Alphabetical Order by the last name of the Artist
Artists M - N - O
- Manker, Sid -
- Mann, Carl -
- Manuel, Joe -
- McCollough, Lloyd Arnold -
- McDaniel, Luke (Jeff Daniels) -
- McGill, Jerry -
- McVoy, Carl -
- Memphis Willie B. -
- Miller Sisters, The -
- Milton, Little -
- Mississippi Slim (Carvel Lee Ausborn) -
- Money, Curley -
- Moore, Scotty -
- Moore, Wade -
- Murphy, Floyd -
- Nance, Jack -
- Newborn Jr., Phineas -
- Nix, Willie -
- North, Freddie -
- O'Neal, Johnny -
- Orbison, Roy -
MANKER, SID - Guitar player, born as Sidney Manker on January 25, 1932 in Memphis, he lived there until he was drafted at age 20. After his return to Memphis in the mid-1950s, he went to the Academy of Art to study design until the guitar (or 'starvation box', as he called it) entered his life. Manker was an advanced student of jazz-guitarist and teacher Lyn Vernon, when Manker co-wrote and played the hypnotic guitar line of "Raunchy'', by the Bill Justis Orchestra. Released by Sam Phillips on the Phillips International label, the record became the biggest instrumental hit of its time, selling over three million copies.
The sales of "Raunchy" enabled Sid Manker to concentrate upon his Memphis Jazz Quartet, there, he befriended a local jazz musician named Sidney Chilton, who convinced Manker to teach his young son, Alex, later best known as the lead singer of the Box Tops and Big Star, to play the guitar.
Although Sid Manker continued to work sessions at Sun and tour with Bill Justis. During one of the follow-up sessions to "Raunchy", Manker received a phone call telling him that his mother had died. "I was so close to her that her death left me...
...in a state of mental collapse", recalled Manker to the Memphis Press Scimitar in 1959. "The day after her burial I went to a friend's house and he told me he would give me some sedation. I didn't know it was heroin. Well, that was it. I was hooked. The friend gave me about five shots over the next three days, and I was full-fledged addict. From then on, it was three shots a day, seven days a week. I spent over $200 a day on dope".
Sid Manker's account sidesteps the fact that heroin was the final stage in a long career of substance abuse. On a tour of Canada in 1957, Sid Manker was so stoned after consuming all of his drugs before going through customs that even a head-on collision between the tour bus and a car only elicited the comment, "Far out, man". Along with the argot of the jazz musician, Manker had acquired the penchant for narcotics that really took care of all his royalties from the 3 million sales of "Raunchy".
In April 1960 Sid Manker was sent to the penal farm for six months. After his release, he married and dropped out of sight. He and his wife, Linda, moved to Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1969. Sid Manker continued to compose and worked at the Axent studio in Biloxi until his death, of a heart attack, on December 15, 1974.
MANN, CARL - Carl Mann is one of those ''legendary''figures in rock and roll who build fanatical following among the cognoscenti of the medium, inspire generous praise from the newspaper critics and win sincere admiration from their fellow musicians, without ever really making it big; though he did sell over half a million copies of “Mona Lisa”in 1959. Carl Richard Mann was born on August 22, 1942, in Huntington, Tennessee, an area that spawned many fine rock and roll singers, like Eddie Bond, Johnny Burnette, Carl Perkins and others.
He was on stage at the Grand Ole Opry at nine years of age, and already performed over local radio stations in Milan, Lexiton and McKenzie, Tennessee. Like many of the era, Carl was hanging out with his friends and making music semo-seriously.
He and his band may not have been spectacular craftsmen or great innovators but they did attract the attention of musician/entrepreneur, Jimmie Martin. Martin booked groups locally (when he wasn’t employing them in his construction business) and ran with Jim Stewart a little record label called Jaxon, whose distribution barely made it past the city limits.
His professional career began in 1958 when he recorded “Gonna Rock And Roll Tonight”for Jim Stewart's Memphis based Jaxon label. He was just 17 years at age, but he had organized a small band to play at dances in West Tennessee. There's a somewhat mysterious connection between Sun and Jaxon. Undoubtedly, part of it was geographical. Sun was the older brother who lived down the road and had enjoyed national success. Jaxon was the younger brother sibling, a wannabee. At the least, Jimmie Martin could learn from Sam Phillips. At the most he could piggyback on his accomplishments. The earliest Jaxon releases were published by Sun affiliates Hi-Lo and Knox Music. Why did Martin give the publishing away? Perhaps because it would sweeten the pot when it came time to consider a licensing deal with Sun or a recording contract for one of Martin's proteges.
Jimmie Martin was nothing if not practical. When he saw Carl Mann's band enjoying some local success, he arranged to absorb it into his own Jimmie Martin combo. A temporary deal was struck so that the best of both groups formed a hybrid band, probably most notable for the electric guitar work of newcomer Eddie Bush. Bush had recently been part of the staff band at the Louisiana Hayride and he brought an undeniable tough of professionalism to the newly minted Jimmie Martin ensemble. Bush wandering ways had brought him to Jackson to visit his old army buddy, Ramsey Kearney.
Shortly thereafter, Carl Mann broke away from Jimmie Martin and formed his own combo with Bush, as well as bass player Robert Oatsvall and drummer Tony Moore. It was at this point that Carl's interest in recording for Sun became more serious.
After a year or so, his piano player quit, so Carl started playing the piano developing his own 'rolling' piano style. Later in 1958, Carl and his band worked on radio station WHDM where he also helped to spin records for his disc jockey friend Gail Burns. Carl's band at this time was known as the “Kool Kats”. Early in 1959, he was more or less discovered by W.S. 'Fluke' Holland, who had been playing drums for the Carl Perkins Band. Holland was planning to leave Carl Perkins for various reasons and he wanted to manage Carl Mann, as he thought he was a great talent. Holland took Carl to Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records, to see what he thought.
Sam Phillips was well known in music circles by now, having recorded such great artists as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Sam Phillips knew this was another sensational find and Carl Mann was signed to a three years contract with Sun Records early in 1959.
On April 1, 1959, came his first record “Mona Lisa”/”Foolish One”on Sun's sub-label Phillips International (PI 3539). This was an instant smash hit and shot up the national charts with sales over half a million copies. The line-up at the time was Robert Oatswell (bass), Eddie Bush (guitar), W.S. Holland (drums), Carl Mann (vocals, piano). On ''Mona Lisa'', Carl's vocal is youthful and energetic. His piano work may be rudimentary; in fact, the whole rhythm section rolls along waiting for something to punctuate it and break free. That something is Eddie Bush's guitar solo. Like the man himself, Bush's guitar work was wildly erratic, unpredictable and lived on the edge. When it took off, you simply stood back in fascination and awe, waiting to see where it would land or how it would turn out. Happily, the landing on ''Mona Lisa'' was solid and the result increasingly image-conscious teen record market, yet wild enough (when Bush cut loose) to keep rebellious adolescents happy. ''Mona Lisa'' stayed on the Billboard charts for 16 weeks in the summer of 1959, peaking at number 25. In September 1959 came a new record, “Pretend”/”Rockin'Love”. It was another smash hit. So was “Some Enchanted Evening” and ''I'm Coming Home” in 1960.
Carl stayed with the label for nearly four years, from his first tentative approaches to ''Mona Lisa'' in late 1958 until his seventh and final single was released in June, 1962. Midway through that period was his one LP – the highly collectable ''Like Man!'', Phillips International LP 1960. The disaster struck and Carl's career began the fast journey downhill. He had been living at a fast pace for a boy of eighteen and due to a much needed rest Carl had to quit show business for a few months. In the meantime a new star was shining at Sun Records, Charlie Rich had hit the top and Sam Phillips had lost interest in Carl Mann.
Left to right: Footsie Robinson, Larry Gowan, Carl Mann, Robert Oatsvall, Carol Wooters, Jerry Wooters >
In 1962 Carl's contract with Sun Records expired and his musical career had come to a fast finish. For the next few years Carl Mann had the kind of luck that no one needs. He spent several years away from the recording business. But Carl Mann, the hard luck rock and roll singer, got a new recording deal with ABC Dunhill Records in 1974 - for which company he cut a number of country songs.
Sadly, W.S. Holland and Carl Mann came to a parting of the ways sometime in the summer of 1960 following this session at the new Phillips studio on Madison Avenue. Predictably, it was over money. Musicians and groups who make it through the lean years often find unexpected conflict when the money starts rolling in. Until ''Mona Lisa'' starting selling big, Carl and W.S. had made it on a handshake. With revenue from both personal appearances and record sales, the question of exactly what was being split and in what percentage became contentious. At this point, W.S. Holland chose a steady, although unchallenged gig keeping time for Johnny Cash over the ups and downs of working with Carl Mann.
Carl Mann had several 'feel good' moments during his days recording for Sam Phillips' label. Admittedly, his later work for Monument or ABC might have revealed a higher standard of technical perfection, but these early sides by a still very young, optimistic and relatively musician are surely to work for which he will be remembered. There is much to be proud of here.
Springtime 1977 Bert Rockhuizen, owner of Rockhouse Records (Holland), met Carl's manager Bob Robinson in Nashville, Tennessee. It resulted in a record deal for Carl Mann. The album, Rockhouse LP 7806, “Gonna Rockin' Roll Tonight”, was recorded in Holland and features one side live-recordings and the B-side studio recordings. The record was released in all European countries, and achieved a very successful sales-result.
In 1981 Carl Mann was back again in Europe for several shows and recordings of his second album for Rockhouse Records, which was released that year under the title “Rockabilly Country”(Rockhouse LPL 8102). This album shows Carl's fantastic capacities in regards to singing rock and roll and country music. With some very strong own compositions. In October 1984, Carl Mann is back in Europe again for several shows, among which an appearance at the 23rd Rockhouse International Rock And Roll Meeting in Holland.
In the past 40 years, Carl Mann has retired from the music business several times, only to be lured back into it by overtures from fans and collectors and the pleasure of performing. Within the last 25 tears Mann has appeared in England, Spain, and Holland, and continues to perform closer to home in the United States. Performing gospel music has become more important to Carl Mann over the years. ''I'm not trying to be commercial anymore and I don't have to worry about hit records. That makes it easier to do what I want to do''. In recent years that has meant a combination of 'oldies' at various festivals and gospel music at local churches and halls. ''It's simply part of who I an mow'', Carl observes. ''Mona Lisa''is never far away, even when I'm doing spirituals. When I play in church, people still ask for it''. Recently, Carl has found an inventive way to bring the two forms of music together. He has written a song called ''Jesus Jesus''. ''It's fits right on to the title ''Mon Lisa'' and the words fit the melody perfectly''. It's really an ingenious solution, blending your biggest hit record, something audiences expect you to perform, with your renewed faith and commitment to sing gospel music. Some of the new lyrics fit so well you'd almost think they came from the 1950 original. ''In a villa in a little old Italian town'' now becomes ''In a manger in the little town of Bethlehem''.
Whenever Carl performs ''Mona Lisa'' (in either versions) he has become his own lead guitarist. ''Eddie's not around any more (Bush died in 1990) so I've had to try to fill in for him. I'll never be as good as he was. In fact, I'm not sure anybody could be. But I've been working on that ''Mona Lisa;; solo''. Carl is like a man caught between two worlds. ''I keep quitting the business but I keep coming back. I just don't seem to be able to stay away from it''. Carl Mann still lives in Huntington, Tennessee as business man and music producer.
MANUEL, JOE - was one of the mainstays of Memphis radio through the 1940s and 1950s, but he made very few recordings, and most of those weren't in his own name. Born in Towncreek near Lawrence in rural Alabama on March 26, 1912, Joe moved with his family to farm in the Arkansas delta in the 1930s.
As a teenager, Joe left home to join a carnival, and worked traveling shows as a comedian, singer and guitarist. By the late 1930s he had wound up in Memphis with his Jimmie Rodgers inspired music.
He joined radio WHBQ and was playing the early morning farmer's shows by the time WHBQ moved to the Gayoso Hotel building and expanded to a strong 5000 watt signal. He left the station in 1950 but in 1952 he started a new show on KWEM in West Memphis.
During the heyday of folk and hillbilly music shows on Southern radio, the station used the best known local singers to help pitch products to rural audiences and the daytime homemakers listening in around mid-day. Baking products and bread...
...sales were big business and for a period in the early 1950s Sam Phillips used his studio to record promotional songs for radio programs, sometimes for release by companies looking for discs to sell at local events.
One of these was Hart's Bakery, and another was Action Productions who made a number of flour and bread-related discs. Among the singers Phillips recorded were Slim Rhodes, Buck Turner, Gene Steele, known as ''the Singing Salesman'', and a man named Dreamy Joe, really Joe Manuel. Among the numbers Dreamy Joe recorded were ''Sweetheart Boogie'', ''Hardin's Bread Boogie'', and ''Holsum Boogie''. According to Larry Manuel. Joe's son, a former musician and later Captain in the Memphis Fire Service, his father was approached by the Holsum Bread Company to write them a commercial song. His tune became so popular that Joe played packed out shows in Holsum's home town Anna, Illinois on the strength of his songs.
This success may or may not have inspired Joe to record ''Daisy Bread Boogie'', for the Pennington Milling Company of Cincinnati, and to also pitch Sam Phillips his own requested nonflour song, ''Alimony Blues''. Larry Manuel recalls that Jimmie Rodgers was his father's hero and Joe wrote songs like ''Alimony Blues'' in Rodgers' style. That song dates from around 2940, the year that Joe's first recorded marriage.
During the period 1953-1954 Joe Manuel put on a ''Saturday Night Jamboree'' show at the Goodwyn Institute Auditorium at downtown Third and Madison Avenues, having persuaded KWEM to make belated attempts to bring a Grand Ole Opry style show to Memphis. Larry Manuel joined his father's band in 1953, playing accordion alongside Marcus Van Story on bass and Lee Adkins on guitar. While Joe's own music remained strictly country he did give many new, mostly very young artists a chance on the show. These included Charlie Feathers, Johnny Cash in his gospel music pre-Sun days, Bud Deckelman, Tommy Smith, the Burnette Brothers, and Harmonica Frank Floyd, all of whom went on to record for Dun or Meteor in Memphis or for major labels elsewhere. One of the groups appearing in 1953 was led by Ray Sexton who sometimes included a guest singer, Elvis Presley.
The ''Jamboree'' folded in 1954 when the Goodwyn venue was closed for repair and many young performers started recording and touring. Joe Manuel continued broadcasting on KWEM until his death in Memphis in July 1959 from melanoma. (MH)
MCCOLLOUGH, LLOYD ARNOLD – Lloyd Arnold's grandfather came to America from Ireland as a small boy and his father John was every inch 'the Irishman' except for the temper. He had no temper . He was a kind and gentle soul, an extremely generous man, with never a harsh word for anyone. On the other hand, due to her Choctaw Indian background, his bride could be very determined and strong willed. But in spite of their differences, this was truly a marriage made in Heaven. Her determination was tempered by his gentleness and his gentleness was strengthened by her determination.
John Clinton McCollough was a gentle, kind hearted Irishman. Clemmie Elizabeth Coleman was part Choctaw Indian, a very strong willed and determined southern lady. They met in the rural area of Strayhorn/ Bluegoose, Mississippi around the turn of the century. The young couple found that they had something in common, they both loved music! John played the banjo and Clemmie strummed the guitar. The duo gained quite a musical reputation performing at church socials and square dances. They married on April 29, 1906. This was truly a marriage made in Heaven. Even though their personalities were different,...
...her determination was tempered by his gentleness and his gentleness was strengthened by her determination.
For the next few years they remained in Strayhorn while John farmed the unyielding land. They wanted a large family, so Lloyd’s oldest brother, Thadis, made his appearance in 1908. The baby was born with an enlarged heart however he did survive and the couple gave thanks to the Lord and entered their first child’s name in the family Bible. Clemmie employed an Indian medicine man from a nearby Choctaw Reservation to stop by periodically and check on her first born. A second child, Leroy, made his appearance in 1912. In the year 1916, Lloyd’s oldest sister, Flora Ilene was born. A fourth name was added to the family Bible, when my mother, Zeta Margarine, was born in 1920. A few days aughts took little Albert Eugene into their home and into their hearts.
