CONTAINS 1953 SUN SESSIONS
 
Studio Session for Willie Carr, 1952/1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Wally Fowler, Unknown Date/Year / Sun Records
Studio Session for Howard Seratt, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Luke McDaniel, January 13, 1953 / Trumpet Records
Studio Session for Rosco Gordon, January 1953 / RPM Records
Studio Session for Sun Spot Quartet, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Unknown Artist, Early 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Handy Jackson, January 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for The Prisonaires, Spring 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Lloyd Arnold (McCollought), February 24, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Joe Hill Louis, February 24, 1953 / Meteor Records
Studio Session for Jimmy DeBerry & Walter Horton, February 25, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Joe Hill Louis, Spring 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Rosco Gordon, March 1953 / RPM Records
Studio Session for Lloyd Arnold (McCollough), March 4, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Rufus Thomas, March 8, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for D.A. Hunt, March 11, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Doctor Ross, Probably March/April 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Big Memphis Marainey, April 19, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Dusty Brooks, April 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Jimmy DeBerry, May 16, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Joe Hill Louis, May 27-28, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Walter Horton, May 28, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Rudy Grayzell, Summer 1953 / Abbott Records
Studio Session for The Prisonaires, June 1, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Luke McDaniel, June 1953 / King Records
Studio Session for Shy Guy Douglas, June 1, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Joseph Dobbins & The Four Cruisers, June 3, 1953 / Chess Records
Studio Session for James Billy Gayles, June 13, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Junior Parker, June 18, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Theautry Tot Randolph, June 23, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Rufus Thomas, June 30, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Rufus Thomas, 1950s / WDIA Radio
Studio Session for The Ripley Cotton Choppers, July 11, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Boyd Gilmore, July 15, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Earl Hooker, July 15, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Pinetop Perkins, July 15, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Little Walker, July 15, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Little Milton, July 28, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Bonnie Turner, August 2, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Johnny O'Neal, August 2, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for The Prisonaires, August 3, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Junior Parker, August 5, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Earl Hooker, August 10, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Onie Wheeler, August 29, 1953 / Okeh Records
Studio Session for Mose Vinson, September 9, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Doctor Ross, October 3, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for The Prisonaires, October 17, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Rudy Grayzell, November 1953 / Abbott Records
Studio Session for Rudy Grayzell, 1953/1954 / Abbott Records
Studio Session for A.C. Moohah Williams, November 1953 / Starmaker Records
Studio Session for Onie Wheeler, November 22, 1953 / Okeh Records
Studio Session for Houston Stokes, December 4, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Charles White Jr., December 7, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for James Cotton, December 7, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Little Milton, December 23, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Houston Boines, December 23, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Howard Seratt, Late 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for David ''Honeyboy'' Edwards, Probably Late 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Albert Williams, Probably Late 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Vincent Duling, Late 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Unknown Artist, Probably End 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Buddy Blake Cunningham, Unknown Date(s) 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Hal Miller, Unknown Date 1953/1954 / Sun Records

Biography of Artists (See: The Sun Biographies)
 

1952/1953

For the rest of 1952 and early 1953 Ike Turner and his Kings Of Rhythm toured. They played Florida and may have recorded for Henry Stone in Miami but his remains unconfirmed. Ike was still contracted to the Biharis but this didn't stop him recording two singles at Sun in July and August 1953.

This year saw the growth of the buy now pay later mentality with car makers leading the way by allowing longer and longer periods to pay for your new car. Queen Elizabeth II crowned queen of England. The unions gained strength with more and more workers belonging to unions, with wage and price controls ended and unemployment at 2.9% the increases in standard of living continued to grow and appear to have no boundaries. A teachers average salary was $4,254 and a pound of round steak was 90 cents. The first color television sets appear selling for $1,175, and transistor radios start to appear for sale.


 
1953

Clyde McPhatter leaves the Dominoes after three years and 9 huge hits to form the Drifters   for Atlantic Records who will hit number 1 out of the box with "Money Honey" that summer.

The first clear evidence of soul music shows up with the "5" Royales, an ex-gospel group that   turned to racy rhythm and blues and in Faye Adams who's spiritual plea in a secular realm,   "Shake A Hand" becomes an immediate rhythm and blues standard.

Bill Haley changes his group's name to the more youthful Comets and writes the first white   rock hit, "Crazy Man Crazy", reaching #13 on the Top Billboard Charts in May, the highest   position for a rock song to date.

The Rhythm & Blues Charts begin to reflect the overwhelming dominance of emerging rock   and roll with such hits as Big Joe Turner's "Honey Hush", Johnny Ace's "The Clock" and Ruth   Brown's "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean". Only one pure blues record tops the chart   the entire year, a significant shift from past years when blues had a steady presence on   those charts.

15 million rhythm and blues records are bought in 1953, while that accounts for just 5% of   all records sold it begins to draw notice in the industry which fails to note the growing   interest among young white audiences that will soon have a major impact on society as a   whole.

1953

A great year for the sanguine stylings of vocalist Eddie Fisher, whom Coca-Cola offered the   unheard of sum of $1 million to be its corporate spokesman. Beloved by teens and older   folks alike, the pleasant-voiced tenor scored thirty-five songs in the Top 40 between 1950   and 1956. Along the way he would have five wives, including Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie   Reynolds. Also doing well this year were the immortal Les Paul, the guitarist and recording studio innovator (one of the first to use multi-track recording), and the demure sex kitten   singer Theresa Brewer.

1953

One year after its launch, Sun rides high in the rhythm and blues charts via Rufus Thomas'   "Bear Cat".

1953

Soon after graduating from high school in 1953, future Sun recording artist Harold Jenkins (aka Conway Twitty) went to Chicago to work on the line at International Harvester, supporting his first wife and their young son, Michael. The Philadelphia Phillies baseball club wanted him, but the U.S. Army wanted him more.
 

 

Rare Krazy Kat LP ''Memphis Blues: Unissued Titles From The 1950s'', 1985 >
 

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If nothing else, Willie Carr demonstrates the capriciousness of the music business. On the evidence of just one song, ''Outside Friend'', he was as good as many of the artists on Union Avenue who sustained careers in music. Instead, this is the only known recording. 


Researcher Bob Eagle asked around about Carr, finding out that he was in Greenville, Mississippi with Willie Love around 1950, and probably recorded ''Outside Friend'' for Sam Phillips in 1953 or 1954.  When Eagle asked Walter Horton about Carr, Horton replied that he'd seen him playing guitar around Grenada, Mississippi. That was in the early 1970s. Was it the same guy? From this distance, it's impossible to say.

STUDIO SESSION FOR WILLIE CARR
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1952/1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1952/1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM PHILLIPS

Willie Carr was good. A disciple of Sonny Boy Williamson perhaps, but a worthy one. Someone as good as Carr should have made records, and that alone shows the capriciousness of the business. What little we know of him is related in the artiest biographies, but we have no idea how or when he came to record this acetate at the Memphis Recording Service. Steve LaVere, who discovered the acetate, suggested 1952 or 1953. Without a band, he had to carry the show on his own, and doesn't miss a beat or leave much dead air. His vocal is finely shaded, and his song appears to be original. It first appeared on a 1985 Krazy Kat LP, ''Memphis Blues: Unissued Titles From the 1950's''.

01 - "OUTSIDE FRIEND" - B.M.I. - 2:02
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1952/1953
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Frazy Kat Records (LP) N33rpm Krazy Kat KK 7427 mono
MEMPHIS BLUES - UNISSIED TITLES FROM THE 1950s
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-9 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Willie Carr - Vocal & Harmonica

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STUDIO SESSION FOR WALLY FOWLER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE/YEAR
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM PHILLIPS

01 - "GONNA MAKE MYSELF AT HOME" - B.M.I. - 2:54
Composer: - Wally Fowler
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953
Released: - 2000
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16387-27 mono
SUN GOSPEL

In case you missed Fowler's 1940s mega-hit "Gospel Boogie", here is its first cousin. Recorded some 15 years after the original made the charts, the "Gospel Boogie" idea is still alive and kicking here. The brief guitar break here is a standout.

02 - "NOBODY'S LOOKING BACK" - B.M.I. - 2:02
Composer: - Wally Fowler
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953
Released: - 2000
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16387-18 mono
SUN GOSPEL

03 - "OLD ENOUGH TO DIE''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953

04 - "TWO COLD FEET''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953

05 - "FAITH''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953

06 - "DICKIE GREEN''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953

07 - "NOBODY'S LOOKIN' BACK''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953

08 - "MAKE MYSELF AT HOME''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953

09 - "SWEET CHARIOR''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953

10 - "DO YOU KNOW MY JESUS?''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953

11 - "MORE LIKE JESUS''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953

12 - "MY CHERIE''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1953

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Wally Fowler - Vocal
Unknown Musicians

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JANUARY 1953
 

 
JANUARY 1953

Sam Phillips recorded a young man just about his own age with one of the clearest and most beautiful voices Sam had ever heard. Howard Seratt was the twelfth of seventeen children, born on March 9, 1922,   and raised on a farm outside Manila, Arkansas, who had contracted polio before the age of two. Though he remained on crutches for the rest of his life, he never let his handicap limit him. He taught himself harmonica and guitar at an early age, sang in a hillbilly band during the war, and then, after a religious conversation, turned to spiritual music exclusively. Which was how a Forrest City disc jockey named Larry Parker discovering him, singing and accompanying himself in a church in Mariana, and was so struck by his talent that he got the idea of starting a record label just to put out records by Howard Seratt. So Larry brought Howard to Sam Phillips to record him, and they cut two titles, ''Make Room In The Life Boat For Me'' and ''Jesus Means All To Me'', which Parker put out on his newly formed St. Francis label. Sam had tried halfheartedly at that time to persuade Seratt to record some secular songs, but it was clear Howard was not going to deviate from his beliefs, and Sam was the last person in the world to try to impose his vision on another. In later years Howard Seratt was a highly skilled watchmaker, who owned Howard's Jewelry Store in San Jacinto, California. The local newspaper had written him up as Businessman of the week in March 1971, revealing the story of a well-liked pillar of the religious and business community, without even mentioning Howard's other career in music.


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STUDIO SESSION FOR HOWARD SERATT
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

The name Howard Seratt had been an intriguing imprint on the label of an obscure Sun 78rpm for some years. There had only been one Sun record because Sam Phillips had wanted Howard to reach a bigger market through singing country songs, and Howard's strongly-felt religious views had prevented him from taking that route. As far as other recordings, it turned out that two other songs had been recorded at Sun and issued on a custom label, St. Francis. In later years, Howard Seratt had made some more country gospel recordings in California, just for his own amusement.

01 - "MAKE ROOM IN THE LIFEBOAT FOR ME" - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Delmore Brothers
Publisher: - Sesec
Matrix number: - U 49
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1953
Released: - February 1954
First appearance: - St. Francis Records (S) 78rpm St. Francis 100 mono
MAKE ROOM IN THE LIFEBOAT FOR ME / JESUS MEANS ALL TO ME
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-3-1 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 – 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-2-5 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

From the very first harmonica notes it is clear that this is going to be no ordinary record. It is not that harmonica players were a rarity in the mid-South, for Howard Seratt is merely adapting the music of Lonnie Glosson and Wayne Raney who had been firm radio favorites for many years. Indeed, it was Wayne Raney's pals, the Delmore Brothers, who originated ''Make Room In The Lifeboat For Me'' recording it for Decca in 1940. It has more to do with the reassuringly solid execution of both guitar and harmonica styles and the convincing tone in which Howard delivers the moving lyrics. This recording was made in 1953 by Sam Phillips as a custom order for the short-lived St. Francis label of Forrest City, Arkansas. It would not be long before Sam Phillips would invite Howard back to record for Sun.

Howard Seratt actually recorded and released another single at his own expense, at the time of his first (and only) SUN release. The U-49 and U-50 matrix numbers and the vinyl trail-off etchings, shows that the record was manufactured at the same time and place as the SUN release. In fact, SUN 198 indeed has the words 'St Francis' etched into the trail-off grooves, indicating that it wasn't intended for SUN use.

02 - "JESUS MEANS ALL TO ME" - B.M.I. - 2:16
Composer: - Howard Seratt
Publisher: - Sesec
Matrix number: - U 50
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1953
Released: - February 1954
First appearance: - St. Francis Records (S) 78rpm St. Francis 100 mono
JESUS MEANS ALL TO ME / MAKE ROOM IN THE LIFEBOAT FOR ME
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-3-2 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 – 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-2-6 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959
From left: Red Caudel, Lead Guitar, Harmony Vocals; Travis Burkett, Bass Guitar, Harmony Vocals; Howard Seratt, Lead Vocals, Harmonica, Rhythm Guitar; Keith Clayton, Lead Guitar, Harmony Vocals >

On ''Jesus Means All To Me'', again adapting the harmonica style of Lonnie Glosson and Wayne Raney, this time at a brighter tempo, Howard Seratt leads into another deeply felt religious message that is so attractively delivered and yet so disarming as to momentarily convert even the most confirmed of atheists. 

It is at this faster pace that one can particularly see the reason why Sam Phillips was so taken with Howard's music and so anxious to open negotiations with him about the possibility of recording of some secular music.

As for the man himself, Howard Seratt turned out to be a highly skilled watchmaker who owned Howard's Jewelry Store in San Jacinto. The local newspapers had written him up as Businessman of the week in March 1971, revealing the story of a well-liked pillar of the religious and business community, without even mentioning Howard's other career in music.

 
"Another man from around that time was the crippled gospel singer, Howard Seratt", recalled Sam Phillips. "Now Howard had probably one of the best voices I've ever heard. But he would only do religious music and I just didn't have the market for that. I thought he was so good that I issued the record anyway".

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Howard Seratt - Vocal, Guitar and Harmonica

Howard Serett was a throwback to an earlier era. Sam Phillips still vividly recalls Seratt, a crippled country gospel singer from Manila, Arkansas. ''Oh that man! I never heard a person, no matter what category of music, could sing as beautifully. The honesty, the integrity, the communication... That unpretentious quality. His music just had a depth of beauty about it in its simplicity''. Phillips asserted that he would have loved to have recorded Seratt indefinitely, but Seratt remembers that there was a rider attached to that offer; he would have to record secular music, which he was unwilling to do.

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Roy Orbison forms the Wink Westerners with  High School friends James Morrow,  Charles Evans, Billy Pat Ellis in 1952 >

 
 
 
1953

By 1953 Roy Orbison and his band, got their own show on KERB sponsored by local  businessmen one day a week before school. The Wink Westerner's first appearance was at  one of the school assemblies. They were also featured on the KERB Jamboree on Saturday  afternoons with local Country & Western bands.

The first songs they played were "Kaw-liga",  "Mexican Joe", "Caribbean", and "Under the Double Eagle". But they were not only country,  little by little they began playing and making string arrangements for Big-Band standards and  instrumentals like "In The Mood" or "Little Brown Jug" as well as Pop standards. 

 
 
 
During the  summer, Orbison would work for the County shoving tar, or work in the oil fields chopping  steel or painting water towers. He used to be part of the marching band and singing octet,  and at some point or another tried to play the baritone horn. He even had become the  manager of Wink High school's Kittens football team in 1952.

The Orioles' "Crying in the Chapel" is the first black hit to top the white pop charts.

Leo Fender invents the Stratocaster guitar.

Sam Phillips or Marion Keisker records the first Elvis Presley record on July, in his Sun studio  of Memphis using two recorders to produce an effect of "slapback" audio delay.

The black market constitutes 5.7% of the total American market for records.

Vee-Jay Records is founded in Indiana, is owned by James and Vivian Bracken, specializing in  black music.

JANUARY 1953

By mid-January Sam Phillips and Jim Bulleit they were in business and  Sun Records is re-launched with the singles ''Got My Application Baby'' b/w ''Trouble (Will Bring You Down)'' Sun 177 by Handy Jackson; ''We All Gotta Go Sometime'' b/w ''She May Be Yours (But She Comes To See Me Sometime)'' Sun 178 by Joe Hill Louis and ''Baker Shop Boogie'' b/w ''Seems Like A Million Years'' Sun 179 by Willie Nix. Distribution is organized by Jim Bulleit, owner of Delta and J.B Records,  and former owner of Nashville-based Bullet Records.  Sam Phillips now ceases to record music for license to other labels and concentrates on developing Sun.

There was a moment when Sam Phillips was prepared to defer to Bulleit's more established name in the industry and wondered if they should call their new venture Bullet Records, but when he found out that the ''Bullet'' name was tied up by Bulleit's original partners, he wrote that after thinking it over, he believed ''Sun'' ''to be as good as any other label name we could conjure up and I, of course, have had the art work done and have got three electro-plates that we can use, and, then we can save $50..00 or $60.00 and too can get labels immediately''.

The initial release that Sam Phillips had in mind was going to be three solid blues efforts, the sides by Charles Thomas, a vocal and an instrumental by West Memphis blues personality Willie Nix, and two sides from Joe Hill Louis sessions with pianist Albert Williams and Nix on drums. At the last minute, though, Sam changed his mind. ''You will note that I have changed the flip side of Nix's number'', he wrote to Jim Bulleit on January 15, ''and put another vocal instead of the instrumental''. Also, instead of the Charles Thomas, he had decided to release ''a number by a boy I do not know'', Handy Jackson's ''Trouble (Will Bring You Down)'', a slow ''crying'' blues with a blurry overamplified sound that seemingly had little to recommend it other than Sam's instant and instinctive feeling for it. ''I really believe in this number'', he wrote to Bulleit immediately after recording it in the midst of a session that featured pianist and vocalist Gay Garth, following up several days later by stressing that Jackson, a singer with whom prior to the session Garth himself was altogether unfamliliar, was the one he was ''banking on''. Sun Records was reborn.

The next few weeks were a whirlwind of activity and practical advice. Jim Bulleit advised Sam Phillips to make sure he numbered his invoices consecutively, to be aware that while 78s remained the dominant format in the southern rhythm and blues marked, 45s were making rapid inroads and Sam should be prepared to start their manufacture in significant numbers at some point soon. Jim Bulleit offered to put Charles Thomas out on his own label if Sam liked, almost as if Sun and J-B Records were two branches of the same business. Jim educated Sam about the federal excise tax, a 10 percent surcharge on manufacturing costs that was a holdover from the war years and that added 4.2 cents to the cost of every record you pressed, regardless of how many you sold. Since Jim Bulleit was going to own the publishing on all of the songs they recorded, Sam Phillips should get a co-write on as many of them as possible. Jim and Sam needed to squeeze every penny that they could out of every record that they released if they wanted to survive. Jim could speak from experience, it was going to be a very tight squeeze.

JANUARY 1953

Teenager and future Sun recording artist, Narvel Felts had moved with his parents to Powe, Missouri in 1953 and he went to school in Bernie where, early in 1956, Felts was in a high school talent contest.

JANUARY 1, 1953 THURSDAY

Hank Williams dies in the backseat of his Cadillac on New Years Day. The circumstances of  Williams's death are still controversial. Many believe he died from a mix of alcohol and morphine.  Some have claimed that Williams was dead before  leaving Knoxville. Oak Hill is still believed to be the place where Williams died, but one of  the more plausible theories states that Williams died in his sleep about 20 to 30 minutes  before his car arrived in Oak Hill. There is a monument dedicated to his memory across the  street from the gas station where Carr sought help. The Cadillac in which Williams died is  now preserved at the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.

Justin Tubb attends the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, where the Texas Longhorns shut out the Tennessee Volunteers 16-0.

Marvin Rainwater writes ''Hearts Hall Of Fame''. The next day, it becomes the first song he recorded.

JANUARY 2, 1953 FRIDAY

Marvin Rainwater holds his first recording session, cutting his debut single, ''Hearts Hall Of Fame'', at the Ben Adelman Studio in Washington, D.C. The backing band includes Roy Clark on guitar.

JANUARY 4, 1953 SUNDAY

Hank Williams' funeral draws more than 20,000 people in Montgomery, Alabama. A country choir led by Webb Pierce, Red Foley, Little Jimmy Dickens and Carl Smith performs ''I Saw The Light''. Ernest Tubb offers ''Beyond The Sunset''.

JANUARY 5, 1953 MONDAY

Decca released Webb Pierce's twp-sided single, ''I'll Go On Alone'' backed by ''That's Me Without You''.

JANUARY 6, 1953 TUESDAY

Catherine Yvonne Stone is born in Montgomery, Alabama. In a protracted legal dispute as an adult, she proves she's the daughter of Hank Williams, by Bobbie W. Jett. She subsequently uses the stage name Jett Williams.

JANUARY 7, 1953 WEDNESDAY

The Presley's moved into a small house at 698 Saffarans Avenue (398 Cypress Street). It was a small apartment  house in which - for $52-a-month rent - they secured two downstairs rooms. It was easy to  understand why the living situation at 698 Saffarans Avenue depressed Elvis Presley. In  theory, 698 Saffarans Avenue was a step from Lauderdale Courts public housing because the  rent was higher and the Presley's no longer had to go through the ritual of qualifying for low-income  housing. The Saffarans Avenue apartment was disastrous. It was a small unit  desperately in need of paint, new plumbing, and adequate lighting. There were other  reasons for Elvis' unhappiness with his new surrounding. each morning he arose and  complained about the squalid sanitary conditions. The common bathroom was down the hall,  and Elvis Presley found it cold and dirty. The water was never hot and the bathtub was  always filled with hair. His experiences at this apartment created an aversion to bathing, and  Elvis Presley showered only when absolutely necessary. He cultivated the habit of  purchasing large bottles of Aqua Velva after-shave, and splashed the lotion all over his body.  The result was a disconcerting smell, a cross between body odour and lilacs. The real reason that the family moved was because, the income has rice to more than $4,000 annually, $1,500 above the limit to live in the public housing project.

Days after Hank Williams' death, Joni James recorded a hit pop version of ''Your Cheatin' Heart'' at the Universal Studios in Chicago.

JANUARY 8, 1953 THURSDAY

Elvis Presley's parents give him a $50 Lincoln for his 18th birthday. His mother doesn't know how to drive, and he becomes her chauffeur.

Just one week after Hank Williams' death, his window, Billie Jones Williams, blasts Hank's mother, ''She is trying to cheat me out of everything, but I think she will fail''.

One week after the passing of a legend, Jack Cardwell recorded the tribute hit ''The Death Of Hank Williams'' in Mobile, Alabama.

JANUARY 12, 1953 MONDAY

Kitty Wells recorded ''Paying For That Back Street Affair'', at the Tulan Hotel's Castle Studio in Nashville.

T. Texas Taylor recorded ''Bumming Around''.
 


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Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR LUKE MCDANIEL
FOR TRUMPET RECORDS 1953

RADIO WLAU STUDIO, LAUREL, MISSISSIPPI
TRUMPET SESSION: TUESDAY JANUARY 13, 1953
OVERDUB AT ACA STUDIO, HOUSTON, TEXAS
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – UNKNOWN

By now future Sun recording artist Luke McDaniel was appearing on local artist, Jack Cardwell's T.V. Show. Jack was already recording for King Records and ironically did have a hit with a Hank Williams tribute disc, "The Death of Hank Williams". Jack introduced Luke to producer Bernie Pearlman and later, Syd Nathan, the owner of King Records. Nathan signed Luke to King and the new partnership licked off with a very Hank Williams inspired session in June 1953. Recording for one of the biggest Independants certainly helped Luke to secure many more shows, along with radio and TV appearances all through the South.

01 - ''A TRIBUTE TO HANK WILLIAMS, MY BUDDY'' - B.M.I.
Composer: Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Goble Music
Matrix number: - DRC-127
Recorded: - January 13, 1953
Released: - January 1953
First appearance: - Trumpet Records (S) 78rpm Trumpet 185 mono
A TRIBUTE TO HANK WILLIAMS, MY BUDDY / THIS CRYING HEART
Trumpet 185 misnumbered as Trumpet 184.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Luke McDaniel - Vocal & Guitar
Bill Buckner - Guitar (Overdub)

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STUDIO SESSION FOR ROSCO GORDON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR RPM RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: PROBABLY JANUARY 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01 – ''I'M IN LOVE'' – B.M.I. - 2:46
Composer: - Rosco Gordon-Jules Taub
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - MM 1937
Recorded: - Probably January 1953
Released: - January 31, 1953
First appearance: RPM Records (S) 78rpm RPM 379-A mono
I'M IN LOVE / JUST IN FROM TEXAS
Reissued: - 1998 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 694-20 mono
ROSCO GORDON - THE BEST OF THE RPM YEARS 

02 – ''JUST IN FROM TEXAS'' – B.M.I. - 2:42
Composer: - Rosco Gordon-Jules Taub
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - MM 1936
Recorded: - Probably January 1953
Released: - January 31, 1953
First appearance: RPM Records (S) 78rpm RPM 379-B mono
JUST IN FROM TEXAS / I'M IN LOVE
Reissued: - 1998 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 694-19 mono
ROSCO GORDON - THE BEST OF THE RPM YEARS 

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rosco Gordon - Vocal & Piano
Probably The Beale Streeters:
Johnny Ace - Piano
Bobby Bland - Guitar
Billy Duncan - Saxophone
Earl Forrest - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
JANUARY 1953

Sun Records is re-launched with three blues discs. Sam Phillips now ceases to record music   for license to other labels and concentrates on developing Sun Records.

JANUARY 1953

A more concerted effort to break into the black gospel held was made by Sam's brother Jud,   who started the Sun Spot label In Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Some of the releases by the Sun   Spot Quartet carried a spoken introduction from Jud and were almost certainly recorded by   Sam in Memphis. Marion Keisker recalled that the label was launched at the time Elvis   Presley came into Sun to record his first personal disc, which would place it in 1953. There   were at least four releases on Sun Spot, and it may have been seen as a companion label to   Sun; but little more is known of the venture than the music contained on those records. 
 


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR SUN SPOT QUARTET
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM PHILLIPS
AND/OR JUD PHILLIPS

Although he has made far less of a mark on history than his brother, Jud Phillips was no stranger to the music business. Perhaps best known for his own Judd label (started in 1958), Jud was an essential part of Sun's earliest success, working behind the scene with disc jockeys and distributors. But before there was even a Memphis Recording Service, Jud Phillips was actively involved in gospel music. By the early 1950s, Jud and Dean Phillips were living in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Dean recalls, "We were both very involved with gospel music when we met and married. Jud was booking and MCing shows. He managed the Sun Spot Quartet and I played piano when they performed".
The Sun Spot Gospel Quartet, seated: Dean Phillips;  left to right: Jud Phillips, C.M. Lingle, Gerald Howell,  George West, Bill Wilson, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1951 >

Through his involvement with Sun, Jud had become familiar with the workings of the record business. Recording the Sun Spot Quartet seemed the next obvious step. However, brother Sam was skeptical about their sales potential. Undeterred, Jud started his own label, which bare the name of the Quartet. The choice of name seemed natural enough.

Sam already had an emerging record company (although still pre-Elvis) with a related name.  Perhaps equally important was the fact that Jud owned the Mississippi distributorship for Sun Spot Orange - an extremely popular soft drink in the south. The bottling plant that Jud's father-in-law had set up for him and working for the Petal Water and Sewer Company.  Dean Phillips notes, "They didn't finance the label at all, but they were quite happy to see the name of their product on those records".

 
 
01 - "ROUNDUP IN GLORY" - B.M.I. - 2:55
Composer: - V.B. "Vep" Ellis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - 1003-A - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1953
Released: - 2000
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16387-14 mono
SUN GOSPEL

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Dean Phillips - Vocal and Piano
Jud Phillips - Vocal
C.M. Lingle - Vocal
Gerald Howell - Vocal
George West - Vocal
Bill Wilson - Vocal
Dean Phillips, who played piano or organ on all the Sun Spot recordings, recalls a total of 16 sides being recorded at 706 Union and is certain that eight singles were released. The records were almost certainly pressed in very limited quantity and distributed largely in and around Mississippi. Numbering began with Sun Spot 1000 and - if Dean's recollection is correct - may have reached 1007, although 1005 is the highest number accounted for. There were no other releases on the Sun Spot label. Jud and Dean Phillips' involvement in gospel music did not end with Sun Spot. 
 
Several years later, Jud managed and Dean provided piano accompaniment for a Quartet featuring Troy Daniel and gospel legend Jake  Hess. Perhaps most intriguing about the Sun Spot records are the spoken introductions offered by Jud, himself. 
 
Not all selections included this feature, which provide a glimpse of Jud's MCing technique when the quartet was on the road. On this only track, which the entire personnel (including Jud's wife) was introduced. According to Dean, singer  George West was last known to be living in Jackson, Mississippi, and Gerald Howell in Nashville.
 
C.M. Lingle died a number of years ago and bass singer Bill Wilson passed away during the Fall of 1999, just a month before learning that his music from nearly half a century ago was to be reissued.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR UNKNOWN ARTIST
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE EARLY 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM PHILLIPS

In 1969, the Sun tapes were shipped from Memphis to Nashville. Some of the tapes boxes were falling apart and many of the old 7-inch tape reels were spliced together to create new 10'' reels. Some of the old reels were copied onto new reels as well. Teddy Paige of the Jesters did some of this work, as did researcher Steve LaVere. Someone copied an apparently unmarked tape with ''Got Me A Horse And Wagon'' and two other songs onto the end of a Houston Stokes reel. It was probably Paige who wrote ''Roscoe... good against Got Me A Horse And Wagon''. When Martin Hawkins and Colin Escott compiled the Sun discography in 1987, they didn't hear the tape and took their word for it, attributing this song to Gordon. Later, Martin and Hank Davis issued the song in their Blues Archive series on Charly Records and decided that, because the tape box said ''Rosco and Erskine'' and this song was on a reel with Houston Stokes, the singer must be Stokes' guitarist, Erskine McClellan. Now, on further review, there are several compelling reasons why this isn't from Stokes' session.

First, the ensemble is different... notably lacking a guitar; second, the musicians on this song are nowhere near as good as the slumming jazz men on Stokes' tape with McClellan; and third, Stokes' session was held in 1952 and this song talks about 1952 and maybe even 1953 in the past tense. Our current best guess is that LaVere and Paige were half right: it truly does sound like Rosco Gordon's band, and it even sounds as if Rosco himself might be on piano. Who is singing? We have no idea. Why didn't Rosco sing if it's band? Possibly because he was under contract to Duke or RPM. One certainly: this is a fine song that places an exclamation point at the end of the car song.

01 - "GOT ME A HORSE AND WAGON" - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Early 1953
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CD SUN 38 mono
THE SUN BLUES ARCHIVES - VOLUME 6 - TOO BLUE TO CRY  
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-3-32 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

Title previously assigned to Rosco Gordon and to Erskine McClellean.
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Unknown Artist - Vocal
Unknown Band
Possibly that of Rosco Gordon

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR HANDY JACKSON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE JANUARY 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Sun's false dawn in April 1952 produced just one commercial issued record and two intended releases that somehow never made it to the retail counters. Sun 177 was the second Sun record, issued at the end of January 1953 along with discs by Joe Hill Louis and Willie Nix. The flow of records ended fifteen years later in January 1968.

Frustratingly, there remains some mystery about the singer and about the attribution of both sides of this disc to Handy Jackson. Sam Phillips logged ''Got My Application'' by a man named Gay Garth, and in 1984 he told Martin Hawkins that he ''remembered'' Gay Garth as ''a local musician who had potential for making both blues and jazz''. Sam said that he ''did not recall'' Handy Jackson and, surprisingly, couldn't remember why the recording appeared as by Jackson. At first, he said Garth was Jackson, and then he said he wasn't sure. When Gaylord Garth was finally interviewed in 2004, he confirmed that he was indeed the singer and pianist on this song but he didn't know Jackson's name. He recorded ''Application'' with another song, ''Screamin' And Cryin''', at the end of the session where he was part of a band led by saxophonist Willie Wilkes, Garth and Wilkes were employed to back a singer who was not part of their band and whose name Garth had forgotten. 

