has become a favorite is barbara lynn from beaumont, texas. she had a big hit on jamie records in 1962 with “you’ll lose a good thing”. she wrote the song after a love affair went bad. a broken heart is never good thing but at least barbara had the satisfaction of getting a hit record out of it. she had other hits with “second fiddle girl” “your gonna need me” “i cried at laura’s wedding” and “oh! baby” she has recorded for tribe and atlantic records. today ms. lynn lives in texas and still performs.
the rock a billy hall of fame always has a list of performing artist who will be on the show and you can check the mysic knights web site for updates. so make sure you have your calander checked for the ponderosa stomp 4 during the new orleans jazz fest in the spring of 2005. last year’s event was at the rock n bowl on carrollton ave. remember “you’ll never grow old” if you love rock n roll and thats “a double portion” if you love rock a billy and blues. -widmarc clark.
joe bennett and the sparkletones:
plain ole cottin pickin – rock a billy – boppin rock boggie
many, many years ago joe bennett and three buddies of his got together and formed a band and named it “the sparkletones” spartanburg south carolina has been know as sparkle city for as far back as i can remember.
ask any truck driver headed to spartanburg, s.c., where he’s going and he’ll tell you i’m headed to sparkle city. so now i understand the name “sparkletones”. it’s got to be the best name for a band i’ve ever heard.
the young fellows started playing together in 1955, and played on a local daytime tv show hosted by cbs talent scout robert cox. naturally he thought the little band of rockers were good or they wouldn’t have been on his tv show. and they were young, real “young”. joe bennett was 16, wayne arther 14, howard childress 12, and jimmy denton 15.
joe played lead guitar and sang lead, howard childress played rhythm guitar and sang, jimmy denton played drums, and wayne arthur played stand up bass.
robert cox knew he had a group of pickers that could go places. these young fellows were “professionally” good. joe bennett could play lead guitar with the best of ’em. joe bennett didn’t have to take a back seat to any guitar player playing “professionally” joe bennett was the boss of his “fender” and he got (great) sounds out of his “axe”.
cox didn’t waste anytime he took the “sparkletones” to bell sound studio’s in new york city, and cut a session on them. then he took them over to abc – paramount in new york and had the band play live for the big wheels of the company. abc – paramount was looking for talent for their new label and signed joe and the band.
don costa was assigned as the “sparkletones” producer. and they recorded some great rock a billy records. joe and howard took off on their two part harmony and with the driving beat and tempo of the band “blacks slacks” was born. shortly afterward the group performed on dick clark’s american bandstand, the ed sullivan show, and begin to tour with alan freed’s rock n roll show, doing performance’s from coast to coast and every part of the usa.
“black slacks” became a nation wide smash hit, and every teen in america was saying “buuuuub” – blaack slacks,. i an’t nothin but a cool cool breeze with a chain hanging down to my knees.
every song the “sparkletone’s” recorded they wrote themselves, most were written by joe bennett. boppin rock boogie became a hit along with, “rocket”,” cotton pickin rocker”, and “penny loafers and bobby socks”.
this fine young group of rock a billy’s should have gone on to fame beyond belief, but they were just to “young” to perform legally in place’s where you needed at least 18 yrs old. plus they were still in high school and chose to finish their education.
sometimes life just ain’t fair. so the ” sparkletones” faded, lost between the record grooves as did happen to (rock a billy) itself. by 1960 the great explosion of the worlds best music ever was gone also.
the original abc-paramount records of “joe bennett and the sparkletones” are some of the most sought after records of all time. as the years roll by the “sparkletones” recording’s are true collectors items and no wonder they all contain the beyond belief lead guitar playing of 16 year old joe bennett, he could play more riffs in one song than most guitar players can play in in a week. joe bennett ranks right up there with cliff gallop, scotty moore, carl perkins, al casey, and james burton. long live “joe bennett and the sparkletones”, they gave us pure rock a billy at it’s very best. they set the standard that to this very day has never been broken.
“look at those white buck shoes”
charles eugene pat boone was born in nashville, usa on june 1 1934. pat boone is a relative of “daniel boone” so he was sorta famous before he got started. we don’t know if “daniel boone” could sing or not ?
he spent a lot of time in the back woods and was never captured by any indians and yet maybe he was? if so it’s possible not likely just possible that the indians let him go because he sang so bad? i suppose we’ll never know ?
what we do know is daniel boone’s relative pat boone could sing and sing as well as anyone who ever stepped up to a microphone.
pat could do it all, he sang well, played baseball, basketball, and ran track well while he was in high school. pat boone was the real all american boy at his high school.
he was president of the student body, and elected the most popular boy at his high school in nashville.
he went to david lipscomb college in nashville where he met fell in love with and married shirley foley the daughter of country singer red foley. he transferred and graduated from north texas college. while attending north texas college he auditioned for the ted mack amateur hour and won.
then he auditioned for arthur godfrey’s talent scout show and won again. arthur godfrey liked him so much he hired him as a regular on the show.
the first record company he recorded for was republic records in nashville. several records were released without much notice, his singing career was headed for nowhere until his disc-jockey buddy hugh cherry of radio station wmak in nashville got him in touch with randy wood who owned “dot” records in gallatin, tn.
wood was highly impressed with “pat’s” singing ability, how could randy wood not be impressed wood wasn’t blind or tone deaf and he would have had to have been both not to sign “pat boone”.
once again his first release’s on dot weren’t hits, and his singing career was going nowhere. then in 1955 someone suggested he cover fat’s domino’s hit “ain’t that a shame”. from that point on pat boone became known to every teenager in america and the world over.
his white buck shoe’s became his trade mark, and it was by accident, he wore them everywhere he went because they were the only shoe’s he had. when pat boone became famous he wasn’t a millioniare, and his white buck shoes were all he had to wear.
by the time he could buy any kind of shoe he wanted and pay any price for them, those cheap, cheap, white bucks were his trademark.
when he stopped recording in 1966 he had 66 hits to his credit he was a millioniare several time over and had made several sucessful movies, “april love” was a big box office hit in the 50’s. pat boone, had he wanted to, could have been as big a rock star as the one and only “elvis”. pat boone took the less famous route.
pat had his own tv show which was very suscessful. pat boone of course is not as famous as elvis. pat boone is a legend in rock a billy and it cannot be denied the songs he recorded were rock a billy and he promoted rock a billy as well as anyone in the in the business. i don’t think rock n roll or rock a billy would have been as big as it is without pat boone. it’s true he took a religious stand and there were things he wouldn’t do and places he wouldn’t play.
elvis should have been so lucky, on the short haul elvis made more money, and was ten times more famous. elvis lived fast, loved hard, and died young and left a beautiful memory, until the truth came out, that a lot of his life was a nightmare. on the long haul pat boone has lived to spend his money, and he has been an a good citizen, not that elvis wasn’t.
i have always loved his early songs, “love letters in the sand”, “i’ll be home”, “ain’t that a shame”, “bernardine”, “moody river”, and “wonderful time up there”, are my favorites.
pat boone helped make our walk down memory most pleasant, after all when it’s all said and done, memories are made of this, and a thousand other things that came from those thrilling days of the 50’s. -widmarc clark.
john d. loundermilk:
the language of love
john d loudermilk was born on march – 31 -1934 in durham, nc. he learned to play the guitar at age eight. by the time he was ten he had his own radio show and begin performing live with the stage name “johnny dee” from wtik in durham. while in high school he formed his own band “the pine toppers”. the band broke up after his high school days ended and john begin to travel and play in different cities in nc, va, and tn. he had a three piece combo and performed on several tv stations throughtout the nc, va, and w.va region.
he won a talent contest that capital records sponcored in charlotte,nc, hosted by tex ritter. one of the songs he sang would become a smash hit for george hamilton iv titled “a rose and a baby ruth” the song became a #1 pop hit in 1956.
in 1956 he recorded “sitting in the balcony” a song he had written. it was released on colonial records in durhan,nc, under the name johnny dee. later that year eddie cochran had a big hit with it on liberty records in hollywood, calif.
in 1958 loudermilk moved to nashville to become chet atkins assistant at rca, he signed with cedarwood publishing the same year and a song he had written became a smash hit for stonewall jackson titled “waterloo”.
in 1960 he signed with acuff – rose publishing and begin performing on george morgan’s tv show on wlac – tv. in 1961 rca released his first album “language of love”.
some of the hit songs john d loudermilk has written are “sad movies always make me cry” and “norman” recorded by sue thompson. the lennon sisters also had a hit with “sad movies always make me cry”.
other hits he has written and recorded by other artist are, “tobacco road”, nashville teens, lou rawls, david lee roth and edgar winter. “talk back trembling lips” ernie ashworth and johnny tillison. “bad news” johnny cash, box car willie, and sammy davis jr.