In the mid-twenties John moved the family to Sardis, Mississippi where Clemmie’s mother owned a small store with living quarters in the back. He raised vegetables and peanuts while Clemmie worked behind the counter. In 1926 their next child, James (Jim ), arrived. Jim is the brother who would one day help Lloyd organize his first band. It was also in Sardis that the first son, Thadis, took a wife, Myra Wade. In 1929 the couple presented John and Clemmie with their first grandchild, Johnnie Marie. Her birth, John and Clemmie adopted a new born baby boy. The child belonged to Clemmie’s first cousin who had died while giving him life. So the McColloughs took little Albert Eugene into their home and into their hearts.
John was always looking for better farmland and more opportunities so they moved to Tallulah, Louisiana. By this time things were changing. Flora moved across the river to Vicksburg, Mississippi and eventually became Mrs. George Condia while Leroy married Mattie Hammond, a Tallulah telephone operator. Mattie was the lady who would one day design most of Lloyd’s stage clothes. It was also in Tallulah that John was diagnosed with severe ulcerated stomach and was hospitalized in nearby Shreveport. The doctors were very clear when they told Clemmie that her husband could no longer keep up the strenuous pace of a farmer’s life. Soon after his hospital release, it was time for a major change.
In the early thirties, John moved the family to the big city where they occupied both sides of a duplex on Tate Street. The McColloughs had finally arrived in Memphis, Tennessee! Shortly after this move, Clemmie gave birth to another son. Baby Harold was very frail and lived only a few months. John and Clemmie remained in Memphis and in time became known as Ma and Pa to most everyone, including all the musicians who would cross their path in the years to come.
During the Great Depression, John peddled door to door, selling small items such as sewing thread, thimbles, shoe strings etc. The memory of lean years and doors being slammed in his face remained with him. In the early 1950′s, when the children was growing up in the McCollough house, no peddler was ever turned from our door. If my grandfather had no money at the time to buy an item, he would invite the weary man in for a glass of tea and conversation. In 1935 Zeta became a very young bride while John and Clemmie welcomed their last child, Lloyd Arnold, born on June 25, 1935 in Memphis. A few months later, tragedy struck: Lloyd’s oldest brother, Thadis developed pneumonia. He passed away just a few days before Christmas, leaving his wife and their two small children.
In 1937, his niece, Barbara was born. Since her and Lloyd were close to the same age, he became very protective of his young niece. At Christmastime, they would stand in line for hours at the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis to receive a small toy and a piece of fruit from the Good Fellows Fund. These were lean years but because of John’s small garden and his skill as a farmer the family never went hungry.
As a small boy, Lloyd developed spinal meningitis. In those days that was practically a death sentence! He spent a month in isolation at the John Gaston Hospital. Trying to prevent the disease from going to his brain, the doctors strapped him in a bed that stood upright against the wall. Since he was not allowed to have any visitors in his room, the medical staff would raise the window so family members could talk to him. Every morning when his mother arrived, the nurses would make sure that the window was open wide so she could communicate with her son. Lloyd was too young to understand what was happening. He often cried, begging the family to take him home. During the times that he was awake there was at least one family member outside his window talking to him and praying for him. The McColloughs used their faith and stood against fear as Lloyd fought a tough battle with the disease that almost took his life. As the weeks turned into months, once again their prayers were answered. He slowly regained his strength and the doctors were amazed!
In the early 1940′s, it was time to make another change so the McColloughs moved from Tate Street to Kimball Avenue. Because of my grandfather’s health, he and my grandmother decided to change roles. So in September of 1943, she went to work as a steam checker in the raincoat department of The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, while he stayed home to care for his backyard garden. John McCollough had a ‘green thumb’! He could make anything grow. All kinds of fruits and vegetables simply thrived under his care! In the summer, he canned the food that would feed the family through the winter always making certain that he had enough to share with neighbors.
Because Lloyd’s mother worked outside of the home during a portion of his childhood, this left the majority of the child-rearing to my grandfather and my mother. John and Zeta were the ones who came to the rescue to mend skinned knees and dry childhood tears. These were the two people who exerted the most influence over Lloyd’s life. In the years to come anyone who knew him professionally or privately also knew 'Pa' and 'Sis'. Few decisions were made without their approval. Oh by the way, Lloyd's niece made her appearance in the McCollough house in November of 1945.
Growing up in Memphis in the 1950′s was exciting. The era of bobby sox, poodle skirts, cherry cokes and wonderful music was waiting in the wings. One afternoon as Lloyd and Barbara made their way down Parkway Avenue they stopped for a red light. A motorcycle roared up beside Lloyd’s Ford coupe and the rider glanced toward the car and spoke: ''Hey Lloyd, how’s it goin''? As the light changed, Lloyd waved and returned the greeting. Barbara watched the young man until he was completely out of sight. ''Qho’s that''? she asked. ''Oh, he’s one of the guys from Humes High, his name’s Elvis Presley''.
During his high school days Lloyd was extremely popular with the other students. He was an R.O.T.C. major, a member of the colour guard, the Key Club, the Officer’s Club and of course the A Cappella Choir. Some of his time was spent at Rainbow Roller Skating Rink where he became an avid skater, and won his share of trophies. He was also a ''skate cop'' and president of the Roller Skating Club. Because of his ability on the rink his classmates dubbed him ''Fireball Mac''. In his early teens his goal in life was to become a professional baseball player. He spent many hours on the ball field however slowly his interests began to change to the field of music. Then during that icy Christmas of 1950 he was both surprised and delighted as he opened the large Christmas box and found the mandolin. He spent the next few days searching for elusive chords. Finally he mastered the instrument and started performing for high school functions.
Lloyd was greatly influenced by the music of Hank Williams. When Hank passed away in January 1, 1953, Lloyd decided to make music his profession. The career of Hank Williams had established a musical role model for him and through the years there was always a portion of his performances set aside to pay tribute to this legendary artist.
Family members offered their assistance to help him form his first band. His brother, Jim McCollough handled the stand-up bass and his niece, Geneva McCollough became the band’s first songstress. Curley Rainey, a family friend, took over the job of fiddler. The steel guitar was played by a local musician named Grady. (Grady’s last name has disappeared through the tunnels of time). This group comprised Lloyd’s original The Drifting Hillbillies. Band practice took place at least once a week either in the living room or in the garage. During those fun-filled days the McCollough house overflowed with music and laughter. In the years that followed, we would remember this carefree era as the happiest time of our lives. It was that special time of youth that comes but once to each of us; secures us in expectations and then is gone forever.
Now that Lloyd had a band, he also needed stage clothes. Leroy’s wife, Mattie, was an excellent seamstress and offered her services. She created the designs that appeared on most of his stage suits. Lloyd and his new band performed a benefit for the Memphis Veterans Hospital in April of 1953. As the year progressed, his music was brought into the living rooms of thousands of viewers as he stepped before the television cameras of the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. During August and September Lloyd hosted a radio program at WBLE Radio in Batesville, Mississippi. As the September winds blew briskly across the tents of the Mid-South Fair, he and the Drifting Hillbillies performed on the Country Music Showcase, sponsored by WMCT-TV Channel 5 in Memphis. In November, Lloyd received a letter from Como, Mississippi High School asking him to perform for the student body, which he did on Friday December 18. He was also one of two Technical High School students chosen to perform at the Peabody for the Memphis Kiwanis Club luncheon. It was a cold December 16 in 1953 when Lloyd took his bows from the famed banquet hall of the nostalgic Peabody Hotel.
In the early 1950s things began to change again in the McCollough house as more grandchildren and great grandchildren made their appearance. Lloyd became a ''great uncle'' and a ''dad'' at a very young age. While still in high school, he married a girl who was in her middle twenties. As soon as the vows were spoken, his bride began to complain about his career. She wanted him to get out of the music business, but Lloyd refused. Since he was not willing to abandon his profession, the marriage lasted only a year. They had one child, a son. The break-up was very difficult for everyone and Lloyd tried hard to maintain a ''father, son'' relationship with his little boy.
While suffering with childhood meningitis, Lloyd lost many school days. Due to this lost time, his graduation from Technical High School was delayed until May 27 of 1954. By that time he was already somewhat of a seasoned performer. He and the band began to travel, gaining popularity through the southern states. This was reflected in a letter that he received from WNAG Radio in Grenada, Mississippi on June 7, 1954: ''Dear Mr. McCollough, We have a Hillbilly Jamboree each Saturday morning. We have seen you pass through here several times and we were wondering if you could come one Saturday and be on our show? A little more publicity is all the pay we can offer you but this is a new show and we need your help in order to keep it going''.
A few weeks later, Lloyd and the Drifting Hillbillies traveled to Grenada to play a benefit for them. When it came time to hire another band member, Lloyd’s nephew, Bo McCollough joined the Drifting Hillbillies to play rhythm guitar. Soon Bill Helms was brought on board to play lead guitar.
The ''Saturday Night Jamboree'' was a weekly event held in the Goodwyn Institute located at Third and Madison in downtown Memphis. It was founded by a well known Memphis musician named Joe Manuel. Since the Jamboree showcased local talent, Lloyd obtained a spot on the program. Every weekend, the McColloughs made their way to the Goodwyn Institute to support him and all the other artists. Many local performers got their start there: Marcus Van Story, Aubry Rice, Elvis Presley, Doug Stone, Charlie Feathers, Larry Manuel, Jimmy Smith, Tommy Cash (Johnny Cash’s brother), Major Pruitt, Ellis Mize and many others. Every Saturday night, local musicians gathered there to display their special mix of gospel, country and blues, never realizing that they were helping to develop a new sound called ''rockabilly''.
One night, during Lloyd’s portion of the show, he strained his eyes against the spotlight and spoke to a shadowy figure standing at the back of the theatre. ''Hey E.P., don’t leave yet, I need to talk to you after the show''. The shadows stirred and into a sliver of light stepped Elvis Presley. He turned his pockets inside out and yelled towards the stage: ''You don’t need to talk to me, Lloyd, I ain’t got no money''!
The following Saturday evening found Lloyd at home pacing the floor. Showtime was drawing near and he was impatiently waiting for his guitarist, Bo, to find his only pair of red stage pants. Bo couldn’t remember which dry cleaners had them. He was trying to locate them by telephone so they could be picked up on the way to the performance. On this particular afternoon, two elderly ladies decided to monopolize the party line. Every time Bo listened for a dial tone he received nothing but an ear full of recipes. His tension was mounting because time was marching on and Lloyd kept thrusting his head in the doorway, pointing to his wristwatch. Outside the window the other band members were loading instruments and tapping upon the windowpane. After forty-five minutes Lloyd stopped pacing, rattled his car keys and yelled from the hallway: ''Bo, if you don’t come on, we’re gonna leave you and I’ll get somebody else to play guitar''.
The next sound we heard was that of desperation as Bo grabbed the receiver and blurted: ''Ladies, will you please get off this confounded line, I’ve left my britches somewhere and I’m tryin’ to find ‘em''. There was a stunned silence over the phone, then a dial tone – the pants were found and the show went on!
During the Jamboree days, Lloyd began to experience the many problems of maintaining band members. His brother, Jim had recently married Glora Hall, a young lady who lived down the street from the McColloughs. After their marriage, Jim decided to become a member of the Memphis Police Force. By this time, the band had many ‘out of town’ engagements and Jim’s work schedule would not permit him to travel. This left Lloyd in desperate need of a bass man. One hot summer night in August at the Goodwyn Institute, Lloyd was introduced to a young man from Hollandale, Mississippi named Buddy Hollie. He proved to be a excellent bass player and Lloyd hired him on the spot. Just when he thought his band was secure again, he discovered that Geneva had secretly married his fiddle player, Curley Rainey, and was preparing to trade her guitar for pots and pans. Soon the couple married, left the band and moved from Memphis. This left Lloyd with no songstress and no fiddler. Slowly, one by one, the original Drifting Hillbillies were replaced and over the next twenty years a succession of musicians would follow in their footsteps.
During 1953 and 1954 Lloyd and his band recorded several demos and acetates at the newly opened Memphis Recording Service, at 706 Union Avenue. During the nineties thirteen of these acetates were relocated by re-searcher Jim Cole, employed by the University of Memphis.
During those fun filled days, Lloyd and the Drifting Hillbillies had a great time performing at such places as ''The Old Dominion Barn Dance'', ''The Renfro Valley Barn Dance'', ''Red Foley’s Ozark Jubilee'' and the ''Louisiana Hayride''. In January of 1955 they performed at the ''Hillbilly Festival'' for WRBL-TV in Columbus, Georgia. In February and March they were in Little Rock, Arkansas at the ''Barnyard Frolic'' and in December they played ''The Big D Jamboree'' in Dallas, Texas. That same year he hosted another weekly radio program, for WBIP in Booneville Mississippi.
In 1955 Lloyd formed a business relationship with Charles Bolton, a country music promoter from Booneville. Charles rented the Von Theatre every Saturday night where Lloyd and the Drifting Hillbillies made many appearances for the ‘Country Music Festival’ and the ''TriState Jubilee''.
During the Booneville days, Lloyd really became a businessman. He bought a record shop in that town and sent Buddy Hollie to manage it. When they had a show date the guys would swing through Booneville and pick up Buddy. When they weren’t traveling, Lloyd could also be found behind the counter, greeting customers and mulling over receipts. On Saturday nights after their performances at the Von Theatre, Lloyd and the boys would perform at the record shop. Unfortunately it was too difficult for Lloyd and Buddy to juggle their career with one hand and this business venture with the other. Eventually it was sold and the little shop faded into history.
His association with Charles Bolton brought about his first recording of ''Oh Darlin’'' b/w ''Watch That Gal''. The back up musicians were: Buddy Hollie on upright bass, Bo McCollough on rhythm guitar and Bill Helms on lead guitar. During the same year he also recorded a session for the Bihari Brothers Memphis based label, Meteor Records. The tracks ''Baby, Take Me For A Ride'' and ''My Blue Heart Is Crying'' were left unissued.
Beginning in January of 1956 Lloyd hosted another radio program for KWEM Radio in Memphis. The following are excerpts from a KWEM newsletter, dated January of that year: ''Everyday at 12:00 noon, the studios of the Family Station begin to really jump. That’s the time of the day, Monday through Friday, when Lloyd McCollough and his band, ‘The Drifting Hillbillies’ tune up. KWEM is mighty proud of Lloyd and his band and glad to have ‘em on the air. ‘By the way, if you collect records, ask for Lloyd’s latest ‘Von’ record now on sale at record shops everywhere. And he’ll have a new release out very soon, so be watching for it''.
When Lloyd met Red Matthews, owner of Ekko Records, he made another recording, ''What Goes On In Your Heart'' b/w ''Until I Love Again'', released on the Ekko label in 1956. The back-up musicians were: Buddy Hollie on upright bass, Chet Atkins on guitar, Tommy Jackson on fiddle, Jerry Byrd on steel guitar and Jimmy Self behind the piano. The record was reviewed in Billboard on February 4th. In the summer of 1956, he left Ekko to record for the Republic label.
When the McColloughs lived on Kimball Avenue, Lloyd had a little office in the attic of the house. Whenever he felt the inspiration for a new song, he would rush upstairs to write. One breezy March afternoon in 1955 he made a dash for the attic and about 20 minutes later he returned with ''Gonna Love My Baby''. He sang it for Buddy and the family members that were gathered in the living room. One line caught Buddy’s attention, the line that reads, ''I’ll jump up and play my fiddle'', Buddy interrupted and ask: ''What does that line have to do with the rest of the song''? You could tell by the look on Lloyd’s face that he hadn’t given that much thought. Finally he said: ''Well it rhymes, doesn’t it''.
So the line remained and the song was recorded on Republic in 1956 backed with '''Cause I Love You''. The back-up musicians were: Buddy Hollie on upright bass, Bo McCollough on rhythm guitar, Bill Helms on lead guitar and Junior Johnson on fiddle. The backing band seems to have been used for further Republic release by Lou Millet (7130): ''Slip, Slip, Slippin’ In b/w ''Shorty The Barber'', as both records sound the same. ''Slip…'' was later recorded by Eddie Bond on Mercury.
