CONTAINS 1950 MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE SESSIONS

Studio Session for Rufus Thomas, 1949/1950 / Talent Records
Studio Session for Lost John Hunter, May 1950 / 4-Star Records
Studio Session for Charlie Burse, May 1950
Advertising Studio Session for Sam Phillips, Probably June 1950
Studio Session for Buck Turner, June 1950 / 4-Star Records
Studio Session for The Five Voice Singers of Memphis, Probably June 1950
Studio Session for The Gospel Travelers, 1950 / Modern Records
Studio Session for Rufus Thomas, June 9-11, 1950 / Bullet Records
Studio Session for Phineas Newborn Jr., June 24, 1950 / Modern Records
Studio Session for B.B. King, July 1950 / Modern Records
Studio Session for Slim Rhodes, Unknown Date 1948/1949
Studio Session for Slim Rhodes, July 1950 / Gilt-Edge Records
Studio Session for Joe Hill Louis, July 27, 1950 / The Phillips
Studio Session for Joe Hill Louis, November 27, 1950 / Modern Records
Studio Session for Joe Hill Louis, December 1950 / Modern Records
Studio Session for Slim Rhodes, December 1950 / Gilt-Edge Records

Biography of Artists (See: The Sun Biographies)
 

1950

Was the start of the fast changes that would be seen in the next 2 decades, the great depression was becoming a faint memory and families were moving out to the suburbs, kids watched howdy doody on 12 inch black and white TV sets and spent Saturday afternoons watching cartoons at Cinema matinees , times were gentler with little violence and the consumer revolution was about to start in a big way, and the man of the household became the sole breadwinner. The median family income was $3,300 a year and milk was still delivered to the doorstep.
 
 

WHERE THE STORY BEGINS - THAT MUDDY OLD RIVER''It was back in 1939, I was 16 years old, and I went to Memphis  with some friends in a big old Dodge. We drove down Beale Street in the middle of the night and it was rockin'! The  street was busy. It was so active, musically, socially God, I loved it!''.  That was Samuel Cornelius Phillips' first  experience of Memphis. He was a country boy from the northwest corner of Alabama, where the state borders  Mississippi and Tennessee. 

 
 
A jugband outside Greener's Department Store on Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee, 1937 >
 
 
A half-century later, Sam Phillips is an uncontested legend in his adopted hometown. He came to the all where there  was, as he put it, ''a meeting of musics'', and in a tiny storefront studio he recorded music that would change the face  of popular culture. He also ensured that not even the most cursory history of American popular music could be written  without reference to Memphis or Sam C. Phillips.
 
Sam Phillips is responsible for two of the most enduring images in American iconography: Elvis Presley, barely twenty-one- years old, shaking his butt and singing the blues on network television, and Jerry Lee Lewis staring at those same  cameras with wild-eyed fury, kicking his piano stool back behind him same across the soundstage Together those  images defined a revolution.

It wasn't just that these were white kids singing black music, after all, that had been done before. The white folk  group the Weavers, for example, had sung the black folk song ''Goodnight Irene'' on television a few years before. But  when Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis performed on the same shows, they did more than borrow the form of black  music: they borrowed its fervor. What they were offering was not a blatant copy, something new had been forged, and  Sam Phillips was responsible.

Sam Phillips was not the first person to open a studio In Memphis. He was not the first to start a record label there,  nor the first to experiment with white kids singing what was essentially the blues. In fact, much of what Phillips did  others had done before, but he did it with a consistent artistic conception of the way music should sound. He  recognized the primacy of the blues and looked for the raw blues feel in virtually all of the artists he recorded.  Phillips also sensed that he was In the right place at the right time, and he had the tenacity to hold fast through six  largely desolate years to see his vision pay off.

The notion that a record label of national importance could emerge from Memphis would have been in fact, was  laughed at in 1950. Even Nashville was seen only as a convenient recording outpost for the major labels, which were  located in either New York or Los Angeles. Memphis may have been associated with the blues in much the same  romantic way that New Orleans was associated with jazz, but it was tantamount to lunacy to suggest that a record  label with national aspirations should base itself there. It was even more unlikely that such a company could hope to  achieve national success by recording a strange hybrid music that flouted all conventional barriers.

In beginning the story of Sun Records, it is worth looking at the musical and cultural scene in Memphis when Sam  Phillips hung his neon ''Memphis Recording Service'' sign in the window and announced to the few who cared that he  was open for business.
 

THE TALKING MACHINE COMES TO MEMPHIS - There is an old adage that Nashville is the  capital of Tennessee and Memphis is the capital of Mississippi. Geographically isolated from most of the state,  Memphis has always looked south toward the Delta, rather than east toward Nashville, for the commerce that  sustained it. As in life, so in music.
 
By the mid-1920s record companies had started to bring portable  recording equipment into the South, usually setting up shop in a hotel, staying for a few days, then moving on. 
 
Beale Street Blues 1950s >

When  Ralph Peer, representing the Victor Talking Machine Company, set up makeshift studios in Tennessee in 1927, he  captured entirely different musical traditions at the two extremes of the state.

In the far northwest corner, the city of Bristol yielded Appalachian folk ballads grounded in the Anglo-Celtic traditions.  In Memphis, Peer recorded mostly jug band music, jazz, and blues, music with African-American roots.
 
Using a room in  the McCall Building as a temporary studio, Peer recorded thirty-four tunes between February 24 and March 1 of that  year. He returned during the three succeeding years to build up a strong roster of bluesmen and jug bands, laying  he groundwork for the city's first recording boom, which, in common with similar groundswells in most other regional  centers, simply evaporated during the Great Depression.

Some of Sam Phillips' earliest recordings, which featured jug band veteran Charlie Burse and other artists who had  recorded before the war, such as Jack Kelly and Sleepy John Estes, harked back to the traditions Peer had drawn  upon. Otherwise, the scene had changed completely by the time Phillips picked up the threads.


This 1928 letter from the Victor Talking Machine Company (featuring the famous "Nipper" logo) refers to  royalty checks for 8 selections Irene Beasley recorded when she was starting her radio career in Memphis,  Tennessee.  Beasley wrote the song "If I Could Only Stop Dreaming'', and persuaded her father to publish it while she  was still working as a teacher of math, music, and business management at a Memphis Jr. high school. The  success of this tune helped launch her local radio career, which ultimately led her to Chicago, New York, and  a career with CBS.


Irene Beasley (1904-1980), known as "the long, tall gal from Dixie'', was a composer, singer, and radio  personality. She is best remembered for her long-running musical quiz show, "Grand Slam'', a program which  she wrote, produced and hosted. It aired from 1943 to 1953 >
 
 
 
 
  
 

 
WREC Radio Microphone >
 
ON THE AIR - Record sales may have slumped during the Depression, but radio began to thrive. The first station to  open in Memphis was WMC, launched by a news- paper, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, in 1932.
 
As an aside, it's  worth noting that a columnist for that paper, George Hay, once covered a rural funeral in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas,  and, that evening, a country hoedown not far away.  Guessing that the barn dance format could adapt well to the new  medium of radio, he took his concept to Chicago, where it spawned the National Barn Dance on WLS and, a little later,  the WSM Barn Dance in Nashville.

The WSM show would eventually, as the Grand Ole spry, become a symbol of country  music.  The history of American music might just have taken a different course if Hay had taken his brainchild to Memphis's  WMC, where he worked a short stint as an announcer.
 

An early Memphis radio pioneer who would later have an influence on Sam Phillips was Hoyt B. Wooten. Born in  Coldwater, Mississippi, Wooden founded one of the first radio stations in the South there in 1920. He moved to  Memphis in 1929, changing his station's call letters to WREC (Woolen Radio Electric Company). He had a fascination for  uncharted territory, applying for a television broadcasting license as nearly as 1928, and hand-building much of his audio technology. His unfettered thinking and flair for audio experimentation would be an inspiration to Phillips,  who joined WREC as a young engineer in 1945.

Pop music and radio drama dominated the airwaves in the years before 1950. Most of the music was broadcast live  from the studio, or relayed from live ''feeds'' off the networks. Most Memphis stations programmed a little country  music, primarily from local artists. WMPS launched its country programming in 1939 and swung into high gear with the  acquisition of Smilin' Eddie Hill, whose Noontime Roundup show between 1947 and 1952 featured the cream of the  local musicians together with some imported from out of state. It was Hill's show that reached Johnny Cash and  tens of thousands of others taking a lunchtime break out in the fields.

The research of country music scholar Bill C. Malone has revealed that for many years southerners lagged behind the  remainder of the country in ownership of radios. Malone suggests that the large black population in the South did not  own radios because there was so little programming of black music Radio station owners generally assumed that the  black marketplace would not attract advertising dollars, but that belief began to collapse in the years of prosperity  following the Second World War.
 Hoyt Wooten founder of WREC >
 
Suddenly in the mid to late 1940s, stations began springing up that were targeted primarily at the black audience. In   Birmingham, there was WEDR; In Nashville, WSOK; In Atlanta, WERD; and in Memphis, WDIA. The reasons were many,  but the principal ones were the growing affluence of the black consumer and the formation of Broadcast Music, Inc.  (BMI), in 1939. 

BMI and its rival, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), licensed music   for broadcast. ASCAP, which had previously enjoyed a virtual monopoly, had admitted only a few members   who specialized in ethnic music, black or white. BMI wasn't founded expressly to propagate minority-interest music,   but it was interested in generating repertoire to license.
 
Hillbilly and black music were two vast, untapped sources of   material, and BMI cultivated their writers and publishers as founts of revenue. And because, as the Russian proverb   goes, a black cow may give white milk, the effect of BMI was to make available a much wider variety of music.

WDIA started as a pop and country station in 1947 and changed to a black music format the following year. Even   though it remained under white management, WDIA, and to a lesser extent KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas, and   WLOK, also in Memphis, gave daily exposure to the artists Phillips and his competitors would record. Their principal   medium was the fifteen-minute sponsored live show, a format that spawned B. B. King, Howlin' Wolf, and many more.
 
The year 1948 also marked the radio debut of Dewey Phillips, whose radio style virtually defied categorization. He was   a white disc jockey from rural Tennessee who hosted a show called ''Red Hot and Blue'' on WHBQ. Randy Haspel, who   would later record for Sun as part of Randy and the Radiants, has written a luminous description of Dewey hosting his   show: ''His style was pure country. He was an irreverent squawker with a stream of consciousness speed rap that   never quit, even while the record was playing. From the midst of trained, deep and resonant voices that filled the   airwaves, came this countrified raped fire drawl with an indefinable vocabulary''.

During its first year on the air, the show was expanded from fifteen minutes to three hours dally. Dewey programmed   an eclectic mix of blues, hillbilly, and pop that would become an institution in Memphis, and his importance to the  cross-cultural miscegenation that became rock and roll is incalculable. Among the few who followed in his immediate   wake was Sam Phillips, who soon began programming a comparably freewheeling show on WREC on Saturday
afternoons. Sam and Dewey Phillips weren't related by blood ties, but it's not going too far to say they shared   a relationship that ran much deeper.

Just as the formation of BMI had increased the number of stations programming black music, those stations, and the   disc jockeys like Dewey Phillips who manned them, were vital to the exposure and promotion of new records. In fact,   the proliferation of black radio was a major factor in the astonishing growth of the number of independent record   companies aiming their product at the rhythm and blues market in the postwar years.
 


THE AGE OF THE INDIE - A shortage of shellac, a key component in the manufacture of 78-rpm records, contributed to  the slumping fortunes of the record business through the war years. The problems were exacerbated by a recording  ban called by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) in 1942. 

After the war, however, with the shellac shortage  easing, the economy booming, and the music industry's grudging acceptance of the AFM's new recording rates, the  record business grew in quantum leaps.

The major record labels (Decca, Capitol, Victor, and Columbia) concentrated on the most lucrative sector of the  market: pop music. Pop accounted for over 50 percent of the market and was firmly controlled by the majors.  The  small independent labels, known as ''indies'' sensibly decided to look elsewhere. ''Some indies'', reported Billboard in  April 1946, ''frankly admit they are going to stay out of fields in which the majors push heavily and concentrate on  items where the majors do more or less of a token job''.

 
It was in the held of black music, then dubbed ''sepia'' or ''race'' music, that the majors fell conspicuously short. Their  A&R (artists and repertoire) men didn't understand the music, and their salesmen didn't know how to promote or sell  it. The result was a market share reported to be less than 5 percent of the total pie. It was hardly surprising that the  indies would gravitate toward such an open market. The prospect of recording the music was made even more  attractive because the sessions were cheap to produce. The groups were comparatively small, and the AFM's presence  was marginal at best. ''The major labels used to laugh at (the indies)'', recalled Sam Phillips in 1981. ''Atlantic, Aladdin,  Sun, Dot. They figured these damn people would go away, and what percentage of the market are they gonna get  anyway? One or two percent? So I while their eyes were closed to us who were hungry and knew what we were doing,  and weren't shackled by corporate routine, we grew beyond what they expected''.

Although most county music and blues emanated from the South, very few labels of appreciable size were  headquartered there. Nashville spawned the Bullet label In 1945, which had one of the biggest hits of 1947 with  Francis Craig's ''Near You'', but that was the only hit the label ever saw. Virtually every southern city had a small record  company, but none made a steady national impact until Randy Wood founded Dot in Gallatin, Tennessee, in 1950. Like  Wood, Phillips never envisioned his label servicing just the local market. He was convinced that he could buck the  odds and launch a national label from a storefront in Memphis.
 

Palace Theater, Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee, before they changed the marque to the neon, 1939. >

THE MEMPHIS SCENE - The Memphis music scene, such as it was, was a mixed bag of different, sometimes opposing,  forces. The successful country artists based in Memphis, such as Eddie Hill, the Delmore Brothers, and the Louvin  Brothers, were snapped up by out-of-town record companies.  Those artists and countless others worked daily on radio  and nightly at the honky-tonk, most of which were outside the city limits. News of their activities rarely if ever  reached the newspapers.
 
The focus of activity for elite society was the Skyway ballroom at the Peabody Hotel. The cream of the touring big  bands played at the Skyway, and their music was fed nightly into the CBS network via WREC.

Sam Phillips was one of  the technical staff working the Skyway. His first job was as a ''spotter'', staying on the phone, relaying information to  the engineer at WREC's control room, telling him which musician was about to take a solo and into which microphone  he was going to play.
 
The opulence of the Skyway and the accommodations provided for band members at the Peabody contrasted starkly  with the touring conditions for black bands. Under the alliterative headline ''Bible Belt Heads Back to Banjo Bands and  Blackfaces: Beat Bandsmen with Bats'', Billboard in November 1946 described the facilities for black bands in the midsouth:  ''As a rule, Southern club operators are hostile toward labor and are kept in their best cooperative spirits when  the word ''Union'' is not spoken aloud in their presence. They regard the AFM as a force of banditry. Negro bands often  to choose between vermin-infested hotels or the band bus. All of this in addition to filthy cafes, poor or no valet  service, long jumps on tar-graveled roads, crippled pianos and buzzing PA systems make the South the least attractive  hinterland to musicians''.

''Downbeat magazine conducted a random survey in May 1947 and found that most renowned black bands chose to  ignore the South. With hipper-than-thou obliqueness, Nat ''King'' Cole told the magazine, ''I try my best to keep my  kicks along Route 66, and there's no place I know of where that route dips down south''.

Conditions in Memphis were a little better than in the Deep South, and the city drew some top black bands to play the  regular Midnight Rambles at the black night spots, accommodating them in comparative luxury at the Mitchell Hotel.  Local black artists had steady work as supporting act in the clubs, at black baseball parks, on the radio, and at juke  joints, but the dearth of local recording companies ensured that few got onto disc. The truth was that the South,  which had given birth to rhythm and blues, was regarded as a pest hole by those who played it for a living.

It is also true that the cultural cross-pollination Sam Phillips has often pointed out undoubtedly took place. White kids  listened to rhythm and blues and blacks listened to counts music long before rock and roll; but the mixing of the  musics took place in a social climate that was rigidly segregated. Record producer Jim Dickinson (who later worked at  Sun as part of the Jesters) is one of many who believes that segregation was one of the factors that gave a distinct  edge to Memphis music. ''I started noticing as a producer'', he asserts, ''that Spooner Oldham, the keyboard player,  played drastically differently in different places. His best playing was done in Memphis. I wondered if the same was  true of me, so I got out my own tapes, and by God it's true. I may not play better in Memphis, but I certainly play  differently, and if I stay away too long I start to play funny. Memphis music is about racial collision in both directions.  The rednecks who are playing blues still feel funny about it because they're playing black music''.

Later, after rock and roll exploded, black and white kids from coast to coast and overseas began playing ''southern''  music, but the were drawing on a culture that they had only experienced vicariously, and the result was that they  tried too hard to emulate it. They were to frantic. In fact, singers like Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis  rarely rasped and screamed the way their many imitators usually did. In general, those from outside the southern  culture built a style around exaggerations of southern music, and missed the lonesome hillbilly and blues feel that  was its core. In the quest for abandon, they also failed to understand that southern music is lazy music, at any tempo.

As bandleader and producer Willie Mitchell has observed, ''Jazz players here could play really fast, but they still  played behind the beat just a little bit. That lazy quality is something the jazz and rhythm and blues players in  Memphis have always had in common. Even the Bill Black Combo and Otis Redding, they'd be playing behind the tempo  just a little bit, and all of a sudden everyone would start to sway. Even the lazy horns. They'd be half a beat behind,  so it sounded like they were going to miss it altogether, and they'd sway like that and be right up on the beat. I could  hear that quality in Memphis blues when I was coming up and could hear it right through into Al Green''. It was into  this climate that Sam Phillips came from Florence, Alabama, via Nashville.

1949

Sam Phillips takes a lease on the premises at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, and commences work to put in a recording studio. He also has a regular job as a radio announcer at WREC, Memphis and as engineer for big bands concerts broadcast from the Hotel Peabody. Country singer Buck Turner, a regular performer at WREC, puts up part of the money to purchase recording equipment.
 


Rufus Thomas recording at Sun and Stax and becoming a mentor to many Memphis musicians >

1950

By the end of the 1940s, Rufus Thomas had spent several years singing in Memphis night spots with a  number of good local bands:, those of Bill Harvey, Al Jackson, Bill Fort, and Tuff Green. He hadn't seen this  as his main forte but it was a developing part of his game plan as an entertainer.
 
 
He said, ''My models were  Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, and a fellow named Gatemouth Moore, Dwight Moore out of Memphis.  They were all good entertainers, very very versatile''.

The rhythm and blues ballad takes shape with huge smashes in that style by Ivory Joe Hunter, Percy  Mayfield and Laurie Tate which bring about a much needed versatility in the emerging music.

 
Fats Domino's first record "The Fat Man" ushers in the full-fledged rock sound. ''They call me the Fat Man'',  that sang Antoine Domino in his first rhythm and blues hit, ''because I weigh 200 pounds''. Yes, fats Domino  was big, in fact, he was one of rock and roll's real giants. From 1959 through the late sixties, he sold 65  million records, more than any other fifties rock pioneer except Elvis. Along the way, he earned 23 gold  records for such songs as ''Ain't That A Shame'', ''Blueberry Hill'', and ''I'm Walking''. Influence by the likes  of Amos Milburn and Professor Longhair, Domino's piano-based, New Orleans, style rhythm and blues was  one of rock's early building blocks.
 1950

The Johnny Otis rhythm and blues caravan takes the rhythm and blues show on the road scoring ten    Top Ten hits that year, three of them chart toppers, with such vocalists as 14 year old Little Esther,    Mel Walker and the Robins.
 
Moore had recently been a successful recording artist before returning to Memphis to work over  WDIA, and he was one of the reasons why Rufus started to think about making records himself. He  recalled: ''I was working in a club as a singer, and it was something I wanted to do. It was a chance.  I just wanted to be on record. I never thought of getting rich. I just wanted to be known, be a recording artist''.

Arkie Shibley & His Mountain Dew Boys record "Hot Rod Race" sets the stage for white country    music to meet rhythm & blues in a term to be known as rockabilly in the future.

1950

The 1950 census lists 147,141 African Americans living in Memphis, constituting 37% of the city's population. In rural communities around Memphis, the African American population is often as high as 70%.

The record companies generally adopted the new standards with the vast improvements in sound  quality. Production of the 78rpm shellac disc began to be discontinued.

Future Sun recording artist Eddie Bond leaving school in 1950, he held down a variety of jobs  including furniture factory worker, paint sprayer and, a job common amongst Memphis rockabillies,  truck driver. After an eighteen months stint in the Navy, Eddie Bond returned to work in paint, this  time selling not spraying.
 

 
JANUARY 1950
 


UNKNOWN DATE JANUARY 1950

Further research may reveal other Memphis recordings and labels. There are still some puzzles to be  solved. Someone called Dreamy Joe recorded "Hardin's Bread Boogie" on a promotional 78rpm for  Action Promotions. There will have been other promotional discs made, and possible some of these  saw limited commercial releases.

JANUARY 1, 1950 SUNDAY

Steve Ripley is born. He becomes the lead singer for the Tracktors, a raw amalgam of country, rhythm and blues and roots rock that defies a country tradition in 1994, achieving gold album without ever having played a full concert.

JANUARY 2, 1950 MONDAY

Decca released Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters' pop version of the Scotty Weisman-penned ''Have I Told You Lately That I Love You''.
 
Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, August 1997 >
 
 
JANUARY 3, 1950 TUESDAY

Sam Phillips opened the doors of his Memphis Recording Service (20 by 35 feet) in January 1950,  he sunk around a thousand dollars into renovating a small auto repair shop at 706 Union Avenue  and converting it into the Memphis Recording Service, a storefront recording studio, and he was  taking a chance on an area of business that remained unproven in Memphis.

He is still holding  down two other jobs: as an announcer at radio WREC, and as a promoter at the Hotel Peabody. Just  about the only similar venture anyone could remember was a short-lived company called Royal  Recording, which had been founded in 1948 to record private functions and the like, only to become  defunct a year later.

 
 
Sam Phillips managed to pay the seventy-five dollar monthly rent by doing  custom recordings of weddings, funerals, conventions, and the like, in those dark ages before the  camcorder. But his real love was the sideline he developed recording local blues artists for big city  labels like Chicago's Chess or Los Angeles' R.P.M. and Modern.

Jack Clement, Sam's chief engineer, worked with Phillips setting up the studio, and, over the next  few years, Stanley Kesler, Marcus Van Story, and Charlie Feathers worked on arranging the mikes.  The famous "Sun Sound" was actually produced by one mike bleeding into the next. Creating the  studio had been a tremendous remodelling job. On the plus side, the presence of carpenters,  plumbers, and moving vans had attracted attention. Country performers, street musicians, blues  artists, and big band members watched Sam Phillips develop his new company. When Sam Phillips  formally opened the Memphis Recording Service, large numbers of local blues musicians walked  through the company front door.

Sam Phillips recorded the Buck Turner band on country music radio transcriptions for use by the  Arkansas Rural Electrification Program. Phillips may also have recorded Buck Turner as a vocalist  with Tani Allen and his Tennessee Pals, who had seven records issued between 1950 and 1952 on  the Bullet label of Nashville.

The first acetate was Bullet 702, "Tennessee Jive"/"Rockin' Chair Boogie". For instance, it is not  clear whether the several vocal performances by a Buck Turner issued on Nashville's Bullet label  between 1950 and 1952, issued under the name of Tani Allen and his Tennessee Pals, were in fact  recorded by Sam Phillips.

"The very first job I had after I opened my recording studio - that was in January of 1950 - was  recording for radio with a country singer name of Buck Turner. This was for the Arkansas Rural  Electrification Corporation", recalled Sam Phillips. "We made fifteen minute programmes that  transcribed onto the big old 16 inch disc. They were distributed to about eighteen or twenty outlets.  That was actually the first recording I did".

"I had a little Presto five-input mixer board in the studio at 706 Union. It was portable and it sat on  a hall table kind of thing, for my console. That's all it was". "With it I had a Presto portable tape  recorder, a companion piece to the mixer, I think a PT 500. Dating back before then, I had a  Crestwood tape recorder. Actually this was the first one I had - it was a little amateur thing. The  second one I had along at the same time was a Bell tape recorder. The Bell was in a red case and the  Crestwood was in a beige case, I'll never forget them. I had those just before I was able to buy the  more professional Presto equipment. I used them to record things like the School Days Revue,  which was an amateur show put on for charity each year here in Memphis. I also used the Bell and  Crestwood for recording weddings and funerals and so on. I was real proud to get the Presto 'cause,  man, that was big time stuff for me then".

"For making acetates I had the 6N lathe, also Presto, with a Presto ID cutting head. It was a small  lathe - Presto made a big lathe but I certainly wasn't able to afford one of them. It was connected to  a Presto turntable, and that's how I cut most of my early music".

"This five input mixer had out 4 microphone ports, and the fifth port had a multi-selector switch  where you could flip it one way and get a mike and flip it another way and play your recordings  back through it. That was my console". The first tape machines were just as primitive: "I had a  Presto portable tape recorder, a PT 900, companion piece to the mixer.

"In the very beginning I recorded a lot onto those sixteen-inch discs, which I cut at 78rpm.  Normally you wouldn't do that. You recorded at 33rpm on transcriptions, but in order to improve the  sound, I recorded at 78rpm and would make an acetate master from there. For making acetates I had  the Presto 6-N lathe, which was connected to a Presto turntable. That's how I cut most of my early  music".

By 1954 Sam Phillips had upgraded his equipment and installed two Ampex 350 recorders: one  console model and another mounted on a rack behind his head for the tape delay echo, or  "slapback", for which Sun Records became famous. By "bouncing" the signal from one machine to  another, with a split-second lag between the two, Sam Phillips created his characteristic echo effect.  By the mid-1950s he had also ditched his Presto board in favour of the RCA 76-D radio consolette.  Inputs and outputs were all coupled through transformers, giving a distinct warm coloration (often  dubbed the "tube" sound) to anything passing through them.

For years after Sam Phillips made the switch from acetate discs to magnetic tape in late 1951, the  relatively high price of tape ensured that, watching every penny, he reused every spare inch -  including hours of Elvis Presley outtakes and rejected masters. Not until 1956, with the financial  picture much improved and the price of tape lowered, did he finally feel able to let the tapes roll  freely. From then on, much of the activity within the Sun studio was captured on tape and preserved  for posterity.

JANUARY 3, 1950 TUESDAY

Two months after Red Foley recorded the hit country version, Bing Crosby records a pop rendition of ''Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boys'' in a morning session in Hollywood.

