new orleans looking forward
100 songs that
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
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
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".
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
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
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
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
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.
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 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
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
by the time he could buy any kind of shoe he wanted
and pay any price for them, those cheap, cheap, white bucks were
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
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
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
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.
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
"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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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 &
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
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
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 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.