Lloyd’s fourth record was released on the Starday label. ''Half My Fault'' is a relaxed rocker with fine guitar and piano. The flipside ''What Can I Tell Them'' reveal his country and gospel roots. During 1956 Lloyd and the Drifting Hillbillies worked 282 one nighters throughout the southern and eastern states. In April of 1956 his private life took another important turn as he walked down the isle with his second bride. Since he did so much out of town work, Ma and Pa insisted that he bring his new wife to live with us. After getting her situated into the McCollough house, Lloyd was off on the road again.
Also in 1956, Buddy Hollie met his future wife and said ''goodbye'' to Lloyd and the McCollough family. Once again the band was left with no bass man. Soon Bo McCollough and his new bride, Lucy, left Memphis, ending Bo’s musical career.
Bobby Howard, better known to audiences as ‘Droopy Duck’ took over the stand-up bass and also doubled as the band comedian. Bobby was my father’s nephew. One footnote: Bobby recorded in 1966 for Eddie Bond’s Western Lounge label.
It was a wet starless night when the car descended a hill west of Somerset, Kentucky. Droopy had agreed to drive, leaving Lloyd and the others free to doze. The only sound was the patter of raindrops as the highway stretched before them like an endless ebony ribbon. Droopy opened a side window to let in the cool night air and pinched himself to stay awake. Sleep finally took over and for a split second his consciousness melted into velvet blackness. By the time his head dropped forward he was fully awake and the car was forging across the middle line. Not thinking, Droopy forcefully hit the brakes as the tires slid on the wet pavement, disengaging the instrument trailer. No one was hurt but by the time Lloyd and the boys emerged from the car, the trailer had plunged into a deep ravine, tossing battered instruments in every direction. Droopy’s bass fiddle was the only instrument that survived. It appeared to be in perfect condition. Not a scratch! So during the next performance, the band was amazed when the bass shattered, covering the stage with bits of debris. For a silent moment, Lloyd stared at Droopy who was still holding the upper part of the neck and fanning the air as if he were trying to find the rest of the bass. Finally the people burst into laughter. By this time Lloyd had become an expert at covering up unexpected events on stage. So thanks to Droopy’s comedic skills and the spontaneous dialogue that flew between him and Lloyd, they convinced the audience that the shattered bass was merely part of the show!
Another embarrassing moment happened during a performance at an outdoor drive-in theater. Lloyd was supposed to make his entrance by running from the back of the lot, through the cars and toward the stage. As he approached the platform, he slipped on something and slid ‘under’ the stage! The band members rushed to help as he crawled to freedom while still clinging to his guitar. The audience was silent for a moment as Lloyd, red with embarrassment, dusted himself off. He could hear laughter and the swell of applause as he limped to center stage and burst into song! Once again he managed to make the audience think it was all planned.
As the face of music began to change, a new sound evolved in Memphis, a sound that the world would come to know as rock and roll. In keeping with the birth of this ‘new sound’, Lloyd changed the name of his band to the Rockin’ Drifters. He began to incorporate rock music with the country tunes, hoping to appeal to a wider range of listeners. So eventually he dropped the last name of McCollough and began billing himself as Lloyd Arnold.
In Apri1 and May of 1958 Lloyd and his band played theaters throughout Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. He spent June and July of that same year in Memphis. His first daughter was born on his birthday, June 25. He nicknamed her Skeeter. Shortly after her birth the McColloughs moved from Kimball Ave to a new house on Railton Road.
During the month of August, Lloyd and the boys played a series of one nighters in theaters throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada. On September 9 they flew to Newfoundland to perform at the Airmen’s Club. On September 16 they flew back to Nova Scotia for a show at Clark’s Harbour. During this trip Lloyd found that he needed another guitarist. One night during a theatre performance, he heard about a young man in Atlanta, Georgia who was trying to get started in the music business. When Lloyd returned to Memphis, he called Atlanta. The young man proved to be an excellent guitarist. Lloyd auditioned him and hired him over the telephone and Jimmy Brumlow from Atlanta, Georgia became one of the Rockin’ Drifters. Jimmy adopted the stage name of Jimmy Sea.
During the fall of 1958 one of Jimmy’s first musical assignments was a performance on October 3 at the Elks Club in Salisbury, North Carolina. On October 5 they performed at the NCO Club in Goldsburg, North Carolina. The following day they played Pikesville, Tennessee at the City Theatre. On October 7 they performed at The New Harlan Theatre in Harlan, Kentucky and October 8 they were in Whitesburg, Kentucky. When the Rockin’ Drifters played Orangeburg, South Carolina, they shared the billing with Danny and the Juniors and Fats Domino. By the end of that year they had fulfilled engagements in Tennessee, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Georgia.
After Bobby Howard (Droopy) left the band, the stand up bass was taken over temporarily by Marcus Van Story. After Marcus left Lloyd employed Jerry Boyd to play electric bass. Jack Charles was brought on board to play drums. Throughout the early years, most of Lloyd’s performances were done in theatres but beginning in the latter part of the 1950′s and into the 1960′s, he began playing the club circuits through New Jersey and Pennsylvania. At this time he was managed by Lou Palmer, a promoter out of Collingswood, New Jersey.
During the early months of 1960 Lloyd had come to the attention of Herman Lubinsky, owner of Savoy Records and World Wide Record Co.. In April he recorded a session that produced six tracks. Two tracks, ''Dixie Doodle'' and ''The Great Speckled Bird'' were released in late April on Savoy’s subsidiary label Sharp. Cashbox carried a review of Sharp 108 on May 7.
In January through March of 1960 Lloyd and the Rockin’ Drifters were the featured performers at Molly’s Tavern in Twin Oaks, Pennsylvania. March 26 through Apri1 9 they performed at the Galo Inn in Pennsville, New Jersey. Apri1 18 – August 13 they went back to Molly’s Tavern in Twin Oaks. From August 19 – 25 they played Atlantic City, New Jersey and August 26 to 28 they performed in Massena, New York. From September 2 – 25 they played Nick’s Cafe in National Park, New Jersey. Next they journeyed to Lorraine, Ohio to keep show dates from October 3 through the 16th.
In the month of November from the 15th through the 20th they performed for the Wagon Wheel Club in New York City, New York. The Wagon Wheel was located next door to the famous Peppermint Lounge, the adopted home of The Twist. Lloyd and the boys made another trip to Canada to keep a date in London, Ontario from November 28 to December 3. They concluded the year of 1960 with two showdates back in Pennsville, New Jersey.
In the latter part of 1960, Lloyd made one recording for the Myers Record label. The session, which was cut in Newark,...
...New Jersey, produced ''Hangout'' and ''Red Coat, Green Pants & Red Suede Shoes''. The back-up musicians were: Jimmy Sea on rhythm guitar, Jack Charles on drums, Jerry Boyd on bass and the sax was played by Frank without a last name. The March 6th 1961 issue of Billboard Music Week printed the following review of the recording: (''Red Coat, Green Pants & Red Suede Shoes'' – A rocker in the older tradition. Arnold has the rockabilly sound and the message is the familiar ''Saturday night record hop'' idea set in the rockin’ blues pattern. Ok, wax with a good beat. ''Hangout'', another blues, this time about the corner juke box joint, where all the cats hang out. Message is much the same as the flip, on the old hat side, but the performance is good and there’s rhythm here.)
In 1961 Jack Charles left to join another band and Jerry Boyd formed his own band in New Jersey. When Lloyd came home in the summer of 1961, Jimmy Sea was the only band member that returned with him. Soon after, Lloyd and Jimmy focused their attention upon a country music show based in Memphis. The Cottontown Jubilee, organized by Buford Cody and Gene Williams, was a radio program aired over KWAM with a live audience. It was broadcast every Saturday evening from the Rosewood Theatre on Lauderdale Street. Lloyd usually headlined the show along with other local Memphis performers such as: Eddie Bond, Tommy Tucker, Bobby Davis, Dave Hillhouse & the Runabouts and Leon Starr and many others. Buford and Gene also booked a Nashville artist every week; artists such as: Bill Monroe, Stringbean, Sonny James, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, Bill Carlisle, Pete Drake and others. Soon the "Jubilee" began to travel through the surrounding areas of Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri. Every Saturday, after the one o'clock broadcast, the artists would board the Jubilee tour bus to journey to their destination for that night's performance. The show was billed as The Cottontown Jubilee with Lloyd Arnold and a Nashville guest artist.
Bill Monroe was one of the favourite entertainers so naturally when Bill played the Jubilee, Lloyd brought him home for lunch to meet his dad. The morning of the luncheon, they reminded Lloyd and Pa of the table leaf extension that needed repair work. It was prone to give way at unexpected moments. When lunchtime came, Pa prayed over the food as usual and the conversation started flowing. In all the excitement everyone forgot about the table leaf. Bill, being the guest of honour, was seated at the head of the table, opposite Lloyd. And yep you guessed it, that was the end that calapsed! As he took his first bite, the table leaf extension gave way and crashed into his lap. While Ma rushed to the kitchen for towels, everyone else began to stammer for apologies. Mr. Monroe was gracious about the whole thing, no apology necessary! When the ordeal was over, he discovered that he had one small spot of ice tea on his trousers. Everything else was on the floor!. After that, we got the table leaf fixed.
After the discontinuation of the Jubilee, Gene Williams capitalized upon the name when he created the Cottontown Jubilee Record label. When Lloyd decided to re-organize the Rockin' Drifters, the new band members consisted of David Neuman on drums, Freddy Douglas on guitar, Bill Zarr on bass and Whimpie Lewis on saxophone. By this time Jimmy Sea had met his future wife, Margaret and decided not to return to road work. Jimmy stayed in Memphis and opened his own piano company.
After Buford Cody became Lloyd's manager, he recorded him on the Memphis label from 1962 through 1964. Buford tried many approaches to create certain sounds. He would put brown paper bags over the microphone or have Lloyd sing into a corner with the mike several feet away. He told me once that his only regret regarding the records that he made with Lloyd, was the fact that he did not overdub Lloyd's voice. They began these recordings with "Tennessee Twist" and " I Cou1dn't Make My Heart Believe My Eyes". Their Nashville recording of "Lonesome Finds Me" climbed high enough in Billboard ratings to receive airplay from Dick Clark's American Bandstand.
In July of 1962 Lloyd was back in Memphis due to the birth of his second daughter. Shortly after, he was off on the road again. It seemed that his life was destined to be hectic and full of ''goodbyes''.
In October of 1962 Lloyd and Buford made a trip to the disk jockey convention in Nashville. They set up a display for Memphis Records in the historic Andrew Jackson hotel. During the course of the week, a young lady made her way through the crowd to the room that housed the Memphis Record display. She approached Lloyd and told him that she had followed his career for quite a while and wanted permission to create a Lloyd Arnold Fan Club. The first fan journal rolled off the press in December of 1962.
On October 19th, 1963 Cashbox announced the following: ''Morty Wax, another indie about town, reported Tony Babbie and Jimmy Webb, Armour Recording exes, have formed a sub label called Avet with a first issue tagged, "School Days" by Lloyd Arnold.) The Avet label leased two tracks from Buford Cody's Memphis label.
The phenomenal success of the Beatles prompted Lloyd and Buford to consider using the Memphis label to birth a fictitious band name. On February 24, 1964 Lloyd received a copyright to use either "The Hairs" or "The Long Hairs". Deciding upon "The Long Hairs", he and Buford went into a recording session in Nashville. The Rockin' Drifters were not used for this session, instead Buford employed Nashville studio musicians. Singer, Ray Stevens provided the backup vocals. The release of "Eight To Five" and "Go-Go-Go" was the only time that Lloyd ever recorded under a pseudonym and most people never associated him with "The Long Hairs".
Sometimes Buford Cody would book the guys in what appeared to be remote places. One such booking involved a tiny town in Texas. Lloyd and the boys had driven for two days to keep this show date. When they finally arrived, they discovered that this small town was in the middle of the desert. One of the buildings served as the grocery store, gas station, courthouse and entertainment centre. As show time drew near they had an empty theatre. Seven thirty, no audience, eight o'clock, no audience, at eight fifteen there were still absolutely no people. Needless to say, by this time Buford Cody was at the top of everybody's 'want list'. Surprisingly, when the curtain arose at eight thirty, there was a completely full house with standing room only! The show was a success but Lloyd was never able to figure out where all those people came from at the last minute!
Shortly after his association with Buford came to an end, the Memphis Record label folded. Lloyd continued to record for other labels such as Jo-Mar, Eddie Bond's Millionaire, Katche, John and Margie Cook's Blake label, Demand and John Capps K-Ark.
The strenuous roadwork persisted in 1964 with a series of dates that began at Hurley's Club in Chester, Pennsylvania. From July 28 to August 23 of that same year they flew to Thule, Greenland for a series of performances. Lloyd considered the Greenland tour to be one of the highlights of his career. On August 26 they flew back to Chester, Pennsylvania for more show dates. In January of 1965 they played another series of clubs in Linwood, Pennsylvania and in March and May they flew to Ernest Harmon AFB in Newfoundland, Canada.
Lloyd began writing songs in the early 1950's and continued to write throughout his career. His performances in Memphis during 1965 included the Country Music Shindig held every Saturday night at eight o'c1ock in the Lion's Den. The program was sponsored by Eddie Bond and presented by ''Country Circle Enterprises, Inc''. On one of those nights, during Lloyd's portion of the Shindig, the microphones suddenly developed sound problems. Immediate1y electricians were on the scene frantically searching for electrical shorts. Lloyd found himself facing the audience with no way to communicate. As the minutes seem to drag, the people began to grow restless and some of them started leaving. One of the mikes had periodic moments of sound so Lloyd took advantage of one of those moments and spoke to the audience: "Think about this folks, you can't go just anywhere and watch electricians hunt for their shorts''.This remark saved the day! The people stopped leaving, as peals of laughter rippled through the crowd.
Lloyd got the idea for his first record album while working with several Grand Ole Opry performers on a package show in Pennsylvania. He began to realize the value of having albums to sell during these performances. He telephoned Zeta (Sis) and told her to call Travis Delaney, one of his musical contacts, and set up a meeting to discuss the process of selecting album material. Travis then contacted the Wayne Raney Corporation in Concord, Arkansas and using their press facilities, the first album, "Lloyd Arnold & The Rockin' Drifters On the Road" was produced. It was released on the Arnold label.
In the year of 1966 and 1967 he continued his roadwork. In 1968 while playing a second series of dates at Ernest Harmon AFB in Newfoundland, tragedy struck and Lloyd's life was changed forever! On Apri1 23, his father John McCollough suffered a massive heart attack and his gentle, sweet spirit passed from the presence. After his father's passing, Lloyd threw himself into his work. On September 22 of that year he played Sunset Park in West Grove, Pennsylvania, then back to Hur1ey's Tavern for a series of dates. Although he continued to work, the empty space that his father left, coupled with years of strenuous roadwork as well as the after effects of spinal meningitis would soon begin to take their toll. On September 28, 1968 he found time to write a another song, "Christmas Without Dad". It was never recorded. On August 3 in 1969 he returned to Sunset Park, this time sharing the billing with Hank William's original Drifting Cowboys. In the early days performing with Hank Williams band would have been a career highlight for Lloyd. Now it seemed unimportant.
In the fall of that same year while playing clubs in Linwood, Pennsylvania, he interrupted his schedule to fly home. His marriage was in trouble. He and his wife tried to patch their differences but their efforts were in vain. The hectic schedule of his career and his long absences away from home had sounded the death bell for their marriage.
As 1970 rolled along, he tried to pick up the pieces of his life. He played a series of club dates through New Jersey and Pennsylvania in such places as The Freeway Inn, Golden Slipper, The Hut, and Neno's. On July 8 and 9 he pushed himself to keep show dates in Cheyenne, Wyoming at the Old Mayflower Dance Hall. A few days later Zeta received a call from one of his band members saying that Lloyd had collapsed on stage and had been admitted into the Cheyenne Memoria1 Hospital. This was the beginning of serious health problems such as high blood pressure, a bad pancreas, a damaged nervous system. Lloyd had been ignoring the severe pains that were attacking him and he kept right on working until he collapsed. His band members tried to convince him to go back to Memphis for a rest but Lloyd refused. On July 16, the day after his release from the hospital, he went back to work.
It was during this same time that he signed a new recording contract with John Capps, owner of K-Ark Records. The result was three singles and his second album release. The album was entitled "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It" and it fronted a picture of Lloyd that clearly shows the weariness of a musician constantly on the road. The superb recordings of "Cold Duck Blues" and "When I Smile" showed that Lloyd was still able to come up with high class material.
