RONALD SMITH - A South Side High School student who later graduated from Mann Private School, Smith dated Barbara Hearn, who eventually went out with Elvis Presley.
During his high school years, Smith was a professional musician playing nightly in Memphis clubs. He had to leave South Side High and enroll at Mann Private because of the
rigorous demands of his music career.
Most Memphis observers rate Smith's guitar work as superior to Scotty Moore's. Because of his musical skill, Ronald became
a close friend of Elvis' during his last year at Humes High School and often went out with him. It was Ronald Smith who organized Elvis' first band. In May 1952, they played their first gig
at the Hi-Hat
Supper Club on South Third Street and Ronald Smith remembers they didn't get paid. At the Hi-Hat, Mark Waters played drums, Dino Dainesworth played
saxophone and clarinet, Smith played guitar, and Aubrey Meadows played piano. This band played pop music and hired Elvis Presley as the lead singer. This was essentially Eddie
Bond's band, but they were musicians who played rhythm and blues and dance music. This band, with some change in members, played the Columbia Towers at Main Street, the Home for
the Incurables, and the Kennedy Hospital, located at 1030 Jefferson Avenue, with Elvis Presley as the lead singer. In September 1954, Smith played at Cherry Valley High School in Arkansas and at the Poughkeepsie, Arkansas, High School. Bob Neal booked these concerts, Elvis got paid but Ronald Smith, Curtis Alderson, Kenneth Herman, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black didn't get paid for these gigs.
"I wasn't hostile, we were young and it was fun playing with Elvis", Smith remarked in 1986. Smith was also the guitarist with Eddie Bond And The Stompers, and his rockabilly
guitar riffs were an important influence upon Elvis Presley. Smith also helped Elvis select 45rpm records and generally talked music with the future King of Rock and Roll.
A dedicated historian, Smith has preserved records, badges, memorabilia, and artifacts that trace Presley's musical roots. He still active as a performer in the Memphis area.
KENNETH HERMAN - Steel guitar player, Kenneth (Kenne Dwain) Herman was born in Port Arthur Texas in 1937. He and his mother and grand-mother
moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1941. When he was 8 years old he saved his change, for ever it seemed. He bought a harmony guitar for eight dollars. He still has this guitar.
When he was ten he bought a six string National steel guitar from a neighbor and learned how to play it.
By the time he was thirteen he had learned how to play well enough to win the
Ted Mack Amateur Show, out of New York City. He went on to play the Steel at the Grand Ole Opry, Louisiana Hayride an all of the other places that played Country and Rockabilly
Music. He played for Faron Young, Ernest Tubb, and many other artists. He played for several years at the Western Steak House & Lounge in Memphis.
In the 1950s, he toured with Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison, Herman is an inordinately talented musician who fused country and rockabilly music. Herman could also play the bass, and
there was talk for a time that he would replace Bill Black and tour with Elvis Presley. Like Ronald Smith, Herman played with Elvis Presley prior to the Sun days and was a
close friend of the Presley's. An intelligent maverick, Herman carved out a reputation in Memphis as a private investigator while continuing to pursue country music as an avocation.
He currently lives in Florida and pursues country music.
EDDIE BOND AND THE STOMPERS - Country and rockabilly singer, disc jockey, promoter,
radio and television station impresario, song-writer, charity worker and law enforcement officer, all parts of the multi-faceted person that is Eddie Bond. For over forty years
now he had been completely immersed in the southern musical culture that spawned the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison et all. Whether he is performing in Memphis,
Tennessee, Drew, Mississippi or Prudhoe, Tyne and Wear, England, Eddie Bond continues to be a living embodiment of the traditional sounds of country and authentic rockabilly
music. Bond was born in Methodist Hospital, Memphis, on July 1, 1933, Eddie James Bond grew up in a South Memphis neighborhood in an apartment above Kickapoo Inn across the street
as a drug store soda jerk, an essentially non-musical family, which still provided some encouragement to the young member of the family who, at the age of eight, had put together enough nickels
and dimes to buy his first guitar. His initial interest had been aroused by listening to Roy Acuff and Ernest Tubb who, at the time, the early 1940s, were widely heard on the radio and record; his early experience of performing developed through his teenage years as he gigged around the beer joints of Memphis. He attended Pine Hill Junior High School and South Side High School. On leaving school
in 1950, he held down a variety of jobs including furniture factory worker, paint sprayer and, a job common amongst Memphis rockabilly truck driver. After an eighteen month
stint in the Navy, Bond returned to work in paint, this time selling not spraying for Campbell and Son as a salesman. The time had now moved on to 1952 and he formation of
his band the Stompers took place over the ensuing months; wellknown members would be Reggie Young, John Hughey, Jimmy Smith and Johnny Fine. Earlier incarnations of the band
included Ronald Smith, Enlo Hopkins, Cutis Lee Alderson and future "Musical Warrior" for Charlie Feathers, Jody Chastain. In the early 1950s Bond played with the Snearly Ranch Boys,
and he developed a strong interest in country music. By 1953 Eddie Bond and the Stompers were a fledgling country and western band with rockabilly overtones. Bond, who graduated from Memphis' South Side High School two years before Elvis Presley, following failed auditions at Sun Records and Meteor, Eddie secured as well-known musician signed a recording contract with Ekko in 1955, although an Los Angeles company, had a Memphis office which was located at 36 North Cleveland in Memphis.