''Slipping Around'' singer Margaret Whiting marries piano player Lou Busch, known professionally as Joe ''Fingers'' Carr, in Chihuahua, Mexico. Neither party has actually divorced his or previous spouse.

JANUARY 4, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Kenny Robert recorded ''Cholate Ice Cream Gone''.

RCA introduces 33 rpm 12-inch discs, limiting the use of 45rpm seven-inch discs to popular music.

JANUARY 6, 1950 FRIDAY

Tennessee Ernie Ford and his wife, Betty, welcome a son, Jeffrey Buckner Ford, in San Gabriel, California.

JANUARY 7, 1950 SATERDAY

Hank Snow becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry when he debuts on the show, introduced by Ernest Tubb. Also debuting the same evening: Tennessee Ernie Ford.

JANUARY 8, 1950 SUNDAY

''Bells Of Coronado'' debuts in theaters, with Roy Rogers tackling uranium smugglers. His supporting cast includes the usual suspects: Dale Evans, Pat Brady, Trigger and Foy Willing's Riders Of The Purple Sage.

JANUARY 9, 1950 MONDAY

Hank Williams records "Long Gone Lonesome Blues, ''My Son Calls Another Man Daddy'', ''Why Should We Try Anymore'' and ''Why Don't You Love Me'' in his first session using the Original Drifting Cowboys at Nashville's Castle Studio.

Decca released Ernest Tubb's double-sided hit, ''Letters Have No Arms'' backed with ''I'll take A Back Seat For You''.

JANUARY 10, 1950 THUSDAY

Hank Williams records his first recitations as Luke The Drifter at the Castle Studio in downtown Nashville

Steel guitarist Speedy West records his first instrumental ''Steel Strike'' during a Cliffie Stone session in Los Angeles.

The western ''Red Rock Outlaw'' appears in theaters, less than one month after one of its stars, former Grand Ole Opry member Lee ''Lasses'' White, died.

JANUARY 12, 1950 THURSDAY

Frank Sinatra records a pop version of the Red Foley hit ''Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy'' in Hollywood.

JANUARY 14, 1950 SATURDAY

The movie ''Hollywood Varieties'' debuts in theaters, with The Hoosiers Hot Shots singing two songs: ''My Bonnie'' and ''Darlin' You Can't Love One''. Robert Alda serves as master of ceremonies.

JANUARY 15, 1950 SUNDAY

David Lyn Jones is born in Bexar, Arkansas. Compared by critics to Bruce Springsteen, he earns just one country hit as an artist, with 1987's ''Bonnie Jean (Little Sister)''. He also writes Willie Nelson's ''Living In The Promiseland''.

Spade Cooley stars, and sings, as the western movie ''The Kid From Gower Gulch'' debuts in theaters.

JANUARY 21, 1950 SATURDAY

Red Foley tops the Billboard country chart with ''Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy''.

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's column, ''The Power Of Positive Thinking'', begins running in newspapers across the United States. The title inspires a future Mickey Giley hit, ''The Power Of Positive Drinkin'''.
 
JANUARY 23, 1950 MONDAY

Rock-bassist from the Box Tops, Bill Cunningham is born in Memphis, Tennessee.

Decca released a double-sided Red Foley single: ''Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy'' backed with ''Sugarfoot Rag'', the latter featuring guitarist Hank Garland

JANUARY 24, 1950 TUESDAY
 
Becky Hobbs is born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Highly regarded, her 11-year country chart span includes a hit duet with Moe Bandy on ''Let's Get Over Them Together''. She also writes Conway Twitty's ''I Want To Know You Before We Make Love''.

JANUARY 26, 1950 THURSDAY
 
India’s new constitution officially takes effect when the new President Dr. Rajendrea Prasad took the oath of office. The original draft of the constitution was submitted during November of 1947 and was re-worked until it was finally approved by the Constituent Assembly in November of 1949. The new constitution declared that the country of India would be a sovereign socialist and democratic republic that would be organized as a federal union of territories and states, ruled under a parliamentary system. As the constitution of India took effect, the newly self-governing country became the most populous democracy in the world.

JANUARY 27, 1950 FRIDAY

MGM released Hank Williams' ''I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin'''.

JANUARY 28, 1950 SATURDAY

Barbara Klein is born in Sacramento, California. Under the name Barbi Benton, she gains fame first as a 1970's Playboy cover girl, then for a 1975 country hit, ''Brass Buckles''. She also joins the cast of ''Hee Haw''.
 
JANUARY 30, 1950 MONDAY

Joe Hill Louis's first Columbia single ''Railroad Blues'' b/w ''A'Jumpin' And A'Shuffle'' (Columbia 30182) is released.

Capitol released Tennessee Ford's ''The Cry Of The Wild Goose''.

JANUARY 1950

In January 1946 Robert E. "Buster" Williams and Clarence Camp had launched a record  distributorship in Memphis called Music Sales. The major labels largely controlled their own  distribution, but small distributors handled the indies. Music Sales, located at 117 Union Avenue in  Memphis, distributed most of the rhythm and blues labels, such as Atlanta and Chess. Later Music  Sales distributed all the records from Sun Records.


Pressing plants of Plastic Products, 1746 Chelsea Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, August 1997 >
 
 
In 1949 Williams started a pressing plant, Plastic  Products Incorporated, on 1746 Chelsea Avenue in Memphis. His intention was to press some  product for the labels he distributed, thereby taking advance of the shipping location of Memphis, in  the center of the country.
 
 
Robert Williams found the major plants unwilling to share their  technology, though, and, in a display of rugged individualism, he designed his own presses and  compound, the shellac-based amalgam from which records were made. Robert Williams and Sam  Phillips became fast friends, and Williams supplied the manufacturing credit and local distribution  that Sam Phillips had come to need after he started Sun Records, as well as supplying a warehouse  and shipping point.

Buck Turner, who had lent Sam Phillips some of the up-front cash he needed to install his studio  hardware, also gave him his first paying gig - recording transcriptions of Turner's band for the  Arkansas Rural Electrification Program. The transcriptions were distributed to fifteen or twenty  stations throughout the mid-South. "Remember", says Phillips, "that I still had a day job at WREC  radio until the middle of 1951, and I was presenting the big bands at the Peabody at night. After I  got off from the station at 3:30 in the afternoon, I went down to the studio, and everything had to be  fitted in at that time of day. When I opened the studio I had already talked to record labels, but I  didn't have any deals lined up. I felt I had to please myself first with the music and then go out and  sell it. As I began to record, the word gradually got around that I might have something. The first  deal I made was with Bill McCall and Don Pierce at 4-Star and Gilt Edge Records".
 

 
FEBRUARY 1950
 

FEBRUARY 1950

Senator Joseph McCarthy launches his campaign against alleged Communists in the U.S. State   Department.

Rufus Thomas' first and only Star Talent 78 is released.
 
The Diner's Club issues the first credit cards. The first independent credit card company is created by Frank McNamara in February of 1950. The first cards were made with cardboard and the plastic versions did not appear until the 1960s. The Diners Club credit card was the first multi-purpose charge card and within a year of beginning operations the company had over 40,000 members. Soon after that businesses in other countries began to accept the Diners Club Card as a form of payment, making it the first international credit membership in 1953. By the end of the decade, over one million people were members in 1959. In 1981 Citicorp took over Diners Club and it continued to be a popular choice for businesses and travelers. In 2008 it was taken over by Discover and in 2009 BMO Financial Group was given the right to issue Diners Club credit cards in North America.

FEBRUARY 1, 1950 WEDNESDAY

RCA unveils the first 45rpm record player.

FEBRUARY 3, 1950 FRIDAY

Bill Monroe holds his first recording session for Decca Records in Nashville at the Castle Studio in the Tulane Hotel. For the first time, his studio musicians include vocalists/guitarist Jimmy Martin and fiddler Vassar Clements

FEBRUARY 6, 1950 MONDAY

Rhythm and blues act Natalie Cole is born to Nat ''King'' Cole in Los Angeles. She grabs a Country Music Association nomination in 1994 when a duet with Reba McEntire, ''Since I Fell For You'', appears on ''Rhythm Country & Blues'', up for Album of the Year.

Decca released Bing Crosby's pop hit ''Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy'', a cover version of Red Foley's current country hit.

Decca released Ernest Tubb's double-sided hit ''I Love You Because'' backed with ''Unfaithful One''.

FEBRUARY 9, 1950 THURSDAY

Little Jimmy Dickens recorded ''Hillbilly Fever'' in Nashville at the Castle Studio in the Tulane Hotel. The song also mention ''Slipping Around'', ''Lovesick Blues'', ''Sugarfoot Rag'' and ''Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy''.

''Young Man With A Horn'', a movie based loosely on the life of late jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke, opens. Starring Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall, it also features Beiderbecke's friend, Hoagy Carmichael, the author of ''Georgia On My Mind''.

FEBRUARY 15, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Coral released Kenny Robert's remake of ''Cholate Ice Cream Cone''.

The animated Disney movie ''Cinderella'' appears in theaters. Forty-five years later, Garth Brooks references the film, and its song, ''Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo'' in his sexually tinged single ''It's Midnight Chinderella''.

FEBRUARY 16, 1950 THURSDAY
 
Record producer and guitarist Paul Worley is born in Nashville. His productions include Lady Antebellum's ''Need You Know'', The Band Perry's ''If I Die Young'', Martha McBride's ''Independence Day'' and The Dixie Chicks ''Wide Open Spaces''.

FEBRUARY 18, 1950 SATURDAY

''The WSB Barn Dance'' airs for the last time in Atlanta.

FEBRUARY 20, 1950 MONDAY

Spade Cooley has a starring roles as the western movie ''The Silver Bandit'' debuts.

Columbia released Johnny Bond's ''Love Song In 32 Bars''.

FEBRUARY 22, 1950 WEDNESDAY

''Mule Train'' opens nationally, with Gene Autry singing the Tennessee Ernie Ford hit. Autry plays a singing lawman at the fictitious Trail End, and also sings ''Roomful Of Roses'' and ''Cool Water'' in the movie, Pat Buttram co-stars.
 
FEBRUARY 25, 1950 SATURDAY

The first commercially issued tape recordings are released by Tape Recording Industries of Lansing,   Michigan.

Like Louis Armstrong, one of his inspirations, Rufus Thomas was larger than life. He came both to   symbolise the place and the music he grew from, and to transcend that time and place. His career   spanned black music from vaudeville to funk.

We capture him here in the 1950s, the rhythm and blues years, at a time when he was firmly of and   about Memphis, Tennessee and when he was just starting out as a recording artist. He was rather   impressive fronting a blues combo or a swing, jazz band, although he would often say, "I'm not   really a singer, but I think I'm a pretty decent entertainer''.

Rufus Thomas was above all a performer, a character. He was a dancer, an emcee, and a disc jockey   before he found fame as the hit-making purveyor of dance-related recordings in the 1960s. Even   then, it was his performance of those hits that was to the fore. Rufus came across as a man   programmed to provide fun, who seemed not to take his music - or life in general - very seriously.

Yet Rufus Thomas did take very seriously his attempts to build a career as an entertainer and he was   a man who wanted to be given his due for the dues he had paid. In the early days of rhythm and   blues, those dues included melding together elements of swing jazz and the blues with some   memorable phrases and a winning vocal delivery, producing a considerable body of recorded music that has been under acknowledged over the years.
 


 
 © - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - © 
 
Rufus Thomas was singing at the Club Tropicana from owner Johnny Currie, also known as Johnny Curry's Club, on Thomas Street on the north side of Memphis when Jesse Erickson walked through the door carrying a bulky recording machine and a microphone.

According to Rufus, he just introduced himself and asked if he could set up and record the band for his label. Rufus had never heard of the Talent label, but he did want to be on records, so he agreed. It is likely that Erickson had made some prior arrangements to be there, but if so the details remain undiscovered.
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR RUFUS THOMAS
FOR STAR TALENT RECORDS 1949/1950

Session Published for Historical Reasons

CLUB TROPICANA, 1331 THOMAS STREET, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STAR TALENT SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE PROBABLY 1949/1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN
 

As far as is known, Rufus recorded six songs that day. If the session really was an impromptu one, then it must be taken as representative of the music he was making at that time. It included mostly original songs by Rufus, or as original as a budding singer could get when he was hearing blues couplets and swing jazz phrases all around him, and recycling catchy lines that first saw action in his comedy routines.  
 
The opportunity presented itself one day around Christmas 1949, in the form of a visit from Jesse Erickson. Jesse and Louise Erickson ran Louise's Record Shop at 3313 Oackland Avenue in South Dallas. Erickson was a regional record distributor who started issuing record on his Talend and Star Talend label to showcase local clubs. He issued many hillbilly recordings, made in his local area, before launching out with a short-lived blues series in 1950, comprising of recordings largely made on location.
 
01 - ''I'LL BE A GOOD BOY'' - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Circa 1949/1950
Released: - 1950
First appearance: - Star Talend Records (S) 78rpm single Star Talent 807-A mono
I'LL BE A GOOD BOY / I'M SO WORRIED
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-1 mono 
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Two of the songs of this session, "I'll Be A Good Boy" and "I'm So Worried" were chosen for release as Star Talent 807. They were good small combo rhythm and blues, somewhat typical for the time, and certainly leaning more to the rhythms of the city than the rural blues. The combo comprised, as best anyone can remember. Perhaps this was the band Rufus most commonly sang worth at the time, and certainly they were mainly musicians with whom he was familiar.

The band makes a storming opening to "I'll Be A Good Boy", the drum and piano riff giving way to Rufus's tale about how he and his baby had a few words last night and how good he'll be if she comes back. There are two fine sax solos and in all this was a well-sung and classy debut from Rufus.

02 - ''I'M SO WORRIED'' - B.M.I. - 1:56
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Circa 1949/1950
Released: - 1950
First appearance: - Star Talend Records (S) 78rpm single Star Talent 807-B mono
I'M SO WORRIED/I'LL BE A GOOD BOY
Reissued:  - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm  BCD 16695-2 mono
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

The other side, "I'm So Worried", evokes the cooler, late night club scene with its slow sax intro and guitar solo from the T. Bone Walker School. Rufus tells how he's in love with a married woman, a theme he would return to later along with other relationship themes.

The label of Rufus's' record stated at the top that it was in the Folk Series, but at the side indicated in smaller print that it was in fact part of the Blues And Rhythm Series. The disc was listed in Billboard among the New Rhythm And Blues Releases for the week of February 25, 1950, and "I'm So Worried" was also  reviewed, although the opinion was mixed, and indeed a little harsh on the band: "Thomas shows first class style on a slow blues, but the combo work is amateurish behind him".

In later years, Rufus was fond of dismissing the disc saying, "The record sold five copies, and I bought four of 'em". But at the time he knew that it was a start, and that might lead on to better things. After all, apart from Dwight Moore and B.B. King, none of the other Memphis-based entertainers that would become so popular in the decade to follow were yet on records. Rufus may have hoped and expected that some of the other four songs he recorded for Erickson would have been released too, and things looked good in March 1950 when Star Talent Records took out an advertisement in Billboard for their Star Stubbed Star Talent, listing 14 hillbilly artists and six blues and gospel acts, including Rufus Thomas.

Erickson's four unissued recordings by Rufus Thomas did turn up. They had been made at the Sellers Studio in Dallas. The whereabouts of two songs, "Take Me Home, I'm Tired, He Lied" and "Paper Doll" are not released, but the remaining two titles, "Who's That Chick" and "Double Trouble", are issued here, nearly sixty years after they were made.

03 - ''WHO'S THAT CHICK'' - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Circa 1949/1950
Released: - 2008
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-3 mono
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

"Who's That Chick" is a piano-led boogie shuffle that quickly turns into a vocal tour de force from Rufus, describing the charms of the unknown siren coming down the street. There are some interesting sax solos and riffs, and this could easily have been a song to release.

In contrasting mood, "Double Trouble" is an atmospheric late night item about the trouble Rufus has got into having eyes for two woman. Piano and sax both work to add to the sombre mood Rufus creates. There is some surface noise to listen through on these two tracks, but the effort is very well worthwhile.
 
04 - ''DOUBLE TROUBLE'' - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Circa 1949/1950
Released: - 2008
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-4 mono
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

05 - ''TAKE ME HOME, I'M TIRED, HE LIED'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None Unissued/Lost
Recorded: - Circa 1949/1950

06 - ''PAPER DOLL'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Unissued/Lost
Recorded: - Circa 1949/1950

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas - Vocal / Evelyn Young - Tenor Saxophone
Evans Bradshaw - Piano / Robert Carter - Guitar
Unknown - Bass / Red Davis – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
MARCH 1950
 

A glimpse out and inside of Johnny Currie's Tropicana Club, 1331 Thomas Street, Memphis, Tennessee >

EARLY 1950

Bill McCall had purchased 4-Star, one of the first postwar indies based on the West Coast. He had  been astonishingly successful with a primitive boogie pianist, Cecil Gant (a World War II veteran  billed as ''Private Cecil''), and a large country catalog. ''I had known Bill for some time'', said Sam  Phillips, ''and I contacted him and told him what I was trying to do with blues.

The first music took  was by John Hunter, who was a blind man from South Memphis. He was a pianist with a lot of  potential. Then they took some country items by the Slim Rhodes band''. Phillips' assessment of ''Lost'' John Hunter was perhaps overly charitable. Indeed, McCall's enthusiasm may have stemmed from the passing musical resemblance that Lost John bore to Private Cecil. But Billboard, reviewing his 4-Star record ''Boogie For Me Baby'', seemed to pick up on the energy Phillips must have found in the piano player: ''A crude boogie blues'', they called it, ''that could pick up some southern juke coin''.
MARCH 1, 1950 WEDNESDAY

The John Wayne movie ''Sands Of Iwo Jima'' goes into general release, with an appearance by Ira Hayes, who helped raise the flag at the Japanese battle. His story becomes the basic for Johnny cash's 1964 hit ''The Ballad Of Ira Hayes''.
 
Songwriter/producer and piano player David Foster is born in Victoria, British Columbia. A co-writer of Anne Murray's ''Now And Forever (You And Me)'', he produces Kenny Rogers and plays on hits by Kevin Sharp, Glen Campbell and Dolly Parton.

Piano player Joe ''Fingers'' Carr is divorced from actress Janet Blair. She tells the judge her husband would rather stay at the golf course for hours on end than come home to her cooking.

MARCH 2, 1950 THURSDAY

Karen Carpenter is born in New Haven, Connecticut. Though primarily a pop act, The Carpenters earn a country hit, 1978's ''Sweet, Sweet Smile'', written by Juice Newton. Alabama remakes their single ''Touch Me When We're Dancing'' as a country hit.

Gene Autry recorded ''Peter Cottontail''.

MARCH 3, 1950 FRIDAY

Columbia released Gene Autry's ''Peter Cottontail''.

MARCH 5, 1950 SUNDAY

Songwriter Tom Russell is born in California Lutheran Hospital in Los Angeles, California. He writes Suzy Bogguss' 1992 hit ''Outbound Plane''.

MARCH 8, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Buck Owens and Bonnie have their second son, Michael Lynn Owens.

MARCH 9, 1960 THURSDAY

Sax and flute player Jerry Eubanks is born in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He joins The Marshall Tucker Band, appearing on the single ''Long Hard Ride'', which earns a Grammy nomination in the country category in 1977.

MARCH 10, 1950 FRIDAY

MGM released a two-sided Hank Williams hit ''Long Gone Lonesome Blues'' backed with ''My Son Calls Another Man Daddy''.

Decca released a double-sided Red Foley hit, ''Steal Away'' backed by ''Just A Closer Walk With Thee''.

Songwriter Don Devaney is born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He nets hits by authoring Charley Pride's ''Someone Loves You Honey'' and Highway 101's ''Cry, Cry, Cry''. 

MARCH 11, 1950 SATURDAY

Jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin is born in New York City. His 1988 pop hit ''Don't Worry, Be Happy'' will be referenced in the lyrics of Jake Owen's 2014 country single ''Beachin'''.

MARCH 12, 1950 SUNDAY

Scotty Moore marries his first wife, Mary Durkee. He later becomes the first guitarist for Elvis Presley.

ABC begins airing ''The Marshal Of Gunsight Pass''. By the end of the months, ''One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)'' singer and songwriter Eddie Dean takes over the lead role.
 
Belgian citizens vote in a referendum to determine whether or not to allow the controversial King Leopold III to return to the throne. The citizens of Belgium vote in a referendum to decide whether or not to allow the exiled King Leopold III to return to the throne. The vote took place on this day and the result was that 57.68% of the Belgian voters were in favor of his return. King Leopold III had first come into power in 1934 and had given Belgium’s unconditional surrender to Nazi Germany when they invaded in 1940, an unpopular and controversial decision. In 1944, Leopold III and his family were deported to Germany and then to Austria, only to be liberated by the Allies in May of 1945. After the March 1950 referendum, the king returned on July 22nd of 1950. In the next year King Leopold III renounced the throne in an effort to resolve issues over his controversial return. His son, Prince Baudouin, took over the crown after he left.

MARCH 13, 1950 MONDAY

Columbia released Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys'''Can't You Hear Me Callin'''. The song will become the title of a comprehensive Monroe biography.

MARCH 15, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Mercury released Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' ''Foggy Mountain Breakdown'', which becomes the theme to Warren Beatty's movie ''Bonnie And Clyde''.

MARCH 17, 1950 FRIDAY

Reba McEntire's parents, Clark and Jacqueline, get married at the First Baptist Church in Atoka, Oklahoma.

MARCH 19, 1950 SUNDAY

Roy Acuff begins a 10-day tour of Alaska with shows for U.S military personnel, sponsored by the Air Force.

MARCH 20, 1950 MONDAY

Columbia released Little Jimmy Dickens'''Hillbilly Fever''.

MARCH 22, 1950 WEDNESDAY

''Twilight In The Sierras'' debuts in theaters with Roy Rogers starring as a U.S. Marshall on the trail of counterfeiters on the back of Trigger. He's joined by Dale Evans, Pat Brady and Foy Willing and The Riders Of The Purple Sage.

MARCH 23, 1950 THURSDAY

Record producer Byron Gallimore is born in Puryear, Tennessee. Among his credits: Faith Hill's ''Breathe'', Tim McGraw's ''Live Like You Were Dying'', Martina McBride's ''I'm Gonna Love Through It'' and Sugarland's ''Everyday America''.

MARCH 25, 1950 SATURDAY

Barbara Jo Allen stars with the debut of the movie ''Square Dance Katy'', featuring music by Jimmie Davis.

MARCH 26, 1950 SUNDAY

Ronnie McDowell is born in Fountain Head, Tennessee. Following his 1977 tribute to Elvis Presley, ''The King Is Gone'', he reaps more than a dozen Top 10 hits through 1987, including ''Older Women'' and ''You're Gonna Ruin My Bad Reputation''.

MARCH 27, 1950 MONDAY

Johnnie and Jack recorded their first hit record, ''Poison Love''.

Kitty Wells recorded ''How Far Is Heaven'' at Brown Radio Productions in Nashville. An early staple of her live shows, the song is re-recorded five years later as a duet with daughter Carol Sue Writh.

MARCH 28, 1950 TUESDAY

Hank Snow recorded ''I'm Moving On'' at Brown Radio Productions during his first Nashville session.

Roy Acuff closes a 10-day tour of Alaska, where he performed for Air Force personnel.

MARCH 31, 1950 FRIDAY

''Everybody's Dacin'''debuts in theaters, featuring Spade Cooley, who also wrote the script. Noel Boggs doubles in some scenes for Cooley, who had a heart attack during the production period. Also featured are The Sons Of The Pioneers.

MARCH/APRIL 1950

Sam Phillips organises a deal with Bill McCall of 4-Star and Gilt-Edge Records in California,  whereby Sam Phillips will record country and blues musicians from the Memphis area and sell the  recordings to McCall for commercial release.

Phillips records blues musicians Lost John Hunter  (for release on 4-Star) and Charlie Burse (Unissued). He also records gospel music with the Gospel Travellers, whose songs he pitches to Modern Records in Hollywood.

In April of 1950, the NSC-68 report was completed and presented to U.S. President Harry Truman. The report contained recommendations on how to approach the Cold War with the Soviet Union and would influence U.S. Policy in regards to the Cold War for the next twenty years. Some of the main results of the report was the United States’ aggressive military expansion and build up of nuclear weaponry, as well as enacting the policy of containment against Communist nations. The recommendations of NSC-68 became official U.S. policy in September of 1950 after the outbreak of the Korean War. One of the long term effects of the report was the massive increase in military spending, with the budget nearly tripling soon after the policy change was enacted. The document was not officially declassified until 1975.
 

 
APRIL 1950
 

APRIL 1950

In 1949 the Cohutta Mountain Boys with future Sun recordings star and pianist, Roy Hall assembled to cut the hillbilly boogie classic, ''Dirty Boogie'', which set the scene for much of the raucous and romping music that would be associated with Hall over the coming decade.

By the time his third Fortune disc was out, Roy Hall and his Cohutta Mountain Boys were back in Tennessee. ''I came to Nashville the first time with Tennessee Ernie Ford at the end of 1949. My band was backing him up there for a while, and he made some introductions for me back in Nashville''. Ford had just started to record for Capitol and was touring all the hillbilly markets at the time.

In April 1950, Roy Hall and his band joined up with Bullet Records in Nashville. label boss Overton Ganong, formerly a top salesman from Capitol Records, recalled: ''I had been working with Tennessee Ernie Ford when I was at Capitol, and after I moved to Bullet he introduced some musicians to me. One of them was Roy Hall. He was a pianist with a brilliant band and some novelty songs. I thought they were better than the ordinary and that we could make a go of his music''. Through much of the 1950s, Hall was based around Nashville although he also regularly turned up to play shows and made records in Detroit. He started playing Nashville dives and turning up on recording sessions with Bullet, Tennessee and other labels and playing some piano spots on the Grand Ole Opry show.

APRIL 1, 1950 SATURDAY

Rex Allen has his first starring role with the debut of the western ''Arizona Cowboy''.

APRIL 2, 1950 SUNDAY

WSM announcer David Cobb refers to Nashville as ''Music City U.S.A.'', unwittingly coining a nickname for the Tennessee capital.

APRIL 3, 1950 MONDAY

Bass player Curtis Stone is born in North Hollywood, California. The son of music figure Cliffie Stone, he joins Highway 101, which earns the Country Music Association's vocal group awards in 1988 and 1989.

Red Foley recorded a trio of hits, ''Chocolate Ice Cream Cone'', ''Birmingham Bounce'', and ''Mississippi''.

Pop songwriter Kurt Weill dies of a heart attack in New York. Two of his songs find new life after his passing: Bobby Darin's recording of ''Mack The Knife'' and Willie Nelson's version of ''September Song''.