When he did return to Memphis, a few months later, his mother suffered a heart attack and passed away on December 9, 1970. In 1972 he disbanded the Rockin' Drifters for the last time, arranged to sell the tour bus and came back to Memphis. Now that he no longer had a band, he worked very few out of town engagements. During one of those few out of towners, in Mobile, Alabama, he was hospitalized once again. During his hospital stay he telephoned my mother and she convinced him to cancel the remainder of the performances. The time had finally come for him to escape from the hectic career that now seemed to be consuming him. Years of stressful roadwork had taken their toll, leaving only a shadow of the man we once knew. After his hospital release, weary in mind and body, he returned to Memphis. When he returned to Memphis in 1972, suddenly he had nowhere to go and no one to see. The man, who never seemed to have enough time, now had nothing but time. However John and Clemmie McCollough had done their job and instilled in him a deep Christian faith. Lloyd continued to place that faith in the ''nail-scarred hand of Jesus'', the Hand of the One who never deserts them.
Lloyd’s health was deterioration rapidly. The spinal meningitis that he fought so bravely as a child had left his nervous system permanently damaged. This brought about other health problems that grew worse with the passage of time. On January 10, 1976 at the age of 41, Lloyd passed from this life. The curtain had come down and the show was finally over but the young man who stood in front of a music store so long ago and wished for a mandolin had made his contribution to the music world. He would now take his place beside the other musical pioneers that Memphis produced during the fifties.
MCDANIEL, LUKE (JEFF DANIELS) - Always stood high among rockabilly fans for ''Whoa Boy'', a seminal proto-rockabilly number from 1952 on Trumpet Records. Luke Jefferson McDaniel was born in Laurel, Mississippi on February 3, 1927, and grew up in Ellisville, just north of New Orleans to Jesse and Viola McDaniel. With his parents separated early, Luke stayed with his mother until he left school at the age of 14, at which point he returned to Laurel to find a job. He shared lodgings with a local guitarist, Howard Overstreet, which helped to foster Luke's interest in the music of Gene Autry, Ernest Tubb and the Bailes Brothers.
Luke's first job in Laurel was at the local Cotton Mill, where he worked with an aspiring musician Red Davis. After a mutually satisfactory trade with Red, Luke ended up with a mandolin, which he learned to play in a matter of months.
Howard, Red, Luke formed a trio to work regularly on early morning local radio, which in turn, encouraged Luke to learn to play guitar. Luke decided that life at the Cotton Mill was not for him and the trio became a full time band, working the local Night Club scene.
The traveling Jam Up & Honey Show staring Texas Ruby and Gabe Tucker came through Laurel and caught Luke's band in action and liked what they saw. They asked Luke to join the show, which he did, learning much from the sheer professionalism on display at every show. A major attraction for Luke, at this time, was the fact that Ryby and Gabe were regular recording artists, something that Luke was now strongly aspiring towards. Meetings and watching Hank Williams in 1950 and again in 1952, fired up the young McDaniel's energy even more and in 1952, Luke approached Lillian McMurray of Trumpet Records in Jackson, Mississippi.
Lillian and her assistant, Howard Kelly, both liked Luke's style and his writing ability, prompting them to offer him a four song session working with Jimmy Swan's band. From that session (Whoa Boy" is probably the hit that never was, with strong guitar showing early leanings towards rockabilly. Luke also cut "A Tribute to Hank Williams - My Buddy" for Trumpet, which was drowned in the surfeit of Hank Williams tributes that emerged, after the singer's early death on January 1, 1953. "Whoa Boy" did well locally, especially in New Orleans, where local disc jockey Red Smith wore out the grooves.
By now Luke was appearing on local artist, Jack Cardwell's T.V. Show. Jack was already recording for King Records and ironically did have a hit with a Hank Williams tribute disc, "The Death of Hank Williams". Jack introduced Luke to producer Bernie Pearlman and later, Syd Nathan, the owner of King Records. Nathan signed Luke to King and the new partnership licked off with a very Hank Williams inspired session in June 1953. Recording for one of the biggest Independents certainly helped Luke to secure many more shows, along with radio and TV appearances all through the South. During 1953-1954, Luke recorded twelve songs in three sessions for King Records to a consistently high standard, but nothing broke away in the country charts and Luke, always irritated by poor royalty accounting, finally broke with King Records and moved to Mel-a-Dee Records, based in New Orleans and owned by Mel Mallory. The result was a stunning "One-Off" session, which produced the staggeringly good double-sider "Daddy-O-Rock"/"Hey Woman", both sides featuring the wonderful Lee Allen on tenorsax. Luke had met and working a show with Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins in October 1954 at the Louisiana Hayride and became strongly influenced by this new rocking music, as can be heard on the transition from his King recordings.
The Mel-A-Dee single was released in 1955 and during the same year, Luke submitted a song had written called "Midnight Shift" to Buddy Killen. Being contracted already as a writer to Acuff-Rose, meant that Luke made in the Tree Office and succeeded in persuading the just emerging Buddy Holly to record it for Decca. Apparently it was eight years before Luke discovered that Buddy had recorded his song.
With the Mel-A-Dee single not exactly overheating the charts, Luke carried on playing the usual round of clubs plus TV and radio appearances. Sometime in 1956, Luke he took Elvis' advice and went to Sun Records, he began making overtures to Sam Phillips in Memphis, which cultinated in a musically wonderful session at Sun on September 4-5, 1956, but financially not so!
Luke McDaniel with his band >
By this point, he was writing songs with Jimmie Otto Rogers (a distant relative of the blue yodeller, Jimmie Rodgers), and they'd already written one rockabilly classic, "Midnight Shift". His first session was held in September 1956, a second session was held in January 1957. It featured a saxophonist, and probably Roland Janes on guitar. McDaniel expected to get Musicians Union scale for the sessions, but Sam Phillips saw them as demo sessions and wouldn't pay.
The two argued outside the studio, and McDaniel's already slim chance of getting on Sun was reduced to nil. He went on to record the hillbilly classic "You're Still On My Mind" for Venus Records. Starday's Pappy Daily heard it and gave it to George Jones, who elevated it to the top rung of beerhall classics.
Jimmie Rogers reckoned that he had cowritten "You're Still On My Mind", and he and Luke McDaniel split. Rogers went on to produce two singles for Sun Records by the Teenangels and the Quintones.
Luke McDaniel had some ongoing success as a songwriter. "Honey, Won't You Please Come Home" was covered by Jim Reeves.
After the breakdown with Sun, a very frustrated Luke McDaniel carried on with his night club, radio and TV work along with working on the Grand Ole Opry Big Tent Show in 1957, with artists like the Everly Brother, Jimmie C. Newman and Bill Monroe. The Everly's had just released "Bye Bye Love" and it was this promotional tour that propelled them to stardom, despite competition from Webb Pierce, who covered the song.
Tired of touring, Luke went home and formed Venus Records with a friend, John Russell. Only one single was issued but a very significant one in that "You're Still On My Mind" would come to be regarded as a country standard with a significant cover by George Jones.
A little later, Luke was doing a show in Bogalusa, Louisiana, when he met up with Carl Perkins. At this time Carl was still at the height of his ability to write great teenslanted rocking magic moments and he offered Luke the lyrically witty "Foxy Dan". Luke liked it and duly cut a terrific version at the Jimmie Rogers Studio, Mobile, Alabama in 1958. It was issued on Rogers own label Astro Records, but again, a cracking good record made no impression on the Billboard charts and Luke took a job at the radio station in Hattiesburg. At this point and through the radio station, Luke came into contact with Hack Kennedy, who owned Big Howdy Records, a local independent, based at different times between Louisiana and Mississippi. Hack recorded a large number of local artists, covering a wide variety of music and, in general, holding to a high standard of artistry and musicianship. Hack also broke the traditional independent mould of issuing a handful of singles and shutting up shops.
He ran the company with assistance from B.J. Johnson, a local artist and disc jockey for many years and built up a considerable catalogue between 1959 and the 1970s. Luke pacted with Big Howdy and kicked off in 1959 with the rockabilly classic "Switchblade Sam". While America was swooning to teen delights purveyed by Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Darin, Jimmy Clanton, Ricky Nelson and many more, down in the Deep South, Luke McDaniel a.k.a. Jeff Daniels produced a raw, low down bar rocker, completely out of it's time frame, which probably got no further than Shreveport! Luke still had faith in "Foxy Dan" and duly recut it for Big Howdy Records, but this more commercial sounding version failed again. Luke also made a number of demos, which appeared on Big Howdy Records singles. Hack Kennedy would later move to Picayune, Mississippi, where it seems that Luke did a session or two at B.J. Johnson's Studio, some of which is issued here for the first time. By this time the days of Jeff Daniels, rockabilly man were over and the country singer Luke McDaniel reappeared.
The relationship with Hack Kennedy had also ended and Luke started a trucking company in Baton Rouge, as he had a large family to feed and music wasn't doing it. For a brief moment, Luke almost was caught up in the film business composing the theme song "Run Boy Run" for a Tex Ritter film "Girl From Tobacco Road". This ended swiftly, when Luke wasn't even credited on the screen credits and ended up once again with no royalties.
He raised his family as a single father and started a trucking company worked well. He also started preaching in the Gospel Independent Church around his new home town of Wilmer, Alabama. His last reported venture into the music business was in 1980, Luke was tempted back into the studio to make four tracks for Duell Records, yet another small independent. One single was issued, which saw only local action. In 1983, he tried again with Duell Records, but again nothing happened. This ended Luke's recording career for almost ten years, until he was finally tempted back during 1991-1992 for a series of fine country music sessions, which ultimately produced the CD "You're Still On My Mind", released in Sweden by CMC Records in 1995.
In forty years of recording Luke McDaniel and Jeff Daniels started out on a shellac 78rpm single and ended on the technological wizardry of the CD. Yet despite great recordings and great songs, Luke never had the good fortune of national hit parade records, something a man of his talent undoubtably deserved. Luke Jefferson McDaniel died on June 27, 1992.
Dave Travis, February 2008
MCGILL, JERRY - Born and raised in the Binghamton neighborhood in Memphis, McGill attended Messick and Memphis Technical High School, and led one of the city's earliest greaser rockabilly outfits, the Topcoats.
Among record collectors and rock enthusiasts, McGill is best known for his brief tenure on the Sun Records roster. He released one single for the label in 1959, "Lovestruck'', backed with "I Wanna Make Sweet Love'' (Sun 326).
With his devilish good looks and gift for gab, McGill was a natural hustler with a wide criminal streak. His reputation in local law enforcement circles was already notorious by the late-1950s; McGill claimed he was arrested 97 times in Memphis alone for everything from public drunkenness to harassing a police officer to armed robbery.
"Any way you look at it, he was a felonious character," said his sometime producer and songwriting collaborator Jim Lancaster. "He was charming, but the kind of charm where he'd smile at you, and then run off with your wife. He really was like the last of the bad-guy cowboys. He was an outlaw down to his soul''.
McGill remained in Memphis "until music and crime took him on the road," noted Memphis writer Robert Gordon, "and for McGill they were sometimes one in the same''. Through the late 1960s and much of the 1970s, McGill, mostly under the pseudonym Curtis Buck, would serve as a sometime rhythm guitarist, songwriter, road manager, protector and procurer for country star Waylon Jennings. McGill is credited as a co-writer on Jennings' classic "Waymore's Blues" and was described vividly in the singer's 1996 autobiography: "Curtis Buck was a crazy (expletive), and he ran around with me'', wrote Jennings. "While I was singing, he'd go find the girls, and if we needed drugs, he'd go find the dope''.
McGill would crop up again in Memphis during the early 1970s, cutting several still unreleased recordings with producers Lancaster and Jim Dickinson, and making a memorable gun-wielding cameo in William Eggleston's pioneering video-art document of the era, "Stranded In Canton" (several bullet holes made by McGill remain in the ceiling of the Sam Phillips Recording studio).
By the late 1970s, however, McGill had become a phantom, living on the lam. During the next 25 years, often under various aliases, he would be arrested, tried, and occasionally convicted, for crimes ranging from illegal weapons possession to attempted murder. In the early 2000s, McGill served a term in prison for attempted murder in Florida under the alias Billy Thurman. Over the years, he'd managed to avoid other charges, confounding and eluding law enforcement authorities with his changing aliases and nomadic ways. "He had luck riding with him, over his shoulder, all his life'', said Gordon, "Might've been good luck or bad luck, but it was always there''.
In 2009, following a posting on the music website Boogie Woogie Flu speculating as to his whereabouts, McGill resurfaced. After 50 years, he had reunited romantically with an old high school girlfriend, but McGill was soon diagnosed with long cancer.
Aided by a grant from the Irish Film Board, Paul Duane and Robert Gordon began documenting McGill's battle with the disease, his turbulent relationship with his girlfriend and his efforts to record a final album and reunite with some of his old musical comrades in the Bluff City. In the spring of 2010, McGill cut sessions in Florida and Memphis, and performed a transcendent "homecoming" gig at Midtown's Hi-Tone Café, it was, as he would note, his first public performance in town "without the feds after me in more than 30 years''.
McGill survived his cancer and "Very Extremely Dangerous" was completed, screening officially last fall the Indie Memphis Film Festival, where it earned a Special Jury Prize for Documentary Feature. It was an unflinching and sometimes difficult to watch portrayal of McGill as an addict, abuser and con man.
The Commercial Appeal's film critic John Beifuss praised it, observing that "the camera loves this ''dying outlaw looking for redemption'', even if some viewers will recoil from what it reveals." The film continues to make the rounds of the festival circuit, and is still seeking distribution for a DVD release. A companion CD of McGill's music is also being readied for release.
As director Paul Duane noted, McGill was present for a secret preview screening of the film in Memphis in 2011, and saw it as an honest, if brutal, look at what his life had been. "Jerry knew that the film represented the worst side of his nature. It showed him in some pretty dark times'', said Duane. "But he didn't flinch. He stood up said, ‘I'll take it on the chin.'. For all his faults, that was the best side of him: the courage to accept who and what he was''.
Jerry McGill, the famous felonious character had suffered from cancer and kidney trouble, he died on Thursday, June 30, 2013 at Huntsville Hospital, Alabama at the age of 73.
JERRY MCGILL - A TRUE JERRY MCGILL TESTIMONIAL FROM RONALD RICH, HIS DRUMMER IN THE TOPCOATS IN 1959 - ''I played drums with Eddie Cash and The Madcaps, Dickie Lee, Mac Davis, Jerry Reed, Ray Stevens, The Marvels, Jerry McGill and The Topcoats, and a few other Memphis groups plus my Sun sessions. I knew George Klein, Elvis, Sam Phillips, and a few of the other Memphis music influencers''. ''I played with Jerry McGill (the only name I knew him by) when he was starting out as a singer and until The Topcoats finally disbanded''.
''Honestly, I don't remember why we disbanded but I went away to Georgia Tech for college and that's all I can remember. Jerry was a really great guy and very friendly to me. The girls were all over him whenever he played live''.
''He had a musical soul and was destined to do well. At the time, I was doing session work playing drums at Sun Studios at the age of 17. If you recall the drums in ''Lovestruck'', you know my work''. ''The musicians playing on ''Lovestruck'' and I Wanna Make Sweet Love'' were Charlie Rich on piano (I think), Bill Black on bass, Martin Willis on sax, and I think Brad Suggs...
...on guitar. The session ran about 3 hours as far as I can recall. None of Jerry's other band members played on the actual record. For some reason, they wanted me on both A and B sides. I remember giving Charlie Rich (no relation) a ride after a recording session to the Holiday Inn in Memphis one night and this might have been the one, but this was over 50 years ago. Charlie was not big yet but very talented''.
''I definitely remember Martin Willis, a Sun powerhouse, playing sax with me on Jerry's only Sun record. The backup singers on ''Lovestruck'' were Opal Green, Twila Taylor, Nanci Drake and Carolyn Maharrey. All of the girls were juniors at Treadwell. Jerry McGill was very talented and was really great to his entire band. Jerry was totally dedicated at the time to making it in the music business. I understand after I moved away he became very involved in producing records as well but I lost touch with him''.
''Here are the names of all the Topcoat musicians who played with Jerry McGill on all live performances around Memphis. You may remember some of them. The group was tight and put out an amazing sound for a garage type band in 1959. Jim King was lead guitar and band manager, Ronnie Rich on drums, Frank Thomas on bass and keyboards, Bobby Scott rhythm guitar, Dwayne Fowler sax''.
''Jim King ran the band very well and kept us really booked. Some of the live appearances got "quite lively'' including an occasional fight in the parking lot. There is a Commercial Appeal newspaper photo of the Topcoats playing at the National Guard Armory with Jerry standing on a round stage but I don't know how to get it posted. George Klein cooked up this huge "dance" at the Armory to promote a teenage dance club according to what I heard and Barney Sellers did the photography for the newspaper promotion''.
''Unfortunately, the entire band never got in the photo since Jerry was the real focal point. By the way, the girls backing Jerry on ''Lovestruck'' are also on the Jerry Lee Lewis song "Let's Talk About It''. Not sure what happened to all the Topcoats. Jim King is alive and well and living in Texas. No idea what happened to the others. Most people assume Jimmy M. Van Eaton played on Jerry McGill's session but that is not true. I stopped by to see Jimmy M. Van Eaton in Memphis a couple of years ago during a visit from California. He was working out in Germantown for an investment company and gave me some new drumsticks from his line of Jimmy M. VanEaton drum products. What a great guy! He has a wonderful history with Sun and should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in my opinion. JM is the only session drummer that actually has his picture on the Sun Studios wall and it is certainly earned. Jimmy Lott was another Sun session drummer I knew. He also went to East High while I was a student there. I understand Jimmy died. We had a few "battle of the drums" on stage for the kids which was always fun. I think I won. And he thinks he won. The one that really won was the student...they had great fun''.
''I still have the original ''Lovestruck'' 45rpm in my collection. It is one of my prized possessions. If Jerry sees this message, I wish him continued success with his new music coming out. I live in San Diego and have been in California since 1968. Don't know if Very Extremely Dangerous will ever get a viewing out here but if it does, I'll be the first in line. Wish I could get my hands on a DVD if one comes out''.
''Glad to hear Jerry is alive and hanging in there. He may remember me. It has been 53 years since we cut his only Sun Record but maybe he will. I had no idea he would take the path he did with crime and all the other crazy stuff but it sounds like he finally came back to his roots and love of music which is really his calling in life in my opinion. If you ever see or talk with him, please tell him Ronnie Rich, his old drummer from the Topcoats said hello. And let him know his guitar player, Jim King, asks about him as well''.
Testimony by Ronnie Rich, June/July 2010
MCVOY, CARL – Born as Carl Everett Glasscock McVoy on January 3, 1931 in Epps, Louisiana. Like Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart, Carl McVoy was a cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis. The mothers of Jerry Lee (Mamie Herron Lewis), Jimmy (Minnie Bell Herron Swaggart) and Carl (Fannie Sue Herron Glasscock) were sisters. A few years older than Jerry Lee, Carl was a good looking pianist, whom the Killer looked up to, and from whom he derived some of his ambition for the piano. Carl had been to New York with his father, who ran a ministry there for a few years. It was there that young Carl first heard boogie woogie music.
He took the experience with him to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he got a job in the construction industry. One summer, Jerry Lee Lewis came to stay and wanted Carl to show him everything he knew on the piano. "I think I was instrumental in the way his style developed", McVoy has said.
Carl knew Sun artist Ray Harris, who was working with him in both music and construction. Harris was eager to start his own record company, but had no money. For the sum of $3,50...
...Harris cut demos of McVoy singing a rocked-up version of "You Are My Sunshine" and an original song called "Tootsie". Together with Sun alumni Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch (the writers of "Tootsie") Harris approached record store owner Joe Cuoghi, and this resulted in the formation of the Hi label in late 1957. Carl McVoy was sent to Nashville to re-record the two songs on more professional equipment, under the supervision of Chet Atkins. Released on Hi 2001 in December 1957, McVoy's record stirred up far more interest than the fledgling Hi label could handle. Orders came flooding in, but payments did not and Hi soon found itself in a cash-flow bind. In April 1958, the record - and McVoy's contract - was turned over to Sam Phillips (for $ 2,600), for release on his Phillips International label, where it enjoyed some success although the sales momentum had been broken.
Just before this transaction, Hi issued the other two tracks from the Nashville session ("Little John's Gone"/"Daydreamin'") on the second ever Hi single (Hi 2002). Like the first Hi 45, it featured one new rocker (sounding very much like "Tootsie") and a rocked-up country standard. During his period at Sun Carl cut at least 14 different titles over the course of six sessions, but nothing more was released. (Hard to see why - nothing wrong in the way of quality.) Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins date the earliest of these sessions on May 12, 1957 and June 6, 1957. If they are right, it would mean that McVoy had already recorded before "Tootsie" and that there were in fact two stints at Sun, interrupted by the Hi tenure. It is possible, but it seems unlogical to me.
Ten of these Sun tracks have become available over the years, on a number of different Charly compilation CD's. McVoy's versions of "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It" (recorded three months before Sonny Burgess), and "Right Behind You Baby" (three months after Ray Smith's record) have yet to surface. "Oh Yeah", which was credited to Carl on "Essential Sun Rockabillies, Vol. 4" (and on a Redita LP), is not by Carl, but by Wally Jeffery (Do-Ra-Me 1402).
Carl wisely hung on to his day job in the construction business. But, having played a role in the start of the Hi label, he remained interested in Hi's fortunes and in 1960 Carl bought out Quinton Claunch's stake in the company. In the same year (or in late 1959) he joined Bill Black's Combo as their pianist/organist and can be heard on most of the combo's hits, though not on their first success, "Smokie, Part 2", which features Joe Louis Hall on piano. McVoy also wrote several tunes for Bill Black's Combo, including "Do It - Rat Now", a number 51 hit in 1963. Besides, he had two singles released as a singer in 1961-62, a nice cover of Slim Harpo's "Raining In My Heart" on the Tri label and a remake of Chuck Willis's "What Am I Living For" (Hi 2054), but further success eluded him.
In 1963 Hi released the instrumental LP "Raunchy Sounds" by the Hi-Tones (HL 12011), who were Carl McVoy, Willie Mitchell, Jack O'Brien, Reggie Young, Jerry Arnold and Bobby Stewart. Carl (co-) wrote five of the twelve songs on the album, which is best described as "Bill Black's Combo meets Booker T and the MG's".
Around 1965 Carl quit the music business and opted for a more secure future in the construction industry as owner of the Carmack Construction Co. in which he worked until his death in 1992. Carl McVoy died on January 3, 1992 in Jackson, Mississippi of a heart attack on his 61st birthday. McVoy is burial at the Forest Hill Cemetery South in Memphis, Tennessee.
Biography by Dik de Heer, January 2013
MEMPHIS WILLIE B. - was an American Memphis blues guitarist, harmonica player, singer and songwriter. He was known for his work with Jack Kelly's Jug Busters, the Memphis Jug Band, and his resurgence in the 1960s after years away from the music industry.
He recorded "The Stuff Is Here" and "Stop Cryin' Blues". His 1961 song, "Overseas Blues", retrospectively expressed the fear of World War II servicemen who had survived the conflict in Europe, of joining the Pacific War.
William Borum was born on November 4, 1911 in Shelby County, Tennessee. He was taught to play the guitar by his father and Jim Jackson, and busked with Jack Kelly's Jug Busters in his teenage years on local streets, parties, suppers, in Memphis, Tennessee area. He quickly moved on to work with the Memphis Jug Band.
Borum who played both locally in Church's Park (W.C. Handy Park) and play at parties, clubs, dances along Beale Street, Memphis, with frequent tours south to work Mardi Gras in...
...New Orleans, Louisiana in the late 1920s into 1930s. He extended his repertoire after being taught to play the harmonica by Noah Lewis.
Willie B. slowly developed away from a disciplined jug band style, and played at various locations with Robert Johnson, Garfield Akers, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Willie Brown, who periodically travelled up from the Delta to play. Willie B. first recorded at the age of 23, in September 1934 in New York, for Vocalion Records. However, that part of his career was brief as he returned to working locally, in the company of Little Son Joe, Will Shade and Joe Hill Louis. He signed up with the U.S. Army in January 1942, and served in the North African invasion (Operation Torch) in December 1942, and later in Italy.
When demobilized he discovered musician's work hard to find, and eventually took up regular paid employment. He only returned to the music industry in the early 1960s, and recorded sufficient material for two albums for Bluesville Records in Memphis at Sam Phillips studio at Madison Avenue in 1961. This provided the impetus for a resurgence in his musical career, and Willie B. played at various music festivals and in coffeehouses. Often he worked alongside Gus Cannon and Furry Lewis, reliving their mutual early Memphis days.
Willie B. once stated, "A blues is about something that's real. It's about what a man feels when his wife leaves him, or about some disappointment that happens to him that he can't do anything about. That's why none of these young boys can really sing the blues. They don't know about the things that go into a blues". However, Willie B. abruptly stopped playing in the late 1960s, and little was heard of him prior to his death. Memphis Willie B. died in Memphis on October 5, 1993 at the age of 81.
MILLER SISTERS, THE - The Miller Sisters were an act in whom Sam Phillips had infinitely more faith. They were actually sister-in-law: Elsie Jo Miller, ten years older, was married to Mildred Miller's brother, Roy.
Roy Miller was a tough hombre. Millie recalls a show date with Elvis that attracted the attention of Colonel Tom Parker. "He wanted to manage us and take over our careers. Roy turned him down because he thought he could do a better job of it himself. He really didn't know what he was doing as far as managing went''.
The Miller Sisters (from left) Millie Mildred Wages and Elsie Jo Miller, Memphis City Park, 1955 >
''I can't blame him. He was proud and he probably thought he was doing right. And we couldn't question him. Other men might have been able to, but not his wife and his sister. No at that Time".
It wasn't with equanimity that Roy watched the spotlight move off his own shoulders and land squarely on his wife and kid sister. And so the Miller Trio became the Miller Sister, and the two 'sisters' and Roy worked as the Miller Trio around their hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi, and eventually auditioned for Sun in 1954 at the suggestion of a disc jockey on WTUP. Sam Phillips was immediately struck by the unerring vocal harmony and the heartstopping innocence that Millie and Jo projected in their singing. Roy contented himself driving his Buick from Tupelo to Memphis and dreaming of royalty checks, while the girls harmonized the miles away beside him.
Beginning in March 1955, when Sam Phillips first laid eyes on the Millers, he recorded over a dozen tunes with them. At first, Phillips was content to let them perform the Miller Trio repertoire, perfected on their daily radio show over WTUP in Tupelo. They sang anything from old Jimmie Rodgers tunes to gospel material like "Satisfied Mind" or "I Saw A Man".
Initially, most of the recorded material was original. But a look at the unissued catalogue suggests that the Miller Sisters repertoire spread beyond traditional country weepers. There were novelties, pop standards and even rhythm and blues hits. Sensing the Millers' versatility, Sam used them as backup singers on at least two occasions - a marathon but unissued gospel session with Cast King, and as backup to two Presley-styled ballads by Glenn Honeycut.
The Miller Sisters recorded during the dawn of Sun's golden era. They performed or rubbed shoulders with many legends of country and rockabilly: Sun artists like Johnny Cash, Warren Smith, Charlie Feathers and Carl Perkins, as well as country stars like George Jones, Jim Reeves and Johnny Horton. They were guests on the Ernest Tubb Show in Nashville, and appeared at the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Day in Meridian, Mississippi.
And the King was there too: "I can still picture Elvis", Millie recalls. "Once he came into the studio to watch us recording. He was wearing his truck driver suit. Sam introduced us, but we didn't really talk. Another time we were playing on the same program as Elvis in Saltillo, Mississippi. He came up to me backstage and offered me some pills. He was really cocky. Very nice looking man, you know, but I think he knew it. He was the headliner of the show and we were both waiting to go on. Just chatting, killing time backstage. When we went on, Roy backed us up and Scotty and Bill played for us, too. I remember Elvis asked me to hold his guitar and I said, 'Hold it yourself'. I'm not your flunky'. And I walked away from him. He was the type to say 'Here hold my guitar', and I wasn't about to. Even though I wanted to!".
Sam Phillips was never able to understand why his faith in the Miller Sisters couldn't be translated into records sales. Sisters acts were selling, and the Millers' clean harmony was surely as good as anything on the market. He gave them three shots; the first, on Flip, and the second on Sun were achingly pure country music. Their final shot, "Ten Cats Down", was a rock and roll novelty concocted by Claunch and Cantrell. The sisters returned again in 1957 and strayed even further from their roots, recording a version of the rhythm and blues classic "Got You On My Mind", but Sam Phillips would not release it.
Jo and Millie went on singing and appearing locally until 1957. Shortly afterward the sister-in-law went their separate ways: Millie to the North for Indiana. For all intents and purposes, the Miller Sisters passed into the realm of history on that afternoon when Millie's bus headed north. Jo and Roy to the countryside near Tupelo, where their involvement in the Pentecostal faith hardened to the point where Jo found it difficult to talk about her days on the fringes of secular music.
From a vantage point of nearly 40 years, Millie recalls: "Jo was like a sister to me. We were so close. Sometimes we could tell what the other one was thinking. We both loved singing so much... It broke my heart when we stopped. We always had this thing, like mental telepathy. We could switch parts if we sensed the other was going to have trouble hitting the note. We used that a lot on "Finders Keepers". We just knew who was going to sing what, where and when". (HD)
MILTON, LITTLE - Born on September 7, 1934 in Inverness, Sunflower County, Mississippi, as James Milton Campbell, "Big Milton" was Milton's father, his mother was Pearl Tardin, although his parents never married.
He was one of 7 children, Milton grew up with his mother and step-father near Greenville/Leland, Mississippi, and developed an early fascination for the guitar. Little Milton was interested in music in his early years and was singing in the local church choir and gospel groups as child.
"We lived on the outskirts of Leland", he told Living Blues magazine. "The town would close up by 11:00 at night and most of the black people who could do so would have suppers or juke joints out in the country - even if it was just outside the city limits where we lived''.
''My mom would put the kitchen table across the door and sell sandwiches, lemonade, corn liquor. My stepfather would have a dice game going and they would hire a guitar player. I'd be tucked in bed but the minute that the guy would hit the...
...guitar they'd look around and I'd be standing there, little long drawers on. The guitar music always intrigued me immensely".
He taught self the guitar at the age of 12 and worked in local parties, picnics in the area through the 1940s. Like many rural blacks, Milton's family listened to the Grand Ole Opry as regularly as any other radio program. Milton still cites some country musicians such as Ernest Tubb and Roy Acuff among his favourites - and the hillbilly influence is plainly on view here in "Re-Beat". At the age of eleven, Milton got his first guitar from a mail order catalog. He eventually parleyed that Roy Rogers guitar into a career.
Married at 14 and single again at 15, Milton started sitting in with Eddie Cusic (or Kusic) band in Leland. "My older brother took me to this club in Leland. Eddie was playing there. I picked up his guitar, which was an electric model and id sounded much better than my little thing, and I said, 'I'm really gonna get into this'. I'd come into town every weekend and sit in. Finally, the lady who owned the club (who was B.B. King's mother-in-law), she started throwing me a few bucks. Then Eddie hired me for $1.50 a night".
Milton Cambell is influenced by Bobby Bland, Roy Brown, Louis Jordan, B.B. King, Willie Love, Joe Turner, Aaron "T-Bone" Walker, and Sonny Boy Williamson (Alex Miller). Later, Milton influenced again like Elvis Presley and Jimmy Dawkins.
Around 1949, Little Milton started hanging out with the King Biscuit Boys in Helena, Arkansas and he made his studio debut as a sideman for Willie Love with Trumpet Records in Jackson, Mississippi. Trumpet was an offshoot of a local furniture store and session were held in the store with mattresses used as baffies.
In 1950 to 1952, Milton toured with Eddie Kusick Band and worked at the juke joints in the area, and appeared with Willy Nix on KWEM-radio in West Memphis, Arkansas; appeared with Willie Love and his group for WGVM-radio in Greenville, Mississippi in the early 1950s. Little Milton formed his own group and worked in the local jukes in Memphis, Tennessee.