“then” you tell me goodby”, eddie arnold. “indian reservation” paul revere and the raiders. “break my mind”, vern gosdin and george hamilton iv. “abilene” written with bob gibson for george hamilton iv.
“it’s my time”, dolly parton and jerry reed.” half breed” marvin rainwarter and rick nelson “ebony eyes” the everly brothers. “angela jones” johnny fergerson. “hollywood’, connie francis. “stayin in ” bobby vee.
john d loudermilk has left his mark in the writers world. and he has written (and it’s been said far to many times) to make an impression “some of the best” but in john d loudermilk’s case it’s ole and used but “oh so true”, best “love songs” ever written. you don’t hear much from mr. loudermilk these days. for many, many years john d wrote songs, traveled, worked in recording studio’s helping to make hits for other artist and became an “ace” at this business of making music.
i’ll tell you this much, he gave us “the language of love ” in the songs he wrote in the 50’s. and the 50’s were “golden” and “exceptionally special”. you folks out there may not believe it, but the best songs ever written and recorded were done in the 50’s. the music may have died the day buddy holly, the big bopper and ritchie valens passed away, but when the new year rang out 1960 an “era” was buried, and it ain’t never coming back. i say “thank you” john d loudermild for the “memories”, i sure have enjoyed them.
freddy “boom boom” cannon
fredrick anthony picariello was born on dec 4 1940 in revere, ma. he begin his singing career when he formed a band and begin playing around the boston area in 1957. cannon like most perfomers when they are first getting started must have a day job to pay the bills.
freddy drove a truck in boston and the surburban community making local deliveries. he was working at a nite club in boston, disc jockey jack mcdermott came in with some friends and was impressed with freddy’s performance.
mcdermott told him he should consider a professional career in music, and get a recording contract. that was what he had in mind and with that encouragement he took a song his mother had written titled “tallahassee lassie” to a recording studio in boston recorded the song and sent the demo to “swan” records in philadelphia.
frank slay and bob crewe were impressed with the demo however they knew it needed some spicing up before it could be released commerically. slay and crewe sent freddy several 45’s and told him to take one to disc jockey arnie ginsberg at wmex in boston and have him play it and get his reaction.
when ginsberg played the record on the air the phone lines lite up with callers asking ginsberg please play that song again. the huge positive reaction to the song was tremendous. the phone lines stayed busy for the rest of ginsberg’s air shift. ginsberg told cannon you better call that record company and get a bunch of records pressed, you got youself a “hit” record.
in may of 1959 fredrick picariello gave notice to his trucking company this was his last week. and it was his last week as fredrick picariello, freddy “boom boom” cannon had been born.
“tallahassee lassie” was a “smash hit” and sold records into the million’s. everyone began to call him “boom boom” because of the driving drum in the recording. very quickly the “freddy cannon” sound became his “trademark”.
freddy yelled, screamed, and hollered, in his recording’s and everyone loved it. the hits just kept coming, “okefenofee” “way down yonder in new orleans”, “the muskrat ramble”, “palisades park”. from 1959 to 1963 swan records released 17 singles and 2 albums on freddy cannon most became hits. freddy toured and made personal appearances all over america.
in 1964 he signed with warner bros and had another big hit with “abigail beecher”. he made two more recordings on the warner bros label. when his his contract with warner bros expired in 1966 he became semi-retired at a young age. freddy lives in calif., and still performs occasionally.
the late shorty horton who was the orginal bass player for link wray, told me freddy cannon’s rise to stardom was so fast it was beyond belief. shorty said we were playing in boston one weekend freddy introduced himself to us and asked us for our autograph.
the next weekend we were playing in cleveland asking him for his autograph. such memories of shorty he truely was a “jem” of a person. those were the days people those were the days, the really sad part is they an’t never coming back. -widmarc clark
singing in the twilight zone
born on december 15 1938 in kansas city, missouri, jerry got a guitar and begin his singing career at age fourteen his mother was a nite club torch singer and after he graduated from high school he formed a band and begin to make entertainment his professional career also.
in 1958 he signed a recording contract with gene autry’s challenge records in los angeles. in late summer challenge released “how the time flies” and it became jerry wallace’s first hit. “diamond ring ” was the second release on the the label and didn’t get much air play.
early in 1959 “primrose lane” was released and became a smash hit nationwide. other release’s on challenge were “little coco plam”, “there she goes”, which was a big hit in the early 50’s for country singer carl smith. it didn’t do that good for wallace.
later release’s were “life’s a holiday”, which got fair air play. however, “shutters and boards” and “in the misty moonlight” were solid hits. primrose lane was his biggest hit on challenge. he signed with mercury records in august of 1964. mercury released his only single for the company “it’s a cotton candy world”, which leaned toward country music.
jerry wallace had always had a crooner’s style of singing, and did well in pop music from mercury he moved to decca and had a big hit with “to get to you” which charted on pop and country. his biggest hit came from a song entitled “if you leave me tonight i’ll cry” which was features in a tv episode of rod sterling’s twilight zone.
it was a tremendous crossover record in 1972 which lead to many good things in the recording business for jerry wallace for years afterward. after many suscessful years in entertainment jerry wallace has retired to the good life. could it be the “twilight zone”???
where in the hell is ace records
if you have any “ace” records left in your oldie moldie 45 record box by huey smith and the clowns, jimmy clanton or frankie ford, i’ll bet your still wondering just where in the hell was that record co, located. it sure wasen’t on the record label.
that’s the first thing i looked for, where is this record company located, i might want to drop by and say hello to my favorite recording artist. some labels like sun just gave the name of the city, which was memphis and by 1955 14 million crazy teen age girls knew the street address also.
imperial had the city of hollywood and street address on their label. that made sence if your record got broken you could write them for another one. columbia, decca, rca, and epic had no town or address on their label’s but i never wanted to get in touch with mitch miller or perry como, i was a rock fan and decca had no rock a billy artist on their label. i figured if i wanted to get in touch with ernst tubb i’d ask the valley troupadours the hillbilly band in our little town since they always played “walking the floor over you” at the county fair every year.
as for rca some how i knew it was way, way up in a place called new york. it might as well have been egypt for all i cared, elvis must be crazy to be on a record label like that why did he leave a nice little label in memphis for new york anyway.
then there was ace no city no street address no nothing, just ace records.
it was all a big ole mystery and it wouldn’t be solved until almost thirty years later when no one hardly remembered the artist that recorded on the label and most of the ace 45’s had disappeared as well.
ace was associated with new orleans as if that is where it had always been. before ace was formed in 1955, imperial and specialty, did a lot of recording in the “big easy” and took the recording back to hollywood and released them on their label from hollywood or los angeles.
ace was owned by johnny vincent who had been a sales rep and producer for speciality records. once in business vincent did all his recording at cosimo matassa’s studio on rampart street in new orleans.
vincent didn’t hurt for talent for his new label, after all he’d been in the business all his life and had learned from the best record men in the business, lew chudd who owned imperial and art rupp who owned specialty.
new orleans had as much talent as los angeles maybe more, if not why did chudd and rupp make so many trips to new orleans to check out the talent in town. fats domino was from there so was lloyd price and little richard spent a lot of time there even though he was from macon, ga.
ray charles lived just a few miles down the road from macon in albany, and nat king cole lived just up the road in montgomery, ala. nat king cole could have signed with ace had not capital gotton to nate king cole first and had atlantic not signed ray charles first. all this talent had been in new orleans form time to time along with b.b.king john lee hooker, slim harpo, and lazy lester. ace begin to sign artist to the label, huey piano smith, had hits with “rockin pneumonia and boogie woogie flu” and “don’t you just know it”.
jimmy clanton was signed and sold millions and millions of records right into the 60’s. frankie ford’s “sea cruise” sold several million copies.
by the mid 60’s the small independent record company’s business begin to fall on extreme hard times. ace got a distribution deal with vee jay records in chicago with vincent doing production for vee jay this only produced one hit “venus in blue jeans” by jimmy clanton. vee jay fell victum to the bigger labels and was forced out of business altogether.