APRIL 5, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Decca released a two-sided Red Foley single, ''Birmingham Bounce'' and ''Cholate Ice Cream Cone''.

APRIL 7, 1950 FRIDAY

Slim Whitman makes his first appearance on The Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport.

APRIL 14, 1950 FRIDAY

Webb Pierce makes his first appearance on The Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport.

APRIL 15, 1950 SATURDAY

Hank Williams is arrested for violating a Nashville ordinance that prohibits smoking in bed, when a cigarette starts a fire in his room at the Tulane Hotel after he falls in sleep.

APRIL 17, 1950 MONDAY

Priscilla Ann Wagner is formally adopted by Paul Beaulieu, the four-year-old is the future wife of Elvis Presley.

APRIL 19, 1950 WEDNESDAY

''Wagon Master'', a western directed by John Ford, debuts in theaters with music by Sons Of The Pioneers.

APRIL 22, 1950 SATURDAY

Hank Williams' ''Long Gone Lonesome Blues'' reaches the number 1 position on the Billboard country singles chart.

APRIL 26, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Eddy Arnold recorded ''A Prison Without Walls'', ''Cuddle Buggin' Baby'' and ''Enclosed, One Broken Heart'' at the RCA studio in New York.

APRIL 27, 1950 THURSDAY

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys recorded ''Faded Love'' at Radio Recorders on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood.

APRIL 29, 1950 SATURDAY

Bass player Wayne Secrest is born in Alton, Illinois. He joins Confederate Railroad, a 1990's southern rock-inspired group that earns favor with ''Trashy Women'', ''Queen Of Memphis'' and ''Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind''.

Carl Smith makes his Grand Ole Opry debut,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
 

 
MAY 1950
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS – ©

 

With everyone who came in the studio, Sam Phillips was the same; respectful, deferential, determined to overcome their understandable mistrust, their certainly that there must be a catch in this somewhere. If some grizzled old man came in with an oil drum and ropes, or just four strings on his guitar, ''if I had a million dollars, I wouldn't have sent out and bought a string''. Because, for one thing, he wasn't going to insult a man's need, for another that man might have something completely different to say, with just four strings! On the other hand, if a seasoned professional came by with the idea that they were going to give this skinny little white man just what they thought he wanted, Cab Calloway, say or Jimmy Rushing or Nat King Cole, Sam quickly disabused them of the notion that he was looking for anything but what resided in the deepest recesses of their own soul, he was looking for originality, he was looking for feeling. With all of them he listened attentively and told them honestly what he thought. Because most of all they had to believe in him, they had to believe in his sincerity, his commitment to them. Maybe nothing would come of it until their second or the studio third visit. There was no charge, there was no rush, he assured them over and over again, in the face of their understandable suspicion that at any moment he was going to present them with the bill, they had to come to the belief on their own, they had to be comfortable with the idea that the purpose of this whole undertaking was to get them to express themselves.


''In a personality not really given to patience'', Marion Keisker observed, ''he showed patience beyond belief. Say they were to come in at three o'clock in the afternoon, and they came dragging in at 3:00 A.M., I mean, we would usually be there painting or working on (something), but Sam would just say, ''Come on in''. He never acted like he was surprised, never said, where were you, he'd just clear the decks and listen to them''. Occasionally he might suggest an ''audition recording'', not to give them a copy, because he was not going to let anything go out of the studio until he was fully satisfied with it, but just to let them hear what they sounded like on disc, to try to win their confidence for the day when he might have somewhere to send their audition to. Marion noted how sometimes he would sit in the little half-finished control room, acting like he was busy while the musicians started fooling around with something just to pass the time, and then all of a sudden, ''Sam would come in and say 'That's it, that's what I want''. Because that's trash, Mr. Phillips''. And he would say, ''That's what I want''. Because they had forgotten all about the idea of making music and were just doing it, without even seeming to give it a second thought. 

 
STUDIO SESSION FOR LOST JOHN HUNTER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR 4-STAR 1950 
 
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: PROBABLY MAY 1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS 
 
01 - ''COOL DOWN MAMA'' - B.M.I. - 2:12
Composer: - John Hunter-Lyndell Woodson
Publisher: - Music Clearance
Matrix number: - 3726
Recorded: - Probably May 1950
Released: - June 22, 1950
First appearance: - 4-Star Records (S) 78rpm standard single 4-Star 1492-A mono
COOL DOWN MAMA / SCHOOLBOY
Reissued:  - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-1 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

There was considerable confusion for many years surrounding the actual place and date that these tracks were recorded, although the mystery now seems solved. Sam Phillips sold the sides to 4-Star Records, whose numerical system indicates that they were issued around May/June 1950, whilst this title was registered with B.M.I. shortly after its release, in September 1950.  This seems to confirm that the Hunter titles were indeed the first blues recordings made by Sam Phillips - certainly, they were the first he placed with a third party. Technicalities aside, this remains a fine performance under any given circumstances driven along by the prominently recorded piano and Lost John's grainy vocal.

This track is essentially a jumping city blues, without the horn section. Hunter's backup group, the Blind Bats, make their presence felt as they chant their responses.  Billboard reviewed Hunter's single at the beginning of August, in between, Sam Phillips wrote to Nashville's pre-eminent rhythm and blues disc jockey, Gene Nobles, stating (probably with some exaggeration) that the record was already moving well in Memphis. The Hunter titles were among the very first blues recordings made by Sam Phillips; the first he placed with a third party.

02 - ''SCHOOLBOY'' - B.M.I. - 2:49
Composer: - John Hunter-Lyndell Woodson
Publisher: - Music Clearance
Matrix number: - 3727
Recorded: - Probably May 1950
Released: - June 22, 1950
First appearance: - 4-Star Records (S) 78rpm standard single 4-Star 1492-B mono
SCHOOLBOY / COOL DOWN MAMA
Reissued:- 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-2 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Lost John Hunter joins the long list of unlikely "schoolboys'' which includes the likes of Jimmy Reed, Peppermint Harris, and Fats Domino. A slower, but no less full-blooded performance, Hunter's confident vocal soars over  the trio accompaniment, and its clear from both his vocal and piano styling that he's more at home at a slower tempo.
 
Following one further 4-Star single this local blind musician lived up to his name and went AWOL, a great shame as his talent shines through the surface noise.  Just a few weeks after Lost John's first release came the second. It was a common enough practise in those days, albeit one that seems inexplicable today.
 
4-Star had been in business since 1945 when it was launched as a subsidiary of Gilt-Edge. The label's biggest selling rhythm and blues single was Pvt. Cecil Gant's ''I Wonder'', and part of Lost John's appeal to 4-Star/Gilt-Edge owner Bill McCall might have been his similarity to Gant. This mellow blues was named for the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad, a subsidiary of the Illinois Central, so it should have been Y&MV, not Y-M And V. The locomotives ran several different routes from Memphis to New Orleans, and were familiar sight in the Delta.
 
''Schoolboy'' of sharecropper cultivating cotton 1938 ^ 
 
03 - ''Y-M AND V BLUES'' - B.M.I. - 3:08
Composer: - John Hunter
Publisher: - Music Clearance
Matrix number: - 3772
Recorded: - Probably May 1950
Released: - September 1950
First appearance: - 4-Star Records (S) 78rpm standard single 4-Star 1511-A mono
Y M AND V BLUES / BOOGIE FOR ME BABY
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-1-3 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1959

''Label's to be congratulated for being honest enough to say this disking's not suited for radio broadcast right on the label copy'', noted Billboard in its review dated September 9, 1950. ''It's a crude boogie blues that might pick up some Southern juke coin''. And it was true that someone at 4-Star believed that this side was unsuitable for broadcast, while the other was okay. Phillips brought the electric guitar way up in the mix, and the guitar drives the show. Lost John starts playing the solo but stops abruptly as if he'd just remembered that this was the guitarist's space. The song's energy is accentuated by the stop rhythms, and makes up in commitment what it lacks in originality. Lost John appears to have made no other recordings anytime, anywhere except for the unissued Memphis Recording Service acetate here on this session, an acetate that was essentially another version of this song.

04 - ''BOOGIE FOR ME BABY'' - B.M.I. - 2:12
Composer: - John Hunter
Publisher: - Music Clearance
Matrix number: - 3772
Recorded: - Probably May 1950
Released: - September 1950
First appearance: - 4-Star Records (S) 78rpm standard single 4-Star 1511-B mono
BOOGIE FOR ME BABY / Y M And V BLUES
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-1-4 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1959

Hunter almost wears out the joys of a stop rhythm on the next acetate. It has an unmistakable similarity to Hunter's recording of ''Cool Down Mama'', originally released on 4-Star. It also bears an unmistakable similarity to uncountable pre-War piano-led blues recordings; in particular to Big Bill Broonzy's ''Play Your Hand, Baby''. The vocal is appealingly rough hewn (a Billboard' reviewer called Lost John, ''gravel throated'') and the track has an appropriately loose and boozy feel. There is plenty of give-and-take between Hunter and his sidemen, right down to the final second of the recording. A quick glance at mid-1950 rhythm and blues charts shows how out-of-date it was, and the sound quality seems to place it even further back in time. It's s faded audio snapshot of Sam Phillips five or six months into his venture, trying to figure out commercial rhythm and blues.

05 - ''PLAY THE GAME BABY'' - B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May 1950
Released: - March 8, 2013
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-4 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Lost John Hunter - Vocal and Piano
The Blinds Bats
Unknown - Guitar
Unknown - Bass
Unknown - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

MAY 1950

In the meantime, though, without any of the buildup or drama that should have been attendant on such a momentous event, Sam Phillips had actually had a record come out, on a Los Angeles hillbilly label with whom he had come in contact at just about the time he first wrote to the Bihari. He had met Bill McCall, the hard-driving partner in 4-Star Records, in much the same way that he had first encountered the Bihari brothers, through the good offices of Buster Williams, and McCall offered a deal that would pay him $200 for eight sides. It was a connection for which he didn't have a great deal of expectation, but McCall had not only expressed interest in some blues sides Sam had cut on a gravel-throated boogie-woogie piano player from South Memphis named Lost John Hunter, in very short order he put them out. The record was sandwiched in between 4-Star's hillbilly hits, and McCall had in fact expressed at least as much interest in Sam recording some of Memphis' local hillbilly talent. But Sam was still barely able to mask his excitement when he wrote to his old friend Gene Nobles at WLAC on July 10 with an announcement of the record's upcoming release.

Lost John Hunter, not surprisingly, did not bear out Sam's optimistic sales projections, and Sam went on to dutifully record not only popular hillbilly radio personality Slim Rhodes, who had longstanding early-morning and midday shows on WMC, but his business partner, Buck Turner, as well. 4_star eventually put out four singles on Slim, but even if they had sold well, Sam still would have had little enthusiasm for the project. From his point of view, both Slim and Buck had loyal followings in the mod-South and ''good solid local combos, but, I never did see anything particular about either Buck or Slim's band that stood out, as far as style''. With a conventional commercial artist like Slim Rhodes, or Buck, for that matter, the nature of whose business was to remain conversant with all the latest trends, he knew he could never dig as deep as he wanted to, as much as he loved pure country music, ''I had to realize that recording straight country was a buffer until I could work out what I really wanted to do'', said Sam.

Letter from Sam Phillips to disc jockey Gene Nobles in Nashville, Tennessee. >

July 10, 1950


Mr. Gene Nobles
Radio Station WLAC
Nashville, Tennessee

Dear Gene:

Under separate cover I am sending you a ''4 Star'' copy of two selections by LOST JOHN HUNTER AND HIS BLIND CATS.

''Schoolboy''
&
''Cool Down Mama''

''Schoolboy'' is really going here in Memphis and I know you can get it rolling over that way if only you will give it the works on you race shows.

Lost John is a local blind negro and will be more than grateful for any and all plugs. I sent an audition of him to 4 Star and they quickly waxed him and although I an completely out of the deal after making the masters on him, I surely would like to see him go.

Be on the look out for any more of Lost John's stuff see what you think of it. We will appreciate any plays any time.

Regards to Paul and Dave and any of the rest of the gang around there that might happen to remember my puss.

Yours very truly,
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
Sam Phillips
MAY 1950

Chess Records is launched in Chicago.

The USS Valley Forge sets sail for the far East, with crewman Scotty Moore, future guitarist for Elvis Presley.

Sam Phillips arranges with either Don Pierce or Bill McCall of 4-Star and Gilt-Edge Records in Los Angeles to supply  those labels with blues and country recordings of Memphis artists. He subsequently records sessions  on Buck Turner and Slim Rhodes (country) and Lost John Hunter and Charlie Burse (blues).

The number that Sam recorded now, ''Shorty The Barber'', was a novelty item offering unmistakable hints of double entendre but for the most part focusing on the life and chores of a barber. It was sung with the same raucous good humor that characterized Burse's jug band work (the Memphis Jug band had recorded an extensive repertoire of blues with a ragtime and minstrel-show base between 1927 and 1934), and for authenticity Sam went across the street and borrowed a pair of barber shears,...
 
 
...there was something about the exuberant spirit of the number that just tickled him. But none of the sides that he sent to the Biharis brothers were quite what he intended, the Newborns too polished, the Gospel Travelers too professional, Charlie Burse a little too old-fashioned, and none of the material was accepted for release (See the May/June session below).
 
The Tollund Man, a mummified body from the 4th Century, is found. Viggo and Emil Hojgaard found the mummified body of a 4th century man in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark. After its discovery, the body was excavated and examined as if he had been a recent murder victim as he had been so well preserved that the men who discovered him called the police to report a crime. Similar ancient bodies had been found before in that region so the police decided to consult with a local museum. They determined that the body was pre-historic and had belonged to a man between the age of 30 and 40 who had died by hanging while being sacrificed to the Gods and buried in the peat bog by his village over 2,400 years ago.

MAY 2, 1950 TUESDAY

Joe Hill Louis's second and last Columbia single ''Don't Trust Your Best Friend'' b/w ''Joe's Jump'' (Columbia 30221) is issued.
 
MAY 5, 1950 FRIDAY

Carl Smith signs a recording deal with Columbia Records, where he remains for the next 24 years. The contract calls for a 3% royalty rate.

Art Mooney recorded a hit pop version of Red Foley's ''M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I'' at the WOR Studio in New York City.

MAY 9, 1950 TUESDAY

Fiddler Randy Howard is born in Macon, Georgia. He recorded with the likes of Chet Atkins, George Jones, Kenny Chesney and Blackhawk.

Dinah Washington recorded the original version of ''I'll Never Be Free'' in New York City. It's covered within weeks by Tennessee Ernie Ford and Kay Star.

MAY 11, 1950 THURSDAY

Carl Smith has his first recording session at the Castle Studio in Nashville's  Tulane Hotel, cutting his debut single, ''Guilty Conscience''. 

Bee Gee Barry Gibb's second wife, is born. He's destined to write such country love songs as ''Come On Over'' and ''Rest Your Love On Me''

MAY 12, 1950 FRIDAY

Jerry Lee Lewis wins a talent contest in Jonesville, Louisiana, while his cousin, Jimmy Swaggart, finished second.

The romantic comedy ''Please Believe Me'' appears in theaters, with roles for Deborah Kerr, Pater Lawford and the late Lee ''Lasses'' White.

Mother Maybelle Carter and The Carter Sisters join the Grand Ole Opry,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
 
MAY 13, 1950 SATURDAY

American soul singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Stevie Wonder (aka)  Steveland Morris is born in Saginaw, Michigan.

MAY 17, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Stuart Hamblen writes ''Remember Me (I'm The One Who Loves You)'' on his way to the recording studio in Los Angeles, spurred by a parting comment from his wife. He recorded both that song and his country-gospel hit, ''It's No Secret''.

MAY 18, 1950 THURSDAY

Songwriter Tom Shapiro is born in Kansas City, Missouri. Among more than 50 hits, he authors Brooks & Dunn's ''Ain't Nothing Bout' You'', Neal McCoy's ''Wink'', Keith Urban's ''You Look Good In My Shirt'' and George Strait's ''Living And Living Well''.

MAY 19, 1950 FRIDAY

MGM released Hank Williams' ''Why Don't You Love Me''.

Gene Autry's defends his ranch from rustlers in the debuting movie ''Cow Town''. Longtime associate Frankie Marvin is a ranch hand in the picture.

Johnny Cash performs ''The Whiffenpoof Song'' at his high school graduation ceremony in Dyess, Arkansas.

MAY 22, 1950 MONDAY

Lyricist Bernie Taupin is born in Lincolnhire, England. He earns acclaim as Elton John's primary co-writer, but also find his way into country music, writing the Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack hit ''Mendocino County Line''

Stuart Hamblen makes his final appearance as a singing cowboy as ''The Savage Horde'' debuts in theaters.

MAY 23, 1950 TUESDAY

Linda Thompson, Elvis Presley's future girlfriend, is born in Memphis, Tennessee. She becomes a regular on ''Hee Haw'' for 15 years, beginning in 1977.

MAY 25, 1950 THURSDAY

Wesley and Marilyn Tutlle have twins, Wesley Leroy Tuttle Jr. and Leslie Ann Tutlle.

MAY 26, 1950 FRIDAY

The Weavers recorded Leadbelly's ''Goodnight Irene'', sells over 2 million copies.  Its quickly covered by Ernest Tubb and Red Foley and by Moon Mullican for the country market.

MAY 29, 1950 MONDAY

Decca released Ernest Tubb's double-sided ''Throw Your Love My Way'' backed by ''Give Me A Little Old Fashioned Love''.

NBC telecasts the final installment of ''Village Barn''. The country variety show featured Dick Thomas as host for nearly half of its two-year run.

 
 
 © - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CHARLIE BURSE
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE 1950 
 
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE PROBABLY MAY/JUNE 1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Charlie Burse belongs to a far older musical tradition, having first recorded with the Memphis Jug Band in 1928. This, his last commercial session, yielding this vaudeville-flavoured song reminiscent of the rollicking music prevalent among the jug bands in which he once worked. Despite his twenty-five years' experience Burse sings the light-hearted lyric with gusto, as if relishing the change to record one more - and they lively "knocked-out" piano is particularly appropriate. Dispute this, the song remained unissued for some thirty-five years.
 
 
A page from the artist/session logs of the Memphis Recording Service, July 7, 1950 >

 
The song was of more recent vintage, composed by C.G. ''Red'' Matthews. A label owner (Von, OJ, Ekko), Matthews also wrote one of the biggest songs to emerge from Memphis, ''White Silver Sands''.. a hit for Brother Dave Gardner on OJ and the Bill Black Combo on Hi Records. Shorty was based on a character from Amos 'n' Andy, while the song itself owed a pretty considerable debt to 1949's big hit, ''Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy''.

Burse sings the light-hearted lyric with gusto as if relishing another chance to record, and the lively knocked-out piano is particularly appropriate, if way too far up in the mix. Despite this, the recording remained unissued for some thirty-five years.
Charlie Burse of the Memphis Jug Band playing guitar, Memphis, Tennessee, 1962 >

 
 
Phillips had high hopes for the song, writing to the publisher, Spencer Music, several weeks after the Burse session to inform them that he intended to record it with ''Joe Hill Louis, an ex-Columbia recording artist (Negro)''. 

Spencer Music referred him to the Harry Fox Agency for a mechanical license, and Phillips, wrote back, ''We do not know Mr. Harry Fox or where we can reach him. We assumed he worked at BMI''.

At this point in his career, Phillips was evidently quite clueless on how to clear songs for release. He would get smarter.  Red Matthews eventually placed the song with a hillbilly singer, Lou Millet, who recorded it rockabilly style for Republic Records in 1955.

  
 
   01 - ''SHORTY THE BARBER'' - B.M.I. - 2:25
Composer: - Chuck Matthews
Publisher: - Cromwell Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May/June 1950
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-3 mono 
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Charlie Burse - Vocal Probably Guitar
Mickey Mathis or Lotis Stevenson or Bunny Hall - Saxophone
Probably Robert Burse – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
JUNE 1950
 

Dewey Phillips, WHBQ's new star >
  
LATE MAY OR EARLY JUNE 1950

WHBQ radio program director, Gordon Lawhead, began a fifteen-minute segment that he called  Red Hot and Blue, taken the name from a patriotic musical film of that year starring Victor Mature,  not exactly a king of the blues himself, and twenty-four-year-old Dewey Phillips starts this WHBQ  broadcasting from the Gayoso Hotel, located at Gayoso Street.


He is on air from 10:00 p.m. to  midnight every weekday, and until 1:00 a.m., on Saturday nights, while keeping his job in the  record department at W.T. Grant's on South Main Street.  The music that he plays is some of the  finest American vernacular music ever recorded: in the course of one fifteen-minute segment, you  might hear Muddy Waters' latest hit, a gospel number by the Soul Stirrers, with the great singer,  R.H. Harris, Larry Darnell's "For You, My Love", and Wynomie Harris' "Good Rockin' Tonight" -  "boogies, blues, and spirituals".

 
"Dewey was hawking records at Grant's just like those guys down on Beale Street were hawking  people to come into the pawnshops", recalls veteran disc jockey George Klein.  Gordon Lawhead did give Phillips a few pointers, showing him how to run the radio control board,  a skill Lawhead says Dewey never quite mastered. Phillips was later given his own studio so that on  occasions when he broke the equipment the station wouldn't be totally incapacitated. Lawhead also  gave Phillips some tips in reading advertising copy, and claims to have given him what would later  become his catch phrase. "I suggested that when he was reading a spot, to say, 'Co in and buy this  and tell 'em Phillips sent you".

To Lawhead's amazement, the response was immediate and overwhelming. "The day after, we got  seven postcards asking for specific rhythm and blues music. And the next day we got seventy; and  the next day we got seven hundred. It was a monsoon of mail".

Dewey Phillips' Red Hot & Blue show, was soon expanded to three hours, from nine to midnight,  and Phillips also began an afternoon show at 2 p.m. that mixed country records in with the  rockabilly and rhythm and blues. Dewey's salary rose from nothing to $125 and than to $250, a  sizable sum in fifties radio.

And of course those were the glory days of payola, a time when independent labels owners like Syd  Nathan of King Records paid so much money to disc jockeys to guarantee that his records got  played that he actually listed the bribes on King's ledger books as business expenses. Some  Memphis music insiders estimate Dewey Phillips pulled in as much as $100,000 annually from  record companies.

JUNE 1950

Elvis Presley finished the ninth grade. One of Humes High School's teachers, Susan Johnson,  remarked, "When one of our boys or girls does something special, like Elvis Presley, they should  put an extra gold star after his name, because our children have farther to go than most. Elvis  Presley liked to sing songs to a few friends during lunch or at a school assembly at Overton Park".

Among those who became caught up in the different sound was a thirteen year old living in a public  housing development in Memphis. Elvis Presley began collecting the records of such bluesmen as  Arthur Crudup and Big Bill Broonzy. Later, still in Humes High School, he started going down on  Beale Street and emulating its musicians, not only in what they sang but in the way they sang it (and  also in what they wore). He became acquainted not only with Nathaniel Dowd Williams, but with  Robert Henry, who introduced him to many of Beale Street's entertainers. "I taken him to the Hotel  Improvement Club with me, and he would watch the coloured singers, understand me, and then he  got to doing it the same way as them", Henry said. "He got that shaking, that wiggle, from Charlie  Burse, Ukulele Ike we called him, right there at the Gray Mule on Beale, Elvis, he wasn't doing  nothing but what the coloured people had been doing for the last hundred years. But people...  people went wild over him". 

(From an interview with Robert Henry, October 19, 1973 by Margaret McKee)
 


JUNE 1950

Sam Phillips starts The Phillips label with disc jockey Dewey Phillips, and one of the very few Negroes to come in at first, certainly the only genuine blues singer, was a dark-skinned young man who told Sam Phillips he had recently signed with Columbia Records and broadcast from fifteen minutes a day on radio station KWEM in West Memphis as Joe Hill Louis, the Be Bop Boy. He played all around town and could be seen on Beale Street almost every day, where he stood out from the other blues singers as a self-advertised one-man band (guitar, rack harmonica and traps), but Sam had first encountered him when he stopped by on his way to a gig in Moscow, Tennessee, while the room was still under construction. He asked Sam what he was up to do, and Sam replied, ''I'm going to build a recording studio here once I get the building into shape''. ''Man, that's just what we need here in Memphis'', Joe said to him and, after a brief conversation, continued on his way.

According to Sam Phillips, ''He sat down at his equipment and played me everything he knew, which was quite a lot, a complete individual, a loner but not lonesome. He was his own person. I never saw him look defeated or unhappy about anything. Joe was sweet guy. He was the kind of person to just drop in and say 'hi' and then keep out of the way. He was always well-dressed, sharp, a dapper man. He was well-organized and very personable. He was a treasure to me, and, I just thought, 'This is a guy that deserves to be heard, even though I realized that (because of the constraints of the one-man band arrangement) it was basically a novelty kind of thing''.

But Sam Phillips still had no idea what to do with the acetates he had recorded, and while one or two of Joe's friends and musical associates started drifting by, veteran blues entertainers like Jack Kelly and Memphis Jug band player Charlie Burse and eighteen-year-old Phineas Newborn Jr., who held down the piano chair in his father's Phineas Sr. big band and, with his sixteen-year-old guitar-playing brother, Calvin, was blazing a be-bop-inflected path on the Memphis blues scene.

JUNE 1950

Sam  Phillips commences recording sessions for RPM/Modern Records. He records Phineas Newborn Jr.,  Joe Hill Louis, and the Gospel Travelers, and dubs of these recordings are sent to Modern Records.

It's hard to say just what Sam Phillips' plan was. There was no question that Joe Hill Louis was his premium artist to date, not just in terms of the commercial potential that Sam believed him to possess but because he so completely embodied the aesthetic in which Sam believed; raw, untutored, following not the dictates of form or fashion but its own unpredictable kind of beauty, rough-edged and undefined. Maybe he was simply holding back his best for last, however unlike Sam that might appear to be. Maybe, just for a moment, he had lost his nerve, perhaps he was suffering from a rare spasm of self-doubt and simply submitted the music that he thought most likely to be accepted. But, he was convinced, there was no permanent harm done. Joe Hill Louis would be the next artist he would present to Modern Records, and he felt as confident as it was possible to feel when you had your studio open for nearly seven months and scarcely anything to show for it that, if they got the right song, if he could capture the man in the studio the way he knew he had the potential to come across, Joe Hill Louis just might be the one to do the trick.