01 - "GOT MY APPLICATION BABY" - B.M.I. - 3:05
Composer: - Sam Phillips-Handy Jackson
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 55 - Master
Recorded: - Unknown Date January 1953
Released: - January 30, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 177-A mono
GOT MY APPLICATION BABY / TROUBLE (WILL BRING YOU DOWN)
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-3 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

This was one of three Sun singles issued on January 30, 1953, as the re-launch programme. It features the typical over amplification of the rhythm section - and, like the first Sun release, showcases the music of a local artist of whom Sam Phillips thought highly. Sam recalled seeing potential for both jazz and blues in Handy Jackson (real name Gay Garth) although he could recall little else about the band, whose qualities are not fully obvious from his straightforward city blues. Jackson brings an appealing and anguished vocal to the slightly obscure lyric, and there is a plaintive quality to the saxophone work.

02 - "SCREAMIN' AND CRYING*" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date January 1953

There are several subtle differences between this newly-discovered alternate take of ''Trouble'', and its issued counterpart. The guitar is up in the mix on the issued version but almost inaudible here. After the sax break, Jackson changes his phrasing on ''getting late in the evening...''. On this version he adopts the sly insinuation of Percy Mayfield; he's more full-throated on the record. But we're still as much in the dark about who Handy Jackson was and how he happened to be at Sun in 1953. It certainly sounds like Johnny London on the screaming alto sax but London swears it's not him, as did Gaylord Garth, who played piano on the song. If the grave marked Handy Jackson that Jim O'Neal discovered in Leflore County, Mississippi holds our man, it holds the story of this recording, too.

03 - "(HAVE YOU EVER HAD) TROUBLE**" - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - Handy Jackson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date January 1953
Released: - March 8, 2013
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-9-1 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958
 
04 - "TROUBLE (WILL BRING YOU DOWN)**" - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Handy Jackson-Sam Phillips
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 56 - Master
Recorded: - Unknown Date January 1953
Released: - January 30, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 177-B mono
TROUBLE (WILL BRING YOU DOWN) / GOT MY APPLICATION BABY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-4 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

 After the trails of getting one record onto the marked in 1952, Sun was effective launched in January 1953 with three releases. This is the least known. Jackson was apparently a local bandleader who sings on "Trouble (Will Bring You Down". The vocal on "Got My Application Baby" however, is credited to one Gay Garth who may or may not be the same person. The other band members remain unidentified. They play in an earthier style than Johnny London, but still some way removed from the delta blues of Joe Hill Louis.

Piano leads off this slow blues song with some passion by Handy Jackson. An alto sax plays a florid obbligato throughout the song and struggles manfully through a solo chorus that is muddied by the rest of the band giving it what for in the middle register. The three verses struggle without success to avoid cliche: "I laid   awake last night watching the stars go by/our heart will ache with pain when your baby says goodbye". Although issued along side Joe Hill Louis relaunch’s Sun, Jackson never recorded again.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Handy Jackson - Vocal**
 Gay Garth - Vocal* and Piano
Willie Wilkins or Johnny London - Saxophone
Possibly - Robert Carter - Guitar
Possibly William Cooper - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 


Gaylord ''Gay'' Garth ''The Arkansas Belly Roller'' >


Handy Jackson is the name of the artist and songwriter shown on the label of Sun 177. Despite the fact that  his was one of the releases selected to relaunch the Sun label in January 1953, precious little is known about  Handy Jackson other than he was a local musician, who fronted his own tight rhythm and blues combo.  However, we do know now that the singer on one side of the disc was named Gay Garth and the rest of the story  is to be found under his name.

By coincidence, while exploring one of the graveyards in Leflore Country,  Mississippi, where Robert Johnson was allegedly buried (but apparently was not, given subsequent discoveries).  Than Jim O'Neal found a headstone for Handy Jackson, but according to census data he would have been 47 years old  at the time of the Sun disc. Several other people with the same name, can be found in censuses. Then again, just  possibly, the name could relate to the family of Al Jackson, who often played in Memphis at the Club Handy.
 
Gaylord ''Gay'' Garth for over five decades Gaylord Garth went about his business not knowing he had appeared on Sun  Records under anothers name, and for those same decades record collectors and music historians went about  their business not knowing that the singer on an ultra-rare disc credited to Handy Jackson was living and working  in Chicago, singing and playing weekends in night clubs on the South Side where he was known as ''The Arkansas  Belly Roller''. Then, fifty years after Garth's appearance in Sam Phillips studio and the release of Sun 177, ''Got  My Application Baby'' and ''Trouble (Will Bring You Down)'', there appeared a picture in Juke Blues magazine  captioned ''Gaylord Garth'', the Arkansas Belly Roller''. This just had to be the man Sam Phillips had entered into  his notebook as Gay Garth.

Sam Phillips' logbook gave Garth's name, his address in Memphis of 131 Essex Street, and noted that Garth had  recorded two songs on a 16 inch acetate. He did not record the date of the session but he did note that one of  the songs, ''Got My Application Baby'', was issued on January 30, 1953 on Sun 177 along with a different, third,  song titled ''Trouble'', after which he put the name Handy Jackson in brackets. When Sun 177 was pressed the  name of the performer on both sides was shown as Handy Jackson and there was no mention of Gay Garth at all.

So when Juke Blues arranged for Davis Whiteis to talk to Gaylord Garth about his former life in Memphis it meant  that all the mystery were about to be resolved, or were they? Garth remembered recording as a pianist with a  band behind another vocalist and he remembered making a couple of vocal tracks himself, but he didn't have any  idea who Handy Jackson was.

Gaylord Garth was born in Marianna, Arkansas on December 8, 1924 into a farming community. He told Whiteis he  picked cotton alongside M.T. Murphy, who later played guitar behind him many iconic blues singers and gained  latter-day fame through the Blues Brothers movie. In his teens Garth fooled around with the guitar and some  home-made instruments and then he learned to play piano while he was in the Navy in the mid-1940s. His  musical interest focused on Count Basie, Pete Johnson, Joe Turner, and Jimmy Rushing, ''not that gutbucket''  blues, he said. He remember coming to Memphis when he left the Navy, hanging out and playing with various  groups: ''I started music in 1949 after I got out of the Navy the first time. I had got so I could carry the piano  beat. I played C, G, and F, the keys I could play in''. He was playing with saxophonist Willie Wilkes at a club in  Marianna when B.B. King heard him play and apparently decided to add Garth to his emerging group. ''I stayed  with him a long time. I had joined the Naval (Reserve) and when the war started back up with Korea they called  me back in the Navy, that was 1951''.

Garth felt that he made his first recordings at Phillips' studio before he went back into the Navy, but he also said  of recording, ''I didn't know nothing about that stuff. I was dumb to the facts. I'd just gotten out of the Navy''.  That would place the session in late 1952 or January 1953 rather than 1950 or 1951. Whatever the date, Garth  was then pianist in a band with Willie Wilkes and he described the day, ''They didn't tell me we was going to a  session. I hadn't rehearsed nothing. We were just going to back up someone, someone who wasn't a regular  member of the band''. Then, he was asked to sing by a man he remembered as Billy Shaw of the New York  booking agency, ''just looking for the country style blues... (Shaw) said, 'we want to hear you' but I didn't have no  material''. As Shaw booked Rosco Gordon, it is at least possible that he was in Sam Phillips' studio the day Garth  was there. Garth said one of the songs he sang was made up during the session, a song he called ''Screamin''. Sam  Phillips noted that he had got ''2 number on 16 inch e.t. ''Got My Application'' and ''Screamin' And Cryin'''. When  Phillips issued ''Application'' at the end of January 1953 it was backed not by ''Sreamin''' but by Jackson's  ''Trouble'', and possibly this was the unremembered song and singer Garth had been asked to back up on piano at  the session? Garth felt that the other musicians on the session were Wilkes on tenor sax, Richard Williams on alto  sax, Robert Carter on guitar and William Cooper on drums.

Sometime in 1953 Garth moved to Gary, Indiana, but returned briefly to Memphis before moving to Chicago to  find work. He worked in a hospital kitchen and then a Ford dealership ''loadin' up trucks and all that'' where he  stayed until he retired. During the late 1950s and 1960s he led a small band in which he sang and played electric  piano. The band, the Gay-Tones, included saxophonist Ernest Cotton from Memphis who had recorded with Eddie  Boyd and Memphis Slim and made a disc in his own name on Chicago's JOB label. From the late 1960s onwards,  Garth gave up his group and just sat in as a guest musician, often on harmonica, and guest singer. He was also in  some demand to perform his trademark belly rolls, guaranteed to cause a stir among the ladies. In 2004 at a  Chicago area club, Lee's Unleaded, David Whiteis was still able to witness Garth and ''his impishly lascivious stage  act, primal harp squalls, and still potent baritone holler''. All these activities came to a halt on September 13,  2010 when Garth died in his adopted city of Chicago.
 

JANUARY 14, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Roy Rogers is the surprise subject of NBC-TV's ''This Is Your Life''. During the show, he's persuaded to sing ''Tumbling Tumbleweeds' with The Sons Of The Pioneers.

JANUARY 15, 1953 THURSDAY

''Winning Of The West'' debuts in movie theaters with a musical collaboration of future Country Music Hall of Famers, as Gene Autry songs written by Fred Rose and Cindy Walker. Seen on the screen, Smiley Burnette and Frankie Marvis

Columbia released George Morgan's ''(I Just Had A Date0 Lover's Quarrel''.

JANUARY 16, 1953 FRIDAY

Bill Monroe suffers 19 broken bones in a head-on collision in Highway 31 near White House, Tennessee. He still manages to get out of the car and pull another passenger, Bessie Lee Mauldin, out of the other side. Monroe is unable to tour until May.

JANUARY 17, 1953 SATURDAY

Less than two weeks after Hank Williams was interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama, his coffin is dug up and moved to a new site.

JANUARY 18, 1953 SUNDAY

Jim Reeves recorded his first single, ''Mexican Joe'' at the KWKH Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana.

JANUARY 19, 1953 MONDAY

Marty Robbins becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the same day he moves to Nashville from Arizona.

The Memphis draft board added Elvis Presley's name to the bottom of it's list on January 19, 1952. Eleven days after his 18th birthday, Presley, then in his last year of Humes High School in Memphis, fulfilled his legal requirement to register for selective service. It's doubtful that the action concerned Elvis much at the time, as he knew there were thousands of names on the draft board's register that would be called before his.

The double-sided card stock "Selective Service" number is 40-86-35-16 and was signed by Elvis Presley and Crace F. Martony in blue ink. Card issued to Elvis Aron Presley at 698 Saffarans in Memphis, Tennessee. Lists birthdate of Jan. 8, 1935 and birthplace of Tupelo, Miss.   Back of the card lists personal information: brown hair, green eyes, height of 5"11" and weight of 150. Selective Service number ''40-86-35-16''. The card is 2 1/2x3 3.4 inches.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated as the United States president during January of 1953. Republican Eisenhower and his running mate Richard Nixon defeated Democrat Adlai Stevenson with a total of 442 electoral votes to 89 and a popular vote of 55.2 percent to 44.3 percent. Eisenhower had previously been known for his service as a five-star general during World War II, eventually becoming the Supreme Allied Commander. He also acted as a Chief of Staff for the Army under President Truman, the governor of U.S. occupied Germany after WWII, the president of Columbia University and the Supreme Commander of NATO forces. During his two-term presidency he was credited with creating the U.S. highway system, strengthening Social Security, easing tensions with the U.S.S.R., creating NASA, helping to fully desegregate the Armed Forces, and signing some of the first modern civil rights laws.

Dorothy Shay, the Park Avenue Hillbilly, performs at one of Dwight Eisenhower's inaugural balls in Washington, D.C. Sid Caesar, Fred Waring and Abbott and Costello also perform for an audience that includes vice president Richard Nixon.

JANUARY 20, 1953 TUESDAY

Coral released Tommy Sosebee's only country hit, ''Till I Waltz Again With You''.

JANUARY 1, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Sam Phillips had barely had time to settle into the new house at 1028 McEvers Circle in Memphis. It was the first house he had ever owned, purchased for a little more than $10,000, with $2,000 he had been able to set aside from his Chess Records hits serving as the down payment. It was a modest gabled bungalow with a small front porch and an attached garage in a postwar Levittown-like development out by Kennedy veterans' hospital, the same neighborhood in which he and Becky had lived when they first moved to Memphis and boarded briefly in that nice lady from Sheffield's home. There were just two bedrooms and a single bathroom at the end of the hall, and it sat on a corner lot, giving them a nice yard, but for Becky it would not have mattered if it had been more modest by far. It was their first real home. 

JANUARY 24, 1953 SATURDAY

Carl Perkins married Valda Crider from Corinth, Mississippi. They moved to a government   housing project in Jackson, Tennessee as the children started appearing. However, Valda  encouraged Carl to work on his music and try for a career in entertainment. Her support has  nourished Perkins though a long career as a musician and through many bouts with the  bottle and self doubt. In fact, it was Val who heard a record on the radio that would alter the  course of Perkins' career.

Just weeks after his death, Hank Williams hits number 1 with the prophetic ''I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive''.

JANUARY 26, 1953 MONDAY

Lucinda Williams is born in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Her laidback snapshots of Southern life make her a significant figure in the alternate country movement. She also writes Mary Chapin Carpenter's mainstream-country hit ''Passionate Kisses''.

Joe and Rose Lee Maphis sign with Columbia Records.

JANUARY 27, 1953 TUESDAY

Keyboard player Lee Carroll is born in Glasgow, Kentucky. Carrol replaces Marlon Hargis in Exile in 1985, contributing to such hits as ''It'll Be Me'', ''She's Too Good To Be True'' and ''I Can't Get Close Enough''.

Hank Thompson recorded a version of Bill Carlisle's ''No Help Wanted'' at radio station WKY in Oklahoma City.

Singwriter Tom Douglas is born in Atlanta, Georgia. He authors such hits as Lady Antebellum's ''I Run To You'', Tim McGraw's ''Southern Voice'' and Miranda Lambert's ''The House That Built Me''.

JANUARY 29, 1953 THURSDAY

Drummer Louie Perez is born in East Los Angeles. He joins Los Lobos and co-writes ''Will The Worlf Survive'', a country hit for Waylon Jennings in 1986.

JANUARY 30, 1953 FRIDAY

Less than a month after his death, MGM released Hank Williams' ''Your Cheatin' Heart'' and ''Kaw-Liga''.

After  Sun Records is re-launched three singles were released on this day, just two weeks after the partnership with Jim Bulleit had informally commenced. Despite Sam Phillips' strong feeling about it, the Handy Jackson (Sun 177) passed almost unnoticed, by both the marketplace and posterity. The two that accompanied it, however, Joe Hill Louis' ''She May Be Yours (But She Comes To See Me Sometimes) (Sun 178) and Willie Nix, The Memphis Blues Boy's ''Seems Like A Million Years'' (Sun 179) were everything that Sam Phillips had ever promised himself he would deliver.

The Joe Hill Louis record was not dissimilar to other Joe Hill Louis sides, reflecting both his singular strengths and his endearing weaknesses. It was the product of two sessions, November 17, 1952 and December 8, 1952, in which Louis' guitar and harmonica took the lead, but Willie Nix's drums on ''She May Be Yours'', and Albert Williams' piano on both sides, provided a rhythmic solidarity that Joe could not always summon in his more commonplace one-man-band setting. Both sides showcased the unique joie de vivre of Sam Phillips' first discovery (actually, as Sam himself would have pointed out, Joe Hill Louis was a clear case of the artist discovering him), but it was the A-side, ''She May Be Yours'', a medium-tempo boogie with a heavy beat, squalling harmonica solos, and the rough vocal bleeding purposefully through the harmonica mike, that revealed the way in which even when much of what Joe sang was taken from traditional sources, it reflected, Sam said, something ''very personal to him''

The Willie Nix numbers were even more distinctive, as befitted a proud free spirit referred to by one fellow bluesman as ''a little aviatic''. The single was the product of an October 2, 8, 9, 1952 session which Sam had originally submitted to Chess and presented the same quartet format as the Joe Hill Louis , only this time requiring two musicians (Nix's versatile guitarist, Joe Willie Wilkins, and seventeen-year-old harmonica player James Cotton, another West Memphis regular, who had already recorded for Sam Phillips with Howlin' Wolf to fill in for Louis' guitar-harmonica combination.
Jay, Carl and Clayton Perkins >

THE PERKINS BROTHERS BAND - There can be little doubt that Carl's older brother Jay and  his younger brother Clayton would never have thought of a career in music had it not been  for constant badgering from Carl. He wanted a backup group, and his two brothers were the  prime candidates.  The choice of venues available to the brothers was limited, virtually confined to church  socials and honky-tonks, the Perkins Brothers Band gravitated naturally toward the latter. 
 
Jay Perkins handled some of the vocals, singing in a rough-hewn voice modeled on Ernest  Tubb's. But it was Carl who was both principal vocalist and lead guitarist.  By 1954 their  repertoire included a fair of sampling of hillbilly standards: ''Always Late (With Your Kisses'',  Jealous Heart'', ''Honky Tonk Blues'', and the inevitable ''Lovesick Blues''; there was also a  little pop music, in the shape of ''I'll Walk Alone'', and a pointer toward the future ''Carl's  Boogie''. Thousands of bands in similar dives across the the mid-South were playing an  identical repertoire. From among their number, the Perkins Brothers Band found themselves  at the top of the pop charts two of years later.

The reason revolves around Perkins himself and the nature of his music. By 954 he had  evolved a unique style, not pure honky-tonk music but a hybrid that borrowed much in  terms of feeling, phrasing, and rhythm from black music. ''I just speeded up some of the slow  blues licks'', said Carl. ''I put a little speed and rhythm to what Uncle John had slowed down.  That's all. That's what rockabilly music or rock and roll was to began with: a country with a  black man's rhythm. Someone once said that everything's been done before - and it has. It's  just a question of figuring out a good mixture of it to sound original''.

The honky-tonks were also a good glace to experiment Mistakes would go unnoticed, and by  listening to the audience Perkins could determine the type of music that went over best.  One of his first moves was to bring in a drummer. Drums, of course, were forbidden on the  Grand Ole Opry, but Perkins decided that he needed them to reinforce the rhythm and keep  it danceable. His first drummer, Tony Austin, lasted no more than a few gigs in 1953. He was  replaced by W S. ''Fluke'' Holland, originally from Saltillo, Mississippi, who had gone to school  in Jackson with Clayton Perkins. Not only did he show real promise, he was able to buy a set  of Brecht drums and - just as important - a reliable automobile for the group. Holland  frequented many of the black nightclubs in town because, as a drummer working in country  music, he had few role models.

With a steady backbeat maintained by the bass and drums, Perkins would accentuate the  rhythm by hitting the bass strings of his electric guitar while he sang. He also developed the  technique of singing and playing fills around his vocal, in the manner of a blues singer. Like  most singers, Perkins was looking for a compatible lead guitarist who would complement his  work with tasty fills, and he found the most compatible lead guitarist of all in himself. He  would use the little runs on the guitar as extensions of his vocal lines, working a dialogue  with himself, scatting a line and then completing it with a lick on the guitar. His finesse was  probably wasted upon most of his clientele, but Perkins evidently did not care. He worked  hard on his music, for he saw in it a deliverance from an otherwise bleak future as a barely  educated country boy trying to scratch out a living in Jackson.

Between 1953 and 1955 most of Perkins' income came from working at the Colonial Bakery  in Jackson. The honky-tonks paid only two or three dollars a night, but they enabled the  Perkins brothers to practice their music and cultivate their drinking habits at minimal cost.  ''I would mix beer with whiskey'', wrote Perkins in his autobiography (published by an  evangelical publishing house), ''and, with soul on fire, I'd stand on the table tops striving for  the attention I thought my music deserved. The booze was free at most of the places I  played at and it eased the pressure. My intentions seemed good. I wanted to try and help the  drunks, give them some happiness, maybe a little hope. But I was in the Devil's playground  and it wasn't long before some old boy would shout, 'Gíve that Carl another drink and he'll  really pick and sing'''.
Ebony Magazine pictured warden James Edwards checking paperwork with songwriter Robert Riley (right) in 1953 >

SPRING 1953

The singing group that became the Prisonaires was formed sometimes after 1940, the year  that tenor singer Ed Thurman and baritone singer William Stewart were sentenced to join  the inmates of the Tennessee State Penitentiary in north east Nashville.

By May 6, 1953,  when 17 year old Johnny Bragg was sent there with multiple life sentences for rape.  Thurman and Stewart were leading one of several loosely aggregated and nameless singing  groups whiling away their time in the Pen.

Bragg was a budding tenor himself but it was a  little while before Thurman asked him to join the group, several years before Bragg became  the lead tenor, and several more before the group had a name.  Bragg later told researcher  Bill Millar ''I joined a group back in 1944, and I didn't know too much about background  singing at the time...
 
... but I just went in there and started singing, and the people who had  said I didn't know about singing, they said you know everything' …and I became the lead  tenor singer. I guess it was just a gift from God''.

Johnny Bragg's biographer, Jay Warner, asserts that Bragg was born on May 6, 1926 though  his Penitentiary records said January 18, 1925. Bragg himself once said it was in 1929 and  then told Bill Millar ''I was born right here in Nashville on Herman street back in 1932''. He  told Colin Escott his birth was never registered and that he used details from a brother's  birth certificate. Census date for 1930 lists Bragg as aged four years to his brothers' six and  seven years. Johnny's mother had complications with his birth and she died as he was  delivered. He told Millar, ''I was born blind and I stayed blind for seven years and they tell  me that the doctors used to sit me on top of the tables and I'd sing to the doctors''. He  gained a keen appreciation of sound and his interest in singing dates back to that time. He  said: ''The first music I believe I ever tried to sing was a song called blue heaven, you know  ''My Blue Heaven'' baby made three and Molly and me and so on.. and there was another  song called 'What you gonna do when the rent man come around back in the Depression  days, you know... The greatest thing that really influenced me to want to do something was  the Ink Spots, Bill Kenny... his voice was sweet, kind, you could understand everything he  was trying to say''.

Living his early life with relatives, Bragg apparently spent his time alternately doing  neighbourly deeds and running and fighting with a local gang. He attended school in north  Nashville, just a few blocks from the penitentiary, as far as sixth grade but he told Warner, ''I  didn't get much education. I didn't care anything about it. Fr as I'm concerned, eduction  wasn't nothing, you know, just a thing called Joe''. Instead, music was his thing, as far as  anything constructive was.

Education or not, Johnny Bragg had developed a real interest in composing songs by the time  he joined the prison group. He would practice them day and night, memorably singing with a  bucket over his head to focus the sound and reduce the voice for others. For some years he  stored songs in his head until he was ready to share them with his fellow singers but by early  1950s he would have them written out properly by other inmates such as black trumpeter  George Williams. He also spent time with another maturing songwriter, Robert Riley, and it  was Riley who collaborated with him on his signature song, ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' was  being written in 1953 two events combined to start the improbable sequence of events that  unfolded for the not-yet-named prison singing group.

This now comprised Bragg, Thurman, and Stewart along with another tenor, John Drue, and  bass singer Marcell Sanders. The first event was the election of Frank Clement as Governor  of Tennessee, and the other was a visit to the prison by radio producer Joe Calloway and  recording engineer and publisher Red Wortham.

Frank Clement was a reforming Democrat who appointed James Edwards as warden of the  Penitentiary with an enlightened plan to connect prisoners with their local community, to  encourage rehabilitation as much as punishment, and to improve the prison's image.  Clement and Edwards took up their respective jobs in January 1953 and within a few months  had invited local radio producer Joe Calloway of WSIX to come into the penitentiary to make  a programmed promoting their vision of prison life. One of the things they stage-managed for  Calloway was a performance by Bragg and his group in the dining hall. Calloway was duly  impressed and arranged to include the group in broadcasts from the prison that showcased  the talent of prisoners. He then agreed with the warden that the group would travel under  guard to the studio of WSIX in Nashville to give a weekly radio show.

Calloway did something else, too. He contacted a recording engineer and promoter, Red  Wortham. According to Wortham: ''I had a little recording studio at Fourth and Union and it  was right around the corner from radio WSIX where the disc jockeys were my friends. A  jockey named Joe Calloway stopped by the studio one day in 1953 and wanted me to go to  the prison. He said 'we got a group out there that sings real good and I think you need to go  and listen to those boys because they're good'. He came actually two or three times and I  didn't go. But the third time I went out there with Joe when he was broadcasting a show by  prisoners from the stage of the auditorium they had out there. I said to them Í like what you  do and I'll come out and record you'. So I went in there with a Magnecord tape machine and  we made recordings with the idea to get them out on records''.

For all this, the group needed a name and it was now that ''the prisoners'' became The  Prisonaires. Johnny Bragg said that he named them although Red Wortham told me: ''They  didn't call themselves the Prisonaires then. I was the one that named them the Prisonaires.  They had another name they were using. I can't remember, but it was a name that was  already taken. Someone else had that name so we couldn't use that for records. Joe  Calloway, he is the man that is responsible for Johnny Bragg and The Prisonaires because if  he hadn't taken me out there nobody would have known about them''.

JANUARY 31, 1953 SATURDAY

New single of Rosco Gordon ''Just In From Texas'' b/w ''I'm In Love'' (RPM 379) released.

JANUARY 31/ FEBRUARY 1, 1953 SATURDAY/SUNDAY

The 1953 North Sea flood (Dutch: Watersnoodramp, literally "flood disaster") was a major flood caused by a heavy storm that occurred on the night of Saturday, 31 January 1953 and morning of Sunday, 1 February 1953. The floods struck theNetherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland.

A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm tide; the combination of wind, high tide, and low pressure led to a water level of more than 5.6 metres (18.4 ft) above mean sea level in some locations. The flood and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding. The Netherlands, a country with 20% of its territory below mean sea level and 50% less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) above sea level and which relies heavily on sea defences, was worst affected, recording 1,836 deaths and widespread property damage. Most of the casualties occurred in the southern province of Zeeland. In England, 307 people were killed in the counties of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Nineteen were killed in Scotland. Twenty-eight people were killed in West Flanders, Belgium.

Another more than 230 deaths occurred on water craft along Northern European coasts as well as on ships in deeper waters of the North Sea. The ferry MV Princess Victoria was lost at sea in the North Channel east of Belfastwith 133 fatalities, and many fishing trawlers sank.

Realising that such infrequent events could recur, the Netherlands particularly, and the United Kingdom carried out major studies on strengthening of coastal defences. The Netherlands developed the Delta Works, an extensive system of dams and storm surge barriers. The UK constructed storm surge barriers on the River Thames below London and on the River Hull where it meets the Humber estuary. The North Sea flood of 1953 kills 1,835 people in the southwestern Netherlands.

 


 

 

 

Members of the incarcerated musical group the Prisonaires, Nashville, Tennessee, 1953 >

A newscaster on Nashville's WSIX, Joe Calloway, was at the Tennessee State Penitentiary when he heard the Prisonaires and arranged for them to perform on the station. He brought them to the attention of producer Red Wortham who taped the group and pitched them to Sam Phillips via their mutual partner, Jim Bulleit. Pat Boone was also on WSIX at the time hosting a Saturday morning show called ''Youth On Parade'' with Joyce Paul.

In a figurative act of revenge for his future cover versions of rhythm and blues songs, the Prisonaires were taped over Boone, who can be heard between songs.  The tape made its way to Sam Phillips and was mistakenly used as the master on some early 1970s reissues when the original master couldn't be found.

Although not a Sun recording here. Johnny Bragg's vocal on the released version was a little more orotund, but the recordings were otherwise...
 
 
...very close, suggesting that the Prisonaires had put their plentiful rehearsal time to very good use, working and reworking every syllable and nuance.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR THE PRISONAIRES
FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

TENNESSEE STATE PENITENTIARY, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
OR POSSIBLY WSIX RADIO STUDIO, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE SPRING 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – RED WORTHAM 

01 - "JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN"* - 2 - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Robert Riley-Johnny Bragg-Buddy Killen
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  Unknown Date Spring 1953
Released: - March 8, 2013
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-8-1 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

The first unissued take is one of their earliest, a version of ''Baby Please'' that probably comes from the first tape Red Wortham recorded to tout around the record companies. The song was re-recorded by Sam Phillips with an added bluesiness provided by the electric guitar and drums of Joe Hill Louis and issued as the A-side of the group's first Sun disc. This version we hear retains William Stewart's quieter acoustic guitar backing the softly pleading vocal that prevailed when the song was first conceived by its writer, Robert Riley, and realized by the group. The lead singer here is John Drue who may well have been considered the main vocalist in the group in the days before ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' became a hit. A different alternative version previously issued by Bear Family has Drue opening with ''Darlin' please''.

''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' was a song Johnny Bragg had written just months earlier with the help of Robert Riley, a more musically organized fellow inmate but not a member of the group.  According to Johnny Brag, ''Well, I called myself a singer. I'm not going to say I was a singer. I tried to sing. One day it was raining heavy, and me and Robert Riley was walking to the laundry, and Bob said, 'Johnny, I wonder what the little girls are doing now'. And I said, 'I don't know what the little girls are doing, but we better hurry and get out of this rain'. And I started singing that song. Now Riley was a smart man, I wasn't too smart myself, just had a little talent, and we put some more lyrics to it. In fact, we had a lot of lyrics. I couldn't write mine down, I ain't had no education, see? I just had that talent. Ain't that strange?''.

02 - "BABY PLEASE"** - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Robert S. Riley
Publisher: - Warner Chappell Music Limited
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Spring 1953
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-23 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - ONLY BELIEVE

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Tenor Vocal*
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal
John Drue - Lead Tenor Vocal**
William Stewart - Baritone Vocal and Guitar
Marcell Sanders - Bass Vocal

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 
FEBRUARY 1953
 

 
FEBRUARY 1, 1953 SUNDAY

Red Foley recorded ''Hot Toddy''.

FEBRUARY 2, 1953 MONDAY

Songwriter Gilbert Becaud has a son, Gaya Becaud, in France. When the boy is six, his father scores a hit as The Everly Brothers recorded ''Let It Be Me''. The song is also a country success for Glen Campbell and Bobbie Gentry and for Willie Nelson.

FEBRUARY 6, 1953 FRIDAY

Lefty Frizzell recorded ''(Honey, Baby, Hurry) Bring Your Sweet Self Back To Me'' during a late-night session at the Jim Beck Studio in Dallas, Texas.

FEBRUARY 7, 1953 SATURDAY

Marty Robbins debuts on the Grand Ole Opry,   at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee,   performing ''Ain't You Ashamed'' and ''Good Night Cincinnati, Good Mornin' Tennessee''.

FEBRUARY 9, 1953 SUNDAY

Decca released T. Texas Tyler's ''Bumming Around'' and Kitty Well's ''Paying For That Back Street Affair''.

FEBRUARY 10, 1953 MONDAY

A judge in Los Angeles approves the reworking of 14-year-old Jimmy Boyd's contract. The decision allows producer Abner Greshler to receive 50% of the boy's recording profits through January 23.

FEBRUARY 12, 1953 THURSDAY

Songwriter Taylor Rhodes is born. He plays drums for the Earl Scruggs Revue for two years in the late-1970s before going on to write pop hits for Aerosmith and Celine Dion.

FEBRUARY 13, 1953 FRIDAY

Hank Snow recorded ''Spanish Fire Ball'' and ''For Now And Always'' at Thomas Productions in Nashville, Tennessee.

FEBRUARY 15, 1953 SUNDAY

Gene Autry joins Bing Crosby and Molly Bee on the Ed Sullivan-hosted CBS variety show ''Toast Of The Town''.

FEBRUARY 17, 1953 TUESDAY

Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper recorded ''Are You Walking And A-Talking For The Lord'' at the Castle Studio in Nashville. It ranks among country's 500 greatest singles in the Country Music Foundation book ''Heartaches By The Number''.