ace went back to being a regional record label and released a few records but by 1967 johnny vincent closed down the label and found other business interest. because of renewed interest in the label from historians of rock a billy and rock music and oldies collectors vincent started ace again in the early 70’s.
he reissued most of the ole hits as he had complete copyrights to the material and leased the masters to various labels around the world from his warehouse in jackson, ms. johnny as of late is in bad health but on his good days you just might find him working from his small desk up in jackson where jimmy clanton, huey smith and frankie ford still wait for some record company to order some “moldie oldies”. ace records has always been operated out of jackson, ms. johnny if you had just had jackson,ms put on that record label i wouldn’t had to work so hard for 30 years to find out you were only 150 miles away. oh well, at least now i don’t have to ask, “where in the hell is ace records”??
just a bit of cajun rock down in baton rouge
born on sept 2 1940 down where the mississippi just keeps rollin along is the louisiana town of baton rouge, deep in the sounds of blues, and cajun music flavored with some folk country played to a different beat is what jimmy clanton grew up listening to.
of all the southern states louisiana is steeped in traditions from the food they eat to the songs they like to hear to the different way they catch fish, turtles, crawfish, crab, and shrimp. they put em together in a pot along with “hot peppers” pork, and so many kinds of flavoring and sauce’s that people come from miles around to taste the delightful dish’s cooked up in ” louisiana style ” found no place else in the world but from the “swamp living cajuns ” of the bay-ou’s.
lots of young men raised up in this tradition were a part of the rock a billy explosion of the 50’s in louisiana. jimmy clanton was among the many artist who came out of this part of the south who played music, wrote songs, and sang what they wrote. jimmy clanton had an interest in music and performing a an early age. he formed his first band while in baton rouge high school called “the dixie cats”. later he teamed up with dick holler and they formed a band called ” the rockets”.
they performed at local clubs and on a radio program called “teen town rally”. in 1957 jimmy, dick and the band went down to new orleans to record in cosimo matassa recording studio on rampart street. jimmy had written a song titled “just a dream”. matassa was impressed with jimmy’s voice and got him in touch with johnny vincent who owned “ace” records in jackson, ms.
vincent signed jimmy to his “ace” label and cosimo matassa became his manager. in the summer of 1958 “just a dream” was released and quickly became a natiowide hit reaching no. 4 on the billboard record charts.
jimmy clanton had a smash hit and not long afterward he was performing on dick clark’s nationwide teen show “american bandstand”. by december of 1958 ” just a dream” had sold over a million records.
jimmy had several hits from 1958 thru the early 60’s. he charted with “my own true love” “go, jimmy go”, “another sleepless night”, written by neil sedaka and “venus in blue jeans”. while things were hot and heavy in his musical life he toured with fats domino and jerry lee lewis also from louisiana. he also performed in two rock n roll movies one produced by alan freed “go johnny go” and another movie titled ” teenage millionaire”.
he was drafted into the army in 1961 and served two years. by 1964 the beatles had taken over rock music lock stock and barrel. after his release from the army in 1964 the whole music scene had changed so much none of the rock artist of the 50’s with the exception of “elvis” who was in his silly movie making mode and releasing silly records as well could find air play. the onslaught of “british artist”, covered radio air play in america like a blanket.
jimmy left the music business and went into the radio business. today he performs at various nite clubs and state fairs through out america doing an occasional “rock revival show”.
jimmy has in past years has performed at the new orleans jazz fest with frankie ford and chuck berry. mostly jimmy enjoys the good life of just taking it easy these days and why not he’s entitled to it. yes sir “another sleepless night” now that is an “ace” of a love song, jimmy ole buddy ole pal you just can’t improve on that one, it stands the test of time as a ” classic”. maybe dr. ike will get “jimmy clanton” to perform at the next “ponderosa stomp”. now thats a good idea even if i did kinda think of it first.
see you later alligator
robert charles guidry born on feburary 21, 1938 in abbeville, louisiana, began his musicial career performing with a small band in his home town in abbeville.
the band was formed in mt. carmel high school in after school hours. the combo begin playing for high school dances and other events around his home town. while bobby was in high school he wrote a song entitled “later alligator” that would kick up a fuss around the world that this louisiana teenager could never have imagined.
“see you later alligator” would firmly establish bobby forever in rock n roll history. how many times have we heard someone say “see you later alligator” ? millions of of times of course not a bad tag to get attached to for one’s life time. just one song with all that attention getting “fame” would be enough, not for bobby charles he turned around and wrote another song that had almost the same impact, with “take it easy greasy”. i can remember in high school everybody saying “take it easy greasy – you got a long way to slide.”
as with many things that come under the “magic” of (louisiana swamp lore) and can’t be explained to anyone’s satisfaction was the fact that a thousand miles away up in chicago, ill, leonard chess of “chess” records found out about bobby charles and his “two” novelty compositions. chess signed him to a record contract having never seen bobby charles – not bad for a teenager down in the louisiana back water swamps.
the songs were recorded at cosimo’s recording studio on rampart street in new orleans. at that time bobby charles was robert guidry, leonard chess suggested a name change to bobby charles.
the song became a local, then regional, then a national hit for bobby charles on the chess label. bobby began touring the usa with chuck berry with his now famous “see you later alligator”.
bill haley and his comets recorded a cover version of “later alligator” which became a hit world wide. it is an absolute (historical fact) “see you later alligator” helped to establish bill haley as the father of rock n roll. for the rest of bill haley’s life “see you later alligator” was a part of his show, such was the impact of those “four words” simple as they were, they were as well known and spoken in every day conversation as often as the name “elvis”, and i ought to know i was a teen myself and remember both phrases being spoken as a daily part of our communication, hey did you hear what elvis said when fell in the “swamp” ? what “see you later alligator”.
the songs of bobby charles have been recorded by a variety of artist, fats domino recorded bobby’s “walking to new orleans” and made it a hit, ray charles, etta james, lou rawls, clarence “gatemouth” brown, joe cocker, muddy waters, wilson pickett, jackie deshannon, tom jones, kris kristofferson, rita coolidge, bo diddley, delbert mcclinton, david alan coe, and jerry jeff walker have all recorded songs from the pen of bobby charles.
today bobby is teaching america’s youth how to protect our environment by creating the childrens program “the solution to pollution”. in may bobby performed at the 3rd annual “ponderosa stomp” in new orleans, it was just like ole times hearing “see you later alligator” sung by a great american and swamp water blues artist. bobby charles and dale hawkins life long buddies together under one roof both having hits on chess records performing on stage at one of the most popular musical events of the year in the the “big easy”. from the cobb webb’s of time those oldie moldie sounds bring back “50’s moments to remember”.
a true pioneer of rock a billy
eddie cochran was born on oct 3 1938 in albert lea, minnesota the youngest of twelve children. shortly afterward his family moved to oklahoma city. eddie began to play the guitar at a very young age and by the time he was twelve he could play what ever he heard which usually came from on old radio.
in 1953 his family moved again this time to bell gardens, calif. at a music store in bell gardens, eddie made friends with songwriter jerry capehart. eddie told capehart he played guitar. capehart asked eddie to record some songs for him. capehart liked what he heard and he eddie became very good friends.
in 1956 eddie came to the attention of si warnoker who owned liberty records. at that time eddie had teamed up with hank cochran and they recorded country music on jerry capehart’s “ekko” records, eddie and hank were not related to each other even though they recorded as ” the cochran bros”.
hank wanted eddie to move to nashville with him to write and record country music. eddie instead signed with liberty records.
liberty records got eddie a part in the movie ” the girl can’t help it” which starred jane mansfield. in the movie he sang ” twenty flight rock”. while on the movie set he met gene vincent they became close friends and he later produced some of gene’s recordings at capital playing guitar on some songs.
“twenty flight rock” was suppose to be his first release on liberty to go along with the release of the movie “the girl can’t help it”. john d. loudermilk who recorded for “colonial” records in winston-salem, n.c. under the name “johnny dee” had written a song titled “sittin in the balcony” that liberty wanted eddie to record, eddie didn’t care much for the song he thought it had to much of an elvis sound to it. eddie recorded the song, but for his next release he recorded his own material.
in the summer of 1958 eddie found the sound he was looking for, he and jerry capehart had written a song ” summertime blues”. in the song eddie says in a way down deep echo “i’d like to help you son but your to young to vote” in certain parts of the song as a answer.
“summertime blues” became a big hit in the summer of 1958. his next release written by he and jerry capehart was “c’mon everybody”, which became another hit. “something else” written with sharon sheeley, was a hit in 1959 he and sheeley became close friends and spent a lot of time together. sharon sheeley wrote ” poor little fool” for rick nelson.
while touring in england in 1960, eddie was killed in an auto accident. on sunday april 17th 1960 in the early morning hours in fog and rain eddie was riding to the london airport after a very suscessful ten week engagement at the bristol hippodrone.
riding with him in the hired “limousine” were sharon sheeley and gene vincent. a tire blew out near the town of chippenham wiltshire causing a collision. eddie was thown from the limo and landed on the pavement causing severe heard injuries, he died in a hospital in bath, england. gene vincent was seriously injuried in the crash and was never the same person afterward, sharon sheeley received injuries as well.
eddie was flown back to calif., and buried in hollywood. i believe had eddie lived he would gone on to become a record producer for a major record co. he was a very talented person with lots of insite into the record business. no one has ever filled the void left by “eddie cochran”. he was one of a kind and when he left us a “huge” part of rock a billy went with him. i can hear him on the radio now as if it were yesterday singing c’mon everybody” c’mon everybody”, the next time you go to an ole movie house with a balcony in it take a look up there and if you look real close you’ll see eddie cochran ” sittin in the balcony”, intop row”. we still miss you eddie, we’ll save a bag of pop corn for you.
the navy’s biggest rock star
before i started this article i really wondered what could be said about “gene vincent” that hadn’t already been said. after some thought it was clear ” gene vincent” wasn’t just a run of the mill performing artist he was different in many ways.
gene was from norfolk, va, the biggest navy town in the world, if you think not, take a trip to the seaport town and see for your self, it’s also the most natural sea port in the world. i know i was stationed on the “forrestal” cva-59 which was home ported in norfolk in the 60’s. there were sign’s on the lawns of the norfolk citizen’s ” sailor’s and dog’s stay off the lawn”.
norfolk is a long walk from being hollywood or new york. it’s not tupelo or ferriday or belmont, texas, nothing like pensacola, or readers digest n.m. it’s a navy town and about as exciting as getting up on monday morning going to work. i got up in norfolk a few monday mornings just loving the navy and norfolk. all you can see is gray ships and thousands of sailors not a happy sight or a sailors delight.
such was the home town of one of rock a billy’s biggest stars, gene vincent. he also was in the navy in norfolk doing his obligation like the rest of us. gene served in the 50’s and i doubt if he liked it any better than those of us who were there in the 60’s. he probably liked it even less than the rest of us considering the fact he had an accident on a motorcycle while delivering navy paper work around the base.
the accident ended gene’s navy career and gave him mountains of serious trouble for the rest of his life. he had several operations on his leg which didn’t get rid of the constant pain he lived with his entire adult life. i would have hoped the the navy and the veterans adminstration would have given gene disability payments for the rest of his life, if all the facts are correct he was certainly entitled to that compensation. the last years of his life show no record that he got any help from the va if he in fact was completely broke when he passed away. if so that in itself is sad.
gene had many talents and one of those was his ability to perform and he had a beautiful singing voice probably the best of all the 50’s rock or rock a billy performers. gene had a band called the blue caps in the begining they were dickie harrell on drums. dickie is probably the best drummer of all the 50’s rock a billy bands, listen to those ole capital recording’s and you’ll know why. cliff gallop on electric guitar no one was better at his craft than cliff gallop those riffs he played on gene’s recordings are absolute gems of guitar work. cliff gallop’s guitar work cannot be duplicated he set the standard and it stills stands today as the best guitar work of any guitarist playing rock billy in the 50’s.
the blue caps were rounded out with wee willie williams on rhythm guitar, and jack neal on stand up bass. it was the best rock a billy band ever assemblied. no one had a better band than gene vincent. the songs gene recorded were and are “classics” gene vincent made the purest rock a billy songs ever recorded. gene was friends with eddie cochran and eddie helped gene with the production of some gene’s hit recordings. eddie cochran was a master record producer at the tender age of 21. eddie had the magic touch and gladly shared it with gene. the blue caps would change personnel many times during gene’s stay with capital records.
gene had many hits on capital who never understood gene or his talent and that was very “stupid” of capital who had an artist that was equal to “elvis” they gave gene no support what so ever during his run of hit after hit on capital. gene vincent had the worst mangement known to mankind during his performing years. he was cheated, lied to, and totally mismanaged all his entertainment career. when eddie cochran was killed in a car accident in england in the 60’s gene was never the same. they were on a tour together riding in the same car when the accident occured. eddie was thrown from the car and killed. gene reinjured his already crippled leg and never recovered from it. gene lived in england for several years married a english girl and when the marrage failed he returned to the usa.
he tried to get his singing career going again but it wasn’t to be. by the 70’s gene’s hit recording’s of the 50’s were far in his past, gene was tired run down depressed and forgotton (so he thought) playing in small smokey filled bars in los angeles gene had all but given up. ronnie weisner a big fan of gene’s found him and gave gene the needed inspiration to do some recording. ronnie was a big help to gene however time had all but run out due to years of drinking and not taking better care of himself and acute depression and bleeding ulcers gene died on oct 12th 1971 in newhall, ca. gene vincent could have been a bigger country star than conway twitty (we’ll never know). gene died never knowing what a big rock a billy entertainer he was. today he would be booked all over the world. had he lived he would have become a millionare. gene vincent a great talent the best rock a billy artist of the 50’s. one things for sure, gene vincent was the biggest rock star the navy ever had.
i have not attempted to cover the life of “gene vincent” in this article, i wanted to share with you some things about gene vincent that possibly kept him from being the greatest rock star ever and things that could have caused him to pass away at such an early age. by all means get the cd’s that the rock a billy hall of fame has to offer on gene vincent and you’ll be listening to the best rock a billy your ears will ever hear. i encourage you check out the rbhof for more on the life of gene vincent especially “ronnie weisners” column. also check with bob timmers the curator of the rbhof for books on gene vincent you’ll never regret it.
“making music for a living”
yesterday, 1954, rock a billy was born, the baby had no name so rock a billy became a part of country music. where else was the new sound to go? to new york, cleveland, los angeles chicago, not a chance. the sound stayed in memphis until the regional radio stations in ark, texas, la, central tenn, and miss, got copies of the new sound.
what is it ? who is it ? one thing for sure it’s different what ever it is. the dj’s at the country stations mixed the new sound in with the rest of their country music format. what do we have here what’s this new sound all about. it sounds kinda country, but it’s not country i’ll play the record cause i like it. later they would say (records) because not just one person was making this new sound.
up in chester, pa, bill haley and his saddleman had a sound all their own. no one could figure out what his sound was. haley’s records were being played long before elvis got his new sound to radio stations in the south and southwest.
what to do with the new sound? where do we fit it in, what do we call it? the established country artist had a name for it, “jived up country music” that should not be played along with country music. they “but” they had to do shows with him because he was “red hot” and it was wise to work with him because he drew a “big” bunch of people where ever he went.
this new sound as time went on was pushing all established music off the air, blues, pop, country, jazz, all of it moved over and gave way to this “jived up country sound” or what ever it was. it seemed a thousand new labels just popped up every week with some wild kid making jerking, hick-up sounds loud and crazy with guitars drums and electric stand up bass. it was absolutely out of control the volume in in the control studio was turned so high all the equipment must have exploded before the recording was done.
the well established labels were pulling their hair out, what the “hell” is going on, who in the “hell” is sam phillips? how can it be that a “hick” label in memphis,tenn, recording in a toilet, be getting air play ahead of us. they want to hear this “hay seed” named “elvis” instead of perry como? whats this world coming to? and anyway what’s this “nut” got a name like “elvis” for? it must be some very weird promotion stunt no one but one has a name like “elvis”.
by 1956 “elvis” was signed by one of those “big” labels who chose to get on the band wagon while the getting was good. the little labels were turning out records faster than a mama rabbit could have babies and it seemed to have no end to it. up in cleveland alan freed gave the new sound a name and things were off and running faster than a greyhound bus two hours behind schedule.