Jules and Saul Bihari, who operate the West Coast distributorship for Kayle-Halbert TV's and also  own Modern Records, plan an as-yet unnamed subsidiary record label. They hold a competition to  decide the name, which is finally settled as RPM.

President Harry Truman authorizes the use of U.S. ground forces in South Korea.

Eunice Kathleen Waymon (aka Nina Simone) graduated from high school at the age of 17. (She was born on February 21, 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina.) After graduation Eunice attends Juilliard School of Music in New York City, to prepare for Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvanie.

JUNE 1950

The Korean War begins when North Korea invaded South Korea in June of 1950. The country had previously been divided after the end of World War II with the North becoming Communist and the South remaining Capitalist. After the initial division each side had indicated that they wanted to unify the country under their preferred ideology but only small attacks had been made. Full on civil war began after the North launched a full invasion and eventually captured the South’s capital of Seoul. Not long after the war began, it became an international conflict when the United States and United Nations sent troops to help the South and China began helping the North. The war ended in 1953 when the two countries settled on maintaining the original division.
 
 
JUNE 1, 1950 THURSDAY

George Jones marries his first wife, Dorothy Bonvilliob

Rex Allen has his second starring role as a singing cowboy as ''Hills Of Oklahoma'' debuts in theaters.

The movie ''Hoedown'' debuts with Eddy Arnold performing ''Just A Little Lovin' (Will Go A Long, Long Way)'' and ''Bouquet Of Roses''. The Willis Brothers, working under the name The Oklahoma Wranglers, and Carolina Cotton are also featured

JUNE 5, 1950 MONDAY

Decca released Red Foley's ''Mississippi''.

JUNE 9, 1950 FRIDAY

Pop songwriter Joe Burke dies in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. The author of ''Tiptoe Through The Tulips'' and ''Rambling Rose'', he also wrote the 1925 hit ''Oh, How I Miss You Tonight'', destined to be a 1979 country hit for Deborah Allen and Jim Reeves.

JUNE 12, 1950 MONDAY

Gene Autry recorded ''Frosty The Snow Man'' at Radio Recorders in Los Angeles.

JUNE 14, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Hank Williams recorded ''They'll Never Take Her Love From Me at the Castle Recording Studio in Nashville's Tulane Hotel. He also cuts an unissued version of ''Honky Tonk Blues''.

JUNE 15, 1950 THURSDAY

Lefty Frizzell signs a recording contract with Columbia Records. He gets a 1.5-cent royalty per record.

JUNE 16, 1950 FRIDAY

The George Montgomery western ''The Iroquois Trail'' appears in theaters. The film includes a small part for former Grand Ole Opry star Lee ''Lasses'' White, who died exactly six months prior.

JUNE 19, 1950 MONDAY

Columbia released Carl Smith's debut single, ''Guilty Conscience'', and Stuart Hamblen's ''It's No Secret''.

JUNE 21, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer is born in New York, New York. The hard rock band scores a pop hit with the 1998 single ''I Don't Want To Miss A Thing'', which Mark Chesnutt remakes as a country hit.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
  
ADVERTISING STUDIO SESSION FOR SAM PHILLIPS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE 1950 
 
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: POSSIBLE JUNE 1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

This track is an utterly fascinating glimpse of Sam Phillips, not as the discoverer of Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash or Howlin' Wolf or Carl Perkins, but as a radio snake oil salesman, selling some laughably suspect wares to the nice folks within the sound of his voice. The track also tells us about the state of Memphis radio in the early 1950s, before the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) however over claims just like these, trying to keep its citizens safe from products that were more likely to relieve them of their hard-earned cash than their allments. Maybe Sam was on auto-pilot when he read the text in front of him, but it's hard to imagine that he believed the magic elixir he was hustling would cure everything from cancer to erectile dysfunction. If you want a fuller picture of Sam the Radio man, check out his recitation on Sun Gospel (BCD 16387) of ''Would Anybody Care'', a poem from the Stamps-Baxter hymnal. That recording was made around 1950 to enchant an old girlfriend. As Sam told in 1999, he did it in his ''best announcer's voice''. 

01 - ''TREE OF LIFE (ADVERTISING SPOT)'' - B.M.I. - 2:20
Recorded: Possible June 1950
Released: - March 8, 2013
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-2 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Sam Phillips - Announcer Voice

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
 
JUNE 21, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Sam Phillips writes to his brother-in-law, Jim Connolly at WJLD in Birmingham, Alabama, telling him that  he has done some radio spots for a West African herbalist, ''Doctor'' Samuel Shokunbi, whose bogus Tree of Life  General Tonic was revealed as a fraud later in the year, earning Shokunbi a nine-year prison term. 

The spots  that Phillips produced featured the Five Voice Singers of Memphis, singing spirituals.
 
 

The full text of the letter reads:

June 21, 1950

Mr. James E. Connelly
Radio Station WJLD
Bessemer, Arkansas

Dear Jim:

Please quote me your spot on the ''Atomic Boogie''.

I have an account, Dr. Shokunbi's TREE OF LIFE GENERAL TONIC, that is very interested in getting on the boogie. I made his spot for him and informed him of your sales potential for this sort of product.

The spot is 2:18 long but he didn't want it cut to the conventional minute. Do the best you can on the rats and I am sure you will have a regular and paying account in this product.

Also, I am producing a series of 15 minute transcribed programs for him and would like to have your rate on that just before or after the ''boogie''. Or if you can see your may clear give me a rate for the middle of ''Boogie''. The programs will consist of ''THE FIVE VOICE SINGERS OF MEMPHIS''..... Spirituals.

Let me hear from you on this and I will take it up with Dr. Shokunbi and we will probably be ready for your station shortly.

Remember, take care of us and if we make money will double or triple out budget with you later.

Yours,

Sam Phillips
 


''DOCTOR'' SAMUEL SHOKUNBI – Among the previously unheard audio (above) is an advertisement that  Sam Phillips wrote and performed for a patent medicine manufacturer, Dr. Samuel Shokunbi. In June 1950,  Phillips let himself get suckered in by the herbalist and con-man, going so far as commending Shokunbi to  his brother-in-law, Jim Connolly at WJLB in Birmingham, Alabama. Shokunbi's product was the tree of Life  General Tonic, Asthma Aid, and Hair Growing Aid. Although Shokunbi claimed that he was a Nigerian who  had studied at Oxford and Heidelberg, there's evidence that he was born in Chicago in 1896 and his  professional qualifications were limited to a Swedish massage course. Shokunbi's portions made him  thousands of dollars a month in the mid-South, and came from a book by an English herbalist, Dr. Culpepper,  who died in 1940. To place this in context, WDIA owned a piece of another patent medicine, Pep-ti-Kon  (with the emphasis on the 'con'), and the most famous patent medicine of them all, Hadacol, was at the peak  of its popularity in 1950 and 1951. Hadacol's manufacturer, Dudley LeBlanc, staged touring shows, the  Hadacol Caravans, with stars like Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Bob Hope, and Milton Berle.

In November 1950, some five months after Phillips produced the radio spot, Shokunbi, who’d already served  time for fraud, was handed what was then the severest first conviction sentence under Food & Drug  Administration laws, a nine-year prison term. Newspaper reports made fun of him and those who bought the  nostrums common within the African American community, like John the Conqueroot. Those same reports  mentioned the tribal scars on his cheeks, and joked that his products were tinctures of dried newt's liver.

In 1966, Shokunbi was arrested again, this time in Chicago. At that point, he was the Reverent Shokunbi and  he was calling himself a metaphysician. A police search of his premises revealed patent drugs and zodiac  stamps. Shokunbi claimed that he was a minister of the Universal Spiritual Union. His case was dismissed,  and the next time he was mentioned was at the time of his death in Los Angeles in 1986.
 

1950
  
The most reliable source of income at the start came from recording Buck Turner and His Buckaroos for the fifteen-minute show that Turner, a popular western-styled performer who had an early-morning show on WREC since the late 1930s, sent out to some fifteen stations in Arkansas. Sam had recorded his shows at the station, but after listening to the playback in the makeshift control room of the little studio that was still under construction, Buck Turner (aka Bobo Otto) was so pleased that he offered to put some money into the business.
 
Buck Turner and His Buckaroos, Sam Phillips (third from right) at Memphis Recording Service, 1950 > 
 

It was Buck who had helped buy some of the initial recording equipment and put down a deposit on a spinet piano, investing approximately $2,000 in a partnership agreement that Sam started paying off almost as soon as it began, buying out Turner completely by September of 1952. Sam, sniffed Marion Keisker, who helped with the buyout, was ''not a partner person...

 

...in any relationship'', personal or otherwise, and Buck's wife was not happy with the arrangement either, so there was little incentive for Buck Turner to stay on once Sam's half-hearted attempts to recorded him as a commercial artist rapidly came to naught.

 



 © - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR BUCK TURNER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE 1950 
 
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
4-STAR SESSION: POSSIBLE JUNE 1950
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – SAM C. PHILLIPS 
 
No Details

01 – ''MY LITTLE RED WAGON (YOUR RED WAGON)
Composer: - Rex Criffin
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably June 1950

02 – ''UNKNOWN TITLE

Note: Possibly intended for 4-Star Records. A vocalist Buck Turner appeared on several records issued  between 1950-1952 on the Bullet label of Nashville, credited to Tani Allen and his Tennessee Pals. It has not  been established whether these are in fact 706 Union recordings.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Buck Turner – Vocal
Unknown Musicians

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JUNE 22, 1950 THURSDAY

The first Lost John Hunter record "Cool Down Mama"/"Schoolboy" (4-Star 1492) is issued.

''Red Channels'', a pamphlet linking entertainment figures to Communism, is published. Among the 151 people cited are Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Leonard Bernstein, Josh White and songwriter E.Y. Harburg.

Red Foley recorded ''Cincinnati Dancing Pig''.

JUNE 23, 1950 FRIDAY

Ernest Tubb and Red Foley recorded ''Hillbilly Fever No. 2'' during the afternoon at the Castle Studio in Nashville.

JUNE 24, 1950 SATURDAY

Probably studio session with Phineas Newborn Jr. at the Memphis Recording Service in Memphis,   Tennessee. Details unknown.

Billboard reports Kenny Roger has had his tonsills removed.

JUNE 25, 1950 SUNDAY

Sam Phillips mailed two sides ''Phineas Boogie'' backed with ''The Joint Is Jumping'' he had cut the day before for Modern Records on teenage piano prodigy Phineas Newborn Jr., with his father (whose name was pronounced ''Fine-us'') and younger brother on drums and guitar respectively. Two weeks later Sam submitted samples by the Gospel Travelers, a spiritual staple on Memphis radio, and Charlie Burse, the grizzled Memphis Jug Band veteran, who, like the Newborns, had been working with Sam in the studio for some time. 

JUNE 26, 1950 MONDAY

Columbia released The Chuck Wagon Gang's ''I'll Fly Away'' recognized by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts among the 365 greatest Songs of the Century.

Columbia released Stuart Hamblen's ''Remember Me (I'm The One Who Loves You)''.

JUNE 28, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Tennessee Ernie Ford and Kay Starr recorded ''Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own'' and ''I'll Never Be Free'' at the Capitol Studios on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.

JUNE 29, 1950 THURSDAY

Ernest Tubb recorded ''You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry'' during the afternoon at the Castle Studio in Nashville's Tulane Hotel.

JUNE 30, 1950 FRIDAY

Red Foley and Ernest Tubb recorded ''Goodnight Irene'' with The Sunshine Trio at lunchtime in the Castle Studio in Nashville. Foley also recorded ''Hobo Boogie'' and ''Our Lady Of Fatima'', the first hit to feature background singer Anita Kerr.

Songwriter Rick Carnes is born in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He will write a trio of country hits for The Whites, plus Reba McEntire's ''Can't Even Get The Blues'' and Garth Brooks' ''Longneck Bottle''.

The western ''Trigger, Jr.'' appears in movie theaters, with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans starring. Rogers sings ''Stampede'' during the film with Foy Willing and The Riders Of The Purple Sage.

UNKNOWN DATE MID-1950

Elvis Presley bought his hair oil "Triple Active Success Hair Oil" at A. Schwab's Dry Goods store,   located at 163 Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee.
 JUNE 1950

Sam Phillips meets with disc jockey Dewey Phillips, whose Red, Hot, and Blue, a melange of  "boogies, blues, and spirituals", is the hottest thing on Memphis radio, attracting a huge black and  white audience with its idiosyncratic style. Sam Phillips recognizes a kindred spirit in Dewey, and  while the partnership that they form later this summer, known as "The Phillips" label, doesn't last  more than a month or two, they remain the closest of ideological allies.
 
 
 
From left: Dewey Phillips and Sam Phillips at front of the Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, 1956/1958 >

The relationship with 4-Star seemed unlikely to lead anywhere, so Phillips and his friend Dewey  Phillips took the brave step of launching their own record label. For Sam Phillips, his own label  meant an end to the frustration of finding a company that would issue and promote his product.

 
''Dewey and I were together quite a bit. We figured that if we had a record out we could feel out the  record business on a local basis and that would help both of us. I was suffering some real  disappointments in getting my studio going, and I had to make a decision as to go what I was going  to do with myself. It was partly a lark for both of us to see how it would go, but Dewey was a hot  disc jockey in town, and I knew that we had a good chance to get some recordings played''.

The new label, simply called The Phillips, carried the modest subscript, ''The Hottest Thing in the  Country'', one of Dewey's catchphrases. It had an active lifespan of no more than a few weeks in the  late summer of 1950. Sam Phillips had grown fond of a song called ''Shorty The Barber''. In July  1950 he recorded a version of the song with jug band veteran Charlie Burse, and recalls borrowing  shears from a barber across the street to get the right sound effect. Within a few weeks, Phillips had  decided that the song's prospect would be brighter if it were recorded by a local one-man band, Joe  Hill Louis. On August 8 Phillips wrote to the song's publisher, Cromwell Music, with the kind of  bravado that only one who has nothing can muster: ''I would very much like to secure permission to  cut this tune (''Shorty The Barber'') with Joe Hill Louis, an ex-Columbia recording artist (Negro).  He has signed to make eight sides with my recording company, 'PHILLIPS', which is a new label  but will be one of the most publicized regional labels to hit the market. I have three outstanding race  disc jockeys behind my company and we will see to it that no record is played any more than the  Phillips label in this territory.

''I am sure we can sell ''Shorty'' in the South and I am sure you will benefit greatly by having this  excellent race artist do your number. . . . If you can give us the OK and approximate date that we  could release it, we will hold off everything by Louis and plan to really get behind him on ''Shorty''.  Phillips, lacking experience in the business, didn't know it was unnecessary to apply to the publisher  for permission to record a song. The publisher referred him to the Harry Fox Agency, which issued  mechanical licenses. Phillips had obviously not heard of the Fox Agency because he wrote  personally to Fox in care of BMI, which was unconnected with Fox and had no jurisdiction over  licensing songs for issue.

Obviously frustrated by his own lack of expertise, Phillips eventually decided that the first release  would be two original Joe Hill Louis tunes, probably recorded before ''Shorty'', for which no thirdparty  licenses were required. His naivete surfaced again, however, when Phillips forgot to assign an  issue number to the record. Buster Williams' Plastic products pressed three hundred copies of  Louis's ''Boogie In The Park'' on August 30, 1950, shipped them to Music Sales for distribution in  Memphis, and billed Phillips fifty-one dollars. The extreme scarcity of the record today suggests  that there never was another pressing, and as far as anyone remembers, the label was DOA by  September.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 STUDIO SESSION FOR UNKNOWN GOSPEL GROUP
PROBABLY THE FIVE VOICE SINGERS OF MEMPHIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE 1950

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: POSSIBLE JUNE 1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

You can never tire of ''John The Revelator''. In all its myriad forms, it is truly what makes gospel music great: ancient theology refracted through the prism of the African American experience. Its authorship is unknown, and, as far as we can tell, the first recording was by the Bessemer Sunset Four in 1929, a version that wasn't issued. Blind Willie Johnson recorded it the following year, and its inclusion on the seminal Anthology Of American Folk Music ensured that it has now fully permeated popular culture to the point that it is recorded more frequently these days than before World War II. It was in The Blues Brothers movie and its last prime-time appearance was on The Conan O'Brien Show performed by the White Stripes. We have no idea who is performing this version; the acetate is blank on that score. On the Phillips' ''Tree Of Life'' commercial (see above) used a group called the Five Voice Singers of Memphis. It might be them. Regardless, it's a marvellous performances, based closely on the Golden Gate Quartet's 1938 recording. In the years before the Anthology of American Folk Music became required listening for college-age white kids, the Gates' version was required listening among African American audiences.

01 - ''JOHN THE REVELATOR'' - B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: Possible June 1950
Released: - March 8, 2013
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-1 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

This was a reconfigured and slightly garbled rendition of the Blue Jay Singers' justly lauded 1947 recording of ''I'm Bound For Canaan Land''. In place of the Blue Jays almost aching precision, this is a rough and ready ad lib performance based on a well-known text. The likelihood is that the performers of this recording were a local group who simply wanted to know what they sounded like. in those pre-home taping days, performers had no idea unless they made a record like this (hence Elvis Presley's appearance at the Memphis Recording Service of years later). The Blue Jay's version was credited to their instructor and lead singer, Charlie Bridges, and in the Jays' hands it's one of the finest post-War quartet recordings. The same, sadly, cannot be said of this.

02 - ''I AM BOUND FOR CANAAN LAND'' - B.M.I. - 3:09
Composer: - Charles Bridges
Publisher: Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: Possible June 1950
Released: - March 8, 2013
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-3 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Unknown Gospel Group
Possible The Five Voice Singers of Memphis

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© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR THE GOSPEL TRAVELERS
FOR MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE 1950/1952

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE JUNE 1950
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – SAM C. PHILLIPS

Sam   Phillips commences recording sessions for RPM/Modern Records. He records Phineas Newborn Jr.,   Joe Hill Louis, and the Gospel Travelers, and dubs of these recordings are sent to Modern Records.  Jules and Saul Bihari, who operate the West Coast distributorship for Kayle-Halbert TV's and also   own Modern Records, plan an as-yet unnamed subsidiary record label. They hold a competition to   decide the name, which is finally settled as RPM.
 

01 - ''THERE'S A MAN AT YOUR DOOR'' - B.M.I. - 2:15
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - June 1950
Released: - April 1, 2012
First appearance: - Vintage Masters Internet iTunes MP3-20 mono
SOUTHERN GOSPEL -  ULTIMATE INSPIRATIONAL SONGS
OF BROTHERS AND SISTERS
 
02 - ''GOD'S CHARIOT'' - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - June 1950
Released: - 1952
First appearance: Duke Records (S) 78rpm Duke G1 mono
GOD'S CHARIOT (PART 1) / GOD'S CHARIOT (PART 2)
Reissued: - 1984 Krazy Kat (LP) 33rpm KK 7424-A-4-5 mono
VARIOUS ARTISTS - GET RIGHT WITH GOD - HOT GOSPEL VOLUME 2
Reissued: - April 1, 2012 Vintage Masters Internet iTunes MP3-27 mono
SOUTHERN GOSPEL - ULTIMATE INSPIRATIONAL SONGS
OF BROTHERS AND SISTERS
 
03 - ''PRAYING TIME'' - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - June 1950
Released: - November 2, 2010
First appearance: - JSP Records Internet iTunes MP3-22 mono
VARIOUS ARTISTS - POWERHOUS GOSPEL

04 - ''GOD'S CHARIOT PART 1'' - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - with Sound Effects
Recorded: - June 1950
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Krazy Kat (LP) 33rpm KK 7424-A4 mono
GET RIGHT WITH GOD - HOT GOSPEL VOLUME 2
 Reissued: - April 2, 2012 JSP Records Internet iTunes MP3-1 mono
VARIOUS ARTISTS - MEMPHIS MARVELS - MEMPHIS GOSPEL 1927 - 1960
 
Probably cut at the Tri-State Recording Company in Memphis, Tennessee, late 1952. ''God's Chariot'' is one of the rarest and most sought after post-war gospel recording, originally released on Duke G1, it is the only known gospel issue prior to Don Robey acquiring the label.
 
The song is based on the standard ''God Rode In A Windstorm'' and traces the path of the devastating storm that hit the South on the 21ste March 1952. It also probably the only gospel record to have sounds effects of thunder, lightning and windstorm assisting the vocals.

05 - ''GOD'S CHARIOT PART 2'' - B.M.I. - 2:51
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - with Sound Effects
Recorded: - June 1950
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Krazy Kat (LP) 33rpm KK 7424-A5 mono
GET RIGHT WITH GOD - HOT GOSPEL VOLUME 2
 Reissued: - April 2, 2012 JSP Records Internet iTunes MP3-1 mono
VARIOUS ARTISTS - MEMPHIS MARVELS - MEMPHIS GOSPEL 1927 - 1960 
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
The Gospel Travelers consisting of
Eugene Walton - Lead Vocals
Ray Hurley - Tenor and Guitar
John Spencer - Baritone
Troy Yarborough - Bass

Notes: Samples recorded for Modern Records.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
 
Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR RUFUS THOMAS
FOR BULLET RECORDS 1950

HANDY THEATER, BEALE STREET 209-211, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
BULLET SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE JUNE 9-11, 1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

If Rufus Thomas was disappointed at the lack of a second release on Star Talent, then his sorrow should have been short-lived. Within six months, he was back on record again. However, this time he was disguised on the record label as Mr. Swing and he may not even have known about his release on Nashville's Bullet label. If he did know at the time, he seemed to have forgotten about it through most of his career and only acknowledged it nearly fifty years after the event. When the disc played him in 1999 he appeared incredulous, saying "Hey, that is me. I had forgotten all about those songs, but you know, that really is me". He seemed to have no recollection of the matter being raised with him three years earlier by Dave Clarke of Blues And Rhythm magazine - but he had undergone a bypass operation in-between times.

The release of "Beer Bottle Boogie" and "Gonna Bring My Baby Back" on Bullet 327 came about in similar on location circumstances to those surrounding the Star Talent episode. The songs were apparently recorded sometime around 9 to 11 June 1950 when the Lionel Hampton orchestra was playing at the Handy Theater in Memphis, and when Rufus Thomas sang with a smaller band drawn from Hampton's musicians. The band was credited to Hampton's saxophonist and songwriter, Bobby Plater, and the deal was apparently set up between Overton Ganong, then head of Bullet records, Robert Henry, the manager of the Handy Theater, and Bert Ferguson of WDIA who had the previous year been instrumental in sending B.B. King's first recordings to Bullet.

01 - ''BEER BOTTLE BOOGIE'' - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Jenkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - June 9-11, 1950
Released: - 1950
First appearance: - Bullet Records (S) 78rpm single Bullet 327-A mono
BEER BOTTLE BOOGIE / GONNA BRING MY BABY BACK
Reissued - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm  BCD 16695-4 mono 
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

''Beer Bottle Boogie" has a strong boogie piano opening from Milt Buckner, whose trademark grunting can be clearly heard on these recordings. Rufus tells how he got higher than a kite, then all hipped-up, then burned at poker - the recipe for getting the beer bottle boogie way down deep inside. Then the classy band really comes into its own with a fabulous sax solo while the other players interject and squirt all around it. Rufus to Martin Hawkins, "I do remember that 'Beer Bottle' song, and that is a good band, a quality band there. I think so".

Incidentally, Marilyn Scott recorded a "Beer Bottle Boogie" on Regent Records in September 1950, it appears to be a different song altogether, but Mr. Swing may have inspired the title. "Gonna Bring My Baby Back" is a swinging mid-pace item driven by the piano towards a smooth tenor solo that builds up while the band riffs effectively. Rufus tells a familiar tale about his baby leaving but he's gonna find her, and he tells it with some vocal style.

02 - ''GONNA BRING MY BABY BACK'' - B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - June 9-11, 1950
Released: - 1950
First appearance: - Bullet Records (S) 78rpm single Bullet 327-B mono
GONNA BRING MY BABY BACK / BEER BOTTLE BOOGIE
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm  BCD 16695-5 mono 
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Billboard listed the disc among the New Rhythm And Blues Releases of July 22, 1950, where Mr. Swing lined up alongside Mr. Cadillac and his "The R D Boogie", Louis Jordan's "Blue Light Boogie", Gatemouth Brown's "Boogie Rambler", and Ray Charles "The Ego Song", among others.

One disc it should have sat alongside was "Phillips Set Me", Bullet 329 by Jerome Richardson, Lionel Hampton's young saxophone prodigy, fronting the same Bobby Plater band that had backed Rufus. The disc possible included vocals by Hampton's vocalist Betty Carter but this is uncertain because a copy of the record has not been located. What is clear is that the tune was inspired by Memphis disc jockey, Dewey Phillips, whose catchphrase was to tell radio listeners to "say that Phillips sent ya" when entering a store.

A year later, in July 1951, Billboard reported that "Dewey Phillips advice to his WHBQ listeners to tell merchants 'Phillips sent me' has become a by-word in Memphis and his show is being considered for coast to coast broadcast over the Mutual network. Newest twist is that he's to be immortalized in song, with Joe Liggins and his Honeydrippers planning to record a ditty entitled "Phillips Sent Me'". It is possible that there had been some copyright wrangling over the song and a threatened legal restraint that led to Bullet pulling the disc from sale in 1950. Either way, it is a fascinating, and frustrating, side issue to what was already a confused picture surrounding Rufus's second recording venture.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas (as Mr. Swing with Bobby Plater and his Orchestra) - Vocal
Bobby Plater - Alto Saxophone / Jerome Richardson - Tenor Saxophone
Probably Johnny Board - Tenor Saxophone / Unidentified - Baritone Saxophone
Unidentified - Trumpet / Milt Buckner - Piano
Probably Rudy Mason - Guitar / Probably Roy Johnson - Bass
Probably Ellis Bartee - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR PHINEAS NEWBORN JR
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE 1950
 
 
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: SATURDAY JUNE 24, 1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Two fantastic 1950 recordings from Memphis, Tennessee, recorded at Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service and sold to Modern Records on the West Coast in July1951.
 
01 - ''FINE AS WINE'' - B.M.I. - 2:45
Composer: Dick Cole-Jules Taub
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - MM 1602
Recorded: - June 24, 1950
Released: - July 1951
First appearance: -  Modern Records (S) 78rpm Modern 831-A  mono
FINE AS WINE/TENNESSEE BOUNCE

According to Billboard magazine, ''Cole chants throatily on a routine medium jump bit of blues material don't match it in spirit and drive on ''Fine As Wine'', and the instrumental ''Tennessee Bounce'' features a free-swinging boogie piano and effective riffing by combo''.

02 - ''TENNESSEE BOUNCE'' - B.M.I.
Composer: Phineas Newborn Jr.
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - MM 1601 - Instrumental
Recorded: - June 24, 1950
Released: - July 1951
First appearance: -  Modern Records (S) 78rpm Modern 831-B  mono
TENNESSEE BOUNCE/FINE AS WINE

03 - ''PHINEAS BOOGIE'' - B.M.I.
Composer: Phineas Newborn Jr.
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 24, 1950
Released: - 1985
First appearance: -  Krazy Kat Records (LP) 33rpm KK 7427 mono
MEMPHIS BLUES - UNISSUED TITLES FROM THE 1950S
 
04 - ''THE JOINT IS JUMPING'' - B.M.I.
Composer: Phineas Newborn Jr
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: June 24, 1950
Released: - 1985
First appearance: -  Krazy Kat Records (LP) 33rpm KK 7427 mono
MEMPHIS BLUES - UNISSUED TITLES FROM THE 1950S

These tracks were recorded as samples for Modern Records. Modern later issued a single ''Tennessee Bounce'' b/w ''Fine As Wine'' (Modern 831) which may derive from this session. Alternatively ''The Joint Is Jumping'' and ''Phineas Boogie'' (KK 7427) may have been recorded at this session.
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Phineas Newborn Jr. - Piano
Calvin Newborn - Guitar
Richard Sanders - Tenor Saxophone
James Walker - Bass
Phineas Newborn Sr. - Drums
Dick ''Cane'' Cole - Vocal on ''Fine As Wine''

Dick ''Cane'' Cole emceed at Sunbeam Mitchell's Club Paradise in South Memphis, and brought his stage persona to the airwaves.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

Riley ''Blues Boy'' King was the superstar on WDIA. When King walked into WDIA looking for a job, the station had just won the advertising account for Pepticon. It was a product that attempted to compete with Hadacol.

Both were health tonics heavily laced with alcohol, and neither one had any redeeming medical benefits. Sonny Boy Williamson sold Hadacol on KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas, and KDIA was looking for someone to sell Pepticon. As a result, B.B. King became the ''Pepticon Boy'' > 
 
JUNE 1950

As if he needed one, Phillips had another reason to force the manufacturing end of the business; an  evolving relationship with the Biharis who operated Modern Records with exemplary know-how in  Los Angeles. The Biharis, Joe, Saul and Jules, were planning to start a subsidiary, RPM Records,  and were looking for new music with a down-home feel. At first Phillips sent them some samples of  Joe Hill Louis (which he soon withdrew for the Phillips label), together with samples from a local  gospel group and from jazz pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr.

But Memphis held a brighter prospect than all of those, in the guise of a young man named Riley  King. King had left Mississippi in 1947 and journeyed to Memphis to play in the parks and hustle a  little work for himself. ''When I left Mississippi'', he told David Booth, ''I had been used to singing  gospel songs. I had never played professionally with a band until I came to Memphis. I had heard  Sonny Boy Williamson on the radio from Helena, Arkansas, and by the time I got to Memphis he  had moved to West Memphis, and I started to go over there and play the blues''. He was not yet  twenty-five years old.

''I went to KWEM and asked If I could sing on the radio, and that's how I came to know Sonny Boy.  It happened that he had two jobs one night and he arranged for me to fill one of them So I went out  to the Sixteenth Street Grill. The lady's name was Miss Annie. She paid me twelve dollars that  night, which was more than I had ever had in my life. Miss Ann1e said she would hire me six days a  week if I got a radio spot where I could advertise her place. So I went over to WDlA and got a job  there. I played ten to fifteen minutes live every day''. King went back to Mississippi, collected his  wife, Martha, together with their few belongings, and moved to Memphis.

WDIA gave King a gig hustling a patent cure-all, Pep-ti-Kon. ''If you feel run down, tired, achy,  pains, can't sleep, are nervous, can't eat, have indigestion and bloating gas, you are guaranteed  satisfaction'', would call over the air. '''Get Pep-ti-Kon today and see if you don't say, 'Man, I'm  really living'''. He also persuaded his bosses at WDIA to help him get on record. At that time, Bullet  Records in Nashville was the closest label, and WDIA pulled a few strings to get their budding star  two releases in July and November 1949.

By that point, Riley King had acquired his nickname, B.B., which has always been thought to stand  for Blues Boy. Yet an article in the local black newspaper, The Tri State Defender, dated March 29,  1952, suggests a more probable derivation in a synopses of his story: ''Riley King, whose public had  christened him ''Singing Black Boy'', was producing a popular radio show of his own. His public  donated nickname was shortened to 'B. B.' King and under this title the slim guitar strummed from  Ito Bena realized his ambition to cut original platters''.

After the Bullet contract expired, King was contacted by Jules Bihari, who placed him with Sam  Phillips. Working under Bihari's direction, Phillips recorded King for approximately a year, from  mid-l950 until June 1951. The Biharis drew five singles from the repertoire that Phillips supplied to  them, making King one of the first artists on their new RPM subsidiary.

At the dawn of his long career, King's sound was not nearly as distinctive as it later became. His  voice, like his figure, was thinner, and his guitar playing had yet to take on the stinging tone and  dramatic flourishes that would become his trademarks. Yet the promise in those early sides was  undeniable. As he later would with Elvis Presley, Phillips kept King to an established formula,  coupling an uptempo boogie with a slow number. On some of the faster songs Phillips indulged his  budding taste for over amplification to produce a primitive fuzz effect.

One song in particular, ''She's Dynamite'', was a showcase for Phillips' flair for experimentation, as  he encouraged the bass, piano, and guitar to play a boogie riff in unison. It was a bottom-heavy  sound that challenged established precepts of how recordings should be balanced. A comparison of  B B. King's version of the song with Tampa Red's original, recorded earlier the same year,  illustrates Phillips' evolving production philosophy: there is an explosiveness and barely contained  energy in King's version that overwhelms the mannered restraint of Tampa Red's. It was that  blistering energy and the willingness to experiment that pointed unerringly into the future.
 

1950 

In early July Jules Bihari let Sam Phillips know that he and his brother would be coming to Memphis in a couple of weeks to record a promising new prospect they had recently met, a young disc jockey on the colored station, WDIA, who called himself Bee Bee King, Sam had undoubtedly heard of him. Through the station he had put out a couple of records the previous year on the Bullet label in Nashville, the production manager, Don Kern, had given them copies, and while they weren't really anything to write home about, the boy seemed to have enough local popularity to warrant putting out another record. What they would do, Saul said, was work out a deal with Sam where they could use his studio, maybe for a small fee, or some kind of modest royalty. There was no hesitation on Sam's part. King's blues were not exactly what he had in mind to record, they were too conventional, too predictable, too much along the lines of what every other popular blues shouter of the day was inclined to do. But none of that meant anything. It was a door opening.

 

 


 

 
 
MODERN RECORDS NUMEROLOGY - a short guide on dating Modern recordings and releases.

Mike Rowe used the term numerology for his long-running feature in Blues Unlimited dealing with  post war blues discographical matters, including various numbering and recording conundrums. In  the same spirit, here is an attempt to explain how the Modern Records Group mastering system  worked and to what extent it can be used to identify either the recording or release date of a  particular performance. But first, a disclaimer is in order.

This is more of a science than a black art,  although some of the latter is needed from time to time, given the disappearance of vital documents  over the years and the fact that the information they contained was, at times, self-contradictory or  misleading!

To begin with Modern, like many small independent labels, didn't specifically discriminate between  master numbers and release numbers. They tried to make do with one series with -A and -B suffices  distinguishing one side of a record from another.
 
If necessary, such as when a recording was  released more than once, a suffix was added to the master number to distinguish it from a release  number. This led to complications during the 100 series of releases and, after a few false starts, a  proper master series was set up using an MM prefix that was independent of the record release  number. The main master series commenced in February 1946 at MM200 and was used for both the  Modern 500 series and the RPM label until the end of their runs. Other contemporary Modern group  labels such as Flair and Crown used their own systems, and later labels such as Kent reverted to the  -A and -B suffix system for reasons explained below.

Starting in early 1946, performances recorded on acetate by Modern artists under the Bihari  brothers' (who owned Modern) supervision were allocated MM prefix master numbers generally at  the time of recording. Recordings done elsewhere and then bought-in by Modern such as those from  Bill Ouinn's Gold Star, Herb Rippa's Blue Bonnet or Bernie Besman's labels tended to keep the  master number from their original recordings. Those that were allocated MM numbers at their time  of recording can thus be dated quite accurately based on the dates written or sometimes stamped on  the original acetate. Moreover, in a particular session, the take chosen as the one to be used for  release of a given song was reproduced as a suffix to the master number and appeared on the  released disc. Thus, for example, we know that ''Milky White Way'' by the Floyd Dixon Trio was  recorded on 19 October 1949, and that take 3 was used for the master that was released as Modern  724. This system worked well until tape came along... With the advent of magnetic tape recording,  the output of a session was now typically a reel or two of tape rather than acetates. The real time  allocation of master and take numbers and laborious transcription of these on to the acetates was  now no longer strictly necessary as the tape contained all the output of the session, in chronological  order, and, in contrast to acetates, could be played over and over again. Professional studios that  were available for hire and always had a resident engineer continued to document the tape boxes  with the same degree of precision, as they would have marked up acetates. Thus sessions recorded,  for example, at Universal Recorders, Radio Recorders and at Capitol Studios in Hollywood would  have full information on the tape box label. Takes and their status (e.g. incomplete take, hold or  master) together with date of recording would thus be preserved. However, when smaller  independent labels did their own recordings, that discipline tended to disappear. An engineer didn't  need to be closely involved in each and every take and the owners, such as the Bihari brothers,  could operate the tape machine themselves. Under these circumstances the temptation to reduce the  tape box information to a quick scrawl of the artist's name on the box together with a few tentative  titles tended to become the usual method of operation. Allocation of master numbers and take  identification was left as a later task.

These developments led to the situation where it became the practice to allocate 'master' numbers  only when a couple of performances were chosen for release on a given disc. The next two free  numbers in the 'master' series were taken and these were allocated to the particular release,  irrespective of the session that gave rise to the recording. Thus the MM series became more of a  control number series for lacquers and metalwork, rather than relating to the date of recording.  However, since they were allocated more or less consecutively, they are still very valuable for  dating a disc, but now they relate to the date of mastering/release rather than the recording date.  Like most systems that undergo substantial change, there was a cut over period at Modern, during  the 1951/52 time frame. In general, acetate was in use below about MM1700 and thus those  numbers bear a general relationship to recording date. This is not a hard and fast rule and there are  some anomalies, as we shall see. By contrast, those above MM1800 are control numbers and are  closely related to record release dates. Because of this fact, above MM1800, with very few  exceptions, the control numbers were used on released records, right through to the last one in the  series - MM3188 - ''Can't Keep From Loving You'' by Van Robinson on Modern 1028 in December  1957. Thus unlike the session-by-session system, unreleased recordings in the later system were  never allocated a number. As a consequence, later releases almost always used the next two  numbers in the series. As the some distinction could be gained by reverting to the use of -A / -B or  -1/-2 suffixes to the record release number, that is exactly what was done for the later Modern 1000  series and other labels such as Kent. In fact it became the general industry practice by the mid-60s.

So it's all quite clear then as to how to date Modern releases - provided that the recording didn't  come along in the muddy changeover period from acetate to tape, the MM number gives a good  guide to either the recording or the release date, doesn't it? Well not quite! The system worked well  enough provided that the artist was recording at home rather than away. When recordings were done  on the road or in a remote studio such as Memphis Recording And Sound Service at 706 Union in  Memphis, there were basically four choices for master numbering that could be used. They were:

a) allocate a block of numbers before travel (thus making them appear slightly early in the  chronological sequence)

b) allocate a block of numbers after travel (making them appear slightly later in the chronological  sequence)

c) allocate the numbers at the time of remote recording (running the risk of duplicated master  numbers which, in Modern's case, occurred on a number of occasions)

d) wait until a particular recording was about to be issued and then allocate a master number (this  was effectively a forerunner of the control system and also meant that there was no clear method of  identifying the individual takes involved)

Based on Modem archive research, it looks as if all four methods were utilized and that at least  methods b) and d) above were used for B.B. King. For the first three RPM releases that were  recorded at 706 Union, method d) was certainly used. The master numbers were allocated when the  corresponding RPM singles were being readied for release. From the first session, cuts far  ''Mistreated Woman'' (MM1404) are to be found on the same physical acetate as ones for ''The  Other Night Blues'' (MM1438). Likewise, takes of ''Walkin' And Cryin" (MM1439) are on the same  acetate as those of ''B.B. Boogie'' (MM1405), so all these four numbers can reasonably be traced to  the same session in the middle of 1950. B.B. King researchers have put this as July 1950 although  it's interesting to note that cuts of the unissued ''Gospel Travelers 'I've Been Changed'' appear at the  end of the ''The Other Night Blues'' acetate and the excellent Gospel Records Discography by  Cedric Hayes and Bob Laughton date their Modern recordings as June 1950. For the second session  we again have cross-coupling acetate evidence that the performances used on RPM 318 were  recorded at the same session as ''B.B. Blues'' (MM1489) and ''Fine Lookin' Woman'' (MM1491) and  this has been estimated to be on or close to 8 January 1951. Master numbers were allocated for  RPM 318's release, but, by contrast, the other recordings from this session were assigned the  consecutive numbers MM1488-91

(method b).

In each case, the master numbers were subsequently handwritten on the typed Memphis Recording  And Sound Service labels (see illustrations). For the third session, the sides used on RPM 330 seem  to have been allocated their numbers on return from Memphis (method b) along with 'Pray For You'  and the incomplete 'Darling I Love You'. This session has been traced from Memphis paperwork to  be on or about 18 June 1951. By the Own 'Three O'Clock Blues' needed a master number the next  available was MM1682, immediately after the numbers used for a Roy Hawkins session recorded  on 14 September 1951. This fits in with the YMCA session being in September 1951. Using method  d) again, the follow-up single to 'Three O'Clock Blues' needed just one'sew' master number. 'Fine Lookin'  Woman' had already been allocated MM1491 from the second 706 Union session, so the next free  (MM1752) appears to have been allocated to 'She Don't Move Me No More'. This is why the master  number is somewhat adrift from the other YMCA session recordings.

- by Peter Gibbon, January 2002
 


Acetates cut at Memphis Recording and Sound Service, Memphis, Tennessee. >

COMPILER'S NOTE - The complete surviving recordings by B.B. King cut by The Memphis Recording Service in  Memphis for Modern Records in 1950 and 1951, apart from two run-throughs of "You Know I  Love You" (titled "Darlin' I Love You"). one of these is complete, but tentative to say the least,  while the other is a 1 minute fragment at a different tempo. Neither could be described as finished  performances, and so are not worth issuing.


Although there are occasional fluffed lines and other  mistakes on some of the tracks, particularly on the previously unissued takes, the performances  exude a confidence and a panache that overcomes what are relatively minor flaws. We have  included the previously unissued incomplete Take 1 of "B.B. Blues". This terminates prematurely  because of a technical fault, which is a shame as it was really cooking. I felt that its 2'11" span was  well worth inclusion.

THE ACETATES – FACT AND SPECULATION - In column 2 in the chart below I have allocated a number to each session. Also for convenience I  have allocated a number to each of the acetates within each session. As we have no way of knowing  in what order the acetates were recorded on, I have allocated numbers to each acetate pretty much at  random. So I have allocated 1.1 to the acetate with ''Walkin' And Cryin'' b/w ''B.B. Boogie'', but  could equally have allocated 1.2 to this disc. The number after the ' - ' indicates side. Again most of  these are allocated at random, however because of the overlap on discs 1.2 & 2.2 we can assume  that these correctly document the recording sequence, making the assumption that multiple takes of  one song were recorded in sequence.
 
 
At least two of these acetates have not survived the ravages of time and Modern Records' owner  Jules Bihari. When Ray Topping and Ted Carroll were copying acetates in Los Angeles in the early  80s, the irascible Jules removed some acetates before they had been transferred. However Ray had  already made some annotations and from those notes we can say that there was a third acetate from  the session cut at Memphis Recording and Sound Service. I have listed it as Take 3 here and it  apparently contained two takes of ''Don't You Want A Man Like Me'' and one of ''My Baby's Gone''.  It seems likely that one of the takes of ''Don't You Want A Man Like Me'' is the master, though  which one we do not know (hence the query as to which take was the issued one). We have sourced  the track for this package from a 78 disc dub. One could speculate that there were further cuts on  this acetate or that it was the last thing recorded on the session and so there was some dead land left  on it. It is possible that 'Shake It Up And Go' and maybe even another take of 'My Baby's Gone'  were on this acetate. We may never know as we do not have this disc from this second MR&SS  session. If anyone knows differently, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Ray also noted that Jules removed a disc with two cuts of ''She's Dynamite''. However from the  annotation 'more highs on second cut', it would be fair to assume that these were mastering cuts of  the same take with different eqs, and not two versions of the song. The original disc for this session  is missing, but given the anecdotal evidence it would be safe to assume that it was a one song  session, though there is a possibility that ''Shake It Up And Go'' was cut with it, rather than on the  second session. According to Joe Bihari (co-owner of Modern), B.B.'s version of ''She's Dynamite''  (cut on 27 May 1951) was in response to the Tampa Red recording which was cut on 27 April 1951.  The matrix number 1563 was allocated on release shortly after it was recorded.

As you might have gathered by now, the mystery track is ''Shake It Up And Go'', which was logged  in Leslie Fancourt's B.B. King discography as part of the Tuff Green session in early 1952.  However the other three cuts from the Tuff Green session have vibes heavily featured and the sound  and style of these tracks is very different to ''Shake It Up And Go''. It really is not possible to come  to any scientific conclusion as to the provenance of this cut, however it was almost certainly cut at  Memphis Recording And Sound Services. Was it in response to Harmonica Frank's ''Step It Up And  Go'', cut sometime in the first half of 1951 at the same studio? If it was connected to this it might  well militate on the side of it being part of the ''She's Dynamite'' session cut in May 1951. The 20/20  ears of Ace Record's Ted Carroll are convinced however that it is part of the January session.

by Bill Dahl, 2002
 

 
JULY 1950
 

JULY 1950

The Bihari brothers came to Memphis toward the end of July, and after all his long-distance communication, when Sam finally met them in person Sam was duly impressed. Jules, thirty-six years old, was the head of the operation, a tough customer, as Sam immediately recognized, a shrewd man who measured his words carefully but was, in Sam's judgment, most likely a fair man. Saul, thirty-two, was clearly the ''outside man'' the salesman, just as well-dressed as his brother but nicer-looking. According to Sam, ''Saul seemed like one of the nicest people I'd ever met. Jules looked okay, and he probably was all right, but Saul, I would have believed just about anything he said''.

As promised, they brought in Riley King, the personable twenty-four-year-old disc jockey, whose popularity on the radio, where he played music with his own combo and spun records, allowed him to find work five or six nights a week in every little cotton-patch joint and roadhouse operation within a hundred-mile radius of Memphis. He had started out as the Pep-ti-kon boy on WDIA about a year and a half ago, going out on weekends on a flatbed truck to promote its owners' new blood-building tonic. But he had quickly become more broadly identified by a less product-oriented label, first as the Singing Black Boy, then as the Singing Blues Boy, then as the Boy from Beale Street, until, finally, he was recognized simply as Bee Bee, transmitted to the world at large on his records as ''B.B. King''.

Sam liked him immediately. Motherless at nine, on his own from the age of fourteen, when his grandmother died, he was the product of a lonely, isolated childhood, mostly around Kilmichael in the hill country of Mississippi, which only served to accentuate a sensitive, insecure nature. Be kind to others, his mother had told him on her deathbed, and his kindness would never fail be repaid, if he gave love unasked, it would come back to him many times over, and that was the credo which he continued to articulate throughout his life.

His shyness, his slight stammer set him apart from many of the other bluesmen Sam had met, but it was his wounded air that drew Sam to him most. To others this might come across simply as a pleasant, deferential manner. The Tri-State Defender, which would become Memphis' second black newspaper the following year, would describe him not long after its founding as ''quiet-spoken'' and ''unassuming'', with his sincerity serving as his calling card. But clearly that sincerity masked a burning ambition, a need to have not just Memphis of Mississippi but the world know of him. For Sam, who knew nothing of his background at the time, it was that hunger, that marked insecurity, which suggested his potential, it was that sense of wanting something so badly you couldn't fully express it that truly captured Sam's interest.

As a musician, though, he was distinctly limited. It was obvious that his primary influence was T-Bone Walker's cool, jazz-inflected style, with the elegant shape of his single-string solos set off by sophisticated seventh- and ninth-chord progressions. It was a style with which Sam was thoroughly familiar and one to which he was not particularly drawn, as much as anything because of its element of careful calculation, but he still saw B.B. As retaining some of the wonderful old Mississippi feel, and, as it turned out, B.B. Couldn't really play in the more modern style anyway. For one thing, he couldn't always execute the pretty chords that he was aiming for. For another, his timing, which in T-Bone's case was the rock-solid basis for his blues, was erratic. But most surprising of all, he couldn't sing and play at the same time. Sam thought at first he was kidding, but B.B. King assured him he was not, he had tried, and he simply could not. It had to be, Sam assumed, some kind of mental block.

It was in any case his singing at this point that was the central feature of his music. You couldn't miss the church in his voice, the influence of the sanctified tradition in which he had started out singing and playing. His uncle had married a sister of the preacher in a Pentecostal church near Kilmichael, and it was that preacher, Archie Fair, who played the first electric guitar B.B. King had ever seen and who gave him his first rudimentary lessons. He strummed his own cherry-red Stella behind the gospel group he formed with his cousin Birkett Davis and then, later, after his cousin moved to the Delta with his family and he joined them there, put together another group in Indianola.

The Famous St. John Gospel Singers were modeled after the Golden gate Quartet, whose enormous success not just on record but through regular CBS-network radio exposure inspired a generation of gospel groups to dream of pop stardom. It was only after he realized that his fellow members of the Famous St. John Gospel Singers didn't share that dream, and, not entirely coincidentally, after he wrecked his boss's tractor, that twenty-year-old Riley King set out for Memphis on his own in the spring of 1946. He had started playing  some blues by then, mostly on the streets in the little towns around Indianola on market day, where he discovered that if you sang a spiritual number you got a pat on the back, but if you played a blues song, even the preacher might throw a little change in your hat. So leaving his wife of little more than a year behind, he hitched a ride on a grocery transfer truck, helping the driver unload produce all the way to Memphis, where he was determined to find his cousin, the famous blues singer Booker T. Washington (aka Bukka White).

Riley King stayed in Memphis that first time something like ten months, his cousin got him a job and showed him the ropes, introducing him to older bluesmen like Frank Stokes and Jack Kelly, taking him out on weekends to the joints where Booker would play, even allowing Riley to second him occasionally. Bukka White was his mother's first cousin, and on all his visits to Kilmichael when Riley was growing up, he would show up ''looking like a million bucks. Razor sharp. Big hat, clean shirt, pressed pants, shiny shoes. He smelled of the big city and glamorous times; he looked confident and talked about things outside our little life in the hills''. It was a vision not just of another life but of another personality, outsized, uncontained, sure enough of himself that even when he went to prison briefly for killing a man he remained undiminished by the inequities of the world. 

Riley B. King came into the studio with his own little trio, and Sam was more than satisfied with the quality of the musicianship, it was the music itself that betrayed the singer's lack of a style of his own. The four numbers, ''Walking' And Crin''', ''B.B. Boogie'', ''The Other Night Blues'', and ''Mistreated Woman'' with all the other takes, that they worked on were an inoffensive boogie, a slow-paced, full-voiced version of an old Leroy Carr standard, a polite Charles Brown-styled blues with a shared piano-guitar lead, and a variation on Tampa Red's recent remake of his slide guitar classic, ''It Hurts Me Too''. B.B. Was unquestionably sincere, he projected a kind of earnestness that was unusual in and of itself, and his vocals were strong enough, Sam realized, to fill in the spaces where the guitar dropped out, but, for all of the undeniable gospel feeling in his voice, he was almost too eager to please, unwilling at this point to extend himself into the realm of the unexpected, no matter what gentle cues Sam might give him.  

The Bihari brothers seemed delighted in any case, so much so, as Sam recalled, that Jules jumped on an airplane that night and flew back to Los Angeles, with the acetates because, he said, he wanted to rush a single out on their new RPM label right away. Saul was supposed to bring Riley King to the studio the next day so they could all sign an agreement under which King would be contracted to the Biharis' record company but Sam would have a side agreement, a kind of royalty override with some say in the artist's future disposition. But Saul showed up alone at the studio and said he had been out to B.B.'s house the night before and signed him to a standard union contract and Jules would be in touch from California to make a formal deal with Sam Phillips.  

That was not the way they had left it, Sam protested vehemently, as he understood it, they had a firm ''shakehands'' deal. But no matter how much he expostulated, Saul Bihari simply demurred in his charming way, after all, he was just the minority stockholder younger brother, and in the end Sam comforted himself with Saul's assurances that this was only the beginning of a long and profitable relationship.

 


 


 
 
When the first ventured into Sam Phillips' fledgling studio at 706 Union Avenue, B.B. King was a raw young talent with a local radio program and a load potential. By the time he left behind Memphis as his primary recording base, King was a fast-rising star boasting a busy touring itinerary.

King's first RPM session ensued around July of 1950 at Memphis Recording Service under Phillips' supervision. The Service was still some 18 months from commencing operations, and Phillips was independently producing groundbreaking masters for Modern and Chess.


"He recorded many of the people, like Howling Wolf and many other guys for different labels, because he was the only person that had a studio," noted King. "In fact, his studio was one of the first that I ever saw that was an actual studio."

 
 
 © - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR B.B. KING
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE  FOR RPM RECORDS 1950

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: JULY UNKNOWN DATE 1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OF JULES BIHARI

01(1) - ''WALKIN' AND CRYIN''' - B.M.I. - 3:26
Composer: - Riley B. King-Sam Ling
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1439 Take 1
Recorded: - July 1950 Unknown Date
Release: - 1950
First appearance: - RPM Records (S) 78rpm standard single RPM 311 mono
WALKIN' AND CRYIN' / THE OTHER NIGHT BLUES
Reissued: - 2002 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-1-8 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

"Walkin' And Cryin' and "The Other Night Blues" are both after-hours odes, King's vocals clearly growing more confident.