FEBRUARY 18, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Carl Smith recorded ''Orchids Mean Goodbye'', ''Do I Liked It?'', ''Trademark'' and ''Just You Wait 'Til I Get You Alone'' during the afternoon at Nashville's Castle Studio.

FEBRUARY 20, 1953 FRIDAY

Columbia released Marty Robbins' ''I Couldn't Keep From Crying''.

FEBRUARY 21, 1953 SATURDAY

Autry Inman recorded ''But That's All Right''.

The late Hank Williams registers a number 1 country single in Billboard with ''Kaw-Liga''.

FEBRUARY 22, 1953 SUNDAY

A benefit concert in Louisville raises $9,000 for Bill Monroe who broke 19 bones in a January car accident. Among the artists on the bill, Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Red Foley, Lew Childre, Carl Smith and Mother Maybelle Carter and The Carter Sisters.

FEBRUARY 23, 1953 MONDAY

Decca released Red Foley's ''Hot Toddy'' and Capitol released Hank Thompson's ''No Help Wanted''.
 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

A raw December wind sent an icy chill through the tall, lean young man who stared longingly at the   mandolin in the display window of the music store. Just a few more dollars saved from odd jobs and   sacrificed lunches and that fine instrument would be his. He pulled his collar closer about his throat and  turned wistfully homeward. The year was 1950, the place was Memphis, Tennessee and the young man was   Lloyd Arnold McCollough. At this point Lloyd had a lifetime ahead of him and he could imagine the   possibilities that a mandolin could bring. Twenty years later the pressure of a touring musician had begun to   take it’s toll. But, let’s not go ahead of time, the story of Lloyd Arnold, who became a pioneer of early   Memphis music, began many years earlier.

Lloyd Arnold McCollough, born in Memphis, Tennessee on June 25, 1935, was the youngest child of John   and Clemmie McCollough. He suffered from meningitis as a child, but recovered. During high school he   wanted to become a professional baseball player, but was also interested in music, and Hank Williams, Sr.   was his idol. He learned to play the mandolin he received for Christmas in 1951 and decided to become a   musician.

With his brother Jimmy (bass), his niece Geneva (vocals), Curley Raney (fiddle) and a friend named Grady   (steel guitar), he founded his first band, the Drifting Hillbillies. McCollough and his group appeared on   Saturday Night Jamboree, a barn dance show in Memphis on WHBQ, and soon became members. Backstage  he met a young Elvis Presley.

McCollough also appeared on Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour and played at events in Memphis. His   brother Jimmy married and left the group, and was replaced first by Buddy Holly (not the well-known Buddy   Holly and then by Bobby Howard).

In 1954, he graduated from high school and married in the summer of that year. The marriage did not last   long. In Booneville, Mississippi, he bought a record store and became a business partner of Charles Bolton.   Their new record label released the group's debut single, "Watch That Girl'' b/w ''Oh Darling''. Hayden  Thompson and Johnny Burnette recorded their first titles on the same label.

After several unreleased recordings, he published his second single on Meteor Records in January 1956. In   the following years McCollough recorded for many different labels, including Republic, Starday, and   Memphisk. In 1963, he released a single under the name of Lloyd Arnold. His last session was in 1971.  McCoullough's father John died in 1968, two years later his mother followed him. Failing health and years of   fighting meningitis he lost the battle on January 10, 1976.

STUDIO SESSION FOR LLOYD ARNOLD (MCCOLLOUGH)
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: FEBRUARY 24, 1953 TUESDAY
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM PHILLIPS

During 1953 and 1954 Lloyd and his band recorded several demos and acetates at the newly opened   Memphis Recording Service, at 706 Union Avenue. During the nineties thirteen of these acetates were relocated   by re-searcher Jim Cole, employed by the University of Memphis.

During those fun filled days, Lloyd and the Drifting Hillbillies had a great time performing at such places as   ''The Old Dominion Barn Dance'', ''The Renfro Valley Barn Dance'', ''Red Foley’s Ozark Jubilee'' and the   ''Louisiana Hayride''. In January of 1955 they performed at the ''Hillbilly Festival'' for WRBL-TV in  Columbus, Georgia. In February and March they were in Little Rock, Arkansas at the ''Barnyard Frolic'' and   in December they played ''The Big D Jamboree'' in Dallas, Texas. That same year he hosted another weekly   radio program, for WBIP in Booneville, Mississippi.

01 – ''OH, IF I HAD YOU'' – B.M.I.
Composer: - Lloyd McCollough
Publisher: - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Acetate
Recorded: February 24, 1953
Released: - Sun Unissued

02 – ''YOUR MEAN OLD HEART'' – B.M.I.
Composer: - Lloyd McCollough
Publisher: - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Acetate
Recorded: February 24, 1953
Released: - Sun Unissued

03 – ''YOU WIN AGAIN'' – B.M.I.
Composer: - Hank Williams
Publisher: - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Acetate
Recorded: February 24, 1953
Released: - Sun Unissued

04 – ''I'M SORRY NOW'' – B.M.I.
Composer: - Hank Williams
Publisher: - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Acetate
Recorded: February 24, 1953
Released: - Sun Unissued

Name (Or. No. of Instruments)
Lloyd Arnold McCollough – Vocal and Guitar
The Drifting Hillbillies consisted of
Curley Rainey – Fiddle
Geneva McCollough – Vocal and Guitar
Jim McCollough – Upright Bass
Grady – Steel Guitar

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

The release of Joe Hill Louis under the name Chicago Sunny Boy would not have fooled Sam Phillips for one minute, even if it did baffle researchers years later. Its release in April would mark the beginning of the end of Louis' relationship with Phillips, who had worked hard with him during November and December 1952 to come up with a powerful double-header for the planned Sun relaunch. Louis was another artist caught in the middle of the Modern-Chess wars, as Phillips had sent a coupling to Chess during the previous July, at which point he moved away from his one-man-band format to full-band format. 

Modern had at first dug back to earlier recordings, before resorting to recording him in the field for what would be his last release on the label. For his Sun sessions Louis had, like Walter Horton and so many others taken Little Walter's lead and recorded with heavy amplification on the harmonica.

Joe Hill Louis Meteor session in February 1953 returns to a one-man-band format and is the second focal point of his recordings. It was recorded during a Modern trip and not by Lester Bihari himself as has sometimes been speculated. On return to the West Coast on March 18, 1953, very anonymous bass and drums were overdubbed to the four sides slated for release. This addition basically only served to dilute the south. The original undubbed recordings are here.

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIOM SESSION FOR JOE HILL LOUIS (CHICAGO SONNY BOY)
FOR METEOR RECORDS 1953

METEOR RECORDING STUDIO
1746 CHELSEA AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
METEOR SESSION: TUESDAY FEBRUARY 24, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - PROBABLY LESTER BIHARI
 
 01(1) – "AT THE WOODCHOPPER'S BALL (JACK POT)" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Woody Herman-Joe Bishop
Publisher: - Chelsea Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - 1973
First appearance: -  Polydor Records (LP) 33rpm Polydor 2383-214-B-4 mono
BLUE IN THE MORNING

 01(2) – "AT THE WOODCHOPPER'S BALL (JACK POT)" - B.M.I. - 2:05
Composer: - Woody Herman-Joe Bishop
Publisher: - Chelsea Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - 2001
First appearance: - Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCHD 803-25 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - BOOGIE IN THE PARK

02 – "BOOGIE (ON THE FLOOR)" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Unissued/Tape Lost
Recorded: - February 24, 1953

03 – "BOOGIE (TWISTING AND TURNING)" - B.M.I. - 3:06
Composer: - Jules Taub-Sam Ling
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - 1962
First appearance: - Crown Records (LP) 33rpm Crown CLP 5240 mono
HOWLIN' WOLF SINGS THE BLUES
Reissued: 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCHD 803-21 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - BOOGIE IN THE PARK

Exceptionally fine are two further instrumentals (originally logged as ''Boogie'' and ''Boogie No. 2'') which eventually came out on the Howlin' Wolf Crown LP as ''Twisting And Turning'' and ''Backslide Boogie'' respectively. The rock solid ''Twisting And Turning'' has never been on CD and it is a more deliberate and superior take to that original issued as ''On The Floor'' on the rare second Meteor 78. A glance at the discography reveals that the undubbed version of this take no longer exists while ''She Broke Up My Life'' is the correct title for ''She Got Me Walkin''. This title had been assigned to another take of the same song, which now only exists as a fragment due to tape damage.

04 – "I LOVE MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - 1973
First appearance: -  Polydor Records (LP) 33rpm Polydor 2383-214-B-5 mono
BLUE IN THE MORNING
Reissued: 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCHD 803-23 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - BOOGIE IN THE PARK

05 – "WESTERN UNION MAN" - B.M.I. - 3:07
Composer: - John Lee Williamson
Publisher: - Wabash Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - 1  970
First appearance: - Kent Records (LP) 33rpm Kent LP 9002-B-2 mono
ANTHOLOGY OF THE BLUES - MEMPHIS BLUES - ARCHIVE SERIES - VOLUME 2
Reissued: 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCHD 803-22 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - BOOGIE IN THE PARK

06 – "SHE GOT ME WALKIN' (SHE BROKE UP MY LIFE)" - B.M.I. - 3:15
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - 1995
First appearance: P-Vine Records (CD) 500/200rpm P-Vine PVC 22002 mono
GOTTA BOOGIE BABY
Reissued: 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCHD 803-26 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - BOOGIE IN THE PARK

07 – "KEEP AWAY FROM MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - 1995
First appearance: P-Vine Records (CD) 500/200rpm P-Vine PVC 22002 mono
GOTTA BOOGIE BABY
Reissued: 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCHD 803-24 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - BOOGIE IN THE PARK

08 – "GOOD MORING LITTLE ANGEL" - B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - John Lee Williamson
Publisher: - Georgia Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - Ace Records (LP) 33rpm Ace LP CHA 216 mono
THE FIFTIES - JUKE JOINT BLUES
Reissued: 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCHD 803-27 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - BOOGIE IN THE PARK

''Good Morning Little Angel'' is a pretty weak adaption of Sonny Boy's ''School Girl'' but this Meteor session still finds Joe in absolute top form with wonderful cohesion between the instruments. It occupies a unique place in his discography as the only full one-man-band session recorded with amplified harp.

09 – "BOOGIE (BACKSLIDE BOOGIE)" - B.M.I. - 3:00
Composer: - Jules Taub-Sam Ling
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - 1962
First appearance: - Crown Records (LP) 33rpm Crown CLP 5240 mono
HOWLIN' WOLF SINGS THE BLUES
Reissued: 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCHD 803-28 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - BOOGIE IN THE PARK

None of the above session was released in its original form at the time. The session below were issued as by Chicago Sunny Boy. MR 5012 omitted the first 12s and faded the track earlier. These version will be included on a forthcoming Ace collection of the original Meteor Blues and Rhythm and Blues singles.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joe Hill Louis - Vocal, Guitar, Hi-Hat, Bass Drums, Harmonica
Ford Nelson - Piano
  
OVERDUB SESSION 
UNIVERSAL RECORDERS, LOS ANGELES, MARCH 18, 1953
RECORDED UNDER PSEUDONYM CHICAGO SONNY BOY
 
01 – "JACK POT" - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Woody Herman-Joe Bishop
Publisher: - Chelsea Music Publishing
Matrix number: - 5012
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - April 1953
First appearance: - Modern Records (S) 78rpm standard single Meteor 5004-A mono
JACK POT / WESTERN UNION MAN
Reissued: - 2006 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCH2-2-10 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR BLUES, RHYTHM AND BLUES & GOSPEL RECORDINGS
 
 ''Jack Pot'' is actually Woody Herman's ''At The Woodchopper's Ball'' and Joe's superb performance was indicated as such on the tape box. Two takes exist with both equally meriting inclusion, but the shorter previously unissued and looser alternate take heard here (see above).
 
02 – "ON THE FLOOR" - B.M.I. - 2:59
Composer: - Les Louis
Publisher: - Meteor Publishing
Matrix number: - MR 5013
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - April 1953
First appearance: - Modern Records (S) 78rpm standard single Meteor 5008-A mono
ON THE FLOOR / I LOVE MY BABY
Reissued: - 2006 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCH2-2-16 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR BLUES, RHYTHM AND BLUES & GOSPEL RECORDINGS

03 – "I LOVE MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - Les Louis
Publisher: - Meteor Publishing
Matrix number: - MR 5014
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - April 1953
First appearance: - Modern Records (S) 78rpm standard single Meteor 5008-B mono
I LOVE MY BABY / ON THE FLOOR
Reissued: - 2006 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCH2-2-15 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR BLUES, RHYTHM AND BLUES & GOSPEL RECORDINGS

''Western Union Man''/''Jack Pot'' as by Chicago Sonny Boy was a good seller but would have been of unlikely long-term value to Joe's career. The pseudonym, which even fooled researchers for years, suggests that his contract with the Biharis had by this rime ended. 

04 – "WESTERN UNION MAN" - B.M.I. - 3|:08
Composer: - John Lee Williamson
Publisher: - Wabash Music
Matrix number: - MR 5015
Recorded: - February 24, 1953
Released: - April 1953
First appearance: - Modern Records (S) 78rpm standard single Meteor 5004-B mono
WESTERN UNION MAN / JACK POT
Reissued: - 2006 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCH2-2-9 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR BLUES, RHYTHM AND BLUES & GOSPEL RECORDINGS
 
Additional Drums and Bass Overdubbed

Joe Hill Louis returned to Sun a couple of moths later to cut scintillating versions of his two most commercial songs, ''Tiger Man'' and ''Hydramatic Woman'' with a band including Walter Horton on harmonica but no release at the time resulted.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JIMMY DEBERRY & WALTER HORTON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 25, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Jimmy and Walter recorded three numbers, including an instrumental. For his part, Sam Phillips had mastered tape delay to create reverb, and the increment of tape delay seems to increase in tandem with the intensity of Horton's performance. Shimmering blue perfection. Truly a masterpiece. as well as the first known Sun release be to pressed on both 78 and 45rpm. Sam Phillips was high on this release, judging by his check register. two days after this session, he was running off dubs to send out to disc jockeys. It seems that he hand-delivered a bud to Eddie Teamer at WHHM because he charged back the cigarettes he gave Teamer. On March 2, he mailed out another four dubs in advance of finished copies.

01 – "EASY" - B.M.I. - 2:56
Composer: - Walter Horton
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 61 - Master
Recorded: - February 25, 1953
Released: - March 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 180-A mono
EASY / BEFORE LONG
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-9 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

One of the most erroneously-titled performance of all time. Walter Horton demonstrates total control here as he climbs the harp's register to blow a harsh passage as the tune's bridge, whilst Jimmy Dewberry tidies up behind him and throws in the occasional fill. In places the harmonica sounds more like a sax, belying the cheapness of the harp Walter is playing - but what impress most are the perfect timing and the sheer breadth of his musical ideas. No matter how many times you hear this one it still possesses the power to take the breath away - and like all true masterpieces, there is a poise and sense of rightness to each and every contributory element. Truly a masterpiece.

02 - "BEFORE LONG" - 1 - B.M.I. – 2:55
Composer: - Jimmy Dewberry
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 62 - Master
Recorded: - February 25, 1953
Released: - March 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 180-B mono
BEFORE LONG / EASY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-10 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Although credited to "Jimmy & Walter", the latter must have been taking five when this side was cut. In fact, this track serves to refute Sam Phillips' assertion (made to musicologist David Evans) that he never got a good cut out of Jimmy DeBerry. Perhaps Phillips thought he heard something in a demo or audition session that DeBerry never quite recaptured - but surely the blues comes no pure than this marvelous recording. Without prompting, Marion Keisker remembered these lines thirty years after DeBerry had sung them: "Woman I love   dead and in her grave/woman I hate, I see her everyday". If ever one needed evidence that the blues was indeed folk poetry, they need look no further than this (mind you, its probably worth adding that Big Joe Williams had used several of the same lyrics years earlier in "Meet Me In The Bottom"). The recording is spare, but DeBerry's performance is masterful: it is a beautifully poised country blues, vocal and guitar meshing perfectly with rudimentary support from Houston Stokes on drums. Not a note or vocal inflection is wasted.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Walter Horton - Harmonica
Jimmy DeBerry - Vocal and Guitar - 1
Houston Stokes - Drums
 
Walter Horton & Jimmy DeBerry, Memphis, August 29, 1972 >
 
Horton was fronted one dollar to buy a harmonica and was paid another three dollars for the session; Jimmy DeBerry was given two dollars, Houston Stokes five together with another seventy-five cents to haul his drums home in a cab.
 
With the minimal and often shaky support of DeBerry, Horton played the same theme five times, with mounting intensity. By the fourth chorus, he was playing with such ferocity that his harmonica sounded like a tenor saxophone. 
 
Sam Phillips' virtuosity with tape delay echo was rarely used to better advantage; he made three instruments sounds as full as an orchestra. Any other instrument would have been redundant. Sam Phillips saw promise in Horton's guitarist, Jimmy DeBerry, who had done some recordings before the War. "Before Long" the flip side of "Easy", was DeBerry feature. It showcase his laconic delivery and barely proficient playing. Like Jimmy Reed, however, who never rose above bare proficiency, DeBerry...
 
 
...had an ear for   haunting couplets and an element charm that transcended his technical limitations. Some of this glimmered through on "Before Long": "Woman I love dead and in her grave, woman I hate, I see her every day".
 
Before Long's more immediate forebear, though, was Tony Hollins' 1951 Decca recording of ''I'll Get A Break''. Hollins was a barber in Clarksdale and later in Chicago whose ''Crawlin' King Snake'' was an influential recording from ten years earlier when he also made ''Married Woman Blues'', another song the the ''before long'' refrain. None of this subtle or not-so-subtle plagiarism devalues BeBerry's record. It's spartan, even for 1953, but the performance is masterful. He crafted a beautiful poised country blues, vocal and guitar meshing perfectly with rudimentary support from Houston Stokes on drums. Not a note or vocal inflection in wasted; no other instrument is required.
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
FEBRUARY 25, 1953 WEDNESDAY

''Old Overland Trail'' appears in movie theaters, featuring Rex Allen, Slim Pickens and The Republic Rhythm Riders, including Woodwind player Darol Rice. Also in the cast future ''Star Trek'' actor Leonard Nimoy.

Pop singer Juanita Curiel is born. She joins the trio Hot, whose 1977 hit ''Angel In Your Arms'' is covered by Barbara Mandrell for a 1985 country single.

FEBRUARY 27, 1953 FRIDAY

Ernest Tubb and Red Foley recorded ''No Help Wanted #2'' in the afternoon at the Tulane Hotel's Castle Studio in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jimmy Heap recorded ''Release Me'' in Texas.
 

 
MARCH 1953
 

 
MARCH 1953

The singles, Sun 180 ''Easy b/w Before Long'' by Jimmy & Walter and Sun 181 ''Bear Cat'' b/w ''Walkin' In The Rain'' by Rufus Thomas are released at the end of the month..

Once again Sun 180 it featured Walter Horton, this time as half of a duo billed as Jimmy and Walter and made up of himself and guitarist Jimmy DeBerry, with Houston Stokes helping out sparingly on drums. The A-side ''Easy'' was a harmonica instrumental that in anyone else's hands might have seemed little more than a harmonic restatement of Ivory Joe Hunter's 1950 blues standard, ''I Almost Lost My Mind''. With Walter's genius for tonal variation, however, it embraced a shimmering new palette, as verse follows lyrical verse, sounding at first, with its full rounded vibrato-laden tone, as if the harmonica is coming from inside the bottle, then gradually taking on additional force and meaning until, with a mix of reverb, angry squalls, and sheer volume, the lyrical gives way for a moment to a mood almost of aggression, then subsides once again, though not altogether, to the pure beauty of its original inspiration. There is no bridge, just a compact turnaround at the end of each verse, and Jimmy DeBerry's unamplified guitar could not play more uncomplicated blues changes throughout, but the effect id riveting, seeking, in Sam's uncompromising terms, to capture no more and no less than unfettered self-expression.

The other side, ''Before Long'', opens with the same unamplified guitar and in some ways offers much the same affect, except this time there is no Walter Horton, with Jimmy DeBerry's delicate, somewhat wobbly vocal substituting for the harmonica. Once again the presentation could not be simpler, the message could not be more intimate. ''I worked all the summer / And all the fall / Gonna spend Christmas / In my overalls. But I'll get a break, Somewhere, Before long''. It was Marion Keisker, quoting the lyrics from memory, ''a perfect example of the twelve-bar blues''. But she recognized, too, that its utter simplicity, its sound of unforced intimacy, was not in any way a matter of chance. It was a product of Sam Phillips trying to make every record as perfect as it could possibly be. Not perfect in the usual conventional terms, perfect on its own terms. What Sam was after, as he told her over and over, as he told anyone who would listen, was perfection of feeling, not perfection of technique.

Earl Peterson, later to recorded for Sun Records, joins WFYC radio in Alma, Michigan. He also starts the Nugget record label with Mrs. Pearle Lewis (his mother).

MARCH 2, 1953 MONDAY

Bonnie Lou recorded ''Seven Lonely Days'' in Cincinnati.

MARCH 3, 1953 TUESDAY

Alvyce King, of The King Sisters, is widowed with the death of husband Sydney DeAzevedo. The Kings had a 1946 country hit with a remake of ''Divorse Me C.O.D.''.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR LLOYD ARNOLD (MCCOLLOUGH)
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MARCH 4, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM PHILLIPS

During 1953 and 1954 Lloyd and his band recorded several demos and acetates at the newly opened   Memphis Recording Service, at 706 Union Avenue. During the nineties thirteen of these acetates were relocated   by re-searcher Jim Cole, employed by the University of Memphis.

During those fun filled days, Lloyd and the Drifting Hillbillies had a great time performing at such places as   ''The Old Dominion Barn Dance'', ''The Renfro Valley Barn Dance'', ''Red Foley’s Ozark Jubilee'' and the   ''Louisiana Hayride''. In January of 1955 they performed at the ''Hillbilly Festival'' for WRBL-TV in  Columbus, Georgia. In February and March they were in Little Rock, Arkansas at the ''Barnyard Frolic'' and   in December they played ''The Big D Jamboree'' in Dallas, Texas. That same year he hosted another weekly   radio program, for WBIP in Booneville, Mississippi.

01 – ''THE WORLD'S LONELY WITH YOU'' – B.M.I.
Composer: - Lloyd McCollough
Publisher: - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Acetate
Recorded: March 4, 1953
Released: - Sun Unissued

02 – ''A WORD FROM GOD'S HELPER'' – B.M.I.
Composer: - Lloyd McCollough
Publisher: - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Acetate
Recorded: March 4, 1953
Released: - Sun Unissued

03 – ''GONNA WIN YOUR LOVE AGAIN'' – B.M.I.
Composer: - Lloyd McCollough
Publisher: - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Acetate
Recorded: March 4, 1953
Released: - Sun Unissued

04 – ''I GOT A FEEL FOR LOVE '' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Lloyd McCollough
Publisher: - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Acetate
Recorded: March 4, 1953
Released: - Sun Unissued

Name (Or. No. of Instruments)
Lloyd Arnold McCollough – Vocal and Guitar

The Drifting Hillbillies consisted of
Curley Rainey – Fiddle
Geneva McCollough – Vocal and Guitar
Jim McCollough – Upright Bass
Grady – Steel Guitar

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 STUDIO SESSION FOR JOE HILL LOUIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SPRING 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Joe Hill Louis had been the session guitarist on "Bear Cat" and its success naturally him to think up a new angle on the song. He probably saw his new song as a hit for himself, making two recordings of "Tiger Man" around May 1953, a demo with unknown piano and drums and a more finished version with Albert Williams playing piano and Walter Horton on harmonica along with an unknown drummer. Louis carries the first version on guitar and sings in a restrained manner. He breaks out much more on the second version his vocal is more to the while the others carry the instrumental lead. Louis second version is here for comparison with the tour de force Rufus Thomas recorded just a few weeks later.

01(1) - "TIGER MAN (KING OF THE JUNGLE" - B.M.I. – 2:56
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis-Sonny Burns (Pseudonym Sam Phillips)
Burns is the maiden name of Phillips wife, Becky (Rebecca)
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Demo - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Spring 1953
Released: - 1969
First appearance: - 1969 P-Vine Records (LP) 33rpm PLP 304 mono
THE BE-BOP-BOY
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15524-13 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - THE BE-BOP BOY

01(2) - "TIGER MAN (KING OF THE JUNGLE)" - B.M.I. - 3:14
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis-Sonny Burns (Pseudonym Sam Phillips)
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - With Count-In - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Spring 1953
Released: - 1 992
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15524-22 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - THE BE-BOP BOY
Reissued:  - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-20 mono
RUFUS THOMAS – THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joe Hill Louis - Vocal and Guitar
Albert Williams - Piano
Walter Horton - Harmonica
Willie Nix – Drums

Joe returned to Sun a couple of months later to cut scintillating versions of his two most commercial songs -  ''Tiger Man'' and ''Hydramatic Woman'' with a band including Walter Horton on harmonica but no release at the  time resulted.

A mystery version of the latter song by Louis with a full rhythm and blues band was eventually  released by 4-Star on their Big Town subsidiary in 1954. Clearly taken from an old acetate, it is very likely an  earlier version sent by Phillips to Don Pierce at 4-Star during the time of their earlier dealings. All that would follow during Joe's tragically short life would be two chaotic 1953 sessions held at a radio station with George  Lawson's band for Henry Stone's Rockin' label - followed by an unissued session for Johnny Vincent the next  year. Later on, there was a strange record on Vendor (taken from a radio broadcast) and a very rocking 1957  record on House Of Sound, which proved that Joe Hill Louis's talent was still intact for the talented producer  who could capture it - just as Sam Phillips had done.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR ROSCO GORDON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR RPM RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: PROBABLY MARCH 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01 – ''TOMORROW MAY BE TOO LATE''' – B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Jules Taub
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - 1957
Recorded: - Probably March 1953
Released: - May 16, 1953
First appearance: - RPM Records (S) 78rpm RPM 384-A mono
TOMORROW MAY BE TOO LATE / WE'RE ALL LOADED
Reissued: - 1998 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 694-21 mono
ROSCO GORDON - THE BEST OF THE RPM YEARS

02 – ''WE'RE ALL LOADED (WHISKEY MADE ME DRUNK)''' – B.M.I. - 3:13
Composer: - Jules Taub
Publisher: - Modern Music
Matrix number: - 1958
Recorded: - Probably March 1953
Released: - May 16, 1953
First appearance: - RPM Records (S) 78rpm RPM 384-B mono
WE'RE ALL LOADED / TOMORROW MAY BE TOO LATE
Reissued: - 1998 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 694-22 mono
ROSCO GORDON - THE BEST OF THE RPM YEARS

03 – ''WHY DO I LOVE YOU BABY'' – B.M.I. - 3:02
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably March 1953
Released: - 1998
First appearance: -  Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 694-23 mono
ROSCO GORDON - THE BEST OF THE RPM YEARS

04 – ''THROWIN' MY MONEY AWAY'' – B.M.I. - 3:22
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably March 1953
Released: - 1998
First appearance: -   Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 694-24 mono
ROSCO GORDON - THE BEST OF THE RPM YEARS
 
 Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rosco Gordon - Vocal & Piano
Probably The Beale Streeters:
Johnny Ace - Piano
Bobby Bland - Guitar
Billy Duncan - Saxophone
Earl Forrest - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR BIG MAMA THORNTON
FOR PEACOCK RECORDS 1952

STUDIO, RADIO RECORDERS, 7000 SANTA MONICA BOULEVARD, HOLLYWOOD
PEACOCK SESSION: THURSDAY AUGUST 13, 1952
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER: JOHNNY OTIS & DON ROBEY

Note: Some sources say that the song was recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, however, Johnny Otis said on several occasions "Hound Dog" was cut in Houston.

STUDIO AUDIO COMPANY OF AMERICA, 
5520 WASHINGTON AVENUE, HOUSTON, TEXAS
RECORDING ENGINEER - BILL HOLFORD

Session priority has been given to historical content.

01 - "HOUND DOG" - B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller-Johnny Otis
Publisher: - Lion Publishing Corporation
Matrix number: - 2258
Recorded: - August 13, 1952
Released: - 1953
First appearance: - Peacock Records (CS) 78rpm single Peacock 1612 mono
HOUND DOG/THEY CALL ME BIG MAMA
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-17 mono 
RUFUS THOMAS – THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Willie Mae Big Mama Thornton - Vocal
With the Johnny Otis Orchestra
(credited as Kansas City Bill & Orchestra)
Devonia Williams - Piano / Albert Winston - Bass
Leard Bell - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
WILLIE MAE "BIG MAMA" THORNTON - (December 11, 1926-July 25, 1984) was an American rhythm and blues  singer and songwriter. She was the first to record the hit song "Hound Dog" in 1952.  The songs was a number 1 on the Billboard Rhythm And Blues Charts for seven weeks. The B-side was "They Call  My Big Mama", and the single sold almost two million copies.  Three years later, Elvis Presley recorded his version, based on a version performed by Freddie Bell and the  Bellboys. In a similar occurrence, she wrote and recorded "Ball 'N' Chain", which became a hit for her. Janis  Joplin later recorded "Ball and Chain", and was a huge success in the late 1960s.

Willie Mae Thornton was born in Montgomery, Alabama. Her introduction to music started in the Baptist church.  Her father was a minister and her mother was a church singer. She and her six siblings began to sing at a very  early age. Thornton's musical aspirations led her to leave Montgomery in 1941, after her mother's death, when  she was just fourteen, and she joined the Georgia-based Hot Harlem Revue. Her seven-year tenure with  the Revue gave her valuable singing and stage experience and enabled her to tour the South.
 
 
In 1948, she  settled in Houston, Texas, where she hoped for further her career as a singer. Willie Mae was also a self-taught  drummer and harmonica player and frequently played both instruments on stage.

Thornton began her recording career in Houston, singing a contract with Peacock Records in 1951. While  working with another Peacock artist, Johnny Otis, she recorded "Hound Dog", a song that composers Jerry Leiber  and Mike Stoller had given her in Los Angeles. The record was produced by Johnny Otis, and went to number one  on the rhythm and blues chart. Although the record made her a star, she saw little of the profits.

She continued to record for Peacock until 1957 and performed with rhythm and blues package tours with Junior  Parker and Ester Phillips. In 1954, Thornton was one of two witnesses to the death of blues singer Johnny Ace.  Her career began to fade in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She left Houston and relocated to the San Francisco  Bay Area, where she mostly played local blues clubs.

In 1966, Thornton recorded "Big Mama Thornton With The Muddy Waters Blues Band", with Muddy Waters.  Thornton's last album was "Jail" (1975) for Vanguard Records. It vividly captures her charm during a couple of  mid-'70s gigs at two northwestern prisons. She became the talented leader of a blues ensemble that features  sustained jams from Georgia "Harmonica" Smith, as well as guitarists B. Huston and Steve Wachman, drummer  Todd Nelson, saxophonist Bill Porter, bassist Bruce Sieverson, and pianist J.D. Nicholas.

Thornton performed at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival in 1966 and 1968, and at the San Francisco Blues  Festival in 1979. In 1965 she performed with the American Folk Blues Festival package in Europe.

During her career, she appeared on stage from New York City's famed Apollo Theater in 1952 to the Kool  Newport Jazz Festival in 1980, and she was nominated for the Blues Music Awards six times.

On July 25, 1984, Willie Mae Thornton died in Los Angeles of heart and liver complications, probably brought on  by years of alcohol abuse which had reduced the onetime 350-pound "Big Mama" Thornton to a mere ninety-five  pounds. Johnny Otis conducted her funeral services, and she was laid the rest in the famous Inglewood Park  Cemetery, along with a number of notable people, including entertainment and sports personalities.