rock and roll that’s what this new sound is, what’s that again, rock and roll, “wow” this is “cool” man. hey man can you dig it, good golly miss molly, great balls of fire, i’m jivin to the beat and so it was. up until 1958 everybody was rockin’. thousands of good sounds had been heard, sanford clark, pat boone, fats domino, jerry lee lewis, dale hawkins, rick nelson, chuck berry, bill haley, buddy knox, gene summers, link wray, billy lee riley, bob luman, eddie cochran, buddy holly, gene vincent, conway twitty, jack scott, johnny burnette, joe bennett, carl perkins, bobby lee trammell, vernon taylor, norvell felts, sonny burgess, ray sharpe, and hundreds of other artist who had great sounding records yes even the “king’s” songs were played so much the teenage girls burned up their record players.
and for a while those of us who were teens in the 50’s drove the adults completely “insane” with our loud music, loud mufflers, “loud” clothes, yep were the “cat’s ass” with a chain hanging down to our knees,peg pants and taps on our shoes and duck tail hair. aaaaah those were the days, yes they were. yea “bop cat bop” just hold that thing in one spot and shake it real easy now thats when you got “somethin”. and we truely did have somethin we had the best music the world has ever heard and it wasn’t reruns it was no rock a billy revival show it was live on stage and heard on the radio that very hour after hour after hour right then and there. yes sir, us teens drove the “adults” out of their minds and we had fun doing it, yes we did we were a “special generation” of teenagers and we made the most of it.
that was “yesterday”. i wish those of you under “40” could have been there, and possibly there are those of you 55 who missed out on all the fun filled days of the 50’s. it will never pass our way again. there are many days when i would like to return the 50’s and live 24 hrs in the life of a 50’s teen in love with rock n roll, time cannot be turned back, but the memories will be with me until i die.
today i don’t see the fun and excitment we had in those “golden days” today nothing is new it seems everything has been tried and we get bored easy. cigarette’s were a big deal then, beer,yes,to be able to get some beer what fun that was, and to have a “cool” car lowered in the back, door handles leaded in and dual pipes that was it, and if you had all that you could get the girls. to cruise around town with a good looking “babe” sitting next to you, it didn’t get any better than that, “until” you got her to go parking with you then it could get as good as it ever was going to get, if you got “lucky”.
yesterday we had it all, today you gotta look for it, chances are you won’t find it. electronic’s wise today there is no comparison to yesterday. tv had three channels, not much air conditioning, cars were functional at best the t-bird and the 57 chevy stood out as an exception. no traffic jams, the big cities weren’t as big bad or ugly “ike” was our man he and john wayne would take care of us, so would roy rogers, gene autry, lash lalarue, superman, we even liked buffalo bob smith and pinky lee. movies had a plot to them, and we had marilyn monroe, jane russell and janet leigh. today we got a lot of wanna be movies actors. no music to listen to at all, country has gone completely to, well let me say as far as i’m concerned, i don’t listen to it any more.
oh lest i forget, we have wal-mart today, we didn’t have that parking lot insanity in the 50’s or people pushing carts around knocking things over running over you and in general just getting all in the way. then they bring the damn things to the parking lot and bang it into your brand new car and chipping some paint off it, $35.000.00 shot to “hell” by some idiot who has no business leaving their house let alone venturing out to cause havoc at a already out of control wal-mart insane aslysum.
tomorrow, what will tomorrow bring music wise? it won’t bring back rock a billy. we need to do all we can to save our rock a billy hertitage for the generation of tomorrow. we move further and further away from the time frame when those great song were produced most of the studio’s they were recorded in are long gone. many of the artist are no longer with us and many others due to health reasons can no longer perform.
we have lost in america much of our “artistic ability” artist are being created rather than learning to perform. today an artist has two hits and they are forgotton. dale hawkins has been performing susie-q for over fourty years and he still gets booked all over america to hear susie-q. “artistic ability” that’s what dale learned when he was fifteen years old riding to gigs on a bycycle. he learned to perform by getting on stage live with trial error in the rough bars along the strip in bossier city and shreveport’s nite life. dale wanted to be a performer and it wasen’t easy but he learned what worked and what didn’t work and when he got in the studio to record susie-q he produced the session. susie-q stands by itself as a “classic” even if he had,had no more hits susie-q was strong enough for dale to book on his name for the rest of his life.
that doesn’t happen today, a recording session can cost as much as $300.000.00 after you add in all the extra’s and special people with their hand out kick backs and other idiotic monkey business you can still come up with nothing to release to the public and if it is released and flops all that money is sucked into the hands of a slick producer who couldn’t get blown up if you threw him into an out door toilet with a handgrenade that already had the pin pulled. so if you are planning a career in music live performing and selling cd’s you better learn all you can about this business of making music for a living. if you are anywhere near being sane where you are right now, you won’t be within six months in the music performing business. get some very ole “elvis” records listen to them till you know each song from memory then call scotty moore and ask him to give you some inside tips on “makin music for a living”. if he tells you to hire a band and hit the road, make you first stop ” graceland”
“elvis” will be waiting at the front steps to hear your 1st performance live and in person.
50 years later
“that’s all right” – “is still alright”
50 years ago on july the 5th 1954 a teenager named elvis presley from tupelo, ms. recorded a song that changed the world. “rock a billy” was born that day, giving birth to the new born music was elvis presley, scotty moore, bill black and one sam phillips.
the new music rang out in the little studio on 706 union ave in memphis somewhat by mistake. this was not the sound the small band of country musicians were looking for, far from it, but it sounded right. the engineer called out into the studio to the two musicians elvis and bill who were singing and jumping around what was that? we don’t know they replied back, well what ever it was do it again i think we got something, what were we doing elvis asked bill black? “that’s all right ” i guess i don’t know.
sam yells out the control studio door well what ever it was do it again. it had been a long hot day many songs had been tried and nothing had clicked or turned out right. the band of young men were getting tired and ready to call it a day.
scotty moore had returned from the cafe next door and asked what all the fuss was about. sam says we came up with something that he likes and wants us to do it again. we don’t know what we did that was so different from everything else that we have done today. well what was it asked scotty? that song “that’s all right”.
well let’s try it again and see if we can come up with something sam can put on tape. the trio went into the opening line and sam yells out keep it up i think we got something. several takes later they did indeed have something. no one would know what it was for a long time, never mind a name to call it, but when the teenagers around memphis heard the sound of it they all knew it was, what they had been waiting to hear. and they couldn’t get enough of it.
when a flip side was recorded “blue moon of kentucky” that became as popular as “that’s all right”.
no one knew it yet, but nothing would ever be the same in america and around the world ever again. elvis would change so much as time went on that he didn’t know who he was. others who followed him would become famous as well and with time, fail from their “fame”. millions of records would be recorded as rock n roll, movies would be made, and items would be sold by the millions pertaining to rock music.
sam phillips would become rich and famous along with his record co, sun records. col. tom parker would become rich and famous and rca records would make millions and millions of dollars from elvis. paramount and 20th century fox movie companies would make millions and millions form the movies “elvis’ starred in. ed sullivan would receive extra fame from having elvis on his variety show. elvis would bring country music to almost a stand still and break recording and personal appearance records. where ever he showed up in public. insanity and riots weren’t far behind.
women would fall in love with him by the millions and buy every record and item he sold. no one will ever again do what elvis has done, he is famous beyond belief. he is dead, yet he lives, he is talked about on a daily basis as if he were just around the corner. after elvis every entertainer has wanted to be what elvis was and no one has even come close no one, there is but one “elvis presley”. there has been disappointment in the trio that started together july 5th 1954. scotty moore has been cheated. scotty moore should be a multi-millionaire today. scotty trusted elvis do right by him and elvis didn’t. scotty moore’s guitar was the musical sound that made elvis sound so good along bill black. bill went on and became famous with the “bill black combo”.
scotty stayed with elvis much longer that he should have but scotty was a friend to elvis. much of the fame of elvis is because of scotty moore, and of the trio who started together scotty is the only one still alive today to carry on the legend of 50 years ago which started in a small recording studio on 706 union ave in memphis, tn.
