NOVEMBER 1951
 
With the war in Korea looming, Isaiah Doctor Ross was required to join the Army again for a year starting on  October 2, 1950 and ending in November 1951. He served this time in Fort Worth, Texas, suffering a delay  in his career at an important moment. By the time he was back in Memphis near the end of 1951 he found  people he'd known down in Mississippi or in West Memphis had started to make records and big reputations  – men like B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, and Ike Turner with Jackie Brenston.  
 
As soon as he could, he  reconnected with WDIA and he became a paid up member of the musicians union at this time.  He told Barry  Lee Pearson: ''B.B. King took me around there and I got my union card and everything. And I paid for my  band boys. That was Wiley, Mook, and Reuben Martin. Wiley played the guitar and I blowed the harmonica  and sang. Mook had him a broom and get him a rough piece of wood on the floor and he's take the straw part  and have it up and the naked part at the bottom. And he'd just stroke that. And Reuben Martin played  washboard with a spoon and fork. And so everybody fell for us''.
 
Ross also lost no time in connecting with Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service. Jacob Ross, his brother,  had apparently been to see Phillips on his behalf while Isaiah was back in the Army. Ross told Chris Baird,  ''Sam Phillips said, 'Well bring your brother in'. One day my brother carried me there and I met Sam Phillips  and he had a little old recording studio, just plain props and pasteboard up against the wall for to make some  sound. He said he would like us to record for him one evening, so me and Wiley and a couple more boys went up there to play. He listened to us and then he took the phone off the hook and called Chess Records.  He was a scout then, for Leonard Chess. He said, 'These guys are the beat I've heard around here'. And he  had us to play and we played ''Country Clown'' and the other side was ''Doctor Ross Boogie'', so we put that  out and it came on the Chess label''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ® 

STUDIO SESSION FOR DOCTOR ROSS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR CHESS RECORDS 1951
 
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: THURSDAY NOVEMBER 29, 1951
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
 
Doctor Ross first recording session took place on November 29, 1951 with Ross playing harmonica and singing, Wiley Gatlin on guitar, and Robert Moore on broom. Ross told Norman Darwen, ''Mook used to drag the broom, yeah he could drag that, he could make it sound better than any drums''. Six songs from the session have survived. Sam Phillips was impressed by Ross's little group and their fascinating mix of catchy rhythms and authentic blues. He probably didn't know or care that Ross's original tunes were drawn from his years on the juke joint circuit and from listening to records.
 
01(1) - "COUNTRY CLOWN" B.M.I. - 2:51
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - 1996 
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rom CDSUNBOX 7-1-17 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-1-13 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958
 
Doctor Ross' recording debut shows the profound influence that John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson had on the harmonica players of the next generation. The performance is something of a hybrid, since it combines elements of Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas in its construction. The song is Ross' version of Lil' Son Jackson's "Bad Whiskey, Bad Woman", recorded in Houston, Texas three years previously and issued on Gold Star 642. This first take begins with a long harmonica solo, whereas the issued version has a four-bar introduction before the first verse. Sam Phillips noted Ross's guitarist as 'Wiley Gallatin' but no one of that name appears to have been living around that time, and Ross later confirmed that he was really Wiley (or Wylie) Gatlin. Ross, Gatlin and Rober Moore aka Mook had played together for some years on Arkansas radio stations either side of Ross's stints in the Army and they'd found themselves a slot on WDIA where A.C. Mooha Williams dubbed Ross the Medical Director of the Royal Amalgamated Association of Chitlin' Eaters of America.
 
01(2) - "COUNTRY CLOWN" B.M.I. 2:54 
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - F 1012 - Take 2
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - March 1952
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1504-A mono
COUNTRY CLOWN / DR. ROSS BOOGIE
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-17 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
02 - "DOCTOR ROSS BOOGIE" B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - F 1013
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - March 1952
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1504-B mono
DR. ROSS BOOGIE / COUNTRY CLOWN
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-18 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
''Doctor Ross Boogie'' is the template for many of Doctor Ross' later Sun recordings.  The guitarist's amplifier makes a rather muddy jumble of his boogie phrases, but his presence is almost incidental to Ross' exuberant vocal and his harmonica playing. The song's obvious derivation from Pinetop's "Boogie Woogie" is made plain by Ross' spoken (or half-shouted) instructions to his imaginary audience "When I tell you to that thing/try your best to break your leg". He prefaces a harmonica solo with the comment, "Now play it cool", and proceeds to play with anything but reticence.
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Isaiah Ross  – Vocal, Harmonica & Footstomping
Wiley Gatlin - Guitar & Vocal*
Robert Moore (aka Mook) - Broom
 
Wiley Gatlin was recorded as a cotton farmer on the Wilson Plantation north east of Dundee in Tunica Country at the time. According to Doctor Ross, ''the best picker you ever saw''.  Robert Moore, was a man Doctor Ross called ''Mook'', who played a string bass and also used a broom to make a percussion sound. 
 
In almost total contrast, Doctor Ross's final offering at the session was an engaging if strange attempt to marry some familiar lines about a mistreating woman (from the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson's 1946 recordings of ''Shake The Boogie'') with Moohah Williams local catchphrase: ''come on and shake-a my hand''. WDIA jockey A.C. Williams had the ''Wheelin' On Beale'' show.  He had still been a biology teacher at Manassas High School when he started at WDIA in 1949, but he soon became the first full time black employee of the station, working on promotion and organisation of events as well as hosting shows. 
 
He set up the Teen Town Singers group that changed personnel each year to include the best talent from all seven of the local black High Schools.  When singer Faye Adams had a number 1 rhythm and blues hit on Herald in the summer of 1953 with another song called ''Shake A My Hand'', Moohah got together with WDIA's David Mattis to write a comical song about the perils of hand-shaking. Issued that November on Starmaker Records, Moohah's ''All Shook Out'' was an answer song in the vein of Rufus Thomas's ''Bear Cat'', a recent number 1 in Memphis. The song may also have had secondary reference to the gladhanding that went on during the annual WDIA Goodwill Revue. Although Moohah played all kinds of black music in his shows, he took the name ''Mr Blues'' for one show and ran mock elections for the preservation of good country blues; he awarded Doctor Ross the presidency of the Royal Amalgamated Association of Chitterling Eaters of America for his musical efforts. 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ®