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IMELDA MAY

VINTAGE ROCK JULY/AUGUST 2014

ROY ORBISON GENE VINCENT


THE BIG O’S FIVE REBEL CATS, ONE
ROCKIN’ ROOTS TIMELESS ALBUM Goes Tribal!

VINTAGE ROCK
HAIL! HAIL! ROCK’N’ROLL! THE MUSIC, THE STORIES, THE LIFESTYLE, THE MEMORIES...

9 772054 357003
VINTAGE ROCK MAGAZINE ISSUE 12 JULY/AUG 2014 £5.99

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REVIEWS
R o c ka b i l l y m a y h e m f r o m
Hillbillies to High Rollers! VIVA LAS
INCLUDING JACK SCOTT THE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE VEGAS!
ROBERT GORDON CRAZY CAVAN LEE DRESSER WEEKENDER
WELCOME

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Station Approach, off North Street,
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Tel 020 8773 3865
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Welcome...
The summer seemed like as good a time as any to unveil our
Rockabilly Special. Special, not only because we tell the many-
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Richard Flynn
faceted tale of the rise of rockabilly in the US, and dig deep into the
☎ 01273 840388
richard.flynn@anthem-publishing.com lives of musical icons from right across the timeline, but because we
have commissioned none other that rockabilly’s voodoo art-demon-
OPERATIONS EDITOR Jon Palmer in-residence Mr Vince Ray to design this issue’s spectacular cover –
jon.palmer@anthem-publishing.com and, we think you’ll agree, it’s a thing of beauty!
We feature stars from the halcyon days past right through to the
CONTRIBUTORS present. From the ‘50s we profile Canada’s biggest export, Jack
Rob Bewick, Julie Burns, Alan Clayson, Bill
Dahl, Vince Eager, Sean Egan, Randy Fox, John
Scott, explore Gene Vincent’s classic sophomore LP (with insight
Howard, Jeremy Isaac, Paul Rigby from Gene expert Derek Henderson) and track back to the rockin’
PHOTOGRAPHY Paul Harris, Mike Prior early years of the Big ‘O’. From the neo-rockabilly movement we
ADVERTISING MANAGER Leah Fitz-Henry
break bread with style icon and singer Robert Gordon, and from the
leah.fitz-henry@anthem-publishing.com here and now we chat with Irish rockabilly star Imelda May about
MANAGING DIRECTOR Jon Bickley her passion for rock’n’roll and her new album, Tribal. If anyone is
Jon.Bickley@anthem-publishing.com poised to take rockabilly into the future it’s this gal!
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Paul Pettengale And there’s plenty more… We interview Ted icon Crazy Cavan
Paul.Pettengale@anthem-publishing.com
and the late, great Krazy Kat, Lee Dresser, who sadly passed soon
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Simon Lewis
Simon.Lewis@anthem-publishing.com
after our meeting. We explore the Louisiana Hayride – the show
ART DIRECTOR Jenny Cook that launched numerous careers – complete with incredible photos
Jenny.Cook@anthem-publishing.com and a Q&A with Prof. Tracey Laird, who recently wrote a book on
MARKETING MANAGER Alex Godfrey the legendary shindig. On top of that, we explore Chess’ rockabilly
Alex.Godfrey@anthem-publishing.com output and reveal our Top 40 tracks from the best rockin’ women.
MARKETING ASSISTANT Kate Doyle Last, but by no means least, we review the world’s largest rockabilly
kate.doyle@anthem-publishing.com spectacular Viva Las Vegas, we go backstage at the London
Head Office Anthem Publishing Ltd, Suite 6, Burlesque Festival and Vince Eager spins another unmissable yarn
Piccadilly House, London Road, Bath BA1 6PL from his rock’n’roll diary. We hope you enjoy the issue!
Tel +44 (0) 1225 489 984
Fax +44 (0) 1225 489 980

VINTAGE ROCK JULY/AUGUST


ROY ORBISON
Email enquiries@anthem-publishing.com THE BIG O’S
ROCKIN’ ROOTS
GENE VINCENT
FIVE REBEL CATS, ONE IMELDA MAY

VINTAGE ROCK
TIMELESS ALBUM
Goes Tribal!

2014
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YLE, THE MEMORIES...

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4 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


IN THE ISSUE

Contents
THE STARS
CRAZY CAVAN 12
We talk to Wales’ iconic rock’n’roll stalwart Crazy Cavan about Screaming Lord Sutch, staying power,
losing his job to rockin’ and his career thus far with the Rhythm Rockers.

LEE DRESSER 16
Dresser and his band The Krazy Kats stayed with the original line-up longer than all others. We met
the rockabilly legend for one of his final interviews before he tragically passed away earlier his year.

IMELDA MAY 28
She’s stood firm on her own unswerving path and is a beautiful anomaly in the modern musical
landscape. Now Dublin’s rockabilly queen takes on the globe with her new album Tribal.

ROY ORBISON 34
Orbison may well have morphed into the ultimate balladeer by the end of his career, but his real
roots lay in rockabilly and Sun Records… We track back to earlier glories.

JACK SCOTT 58
He never quite reached the Billboard heights of some of his peers, but Jack Scott was a songwriter
par excellence and laid down a catalogue of rockin’ material that proves his mettle ten times over.

58
ROBERT GORDON 76
Oh-so-stylish, full of passion, and armed with one of the world’s best baritones, Robert Gordon was
a leading light in the resurgence of rockabilly. We chat to a modern–day maestro..

THE FEATURES

106
ALL MAMA’S CHILDREN 6
Welsh Rockabilly Fair, Hemsby Weekender, Retro Fest, Jukeboxes, books, clothes and releases.

FROM HILLBILLIES TO HIGH ROLLERS 18


We uncover how the infectious rockabilly beat evolved into a phenomenon.

THE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE 40


Shreveport’s legendary Louisiana Hayride was a fertile breeding ground for a host of rockin’ stars.

TOP 40 ROCKIN’ WOMEN 48


The top 40 tracks from the women who rock our world!

POSTERS 64
Buddy Holly, Duane Eddy, Johnny Carroll, Elvis and Brian Setzer.

ROCKABILLY AT CHESS 70
Randy Fox discusses Chess Records’ rockabilly output in part four of our independent label series.

READER’S JUKEBOX 82
We load the jukebox with your favourite anthems for the dancefloor.

CLASSIC ALBUM 88
Gene Vincent and his seminal sophomore album, Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps.

VIVA LAS VEGAS WEEKENDER 94


John Howard boards the plane to the biggest rockabilly party in the world.

ALBUM REVIEWS 100


We give the latest musical offerings a test run…

LONDON BURLESQUE FESTIVAL 106


After two glorious weeks of sizzling burlesque in the capital, we assess the best of the fest.

VINCE EAGER: A LIFE IN ROCK’N’ROLL 110


Yet another fascinating chapter from the Brit who lived on rock’n’roll’s front line.

FREE CD BUNDLE PAGE 104


when you subscribe!
ON THE COVER
ALL
Mamas’
CHILDREN
A FAIR OL’ DO
The Welsh Rockabilly Fair is based on an event in Coney Beach, New York, that
closed down when they re-developed the old boardwalk there. However, the area
of Porthcawl used for the fair is actually also named Coney Beach and was
modelled on the New York area back in the 1920s. What to expect? First, there’s
20 hours of non-stop rockabilly music featuring Rusti Steel & The Startones, The
Sureshots meet John Lewis Trio, Ruckus, The Tailights, Ian Cal Ford & the Railmen,
Tom Cat & The Zodiacs, El Camino, Doggone Honkabillies, as well as seven top DJs,
and a separate DJ dancehall to cut a rug. On top of that there’s an outdoor stage,
classic cars and bikes, rare vinyl store, stroller and jive workshops, retro and
boutique clothing stalls, late night bar and – the big attraction – an
old-fashioned fairground right next door to the venue! Xanadu Productions also
stage the Porthcawl Elvis Festival, which over the last ten years has grown to be
the biggest event of its kind in the world. As big rockabilly fans, the plan was to
stage the Rockabilly Fair the weekend before the Elvis Festival, tieing them both
together nicely! The Welsh Rockabilly Fair takes place at The Hi Tide, Porthcawl on
19-21 September. Tickets cost only £70 (under 16s half price!). For more info head
over to www.welshrockabilly.co.uk

6 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Photo: © Scott Cole

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 7


ALL ’
Mamas
CHILDREN
RETRO MANIA!
A
killer weekend of unchained
rock’n’roll perfection arrives with
this year’s Retro Festival on 8/9/10
August at White Waltham Airfield in
Maidenhead. Three stages offer three
genres. Rock’n’roll resides at the Black
Hangar stage, with sets from The
Kingcats, The Doggone Honkabillies,
Restless (UK), Class Of 1958, Greggie
G, This Little Girl & the Dillicats, Craig
Shaw & the Illuminators and Rhythm
River Trio, with DJs and dance classes
adding to the fire. For both music and
burlesque, head over to the Spitfire

ROCKTOBER!
Ballroom, where Eliza Delite and
Marianne Cheesecake will be sizzling
and King Candy and the Sugarpush
add a swinging soundtrack. The third

I
f Hemsby’s stellar May rock’n’roll Jesse James & the Outlaws and many stage features soul, R&B, mod, ska and
weekender was anything to go by, we’re more. Expect the usual sizeable vintage northern soul. There’s a huge show
destined for yet more fireworks at and retro market for clothing, shoes, arena with dare-devil flying displays and
Hemsby 53 this October. It’s yet another accessories, collectibles and homeware, a glossy line-up of vintage, classic and
all-star show with Vintage Hair & American vehicles to admire, as well as
headline slots
occupied by ‘All- Hemsby53 Make-up Parlour
for preening, sharp
hundreds of vintage and retro home wear
and clothing stands to explore, an auto
American Boy’ Billy
Adams, ex-Drifters promises more cuts from the Men’s
Barber Shop, Record
jumble to pick up a thrifty bargain, Kids
zone, food and bars and two camp sites.
Bobby Hendricks
backed by The rock’n’roll Room for vinyl and
cds, Kav Kavanagh’s
Tickets and further information at
www.retrofestival.co.uk
Roomates, Barrence
Whitfield and his fireworks with an Jive School and ‘50s
Jive contest, the
American Savages,
Hemsby fave and
Million Dollar
all-star show customary car boot
sale and a horde of
top rockin’ DJs to
Quartet star Nick Willett and a rare keep the floors full. Thursday’s pre-party
performance from Rolling Rock original features Sweden’s Problem Child, Jesse
Jimmy Lee Mason. On top of that comes James & the Outlaws and The Hayriders
a cast of UK rock’n’rollers including (£30).Hemsby 53 takes place 3-6 October
Jake Allen and his band, The Doggone at Seacroft Holiday Village in Hemsby.
Honkabillies, The River Rhythm Trio, www.hemsbyrocknroll.co.uk

8 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


RAY OF LIGHT

VINTAGE ROCK JULY/AUGUST 2014


ROY ORBISON GENE VINCENT
THE BIG O’S
ROCKIN’ ROOTS FIVE REBEL CATS, ONE IMELDA MAY
Goes Tribal!

VINTAGE ROCK
TIMELESS ALBUM

When we decided that issue 12 of event started 18 years ago. Not only
Vintage Rock was going to be our-all- that, Vince is also an accomplished
encompassing ‘Rockabilly Special’, rock’n’roller and has been recording HAIL! HAIL! ROCK’N’ROLL! THE MUSIC
, THE STORIES, THE LIFESTYLE, THE MEMO
RIES...
we knew we’d have to come up with and performing with his band the
something extra-special for the cover Boneshakers for a decade. His latest
of this exclusive issue. So without musical project, Vince Ray’s Loser
further ado, we called upon legendary Machine, is a two piece – just guitar and
rockabilly illustrator Vince Ray to drums – playing, in the words of the
design the cover and we think you’ll great man himself, ‘stripped down Link
all agree it’s a blinder! Wray-styled garage rock’n’roll murder

9 772054 357003
VINTAGE ROCK MAGAZINE ISSUE
Vince has provided his inimitable style!’ The duo use projections of old

12
12 JULY/AUG 2014 £5.99
artwork for everyone from Brian biker and hot rod footage to accompany

Issue 12
VINTAGE
ROCK
Setzer, Reverend Horton Heat, The their live show, and we can’t wait to see Over 1 0 0 pages of
HOT OR NOT?

Album

WWW.VINTAGEROCKMAG.COM
Spunyboys, Lucky 13, rockabilly the spectacle! R o c ka b i l l y m a y h e m f r o m REV IEW S
barber Mr Ducktail and Fender For more information on Vince, or to Hillbillies to High Rollers!
guitars, as well as being the check out his designs and merchandise, PLUS! JACK SCOTT CRAZY CAVAN VIVA LAS
ROBERT GORDON THE LOUIS LEE DRESSER VEGAS!
IANA HAYRIDE
man behind Viva Las Vegas’ visit www.vinceray.com or email him WEEKENDER
promotional designs since the at therealvinceray@gmail.com

PETTY IN PRINT Objects of desire


R CHAMBRAY SHIRT
ollercoaster Books’ The King Of page biography of the multi-talented
Clovis – Norman Petty: American man behind a myriad of priceless
Music Legend is a must for all music including Buddy Holly and the Vivien of Holloway has introduced a classy range of
rock’n’roll devotees. This classy Crickets, Roy Orbison, The Fireballs – rockabilly cut leisure shirts including this suave number
hardback tells the story of iconic ‘50s and all the rest. with a classic vintage cut, collar loop detail, breast pocket
and yoke pleats for ease of movement on the dancefloor.
producer and musician Norman Petty. Along with this insightful and £45. www.vivienofholloway.com
Although Petty had made notes in thorough history come some excellent
preparation for his own self-penned photos, memorabilia and information
memoirs, the project never got off the about Petty’s Clovis studio and the
ground as production duties always artists who recorded there. Discover
took the driver’s seat in his busy life. the real happenings in Petty’s
Author Frank Blanas was persuaded fascinating life, the homegrown
by Petty’s widow Vi to take on the task rock’n’roll born in the Texas-New
after a visit to interview her Mexico area and everything
for his college thesis about in between with this
the effect of rock’n’roll on engrossing hardback tome.
US society. Despite Vi’s Books are numbered 1-1000
death soon after, in 1993 and UK and European
Blanas relocated to Clovis copies include a 33-track
to begin writing, with full CD of Petty’s greatest
access to the Petty archives. moments. All for £35.
Twenty years on and here it www.rollercoaster
is, a comprehensive 500- records.com

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 9



ALL ’
Mamas HOW RANDOM!
CHILDREN Fashion and sartorial style are almost as integral to the rockabilly scene as the music
itself and all the stars of the ‘50s – from Elvis, Carl Perkins and Eddie Cochran to
Wanda Jackson, Barbara Pittman and Brenda Lee – took their wardrobes very seriously
indeed. And rightfully so! The result was many a thrilling side devoted to that all-
important look, including Dwight ‘Whitey’ Pullen’s ode to cool Sunglasses After Dark,
Joe Clay’s coiffurred classic Duck Tail and Carl Perkins’ flagship recording Blue Suede
Shoes to name but a few. We begin our rundown with another of Perkins’ tributes…

1 PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON


CARL PERKINS
Not commercially released during the ‘50s, Put Your Cat Clothes On is the ultimate rock’n’roll ode to
fashion and features the inimitable piano playing of ‘The Killer’, Jerry Lee Lewis.

2 JOE BENNETT & THE SPARKLETONES


BLACK SLACKS
Black Slacks was the band’s first recording. The single rose to No 17 and spent four months in the US
charts. Follow-up Penny Loafers and Bobby Sox was another sartorially-themed wonder.

3 THE COASTERS
SHOPPIN’ FOR CLOTHES
The most laid back track ever committed to vinyl, this doo-wop smoothie is groovesome heaven.
Writers Leiber and Stoller borrowed heavily from Boogaloo and his Gallant Crew’s cut Clothes Line.

4 EDDIE COCHRAN
PINK PEG SLACKS
Cochran’s ode to a winsome pair of slacks he saw in a shop window was one of his first rockabilly
attempts. Obviously modelled on Carl Perkins Blue Suede Shoes, it was recorded at Gold Star Studios.

5GLEN GLENN
BLUE JEANS AND A BOY’S SHIRT
This rockin’ 1958 side released on Era Records celebrates the object of Glenn’s affections with a slice of
rockabilly genius. Check out Bear Family’s Glen Rocks compilation for the best of Glen Glenn.

Jukes Up!
Objects of desire The humble jukebox was the musical backbone behind many a
rock’n’roll party, so we were thrilled to learn that UK Jukeboxes

THE ULTIMATE JACK SCOTT COLLECTION! were expanding their range with five new models that bring jukes
right up to date, while maintaining a nicely authentic look. Our pick
Rollercoaster Record’s new Jack Scott compilation, Jack Scott – The Way I Walk: The Carlton of the new jukes include the new Steepletone (£828.75) Touch Rock
Recordings 1958-1960, compiles all of Scott’s Carlton recordings as well as featuring a clutch of 50 Two Retro Jukebox that promises a modern listening experience
superb earlier cuts he made for ABC, and five bonus tracks. The lion’s share of tunes are taken thanks to an iPod and iPad dock, DVD/CD Player with touch control,
from the original masters and Scott’s fascinating tale is told in the accompanying 24-page MP3/MPEG4 playback compatibility, MW-FM radio, Bluetooth
booklet, together with some excellent photos. www.rollercoasterrecords.com – £12 playback, mini USB port, SD card slot and audio output, with a
choice of black, light or dark wood veneers and customisable colour
changing LED lighting – a fine option. The Steepletone with MP3 CD
Rock One 12 Encode Floor Standing Jukebox (£958.75) also looks
handsome with similar modern features including iPod, iPhone and
iPad dock, 4GB USB/SD reader capability, radio playback and touch
sensitive volume control. Choose from black, cherry or light honey
coloured wood. This one stop wonder also converts from CDs and
other electronic devices directly into MP3. A simpler option is the
Steepletone CD Classic Rock Zero (£344.89) with CD playback, radio
and the same LEDs. More at www.uk-jukeboxes.co.uk

10 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Elvis Has Left The Building:
The Day The King Died
DYLAN JONES RUMBLE
(DUCKWORTH OVERLOOK)
Many a dreary volume has been doled out about the life and
ON THE
RIDGE
music of Elvis since he bid adieu back in 1977, but none has
addressed his life, character, and indeed, his death, in such a
unique way as this latest work. Few have been as well written
either. Seven-time BSME Editor Of The Year winner, GQ editor
and prolific author Dylan Jones crafts the King’s final days set in
the cultural context of the punk movement and details the effect
The second annual Rock Ridge The Trouble Shooters, Cow Cow
his departure had on the world. Forget the dog-eared stock sell,
Jones’ powerful prose allows us to immerse ourselves in the real Rumble rockabilly weekender Boogie and a ream of rockin’ DJs
Elvis: his passions (guns, food, Hawaii), his character (humble, returns to take over Burdon Plain on completing the bill. Attractions
brilliant, compelling), his reliance on drugs, and, of course, his 1-3 August. And with an impressive aplenty include two expansive
music. This takes us through his final Vegas shows, the line-up of rock’n’roll bands and dancefloors on which to stake your
circumstances around his death and, most importantly, the
artists making the pilgrimage from claim, a pamper room to ensure no
aftermath: world reaction, funeral, public viewing, heartfelt
tributes, rampant posthumous exploitation, quasi-religious the length and breadth of Europe, hair is out of place, plentiful vintage
tourism and the surging punk scene. The book closes with what it’s sure to live up to its name. and retro stalls to peruse at leisure
we’re left with: his greatest musical moments. The ultimate Killer headline acts include Cherry and chrome galore in the classic car,
exploration of the ultimate dead rock star. www.ducknet.co.uk Casino & the Gamblers (Germany), hotrod and motorbike display that
Miss Mary Ann & the Ragtime attendees can admire in the mid
Wranglers (UK/Netherlands), summer sunshine.
Charlie Thompson (UK/Sweden) Tickets for Rock Ridge Rumble 2
and Ike & the Capers (Germany), cost just £60 per person and include
with The Doel Brothers, The camping. For more info and tickets
Sureshots, The Slingshots, The visit www.rockridgeevents.co.uk or
Wolftones, The Doggone Daddy’s, call 01207 529233/07982 005429.

BIG SH‘O’W! Objects of desire


F
ans of The Big ‘O’ can relive the and original film from the era. Add star
glorious magic of the great man and
his hits via the Roy Orbison and
guest tributes to Elvis Presley, Buddy
Holly, Dusty Springfield and Jerry Lee
CUSTOM STUDDED BELT
Fancy your name emblazoned across a handmade belt
Friends show, featuring dead ringer Lewis and it should be one fine (and in fetching silver studs? Look no further than Vintage
Barry Steele, his super-talented band contemporary) shindig. Engineer Boot’s handsome offerings. Made to order in
and their unmissable multi-media live Roy Orbison and Friends’ mammoth the United States from leather, cowhide, metal and nickel,
spectacular. Not only does Steele imitate tour visits all areas of the UK ‘til these stylish belts are pretty damn cool.
www.vintageengineerboots.com
the great Orbison’s tone to a tee through January 2015. For more information
all of the classic hits from the ‘60s right visit www.royorbisontribute.com,
through to the late ‘80s, but the music call 0121 602 4669, or email
is interwoven with both fresh footage lynnemsteele@yahoo.co.uk

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 11


Legends Of Rock
Crazy Cavan
He started out by entertaining the underground scene of Britain’s late
1960s rock’n’roll revival, and half a century later he’s still keeping the
faith. Alan Clayson spoke to ‘Crazy’ Cavan Grogan…
How much did your first group, ‘beat music’. Rock‘n’roll was a dirty word
Screamin’ Count Dracula and the then for the masses.
Vampires, owe to Screaming Lord
Sutch and the Savages? To what degree did the rock’n’roll That’s where we sweated, drank and
I was a 14-year-old schoolboy in 1963 revival influence your decision to fought. We had hits in Finland, including
when I first heard Screaming Lord go professional with the Rhythm a No 1 in 1980, and received a gold record
Sutch’s Jack The Ripper on a jukebox. Rockers? for the Still Crazy album. Yet when
Then came Monster In Black Tights, None whatsoever. We went professional Shakin’ Stevens, Matchbox and The Stray
She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster because one by one we got sacked from Cats made it, we had no label, only our
Man and Dracula’s Daughter. Man, I our jobs because we were taking too own reactivated Crazy Rhythm, and we
loved all that horror stuff, but the one much time off to go rockin’! didn’t trust record companies any more
that blew me away was Screamin’ Jay after being ripped off too many times.
Hawkins’ Columbia release of The You and Shakin’ Stevens emerged from We did do a one-off single for Polydor,
Whammy with Strange on the B-side in the same region at the same time. Was Put A Light In The Window, released in
1963. I got right into Screamin’ Jay, and there rivalry between the two of you? Germany in 1981, but it got lost among the
when I discovered I Put A Spell On You it In his biography, Shaky by Michael Christmas records that year, so it never
inspired me to write I Put A Curse On You Heatley (O’Mara, 2005), there’s came out on 45 in the UK.
Baby and come up with Screamin’ Count mention of ‘a face-off in a transport
Dracula and the Vampires. café’ that ‘resulted in mutual respect’. Demented Are Go acknowledge you as
Other of my own – now long-forgotten I can’t say I felt any rivalry from Shakin’ a major influence. What do you think
– songs at that time were Goin’ To The Stevens’ band, or anyone else at the of them and other psychobilly acts?
Rockhouse and What A Gasser I Must Be. time, because they were doing mostly Demented Are Go? Yeah, that’s the guy
I was (and still am) inspired by all sorts of rock‘n’roll standards and we were doing with the real gruff voice. Batmobile, the
things, maybe something someone says, what was then obscure rockabilly and Dutch psychobilly band, did one of my
something I read, something in a movie writing our own stuff. I think we were the compositions, Frankie’s Got A Quiff. I’ve
or on TV. It just kinda happens. There’ve only ones doing that back then. heard My Little Sister’s Got A Motorbike
been times when I’ve written a song on a by other bands like that. Now I’m no
beer mat or a cigarette packet, then just Why did you establish your own expert on psychobilly, but I love bands
knocked it around with the boys till it Crazy Rhythm label as opposed to who are original, who take a song and
started to feel good. approaching an established company do it their way. The world is full of copy
Anyway, Screamin’ Count Dracula and like Charly immediately? bands. Why copy? Elvis on Sun did Blue
the Vampires had broken up by 1968 We approached quite a few companies Moon Of Kentucky nothing like Bill
when I formed The Sundogs. By then, to record us through demos of Teddy Boy Monroe’s blue grass version, and I Don’t
I’d discovered rockabilly through the Rock ‘N’ Roll, Bop Lil’ Baby and Teddy Boy Care If The Sun Don’t Shine, nothing like
imported records that ‘Breathless’ Danny Boogie, but they didn’t think there was Dean Martin’s. In fact, he did everything
Coffey, editor of Boppin’ News, played an audience for it. Even Charly were only his way. That’s what I call being creative.
me. He and I used to go to the Pop In, a releasing 1950s American stuff that hadn’t My son Joe plays in a psychobilly band
rockers’ café in Newport. Danny was a bit been out in the UK before. They only took called The Graveyard Johnnys. I’ve been
of a pioneer. In 1968, he co-produced and an interest in us when our Rockhouse to quite a few psychobilly gigs with him,
released Stutterin’ Cindy/Tear It Up, the album started to sell. Then the pound and watched him and similar bands. Lots
first Charlie Feathers single for six years. signs flashed before their eyes! of ‘em have developed their own image
and put lots of energy into their music.
At the time, did you ever think in Pub-rock enabled acts such as Johnny That’s what keeps rock‘n’roll alive. I’ve
terms of making it, hit records or Kidd’s Pirates and even the obscure met a lot of people who dismiss it. Well, I
Sundog-mania? Rockin’ Vickers to make headway. Did don’t like Herman’s Hermits, but so what?
No. We were just having fun, playing it help you too? Or were you getting
music we loved and felt like we were enough work anyway? You’d already You’ve been doing this for more than
keeping something important alive. amassed a huge following in Europe. 40 years now. Do you see yourself ever
Nobody would even mention the word We’d done pub and social club gigs for retiring?
rock‘n’roll then. It was all being called years. These were our breeding grounds. Not while we’re still havin’ fun! Rock on! ✶

12 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


ALL
Mamas’
CHILDREN

Eager To Tour
V
ince Eager heads out on the
road this summer in support of
his stunning new long player
Rockabilly Dinosaur – a favourite here at
Vintage Rock. Upcoming dates include
Northampton Dragon Boat and Music
Festival on Sunday 13th July, Americana
Festival 10-13 July, Nuneaton Co-Op
Club 25th July, Summertime Swing 10th
Anniversary Show on 3 August at Saint

CALENDAR OF EVENTS Hill Manor, East Grinstead with The


Jive Aces, and Toni Elizabeth Prima,
and finally Wednesday 13th August at
Wildest Cats In Town A Rockin’ Good All Dayer V Seacroft Holiday Village in Hemsby.
For tickets and more details visit
4-7 JULY 7 SEPTEMBER
Featuring Bill Haley’s Original Comets last UK show, Featuring Live music from Spencer J (as Buddy Holly), www.vinceeager.co.uk
Johnny Powers, Art Adams, Crazy Cavan, Jet Black, The Miss Aloha, Reverend Boogie & DJ Dandy, Jive lessons, ‘50s
Capitols, Si Cranstoun, Chris Castello, Lennerockers, Flyin’ style diner, vintage Market, beauty parlour, Jive Kings Coffee
Saucers, Colin Hicks, Matchbox reunion, Rhythm Ace Combo, Stop and classic cars, motorbikes & scooter show.
Corrupted, Bobcats, Coy Dogs, Spunyboys, classic car and Venue Cherry Red Records Fans’ Stadium, London
bike cruise, records, clothing stalls, tailor and more! Admission From £7/£5 students,
Venue Pontins Pakefield (classic car, bike and scooter riders get in free)
Admission From £159 Booking kingsmeadowlive.com
Booking tennesseeclub.net

Rock Ridge The Welsh


Rumble #2 Rockabilly Fair
1-3 AUGUST 19-21 SEPTEMBER
Featuring Cherry Casino & the Featuring Rusti Steel & The
Gamblers, Miss Mary Ann & the Startones, The Sureshots meet The
Ragtime Ramblers, Charlie John Lewis Trio, Ruckus, The Tailights,
Ian Cal Ford & The Railmen, Tom Cat &

Back To The Ace


Thompson, Ike & the Capers, The
Doel Brothers, The Sureshots, The The Zodiacs, The Ricardos and more.
Slingshots, The Wolftones, The Plus Burlesque Fringe, Vintage Market
Doggone Daddys, The and a real fairground!
Rockers and motorbike enthusiasts will be buffing their bikes
Troubleshooters and Cow Cow Venue Porthcawl
and priming their engines for the upcoming 21st annual Ace
Boogie, plus Rockin’ DJS! Admission Full Weekender Ticket
Cafe Reunion centred around the infamous hangout. The event
Venue Burdon Plain, Durham £70 (limited to 300)
begins with Friday’s Continental Run Ride-In, which
Admission £60 (inc. camping) Booking welshrockabilly.co.uk
commences with a party at Cafe Hubraum in Solingen,
Booking rockridgeevents.co.uk Germany, before departing the following morning to traverse
Hemsby 53 Holland, Belgium and France en route to the ferry, that arrives
Retro Festival 3-6 OCTOBER at the cafe late afternoon, just in time for an evening of
rock’n’roll! The reunion continues on Saturday with the Cafe
8-10 AUGUST Featuring Billy Adams, Bobby Hendricks, Nick Willett,
Racer Ride Out and the Cafe Racer Competition later in the
Featuring 3 stages with The Kingcats, The Doggone Barrence Whitfield, Jimmy Lee Maslon, Rusti Steel & the
afternoon, and the weekend hots up further on Sunday as the
Honkabillies, Restless (UK), Greggie G, This Little Girl & the Startones, Emmy Lou & the Rhythm Boys, Problem Child
motorcade sets off to the sunny South coast for the Brighton
Dillicats, Craig Shaw & the Illuminators, Rhythm River Trio, starring Marcel Riesco, Wheels Fargo & the Nightingale, Jesse
Burn Up. The Ace Cafe Reunion takes place from 12-14 August.
King Candy and the Sugar Push, dance demos/classes, DJs, James & the Outlaws, vintage and retro market, vintage hair
Also well worth a visit is the café’s 4th annual Stunt Festival &
vintage tea room, burlesque from Eliza Delite and Marianne and make-up parlour, men’s barber shop, Kav Kavanagh’s
Streetfighter Show on Sunday 27th July at the Wembley
Cheesecake, tea dances and family picnic and play area Jive School, jive contest, car boot sale and real ale bar!
Stadium complex and featuring the premiere of the all-new
Venue White Waltham Airfields, Berkshire Venue Seacroft Holiday Village, Hemsby
Stunt Bike Open Freestyle Championship Finals, to be staged
Admission See website Admission See website for details
throughout the day. Tickets cost £10 per person or £15 family
Booking retrofestival.co.uk Booking hemsbyrocknroll.co.uk
ticket. Go to www.acecafeevents.com for details!