“thats all right” is still with us, but the special moment in time is gone forever. so are those special days of the 50’s when we danced with our sweethearts to the sounds of music that will never pass our way again. hail hail rock a billy, hold on to it as long as you can because when sanford clark, billy lee riley, dale hawkins, jerry lee lewis, and bob timmers are gone most likely rock a billy will go with them.
ponderosa stomp three:
rockabilly’s blast the big easy
dr. ike and the mystics knights bring an
all star cast to new orleans
if you weren’t in new orleans april 27 and 28 then you missed the ( biggest rock a billy show ) ever produced. performed by rockabilly’s biggest stars. dr. ike and the mystic knights of the mau mau did it again getting all these stars together for an all-star performance.
they brought in the wailers from the west coast doing their big hit ” the tall cool one” a 1959 smash hit that got air play world wide. these artist never seem to age they get better as time rolls by. the show was held a the ” rock n bowl ” located on carrolton ave, in new orleans. the rock n bowl has been known for years as the place in new orleans to see the rockabilly stars of yesteryear, and april 27 and 28 proved to be no exception.
deke dickerson and his band the eccofonics were there backing up many of the stars who performed. “deke” is the best rock a billy guitarist in the world. and if you’ve never seen him crank up his guitar and start playing riffs then you have truely missed the worlds best because “deke” does it all and he makes it look easy. there isn’t a hit rockabilly song “deke” can’t play. this young guitarist is booked world wide and stays on the road 11 months of the year. there isn’t a major nite club in the usa ” deke” hasn’t worked.
and if “deke ” wasn’t enough “mr. rockabilly guitar” james burton was there, the man ” deke” learned from. james burton has no equal in rockabilly, he is the man who was the driving force behind “dale hawkins” susie-q, bob luman’s ” red cadillac and black mustache” and james created the driving guitar sound that made rick nelson famous.
until ozzie nelson hired james burton away from bob luman “rick nelson” had no recordings that were worth air play. once nelson got into the studio with “james” his recordings had listening appeal style and direction and no one could miss the driving guitar sound of “james” burton. deke dickerson has a talent to be recognized and acknowledeged as a valid achievement of greatness, however james burton had already driven his ability on the guitar as the standard by which all guitarists following in his footsteps would use to measure if they might some how reach even the lowest level of a bar that james burton had set so high.
the master guitarist “james burton” and the pupil deke dickerson tappk the stage together in new orleans making rockabilly music come alive as never before. the one and only “dale” hawkins took the stage and put on a performance that was one for the rockabilly fans to remember forever. for my money “dale” hawkins is the best rockabilly performer in the world today, the “ole swamp blues rockabilly star” stands tall as the man to equal up to. “dale” has been making music since he was 15. he and james burton rode “bicycles” to their first “gigs” in shreveport and bossier city. young as they were, they both had a knowledge of music and what to do with it, that producers three times their age had no idea of. together they produced “susie-q” with no outside help from any record company a&r person producer or manager. both have gone on to greatness in the recording business.
d.j. fontana was there making sounds on his drums the same way as he had done when he played behind “elvis” with scotty moore and bill black. d.j. backed up sonny burgess one the greats at sun records in the 50’s. sonny did all of his hits from the 50’s sun days, “my bucket’s ggot a hole in it”, “red headed woman”, ” i wanna boogie”, “i’m going home”, etc. sonny is as wild on stage today as he was 40 years ago, a real showman who gets better with time. it must be the “new orleans” air blowing in off the “mississippi” that keeps everything in a youthful stand still.
lazy lester gave a knock out performance doing songs he made popular on “excello” records 50 years ago. lazy is the last of a group of musicians that included “slim harpo”, “lonesome sundown”, and “lighting slim” when they recorded at crowley’s studio owned by jay miller. those were the days of the big beat in the big easy.
matt lucas, ray sharpe, billy boy arnold, joe clay, and jay chevalier all gave performance’s worth a million dollars that you only had to pay $35.00 to see. the rock n bowl had bands both up stairs and down stairs in the lounge. the rock n bowl is a great place to go for entertainment, you can bowl while the bands play sit down a have a drink. security is provided around the club so that no one can cause any trouble, if you do, you’ll be shown the way to the outside. the rock n bowl staff are a nice group of folks who are there to serve you and make sure your evening is pleasant.
dr. ike and the mystic knights always put on a good show. the 2004 stomp #3 was great! we have all come to expect a great nite of entertainment from the mystic knights and they always provide everyone with shows up and above the expected. hope to see you at next years show. -widmarc
country music station
changes format to spanish
you heard it right “classic country” wkcw in warrington, va just changed it’s format to a spanish speaking station.
wkcw was one of the nation’s oldest country music stations, and had been broadcasting country music in fauquier county since 1960. george jones and charlie pride came by the station and performed their current hits live for tom “cat” reeder my ole buddy, we worked together at wdon in wash, d.c. in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
also the ole tom “cat” would invite his good friend willard scott the nationally known tv weatherman down to the station and they would chat in the studio about the honky-tonks and country music they they both loved.
well no more will they do any chatting and ole tom “cat” won’t be spinning any more of hank williams jr’s live album from cobo hall in detroit featuring lamar morris and the cheating hearts. if you’ve never heard that live album with hank jr and lamar morris you need you find it and give it a spin that was when country music was “damn” good and country. the ole tom “cat” is in the country music disc jockey hall of fame in nashville as he should be he is one of the greatest country dj’s america has ever had.
wkcm was the last am station in the washington area playing country music it was known throughout the area as the big k. now when you tune into wkcw 1420 on the am dial you’ll hear mexican music. the odd thing about all this is there are very few hispanics in faquier county. as a matter of fact faquier county has the fewest hispanics in northern virginia.
wkcw was a community family oriented station people called in to talk about their aches and pains tell about the family dog or cat and what was going on in country music sounds like the america we all love and wished there were more towns like warrington, va plain and uncomplicated usa. well they ain’t gonna be calling in and talking to the ole tom “cat” no more unless he learns to speak spanish.
one thing is for sure country music on am radio will be missed in warrington, va. wkcw wasn’t bringing in the needed revenue to keep from operating at a loss. if you like a station support the station by buying from the people who advertise on the station otherwise the advertisers will drop their sponsorship and that sure hit’s the station in the pocket book.
no radio station can operate without sponsors unless that station has another means of revenue, and even if they do they still want the station to pull it’s on weight. the amount of people tuning into the station begin to drop. each the arb takes a toll to see which station has the most listeners and at which time they tune in known in the business as drive time.
if your stations arb is low then the big money sponsors who buy only stations with a high arb won’t advertise on your station. then your station ends up with only mom and pop sponsors who usually have low budgets for radio. you need aggressive salesmen to keep a station going when the sales staff have a hard time selling air time the station is in big trouble, and good radio sales people are always looking for an opening at a bigger station no one ever said owning and operating a radio station was easy.
metro radio inc who owned wkcw begin to look for someone to buy the station or lease the licence usually it will profit a station owner to lease the licence because there are no more broadcasting license left in the usa, either you lease a station’s license or buy a radio station for sell. the fcc hasn’t granted any new broadcasting license in in many years.
so metro radio was contacted a spanish entrepreneur who leased the station at a price each month that pleased both parties and wkcw begin to broadcast in spanish to an audience of hispanics who support the station by buying from it’s advertisers. there are now five spanish am radio stations in the washington, d.c. area. hispanics are growing in the washington area each year their numbers increase. falls church, va, in prince william county now has 27,000 hispanics just across the potomac river from wash,d.c. and growing each year.
not only has country music changed to the ultra modern sound of punk country it’s being “taken off the air” and replaced by mexican music down south of the border is now usa back yard.
don’t think it can’t happen your town it can and might sooner than you think all this took place sunday january 18 2004. support country music and it’s sponsors let’s keep it alive and on the airways forever. i’ll bet there’s not one country music fan in warrington, va, who wouldn’t give $100.00 to hear tom “cat” reeder say ” folks my time has all come and gone for today but till me meet again let me leave you with this thought, may the good lord take a liking to you and may you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live, bye, bye, darling.
i’d like to thank my good friend chet “teeter” cissel in centreville, md. for helping me in getting the information for this report.
mystic knights of the mau mau
3rd annual ponderosa stomp
the 3rd annual ponderosa stomp ” rock a billy” ” extravaganza” is back for “two big nights of excitement” at the world famous rock n’ bowl on new carrolton ave in new orleans. without a doubt “rockabilly fans” this is the best rockabilly show in the world.
for the past three years the mystic knights have put on the best rock a billy show the world has ever seen. rockabilly legends have been a part of these shows. elvis’s band members scotty moore and d.j. fontana have worked the show the past two years, the late paul burlison was a regular, james burton whose guitar work on susie-q and hello mary lou that helped make dale hawkins and rick nelson famous will be back this year.