As an influence over the music and musicians which followed her, her importance cannot  be overstated. Her name and legacy will forever remain the very greatest of blues  legends. Thornton's mighty voice, take-no-guff attitude, and incendiary stage  performances influenced generations of blues and rock singers and carried on the tradition  of tough "blues mamas" like Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie, and Ma Rainey.
 

MARCH 5, 1953 THURSDAY

Singer/songwriter Aaron Baker is born in Texas. Barker writes such George Strait hits as ''Baby Blue'', ''Easy Come, Easy Go'' and ''Love Without End, Amen'', plus Lonestar's ''What About Now'' and Clay Walker's ''You're Beginning To Get To Me''.

MARCH 6, 1953 FRIDAY

Singer/guitarist Phil Alvin is born in Los Angeles, California. He acts as frontman for The Blasters, a major influence on the blues, rockabilly and country genre. He also Supports Joe Walsh and Steve Earle on ''Honey Don't'' in the Beverly Hillbillies soundtrack.

MARCH 7, 1953 SATURDAY

Patsy Cline marries Gerald Cline in Frederick, Maryland.

Rock drummer Kenny Aronoff is born. After establishing himself with John Mellencamp, he plays on country hits by Travis Tritt, Willie Nelson and Jake Owen,

MARCH 8, 1953 SUNDAY

Rhythm and blues artist Rufus Thomas recorded ''Bear Cat'' at the Memphis Recording Studio. Producer Sam Phillips, who wrote the song, subsequently gets used for stealing the melody from ''Hound Dog''.
 
It would be eleven months before Rufus Thomas was back at Phillips' Memphis Recording   Service, and this time the output would be on a hometown record label. Phillips had in fact   toyed with his Sun label throughout 1952 and he had tried and failed with the country blues   and nightclub saxophone instrumentals. Now he had a new partner - in Jim Bullet, an   experienced record man from Nashville who know how to sell records - and a new style to   sell in the form of a novelty rhythm and blues song about a Bear Cat. Phillips figured that the  song was just right for the extrovert gravel voiced Rufus Thomas, (Rufus supported his family working five days a week in a textile mill from 6:30 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon) ever since his last session on April 21, 1952. Chess Records had released three singles on Rufus Thomas from the recordings Sam Phillips had submitted, but none of them had clicked, and Sam was convinced it was simply because he hadn't yet found Rufus the right material.

Rufus Thomas was more of an entertainer along the lines of a Louis Jordan than a straight blues singer, something brought home to Sam Phillips when he Rufus saw him perform his comedy and dancing routine ''Rufus and Bones, with Robert ''Bones'' Couch as the opening act  for the ''Rocket 88'' Saturday/Sunday show at the Handy Theatre on the weekend of 7-8 April in 1951. With his gruff Louis Armstrong-influenced voice, quick wit, and eye-popping antics, he was the perfect candidate to reply to the harsh accusation Big Mama Thornton had thrown out in her song, this time leveling them a a ''bossy woman'', but Rufus balked at the idea at first. For one thing, he had never heard the expression Sam had found to give the song both its theme and title. Just what, he asked, was a ''bear cat'' when it came to male-female relations? Sam said he wasn't sure about Memphis, but this was a common phrase in the part of Alabama where he had grown up. Sam said, ''Rufus, hell, you don't know what a damn bear cat is? That's the meanest goddamn woman in the world''.
 


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 STUDIO SESSION FOR RUFUS THOMAS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY MARCH 8, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Quite a piece of history here. Big Mama Thornton's record "Hound Dog" appeared in stores in March, 1953, "Rabbit's Foot Minstrel" Rufus Thomas, a star disc jockey at WDIA in Memphis, was in as good a position as anyone to know what a smash it was going to be. Within days he was in the Sun studio recording an answer record. By the end of the month his "Bear Cat" was in stores. Even Billboard was impressed. "This is the fastest answer yet!" they observed on April 4th. A month later, "Bear Cat" was perched at number 3 on the Rhythm and Blues charts. Sun Records had just scored its first hit.

01 - "BEAR CAT" - B.M.I. - 2:49
Composer: - Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated 
Matrix number: - U 63 - Master
Recorded: - March 8, 1953
Released: - March 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 181-A mono
BEAR CAT / WALKING IN THE RAIN
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-11 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
Billboard was not joking when it noted that "Bear Cat" was "the fastest answer- song to hit the market". Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog" was shipped at the beginning of March 1953: "Bear Cat" was cut on March 8th, and was in the stores by the end of the month. It entered the Rhythm and Blues charts on April 18th and peaked at number 3 on May 2nd. It is not known exactly when Sam Phillips was served with an injunction by Don Robey, but it seems that that appeared quite promptly, too. Gimmickry aside, this is a very primitive record, driven along by Tuff Green's percussive string bass and Joe Hill Louis' spare electric guitar work. Louis takes an extended solo, after which Rufus manages to elbow his way back in.

To his credit Louis does not run short of ideas, although many were borrowed directly from Pete Lewis' the guitarist on Big Mama's original. The reality is that gimmickry really can't be wholly set aside, and as such this disc hasn't weathered as well as many of Phillips' commercially less-successful productions from this same period. Thirty years later, Sam's only comment was "I should have known better. The melody was exactly the same as their, but we claimed the credit for writing the damn thing*".

02 - "WALKING IN THE RAIN" - 1 - B.M.I. - 2:21
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 64 - Master
Recorded: - March 8, 1953
Released: - March 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 181-B mono
WALKING IN THE RAIN / BEAR CAT
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-12 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
Rufus Thomas does a creditable job of chanting on his own minor key blues, whilst Joe Hill Louis plays aggressively in the now-famous over amplified and distorted style perfected at 706 Union. Louis is supported by an under-recorded acoustic guitar - possibly played by bassist Tuff Green - and a clomping piano solo  handled by Rufus Thomas himself. The song only makes a brief two-bar foray into a major key.

As good as "Walking" was in its way, it was the other side that Sam Phillips wanted to get the market. It is registered in his logbooks that he paid the three musicians fifteen dollars each and sent the master disc to Shaw for manufacturing the very same day they were recorded.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas - Vocal and Piano
In Sam Phillips' check register against ''Talent 'Bear Cat' session'' it shows Albert Williams, piano, suggesting Williams was paid for playing on ''Walkin' In The Rain'' even though Thomas has said he played piano.
Joe Hill Louis contributes some stinging guitar work
especially during his extended 36-bar solo
Houston Stokes - Drums
Tuff Green - Guitar - 1 and Acoustic Bass soon to be known as 'slap'.
WDIA radio broadcast with Rufus Thomas >

It would have been in character for Rufus to have the idea to parody the lyric on his radio show and to invent his own fearsome big cat to rival Big Mama's dog, and indeed people have spoken about hearing him do that on the radio. But in fact it was someone else who had the idea and who wrote the song. Rufus called, "No, I  didn't write that song.  Someone else wrote that". He wouldn't say who it was but the discussion was in the context of his relationship with Sam Phillips. 

The composition was registered under Sam Phillips' name and Sam did talk in later years about working up songs with Rufus, though he never made much claim to have written "Bear Cat" outright. Maybe he did, or his wife Becky who helped him with the song in the early 1950s did, or perhaps they took the idea from someone else?

Either was, Sam was keen that Sun should record the song immediately, and that to increase the fun it would be made clear on the record label that...
 
 
...this was the "answer to 'Hound Dog'" and that the singer going head to head with the Big Mama was Rufus "Hound Dog" Thomas Jr.
 
The elemental twelve-bar blues "Hound Dog" has been the subject of an inordinate number of lawsuits since Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller copyrighted it in early 1953. It was written for Big Mama Thornton (who also claimed to have written it while in the company of her favourite relative, Old Grandad). But back in March 1953 Elvis Presley was sitting on the side of his bed trying to learn the song, while Sam Phillips was sitting in the studio rewriting it as "Bear Cat". On this March 8, 1953, only a few weeks after Thornton's version had been released, Sam Phillips called local disc jockey Rufus Thomas into the studio to cut the song.  In entered the national Rhythm and Blues charts on April 18, 1953, only two weeks after Thornton's original version, sparking Billboard to call it "the fastest answer song to hit the market". It eventually climbed all the way to number 3 on the Rhythm and Blues charts, becoming Sun Records' first hit.

A lawsuit from Don Robey at Peacock Records? Lion Music, correctly charging co pyright infringement, followed  in short order. Sam Phillips didn't have a leg to stand on when the case came to trial in July 1953, and he was forced to surrender two cents a song to Lion Music along with court costs. "I should have known better", Phillips later remarked to Robert Palmer. "The melody was exactly the same as theirs". "For a black person", Rufus Thomas told Hugh Merrill, "when Sam Phillips heard Elvis Presley and those people, it was all over".

Lost in the shuffle, was an unspectacular but effective on the flip side. Joe Hill Louis again plays aggressively on the minor key blues "Walking In The Rain" suggests that under ideal conditions. Later the same month, Sun changed the song and the artist, added a "Just" to the title and tried again.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

RHYTHM AND BLUES NOTES
By Bob Rolontz

The answer to hit records are coming along faster than ever. This week a new diskette   came out with an answer to Peacock's smash waxing of "Hound Dog" with thrush Willie Mae   Thornton. "Hound Dog" was released only about three weeks ago and has turned out to be   one of the fast-breaking hits in recent years.

It has already popped into The Billboard best-selling rhythm and blues charts. The answer   to "Hound Dog" comes from Sun Records, Memphis, Tenn., diskette, a wild thing called   "Bear Cat" sung by warbler Rufus Thomas Jr. It used to be that the answer to hits usually   waited until the hit had started on the downward trail, but today the answers are ready a   few days after records start moving upwards.

This has led some to remark that the diskettes soon may be bringing out the answers before   the original records are released.
 

MARCH 1953

It is clear that SUN 181 was a serious rush-release. Within two weeks, Billboard was able to   report: "The so-called answer record crazy is still going strong in the rhythm and blues field.   This week a new diskette came out with an answer to Peacock's smash waxing of "Hound   Dog" with thrush Willie Mae Thornton. "Hound Dog" was released only about three weeks ago   and has turned out to be one of the fastest breaking hits in recent years. It has already   popped into the best selling Rhythm And Blues Charts.
 
The answer to "Hound Dog" comes   from Sun Records, Memphis, Tenn, diskery, a wild thing called "Bear Cat" sung by Rufus   Thomas Jr.   It used to be that the answer to hits usually waited until the hit had started on   the downward trail, but today the answers are ready a few days after records start moving  upwards. This has led some to remark that he diskeries soon may be bringing out the answer  before the originals are even released.

MARCH 9, 1953 MONDAY

Decca released Webb Pierce's double-sided hit, ''I Haven't Got The Heart'' backed with ''The Last Waltz''.

MARCH 11, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Rock record producer Jimmy Lovine is born in Brooklyn, New York. Noted for his work with Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks and Dire Straits, he oversees Bob Seger's 1983 country hit ;;Shame On The Moon''.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR D.A. HUNT
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY WEDNESDAY MARCH 11, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

The route that brought Hunt from Anniston, Alabama to Phillips' door is unclear. The session were held in March 1952, just as Phillips was readying the first Sun releases. Hunt's record was held back for over a year, which didn't really matter because it was already twenty years out-of-date.

01 - "LONESOME OLD JAIL" - B.M.I. – 2:57
Composer: - D.A. Hunt
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 69 - Master
Recorded: - Probably March 11, 1953
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 183-A mono
LONESOME OLD JAIL / GREYHOUND BLUES
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-15 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

This performance is even gloomier than the plug side, as Hunt reflects on his baby whilst locked up in a cell. The vocal drips with feeling, making it hard to believe that this was recorded at 706 Union and not some Southern Penitentiary! The similarity to Lightnin' Hopkins is almost uncanny: the little flash of falsetto at the end of the line, the sour spoken asides, the interplay between vocal and guitar. According to researcher Steve LaVere, Hunt actually served time in one of Memphis' jails, but that was later. In 1953, his address was noted as Anniston, Alabama, and he was to be contacted via Reverend Noble Ulynn. Hunt was probably recorded in March 1953 and was back in Memphis in August to collect a nine dollar loan from Phillips. As far as we know, he never recorded again.
 


Lightnin' Hopkins was clearly Hunt's model right down to the pinched vocal, spoken asides and signature four-note closing lick. It was an almost eerie recreation of Hopkins' sound. From sixty years' distance, it's hard if not impossible to penetrate the logic behind what got released or remained unreleased on Sun.
 


Daniel Augusta Hunt >



Lightnin' himself was becoming a tough sell by 1953, so Phillips certainly wasn't jumping on a bandwagon as he was with ''Bear Cat''. Perhaps he simply liked Hunt's record, Perhaps a distributor around Hunt's home town of Anniston, Alabama guaranteed a sufficiently big order to justify a small run, Perhaps... we'll never know.

 
 
 
02 - "GREYHOUND BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: - D.A. Hunt
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 70 - Master
Recorded: - Probably March 11, 1953
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 183-B mono
GREYHOUND BLUES / LONESOME OLD JAIL
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-16 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Hunt laments the loss of his baby via public transport. There is some humor when he invokes the familiar 'Greyhound bus' - 'lowdown dog' analogy. For those who enjoy cross genre comparisons, consider country singer Frankie Miller's Starday recording "Mean Old Greyhound Bus" (Bear Family BFX 15128): Same sentiments, but yen years and a universe apart in style.

Returning to the country blues, Sam Phillips recorded the little-known D.A. Hunt from Mumford, Alabama on two titles reminiscent of Lightnin' Hopkins among others. The route that brought Hunt from Anniston, Alabama to Sam Phillips' door is unclear. The very guitar and vocal performance is nevertheless one of the most memorable on Sun although little more was heard from Hunt prior to his death some ten years later. Nonetheless this is excellent, standard Texas blues fare, and was well Worth putting out.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Daniel Augusta Hunt - Vocal and Guitar

Note: A Sun Records contract was issued to D.A. Hunt this day, suggesting that the session was held this day.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

John Tefteller >

Blues collector and longtime rare records dealer John Tefteller won a recent eBay auction  which featured a previously unknown and potentially one of a kind blues 45 rpm record  produced by the Sun label back in 1953. ''I think I stole it'', said Tefteller of the record  when the auction ended with his winning bid of $10,323.00.  The record, ''Lonesome Old Jail'' and ''Greyhound Blues'', features an outstanding old style  acoustic blues performance by Alabama blues singer D. A. Hunt. It was Hunt's first and only  record and sold very, very few copies when first released by Sam Phillips' now legendary  Sun records label of Memphis, Tennessee.

''This record was not previously known to exist on 45 rpm and even the 78 rpm version is  one of the rarest and most expensive on the Sun label with several documented sales in  excess of $10,000.00'', explained Tefteller.

'' To find a 45 is a discovery of monumental importance to the record collecting world and I  just had to have it''.

 
Of course, the latest addition to Tefteller’s blues collection, already referred to by many  as the best in the world, means that all the history books, price guides and discographies  have to be amended to now state unequivocally, that yes, there is indeed an original 45  rpm pressing of SUN 183.

Tefteller goes on to explain that when the British record researchers first came to America  in the late 1950s, they went to Sun and, with assistance from Sam Phillips, documented  everything. 78 rpm stampers were found for SUN 183, but NOT 45 rpm stampers and  Phillips told the researchers that no 45’s were made.

'This discovery proves otherwise'', says Tefteller, who speculates that they probably  pressed a few hundred and that was it. ''Sam must have just forgotten that he made a  small amount of 45s and, significantly, this is not a promotional copy, which means that  they made some promos as well as regular copies for the stores''.

The copy of SUN 183 that Tefteller won on eBay from Minnesota seller Tim Schloe is not in  the best of condition. ''I would grade it at VG-which in the world of record collecting  means it is pretty well used and abused'', Tefteller states. ''There is some damage to the  labels as well, but the record does indeed play all the way through and is not totally  unpleasant to look at. But all that doesn’t really matter because it is so impossibly rare. No  one, myself included, ever dreamed that this existed on 45. It is mind-boggling that since  1953 only one of these has ever surfaced and to surface in 2009 is unbelievable!''. Schloe  says he got the record ''as part of a large collection of used 45s that I bought from the  estate of a Dallas, Texas collector who had left them to his brother''. Schloe knew the  record was rare when he found it in the rubble of thousands of old 45s but had ''no idea'' it  would bring over $10,000.00. Tefteller is certain that the Texas collector could not have  known it was so rare either or he would have told someone he had it or sold it while he  was alive.

According to Tefteller, the world of Sun record collecting has just been turned on its head.  ''Guys who thought they had them all are now scrambling to find another legitimate copy.   This will prove to be quite a challenge, however as no other copy has surfaced in over 50  years. There are hundreds of bootleg copies of this title out there on 45 rpm but so far, I  now have the only legitimate one'', boasts Tefteller. ''I’ve got it, and I have no plans to sell  it. After all, I can’t say I have the top collection of blues records in the world if I let this  one go''.

While some people may not understand why a collector would pay over $10,000.00 for a  beat up old 45 rpm record when you can easily hear both sides of this one in top sound on  a reissue CD or a 99 cent Internet download, Tefteller has a ready answer: ''You can go to  the Louvre and buys 99 cent postcard of the Mona Lisa too, but there is nothing that beats  the history and importance of actually owning the original!''.

Tefteller, 50, lives in Grants Pass, Oregon and has been buying, selling and collecting rare  phonograph records for 35 years. He also produces a yearly blues calendar and has a series  of reissue CDs on the market of extremely rare blues performances from the 1920s. His  personal collection contains thousands of original blues 78 rpm records including dozens of  one-of-a-kind records by blues singers. Tefteller also maintains the world's most extensive  collection of original blues advertising art and photographs. 
 

MARCH 13, 1953 FRIDAY

Rufus Thomas signed a contract with Sun Records. He was paid on five occasions between   March 23 and June 27 in advance royalties, totaling 275 dollars. He received three advance   checks August 1953 and February 1954, some 450 dollars, but after that the contract, and   the record of payment, runs out.

MARCH 15, 1953 SUNDAY

Kitty Wells recorded ''Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On'' at Nashville's Castle Studio.

MARCH 17, 1953 TUESDAY

At a trial in Houston, Billie Jean Williams blames the death of her husband, Hank Williams, on narcotics prescribed by the defendant, Toby Marshall, a self-described alcohol therapist'' she calls a ''quack''.

Pop singer Margaret Whiting and piano player Joe ''Fingers'' Carr are officially separated. They each enjoyed country hits during their three-year marriage.

MARCH 19, 1953 THURSDAY

Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded ''Hey, Mr. Cotton Picker''.

Tex Ritter performs the theme to ''High Noon'' on the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. The song, ''Do Not Forsake Me'', becomes the first country title to win the Oscar for Best Original Song.

MARCH 20, 1953 FRIDAY

Columbia released Lefty Frizzel's ''(Honey, Baby, Hurry!) Bring Your Sweet Love Back To Me''.

MARCH 21, 1953 SATURDAY

The Carlisles make their Grand Ole Opry debut,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Western-swing singer/guitarist Chris O'Connell is born in Williamsport, Maryland. She's a member of Asleep At The Wheel when the group scores its lone country hit, 1975's ''The Letter That Johnny Walker Read''.

Mab Anderson, the second wife of playwright Maxwell Anderson, dies. He authored ''September Song'', which Willie Nelson will feature on his album ''Stardust''.

''A NEW INDIE RHYTHM AND BLUES label was launched here (in Memphis)'', cash Box announced in its March 1953, issue, echoing the PR release that Sam Phillips had written and Marion Keisker polished and sent out. It cited Sam's work with ''such outstanding artists as Jackie Brenston, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Joe Hill Louis, Rosco Gordon, and Willie Nix'' - a stellar roster, to be sure, but more striking, if less readily convincing to the everyday businessman, was his unwavering commitment ''to give every opportunity to untried artists to prove their talents whether they play a broom stick or the finest jazz sax in the world''.

MARCH 23, 1953 MONDAY

Decca released Red Foley and Ernest Tubb's ''No Help Wanted #2''.

MARCH 24, 1953 TUESDAY

Leo Fender receives a patent for his Precision Bass, signaling the official beginning of the electric bass guitar.

MARCH 25, 1953 WEDNESDAY

''On Top Of Old Smokey'' debuts in movie theaters, with Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette. In the picture, Autry protects a Texas land owner from poachers.
 

Webb Pierce recorded ''It's Been So Long'', ''Don't Throw Your Life Away'' and ''There Stands The Glass'' at Nashville's Castle Studio in the Tulane Hotel.

MARCH 26, 1953 THURDAY

Michael Bonagura, of Baillie & The Boys, is born in Newark, New Jersey. His wife, Kathie Baillie, sings lead for the harmonic act, which earns seven Top 10 hits in the late-1980s, including ''Oh Heart'', ''Long Shot'' and ''(I Wish I Had A) Heart Of Stone''.

Jim Denny and Webb Pierce create Cedarwood Publishing in Nashville. The publishing company represents songs by such writers as Mel Tillis, John D. Loudermilk, Marijjohn Wilkin, Carl Perkins and Danny Hill.

MARCH 27, 1953 FRIDAY

Merle Travis begins work on ''From Here To Eternity'', a motion picture that has him on screen in several scenes and features his performance of ''Re-Enlistment Blues''.

Columbia released Carl Smith's two-sided hit, ''Orchids Mean Goodbye'' and ''Just Wait 'Til I Get You Alone''.

MARCH 28, 1953 SATURDAY

It wasn't long before Rufus Thomas's "Bear Cat" became a test case. In Billboard was reported   song publishers were seeking legal action: "In an effort to combat what has become a   rampant practice by small labels - the rushing out of answers which are similar in melody   and/or theme to ditties which have become smash hits - many pubbers are now retaining   attomeys. Common practice, of course, is to regard the answer as an original. Currently   publishers are putting up a fight to protect their originals from unauthorized or infringing  answers". Don Robey of Peacock Records was ever the pragmatist, though, and told Billboard   he had notified the Harry Fox publishing agency "to issue Sun a license on "Bear Cat" in order   that Robey might collect a royalty".

MARCH 31, 1953 TUESDAY

Guitarist Greg Martin is born in Louisville, Kentucky. He joins The Kentucky Head Hunters, who win a Grammy award and nail down two Vocal Group of the Year honors from the Country Music Association.
 

Numerous radio stations across the country observe Hank Williams Day, paying homage to the legendary singer who died three months earlier.

Eddy Arnold recorded ''How's The World Treating You'', ''Free Home Demonstration'' and ''Mama, Come Get You Baby Boy'' at the RCA Studios in New York City.
 
 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR DOCTOR ROSS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY MARCH/APRIL 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Early in 1953, probably March or April, Doctor Ross made another session for Sam Phillips but Phillips did not log the details and again nothing was issued. There appear to have been five or six songs recorded then, with Ross playing guitar and harmonica accompanied just by Reuben Martin on washboard.  ''My Be Bop Gal'' was little more than a catchy title sung over and over against an incessant Ross-style rhythm. ''Texas Hop'' was a title taken from Pee Wee Crayton's 1948 hit of the same name but is not the same song. It doesn't bring us anything new but it's a great example of Ross's energetic and engaging style. ''Deep Down In The Ground'', noted on the tape box as ''Terra Mae'' and first issued as ''Taylor Mae'', is actually a slower tempo version of John Lee Sonny Boy Williamson's 1938 record which recycled his much-imitated ''Good Morning, School Girl'' riff. ''Turkey Bakin' Woman'' (previously logged and issued as ''Turkey Leg Woman'') is a highly spirited boogie based on Yank Rachell's Bluebird disc of ''Biscuit Baking Woman'' from 1941. Ross starts off singing about how his gal bakes her biscuits so nice but then quickly switches to extolling her turkey bakin' process.

* 01(1) - "DEEP DOWN IN THE GROUND
(TAILOR MAE) (TERRA MAE)" - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: - Sonny Boy Williamson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably March/April 1953
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 7-6-16 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

 * 01(2) - "DEEP DOWN IN THE GROUND
(TAILOR MAE) (TERRA MAE)" - B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - Sonny Boy Williams
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take  2 -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  Probably March/April 1953
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm SUN 37 mono
BACK COUNTRY BOOGIE
Reissued: - 2013 JSP Records (CD) 500/200rpm JSP4239-2-6 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE MEMPHIS CUTS 1953 - 1956

Researchers are occasionally prone to effect a curious selectivity when it comes to decihering the labels on old tape boxes. Whilst "Housten Boise" is silently amended to "Houston Boines", this title - clearly identified on its as "Tailor Mae" - was identified on the original Sun Blues Box as the incomprehensible "Terra Mae". It is in fact a word-for-word recreation of the opening verses from John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson's record "Deep Down In The Ground", recorded for Bluebird in June 1938. In a 1965 interview, Doctor Ross even referred to this recording by Williamson's title. Williamson took this version of the song from Sleepy John Estes, and Ross repeats Sonny Boy's mishearing of Estes' line, "That woman is tailor made, she ain't no hand-me-down".
 
02(1) - "TEXAS HOP" - B.M.I. - 2:42
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  Probably March/April 1953
Released: - 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30127-B-5 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 12 - UNION AVENUE BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-6-18 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

This was one of Doctor Ross' generic boogie workouts that all seemed to follow a roughly equivalent course. There is little to choose between the two takes he recorded of this piece - the significant difference being that he plays some three choruses of harmonica before chanting the title, whereas on the second take, plagued by interference from the guitar's amplifier, he chants the title after just one. 

The Doctor took this title from Pee Wee Crayton's 1948 hit of the same name, but the two songs otherwise had nothing in common. After Ross's Chess single did no business, Sam Phillips decided to persevere with him, recording this very soon after relaunching Sun Records. The nest session, six or seven months later, would yield Ross's first Sun single.

02(2) - "TEXAS HOP" - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  Probably March/April 1953
Released: - August 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30127 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 12 - UNION AVENUE BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - 2013 JSP Records (CD) 500/200rpm JSP4239-1-14 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE MEMPHIS CUTS 1953 - 1956

 04 - ''TURKEY LEG WOMAN'' - B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  Probably March/April 1953
Released: - 1972
First appearance: - Arhoolie Records (LP) 33rpm Arhoolie F 1065 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - HIS FIRST RECORDINGS
Reissued: - June 14, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16939-16 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

''1953 Jump'' is another boogie breakdown where Ross attempts to get a dance craze started and provides some interesting autobiographical interjections about being the eleventh child, and ''that's supposed to be lucky, man''. Although Ross hadn't managed to nail anything sufficiently for Phillips to want to issue it at the turn of 1953, Sam did recognise that there was something in Ross that could be captured. Surely one of his boogies would come out right, so Phillips decided to persevere with him. The next session, some six months later, would yield Ross's first Sun single.

05 – ''1953 JUMP'' - B.M.I. - 1:33
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Sun Unissued
Recorded: -  Probably March/April 1953
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - P-Vine Records (LP) 33rpm PLP-352 (JP) mono
DOCTOR ROSS - MEMPHIS BREAKDOWN
Reissued:  - June 14, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16939-17 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Billboard gave both sides of Doctor Ross single good reviews in January, 1954, calling them "two good juke box sides". Its true that juke joints and jukeboxes no longer dot the rural south, but the music on SUN 193 is not dated. Sam Phillips would be proud. The fundamental honestly of this music has rendered it as close to 'timeless' as one might imagine.

The blues releases on Sun tapered off during 1954. There were two singles (and reels and reels of unissued cuts) from the eccentric Doctor Ross, who epitomized all that Sam Phillips loved about the blues. His approach was rhythmic, propulsive, and countrified. Ross had worked as a one-man band, but Sam Phillips usually brought in some backup musicians when he recorded at Sun. By this time Sam Phillips had perfected his use of slapback echo and used it to give a dept and resonance to the primitive drive of Rose's music; yet even a superficial comparison of that music with the rhythm and blues hits of 1953 and 1954 shows how anachronistic Ross had become - a fact Ross may have recognized before Phillips.

06 – ''MY BE BOP GAL'' - B.M.I. - 2:37
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  Probably March/April 1953
Released: - June 14, 2013
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16839-13 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Doctor Ross - Vocal, Guitar, Drums and Harmonica
Reuben Martin - Washboard
 
 * This song was formerly issued as ''Terra Mae'' or ''Tailor Made/Mae''.
Note: Doctor Ross recorded other versions of these songs on this session.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
APRIL 1953
 

APRIL 4, 1953 SATURDAY

Don Robey's injunction against Sun Records also set some kind of speed record. What our gang lost in royalties, they gained in wisdom. The letter reads:

Dear sirs,

I have been advised by Mr. Harry Fox, Agent and Trustee for Lion Publishing Company of Houston, Texas, that license were issued to you authorizing the use of our composition "Hound Dog", your identical copy, being "Bear Cat", but to date, the licence have not been returned.

Please be advised that first, you should have contacted the owner prior to the release of the record, as release of the composition leaves you liable for 5 cents to 8 cents per record royalty for the intrusion upon the rights of others.

I advised Mr. Harry Fox to license you for the statutory 2 cents per record royalty, allowing you to continue with pressing the record, the same as all of the Companies who were properly licensed prior to the release of their own versions of our composition.

This is to also inform that unless contracts are signed and in the office of Mr. Harris Fox by Wednesday, April 8th, 1953, I will be forced to take immediate steps with Court Actions, plus apply charges for full 5 cents to 8 cents per record royalty.

Both Billboard and Cash Box questioned how such quick release was arranged on our material, so is everyone else questioning how the record was released so soon.

I, do hope that this will not cause any unfriendly relations, but, please remember, I have to pay, when I intrude upon the rights of others, and certainly must protect my own rights.

Very truly yours

LION PUBLISHING COMPANY
Don D. Robey
DDR:J
APRIL 1953

"Bear Cat" enters the Rhythm and Blues charts, giving Sun its first national hit and it will  reach at number 3 in an 8-week chart run.

Billboard reported that Stan Lewis of Stan's Record Shop in Shreveport, Louisiana was the  focus of much attention by independent labels, whose bosses were queueing up to pitch  him their goodies. These included, "Jim Bullet of the new Sun label, who arrived to chase  Willie Mae Thornton's "Hound Dog" with his punchy new answer "Bear Cat" by Rufus  Thomas", Bullet had been hard on the case, achieving some seriously good publicity for  the new label and for "Bear Cat" even before the disc hit the stores. "Bear Cat" was the  Billboard Buy o' the Week on April 11: "The answer to "Hound Dog" broke loose this week  with fury. Hit a number of territorial charts and also is registering strongly in Chicago and  around Nashville". It reached the national rhythm and blues charts on April 18, 1953,  stayed for eight weeks in the top ten and peaked at number three.

APRIL 2, 1953 THURSDAY

Ernest Tubb and Hank Snow arrive back in Nashville after a trip to Korea to entertain American troops in the war. During the trip, Tubb discovered the North Koreans are using a re-worded version of his song, ''Soldier's Last Letter'', as propaganda.

APRIL 3, 1953 FRIDAY

TV Guide is introduced nationally with Lucille Ball's baby on the cover. The weekly magazine is mentioned in the lyrics of Steve Wariner's ''What I Didn't Do''.
 

APRIL 4, 1953 SATURDAY

Don Robey's injunction against Sun Records' "Bear Cat".

Meantime Sam Phillips was still handling the fallout of his success. Don Robey's Lion  Musical Publishing Company had used Sun for infringing the copyright on "Hound Dog" and  the U.S. District Court had ruled that Sun had indeed perpetrated an infringement. B.M.I.  denied Sun clearance on the disc until Sun agreed to pay two cents per record on all discs  sold to Lion Music.