14 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Legends Of Rock
Lee Dresser
(1941-2014)
The late, great Lee Dresser fronted the Krazy Kats
for 57 years and performed with the original
line-up 4,500 times, making them the longest-
running continuous rock’n’roll band of them all.
Sean Egan was lucky to meet him shortly before
he passed away in April of this year…

W
e were heartbroken at the You had a tragic childhood? The next day I borrowed $20 from my
news that Lee Dresser had “Yes I did. My dad passed away with a aunt and bought an $18.50 Sears Roebuck.
sadly lost his fight with heart attack in 1952. Twenty months later I taught myself how to play it. So now
leukemia and passed away April 24, aged my mother got struck by an automobile we have guitar and piano. Willie knew a
73, with his family at his side. and she died two days before my 13th drummer, Fred Fletcher. We were all 15,
Lee was born on May 22, 1941 in birthday. I had to open presents that couldn’t drive, so he came over with his
Washington, DC and formed the Krazy she’d gotten for me. My grandparents in snare drum in the basket of his bicycle.”
Kats on Valentine’s Day in Moberly, Moberly, Missouri, took me in.”
Missouri, in 1957 with high-school Can you recall your first gig?
pals Willie Craig and Freddie Fletcher. How did the Krazy Kats start out? “The other two guys did two or three
The Krazy Kats were active – off and “The piano player, Willie Craig, and I [school] assemblies with other people.
on – for more than half a century with were best friends. Then I saw Elvis on I was too chicken. Then a couple of
the same personnel, touring incessantly The Ed Sullivan Show. Of course I knew teachers said, ‘Lee, we heard you sing.
and illustrious career highlights have his records, but I’d never seen him before. You need to do that.’ I thought, ‘If you’re
included performances alongside Bill hearing it from the teachers, you better
Cosby, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, The go ahead and do it.’ Our first performance
Platters and a roll-call of other stars, as was the school cafeteria – Valentine’s Day
well as many superb showings in recent ‘57, a sweetheart dance. We knew eight
times. Not only were they voted ‘Best songs. I was really scared. Then about
Band In Kansas City’ in 1991, but they halfway through the first song, I saw
were also rightfully inducted into the these girls looking at me that had never
Rockabilly Hall Of Fame in the same year. looked at me before…”
On April 6, in what turned out to be
one of his last ever interviews, Dresser The draft stopped you for a while
revealed himself as a true believer in “I got drafted in 1966. We had our last
rock’n’roll. As he explains below, he performance October 2, 1965. Fifteen
even abandoned a career as an album years went by. Willie was already in
recording artist and Nashville songwriter Vietnam and I saw him there. I did play in
to return to the music he loved most. a band when I was over there. There was

16 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


‘M an, I lov ed Lee Dresser and the Krazy Kats
playing with
the K r azy
K ats, playing
rock’n’roll’
a guy with the Kingsmen, ‘Louie Louie’,
in my company, Barry Curtis.”

In your solo career, you seemed to


move towards country music?
“Kind of like country-rock. I had a good
run out there in Los Angeles. The only
thing I’ve never had is a hit record.”

You performed at the World Popular


Song Festival in Tokyo, in 1972? 1980. We’d pack ‘em in. It got to the point the one album. Has that been a source
“I sang a Jim Weatherly song. Budokan where I said, ‘I’m down here in Nashville of frustration?
Hall, man. I was excited. I was proud to doing nothing. I’m going to forget about “A little frustrating. I even wrote Dick
represent the United States.” this. Get the Krazy Kats full-time.’ Man, I Clark early on.”
love playing with the Krazy Kats, playing
How did you end up singing on the the old rock’n’roll. So I sold my place and The album was Movin’ Out!! With the
Wilderness Family (1975) soundtrack? moved to Kansas City.” Krazy Kats (1964)
“A friend of mine, his name was Dennis “Damon Records. Old guy in Kansas City.
Bachmann, said, ‘I’ve got a guy that You’ve backed some illustrious names. Later, a guy came along – Robin Records
wants to do a movie. He wants to hear my What was Chuck Berry like at Missouri – and said, ‘I want to take this over. The
songs. Can you demo them for me?’ He State Fair in 1988? only deal is, how many of those albums
took them over to the producer. He said, “He seemed like a pretty nice guy down do you have?’ Because it wasn’t nationally
‘He wants to use those two songs and he at rehearsal and everything. I played distributed. I’d sell ‘em at the dances. He
wants you to do ‘em. You’re in.’” bass. He fired Fred midway through the said, ‘I’ll replace those with mine – I don’t
show. He got all pissed off ‘cos he wasn’t want you selling the Damon, I want you
The title track of your live covers watching him. We played a couple of selling Robin.’ The collectors want the
album El Camino Real (1969) had an numbers. I looked over there and there Damon, though.”
unexpected legacy… was a young black guy playing drums.
“That was really my first record. We had They’d made a switch.” Why did you make the decision to end
Jerry Allison, the Crickets drummer, Glen the band in 2014?
D. Hardin, Elvis’ piano player; the bass And Bo Diddley in ‘87? “Our crowds have been down,
player, Rick Cathaway, played with the “Bo Diddley was a sweet guy. He started everybody’s getting older and the
Osmonds. It was a good record. It didn’t I’m a Man. I turned to Willie and I said, ‘I bookings aren’t what where they used to
do much at the time. But now it’s doing know what we’re gonna be doing for the be. Another reason’s my health. Getting to
good. It becoming a dance hit in the UK. next 23 minutes.’ Finally Wolfman Jack, the gig, that’s the hard part.”
That floored me. Forty-year old song. Sure who was the host, he gave him the sign,
did help me out.” ‘You’ve been on long enough, Bo.’” Is the Kats’ unchanging line-up across
half a century unique?
To Touch The Wind (1976) was your You played on Dolly Parton’s Great “I’ve been in touch with the Guinness
other album… Pretender album (1984) Book of World Records. They finally got
“A guy involved with The Wilderness “A producer friend of mine called me and back to me. They said, ‘There’s a trio of
Family said, ‘I want to put these songs said, ‘We need harmonica over here for sisters. They sang with Glenn Miller and
out, do you have any other songs?’ So the a session with Dolly.’ It was four blocks they’re still singing today.’ I said, ‘That’s
two from the movie are on there and ten from where I lived. I was on two songs. a trio of singers – we’re a band.’ I kind of
more I wrote. That didn’t do anything.” She was as sweet as could be. In order for gave up on it. I don’t know if anybody else
her to get to her vocal booth, she had to has had the original members. We didn’t
What motivated you to get the Kats go through my little booth. I happened play for fifteen years – that may work
back together? to be standing up at the microphone. She against us.”
“I moved to Nashville basically as a said, ‘Now, play sweet for me, Lee,’ and
writer. I had some songs cut, but it wasn’t pats me on the butt. I was standing up Looking back, how do you feel about
comfortable for me. I wanted to sing. every time she came through that room!” your career?
While I was in Nashville, Willie would “Except for the army, I have never had
call me. He’d say, ‘I’ve got some bookings Although you’ve gained a lot of another job. Music has been my entire
for the Krazy Kats’. We started up in respect, the Krazy Kats have only made life. I’m very proud of that.” ✶

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 17


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ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 19


ROCKABILLY
USA
A
s important to the ascent of Yet it was Presley’s Sun debut,
rockabilly as Elvis Presley’s cut in July of ‘54 with lead guitarist
recordings for Sun were, the Scotty Moore and bassist Bill
groundwork for the genre’s rise was laid Black, and his four equally seminal
long before the historic session at 706 follow-ups, that provided the
Union that produced Elvis’ debut single. crucial catalyst. One side of that
Blistering country boogies were waxed single was a supercharged revival
by Hawkshaw Hawkins, the Delmore of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s
Brothers, and pianist Moon Mullican for blues That’s All Right, while the
King Records in Cincinnati during the flip held a hopped-up treatment
immediate post-war era. 88s ace Merrill of Bill Monroe’s bluegrass anthem
Moore, the Maddox Brothers and Sister Blue Moon of Kentucky. Southern
Rose, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and guitar teenagers knew exactly where he
Carl Mann released his
wizards Jimmy Bryant and Joe Maphis was coming from. first single in 1957
engaged in similar fare in California. “That music was very popular,
Down in Nashville, Red Foley and had been popular for a
introduced boogie rhythms to the country while,” the late Carl Perkins said. “Sun between country and rockabilly, but
masses without breaking a sweat (Hank Records didn’t start it. Sun Records rocking hard came easy for Roy Orbison,
Garland, Chet Atkins, and Grady Martin just recorded it first. The music itself Warren Smith, Billy Riley, and Sonny
vied for the mantle of Music City’s hottest had been played, and some of the best Burgess. Their emergence made Phillips’
guitarist). Some of Hank Williams’ guys that played it never got to record.” sale of Elvis’ contract to RCA Victor for
bluesier numbers were rockabilly Thankfully, Perkins recorded prolifically operating capital less painful.
prototypes. South Carolina picker Arthur at Sun. His Blue Suede Shoes and Honey, The Newport, Arkansas-based Burgess
Smith earned himself a nickname for life Don’t!, pressed up back-to-back in was especially boisterous, setting himself
with his ‘49 instrumental smash Guitar December of ‘55, remain a definition of apart by featuring a trumpeter in his
Boogie and up in Chester, PA, Bill Haley rockabilly at its most compelling. Pacers. “We were pretty wild,” said
and the Saddlemen (soon renamed the Phillips assembled an incredible talent Burgess, who doubled on lead guitar. “We
Comets) plowed new ground in 1952 with roster during the mid-‘50s. Johnny played a lot of nightclubs. You’d play R&B,
their Rock The Joint. Cash’s stripped-down sound sat midway you’d play country, and some pop music.
So when Elvis came along, that’s when

‘Ferriday, Louisiana native Jerry


we wanted to get on Sun Records. So we
worked us up Red Headed Woman and

Lee Lewis pounded the piano


We Wanna Boogie and went to Memphis,
and Sam signed us.” That double-barreled
blast of 1956 insanity was one of the

with unmatched ferocity’ hottest two-siders Sun ever pressed up.


“That was exactly like we played ‘em in
person,” said Sonny.
Phillips found a unique artist
in ‘56 that rivalled Presley as an
innovator. Ferriday, Louisiana native
Jerry Lee Lewis pounded the piano
with unmatched ferocity, his vast
repertoire making studio time an
adventure. “Sam was smart about
that. I asked him about that one
time, and he told me, ‘Well, actually,
tape is the cheapest thing I’ve got
goin’ there!’ So he just let ‘em run,”
laughed the late Roland Janes, Jerry
Lee’s guitarist. “If everything was
cooking and everybody was feelin’
good, they’d just go ‘til everybody
kind of got tired and left.” Phillips
allowed Jerry Lee free rein. “At a
session, we might cut 20-25 songs,” ➨

20 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


ISSUE 3 VINTAGE ROCK 21
© Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy

Photo © Getty Images


ROCKABILLY IN THE CHARTS
THE EARLIEST ROCKABILLY
RECORDINGS TO REACH THE
MAINSTREAM
That’s All Right—Elvis Presley (Sun, 1954)
The catalyst for rockabilly’s rise, though pinning it down as
the idiom’s first platter is impossible. Elvis’ youthful energy
is mesmerising, and the swinging support of guitarist Scotty
Moore and bassist Bill Black provided an indelible blueprint
for future rockabilly bands.

Blue Suede Shoes—Carl Perkins (Sun, 1955)


The record that put Sun Records and rockabilly on the
national map. Perkins’ juke joint-tested vocal and stinging,
blues-tinged lead guitar, the stop-time breaks, and the
rebellious defiance in its lyrics are iconic; this is one classic
that even a spirited Elvis cover couldn’t touch.

We Wanna Boogie—Sonny Burgess (Sun, 1956)


Glorious, unstoppable insanity from one of rockabilly’s
wildest pioneers. The Pacers careen nearly out of control,
Burgess is all but indecipherable behind the mic, and Jack
Nance’s trumpet winds through it all, contributing to the
breathless excitement.
© Getty Images

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On— to town,


When Elvis Presley came ention
Jerry Lee Lewis (Sun, 1957) Bud dy Ho lly pai d clo se att
Once the Killer latched onto this one, unleashing his
thundering boogie piano and granting the storyline a
lascivious bent that previous renditions lacked, he instantly
emerged as Sun’s new superstar and a legitimate rival to
Elvis’ crown as rock and roll’s king.
‘The major labels leaped aboard
Be-Bop-A-Lula—
Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps (Capitol, 1956) the bandwagon once Elvis
Panting as though he was on the verge of losing his mind,
Gene Vincent was Capitol Records’ pointed response to
Elvis—and without question, he rocked just as hard. What’s
embarked on his ride to stardom’
more, his Blue Caps boasted the invaluable presence of
astounding lead guitarist Cliff Gallup. said Janes. “Just go on and on and on. first take, we got through it, and Jack
Cut everything we knew, just take a (Clement), I remember him saying, ‘Pick
couple of cuts and move on.” the tempo up a little bit,’” said Van Eaton.
That’ll Be The Day—Buddy Holly (Decca, 1956) Jerry Lee hit the jackpot in 1957 with “So we tried it again and got a little faster
Unreleased until Holly and the Crickets’ Norman
Petty-helmed remake hit the shelves, Buddy Holly’s Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On, previously version, and he said, ‘No, the first one
Nashville-cut original version of this classic should have on the shelves in contrasting versions by sounds better.’ So that was it!”
been enough to convince Decca Records he was a winner. R&B belter Big Maybelle and rockabilly The major labels leaped aboard the
Alas, it wasn’t, and he soon recut it in Clovis. pianist Roy Hall. “We were over at a bandwagon once Elvis embarked on his
club called Twin Gables in Blytheville, rocket ride to superstardom at RCA. Gene
Sweet Rockin’ Baby—Sonee West (sic) Arkansas,” said Sun drummer JM Van Vincent and his Blue Caps, featuring
(Nor-Va-Jak, 1956) Eaton. “The bandstand was so small that spectacular lead guitarist Cliff Gallup,
Norman Petty could obtain a great sound anywhere, the bass player and the guitar player came out of Norfolk, VA, to give Capitol
including the Clovis, NM, movie theatre where he produced
had to stand out on the dance floor. a smash his first time out in ‘56 with
this one. Sonny (correct spelling) West didn’t achieve the
vast commercial success that Holly enjoyed, but he was And Jerry and I got back in this little Be-Bop-A-Lula. Columbia had Dallas’ Sid
another distinctive Lubbock rocker. cubbyhole. When we started playing, King & the Five Strings as well as Johnny
all this dirt started falling out of the top Horton and Marty Robbins. Mercury
of the ceiling. I guess they hadn’t had dipped into Memphis’ talent pool for
One Way Ticket—Bobby Crown (Felco, 1959 )
Like so many other Southern teens inspired by Elvis, Crown anybody quite as forceful as we were. Eddie Bond, and the Johnny Burnette
left country music behind to eagerly join the rockabilly We played that song and the people hit Trio signed with Coral after tearing
movement. He got a relatively late start, debuting near the dance floor, and they loved it. And through Hound Dog on Ted Mack’s
decade’s end, but his first rocker for a tiny Dallas label they kept coming back saying, ‘Play that Amateur Hour.
stated his rocking intent succinctly.
“Shakin’” song again!’” Johnny, his bass-slapping brother
“Shakin’” was a priority when the Dorsey, and guitarist Paul Burlison also
Killer returned to Sun. “The very hailed from Memphis. Burlison’s octave-

22 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


ROCKABILLY
‘John Wayne said ‘That’ll be the
day!’ about five times. So it was
sort of the hip thing to be saying’
USA
plucked solo on the trio’s ferocious ‘56 thing to be saying. And Buddy and I were
revival of Tiny Bradshaw’s The Train Kept practising one day, and Buddy said, ‘Let’s
A-Rollin’ was enhanced by distortion write a song!’ I said, ‘That’ll be the day!’ Good Lovin’—Dickey Lee and The
achieved purely by chance. “I dropped my And he said, ‘That might be a good idea!’ Collegiates (Sun, 1957)
amplifier. The strap broke on top of the So we sort of just wrote it. I think it took Reviving a 1953 R&B hit by the Clovers may have
30 minutes.” Decca wasn’t enthused. seemed an odd choice for Lee’s first Sun outing, but
amplifier and it fell to the floor, and one
his enthusiastic lead, the insistent vocal chants of
of the tubes slipped out of the socket,” “I don’t think they liked the feel of his Collegiates, and the slashing lead guitar made
said the late Burlison, who fixed his amp any of that stuff,” said Allison. “I think the tune’s transformation marvellously easy.
after the show and forgot all about it until somebody in charge said that was the
they went to Nashville to record. “I told worst song they’d ever heard!” Decca Susie-Q—Dale Hawkins (Checker, 1957)
Owen Bradley about it, the producer, and didn’t issue the version that Holly did Constructed around an indestructible guitar riff
invented by teenaged guitar master James Burton,
he said, ‘Do it! Let me hear that thing and in Nashville in 1956 until later. Buddy
Susie-Q mixes rockabilly and blues influences into a
see what it sounds like!’” said Burlison. and his Crickets travelled to Clovis, New heady musical stew. Co-writer Hawkins’ vocal
“So I pulled the tube down and started Mexico, to work with producer Norman exuberance pummels every bit as lethally as
playing it, and he said, ‘Sounds good. Let’s Petty, recutting it for Brunswick the next Burton’s axe.
do it on this next song!’ So the next song year. It went to No 1 pop.
happened to be Train Kept A-Rollin’.” As rockabilly fever swept his native Let’s Go Boppin’ Tonight—Al Ferrier
Decca Records responded to the Lubbock in 1956, Sonny West made a
and The Boppin’ Billies (Goldband, 1956)
n, How could Goldband owner Eddie Shuler shelve this
n growing trend by signing Buddy Holly. long jaunt to Sun in search of a recording in 1956? Its creator regards it as seminal, and his
Holly had absorbed the usual primary contract. “I just thought, ‘Hey, if Carl drawled vocal, brother Brian Ferrier’s lickety-split
influence while polishing his craft in Perkins and Elvis Presley can do that, lead guitar, and the song’s surging drive confirm his
Lubbock, Texas. “Elvis, when he came I can too!’” said West. Phillips turned judgment—it’s a Louisiana rockabilly cornerstone.
through town, everybody really did turn him down cold, but West found a more
Mean Mean Man—Wanda Jackson
their heads. Buddy Holly wanted to be sympathetic ear in Petty, who produced (Capitol, 1958)
Elvis there for a while,” said Holly’s West’s Sweet Rockin’ Baby and its flip Proving beyond a doubt that a woman could rock
drummer, Jerry Allison. Rock-Ola Ruby at a Clovis movie theatre, every bit as intensely as Elvis or any of his army of
“The next day, we started kind of doing issuing his debut as Sonee West on disciples, Wanda Jackson shredded this self-penned
Elvis songs,” agreed Buddy’s then-lead Petty’s Nor-Va-Jak label. “He didn’t pounder and a great many more for Capitol Records.
Her unabashed sex appeal was just as captivating as
guitarist, Sonny Curtis. “Scotty Moore actually have his studio fixed yet,” that of Elvis too.
played kind of a Chet Atkins lick, and said West. “He didn’t have any echo
I was a big Chet Atkins fan. So I had chamber.” The cavernous film palace’s Rockin’ Daddy—Sonny Fisher
Scotty’s lick down the next day. And we acoustic properties worked just fine. (Starday, 1955)
started playing Baby Let’s Play House and West penned two of Holly’s biggest Raw-edged Houston rockabilly from when the genre
was still in its infancy. Fisher was no Elvis clone but
Good Rockin’ Tonight and That’s All Right hits, Oh, Boy! and Rave On. His own
sounded entirely comfortable working the same
Mama and all those things.” Petty-helmed version of the latter, cut in side of the street, buttressed by Joey Long’s
“We saw a movie, a John Wayne movie late ‘57 with Trini Lopez on lead guitar, blues-soaked lead guitar (Eddie Bond would cook
called The Searchers,” said Allison. “And was released on Atlantic. “Buddy had up a fine cover for Mercury).
John Wayne said ‘That’ll be the day!’ recorded the song after I recorded it, but
about five times. So it was sort of the hip actually before mine came out,” ➨
Tore Up—Sleepy LaBeef (Wayside, 1962)
Pouring every ounce of his massive frame into his
leonine roar, LaBeef pushed this Midnighters
anthem into overdrive. Late in the game for
rockabilly’s first wave but captures the attack of the
genre’s greats, with a devastating guitar solo from
Charlie Busby.

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 23


people like
Elvis’ success at Sun helpede
Gene Vincen t ach ieve fam

l Mangham
© Photo courtesy of Caro
said West. “They did the song proud, into putting me on Sun,” said Lee, whose
because they gave it some syncopated Collegiates (he was attending Memphis
BILL HALEY’S rhythms that I couldn’t get with just a State University) backed him on his

ROCK THE JOINT… straight rock and roll band.”


Many dogged country traditionalists
late 1957 Sun debut, a pounding revival
of the Clovers’ Good Lovin’. But after
How the Saddlemen found that innovative beat, momentarily succumbed to the genre’s one encore, Lee was an ex-Sun artist.
and how they managed to get it onto wax…
wild-eyed exuberance before regaining Meeting Sun producer Jack Clement later
Blending country with R&B wasn’t their composure. Webb Pierce, Carl paid off. Dickey hit big in 1962 with the
exclusive to the South. In Smith, Little Jimmy Dickens, Lefty maudlin Patches and an ebullient I Saw
Chester, Pennsylvania, country
Frizzell, Cowboy Copas, Hank Thompson, Linda Yesterday for the Smash label with
singer Bill Haley and his
Saddlemen covered Jackie and Faron Young all gave rockabilly, Clement co-producing.
Brenston’s 1951 R&B smash or something close to it, a whirl in the Phillips unleashed more great rockers
Rocket ‘88’ for Dave Miller’s mid-to-late ‘50s. George Jones and Buck by Hayden Thompson, Charlie Rich,
Philly-based Essex label. Owens adopted pseudonyms (Thumper Ray Smith, and Carl Mann, all but
“We were all just kind of fishing for a sound that Jones and Corky Jones, respectively) Smith appearing on his new Phillips
was different than everybody else,” said Haley’s to render rockabilly statements. Even International imprint. But he wasn’t
bassist, the late Marshall Lytle. “And we found it. with Jerry Lee, Cash, and Perkins under infallible, rejecting Conway Twitty (soon
It was a combination of several different things.
The drums playing a shuffle beat with a heavy contract, Phillips wasn’t averse to landing a major star on MGM Records thanks to a
two and four, coupled with my slapping the bass new rockabilly talent. Memphis-born series of Elvis-influenced ballads), Narvel
with a clicking sound that gave a shuffle beat.” Dickey Lee dropped by local deejay Felts, and Jerry Lee’s piano-pumping
A local R&B deejay helped them perfect that Dewey Phillips’ Red, Hot and Blue cousin Mickey Gilley, who waxed his
formula. “He came to Bill one day, and he says, WHBQ broadcast at the Hotel Chisca. “I 1957 debut Tell Me Why in Houston for
‘Bill, I’ve got a song that’s getting a lot of
requests. You ought to learn it and do it in the had my guitar. I played a couple of songs the tiny Minor label. “I had to pay for the
clubs. It’s called We’re Gonna Rock This Joint for him, and he liked them,” said Lee. The recording session, and it was so bad that
Tonight.’ So Bill learned the song,” said Lytle. end result was Dickey’s first 45 for the nobody would play it,” laughed Gilley.
Essex released their cover of Rock The Joint, and Tampa logo. “They recorded the songs Hollywood rockabillies tended to boast
before long Haley changed the name of his right there in the radio studio,” he said. movie star looks. Not only did Eddie
combo to the Comets, ascending as one of the
genre’s first pioneers. The deejay made a crucial connection Cochran sing with an Elvis-like swagger,
for Dickey. “Dewey and Sam Phillips were he was a dynamic lead guitarist on his
really big buddies, and Dewey talked Sam Liberty singles. A 16-year-old TV sitcom

24 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Sleepy LaBeef has long been the preeminent
ambassador for the rockabilly genre

© Getty Images
‘Not only did
Eddie Cochran
sing with an
Elvis swagger, he
was a dynamic
lead guitarist’
Your Neck. “After I’d done it, I said, ‘Oh,
I’m gonna get fired!’” said Fontana. “I
said, ‘Elvis, we gotta do it again. I put that
thing on there.’ He said, ‘Heck no, leave it
alone, man. I like that!’”
Rockabilly was an equal opportunity
idiom. Its queen was Wanda Jackson,
fond of Rose Maddox in her formative
years. “She was so feisty, and their music
was so good. I sang some of her songs
in the early days,” said Wanda. “I was a
star when he began rocking in early encored with an electrifying My Baby big Hank Williams fan, and then a big
1957, Ricky Nelson hired top axemen to Done Gone Away a few months later, but Hank Thompson fan.” Thompson gave
distinguish his many smashes on Imperial Shuler sat on Let’s Go Boppin’ Tonight, the Oklahoma native her start. “He called
Records. Joe Maphis was supplanted by leaving Ferrier free to recut it as Hey! me, and I just about fainted right there
the brilliant James Burton, a Louisiana Baby for Crowley-based Excello Records on the spot,” she said. “He invited me to
Hayride grad who had surfaced earlier producer JD Miller in 1957. sing with him and the Brazos Valley Boys
that year with the crucial lick anchoring “Those little girls would come by and at the Trianon that Saturday night. I was
Shreveport rocker Dale Hawkins’ Susie-Q. say, ‘This here’s how you do the bop!’” probably about 14. I remember saying,
Burton didn’t stick with Dale long. He said Ferrier. “I didn’t know what bop ‘Oh, I’d love to, Mr Thompson, but I’ll
was rehearsing with Hayride stalwart Bob meant, you know, when I said ‘boppin’’ in have to ask my mother!’”
Luman in LA when Ricky overheard his the song. But they said, ‘This is the way Jackson’s first sides for Decca were
inventive licks and hired him. you do the bop!’ And I told Warren, ‘Well, straight country, but her focus changed
The only time Al Ferrier ever played that’s got something going here, man!’” when Elvis entered her life. “He was the
the Hayride, he shared the bill with Elvis found drummer DJ Fontana first one I worked with when I went on
Elvis. “I got four encores from Let’s Go in the Hayride house band in 1955 and tour, when I graduated from high school.
Boppin’ Tonight,” said Ferrier proudly. brought him aboard. “I learned from the Of course, we liked each other a whole
Hailing from Montgomery, Louisiana, beginning to stay out of the way,” said lot. We dated when we were on tour,” she
Al had formed a band with his brothers Fontana. “I played the backbeat and let said. “My dad and I, we could see what
Warren doubling on fiddle and upright them do what they did well.” DJ got more was happening. When Elvis would go on
bass and Brian on sparkling lead guitar. aggressive as time went on, firing off a stage, the audience just became unruly.
“I was raised up in a family that liked to thundering extended roll at the end of We’d never seen anything like that – ➨
play music,” said Al. “I’m the youngest Elvis’ 1958 smash Wear My Ring Around
boy. And all my brothers played music
before I did.” Warren cut Al no slack as
a lad learning rhythm guitar. “He’d hit
me on the head with the fiddle bow!” Al
laughed. “He’d say, ‘Get in the right key,
son, because you’re not gonna make me
sound bad!’”
Ferrier switched from country (Hank
Williams was Al’s main man) to rockabilly
before anyone else around Alexandria,
Louisiana. “I was the only one then,” he
said. Eddie Shuler’s Lake Charles-based
Goldband logo released Al’s romping 1956
debut No No Baby, Warren and Brian
christened the Boppin’ Billies. The group

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 25


artists like Janis
Rockabilly enabled femaleres did not
Martin in a way oth er gen
© Getty Images

girls screaming and rushing the stage.” houses of worship played a role too. debut I’m Through, out on Pappy Daily’s
She soaked up Presley’s sage advice “Elvis, Jerry Lee, Little Richard… brought Starday logo before Mercury picked it up
regarding rock and roll. “He said, ‘It’s the beat out of the church. That’s where nationally (Starday also issued pioneering
gonna be the next big rage in music. You I learned to sing it, in the church,” said Houston rocker Sonny Fisher’s seminal
should be recording it, because the young Sleepy. “It comes from the old-time hand- Rockin’ Daddy in March of 1955 as well as
people like it, and they’re the ones who clapping, foot-stomping gospel songs. throbbers by Glenn Barber, Sonny Burns,
buy the records.’” It all goes back to When The Saints Go and Rudy “Tutti” Grayzell).
Wanda cut loose with a barrage of Marching In. If you listen to those things, Another LaBeef outing on Mercury,
no-holds-barred rockabilly for Capitol they have a big beat to it. The difference All The Time, preceded local 45s on
during the mid-‘50s. “I began writing my was the changing of the lyrics. They Gulf, Crescent, and Wayside, where he
own stuff, because I couldn’t get anything just used the same beat. So many of the slammed out a revival of the Midnighters’
original from anybody,” said Jackson. people then in the middle ‘50s had that Tore Up complete with a fake ending that
“So that’s how Mean Mean Man and Cool background. The sound was exciting. likely confounded deejays.
Love and Rock Your Baby and all those We started doing R&B tunes, bluegrass, After a decade of plying his trade on the
came about.” And she wasn’t rockabilly’s country – all this stuff we did with this Houston country circuit, Sleepy made a
only incendiary chanteuse. Her cohorts rockabilly beat.” move in 1964. “Don Law with Columbia
included Janis Martin, Brenda Lee, Lorrie Born in Smackover, Arkansas, LaBeef Records called me in Houston,” he said.
Collins, Barbara Pittman and Jackie Dee, (his early singles spelled it LaBeff, the “He wanted me to move to Nashville,
aka Jackie DeShannon. same as his birth certificate) was living in and I signed with Columbia Records.
Although country music dominated Houston when he began recording there I was with Columbia from ‘64 to ‘68.”
its bustling studio action, Nashville at Gold Star Studios. Hal Harris played From there, LaBeef joined the roster
hosted its share of rockabilly sessions. lead guitar on Sleepy’s rollicking ‘57 of Shelby Singleton’s revitalized Sun
The Everly Brothers’ achingly sweet imprint. “It took me a long time. I worked
vocal harmonies reflected their dad’s hard. I learned a lot of songs. I know a
traditional roots even as the clever
teen-slanted compositions of Boudleaux
‘Elvis, Jerry few thousand,” LaBeef said. “I haven’t
changed with what I’m doing.”
and Felice Bryant kept Don and Phil’s
Cadence label singles sky-high on the late Lee, Little By the close of the ‘50s, rockabilly’s
raw, rural edges had undergone a
‘50s pop hit parade.
Sleepy LaBeef has stood treetop tall for Richard – they systematic softening. Rock’n’roll grew
safe in the hands of squeaky-clean teens
decades as rockabilly’s most accessible
ambassador, logging tens of thousands all brought the who wouldn’t have lasted 10 seconds
inside the backwoods juke joints where
of miles barnstorming US nightclubs
in his RV. According to Sleepy, Presley beat out of the unvarnished rockabilly thrived a few
years prior. Happily, new generations
was indeed the catalyst for it all, though
the sanctified fervour on display every
Sunday morning in countless Southern
church’ have embraced the sound, the fashions,
and the lifestyle. It’s safe to say rockabilly
will not fade away any time soon. ✶

26 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


i n t a g e
V
& arket
✭ M ✭

✭ ✭


✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ROCKIN’ DJs ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
✭ ✭ ✭
✭ ✭ ✭
Over 30 Hours of Live Music and a Real Fairground
th TH ST
TIC K
ETS
AVAI
www ON LI N E LAB LE
fri sat sun .wels
hrock at
abilly
.co.uk

Porthcawl ✭ September 2014


www.welshrockabilly.co.uk
The Duchess
of Dublin
A STRONG VOICE FROM A STRONG WOMAN WITH A STRONG SENSE OF
STYLE, PAUL RIGBY TALKS TO IMELDA MAY, THE ESSENCE OF
MODERN-DAY ROCKABILLY ROYALTY…

S
ince the release of her debut This early cross-genre awareness helped As a child, my own musical education
album, in 2003, No Turning to infuse May with a blended sense of was initiated by sitting with my
Back, Imelda May has, well, musical history and direction that has mother and watching many old B&W
never turned back. In fact, the lead to the creation of her own solo style. Hollywood films and musicals. How
onward march of her singing On the verge of releasing her new about you?
career has spotlighted her album, Tribal, May took a breather to chat Me too. My parents were older when
inimitable talents – talents that to Vintage Rock. they had me so we sort of skipped a
lie outside the standard pop market and generation. They enjoyed their early
its fickle, fleeting trends. May manages to Let’s begin with the name. Is it real? years in the ‘50s. So, as a child, my
combine an array of important musical I was christened Imelda Mary but I took favourite artists were Shirley Temple and
influences from rockabilly, rock’n’roll, the ‘r’ out. They called me Imelda May at Judy Garland. I watched their movies and
jazz, country and more while forging her home because there were lots of Marys had their records. I also loved Mickey
own musical identity. who were Mays and Maisies so it’s kind Rooney and Doris Day. I was brought up
Brought up with a traditional Irish of a family name. But May is not my with all of that. My mother had an old
music education, May’s cultural links surname. Now it’s Higham, it was Clabby. book of movie stars from the ‘20s
quickly led to a stint singing in the to the ‘50s. I was really into Moira
clubs of her home city of Dublin, Shearer, Rosalind Russell, Harold
covering a breadth of musical Lloyd… I feel that I have been living
styles that ranged from roots, in that time since I was a child. I
blues and jazz to country and, of completely immersed myself in
course, rockabilly. that. Of course I love rock’n’roll
Meeting renowned guitarist and rockabilly but I also love the
and future husband Darrel beautiful big ballads, the imagery
Higham resulted in her move to from the movies and how they lit
England and more experience people in those movies.
with high-energy outfits such as
Courtesy of Universal

Paul Ansell’s rockabilly band and I have seen your rockabilly stage
Mike Sanchez’s R&B outfit, with outfits but do you embrace the
pauses for appearances in other vintage culture within your
groups embroiled in soul and jazz. private life? ➨

28 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


May
Imelda

© Barry McColl
May 'does not know how to not
gig'.