01(2) - ''WALKIN' AND CRYIN''' - B.M.I. - 2:54
Composer: - Riley B. King-Sam Ling
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1439 - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 1950 Unknown Date
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-1-9 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

01(3) - ''WALKIN' AND CRYIN''' - B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - Riley B. King-Sam Ling
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1439 - Take 3 - Unissued
Recorded: - July 1950 Unknown Date
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-1-10 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

02(1) - ''B.B. BOOGIE'' - B.M.I. - 3:09
Composer: - Riley B. King-Jules Taub
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1405 - Take 1
Recorded: - Unknown Dates 1950
Released: - September 1950
First appearance: - RPM Records (S) 78rpm standard single RPM 304 mono
B.B. BOOGIE / MISTREATED WOMAN
Reissued: - 2002 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-1-3 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

The opposite side "B.B. Boogie" that's the dazzler, distinguished by several choruses of high flying fretwork (the second take, is taken at a hotter tempo, B.B.'s waxe sailing fast and free over Nelson's furiously pounding ivories.

02(2) - ''B.B. BOOGIE'' - B.M.I. - 3:18
Composer: - Riley B. King-Jules Taub
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1405 - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 1950 Unknown Date
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-1-4 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

03(1) - ''THE OTHER NIGHT BLUES'' - B.M.I. - 3:42
Composer: - Riley B. King-Joe Josea
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1438 - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 1950 Unknown Date
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-1-5 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

03 (2) - ''THE OTHER NIGHT BLUES'' - B.M.I. - 3:39
Composer: - Riley B. King-Joe Josea
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1438 - Take 2
Recorded: - July 1950 Unknown Date
Released: - 1950
First appearance: - RPM Records (S) 78rpm standard single RPM 311 mono
THE OTHER NIGHT BLUES / WALKIN' AND CRYIN'
Reissued: - 2002 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-1-6 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

03(3) - ''THE OTHER NIGHT BLUES'' - B.M.I. - 2:49
Composer: - Riley B. King-Joe Josea
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1438 - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 1950 Unknown Date
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-1-7 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

04(1) - ''MISTREATED WOMAN'' - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Riley B. King-Jules Taub
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1404 - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 1950 Unknown Date
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-1-1 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

''Mistreated Woman'', B.B.'s first RPM biscuit, is a languid outing anchored by Ford Nelson's 885 (inspired by Sonny Thompson's 'Long Gone') and sporting a crisp high-neck guitar solo from the youthful-sounding King. But it's the opposite side, ''B.B. Boogie'' that's the dazzler, distinguished by several choruses of highflying fretwork (the second take, first issued on a 1969 Kent LP, is taken at a hotter tempo, B.B.'s axe sailing fast and free over Nelson's furiously pounding ivories). 

There are three takes of each side of B.B.'s RPM encore: ''The Other Night Blues'' and ''Walkin' And Cryin" are both after-hours odes, King's vocals clearly growing more confident.

04(2) - ''MISTREATED WOMAN'' - B.M.I. - 2:49
Composer: - Riley B. King-J ules Taub
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1404 - Take 2
Recorded: - July 1950 Unknown Date
Released: - September 1950
First appearance: - RPM Records (S) 78rpm standard single RPM 304 mono
MISTREATED WOMAN / B.B. BOOGIE
Reissued: - 2002 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-1-2 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

"Mistreated Woman" is a languid outing anchored by Ford Nelson's 88s (inspired by Sonny Thompson's "Long Gone" and sporting a crisp high-neck guitar solo from the youthful-sounding King.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
B.B. King - Vocal and Guitar
Probably Phineas Newborn Jr. - Piano
Probably Phineas Newborn Sr. - Drums
Probably Tuff Green - Bass

 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
 
B.B. King performing with the Bill Harvey Band at Hippodrome, 500 Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee, early 1950s >

JULY 1950

Sam Phillips recalls dubs of Joe Hill Louis from Modern Records and plans the launch of the  Phillips record label with Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips.

JULY 2, 1950 SUNDAY

Western-swing musicians Tex Williams, Deuce Spriggins and Smokey Rogers launch a show on the NBC Radio Network.
 
 
JULY 3, 1950 MONDAY

Moon Mullican recorded ''Goodnight Irene'' and Mona Lisa'' in Cincinnati, Ohio.

 
The USS Valley Forge launches the first carrier air strike in the Korean War. Among the crewman on the ship is Scotty Moore. future guitarist for Elvis Presley.

JULY 4, 1950 TUESDAY

Hank Williams is unable to perform for 11,000 fans at the DeLeon, Texas, Watermelon Festival because he's to sick.

Songwriter Larry Herbstritt is born in Couderport, Pennsylvania. He charts high in country music as a writer of Ronnie Milsap's ''Cowboys And Clowns'' and Anne Myrray's ''I Just Fall In Love Again''.

JULY 5, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Pop/rock singer Huey Lewis is born in New York. The frontman for Huey Lewis & The News, he secures an Academy of Country Music awards nomination after joining Phil Vassar for a 2003 remake of his own 1982 hit ''Workin' For A Livin''.

JULY 7, 1950 FRIDAY

At the works in the auto plants in Pontiac, Michigan, Johnny Cash returned home, although  he made his return somewhat sooner than most - after three weeks. Still determined to get  out of Dyess, Johnny Cash joined the Air Force on July 7, 1950. By his own account, Cash's  'four long, miserable years' in the Air Force were relieved only by playing music with fellow  southerners.

Johnny Cash joins the Air Force and gets assigned to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for basic training.

JULY 9, 1950 SUNDAY

Songwriter Mark D. Sanders is born in Los Angeles. Among the hits he authors are George Strait's ''Blue Clear Sky'', Lonestar's ''No News'', Jo Dee Messina's ''Heads Carolina, Tails California'' and Lee Womack's ''I Hope You Dance''.

JULY 11, 1950 TUESDAY

Pop songwriter and Capitol Records co-founder Buddy DeSylva dies in Los Angeles. The label has already enjoyed hits with Tex Ritter, Tex Williams, Jimmy Wakely, Hank Thompson and Merle Travis.

Jimmy Dean marries his first wife, Mary Sue Wittauer, at the Presbyterian Church in Takoma, Maryland.
 
JULY 18, 1950 TUESDAY

Carl Smith recorded ''I Overlooked An Orchid'' at the Castle Recording Studio in Nashville. It later becomes a hit for Mickey Gilley.

JULY 21, 1950 FRIDAY

Jimmy Wakely recorded ''Mona Lisa''.

JULY 23, 1950 SUNDAY

''The Gene Autry Show'' debuts on CBS-TV, taking Aytry, sidekick Pat Buttram and Champion from the big screen to the small screen. ''Back In The Saddle Again'' serves as the program's theme song.

JULY 24, 1950 MONDAY

Capitol released Kay Starr and Tennessee Ernie Ford's two-sided duet single, ''Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own'' and ''I'll Never Be Free''.

JULY 25, 1950 TUESDAY

Lefty Frizzell recorded ''If You've Got The Money I've Got The Time'', ''I Love You A Thousand Ways'' and ''Shine, Shave, Shower (It's Saturday)'' in his first recording session at Dallas' Jim Beck Studio.

Gene Aytry is a sheriff who's forced a arrest a man he believes is innocent in the debut of ''Beyond The Purple Hills''. The movie also features Pat Buttram, Jerry Scoggins and Frankie Marvis

JULY 26, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Jimmie Osborne recorded ''God Please Protect America'' in Cincinnati, Ohio.

JULY 27, 1950 THURSDAY

Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded ''The Shot Gun Boogie'' at Capitol's Melrose Avenue studios in Hollywood.
 
 
JULY 1950

Sam Phillips recorded Slim Rhodes on an intermittent basis between 1950 and 1958. Ethmer  Cletus ''Slim'' Rhodes fronted a band that changed with the seasons. When his first sides  were sold to Gilt Edge in 1950, Rhodes was working in a strict country format, turning out  songs such as ''Skunk Hollow Boogie'' and ''Memphis Bound''. By the time Rhodes appeared in  Phillips' studio for the last time in 1958, though, he was sporting a pop-country style  redolent of Johnny Cash. In the interim, he had covered all the bases between Hank  Williams and Elvis Presley.

Rhodes had a radio show on WMC from 1944, a program that later expanded to television.  Without a style of his own, Rhodes stayed abreast of every development within country  music until his death from a fall at his home in 1966. He recorded most consistently for Sun  Records between early 1955 and late 1956. His best shot came when he acquired a Presley  sound-alike, vocalist Sandy Brooks (born Ronnie Hesselbein), with whom he recorded a  creditable rockabilly record, ''Take And Give'', backed with ''Do What I Do''. The record sold  predictably well in Memphis and got spotty action elsewhere, but not enough action to  tempt Hesselbein away from a career with the family tire company.

''I never did see anything particular about Buck Turner or Slim Rhodes band that stood out as  far as style'', says Phillips. ''They were mainstays on local radio. They were professionals that  had well-balanced bands that were easy to record. They were just good, solid local combos''.

JULY 1950

Rufus Thomas' Bullet single is released.

In July of 1950, American troops and North Korean forces fought against each other for the first time in the Battle of Osan. The Korean War had only just begun in June when North Korea launched a full scale invasion of the South. Only a few U.S. troops had arrived in Korea by the time the Battle of Osan began, and they were considered largely unprepared to face the North Koreans. During the battle, the North Koreans quickly moved in on the U.S. forces and the Americans decided to withdraw from the fighting. Unfortunately, the withdrawal was uncoordinated and in the confusion the U.S. Troops suffered many casualties. The aftermath of the battle revealed that a combination of outdated equipment and a lack of organization would likely make it difficult for the Americans to win against the more well-prepared and organized North Korean forces. 


Session Published for Historical Reasons
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR SLIM RHODES

WMC RADIO STUDIO, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1948/1949
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
 
01 ''MOTHER'S BEST FLOUR SHOW' - 1:17
WMC Radio Extracts
Recorded: Unknown Date 1948/1949
Released: - February 15, 2013
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-1 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

This short excerpts from the ''Mother's Best Flour Show'' on WMC which appear at the beginning and end of this side give some sense of mid-South early morning country radio. Mother's Best was a milling company in Decatur, Alabama that sponsored several artists throughout its distribution area. Among those spreading the good word about Mother's Best flour and farm feeds were Hank Williams in Nashville and blues man Robert Jr. Lockwood in Helena, Arkansas. Slim Rhodes had been WMC since 1939, sponsored by Mother's Best for all of that time. His mixture of music, jokes and gosh-darn sincerity was standard fare for the time.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ether Cletus ''Slim'' Rhodes - Vocal* & Guitar
Perry Hilburn ''Dusty'' Rhodes - Vocal** and Fiddle
Luther Bradley ''  Pee Wee'' Suggs - Vocal and Guitar
Gilbert Ray ''Speck'' Rhodes - Bass
Danny Holloway - Steel Guitar

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 


Slim Rhodes and His Mountaineers: (Left to right) Dusty Rhodes, Speck Rhodes, Pee Wee Suggs, Slim Rhodes and Danny Holloway >


It was inevitable that Sam Phillips and Slim Rhodes would come together. The Rhodes family had been a potent force in the Memphis country scene since the 1940s, and Slim's radio and television shows ensured that there would be a consistent market for his product. Moreover, Slim had a chameleon-like ability to change with the seasons.


He made the transition from the primitive hillbilly boogie heard on the Gild-Edge cuts to the flat out rockabilly of ''Do What I Do''. The final cut shows that he was working towards a country-pop sound.  Sam Phillips records the Slim Rhodes band in the first of two sessions for Gilt-Edge Records. The session produce four singles, issued during 1950 and 1951 for over twenty years, the Slim Rhodes Show was an institution on Memphis radio.
 
 
Starting out as a family group, the Rhodes maintained this characteristic through  three generations despite a continually changing supporting cast.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR SLIM RHODES
AT  THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR GILT-EDGE RECORDS 1950

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE JULY 1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS 
 
Sam Phillips recorded in 1950 eight sides with the band under Slim's name for release on Gilt-Edge Records in California. Concentrating on boogie and swing based styles, the Gilt-Edge discs featured Slim and Dusty on vocals with fine fiddle and steel support spiced with energetic electric guitar solos from Pee Wee Suggs. Born Luther Bradley Suggs, he had worked with the Loden Family in Mississippi before joining Slim Rhodes, and went on to record as a solo artist, under the name Brad Suggs, for Meteor and Phillips International.

"I recorded Slim Rhodes and Lost Hunter for Bill McCall who had the 4-Star and Gilt-Edge labels", recalled Sam Phillips. "Slim Rhodes ran a local country band here that had been on radio WMC for many years. Slim had the noontime show. Buck Turner had the regular country show on the opposing station, WREC. Buck did  any early morning show. He would also tour frequently throughout the South and West. Slim, in contrast, only played the local area - south east Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, west Tennessee and north west Alabama - so Slim was what we used to call a kind of mainstay on local radio programming. Both Slim and Buck were  professionals, though. They both had good, well-balanced bands and were easy to record". 

The first of Slim Rhodes' Gilt-Edge discs set a pattern, with this ''Save A Little Love For Me'' with this western swing vocal item backing a boogie instrumental, ''Skunk Hollow Boogie''. Slim Rhodes takes the vocal on this very pleasing swing number that owes rather more to Texas than to Tennessee. Vocal honours were shared in the Rhodes band with Dusty Rhodes, Dot Rhodes and Brad Suggs all doing their part. Surviving radio air shots from WMC dated December 1958 bear out this balance between the vocalists. They also show hos traditional fiddle solos by Dusty and the comedy sketches by Slim and Speck, where Slim is the ''Mayor of Skunk Holler'' and Speck his crazy side-kick who's always 'right back again', actually contributed as much to the group's  air time as did songs like this one.  
 
01 - ''SAVE A LITTLE LOVE FOR ME*'' - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Slim Rhodes- Pee Wee Suggs
Publisher: - Music Clearance
Matrix number: - 3755
Recorded: - Unknown Date July 1950
Released: - October 1950
First appearance: - Gilt-Edge (S) 78rpm standard single Gilt-Edge 5015-B mono 
SAVE A LITTLE LOVE FOR ME / SKUNK HOLLOW BOOGIE
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-1-3 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-3 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

"The Slim Rhodes items for Gilt-Edge Records were recorded like a lot of my records on 16 inch discs, which I recorded at 78rpm. Normally you wouldn't do that. You did it on 33rpm transcription. But in order to improve the sound, I recorded straight onto 16 inch acetates and from there I would make an acetate master", recallad Sam Phillips.

"I never did see anything particular about either Buck or Slim's band that stoot out, as far as style; they were just good solid local combos. The Rhodes were a family band. Besides Slim, there was Dusty who was a real good fiddle player", recalled Sam Phillips, "and Dusty's wife was a pretty darn good singer. Speck was the comedian and bass player. He later worked for Porter Wagoner on his TV show - successful as he was with the comedy, he was still one of the better upright bass player I ever saw''.

02 - ''SKUNK HOLLOW BOOGIE'' - B.M.I. - 2:45
Composer: - Slim Rhodes-Pee Wee Suggs-Dusty Rhodes-Speck Rhodes
Publisher: - Music Clearance
Matrix number: - 3757
Recorded: - Unknown Date July 1950
Released: - October 1950
First appearance: - Gilt-Edge (S) 78rpm standard single Gilt-Edge 5015-A mono
SKUNK HOLLOW BOOGIE / SAVE A LITTLE LOVE FOR ME
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-1-2mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-2 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959 

Slim Rhodes' Memphis recordings commenced in 1950 with this driving and bluesy instrumental ''Skunk Hollow Boogie''. It is really a showcase for the distinguished lead guitar of Brad Suggs, but both the steel guitar of Danny Holloway and the fiddle of Dusty Rhodes take excellent solos. Slim Rhodes played rhythm guitar and Speck Rhodes was on bass. This tune had been a Rhodes band staple for over a decade and it may be heard among the many traditional and current tunes the Rhodes band recorded for the lang-Worth transcription company in 1949 for radio broadcast. It is interesting that the repeated guitar lick we hear here was adapted by Scotty Moore for Elvis Presley's ''Good Rockin' Tonight'' some for years later. Sam Phillips may have been very new to recording for records when these sides were made, but the managed nevertheless to capture a powerful sound from the five-man Rhodes band.
 
 03 - ''RED, WHITE AND BLUE**'' - B.M.I. - 2:21
Composer: - Pee Wee Suggs-Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - 4-Star Sales
Matrix number: - 4099
Recorded: - Unknown Date July 1950
Released: - 1951
First appearance: - Gilt-Edge (S) 78rpm standard single Gilt-Edge 5044-A mono
RED, WHITE AND BLUE / OZARK BOOGIE
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-1-9 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-9 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959 

Musicians, like politicians, were fond of extolling the virtue of military service while their asses were safe at home, and Slim Rhodes was no exception. (It was though, just a matter of months before Brad Suggs departed for the service). Departing somewhat from their usual format, here we find Dusty and the Rhodes Boys on ''Red White And Blue'' in patriotic mood. The Korean War had just started and there were many songs like this (''They Locked God Outside The Iron Curtain'', etc), most of them in the country marked. It marked the last Rhodes release on Gilt-Edge although some titles were repackaged on 4-Star Records' disc jockey albums. 

''I recorded country music right through the time I had my studio, but it was never with the thought that I would do that well on country music. My main interest even at the outset was in developing something of a combination of black blues and country music. Besides, Nashville was doing a damn good job on country stuff.

''They were pretty pure country too over there, which at that time didn't really excite me too much unless I could come up with something a little different. Also at, that time, I met resistance in everything I did. Nashville was very jealous of their industry over there. So it was a matter of getting your feet on the ground and finding something you had some market for. I hat to realize that recording straight country was a buffer until I could work out what I really wanted to do. I mean, without compromising. You nevertheless have to stay in business  first before you can build''.

04 - ''OZARK BOOGIE'' - B.M.I. - 2:30
Composer: - Pee Wee Suggs-Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - 4-Star Sales
Matrix number: - 5000
Recorded: - Unknown Date July 1950
Released: - 1951
First appearance: - Gilt-Edge (S) 78rpm standard single Gilt-Edge 5044-B mono
OZARK BOOGIE / RED, WHITE AND BLUES
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-1-8mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-8 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

Apparently recorded on this first Rhodes session along with Gilt-Edge 5015, this title was not issued until 1951. This is somewhat surprising since it is arguably the best jukebox material here. Brad Suggs again provides the boogie dynamics while Speck and Slim lay down a powerful rhythm foundation. Dusty gives us some gypsy fiddle in-between two strong steel guitar solos.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ether Cletus ''Slim'' Rhodes - Vocal* & Guitar
Perry Hilburn ''Dusty'' Rhodes - Vocal** and Fiddle
Luther Bradley ''  Pee Wee'' Suggs - Vocal and Guitar
Gilbert Ray ''Speck'' Rhodes - Bass
Danny Holloway - Steel Guitar

''I was like a chemist in a lab, who just knows he's close to something. But I was just one person, and I couldn't concentrate on everything at one time, you know? God, a lot of hours were spent developing a sound - a sound in blues, a sound in country, and a new sound using both those kinds of music. Deep down I knew I was not doing everything that could be done for each artist. I felt I had to experiment with sounds. I loved working with people capable of something different - often that meant the turned-down, unbelieved-in musicians who had  something unusual about them''.

''I knew that cutting pure Nashville-style country records was not what I wanted. I swear to God, I knew I could cut 'em, but I knew it wasn't what I hoped to get to''.

''Now, it doesn't mean I don't like country music. I love country music. I grew up on it. The way you heard pure blues - black or white - back in those days was   from the people that worked with you on the farm. You certainly didn't hear it on the radio. So it was the hillbilly singers and the blues singers on the farm that I heard when I was coming up. That was my music then. The music of the bend of the river back in Florence, Alabama, that was my inspiration''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
WDIA Radio Broadcast, located at 2074 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. (From left) Joe Hill Louis, B.B. King, Ford Nelson, Rufus Thomas, Willa Monroe, Nat D. Williams, and Starr McKinley, early 1950s >
 
JULY 1950

After the Phillips label disappeared back into the obscurity from which it had barely arisen,  Phillips banally placed Joe Hill Louis with RPM/Modern.

Although both Louis and B. B. King  were part of the staple diet on WDIA, Louis's music was a far cry from King's: it was  primitive, countered, and inscrutable. He sang with the harmonica in front of his face,  usually rendering his vocals muddy, and there was little room for virtuosity on any of the  three instruments he routinely played at once. Louis's performances had a dense texture  and a compelling drive that compensated for the lack of pure technique.  His lyrics were  laced with threats and a dark sense of humor: ''I sent my baby a brand new ten-dollar bill'',  he sang, ''If half that don't get her back, you know my shotgun will''.

Louis was an enigmatic character, about whom little would be known if not for the research  of musicologist Stephen LaVere. He was born Lester or Leslie Hill on September 23, 1921, In  Whitehaven, Tennessee. At age fourteen he ran away from home, and was hired as a  houseboy by the Canales, a white family who controlled much of Memphis’s soda pop and  vending industry. The Canales dubbed him Joe Hill Louis, with a nod to the boxer Joe Louis,  after he won a fight with a local bully.

Louis played first Jew's harp and then harmonica, before finally adding guitar, drums, and  hi-hat to his act. Dubbing himself the Be Bop Boy, he played in the local part and at black  ball games. After WDIA became a black-oriented station, Louis was hired as the first Pep-ti- Kon Boy. He made his first records for Columbia in Nashville under circumstances that art far  from clear. Columbia had almost no penetration into the market that Louis serviced, and the  records sold so poorly that Phillips had no problem in obtaining his release when he wanted  to record Louis in 1950.

After falling out with the Biharis, Phillips succeeded in placing Louis with Chess, for whom  he recorded an electrifying atmospheric blues, ''When I Am Gone'', that transcended form  and meter in the manner of John Lee Hooker. Another record by Louis relaunched the Sun  label in 1953, earning him the distinction of having his recordings issued on every label with  which Phillips had been affiliated during his three years in the record business (except 4- Star). After the Sun record failed to sell, Louis and Phillips finally parted ways, and Louis  recorded for a few other labels before succumbing to tetanus on August 5, 1957.

It is a testament to Phillips' love of primitive, even obscure, country blues that he  persevered in recording Louis. The path toward commercial salvation had become clear as  far back as March 1951: One look at the Billboard rhythm and blues charts made it obvious  that country blues were already considered passe by the black record-buying audience. It  was the rhythm and blues bands, with their fuller instrumentation, that were selling. And  one of them had already arrived unexpectedly on Phillips doorstep.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOE HILL LOUIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR THE PHILLIPS 1950

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION:  THURSDAY JULY 27, 1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
 

Sam Phillips produced nearly all of the best Joe Hill Louis recordings. After recording two raw sides for the The Phillips' label, Phillips was able to secure an arrangement that resulted in a series of records for Modern. Except for the experimental ''Eyesight To The Blind', Joe played alone on these sides and was billed as ''The-One-Man-Band". Our listening program begins with the near perfection heard on the first two Modern 78s.

''Gotta Let You Go'', the flipside of Louis first disc is wildly percussive, too, but the slower tempo allows the words to shine. It's a splenetic blues: our man has lavished money and gifts upon his woman, and is getting nothing in return. Joe Hill rants in one chord through the verses. It's a common enough theme, but he's riled up, and the harsh guitar accentuates his malice. Many extremely rare records are often found to be extremely rare for a reason; this one, almost certainly unheard by all but a few hundred people in and around Memphis at the time of release, is a jewel of high octane juke joint blues. 

01 - ''GOTTA LET YOU GO'' - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: -Joe Hill Louis-Sam Phillips
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - 100-2
Recorded: - July 27, 1950
Released: - August 1950
First appearance: - The Phillips (S) 78rpm standard single The Phillips 9001 mono
GOTTA LET YOU GO / BOOGIE IN THE PARK
The single had different numbers on A and B sides.
Reissued:  - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-4 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958 

The sole release on Sam and Dewey's eponymous Phillips label: although issued as the flip side of Louis' disc, this was the first side cut at his first Union Avenue session (he'd recorded for Columbia the previous year). It has a percussive quality similar to that of the topside, but the tempo is slowed to allow a greater prominence to the lyric, which tells the tale of an unfaithful woman upon whom our hero has lavished molar aplenty, but received precious little in return.  A common enough blues theme, the chanted vocals add considerably to the air of malice generated by the harsh guitar lines.

Nominally the plug side of the Phillips' release, this "boogie" is a rough stomper, driven along by some percussive guitar work, and punctuated by squeaky harmonica. Louis returned to this theme on several occasions, but never again with quite the same force and conviction as he did on this recording. ''The song Dewey liked was ''Boogie In The Park'', Sam Phillips told Martin Hawkins. ''It was a song Joe played a lot, and it was associated with him. Though I am not sure whether he first played it in Handy Park or the other little park along there, or whether it was Russwood Park where Joe used to play when the Memphis Red Sox were in town. They were the black baseball team in those days. The white team was the Memphis Chicks''. 
 
 
02 - ''BOOGIE IN THE PARK'' - B.M.I. - 2:45
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - 101-2
Recorded: - June/July 27, 1950
Released: - August 1950
First appearance: - The Phillips (S) 78rpm standard single The Phillips 9002 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK / GOTTA LET YOU GO
The single had different numbers on A and B sides.
Reissued:  - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-5 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

03 - ''NAPPY HEAD WOMAN'' - B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June/July 27, 1950
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Polydor Records (LP) 33rpm Polydor 2383-214 mono
BLUE IN THE MORNING
Reissued: March 1, 2009 Goldenlane Records (CD) 500/200rpm mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - THE ESSENTIAL BLUES MASTERS

''I Feel Like A Million'' begins with a wonderful riffing between the harmonica and guitar with the latter taking up a boogie motif behind the vocals.

04(1) - ''I FEEL LIKE A MILLION (I FEEL SO GOOD)'' - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Jules Taub-Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - MM 1459
Recorded: - July 27, 1950
Released: - Fall 1950
First appearance: - Modern Records (S) 78rpm Modern 795-A (mono)
I FEEL LIKE A MILLION / HEARTACHE BABY
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK

04(2) - ''I FEEL LIKE A MILLION (I FEEL SO GOOD)'' - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Jules Taub-Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - July 27, 1950
Released: - Unissued

''Heartache Baby'' is a slow blues of the type that Phillips was looking for in Joe's work. The vocal and harmonica are the lead instruments with the guitar chording and the drums in perfectly synchronized support.