Sunbeam Mitchell and Little Milton >
It was the ubiquitous Ike Turner and the Playmates of Rhythm, who landed Milton his deal with Sun Records in 1953 to 1954. "Ike lived 75 miles north of me in Clarksdale", recalled Milton. "We were all playing up and down the Delta. I'd meet him here and there. I'd get into a car on Monday and travel to maybe three towns to set up my gigs, try and get a deposit. Ike was always a shrewd operator. He had a lot of ingenuity and he was solely responsible for getting me onto Sun Records".
Little Milton signed a one year term with Sun on July 28, 1953. However, his work suffered from two problems during his tenure with the label; the first was that he lacked an identifiable style. His Sun output, considered as a whole, covered virtually the entire gamut of early 1950s blues styles. Among those whom Milton imitated with chameleon-like adaptability were Fats Domino, B.B. King, Elmore James and Guitar Slim. Milton himself admitted as much: "Back then I didn't know who Little Milton was. I was just doing whoever came out with a hit record".
The second problem lay in Milton's writing. His songs were random collections of choruses without a 'hook' that would be remembered by virtue of repetition if nothing else. Virtually all of his recordings could have had any one of half a dozen titles, as those who later catalogued the tapes discovered to their chagrin. However, some of the writing was undeniably good. "Its got to the place lately where I can't tell that woman what to do", bemoaned Milton in "Running Wild Blues". His paint-by-numbers approach to the blues nevertheless got Milton three shots on Sun.
Little Milton's last Sun session was held in March 1954. He probably returned later with new material only to find that his place had been usurped by Elvis Presley. Milton recorded across town for Meteor Records before relocating to St, Louis. "Ike Turner was up there and was forever saying how good it was", he told David Booth, "so I finally moved".
In 1955 Little Milton worked at the Fireworks Station in East St. Louis, Illinois, and recorded for the Meteor label in Memphis in 1957. He also worked at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois, and recorded for the Bobbin label in East St. Louis, Illinois. Milton auditioned for Mercury who turned him down. He signed with Bobbin Records for whom he had his first major seller with "I'm A Lonely Man" in 1959. He stayed with Bobbin (apparently holding a stake in the label) until Chess bought his contract.
In 1958 to 1959 Milton worked frequently in his own band in the local clubs in East St. Louis, Illinois. After moving to Chess, the guitar gradually assumed a lower profile in Milton's work; it certainly never stood front and center again. Chart success came with "So Mean To Me" in 1962 and he hit Number 1 on the Rhythm and Blues charts with "We're Gonna Make It" in 1965.
In 1961 to 1969 Milton recorded for the Checker label in Chicago, and toured with his own band and The Miltonettes in working club dates in the area. He worked at the Northside Armory in Indiana, Indiana, at the Apollo Theater in New York City in 1966, the Regal Theater in Chicago, 1968, at the Operation Breadbasket Blues Festival in Chicago in 1960 and appeared on the Soul Show for CBS-TV in 1970, and worked for the Burning Spear in Chicago. In the early 1970s, Milton formed Camil Production, a production, booking agency, and worked with his own band at the Wattstax 72 Concert, Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.
Through 1972 to 1974, Little Milton worked at the Sue-B-Rue in Chicago, 1972; in the Willy's Inn in Chicago, 1972; the Starlight Club in Seffner, Florida in 1972 to 1974; the Medgar Evers Memorial Festival in Jackson, Mississippi in 1973; the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland in 1973; performed at the Alexandria Lounge in Miami, Florida in 1974.
In 1972, Milton subsequently recorded for Stax Records in Memphis and Glades before settling with the keepers of the flame at Malaco Records in Jackson, Mississippi. "When they write the stories about Sun Records", said Milton with more than a hint of bitterness, "they always mention Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and so on but they never mention Junior Parker, Ike Turner, Howlin' Wolf or Little Milton - and that's a pity. We were the roots. The beginning of Sun Records".
Through 1974 to 1975 Milton worked for the High Caperel in Chicago; the Keymen's Club in Chicago; Club Harlem in Winstonville, Mississippi; at the Coliseum in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1975-76, Milton appeared at the Continental Showcase in Houston, Texas; the Tenampa Ballroom in Chicago; the International Amphitheatre in Chicago and the Stingrey in Chicago.
From 1975 to 1977, Milton frequently toured at club dates thought the South, and worked for the Burning Spear in Chicago. Little Milton is a talented singer, composer, and guitarist, an important figure in contemporary in black music. James Milton Campbell died on August 4, 2005 from complications following a stroke. (CE)
Mississippi Slim and Clinton Ausborn, WELO Radio, Tupelo, Mississippi >
MISSISSIPPI SLIM - Real name, Carvel Lee Ausborn. He was born in 1923 in the area of Fulton in Itawamba County east of Tupelo and he had lived in Smithville before finding himself in the Army in the early 1940s. Mississippi Slim was the brother of James Ausborn, a friend of Elvis Presley in junior high school. Because of his unique guitar and harmonica sound, Mississippi Slim performed in a wide variety of clubs and halls.
On weekends he would play the local hillbilly bars, juke joints, black clubs, or American Legion or Rotary Club halls. To survive, Slim played everything from straight country to blues to up-tempo hillbilly rockabilly music. There were a number of Mississippi Slim songs that appealed to the locals - "Play Her Little Game", "Married Man", and "Unpaid Bills" - autobiographical tunes that Slim wrote and performed for people with the same problems.
A hometown singer-songwriter, Slim's music reflected the...
...blend of hard and good times well known to his local audience. In his performances around Tupelo, Mississippi Slim was accompanied by Little Nellie Lubin, a country singer who looked like Brenda Lee and sounded like Dolly Parton. Like Slim himself, Little Nellie combined a blues country voice with a rockabilly sound.
Early on, so few of the town's residents paid enough attention to Mississippi Slim's music that he was forced to look - without success - for greener musical pastures in Memphis and Nashville. Although he wrote original songs and had a gregarious personality, Slim was destined to make his name back in Tupelo On May 15, 1944, Slim started a live country music show on WELO radio in Tupelo, Mississippi, just one month after the station opened. Originally a 15 minute Saturday show, "Singing' And Pickin' Hillbilly" increased to 30 minutes and finally to one hour, five days a week. There was also the "Saturday Jamboree" sponsored by the Black And White Store each Saturday afternoon. Sometimes the Jamboree came live from outside the Tupelo's Lee County Courthouse. The bluesy quality of Mississippi Slim's recordings were greatly influenced by a number of piano players. In the early and mid-1940s, Slim worked with piano players like Adelaide Hazelwood, a country piano artist who recorded for the Tennessee label. One of Slim's primary influences, she played a barrelhouse-style piano reminiscent of the Memphis and New Orleans whorehouse pianists. During the same period, Del Wood came through Tupelo with a travelling show, She met Slim, changing his style into a neo-rockabilly one. Wood later secured a recording contract and, in 1951, had a minor hit on the Tennessee label, "Down Yonder". She was the one who urged the label to consider recording Mississippi Slim. Her ability to combine blues and country piano styles intrigued him. She taught Mississippi Slim a great deal about integrating the piano with the guitar and harmonica. As a fledgling rockabilly piano player, Del Wood also influenced the future careers of Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley. Their music was the direct result of the freewheeling piano style that she infused into traditional country music.
For nine year-old Elvis Presley, this was a real novelty. At the urging of Mississippi Slim, Elvis listened to Del Wood's early recordings. Because Mississippi Slim talked so much about piano, Elvis took up a greater interest in the instrument. Particularly so when there was the opportunity to watch Slim perform at first hand. By all accounts, Slim was a quiet, easy-going fellow who sang country songs but liked to call himself an actor and paid as much attention to 'giving a show' as to singing. He always wore a suit and kept well away from cowboy attire. He sometimes played with local country bands, including a relative named Clinton, but he was essential a solo act.
According to Vince Staten in his book "The Real Elvis: Good Old Boy", on May 15, 1944, Elvis Presley made his first public appearance on WELO's "Black and White Jamboree". Mississippi Slim urged the station manager, Charles Boren, to bring Elvis Presley onto the show. The local sponsor, the Black and White store, thought that it was a good idea; he was a cute little boy who would help sell goods. On Slim's show, Elvis, not surprisingly, nervously sang Red Foley's classic "Old Shep". He was given a small ribbon. It was a happy time for young Elvis Presley as he ran through the Tupelo streets showing off the prize. Mississippi Slim accompanied on guitar while Elvis sang "Old Shep".
This appearance with Mississippi Slim began a lifelong friendship. While Mississippi Slim had his own shows on Saturday on WELO radio and may have had Elvis Presley on the program several other times. Elvis Presley not only learned a great deal about music and life from the wandering troubadour, but he found a valued friend. Slim's ramshackle East Tupelo house was one of Elvis' favorite haunts. In addition to country and blues tunes, Mississippi Slim was versed in old standards like "Blueberry Hill". He had a large music collection and willingly shared his knowledge with Elvis Presley. After years of playing in honkytonks. Mississippi Slim was able to impart a great deal of music history. Elvis Presley never forgot the lessons.
It is not quite clear where Mississippi Slim came from (although East Tupelo seems likeliest) or what happened to him. In appears that his real name was Carvel Lee Ausborn and he arrived in Tupelo in the early 1940s from the Smithville area. He made a living from a Tupelo base, drifting from Tupelo to Memphis to Nashville through the mid-1950s and then disappeared. He was apparently married at least four times. It seems that he died sometime during the 1960s without ever having been interviewed.
Sam Phillips discovered Mississippi Slim in Mid-1950s, recording fifteen of his songs for Sun Records. The tunes were not considered suitable for commercial release, however; Phillips believed that they were too raw. Nevertheless, there was a persistence to Mississippi Slim that compelled him to continue to strive for stardom.
Apart from the song demos he left at Sun Records in the early-1950s, the only known recordings by Mississippi Slim appeared on Tennessee Records out of Nashville. "You're Gonna Be Sorry" was issued on Tennessee 738 about January 1951. There were two other releases that year, "Honky Tonk Woman", "I'm Through Crying Over You", "Beer Drinkin' Blues" and "I'm A Long Gone Doggie". The fourth and final record, "Tired Of Your Lies", appeared on Tennessee 827 around May 1952. These recordings were probably made in Nashville since they have the same sound as many Tennessee recordings. In all probability the band was the Tennessee label houseband known as the "Nite Owls" and including Dell Wood on piano and Randy Hughes as leader. His 1954 Redita song "Nicotine Fit" is a testimony to his country rockabilly roots.
The background to Slim's exploits in Nashville remains as much a mystery as his sudden appearance and disappearance from Sun Records a few years later. Musically, Slim is interesting but not vitally important. He wrote pleasant country songs and he sang in a variety of styles. Some of his Tennessee recordings are quite lively but he was also prone to adopt a then-popular but now annoying smooth-voiced Eddy Arnold approach at times. Although he lived and died a "local artist", Mississippi Slim's work did finally receive historical recognition. In the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame, four Mississippi Slim tapes showcase his original talents. (MH)
MONEY, CURLEY – Was an American rockabilly musician. Robert Earnest Money was born on March 20, 1925, Haleburg, Alabama, known by his stage name Curley Money, was the youngest of eight children to a sharecropper. Only eight years old when he first developed musical interests, Money could later be found fiddling at barn dances on Saturday nights in Henry County for extra cash. In 1942 he moved to Columbus, Georgia to find work in the Cotton Mills. While there, his dream of being a Country Artist/Songwriter manifested.
He toured nationally with the group he assmbled, “The Rhythm Ramblers”. Traveling along with his group was his nephew, Comer Money. Comer went on to publish several records in the 1960s under his uncle’s record labels. The groups popularity continued to grow and finally they landed a radio show on WGBA Radio in Columbus. Later they made several regular appearances on WRBL TV as part of the ''Spec and Doyal Wright Show''.
In 1956 Money launched record label, Rambler Records. ''Playing The Game''/''Why Must I Cry'' was the label's...
...first release in April 1956; it was a great success and prompted him to continue with other releases such as ''Gonna Rock'' which made it to number 3 on Billboard Chart. He later had to change the name of his label to Money Records. He failed to get proper copyrights on the first label, and another company took his label name. He released a total of 42 singles through 1965.
Another release of Money’s caused quite a stir in the 1990s. ''Chang Gang Charlie'' remained hidden away in Sun Records, located in Memphis, Tennessee, for over 30 years until it was included on two compilations of previously unreleased material by Charly and Bear Family Records.
The Gold Standard record label in Nashville served as the home for some of the later recordings of Money, whose recordings extended into the 1970s. Simultaneously, Money was managing several local night clubs in Columbus, like the locally-famous Green Valley Club located out River Road.
He also maintained a day job as a radio announcer on WHYD in Columbus. Buffalo Bop issued an LP, Buffalo Bop 2003, with 12 tracks by Money in 1985. Money was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2003. He performed at a number of dance halls between Columbus and Nashville in those days. He continued to perform in the Columbus area for several years until landing his last and longest running gig ever. This one would last him over 15 years with the same band at the Gallops Senior Center. There he could be found...
...entertaining some of his lifelong friends and fans and singing those hits that made him famous until he died on December 23, 2003 in Columbus, Georgia.
MOORE, SCOTTY - served as Elvis Presley's guitarist from 1954 to 1958, widely regarded as Presley's golden years. Moore was a participant in the historic early sessions at Sun Records that mark the birth of rock and roll.
It was on Monday, July 5, 1954, that Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black broke into bluesman Arthur Cruddup's ''That's All Right'' in a freewheeling style that brought together country and blues. They took a similarly approach to bluegrass legend Bill Monroe's ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''.
With these spontaneous breakthroughs, conceived in the most innocent and intuitive way, both sides of Presley's legendary first single and the first new strains of rock and roll were in the can. Notably, the single (Sun 209) was credited to ''Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill''.
Moore was born Winfield Scott Moore III on December 27, 1931 on a farm near Gadsden, Tennessee, in 1931. He began playing guitar when he was eight years old. Then, in November 1948, when he was 16 years old, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy....
...He served in Korea and China before being discharged in January 1952. When he returned to the United States, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee. A devotee of Nashville guitarist Chet Atkins, he formed a band called the Starlite Wranglers with bassist Bill Black. The group began working with Sam Phillips at Sun Records, and it was Phillips who teamed Moore and Black up with Elvis Presley.
Moore's early background was in jazz and country, and he put these influences to use by counterpointing Presley's vocals with melodic yet forceful solos that helped launch the rockabilly revolution. As journalist Colin Escott noted, ''The first generation of kids who grew up wanting to play rock and roll cut their teeth on Scotty Moore’s solos''. This observation was confirmed by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who said: ''Everyone else wanted to be Elvis. I wanted to be Scotty''.
Scotty Moore, Bill Black, Elvis Presley and drummer Dominic Joseph Fontana became the Blue Moon Boys, and they toured the country and appeared on numerous television shows. Moore also served as Presley's first manager. He played guitar on many of Presley's most famous recordings, including ''Good Rockin’ Tonight'', ''Baby Let’s Play House'', ''Mystery Train'', ''Hound Dog'' and ''Jailhouse Rock'' and many many more. Moore also appeared in three Presley films: Loving You, Jailhouse Rock and King Creole. Then, in March 1958, Moore and Black quit the band in a dispute over wages.
Scotty Moore then co-owned in 1958 Fernwood Records, and he produced ''Tragedy'', by Thomas Wayne Perkins, the brother of Johnny Cash's guitarist, Luther Perkins. In 1960, he began serving as the production manager at Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service at the new studio at Madison Avenue in Memphis.
Moore moved to Nashville in 1964. That same year he released an album of instrumentals called ''The Guitar That Changed The World''. In addition to working as an engineer and session musician, he played on many of Elvis Presley's Nashville sessions at RCA’s Studio B. In 1966, Moore set up his own Nashville studio, Music City Recorders, and started a label called Belle Meade Records.
In June 1968, Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana rejoined Presley for the televised ''Comeback Special'' (bassist Black had died in 1965). The show was filmed at NBC’s Burbank studio in California. Two years later, Moore engineered Ringo Starr’s Beaucoup of Blues album for Apple Records.
In 1992, Moore returned to Memphis, where he recorded an album with Carl Perkins called ''706 ReUnion: A Sentimental Journey''. In 1994, he recorded an album with Sonny Burgess that was produced by Garry Tallent of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. Three years later, he and D.J. Fontana reunited for an album entitled ''All The King's Men'' that featured all-star backing by acolytes of the two Presley sideman, including Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Ron Wood and Levon Helm.