© Christie Goodwin

Do I live the life? Of course I – my brother. So I cut my hair, dressed


do. I’m not a wannabe or a fake. sensibly and so on. I have to say that it
I love every part of it. It’s part was the most miserable three months of
of who I am. my life.
My mother was a dressmaker I decided to be myself after all and
in the 50s. She made the most everything came back with ferocity. I
beautiful dresses, her sister’s said, to hell with everyone, this is my life.
clothes and her friends’ Funny enough, that’s when I started my
clothes. When I was a child, own albums and the band. Everything
they used to do old time came back twice as strong. I started
dancing and I remember writing songs like mad and I felt stronger
seeing the ball gowns with the about my passions. It was a good thing.
net and the diamonds all over
them and the beautiful satin You musical influences?
dance shoes. I used to make Gene Vincent, Wanda Jackson, Elvis,
my own clothes too – my Eddie Cochran… Cochran is often

TRIBAL mother taught me.


For the stage I tend to wear
underestimated as a teeny rock’n’roll
pop singer but he was one of the best
“I’m really happy with the new album – it’s my reproductions because the vintage stuff producers of the time and the most
favourite. Production-wise, I wanted a rawer sound.
can’t take the punishment over a tour experimental. He was coming up with
When I made Love Tattoo (2008) I did it the
old-fashioned way and recorded everything straight, and I have to throw these things into a things that sounded like they should
which was the right thing to do for the time. But you washing machine. I wouldn’t wreck the have been written in the late ‘60s –
can’t stay in the same place. I’d be bored if I did the most beautiful pieces that I own by doing unbelievable. He was only in his early 20s
same thing. One of my biggest hates is boredom. I that so I tend to buy repro labels from when he died. What would he have done
like to keep moving. For this album, I wanted to use
companies such as Vivian of Holloway, if he had lived longer?
the best of modern technology to capture the sound
of my band in its natural state. I wanted it to sound Pin-Up Girl, Collectif and Bettie Page. I I produce my own albums so I love
huge with no more instruments than we’d normally love my turned up jeans and trainers too looking into who did what and not just
have. I didn’t bring anyone else in for this album, though and my biker boots. their image and their songs. Wanda
there’s no session musicians or giant horn sections. Jackson (also on the Decca label) was
It’s a live studio album. I wanted to capture the feel of
Your hair is a big part of your image. a great songwriter, played her own
the live gig. To capture the electricity.”
It’s a stylish stamp of authority. instruments and had a strong mind too.
I do that myself. Any performer worth I also love Howlin’ Wolf and Rosco
their salt does their own hair and make- Gordon, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon,
up. Most people on the scene do too. Johnny Horton, Patsy Cline, Billie
We’ve just come back from Viva Las Holiday and Billy Fury. They would be my
Vegas (the rockabilly weekender in Las main influences.
Vegas, Nevada that ran from the 17th- They excite me when I listen to them,
20th of April - for those still in the dark!) they make me feel alive. They inspire
and the styles there are just fantastic. Not me and I love the rebelliousness that is
a hairdresser or a make-up artist in sight! slightly scary but electrifying. I love the
You know, I did try to conform once. grittiness of it all. If you listen to Johnny
Around the time that I got married, I Burnette, how can you not be thrilled?
thought that maybe I should grow up and Listen to John Lee Hooker doing Boom
conform. Someone commented on that Boom. I don’t think you’ve heard a ➨

30 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Imelda
May

© Barry McColl

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 31


© Barry McColl

LISTEN UP - MAY’S TOP 5 sexier song in the world. Eddie Cochran’s


Somethin' Else and you think… God.
We live in a celebrity-driven society but
the men and women who played and lived
Here are Imelda May’s current Top 5 favourites…
rock’n’roll and rockabilly could never
Billy Fury I get this slight rebelliousness from be categorised as ever being part of that
The Sound Of Fury you. An attitude… culture. They were, how can I put this,
“He’s forgotten for his creative skills. Maybe I’m emotionally stilted in that the ‘real’? They often emerged direct from
A lot of people don’t realise that he
was a great songwriter.” rebellious feelings that I had when I was poverty, suffered privations and hard
younger have never left me, and I hope times and the music they sang was filled
The Caezars Welcome to that they never do. I know that they never with genuine passion but told of times
the Mainstream will. It drives me. When I’m on stage that they often lived through.
“Absolutely terrific. They capture such and gigging, there is no higher drug. The That is important to me because I can
a vibe in their live gigs too.”
adrenalin pumps. Music is my big passion relate to that. That’s probably why, as
The Belle Furies in life. I love the history of music too and a kid, I was attracted to that. I’m from
Just Plain Lonesome where it leads to. Which means that I love a great area in Dublin but an area that
“The contemporary Texas rockabilly later music such as The Stray Cats, The hasn’t got a lot of money and experienced
outfit with a real spring in their step.” Ramones, The Clash, The Cramps… All tough times in the ‘80s and it wasn’t an
of these people have been influenced by easy time to grow up. I was lucky that I
The Rhythm Shakers my influences. You listen to Marc Bolan, had a great family – and a musical family.
Voodoo Led Zeppelin, Iggy Pop and you can hear When I read about people that I look
“[Lead singer] Marlene has such a
terrific voice. The Wild record label is the history. The Beatles are revered for up to, like Wanda Jackson, Gene Vincent
one of those old fashioned labels that you can trust.” changing musical history but if it wasn’t and all these people, I was able to relate
for Elvis and the other innovators that to them. That got to me. It’s important to
Gene Vincent Gene influenced them, then all of that would me that I’ve worked my ass off. I started
Vincent and the Bluecaps never have happened. They said it many gigging since 16. I’m going to be 40 in July
Another classic and, the subject of a
times themselves that they wanted to be and I haven’t stopped gigging in all that
recent feature in this very magazine…
rockabillies. time and that’s important too.

32 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


"I'm going to be 40
in July and I haven't
"The music is my passion, not the stopped gigging in all
fame or making a quick buck" that time"
© Christie Goodwin

This is a world of pretend and make- everyone sing while they


believe but I’m happy that I’ve come were shopping. You don’t
through the old-fashioned way. The hard get characters like that
way. Learning my craft, meeting great any more.
musicians along the way. Having great That sort of
times and bad times, but that gives me community provides
more fodder to write about, as opposed balance to ensure
to leaving school and starring in my own your strength and
TV show. independence while at
the same time providing
So you’ve never chased fame? lots of support.
Most people are chasing after fame. Yeah, and I have the
Funnily enough, that’s the one thing that I whole area turning up
never wanted. In fact, I almost didn’t sign to my gigs when I’m
my record deal because it freaked me out. there!
I just wanted to make good music, do gigs
and fill venues. Sure, people get to know You don’t rush your albums, there are guitar and without
you in time but it wasn’t something that I years in between each release. blinking does something genius, after
ever chased. Doing it that way would lack I write and record them quickly but I which I say, ‘That’s it, I give up!’
passion. The music is my passion, not the love touring. I don’t know how to not gig. I can play a decent rhythm guitar,
fame or making a quick buck. If I wasn’t Once an album goes well, we follow it enough to enjoy myself. I was influenced
doing ‘well’, I would still be doing what I around the world. by Elvis and Wanda Jackson in my guitar
do. That’s the difference. playing. I play percussion too, the Irish
The image that you have could bodhrán, a hand-held frame drum. Even
Did Dublin have a hand in that? threaten you, lulling you into that when I’m writing, a lot of my lyrics are
Coming from the area I do, creativity horrible tribute act place. You are quite percussive.
is an escape, it’s a release. I’m proud to unique, but how do you avoid those I also like the technical nerdy stuff.
be working class. In fact, there aren’t a kind of pitfalls? Producing my albums, I love every part of
lot of working class people in music any I hate that threat of only being a tribute it: directing the band, mixing the album,
more. I’ve nothing against other people act but that’s what worried me before I testing the microphones, digital effects,
from other backgrounds but it’s no longer was doing my own stuff. While I love to testing different parts of the room to get
normal to be in music from a working write my own songs, by writing originals, the best sound and more.
class background. I don’t want to sing old songs forever. By
I’m proud of my working class roots writing my own songs I can emerge out of A personal question: you seem to have
and that my parents worked so hard to my influences. By placing my own stamp been dogged by stalkers, psychotic
keep us fed and clothed. We are a strong on it I can do my own thing. I wanted to boyfriends and prowling women. I
family and, in a way, it made us tighter, get that primal thing into my own music. wondered, like some noir film PI, a
sticking together more. The Liberties (an The tension from the early rock’n’roll Sam Spade/Philip Marlow character
area in central Dublin), where I’m from, is music so that people would get the same that ‘trouble finds you’.
a very strong community. A direct result feeling from my music that I heard when [Laughing] I think we all have our ups
of people suffering from hard times. It’s a I listened to rock’n’roll for the first time. and downs in life and that’s what life
creative area and a place full of eccentric is all about. It gives me more to write
characters, while the arts are always You like your guitars? about but, yeah, I’ve had my psychotic
encouraged. My local fruit and veg man I play rhythm guitar. I was doing really boyfriends, absolutely. I’m sure that I’ve
would play tapes in the shop, making well until I married Darrel. He picks up a been a bit psychotic myself sometimes. ✶

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 33


© Getty Images

34 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Roy
In The
Rockhouse
RAISED ON C&W IN RURAL WEST TEXAS, THE ROAD TO ROCK’N’ROLL
STARDOM WAS LONG AND DUSTY, BUT ROY ORBSION WAS ALWAYS
GOING TO MAKE IT. ALAN CLAYSON CHARTS HIS RISE FROM HUMBLE
BEGINNINGS, AND INTRODUCES THE PEOPLE HE MET ON THE WAY…

Y
ou couldn’t get much me and the guitar, playing and singing”. there, such as use of its auditorium.
closer to the centre of During a lull in the yee-hah exuberance Furthermore, that Orbison boy played in
North America’s southern of twilight sessions, little Roy might have the popular style, didn’t he? He could lead
region as the western end been led forth for a turn before being some sort of combo at the next dinner-
of Texas. It was very much packed off to bed. and-dance.
beyond the pale of the showbusiness Is it difficult to imagine a timorous, Falling meekly into line, the Fat Owl of
mainstream, apart from intermittent pudgy boy with jug-handle ears, receding Wink High did not immediately resent
use by Hollywood for cowboy movie chin, spectacles and an oversized six- having to approximate mostly good old
locations. Indeed, only two miles from string bringing tears to elderly eyes with good ones for the old folks. As well as
the actual Red River which gave its name the same throbbing sentience that would smooth approximations of Moonlight In
to a 1948 John Wayne film, the Chisholm one day grip millions? Vermont, Jersey Bounce and further swing
Trail to Missouri had passed along the Roy’s slow transition to pop stardom band sobrieties, Roy would pitch gladly
main street of Vernon where Roy Kelton began on Vernon’s KVWC radio station’s into favourites by Webb Pierce, Frankie
Orbison was born in 1936. Amateur Hour. So often did he bicycle Laine, and, especially, Lefty Frizzell, who
His was a close-knit family in which to its studio to defy all comers that he left a mark for “this technique which
‘musical evenings’ were a frequent was granted a regular non-competitive involved sliding the syllables together.
occurrence – as they were in many Deep spot as ‘featured popular vocalist’. This, That just used to slay me.”
South homes before the television became however, was the limit of his impact on The ceiling of The Westerners
an indispensable fixture. Stately colonial Vernon before the family crossed three and similarly-placed acts’ ambition
mansions might have tinkled to the hundred miles to the dreary oil town of was to support a C&W luminary like
strains of Handel and Debussy but, at the Wink where at least Roy now had his Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow or Eddy
Orbison bungalow, the backbone of the own bedroom from whence emanated, Arnold at such prestigious venues as
entertainment issued from the acoustic according to his mother, “many hours of Fort Worth’s Panther Hall, because
guitar of Roy’s motor mechanic father, mad twanging and howling” – much of the group was considered by most of
Orbie Lee. it before the mirror no doubt. Culturally its turnover of members as merely a
It was fortunate for his kin that window-shopping at Wink High School, pastime, an adolescent folly to be cast
his singing matched Mr. Orbison’s the teenager looked in at the a capella aside upon departure to the world of
enthusiasm; strong yet soothing, age choir which delved into such stirring work, matrimony or National Service.
would never deepen his voice below songs of the old frontier as Sam Bass Nevertheless, the valediction beneath
a youthful-sounding baritone. At first, and Bill Was A Texas Lad. Once ranted Roy’s photograph in the school yearbook
it was hard to believe that his father’s in cow camps to available violin or banjo read ‘To lead a Western band is his after-
voice could come from Roy, his pale, accompaniment, these came to be seldom school wish/And of course to marry a
unobtrusive slip of a second son. A heard outside folk festivals, school beautiful dish.’
fascinated listener when Orbie Lee concerts and Lions Club events. While his musical ability was apparent,
practised, the knowledge was handed on The social secretary of the local Lions an inwrought commitment to honest
to Roy in the highest oral tradition when Club also happened to be the High School labour led him to listen to the sound
his father “taught me the basic chords principal. Not ignored, therefore, were advice of his father who “knew there’d be
on the guitar – nothing intricate. It was the cost-cutting resources available demand for geologists.” So it was ➨

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 35


© Getty Images
Roy Orbison in 1960

THE OTHER ‘ther e’d be pl aces w e


TEEN KINGS couldn’t pl ay because it
When the group began hawking their was rock‘n’roll . It wasn’t
rockabilly goods in January 1956, joining
Orbison on stage were ex-Wink Westerners
re ally bad, but ther e w ere
Billy Parr Ellis on drums and James Morrow,
who had mastered mandolin, piano and
restrictions.’ ROY ORBISON
woodwinds, plus Jack Kennelly on
‘TK’-embossed double-bass. On a Spanish that Roy came to be accepted for a degree Response to a request for Shake
guitar with attached electronic pick-up was course in the subject at North Texas State Rattle And Roll just before midnight
a diminutive but effervescent youth, Johnny University. However, after he settled at a New Year’s Eve party facilitated
‘Peanuts’ Wilson. With Roy, he composed down almost eagerly to his studies, he the Westerners’ complete switch to
You’ve Got Love, B-side of the first of two experienced a road-to-Damascus moment rockabilly. Thrilled response both during
solo 45s, 1957’s Cast Iron Arm – co-written when he drove to catch a recital by Elvis and after this rave-up all but swamped
by Orbison – but Johnny had more success Presley at Dallas Sportatorium on 16 April the chimes into 1955 and, recalled Roy,
as a songwriter for, among others, Conway 1954. With conflicting emotions, Orbison “When we were finished, I was fully
Twitty, Brenda Lee and Bobby Vinton.
turned a thoughtful steering wheel converted, even though there’d be
afterwards. Presley traded in rockabilly, places we couldn’t play because it was
which wasn’t far removed from the more rock‘n’roll. It wasn’t really bad, but there
up-tempo C&W wares a still-functional were restrictions.”
Westerners supplied. “I loved hearing it, Now trading as ‘The Teen Kings’, they
and I couldn’t wait for the next records toed a sufficiently subdued line to gain a
to come out, but, at the same time, I was series of showcases on regional television
ready to go myself.” – though, elsewhere, Roy in leopard-

36 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


© Getty Images
skin attire would be hip-swiveling and
knee-dropping Elvis-style like he nearly
meant it. Caught between the truculent
in-concert sensuality of Presley and his
own stolid compliance to adult values, the
budding geologist’s booking schedule led
to skimped essays, cutting lectures and,
ultimately, missing an important exam.
It made sense, therefore, to transfer to
a teachers training college in Odessa to
try for a less demanding qualification in
English and history.
Settling into campus life, the
impressionable freshman was delighted
that pop was encouraged there as much
as ‘serious’ music. Every Saturday, there
was a free concert in the Main Hall. Just
before the autumn recess, the highbrow
and ethnic fare was interrupted when
onto the rostrum strode two fellows, one
of them holding a guitar. Dick Penner and
Wade Moore then lurched into a number
they’d made up themselves. As a song,
it was as nonsensical as its title, Ooby
Dooby, but “it knocked me flat,” gasped
Roy. “I was astounded because they made
more music than the whole orchestra.”
An intrigued Roy was to come up with
offerings of his own –notably, one born of
his courtship of another sophomore (and
his future wife) Claudette Frady – that
he felt were at least equal to the group’s
non-originals. Yet Claudette wasn’t risked
when The Teen Kings procured a TV
guest spot to Johnny Cash, then on the
crest of his first C&W Top 40 triumphs.
Particularly impressed by Ooby Dooby,
Cash suggested they contact Sam Phillips,
the Sun Records supremo in Memphis,
who had hit the jackpot when Elvis
Presley came by. When a nervous Orbison
telephoned, however, Phillips erupted
with anger: “Johnny Cash doesn’t own
my company!’ And a heated inquest with
the other Teen Kings brought forth the
© GAB Archive/Getty

notion of pressing up a single themselves,


as well as resentment at vocalist and
lead guitarist Roy’s monopoly of the
spotlight. In reciprocation, Roy regarded ➨

ISSUE 1 VINTAGE ROCK 37


Roy relaxing, with guitar
and sunglasses of course

Listen up
Ooby Dooby
THE TEEN KINGS (JE-WEL, 1956)
This showstopper in the
repertoires of both The Wink
Westerners and The Teen Kings
was B-sided with a rather workmanlike if ponderous
Trying To Get To You, featuring the versatile James
Morrow on clarinet. This was a cover of a single by The
Eagles, a Washington DC vocal ensemble, but, more
pertinently, a certain Elvis Presley was performing it
on the boards.

© Michael Ochs Archive/Getty


Ooby Dooby
ROY ORBISON (SUN, 1956)
For this second attempt, Sam
Phillips “wanted everything up,
everything fast,” remembered Roy, “Everything with
all the energy that was possible.” It was coupled with
Go Go Go, an Orbison opus. Saturated with rockabilly
slang, this two-minute odyssey to find ‘real gone love
to drive a cool cat wild’ would be rechristened Down
The Line when on the flip-side of Jerry Lee Lewis’s
Breathless million-seller two years later.
his on stage cavortings as a duty rather Carl Perkins and some lesser icons had
Rockhouse than a pleasure. He was also fed up with left the runway.
ROY ORBISON (SUN, 1956) gibbering Ooby Dooby but agreed this An overhauled Ooby Dooby was to
After each discovered that the would be a good choice for a debut single. have a danceable urgency and a focused
other was composing a song of It was taped at the New Mexico studio Presley-esque ‘feel’ absent on the earlier
the same name, Orbison and of Norman Petty, shortly to be mentor version. Then Mister Starmaker Phillips
Conway Twitty (Harold Jenkins), another Sun signing,
pooled their ideas. The outcome was not dissimilar to to Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and grinned cheerfully and waved goodbye
Presley’s fourth Sun single, Baby Let’s Play House – surrendered to a small West Texas label as the boys commenced a five hundred
though it concerned the subject with which Bill Haley that ministered to its pressing and, from mile journey home, remarking later that,
was fast overloading his lyrical canvas: ‘Rock in the a car boot, its sale-or-return circulation though the unprepossessing Roy’s voice
morning/rock it in the daylight/rockin’ through the to whatever shops would take some. was “pure gold, he’ll be dead inside a
evening’ and so forth.
There followed scattered spins by radio month if people see him”. Yet Sam set a
Sweet And Easy disc-jockeys, one of whom coined the release date for spring 1956, and hoped
To Love
ROY ORBISON (SUN, 1957)
Roy imported The Roses, a singing ‘I’d play ev erybody else’s
family from West Texas, to serve
stuff – Chuck Berry, Little
R ich ard – then I’d do my
him as The Jordanaires did Elvis on an item that was
closer to middle-of-the-road pop than rockabilly.
Present too was guitarist Roland Janes, mainstay of
Sun’s house band from 1956 to 1963. If not as
renowned as Scotty Moore, it would be recognition of a
one hit and get off.’ ROY ORBISON
kind when, in 1998, he was heard in cameo on a nickname ‘The Big O’ for Roy, who for the best as The Teen Kings re-entered
Mudhoney album.
confided his worries that The Teen Kings the familiar circuit of West Texas venues.
Chicken-Hearted might have taken parochial impact to its Then a kind of miracle occurred. On
ROY ORBISON (SUN, 1957) limit to ‘Poppa’ Hollerfield, the fatherly 16 July, Ooby Dooby cracked the national
As well as an aptly jumpy proprietor of one such store in Odessa. Hot 100. Taking stock, Roy quit college
two-note guitar riff, squawking He offered to telephone Sun, and ask Sam a fortnight before his finals to go on a
saxophone from Morrow further Phillips, an old acquaintance, to listen to poorly-paid but prestigious package tour
gingered up this composition by Bill Justis, whose
it over the wire. (headlined by Johnny Cash) that would
Raunchy instrumental was a huge smash that year.
He’d been appointed the busy Phillips’ musical Sam showed a faint but unmistakable take in most of the South. Throughout the
director, and was active in mellowing Sun’s still interest and requested a copy of Ooby expedition, Orbison and his Teen Kings
predominantly rockabilly determination for a Dooby. After it whirled its little life away “danced and shaked and did everything
record-buying populace that was soon to be taking on the Sun record player, The Teen Kings we could to get applause because we had
more saccharine sounds to its heart.
received a summons to be in Memphis only one chart entry”.
three days hence for a re-make. So it Yet, as Ooby Dooby edged to its peak of
was that their two-car convoy pulled up No 59, the running order was altered in
outside the one-storey building next to a the newcomers’ favour. Perhaps a greater
used car lot, where Presley, Johnny Cash, accolade was the praise heaped on them

38 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


© Getty Images
by a dressing room visitor. “Marvellous again – with Cash, Perkins and Jerry studio,” sighed Sam Phillips. “They had
show!”, exclaimed Elvis Presley, adding Lee Lewis – the act that now tended to some difficulty among themselves, and
the sweet lie, “You’re that good that I’ll be billed as Roy Orbison and the Teen broke up then and there. Really it was
never appear on stage with you.” Kings were dismayed by the less fervent all nothing more than their just being
The King, however, would not be response to Rockhouse, the final choice as extremely young.”
drawn into a vexing discussion about second 45, than that for Ooby Dooby. Certainly, other than multi-
a suitable follow-up to Ooby Dooby. In After a while, Roy didn’t bother with it: instrumentalist James Marrow, none of
the running were songs that were now “I’d play everybody else’s stuff – Chuck Roy’s old colleagues were involved in two
streaming from Roy. The workshop Berry, Little Richard – then I’d do my further Sun singles, Sweet And Easy To
ambience of Sun allowed him to tape one hit and get off.” As the other Teen Love and Chicken-Hearted. Their market
numerous guitar-and-bass demos. Their Kings crammed into a second-hand failure reinforced Orbison’s perpetual
very starkness often captured a sketchy station wagon, their Big O shared a pink machinations to slow things down a little.
charm. Indeed, in the likes of Lovestruck Cadillac with Jerry Lee, Carl and Johnny, Like a tomcat who has tried in vain to
and One More Time, there were hints of it became clear that disbandment was catch a fly and walked away haughtily,
what he was to become. Not so veiled was imminent. “It happened right in the pretending that he’d never had any such
The Clown, which had no commercial intention, Sam Phillips was to concede
precedent or reassuring reference point that “Roy and I knew all the time what his
for Phillips and his assistant producer forte was – and that was in ballads.”
Jack Clements. Devoid of discernible Jack Clement, however, would not
‘hook’ or chorus, this paean to a heedless recant. Whenever their paths crossed
love, even in embryo, was a haunting down the years, he would always ask the
melancholia a decade ahead of its time. internationally-famous maker of Only The
Yet, on hearing it, Clement commented, Lonely, Running Scared, It’s Over and all
“Roy, you’ll never make a ballad singer.” the rest of them, the same half-serious
He seemed to have no future as a question: “Are you still trying to sing
rockabilly rebel either. Back on the road those ballads, boy?” ✶

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 39


HAYRIDE BOOGIE ON A S

40 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Saturday Night!

© Photo courtesy of LSU-Shreveport Archives—Noel Memorial Library, Joey Kent Collection.

THROUGH ITS NURTURING OF HOT NEW TALENT, THE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE


EARNED THE NICKNAME “CRADLE TO THE STARS”. RANDY FOX DESCRIBES
HOW IT BECAME THE HOME OF ROCKABILLY… ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 41

LOUISIANA HAYRIDE

O
n a cool October evening in 1954, The venue: Shreveport Municipal
Horace Logan, the Louisiana Memorial Auditorium
Hayride’s emcee, introduced
the newest potential star to
grace the stage of the Municipal
Auditorium: Elvis Presley, a 19-year-old

© Photo courtesy of LSUS Archives and Special Collections, Noel Memorial Library
from Memphis, Tennessee. After Presley
performed That’s All Right, the A-side of
his first single, Logan joined him on stage.
“I’d like to know just how you derived
that style,” Logan said. “How you came
about with that rhythm & blues style?”
“Well, sir,” Presley said, “to be honest
with you, we just stumbled upon it.”
“You stumbled upon it. Well, you’re
mighty lucky you know… They’ve been
looking for something new in the folk
music field for a long time, and I think
you’ve got it.”
Logan had no idea how prophetic his
words were. Rockabilly had arrived on
the Louisiana Hayride.
The Louisiana Hayride was just one of
a host of radio barndance programmes
across the southern U.S. – the Grand Ole

‘Horace Logan had no idea how prophetic


Opry in Nashville, the Big “D” Jamboree
in Dallas, Texas, the WWVA Jamboree

his words were. Rockabilly had arrived on


in Wheeling, West Virginia, and more.
For both regulars and guest stars, the

the Louisiana Hayride’


pay for these weekly variety shows was
low, usually minimum union scale, but
a regular spot on a barndance show was
essential for a successful career.
For its first few months on the air, the heartbreak ballads and “sock rhythm” weeks, attendance for the Hayride spiked
Louisiana Hayride struggled to build an honky tonk stompers, he quickly became as Williams and Lovesick Blues became
audience, often falling far short of filling an audience favorite. a sensation. Despite the opposition of
the 3,800-seat Shreveport Municipal In late 1948, Williams lobbed musical his producer, he recorded the song in
Auditorium. That changed with the dynamite onto the stage of the Hayride December 1948, and it zoomed up the
arrival of Alabama-born honky tonker with his version of an old vaudeville charts to become one of the biggest
Hank Williams. With his brand of song Lovesick Blues. Over the next few selling country records of 1949. The
Grand Ole Opry soon came calling, and
Suited and booted: a dapper Jerry Williams left the Hayride in June 1949.
Kennedy takes to the boards For his farewell appearance, he played
Lovesick Blues and was called back for an
unprecedented seven encores.
Williams set a pattern for success that
many others followed. Webb Pierce,
Faron Young, Jim Reeves, the Wilburn
© Photo courtesy of LSU-Shreveport Archives—Noel Memorial Library

Brothers, Red Sovine, the Browns, Rose


Maddox and many others utilized the
Louisiana Hayride to establish their
careers or attract a larger audience before
moving on to the Grand Ole Opry and
bigger stardom.
In the wake of Elvis Presley’s first
record release in the summer of 1954, the
Louisiana Hayride became the perfect
home for the budding star to develop his
style. In Horace Logan’s 1998 memoir,
Elvis, Hank and Me – Making Musical
History on the Louisiana Hayride, he
recalled taking an immediate liking to the
shy and polite young man from Memphis.

42 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


A youthful Johnny Cash stares down
the lens at the Hayride

gham l Man
© Photo courtesy of Caro
“I’d gotten pretty good at predicting
which artists would be warmly received his gut feeling and offered Presley a year’s tunes were common on most Southern
by our audience,” Logan wrote, “but what contract after just two guest appearances. radio stations during the day and early
I was feeling now was more than that.” While older, more traditional country evening, but R&B ruled the airwaves of
In an unusual turn of events, Presley fans may have been confused, amused the night. Late night R&B radio shows
had already appeared on the Grand or even offended by the hiccupping and were exploding in popularity, like the
Ole Opry two weeks before his first gyrations of the “Hillbilly Cat’s” music, ones broadcast on Nashville, Tennessee’s
Hayride appearance. Sun Records owner younger fans were a different story. WLAC and Shreveport’s own Groovie
Sam Phillips called in a few favours Southern teenagers were coming of age Boy show on KWKH and Daddy-O Hot
in Nashville to arrange Presley’s Opry in a new world of music. Pop and hillbilly Rod, broadcast over competing station
debut, but it was hardly a success. KOKA. For many younger music fans,
Rock’n’roll mythology portrays Elvis was simply combining their
Presley’s sole Opry appearance June Carter released a live album, two favorite musical styles into an
Louisiana Hayride, encapsulating both
as a total disaster, complete her musical and comedic skills exciting new package.
with scurrilous treatment by Presley soon attracted fans
Opry management, followed by from beyond the hillbilly music
an uproarious triumph on the world. Carol Mangham was a
Louisiana Hayride. While that 14-year-old student at C.E. Byrd
version of events makes for great High School in Shreveport and a
drama, the truth is that Presley fanatical fan of R&B records. “I
received a friendly greeting from would listen to Gene Noble’s show
musicians on both shows and a on WLAC when I went to bed
confused but polite reception from every night, so I knew all about
both audiences. The difference R&B. I wasn’t a country fan at all,
came from the respective shows’ but I got wind of Elvis. Someone
management. Grand Ole Opry told us we should check this guy
manager Jim Denny failed to see out. We were hesitant at first,
how Presley could ever fit into the ‘Yeah, right, the Hayride…’ But
Opry, while Horace Logan followed once we went, we were hooked.”

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 43


Wide smiles from honky tonk
rockabilly star Johnny Horton

Dale Hawkins, he played lead guitar on


the rockabilly classic Suzie Q. He later
backed Bob Luman (also a Hayride
regular), Ricky Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis,
and Elvis. Other rockabilly sidemen that
am

cut their musical teeth on the Hayride


© Photo courtesy of Carol Mangh

include guitarist Fred Carter, bass


players James Kirkland and Joe Osborn,
and singer and producer Jerry Kennedy.
The “new sound” also appeared
in the music of artists who were not
strictly rockabillies. Johnny Horton
had been a popular regular on the
Hayride for years, even though his honky
Carol and her three girlfriends became David Houston was a teenage hillbilly tonk recordings on Abbott and Mercury
the “Elvis Girls” who camped out at stage singer from the Shreveport area who had found little success. In early 1956,
centre each week waiting for Presley to had made guest appearances on the he signed with Columbia Records and
appear. “We were snooty about hillbilly Hayride since 1951 when he was 12. After unveiled a new, rockabilly beat-driven
music,” she says. “There was a big sound Presley’s run began, Houston switched honky tonk style that produced a string of
box right at the front of the stage. We to rockabilly and eventually signed with classic recordings like Honky Tonk Man
would sit on that box with our backs RCA Records in 1956 while also becoming and I’m Coming Home.
turned, waiting for Elvis. When he came a regular on the Hayride. Johnny Cash followed his Sun label-
out we would get right in his face and Beyond the names on the playbills, mate Presley to the Louisiana Hayride
take pictures. People would throw cups other musicians found their careers in late 1955, and his rhythm-driven,
with ice or flash bulbs at us, but we guided by the new sound of rockabilly. minimalist take on hillbilly music found
didn’t care. We’d go back to high school Shreveport native D.J. Fontana joined an eager audience in Shreveport. In
and talk about Elvis. The next thing you the house band of the Louisiana Hayride September 1955, Elvis renewed his
know there were 20 girls, then 30, and in the early 1950s and became one of the contract with the Hayride for another
it didn’t take very long at all before it first drummers to play with Elvis, Scotty year of weekly appearances. Presley
seemed like every girl that went to Byrd and Bill. It wasn’t long before Fontana continued to appear on the Hayride as
High School was coming to the Hayride.” joined Presley’s band as a full member. a regular cast member through the end
Presley’s success with the rockabilly James Burton joined the Hayride house of 1955 and into the early months of
sound soon began to influence other band at the age of 14. A year later, while 1956, but with his signing to RCA Victor
artists, including some that were already working with Shreveport-based singer and the success of Heartbreak Hotel, it
performing on the Hayride. In January
1955, Johnny Lee and Wayne Walker,
two young Hayride regulars, cut a slice
of rockabilly perfection, Love Me. It was Presley’s success with the rockabilly
one of the first records to reflect the
influence of the “Hillbilly Cat’s” style sound began to influence other artists,
and clearly demonstrated that Lee and
Walker had been studying far more than including some already on the Hayride’
Presley’s effect on teenybopper libidos.