james gets better and better as the years go on, don’t miss this world famous guitarist. dale hawkins has put on some great shows at this event. dale’s performance at the 1st stomp is now known world wide as one of the “best” performance’s given by any rockabilly performer.
dale closed the show with james burton on guitar that brought the house down the audience wouldn’t let them stop playing susie-q they yelled more, more, more over and over finally dale hawkins said james it’s time to take susie-q home.
this is the kind of “entertainment” you get at the ponderosa stomp. this year the shows are on april 27th and 28th the admission is only $ 35.00 per night, that’s a real bargain for the entertainment you’ll see. you can order tickets by going to the mystic knights web site or order on line via (ticketweb).
for hotel accommodations at a discounted price of $75.00 per night contact hotel le cirque 1-800-684-955 and mention the knights to get the special price. i suggest you order your tickets in advance, last year they sold out. if they sell out you can most likely get in however you may miss some of the performers in the process. the shows are from 5pm to 2am each night and each night has different performers, so don’t make the mistake of missing the 1st night on the 27th thinking you’ll see those same performers perform again on the 2nd night on the 28th. both dates have different performers for that night only.
if you’ve never been to a “stomp” make plans now to be in town on april 27th and 28th, you will have the time of your life you’ll enjoy the unsung hero’s of the blues, soul, rockabilly, swamp blues, “rockabilly swamp blues”, pop and r & b.
if you’ve never heard ray sharpe sing “linda lou ” then the trip will be worth while if you have to “fly” from england you won’t be disappointed. you’ll see and hear the “worlds greatest rockabilly guitarist” deke dickerson. deke dickerson is considered the “youngest” and absolutely the best rockabilly guitarist in the world. he’ll be there along with his band “the eccofonics”, along with deke will be “jimmy lee fautheree” who opened the show for elvis’ 1st public performance in 1954, jimmy will be singing his famous song “love me”. jimmy lee puts on a great show don’t let his age fool you, jimmy lee doesn’t look his age and his performance’s will leave you wanting more. plus you’ll be able to ask jimmy lee what it was like to work with “elvis” when he just beginning to perform.
also performing will be “warren storm”, lazy lester”, “guitar gable”, bobby charles who made ” see you later alligator” famous, “joe clay” and the one and only “mr. louisiana man” joe chevalier who was (huey p long’s ) personal entertainer when long was governor of louisiana. what a career jay chevalier has had, he has had his many hits, his most “famous” “castro rock” that put him at the top of the charts and he’s still rocks cajun style all over louisiana just like he did when he was a teenager. and you’ll see a pretty little cajun perform with the best blues voice in the whole state of louisiana – “barbara lynn” singing “oh baby, we got a good thing”.
once again dr. ike has done it again putting together a show that’s “the real deal’. they tell me dr. ike waits till a foggy night then goes up the the mighty mississippi in a “pirogue” and asks the mighty river to name the performers for the show. only the “mystic knights” can put on these great shows and how they do it is their “secret”. i’ll see you in the “big easy” on april 27th and 28th.
just good ole rock a berry
chuck berry begin playing professionally in 1952 and by 1953 he was working the “cosmopolitan club” in st.louis. chuck added country riff’s to his guitar work and had his own brand of rock a billy or rock a berry.
chuck berry was probably playing rock a billy long before “elvis’. berry liked country, blues, calypso, and ballads and included them in his shows.
long before he became a ” musical icon” he was experimenting with different sounds and styles of music. he played guitar wrote songs sang and produced the kind of music that and his audience’s liked.
chuck berry paid close attention to what his audience warmed up to and he gave them what they wanted to hear. he was a born showman and worked his talents to his best ability. he might have liked ” johnny be goode” but if you wanted to hear “maybellene” that’s what he played. chuck berry was and is a crowd pleaser and his shows are based on what you want not what he wants. this type of interest in people is what leads to “famous” entertainers. he formed his own group in 1953 called the ‘chuck berry trio’.
berry and his piano player “johnnie” johnson put on shows at the “cosmopolitan club” that are remembered as legendary to this very day. few people have had the talents on piano as did ” johnnie” johnson. you can hear a lot of “johnnie” johnson’s style in jerry lee lewis.
johnnie johnson is the piano in most of chuck berry’s recordings on chess records, the exception would be “lafayette leaks” another piano great who worked on some of berry’s recordings.
since country music was popular with white folk many white folks begin to attend chuck’s performance’s at the “cosmo” club. the “cosmo” was almost all black when berry first began to perform there, however when word got around st. louis about the this very talented black performer who played country music like you’ve never heard before the audience became 40% white. so much for “charlie pride” being the first kid on the block.
everyone got along enjoyed a good evening of great music. and this was 1953 when everything was supposed to segregated. well don’t believe everything you hear. many times music brings people together in peace and harmony when nothing else can.
in 1955 on a road show to chicago chuck met muddy waters his idol. he told muddy he was interested in getting on a record label and could he help him? waters told him to go see “leonard chess” down at 47th and cottage st. chuck did that very thing and leonard chess was so impressed he signed him to his “chess ” label.
chuck had written a country song called “ida may”. the title was changed to “maybellene” “chess records” had a “rock a billy” hit on it’s hands and chuck was on his way to becoming an “american icon” and one of the most famous rock entertainers the ’50s produced.
carl perkins said when he first heard ” maybellene” he said now there’s a man who likes “country” music. the only difference between “maybellene” and “blue suede shoes” is a white man is singing “blue suede shoes’ and a black man is is singing ” maybellene”.
“maybellene” is just a tick faster than ” shoes” the style and beat are about the same and both have a toe tapping rhythm to them. one is rock a billy the other one is rock a berry. life is just one big ole bowl of cherries or berries when you add the right ingredients to them.
no “elvis” didn’t invent rock ‘n’ roll or rock a billy and he and sam phillips didn’t have rock a billy all to them selves. other good artists were adding their own licks to the vast “enterprise” called rock ‘n’ roll. “maybellene” went to # 4 on the pop charts, # 1 on the r&b charts and never charted on the “country charts”. well if that’s hard for you to understand you probably still believe in the “tooth fairy”.
ole chuck was rock a billy “ok” rock a berry. his records charted every time he put a song out, “school days”, rock ‘n” roll music, almost grown, sweet little sixteen, back in the usa, and many other hits.
he didn’t have a #1 hit till 1972 when “my ding a ling”, went to all the way to #1. chuck berry is known as the ” eternal teenager”, unlike “dorian gray” who never grew ole his “portrait” did. chuck berry’s recordings never get ole they get better and better as time goes by.
i disagree with everything that the rock n roll hall of shame stands for, with few exceptions they did a good thing when inducted chuck berry in 1986. johnny be goode was chosen to go aboard ” voyager” 1 as top rank listening music. not a bad honor for the “ageless teenager”. hail, hail, rock ‘n’ roll, chuck berry and rock a berry’s billy’s. put him in the rock a billy hall of fame, “bob” without “maybellene” rock a billy wouldn’t be near as good.
oldies but goodies
turn your radio on in 2004 to a rock station you won’t hear rock n roll you’ll hear a lot of noise . rock n roll it not what it was, hasen’t been since 1960. frankie avalon fabian, bobby rydell, bobby vee along with, bobby vinton, brian hyland, james darren, jimmy clanton, johnny tillison, gene pitney, paul anka, dion, frankie ford, ray peterson, joey dee and the starliters the chiffons,the shirelles, neil sedaka, carol king and a lot of help from dick clark turned rock a billy into a saturday night joke.
we lost folks, gone are the get down and get dirty rock a beatin boogie stuff. no more joe bennett and the sparkletones, dale hawkins, gene vincent sanford clark and link wray. link wray could play more rock music in one rock instrumental than duane eddy could play all month.
pat boone as good as he was with his early cover recordings “an’t that a shame” “love letters in the sand” decided to become a crooner. it was such fun while it lasted, elvis, johnny, carl, jerry lee, and gene summers.
the great little record compamies sun, checker, ace, dot, abc paramount, jan, back beat, imperial, speciality, cadence, duke, ebb, gone, coral,del-fi, challenge, rita, hi, doo-tone,liberty, roulette and the list goes on gave us many artist we might never have heard of.