Scotty Moore has continued to tour and record into the 21st Century. In April 1999, he toured the United Kingdom, where he met George Harrison and Robert Plant. Four years later, in April 2003, he recorded an album with Alvin Lee of Ten Years After. And in 2007, he released two CDs, ''The Mighty Handful, Volumes I and II''. In 2002, Scotty Moore won the Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, and Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at Number 44 on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
At the age of 84, Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley's longtime guitarist and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, died on Tuesday June 28, 2016 at his home in Nashville, Tennessee. No cause of death was provided, but More had been in poor health in recent months.
MOORE, WADE (SEE: THE COLLEGE KIDS) - The story of Wade and Dick had usually been told from Dick Penner's perspective. It's not that Penner ever sought to short-change Wade Moore's contribution, it's more that they worked together only briefly and kept in tough intermittently. As Wade & Dick (The College Kids) they made one record for Sun, in fact, just one record in all. Wade Lee Moore was born in Amarillo, Texas on November 15, 1934. Raised and growing up in Amarillo, Wade enjoyed listening to the Four freshman, the Hi-Lo's, Frankie Lane, Frank Sinatra, and the Four Aces.
He decided to attend North Texas State University and studied music. That's were he met Dick Penner and they became fraternity brothers. A report in campus newspapers said that Moore was singing and playing the ukulele when they met, and had performed in several operettas back in Amarillo. Penner dated their meeting to January 1955. Soon after that initial meeting, Wade and Dick wrote ''Ooby Dooby''.
Wade Moore graduated in 1957 and married Ann Weatherly. He followed his brother's footsteps, entering law school at...
...Baylor, but soon decided that law was not for him. He traveled with Roy Orbison for six months, performing as a supporting act. After Ann became pregnant, Moore settled in Amarillo, working as a stockbroker for seven years. Moving on to Houston, Texas, he launched a company that produced resincoated sand.
Wade Moore and his family lived in Houston for over 40 years, raising two children. He could never quite forget ''Ooby Dooby'' because it kept coming around, but music took a back seat in his live. ''He sang and whistled everywhere he went'', said his daughter, Lane Cowart. ''He took my sister and me to see musicals and concerts of all sorts. He was often asked to sing at weddings, funerals and parties for his friends. He had a beautiful singing voice.
In 1994, Wade Moore joined a church in Houston and sang in the choir for about 12 years. After Moore broke his hip in 2011, he and his wife moved into an assisted living facility in Dallas. His health has declined since this happened, but he and his wife continue to take care of each other.
On July 20, 2015, Wade Moore passed away at the age of 80 in Allan, Texas, and is buried on July 30 at Ridgeview Memorial Park in Allan, Texas.
MURPHY, FLOYD - is originally from Memphis, Tennessee, and knew and performed with many of Memphis' greats. He worked with blues harp man James Cotton (even before Cotton moved to Chicago), Little Junior Parker, Rufus Thomas, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, Johnny Ace, Willie Nix, Bobby ''Blue'' Bland, Roosevelt Sykes, and many others throughout the south. As a young guitar player on the Memphis music scene in the early 1950s, Murphy recorded classic sides with singer and harmonica player Little Junior Parker and The Blue Flames for Sam Phillips' Sun Records.
Floyd's tricky guitar playing on ''Feelin' Good'' (Sun 187) seems to actually sound like two guitar players. ''Mystery Train'' (Sun 192) also recorded at these sessions, was covered by Elvis Presley and became one of Elvis' most popular recordings of the 1950s.
"He (Floyd) had this tremendous ability to make the guitar sound like two guitars'', Sam Phillips remembers, an ability that was showcased on Parker's Sun debut. Floyd Murphy moved to Chicago in 1956, and after a couple of years in the...
...Armed Forces, relocated to Cairo, Illinois, working with many of Cairo's fine rhythm and blues musicians which included Eddie Snow and the Snowflakes, as well as playing dates in the Chicagoland area.
In the early 1960s, Murphy recorded the VeeJay Records release of Birdlegs and Pauline's tune ''Spring'' which rose to number 18 on the rhythm and blues charts. For the next 30 years Murphy has continually performed throughout the midwest.
In 1990 Floyd collaborated with his brother Matt "Guitar" Murphy on the CD ''Way Down South'' for Antoine's Records in Austin Texas. Sadly Floyd Murphy suffered a debilitating stroke during the Super Bowl in 2002 just a few months after his brother Matt "Guitar" Murphy suffered his stroke.
Jack Nance behind the drums at the Flamingo Lounge, Ontario, Canada, 1958 >
NANCE, JACK – Richard Jackson Nance born April 22, 1935 in Newport, Arkansas, native. In addition to Conway Twitty, Nance worked with top entertainers including Dionne Warwick, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Monkees, the Moody Blues, the Fifth Dimension, the Rolling Stones, Three Dog Night, the Temptations, Herman's Hermits and others. The "others" included a group of youngsters called the Jackson Five as they rose to prominence. One of them, 12 at the time, went on to become the most famous of pop stars, Michael Jackson.
The name Jack Nance doesn't ring a bell with most folks the way some of Jackson County, Arkansas' more famous musicians do, and that's a shame, because Nance made as many contributions to the world of rock music as anyone who came out of the small town of Newport, and some of the others became famous worldwide, Newport Depot Days festival organizer Henry Boyce said. ''Nance'', Boyce said, ''never got the recognition from the public that he deserves, although...
...he did become well-known among music producers, promoters and other musicians''. Boyce, the district prosecutor, has an extensive knowledge of Jackson County communities' influence on shaping the new kind of music in the early days of rock and roll and makes sure the annual Depot Days reflects that 1950s flavor.
Richard Jackson "Jack" Nance, was Conway Twitty's drummer during Twitty's rock and roll years of 1957 to 1965, died on April 7, 2000. Four years earlier, Nance had started writing a book about his life with author James Schefter, and the quotes from Nance in this article, unless otherwise noted, are from that manuscript, which was never completed due to Shefter's death. The title of the book was to be "It Was Never Make Believe", a play on words of Nance's song, the classic "It's Only Make Believe", which he was writing while on a tour in Canada when Twitty dropped by and helped finish the lyrics. Nance wrote the music and they co-wrote the lyrics.
"Harold Jenkins, later known as Conway Twitty and the Rock House (Rockhousers). That was his group'', Nance said. "Harold had a voice. When he was on, hairs prickled on the back of your neck. He could croon a slow song that would break your heart and he matched Roy Orbison on high notes that sounded like a silver spoon on crystal. Of course, none of us knew much about silver spoons or crystal in those days. What we knew was Dr Pepper, Mason jars and music. What we learned later was that we were midwives at the birth of rock and roll''. Nance went to Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) in Conway in 1953 to study music and engineering, then on to Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. He was 18 when he left for college on a scholarship, and after four years he was back in Newport where the real music was.
''Newport was 1,000 people, seven nightclubs and when I was growing up it only had two things going, music and booze'', Nance said. ''We were the only wet county in any direction and the booze brought the music''. It also had illegal backroom gambling "sort of tacitly allowed" by authorities, Boyce said he has been told. The gambling, which many of the musicians may not have known about, helped pay the big money the bands got for playing the honkytonks. "You (an entertainer) could get $500 a night at the Silver Moon in Newport, when they might get $50 or $100 in Memphis," Boyce said.
When Nance blew back into Newport from college, he joined five others in a rock and roll band called the Pacers , headed by Sonny Burgess, "playing any club in Arkansas, Mississippi or Tennessee that would let us in the back door'', Nance said.
Nance was assistant band director at Newport High School for one year after returning from college. At that time, the Silver Moon in Newport was the largest club in Arkansas. Elvis Presley's group consisted only of himself, Scotty Moore on guitar and Bill Black on doublebass. Nance, at Elvis' invitation, sat in on drums whenever Elvis played area clubs such as Porky's Rooftop and the Silver Moon. (The original Silver Moon burned down about 1980 and the new Moon, on the recently renamed Rock And Roll Highway 67, is a family friendly center now where no booze is sold.)
"Sam Phillips even gave us (the Pacers) a recording contract with Sun Records, but not much ever came of it'', Nance said. "Still, I was a musician and with any luck, I was on my way. That was how I first performed with Elvis Presley, sat in with Carl Perkins and Buddy Holly, played behind Roy Orbison and met Harold Jenkins''. The two met when Jenkins, who was performing often at Porky's Rooftop near KNBY radio station, visited the Silver Moon just down the street every chance he got, to watch the Pacers perform. The problem with Harold was his choice of songs. He and the Rock House cut a single for Decca Records and it went nowhere. Right after that he called me and asked me to be his drummer, do some arranging, maybe write a little music. He also said he was changing his name. That was nothing unusual, it happened all the time (with performers). 'So, Harry, what's your name gonna be,' I asked. 'Something good?' " 'It better be,' he laughed, 'cause it sure is different. You're now talking to Conway Twitty''', Nance said.
The story of how Twitty selected his new name is legend, while looking at a map, he picked Conway from Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty from Twitty, Texas. At least, that's the most popular story. Twitty and his band were rock and roll artists then.
As a songwriter Nance produced an extensive book of songs. "It's Only Make Believe" earned gold record sales in the United States four separate times, beginning with Twitty's version in 1958. Recordings of his songs hit the charts in Britain, across Europe, in Canada, Africa and Australia and were featured on movie soundtracks and television shows. Glen Campbell's version of "It's Only Make Believe" went to number 1 on three different charts in 1970 and Ronnie McDowell's version later went to number 6. After being diagnosed with cancer just months before his death, Nance created "The Jack Nance Songbook'', which contains sheet music and lyrics of 27 songs he wrote or co-wrote that were recorded, along with introductory comments for each.
"In 1957, I was playing drums for Conway Twitty. We were in a tavern in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada named the Flamingo Lounge. We played there for nine straight weeks... The Flamingo Lounge was being remodeled while we were playing there and, since we didn't use a piano, they had moved theirs upstairs. Being so far away from my home and family, I guess I was a little homesick and would go upstairs during breaks (we would play for 30 minutes and then have a 30-minute break) and monkey around on the piano. On one particular night I started a song, ''It's Only Make Believe'', just as it was time to go back on stage. I told Conway, 'I had a good song started, and that I would like him to hear it. During the next break we went upstairs and I played piano and sang him what I had. Conway picked up, the lyrics, where I had stopped and we finished it. It took a total of seven minutes to write it. Conway didn't want to go as high as I had written it, but I convinced him that it needed to build to a climax. This was the first and most successful song that we wrote together. Conway's musical background was in country and gospel music while mine was in big band and jazz. The combination was good and we wrote some wonderful music together for the next three years'', Nance said.
However, even Twitty and Nance were convinced the best of four songs recorded on May 7, 1958 at Owen Bradley Studio in Nashville was "I'll Try" rather than "It's Only Make Believe'', so "I'll Try" was put on the A-side of the single and "It's Only Make Believe" on the B-side. The single was released during the summer and "I'll Try" went nowhere. "We were really disappointed'', Nance said. "We felt that we had given it our best shot and that if this wouldn't sell, nothing we could write would. We decided to give up the music business, go back home and do something else. "We had been at home about two weeks and I was really feeling down and defeated when Conway called. He was really excited and shouting, 'We've got a hit record''!
"A disc jockey in Columbus, Ohio, named Dr. Bop had flipped the record over and played ''It's Only Make Believe''. The people had liked it and bought it and it had become number 1 in Columbus'. The song was rereleased, so new records had to be pressed and new ads published in trade magazines. The band went to Columbus to perform and do radio interviews to push the record. The people treated us like stars, with thousands of fans flocking to the concerts and mobbing the group's car in the streets'', Nance said. "That was something new and exciting and a feeling I'll never forget. The song slowly worked its way up the charts until on November 24, 1958, "It's Only Make Believe" became the number 1 record in the United States. It went on to become No. 1 in all of the free world countries'.
Nance's widow, Newport native Vicki Lowery Nance, and stepdaughter Melissa, both of Cabot, said recently that as impressive as Nance's achievements in the music world are, they pale in comparison to him as a person. "He never, ever had a bad thing to say about anybody'', Mrs. Nance said. "He was so thoughtful. He always wanted to give people recognition (they deserved). Jack helped so many entertainers. He was so humble. He was so intelligent. He never bragged on himself''. Nance also has a son, Richard Nance, and daughter, Melanie Nance Anderson. His sister, Franchelle Nance Harrell, still lives in Newport.
After Twitty switched to country music in 1965, Nance left the band to spend more time with his family, but after a brief time away from music, was called by Dick Clark for a job in concert tour management and promotion for Dick Clark Productions, followed by similar jobs with Concerts West and Motown Records. "... Jack was smart enough to get into the business end of the music'', Boyce said. For many years, Nance worked with top entertainers including Dionne Warwick, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Monkees, the Moody Blues, the Fifth Dimension, the Rolling Stones, Three Dog Night, the Temptations, Herman's Hermits and others. The "others" included a group of youngsters called the Jackson Five as they rose to prominence. One of them, 12 at the time, went on to become the most famous of pop stars - King of Pop Michael Jackson. Later, the King of Pop called on Nance to be road manager for his 1984 Victory Tour (USA and Canada) and the world tours that followed.
In 1996, Nance and his wife Vickie were in a K-Mart when she spotted a Conway Twitty tape on a rack. She handed it to him. "I don't think you have this one'', Vickie said. "Want it''? Nance looked at the back of the cassette box, where 10 songs were listed. "You know what''? Nance mused. "I wrote eight of these songs and I played drums on all 10. Yeah, I want it''. That same year, Nance sadly recalled Twitty and his bandmates from those years. "They're all dead now. There were four of us riding the charts to the top. Conway was the name and the voice. I was the drummer. Newport native, Joe Lewis was on guitar. I was 13 and he, Lewis, was 12 when we first played together. He was good. ... Good enough to go for a long ride in the world of rock and roll. Blackie Preston was on bass.... He looked good onstage; he was a showman. They died too young. Blackie drowned in a boating accident. He was maybe 40. Joe died in a car crash at 42. Conway was 57 and had a lot of music left to sing when an aneurysm checked him out in 1993. A lot of others died, too. Elvis is gone. Roy Orbison is gone. You know about Buddy (Holly), the Bopper (J.P. Richardson, known as the Big Bopper), Ritchie Valens (who all died when their airplane crashed in an Iowa cornfield on February 3, 1959)... 'the night the music died.' "But the music didn't die. The rest of us kept it alive'', said Nance. He died April 7, 2000 in Nashville, Texas, as a result of long cancer.
Phineas Newborn Jr backstage at Orpheum Theatre, South Main Street Memphis, Tennessee, circa 1980 >
NEWBORN JR., PHINEAS - Memphis jazzman and pianist Phineas Newborn Jr., born on December 14, 1931 in Whiteville, Tennessee, and grew up in the sort of eclectic musical environment. In the forties, his father Phineas Sr. was one of the most in-demand drummers on Beale Street in Memphis, playing in most of the top band. Phineas junior continued playing with his brother and guitar player Calvin, his behind of. Phineas also studied piano as well as trumpet, and tenor and baritone saxophone
It was, in fact, that portion of his anatomy that caused him to alter the pronunciation of his first name. In the early fifties, the Newborn family band was one of the hottest acts on the Memphis club scene. Along with their regular gigs on Beale Street and in West Memphis, Arkansas, the Newborn family band helped B.B. King make his first recordings in the studios of WDIA.
In 1950, Newborn Jr. enrolled as a music major at the Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State University in Nashville. While there, he worked tirelessly on his classical repertoire and technique, developing a particular affinity for Franz Liszt, whose double and triple octave approach to linear melodies became characteristic of Newborn's spontaneous improvisations.
Blessed with dazzling technique, an unerring sense of swing, and deep blues feeling, Phineas Newborn Jr. formed his own trio in 1955. He earned rave reviews for a 1956 appearance at New York's Club Basin Street. In 1958, he teamed with bassist composer Charles Mingus to provide the music for jazz-loving filmmaker John Cassavetes' Shadows. A year later the pianist traveled to Europe with the Jazz from Carnegie Hall tour.