Although not certain, Eddie now believes the Ekko session was held at a Murray Nash Associates connected
studio in Nashville. Celebrated pickers were brought in by Artists and Repertoire man Red Matthews, who supervised the session, resulting in two single releases at the tail-end of 1955; "Double Duty Lovin" was coupled with "Talkin' Off The Wall" (Ekko 1015), "Love Makes A Fool (Everyday)" being paired with "Your Eyes" (Ekko 1016). No fabulous sales were achieved but they formed the basis for the next session which saw Eddie move further towards the bi-time and a major label deal for Mercury Records in 1956. His band, the Stompers, included two fine musicians, one of whom - guitarist
Ronald Smith - was an important influence upon young Elvis Presley. Historians have overlooked the influence of Eddie Bond and the Stompers upon Elvis, because Bond recorded
after Elvis was already a regional star. In 1953-1954, however, Bond hired Elvis Presley to sing "pop songs" at the Stompers' engagements. As a result, Elvis was influenced
by Bond's rockabilly and country singing style and intrigued by Smith's guitar work. When Elvis' Sun Records sound emerged, it depended heavily upon Bond's style.
developments during this time included appearances on the Louisiana Hayride alongside Johnny Horton, Elvis Presley and Sonny James, and further touring alongside Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Harold Jenkins (later to become Conway Twitty), and Charlie Feathers. Concurrently a move to develop links with radio were set up when the "Eddie Bond Show" was transmitted
on KWEM, beginning a relationship with the airwaves that continues today. So now touring was joined by broadcasting as well as recording in the continually broadening of the Bond career. At the same time Eddie signed with Bob Neal's Stars Incorporated, located at 160 Union Avenue in Memphis (now Holiday Inn Hotel), then looking after the interest of Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash with Warren Smith and Roy Orbison soon to be added to the ranks.
Four sessions were recorded for and by Mercury, the first of which he poses a mystery. Held at radio station
WMPS in Memphis, and produced by Mercury Artists and Repertoire man Dee Kilpatrick, four songs were recorded but only two were issued on Mercury, "I Got A Woman"/ "Rockin' Daddy" (Mercury 70826),
the remaining two songs, "Sister Jenny Won't You Pray For Me" and "Blue Suede Shoes" do not even appear on Mercury paperwork never mind tape vaults. Eddie Bond confirms they were recorded and that he does not have tapes either. What happened here is unknown, perhaps an independently produced session with an option taken up by Mercury was effected? Mercury usually recorded in Chicago or Nashville, so why use WMPS radio in Memphis? Eddie is certain that Dee Kilpatrick was involved but could he have been there in an audition situation resulting in these tapes being used by Mercury?
There has to be a reason for the remaining two titles not appearing at Mercury either on tape or on paper. What is certain is that the Stompers' were featured on this cuts
which, when released on a single, sold healthily. Thirty-seven years on Eddie speculates: "It probably sold more than some current hits today as figure are calculated quite
Nashville was the location of the next session that produced Bond's strongest rockabilly performances ever with "Boppin' Bonnie" (Mercury 70941), "Flip
Flop Mama" (Mercury 70882), "Slip Slippin' In" (Mercury 70882) and "Baby, Baby, Baby (What Am I Gonna Do)" (Mercury 70941) used by Mercury on two singles in June and September
of 1956, which sold well enough for Mercury to organise two more sessions held in Houston, Texas, in 1957. As Bond's natural inclination was towards country, these two sessions
focused more on country material than the previous two studio forays. With the then current tieup of Mercury and Starday, Pappy Daily of the latter company was at the helm. Daily was then steering George Jones through his initial success period, so was well placed to watch over Eddie Bond's Houston sessions which were held at the Goldstar Recording Studio. The material was supplied by Quinton Claunch and Bill Cantrell, Darrell Edwards, and Roger Miller, as well as Eddie Bond himself; "You're Part Of Me" was tagged with "They Say We're Too Young" (Mercury 71067), "Lovin' You, Lovin' You" teamed up with "Hershey Bar" (Mercury 71153) and "Backslidin'" ended up being the final Mercury release when backed by "Love, Love, Love" (Mercury 71237), "One Step Close To You" (MG 20360) was held over until 1960, when it was used on a collection featuring Louisiana Hayride stars, leaving "King On Your Throne" to make its debut on Zu Zazz Z 2005. The fourteen Mercury titles represent
the essence of rockabilly and authentic fifties country music.