The nature of the independent record business was such that by July, Lion itself was in  court defending the contention of Syd Nathan of King Records in Cincinnati that he had an  interest in the song "Hound Dog" and should have a fifty per cent share of its success.
Dusty Brooks and His Tones >
APRIL 1953

During the early years, the Sun label was distributed by Nashville record man Jim Bulleit  and several deals were made between Sam Phillips and Jim Bulleit's Delta and J-B labels.  Dusty Brooks' band apparently recorded these titles in the mod-west and sold them to  Bulleit, who in turn leased them to Sun. Certainly the creamy jazz club sound and Juanita  Brown's Billie Holiday-influenced vocals were not the sort of music that has become  associated with Sam Phillips' studio, "Tears And Wine" features a duet between Brown and  Joe Alexander.
 
Actually, Brooks was no stranger to the entertainment business. He had previously  recorded and enjoyed some limited success on the west coast, where he had also won  some fame as an actor in black films. The Vegas lounge act sound of "Heaven Or Fire", or  the torchy crooning of "Tears And Wine" were in no way out of character for Brooks.  Rather, it is collectors who have trouble reconciling this form of black music with what  know and love most about Sun Records.

APRIL 6, 1953 MONDAY

Decca released Red Foley's ''Slaves Of A Hopeless Love Affair'', and Gene Autry's ''But That's All Right''.
 
 
APRIL 9, 1953 THURSDAY

"Elvis Prestley, guitarist", as he was mistakenly listed in the program, was 16th on a bill of 22  acts in the Annual Minstrel Show put on by Humes High School to raise money for various  school projects. On the 8:00 p.m. revue he reportedly sang "Cold Icy Fingers", which appears  to have been the same song remembered by Ms. Elsie Marmann. Due to the enthusiastic  response following his performance, Elvis was allowed the program's only encore and he  sang "Til I Waltz Again With You". There were an estimated 1500 students, faculty and  parents in attendance that night.

"I wasn't popular in school, I wasn't dating anybody there. I failed music - only thing I ever  failed. And then they entered me in this talent show, and I came out and did my "Till I  Waltz Again With You" by Teresa Brewer, and when I came on stage I heard people kind of  rumbling and whispering and so forth, 'cause nobody knew I even sang. It was amazing how  popular I became after that. Then I went on through high school and I graduated", recalled  Elvis Presley.

Singer/songwriter Hal Ketchum is born in Greenwich, New York. He joins the Grand Ole Opry in 1994 on the back of suck melodic singles as ''Small Town Saturday Night'', ''Past The Point Of Rescue'' and ''Sure Love''.

APRIL 11, 1953 SATURDAY

Patsy Cline, visiting from Winchester, Virginia, sings two songs on Ernest Tubb's Nashville radio show ''The Midnite Jaboree''.

Hank Williams' ''Your Cheatin' Heart'' own the top spot in the Billboard country chart.

APRIL 14, 1953 TUESDAY

''Mooney'' Lynn gives his wife, Loretta Lynn, a $17 Sears & Roebuck Harmony guitar for her birthday. The gift lays a foundation for a career that lands her in the Country Music Hall of Fame''.
 

APRIL 15, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Peacock Records in Houston purchases David James Mattis's remaining share of Duke Records.

Peacock signs Phineas Newborn to launch its new Progressive Jazz imprint, and signs the Spirit of Memphis gospel group away from King Records.

APRIL 18, 1953 SATURDAY

Red Foley hosts the Prince Albert segment of the Grand Ole Opry for the final time,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
 


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 Lillie Mae Glover was a Memphis-based classic blues songstress in the style of Bessie Smith or Ma Rainey, the woman from whom she took her stage name. This recordings is a fascinating amalgam of Handy Park blues from Pat Hare and Houston Stokes on guitar and drums, and schooled musicianship from Onzie Horne on vibes and Tuff Green on bass. Onzie Horne was an arranger and an educator who tutored Phineas Newborn and Charles Lloyd. Horne hosted a talk show on WDIA. At one time or another, he was the musical director at the Beale Street theatres where Glover plied her trade, and, for a time, worked with Duke Ellington's manager, Billy Strayhorn. One of his last arrangement was Isaac Hayes' ''Theme From Shaft''. Horne died in 1963, aged 49.

"You got to sing the blues with your soul. It looks like you hurt in the deep-down part of your heart. You really hurt when you sing the blues. Blues can make you cry. I was singing at a little old club and I'd just sit down and sing, just sing, I'd sing the blues. I remember times I singed the blues, I just cried, just deliberate cried. And I told the people I didn't know what was wrong with me, but it just got me. And my boss man used to tell me, 'Go on and get it out of you, old lady, just help yourself".

 STUDIO SESSION FOR LILLIE MAE GLOVER MARAINEY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY APRIL 19, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
Publicity photo Big Memphis Marainey >

There was never enough money to live on from either of Mama's career, and so almost always she had an outside job. She worked as a cook, as a cleanup woman for a trucking line, as a stacker for a fence company, and at a lumber company where "my boss said I was the best man he had there".

The truth is, Big Memphis Marainey's lone Sun single is more interesting to write about than listen. It is best seen as a failed experiment; one of the few hybrids attempted at 706 Union Avenue that went wrong.
 

Lillie Mae Glover's approach to music is clearly rooted in the classic blues shouting tradition of her namesake, Ma Rainey. On these recordings she was paired with Memphis jazz vibist Onzie Horne and blues guitar King, Pate Hare.  Onzie Horne had paid the rent by transcribing music for Sam Phillips' publishing companies. When he was sober, Hare worked the local blues scene and brought to it the same barely controlled rage that appeared in other areas of his personal life.
 
At its best, the fury and distortion of Hare's guitar work truly defined a genre within the blues. On these sides, he plays competently, but without the passion of his best work.

On "Call Me Anything, But Call Me", there is an uneasy alliance of styles, as Hare's bluesy guitar fills clash pointlessly with Horne's jazzy supper club stylings. Though it all, and seemingly oblivious to the chaos, Lillie Mae belts out her message.  Lillian Mae Glover sings in a style which has its origins in a musical era entirely different to virtually everything else on the recordings, her full-throated vocal delivery being derived from Vaudeville and classic blues - and the Lady herself obviously considers herself an heir to this tradition, by virtue of her adopted pseudonym. On this session she was paired with Onzie Horne, the late Memphis musician who originally worked for Sam Phillips transcribing songs for copyright purposes (Horne would work with Isaac Hayes in a later era). This track is a fascinating experiment which frankly, does not work, presenting a curious clash of styles - most notably with Pat Hare's decidedly blues guitar battling out for pole position with Onzie Horne's irksome vibes.

01 - "CALL ME ANYTHING, BUT CALL ME" - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Dubrover-Milton ''Mitt'' Addington
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 71 - Master
Recorded: - April 19, 1953
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 184-A mono
CALL ME ANYTHING, BUT CALL ME / BABY NO! NO!
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-17 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

A few weeks after ''Call Me Anything, But Call Me'' was recorded, one of its writer, Milton ''Mitt'' Addington, pitched another song, ''Burned Fingers'', to western star Wade Ray, who did fairly well with it. One year or so later, Sam Phillips asked him to write songs for Elvis Presley, but he demurred. In 1964, he wrote a by-god hit, ''Laurie (Strange Things Happen In This World)'', during the short-lived craze for death discs. Performed by another Sun alumnus, Dickey Lee, it was published by yet another, Jack Clement. Around the same time, Lee and Addington combined to write ''Memphis Beat'' for Jerry Lee Lewis. Addington, who made his career as a psychologist, died in 1979, aged 55.

 
02 - "BABY, NO, NO!" - B.M.I. - 3:00
Composer: - Marion Keisker-Milton ''Mitt'' Addington
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 72 - Master
Recorded: - April 19, 1953
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 184-B mono
BABY NO! NO! / CALL ME ANYTHING, BUT CALL ME
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-18 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

"Everybody say my voice still strong, and when I get a band, I can swing. My words get tied up a little bit on account of my teeth, and I can't stand those. I do get hoarse. I are easy to get hoarse quickly. But my voice is not trembly like some of the old singers. My voice ought to be wore out by now as much as I have hollered - screamed and hollered all night long. I sing the blues for myself. Sometimes they do me some good. It helps you to sing the blues when you're feeling blue".
This is a considerable improvement on its A-side, being a standard jump blues complete with stops in the verse, although performed with none of the usual instrumentation. Here, Ma Clover's husky vocal is backed only by a trio - fronted by the ubiquitous Hare, who sounds a little less distorted than usual. On balance, this disc is a real oddity: it seems to have been aimed squarely at the black habitues of the local nightclub scene, and Sam Phillips probably had little ambition of selling it outside Memphis - hence its phenomenal scarcity value (at the time the original Sun Blues Box was being compiled, Ms Glover commented that she was unable to get a copy).

Willie Mae Glover, a.k.a. "Baby Ma Rainey" and "Big Memphis Ma Rainey" performing on Beale Street in the city of Memphis, Tennessee sometime during the 1970's >
 
The song had been composed by Milton "Mitt" Addington, a consulting psychologist who also wrote Sonny Burgess' "Restless", and amateur songwriter, together with Marion Keisker, who typed it out at her desk in the front office at 706 Union.
 
 
Almost until her death in April 1985, Lillie Mae Glover was still performing without a marked diminution of exuberance. Records never really mattered to her.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
"Big Memphis" Lillie Mae Glover - Vocal
Pate Hare - Guitar
Houston Stokes - Guitar
Onzie Horne - Piano and Vibes
Tuff Green - Bass
Houston Stokes - Drums
T.S. Lewis - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

APRIL 20, 1953 MONDAY

Capitol released Hank Thompson's ''Rub-A-Dub-Dub''.

APRIL 23, 1953 THURSDAY

Pop songwriter Peter DeRose dies in New York. He authored Ted Lewis' 1933 hit ''Have You Ever Been Lonely (Have You Ever Been Blues)'', which is re-configured as a 1981 country duet for two artists after their deaths: Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline

APRIL 24, 1953 FRIDAY

MGM released the Hank Williams single ''Take These Chains From My Heart''.

END APRIL 1953

Everything seemed to be clicking for Sam Phillips. The one exception was the partnership with Jim Bulleit. For one thing, Jim was getting more and more jumpy. The nervousness that had first manifested itself with the ''Bear Cat'' lawsuit showed no sign of abating, and, perhaps not coincidentally, he seemed to be increasingly desperate for money. From Sam's point of view, Jim's principal failing was that he always took the short-term view, whether with respect to people or finances. His approach to marketing, for example, amounted to little more than throwing as much product out there as you could, then seeing what stuck. Which might make sense if your primary commitment was to churning up activity for your distribution business. But it was the exact opposite of Sam's commitment, what he was firmly convinced was the only course you could take if you truly believed in what you were doing, to put everything you had behind every record you released and not give up until the market proved you wrong. Sam Phillips allowed himself to be thrown off course one time when he put out a ''cocktail-hour'' record by Dusty Brooks and His Tones that Jim Bulleit had picked up somewhere or other, but he was not going to do it again. And he was tired of getting letters and phone calls every other day pleading for new releases in the most dire and doom-filled terms.
 


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR DUSTY BROOKS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SATURDAY APRIL 25, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Juanita Brown appeared as one of two female vocalists with pianist/bandleader Dusty Brooks. Brooks and his music catered to sophisticated west coast night club audiences, a segment of the market that is rarely associated with Sun Records. Although "Heaven Or Fire" was released by Sam Phillips (Sun 182) in 1953, it most certainly was not recorded by him. The sides were probably cut in Los Angeles and leased to Jim Bulleit, Phillips' partner in the fledgling Sun label at the time.

01 - "HEAVEN OR FIRE" - B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - Bernstein
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 65 - Master
Recorded: - April 25, 1953
Released: - May 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 182-A mono
HEAVEN OR FIRE / TEARS AND WINE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-13 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

SUN 182 remains one of the most obscure and, ultimately, one of the most disliked records ever issued by Sun. Could this material actually have been recorded by the same man who had just issued "Bear Cat" and was holding preliminary sessions with Little Junior Parker?

02 - "TEARS AND WINE" - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Bernstein
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 67 - Master
Recorded: - April 25, 1953
Released: - May 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 182-B mono
TEARS AND WINE / HEAVEN OR FIRE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-14 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

 03 - "TWO BLUE DEVILS" - B.M.I. - 2:45
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably April 25, 1953
Released: - August 2002
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16609-4-11 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS

The only thing we know for sure about Janie McFadden is that she recorded with the same Dusty Brooks band that produced SUN 182. Session logs indicate that Janie sang on one title ("Two Blue Devils") out of the seven that were sent or leased to Sam Phillips in 1953. All of which tells us nothing about Janie McFadden. Might she have been the sister of Ruthie McFadden, who recorded pop/rhythm and blues for Old Town Record in the 1950s and later reivented herself as a soul singer (on Gamble and SureShot Records) in the 1970s?

04 - "DOWN IN TEXAS (MY BABY'S A LUSH)*'' - B.M.I. - 2:37
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably April 25, 1953
Released: - June 24, 2006
First appearance: - Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample mono
DUSTY BROOKS & HIS TONES - I'M SHEDDING TEARS OVER YOU
 
 05 - "I'M SHEDDING TEARS OVER YOU'' - B.M.I. - 2:40
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably April 25, 1953
Released: - June 24, 2006
First appearance: - Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample mono
DUSTY BROOKS & HIS TONES - I'M SHEDDING TEARS OVER YOU

06 - "THAT'S WHEN I'LL STOP LOVING YOU'' - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably April 25, 1953
Released: - 2002
First appearance: -   2002 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rom BCD 16609-5-21 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS
Reissued:   June 24, 2006   Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample mono
DUSTY BROOKS & HIS TONES - I'M SHEDDING TEARS OVER YOU

07 - "MY GUSHER WON'T GUSH''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably April 25, 1953
  
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Dusty Brooks And His Tones consisting of
Juanita Brown - Vocal on "Heaven Or Fire"
Janie McFadden - Vocal on "Two Blue Devils"
Joe Alexander – Vocal*
Arthamus Maryland - Guitar
Ruby Thrasher - Bass
Virgil Johnson - Drums
Lucius ''Dusty Brooks'' - Piano
Bernard Hunter - Vibes
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

APRIL 28, 1953 TUESDAY

Fred Knobloch is born in Jackson, Mississippi. He earns hits as a solo artist and as a member of Schuyler, Knobloch and Overstreet during the 1980s. He also writes George Strait's ''Meanwhile'' and Lorrie Morgan's ''Back In Your Arms Again''.

APRIL 30, 1953 THURSDAY

Merrill Osmond is born in Ogden, Utah. With his brothers, he forms The Osmonds, gaining major pop success in the 1970s and netting a 1982 country hit, ''I Think About Your Lovin'''. The group sings backing vocals on Conway Twitty's ''Heartache Tonight''.
 

 
MAY 1953
 


MAY 1, 1953 FRIDAY

Pop singer and producer Glen Ballard is born in Natchez, Mississippi. Known for his work with Alanis Morissette and Wilson Phillips, he also co-writes the George Strait country hit ''You Look So Good In Love''.

MAY 4, 1953 MONDAY

Justin Tubb begins working as a disc jockey on radio station WHIN in Gallatin, Tennessee.

Kathlyn Louise White is born. At age 21, she gives up her crown as Miss Utah to marry Wayne Osmond of The Osmonds.

Capitol releases Faron Young's single ''I Can't Wait (For The Sun To Go Down)'', written by Martha Carson.

MAY 7, 1953 THURSDAY

Songwriter John Jarrard is born in Gainesville, Georgia. He authors such hits as George Strait's ''Blue Clear Sky'', John Anderson's ''Money In The Bank'', Diamond Ris's ''Mirror Mirror'' and Collin Raye's ''My Kind Of Girl''.

MAY 8, 1953 FRIDAY

Billy Burnette is born in Memphis, son of rockabilly figure Dorsey Burnette. Nominated for the Academy of Country Music's Top New Male award in 1986, he becomes a member of Fleetwood Mac for several years and writes Eddy Raven's ''She's Gonna Win Your Heart'' and George Strait's ''River Of Love''.

''Iron Mountain Trail'' appears in theaters, with Rex Allen and his horse, Koko, coming to the aid of the Pony Express.

MAY 8, 1953 FRIDAY
 
F5 Tornado strikes Waco in Texas leaving 114 dead and 597 injured, The Tornado was one of the many storm disasters for the development of a nationwide severe weather warning system.

MAY 15, 1953 FRIDAY

Jim Reeves receives top billing on The Louisiana Hayride for the first time.

Ricky Nelson and his brother, David, appear on the cover of TV Guide.

MAY 16, 1953 SATURDAY

Pop vocalist Richard Page is born in Keokuk, Iowa. Known for his work with Mr. Mister, he also sings on Anne Murray's ''Now And Forever (You And Me)'' and ''Time Don't Run Out On Me'', plus hits by Juice Newton.
 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - © 
 
Originating from Gumwood, Arizona, James DeBerry harks right back to the Memphis Jug Band days of 1939, which was when he first recorded for Vocalion and Okeh. His main claim to fame lies in "Easy", a languid instrumental duet with harp wizard Walter Horton that preceded this session by just a matter of weeks.

DeBerry's erratic metre heard here, is matched by a piano that is so wonderfully cranky, it makes the average set of honky tonk keys sound like a Bechstein grand.

 STUDIO SESSION FOR JIMMY DEBERRY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SATURDAY MAY 16, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Sam Phillips brought Jimmy DeBerry back into the studio to cut a solo single. For the benefit of younger listeners, party lines weren't sexual hook-up call-in numbers, but a fact of life, especially in rural communities. Two or more telephone subscribers were on the same loop and could hear each other's calls, even though every subscriber had an individual ring tone. Billy Murray satirized them on 1917 Edison cylinder as did Hank Williams on his 1949 hit ''Mind Your Own Business'' (''The woman on our party line's a nosy thing/She picks up her receiver when she knows it's my ring''). Over Mose Vinson's jangly piano, DeBerry lays down a very spare and soulful performance, and it's more effective when Vinson lays out, leaving DeBerry alone. DeBerry had a true blues voice, even it it was more of a pre-War blues voice: mellow and wracked with emotion. We should have heard more from him.

 01 - "PARTY LINE BLUES" - B.M.I. - 3:06
Composer: - Jimmy DeBerry
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 16, 1953
Released: - August 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30127-A-1 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK – VOLUME 12 – UNION AVENUE BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-5 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

02 - "TAKE A LITTLE CHANCE" - B.M.I. - 2:17
Composer: - Jimmy DeBerry-Sam Burns
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 73 - Master
Recorded: - May 16, 1953
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 185-A mono
TAKE A LITTLE CHANCE / TIME HAS MADE A CHANCE
SUN 185 bluesy item with an appealing sound, slow and infectious beat.
Lyric has some novelty value. Jimmy DeBerry does right well
with the vocal on this reminiscent ditty.
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-19 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

This standout cut, was a primitive twelve-bar blues, although DeBerry's acoustic guitar and foot tapping provide a surprisingly full sound and lifted note-for-note from a 1941 Robert Jr. Lockwood recording of the same name, was a simple invitation to an ex-girlfriend to rekindle the passion, that Sam Phillips characterizes as "one of the real classic recordings of the blues. It was so basic, yet it had such feel to it".

Jimmy DeBerry and Butler Mitchell, in Memphis 1946 >

On the face of it, Jimmy DeBerry does not deserve the obscure status into which he seems to have been consigned. his entire recorded studio output was restricted to two pre-War singles for Vocalion and OKeh, together with his two Sun singles - a meagre output for someone possessed of such obvious talent. This side showcases his abilities as a superbly expressive vocalist: however, it also serves to demonstrate his biggest problem, i.e. one of timing - which is further exacerbated by some asthmatic-sounding groans during the solo.

The song, credited to DeBerry and Sam Phillips (under the name of Sam Burns), the song was based quite closely on Robert Lockwood's 1941 recording of ''Take A Little Walk With Me'', itself based on ''Sweet Home Chicago''.
 

 
 
 
 
03 - "TIME HAS MADE A CHANCE" - B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Jimmy DeBerry-Sam Burns
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 74 - Master
Recorded: - May 16, 1953
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 185-B mono
TIME HAS MADE A CHANCE / TAKE A LITTLE CHANCE
Deep southern blues gets a sincere chanting delivery by Jimmy DeBerry 
to the accompaniment of typical guitar arrangement.
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-20 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

The fuller instrumentation suggests that this song may have been the plug side but it is markedly inferior to its flipside. This is arguably the least affecting and sloppiest of DeBerry's recordings for Sam Phillips.   Here DeBerry with pianist Mose Vinson, for these two fine examples of country blues as heard in and around Memphis into the 1950s. Drum support was provided somewhat oddly by one Raymond Jones who appears to have been a white man who led a small combo on some unissued Sun pop recordings from the same era. DeBerry's timing problems have become so pronounced that it is difficult to appreciate the track on its own terms.

Here Jimmy played crude electric guitar, and Sam Phillips recorded the piano from Mose Vinson so, that it sounded like the kind of honky-tonk upright you might hear if you wandered into your local barroom. Just as they completed the second chorus and were about to launch into a tinny piano solo, there was the shrill sound of the telephone ringing in the outer office. Far from taking this as a deterrent, well, who knows exactly what went on in Sam's mind, whether he somehow or other made a thematic connection between the interruption of the telephone and the song's message, or to Sam's ears the phone's ring was simply in tune with the band. You know, we think just let Sam tell it. But remember, that phone remained a part of the record for all eternity.

According to Sam, ''I love perfect imperfection, I really do, and that's not just some cute saying, that's a fact. Perfect? That's the devil. Who in this world would want to be perfect? They should strike the damn thing out of the language of the human race. You think I was going to throw that cut away for one of them good ones that didn't have a telephone ringing in the middle of it? Hell, no, that's what was happening. That was real. You know how much it would cost to make a noise like that as a sound effect, by pushing a button? And that ain't the real thing. People want the real thing. There's too much powder and rouge around. You know, I'm a crazy guy when it comes to sound''.

Jimmy DeBerry >

Phillips felt that it should have been a hit, although he probably underestimated the sophistication of the rhythm and blues market in 1953. Yet again one understand his point; the compelling drive of the recording more than compensates for the obvious technical deficiencies, including a wobbly beat and some asthmatic wheezing during the guitar break.

The stark primitivism of Horton's "Easy" and DeBerry's work reflected Sam Phillips' personal taste as much as anything.


"When I was leasing to other labels", he said, "those labels wanted me to compromise. They wanted a fuller blues sound that I did. They were selling excitement''.  ''I was recording the feel I found in the blues. I  wanted to get that gut feel onto record. I realized that it was going to be much more difficult to merchandise than what Atlantic or Specialty, for example, were doing, but I was willing to go with it".

 
Again, the Burns' who claims half of the composer credits is none other than Phillips, whose wife's maiden name was Burns. In January 1954, DeBerry's contract was up, and Phillips wrote to him in Jackson, Tennessee, saying, ''Even though we have been unsuccessful until now in getting anything on you that has proved to be commercial (from a sales point of view) we still believe we can come up with something''. At that point, DeBerry was owned $12.45 in back royalties, but never, as far as we know, recorded at Sun again. In fact, he made no further recordings, except a comeback session for Steve LaVere.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jimmy DeBerry - Vocal and Guitar
Mose Vinson - Piano
Raymond Jones - Drums
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

MAY 1953

Sun 182 ''Heaven Or Fire'' b/w ''Tears And Wine'' by Dusty Brooks and His Tones is released. These recordings were provided by Jim Bulleit in Nashville and were the first very few sides that Sun leased from other labels.

According to Billboard, "Word has it that Rufus Thomas Jr., who waxed the smash "Bear C at" for Sun Records, is turning down many a one-nighter so he can remain mike side at his   WDIA deejay post". Nevertheless, Rufus did from a touring band of sorts, called the   Bearcats. He said, "I worked all over Memphis. We had four of five pieces in the band most   times. We did a lot of work after I had "Bear Cat" out".

MAY 16, 1953 SATURDAY

Rosco Gordon's ''We're All Loaded'' b/w ''Tomorrow May Be Too Late'' (RPM 383) released.

Jimmy Dean makes his Grand Ole Opry debut, introduced to the audience at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium by Carl Smith.

MAY 18, 1953 MONDAY

Bonnie Lou recorded ''Tennessee Wig Walk'' in Cincinnati.

Sam Phillips' partner, Jim Bulleit, was thrown into something of a panic. He commissioned a formal comparison study, which only went to prove what Sam had known all along. The two songs ''Hound Dog'' and ''Bear Cat'' were identical. He questioned whether Sam fully understood the business of publishing. He pleaded with Sam to release more product, since ''releasing is the life of this business... Don't let the distributors forget us''. And he constantly asked for money, stressing in one letter, ''I wouldn't nor haven't asked for money unless I needed it. Please understand and let me have the money, please''.

In the end Sam Phillips settled. He knew he was in the wrong, given the new copyright climate, and he had neither the resources nor the inclination to drag out what seemed certain to be a losing battle.   Sam Phillips pays Don Robey's Lion Music $1580,80 in settlement of the ''Bear Cat'' case, and gave up all claims to the publishing. The record itself was an unqualified triumph. sales kept climbing, and it eventually reached number 3 on the rhythm and blues charts, not dropping off again till the middle of June. Sam had already had big hits with other labels, but this was the first he had ever had on his own. And even if in the end, for all of the spirit that Rufus Thomas brought to it, there was no denying that it was a ''copy'' tune, and in spite of all the legal and financial trouble it had caused him, nothing could diminish the satisfaction he took, the pride that came with Sun Records' first real breakthrough success.

It caused him to redouble his effort in the studio, to redouble his efforts to get to know the disc jockeys, the distributors, all the people he would need to make a go of it in the business. He was disturbed by what he was beginning to see as Jim Bulleit's lack of good judgment when it came to sizing up people, many of Jim's distributors seemed poor prospects for Sun's type of material, and when they did place orders, it was almost impossible to get some of them to pay, but Sam wasn't sure how much of that could be attributed to Jim's almost permanent state of impecuniousness. In any case he was not to be deterred. He had always thought of the studio as his cathedral. Now he saw it more as a kind of living presence. ''What we had'', he said, ''was a church of the spirit that fed on itself'', a house of worship in which he could express his faith in his own unequivocally private terms.
 
 
MAY 19, 1953 TUESDAY

Sam Phillips pays white pianist Lucille Van Brocklin (who worked with the Snearly Ranch Boys) and Houston Stokes for an unknown session.

Carl Smith recorded ;;Hey Joe!'' during an evening session at Nashville's Castle Studio.

Jean Shepard and Ferlin Husky recorded ''A Dear John Letter'' on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, at the Capitol Studios.

Rose Maddox holds her first recording session as a solo artist, for Columbia.

MAY 20, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette star, as the western ''Goldtown Ghost Raiders'' reaches movie theaters.

MAY 21, 1953 THURSDAY

Merle Travis recorded ''Re-Enlistment Blues'' for the movie ''From Here To Eternity'' during an evening session at the Capitol Studios on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.

MAY 23, 1953 SATURDAY

Jim Reeves makes his Grand Ole Opry debut,   at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee,   singing ''Mexican Joe''.

The Davis Sisters, Skeeter Davis and the unrelated Betty Jack Davis recorded ''I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know''. An auto accident kills Betty Jack in August, making this the only hit record they cut together.

Ruben Tarpley, the father of eight-year-old Brenda Lee, dies from a freak accident, after being hit on the head by a hammer during a construction project in Georgia.

MAY 25, 1953 MONDAY

Guitarist Rich Alves, from Pirates Of The Mississippi, is born in Pleasanton, California. He co-produces and plays on the band's lone hit, 1991's ''Feed Jake''. He also plays on hits by Leon Everette, Mickey Gilley and Bobby Bare.

MAY 26, 1953 TUESDAY

Meridian, Mississippi, dedicates a monument to the late Jimmie Rogers, following a drive engineered by Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb. On hand for the ceremonies are Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, Charlie Monroe, Minnie Pearl and Lefty Frizzell.
 

MAY 28, 1953 THURSDAY

Unproductive session with Walter Horton.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOE HILL LOUIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY MAY 27-28, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Note: Sam Phillips' notebook showed the session on May 28, 1953 with Walter Horton, Joe Hill Louis,   Albert Williams, and Pat Hare. It's possible that the Joe Hill Louis session was recorded that day with Pat   Hare playing guitar and Joe Hill Louis playing drums. Sun's check register shows food expenses for May 27  and checks made out that day to Walter Horton, Joe Hill Louis, and Albert Williams.

01 - "HYDRAMATIC WOMAN" - B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 27, 1953
Released: - 1969
First appearance: - P-Vine Records (LP) 33rpm PLP 304 mono
THE BE-BOP-BOY
Reissued: - 1986 Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956

Louis had previously recorded ''Hydramatic Woman'' as "Automatic Woman", both terms referring to the   automatic transmissions found on early 1950s General Motors cars - whilst the song's lyrics consist of a   series of clever car / woman metaphors. The solo works is shared by both harmonica (Horton) and Joe's   guitar, although this distortion tends to blend the two instruments together.
Joe Hill Louis's ''Hydramatic Woman'' and ''Tiger Man'' are on the same tape as Mose Vinson's recordings,   and Louis was noted as being present on Vinson's session, leading us and others to assume that the Louis   recordings stemmed from one of the Vinson sessions. On closer examination, this is unlikely. The piano   playing is more structured than Vinson's eccentric style, and at the beginning of ''Tiger Man'', Louis says,   ''Albert, start it off'', suggesting that it's Albert Williams. Additionally, Rufus Thomas's version of ''Tiger   Man'' was on the street when one of Vinson's sessions took place in September 1953, so it would make little   sense to reprise it. In many ways, ''Hydramatic Woman'' was a belated ''Rocket 88'' spinoff. Louis's band hits   a sweet groove as he places yet another spin on the car-sex metaphor... just when you thought there couldn't   be another.

''Hydramatic Woman'' didn't earn a spot on Phillips' release schedule, but another recording by   Louis with saxophone appeared in 1954 on Bob Geddins' Big Town Records (slogan ''every one a hit'').

02 - "TIGER MAN (KING OF THE JUNGLE)" - B.M.I. - 3:09
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis-Sonny Burns
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - with Count-In - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 27, 1953
Released: - 1969
First appearance: - P-Vine Records (LP) 33rpm PLP 304 mono
THE BE-BOP-BOY
Reissued: - 1986 Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956

Beyond Albert Williams, it's tough to be certain of the identity of Louis's group. Clearly, it's not Louis   playing harmonica because we hear it under the vocals. The drum part is simple, but still too complicated for   Louis to be playing while he's playing guitar. The harmonica playing is splendid... some of the best we've   heard, elevating this recording above Thomas's in many respects. Walter Horton seems to be the likeliest   candidate. Louis references ''Bear Cat'' in the lyrics, so this was probably recorded in May 1953, after ''Bear   Cat'' was a hit before Thomas's ''Tiger Man'' session. Beyond that, we know little for sure.

According Mose Vinson, he was adamant that this wasn't cut at his session, and it's sufficiently odd that he would have   probably remembered it. Audibly, it seems to hang with ''Tiger Man'' and ''Hydramatic Woman''. Certainly,   it's on the same tape. We could be hearing Louis's drummer performing the narration and percussion, but it   could as easily be a shoe shine boy they brought in off the street to do his rap. There's just one take,   suggesting that Phillips wanted to take it no further.

03 - "SHINE BOY" - B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 27, 1953
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15524-26 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - THE BE-BOP BOY

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joe Hill Louis - Guitar and Guitar
Walter Horton - Harmonica
Albert Williams – Piano
Unknown – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR WALTER HORTON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: THURSDAY MAY 28, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01 - "UNKNOWN TITLES"
Recorded: - May 28, 1953
Released: - Sun Unissued - Tape lost

02 - "WALTER'S INSTRUMENTAL"* - B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - Walter Horton
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 28, 1953
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105* mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15524-20 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - THE BE-BOP BOY

"Walter's Instrumental" is possibly from this session. Only the Bear Family and the Redita LP utilize an original first generation acetate disc. The source for the others is a tape, on which two unsuccessful attempts to add echo via playback of an original acetate were made.