05(1) – ''HEARTACHE BABY (NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME)'' - B.M.I. - 3:00
Composer: - Jules Taub-Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - MM 1460
Recorded: - July 27, 1950
Released: - Fall 1950
First appearance: - Modern Records (S) 78rpm Modern 795-B mono
HEARTACHE BABY / I FEEL LIKE A MILLION
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK

05(2) – ''HEARTACHE BABY'' - B.M.I. - 3:35
Composer: - Jules Taub-Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 27, 1950
Released: -  January 5, 2009
First appearance: - Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCHD 1003 mono
THE MODERN DOWNHOME BLUES SESSIONS   VOLUME 3 - MEMPHIS ON DOWN

''Broke And Hungry'' is an early alternate from the song's evolution phase. It has previously been mistitled ''Blue In The Morning''. A good number of alternate takes exist and it is apparent that Louis, in common with many a country bluesman, came into the studio with only the basic idea for his new songs.

06 – ''BROKE AND HUNGRY (BLUE IN THE MORNING)'' - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 27, 1950
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Polydor Records (LP) 33rpm LP 2383-214 mono
BLUE IN THE MORNING
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK

07 – ''TRAIN TICKET (KEY TO THE HIGHWAY)'' - B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 27, 1950
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Polydor Records (LP) 33rpm LP 2383-214 mono
BLUE IN THE MORNING
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK

08 – ''SHORTY THE BARBER'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Chuck Matthews
Publisher: - Cromwell Music
Matrix number: - None - Unissued
Recorded: - July 27, 1950

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joe Hill Louis - Vocal, Guitar
Ford Nelson – Piano
Unknown - Drums
More details unknown

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

Sam Phillips in the Sun studio with neighbor Tommy Tidwell (left) his sons Knox (center) and Jerry (right), early-1950s >
 
SAM PHILLIPS TALKING ABOUT JOE HILL LOUIS - "I had heard of Joe Hill Louis before I ever  met him. I cannot remember where, but I do know that I was aware of him. I knew that he  was this blues singer, this one-man-band, who would be seen and heard around town back  in those days. It was well known that he played various places within a 30 or 40 mile  radius of Memphis. 

Matter of fact, if I am not mistaken, the first time I ever saw Joe Hill he was on his way to  play a show at Moscow, Tennessee, about forty miles away. He played there a lot, it turned  out. On this occasion, I was down at the studio working on getting the building right. This  was before we were open for business, before we got all the walls built right to our needs.  Joe just called in.
 
He had heard something was happening and he wanted to know what  was going on.  I said, 'I'm going to build a recording studio here once I get the building into  shape'.
 
 
He said, 'Man, that's just what we need here in Memphis'. He explained to me that  he was a recording artist - for Columbia - and that he was ready to make some more  records.

So Joe was in even before the beginning. He was the first black artist, I believe, to make  contact with me at that time. Then, later on, after I had recorded him, he would help me  out by spreading the word around the community that here was a man who might be able  to do something in music. I think he was responsible for suggesting to Jack Kelly and  Charlie Burse and other musicians that they should come to see me.

Joe Hill was a very likeable person. He was the kind of person to just drop in and say 'hi'  and then keep out of the way if it was not his session. He would just remind you he was  around in that way. Joe Hill was always well dressed, sharp, a dapper man. He was well  organised. He was a treasure, to me. He was a very entertaining man, and by that I do not  mean a lot of jokes, just that he put on a good show and was very personable. He was  fairly unique. He was a kind of a loner, but extremely friendly. He enjoyed being around  and being involved, he liked to have an attachment to what was happening, but never in a  way that was too closely involved. He was a loner, but not lonesome, if you understand  me. He was his own person. I never saw him look defeated or unhappy about anything.  Everyone liked Joe Hill that knew him. Joe was a sweet guy. When I had the studio  finished and invited him in to record, he said, 'Well, man, this is going to be nice'. Then he  sat down at his equipment and played me everything he knew, which was quite a lot.

Joe Hill had some very interesting approaches to things. He was a complete individual as a  musician - he had his own style that he had evolved himself. I believe that he was selftaught  as a musician, and he played things just however he saw them, or heard them, and  I liked that. He liked to listen to Arthur Crudup and T-Bone Walker, to my memory, from  the records, but he also knew many of the local musicians. He wrote many of his own  songs, though of course a lot of it was taken from something or other somewhere. But  again it often came out very personal to him.

Joe played guitar and harmonica and bass drum all at the same time. He had a harmonica  holder around his neck. At times he would get the effect of singing through the harmonica  into the mike. It was a style he had developed. He was that kind of person. He would go  his own way. When I first heard him, I just thought, 'this is a guy that deserves to be  heard', even though I realized that it was basically a novelty kind of thing.

When we were in the studio, usually it was just Joe and me on our own. He would play  something and we would talk and then he would play another and we would decide what  to record. Joe really did not like to record with anyone else. He had developed his oneman  show and his instrumentation and that was what he liked to do. He would never have  said to me that he would not work with other people, but I quickly found out that he really  wanted to record on his own.

But I always thought I could do a little better with Joe Hill than I did do. I liked unusual  things in music, and 1 was always looking for that spark of individuality. The problem was  that he had gotten so used to doing his own thing. Recording Joe was a challenge to me.  With Joe Hill, most everything he wanted to play was in 4/4s. He had to play those fast  4/4s at his clubs and around town. That was what drew the crowd, and Joe couldn't adapt  really. Joe never could really get a hold of a ballad - I mean a low down dirty blues ballad  now - because the mechanics of the instruments he was playing were against that. I did try  to get him into some more 2/4 time, and we did try different people working with him. I  felt I could have miked him better or arranged the instruments differently, and the fact  that we didn't was really my fault.

Because I think I did get a better sound with Doctor Ross, for instance. Ross had a very  special sound. He had a great command of his music and a real instinct for what was going  on around him. 'Chicago Breakdown' is one of the better records I think ever heard in my  life, if I am allowed to say that.

Joe Hill, though, had certain limitations, vocally, in truth, but they were never so much as  to prevent us doing something with him. It did make me want to record him just with his  harmonica though, without the other instruments to distract him. You can hear on  ''Eyesight To The Blind'' that his vocal is so much more focused and upfront, for instance.  The piano gave that recording a much more solid rhythmic foundation. Ford Nelson was an  accomplished piano player. He worked at WDIA along with Joe Hill and he was an easygoing  guy, the perfect accompanist. ''Eyesight'' was a song that was very popular locally  and we really wanted to get a good cut on it. It was a song Joe brought in that he had  learned from Sonny Boy Williamson.

The first record with Joe Hill came about because had been fooling around recording him  and mentioned this to disc jockey Dewey Phillips. Now Dewey liked Joe Hill very much,  and Dewey was on the air. He wanted to promote Joe, he really wanted to do something  with him, so that was when we decided to go into the record business. The song Dewey  liked was ''Boogie In The Park''. It was a song Joe played a lot, and it was associated with  him.

Though I am not sure whether he first played it in Handy Park or the other little park along  there, or whether it was Russwood Park where Joe used to play when the Memphis Red  Socks were in town. They were the black baseball team in those days. The white team was  the Memphis Chicks.

Another of Joe's songs was ''Gotta Go Baby.'' It had a clapping accompaniment by a friend  of Joe's who used to do a tap dance routine with him sometime where he played. ''I Feel  Like A Million'' is the song that really tells it all about what there is to know about Joe Hill's  music. He played infectious, good time blues. That was him. ''Street Walkin' Woman'' is  another one remember, because of the fine guitar solo on that one. ''Heartache Baby'' was  about as good a slow blues as I think I ever recorded on Joe. But maybe ''Cold Chills'' was  the best slow one, that was another song he said he had taught to him by Sonny Boy  Williamson. Joe would also play that John Lee Hooker riff that was very popular at the  time.

Saul and Jules Bihari had found out from Don Pierce at 4 Star that I was building a  recording studio, and they wanted me to record some music for them. So I did do that for  a little time. It was on a shake-hand deal. I had shake-hand deals with everyone. But it  turned into being a problem with Saul and Jules. We had a misunderstanding, you could  say. And there was no place in my life for that kind of thing. So went back to recording Joe  Hill and the other artists for my own label, and Saul and Jules arranged with Lester Bihari  to make recordings for them. Les was all right and we had no problems between us,  though I am not sure how well the three of them got on together in fact.

All the time Joe was a musician, he also had a day job with the Canale family, who I knew  slightly but never really in connection with Joe. They were wealthy and well thought of,  and knew that they could depend on him. He was the perfect person to have around. That  was why he only played his own little circuit within 30 miles or so. He would always be  back in time to work the next day.

I never did see Joe Hill play his music outside of my studio. I promised him I would go out  to watch him, but I was so busy with the studio and with Radio WREC and one thing and  another. After a while I got where it was so busy that Joe just drifted off. Then, later on, I  heard he had stepped on a rusty nail and died. That was really sad. Too many good people  die for no good reason in this world. It was a real shame''.

Interview by Martin Hawkins, May 1, 2000
 

 
AUGUST 1950
 



Morris Lippman Loans, 166 Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee, 1950s >


AUGUST 1950

The Phillips label is launched: the first release is Joe Hill Louis' "Boogie In The  Park"/"Gotta Let You Go", which carries a different catalogue number on each side. A  second release "Shorty The Barber" is planned, but not issued. 


It's easy to overplay the extent to which Beale was buzzing, though. In August 1950,  'Ebony' magazine ran a feature about 'The New Beale Street', emphasising the rise of  black owned businesses and the real or hoped for gentrification of the street. "Beale  is but a ghost of the boisterous, blustering thoroughfare of yesterday'' Ebony'  reported.  "Its sweet men and easy riders are gone: its gambling dens and nite spots  are shut down.
 

A new Beale Street is arising as a symbol of the new, enterprising,  forward looking Southern Negro of today looking forward to the day when Negro  businesses will dominate the street''. It reported, ''by midnite these days the street  is virtually deserted in contrast to the old days when the rite spots operated all night  long''.

The First of four singles recorded for Phillips by Slim Rhodes is issued on Gilt-Edge.

AUGUST 2, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Porter Wagoner ends a three-year job at the International Shoe Company manufacturing plant in West Plains, Missouri.

AUGUST 4, 1950 FRIDAY

Vicki Hackeman is born in Louisville. As one of the two original females in Dave & Sugar, she performs on ''Tear Time''. ''The Door Is Always Open'' and ''Golden Tears'' during her tenure, 1975-1979.

AUGUST 5, 1950 SATURDAY

Spade Cooley marks his two-year anniversary on Los Angeles' KTLA-TV. His guests for the show include jazz legend Count Basie and nightclub owner Hank Penny.

AUGUST 7, 1950 MONDAY

Rodney Crowell is born in Houston, Texas. The multi-talented performer nets five number 1 singles from his 1988 album ''Diamond & Dirt'', produced hits for Rosanne Cash and writes hits for Waylon Jennings, Crystal Gayle and Tim McGraw, among others.

Decca released Red Foley's version of ''Our Lady Of Fatima''

Decca released Ernest Tubb and Red Foley's two-sided hit, ''Goodnight Irene'' and ''Hillbilly Fever No. 2''.

AUGUST 8, 1950 TUESDAY

On this day, Sam Phillips wrote to the song's publisher, Cromwell Music, with the kind of  bravado that only one who has nothing can muster: ''I would very much like to secure permission to  cut this tune (''Shorty The Barber'') with Joe Hill Louis, an ex-Columbia recording artist (Negro).  He has signed to make eight sides with my recording company, 'PHILLIPS', which is a new label  but will be one of the most publicized regional labels to hit the market.

Jamie O'Hara is born in Toledo, Ohio. He and Kieran Kane form The O'Kanes, a 1980s duo built on strong hooks and spare arrangements. He also writes The Judds' ''Grandpa (Tell Me Bout' The Good Old Days)'', ''Gary Allan's Man To Man'' and John Conlee's ''As Long As I'm Rockin' With You''.

AUGUST 14, 1950 MONDAY

Decca released Ernest Tubb's ''You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry''.

AUGUST 16, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Bass player Joey Spampinato is born in New York City. Destined to play with the rock band NRBQ, he is married to Grand Ole Opry star Skeeter Davis for nine years.

AUGUST 18, 1950 FRIDAY

MGM released a double-sided Hank Williams hit ''They'll Never Take Her Love From Me'' and ''Why Should We Try Anymore''.

The Pinetoppers, including Ray and Vaughan Horton, Ray Smith, Rusty Keefer and Johnny Browers recorded ''Mockin' Bird Hill''.

AUGUST 19, 1950 SATURDAY

One day after her divorce from television executive Hubbell Robinson was finalized, ''Slipping Around'' singer Margaret Whiting marries piano player Joe ''Fingers'' Carr a second time in Guadalupe, Mexico.

Hank Snow spends the first of 21 weeks at number 1 on the Billboard country singles chart with ''I'm Moving On''.

AUGUST 20, 1950 SUNDAY

Eddy Arnold recorded ''The Lovebug Itch'' at Brown Brothers Studio on 4th Avenue in downtown Nashville.

AUGUST 21, 1950 MONDAY

Hank Snow recorded ''Rhumba Boogie'' and ''The Golden Rocket'' during a late-night session at Nashville's Brown Radio Productions.
 

 
AUGUST 21, 1950 MONDAY

In June 1950 Sam Phillips made his first tentative venture into the record business with  WHBQ radio disc jockey Dewey Phillips. Here, Sam is trying to pitch the record to his brother-in-law,  Jim Connolly, at WJLD. Note the emphasis that he is placing on quality. The Phillips label  didn't last out the year, though.

________________________________________________


Mr. James Edward Connolly, August 21, 1950
Station WJLD
Bessemer, Alabama

Dear Madam,

Under separate cover - a couple of quilts and four blankets - I am sending you the hottest  thing in country - the first official release of the newly organised PHILLIPS label. I have  written Bob, telling him of our artist, and I thought you might like to know of the deal,  too. Dewey Phillips and I are partners 50-50 on our new label, and we're going to do our  best to make it roll in the South. Our first releases is by an ex Columbia recording artist,  Joe Hill Louis, and the "Gotta Let You Go" side is already getting hot here. I know umbach  can put it over down there, too.

We're going to put nothing but the best race and spiritual artists obtainable on our label,  and though we may not have the number of artists that other companies have, we're going  to do our durndest to have the best. I'd appreciate your singing on the station and signing  it off with our records from time to time. In fact, I think it would make a good substitute  for the Star Spangled Banner.

All kidding aside, do what you can to help us, and I might even buy you a couple of extra  fish hooks. If our records happen to get hot down there before we get a distributor and a  retail outlet in Birmingham, let me know, and we'll try to rush up the thing some. But its  keeping me going night and day getting this thing set up. Therefore, if you receive any  inquiries about obtaining any of our records there, please contact me, telephone collect.

Hope to get down to see y'll before too long, and give you the story on the deal. In the  meantime, if you an round up the hard and pick up ol' Dobbin and head NW we'd love  seeing you,

Thanks, Jimbo Best wishes, I amYours sincerely
 


AUGUST 1950

It was almost inconceivable, it went against all of his better instincts, against everything he ever said, whether at the time or looking back on the period: that he didn't want his own label, that he had neither the time, money, nor resources for such an enterprise, that he intended to confine himself to the creative end of the business exclusively. And to do so in such a brief space of time, with so little forethought given to the decision, contradicted virtually every impulse of his normal course of behavior. In later years he would say it was all for his friend and partner, a more freethinking and freewheeling soul (''It was to please Dewey, really. I mean I didn't... I didn't want it''), but even Sam would have been hard-pressed to deny that it was a decision fueled almost exclusively by rage.

Dewey, it was true, had no doubt that they would succeed. And, within the few days that he allowed himself to reflect on the matter, Sam may well have come to agree, convincing himself up to a point that with Dewey on the record, as well as Bob Umbach on Jimmy's station and Gene Nobles on WLAC, they really did stand a fighting chance.

Sam Phillips also had the active support, both material and spiritual, of Buster Williams, whose Plastic Products pressing plant was turning out close to six thousand records a day after less than a year of operation. The forty-one-year-old Williams, the man who had introduced Sam to the Biharis, was just one more in a proud line of Memphis wildcatters and entrepreneurs. Buster had started out at fourteen with a roasted-peanuts operation in Enterprise, Mississippi, then bought his own drugstore at sixteen and invested the profits in what would soon become one of the largest jukebox operations in the South. After serving with the 4th Ferrying Group during the war, (he trained the pilots who flew the vital lend-Lease and material resupply missions), he had returned to find his jukebox business thriving. He established a distributorship, Music Sales, primarily to service his jukebox business with the latest records, and then, primarily to service that, he designed his own pressing machines and gone into business as only the second, by a few months, independent pressing plant in the country. Like Sam and so many other ''new arrivals'' in the city, Buster Williams believed in all things Memphis, but most of all he believed in the independent spirit, and he encouraged Sam Phillips for the start, extending him credit on pressing costs and then covering his risk by placing an order for three hundred copies of the record through Music Sales.

Only Marion Keisker seemed to have reservations about the new, hastily conceived enterprise. As someone who spent all of her waking hours trying to keep Sam from being upset, she never ceased to worry about his nervous temperament. And, whether for reasons of jealousy or class, or just plain personal taste, she simply did not like Dewey. Nor did she trust him, she thought Sam was putting entirely too much faith in someone whose manic energy and violent mood swings indicated an unstable nature of his own. But she recognized the depths of her own resentment (the two of them, from her point of view, went around acting like two little boys who had sworn a blood oath, ''at least that's the way Sam felt about Dewey''), and she had no doubt that anything Dewey wanted from Sam he was going to get. So she kept her own counsel and said nothing about the new business. Sam wouldn't have listened to her anyway.

And then as quickly as it started, it was over. The whole enterprise came crashing down, and Sam's mood with it. To begin with, he seems to have been forced to the realization that Joe Hill Louis, whom he had characterized just a week or two earlier to Jimmy Connelly as ''an ex Columbia recording artist'', was in fact still on the label, a circumstance made evident by the appearance of his second Columbia single at almost the exact moment of the launching of ''The Phillips''.
 

AUGUST 26, 1950 SATURDAY

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans welcome a daughter, Robin Elizabeth Rogers, who is born with Down syndrome.
 

 

Sam Phillips' Plastic Products receipt, August 30, 1950 >

AUGUST 30, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Buster Williams' Plastic Products pressed three hundred copies, and first released "Gotta Let You Go"/"Boogie In The Park", recorded by Joe Hill Louis, on the Phillips label (The Phillips 9001/9002), shipped them to Music Sales for distribution in Memphis, and billed Phillips fifty-one dollars. It turned out to be the label's only release.

The extreme scarcity of the record today suggests that there never was another pressing, and, as far as anyone, the label was DOA by September.

AUGUST 31, 1950 THURSDAY

Hank Williams recorded ''Moanin' The Blues'' and ''Nobody's Lonesome For Me'' at Nashville's Castle Studio in an afternoon session.

 

AUGUST 1950

The Organic Act of Guam is signed into law by U.S. President Harry S. Truman during August of 1950. The act made the island an unincorporated territory of the United States and granted all Guam residents U.S. Citizenship. The act also gave a small amount of autonomy with the creation of legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and a bill of rights. Jurisdiction over the territory was also transferred to from the Untied States Navy to the United States Department of the Interior. The act marked the first time in over 300 years of colonialism that Guam would be given some form of self governance.

 


  

SEPTEMBER 1950

  


 

 SEPTEMBER 1950

Atlantic Records scores its first number 1 record in the decade it would come to define musically with Ruth Brown's "Teardrops From My Eyes", the biggest rhythm and blues hit for a female artist for the next 40 years, and establishing Brown as the queen of rhythm and blues.

SEPTEMBER 1950

The second Lost John Hunter record ''YM And V Blues'' b/w ''Boogie For My Baby'' is issued by 4-Star 1511. This label takes no further blues material from Phillips after this release.

One of B.B. King's, RPM single "B.B. Boogie" b/w "Mistreated Woman" (RPM 304) is released. It may have been recorded by either Phillips or the Biharis at 706 Union Avenue. They didn't do much better than Lost John Hunter and His Blind Bats, with Billboard according one side a grade of 66, the other a 71. ''Highpitched warbler does okay on jump boogie blues'', the reviewer wrote of ''B.B. Boogie'', in a Basie-type ork setting''. The single didn't sell much anywhere outside Memphis, and the second single, released in December, didn't really do any better.

Eunice Kathleen Waymon (aka blues-singer Nina Simone) is rejected from Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

SEPTEMBER 1950

Rufus Thomas signs and started at WDIA announcing two hour-long record shows, 'House Of Happiness' and 'Special Delivery'. At first, it seems that he tried to sound upmarket, smooth and articulate, like the announcers he heard on WREC broadcasting from posh venues like the Peabody Hotel. In fact, his own rasp of a voice was much more suited to selling records and sponsored goods to his home-town audience, and station manager David James Mattis counseled him about retaining the sort of hip rapport that he had with theater and night club crowds. "Once I became just Rufus, man, I started getting sharp and everything. My delivery stepped up, and there I was, a personality", he told a radio colleague, Louis Cantor. So much so that Mattis later described Rufus as ''the best black entertainer I ever saw in my life''.

SEPTEMBER 1, 1950 FRIDAY

Tex Williams signs a movie deal with Universal Pictures requiring him to do eight films for the studio

Merle Travis becomes the regular host of WRVA Radio's ''Old Dominion Barn Dance'' in Richmond, Virginia.

Drummer Steve Goetzman is born in Louisville, Kentucky. He joins Exile, whose mix of country, rock and gospel nets hook-filled 1980s hits such as ''Woke Up In Love'', ''She's A Miracle'' and ''Crazy For Your Love''.

Patti Leatherwood is born in Cleveland, Ohio. She briefly recorded for the Epic label during the late 1970s, providing background vocals the following decade on the Waylon Jenning's hit ''The Devil's On The Loose''.

SEPTEMBER 3, 1950 SUNDAY

In the early morning hours, Dewey Phillips had a terrible head-on collision on Highway 70 just outside of West Memphis that killed both the driver of the car and Dewey's companion, a nineteen-year-old girl who had moved to Memphis from Booneville, Mississippi, just six weeks earlier and was living at the Hotel Chisca with her aunt. Everyone put a brace face on it. Dewey's wife, Dot, said the girl was a friend of hers, and the station WHBQ announced that though Dewey remained on the critical list, he would soon be broadcasting from his hospital bed at Baptist Hospital. Sam Phillips' faith in Dewey never faltered, but his faith in their joint enterprise may have, even as he comforted Dot, whom Becky Phillips, too, had by now befriended. It must have hit him all at once what in reality he had known all along, just how little he knew about what it took to run a record company and how this was diverting him from his main task.

Such was the ignominious end of their ''The Phillips'' record company. There was no formal conclusion, and Music Sales, and a few other independent outlets, may have continued selling the Joe Hill Louis record (The Phillips 9001/2) for another few months. But there never was a second, from Joe or anyone else, and the whole business left such an unpleasant taste that Sam Phillips rarely referred to it in later life, and when he did, he uncharacteristically (for he was a man with an almost photographic memory) seemed unable to recall any of the details.

Nor were matters helped any by the growing tension at the radio station WREC , the increasing conflict on both Sam's and Marion's part between their dedication to the recording studio and their commitment to their salaried work. For Marion Keisker it was as much a matter of guilty conscience as anything else. At WREC ''they would say to me, 'How can you even work out there? I don't know what you're doing there'. I was beginning to shortchange the station, sliding in at the last minute and doing a show that wasn't prepared properly, but they never seemed to notice, they were so overcome with wonderment that I was able to transition from what they knew of me and my background, into this environment''.

For Sam Phillips it was harder. ''Everybody laughed at me. Of course, they'd try to make it tongue-in-cheek, talking about my recording niggers (and these were some of the greatest haven't been hanging around those niggers today'. I mean, they loved me to death. I think there was even a certain amount of admiration on, their, part that nobody really wanted to admit. Nobody can tell me that the white man wasn't little ashamed of how he was treating the black man. There was a kind of love on the part of the Southern white person for his nigger. But at the same time it would get up to a certain point, and you as a white man didn't take your nigger any further''.

It hurt. It hurt deeply. But it hurt almost as much to have had his naiveté so badly abused, to have risked his family's security and his own peace of mind for a foolish, unexamined whim, prompted mostly by the desire to vindicate himself not just in the eyes of others but in his own. Marion Keisker could see the burden of humiliation he carried around with him, at one point he broke out in a terrible case of hives, but he never wavered in his belief in the rightness of what he was doing. He never wavered in his firm conviction that the music he was seeking to record great music, the artists whom he sought out, great artists, as great as any who ever been heard. Where his belief momentarily wavered was in his own ability, whether he had the sheer stamina to carry on the crusade. Or the judgment.

SEPTEMBER 4, 1950 MONDAY

Columbia Records released Lefty Fritzell's ''If You Got The Money I've Got The Time'' backed with ''I Love You A Thousand Ways''.

Bass player Ronald LaPread is born in Tuskegee, Alabama. He provides the musical foundation for The Commondores, a 1970s rhythm and blues act whose ''Three Times A Lady'' is eventually remade as a country hit by Conway Twitty.

SEPTEMBER 9, 1950 SATURDAY

Guitarist John McFee is born in Santa Cruz, California. After a stint in The Doobie Brothers from 19791983, he helps form Southern Pacific, a breezy country-rock band that brightens country's sound from 1985 until the group's 1991 break-up.

Ernest Tubb recorded ''(Remember Me) I'm The One Who Loves You'' during the afternoon at Nashville's Castle Studio.

Four-year0old Neil Young, destined write several country hits, gets his picture in a newspaper for the first time when The Toronto Telegram features a photo of the boy with a huge fish, giving a false impression that he actually caught it.

SEPTEMBER 10, 1950 SUNDAY

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry is born in Boston, Massachusetts. The band scores a 1988 hit from the movie ''Armageddon'' with ''I Don't Want To Miss A Thing'', which Mark Chesnutt reinvents as a country hit.

SEPTEMBER 11, 1950 MONDAY

Columbia released Gene Autry's ''Frosty The Snow Man''

SEPTEMBER 16, 1950 SATURDAY

David Bellamy is born in Darby, Florida. With Sibling Howard, he forms The Bellamy Brothers, developing a mix of hits built on worldplay or social commentary. They net 17 Country Music Association nominations for duo or group but never win.

SEPTEMBER 18, 1950 MONDAY

''Redwood Forest Trail'' opens in theaters, with singing cowboy Rex Allen as the leading good guy. His performances include ''America, The Beautiful''.

SEPTEMBER 20, 1950 WEDNESDAY

With the Korean War raging, Tex Ritter recorded ''Daddy's Last Letter'' in Los Angeles.