44 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


became obvious it was time to move on.
On 31 March 1956, Presley made his last
appearance as a regular cast member,
buying out the remainder of his contract
for $10,000.
Although Presley was gone, the
rockabilly sound continued on the
Hayride. David Houston and newcomer
Bob Luman quickly took over as resident
rockabillies, and a stream of boppin’
guest stars kept the programme rockin’.
A partial list of the many hepcats that
made guest appearances throughout
the late 1950s includes Carl Perkins, Sid
King and the Five Strings, Roy Orbison,
Jerry Lee Lewis, Dale Hawkins, Wanda
Jackson, Eddie Bond, Warren Smith,
Rudy Grayzell, Sleepy LaBeef and Peanuts
Wilson. By 1958, advertisements for the
Hayride in radio guides included the
description “Country and Rockbilly (sic).”

© Photo by PYMCA/Photoshot
The stream of rockers with a hillbilly
bent pleased fans like Carol Mangham
who continued taking her Brownie
camera to shows after the departure of
Presley. She eventually even gained an
appreciation for the more hillbilly artists.
In addition to the Louisiana Hayride
each Saturday, the Municipal Auditorium
hosted many travelling rock’n’roll revues,

am
and Mangham captured snapshots of

© Photo courtesy of Carol Mangh


artists like Gene Vincent, Brenda Lee,
Duane Eddy and Fats Domino who rocked
the house while never officially appearing
on the Louisiana Hayride.
In early 1958, Hayride manager and
emcee Horace Logan decided to move on
and left KWKH to relocate to California.
Although the Hayride had been an artistic Hayride found greater competition from
and popular success, it never became
a large financial success. Over the next
television, movies and other forms of
Saturday night entertainment.
THE ELVIS GIRL
And the day she nearly lost her photographs…
two years, attendance declined as the The business of music was also Carol Mangham-Golemon didn’t realize she was
changing as country music and rock’n’roll documenting rock’n’roll history in the late 1950s
parted ways. It became harder to hold when she brought her Brownie camera to the
on to top talent since Shreveport lacked Louisiana Hayride, but she did value the photographs
the “support services” that professional enough to save them from almost being “gone with
musicians required – record companies, the wind”.
“I went to Houston one summer with my cousin
recording studios, music publishers and
Marti,” Carol says. “We were on the East Texas
booking agencies – all of which were freeway, the first stretch of Interstate that had opened
becoming common in Nashville. The in the South. There were all these signs that said no
last regular broadcast of the Louisiana parking or stopping. We had the shoebox full of
Hayride took place on 27 August 1960, pictures in the back of the car and the windows were
just a little over 12 years since Hank down because there was no air conditioning.
Williams’ first appearance on the show Suddenly, the box got sucked out the window, and
the pictures went flying all over the interstate.”
and the beginning of its rise to glory.
“Marti and I started screaming and crying – just
The rockabilly sound was conceived tears. My uncle said, ‘I can’t stop; it’s against the
in the honky tonks and juke joints of the law!’ We were crying and threatening to jump out of
South and then brought to term in small, the window.”
independent recording studios like Sam “My aunt said, ‘You’ve got to, just look at them!’
Phillip’s Sun Records in Memphis. But the He finally pulled off, and we were traipsing up and
place it was nurtured and learned to ride down the highway picking up pictures. That’s why
some of them have tire tracks on them to this day.”
the airwaves, was live, Saturday night, on
the stage of the Louisiana Hayride. ✶

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 45


Making Hay
Professor of Music and Chair for Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia,
Tracey E.W. Laird is the author of the highly enjoyable and respected
tome, Louisiana Hayride: Radio and Roots of Music along the Red River
(American Musicspheres). She kindly agreed to talk to Vintage Rock…

Who started the Hayride? Now, if you talk to Horace Logan, you
There are different distinct groups that learn that he had the idea to start the

Photo © Yinying Luo


claim responsibility. First, there were Hayride, sparked from something he had
the Bailes brothers: four brothers who done before WW2. Logan had worked
had a successful act in Nashville, at the for the KWKH radio station as an errand
Grand Ole Opry, in the ‘40s. I talked to boy. Around 1940, the show had a live,
one of them, Homer Bailes, when he was Saturday night variety radio show called
a grand old man, retired as a Methodist Saturday Night Round-Up. Popular singer So why did the Hayride catch on?
pastor in Louisiana. A man close to his Jimmie Davis would have appeared there. There were Hayride personalities who
80s who dyed his hair red. We met at a Logan served in WW2 then tried to open had really good instincts about what was
greasy spoon café. He told me that it was a gun shop but then went back to work to entertaining. The show also reached a
the Bailes brothers and Dean Upson, who the radio station. Logan, then, declared lot of people. The organisers pointed the
worked with the radio station WSM in that he was really the source of the transmitter, after sundown, west, so that
Nashville, that covered the Grand Grand idea by wanting to play off the model of it covered a lot of Texas, to attract a big
Ole Opry, that had the idea of coming Saturday Night Round-Up. radio following. KWKH already had a
to Shreveport and doing a Grand Ole I did find a newspaper story on Logan good following, though, which helped.
Opry-like show. Homer said it was he who said that he didn’t have the initial Another reason was that Shreveport, mid-
who convinced his brothers this was a idea but was involved in its creation. 20th century, was a very different place to
good idea. He believed that Shreveport Sometimes, when people tell their story what it was in the 19th century. It was an
didn’t have country music – he meant over and over, the emphasis changes. important regional crossroads. It featured
the Appalachian-rooted sound. Homer Cajun sounds, South Louisiana sounds,
thought that the ‘new’ sound would be Another important figure in the musicians from Arkansas from the
fresh and sell like wildfire. early days was Henry Clay. There are north, Texas sounds from the west plus
Upson worked as a producer at the rumours, though, that he wasn’t a true Mississippi and Alabama from the east.
beginning. According to Homer, it was friend of the Hayride? There was a unique variety and Horace
then that they hired Horace Logan to act Henry Clay married the daughter of a Logan aimed at variety. For example,
as programme director and MC for the guy called Ewing, who owned the he insisted that, during the show, you
show. Under a year passed when Upson Shreveport Times and KWKH. He was only have one or two songs per set, up
left and Logan also became producer. the business guy. There are stories that to eight different announcers, audience
he was disaffected with country music. participation… He was a big character and
Logan wrote a memoir called Elvis, Hank had a sense of making radio entertaining.
And Me. In it, he said he had to fight Clay
every step of the way. Another writer, Was the Hayride show tightly planned?
Stephen Tucker, a Louisiana music From the audience point of view, the
historian, presented a convincing case to Hayride looked like this well-oiled
say that Clay wasn’t like that. He didn’t machine. It wasn’t. According to one of
know much about music but he supported the original radio engineers who mixed
it and, without his cheques, the Hayride the sound at the time, “That show wasn’t
couldn’t have existed. produced, it just happened.” So you had
Carol Mangham

‘There was no sense that the Hayride


© Photos courtesy of

was preserving any kind of tradition,


Margie Singleton
in full flow
unlike the Grand Ole Opry’
46 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12
,

© Getty Images

40
OF THE GREATEST
Rockin' Recordings
BY FEMALE ARTISTS JULIE BURNS

T
hough it's true that rock'n'roll was very As for black lady blues belters on the rocking
much a male musical vehicle, in reality a fair edge, with segregation as well as stereotyping to
number of women were not only around – contend with, they had to fight even harder to be
but firmly in the driving seat. Here, we take a heard. Overall, our 40 featured females – often
lateral, by no way definitive, look at the main self-penning and guitar-slinging – are musical
female contenders – allowing ourselves a little innovators. From sweet vocal harmonies to honky-
artistic licence time-wise. As well as those that tonk boogie woogie; tales of passion, desire and
delivered the goods bang in the middle of R'n'R's murder; the rhythmic to risqué; this barn-storming
'56-'63 heyday, we honour also the influential cross-section showcases hot hits to obscure gems.
anthems that anticipated its trademark sound, Some artistes were prolific, others striking one hit
and those that followed in its wake. To get these wonders, some not even recognised; all with one
songbirds' impact in context, not only were they thing in common: they paved the way for women
contributors to a new (and controversial) musical in rock and roll, and in music in general. Whatever
movement, they were competing creatively and their technical genre – R&B/country & western/
commercially against the era's gender conventions, pure rockabilly/rock'n'roll or almost pop, this
as epitomised by the likes of Ireland's chart eclectic output captures their rocking influence
sweetheart Ruby Murray, and squeaky clean – and stands as testament to the power of female
screen queen Doris Day. musical achievement. Enjoy! ✶

48 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


WANDA JACKSON RUTH BROWN
MEAN, MEAN MAN (MAMA) HE TREATS YOUR DAUGHTER MEAN
Record Label Capitol Record Label Atlantic
Released 1958 Released 1953
The first and the best of several notable Some say Ruth created the rights to give
rockabilly fillies, Wanda was the women free expression in song right
wildest, most versatile, most here. This early classic certainly set out
enduring. Any '50s track is seminal the singer/songwriter/Broadway star
– Riot in Cell Block No 9; Tongue and activist's sassy, kick-ass musical
Tied, I Gotta Know, Hot Dog, agenda. In the early '50s as a start up
That Made Him Mad; Honey Bop, label, Atlantic was called 'the house
Hard Headed Woman, to biggest that Ruth built' – because of her hits. A
hits Let's Have a Party and Japan true rocking innovator, she imbued R&B
No 1 Fujiyama Mama. As for Wanda's with an infectious, though never inept, pop
own Mean Man favourite - her first, quality between '49-'55, giving her 16 Top 10
self-penned rocking recording with signature hits the calbre of As Long As I'm Moving, with five
smoking vocals forge a sound and template years No 1s. Then followed her first pop hit, Lieber & Stoller's
ahead of its time. Crossing over to rocking proper from country on Decca – on the advice Lucky Lips in '57, before This Little Girl's Gone Rocking in '58. A popular performer
of tour-mate Elvis – she never looked back. Capitol had first turned her down saying 'Girls even in the segregated southern US, one writer declared her to be better known
don't sell records!' Sixty years later, now in her '70s, the living legend's still going strong. there 'than Coca-Cola'.

LAVERN BAKER BIG MAMA THORNTON


VOODOO VOODOO BALL 'N' CHAIN
Record Label Atlantic Record Label Arhoolie
Released 1961 Released 1968
Enjoying chart success with several Yes, it is a late date entry, but it is
rocking RnB hits – most notably her listed by the Rock and Roll Hall of
Latin tempo first hit Tweedlee Dee Fame as one of the '500 songs that
(1955) and million-seller jivers' shaped (later) Rock and Roll' –
favourite Jim Dandy in '56 - LaVern though, of course, Hound Dog was
also graced Alan Freed films Rock, Mama's biggest hit 15 years earlier
Rock, Rock and Mr Rock & Roll. in R&R's heyday, selling almost two
In all of this, she was the epitome million copies. The two tracks as
of exuberant, but ladylike, charm. re-recorded by white musicians,
What's arresting about this wild slice turned into chart-topping hits –
of shiveringly good supernatural R&R, is for Elvis on Hound Dog, and Janis
how raw Lavern lets rip. Think Miss Whip-lash Joplin, on this. On Thornton's
meets Devil Woman. Or a female Screamin' Jay Hawkins superior version, she belts the song to love gone bad in the sassy way
crossed with Little Richard… The original acetate dates from 1958 – right bang in R&R she intended and wrote it. Vocally arresting, shrieking 'listen, listen, listen!' then
and LaVern's heyday. Held in limbo, then hidden as a B-side on Hey, Memphis in '61, it screaming, it builds into one hell of a haunting bluesy rocker. She wrote more than 20
missed the mark hit-wise, but its hot rocking impact burns eternal! other blues songs of note including They Call Me Big Mama.

JOYCE GREEN
BLACK CADILLAC
Record Label Vaden
A TRUE ROCKING
Released 1959
'I caught you cheating and running INNOVATOR, RUTH
BROWN IMBUED RHYTHM
round… and now I'm going to
put you in a hole in the ground!'
That's just the first line… As Max
Decharne says in his book, A
Rocket in my Pocket, this has to AND BLUES WITH AN
INFECTIOUS, THOUGH
be 'the wildest female rockabilly
recording of the '50s'. Killer vocals
(literally) machine gun over a dirty

NEVER INEPT, POP QUALITY


murder tale of lover's revenge, against
hurtling guitarist Tommy Holder and
drum-bashing Harvey Farley. A true cult
curio, sadly this intense gem – written by 19-year
old Green – was to be a one-off. Locally played only – and that, thanks to its standard
A-side, Tomorrow, penned by Joyce's brother – garnered little publicity. With Vaden
BETWEEN 1949 AND 1955,
shut by '62, Joyce sang in Arkansas joints until the '70s and cut some unreleased demos.
GIVING HER 16 TOP 10 HITS
ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 49
40 GREATEST TRACKS BY FEMALE ARTISTS

BARBARA PITTMAN THE MILLER SISTERS


I NEED A MAN TEN CATS DOWN
Record Label Sun Record Label Sun
Released 1956 Released 1956
Like Joyce Green later at Vaden, Barbara Elsie Jo Miller and Mildred Miller were
was the only contracted girl singer at Sun sisters-in-law through Elsie marrying
– and almost as overlooked. At least, guitarist Roy Miller – Mildred's brother.
unlike her stable-mate Gloria Brady – Before auditioning for Sun in 1954,
who recorded demos, never to cut a the three worked as a trio. As a duo
single – she delivered four greats over and one of the label's few girl acts,
four years, culminating in regional producer Sam Phillips seemed most
classic Cold, Cold Heart/Everlasting optimistic about the Millers' chart
Love. On I Need a Man, the teenager chances. Despite bouncy, warm harmonies
vocalised incredible swagger and female set against Stan Kesler's steel guitar solos,
desire: she had actually approached Sun to they did not score a hit. Just a week after their
audition aged 10, was told to 'grow up and come first recording session, all attention diverted to
back', and went gigging at The Eagles' Nest, thanks Elvis' first record, That's Alright Mama – which was a
to friend Elvis. Proving popular on package tours with Elvis, Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins and hit. Symbolising a seismic musical shift away from the girls' country hillbilly style into
Johnny Cash, ultimately, they got the promotion, she didn't. 'Sam Philllips wanted me revved-up rockabilly, Phillips did not release their 1957 R&B song Got You On My Mind.
to do Connie Francis stuff, little girl tunes,' Barbara later said. 'I just refused…' Yet of all the era's girl harmony groups, he described them as 'second to none'.

MARIE KNIGHT KATIE WEBSTER


I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU NOT TO TELL THEM HOO WEE SWEET DADDY
Record Label Baton Record Label Zynn
Released 1958 Released 1958
From gospel beginnings – and a A rollicking R&B rocker from the iconic
considerable spell performing and piano-pumper. Star of the legendary Jay
recording for Decca with Sister Rosetta Millers' studios in Louisiana, here Katie,
Tharpe through the '40s – Knight aka Kathryn Jewel Thorne, showcases
went solo around 1951. Her secular her bluesy boogie-woogie prowess,
R&B music began in the late '50s for backed with I Need You Baby, I Need
various labels, never more 'in spirit' You. A versatile pianist and vocalist,
and perfect than on this blistering composer and songwriter, her later
track for Baton, flawlessly backed by the stand-out tracks include the ivories-
Teacho Wiltshire Orchestra. In 1959, she hit crashing CQ Boogie; rocking Two Fisted
the charts with a duet for Carlton with Rex Mama; rare blues-country take of Your Cheating
Garvin, as Marie & Rex, on the galloping Heart; sultry ballad Pussycat Moan; and the raunchy,
I Can't Sit Down. She famously toured Britain in the late '50s, and by '61 pre-empted pop blues-based I'm Bad. Memorable performances include duets with BB King on such
with her original rendition of Come Tomorrow, a greater hit for Manfred Mann. Later in as Since I Met You Baby. Initially renowned as a specialist session musician for blues
life, she went full circle to reunite with old friend Sister Rosetta, and return for good to supremos Lightin' Slim and Lonesome Sundown, she also played with Otis Redding in
her gospel roots. the '60s. A popular fixture on Euro tours to US blues festivals, until her death in 1999.

ETTA JAMES
TOUGH LOVER
BARBARA PITTMAN HAD
ACTUALLY APPROACHED
Record Label Modern
Released 1956
Two years into her career, this came at a

SUN TO AUDITION AGED formative time for the diva – on tour


with Little Richard, and by the sounds

10, WAS TOLD TO 'GROW


of this growling, fast-talking pièce
de rocking résistance, could have
covered him on a day off. She sings as

UP AND COME BACK',


if enraged – and in actuality, was, on
account of hearing of the tame version
of her earlier R&B hit, Dance With Me,

AND WENT GIGGING Henry, becoming a crossover hit for white


artist, Georgia Gibbs. No matter. Etta, though
initially underrated, would garner multiple awards

AT THE EAGLES' NEST, and hits: from R&B Good Rockin' Daddy, to doo-wopping All I Could Do Was Cry, to sublime
ballads I'd Rather Go Blind, Something's Got a Hold on Me, and her signature, At Last.

THANKS TO FRIEND ELVIS


Credited as the woman who bridged rhythm & blues and rock'n'roll. Often copied, but
never equalled.

50 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


JEAN CHAPEL
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
LORRIE'S PUBLICITY
Record Label RCA Victor BUBBLE BURST – AND
ARTISTIC SEPARATION FROM
Released 1956
Jean was the first and only officially

LARRY ENSUED – WHEN


named and promoted 'Female Elvis'
by RCA Victor, their record label,
after Sun. Their first record for

SHE LEFT SWEETHEART


RCA comprised her Welcome to
the Club, and his Love Me Tender
(Jean's original cut was issued as
Sun 244, July '56, b/w I Won't Be
Rocking Tonight). Their flip sides
were on the same 45 promo-record
RICKY NELSON FOR
back to back as sent to radio stations
(two songs each side). Jean's other great JOHNNY CASH'S MUCH
OLDER MANAGER
rockers include the original, definitive Oo Ba La
Baby, RCA, 1957, and '63's belter Don't Let Go. Yet her greatest success came with
songwriting – more than 400 for artists as diverse as Eddy Arnold, Dean Martin and
Nancy Sinatra.

ALIS LESLEY SPARKLE MOORE


HE WILL COME BACK TO ME ROCK-A-BOP
Record Label Era Record Label Fraternity
Released 1957 Released 1956
Quickly snapping at Jean's heels as Born Barbara Morgan, nicknamed
the 'female Presley', Lesley not Sparkle after a character in the Dick
only styled her name after Elvis Tracy comic strip, Ms Moore only
but, sensationally, her whole recorded a few songs during a short
pants-clad, guitar-slinging and sweet career, but is regarded
image – including greased hair as a pioneer of female rockabilly.
and sideburns! This catchy Era The cool, self-styled 17-year-old
platter had male backing vocals, with platinum pompadour and
plus smooth lead guitar slides and leathers, self-penned this first
breaks courtesy apparently of Roy release, a distinctive bopper b/w Skull
Buchanan, and was Lesley's (brief) claim and Crossbones. It earned this Billboard
to fame. Mentored by popular TV female review: 'Gal pulls a female Elvis Presley and
Kathryn Godfrey, by '57, Lesley was performing belts out a catchy rock and roll ditty with style and
at the famous Club Avalon. By Autumn, she was touring Australia with Little Richard, drive.' Though she toured with Gene Vincent in '56, illness prevented her from a Grand
Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent… The tour was cut short (and her chances?) by Little Ol' Opry appearance the same year. Following another double-sided blinder, Killer/Tiger
Richard's 'religious experience' and subsequent retirement. – and a haunting curiosity, Flower of My Heart – she left music to start a family.

JANIS MARTIN LORRIE COLLINS (COLLINS KIDS)


DRUGSTORE ROCK 'N' ROLL MERCY
Record Label RCA Victor Record Label Columbia
Released 1956 Released 1958
The most popular of the so-called Ultimate sister/brother act Lorrie and Larry
female Elvis's, Janis, like Jean Chapel, hit fame early, aged 12 and 10. A unique,
graced the King's label – signing infectious mix of country and early
at just 15. At first refusing to be rock'n'roll, Larry played a mean double-
known as the 'female Elvis', she neck Mosrite while Lorrie sang lead, as
U-turned on watching him perform on this track, which she also wrote. The
– though her parents allegedly duo's signature was a revved-up pace –
turned down Colonel Parker's offer most notably on high-octane, proto-punk
to manage her. Unusually, for one so number, Whistle Bait, flip to Rock Boppin'
young and in those times, Janis made Baby. Popular on US TV's Ranch Party show
it on her own terms. Drugstore Rock 'n' from '57-'59, they suffered creatively somewhat
Roll was the B-side to her first cut Will You in not being taken seriously. In addition, Lorrie's
Willyum, and was the biggest hit of her career – publicity bubble burst – and artistic separation from Larry
proving girls could sell records, to the tune of 750,000. Voted Billboard's Most Promising ensued – when she left sweetheart Ricky Nelson for Johnny Cash's much older manager.
Female Vocalist '56, before a 'gunshot' marriage/baby, more hits ensued: Billy Boy, Billy Happily, in later years, the siblings reunited and ignited once more, on the Euro-tour
Boy, All Right Baby, My Boy Elvis, Bang Bang, Barefoot Baby to Hard Rocking Mama. circuit in rockabilly revivals from the '90s on.

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 51


40 GREATEST TRACKS BY FEMALE ARTISTS

ROSE MADDOX (AND THE MADDOX BROTHERS) CHARLINE ARTHUR


WILD WILD YOUNG MEN (I'VE GOT THE) BOOGIE WOOGIE BLUES
Record Label Columbia Record Label Bullet
Released 1955 Released 1950
On the 45rpm DJ white label copy, the The unsung early Texan trail-blazer of
words 'No! Too suggestive' are scrawled spirited hillbilly rockabilly, this one-
across it. Which sums up its immense off bright spark paved the way for
appeal! Though originally a 1953 Ruth many a rocking female. A star of the
Brown (strangely restrained) classic, Big D Jamboree in Dallas, she was
raucous Rose and her boys take it – cutting hits like Boogie Woogie Blues
and make it merry mayhem. Note her well before Kitty Wells opened the
brother Fred's rockabilly pre-empting gate for girl singers to become country
slap bass technique (forged as early stars. Crashing through conservative
as 1937), steel guitar by Ernie Bell, and early '50s country with her feisty delivery,
backing by Eddie Cletro and His Roundup Boys. other prime tracks include Hello Baby, Flash
One of the first women to sing country boogie, Rose Your Diamonds, Honey Bun, and I Heard About
was lead singer/song-writer and fiddle player first with her brothers, as 'America's most You. By the time of recording Burn That Candle, she was with RCA Victor, and soon
colourful hillbilly band' before a successful solo career from 1957 – with 14 hits between famously quarrelling or 'blueing' with producer Chet Atkins. It was to cost her
'59-'64. Her former reputation as a 'lusty firebrand' (!) fits the bill on earlier fare Honky dearly – her contract was never renewed, her music censored by the Grand Ol' Opry.
Tonkin', I'm a Little Red Caboose, and Meanest Man in Town. Later rightly celebrated with election to The Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

ELLA MAE MORSE ANNISTEEN ALLEN


HOUSE OF BLUE LIGHTS BONGO BOOGIE
Record Label Capitol Record Label King
Released 1946 Released 1951
Sometimes cited as the first rock'n'roll Hooking up with Lucky Millinder and
singer, due to her innovative musical style his Orchestra was a lucky move for
blending blues and country, ironically Allen. Signed by Federal from 1951,
she never became a major star – her they scored several hits together,
versatility couldn't be categorised. Her none more kicking than this inspired
early 1942 recording, Get on Board, orchestra meets bongos stomper. The
Little Chillun, already sounds a genuine sax rich Yes I Know, 1953, and '54's
precursor to later rockabilly/R&R. Yet if G'wan About Your Business were in
ever there was a contender for the first R&R similar vein. Other hits include I'll Never
record, this '46 punchy track is it. Ella's hip Be Free, Let it Roll, Moanin' the Blues and
vocals – and early use of the word 'homey'(!) More, More, More. Federal's parent company,
set against Freddie Slack's boogie woogie piano King, acquired Annisteen in 1953, but following a
brilliance influenced sounds to come. Hear more R&R roots in copyright case with Apollo Records regarding her release Baby
Cow Cow Boogie, Ella's first Capitol hit with Slack; Blacksmith Blues, her gold disc million- I'm Doing It, dropped Allen from its roster. Signed with Capitol, in '55, she scored a US
seller; 1951's Oakie Boogie, later popularised by Hank Swatley. Ella was also the first female hit with Fujiyama Mama (two years before Wanda Jackson's Japanese success). She also
to record Bill Haley numbers including Razzle Dazzle. toured with Joe Morris and The Orioles, before going solo in the '60s.

WYNONA CARR
ROSE MADDOX WAS LEAD JUMP JACK JUMP

SINGER/SONGWRITER
Record Label Specialty
Released 1956
Carr's bold and sensual contralto vocals

AND FIDDLE PLAYER FIRST almost sound at odds with her early
gospel roots. Her songwriting was

WITH HER BROTHERS, AS


already touching on R&B with her take
on Roy Brown/Wynonie Harris' Good
Rockin' Tonight, titled I Heard the

'AMERICA'S MOST COLOURFUL News (Jesus is Coming Again). Soon


signed to Speciality as 'Sister' Wynona
Carr, she initially emulated Sister Rosetta

HILLBILLY BAND', BEFORE A Tharpe – but grew restless, switching from


spirituals to R&B/R&R. This joyful, piano-

SUCCESSFUL SOLO CAREER


rolling, sax-honking prime slice of jump blues sums
up Carr at her peak, its style reminiscent of her label-mates Little Richard, Lloyd Price
and Larry Williams. Despite recording/writing two dozen rocking sides from '55 to '59 –

FROM 1957
including Ding Dong Daddy, Finders Keepers/Boppity Bop Boogity Boog and Touch and
Go, she was never recognised in her lifetime as she is today.

52 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


BIG MAYBELLE
RANG DANG DILLY
BUNNY PAUL SCORED
Record Label Savoy HITS WITH HONEY LOVE
AND THE FIRST FEMALE
Released 1956
Having got a taste for rocking the year

RENDITION OF SUCH A
before – with her recording of Whole
Lotta Shakin' two years before Jerry Lee's
version – Big Maybelle lets off further steam

NIGHT – BANNED BY
with some big jump blues, ably abetted by
fleet fingered piano and a sexy sax break.
Success was cumulative on leaving King
Records as plain Mabel Smith, via Okeh
Records in 1952 and a name change to Big
Maybelle, settling with Savoy through the
SOME RADIO STATIONS
'50s, gaining several hits there. In contrast
to the rollicking Rang Dang Dilly, the same AS SUGGESTIVE, THOUGH
RELEASED AGAIN IN '59
year came her biggest-selling silky ballad, Candy.
After 1959, though she recorded for a variety of labels, the hits disappeared. Popular
at top music festivals, she performed into the early '60s. Her final album, Last of Big
Maybelle, was released after her death, in '73.

LAURA LEE PERKINS VARETTA DILLARD


DON'T WAIT UP SCORCHED
Record Label Imperial Record Label Triumph
Released 1958 Released 1959
One of the rarest slices of female 'Scorched! Burnt! Hot! I'm Mad!'
rockabilly, this showcases Ms Perkins' Incendiary vocals, punchy riff, hidden
prodigious talent, from her boogie as a B-side to Good Gravy Baby,
woogie piano playing to sassy vocals, from Varetta's short and sweet time
arranged by Ricky Nelson's producer. at Triumph. Why never as revered
Other up-tempo numbers include the as Ruth Brown? Surely one of the
self-written Oh La Baby, plus Kiss Me most underrated singers of the 20th
Baby, Come On Baby, My Babe, and century. The Harlem hottie's biggest
Gonna Rock My Babe Tonight (note the hits came earlier in the '50s on the Savoy
babe theme). Promoted as the 'female Jerry label: Easy, Easy Baby, and her nationally
Lee Lewis – The Shakin', Shimmin', Rockingest, popular signature, Mercy, Mr Percy. Other picks
Rollingest Gal That Ever Picked a Guitar!' Discovered of a great bunch are Promise, Mr Thomas, So Many
in late '57, by radio station WEOL, on pounding the piano there for fun. Asked to record Ways, That's Why I Cry and Getting Ready for My Daddy. She released two of
demos, she included a cracking Hound Dog, dubbing herself on piano, drums and harmony the earliest tributes: 1955's Johnny Has Gone – after singer Johnny Ace died
vocal on a multi-track recorder. Result: Sam Phillips and Lew Chudd were interested – but by accidental self-inflicted gunshot – and for RCA subsidiary Groove I Miss You
as a great fan of Ricky Nelson, Laura went with Imperial. Jimmy, an ode to James Dean. Her last recordings came in 1961.

BUNNY PAUL MARJORIE LAKE (WITH THE RENOWNS)


SWEET TALK MY MIND'S MADE UP
Record Label Point Record Label Everest
Released 1956 Released 1961
Such a tight slice of pure Werly Fairburn Considered as one of the greatest '61
styled rockabilly, b/w History, a unique singles never to have made the national
one-off for the blonde bombshell charts. On first hearing, it sounds like
from Detroit. So natural a musical Wanda Jackson's jamming with The
fit, yet her style went otherwise in a Ventures… same mean growl against
career spanning 1948-'63 for major a low-down, driving drum and guitar,
labels Brunswick, Capitol, Roulette with a great Ace Café ton-up feel.
and finally, Gordy – but no lasting Marjorie Lake, nicknamed 'The Little
recognition. After starting out as an Girl with the Big Voice', was this
orchestral singer, she had a double-sided, compelling one-off's vocalist and
self-written hit on Dot – Magic Guitar/Never Let writer, credited as I.M. Vake. Winning a
Me Go. By '54, she became Essex Records' primary local radio competition gave Marjorie and
female vocalist, there at the same time as Bill Haley. She scored hits with Honey Love band the chance to cut a disc in Chicago – this is the rockabilly result.
and the first female rendition of Such a Night – banned by some radio stations as It did relatively well, selling 100,000 copies in the Mid-West. MGM and the Ed Sullivan
suggestive, though released again in '59. This was b/w I'm Gonna Have Some Fun, one Show duly beckoned… but the band decided not to take it further. Shame that the
of a few R&B cuts with her group, The Harptones. promise of Marjorie melted back into Minnesota as fast as it had emerged.

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 53


, ,

40 GREATEST TRACKS BY FEMALE ARTISTS

RUTH DURAND
I'M WISE
BIG, BOLD AND BRASSY,
Record Label Post
WITH ITS STOP-START-
Released 1956
Cut-throat business this rocking malarkey… STOMP RHYTHM, STELLA
JACKSON WAS REGIONALLY
This, the original version of Slippin'
and Slidin', was co-written by Eddie
Bocage (who first recorded it, the year
before). Though New Orleans singer
Ruth delivered the goods in relative
rip-roaring fashion, as witnessed here,
RESPECTED FOR HER
it couldn't hold a chart candle to Little
Richard, who snuck in, covering it the AUTHENTIC NEW ORLEANS
SOUND, WHICH SPANNED
same year, and changing the title. Ruth's
brief but bright spark career diversified into
duetting with Al Reed as Ruth & Al in a productive
period of '56-57. On Imperial, they recorded a half-dozen jaunty
numbers – perhaps the two best toe-tappers being I'll Be The Bee and Ps and Qs. She
gives a different flavour of talent that could have been, on the sober, bluesy platter Tin
OTHER BLUES JUMPERS
Can Alley, circa '55.