Following the Mercury deal, Eddie began label-hopping through the South, particularly around Memphis. First
stop was 706 Union Avenue in Memphis for Sun Records, where Jack Clement produced three titles included, "Show Me", "Broke My Guitar" and "This Old Heart Of Mine", all in a more-country-thanrockabilly mould. None were issued at the time having to wait for the rockabilly revival and subsequent glut of compilations released in the 1970s and 1980s (Bear Family BCD 15708).
Although not part of this, but recently re-issued on Stomper Time STCD 1, there followed a plethora of recordings for "D", Stomper Time, Wildcat, MCCR, Decca (through his friend Webb Pierce), and
United Southern Artists. All were basically country releases.
Early 1962 saw Eddie back in Memphis recording at the 639 Madison Avenue for, Sun Records flip label Phillips
International, or re nearly thirty sides were recorded during January and February; the fruits of these sessions being a selection of gospel items that were eventually used on an album in 1963, "Eddie Bond Sings Greatest Country Gospel Hits" (Phillips 1980), plus a mixture of country standards and a couple of Bond revivals. Although not strictly recorded by Sun or Phillips International, these
recordings were all bought in and have been embraced as "Sun" tracks as a result of the Phillips International album release. Further
stopping-off places on the label circuit included Memphis, Pen (leased on Decca), Diplomat ("Monkey And The Baboon"), Millionaire, Goldwax, Memphis, MCCR and Tab, which took Eddie to the end
of the sixties during which time he had expanded his radio operations and achieved great success by increasing his listening audience noticeably to the extent that a 64% share was achieved and a plaque presented to him by Billboard to honour the achievement.
The Tab recordings of 1969 inaugurated the Buford Pusser Years, when Eddie was involved in writing and
recording about the dubious character of Sheriff Pusser who became a southern hero when Hollywood portrayed him in the film "Walkin' Tall", and ran for sheriff in Hernando, Mississippi, in 1974. Bond later admitted to having mixed feelings on the subject but there was a certain fame that was achieved through the association. Many country fans were first introduced to the exploits of Buford Pusser through the recordings of Eddie Bond. In the wake of his meeting and ventures with Pusser, the office of Chief of Police in Finger, Tennessee, was achieved by Eddie Bond. Coincidentally, Finger
was the birthplace of Buford Pusser himself.
The following years saw more country sessions on Tab in the States and, following the first U.K. visit in 1982,
rockabilly recordings were issued on Rockhouse Records in Holland produced by Dave Travis, whose band always support Bond on tour, as was the case in 1982, 1985 and 1992.
continues to be an outstanding performer with a strong European following. A successful businessman in Hernando, Mississippi, Bond's records are released to large European sales. This retrospective of his associations with Ekko, Mercury, Sun Records and Phillips International documents his genesis as a country and rockabilly singer; a role perfected over his long career in the recording and broadcasting industry.
Through it all, the consensus is that Eddie Bond made more friends than enemies. In the late 1990s, he moved east to Bolivar, Tennessee
where he opened a store and a club that he was anxious to mention was not a nightclub. Morbidly obese, Bond moved to an assisted living facility for a time.
Wednesday morning, March 20, 2013, Eddie Bond died from complications of Alzheimer's disease and dementia at his home in Bolivar, Tennessee, at the age of 79.
KENNEDY VETERANS HOSPITAL - Located at 1030 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, Elvis Presley to entertain someone. "Sometimes it would be at the old Kennedy
Veterans Hospital to entertain the veterans", recalled Buzzy Forbess, "for the wounded coming home from the Korean War. There we would just mingle with the guys, talk and maybe
shoot pool with them. Anything to take their minds of their problems".
When the hospital was opened in 1944, it was located at the corner of Park and Shotwell Avenues. The city
fathers didn't think Shotwell Avenue was an appropriate name for a street on which a hospital caring for the war wounded was to be located, so they changed the name of the street, south of Park, to Getwell. It remains Shotwell immediately north of the property, which today is a part of the University of Memphis.
During 1945, when the sergeant
in charge of entertaining the troops put out the call for ideas, Army Sergeant Joe Broussard - who had been badly injured when his scout motorcycle, running dark during maneuvers,
had crashed into a troop-carrying truck - came forward. "I've got this nephew who pitches on a Little League baseball team and they're pretty good. Maybe we can get that team to play one of their league games out here. I'm sure the fellows would love to see some baseball".
The invitation was issued. Lawson-Getz, which was to become the Exchange League's champion that inaugural summer, played WHBQ radio, winning 504. More than two thousand wounded
soldiers really got into the game, choosing sides and loudly cheering "their" team. The youngsters on both teams were nervous, but thrilled. Never before had they played before such a large, vociferous crowd. Broussard's nephew,
who rang up a 28-2 record that summer, was a tall, skinny, olive-complexioned twelve-year-old named Bill Burk. And the sergeant in charge of entertainment, after the war, went back to Hollywood where he resumed his movie career and later
starred in the television series, Sgt. Bilko. His name: Phil Silvers.