03(1) - "TALKIN' OFF THE WALL'' - 2:18
Composer: - Walter Horton
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued 
Recorded: - May 28, 1953
Released: - 1975
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30127-1-6 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 12 - UNION AVENUE BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-2-17 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950-1958
 
03(2) - "TALKIN' OFF THE WALL'' - 2:37
Composer: - Walter Horton
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - 2 Incomplete Takes -  Not Originally Issued 
Recorded: - May 28, 1953
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956 
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-9-9 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950-1958

 Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Walter Horton - Vocal and Harmonica
Albert Williams - Piano
Pat Hare - Guitar
Joe Hill Louis - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

MAY 29, 1953 FRIDAY

Columbia released Carl Smith's two-sided hit, ''Trademark'' backed by ''Do I Like It?''.

Sir Edmund Hillary, an explorer from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa, become the first people to successfully climb to the summit of Mount Everest in May of 1953. The pair stayed at the summit for about fifteen minutes before they had to begin their descent due to low oxygen. Before Hillary and Norgay accomplished the feat several other mountaineers had attempted to reach the summit of the highest mountain but had never been successful and many had even perished in the attempt.

MAY 30, 1953 SATURDAY

Fourteen-year-old Jimmy Boyd gets chased by a 2,000-pound bull during the Al Tansor Rodeo at Memorial Auditorium in Canton, Ohio. He escapes harm by dashing into the dressing room.
 

 
JUNE 1953
 

 
JUNE 1953

The first major integrated rock and roll show is staged in Cleveland with headlining co-stars   The Dominoes and Bill Haley & His Comets.

Queen Elizabeth II is crowned in Westminster Abbey.

Future Sun recording star Dean Beard moved to Coleman, Texas, in 1953, and Dean began working sessions in nearby Abilene for record producer Slim Williet (and in later years, he would hint darkly that he knew who really wrote Willet's smash hit ''Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes'').

MID 1953

The Tennessee press had been quick to pick up on the Prisonaires story. Dot Brimer of the   Kingsport News wrote a feature on the Prisonaires on July 1, 1953 saying: ''They began with   obscure appearances on seldom held Tenpen stage shows, progressing though hopeless-seeming   dead-end rehearsals to larger bits on inside shindigs, to a weekly 15-minute spot on   Nashville's WSOK to regular featuring on Tenpen's WSIX Saturday Night Varieties and a  precedent-setting guest appearance on TV's Tennessee Jamboree and on to 50,000 watt  WSM's big time George Morgan Show. James E. Edwards Tenpen's warden, has spearheaded   the current campaign for progress. So far ''The Prisonaires'' is the only unit of live talent   goodwill ambassadors that Tenpen is sending out. They are part of warden Edwards campaign   to educate the people of Tennessee in matters concerning the basic weaknesses in out penal   system. The warden is frankly using The Prisonaires to arouse interest and then steps in and   explains: ''For the first time in the history of the institution an organized effort is being  made to help inmates find jobs and in locating sponsors acceptable to the parole board and   the attempt to get together an adequate parole program''.

Dot Brimer was writing just one month after the Prisonaires had been in Memphis raising   their profile by making their first record under contract to Sun Records. Sun's owner Sam   Phillips told: ''Red Wortham was the one who set up the Prisonaires deal. He had a cousin   working as a senior guard at the penitentiary''. On the occasion of Wortham's visit with Joe   Calloway, it seems that the focus of attention was the new Bragg and Riley song ''Just Walkin'   In The Rain''. Wortham told Bragg that he could publish the song and thought that he could   get it recorded too. Red Wortham said: ''So, I made some recordings there in the prison and   we had two good cuts on tape. I first took this tape to Dee Kilpatrick who was head of Mercury   Records here in the southern district but he said no because he had another black group he   was working with, so next I went to see Paul Cohen of Decca Records. He had to run back   and forth to New York all the time, but he said 'I'll be back in a few weeks and I'll talk to you   about it'. Soon after, I was with Jim Bulleit in my office at Fourth and Union there. We were   distributing Sun Records and Jim and Sam were good friends. Jim said 'I'll cal Sam and see if   he wants it'. I was kinda anxious to get it moving so I agreed. Well he called Sam and mailed   the tape copy to him. He came back, and said 'Sam likes that tape and he'll put it out   because he loves that song called ''Baby Please'', but he wants you to go back in and record another song', because he thought ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' wouldn't make it'''.

In a slightly different version, Johnny Bragg told Bill Millar: ''A feller by the name of Red   Wortham came to the prison along with a man named Jim Bulleit. Of course Sam Phillips was   the president of Sun Records, he was the man that really had the right to say 'yes' or 'no' you   know... and they were very satisfied with that they heard, in fact they really flipped when   they heard ''Just Walkin' In The Rain''. And they made arrangements for Sam to hear the   Prisonaires''. Both Wortham and Bragg have mentioned in interviews that singer Chickie King was interest in the song and it is just possible that her version on Nashville's Gold label was   the first to be issued.

Sam Phillips agreed with the prison authorities that the Prisonaires could be taken to his   studio in Memphis on June 1, 1953 so that he could re-recorded the songs. The Prisonaires   travelled under guard to Memphis on at least two occasions up to May 1954 and Sam Phillips   also recorded them on at least two occasions in the auditorium at the prison. Phillips   recorded some twenty songs and released eight of them on four records by the Prisonaires,   the first of which, ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'', was the best selling (a 200,000 seller according   to Ebony Magazine) though none of the discs appeared on the National sales charts.

And below another true story on June 1, 1953
Jim Bulleit >

JUNE 1953

Sam Phillips had another group under contract who weren't traveling anywhere except  under armed guard. As part of the arrangement with Jim Bulleit, Sun acquired a black vocal  group from Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville, five inmates who called themselves  the Prisonaires.  The croup had been introduced to Bulleit by Red Wortham, a Nashville music publisher.

At  that time, the pen was seen as a fertile source of new songs, and many of the Grand Ole  Opry stars paid regular visits to buy material from both black and white inmates. Wortham  was on a similar quest when he heard about the Prisonaires.  
 
Formed by lead singer Johnny  Bragg shortly after he went inside in 1943, the group already had a steady gig on two local  stations, WSOK and WSIX, and was part of warden James Edwards' rehabilitation program. Edwards, a six foot two strapping World War II veteran, had served in a Marine Corps military battalion..
 
... for twenty months after the war, assigned for most of that time to the Fort Meade prisoner stockade. That experience, and governor Frank Clement's belief in him, were his only qualifications for the job. And when Edwards expressed some reservations about moving into the warden's quarters on the prison grounds with his wife and two daughters, Clement invoked their shared faith, stressing how integral the social reforms he intended to implement were both to the welfare of the state and the simple Christian values which they both espoused.

Wortham gave Bulleit a rough demo tape of Bragg and the Prisonaires singing four songs  (recorded over an early performance by Pat Boone on WSIX). Bulleit forwarded the tape to  Phillips. One of the songs, ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'', had been written by Bragg and another  inmate, Robert Riley. They had been walking in the rain to the prison laundry wondering, as  Bragg put it, ''what the little girls are doing right about no''. Although Phillips had no love for  their close-harmony, Ink Spots-inspired style, he saw the potential novelty slant, and, after  some tortuous negotiations, the Prisonaires, escorted by an armed guard and a trusty,  arrived in Memphis on June 1, 1953. On the way, Bragg remarked, ''Gee, look at that funny  cemetery''. He was seeing a drive-in movie lot for the just time.

Over the course of a session that lasted from 10:30 A.M. to 8:30 P.M., the Prisonaires honed  ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' to perfection. Phillips released it two week later. It started to get  action almost immediately, no doubt due in part to the novelty appeal of the group, but also  to the beauty of the song and the stilling quality of Bragg's lead vocal. Against a wordless  background vocal and a simple strummed guitar, he sang: ''Just walking in the rain. Getting  soaking wet. Torturing my heart. By tryin' to forget...''.

After a meeting in Nashville with Jim Bulleit at the end of July, Jud Phillips went out to see  the group in the pen. They told him they were already getting ten to twenty-five fan letters  a day. ''They plan to bring all of them to you when they come '', wrote Jud. ''They make me  think of a bunch of baby birds. They are one boys all of them. I get a great joy out of helping  people like that and think the really appreciate it''. In November 1953 Ebony magazine  reported that the record had sold 225,000 copies, although 50,000 was probably nearer the  mark.

The strictly segregated penitentiary where the Prisonaires were doing time had been dubbed  Swafford's Graveyard after a notorious previous warden. Despite its rough reputation, the  prison's new warden, Edwards, encouraged rehabilitation and allowed the group out on day  passes to perform on radio, and subsequently at live concerts. They even played some of the  plusher white hotels in Nashville. Held up as examples of rehabilitation at work, they were  introduced to Tennessee governor Frank Clement, who regularly brought the group to the  gubernatorial mansion for performances, thereby eliciting the unissued paean ''What About  Frank Clement (A Mighty Mighty Man)'', a song that had ''parole, please!'' written all over it.

Sam Phillips and the Prisonaires blew their momentum by following ''Just Walkin' In The  Rain'' with a gospel record, ''Softly And Tenderly;'', backed with ''My God Is Real'', featuring  Ike Turner in the unaccustomed role of church pianist. A hokey and hastily contrived third single, ''A Prisoner's Prayer'', was rushed onto the market, but the appeal of the group was  fading fast. The last single was issued in July 1954. Just one year after the brouhaha  surrounding their debut, the group was forgotten again.

Some of the Prisonaires were paroled in 1954 and 1955. Bragg remained inside and formed a  group called the Marigolds. He was released in 1959, but soon found himself back in trouble,  facing two counts of assaulting white women ''with intent to ravish, murder, and rob''. Jailed  again in 1960, he was visited by Elvis Presley, who asked him repeatedly if he needed a  lawyer or any help. Needing help so badly he could taste it, Bragg nevertheless declined. He  was eventually released in 1967.

Bragg had emerged from the pen in better financial shape than most ex convicts. He had half  the proceeds from ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' awaiting him. The publishing on the songs was  purchased by Gene Autry in May 1954, and Autry himself recorded it soon afterward, to  small success. But Columbia's head of countryman A&R, Don Low, had faith in the song. One  day, walking through the head once In New York, he met Mitch Miller, who was scouting  material for a Johnnle Ray session. Law suggested adjust ''Walkin' In The Rain'', and Ray took  it to number 2 on the pop charts during the fall of 1956. The first writer's check Bragg  receided was for fourteen hundred dollars. Bragg, who had never seen such a sum on a  check or anywhere, mistook it for fourteen dollars and asked the warden to deposit it in the  commissary cash register so he could get some cigarettes and candy.

The Prisonaires' talent far transcended their novelty appeal. Bragg's breathtakingly pure lead  tenor could have put the group in the front rank of vocal groups. But they were drawing on  traditions that were alien to Phillips, who recorded little else In the close-harmony style,  either sacred or secular. He would later say he regretted that he had not done more in the  gospel held. He recorded one gospel single by the Brewsteraires for Chess, and released  another by the Jones Brothers on the Sun label, but sales were poor. ''It certainly wasn't  intentional neglect'', he said In 1984, ''but you have to compromise. There's no telling what I  should and could have done in gospel music from the Memphis area. I'm ashamed to say I  barely touched the surface. It was a whole different area to merchandise, and you run out of  time after working eighteen hours a day''.

 

 © - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR RUDY GRAYZELL
FOR ABBOTT RECORDS 1953

KWKH STUDIO, 327 TEXAS, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
ABBOTT SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE SUMMER 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER – FABOR ROBISON
RECORDING ENGINEER – BOB SULLIVAN

At five feet, six inches, Rudy Grayzell might be smaller than most, but he's larger than life. Did he go to Doug Sahm's school, telling the teacher that he was his uncle so that he could pull him out for road trips. Did he hang out with Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and other luminaries as often as he says? Did he and Roy Orbison coin the word rockabilly in a Bossier City hotel? Did he sing ''Ducktail'' naked in a cemetery for a bunch of drunken girls? Were he and Link Davis chased by a ten-foot alligator in Lake Charles, Louisiana? Was he really making love to a woman in a trailer when a tornado hit, throwing him onto the woman's mother? And what about the hermaphrodite and the five wives? You won't find better stories anywhere in rock and roll. You won't find more electric music either.
San Antonio, circa 1953. From left: Eddy Dugosh,  Bobby Baker, Rudy Grayzell. Front: Doug Sahm > 

Charlie Walker, a San Antonio disc jockey and recordings star landed Rudy Grayzell a spot on KMAC in San Antonio, selling Pear Beer. The omens were good: Ernest Tubb got his start on KMAC selling beer. Because Walker was a disc jockey, he had the ear of the guys at the record labels and when he told them that they should sign an artist, they often did. 
 

There are two accounts of how Rudy Grayzell ended up on Abbott Records. In the first, Walker called the boss of Abbott Records, Fabor Robison, who split his time between Shreveport, Louisiana and Hollywood, California.

Fabor was in Shreveport part of the time because two of his top acts, Johnny Horton and Jim Reeves, were based there on the Louisiana Hayride, and he was in California because his labels were based there. ''Fabor and Jim Reeves drove down from Shreveport to San Antonio, and that's where I recorded my first session. We did it at KWKH after the station went off the air''.

Rudy was acquired right around the time that Robison bought out his partner, drug store owner Sid Abbott, to assume full control of Abbott (the date of the transaction was August 7, 1953 and the amount was $4575, for those interested). But Fabor had another quasi partner, Sylvester Cross at American Music in Los Angeles. Both versions of events come from Rudy, and the second version he said that he sent out publishing demos to every music Publisher, and American Music replied, so it's possible that Sylvester Cross sent Robison to check out Grayzell. Either way, Rudy Grayzell was an Abbott recording artist as of mid-1953.

The big record throughout the fall of 1952 and the spring of 1953 was Slim Willet's ''Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes''. Very unlike any other country record to that point, it had an Hispanic rhythm and odd meter. Rudy's first recording for Abbott, ''Looking At The Moon And Wishing On A Star'', had the same rhythm and tempo as Willet's oddball record, and Rudy tore into it with more lungpower than finesse. ''This is a ranchero which Grayzell really belts'', noted Billboard. ''Watch it and watch him. This could happen''. It was issued under the name Grayzell at Fabor's insistence. Figuring that the country market wasn't ready to find another name. Rudy's great, great grandmother was a German immigrant whose name was anglicized to Grayzell, and he has been Rudy Grayzell (almost) ever since. ''Looking At The Moon'' didn't chart, but probably sold quite well because Skeets McDonald covered it for Capitol and Charline Arthur for RCA. Rudy's version was issued in England on London Records, albeit in November 1954.
 
 01 – ''LOOKING AT THE MOON AND WISHING ON A STAR'' – B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Rudy Grazell
Publisher: - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 145 A
Recorded: - Unknown Date Summer 1953
Released: - September 19, 1953
First appearance: Abbott Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Abbott 145-A mono
LOOKING AT THE MOON AND WISHING ON A STAR /
THE HEART THAT ONCE WASINE
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837-28 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

02 – ''THE HEART THAT ONCE WAS MINE'' – B.M.I. - 2:40
Composer: - Rudy Grazell-Austin Moody
Publisher: - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 145 B
Recorded: - Unknown Date Summer 1953
Released: - September 19, 1953
First appearance: Abbott Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Abbott 145-B mono
THE HEART THAT ONCE WAS MINE /
LOOKING AT THE MOON AND WISHING ON A STAR
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837-27 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

Name (or. No. Of Instruments)
Rudy Grayzell – Vocal & Rhythm Guitar (Possibly)
Tommy Bishop – Guitar
James Clayton ''Jimmy'' Day – Steel Guitar
Don Davis or Kenny Hill – Bass
Kenneth ''Little Red'' Hayes – Fiddle
Floyd Cramer - Piano

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The Prisonaires  heading to Memphis, 1953 >
 

JUNE 1, 1953 MONDAY

Jim Bulleit, owner of Bullet Records in Nashville, drove five singing prisoners in a specially modified elongated Chevrolet at the  Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville to Memphis. The Prisonaires arrived at 706 Union  Avenue to make their first record for Sun Records (Sun 186). It is very likely, the item about  the session in an article on June 2, 1953 from reporter Clark Porteous, that captured the attention of Elvis Presley.


At 10:30 a.m., they grouped themselves around a microphone at the Sun Records studio,  at the junction of Union and Marshall Avenues in Memphis. The guard and the trusty went  next door to Dell Taylor's Restaurant for food and coffee,  and the group tried to get a recording balance for Sun  Records' owner Sam Phillips, because the artists were not permitted to eat in the restaurant.

They sang in the sweet close harmony style for which Phillips  had little affection, so he called over to local bottling and vending don, Drew Canale, and  asked if his houseboy, Joe Hill Louis, could come down and sit in on guitar. Louis' music  was at the polar opposite extreme of black music: raw, unsophisticated and bluesy. "You  guys are good", said Louis to Bragg, "but you've got to stick together". Bragg replied that,  with three of the group in for 99 years, there was not much change of doing otherwise.
 


Elvis Presley 1953 >

The story of Elvis Presley's association with Sun Records is essentially the story of three  rapid transformations. A painfully shy nineteen-year-old kid was transformed into a twenty-year- old strutting peacock. A singer with barely enough confidence to sing on the front porch  was transformed into a performer who was being sought by virtually every major record  label in the United States. And a country singer was transformed into an artist with the  potential to cross the rigid demarcation lines separating pop, country and western, and  rhythm and blues.

It was an eventful seventeen months that Presley spent at Sun, and much of what happened  has been taken for granted. For as long as most can remember, Elvis Presley has represented  the benchmark of success in popular music. Every other performer of epic stature is  measured against him. It is hard to appreciate today that when Presley walked into Sun  Records for the first time, he was a household name only in his own household. Now that his  achievement in blending pop, country, and rhythm and blues into a new hybrid has become a  commonplace of...
 
... American popular culture, it is difficult to understand how alien his music  was in 1954. It is even harder to view the course of Presley's early career through the  correct end of the telescope, or to imagine a time when a record salesman would go into a  store and encounter the riposte, ''Elvis who?''.

How did the shrinking violet of July 1954 become the self-proclaimed Hillbilly Cat of  November 1952? And why was virtually every major record label in the United States coming  to Sam Phillips with checkbook in hand, willing to sign an artist whose appeal was largely  untested outside the South? It all happened very quickly, in a short period that deserves  another look. Though it may be a clicks to say that Elvis Presley blended hillbilly music with  rhythm and blues and pop, it has never been fully explained just how the music he created  became so hot so quickly.

Popular wisdom, which has now taken on the power of a classical myth, has it that the first  the world ever heard from Elvis Presley was in the summer of 1953, when Elvis walked into  the Sun studio to record a personal disc for his mother's birthday.

As some have pointed out, it is more likely, considering that Gladys Presley's birthday was in  the spring, that Presley made the first record for himself, to hear how he sounded. That first  disc soon ended up in the hands of Presley's schoolmate Ed Leech. They shared a homeroom  in the twelfth grade at Humes High and hung out together for a year or two. By Leek's own  account, he hung on to the disc, which coupled ''My Happiness with ''That's When Your  Heartaches Begin'', because his grandparents owned a record player and the Presley family  didn't.

Either Sam Phillips or Marion Keisker noted that Presley had a good feel for ballads and that  he should be invited back. The personal disc was cut in the summer of 1953 (update: July  18, 1953); the invitation to audition for Sun came in May or June 1954. It seems  inconceivable that there was no contact between Presley and Sun in the interim. Presley  probably cut a second personal disc before Sam Phillips was impressed enough to ask him to  record for Sun. Presley probably followed up, opportunistically, with some appearances at  the studio. At one time, Phillips recalled seeing him quite frequently, and remembered  saying, ''Here's ol' Elvis coming to see what kind of star we can make of him today''.

One serious challenge to that scenario, though, comes from Johnny Bragg, the lead singer of  the Prisonaires, who suggests that Elvis Presleys face was a familiar sight at Sun as early as  June 1953. Bragg clearly recalled that Presley was present during the all-day session on  June 1, 1953 that resulted in ''Just Walkin' In The Rain''.

"I was having problems phrasing some of the words", said Bragg. "Sam was ready to give up  on it, and here come this guy out of nowhere, wearing raggedy blue jeans. He said, "I  believe I can help him pronounce the words". Sam got mad. He said, "Didn't I tell you to stay  outta here? These men are prisoners. We're likely to be sued". I said, "If he thinks he can  help me phrase this thing, give him a chance". I was getting disgusted because Sam didn't  like "Just Walkin' In The Rain", and I knew it could amount to something. Eventually, Sam  said, "Ok, let him try", so we took a break, and Elvis Presley worked with me on my diction.  He didn't know too much about what he was doing, but he worked with me on it, and when  we went back, we got it the first cut".

According to Bragg, that visitor, was Elvis Presley. If so, it means he was hanging around the  Sun studio a year before his first record was cut, which invites a minor re-write of history.  Bragg may have telescoped the time frame, confusing the first Prisonaires session with a  later one; certainly, there is no mention of Presley in his article. Still, its fairly clear that  Elvis Presley met Bragg at some point in 1953 or early 1954 when the Prisonaires were  recording for Sun. The last Prisonaires session logged at Sun was in February 1954, although  they returned for another unlogged session, when Sam Phillips recorded them over outtakes  of Elvis Presley's reeltape "Good Rockin' Tonight". Elvis Presley remembered Johnny Bragg  and went to the Tennessee State Penitentiary in 1960 to visit him - "He has known Bragg  from back when he was starting out", said the accompanying report.

(For the complete Elvis Sun story: See Elvis Sun Sessions)
 

 
It is unclear how the Prisonaires came to be heard outside the prison walls. A contemporary report stated that Joe Calloway of WSIX, Nashville, was at the prison for a newscast, heard the group and arranged for them to have a regular show on WSIX, and on the local black station, WSOK. Calloway's approach came as a wind of change was blowing through the prison. Previously known as "Swafford's Graveyard" after the previous warden, the jail was now being managed by James Edwards, a friend of Governor Frank Clement, who wanted to prepare the inmates for their return to society.

Robert Riley, in his cell composing music, Tennessee State Penitentiary, Nashville, Tennessee, 1953. >
 
Southern record mogul Jim Bulleit, who had helped bankroll Sun just a few months prior to this next recording, was the intermediary who put The Prisonaires together with Sam Phillips. Bob Stanley Riley was, like the group, an inmate at Nashville's State stockade and could take credit for "Just Walkin' In The Rain" along with lead vocalist, Johnny Bragg. For the next recording, the flip side of their launch vehicle,...
 
... Joe Hill Louis was brought in to adds his chunky guitar phrases to Riley's beseeching lyric. To add to the growing plot, heartthrob crooner Johnnie Ray puts out a fresh version some three years after the original and this time, "Just Walkin' In The Rain" becomes an international success. Soberingly, by then the group had split, their glory days already history.
 
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STUDIO SESSION FOR THE PRISONAIRES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY JUNE 1, 1953
SESSION HOURS: 10:30AM-8:30PM
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM PHILLIPS

01 - "JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN"* - 1 - B.M.I. - 2:47
Composer: - Robert Riley-Johnny Bragg-Buddy Killen
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U-76 - Master
Recorded: - June 1, 1953
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 186-A mono
JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN / BABY PLEASE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-22 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Johnny Bragg and Robert Riley were walking to the prison laundry when Bragg remarked to Riley, ''Here we are walking in the rain. I wonder what the little girls are doing''? ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' was the song that stemmed from that observation, and it played to Bragg's strengths as a vocalist. The bridge (''People come to windows...'') perfectly captured the yearning and regret he must surely have felt on so many occasions during his long incarceration. Although no lover of close harmony groups, Phillips released ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' on July 8, 1953.

''We used to practice, practice, practice'', Johnny Bragg said. ''We didn't have no microphones, so we used an echo with buckets. Everybody would get a bucket, and you could put that bucket up to your ears and, you know, a sound would come out. I wanted to be the Ink Spots, and I thought I could be the Ink Spots. I was young, crazy, I didn't know. I used to sing sitting in the cell. People be hollering and clapping their hands, this was the black wing at that time. 'Listen to the nigger'. 'Listen at him'. 'Well, let the nigger sing a little bit'. 'He can sing, can't he?'''. 

To Sam Phillips the demo possessed a delicate, quavering beauty, admirably seconded by William Stewart's classically spare guitar, but Sam thought it could achieve a greater intensity. And that's what they spent all day and well into the night looking for. They worked and worked on it. ''Sam Phillips wanted everything to be perfect'', Johnny Bragg said many years after the fact. ''Ain't nothing wrong with that. We started early in the morning, and now it's four o'clock, five o'clock, six o'clock. Mr. Sam was something else''.
Sam Phillips also got great joy from watching the orders roll in. Ebony magazine reported that the record sold over 200,000 copies, and the group started making personal appearances on day passes throughout the state, and, with considerable complication, outside the state. Although it didn't chart, ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' was a hit. One who took notice was Joe Johnson who worked for Columbia's country artist and repertoire man, Don Law. Johnson soon moved to California to work for one of Law's acts, Gene Autry, and told him about ''Just Walkin' In The Rain''. Autry acquired the music publishing from Wortham, who probably thought the song had run its course.

From left: William Stewart, Johnny Bragg, Ed Thurman,   John Drue, Marcell Sanders with sheet music of ''Just Walkin' In The Rain''. >
 
 Johnson pitched the song to Don Law in 1956, who recorded it with one of his acts, Dick Richards. Law gave Richards' disc to Columbia's New York A&R man, Mitch Miller, who produced Johnnie Ray's number 2 pop hit version. Bragg was invited to the annual BMI banquet in New York, but found himself otherwise engaged that night.
 
  02 - "INTERVIEW JERRY PHILLIPS" - B.M.I. - 1:09

Like his brother Knox, Jerry Phillips perpetuates the family bloodline with a combination of pride and dignity. His indoctrination couldn't have been more appropriate, because at aged of six he was allowed to sit in the Sun studio control room, where he watched his father record The Prisonaires singing "Just Walkin' In The Rain". Some twelve years later he found himself on the other side of the glass with The Jesters, a local fraternity combo who delivered the last of the killer Sun singles, named by "Cadillac Man" SUN 400.
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Sanctuary Records (CD) 500/200rpm FBUBX002-8-16 mono
50 GOLDEN YEARS 1952 - 2002

After the Prisonaires had sung ''Baby Please'' for Sam Phillips, he called over the vending machine operator, Drew Canale, to ask if his houseboy, Joe Hill Louis, could come and sit in on guitar. Louis was at the poor opposite extreme of black music: raw, unsophisticated and bluesy. It took until 8:30 p.m. to finish the two songs. Louis imparted a tough, bluesy edge to ''Baby Please'', for which he was paid $10.00, but the group persuaded Phillips that Louis should sit out ''Just Walkin' In The Rain''. They didn't wants its poignancy destroyed by his slash-and-burn guitar. Upon release, Phillips saw ''Baby Please'' as the plug side, and was surprised when ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' became a hit.

 03 - "BABY PLEASE"** - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Robert S. Riley
Publisher: - Warner Chappell Music Limited
Matrix number: - U-75 - Master
Recorded: - June 1, 1953
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 186-B mono
BABY PLEASE / JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-21 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

 
 04 - "DREAMING OF YOU"** - B.M.I. – 2:26
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 1, 1953
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15523-3 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN

05 - "THAT CHICK'S TOO YOUNG TO FRY" - B.M.I. - 1:43
Composer: - Tommy Edwards-Jimmy Hilliard
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 1, 1953
Released: - 1979
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30176 mono
FIVE BEATS BEHIND BARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15523-4 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN

''That Chick's Too Young To Fry'' is a spirited version of Louis Jordan, a dreamy pop song, a 5 Royales-type rhythm and blues number.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal*
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal
John Drue - Lead Tenor Vocal**
William Stewart - Baritone Vocal and Guitar
Marcell Sanders - Bass Vocal
Possible Joe Hill Louis - Guitar
Willie Nix – Drums

When the session was finally over at 8:30 P.M., and they all poured back into the prison transport for the four-hour return drive to Nashville, the final version had the intensity that Sam Phillips had been seeking all along, a quiet intensity but an altogether focused one, too. As with ''Baby Please'', he had gotten them to slightly advance the tempo, but with no diminution of control and fewer side effects, as Johnny's spectacular falsetto was less frequently displayed and eliminated altogether at the end. The sound was more closely miked and, as a result, more intimate, the almost reverential conclusion both statelier and more spiritual. But overall the feel was so close to the original, it would be hard to say what any of the exhausted participants might have thought. Except for Sam. To Sam they had done justice to an idea as well as a sound. And whether or not the record was a hit, they had accomplished just what they had set out to do.

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Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR LUKE MCDANIELS
FOR KING RECORDS 1953

RADIO WKAB STUDIO, MOBILE, ALABANA
KING SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE JUNE 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - BERNIE PERLMAN

During 1953-1954, Luke McDaniel recorded twelve songs in three sessions for King Records to a consistently high standard, but nothing broke away in the country charts and Luke, always irritated by poor royalty accounting, finally broke with King Records and moved to Mel-a-Dee Records, based in New Orleans and owned by Mel Mallory.

01 - ''I CAN'T GO'' - B.M.I. - 2:13
Composer: Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Lois Music
Matrix number: - K-3644
Recorded: - Unknown Date June 1953
Released: - November 1953
First appearance: - King Records (S) 78rpm standard single King 1276-A mono
I CAN'T GO / FOR OLD TIME SHAKE
Reissued: Stomper Time (CD) 500/200rpm Stomper Time STCD 24-12 mono
LUKE MCDANIEL - MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN

02 – ''JUST FOR OLD TIME SAKE'' - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Lois Music
Matrix number: - K-3645
Recorded: - Unknown Date June 1953
Released: - November 1953
First appearance: - King Records (S) 78rpm standard single King 1276-B mono
FOR OLD TIME SHAKE / I CAN'T GO
Reissued: - Stomper Time (CD) 500/200rpm Stomper Time STCD 24-26
LUKE MCDANIEL - MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN

03 – ''LET ME BE A SOUVENIR'' - B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Lois Music
Matrix number: - K-3646
Recorded: - Unknown Date June 1953
Released: - July 1953
First appearance: - King Records (S) 78rpm standard single King 1247-A mono
LET ME BE A SOUVENIR / DRIVE ON
Reissued: - Stomper Time (CD) 500/200rpm Stomper Time STCD 24-21
LUKE MCDANIEL - MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN

04 – ''DRIVE ON'' - B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Lois Music
Matrix number: - K-3647
Recorded: - Unknown Date June 1953
Released: - July 1953
First appearance: - King Records (S) 78rpm standard single King 1247-B mono
DRIVE ON / LET ME BE A SOUVENIR
Reissued: - Stomper Time (CD) 500/200rpm Stomper Time STCD 24-27
LUKE MCDANIEL - MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Luke McDaniel - Vocal & Guitar
Dusty Harrell - Lead Guitar
Jack Cardwell - Guitar
Lloyd Wells

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JUNE 1953

The singles Sun 183 ''Lonesome Ol' Jail'' b/w ''Greyhound Blues'' by D.A. Hunt, Sun 184 ''Call Me Everything But Call Me'' b/w ''Baby No! No!'' by Big Memphis Ma Rainey, and Sun 185 ''Take A Little Chance'' b/w ''Time Has Made A Change'' by Jimmy DeBerry are   released.