we had buddy, the bopper, ritchie, eddie cochran, billy lee, ray smith, warren smith, johnny burnette, bobby darin, fats, little richard, bill haley, the platters and the del-vikings and for a short time tommy sands. the dj’s would play your records if you could get it to them. you could hear it all r&b, pop, rock a billy and country all on one station ah those were the days. marty robbins made rock a billy, webb pierce made a stab at it, sonny james “young love” was mixed in with rock a billy.
guy mitchell had out “singing the blues” jim lowe and the green door, and a ton of groups with the platters at the top of the list. elvis was always at the top of the play list his records were played more than anyone however other artist did get their records played unlike today.
today you can buy a package of old hits however it’s selective many of your favorites internet but again so many good songs get left out. for example buddy holly had many hits “rave on”, “think it over”, “it’s so easy”, “maybe baby”, all that is ever offered is “that’ll be the day” and “peggy sue”.
from 1954 till 1960 were the days of great rock a billy and love songs .those soft lovely romantic love songs when played at a dance hop made you want to find your favorite girl get her out on the dance hold her tight melt all over her and run down her leg. now that was what the 50’s was all about, love, romance,and rock n roll where in the “hell” did those great days ever go??
when i look around my studio at all the great recordings i have acquired down through the years i ask myself was i lucky to be a teenager in the 50’s when those song were being played on the radio ?? yes i was very fortunate indeed to have grown up in the 50’s. those ole 45’s, 33 and 1/3 vinyls are collectors items today. try and find some sun recording’s especially one by “elvis” i have a 78 by “elvis” i forget to remember to forget” and “mystery train”. i wouldn’t part with it for any amount of money. no one would pay me the amount it would take to part with it anyway.
the recording industry has changed,the way records are produced has changed, the songs have changed,the artist are different and the few record record companies that are left are very different from the 50’s.
the magic that was the 50’s is gone lost in the record grooves forever. gone too are most of the artist who recorded those great songs. but the “thrill” when you hear the oldies is just alive as the day they were recorded. they had style, class, a good beat, meaning, and they touch everyone who hears them in a (special way). if they were played again today in the same way they were played back then with the dj adding his special touch to it we could start a whole new world.
“ok” i’m dreamin’ and that’s a good thing. but i wish i could go back to just one tomorrow in the 50’s to relieve one day, i’d trade all my tomorrows for the fun we had back then. someone once said todays music an’t bad, “but” it ain’t nothin’ like we had in those good good ole days of rock a billy rock n roll. now let me see,where did bob timmers say that rock a billy revival show was? remember, you’ll never grow ole if you love rock a billy, rock n roll.
the chilling, thrilling sound called “rumble”
when i was a teenager in the 50’s link came came to my high school in rockville, md, to do a sock hop. i had never heard anyone play guitar like link. it was a great time to be a teenager with all the good music was being played on the radio. then i hear this guy up there on stage playing stuff that just sent “chills” up my spine. rumble hadn’t been released yet but link told us it would be out soon on “cadence” records.
milt grant was the “emcee” and link’s manager. it was a great night. they had a guy singing named ” buddy presley” who milt grant said was “elvis’s cousin. he was good looking and maybe he did look a little like “elvis”. i found out later after i got to know link that he was a local singer named buddy hopkins.
buddy worked with link for a few more shows and then disappeared forever. buddy if your reading this where in the hell are you ?? link was playing various place’s in wash.d.c. and i began to go down to see him. at that time wash.d.c. was country all kinds of country artist played there.
jimmy dean, patsy cline, and jimmy case played at the “famous”. jimmy case now own’s his own talent agency and record company just out side nashville. link played at the “rendezvous” i went to see him with my buddies you could get in at 15 i know i did it. you couldn’t get served beer or whiskey but you could get served “coke’.
i made friends with link, ( vernon wray) links brother, his stage name was “ray vernon”. doug wray and shorty horton. bobby howard was always around he played guitar and sang. i used to pal around with bobby he was a fun person. barry sidell was another person who was always around and fun to be with.
and who could ever forget the one and only barry richards dj at wdon where i later worked as a dj. the last time i heard barry he was working in new orleans as a dj. that was 25 years ago. with barry’s gift to gab he’s probably the president of some small country these days.
roy clark played at “vinnies” and i’d go down and see him. there was a small sign in the window of “vinnies” written in hand “roy clark” appearing nightly. that was 1958. wanda jackson came into d.c. and needed a guitar player and roy got recommended,and you know the rest of that story.
there was a saturday nite tv show called “the town and country jamboree” that was produced by connie b gay it aired on wmal channel 7. jackson weaver was emcee he was the other half of the morning comedy team on wmal radio show hardin and weaver, frank hardin was his team mate.
everyone worked the town and country jamboree jimmy dean ,jimmy case, patsy cline, geroge hamilton the 4th, vernon taylor, clint miller, roy clark, dale turner, the palmetto ranch boys, which was ” link wray” and the wraymen, sometimes spelled “raymen”. the string dusters, bobby stephenson, buck ryan, ralph case, bill harrell and many, many others.
when link played the “ozark club” he cut “rumble” in nashville and it sold over a million copies. he went on tour and i traveled with the band for some shows in the philadelphia,new jersey, and new york.
it was wild. on one tour bobby darin, baby washington, jan and arnie, who later became jan and dean, jesse lee turner, the bell notes, fabian, frankie avalon, and jimmy clanton were all on the same tour, riding on a greyhound bus. it was nuts ,those were the days. link’s band backed up everyone and no one thought anything about it, and link got no extra money for doing it.
link never received the proper amount of royalties due him from “rumble” link wray would be a millionaire today if he had been paid properly for “rumble” and “rawhide”. link worked the “ozarks” the”lions den” while charlie daniels and the jaguars played bennies rebel room along with big al downing.
three years ago i saw charlie daniels at a state fair and asked him did he remember those early days in wash.d.c playing at the rebel room he said he didn’t remember playing there giving me a short answer. i guess some people don’t care to remember how they got started they just care about their present fame.
while working a tour in madison, wi, with duane eddy link had recorded a instrumental called “lillian” link played it on stage and afterward duane eddy came back stage and asked link to show him the chords to “lillian”. link replied your a big name guitarist buy the recording and learn it for yourself. link is a gracious loving person and has many, many friends “eddy” was famous and working for dick clark and making five times much money as link. he could have said i’d like to record the song and you and i can both make a buck or two and believe me link could have used the money. the recording had some serious chord progressions in it and duane eddy would have needed to know those chords to properly record it. duane i still got my copy do you want to borrow it ?
i have known link wray since 1957 we go back to his early days in wash.d.c. i spent a lot of time with link. there were the recordings at edgewood studios on vermont ave in d.c. where “rawhide” was recorded. the record factory which was owned by vernon ray up stairs from edgewood and later moved to accokeek and renamed wrays three track shack. when i got out of the navy in 1965 i went to the national academy of broadcasting in wash.d.c. and got a job as a dj at wdon which was then a country station. i got webb’s furniture to sponsor a show featuring link and ray. i went to work for ray’s record co as a talent for several years. johnny paycheck did some recording for ray along with the late great roy buchanan. the studio from the outside was nothing to look at but the inside where it counted produced some mind bending sounds.
everyone has passed on except link. vernon wray took his own life in arizona several years ago. doug wray and shorty horton have both died and link is 75. i think “rumble” was the greatest instrumental ever recorded, it sounds as good today as it did in 1958. many have tried to reproduce the “chilling” sound that was a genuine masterpiece so many years ago, it cannot be done. link wray recorded the real article, and “rumble” has and will continue to be a “rock classic”.i can say with certainly i was there when it all happened ” i guess i outta know” link wray is a one of a kind special person who had the knowledge and skill to produce sounds on the guitar that no one else would ever be able to to do. i recommend all links early recordings on epic. it will bring you hours of enjoyment even though it’t only 12 songs 6 per side you’ll play them over and over and you’ll ask yourself why didn’t i do this thirty years ago.
today link lives in denmark and travels to the usa to do shows very infrequently. i wish you could have been there back in the 50’s when all this was brand new. i can still heard the sounds of “rumble” rawhide” and “jack the ripper” as they remind me of a time in america when things were simple, fun, exciting and no had the answers to all the nutty questions beings asked today which don’t deserve an answer any way. it’s true, i’d trade all my tomorrows for just one yesterday to go back and live 24 hours in those thrilling days when rock was young and link would say hey bobby i’m glad to see you sit down and listen to my new song. hail, hail, rock and roll and rock a billy.