As always in the music business, talent alone wasn't enough to guarantee commercial success, and Newton's genius proved too fragile. Problems with drugs and alcohol exacerbated his already delicate emotional makeup, and the pianist was occasionally committed to mental hospitals during the sixties and seventies. In the late eighties he could be found scuffling around Memphis, unable to find work, Newborn Jr. sitting down uninvited at the Peabody Hotel piano to play incredible, impromptu jazz concerts until the management finally barred the unshaven and unwashed genius from the premises. On May 26, 1989, Phineas Newborn Jr., weakened by drug and alcohol abuse, died of heart problems and lung cancer in his home town of Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 57.
Joe Willie Wilkins (left) and Willie Nix >
NIX, WILLIE - Nicknamed "The Memphis Blues Boy", born William Nicks in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, on August 6, 1918, toured with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels as a dancing comedian and working on shows through the South in the late 1930s. He also toured with the Royal American Show in the early 1940s and frequently worked on parks and the streets in the Memphis, Tennessee area through the mid-1940s. He appeared with Robert Lockwood Jr. on KXLR-radio in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1947.
Willie Nix, influenced by Aaron "T-Bone' Walker", toured with Sonny Boy Williamson II (Alex Miller), with Willie Love, Joe Willie Wilkins as The Four Aces and working on juke joints through the Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi area in 1949 into 1950. Appeared with B.B. King and Joe Hill Louis on the Pepticon Boy Show on WDIA-radio in Memphis, Tennessee (with frequent also in local clubs) in 1949 into 1950.
In 1942, Nix was inducted into the US Army, spending three...
...or four years in the service. On his return to the USA he went back to the fields but also started learning guitar and drums from Joe Willie Wilkins and Sonny Boy Williamson. Sonny Boy had a show on KFFA, the legendary King Biscuit Time, but his band split up. Nix, Wilkins and Willie Love formed the Three Aces on the Broadway Furniture Store Show and broadcasting over radio KWEM-radio in West Memphis, Arkansas, Willie Nix worked with the Beale Streeters in the local bars and clubs in Memphis, Tennessee in 1949. Nix worked at the Palace Theater on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee and worked with his own group at the local dances and parties in West Memphis, Arkansas in the early 1950s. Recorded for the RPM label in Memphis, Tennessee in 1951, and appeared with Joe Willie Wilkins at the Hippodrome Theater in Memphis, Tennessee in the early 1950s. Appeared with Jimmy Cotton group at the Hart's Bread Show on KWEM-radio in West Memphis, Arkansas circa 1952.
The discs he cut for Sun Records in 1953 (as "Memphis Blues Boy") gained him a national reputation and he left in 1953 Memphis in a hurry and was called to Chicago to deputise for Muddy Waters band; apparently dodging a triple murder warrant in Arkansas. First he appeared frequently with Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson II (Alex Miller), Sunnyland Slim, and other in the local nightclubs in Chicago, Illinois circa 1953 into 1958; appeared with Johnny Shines at the Frosty Corner in Chicago in 1953 and recorded with his own combo for the Chance and Sabre labels in Chicago in 1953; toured with Elmore James and working in the clubs through the South and mid-West in 1955 into 1956 and worked in 1957 at Smitty's Corner in Chicago.
Willie Nix returned to Memphis, Tennessee to serve time in prison in 1958 into 1959 and than continued to hobo widely and working outside the music (as migrant worker) with frequently working in juke joints and parties in 1959 into 1960. Nix frequently worked in the local juke joints and clubs in West Memphis, Arkansas in the area through the 1960s; he worked with Big Amos Patton in West Memphis, Arkansas in the late 1960s and worked with Willie Cobbs Band in the clubs through the Mississippi Delta.
In 1968, Willie Nix recorded with the Willie Cobbs Band for the Riceland label in Memphis, Tennessee and continued he worked outside the music with frequent entertaining for the migrant workers through the South into 1970s.
This fame was shortlived, however, he returned south to be a crop picker, and settled in Leland, Mississippi to work occasional in clubs from the mid-1970s and he lived out his days in Mississippi always talking of upcoming gigs in Europe and Japan, and always insisting that his driveway be big enough to accommodate B.B. King's bus which would assuredly arrive any day to spirit him off to Las Vegas. Willie Nix died suffered fatal heart attack on July 9, 1991 in Leland, Mississippi. Willie Nix is buried at the Bogue Memorial Gardens in Leland, Mississippi.
His abilities as a drummer and vocalist are superb and his few existing recordings are all superior examples of post-war blues. (BT) (CE)
NORTH, FREDDIE (UNTOLD SUN STORIES) – was a Nashville rhythm and blues singer, born as Freddie Carpenter on May 28, 1939 in Nashville, Tennessee. His father was a gospel singer, and by the time North entered Cameron High School in the mid-1950s, he had a good idea that he wanted to be a singer.
He was in a group called the Rookies, and told the 'Nashville Tennessean' in 1972 that they made a record for Federal, although the King/Federal files tell a different story.
''I got out of high school in 1957'', North reported, ''and a little while after that I made a record on my way for University Records on a deal Buddy Killen set up for me I on American Bandstand in January of 1960 but wound up not selling, so the University deal fell through''.
It was after parting company from University that North did his solitary session for Phillips (a session that could well have been purchased or leased as this was the time when Phillips was dabbling in leased Nashville productions).
After Phillips, North signed with Capitol Records, all the while working as a singing waiter at Executive Club at 17th Avenue and Broadway in Nashville, and recording country and rhythm and blues demos. ''Half the recording companies in Nashville could release albums on me from the demos they've got'', North said in 1972. After Capitol deal fell through, North continued to work at local clubs, and was holding down a regular gig at the Modern Era Club in west Nashville when he joined Nashboro/Excello, first as a stockroom clerk, then as a promo man, and then as a recording artist.
''After I came to Nashboro'', North told 'The Tennessean', ''I did some more recordings. I guess I had a release out about once a year. We just never could seem to get the right combination of songs or arrangement. In 1970 I did a thing called ''Thank That Woman'' which sold a few copies''.
After the experience as a disc jockey at WLAC-Nashville and in promotion for Nashboro Records, who released gospel music. Then in 1971, he recorded ''She's All Got'', a song that had been written by Jerry Williams (''Swamp Dogg'') and Gary U.S. Bond. It reached number 10 on the Rhythm And Blues charts, and was promptly covered for the country market by Johnny Paycheck, who took it to number 2. Freddie North released an album, Friend, on Mankind Records (U.S. Number 179, U.S. Black Albums number 41). The disc yielded two hit singles, "She's All I Got" (U.S. Number 39, U.S. Black Singles number 10) and "You and Me Together Forever". Freddie North remains a one-hit wonder.
By this point, North had decided to quit the performing end of the business to concentrate on his desk job at Nashboro, but the success of ''All I Got'' persuaded him to hang in a little longer. Some of his recordings for Excello's affiliated labels have been made available on Ace, although North's current whereabouts are something of a mystery.
O'NEAL, JOHNNY - The man who recorded as Johnny O'Neal told Marion Keisker that his real name was O'Neal Johnson when it came to sign his Sun recording contract on August 2, 1953. No records were released by Sun but O'Neal saw records released on other labels and he also appeared under the names Brother Bell, Scarface Johnny, and Burnt Face. Chances are, he would have had a fascinating story to tell but according to Ike Turner he died in East St. Louis of alcoholic poisoning in 1957, long before any blues researchers went looking for him.
He was born O'Neal Johnson in Mississippi in 1921 according to the 1940 population census, and O'Neal Johnson according to his military discharge record which shows him born in Clayton, near Tunica, on May 2, 1920. His records, which list him as of 'undetermined' race, show that Johnson was in the Army from 1944 to 1946 and that he had formerly been employed by the City of Clarksdale. He was noted as a labourer in Clarksdale at the time of the 1940 census. That would have made him a little older than Ike Turner and most of the Kings Of Rhythms when he became their lead vocalist soon after Turner formed the group. The Kings' saxophonist Raymond Hill said, ''Johnny O'Neal joined in with us'' underlining that he was not part of Turner's earlier teenaged bands. ''Sometimes he would go (to gigs), sometimes he wouldn't. He was from Clarksdale''. Jim O'Neil found two Clarkdale marriage records for O'Neal Johnson, in 1947 to Ella Simmons and in 1949 to Ruth Fenisee. He later recorded a song titled ''Ruth Ann'' for King Records. It is not clear how and why O'Neal decided to leave the Kings early in 1951 to record for King with the Tiny Bradshaw band but Ike Turner told Cilla Huggins, ''he wanted to get on his own, his head got big and he was too good for us. And so then we went and recorded Jackie Brenston''.
Brenston's success brought O'Neal back to Turner early in 1952 to record for Blues And Rhythm as Brother Bell (a name possibly related to his girlfriend Alice Bell, who later married Ike Turner) but at the end of that year he made another session for King in Florida with Earl Hooker's group. Then he joined Raymond Hill's group, ''He was my vocalist for a long time, this was before I left for Chicago'', recalled Hill. By all accounts he was difficult to get along with. Ike Turner said, ''He used to fight all the time, and he had this big ole scar the size of my four fingers on his chin''. O'Neal came to Sun in the summer of 1953 to record with the Turner band but his three sides were not issued. Either side of that session he was working with Raymond Hill's band out of Clarksdale but he was back with Turner after the Kings of Rhythms moved to St. Louis. They recorded for Federal, and Turner remembered, ''he had come back to the band when we moved to St. Louis, so he was like the real hot thing around St. Louis... but then he got so bad we didn't know when he was going to show up at work. So I got rid of him and hired Billy Gayles, then Tommy Hodge''.
O'Neal apparently remained in the St. Louis area and sang in a group called the Hound Dogs that included Willie Kizart on guitar. He and the group were advertised playing in the St. Louis area as late as November 1958. In 1970 Little Milton told Steve LaVere that O'Neal's wife was named Lucille and that she still lived in East St. Louis. However, at this writing neither she nor any death certification for O'Neal Johnson or Johnny O'Neal has been found. (MH)
ORBISON, ROY - Born in Vernon, Texas, on April 23, 1936. His parents, Orbie Lee and Nadine, gave him a guitar for his sixth birthday and taught him the chords to "You Are My Sunshine". Orbie was an auto mechanic in Vernon, but during the war he moved the family to Fort Worth so he could find work in the defense plants. An outbreak of polio in Fort Worth during the war caused his parents to send Roy back to Vernon. After V-J Day they moved back to Vernon as well, soon moving on to the West Texas town of Wink, an oil-boom town close to the Mexican border where Roy grew up in a shotgun shack. His father worked for Olson Drilling, across the state line in Jal, New Mexico.
Roy Orbison at Sun Studio, Memphis >
When he was thirteen Roy Orbison formed his first band, the Wink Westeners, and later renamed as the Teen Kings. His talent had never been in doubt: he had his own radio shows from the age of eight, and when he was ten years old he had played his first paying gig - a medicine show, where he sang the Cajun novelty "Jole Blon". After the Wink Westeners...
...won a talent contest organized by the Pioneer Furniture company in Midland, Pioneer sponsored a weekly television show for them on KMID-TV.
"My first music was country", he recalled to David Booth. "I grew up with country music in Texas. When I was about six, I used to sing Bob Wills "Dusty Skies". Ernest Tubb used to advertise milk back in those days, singing off the back of a truck in Fort Worth when I was there". Hardly surprising that when Roy became a rock and roll singer and sought out the attire to accompany his new image, he drew his inspiration from the Hispanics rather than the blacks. Otherwise though, the music and culture of the Hispanics and even the poorwhites of West Texas barely influenced Orbison's style. There was conspicuously little southern-ness in his music.
The character of the Westeners' music can be judged by their name and the Roy Rogers bandanas they tied jauntily around their necks. "We played whatever was hot", recalls madolin player James Morrow. "Lefty Frizzell, Slim Whitman, Webb Pierce, we did all of their numbers. We also played a lot of Glenn Miller, style songs like "Stardust" and "Moonlight Serenade", which we adapted for string instruments".
Immediately in 1954 after graduation, Orbison worked in the oil fields, playing music at night; then he went to college at North Texas State, transferring to Odessa Junior College for his second year. Ever conscious of security, Roy Orbison studied geology, preparing to follow his father into the oil fields if all else failed.
While at North Texas State, Orbison visited the Big D Jamboree in Dallas. It was there that he saw Elvis Presley for the first time. "First thing", he recalled to Nick Kent, "he came out and spat out a piece of gum onto the stage. He was a punk kid. A weird-looking dude. I can't over-emphasize how shocking he looked and sounded to me that night. He did "Maybellene", and the kids started shouting. There was pandemonium 'cause the girls took a shine to him and the guys were getting jealous. Plus he told some real bad crude jokes. Dumb off-color humor. His diction was real coarse, like a truck driver's. But his energy was incredible and his instinct was just amazing".
One of Roy Orbison's contemporaries at North Texas State was Pat Boone, who had been raised in Nashville but had eloped to Texas with Red Foley's daughter, the one wild-ass move of his life. After a false start on Republic Records, Pat Boone resumed his recording career for Dot Records shortly after he arrived in Denton, and achieved immediate success with his insipid versions of the rhythm and blues hits of the day.
"All these people were doing what I wanted to do", recalled Orbison, "but it seemed as though I was in the wrong place at the right time. I wanted to get a diploma in case I didn't make it in the music business. In the end, though, I decided I didn't want to do anything halfway so I jumped into the music business".
It was Elvis Presley's sound that finally inspired Roy Orbison to contact Sun Records. In 1956 Orbison and his band the Teen Kings, recorded "Ooby Dooby" at their own expense at Norman Petty's studio in Clovis, New Mexico. It was the first record ever cut at the now famous recording studio. The release, On Je-Wel Records (JEW-EL 1001) was not successful. But on the insistence of Johnny Cash, Orbison sent Sam Phillips a copy of "Ooby Dooby". Sam Phillips liked the record and had Orbison re-record a slightly different version on his Sun label (SUN 242), with Carl Perkins on lead guitar. The flip-side of "Ooby Dooby" on the Je-Well label was "Trying To Get To You", which Elvis Presley recorded in 1955.
In 1958 the Everly Brothers recorded an Orbison composition titled "Claudette" named after Orbison's wife. (On June 7, 1965, his wife Claudette was killed in a motorcycle accident during a lakeside ride and was crushed by a truck. Then, in September of 1968, while Roy Orbison was touring in England, his two sons died in a fire at his home in Henderson, after playing with gasoline). Like Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison went to RCA Victor after leaving Sun Records, but he stayed with RCA for only one year (1958). Orbison departed Sun Records because Sam Phillips wouldn't let him record any ballads. He came into national prominence in 1960 with his first million-seller, "Only The Lonely", on Monument Records (Monument 421). That song and most of his hits were written with Joe Melson. Orbison was Elvis' chief rival from 1960 to 1964, charting a number of hits. Singer Bobby Goldsboro was once a member of Orbison's backup band, the Candymen. (Several members of the Candymen became the Atlanta Rhythm Section in the 1970s, while others joined B.J. Thomas' band Beverteeth).
In May and June 1963, Roy Orbison toured in England with an up-coming British group called the Beatles, making Orbison the only artist to have toured with both Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Elvis Presley greatly admired Orbison's singing. During one of his Las Vegas concerts, Elvis Presley introduced Roy Orbison in the audience and then sang a segment of Orbison's 1964 hit song "Its Over" (Monument 837) Roy Orbison was ignored by the Grammy Awards. He had to wait until 1981 before he received his first Grammy and that was for a duet with Emmylou Harris, "That Lovin' You Feelin' Again". Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne recorded and toured as the Traveling Wilbury's in 1988. Roy Orbison composed and recorded several songs for the 1980 Elvis-related movie "The Living Legend".
When Roy Orbison lost his final about with heart disease, on December 6, 1988, Roy Orbison died of a heart attack in Henderson, Tennessee at the age of 42, an important slice of pop music history died with him. The fact that his fans included Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and other apostles of the new age exemplifies the fact that his music had a truly ageless quality. He was the lonely boy out on the weekend without a date. His little pop operas, rife with subdued angst and heartbreak, bore remarkably little evidence of his grounding in southern music. They were indeed timeless and place-less in their appeal. However, unlike many of the true stylists who emerged with their sound fully formed, Roy Orbison was malleable and took almost a decade to find himself.
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