Gene Autry send Colonel Tom Parker an letter to thanking him for sending pictures taken at the Knickerbocker Hotel. Autry also thanked the Colonel for suggestions he made about the Checkerboard Jamboree. Autry sent his regards to "the gang". Autry explained in a handwritten note in blue ink at the bottom of the page that the letter had been misdirected when it was sent to him to be signed. He redated the letter November 1, 1950.

Gene Autry, well-known country singer, knew Colonel Tom Parker from his Nashville connections. The Colonel represented Eddy Arnold, and Autry often toured with Arnold for various shows.

SEPTEMBER 21, 1950 THURSDAY

Lefty Frizzell recorded ''Look What Thoughts Will Do'' at the Jim Beck Studio in Dallas, Texas.

Johnny Cash begins training to intercept Soviet Morse code correspondence at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.

SEPTEMBER 23, 1950 SATURDAY

''The Eddy Arnold Show'' debuts on NBC Radio, using ;;Cattle Call'' as the theme song.

SEPTEMBER 24, 1950 SUNDAY

Yvonne Spencely is born. She becomes the second wife of The Bee Gees' Maurice Gibb, co-writer of the Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton hit ''Islands In The Stream''.

SEPTEMBER 25, 1950 MONDAY

An outlaw gang suffers the snuggler's blues when it runs in to Roy Rogers in ''Sunset In The West'', which debuts in movie theaters. The picture also features Foy Willing and The Riders Of The Purple Sage.

SEPTEMBER 28, 1950 THURSDAY

Jerry Lee Lewis begins taking classes at the Southwestern Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Texas. He lasts just three months before dropping out.

SEPTEMBER 30, 1950 SATURDAY

The Grand Ole Opry is televised for the first time. as WSM-TV debuts on the air, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Mandolin player Donna Stoneman, of The Stoneman Family, marries Bob Bean in Attala County, Mississippi.

Gene Autry sings the recent Red Foley hit ''Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy'' in the debut of his last movie, ''Indian Territory''. The Apache tale also features Pat Buttram, Frankie Marvin and Champion The Wonder Horse.

Six months after its debut, the ABC western series ''The Marshal Of Gunsight Pass'', starring Eddie Dean, makes its last prime-time appearance.

Patti Page forgets the words to the national anthem at Rice Stadium's first football game in Houston. The Rice Owls defeat the Santa Clara Broncos, 27-7.

 


 
OCTOBER 1950
 

 
OCTOBER 1950

The Gilt-Edge label is re-launched with a different distribution set-up from 4-Star. Slim   Rhodes is among the first releases.

Influential Memphis disc jockey and singer/musician, Eddie Hill, leaves WMPS and crosses   town to WMC radio. His "High Noon Roundup" show influences many young country artists,   including Johnny Cash, and includes Harmonica Frank in the regular cast.

OCTOBER 1, 1950 SUNDAY

Coral Records released The Pinetoppers' ''Mockin' Bird Hill''.

OCTOBER 2, 1950 MONDAY

Songwriter Danny Mayo is born in Gadsden, Alabama. He writes Confederate Railroad's  ''Jesus And Mama'', Pirates Of The Mississippi's ''Feed Jake'', Alabama's ''If Had You'' and Tracy Byrd's ''The Keeper Of The Stars''.

OCTOBER 3, 1950 TUESDAY

Bob and Betty Wills have their third child, Diane Wills.

OCTOBER 6, 1950 FRIDAY

Guitarist Thomas McClary is born in Florida. He joins the 1970s rhythm and blues act The Commodores, whose hit ''Three Times A Lady'' is remade in 1983 as a country single by Conway Twitty.

OCTOBER 8, 1950 SUNDAY

''Holiday Rhythm'' opens the movie theaters. The film features Tex Ritter in a secondary role and the Cass County Boys.

Jackie Frantz is born in Sidney, Ohio. She becomes one of the two original females in the trio Dave and Sugar. During her tenure, from 1975-1977, she contributes to ''Queen Of The Silver Dollar'' and ''The Door Is Always Open''.

Bluegrass guitarist Russ Barenberg is born. In addition to making his own albums, he also appears on Randy Travis 1992 hit ''Better Class Of Losers''.

OCTOBER 10, 1950 TUESDAY

Elektra Records is formed by Jac Holzman as a jazz/folk label. After establishing a country division in the 1970s, the company represents such acts as Eddie Rabbitt, Eddy Raven, Crystal Gayle and Hank Williams Jr.

Songwriter Tim Krekel is born in Louisville, Kentucky. Twice a member of Jimmy Buffett's band, he authors Crystal Gayle's ''Turning Away'' and ''Patty Loveless' ''You Can Feel Bad''.

OCTOBER 11, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Pop and country singer Margaret Whiting and piano player Lou Bush (aka) Joe ''Fingers'' Care, have a daughter, Debora Louise Bush.

OCTOBER 12, 1950 THURSDAY

''The George Burns & Gracie Allen Show'' debuts on CBS-TV. Some 30 years later, Burns scores a country hit with ''I Wish I Was Eighteen Again''.

Model and actress Susan Anton is born in Oak Glen, California. Named Miss California of 1969, she earns a country hit by teaming with Fred Knoblock on the 1980 single ''Killin' Time''.

''The Morey Amsterdam Show'' airs for the final time on the DuMont TV network. Amsterdam earned a country hit three years prior as a songwriter for Dick Jurgens recording ''(Oh Why, Oh Why, Did I Ever Leave) Wyoming''.

OCTOBER 15, 1950 SUNDAY

Bill Monroe recorded the original version of ''Uncle Pen'' during an afternoon session in Nashville. The song references the fiddle classic ''Soldiers Joy'' and ''Jenny Lynn''.

OCTOBER 16, 1950 MONDAY

Decca released Ernest Tubb's ''(Remember Me) I'm The One Who Loves You''.

OCTOBER 18, 1950 WEDNESDAY

''September Affair'' appears in movie theaters with featured stars Joseph Cotton and Joan Fontaine. The film includes Walter Huston's performance of ''September Song'', a future country hit for Willie Nelson.

OCTOBER 19, 1950 THURSDAY

Brian Collins is born in Baltimore, Maryland. With the encouragement of Dolly Parton, he moves to Nashville, where he nets a hit with his 1974 remake of ''Statue Of A Fool''.

OCTOBER 20, 1950 FRIDAY

Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs hold their final session for Mercury Records, at the WDAE Studio in Tampa, Florida, recording ''Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms''.

OCTOBER 22, 1950 SUNDAY

Hank Snow recorded ''Unwanted Sign Upon Your Heart'' in the evening at Brown Radio Productions in Nashville.

OCTOBER 26, 1950 THURSDAY

Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs sign with Columbia Records, where the bluegrass duo will reach its commercial peak.

OCTOBER 27, 1950 FRIDAY

MGM released Hank Williams' ''Moanin' The Blues'', with ''Nobody's Lonesome For Me'' on the flip side.
 

 
NOVEMBER 1950
 

The photograph of Billy Red Love >

NOVEMBER 1950

As Joe Hill Louis's one-year contract with Columbia, dated October 19, 1949 expires, Phillips probably enquires if Columbia will pick up the one-year option. On being told that Columbia will not,   Sam Phillips signs Joe Hill Louis to Modern Records. 
 
NOVEMBER 1950

There is a photograph of Billy Red Love sitting at a piano on the corner of the stage of what  may well be the Palace Theater on Beale Street in Memphis and behind him is an advertising  poster for the Johnny Otis Show due to appear in Memphis for four nights from 9 -12 of a  month and year that are not visible.

It is known that the Otis show featuring the same  singers and guests as listed in the poster was in Memphis at the Palace on November 9-12,  1950, and it just may be that Billy Love played that show too as part of the local support.
 
 
The Otis revue made regular visits to Memphis over the next two or three years and so  Love's promotional photograph could date from as early as 1950 or as late as 1953.

NOVEMBER 2, 1950 THURSDAY

The western ''Border Outlaws'' appears in movie theaters with Spade Cooley starring as a ranch owner in the Old West.

Former Grand Ole Opry star Asher Sizemore loses his son. Charles ''Buddy Boy'' Sizemore goes missing in action in the Korean War.

NOVEMBER 3, 1950 FRIDAY

The Stanley Brothers recorded ''I'm A Man Of Constant Sorrow'' at the Castle Studio in Nashville. Their version of the song provides a template for the version by the fictitious Soggy Bottom Boys, which appears in the film ''O Brother, Where Art Thou''?

NOVEMBER 4, 1950 SATURDAY

Singer and songwriter Diane Pfeifer is born in St. Louis, Missouri. She writes Debby Boone's 1980 hit ''Free To Be Lonely Again''.

NOVEMBER 8, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Columbia renegotiates Lefty Frizzell's recording contract. He gets a raise from a royalty of 2 percent of 90 percent per record to 3 percent for two years, with a two-year option at 4 percent.

Arthur Crudup recorded ''My Baby Left Me'' in Chicago. Elvis Presley will remake a good version of the song on January 30, 1956 at RCA Studio, in New York City. 

Eddy Arnold recorded ''There's Been A Change In Me'' at the Brown Brothers Studio on 4th Avenue in downtown Nashville.

Ramblin' Jimmie Dolan recorded ''Hot Rod Race''.

NOVEMBER 10, 1950 FRIDAY

Hawkshaw Hawkins recorded the Lefty Frizzell song ;;I Love You A Thousand Ways'' in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Steel player Greg Trostal is born in Elmira, New York. He replaces Pat Severs in Pirates Of The Mississippi in 1994.

NOVEMBER 12, 1950 SUNDAY

Hank Thompson small plane crashes, though he sustains no serious injuries.

Barbara Fairchild is born in Lafe, Arkansas. After making her first record at age 15, her 1972 release ''Teddy Bear Song'' begins a three-single run of innocent hits.

NOVEMBER 13, 1950 MONDAY

Capitol released Tennessee Ernie Ford's ''The Shot Gun Boogie''.

NOVEMBER 15, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Patsy Montana begins hosting her own radio show on WQAM in Miami, Florida.

Roy Rogers comes to the rescue of Indians in the northwest with the silver-screen debut of ''North Of The Great Divide''. Foy Willing and The Riders Of The Purple Sage provide musical support.

In his final screen role, the late Lee ''Lasses'' White appears in the debuting western ''The Texan Meets Calamity Jane''.

The John Wayne-Maureen O'Hara picture ''Rio Grande'' debuts in theaters. The movie also features Chill Wills, The Sons Of The Pioneers and ''(Ghost) Riders In The Sky'' songwriter Stan Jones.

NOVEMBER 20, 1950 MONDAY

''Under Mexicali Stars'' appears in movie theaters, with Rex Allen and Buddy Edsen.

''The Blazing Sun'' debuts in movie theaters with Gene Autry chasing bank robbers in the Old West. He gets assistance from Pat Buttram, Frankie Marvin and Champion The Wonder Horse.

NOVEMBER 21, 1950 TUESDAY

Flatt and Scruggs hold their first recording session for Columbia Records.

NOVEMBER 23, 1950 THURSDAY

Hank Williams writes ''Cold Cold Heart''.
 
 
NOVEMBER 24, 1950 FRIDAY

Studio session for Joe Hill Louis at the Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee.  Session d etails unknown. By then, though, Sam Phillips had finally decided to eat humble pie. It was with very mixed feelings that he got back in touch with the Bihari brothers about Joe Hill Louis at the end of October, but he had nowhere else to go. Joe's one-year contract with Columbia had finally run out, Sam had seen it in writing, and he negotiated a modest new contract with Modern, signing off on it on this day and taking Joe into the studio on Monday November 27, 1950. He mailed off the results, including a more refined version of ''Boogie In The Park'' with Joe's discommodious traps weighing down the proceedings, on December 8, and sent another four sides a little later. But nothing happened.

The Broadway musical ''Guys And Dolls'', starring Robert Alda and Vivian Blaine, opens at the 46th Street Theatre in New York. The score includes ''A Bushel And A Peck'', which is also recorded by Margaret Whiting and Jimmy Wakely.

Drummer Robert Burns is born in Jacksonville, Florida. As a founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, he plays on ''Sweet Home Alabama'', ranked among country's 500 greatest singles in the Country Music Foundation book ''Heartaches By The Number''.

NOVEMBER 27, 1950 MONDAY
Studio session for Joe Hill Louis at the Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee.  Details unknown.

NOVEMBER 28, 1950 TUESDAY

Evelyn Knight and Red Foley recorded ''My Heart Cries For You''.

NOVEMBER 29, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Red Foley recorded ''Hot Rod Race''.

Wendy Steiner is born in Los Angeles. Operating professionally as Wendy Waldman, she produces hits for Suzy Bogguss and The Forester Sisters. Waldman writes The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's ''Fishin' In The Dark'', ''Crystal Gayle's ''Baby, What About You'' and Lorrie Morgan's  ''Half Enough'', among others.

NOVEMBER 30, 1950 THURDAY

Vocalist Greg Gordon is born. He becomes the lead singer of the 1980s pop group The Boys Band, then moves into backup work. His credits include John Berry's 1996 single ''Change My Mind''.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR JOE HILL LOUIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR MODERN RECORDS 1950 
 
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: MONDAY NOVEMBER 27, 1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Sam Phillips has always had the ability and the willingness to persist with an artist that had the innate talent that he was looking for. He worked hard and long with a promising artist and the Louis takes selected for original release are routinely superior to the others. Joe was not an easy musician to work with, frequently  unprepared and sometimes careless. In the sessions that followed, he tended to move toward an emphasis on the guitar as a lead instrument. The harmonica is more often used for fills, sometimes quite erratically. Joe could pick a fine guitar but could just as soon go quite out of tune, which made him unreliable as a sideman.

01 – ''BOOGIE IN THE PARK'' – B.M.I. - 2:46
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis-Sam Phillips
Publisher: - BMG Music Publisher Limited
Matrix number: - MM 1492 Take 1
Recorded: - November 27, 1950 - Remake
Released: - 1951
First appearance: - Modern Records (S) 78rpm Modern 813-A mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK / COLD CHILLS
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK 

''Boogie In The Park'' the follow-up record, stayed in what might be called the classic one-man-band styling while the reverse side, John Lee (Sonny Boy) Williamson's ''Cold Chills'', is the first and one of the best of his slow guitar dominated blues. Other similarly fine performances include Saint Louis Jimmy's ''Going Down Slow'' and an alternate take of ''Street Walkin' Woman'' (the acetate of the original 78 is irreparably damaged).

02(1) – ''COLD CHILLS'' – B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: - John Lee Williamson
Publisher: - Wabash Music Corporation
Matrix number: - MM 1493 Take 3
Recorded: - November 27, 1950
Released: - 1951
First appearance: - Modern Records (S) 78rpm Modern 813-B mono
COLD CHILLS / BOOGIE IN THE PARK
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK

02(2) -''COLD CHILLS'' – B.M.I. - 3:28
Composer: - John Lee Williamson
Publisher: - Wabash Music Corporation
Matrix number: - MM 1493 Alternate Take -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 27, 1950
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Polydor Records (LP) 33rpm LP 2383-214-2 mono
BLUE IN THE MORNING
Reissued: - 2008 JSP Records Internet iTunes MP3-13 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - KING OF THE ONE MAN BANDS

03 – ''STREET WALKIN' WOMAN'' – B.M.I. - 3:17
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - MM 1541
Recorded: - November 27, 1950
Released: - 1951
First appearance:- Modern Records (S) 78rpm Modern 20-822-A mono
STREET WALKIN' WOMAN / WALKIN' TALKIN' BLUES
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK

04 – ''MISTREAT ME WOMAN'' – B.M.I. - 3:06
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 27, 1950
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Polydor Records (LP) 33rpm LP 2383-214-3 mono
BLUE IN THE MORNING
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joe Hill Louis – Vocal, Harmonica, Guitar, Hi-Hat, Bass, Drums
Ford Nelson - Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
DECEMBER 1950
 


Original acetate Memphis Recording and Sound Service of ''Going Down Slow'' and ''Street Walkin' Woman'' by Joe Hill Louis >
 
DECEMBER 1950

Sam Phillips secures Joe Hill Louis' release from Columbia and ships four dubs to Modern  Records.

DECEMBER 1950

Studio session for Joe Hill Louis at the Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee.

Sam Phillips recorded a second session in December on Slim Rhodes' Band for Gilt-Edge.

B.B. King's second RPM single "Walkin' And Cryin'' backed with ''The Other Night Blues'' (RPM  311) is released, but didn't the charts.

 
After the Chinese intervene in the Korean conflict on behalf of North Korea, United Nations and Republic of Korea troops are overrun and left with no land evacuation options during December of 1950. The UN and ROK forces decided to attempt a “reverse amphibious operation” to evacuate over 100,000 troops and hundreds of thousands of tons of supplies and vehicles. They did so by ferrying from the Port of Hungnam out to sea and back to Korean locations south of the 38th parallel. The plan faced complications as nearly 100,000 refugees showed up, asking for evacuation as well. The operation began on December 10th and it lasted until December 24th. They were miraculously successful in their efforts as the troops and most of the refugees were transported by ship to safety. The UN Troops also demolished the port and destroyed all of the left over supplies that could have been useful to the enemy as they left.

DECEMBER 2, 1950 SATURDAY

John Wesley Ryles is born in Bastrop, Louisiana. He nets two country hits as an artist, 1968's ''Kay'' and 1977's ''Once In A Lifetime Thing''; writes Steve Wariner's ''Starting Over Again''; and provides background vocals on hits by Alan Jackson, Blake Shelton, Brooks & Dunn and Randy Travis, among others.

DECEMBER 8, 1950 FRIDAY

Moon Mullican recorded ''Cherokee Boogie (Eh-Oh-Aleena)'' in Cincinnati.

DECEMBER 12, 1950 TUESDAY

La Costa is born in Seminole, Texas. The older sister of Tanya Tucker, she recorded a pair of Top 10 singles, ''Get On My Love Train'' and ''He Took Me For A Ride'', during the mid-1970s.

With his son, Ronnie, sick, Marty Robbins promises God that ''if he would save my son I would never drink again''.

DECEMBER 13, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Eddy Arnold recorded ''Something Old, Something New'', ''Kentucky Waltz'' and ''May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You'' at the RCA Studios in New York City.

Bass player and recording artist Don Dixon is born in Lancaster, South Carolina. He plays bass on Mary Chapin Carpenter's 1994 album ''Stones In The Road'', appearing on the singles ''Shut Up And Kiss'' and ''Tender When I Want To Be''.

DECEMBER 15, 1950 FRIDAY

Singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Rex Allen share the silver screen as ''Trail Of Robin Hoods'' debuts. The picture includes one song written by Foy Willing.

DECEMBER 16, 1950 SATURDAY

Billboard magazine runs an ad that touts Lefty Frizzell's nickname as the result of an amateur boxing career. The claim is untrue, but becomes a part of the Frizzell legacy.

DECEMBER 18, 1950 MONDAY

Decca released bill Monroe's original version of ''Uncle Pen''.

FALL 1950

Modern Records release their first Joe Hill Louis single, "I Feel Like A Million" b/w "Heartache  Baby" (Modern 795).

DECEMBER 20, 1950 WEDNESDAY

Drummer Don Heffington is born in Los Angeles, California. Alongside stints with Lone Justine and The Jayhawks, he plays on Emmylou Harris' 1984 hit, ''In My Dreams''.

DECEMBER 21, 1950 THURSDAY

Hank Williams recorded ''Cold Cold Heart'' and ''Dear John'' during an evening session at the Castle Studio in downtown Nashville.

After 17 months with Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys, bass player Hillous Butrum joins Hank Snow's Rainbow Ranch Boys. During his four years with Snow, he plays on the hits ''Music Makin' Mama From Memphis'' and ''The Gold Rush Is Over''.

Film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg is born in New York City. After working as CEO for Disney, he joins David Geffen and Steven Spielberg to found DreamWorks. The film company's record division will represent Toby Keith, Randy Travis and Darryl Worley.

DECEMBER 23, 1950 SATURDAY

Lefty Frizzell hits number 1 on the Billboard country chart with his debut single, ''If You Got The Money I've Got The Time''.

DECEMBER 25, 1950 MONDAY

Reggie Young receives his first guitar for Christmas in Memphis. He goes on to become a great session musician, playing on such as Willie Nelson's ''Always On My Mind'', Elvis Presley's ''In The Ghetto'', ''Suspicious Minds'' and George Strait's ''Ace In The Hole''.

''The Steve Allen Show'' begins airing daily on CBS-TV, just months after its host had a hit as a songwriter on the Margaret Whiting/Jimmy Wakely duet ''Let's Go To Church (Next Sunday Morning)''.
 
DECEMBER 28, 1950 THURSDAY

American rock singer, songwriter, guitarist, and record producer Alex Chilton (Box Tops, Big  Star) is born in Memphis, Tennessee. Chilton died in 2010.

Bass player Hugh McDonald is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A session player for Willie Nelson, Michael Bolton and Ricky Martin, he's generally regarded as an unofficial member of Bon Jovi, appearing on the band's 2006 country hit ''Who Says You Can't Go Home''.

Producer and engineer Marty Lewis is born in Oak Park, Michigan. He works with Dan Fogelberg and Jimmy Buffett, engineering ''Margaritaville''.

DECEMBER 29, 1950 FRIDAY

''Frontier Outpost'' appears in movie theaters, with Charles Starrett, Smiley Bernette and Hank Penny.

DECEMBER 30, 1950 SATURDAY

Lefty Frizzell makes his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, singing ''If You Got The Money I've Got The Time'' and ''I Love You A Thousand Ways''.

DECEMBER 31, 1950 SUNDAY

Marilyn Sellars is born in Northfield, Minnesota. Her lone claim to fame comes with here 1974 country hit, ''One Day At A Time''.
 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 STUDIO SESSION FOR JOE HILL LOUIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR MODERN RECORDS 1950

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE DECEMBER 1950
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01(1) – ''WALKIN' TALKIN' BLUES'' – B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - MM 1540 Take 3
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1950
Released: - 1951
First appearance: - Modern Records (S) 78rpm Modern 20-822-B mono
WALKIN' TALKIN' BLUES / STREET WALKIN' WOMAN
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK

The 16-bar ''Walkin' Talkin' Blues'', with its fine and lilting harp intro.

01(2) – ''WALKIN' TALKIN' BLUES'' – B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - None – Alternate Take
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1950
Released: - 2008
First appearance: - JSP Records Internet iTunes MP3-23 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - KING OF THE ONE MAN BANDS

 
02 – ''GOING DOWN SLOW'' – B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - James Oden
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - MM 1565
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1950
Released: - 1951
First appearance: - Modern Records (S) 78rpm Modern 828 mono
GOING DOWN SLOW / EYESIGHT TO THE BLIND
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK 

03 – ''COME BACK BABY (GREAT BIG HOUSE)'' – B.M.I. - 3:00
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1950
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - P-Vine Records (LP) 33rpm PVC 22002 mono
GOTTA BOOGIE BABY
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803-6 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK

04 – ''THE WAY YOU TREAT ME'' – B.M.I. - 2:47
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis-Joe Josea
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1950
Released: - 1970
First appearance: - Kent Records (LP) 33rpm LP 9002-3 mono
ANTHOLOGY OF THE BLUES - MEMPHIS BLUES - ARCHIVE SERIES - VOLUME 2
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joe Hill Louis – Vocal, Harmonica, Guitar, Hi-Hat, Bass Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

STUDIO SESSION FOR SLIM RHODES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR GILT-EDGE RECORDS 1950
  
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE DECEMBER 1950
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

''Sixty Days'' is a interesting western swing item with its laconic vocal from Dusty Rhodes could almost have been a follow-up to the ''Hot Rod Race'' saga which had been started by Arkie Shibley on Gilt-Edge. The straight-as-an-arrow vocal contrasts nicely with the jazz lead guitar. The composer, W.S. Stevenson, was 4-Star/Gilt-Edge owner Bill McCall, who bought songs from down-on-their-luck hillbillies. Odds are, he didn't make his money back on this one.

01 - "SIXTY DAYS**" – B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: - W.S. Stevenson
Publisher: - 4-Star Sales
Matrix number: - 3969
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1950
Released: - March 1951
First appearance: - Gilt-Edge Records (S) 78rpm standard single Gilt-Edge 5026 mono
SIXTY DAYS / MEMPHIS BOUNCE
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-1-5 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-5 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

Maintaining the bouncy ballad style of the vocal sides of his records, Slim Rhodes here again stepped before the mike on ''Time Marches On'', and to render the philosophical statement penned by the little-known Gail Daniels, who also recorded the song for Gilt-Edge's parent label, 4-Star. Brad Suggs plays some dazzling guitar fills behind Slim's vocal.

02 - "TIME MARCHES ON*" - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Gail Daniels
Publisher: - 4-Star Sales
Matrix number: - 3970
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1950
Released: - 1951
First appearance: - Gilt-Edge Records (S) 78rpm standard single Gilt-Edge 5034 mono
TIME MARCHES ON / HOT FOOT RAG
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-1-6 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-7 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

Again it was probably more than a coincidence that on ''Hot Foot Rag'' bears a passing similarity to ''Hot Rod Race''. This is another powerful guitar-led piece by Brad Suggs who plays some jazzy licks that came from the Belgian gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, either direct or via the nifty descending runs of Arthur ''Guitar Boogie'' Smith.

03 - "HOTFOOT RAG" - B.M.I. - 2:22
Composer: - Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - 4-Star Sales
Matrix number: - 3971
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1950
Released: - 1951
First appearance: - Gilt-Edge Records (S) 78rpm standard single Gilt-Edge 5034 mono
HOT FOOT RAG / TIME MARCHES ON
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-1-5 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-6 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

''Memphis Bounch'', the second Gilt-Edge release contained another grabby instrumental theme, this time played in unison by the take-off guitar of Brad Suggs and the steel guitar of Danny Holloway. Suggs's solo has a hint of jazz, and he then settles into a riff on the bass strings through the steel and fiddle solos. This is music of some urbanity and charm, certainly in a different league from the hillbilly recordings Rhodes would make later on Sun.

04 - "MEMPHIS BOUNCE" - B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: - Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - 4-Star Sales
Matrix number: - 3972
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1950
Released: - March 1951
First appearance: - Gilt-Edge Records (S) 78rpm standard single Gilt-Edge 5026 mono
MEMPHIS BOUNCE / SIXTY DAYS
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-1-3 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-4 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ether Cletus ''Slim'' Rhodes - Vocal* and Guitar
Perry Hilburn ''Dusty'' Rhodes - Vocal* and Fiddle
Luther Bradley ''Pee Wee'' Suggs - Vocal** and Guitar
Gilbert Ray ''Speck'' Rhodes - Bass
Danny Holloway - Steel Guitar
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©