DOLLY COOPER PEGGY UPTON


MY MAN SWEET SUGAR BUGGER
Record Label Modern Record Label Rose
Released 1955 Released 1958
A frantic, exuberant dance-floor filler, this For the country music performing
crackerjack jump jiver – and blinding schoolgirl, winning a radio contest
double-sider – showcases Cooper's set in motion her musical career.
ce soaring vocals. Backed with Ay La According to an article published
Bah – or Hey La-Bas to give it its French in a 1956 issue of ‘Cowboy Songs’
roots – this cutesy, catchy version of magazine, early TV audiences loved
a well-known Fats Domino number her ‘poise and sweet simplicity.’
had the Maxwell Davis orchestral sound. A mainstay of Oklahoma radio, she
Laying down 21 titles for the Savoy, worked with stars such as Wanda
Modern, Dot, Flash and Ebb labels between Jackson and Don Boots. Her DJ friend Jack
'52-'57, she was at her best leading up-tempo, Beasley helped her record a disc that created
jumping arrangements. Highlights include Dot's Big a stir – My Prince Charming b/w Say You Love Me.
Rock Inn, and the dance-worthy Tell me, Tell Me – not forgetting Ebb's breakneck paced, Starday Records took notice, signing her to pair with Danny Buck on 1957 duets Our
dynamite Wild Love finale. Inexplicably, this seemed to spell the end for her career as an Love Is Not The Same/What’cha Gonna Do Tonight? and Knocking. As for this distinctive,
RnB artist. Nevertheless, she went out with a bang. Of earlier note is her '53 recording of unique cut of controlled, mid-tempo, RCA pressed rockabilly, no laughing at the back –
Alley Cat – it could be another predecessor to Hound Dog. the title had a different, innocent meaning way back then!

STELLA JOHNSON JUDY CAPPS


YEAH BABY YOU CAN HAVE MY LOVE
Record Label KRC Record Label Cherry
Released 1958 Released 1959
Big, bold and brassy, with its stop-start- The Kentucky-based label is most famous in
stomp rhythm, Stella was regionally rockabilly circles for the two distinctive
respected for her authentic New and much-loved Art Adams 45s, Rock
Orleans sound, which spanned other Crazy Baby (Cherry 1004/5) and
blues jumpers That's What I'm Gonna Dancing Doll (Cherry 1018/9). In
Do, to a piano-twinkling version of 1959's non-liberated times, it took
Guitar Slim's bluesy ballad The Things a brave gamble in profering equally
I Used to Do. Other of her smokey vocal 'primitive' female rockabilly to an
vehicles include Yeah Baby's flip, Please unsuspecting public – first in the (strident
Tell Me So, Well I Done Got Over, The Ways but visionary) shape of the artiste known
of Love and Please Tell Me. Though she would as 'Toni' singing I Want you To Be My Baby
never rise to the stellar heights of her label's creator (Cherry 1006/7). Judy's was waiting in the wings
– gold-disc vocalist Lloyd Price – and though the label was not a commercial success, (Cherry 1008/9) and in terms of delivery and production, most
artists such as Stella remained critically acclaimed. To his former label ABC Paramount, rockabilly fans agree, it sparkles with more light, shade and texture, without losing its
Price returned, and had the nation's No 1 hit with Stagger Lee, early in 1959. Johnson's 'straight out of hicksville' essence. The storming backing band were Pat Kingery and the
own take, The Trial of Stagger Lee, though clever, couldn't compete. Kentuckians, while the song was a co-write between Kingery, Lawson and Capps.

54 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


,

40 GREATEST TRACKS BY FEMALE ARTISTS

KAY STARR LUCILLE STARR (BOB & LUCILLE)


OH BABE EENY-MEENY-MINEY-MOE
Record Label Capitol Record Label Ditto
Released 1950 Released 1958
One of the first female artists to perform It's very telling that Lucille went from
C&W swing, her popular No 1 was the duetting to international solo star, as she
(rather tame but sweet) Rock and so obviously held the talent. French-
Roll Waltz, smashed by her biggest Canadian born, Lucille Marie Raymonde
hit (ten weeks at No 1) Wheel of Savoie was a natural musician from early
Fortune. Often strait-jacketed to on. Playing guitar, bass and mandolin,
'fit in' with the mode of the time, she had a crystal singing voice and
Kay was actually a va-voom vocalist was an expert yodeller. Before long, she
whose style, when unleashed, could teamed up with Bob Regan – as his wife and
sound impressively rocking, as with this to form a country-singing duo. Between '58
inimitable and visionary disc. Co-written and 63, they released several eclectic 45s, earning
by Louis Prima, and incorporating the 'new' their signing in '63, to A&M, where they recorded as The
sound of backbeat, Kay's success with it proves that Canadian Sweethearts. This joyful rockabilly rendition of a classic, complete with piano
the rock'n'roll sound was scoring chart hits years before Bill Haley or Elvis. A gifted, tinkle and slap bass, showcases their earlier perfect teamwork. Their partnership would
versatile artist across several styles and genres, blues diva herself, Billie Holiday, last until divorce in '77. Starr's star had already ignited with The French Song in '64, her
declared Starr to be 'the only white woman who could sing the blues'. massive solo hit worldwide.

LITTLE ESTHER PAT FERGUSON


WILD CHILD FOOL I AM
Record Label Warwick Record Label Stomper Time
Released 1961 Released 1960
Chased with a wild sax break and Though this may call to mind Carl
clapping backbeat, Esther sounded Perkins' I'm Sorry, I'm Not Sorry,
like an excitable Eartha Kitt – and Pat – real name, Patty Philpott from
again on the sultry flip side of Gee Memphis – very much owns this. An
Baby. Following a black hole from outstanding example of – slightly
the mid-50s due to drug abuse, later – female rockabilly so rootsy
this tour de force pre-empted a big it sounds earlier. Her sneering vocal
comeback and relative success – via – and unusual intonation – blends
Roulette and Atlantic - into the '70s gloriously and furiously with the
and '80s – as Esther Phillips. As child star tight sound. A fat, fast slap bass and
Little Esther, she recorded for Modern and at some great, insistent, jangling chord-work
14, scored No 1 with Double Crossing Blues, the from Chips Moman's lead guitar, adds up to
first of a hit string for Savoy, in her debut year. Quickly your new favourite. The writer credits state Pat and
decamping to Federal, only one of 30 sides – Ring-a-Ding-Doo – charted (though I'm a Jerrel Ferguson. Incidentally, Pat's label was originally owned by Eddie Bond, Mercury
Bad, Bad Girl was a particular sizzler). Twice nominated for The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – label hit artist of Rockin' Daddy, Flip, Flop Mama fame, etc. She must have felt highly
without getting in. Shame! honoured as Mr Bond was infamous for having turned down one Elvis Presley.

BARBARA GREENE
LONG TALL SALLY
A GIFTED, VERSATILE
ARTIST ACROSS SEVERAL
Record Label Atco
Released 1963
Like your women wild? You got it
right here. This is the cat's whiskers
and the devils' missus. The STYLES AND GENRES,
BLUES DIVA HERSELF,
general rocking consensus may
be that covers of classics are
suckers – but some, by females,
dispel that myth… Hard Headed
Woman by Judy Layne; Trouble by
Jackie Shannon… and this, largely
BILLIE HOLIDAY, DECLARED
considered as one of the best covers
ever. It is not committing rock'n'roll STARR TO BE 'THE ONLY
WHITE WOMAN WHO
sacrilege to say that this kick-ass girl's version
is near equal to Little Richard's 1956 outing. Listen and
learn! With the wow power of ten Brenda Lees at least – and some stunningly insane

COULD SING THE BLUES'


backing vocals – Barbara blows thoughts of the original away. Defies you to stay in your
seat! B-side Slippin' and Slidin' is a great cover, too. Sorry, Little Richard!

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 55


,

40 GREATEST TRACKS BY FEMALE ARTISTS

TINY TOPSY
YOU SHOCKED ME
THOUGH MOST ASSOCIATED
Record Label Federal
WITH POP, AS HER FAN AND
Released 1958
The ironically named, mighty-voiced FRIEND WANDA JACKSON
THINKS, BRENDA LEE'S
mama erupts on this boomer with a
ridiculously catchy and raunchy vamp.
Her first recording session was held the
previous year, resulting in a clutch of
solid rockers. First came the bouncy,
dance-worthy Aw! Shucks Baby, ably
REAL VOCAL HOME WAS
abetted by The Fine Chances. Next came
Come On, Come On, Come On, with The ROCK'N'ROLL. BRENDA WAS
THE BRIDGE BETWEEN
Charms and this Shocked Me single. Both are
notable in enjoying UK issues on Parlophone –
quite something, considering the rarity of US R&B releases
then. A third track from this session remained unissued until 1988. Tiny's fourth single
was a first in 'sampling' terms. Western Rock'n'Roll integrated snippets of then current
hits – Lollipop, At The Hop, Get a Job, Short Shorts – and opened to gunshots. Before
ROCK'N'ROLL AND POP
The Olympics' Western Movies disc followed suit.

BRENDA LEE JONES (DEAN & JEAN) CONNIE FRANCIS


OH! YEAH STUPID CUPID
Record Label Buckeye Record Label MGM
Released 1958 Released 1958
In the late '50s trend for girl/boy duos, Uniquely as a female artist at the height
other contenders for top tracks include of her late '50s/early '60s chart heyday,
Mickey and Sylvia's No Good Lover, Gene Connie's record sales often surpassed
& Eunice's Bom Bom Lula/Poco-Loco those of her male peers. Despite
and Shirley & Lee's Rockin' With the personal tragedies, happily Connie
Clock/Let The Good Times Roll. This is still active today. She made her
scores because, unlike most of the other first appearance on stage as a singer
duos, Dean's vocals never predominate and accordion player, aged 4. She soon
Jean's (Brenda). In other words, she is not dropped the accordion and her Italian
just the female foil. Here, as usual, she gives American name, Concetta Franconero. In
as good as she gets on a guitar-revved, rocking '58, heartbreaker Who's Sorry Now? launched her
cracker. Coming together in 1958, and promoted as into worldwide stardom. Neil Sedaka composition Stupid Cupid, sung with a cheeky
'Special Teenagers Dean & Jean!' Welton Young and Brenda Lee Jones recorded some ten twinkle, proved most significant. A Billboard chart hit, it was her second No 1 in the UK.
singles before disbanding in the changing times of '65. Mack The Knife, party song Tra-la- Restoring momentum to her career, she reached the US top 40 seven times more during
la and Jean on lead's no-nonsense Big Boss Man sounding Thread Your Needle, are their the rest of the '50s. In '59, she went gold twice over with rocking double sider Lipstick
most remembered. On Your Collar/Frankie.

JUNE BATEMAN BRENDA LEE


POSSUM BELLY OVERALLS DYNAMITE
Record Label Shaw Record Label Decca
Released 1965 Released 1957
Rock'n'roll purists' warning: this is quite Though most associated with pop, as her fan
some hybrid, fusing a bluesy rocker with and friend Wanda Jackson thinks, Brenda's
soul over (under?) tones. Though it real vocal home was rock'n'roll. Brenda
pre-empts more ballsy sounding girl was the bridge between rock'n'roll and
singers of the next pop-slanted era, its pop. Exploding onto an enraptured
gutsy spirit still lies in that essential audience with second single Dynamite,
rocking rebel yell… Packing a mean and it birthed her 'Little Miss Dynamite' title.
powerful punch with Noble Watts and She was aged 12 and seven months when
his band in tow, it's a worthwhile listen. it charted. Ensuing rocking sparklers include
Strongly influenced by Tommi Tucker's High Crazy Talk, The Stroll, Rock the Bop, Ballin' the
Heel Sneakers, even down to its harmonica trills, Jack, Blueberry Hill, Let's Jump the Broomstick
its cryptic lyrics and bonkers title defy description – and festive fave Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - plus
but June rides with it and pulls it off with aplomb. Go compare with the completely later UK recorded hit Is It True/That's What I Say, featuring guitar legend
different cut as put out on Everlast later the same year – destined as the label's last Jimmy Page. Before she was 20, she recorded a staggering 256 sides, some million-
ever 45 release. Check out also June's earlier, sax-honking offering, Come On Little Boy sellers. Ranked as the most outstanding international female act of her generation, the
(Fury, 1960). tiny powerhouse is still rocking today.

56 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


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75 MODERN SOUNDS SIXTIES GIRLS CRUISIN’ STORY 1955-60


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Great Scott
WITH A KNACK FOR SONGWRITING HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN A BIG STAR, BUT
JACK SCOTT’S MUSIC CAREER PERFECTLY FOLLOWED THE UPS AND DOWNS OF
THE POP MUSIC BUSINESS OF THE TIME… PROFILE BY PAUL RIGBY

J
ack Scott is not the first name His mind was full of country sounds, The Southern Drifters, a hillbilly outfit.
that rolls off the tongue when “We’d listen to the Opry,” he said to Colin Talking about those very early days,
the subjects of rock’n’roll and Escott for the Bear Family box set Classic Scott revealed something about the inner
rockabilly are mentioned. In Scott: The Way I Walk. “…Red Foley and rock’n’roller that he would become. “I’d
fact, despite his pioneering Ernest Tubb. We were able to pick up hear that sound, a tone,” he said, “and
efforts, Scott is largely forgotten as a the Louisiana Hayride, the wheeling I’d sing a song just like Hank Williams.
figure in music. Why? After all, he had West Virginia Jamboree and so on. In We used to get so carried away. I had a
a great voice. He was right up there Michigan, we didn’t have anything like boy who used to play the steel guitar just
with Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. that. There was a point after we moved to like Hank Williams’ steel guitar player
He also had a superb backing group Detroit when I was meeting new friends and we duplicated the fiddle sound and
known as The Chantones, who were as and it lapsed but then, after about six muffled rhythm track. We weren’t even
accomplished as Elvis’ Jordanaires. months, I was back into country music.” using a drum. We would sing those Hank
Scott, though… Scott wrote his own Maybe this prompted Scott’s wish to Williams songs in the living room at my
songs. Elvis didn’t. And Scott was a learn to play the guitar. His father bought mom and dad’s house. We’d perspire and
talented guitarist. Was Scott’s problem, him his first instrument and taught him freak right out. It was Hank Williams
as Goldmine magazine’s Phill Marder has the basic chords to get him underway, to a tee. And I’d do a Carl Smith song
suggested, that he never courted scandal after which he targeted the country like Carl Smith and a Webb Pierce song
or died before his time? songs of the day as his inspiration. This like Webb Pierce and so on. Sometimes
This aspect of Scott, having all the led to the formation of his first band, people would say, ‘You do a really good
ingredients but never quite making it impression of so and so…’ and I
in the business, is wasn’t trying to imitate. I just
symbolised by his heard the tone and I tried to
birthplace. If you stand duplicate it.”
in Detroit, a centre of Originally named Jack
music history and walk Scarfone, the moniker change
south, the first new occurred after a high school
country that you hit revue with his sister, Linda, when
isn’t, in fact, Colombia, a DJ for the WEXL radio station,
South America: it’s Jack Eirie, invited Scarfone to
Canada. By a quirk come onto the radio to play the
of winding boundary Lefty Frizzell/Webb Pierce song
fate, Windsor, Ontario, That’s Me Without You. Eirie
was Scott’s birthplace. then recommended a name
Scott could have taken change to something rather
it as a sign that he would more anglicised. Scarfone
always be the outsider became Scott and then country
but the pull of the radio became rockabilly after Scott
masked such thoughts. heard Elvis on the radio. ➨

58 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


JACK SCOTT

© Image courtesy of Bear Family

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 59


Scott had the voice, he had the
but he never quite found the famtalent,
e.

for Scott’s girlfriend. Brill Records


released the pair as a single. Another
“I never heard the term ‘rockabilly’. I label, Carlton, heard it and purchased the
was doing nothing but country songs masters, plus Scott’s contract, for $4,800.
until I heard Presley’s first records. I This was when Scott’s music changed
had a little show at a dance hall and I’d and a certain focus arrived in his
do a song like Walkin’ The Floor Over songwriting, “There was a change of
You and then do an Elvis song like mood,” he said. “I wrote My True Love
Money Honey. Today, it seems that you while we were working the Dance Ranch.
play either rock or country but back then Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent and all the
LISTEN UP we were doing Rock Around the Clock, Be
Bop A Lula and so on at square dances. It
others were coming up and coming into
my head. My voice was changing a bit.
What else was happening during the year
that Scott’s iconic The Way I Walk hit the all blended. The audience loved one as The feel was different. We had a different
record charts? much as the other. I never heard the term guitar player that gave us a different feel.
rockabilly until I went to Europe.” We’d added the vocal group too (The
Johnny Horton – The Battle Of New Orleans
It was after a local gig at the Dance Chantones) and polished the sound.”
Fellow rock’n’roller, Horton, had the top-rated song for Ranch that Scott and his band decided to The proof was in the figures as One
the year of 1959. enter a studio and make their first record, True Love hit No 3 on the Hot 100, with
Elvis Presley – A Big Hunk O’ Love a single called Baby She’s Gone with You the flip side, Leroy, scoring at No 25. The
Scott was a big Presley fan. This song was just one of four Can Bet Your Bottom Dollar on the flip. It single sold over a million copies. Not bad.
Presley entries in the Top 100. was local record store owner Carl Thom “I’d wake up in the morning and mom
who would hear and pass Scott’s details would have the radio on in the kitchen
Lloyd Price – Personality
to the local ABC-Paramount distributor. and she’d say, ‘Jack, your song is on again.’
Scott and Price had an artistic close encounter on an Eventually, head office would publish that It was a thrill every day – like having your
ageing French 7” EP from 1978 on the K-Tel label, of all
single, plus, when it did decent business, first brand new car – you can’t wait to get
places, where Price featured this track alongside Scott’s
My True Love. another, until the second bombed and out of bed to shine it. I was in semi-shock
Scott was out of the door faster than he for six months.”
Paul Anka – Lonely Boy
went in. Scott spent 18 months at Carlton,
Anka and Scott were media buddies, both appeared on That was 1957. In 1958, Scott had combining successful further singles
the same episode of Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beechnut written Greaseball after a jailed buddy (Goodbye Baby) with less than successful
Show on national TV (Season 2, Episode 43), on ABC back
in 1959. of his but that name was changed to tracks (Geraldine), though his iconic The
Leroy because the original was deemed Way I Walk was only a minor hit, reaching
Bobby Darin – Dream Lover offensive to Hispanic Americans. To No 35 in 1959. Scott began to suffer, as
Scott was, in fact, a prolific guest on Dick Clark’s show partner Leroy, My True Love was penned many other performers did at the time,
with nine appearances, while Darin almost matched him

‘It was after a local gig that Scott


with eight.

and his band decided to enter a


studio and make their first record’
60 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 3
JACK SCOTT

from the payola scandal. Then, after


managing to avoid the army draft due to
an ulcer, Scott was shifted from Carlton
to the US arm of the UK label Top Rank,
where he was conned by an in-house
attorney into giving up all his future
royalties from his Carlton singles.
Still smarting, Scott struck lucky with
a self-penned song for his new label.
What In the World’s Come Over You,
became a No 5 hit on the Hot 100. But
his financial frustrations with Carlton
would resurface as the label licensed his
older ABC material and combined it with
his past Carlton work, and hinted at his
latest Top Rank hit by calling the new
album What Am I Living For, as Scott lost
further revenue on the release. Maybe
his frustration inspired new creativity
because the single Burning Bridges was
the result. A haunting performance with
excellent guitar backing, it proved to be
Scott’s last big hit, reaching No 3 and
being later revived by the likes of Glenn
Campbell, George Jones and Bill Nash.
The song reflected a change in
production techniques, promoted by
A&R man, Sonny Lester, who took Scott
to New York, “Sonny basically let me do
my own thing,” said Scott. “ He let me use
strings. I hadn’t been happy with some
of the nonsense stuff at Carlton and I
wanted a cooler sound.”
It was a productive time at Top Rank.
© Images courtesy of Bear Family

In fact, in less than 18 months, Scott


released three albums: What In The
World Has Come Over You, a tribute to
Hank Williams called I Remember Hank
Williams (slowing the pace but featuring
Williams’ rarities) and a gospel album,
The Spirit Moves Me. Scott struggled to
make much headway with further ➨

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 61


© Images courtesy of Bear Family
JACK SCOTT

62 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


single releases during 1960 as the Top uncomfortable with the
Rank label folded. He was in Australia sound,” he said. Who knows
when a telegram summoned him back to what would have happened to
New York. “There was a whole floor that Scott’s career had he joined
used to be full of desks and secretaries Berry Gordy at this early
that was covered with plastic (Top stage in the Motown story.
Rank sales director) Len Levy and Sony Instead, Scott joined RCA
Lester were there. I said, ‘Are we going after an invitation by Chet
to England or what?’ They said, ‘There’s Atkins but Atkins found it
no more Top Rank. We’re all going to difficult to know how to
Capitol.’ I didn’t have any say in it at all.” market Scott. In addition,
The transfer of Scott from Top Rank to added Scott, “I loved
Capitol occurred in March 1961. Scott’s country music but I wasn’t a
career nose-dived and the pressure country artist.”
increased. “It wasn’t me any more. When It was the British
I was with Carlton and Top Rank, they Invasion that finally hit

Getty Images
let me do what I wanted to do. They built Scott the hardest. By 1965,
the records around me, even on Burning “After the psychedelic
Bridges when we had the string section. trend came in,” he said, “I

© Photo by Fox Photos/


On Capitol, the producer would get the just lot interest. Elvis was
wild track going and say, ‘This is the rock’n’roll to me.”
trend of music that’s happening today’ Scott wandered
and try to get me to do it. It might have aimlessly for a few years,
been happening but it wasn’t good for me. including time at ABC-
It took several years for me to realise that.
There were songs that I had no business
Paramount, GRT and then, finally, in 1973,
at Dot, where he had a couple of minor SCOTT BOXED!
doing. The producer would say, ‘Jack, this country hits. Time spent in Europe, in the For those looking for the ultimate in Jack Scott music
is a great song, let’s do it.’ They sort of late ’70s didn’t provide the career lift that coverage, look no further than Germany’s Bear Family
twisted my arm. Joe Carlton said, ‘Jack, he sought. (www.bear-family.com) which offers the 5CD box set,
Classic Scott, featuring all of his American studio

‘Who knows what would have


recordings from 1957 to 1977, beginning with the demo of
Greaseball, which became Leroy, and taking in the Carlton
and Top Rank sides, many of them unavailable since the

happened had he joined Berry Gordy '50s and '60s. There are also the Capitol and Groove sides,
like Grizzly Bear, Flakey John and more. Finally, the set

at this stage in the Motown story’


squeezes in the ABC, Jubilee, GRT, Dot, and Gusto sides
from 1966 to 1977. It also incudes a large format,
informative book.
If you are looking for something more concise and
write your own songs and do them the The Scott story hasn’t finished, though. downbeat then check out Bear Family's The Ballads of
way you want. If you do it any other way, Ex-radio programme director Warren Jack Scott, a 25-track, single-CD collection that also
it won’t be you.’ We used Stan Appelbaum Cosford still sees Scott as Scott performs includes an informative – CD-sized this time – booklet.
at Capitol. He was a top arranger at the and occasionally records in his home Tracks include What in The Word’s Come Over You and My
time but The Chantones weren’t there city of Detroit, “Now that I’m living in True Love.
and (long time lead guitarist) Al Allen Windsor, I often see Jack. Usually, he’ll
Also from Bear Family is Jack Rocks is a 26-track, single
wasn’t there. I was just the voice. A Little just show up in the lobby of our radio CD collection of more upbeat tracks. Also including an
Feeling was the first song and they rushed stations, unannounced. Sometimes, when informative booklet, it features Leroy, The Way I Walk
it through before I could bring my guys he’s there, a few of today’s wannabe rock and Goodbye Baby.
in. I started losing it at Capitol.” stars and their record label people are
Lastly, Rollercoaster Records offer a fine compilation,
Ultimately Capitol dropped Scott in hangin’ out. I never introduce Jack to
Jack Scott - The Way I Walk: The Carlton Recordings
December 1962, after a most frustrating them. While I’m sure he’d be gracious,
1958-1960, that features all of Scott’s Carlton
period which included bending his style he’s much too private a person. Besides… recordings, features superb earlier cuts from ABC as well
to a country audience. Scott almost been there, done that.” as five bonus tracks.
joined Motown in 1963, “…but I felt A private, sensitive man who belies
his tough guy, motorbike-toting image,
Jack Scott is known for his perfect
pop ballads and his rock’n’roll
outings. Whatever genre you
want to place Scott in, what is
absolutely undeniable is that Scott
was a first class vocalist. Remove
the histrionics from many of his
contemporaries and you would be
hard put to find a better one. ✶

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 63


Xxxxxxx
B U D DY H O L LY
Here Holly poses without his famous black-rimmed spectacles, circa
1957. The famous eyewear was thought lost in the plane crash that killed
the star, but resurfaced on February 1980 in Iowa – they had been filed
away in a sealed envelope by the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff's office.
Getty Images
D UA N E E D DY
This striking image of Eddy was shot as part of a New York City studio
session in 1958, the year the guitarist signed his record deal. His debut
single Movin' n' Groovin' made No 72 in the Billboard charts; follow-up
Rebel Rouser would soon prove to be a fast track to fame.
Getty Images
VINTAGE ROCK JOHNNY CARROLL
A close friend of Gene Vincent, Texan Johnny Carroll was the man
behind three of the most infectious rockabilly tunes ever cut, Wild, Wild
Women, Crazy Crazy Lovin' and Hot Rock – all peppered with Grady
Martin's slick-fingered guitar skills. All three bombed at the time…
Getty Images
VINTAGE ROCK E LV I S P R E S L E Y
This stunning portrait taken in 1955 shows Elvis holding a double-necked
Gibson SG guitar, a rare sight indeed! Presley spent the year touring
across the States. While at first he began down the bill, he rapidly shot
up to headline shows and by the year's close he was a megastar.
Getty Images
Getty Images

VINTAGE ROCK BRIAN SETZER


This live shot captured by Fin Costello in 1980 shows the Stray Cats
frontman mid-solo at Birmingham's Cedar Club. In the same year
the band were courted by numerous major labels and their gigs were
attracting many a famous muso. Debut LP Stray Cats was soon to follow.
for place!
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Don Robey and Johnny Otis

70 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


9
INDEPENDENT LABELS

Hillbilly Cats
On Michigan Avenue
IN THE FOURTH PART OF OUR LABEL SERIES, RANDY FOX
CONSIDERS THE INFLUENCE THAT CHESS RECORDS HAD ON THE
DEVELOPMENT OF ROCKABILLY MUSIC…

T
he famous blue and silver music, a keen sense of what would sell Along with the hits came two records
label of Chess Records is and a dedication to mastering every by one of the first white artists to appear
synonymous with the blues. aspect of the record business. on the Chess label. Harmonica Frank
During Chess’ heyday in the The Chess brothers believed that Floyd was a true musical oddity: a white,
1950s, their line-up of classic personal friendships with their business country blues guitarist who played the
bluesmen included Muddy partners were a key to success. Working harmonica with it stuck between his
Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little out of their headquarters in Chicago, lips like a cigar, while singing out of
Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Illinois, they frequently took sales trips the other side of his mouth. Harmonica
Mabon and more. When rock’n’roll began across the U.S. to scout talent and meet Frank’s first Chess single, Swamp Root,
to emerge in the mid-50s, Chess again with distributors, retailers and radio is best described as “inspired insanity,”
led the way with Bo Diddley, Chuck deejays. Two of the friendships they full of surreal nonsense lyrics, crazed
Berry, the Moonglows and others, laying established proved to be important to the combinations of both hillbilly and blues
down the R&B foundation of the Big Beat success of Chess Records, and also the idioms and the frantic hillbilly version of
sound. But there’s another chapter to the eventual development of rockabilly. scat singing known as “eefing.” While it
Chess story that few people know about The first was Sam Phillips, who would be hard to argue that Harmonica
– the label’s brief but glorious flirtation opened the Memphis Recording Service Frank was a major influence on the
with rockabilly. in January 1950. Phillips’ recordings development of rockabilly, his music is
Formed in 1950, out of the earlier of Memphis bluesmen and jump blues a progenitor of the sound Sam Phillips
Aristocrat Records, Chess was owned and combos were a major source for Chess would capture in his studio. The success
operated by two Jewish Polish-American releases in 1951 and into 1952. Phillips of his productions for Chess led directly
brothers, Leonard and Phil Chess. delivered top ten R&B hits by Roscoe to Sam Phillips launching Sun Records in
Although neither of the Chess brothers Gordon and Howlin’ Wolf, as well as one 1952 and his eventual discovery of Elvis
had musical talent, they both had a deep of the top records of 1951, Rocket 88 by Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and
appreciation for all styles of black popular Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats. a host of other rockabillies. ➨

ISSUE 9 VINTAGE ROCK 37


‘Although Chess had stumbled onto
rockabilly, their main focus was
shifting to rock'n'roll'
In addition to the Harmonica Frank for other labels. Wayne Walker cut a few
records, Chess experimented with solo records and became a successful
a couple of hillbilly releases in 1952. Nashville songwriter, penning How Do
Neither had much success, and the You Think I Feel for Elvis’ second LP.
Chess brothers decided to focus on Although Chess had stumbled onto
what they knew best: R&B. It would be rockabilly, their main focus was shifting
another southern contact that led the to the beat driven style of R&B with
Chess brothers to a second experiment pop appeal that was becoming known
with hillbilly music and eventually to as rock’n’roll. Around the time the
Chess’ greatest rockabilly star. last Chess country singles were being
This second important contact released, the label scored major hits
was Stan Lewis, the owner of Stan’s with Sincerely by the Moonglows and
Record Shop in Shreveport, Louisiana. Bo Diddley by Bo Diddley himself. Their
The largest record store in Northern next discovery, Chuck Berry, was an artist
Louisiana at the time, Stan’s Record who was using the basic building blocks
Shop had a steady clientele for both of rockabilly – R&B, country and pop –
R&B and hillbilly records. Lewis soon but putting them together in a slightly
became a distributor and part-time different configuration.
talent scout for Chess as well as Berry’s first hit, Maybellene, in the
independently producing recording summer of 1955, aptly demonstrated
sessions for Chess and other labels. how he could fuse R&B with country
By the summer of 1954, Stan influences into a song with massive
Lewis was a major sponsor on radio appeal. Despite the country elements in
station KWKH in Shreveport, and Berry’s music, his success cemented the
had close ties to many hillbilly artists on Chess brothers’ vision of rock’n’roll as a
the Louisiana Hayride radio show. He new breed of R&B rather than a unique
convinced the Chess brothers to launch species without the traditional colour
a separate Country Series with Lewis lines. As the calendar flipped to 1956, Sun
producing the recordings. Records alumni Elvis Presley and current
Despite some regional successes and Sun Records artist Carl Perkins scored
one national hit, only seven records were mega-hits with Heartbreak Hotel and Blue
released in the Chess Country Series. Suede Shoes respectively. Both records
Included was the first slice of pure zoomed to the top of all three charts –
rockabilly released on the label. Jimmy pop, country and R&B – and their success
Lee and Wayne Walker, regulars on the launched a mad scramble by records
Louisiana Hayride, teamed up in January companies to find their own “hillbilly
1955 to cut Love Me, an early rockabilly cats.” Chess was one of the few hold-
classic. Their sole rockabilly blast would outs. The Chess brothers decided to stick
be their only collaboration. Jimmy Lee with what they knew best – R&B-based
went on to record country and rockabilly rock’n’roll, but the traditional boundaries
between genres were tumbling fast and
that attitude didn’t last long. Ironically,
a simple misunderstanding about
race led Chess Records back to white
rock’n’rollers and set the circumstances
for Chess’ discovery of their greatest
rockabilly star.
In November 1955, Chess released the
single See You Later, Alligator by Bobby
Charles, a teenage singer from Crowley,
Louisiana. Recorded in New Orleans,
and produced by Paul Gayten, the song
featured a “Big Easy” sound similar to the
hits that Fats Domino was racking up for
Imperial Records. While Charles’ version

72 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 10


9
/Getty

The Flamin
INDEPENDENT LABELS

© Getty Images
The Chess brothers saw Chuck Berry not
as rock'n'roll, but as a new form of R&B

© Getty Images
hit the R&B charts, it became an even spring of 1956, Hawkins recorded a two-
bigger money maker thanks to publishing song demo tape in the studio of radio
royalties when Bill Haley & His Comets station KWKH in Shreveport. The two
covered the song and made it a top ten songs, See You Soon, Baboon, an obvious
pop hit in the early months of 1956. With cash-in attempt on the success of See
a new, rock’n’roll hitmaker on their You Later, Alligator, and Four Letter
hands, the Chess brothers wired money Word-Rock displayed influences of the
to Charles to fly to Chicago to record New Orleans sound mixed with Bill
a follow-up. It was only upon Charles’ Haley-style rock’n’roll, while Hawkins’
arrival that they discovered they had aggressive rockabilly vocals tied it all
signed their first white rock’n’roll star. together. With the tape in hand, Stan
At the same time, another Louisiana- Lewis pushed it to Leonard Chess
based white rock’n’roller, 19-year-old who had warmed to the idea of white
Dale Hawkins was playing his brand rock’n’roll singers after the success of
of blues-influenced rockabilly in the Bobby Charles.
Shreveport area. Inspired by Bobby Released in June 1956 on the Chess
Charles’ success, Hawkins set his sights subsidiary Checker, Hawkins’ first single,
on Chess Records. By day, See You Soon, Baboon failed to gain
Hawkins worked at Stan’s any traction on the charts.
Record Shop as a sales Hawkins continued playing
clerk, providing him clubs in the Shreveport
with a connection area and hoped to follow
to Leonard Chess up with another single,
through Stan Lewis. but Leonard Chess had
With See You Later, discovered a potential
Alligator riding high rockabilly star much
on the charts in the closer to home. ➨

ISSUE
ISSUE129 VINTAGE ROCK 73
37

The Flamingos
© Getty Images
Slim Harpo
Don and Dewey with band leader
Johnny Otis

servings of spot-on Carl Perkins-style


rockabilly. Chess signed Sisco to a one
year contract and planned to promote the
record heavily. Sisco seemed poised on
the edge of stardom when his hot temper
scuttled his career.
A few weeks after Sisco’s recording
session for Chess, a friend told him that
he had heard Chuck Berry’s new single
was a cover of Tall, Dark & Handsome
Man. Rather than checking his facts,
Sisco stormed into the Chess offices and
proceeded to cuss out Leonard Chess for
giving his song away to another artist.
By the time Sisco learned that Berry’s
new single was not his song, and was
in fact Berry’s own composition, Brown
Eyed Handsome Man, Leonard Chess had
cancelled his contract. Sisco’s one single
for Chess was released in February 1957
with no promotion and quickly sank into
obscurity, only to be rediscovered as a lost
classic decades later by collectors.