JUNE 1953

At one of Roy Orbison's band gigs in McCamey's Lions Club, somebody offered them to play a   dance and pay them for it. The pay for that gig was as good as a hard working week's pay, so   they agreed to do it even though they only knew 4 or 5 songs. They learned some more   tunes in a rush practicing at the Community Center, and started getting paid for what they   liked doing. They were invited to tour West Texas with R. A. Lipscomb who was running for   the office of district governor of the Lions Club in 1953. They attended the 36th  International Lions Club Convention in Chicago from July 3rd to July 11th of that year...   Together with Mr. Lipscomb, they all stayed at the Conrad Hilton Hotel and the Wink   Westerners performed in the front lobby.

The Orioles "Crying In The Chapel" becomes the first rhythm and blues hit to approach the   Top Ten on the Billboard Pop Charts, stalling just short at number 11 late that summer.


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STUDIO SESSION FOR SHY GUY DOUGLAS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY MONDAY JUNE 1, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

It's clear from this ''Work With Her Boy'' that Douglas had done is share of entertaining. This is a man used to working audience with slickly hip lyrics. This is straight out of the Nat Cole playbook, and it's clearly aimed at up-market black nightclubs or maybe even Nashville's white hotel lounges. If it's hard to know why Douglas was pitched to Phillips when there was an Excello deal in place, it's not difficult to see why Phillips said no.

01 - "WORK WITH HER BOY" - B.M.I. - 1:53
Composer: - Shy Guy Douglas
Publisher: - Delta Blues Incorporated
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably June 1, 1953
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-10 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-15 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958
Nashville-based singer Tomas Douglas aka Shy Guy Douglas was a protege of Red Wortham, who brought the Prisonaires to Jim Bulleit and thence to Sun. The date on one of Douglas's tape boxes is June 1, 1953, the same date as the Prisonaires' ''Just Walkin' In The Rain' session. That opens three possibilities: Douglas might have been invited guest on the prison bus that made its way to Memphis that day, even though no one remembered him; of perhaps the date cited is wrong and Douglas travelled to Memphis another day; or perhaps this is a Nashville-made tape that Wortham submitted to Phillips on June 1, 1953.  

What argues for a Nashville-made tape is that the recording sounds more like a one-mic demo than a Sun master.  What argues for a trip to Memphis is that an unidentified Nashville pianist once told record dealer Mike Smyth that he made a recording session ''for Sun with Shy Guy Douglas''.

One of Douglas's reels is taped over a hillbilly radio show from Florida that appears to date from the fall of 1952. And what makes it harder still to unravel is that around June 1, 1953, Excello Records in Nashville issued another recording of...
 
... Douglas singing ''Detroit Arrow''. On the Excello recording, Skippy Brooks reportedly playing piano, on this recording, the florid pianist was probably an employee of WLAC, Nashville, Richard Armstrong, who had backed Douglas on his Delta/MGM recording of ''Raid On Cedar Street'' four years earlier and recorded for Randy's Records (the precursor of Dot) and for Tennessee Records. There are no clues about the guitarists identity. Finally, you'd think that the ''Detroit Arrow'' would be one of the trains that took African Americans from the South to Detroit; but no, it ran from Detroit to Chicago.
 
  02 - "DETROIT ARROW BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:08
Composer: - Shy Guy Douglas
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably June 1, 1953
Released: - September 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30126-A-8 mono
SUN: THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 11 - MEMPHIS BLUES SOUNDS
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-11 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

There's a fairly well known rhythm and blues song titled ''Hip Shakin' Mama''. Chubby Newsome originated it and Irma Thomas still sings it, but this ain't it. This is Mr. Shy Guy's very own calling card but his lightweight voice and the flowery piano aren't really suited to this tempo and this type of braggadocio. Again, you can almost hear the tinkling of glasses in the background and the polite, indifferent applause at the end. It's out of character with just about everything else in, and Sam Phillips clearly didn't think he needed it. In all likelihood, this is the same song that Douglas recorded for Red Wortham and Jim Bulleit in 1948 as ''Shy Guy's Back In Town''. It was part of a four-song session for Bullet's Delta Records, later sold or leased to MGM. Neither Delta nor MGM released ''Shy Guy's Back In Town''.

03 - "HIP SHAKIN' MAMA (SHY GUY'S BACK IN TOWN)" - B.M.I. 1:41
Composer: - Shy Guy Douglas
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably June 1, 1953
Released: - September 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30126-A-7 mono
SUN: THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 11 - MEMPHIS BLUES SOUNDS
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-16 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Thomas ''Shy Guy'' Douglas - Vocal
Unknown - Guitar
Possibly Richard Armstrong - Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

JUNE 1, 1953 MONDAY

Jim Reeves' role as an announcer for KWKH's The Louisiana Hayride comes to an end as  disc jockey, Norman Bale replaces him. Reeves is free to work The Hayride strictly as a performer.
 

Ronnie Dunn is born in Coleman, Oklahoma. The lanky singer teams with Kix Brooks to form the harmoni-laden Brooks and Dunn, whose mix of honky tonk with rock influences makes them the dominant duo in country from 1991 until their split in 2010.

 

JUNE 2, 1953 TUESDAY

 

Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation took place in the United Kingdom. The coronation was held at Westminster Abbey where thousands of guests gathered to witness the historical event. Elizabeth’s father King George VI had passed away during February of the previous year, and not long after his death Elizabeth began her duties as a monarch. She was not formally crowned until the coronation as it was tradition to allow several months to pass for mourning of the previous monarch. It was the first coronation service to be broadcast on television.  In the boys choir is Keith Richards who will co-write The Rolling Stones' ''Honky Tonk Woman'' ranked in a Country Music Foundation book among country's 500 greatest singles.

 

JUNE 3, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Elvis' L.C. Humes High School commencement, a joyous moment for the Presley family   finally arrived. On that muggy Wednesday night, Elvis Presley anxiously entered the spacious   Ellis Auditorium's South Hall for the graduation ceremony.   In his subdued black tie and new   white shirt, Elvis Presley felt awkward as he walked into the hall with his classmates. As the   Class 202 members of the Humes class of 1953 marched forward to accept their diplomas,   there was an uncomfortable feeling in Elvis' stomach.

As Elvis Presley wandered into the Ellis Auditorium, he met George Klein, the Humes High   class president. They were both poor boys who were highly successful overachievers. Elvis   Presley admired Klein's poise and self-assurance, and George Klein was smitten with Elvis'   musical talent.
 
 
The bubbly sense of anticipation that erupts during a High School graduation was evident   as each student shook principal T.C. Brindley's hand and received a diploma from the   superintendent of the Memphis Public Schools, E.C. Ball. As Elvis Presley left on stage, he   turned to Billy Leaptrott, a classmate and photographer, and remarked: "I don't got it". It   was Elvis Presley's humorous way of suggesting that, despite his rural Southern   background, he was smarter than many people realized. Elvis Presley always took care to   use proper English, and his remark was a cutting reference to the strict class lines that  prevailed in Memphis society.

JUNE 3, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Studio session for Joseph Dobbins and the Four Cruisers at Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee.

 


 

 


Joseph ''Joe'' Dobbins wasn't exactly a "spring-chicken" when he recorded his one and only record in Memphis being around 50 years old. Dobbins was born in Brinkley, Arkansas on September 9, 1901.  After his debut disc he never recorded again until he teamed up with guitarist Mike Stewart (Backwards Sam Firk) recording as a duet at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis for Adelphi Records for two recordings in 1970. Dobbins died in Memphis later that year in December.

Joseph ''Joe'' Dobbins >
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR JOSEPH DOBBINS & THE FOUR CRUISERS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR CHESS RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY JUNE 3, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

So what led discographers to think that this might be one of Sam Phillips' recordings? A couple of reasons: the leader of the Four Cruisers, Joe Dobbins, was based in Memphis throughout most of his long career, and Phillips was supplying masters to Chess around this time. Against that, you could argue that Dobbins' single sounds nothing like a Memphis Recording Service session and Phillips had fallen out with Chess several months before it was recorded. Recently, some researchers have suggested that Howlin' Wolf's post-Phillips Memphis session was held at Lester Bihari's Memphis studio. Bihari, of course, ran Meteor Records, but it seems unlikely that Leonard Chess would record there because he'd stolen Bihari's  charter act, Elmore James. Dobbins' session was roughly contemporaneous with Wolf's last Memphis session, though, so it's at least possible that Leonard Chess A&R'd them both at a studio other than Phillips.

 
 
 
Over the course of a long and fairly detailed oral history, Dobbins didn't go into much depth about this single. ''I wrote my first number in 1943 or 1943'', he told Harry Godwin in 1967. ''I wrote ''Beale Street Shuffle'' and ''On Account Of You''. They didn't do so good because I didn't know how to arrange at that particular time, and I quit playing again for about eight or nine years''. Dobbins probably meant 1952 or 1953, and gave no clue as to the identity of the three unidentified Cruisers or where he recorded the session. So we're left with a pleasant, if innocuous, instrumental that's of interest only because it appeared on Chess and might have been Sam Phillips' last recording for that label.

Joseph Dobbins at work in the 1960s >


 
 
 
 
01 - "BEALE STREET SHUFFLE" - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: - Joseph Dobbins
Publisher: - Arc Music
Matrix number: - U-7522
Recorded: - June 3, 1953
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single Chess 1547-A mono
BEALE STREET SHUFFLE / ON ACCOUNT OF YOU
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-10 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

As Joe Dobbins (Not Dobbin as the label stated) comes to the fore, it again becomes clear that this doesn't sound like one of Phillips' recordings if for no other reason than the vocal is poorly recorded. By 1953, Phillips had achieved a very bright, urgent, and ballsy vocal sound. It would be wrong to say that Phillips didn't record this type of music, though. Within weeks of Dobbins' session, wherever it was held, Phillips recorded Big Memphis Ma Rainey, who played much the same places in much the same style. And although Chess has become indelibly associated with Chicago blues it's easy to forget that the Chess brothers began their music career in the nightclub business and always recorded what can best be described as suppperclub entertainment. Although not as studiedly cool as Charles Brown, this was still supperclub blues. Thus we're left with more questions than answers about a record that deserves few of either.

02 - "ON ACCOUNT OF YOU*" - B.M.I. - 2:57
Composer: - Joseph Dobbins
Publisher: - Arc Music
Matrix number: - U-7523
Recorded: - June 3, 1953
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single Chess 1547-B mono
ON ACCOUNT OF YOU / BEALE STREET SHUFFLE
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-11 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joseph Dobbins - Vocal* and Piano
The Four Cruisers
Unidentified - Guitar, Bass, Drums

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JUNE 4, 1953 THURSDAY

The morning after graduation, Elvis Presley trekked down to the state-run Tennessee Employment Security Office, located at 122 Union Avenue, filled out his application for work and sat waiting for an interview and evaluation. That Thursday morning was the day that Elvis Presley reported to work at the M.B. Parker Machinist Company owned by M.B. Parker.


The first sign of dissatisfaction with the Parker Company occurred when Elvis Presley reported to David Parker, the boss' son, and complained about being assigned to an eightman crew stripping nail kegs from equipment about to be reconditioned.

The tedious work bothered Elvis Presley, so he talked at length about his show business aspirations. The withholding statement when Elvis worked for M.B. Parker is 3 1/4x7 inches. "A job. Any job. I just want to work", Elvis Presley told the interviewer. That same afternoon, M.B. Parker stopped by Tennessee Employment to see if maybe he could find a helper for his shop. Parker's small company, in the nearby Thomas-Chelsea area (which later would house American Sound Studio), paired small engines. It was dirty work. Greasy work. But it was steady work and it handed out paychecks every other Saturday. "Mr. Parker", the interviewer said, "I had a young man come in here this morning you might want to talk to. He was nice and clean. Very polite. said 'yes sir' and 'no sir'. Just graduated last night from Humes". "He sounds okay", Parker said. Send him to see me". "Well, now, Mr. Parker", the interviewer fudged, "you might not like him when you see him". "Why not?". "Because he's got long sideburns". "Well, send him around anyhow".

And a day or so later, Elvis Presley began learning to repair small engines for M.B. Parker. It really was dirty work, but Elvis was very much looking forward to that first paycheck because he had plans for some of the money he had earned. Big plans.

JUNE 5, 1953 FRIDAY

Rex Allen recorded ''Crying In The Chapel'' at the Castle Studio in Nashville.

JUNE 6, 1953 SATURDAY

NBC-TV rolls out the summer series ''Saturday Night Revue'', with host Hoagy Carmichael, a co-writer of ''Georgia On My Mind''.

''Take These Chains From My Heart'' returns the late Hank Williams to number 1 on the Billboard country singles chart.

JUNE 8, 1953 MONDAY

Hank Thompson recorded ''Wake Up, Irene'', ''A Fooler, A Faker'' and ''Breakin' The Rules'' at Capitol's Melrose Avenue studio in Los Angeles.

Bonnie Tayler is born in Swansea, Wales. The scratchy-voiced singer is primarily a pop artist, though her millionselling ''It's A Heartache'' becomes a country hit in 1978.

Decca released Webb Pierce's two-sided hit, ''It's Been So Long'' and ''Don't Throw Your Life Away''

Freddie Hart holds the first recording session of his career, for Capitol Records.

JUNE 10, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Woody Guthrie suffers several burns on his right arm in an accident fire at home while attempting to cook breakfast in a barbecue pit in Beluthahatchee, Florida.

JUNE 12, 1953 FRIDAY

Jonathan ''Rocky'' Burnette is born in Memphis, the son of rockabilly pioneer Johnny Burnette. He has a pop hit in the 1980s with ''Tired Of Toein' The Line''.

JUNE 13, 1953 SATURDAY

Studio session with Billy "James" Gayles at Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. Session details unknown.



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JAMES BILLY GAYLES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SATURDAY JUNE 13, 1953
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – SAM C. PHILLIPS

No Details

01 - ''YOU CAN'T LOVE TWO''
Composer: - Billy Gayles
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Sun Unissued
Recorded: - June 13, 1953

Note : ''You Can't Love Two'' is the same song as ''No Coming Back'' with Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm for Federal Records (Federal 12282).

3 UNKNOWN TITLES

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
James Billy Gayles – Vocal
Pat Hare – Guitar
Houston Stokes – Drums
William Johnson – Piano
Charles Keel – Saxophone

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

Herman ''Junior'' Parker >
JUNE 1953

Almost as successful on the commercial level, and far more so artistically, was a record  Phillips produced in the early summer of 1953 by another waiting-to-break local artist, Little  Junior Parker.

Parker had hosted his own show on KWEM in West Memphis, and it was there that Ike Turner  recorded him for the Biharis in 1951 or 1952. By that point, Parker had assembled his own  band, in which the linchpin was guitarist Floyd Murphy.
 

The brother of another accomplished  blues guitarist, Matt ''Guitar'' Murphy, Floyd was as technically adroit as any picker who ever  set up his amp in Phillips' studio, ''He had this tremendous ability to make the guitar sound  like two guitar's'', Phillips remembers, an ability that was showcased on Parker's Sun debut.

 
 
Parker, with Murphy and the band in tow, had auditioned for Phillips at some point in 1953,  playing their brand of slick, uptown rhythm and blues. But Phillips wanted to hear something  a little rougher, so the group worked up a tune called ''Feelin' Good'', with a nod to the king  of the one-chord boogies, John Lee Hooker. Parker himself apparently despised that  simplistic style of music, but Phillips was convinced he heard something marketable in the  record; he released it in July 1953. On October 3 it entered the national rhythm and blues  charts, to Parker's surprise, peaking at number 5 during its six-week stay.

Called back for another session, Parker brought a more, elegiac blues called ''Mystery Train'',  a phrase that appears nowhere in the song but well characterizes the aura Parker and  Phillips created In the studio. It is a slow, atmospheric piece in which a loping, syncopated  beat, slap bass, and gently moaning tenor sax coalesce to produce a ghostly performance.  But at the time, its poise, understatement, and lack of an obvious ''hook'' were sure  predictors of commercial oblivion Almost as remarkable was the flip side, ''Love My Baby'',  whose pronounced hillbilly flavor might just qualify it as the first black rockabilly record.  Released in November, the record failed to sustain the momentum of ''Feelin' Good'' and  Parker began to get itchy feet.

Parker had joined Johnny Ace and Bobby Bland on the Blues Consolidated tours booked by  Don Robey at Duke/Peacock Records. Parker was induced to sign with Duke, prompting  Phillips to file a suit against Robey. When the came to trial, Phillips won a $17,500  settlement, which must have carried some personal gratification after the loss on ''Bear  Cat''. Phillips also seems to have acquired 50 percent of ''Mystery Train'' at approximately the  same time; when Elvis Presley's version appeared as his final Sun single almost two years  later, it was published by Phillips' Hi-Lo Music, with Phillips' name appended to the composer  credit.

Continuing to record for Robey, Parker worked as part of the Blues Consolidated Revue until  Johnny Ace killed himself backstage in Houston on Christmas Eve 1954. Herman Parker and  Bobby Bland continued to work together, touring the black lounges and night spots. Parker  scored fairly consistent hits in the Rhythm & Blues market for some years; ironically, after  leaving Duke, his music edged closer to the primitive blues feel he had disavowed in  Memphis. He died during brain surgery in Chicago on November 18, 1971.


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STUDIO SESSION FOR JUNIOR PARKER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: THURSDAY JUNE 18, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

The notion of a distant locomotive whistle replicated by a chiming blues guitar over a rhythm set to a loping rhumba boogie, epitomises numerous Sun recordings. For many years the Cotton Belt railroads hauled a procession of passenger traffic through Memphis Union Station and the essence and imagery of the machinery inspired many a songwriter. Herman "Junior" Parker was no exception and his upbeat-titles "Feelin' Good" racked up a second hit for Sun Records.

There are several mysteries surrounding Sun's second major hit: the identity of some of the sidesmen is uncertain, and the actual recording date has proved impossible to pinpoint accurately. Furthermore, it had long been assumed that two guitarists had played on the session: however in a mid-1980s interview Sam Phillips recalled that Floyd Murphy exhibited an amazing dexterity on the guitar, mix: "...he could make it sound like there were two men playing at once". The entire performance owes a huge debt to the King of the one-chord boogie John Lee Hooker - although it is interesting to note that Junior Parker actually perceived himself as a slick uptown crooner, and disavowed Hooker's countrified boogies. Legend has it that Sam Phillips was not enamoured of the material which Parker and co were auditioning, so when Sam left the studio to take a phone call they agreed to give him a taste of real down-home music. Sam Phillips was knocked out, promptly recorded their efforts, and to the group's astonishment "Feelin' Good" became a massive hit.

On November 14, Sam Phillips paid $50.23 in royalties to both Parker and the session' pianist William ''Struction'' Johnson, suggesting that Johnson might have been the co-leader of the Blue Flames (certainly, when Parker began recording for Duke, his group was billed as Bill Johnson's Blue Flames).

In 2011, an Austin, Texas-based garage soul band, Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, revisited ''Feelin' Good'' almost note-for-note as ''Mustang Ranch''. So someone's still listening.

01 - "FEELIN' GOOD" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Herman Parker
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated - Knox Music Ltd - Bluesman Music
Matrix number: - U 77 - Master
Recorded: - June 18, 1953
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 187-A mono
FEELIN' GOOD / FUSSIN' AND FIGHTIN' (BLUES)
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-23
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

This mellow outing - based heavenly on Eddie Boyd's "Five Long Years" - stands in marked contrast to its topside, being rather closer stylistically to what Junior would have preferred to have been singing. He had already defined his croony blues style - somewhat akin to that of Roy Brown - although the band brings rather more a jazzy feel to his support here than subsequent sidesmen would. When he revived "Five Long Years" for Duke Records in 1958, Parker's vocal was virtually a note-for-note reconstruction of this performance.

02 - "FUSSIN' AND FIGHTIN' (BLUES)" - B.M.I. - 2:55
Composer: - Herman Parker
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated - Bluesman Music
Matrix number: - U 78 - Master
Recorded: - June 18, 1953
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 187-B mono
FUSSIN' AND FIGHTIN' (BLUES) / FEELIN' GOOD
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-24 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

 Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Little Junior's Blue Flames consisting of
Herman Parker - Vocal
Pat Hare - Guitar
James Wheeler - Tenor Saxophone
Floyd Murphy - Guitar
William "Struction" Johnson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Houston Stokes or  John Bowers - Drums

Note: Sam Phillips' cheque register for this date shows Houston Stokes playing drums. Floyd Murphy probably supplied the information that John Bowers was the drummer, but Stokes almost certainly worked the session.

Herman "Junior" Parker reportedly looked askance at the old time music but, while Sam Phillips was taking a break, the group decided to give him a country boogie so that they could go home. Titled, "Feelin' Good", it owed a considerable dept to the King of the One Chord Boogies, John Lee Hooker, with exactly the same moral as the Hooker, the same seemingly extemporized spoken passages, and the same rhythm, but with an ensemble drive (Hooker's record was solo) and a playful melodic approach that were strikingly new. Sam Phillips kept encouraging them to intensify the feeling, to fuse their efforts together more tightly, and in the end they got it, with the pianist's left hand providing the structure and Floyd Murphy's guitar providing blazing rhythm riffs all the way to a natural fade at the end. ''Once we got that rhythm going, all I did was get Junior, when he said, 'Well', I just had him hold that note. I mean, he held it a little while, but that wasn't enough. I wanted to hear 'Wellllll' as long as he could hold it, and just boogie behind'', says Sam Phillips.

That note was the key to the song's success. When Junior came into the first chorus after a breezy spoken intro taken directly from Hooker (''You know, the other day I was walking down the street / I met an old friend of mine''), that first, single-syllable word took on almost all the properties of a chorus in itself. Stretching it out for a full four bars, Little Junior turned ''Well'' into a breathlessly elongated ''Whoaaaaa'' until finally, he hit the release button and broke into the lyric (''Feel so good / Gonna boogie till the break of day'') that was the message of the song. When the record came out three weeks later, following right behind the Prisonaires',  Sam Phillips felt like Sun Records was finally, really on the map.
 
Junior Parker held out greater hopes for the flip side, "Fussin' And Fightin' Blues", Little Junior strutted his sophisticated stuff and the band brought more than a touch of jazz styling to the backing, which reflected his predilection for urban, jazzy blues. However, to his surprise, it was "Feelin' Good" that became his first hit in October 1953. The record spent six weeks on the national charts during the summer of 1953, peaking at number 5. Billboards' supported Phillips' view "a wonderfully humorous and infectious southern blues... The beat and or work behind the singer is sensational".

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JUNE 15, 1953 MONDAY

Slim Whitman recorded ''North Wind'' at the KWKH Studio in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Capitol released Jean Shepard and Ferlin Husky's ''A Dear John Letter''.

JUNE 17, 1953 WEDNESDAY

There is a story in the Nashville Banner which reported on Warden Edwards' talk to the Nashville Exchange Club on the subject of prison reform in general, its aim and effectiveness, with its effectiveness demonstrated ''by the prisoner quintet, which entertained, Exchange Club members. This group of Negro singers, which has already recorded several songs'', the paper reported approvingly, ''was loudly applauded by the civic club''.

JUNE 18, 1953 MONDAY

Martin Luther King Jr, marries Coretta Scott on the lawn of her parents' house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama.

JUNE 19, 1953 FRIDAY

Carl Smith recorded ''Satisfaction Guaranteed'' in a morning session at the Castle Studio in Nashville.

Pop singer Gwen Owens is born. She becomes a member of Hot, whose 1977 hit ''Angel In Your Arms'' is remade as a country hit by Barbara Mandrell in 1985.

JUNE 23, 1953 MONDAY

Pake McEntire is born in Chokie, Oklahoma. The older brother of Reba McEntire, he picks up a Top 10 hit of his own in 1986 with ''Savin' My Love For You''.


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STUDIO SESSION FOR THEAUTRY TOT RANDOLPH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY JUNE 23, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

The success of Jimmy Forrest's ''Night Train'' in 1952 extended hope to saxophonists everywhere. It seems to have inspired Raymond Hill's ''Long Gone Raymond'', and probably this track, too.

01 - "BLUES TRAIN" - B.M.I. - 2:34
Composer: - Theautry "Tot" Randolph
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 23, 1953
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 7-5-16 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
A rare sax instrumental outing as executed by Theautry "Tot" Randolph. There's plenty of energy and enthusiasm here as the "Blues Train" rolls along, although it must be admitted that the baritone sax is an unusual instrument to find occupying a solo role.

Here, Randolph's baritone is pretty impassioned in comparison to Raymond Hill's earlier tenor style - but compared with Willie Johnson's guitar work on this track, even Raymond is asleep at the wheel! Johnson literally tears the session apart, ranging from some fiery unison work to a solo lead-in which borders on the atonal. 

Tot Randolph at Blues Alley, Memphis, June 1979 >

Although not audible, alto man Charles Lloyd is credited with being on the session. Lloyd would have been fifteen at the time but was already an accomplished musician. If he's heard on this recording, it's probably in the cheerleader section. Twenty-five years later he would become the flower child of the jazz world.

 
 
02 - "GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN (WEARING BLACK)*" - 1 - B.M.I
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - June 23, 1953

03 - "CHICKEN MAN (CHICK CHA LA CHA LA)" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - June 23, 1953

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Tot Randolph - Vocal* & Baritone Saxophone
Charles Lloyd - Alto Saxophone
Willie Dodson - Tenor Saxophone
L.C. Hubert - Piano
Willie Johnson - Guitar
Tuff Green - Bass
Junior Blackmon – Drums

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JUNE 26, 1953 FRIDAY

''The Marshall's Daughter'' opens, with Tex Ritter singing the title track and Jimmy Wakely making a cameo appearance.

Bass player Ralph Ezell is born in Union, Mississippi. As a member of Shenandoah, he plays a role in such hits as ''The Church On Cumberland Road'', ''Janie Baker's Love Slave'' and ''Two Dozen Roses''.

Columbia released Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper's ''Are You Walking And A-Talking For The Lord''. The recording is judged among country's 500 all-time greatest singles in the Country Music Foundation book ''Heartaches By The Number"..

Columbia released Carl Smith's ''Hey Joe!''.

JUNE 27, 1953 SATURDAY

Mercury released Rusty Draper's ''Gambler's Guitar''.

JUNE 29, 1953 MONDAY

Decca released Rex Allen's ''Crying In The Chapel''.

Capitol released Jimmy Heap's ''Release Me''.

 
JUNE 30, 1953 TUESDAY

The Sun recording files show that Rufus Thomas went into the studio to cut "Tiger Man" on  the last day of June. Houston Stokes remained on drums, but Rufus did not have Joe Hill  Louis along since Floyd Murphy is listed as guitarist, and indeed is audibly present. Whatever  Louis was unavailable or whether he had been cut out of being the featured artist on his  own song we can only guess. Certainly, he found that when Rufus's recording was released,  half the composing credit went to Phillips' wife under her maiden name of Burns. There  were three other musicians new to Rufus's session but who were stalwarts of Sam Phillips' blues  recording sessions: James Wheeler on tenor sax, Bill Johnson on piano and Kenneth Banks  on bass. A slightly bigger band, but Sun was still operating on a budget and it was logged that  the session men were paid just ten dollars each on the day.

As on "Bear Cat", the band contributed well to the mayhem Rufus created on "Tiger Man",  but it was again the vocal that look most of a listener's attention. Compared to Joe Hill  Louis’s own very good blues vocals on his version, Rufus now added the performance  factor to the song - from the Tarzan calls at the start to the hoarsely shouted lyrics and the  Tarzan outre - taking it to a sphere Louis could not match for power and mischief. Floyd  Murphy play some fine fills and takes a flowing solo of the kind heard on Junior Parker's  contemporary Sun recordings. Marion Keisker noted that the master of "Tiger Man" was  "cut 4 on the second tape", and so Rufus may have made any number of attempts at the  tune.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR RUFUS THOMAS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY JUNE 30, 1953
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Gregarious and macho from day one as a recording artist, Rufus Thomas was thirty-six years old when he recorded the hormonal exclamation "Tiger Man (King Of The Jungle)". Freshly-scribed by Sun stablemate, Joe Hill Louis, "Tiger Man" maintained Rufus' creature feature theme that began with his rhythm and blues smash "Bear Cat", earlier in the year. Rolling tom toms, some wiry lead guitar and a set of chest beating howls added up to the kind of record that Rufus would play on his own radio show over WDIA, and he most likely did.

01 - "TIGER MAN (KING OF THE JUNGLE)" - B.M.I. - 2:46
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis-Sam Burns
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - U 79 - Master
Recorded: - June 30, 1953
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 188-A mono
TIGER MAN / SAVE THAT MONEY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-25 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

By this stage Rufus' menagerie was beginning to stock up, although thankfully, the funky chicken was still more than a decade away! Joe Hill Louis and Sam Burns (aka Sam Phillips) were clearly hoping they were wearing their hit makers' hats when they concocted this one, whilst Murphy contributes a rather tasty repetitive guitar licks (which (*) Elvis Presley would copy note-for-note fifteen years later) and an effective, primitive solo. Once again Rufus Thomas comes across as an engaging personality - but a somewhat limited singer, with ragged timing. Surprisingly, the disc failed to chart, and Rufus Thomas moved on to recording for Sam Phillips' local competitor Lester Bihari, at Meteor Records.

(*) In 1968 when Elvis Presley filmed his comeback 68' TV Special ''Elvis'', he revived ''Tiger Man'', replicating Louis's guitar licks as closely he could. It was dropped from the show and the accompanying LP, but soon appeared on a budget LP. The likeliest scenario is that Phillips had given to to him in 1954 or 1955, suggesting that he might like to cover it for Sun. Introducing the song on-stage in 1970, Elvis said, ''This was my second record, 'cept no one got to hear it''. Louis would have benefited if Elvis had revived it in 1954 (he might even have made enough for the tetanus shot that would have saved his life), but he wasn't around to collect his share of the 1970s bounty.

 02 - "SAVE THAT MONEY" - B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated - Tristian Music Limited
Matrix number: - U 80 - Master
Recorded: - June 30, 1953
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 188-B mono
SAVE THAT MONEY / TIGER MAN
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-26 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Fun-lovin, frivolous and wildly eccentric, Rufus Thomas was unquestionably the clown prince of Sun Records. All of these attributes were on display when we met up in his hometown of Memphis, where he held court and played, as only he could, to the assembled gallery. Even so, there was another side to the man. When the circumstances were correct, Rufus would sidestep the waggish nature of his recordings and settle down into a more mellow frame of mind as can be educed here below.

03 - ''INTERVIEW (SAVE THAT MONEY)" B.M.I. - 1:09
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Sanctuary Records (CD) 500/200rpm FBUBX002-8-5 mono
50 GOLDEN YEARS 1952 - 2002

Was standard urban blues fare. For once, Billboard was on target when it observed on September 26, 1953, "Its good advice but not a noteworthy record". This remains Thomas' finest city blues, and a welcome respite from the novelties which brought him such fame and success. Note that the lyric refers to the Depression of 1929-1930, and updates a traditional theme. Thomas sings with confidence, and the band is in splendid from with Floyd Murphy etching a guitar pattern over the riffing sax of James Wheeler. 

Rufus again shows what a good straight singer he could be, really opening out to shout the pain of the lyric that remembered the Depression era, "when times were hard". Perhaps this was not the message people wanted to hear twenty years later. Certainly, the reviewer for Billboard was unimpressed, saying of the title, "It's good advice, but not a noteworthy record". Actually, it was a rather good one but destined to be lost in the shadow of "Bear Cat" and "Tiger Man".

"Tiger Man" with "Save That Money" was issued at the end of September 1953 as SUN 188, once the sales of "Bear Cat" started to diminish and on the back of some publicity for Rufus in the trade press that August and September: "Rufus Thomas of Sun Records" was on the 'Cool Train" show on WDIA every Saturday, and "Nat Williams and Rufus Thomas join together for three hours each Saturday as conductor and engineer of this popular streamliner".