Listen up Bobby Sisco was a native of the west


Tennessee town of Bolivar. By the time
he was a teenager, he was playing country
Billy Barrix was another Chicago-
area wildman that delivered a rockabilly
classic for Chess, only to see it sink like
Rock’n’Roll Tornado music in honky tonks in the Jackson area, a lead weight in the crazy record market
[ACE RECORDS CDCHD 693]
often crossing paths with the young Carl of 1957. Cool Off Baby was a overdriven
DALE HAWKINS
A comprehensive collection of his Checker Perkins. In the early '50s, Sisco relocated take on Elvis’ version of Arthur Gunter’s
recordings north to Detroit, where he found work in Baby Let’s Play House. The flip side of the
the local country music scene. record, Almost, could have just as easily
That’ll Flat Git It, Vol. 10 In March 1956, his first single, a lively been titled Hiccup Symphony as Barrix
[BEAR FAMILY RECORDS BCD 16123] slice of rockabilly bop titled
VARIOUS ARTISTS
Honky Tonkin’ Rhythm was
The best of Chess/Checker/Argo rockabilly
released on the Mar-Vel
Recommended Reading label and the song did
[BY NADINE COHODAS, PUBLISHED BY well in the Chicago
ICONOCLASSIC BOOKS] area. That brought
Spinning Blues Into Gold: The Chess him to the attention
Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records
of Leonard Chess.
Recorded in the
summer of 1956, Go
Go Go and Tall, Dark &
Handsome Man were two

74 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


9
whoops, hoots and hiccups through two
Chess scored big with Bo Diddley
minutes and twenty-three seconds of
hillbilly bop insanity. Under the name
Curley Barrix, he also was a country
music deejay in the Chicago area and later
recorded a handful of country records for
other labels in the 1960s. His sole Chess
release is considered one of the rarest
rockabilly records. Reportedly, one of the
few still-existing original copies sold at
auction for an astounding $15,000.
Meanwhile, down in Shreveport, Dale
Hawkins continued to play rough and
tumble nightclubs refining his rockabilly
sound. In February 1957, he recorded what
he hoped would be his second Checker
single. Suzie Q was a Howlin’ Wolf-style
swamp blues number with a killer guitar
lick from co-writer James Burton.
Hawkins sent the tape of Suzie Q north
to Leonard Chess, and Chess proceeded
to sit on it. By late April, Hawkins was

© Getty Images
tired of waiting and sent a copy to Jerry
Wexler at Atlantic Records. Wexler was
very interested, but wanted to check with
Chess first to avoid legal entanglements.
A phone call later, Leonard Chess play with the tour’s house band, rather his later recordings for Checker. That
“suddenly” realized the potential of Suzie than bringing his own band on the road. same year, Hawkins wrote and produced
Q and Dale Hawkins’ second single was James Burton moved on to backing Bob the Everly Brothers-influenced song
on the streets in less than two weeks. Luman, Ricky Nelson and many others, Lazy Susan for The Brothers, and it was
released on the Chess subsidiary Argo.

‘Dale Hawkins proved to be a steady


The Brothers followed it up with another
single for Argo in 1959, and one for

enough seller that Chess released the


Checker in 1961. In the mid-sixties they
moved to the Hickory label where they

Suzie Q LP in October 1958'


rechristened themselves with the less-
generic name the “Newbeats.”
As well as the artists officially signed
to Chess and its subsidiaries, the Chess
The single was in the charts for over four gaining a reputation as one of the premier brothers bought masters from smaller
months, racking up huge sales. Chess had rockabilly and country guitarists. record companies. Through their sales
found their rockabilly star. Hawkins eventually scored three trips across country, they built a network
Hawkins also found himself booked more pop hits for Checker between 1957 of radio deejays who would tip them off
on several rock’n’roll package tours and 1959. Although Suzie Q remained to hot tunes on regional labels. A number
and was soon sharing the stage with his biggest hit, all his singles were good of rockabilly classics and a few minor
many of the top rock’n’rollers of the day. sellers. Leonard Chess, in his typically hits came through master buys, including
Unfortunately, his success also led to an direct way, was fond of saying, “Fuck Eddie Fontaine’s Nothin’ Shakin’ (But the
end of his partnership with James Burton the hits! Give 30,000 on every record,” a Leaves on the Trees), Rusty York’s Sugaree
as the bookers insisted that Hawkins reference to the often unrecognised value and Jackie Cannon’s Chill Bumps. Also of
of steady selling artists. interest is the Jerry Lee Lewis-influenced
Hawkins proved to be a steady enough Save It by Mel Robbins, a nom de plume
seller that Chess released the Suzie Q LP for Hargus “Pig” Robbins, the Nashville
in October 1958 (on the main Chess label studio pianist whose career included
instead of Checker). The album was the thousands of recording sessions ranging
fifth LP released by Chess and the first from George Jones’ White Lightning to
to feature a white artist. It joined the Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album.
ranks of a small number of rockabilly LPs Although Chess and its associated
released in the heyday of the 1950s. labels were never a major mover and
Dean and Marc Mathis, billed as “The shaker in the rockabilly field, the hillbilly
Brothers,” recorded for Columbia and bop that poured forth from 2120 South
King before they relocated to Shreveport Michigan Avenue aptly showed that even
in 1954. In 1958, the pair joined Dale in the home of blues, there was still a
Hawkins’ band, playing on several of place for a rockabilly. ✶

ISSUE
ISSUE 129 VINTAGE ROCK 75
VINTAGEROCK 37
ROCK
BILLY
BOOGI E
THOUGH HE MISSED OUT ON THE FAME ACHIEVED BY THE
STRAY CATS, ROBERT GORDON WAS AT THE HEART OF THE
‘70S ROCKABILLY REVIVAL. HE SPOKE TO RANDY FOX…

I
n April 1977, the Eagles’ Hotel California for country and rhythm & blues, so I grew up
topped the charts in the U.S. It was joined in hearing a real cross-section of music. I was
the upper positions by I’m Your Boogie Man always listening to the radio – constantly – I
by K.C. and the Sunshine Band and Abba’s couldn’t get enough.”
Dancing Queen. It was hardly back to basics As country and R&B began to merge into
rock’n’roll. Glitz, glamour and excess were the rock’n’roll, the airwaves were filled with rockers
hallmarks of the day. like Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent and Jack Scott.
Meanwhile, in a New York City nightclub, By the age of 14, Gordon was on the path to
30-year-old singer Robert Gordon was about to belting out his own version of rock’n’roll,
take the stage. He was backed by guitarist Link making his public debut as a performer a year
Wray, a legendary figure to those who knew his later. Gordon was soon the lead singer of the
name, but most of the audience knew nothing Washington D.C. area-based teen combo The
about him – “isn’t he some old rock’n’roll guy?” Confidentials, who cut their teeth playing
Gordon, dressed to the nines, with his dark high school dances, college fraternity parties
hair piled high in a greased pompadour, bounded and teen clubs.
on stage, grabbed the microphone and spit out, With the Confidentials, Gordon made his
“My gal is red hot!” a line first sung by Billy “The first recordings in 1964. Rare acetates of
Kid” Emerson in the Sun Records studio in 1955. the songs It’s Summertime and She’s Gone
The band kicked in behind him and what filled have survived, along with the group’s
the stage that evening was more rebellious and only single, Let’s Picket, backed with
revolutionary than many of the “punk” or “new Leave Me Be on the tiny Loop Records
wave” bands that regularly appeared on that label. The recordings feature a 17-year-
stage. Rockabilly was reborn. old Gordon belting out hard-edged
Born on 29 March 1947, in Bethesda, rockers that revealed the influence
Maryland, Robert Gordon spent his early years of both early rock’n’roll, R&B and
soaking in the sound of rock’n’roll’s nativity. the more rough and tumble British
“I’m from the Maryland-Virginia-Washington Invasion groups that were just landing
DC area,” Gordon says, “and it was a hotbed on the shores of the U.S. ➨

76 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


© Getty Images

Issue 12 Vintage Rock 77


ROBERT GORDON

‘Many of the “new wave” bands


embraced discarded elements
from basic rock’n’roll’
Listen up “I dug (the British Invasion) at first,”
Gordon says. “I thought the music was
A rock’n’roll “oldies” craze benefited
several older artists financially, but the
Robert Gordon great. I saw the Animals when they first fad was mired in nostalgia or, worse, took
Robert Gordon with Link came over. They had a great swagger. I the attitude that pre-Beatles rock’n’roll
didn’t feel threatened by it, I just thought and rockabilly was simple-minded, corny
Wray/Fresh Fish Special of it as something new. They were totally and only worthy for parody.
[ACE RECORDS CDCHD 656]
The Private Stock album with Link Wray influenced by American music, so I saw it At the same time, a new rock scene
as an extension of what I already loved.” emerged in New York City that rejected
Robert Gordon In 1966, Gordon joined the Newports, a the bloated, pretentious style that had
Rock Billy Boogie/Bad Boy band that had scored a few minor hits in overtaken mainstream rock. Many of the
[COLLECTABLES RECORDS 2821] the D.C. area. Gordon stayed with them “new wave” bands, like the Ramones,
Gordon’s first two RCA albums for about a year, leaving when he married Blondie and Television embraced
and settled down to raise a family. discarded elements from basic rock’n’roll
Robert Gordon For a diehard rock’n’roll lover like while taking the music in new directions.
Are You Gonna Be the One Gordon, the changes to rock music that “Splitting up with the wife brought me
[COLLECTABLES RECORDS 2821]
Gordon’s final RCA album arrived with the “Summer of Love” back to music,” Gordon says. “It was an
brought little cause for rejoicing, but in easy way to vent my anger. That’s when
Robert Gordon his new role as a married man and father, I joined the Tuff Darts, what you would
Robert Gordon he was too busy to notice. “I stopped call a new wave or punk sort of band.”
[LLIST RECORDS 0079 2] singing for about five years,” Gordon says. The Tuff Darts quickly gathered a buzz
From 1997, Gordon backed by Quentin Jones “I was raising a family and I had my own with their 1950s-style rock’n’roll coupled
business. So the changes in music didn’t with angry, aggressive lyrics on songs like
Robert Gordon bother me.” In 1970, Gordon and his Slash. “The lyrics were pretty sadistic,”
A Satisfied Mind family moved to New York City, where he Gordon says. “That worked for a while,
[JUNGLE RECORDS TCB 2222]
From 2004, Robert Gordon backed by opened a clothing store, but big changes but once I got over that, I was finished
guitarist Eddie Angel were on the horizon. with that kind of music.”
By the early ‘70s, the big beat of original The back to basics style of the Tuff
Robert Gordon rock’n’roll seemed to be all but dead in Darts appealed to Gordon, and prompted
I’m Coming Home the U.S., or at least relegated to museums. him to commit to a rockabilly sound in a
[LANARK LNR088] way few Americans had seen. “That was
Gordon’s most recent album where I was coming from after I left the
Tuff Darts,” Gordon says. “I wanted to
get back to the roots, and be straight and
respectful rather than cartoonish.”
A chance meeting with record
producer Richard Gottehrer gave him the
opportunity to do so. “Gottehrer asked
me who I wanted to work with, and I
suggested Link Wray. I had seen him at
the Glen Echo amusement park when
I was a kid. It was crazy, man, I could
remember seeing this hood-looking guy
playing Rumble and it blew me away.”
Wray, who had introduced the roar of
distortion on his early instrumentals, was
semi-retired and living in San Francisco.
He was initially reluctant to work with
Gordon, fearing that he might be a parody
singer, until he heard Gordon’s demo
© Getty Images

recordings. “We hit it off immediately,”


Gordon says, “and became close friends.”
Gordon’s first album, Robert Gordon
with Link Wray (1977) gave equal billing
to Wray on the cover. Released on the ➨

78 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


© Getty Images
Style icons: Gordon with Link Wray
That man was Chris Spedding, one of
the UK’s most versatile session guitarists.
“Chris was ready to leave the UK for a
while,” Gordon says. “I loved his chunky,
powerful sound. I didn’t want to just
recreate rockabilly; I wanted to take it to a
different place.”
Gordon soon found a new record deal
with RCA Victor, home to Elvis Presley.
“When I got the call from “The King’s”
label with that little dog and speaker, I
couldn’t say no to that,” Gordon says.
Gordon’s debut album on RCA, Rock
Billy Boogie,
Boogie raised the bar for spreading
the rockabilly gospel. And Gordon found
advantages in being signed to a major
label. “The support, the attention to
detail, everything was amazing,” he says.
“I got a lot of airplay because of RCA.”
Gordon’s second RCA album, Bad Boy,
was released in 1980. While sticking true
to his rockabilly roots, Gordon worked
with Spedding to further expand his
reach. “I thought Bad Boy had some great
things on it. It’s fine if someone wants
to just do a re-creation, but you’re not
breaking new ground, and that’s not what
appeals to me.”
© Getty Images

Chris Spedding was not in the studio


for Gordon’s final album for RCA, 1981’s
Before this time it was almost unheard Are You Gonna Be the One. One In his place
of for a woman to wear jeans.
was Danny Gatton, who had built a cult
following in the Washington DC-area for
his hot licks as a member of the Redneck
Jazz Explosion.

“Richard Gottehrer asked me Are You Gonna Be the One included


three songs by up-and-coming songwriter

who I wanted to work with, Marshall Crenshaw. Rave reviews and


a successful tour led to sales of 200,000

and I suggested Link Wray”


copies, but conflicts between Gordon and
RCA over recording budgets for future
albums led to him leaving the label.

independent label, Private Stock Records, 1978, with vocal group the Jordanaires
it featured a mix of rockabilly classics and on some tracks. Again the album featured
originals. In addition to garnering rave a mix of classics and originals, including
reviews, the record sold well. Fire, a smouldering rocker composed for
“They sold about 75,000 which was Gordon by Bruce Springsteen.
pretty good for an independent label,” Unfortunately, just as the album
Gordon says. “It was very exciting. It was was gaining sales momentum, Private
almost like a new music to many people. Stock Records went bankrupt This was
I think it shocked a lot of people, but in a followed by Gordon and Wray going their
good way.” separate ways after disagreements while
Many American rock fans had never on tour. “I loved Wray’s way of playing in
heard pure, unadulterated rockabilly, the studio,” Gordon says, “but it was too
and hearing Gordon’s interpretation of loud live for me to keep up vocally.”
rockabilly classics Red Hot and The Fool Although Gordon had lost a record
came as a revelation. Fans also saw the label and guitar player, new opportunities
connection between the new wave and soon came knocking. “After Link and
punk movements and Gordon’s take on I split up, the question was who was I
rockabilly, the original “punk” music. gonna use as a guitar player. I heard this
Gordon and Wray quickly followed tune called Motor Bikin’ and I said, I want
with a second album, Fresh Fish Special in that guy.”

80 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Robert Gordon’s new album is “just an
extension of what I’ve been into”

‘The Stray Cats’ bright but


While Gordon had toured in the UK, he
had not plugged into the thriving British short burst of success led to
rockabilly scene to the same extent as a
group of his former fans, the Stray Cats. problems for U.S. artists’
Without a record deal, Gordon had to
stand by and watch as the Stray Cats
returned to the States and became one of This new audience for roots music also country and rockabilly songs including
the early darlings of the new MTV cable benefited Gordon as his Private Stock and numbers originally recorded by Johnny
channel. “I missed the MTV thing by just RCA albums were reissued. He returned Horton, Dale Hawkins, Buck Owens and
a second,” Gordon says. “I think it would to recording in 1994, first with an album Ricky Nelson, along with a few carefully
have put it over the top for me.” that explored his Tuff Darts era-material selected new numbers.
The Stray Cats’ bright but short burst of through a rockabilly lens on the album “My new record is just an extension of
success on the U.S. charts led to problems All for the Love of Rock ‘N’ Roll and then what I’ve always been into,” Gordon says.
for many U.S. rockabilly artists, including back to pure country and rockabilly “Many of the songs are ones I loved when
Gordon. Major U.S. record labels came to on the 1997 album Robert Gordon and I was a kid, but even the new stuff has a
regard neo-rockabilly as a fad. Through A Satisfied Mind from 2004. In 2004, roots kind of feel.”
the late ‘80s and into the early ‘90s, Gordon reunited with Chris Spedding In addition to touring Europe this
Gordon made his living touring abroad. for a tour and they have been touring summer with Chris Spedding, Gordon is
“I was fortunate enough to establish a big together, when possible, for the last ten planning his next album. “That will be
enough base during the RCA period that years. “I guess you could say we had an more Robert Gordon-oriented,” he says,
I could still gig,” Gordon says. “I always amicable divorce for 14 years and then got “and will include some original songs I’ve
maintained a certain level at gigs after I back together,” Gordon says. “It’s been a had in the can for 30 years, but never had
left RCA. It wasn’t a big scene, but it was pleasure to be working with him again.” the chance to record.”
a viable scene. I filled in the gaps by going Gordon’s newest album, I’m Coming At the age of 67, Gordon has no plans to
to Europe and Japan.” Home,, is a collaboration with another ace slow down. Though he’s spent the better
By the mid-1990s another change began guitarist and old friend, Quentin Jones. part of six decades devoted to rock’n’roll,
to appear on the music scene. The arrival “This record features all new players he doesn’t like to spend time resting on
of the CD format brought on a boom in except for Quentin,” Gordon says. “I past glories. “I do like to think I was a
reissues of older material. Many younger worked with him almost 20 years ago on catalyst that helped bring this music
music fans suddenly had unprecedented the Robert Gordon album. He gave me a back,” he says. “It brought a lot of people
access to rock’n’roll of the past. The flood call, and I was proud to get involved, and out of retirement and opened doors for a
of “lost classics” inspired many younger I think the results are really quite good.” lot of new bands, and I’m proud of that.
musicians to pick up on rockabilly, I’m Coming Home features Gordon I’m an old fart now, but I still feel young,
hillbilly bop, surf music and other styles. turning his attention to several classic and work is what I love to do.” ✶

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 81


VINTAGE ROCK
Songs For
The Dancefloor
JUKEBOX

T
here's an inexplicable, otherworldly jivers, through to some fine strollers and
quality that only a choice selection of even the odd smoochy end-of-night love tune
rock'n'roll tunes seem to harness, that – but we had our fill of those last issue…
manage, without warning, to break So without further ado, we present to
through to our primal desire to dance. you our picks from all of your excellent
We're talking about those beats that shake nominations. We're convinced there's
our ribs and magnetise us directly to the something for every musical predilection
dancefloor before we know what we're doing; here, two left feet or otherwise…
those magical, intangible rhythms that cut
straight through to our souls… Next time on Reader's Jukebox we focus on the
It is in tribute to that unquantifiable calling best new bands on the scene today…
that we chose to centre this issue's Reader's Any suggestions? We're all ears!
Jukebox around the voodoo sides that hold us Email us at vintagerock@anthem-publishing.
under their rhythmic spell for those perfect com or write to the usual address with your
few hours every weekend. Suggestions favourites. Alternatively, head to facebook.
ranged from tidy boppers and kitchen sink com/vintagerockmag and join the debate!

82 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


READERS' JUKEBOX

GLEN GLENN
EVERYBODY'S MOVIN'
Record Label Era
Released 1957
'Well it's a Saturday night at the ol' dance hall/We're ballin' a jack and we're havin' a ball' - So begins our songs for the dancefloor… It was
Elvis that inspired Glenn to rock, but there was another reason… 'I did it because of girls,' he revealed. 'If you played country, girls might
want your autograph. If you did this kind of music, girls freaked out!' The shuffling rockabilly of Everybody's Movin' certainly doffs a cap to his
hip-swinging hero, but also unearths a talent mostly ignored at the time. His records bombed, and to make matters worse he was refused leave
from the army to perform on Dick Clark's Bandstand. Thankfully, recognition finally came in the '80s. Suggested by Paul Birkin via Facebook

GENE MCKOWN
ROCK-A-BILLY RHYTHM
Record Label Aggie
Released 1958
Kansas City rockabilly Gene McKown opened his innings with some fine material, but this peach of a rocker released on Aggie Records in
1957 and, backed up by his surefooted comrades The Tune Twisters, was surely one of his proudest moments. McKown's vocals here were a
mile away from his earlier hillbilly style, now reinforced with his livelier, pepped up tenor as wild as it was tuneful. Flip it over for a slower,
but equally fine moment in ballad My Dream Girl. Glenn later returned to his roots releasing country-flecked pop, but this razor-sharp side
was given a new lease of life when it got a re-release in the '70s on Rollin' Rock Records. Suggested by Charlie Bennett via Facebook

WARREN SMITH
ROCK'N'ROLL RUBY
Record Label Sun
Released 1956
Smith honed his fretting skills while serving in the Air Force in Texas and followed his calling immediately after leaving the service. Spotted
at West Memphis' Cotton Club by steel guitarist Sten Kessler, he soon had an audience with Sam Phillips. Rock'Roll Ruby – attributed
to Johnny Cash but supposedly bought from George Jones for $40 – was chosen as his first side with the Snearly Ranch Boys adding an
infectious gait. Phillips chose a 'safe-bet' country ballad for the flip, coincidentally named I'd Rather Be Safe Than Sorry, but he needn't
have worried, the single went to No 1 in the regionals and outperformed all of Sun's big-name debuts. Suggested by Peter Neal via email

RONNIE SELF
BOP-A-LENA
Record Label Columbia
Released 1958
It’s a source of amazement that Ronnie Self never made it as far as some of his more famous peers, considering the skills he had for
cooking up a storm in both country, rockabilly and R&B – that, on top of the self-penned weaponry he kept well oiled in his arsenal. Fresh
from a shady period as a teenage delinquent, Self was built to be a rock’n’roller and in December 1957 he cut Bop A Lena – written by
Webb Pierce and Mel Tillis – with a wild-throated primal feel that made it one volcanic piece of wax. Self’s only chart success, Bop-A-Lena
rose no higher than No 68, but is now held in high esteem. In our books it’s a rockabilly classic. Suggested by Paul Wright via email

HAL HARRIS
JITTERBOP BABY
Record Label Ace
Released 1978
One of rockabilly’s earliest exponents, guitarist ‘Fuzzy’ Hal Harris was capable of sizzling solo spots, witnessed first hand by those present
at his early Starday sessions. Whilst a DJ in Mississippi, Harris made a start with Poor Boy Rag, a strong tune cut for Pacemaker in 1951.
A move to KRCT radio coincided with the rise of upcoming label Starday and he was soon installed for a multitude of ‘cat music’ sessions
for many of Texas' big hitters. Soon, his time came to cut his own music at the infamous Gold Star studio and Jitterbop Baby was born. No
copies have been found of the rumoured '50s Starday release, but it scored well on Ace in 1978. Suggested by Tom Phillips via email

"IF YOU PLAYED COUNTRY, GIRLS MIGHT WANT YOUR


AUTOGRAPH. IF YOU PLAYED THIS KIND OF MUSIC, GIRLS
FREAKED OUT!" - GLEN GLENN ON ROCK'N'ROLL
ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 83
,

READERS' JUKEBOX

LITTLE IKE
SHE CAN ROCK
Record Label Champion
Released 1959
Our dancefloor hit-list would be woefully incomplete without this straight-out screamer bubbling in its midst. She Can Rock is perfectly ripened
for the jive and swings liked some kind of rabid, crazed animal, as well demonstrating what could have been… Little Ike, aka Isaac Hamilton,
may have been unstoppable on this energetic romp, but it seems to have been his only ever release (unless anyone knows otherwise!). Here,
rock’n’roll slams together with rhythm & blues to fashion a rarefied groove that draws everyone to the floor every time. Switch sides for Am I
Losing You, a tearjerker that's pleasant enough and primed for end-of-the-night smooching. Suggested by Bob Heron via Facebook

JOHNNY RESTIVO
THE SHAPE I'M IN
Record Label RCA
Released 1959
This one would get the blood pumping in a long dead cadavre… Boppin’ Italian-American teen heartthrob Johnny Restivo had it all:
photogenic, with his chiselled good looks and shapely pompadour, oh-so-slick threads to match and a purring voice that could calm a rampant
bull… and Restivo cut this (s)carefree bopper at only 15 years of age! While his rock’n’roll career was somewhat short-lived (despite hitting
the heights Down Under), he scored big in South America where he hosted his own show - The Johnny Restivo Show – that ran on Argentinian
TV for a respectable three year tenure in the early '60s. Great tune! Suggested by Steve Wood via Facebook

ELVIS PRESLEY (WITH THE JORDANAIRES)


STUCK ON YOU
Record Label RCA
Released 1960
Ever popular in our inbox, Elvis Presley recorded this nifty number straight after his two-year stint in the US Army and – despite his concerns
that he'd been forgotten in his absence – struck gold straight away, in at Billboard No 1. Frank Sinatra even dedicated his entire TV show to the
triumphant return of the King and The Frank Sinatra Timex Show: Welcome Home Elvis edition, broadcast to many an American living room,
ensured a trumpeted resurgence for Presley. He sung this comeback hit on the show and it blazed a trail for the equally excellent Elvis Is Back!
album that reached No 2 in the album charts soon after. Suggested by Steve Badger via email

JANIS MARTIN
WILL YOU, WILLYUM
Record Label RCA
Released 1956
Known as 'The Female Elvis', Martin packs a serious punch with this frisky floorfiller written when she was only 15 years old. In fact, it was this
slinky piano-pulsing earworm than both initially drew the bigwig RCA execs to sign her up, and that took her to No 35 in the charts, making her
an instant star. Her lofty moniker was endorsed by Elvis, thanks to her sharing a label with him and was vindicated by a startling discography.
Although she only had one hit, Martin still stands strong with cuts like Bang Bang, Let's Elope Baby, Barefoot Baby, Love Me To Pieces, Blues Keep
Calling and Two Long Years. Look out for Janice in a future issue of Vintage Rock! Suggested by Freddy Mills via email

RONNIE DAWSON
JUST ROCKIN' AND ROLLIN'
Record Label Upstart/No Hit
Released 1996
'The Blonde Bomber' was 56 when he chose to recruit a crack team of young rockabillies to help him lay down this jivin’ dancefloor filler in 1996
and the twin guitars of Los Straitjackets’ Eddie Angel and hot Amsterdammer Tjarko Jeen guaranteed Just Rockin' And Rollin' goes down a storm
whenever it's aired. Despite some fine releases – amongst them two crackers in Rockin’ Bones and Who’s Been There – Dawson fell victim to the
furore surrounding the payola scandal and, having never quite recovered, remained relatively unknown in the US. Across the pond, however,
rockabilly fans knew a good thing when they heard it and he was soon to be revered as a true master of the art. After many crowd-pleasing
European dates in the twilight of his career, Dawson passed away in 2003. Suggested by Stuart Everett via Facebook

OUR DANCEFLOOR HIT-LIST WOULDN'T BE COMPLETE WITHOUT


A REAL SCREAMIN' ROCKER THAT'S RIPE FOR THE JIVE AND SHE
CAN ROCK SWINGS LIKE SOME KIND OF CRAZED ANIMAL
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READERS' JUKEBOX

BARBARA PITTMAN
I NEED A MAN
Record Label Sun
Released 1956
Pittman's fiery Sun debut gives Wanda Jackson a run for her money. One of the few females on the Sun roster, Pittman first came to Phillips
attention as a 12-year-old demanding to be heard, but after a weak audition, Sun passed on her. Not to be defeated, Pittman strengthened her
skills via a tour with Lash Larue and eventually landed a role in the Memphis Cotton Club house band, the Snearly Ranch Boys. Elvis was her
route back to Sun – he took a recording of her singing Stan Kessler's Playing For Keeps to Phillips a year after she had been refused and he loved
it. She only cut four singles for the label, but all are well worthy of inclusion here. Suggested by John Pilston via email

MARIO BRADLEY
BIP BOP BABY
Record Label Pink'n'Black
Released 2006
Irish powerhouse Mario Bradley was already swinging a double bass at the tender age of 17 and has since proved himself as a fine musician with
stints playing for The Marvels, The Blue Ridge Mountain Boys and The Bootleggers. Bradley ventured out alone in the late ‘90s when he built his own
studio to show off his songwriting prowess with classy debut EP My Search out on Fury Records. Here we have chosen a characterful bopper lifted
from his second album Rhythm Junction, released on Pink’n’Black Records. Not only is it nicely raw and exciting rockabilly but Bradley's refined
vocals impress with their lively tone – and there's a playful smile not far behind. Suggested by Liv Parker via Facebook

ROY HALL
DIGGIN' THE BOOGIE
Record Label Decca
Released 1956
Recorded during one of the four Decca sessions undertaken by Hall between 1955-56, Diggin’ the Boogie was cut with a team of Nashville’s finest
musicians, including six-string legend Grady Martin, who backed up on most of Hall’s records – not to play Hall down, he himself was a talented
boogie woogie piano player too. At the end of the following year, Hall would go on to record two assured sessions for Sun, tunes sadly never
released by Sam Phillips at the time but available some years later. The excellent side Three Alley Cats followed on Hi-Q in ’58 and after one more
delivery, Flood Of Love in 1960 (on Pierce), Hall turned his back on the spotlight for good. Suggested by Miguel Galindo via Facebook

JOHNNY BURNETTE TRIO


ROCK BILLY BOOGIE
Record Label Coral
Released 1956/7
The Rock'n'Roll Trio scored their record deal with Coral thanks to three consecutive wins on Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour competition and
this bombastic single was a calling card. The Trio were soon wired into the living rooms of the US via cathode ray with slick performances on Dick
Clark’s American Bandstand, Steve Allen’s Tonight Show and Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall. The dream tour with Carl Perkins and Gene Vincent
that followed soon after certainly did no harm for the threesome either! No self-respecting rockabilly fan would ignore this record and it takes
pride of place here. Suggested by Bill Johns via email

CHARLIE RICH
WHIRLWIND
Record Label Phillips International
Released 1958
We close our Reader's Jukebox with Charlie Rich's rockabilly stomp, Whirlwind. Why do we like it so much? Simple. Charlie's rich and jaunty
delivery, a piano melody from heaven and handclaps that gee up the rhythm with simplistic perfection. Rich was a wizard musician and a go-to
songwriter too and, on top of his own buoyant tunes, he also penned songs for Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee amongst others. His talents knew no
bounds and he regularly played at Sun Records sessions for the likes of Lewis, Johnny Cash, Billy Lee Riley, Ray Smith, Carl Mann and Warren
Smith, and went on to score hits in his own right with Lonely Weekends on Sun imprint Phillips International, Big Boss Man a minor success on
Groove Records and Mohair Sam, a fun R&B tune for Smash Records. Suggested by Henry Boon via email

CHARLIE RICH WAS A WIZARD SESSION MUSICIAN AND A GO-


TO SONGWRITER – HE PENNED TUNES FOR JOHNNY CASH AND
JERRY LEE LEWIS AMONGST OTHERS
86 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12
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Summer Sale 2014 - House ad A4.indd 1 09/05/2014 10:03


Classic Album
GENE VINCENT
Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps
HE WAS LEATHER-CLAD AND GREASY-HAIRED. GENE VINCENT WAS ONE OF
ROCK’S ORIGINAL BAD BOYS. PAUL RIGBY EXAMINES HIS SEMINAL ALBUM,
GENE VINCENT AND THE BLUE CAPS…

T
he legendary and as I had hoped he would be, and all I have continually in pain.” Maybe this explains
late BBC Radio 1 to do to recapture that night is listen to his intake of pain killers and alcohol.
DJ John Peel, who Race With The Devil or Who Slapped John It was when Vincent began performing
would later record or any other of dozens of classic tracks. at the weekly WCMS radio station talent
Gene Vincent on his Perhaps the fact that Gene never really show, in early 1956, that he was spotted
Dandelion record made it commercially in the way that he by the station DJ, William “Sheriff Tex”
label, counted a surely should have, helped to endear him Davis. Davis quickly became Vincent’s
Gene Vincent concert as one of his 10 to me.” manager and then undertook a search for
best gigs of all time. The gig took place Gene Vincent was born in Norfolk, local musicians to cut a series of demos
at the Liverpool Empire on 12 April Virginia, into a poor white family, on 11 to send to Davis’ contact and Capitol staff
1960, when Vincent shared a stage February 1935. He wasn’t well educated, producer, Ken Nelson. “Cliff Gallup, in
with Eddie Cochran. “Gene looked, as I only reaching the eighth grade at school. his mid 20s at the time, who was a local
dreamed of looking, completely out of That, and his lack of work-based skills, semi-professional electric lead guitarist
control. He almost completely ignored prompted him to sign up to the Navy. with The Virginians, was one, and the
the audience, staring wild-eyed into the “It was whilst on leave on 4 July 15-year-old Dickie Harrell, on drums, was
wings as though demons lurked behind 1955, riding his Triumph motorcycle another. Nelson was impressed enough
the Empire’s plush curtains. From time bought with his service salary, that to contact Davis and set-up a session
to time, he would fling his damaged he was involved in a serious accident in Nashville. This was probably when
leg – held together, we were told, in with a car that shattered his left leg the acoustic rhythm guitarist ‘Willie’
defiance of medical reason, with pins – and permanently crippled him,” said Williams and double bass player Jack
over the microphone, and that unearthly Gene Vincent expert and author, Derek Neal consolidated the line-up.”
high, almost feminine voice that I sang Henderson. “It never healed and he To some eyes, it might seem a little
along with in my bedroom echoed like continually damaged it on stage. It would odd that the manager is running around
something abandoned and fearful in the have been better if the limb had been town, getting together a band. Shouldn’t
Liverpool night. Gene was perfect, exactly amputated at the time, probably. He was Vincent have already done this? Vincent, ➨

88 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Classic
Album
© Getty Images

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 89


Classic This wasn’t a C&W artist doing rock’n’roll – this
was pure rock’n’roll, through and through

Album
LISTEN UP!
Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps
(1957)
Released in 1957, in the UK and USA on Capitol, the
album would undergo a reissue in Europe in 1976,
specifically in France and Holland, with a major CD
release in 2002. The first third-party reissue of the
album was via the US-based Norton, which reissued a
vinyl version in 2005 and Doxy, the Italian label, in
2009. The most important reissue is the new 8CD box
set via Bear Family. The Road Is Rocky also features a
beautiful 132-page book. The set includes all of his
recordings for Capitol, Columbia, Challenge, Forever/
Playground, Dandelion, Kama Sutra and B&C, including
previously unissued stereo versions.

Side 1
Red Blue Jeans and a Ponytail
Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me
Unchained Melody
You Told a Fib
Cat Man
You Better Believe

Side 2
Cruisin’
Double Talkin’ Baby
Blues Stay Away from Me
however, had no musical vision at this 10 September, Capitol released the Race
Pink Thunderbird
I Sure Miss You stage. He wasn’t a leader either at this With The Devil single, which entered the
Pretty, Pretty Baby time. In fact, he was just a wide-eyed kid Billboard chart for a week at No 96 and
who went along for the ride because he the Cashbox chart for two weeks, peaking
dearly wanted a hit record. at No 50. Don’t dismiss the relatively low
On 4 June 1956, Capitol released numbers, though, “Just to get a record
the single Be-Bop-A-Lula and Vincent in the national charts then was big
grabbed himself that desired hit single. business,” confirmed Henderson.
In fact, on 16 June 1956, Be-Bop-A-Lula On 26 September 1956, the LP Bluejean
entered the Billboard chart and stayed Bop! entered the Billboard album chart
there for 20 weeks, and the Cashbox for two weeks, peaking at No 16.
chart for 17 weeks, peaking at No 7 and As you can see by the gamut of closely
No 5 respectively. spaced dates, Vincent and his band were
Once the single hit the ground running, plunged into a hectic lifestyle. The band
Capitol followed suit as Ken Nelson, was caught, suddenly, in the spotlight. In
who produced the first session of four addition, as Henderson explained, “You
songs, rushed Gene and the band back to can see the momentum here, Capitol
Nashville in June to cut tracks for their wants more, so they call the band back
first album. to Nashville again in October 1956 to cut
“They managed to get together some more tracks, some of which went on to
material themselves while Nelson become the second album, Gene Vincent
suggested other material – he liked and the Bluecaps.”
ballads, which wasn’t a problem for Gene As soon as Be-Bop-A-Lula hit the
because his could sing anything.” charts, Davis exploited the success to best
On 13 August 1956, the debut LP, of his ability. In mid-July 1956, Vincent
Bluejean Bop!, was released while, on began the first of many gruelling concert

90 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


© Bear Family

tours, and made a national TV appearance guitar sound to the album, along
on The Perry Como Show, hosted by Julius with, it has to be mentioned,
La Rosa. a top quality song, You Better
“Whilst Gene and, no doubt, Dickie Believe, which kept company
made hay while the sun shone, Cliff, who with a few other worthy tracks
was a married man, and Williams didn’t such as Cruisin’ and Hold Me,
enjoy the experience at all and quit the Hug Me, Rock Me that proved
band in September 1956. At this point to be among the best songs
the Blue Caps line-ups became more Vincent ever recorded.
complicated than we need go into. Paul The talented Gallup also
Peek replaced Williams on rhythm guitar appeared with a mandolin-like
but several guitarists temporarily filled in, presentation on I Sure Miss
including Russell Williford, who mimed You, a memorable and unusual
Gallup’s part in the cameo in The Girl take on this song.
Can’t Help It movie. Paul Peek mimed Recorded shortly after
Williams’ part in the movie. When it Bluejean Bop!, Blue Caps
came to the recordings in October 1956, shows similarities, but Blue
the Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps album, Caps also reveals new depth,
everyone knew that Gallup was far better along with an added sense
than any of the stand-ins who’d been of artistic development, a
playing live gigs, so he was persuaded to new confidence and poise.
return, just for the sessions. He, however, Of course, the fact that the
was adamant that he wasn’t going back on debut was a rushed affair
the road.” was a factor in that LP’s
Gallup’s arrival brought an essential hot rather loose structure. ➨

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 91


Classic Gene could croon as well as he
could belt ‘em

Album

© Bear Family
GUITAR AT A GALLUP The finished album blew away
Cliff Gallup was one of the greatest guitarists in
rock’n’roll history, and a technical innovator.
Reportedly, a series of experienced session guitarists
were made ready to step in during the first session for
every other white rock’n’roll
the Vincent debut album, Bluejean Bop!, but
distinctive solos on Race with the Devil proved that
Gallup could more than hold his own. Many believe his
band in the world at that time
prowess was wasted when the band covered a bunch of
pop standards on their second round of sessions but The influence of producer Ken Nelson dark approach to the song. “Gene sang
tracks like Bluejean Bop! and Jumps, Giggles and should also not be forgotten as an element from the heart, he loved singing. I don’t
Shouts were impressive highlights. in the success of Blue Caps. “Ken was an think he was consciously developing a
Gallup always disliked touring, however, which led
to him leaving the band, though he did return for the extremely experienced and successful style, just doing what came naturally to
recording of Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps. Some record producer,” said Henderson. “He him. He certainly never had any training!
fans believe that Gallup’s exit from the band partly led was in his mid 40s by the time he took He had a natural talent and an unusual
to Vincent’s change to a softer presentation style. Gene on. It is reputed that he thought voice,” added Henderson.
Gallup himself would move further away from the little of rock’n’roll, but he had a job to The finished album blew away every
music business, despite being offered a contract from
Vincent’s producer, Ken Nelson, which Gallup turned do. He was a perfectionist in the studio, other white rock’n’roll band in the world
down, and the later release of a low key solo album, with clear ideas about what he wanted. at that time. The album was seen as a high
Straight Down The Middle (Pussy Cat), in the ‘60s. On the other hand, it is clear from studio point in rock and a symbol of what the
At the time of his death from a heart attack in 1988, chat from the large number of outtakes rock’n’roll genre was capable of creating.
he was the Director of Maintenance and Transportation that he was quite indulgent of Gene in the It also cemented Gene Vincent’s position
for his regional school system. With Gallup in mind,
ex-BBC DJ John Peel commented, “I think the studio, though he kept going until he was in the pantheon of rock greats.
quintessential rock and roll record for me brings satisfied the take was good.” “I suppose one of the reasons Gene
together my two favourite elements, which are those Nelson’s influence can be seen in the Vincent was my favourite of the early
kind of untamed voices, people sounding like madmen album in other ways too. Note Vincent’s rockers,” said John Peel, “was that unlike
really, or mad women, mainly madmen and guitar take on the classic song, Unchained most of the others, Eddie Cochran, Jerry
playing. I’ve never understood why it is that nobody
has actually duplicated the guitar sound that was on Melody that was, commented Henderson, Lee Lewis, even Elvis Presley, he wasn’t
those early Gene Vincent records – that very high, “almost certainly suggested by Nelson”. just a country and western artist who was
clear, ringing guitar sound. So the very best record I It’s Vincent’s delivery of the Delmore making rock’n’roll records and wanted
think of the era and the genre was Gene Vincent & The Brothers’ track Blues Stay Away From Me to get back to doing country and western
Bluecaps’ Race with the Devil. where we see an emphasis in Vincent’s music. He was always a rocker.” ✶

92 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Derek Henderson
on the Bluejean Boy…
The story of the album, Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps, is also the story of Gene
Vincent the man, his ambitions and his band relationships. Derek Henderson,
author of Gene Vincent: A Companion (Spent Brothers; spentbrothers.com/shop),
was able to reveal more about the legendary wildman and the events surrounding
the release of the Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps album…
What sort of a man was Gene? Well, Williams and Gallup had had that he couldn’t play like Gallup but Gene
He was a mess. He was shy off stage enough months before, so Gene now told him he didn’t want him to.
but he also drank too much and could needed a new, permanent lead guitarist. I personally feel that the later
become aggressive. Dude Kahn, who By now, he was much more self-confident recordings, with Meeks on guitar, are
played drums in the Blue Caps on tour on and took control of the band, becoming a at least as good as the earlier Vincent
a couple of occasions told me that Gene conscious band leader. recordings. They were heavier with a
would attract the girls to the stage, which Paul Peek took Gene to hear Johnny greater rock sensibility.
annoyed their boy friends, then he would Meeks play. Vincent liked what he heard
taunt and goad those same boyfriends and asked Meeks to join the Blue Caps. How aware was Vincent of Elvis
to come round backstage after the show Meeks did make a point of telling Vincent Presley and was there any effort,
where he and the Caps would, by Vincent, to be more
“…beat the shit out of them.” I like him?
hasten to say that this wasn’t Gene saw Elvis Presley
© Bear Family

something that Dude approved perform and was mightily


of or entered into. impressed by the reaction
of his audience. I’ve always
Would you say that the Gene thought that story about Elvis’
Vincent and the Bluecaps mother hearing Be-Bop-A-Lula
album sounds similar to the and thinking it was Elvis’ latest
Bluejean Bop! album? record a bit rich.
They were both recorded by I suppose one can say that
the same singer and musicians, Heartbreak Hotel and Be-Bop-
except that Paul Peek was A-Lula both featured slap-
playing rhythm rather than back echo prominently but I
‘Willie’ Williams, in the don’t see any resemblance in
same studio: Bradley Film the voices. I don’t think Gene
& Recording Studio, 804 wanted to be like Elvis but I bet
16th Avenue, Nashville, TN, he wanted to be as popular.
by the same engineer, Mort
Thomasson, under the same
producer, Ken Nelson, and in
a period of about five months
after producing successful
hit records with the first
recordings. These recordings
were all cut live in the studio.
That is, Gene sang and the
band played live together.
The songs were recorded live,
again and again, until Nelson
was satisfied with the results.

Why did the band break


up so quickly after Gene
Vincent and the Bluecaps?

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 93


The Orleans Hotel in lights

HIGH ROLLERS
AMERICANS ALWAYS DO IT BIGGER. SO IT WAS A FAIR BET THAT WHEN
ROCKABILLY WEEKENDER VIVA LAS VEGAS WAS LAUNCHED 17 YEARS
AGO, IT WOULD SOON TURN INTO THE BIGGEST PARTY IN THE WORLD…

W
ell, it’s not entrely But more of that later. Let’s set the Estimates put the attending crowds
American. The largest, scene. Las Vegas, the flashy capital for the music fest, associated car,
best attended, most varied, of gambling and resort hotels in the burlesque and fashion shows, and theatre
and best organised feast of States, with more ballrooms, theatres, presentations at more than 20,000, and
roots rock’n’roll anywhere entertainments, neon and, yes, car sometimes it felt like it.
in the known universe has, parking, than anywhere else on the planet The man behind it is Tom Ingram, a
behind the scenes, and on is the ideal centre for festivals Brit who cut his musical teeth during the
the stages, an amazingly strong British and conventions. UK’s ‘70s rockabilly revival, co-hosting a
and Irish presence, all the way to the It’s in the desert, so the weather is number of weekenders in British seaside
headliner, Hampshire-based Imelda May. reliable for outdoor shows, and it’s within resorts. He decamped to the States the
She’s famous in Ireland, on the cusp of a day’s drive of a population of 20 million best part of 20 years ago, taking his ideas,
mainstream stardom in the UK. And in plus – and set in a growing city of a his little black book of contacts and his
the Unites States, she is HUGE. million plus. records with him.

94 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Imelda May

Lil Mo and the


Dynaflos

Big Sandy in dapper stage gear

Roxy D’Lite
©Richard Harrington

Artist photos © Nick Cobban; car shots © Richard Harrington; words: John Howard
Almost immediately he ran into the outgrew the nearby Gold Coast hotel, her just-released fourth studio album on
California roots rock’n’roll scene, and was which is still the hotel of choice for half Decca, Tribal. In addition to the white-
therefore able to stage shows that mixed the revellers who came from across the jacketed Darrel, the band comprised
‘50s originals with the up and comers world to attend. regular bassist Al Gare, Steve Rushton on
they inspired. Let’s start at the top. Imelda May drums and Dave Priseman on trumpet
Thus we had ‘50s million seller Lloyd with her band, featuring husband and and guitar.
Price cheek-by-jowl with Imelda May, ace guitarist Darrel Higham, was on the Numbers like Johnny Got a Boom Boom,
‘70s breakouts like Robert Gordon mainstage at the Saturday car show, with Mayhem, the video-promoted single Good
alongside Brits like Tim Polecat and a more than 500 cars on display. to be Alive, and the latest, Wild Woman,
houseband that included Carl “Sonny” Without a doubt the lovely Imelda got a rapturous reception. We particularly
Leyland and Ashley Kingman, on piano attracted the biggest crowd of the day, cared for Hellfire Club, which had Imelda
and guitar, the go-to guys for authentic thanks to appearances not only on the bashing a tambourine with enthusiasm,
backing, despite their UK roots. poster for the whole weekender, but also while Go Tell the Devil (I Don’t Want to
Not forgetting Sun Recording Studio appearances on top rated US TV chat Go to Hell), with its catchy riff allowed
legends like Hayden Thompson, Sonny shows like Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, Darrel to shine, and Dave’s muted
Burgess, Narvel Felts, and Carl Mann, The when audiences must have been charmed trumpet added to the mix.
Trashmen, Los Straitjackets, Kim Lenz, with her lilting Irish accent and great There was even a brief break in the
The Jive Aces, Liverpool youngsters sense of humour. set while one fan took the opportunity
Furious and even Wales’ finest, Crazy Both were evident on stage as the to propose to his girlfriend, in public, on
Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers. rockabilly queen strolled on in a stage, in front of thousands of other fans.
Events take place at the Orleans hotel, magnificent golden dress to feature well And, yes, she did accept.
second venue for the shows which established numbers and newies from Imelda was preceded ninety ➨

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 95


Tim Polecat

Carl Mann

Hayden Thompson Tim Polecat

minutes earlier by perhaps the biggest of The other ‘50s originals from the Sun Sonny Burgess, looking good in black
the original ‘50s stars appearing over the label – after all, this is described as a trilby and yellow jacket, had guest Ian
weekend, the veteran Lloyd Price, now 81, rockabilly weekend despite the presence Clarkson from the Jive Aces on trumpet,
but you’d never guess from his slim figure, of every roots music from swing to surf who coincidentally was also in his
his lively stage movements, reminding all – played indoors most of Sunday night, trademark yellow suit. Later, he confided
that this man used to be a boxer. in an exciting two hours that proved the he only took up trumpet because of Jack
He seemed to be enjoying himself passing years need not dim voices. Nance’s work on Sonny’s singles like We
immensely, laughing and smiling the The artists were asked to play only Wanna Boogie and Red Headed Woman,
whole time, as an absolutely crack band their Sun related material, but the only both of which featured.
gave a more rocking edge to some of his one to keep strictly to that brief was the Hayden Thompson, in a smart white
best known numbers, actually improving big-voiced Hayden Thompson, who was jacket and hair to match, put on a
on the original recordings like Just due to close out this segment but found blistering perfomance which showcased
Because, Lady Luck, Where Were You on himself in the midst of a jam session that a voice that barely needs a microphone
Our Wedding Day and Personality. could have gone on until dawn. to be heard at the back of the hall, with
He even delved into his B-sides by Narvel Felts was first up with Pink and Fairlane Rock, Blues Blues Blues, and a
request, performing a storming Mailman Black Days, and just a sprinkling of his 22 rocking take on You Are My Sunshine,
Blues, and Have You Ever Had the Blues. country charting records from the ‘70s, which included a lyric change that was
He opened with Caldonia, included a including an excellent take on My Prayer. noted and appreciated by one elderly
tribute to bluesman Jimmy Reed on A seated Carl Mann opened with long-time fan.
Baby What You Want Me To Do, and, yes, Ubangi Stomp, had a go at Maybe Baby in Then the whole crew joined him for
Stagger Lee, his first UK hit, was there, an arrangement distant from, and inferior a run-through of Sun label classics,
even if his original of Lawdy Miss Clawdy to, Buddy Holly’s version, and included concluding with the gospel I’ll Fly Away.
sadly wasn’t. hits Pretend and Mona Lisa. Breath-taking.

96 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Lloyd Price

Kim Lenz

Sonny Burgess

A short walk away from the main stage On this first night of four we also had Rock’n’Roll Until I Ripped My Dress was
on Saturday was the Lanark Records the powerful sounds of San Francisco- among the less likely titles in the set, but
stage, the first time the outdoor arena based Stompy Jones, a band not a person, her co-write with Big Sandy on You Made
has featured two stages, and it, too, was with an early ‘50s set of danceable R&B a Hit went down well.
consistently interesting. The Reach opening with Jimmy Liggins’ Boogie Stepping away from the chronology a
Around Rodeo Clowns (how’s that for Woogie King and Tiny Bradshaw’s original little, special mention must be made of
a group name?) proved to be rockabilly arrangement of The Train Kept a’Rollin’. three British groups who, possibly, gave
deluxe with numbers like The Girl from Carmen Lee and the Tomorrow River the performances of their careers.
Hell, covered by former Stray Cat Lee Two in the ground floor Brendan’s Pub MC Big Sandy seemed a little choked
Rocker, and Bowling Alley Baby, who proved to be a find, mixing rockabilly up when he introduced the well-
apparently throws a curved ball and with country, and featuring their own known, to us at least, Crazy Cavan and
always gets a spare. originals. Morry Sochat and the Special the Rhythm Rockers. He reminded
On the same stage, Robert Gordon 20s, back in the ballroom, featured Rock his audiences that in the dark days for
previewed his new CD alongside The Joint, Shake Your Hips and Choo Choo rock’n’roll in the late’60s, Cavan and
favourites dating back, ooh, longer than Ch Boogie on an interesting set. the lads kept the flame alive until a new
we can remember, but including The Way Next came Jamie ‘Bubba J’ Faulkner, generation came along with the same
I Walk and Driving Wheel, and among the a Brit with an amusing stage presence, burning ambition – to rock’n’roll for the
newer stuff a serious take on Walk Hard, known as the Moonshiner Man, although rest of their lives.
the theme from the comedy movie of the he appeared to be just a lad. Despite his Mr Grogan underlined his Teddy Boy
same name. And it worked. London accent, when he sang he could credentials with Teddy Boy Rock’n’Roll
The Royal Rhythmaires were fronted well have hailed from the backroads of and Teddy Boy Boogie among the first
by a fabulous filly from Fort Worth, Texas, Georgia. Numbers included I’m A Broken three openers, more power to them.
Jai Malano, a worthy successor to late Man, I Feel Blue and Gonna Get Gone. Furious, still amazingly youthful,
Atlantic label stars like Lavern Baker and Finally came Kim Lenz, perhaps the subscribe to the same credo, look the
Ruth Brown. Twin saxes and piano did only rockabilly this side of Elvis who part, and have honed their act to total
full justice to a songbook that included has featured on the front page of USA professionalism in the four years or so
Love Don’t Love Nobody – and she looked Today when she was the “next big thing”. since we last saw them. Mark Halligan’s
good, too. Apparently, the group appeared Doll-faced cute, with masses of red hair, vocals are stronger than ever, their
at Rhythm Riot 2013, but somehow we her sweet demeanour undermined by the confidence and sassy attitude need
missed them. Wanda Jackson growl in her voice. to be seen to be believed. ➨

ISSUE 1 2 VINTAGE ROCK 97


The Satin Dollz with the Jive Aces

Los Straitjackets
Conny made the trip from Japan

The Jive Aces did two full-on shows, backbeat that removes any thought that catchy unification of the Rivington’s Papa
one in the ballroom and another in the this might be MoR. Oo Mow Mow and The Bird is the Word to
theatre, where they teamed with the nine- Without a doubt our favourite produce Surfin’ Bird.
piece girl group The Satin Dollz with instrumental act is Los Straitjackets – we Three of the four are the originals, and
such a well-rehearsed show that someone have ten of their CDs to prove it, catching King of the Surfers sounds as good as the
should tour it in theatres. In the ballroom, them last in February. Since then the day it was released.
they opened with Alan Freed’s Rock’n’Roll masked quartet have added another The music, as earlier stated, is just
Boogie, and continued with Scatman guitarist, and blistering is a word coined to one part of this event, and that’s why we
Crothers’ I’m Gonna Write Myself a describe them. were there, but mention must be made of
Letter, introduced a US audience to the It was inspired of leader Eddie Angel ancillaries, such as the 164 classic Ford
delights of skiffle with Mama Don’t Allow, to play a version of Elvis’ Viva Las Vegas Mustangs at the car show to mark the
and showcased their various members on played through a Link Wray filter to finish 50th anniversary of the first Mustang, the
Singing in the Rain, Sing Sing Sing, and an their set, but mentor and colleague Deke hilarious and risque burlesque shows, the
inspired take on Minnie the Moocher like Dickerson joined them on stage, promising pin-up contest, the dance lessons, pool
no other closed out the dance sector. a tour with them later this year, and parties, the huge number of British DJs,
In their theatre show, they brought on vocalising on Wooly Bully and Joe Jones’ and some really great bands, like Conny
sax player Don Hill, now 92, the surviving California Sun. from Japan, which space precludes.
member of The Treniers band, one of We’ve got this far, and still haven’t But to have seen everything would
their influences, and the set included any mentioned The Trashmen, an unlikely surf at best require a holiday afterwards to
number of standards from When You’re group from landlocked Minnesota, who recover, and, at worst, induce a N-N-N-
Smiling to Too Darn Hot, given a signature set the ‘60s charts alight with a goofy but Nervous Breakdown. Amazing. ✶

98 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Read VINTAGE ROCK
on any device,
at any time!

Buddy’s
The rock band blueprint – self-penned songs,
Two guiTars, bass and drums – was laid down
story
in a magical two-year period in The laTe ’50s
by a skinny kid from lubbock, Texas…

w
hat relevance does wouldn’t be any Beatles.’ He’s right. This
Buddy Holly have was the first self-contained rock’n’roll
in the 21st century? band that wrote and played their own
How can the geeky, songs. More than that, they pioneered
bespectacled bloke overdubbing and multi-track recording
Elvis Costello stole years before it became standard practice,
fashion tips from still thanks to producer Norman Petty, and
be relevant 40 years after he their ‘two guitars, bass and drums’
became the first rock star to format became the rock’n’roll
die young? norm worldwide.

Mybuddy
One obvious It all started in
answer is that he was Lubbock, Texas,
the guitar hero to so where Charles
many. McCartney, Hardin Holley
‘when i started listening to early
Clapton, Beck, (note the extra
rock’n’roll, buddy Holly, scotty
Harrison, Albert Moore and chuck berry – that whole ‘e’) was born on 7
Lee – they and scene through that period – became September 1936.
many more all my electric guitar influence. the He was nicknamed
grew up on Buddy way music was going with the ‘Buddy’ because, as
shads we had to enter the melodic scene,
Holly’s music. his mother confided,
play tunes for people to listen to and whistle
McCartney now along with’ hank marvin ‘Charles Hardin was
owns the man’s song just too long a name
copyrights, while Albert’s the for such a little boy’. The
© Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

only Brit to have been a Cricket. And dropped ‘e’ happened when he
after Eric gave up on Cream’s amplified was billed as Holly. Showing a fine lack of
blues-rock, he returned to his roots and ego, he decided he liked it.
busked Buddy’s Well... All Right in Hyde Buddy was raised in a musical
Park with a few mates, Blind Faith. household. Mother Ella had sung duets
Then there’s the Crickets. McCartney with her sister from an early age, oldest
once said, ‘If it wasn’t for them, there brother Larry studied classical ➨

14 Vintage Rock issue 2 issue 2 Vintage Rock 15

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Album
REVIEWS
Red Light Blues
THE WOLFTONES
Western Star

The Wolftones follow their


excellent debut Neo Rockin’
Blues-A-Billy (check out Hot
Rod Car) with another fantastic
set of a dozen delights. Jay
Bircumshaw’s tuneful tales are
set to Jimbob Sullivan’s
squawking mouth harp and

IT'S ROCKABILLY OLD AND NEW (NEARLY) ALL Sully's red hot and inventive
frettery, all grounded via a rock

THE WAY IN THE VINTAGE ROCK RUNDOWN THIS


solid rhythm. Only You features
Sully’s accomplished riffing

ISSUE, WITH ELVIS, JANIS, VINCE TAYLOR, TOMMY


front and centre, Shake It Baby,
Sold My Soul, No Matter and
Shot Down are wild and

STEELE, LEVI DEXTER, ROBERT GORDON, THE pumping rock’n’blues lit up


with harmonica, 21 Nights In

WOLFTONES, IMELDA MAY AND MANY MORE… Jail is a flighty treat and Devil
Prowler rides a darker wave.

Ready Steady Go! MGM Rockabilly Vince Taylor


Janis And Elvis – The RCA DRAKE BELL VARIOUS JET BLACK MACHINE
Victor Singles 1956-1958 Surfdog/Membran Pink'n'Black Easy Action
JANIS MARTIN & ELVIS PRESLEY
Veetone Polished stuff from the former This double-barrel mix Remastered, cut on fetching
Nickolodean TV star. This delivers a heady range of red vinyl and with a CD
Taking its lead from 1957's kicks off with The Kinks' rockabilly from the MGM included, Easy Action's Vince
South African Janis And Elvis Sunny Afternoon, before Bull stable. Two discs feature a Taylor package is an enticing
EP (available for one day rockets along at a pace: guitars talented cast, from Hall Of one. Jet Black Machine tracks
before being withdrawn!), harmonised, gutsy vocals and Famers Andy Starr and Marvin Taylor's career from '58-'62
Veetone curate their own with a punky slant. Things Rainwater (check out Roy beginning with debut bopper
10-inch collection of a dozen heat up with Drake’s own Clark's guitar work on Mr. Right Behind You Baby/I Like
45s (A & B sides) that Elvis fiddle-led Bitchcraft – a solid Blues) to the honky-tonk Love and sizzling follow-up
and his labelmate cut between wandering bassline and finery of Cecil Campbell, Pledging My Love/Brand New
'56 and '58 – none included on reverb-tinged delivery guiding Jimmy Swan and Sheb Wooley Cadillac. The great moments
the original. Six from Janis it skyward. Onwards to the (Hoot Owl Boogie is a wonder!) are all here, from the frenetic
include Drugstore Rock And demon twang of The Stray Elsewhere comes a peach title track through to his
Roll, My Boy Elvis, Cracker Cats’ Runaway Boys and a from Bob Riley in Midlight exemplary array of covers:
Jack and the B-side Will You, hot-wired slant on Roy Wood’s Line, Connie Francis' vibrant Long Tall Sally, Blue Jean Bop,
Willyum. A trio of 45s from California Man. Production slice of fun, The Tiger, Buck Baby Let's Play House, Twenty
Elvis too – Money Honey, One comes from Brian Setzer, but Griffin, Conway Twitty, Hank Flight Rock, Shakin' All Over,
Night, Wear My Ring Around we feel this may be a little too William and Bill Flagg's sole and C'Mon Everybody – all
Your Neck and their flips! glossy for the puritans. countrified MGM release. sounding better than ever.

100 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Tribal downtrodden trumpet of
Wicked Way are velvety and
IMELDA MAY melodramatic, but with a
Decca dark undulation to nicely
With her self-styled unbalance the keel, while
whirlpool pompadour and Little Pixie is a fitting ode to
compelling musical motherhood. Riffs full of
armoury, Dublin’s Queen of bombast, a bass as solid as
In The Shadow Of Sun Systems Green Rockabilly dwells on a they come and May's ability
VARIOUS VOODOO KINGS continent all her own. to do raw’n’primal as
Fantastic Voyage Nervous
2010’s Mayhem cleared the assuredly as demure and
lane for this gutsy fourth LP. heartspun will surely
Here, R&B and rock'n'roll For all the growling six strings
Here we have a steely maintain her upward
expert Dave Penny was and frenetic back-up, the
footing built on a vinyl trajectory. Sure, it will be
assigned the task of 'Kings hold down a tune nicely
collection that's rooted in loved by rockabillies, but it’s
assimilating three CDs (101 and Systems Green is strangely
rock’n’roll and rockabilly – fully aware of the decade in
tracks!) of '50s indie records beguiling as a result (a simply
solidified by hubby Darrel which it’s in. Wanda, if
that sprung up in Sun's sublime bass slappin' display
Higham’s accomplished you’re listening, it may be
neighbourhood – and he's too!). VK aren’t shy of a fuzz
Cochran-infused frettery time to pass on the crown.
done a fine job in unlocking an pedal or two and veer from the
and a pinch of soulful R&B
obscure, yet thrilling scene. filmic (Audie Murphy) to
to further charm the senses.
Varied sides arrive from the deep'n'dirty rock’n’roll
May weaves her melodic
Memphis houses right down (Voodoo Car, The Batman,
chapters over largely
to the Mississippi state line Cramped Up) via pop-edged
uptempo fare – Tribal, Wild
and, aside from Johnny thrills (I’m Not Blind, Easy
Woman and Hellfire Club
Burnette, Hayden Thompson Street) and bass'n'beat driven
stand out and harbour a pop
and a few other names, this is bops (My Babe, Systems Green)
know-how that most music
populated by a huge line-up of - Midnight Train closes the set
fans, regardless of their
hidden talent that we highly with a thump. Admirable stuff
leanings, should enjoy.
recommend you explore. A from a group unafraid to take
Gypsy In Me and the
secret library of surprises! things forward. Good work.

Let's Party Hillbilly Rock The Other Side Of Robert Gordon


RUTH BROWN & FRIENDS MARTY STUART Bakersfield I'M COMING HOME
Pink'n'Black Bear Family VARIOUS Lanark
Bear Family
Pink'n'Black's new 'Let's Stewart rose up the ranks Gordon told us that his latest
Party' series sets off in playing alongside the likes of With splendid front cover and (self-produced) album
unbridled style with R&B icon Johnny Cash and Lester Flatt superb partner booklet that continues where he left off –
Ruth Brown firmly at the – a fine education. Hillbilly features an excellent array of by which he must mean
wheel, and influential friends, Rock lovingly raises a glass to photos and Scott Bomar's electric, edgy and with a
Etta James, Linda Hayes, the history of rock'n'roll with helpful profile on each artist, generous portion of that
Marie Knight, Lloyd Price, the title track and adds the this is a winner before it even addictive baritone he's become
Johnny 'Guitar' Watson and fairer sex to the tribute in the goes on the stereo. This CD is known for. He makes short
more, livin' it up in the back. hook-happy country tones of a veritable feast that tributes work of the covers – I'm
31 Brown cuts present a Western Girls. The Coal Mine the rockier side of Bakersfield Coming Home, Honky Tonk
rounded summary of her vast Blues adds a pumping from rockabilly and hillbilly Man and Little Pig stand out.
talents and the extended cast backbeat, Johnny Cash's Cry, bop to boogie and teen rock. Three originals, penned by
offer up just as much gusto. Cry, Cry is well executed and Of the many – our prime picks members of The Rockats and
Aside from Ruth's big hitters, Stuart's own co-write Since I are Tommy Collin's pick-fest, Marshall Crenshaw, all fit
we adore Dorothy Williams' Don't Have You is deep, even Untied, Buck Owens' cat- right in – the deep-toned,
growling Watchdog, swinging existential stuff! Want 180 stepping Hot Dog, Buck Cash-esque Walk Hard is a
fun with Gloria Lynn's Cool grams of life-affirming wax? Owens' solid'n'tender Sweet stunning highlight. Quentin
Daddy and Ray Sharpe's In Stuart's own words, this is Thing, and Ernie Kelley's Jones provides a fluent guitar,
speedy patter in Linda Lu. 'every cowboy's dream.' novelty romp, Seal Rock. that makes this a sure thing!

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 101


ALBUM REVIEWS

Speechless Rockabilly Deluxe The Most Exciting Guitar Stomp


VARIOUS REACH AROUND RODEO CLOWNS ROY LANHAM ROCK’A’DEE’S
Western Star Lanar Bear Family Self Release

If you’re looking for an Aside from being winners of It may cross over into a A 21-track opening gambit –
instrumental playlist that the ’Greatest Band Name Ever’ slightly jazz-influenced arena, Fair enough for three musos as
showcases the best of fresh award, the ’Clowns muster a but this Bear Family vinyl is experienced as these. But can
talent, try this. El Compton thrilling (up-to-date) noise one of our favourite platters the trio from Oz sustain the
kick off Disc 1 with an assured from a place deep, deep down this issue. Regularly described simplistic majesty of opener
twang, before The Go Go and have been doing so for as a virtuoso guitarist, Lanham Rock’A’Dee Stomp all the way
Cult’s dark The Phantom, The some time. King of the Slot Car has added his delicate touch to to the curtain? Sure they can.
Bonneville Baron’s rumbling Track is an undulating cuts from The Delmore Originals of note include the
Mariachi Mexican Wildfire, revelation, trumpeted bliss Brothers through to Whitey seedy tilt of Black Cat Woman
Kill Van Helsing speed-demon comes on I Used To Be The One Pullen. Here, he explores the (which flows seamlessly into a
Quatermass and Cat Fight, an and I’m Obsessed is a tough, entirety of his Fender’s ballsy take on Flying Saucer
unreleased wonder from Jack crunching unrequited love fretboard with a rare grace Rock and Roll), the
Rabbit Slim. Disc 2 is on a par, song. Pure rockabilly it ain’t, (Steel Guitar Rag and Kerry unparalleled Memphis Town
with The Sharks’s Shadows- but Quentin Jones writes fiery Dance are immaculate) while and zippy, flamboyant jiver
esque Cosmonaut, The Chill’s tunes with a wry smile and the melodies are truly High Heeled Creepers – a real
bullet-ridden Hot Dang Hee coaxes magic from his trusty magnificent – Body & Soul, riot. A dynamic run of covers
Haw, and The Cheaterslick’s Gretsch throughout. Wendell particularly, is sublime. Guitar too, amongst them Somethin’
tom-pounding creep Gasolina Jones’ rotund baritone tops it lovers craving something new Else, Train Kept A Rolling, and
all making a splash. all off in style. need look no further than this. Please Don’t Touch.

Rockin’ At The Hops devotees – the wondrous


original Betty Jean and
CHUCK BERRY sturdy takes on Confessin’
Easy Action the Blues, Down the Road
Easy Action has impressed Apiece and Driftin’ Blues.
with its recent fare – from The album is topped and
the well-formed Rockabilly tailed by two of Berry’s
Rampage compilation finest later cuts, Bye, Bye
through to their Rockabilly Johnny and Let It Rock, but Hollerin’ ’n’ Screamin’ Jamboree Baby
Queen Wanda mix, and this other Berry-penned delights TOMMY STEELE AND COLIN HICKS THE THREE FARMERS BOYS
remastered limited edition Pink’n’Black Self Release
can be found in the teen pop
Chuck Berry reissue of Too Pooped To Pop, the
This 67-track double disc Ronnie, Sierk and Roel, The
Rockin’ At The Hops – in gentle swaying instrumental
brings together two Brit- Three Farmers Boys, are in
delectable red vinyl (with Mad Lad, the soul-drenched
rockin’ siblings, Tommy Steele fine fettle with Jamboree Baby,
CD) – is yet another Childhood Sweetheart with
and Colin Hicks, for the first their latest long player. Taut
triumph. The Chess Records The Ecuadors smooth
time. It’s an all-embracing rhythms underpin this mix of
original was unleashed in backing vocals providing a
anthology too, with everything hillbilly, rockabilly, western
1960, a tempestuous time lush veneer, and the loose
from singles and flips through swing, country and R&B. We
for Berry, who was then rock of Broken Arrow too.
to LP, EP, film, TV and live love the title tune and Ain’t
embroiled in several court Keep ’em coming!
tracks. Disc 1 is given up to She Flippy with their junkshop
cases. With the possibility of
Steele’s work from his driving acoustic, Sierk’s fluent lead
prison looming over him, he
debut Rock With Caveman and Ronnie’s Johnny Cash-
recorded quick and often
through to a killer live take of inspired storytelling, while
that year to ensure Chess a
1960s Hollerin’ And Screamin’. Roel’s jaunty bass pumps. You
sizable pool of music to tide
Over to Hicks for Disc 2 and a Ain’t Nothing but a Nothing
them over should the worst
journey from his jaunty first, rides a slick arc and country
happen. The lion’s share of
Empty Arm Blues/Wide Eyes ballad Wayfaring Stranger is
the resulting LP had already
And Tender Lips, to later cuts whisky-soaked. These boys are
been aired as 45s, but four
like his bouncing Italian TV experienced and Jamboree
new cuts ensured a thrill for
hit Giddy Up A Ding Dong. reflects a well-gigged combo.

102 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


ROY ORBISON F & riends
Let’s Party Roots Man
CLARENCE HENRY & FRIENDS LEVI DEXTER
Pink’n’Black Dextone

This 2CD set is given up to The Roots Man returns with


Louisiana’s Clarence 14 undeniable reasons why he
‘Frogman’ Henry, beginning deserves his reputation – hard
with a few sides from his earned while fronting the
tenure at Argo, including the Rockats. With Jonny Bowler’s

BARRY STEELE
feisty Ain’t Got No Home/ upright slap, Gretschmaster
Troubles Troubles and his 1961 Buzz Campbell’s ace guitar
hit ballads You Always Hurt and Stinky’s taut beats, Levi is
The One You Love and I Don’t given ample room to excel.
Know Why I Love You But I Eddie Cochran’s Completely
Do. Later fare features the Sweet is fun, Hank Penny’s
fun-filled novelty pop of Little Hadacillin Boogie holds in its
Green Frog and the excellent midst a six-string masterclass, ‘An incredible fustion of Rock n Roll &
Cajun Honey. We get a lively and Levi’s ode to his wife, contemporary musical genius all on one stage’
cast of friends that includes
Etta James, Eugene Church
Boppin Bernie, is a hot two and
a half minutes. Levi’s other
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and Dee Clark with riotous original, Cannibal Party, rocks SEE THE WEB SITE FOR TOUR DATES
R&B, jivers, strollers and our bones too. Unadulterated WWW.BARRYSTEELE.COM
plenty more to relish. Buy it. boppin’ perfection all the way.

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If it’s Rock ‘N’ Roll, Rockabilly, Doo-Wop, Western Swing,
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Surf’s Up Hank Snow


VARIOUS HANK SNOW
Union Square Bear Family

Anyone with a lack of great He was in the cast of The


surf music in their collections Grand Ol’ Opry and stepped
might consider this 50-track up with Movin’ On, a massive
release from Union Square. hit in 1950 (included here).
Famous waveriders include Snow was one of C&W’s finest
Dick Dale, The Ventures, The and Bear Family amass his
Fireballs, Link Wray, Duane titanic moments: his cover of
Eddy, Ritchie Valens (!?) and Green Green Grass Of Home,
The Shadows, and there’s No 5 hit These Hands, his ode From original 45’s to the latest DVDs, it’s all here!
lesser known combos to enjoy to home, My Novia Scotia
Stocklist of; Bear Family: Ace: Charly: Westside: Stompertime: Rollercoaster: Buffalo Bop:
too – our hitlist being The Home, country treasure The Relic: Norton: Collectables: Bronco Buster: Sanctuary/Castle and all other specialist labels.
Hunter’s Teen Scene, The Surf Last Ride and Yellow Roses.
Extensive listings of; EDDIE COCHRAN, GENE VINCENT, CHARLIE
Men’s Malibu Run (smooth Later material includes No 1 FEATHERS, DUANE EDDY, CHUCK BERRY, JERRY LEE LEWIS, RICKY
sax!), The Gambler’s Hello Love, unreleased swing NELSON, ELVIS, CLIFF RICHARD, BUDDY HOLLY, SONNY BURGESS,
FATS DOMINO, LITTLE RICHARD, STRAY CATS, BILLY FURY and more.
vibesome Moon Dawg! from A Daisy A Day, and Snowbird.
Disc 1, and, from Disc 2, The The set is crowned with an BIM BAM RECORDS, CHALFONT HOUSE, BOTLEY ROAD, HORTON HEATH, SO50 7DN. ENGLAND

Krew Kats’ Peak Hour and The unreleased instrumental Email: bob@bimbamrec.freeserve.co.uk Telephone 02380 600 329
Vampires tub-pounding version of Am I Losing You  ALL MAJOR CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED 
offering Clap Trap. showing Snow’s guitar skills.

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 103


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Madeline Sinclaire
Lou On The Rocks

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io n ?? ?? ?? ?? ?????????????? ?????
Capt ??????
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FRILLS AND D SPILLS


Royal Appo i nt m e nt !
By

Dangrrr Doll
Miss Cherry On Fire
Organisers Chaz
Royal and Bettie
??

The brains behind


oat balloon trick LBF: Chaz Royal & Betty D’Light
Albert Cadabra’s deep thr

THE 8TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL LONDON BURLESQUE FESTIVAL


HIT THE CAPITAL TO ADD SOME SIZZLE TO THE MAY BANK HOLIDAY.
VINTAGE ROCK MADE ITS WAY TO THE BEST OF THE FEST AND GOT
MORE THAN A LITTLE HOT UNDER THE COLLAR…

N
ow in its 8th year, Chaz Royal’s from LBF and the World Burlesque skin gown, this raven-haired siren swiftly
London Burlesque Festival Games) – and closed with ‘Best Of The lets loose. A slinky wave of ‘20s sounds
returned to do the sun’s job Fest’, where Vintage Rock excitedly chose accompanied what was a truly slick
and set temperatures soaring to join in the proceedings… routine and, with a mere hint of golden
for the May bank holiday. To Madame Jojo’s… Art deco wall- glitter only just preserving her modesty,
The event kicked off suitably hangings, a neatly tiered auditorium and she brought said lustful striptease – a
attired with the VIP ‘Red some deep red velvet curtains provided tribute to the great Bettie Page – to a
Carper Rollout’ at Conway Hall – the extended boudoir ideal for the fitting and glorious climax.
previewing the delights that were to luscious array of plumed headdresses, It is here that we are lovingly
follow – and with ‘the Schmoozer’, a vintage frocks and general finery on introduced to Whisky Falls, the stunning
swanky affair at the Playboy Club in display as the audience settled down to and, in equal measures, saucy, stage aide.
Mayfair, an ideal haunt from which to enjoy an evening of artful eye candy. Our With the offloaded vestments removed
launch two opulent weeks of the best host for the show was New York magician from the stage floor, on came Rio’s
burlesque acts the world has to offer. – and hilarious funnyman – Albert Cherry On Fire, who appeared amidst
Featured nights on the menu – all sold Cadabra: bald-headed, dapper and the first dry ice of the evening, delicate
out – included Crown Jewels (best of sporting a hirsute pair of sizeable red and swanlike in her snow white shawl –
British), Twisted Cabaret (neo-burlesque chops with pride as he proceeded to soon to come off. A playful tinkling of jazz
and alternative cabaret), Varie-Tease swallow a balloon, nay phallus, that once morphed into a bawdy Latino sax and
(golden-era novelty fun), Hollywood erotically pumped up in time with the held up the buxom brunette as she shook
Revue (film and glamour), Burlesque, music, was apparently lost to peristalsis. the drapery from her frame and made
Gin & Jazz (classic burlesque with a A little winsome gyration later and Albert Miley Cyrus’s supposed mastery of
jazz soundtrack), Sexy Circus Sideshow introduces our first act from the USA – ‘twerking’ look so simple. Easy. A circular
Photos by Mike Prior

(‘boozy freak show!’), Jungle Exotica/ ‘legs all the way to who knows where… whip of nipple tassels and she too
Mondo Galactica (a journey through Dancer! Choreographer! Madeline disappeared stage left.
time), Big Burlesque Day Out (daytime Sinclair!’ he opines. Luscious, shapely Our compere is then forced – by a
extravaganza), LBF All Stars (past glories and wearing a figure-hugging leopard baying audience – to drink an absinthe ➨

ISSUE
ISSUE128 VINTAGE ROCK 107
107
… and Willy
Colette…
??????????
Caption ??????????????? ?????????
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Caption ????????????????????????
?????????????????????????????????
???????????????????????? ?

Caption ?????????????????????????
?????????????????????????????????
????????????????????????

Eliza Delite

Caption ?????????????????????????
?????????????????????????????????
????????????????????????

Fleshoticas
Apathy Angel

passed to him by a gent on the front row minimum. A leisurely lick of Albert’s
and our third star takes to the stage – the cranium and she’s gone. volunteer’s chosen card ‘some place very
peroxide blonde bombshell that is New Geneva’s Lou On The Rocks takes her special’. Cadabra then joins the gals and
York city’s stunning Dangrrr Doll. place in a mint green number paired with hilariously strips down to his monkey-
A searching bassline kicks in and the jet a decadent pink feather boa. Clarinet stuffed Y-fronts (don’t ask!) before his
black feather boa doesn’t last long. It’s bursts out of the speakers and this dainty handpicked audience member is treated
slow and sensual stuff involving teeth, tattooed beauty strips to a slender silver to the Queen of Hearts in flag form
crotch grabbing and a teasing five-second corset, before unveiling her matching protruding from his pants. Great stuff!
pause before the zip glides gently nipple tassels to close this stylish Next comes Texan Apathy Angel, who
southwards. The rhythm picks up workout. And so ends the first half… stuns us with the rhythmic removal of her
midway to allow for a wildly oscillating Albert is once more forced by the, now sparkling gold dress to the velvet
rear end that wows the onlookers. With a tipsy, attendees to down another absinthe melodies of Nina Simone’s I Want A Little
gentle fluttering flute her ensemble is before a card trick entitled Sugar In My Bowl – a hypnotic marriage.
masterfully reduced to the bare ‘transcendental card of mystery’ left his Angel spills imaginary sugar from an

108 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


The LBF cast applaud stage
manager Cherry On Fire

Photo by Ace Cafe


Caption ????????
????????????????
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Caption ???????????????????????? ?
???????? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ????
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oversized carton, the beat picks up and 69 from mouth to chest – spooky and As the final act of the evening comes on
Boyz’ hip hop treasure Tootsie Roll sensual. From Dallas, Honey Cocoa – Eliza Delight – we wonder where else
soundtracks a feat of incredible Bordeaux adds a little sophistication to there is to go… Decked out in an Alladin-
athleticism as buttock tassels are brought the night’s line-up as smooth jazz backs like silk affair, Eliza doles out Turkish
front and centre and shook with titillating up her teasing choreography. A sea green Delight to the willing open-mouths of the
intensity. As she drops into a decisive corset appears from her purple gown as front row. A shimmy, a shake, a flutter of
splits, she brings a thrilling five minutes stray sky blue feathers descend gently in bongos and the whole room is
to rousing finale– a giant roar from the the air. She leaves momentarily to return mesmerised. A few moments later and
onlookers mark Angel out as a highlight with her own sumptuous feathered Eliza introduces a giant powderpuff to
of tonight’s show. headgear and ends her celebration of the her act, delicately powdering herself in a
Albert downs yet another absinthe and, female form with the splits, a flick of the fragrant cloud of snowy dust. Then with a
by now a little ‘jolly’ himself, welcomes tassels and a cheeky kiss blown our way. slap of her china-white behind, she too is
Oslo’s Fleshoticas to the boards. Two acts to go… Arty duo Willie and lost to the wings.
Chanting voodoo harmonies and an eerie Colette change things up nicely. Willie This evening’s cast, hand-picked by
smokescreen cloak the duo, bedecked in armed with accordion weaves a tale of organiser Chaz Royal, didn’t disappoint.
proud peacock headdresses. In sync, they dark streets and love lost, as his slender Indeed, they shone and, as we depart
swish their scarlet fans, emulating flames, partner saunters around the stage with Madame Jojo’s light of step and with a
as dark twanging guitars crash our ears. the deft grace of a ballet dancer gently broad smile on our faces, we drift
Bellies undulate and we’re treated to wafting her white fans in a seemly arc – amongst the bank-holiday celebrations
cat-like air grabs and a denouement her willowy frame takes the audience’s spilling out onto the Soho streets around
involving fake blood deliciously spilled breath away. us. A truly spellbinding evening. ✶

ISSUE 12 VINTAGE ROCK 109


IN HIS OWN WORDS: VINCE EAGER

A Life in
Rock’n’Roll
B
illy Fury’s success with
Picture : Graham Fowell

his self-penned haunting


ballad Maybe Tomorrow
garnered what was to
become a legion of fans,
coupled with envy from his peers. His
sultry smouldering looks resembled a
hybrid of James Dean, Elvis and Eddie
Cochran that beguiled all who met him,
yet the innermost Billy was very shy,
with an amazing sense of humour and
sensitivity, but above all a cheekiness that
totally contradicted his on-stage persona.
With our manager and flatmate Larry
Parnes spending more and more time
at his recently acquired Marble Arch
apartment, Billy and I were in a position
to utilise the penthouse furnishings to
suit our needs. The Hollywood style
marble top table for example, was
perfect for our growing inventory of
toys, including the Scalextric car racing
game and the train set Billy had acquired.
It was also ideal for Billy to build his
Airfix model aircraft on, a pastime that
reflected on the many months he spent in
Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital
when suffering from rheumatic fever, a
disease that damages the heart and would
result in open-heart surgery operations
prior to his demise at only 43 years of age.
Having spent hours building the planes,
he would then proudly display them on
the ledge of the lounge bay window close
to the door leading onto the balcony
overlooking Gloucester Road.
Billy showed both pride and great them to taxi freely across the marble- balcony, he pulled his Zippo cigarette
delight in gathering all his aircraft topped table. It was one of the planes lighter from his pocket, flicked the lighter
together and displaying them on the falling off the table after taxiing that and set fire to the plane. I had built Airfix
marble table. With smaller models at led to one of Billy’s most infamous, and planes as a kid myself, but had no idea as
the front and bigger ones bringing up dangerous, pranks. to how volatile they were.
the rear, he would often pick one up Following a successful landing, one As soon as the flames took hold, Billy
and run around the lounge making the of the larger planes fell off the table and launched the plane and it descended at
noise of a plane’s engine whilst firing tumbled towards the floor breaking one a rate of knots to the Gloucester Road
imaginary guns, and then use the table- of its wings on the arm of a dining chair pavement below, where it shattered into
top as a runway to land on. The planes during its decent. As Billy rescued the hundreds of pieces. It prompted Billy
were excellent quality with some having pieces he decided it was beyond repair to mutter tongue in cheek that he was
retractable undercarriages which allowed and, opening the door leading onto the disappointed it didn’t fly further.

110 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


IN OUR NEXT EXTRACT FROM HIS BOOK CHRONICLING
HIS ROCK’N’ROLL YEARS, VINCE EAGER TALKS
CANDIDLY ABOUT BILLY FURY’S MOST INFAMOUS
PRANK, AND WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE RECORDING FOR
THE OH BOY! TELEVISION SHOW

Close to the balcony, was Larry’s state it passed by below. We were anxious to
of the art hi-fi system with a built-in
record storage rack. Larry’s selection of
continue with our newfound pastime,
but Larry’s housekeeper felt we’d be
“With the
records ranged from demos to top singles
and album hits by the likes of Johnnie
well advised firstly not to do it again,
and secondly not to tell anyone unless
6-5 Special
Ray, a selection that mirrored his lifestyle
as much as his profession.
we wanted to join Elvis in his Jailhouse
Rock cell! As she was more like a mother
losing its
The record which was Larry’s pride we took her advice and stuck to the more impetus,
Jack Good
and joy, was a promotional recording mundane pastimes of Scalextric and
made by Dean Martin and Jerry Lee train sets. As for Larry’s record of Dean

defected to
Lewis promoting one of their movies and Jerry? It seemed somehow to have
called The Caddy. They had made it when disappeared when his belongings were
they finished the official sound trailer for
the movie, downing a few bottles of booze
moved to his apartment at Marble Arch.
In his efforts to turn the BBC ATV, and the
in the process. It was disgusting.
‘C is for – c**t,’ said Jerry amidst fits
Television show 6-5 Special into a fully
fledged rock‘n’roll show, producer Jack Oh Boy! TV
of laughter from him and hilarity from
others present.
Good found himself up against the BBC
Board of Directors who, in showing their show was
‘A is for arse,’ replied Dean in much
more sombre tones.
collective ignorance for what the British
viewing public really wanted, threatened born”
‘And D is for dick,’ screeched a drunken
Jerry.
to relieve Jack of his duties aboard the 6-5
Special if he didn’t toe the line.
VINCE EAGER
And so it went. It got worse and worse What they didn’t know was that Jack’s
as the trailer progressed until it finished enthusiasm for rock‘n’roll had been
in hysterics amidst obscenities, the likes I picked up by the board of directors
had never heard before, or since! at Associated Television (ATV)
As Billy pondered the failure of his who had approached Jack to Marty Wilde, Vince Eager and
flying inferno, he started to finger produce and direct a similar Cliff Richard
through Larry’s records as if searching TV show for them if the BBC
for something specific. He suddenly bosses remained unconvinced
stopped. He’d found it. He picked up with Jack’s suggestions.
the X-rated promotional recording of With the 6-5 Special losing its
the film The Caddy, being one of Larry’s impetus, Jack defected to the
prized possessions, walked towards the enemy that was ATV and the Oh
balcony giggling and muttering, “I bet Boy! TV show was born. It proved
this will fly further,” and threw the record to be without doubt the best and
like a frisbee into the black night over fastest moving pop music TV
Gloucester Road. show ever, and it didn’t take long
Dean and Jerry did indeed fly much for its success to drive the 6-5
farther than the ill-fated plane. So much Special into the sidings, where
farther so that it landed on the roof of the it lost steam, hit the buffers and
building opposite – and so a new sport came to a complete standstill. I
was born. was a member of the cast during
When old or demo records came into the final days of the 6-5, but was
our possession, we would have record fortunate in joining forces with
tossing contests off the balcony, the Jack for an episode on Oh Boy!
highest points being awarded for landing with the promise of more to
on top of a moving double-decker bus as come in early 1959. ➨
IN HIS OWN WORDS: VINCE EAGER

Jack Good on the


Oh Boy! TV show beckoned him over, they retired in the
direction of Marty’s dressing room. It
wasn’t long before Marty reappeared
wearing a suit that didn’t appear any
different to anything I’d seen him wear
before, yet was to change the face of
British popular music’s pecking order.
Following the second run through there
was a longer than usual inactive period
followed by a very dour Larry making a
speedy exit via a fire door.
It wasn’t until the middle of the
following week that Larry’s PA Muriel
told me he’d pulled Marty off the Oh Boy!
show due to an argument he’d had with
Jack as to whose decision it was as to
what Marty should wear for the show.
A few weeks prior to the argument, a
young singer and his group appeared on
Marty Wilde was the headliner/host it should have been Marty, but not so. The Oh Boy! following a meeting between Jack
on the Oh Boy! show and proved to be a prima donna turned out to be Larry! and a Capitol Records plugger. The record
natural. Our manager Larry Parnes began With Larry’s roster of wannabe pop plugger had played Jack the A-side of a
to bask in Marty’s glory and in no time he stars growing daily, so did his ego. In record entitled Schoolboy Crush by Cliff
was building his ‘pop stable’ with regular fairness he did invest in the appearance Richard and the Drifters, and followed
additions of potential pop stars. Added of his artists in order for their image it up by playing the B-side, Move It.
to his existing roster of Tommy Steele, to reflect their stage names, but when Jack told the plugger that if he Move It
Colin Hicks, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury and it came to Jack Good’s Oh Boy! show it the A-side, he would book Cliff and his
myself were Joe Brown, Dickie Pride, was Jack who called the shots. Sadly, group for the following week’s show. The
Georgie Fame, Johnny Gentle, Nelson it was Larry’s, and our, downfall when plugger agreed and the rest is history.
Keene, Duffy Power, Lance Fortune, Peter he thought he could usurp Jack by Cliff appeared and was an instant hit.
Wynn, Julian X and the sole female Sally determining what Marty would wear for He was however in the shadow of Marty,
Kelly. Within a matter of weeks of the the show. Not only was Jack a brilliant and that’s were he remained until Larry’s
birth of Oh Boy! the newly arrived artistes producer/director, he was also a guy you decision to pull Marty off the show.
found they were being pencilled in for didn’t question. His word was gospel. In Marty’s absence, Cliff’s profile on the
appearances on the show along with On Saturday mornings we transferred show was raised as he covered the main
theatre performances throughout the UK. from the rehearsal room at the Four spots hitherto held by Marty, plus, we
A caricature of Larry dressed as a Provinces of Ireland Club in Islington discovered that appearances by Billy Fury,
witch sat before a cauldron, stirring away to the nearby Hackney Empire for Dickie Pride, Duffy Power and myself had
as he popped us in the pot one by one transmission day. Enthusiasm, talent also been pulled. It was approximately
in an effort to produce a superstar, was and determination were always two months before the Parnes-Good
an image Joe Brown and I summoned made welcome, but egos? I only ever rift healed, during which time Cliff had
between us. Sadly, we were to be encountered a couple, and one word in assumed top spot and poor old Marty
disappointed, when Larry’s best-laid the ear by Jack and they were banished, had a comeback fight on his hands. The
plans started simmering when he decided never to be seen again. consensus within the industry at the time
to stir up a brew Jack Good didn’t like the Marty was running through a number was, that Larry’s lack of diplomacy had
taste of! when into the theatre strolled Larry. cost Marty his position as number one in
Such was the success of Oh Boy! that it Immaculately dressed with a fashionable British pop’s pecking order.
became a must for record companies and mohair overcoat over his shoulders, he It was over 40 years later that Jack told
agents to get their artists on the show if was accompanied by one of his many me he had no objection to the suit that
they were to have a chance of getting into ‘drivers’ carrying a suit cover over one Larry had purchased for Marty. It was
the charts, and if anyone was entitled to arm and Larry’s briefcase in his hand. As just that he wanted Larry to know who
be carried away with the show’s success Marty finished his run through, Larry was boss. As Larry got greedier and more
demanding, some senior members of the
‘stable’ decided to get our own back! ✶
“Cliff ’s profile on the show was Vince’s book Vince Eager’s Rock’n’Roll
raised as he covered the main Files is available at www.vinceeager.
co.uk and all leading bookshops
spots hitherto held by Marty”
VINCE EAGER Illustration by Graham Fowell.
www.caricaturesandcartoons.co.uk

112 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


Competitio n!
WIN TICKETS TO
RETRO FESTIVAL!
The kind souls at Retro Festival have supplied us with a fantastic prize to give
away in our Rockabilly Special… Two very lucky readers have the opportunity to
bag one of two pairs of complimentary tickets for this year’s event, which takes
place on 8-10 August at White Waltham Airfield. Bands include The Kingcats, The
Doggone Honkabillies, Restless (UK), Class Of 1958, Greggie G, This Little Girl &
the Dillicats, Craig Shaw & the Illuminators, Rhythm River Trio, King Candy and
the Sugarpush, and there’s plenty of rockin’ DJs too. Add burlesque from Eliza
Delite and Marianne Cheesecake, flying displays, dance classes, vintage, classic
and American vehicles, a retro home wear and clothing market, auto jumble, kids’
zone, delicious food, bars and two campsites, and it’s destined to be one mighty
fine three-day party! Simply answer the question and follow the instructions…

How many live stages feature at this year’s Retro Festival?


To be in with a chance of getting your hands on a pair ot tickets, visit
www.vintagerockmag.com/competitions, click on the relevant question
and fill in your answer and email. Please indicate if you’d prefer not to be
contacted by Anthem Publishing and selected third parties with marketing
and related offers. Good luck!!
CodaEDDIE COCHRAN AND SHARON SHEELEY
Eddie Cochran and his sweetheart Sharon Sheeley were engaged at the time of
the car crash that tragically took his life in 1960 – both Sheeley and Gene Vincent
were also in the car, but survived the accident. Sheeley was a talented songwriter
in her own right and, at just 18 years old, she was the youngest ever female to
write a US No 1 – Ricky Nelson’s 1958 hit Poor Little Fool. She also wrote Brenda
Lee’s Dum Dum (with Jackie DeShannon) and co-wrote Cochran’s hit Somethin’
Else with his Cochran’s brother Bob, amongst many others too.
© Rex Features

114 VINTAGE ROCK ISSUE 12


@SonyLegacyUK
/LegacyRecordings

Elvis_RoyO_Vintage_Rock_Ad.indd 1 13/05/2014 10:08

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