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas - Vocal
Floyd Matt Murphy - Guitar
James Wheeler - Tenor Saxophone
William "Struction" Bill Johnson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Houston Stokes - Drums

Despite his continuing high profile locally, Rufus's "Tiger Man" was not the national rhythm and blues smash that Sun might have expected. Billboard called it a novelty blues whose "lyric does not make much sense, but will get some attention because of its weird quality". It sold well but it not dent the charts. By the time it was released, Sun was handing a major hit with "Just Walkin' In The Rain" by The Prisonaires vocal group, and it may be that Rufus's disc didn't quite get the extra promotion it otherwise would have had. The tiger had a second lease on life years later when recorded by Elvis Presley, but by then Joe Hill Louis was no longer around to collect his write's royalties.

Surprisingly, perhaps, there were to be no more Rufus Thomas records on Sun. Less surprisingly, maybe, in the light of comments that Rufus made to interviewers in later years. He told Peter Guralnick, "Me and Sam Phillips... we were tighter than the nuts on the Brooklyn Bridge - then. Of course he was like all the folk at that time. You know how if blacks had something and didn't have no way to exploit it and the white dudes would pick it up and do something about it, they'd just beat him out of all of it, that's all. Well, that was him, that was Sam Phillips. Oh man, I guess I lost a lot of it too, like most black folk". Talking to John Floyd in the 1990s, Rufus was even more to the point saying: "Sam Phillips was an arrogant bastard. He is today. Back then he had a big car, a Bentley, and he'd boast about the money he made that got him this car, Yeah, but if it hadn't been for me, he wouldn't have had that car. I made the first record for him that got a hit". The truth, as usual, was multi-faceted, and Sam was more likely scuffling at that time than driving a Bentley. Certainly, correspondence between Sam and his brother Jud makes it very clear how close to bankruptcy Sun Record was until Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash started to make hits in 1956.

Years later, during a European tour, Rufus once told writer Roger St Pierre, rather dismissively: "Yeh, Sun was a blues label when it set out and we did "Bear Cat" which was a big smash... I cut a number of things for Sun, though I can't ever remember signing a contract". In fact, in Sun's books Marion Keisker logged the fact that Rufus signed his contract with Sun on March 1953. He was paid on five occasions between March 23 and June 27 in advance royalties on "Bear Cat", totaling 275 dollars. He received three advance checks on "Tiger Man" between August 1953 and February 1954, some 480 dollars, but after that the contract, and the record of payment, runs out.

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, 18 NOVEMBER 1986
Rufus Thomas talking to Dave Booth.

03 - "RUFUS THOMAS ON "DADDY COOL" SHOW - B.M.I. - 10:05
Released: - 2008
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-29 mono
RUFUS THOMAS – THE SUN YEARS PLUS

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

Not long after Rufus Thomas's "Tiger Man" came out, Rufus was a usual deeply involved in  radio WDIA's showpiece event of the year. Billboard of November 7, announced plans for  the station's "Fifth annual Goodwill Revue for Handicapped Negro Children (which) will  present one of the strongest spiritual and rhythm and blues talent line-ups ever. A crowd  of up to 60,000 (probably a typo for 6000) is expected to fill the Ellis Auditorium on  December 4 to see B.B. King, Loyd Price, Muddy Waters, Eddie Boyd, Little Walter, Helen  Thompson, the Soul Stirrers, and WDIA personalities Alex Bradford, the Caravans, Rufus  Thomas, Moohah, the Spirit of Memphis Quarter, the Southern Wonders and Al Jackson's  band.

Rufus Thomas, disc jockey at WDIA >

All the artists are giving their time in order to raise money for the charity. And their  diskeries - Specialty, Chess, United and Starmaker - are defraying their expenses".  Interestingly, Sun Records was not mentioned. This may be an omission or it may have  reflected a dispute between Rufus and Sun. Even, perhaps, that Rufus was planning...
 
 
... to  record for a new label being set up in Memphis. WDIA had become known as The Goodwill  Station because of its charitable and community based work, but it was also known as the  Starmaker station because singers like B.B. King and Rufus himself had started there, and  a new Starmaker Records label was announced in November in Billboard as "The new label  of David James Mattis, who started Duke Records last year. Talent with the label includes  Danny Day and Moohah, with records cut by those artists already being shipped out to the  jocks and to stores. The label is affiliated with radio station WDIA". Mattis had set up Duke  in July 1952 and had scored immediate success with Memphis based singers including  Johnny Ace, Rosco Gordon, and Bobby Bland, but Duke was soon taken over by Peacock  Records in Texas. As it turned out, Starmaker did not last long enough either to still be  there at the end of Rufus's Sun contract in March 1954.
Original WDIA studios at 2074 Union Avenue,  Memphis, Tennessee, early 1950s >

One of the Starmaker discs featured Rufus's fellow WDIA disc jockey and announcer, A. C.  Moohah' Williams, who had the ''Wheelin'' On Beale show. Williams was still a biology  teacher at Manassas High School when he started at WDIA in 1949, but he soon became the  first full time black employee of the station working on promotion and organisation of  events as well as hosting shows. He set up the Teen Town Singers group that changed  personnel each year to include the best talent from all seven of the local black High  Schools. 

We have included his recordings, because it features a band of musicians led by  tenor saxophonist Bill Fort that often worked with Rufus Thomas, and because it adds  another chapter to the 'Answer' song saga in Memphis.

Moohah's comical song ''All Shook Out'' seems to have been the 'Answer' to Faye Adams'  number one rhythm and blues hit ''Shake A Hand'' on Herald. Adams' disc had entered the  charts that August and stayed for five months.
 
In their response, Moohah and Mattis had  clearly taken the blueprint from ''Bear Cat'', perhaps hoping that Starmaker could be  launched into serious competition with Sun. The song may also have had secondary  reference to the glad-handing that went on during the annual WDIA Goodwill Revue.

''All Shook Out'' and its other side, ''Candy'', were both driving rhythm and blues honkers  in the tradition of Wynonie Harris, Roy Brown and other blues shouters. ''All Shook Out''  opens deceptively slowly but soon stomps along in support of Moohah's nonsense lyric  about the perils of hand shaking. There is a storming sax solo midway by Bill Fort and his  tight band propels the whole performance with piano and drums to the fore. Actually the  song was not Moohah's but was written by David James Mattis, as was the flipside. On the  record, ''Candy'' is about the girl who sweet-talks Moohah out of his mind. but David James  said he originally wrote the song about his dog.

Moohah's recordings were issued on Starmaker 501 among the new rhythm and blues  releases at the end of November, just in time for the Goodwill Revue. There was also a  Starmaker 502 which contained two blues ballads by Memphis band singer Dick Cole  recording under the name Danny Day. ''You Scare Me'' and ''Wishing'', issued at the same  time. There was also one gospel release by Bessie Griffin, '' Too Close To Heaven'',  Starmaker 101, but these three seem to be all that the label issued. David James told  researcher George Moonoogian that the label failed because a WDIA secretary was too  zealous in chasing up debts and threatened all his distributor contacts with legal action.  Mattis was not the only one to try to get into the rhythm and blues record business in  Memphis in the middle 1950s. B.B. King had the Blues Boy Kingdom label and there was  another short-lived label called Tan Town Records that issued recordings by the popular  Spirit of Memphis Quartet and others.

Rufus Thomas spent 1954 and most of the next two years entrenched in his radio work and  personal appearances and he did not record again until the end of 1956. He retained some  kind of a national profile, being featured in the trade press occasionally. He was  mentioned as part of the publicity for the 1954 and 1955 Goodwill Revues but he had no  record to promote at a Revue until 1956 when he joined Meteor Records, owned by Lester  Bihari and situated in a black neighbourhood of Memphis.

Little is known about the short-lived Meteor episode and only two titles have survived  from the session or sessions Rufus made at their rudimentary studio on Chelsea Avenue.  Nevertheless Meteor 5039, which coupled ''The Easy Livin' Plan'' and ''I'm Steady Holding  On'' is a mighty record. As far as people can remember the band was basically the  musicians who played with Rufus regularly around Memphis, billed usually as the Bearcats.  They included tenor saxophonists Evelyn Young, who had been on the Star Talent disc, and  Harvey Simmons, along with a rhythm section of Lewis Steinberg on bass and Jeff Greyer  on drums. The band sets up a storming shuffle as Rufus delivers a clever lyric about how to  live life on the ''The Easy Livin' Plan''. The almost chanted list of the teachers, preachers,  and the gambling men, the chauffeurs, stenographer girls, and Alabama bound sisters in  the corner, all living life to the full, is an unforgettable moment in rhythm and blues  lyricism. In contrast the slower paced ''I'm Steady Holding On'' is at once both a boastful  and plaintive blues. Rufus told Peter Guralnick. ''I wrote one of the first songs that Bobby  Bland ever sung: 'I got a new kind of loving that other men cant catch on/While they losing  out I'm steady holding on'. It was a good tune. Bobby sang it on the Amateur Show and won  first prize''.

Jim Stewart was a bank teller and part-time country fiddle player when he set up Satellite  Records in Memphis in 1958 with his sister, Estelle Axton. They started with country music  and then had an rhythm and blues group record by the Vel Tones that Rufus played on  WDIA in 1959. Then on day in the spring of 1960, Rufus turned up at Stewart's new studio  on McLemore Avenue pitching a song written by his daughter, Carla. ''Cause I Love You''  was recorded as a duet by Rufus and Carla and it became a small hit on Satellite 102 that  summer. Carla's song ''Gee Whiz'' became a top ten rhythm and blues and popular hit the  following year, by when the label had become Stax Records.

In January 1963 Stax released Rufus Thomas singing ''The Dog'', a dance tune he'd worked  up after watching a girl dancing at a show in Millington. Tennessee. The song made number  22 in the rhythm and blues charts and was followed the next year by ''Walking The Dog'', a  number five rhythm and blues hit that also made the popular top ten in November 1963. It  had taken ten years, but the entertaining man with the animal songs was back - and bigger  than ever.

Rufus had other hits at Stax, but often said he didn't really fit into their operation. ''I  wasn't happy with the material they kept coming up with. They are great guys but they  can't write or produce the song I need. The MGs are incredibly talented musicians but they  have their style and they tended to imprint it too heavily on my recordings''. Nevertheless,  in 1970 he had another number five rhythm and blues hit with another improvised dance  tune, this time made up at a club in Covington, Tennessee, titled ''Do The Funky Chicken''.  Then at the start of 1971 Rufus registered his first number one rhythm and blues hit with  ''Do The Push And Pull''. It was followed with the almost as successful number two hit ''The  Breakdown''. He continued to register smaller hits well into the 1970s, twenty-five years  after he had started his recording career, and to make well-received CD albums for many  years after that.

On the back of his1960s hits, Rufus started to take his entertaining show out of Memphis,  including to Europe. In December 1964 he was playing the Flamingo Club in London and  the Kilburn State Ballroom , safe in the knowledge that he had a radio job to go back to.  He credits WDIAs program director, David James Mattis, for this: ''He let me go out on  Saturdays and Friday nights and make air told me to go, and when I came back I would  always have my job there waiting for me. I could go on tour, and when I came back I knew  everything was all right. Without David James just probably I would never have gotten  where I got''.

Rufus played increasingly to white and mixed audiences and, despite his deep roots in  Beale Street and his sceticism about the way black artists were disadvantaged. he  genuinely was happy to tell Peter Guralnick: ''College audiences are the greatest audiences  in the world. I must have played every fraternity house there was in the South. When we  played Ole Miss they'd send the girls home at midnight, and then we'd tell nasty jokes and  all that stuff. Oh man, we used to have some good times down there in Oxford''. He told  Neil Slaven in 1996, ''When I'm on stage and I look out there at that audience, I don't see  colour. I see people packet in a place, there to see me. There is not a greater satisfaction  in the world''. However, he added, ''There is no telling how far I could have gone, had I  been a white boy. I've always said that. I'm not bitter, I want you to know, but it does  bother you''.

Rufus continued on Memphis radio with WDIA, then WLOK, and then WDIA again into the  1990s. He became the keeper of the blues flame, but he was open to other music. "I  played it all on my show. My family and I were raised on the Grand Ole Opry. Every  Saturday night we'd run home to catch the Opry on the radio. So you can understand why I  played Elvis Presley and I was the only black jock in the city that was playing the Beatles  and Rolling Stones when they came out''. Rufus appeared in various movies, from  ''Wattstax'' in 1973 to ''Great Balls Of Fire'' in 1989 and ''Only The Strong Survive'', a D. A.  Pennebaker film about rhythm and blues musicians. Pennebaker said: ''You knew he was  an old person, but he acted like a 16 year old. He was always full of funny takes on things  and he always gave the impression he was a goofball. But when he talked about the music,  you realised he knew a lot''.

''His pipes remain as convincing as the rusty hinges on an old barn door, said a reviewer  when Rufus appeared in London in 1986, and those pipes continued to make make  records. After Stax, Rufus was with u number of labels including Alligator in the 1980s and  High Stacks in the 1990s.

At age 81, in 1998, Rufus had triple bypass heart surgery and was fitted with a pacemaker.  His publicist at High Stacks Records said: ''When he went back in for tests before  Christmas, he was so full of energy that hospitalising him was like putting a rabbit in a box.  The other patients have the benefit of his great smile and his constant jokes."

Rufus continued to contribute to life and music in Memphis for another three years,  enjoying his loves of baseball, ice cream, and black music, and embodying the philosophies  he had dispensed to interviewers over the years. He had told Neil Slaven, "You stop when  you get old - and who's old? I've been to the school of hard knocks for all these years and  that's where it comes from - Sidewalk University''. He told Louis Cantor, ''I've always  worked several jobs to try to make ends meet. And every time I think I've got my ends to  meet, somebody comes up and moves the ends''. Talking of his music, he told Roger St.  Pierr: "My stuff has got to be simple, direct. I figure that if you can whistle, dance, sing, ,  hum, pop your fingers, it's just got to be a bigger hit.'

Thinking about his life as a black entertainer whose career developed beyond what he  might have imagined , but at the same time feeling constricted by his colour, Rufus  conceded. "I've gained quite a bit of popularity, and when I die people are going to know  about me. This is fine. But they could know about me a little better. I know I make good  music. Good music that everybody likes."

Around Thanksgiving time in 2001, Rufus Thomas was hospitalised again and he died on December 15, in St Francis Hospital in Memphis, aged 84. National newspapers marked the  passing of the self-dubbed "World's Oldest Teenager," and the 'New York Times' called  Rufus ''the jovial patriarch of Memphis soul", Towards the end of his life, Rufus had  become the official ''Ambassador To Beale Street''. Stax biographies talked about his  flawless timing and innate skill in connecting to all people, his dedication to the craft of  entertaining, his ability to put people at ease, and how he helped others. Tennessee  Governor Don Sundquist spoke about Rufus as an ambassador of unity: "He taught us not to  see the world in black or white but in shades of blues''. Memphis renamed Hernando Street  as Rufus Thomas Boulevard, and he had his own car parking space near the site of the old  Palace Theater. City mayor Willie Herenton described how he got the space: ''I had lunch  with Rufus at a local cafe. And you know he had an ego, and he came to me and said, you  the mayor; well I need a parking space'. So we got him his space''.

Rufus no doubt enjoyed the mischief of making the mayor jump through hoops. ''You gotta  have fun in life'', he once said. "Music to me is fun. You see me and you'll see how much  fun I have with it. More, I'll bet, than anybody else''.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR RUFUS THOMAS
AT RADIO STATION WDIA 1950s

WDIA STUDIO
2074 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: UNKNOWN DATES 1950'S
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

01 - INTRO PATTER TO "SEPIA SWING CLUB" - B.M.I. - 0:32
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None 
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1950s
Released: - 2005
First appearance: - WDIA Records (S) 78rpm WDIA 7208 mono
WDIA - HISTORY, THE MUSIC, THE LEGEND
Reissued:  - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-23 mono
RUFUS THOMAS – THE SUN YEARS PLUS

02 - ADVERTISEMENT FOR "PINK PUSSYCAT WINE" - B.M.I. - 1:10
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1950s
Released: - 2005
First appearance: - WDIA Records (S) 78rpm WDIA 7208 mono
WDIA - HISTORY, THE MUSIC, THE LEGEND
Reissued:  - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-24 mono
RUFUS THOMAS – THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas - Vocal

Original radio excerpts courtesy of Tim Davies, Radio WDIA, Memphis, Tennessee.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 


 
WDIA RADIO - On June 7, 1947, WDIA radio station started as a pop and country station in  Memphis, located at 2074 Union Avenue, and changed to a black music format the following  year. The station was used by David James Mattis to record Bobby "Blue" Bland, Rosco  Gordon, Junior Parker, and Johnny Ace for the Duke label, had a minuscule output of 250  watts.  Even though it remained under white management by John R. Pepper and Bert  Ferguson, WDIA - and to a lesser extent KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas, and WLOK, also in  Memphis - gave daily exposure to the artists and their competitors.

Bert Ferguson, co-owner of WDIA >

Their principal medium  was the fifteen-minute sponsored live show, a format that spawned B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf,  and many more.  The following year, however, Bert Ferguson shrewdly recognized that blacks were being  ignored by local radio. He approached black businessmen with an idea for a black-oriented  musical format, and they agreed to advertise.
 
 
When Nat D. Williams was hired, the station  began its transition into a major blues force. A 50,000 watt transmitter turned it into one  of the pre-eminent radio stations in the South. After Rufus Thomas also went to work as a  discjockey, the station not only became more popular, but the black community responded  with strong support.
JUNE 1953

T-Bone Walker recorded "Call It Stormy Monday". Jackie Robinson breaks major league  baseball colour line.

In many way, things couldn't have been going better. The Sun record company was making more and more of a name for itself. Sam Phillips finally owned his own home, and at the end of June he put $1,050 into the radio station in order to shore up their application for an FCC (Federal Communications Commission) hearing. They had a $75,000 letter of credit from the First National Bank of Memphis, and, in an impressive feat of creative bookkeeping, Sam Phillips was able to declare a net worth of $12,600, which included $8,200 for equipment and $1,500 (minus $300 still owed) for Jackie Brenston's bus. Sam's partner, Jim Bulleit, who proposed calling the station WBEE (''Before You say no'', he wrote to Sam on May 13, ''listen to some of the ideas for promotion and publicity''), had a little harder time coming up with a comparable net worth (he included $3,000 of household furniture to reach a figure of $10,500) and, at Sam's prompting, put together a resume that underscored his extensive experience in radio as well as whatever ''civic affiliations that you can point to with pride, with emphasis on the sympathetic understanding of the problems of the Negro''.
 

 
JULY 1953
 


JULY 1953

Jud Phillips (formerly involved in artist promotion with Roy Acuff and Jimmy Durante) joins  Sun Records to help with the increasing activity in promotion and sales required to build on  the success of Rufus Thomas' "Bear Cat". Working closely with Nashville-based Jim Bulleit,  Jud begins to get positive reaction with the Prisonaires' "Just Walkin' In The Rain" b/w ''Baby Please'' (Sun 186).

Ike Turner recommences bringing talent to Phillips (i.e. rather than the Biharis) for the first  time since 1951, starting with Little Milton and Johnny O'Neal.

Chess Records issues recordings by Joseph Dobbins, probably made in Memphis in June.

Sam Phillips makes his first recordings by a white group for the Sun label. The Ripley Cotton Choppers, who had appeared on Memphis radio for several years.

JULY 1953

United States President Eisenhower informs the Chinese that he would not be afraid to use nuclear weapons or invade China in order to end this, North Korea decides to allow voluntary repatriation. An armistice is concluded at Panmunjom, it provided for a demilitarized zone and a conference to discuss the future of Korea, however, the conference never came to pass. During the Korean War 33,629 US troops, about 3,000 UN troops, about 50,000 South Koreans, and an estimated 1.5 million Communists from China and North Korea died.

JULY 1, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Eleven-year-old Bobby Wright, the son of Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright, has his first recording session for Decca Records.

JULY 3, 1953 FRIDAY

MGM released Hank Williams' ''I Won't Be Home No More''.

JULY 4, 1953 SATURDAY

Kirk ''Jelly Roll'' Johnson is born in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He plays harmonica on Randy Travis' ''Hard Rock Bottom Of Your Heart'', John Michael Montgomery's ''Life's A Dance'' and ''The Judds ''Turn It Loose'', among others.

JULY 5, 1953 SUNDAY

''Old American Barndance'' debuts on TV's Dumas network, with Tennessee Ernie Ford and Pee Wee King as regulars.

Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette rally against a monopolistic Old West supply store in the debut of ''Pack Train''. Steel guitarist Frankie Marvin has a minor role as well.

JULY 7, 1953 TUESDAY

''The Eddy Arnold Show'' begins a short stint as an NBC summer replacement series.

Red Foley recorded ''Shake A Hand''.
 

JULY 8, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Don Robey wrote to Sam Phillips tanking him for the co-operation.

The singles, Sun 187 ''Feelin' Good'' b/w ''Fussin' And Fightin' (Blues)'' by Little Junior's Blue Flames; Sun 188 ''Tiger Man (King Of The Jungle)'' b/w ''Save That Money'' by Rufus Thomas, and ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' backed with ''Baby Please'' Sun 186,  are released on this day, and a week later the Press-Scimitar ran a third of a page feature at the top of page 32 headlined, "Prison Singers May Find Fame with Record They Made in Memphis''. It recounted anecdotally just how the record had come about, scrupulous assigning roles to everyone from Governor Frank Clement and Warden Edwards to Johnny Bragg and the other Prisonaires, Joe Hill Louis, Red Wortham, Jim Bulleit, and, of course, the ''painstaking Mr. Phillips'', who had insisted that they work ''until the records were cut just right''. Phillips, the story pointedly made clear, ''has established a reputation as an expert in recording negro talent''. There were tentative plans, the Press-Scimitar suggested, ''to take them to New York to appear on big TV shows'' but these were all predicated, the reporter pointed out, on ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' being as big a hit as Sam Phillips firmly believed that it would be.

JULY 8, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Don Robey's injunction against to Sun Records. The letter reads:

Dear Mr. Phillips,

Enclosed here with, is our copyright agreement (License), between Sun Records and Lion Publishing Company covering the composition HOUND DOG (known as Bear Cat), as recorded by Sam Phillips  SUN 181.

I have signed both copies, and you are sign both copies, retain one for your files, and return the other to me.

Thank you kindly for your cooperation in this matter,
Yours very truly
LION MUSIC PUBLISHING COMPANY

Don D. Robey
DDR:mn
Encl:2

JULY 9, 1953 THURSDAY

David Ball is born in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He scores one of 1994's biggest hit with his semi-novelty ''Thinkin' Problem'', returning to hitmaker status in 2001 with ''Riding With Private Malone''.

JULY 10, 1953 FRIDAY

Kitty Wells recorded ''Hay Joe'' and ''I've Kissed You My Last Time'' at Nashville's Castle Studio in the Tulane Hotel.

B.B. Watson is born in Tyler, Texas. his 1991 single ''Light At The End Of The Tunnel'' is the first to be released on RCA's subsidiary label, BNA Records.
 


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR THE RIPLEY COTTON CHOPPERS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SATURDAY JULY 11, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

"In 1953, after my Sun label really got started", says Sam Phillips, "I would record some country music but I was always still looking for somebody with a little different sound. I felt that there was the basis of a particular style to be found here in Memphis''.

''The Ripley Cotton Choppers came from a little town north of Memphis. They were the first country musicians I issued on the Sun label. They were a damn fine country band. I had some nice cuts on them, but Sun was very much geared to the blues market at that time and we were never able to promote them".

"Silver Bell"/"Blues Waltz" (Sun 190) by the Ripley Cotton Choppers remains one of the rarest records Sam Phillips ever recorded. After two years of releasing nothing but black music, Sam Phillips had decided to broaden his base of operations. In July 1953, he scheduled the first recording session with the Ripley Cotton Choppers, and later that year released Sun's first country record. It had "Hillbilly" stamped on the promo copies so that country disc jockey’s would take a second look and maybe listen.

Raymond Kerby also recalls Phillips' conduct in the studio. "He kept trying to get us to do something we never did understand. He wanted us to play and sing more like a colored man. He kept saying if he could just find him a white boy who...".

Phillips was fairly insistent about this but the Cotton Choppers were never able to cross that maggie line. Nevertheless, the title of the very first country record that Sam Phillips released on Sun still had the word "blues" in it.

An ironic footnote to Phillips' quest is that a year or so before their Sun audition, the Choppers had recorded a rough demo of an original song called "Paint Slinger Blues". It was a simple 12-bar blues written by Kerby, his brother James, and his uncle, Jesse Frost. It was composed spontaneously as the three men sat around after a hard day's work.

Raymond Kerby still had his paint splattered overalls on when the line "I'm an old paint slinger and I sling my paint all day" came into being. Because they never took the song seriously, the Choppers never even auditioned the song for Phillips. As an old acetate shows, "Paint Slinger Blues" comes surprisingly close to the sound and style that Sam Phillips was looking for. Kerby confides that most of his group was not overly impressed with Sam Phillips' operation. "Half of us figured we were wasting our time. We figured Sun Records wasn't big enough. They'll never do anything for anybody".

The Ripley Cotton Choppers came to Sun's attention because Hoyt Wooten, Sam Phillips' old boss at WREC told Ernest Underwood about Sam Phillips. Underwood was the only member of the Choppers who had also played with the original group, and he and Wooten were old friends. A phone call was made and Ernest Underwood and Raymond Kerby drove down to meet Sam Phillips.

When this 78rpm was finally released, it never appeared on 45rpm, Phillips told Kerby, "Now don't quit if this record don't make it. You too good a guitar player". By virtually any yardstick SUN 190 did not make it. It certainly got lots of local action and seems to have been on every jukebox between Memphis and Ripley.  Kerby recalls, "We never did see any royalties on it. But you could turn the radio on, sometimes ten or twelve different stations would be playing it at the same time. Bob Neal had a show on WMPS. He used "Silver Bell" as his opening and closing theme".

 01 - "SILVER BELL"* - B.M.I. - 2:14
Composer: - Edward Madden-Percy Wenrich
Publisher: - Redwood Music Limited
Matrix number: - U 83 - Master
The title spelled as ''Silver Bells'' on the record label.
Recorded: - July 11, 1953
Released: - September 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 190-B mono
SILVER BELL / BLUES WALTZ
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2-2 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

As a vocal outing during the late forties, "Sugarfoot Rag" became a benchmark hit for Red Foley. It was equally effective as an instrumental by its creator, guitarist Hank Garland, and in time to come several other catchy workouts would follow its thrust. Taking their cue from Bob Wills, the rustic-sounding Ripley Cotton  Choppers (famous around Shelby County for their regular radio broadcast) homed in on their neat equivalent, "Silver Bell", for what amounted to an exploratory Sun one-off.

The song itself, composed by vaudevillian Percy Wenrich in 1910, was already a minor standard when the Choppers took it to Sam Phillips. The record is really a showcase for the guitar of Bill Webb who is backed by guitarists Raymond and James Kerby and the driving bass of Pete Wiseman. The back-country charm of the record, one of Sun's rarest releases, compensates for some technical flaws, not the least of which is Webb's slightly out-of-tune instrument. You'd think this wouldn't stand a prayer in the country music world of the 1950s, but in 1955, Chet Atkins and Hank Snow took ''Silver Bell'' to the country charts. The label of Sun 190 states ''Silver Bells'', which is the old Christmas standard).
 
 
Redita LP (RLP 126) >

This side, "Blues Waltz", it features twin guitar work by Raymond Kerby and Bill Webb who played lead. This first country release was hardly typical of Memphis country in the 1950s. Rather, this side harks back beyond the era of the honky tonk to a time when country music was performed at church socials and family gatherings. Only the electric guitar dates it to the 1950s rather than the 1920s or 1930s. This track features Ernest Underwood and Jesse Frost in a vocal duet backed by guitars, bass, and James Haggard's mandolin (an instrument that was not over-represented at 706 Union).


The original 78rpm credited the composition to Mrs. R.M. Lawrence, a resident of Ripley, Tennessee.  This record was already doomed to obscurity by virtue of the fact it was twenty years out of date on the day of release but Phillips' lack of experience in marketing country music banished it to a distribution network that barely exceeded the Ripley City limits.

 
  02 - "BLUES WALTZ"** - B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - Mrs. R.M. Lawrence
Publisher: - Redwood Music Limited
Matrix number: - U 84 - Master
Recorded: - July 11, 1953
Released: - September 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 190-A mono
BLUES WALTZ / SILVER BELL
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2-1 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

The primary meeting went well and a formal audition was set up. That went well also and the group's first session was arranged. It produced "Blues Waltz", the vocal side of the Choppers' release. As Raymond Kerby recalls, Phillips had them repeat the song over and over again until he was satisfied with it. "Blues Waltz"  featured a harmony vocal by Ernest Underwood and Jesse Frost, now both dead. James Haggard's madoline, the only time this instrument appears on an issued Sun record, is prominently featured.

With a strong female lead, this ''Roses And Sunshine'', a previously unissued song allows us a glimpse of what the Carter Family might have sounded like with an electric guitar. Vocal honours were shared by Jesse Frost and the Ripley heartbreaker, Jettie Cox. The song was a loose adaption of ''Down In The Valley'', itself set to a much earlier tune, ''The Happy Home Waltz''. Indeed, it includes bits of ''Down In The Valley'' (''Roses love sunshine, violets love dew...'' etc.). Tapes of the session have long since disappeared and only a single acetate, stored away by Raymond Kerby, has preserved the moment.

03 - "ROSES AND SUNSHINE"**/*** - B.M.I. - 2:46
Composer: -  Mrs. R.M. Lawrence
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 11, 1953
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Redita Records (LP) 33rpm RLP 126-1-4 mono
COTTON CHOPPER COUNTRY
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-2-16 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-34 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959
 
 
The session which lasted all night, also produced two unreleased vocal sides called "Roses And Sunshine" and "Pretty Baby". "Roses And Sunshine" features a vocal duet which includes Jettie Cox. This track still exists today on a well-worn acetate. Nothing is known about "Pretty Baby". The acetate is been lost.

04 - "PRETTY BABY" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - July 11, 1953

Ripley's heartbreaker, Jettie Cox >

The historical importance of this record cannot be overlooked. It is the first country record issued by Sam Phillips on his fledgling label. It was, to say the least, a curious choice. Their lone Sun single released on September 1953, was probably never distributed more than 100 miles from where it was recorded.  It remains one of the rarest Sun releases and one of the least typical of anything bearing the Sun logo.


Despite its title, the record contains not a trace of the blues, although an unissued home recording from 1952 of "Paint Slinger Blues" suggests that the Cotton Choppers did have at least a passing acquaintance with the blues.  Sam Phillips and The Ripley Cotton Choppers caught each other's eye at just the right moment in time. Within the next two years, Sam Phillips virtually abandon blues and traditional country music for Elvis Presley and the first generation of rockabillies and The Ripley Cotton Choppers would cease to be a group.
 

Because the Cotton Choppers came to Sun and were one of the first country groups Phillips recorded, they received a historic offer. Sam Phillips was looking for a backup band to work with his new discovery: a vocalist whom Phillips was sure would put the company on the map and make everybody rich. After their final session, late into the night, Sam Phillips came out of the control room and sat down with the Choppers for one of his patented 'heart to heart' talks. He made his offer: there were no guarantees, but he liked Kerby's picking and thought everybody might benefit from the merger. Were they interested?

It was late that night and Kerby asked if they could think on it a bit. "Sure", said Phillips, "take your time". The sun had already come up by the time the Choppers got back to Ripley, and they had already made up their minds.

The Ripley Cotton Choppers decided not to back up Elvis Presley. He was an unknown, and it would have meant dropping their present vocalist, Kerby's uncle Jesse Frost. In this casual moment, Raymond Kerby passed up his chance at immortality which, as we all know, fell into the nimble fingers of Scotty Moore.

Kerby's memories of Sam Phillips are borne out by information that has since come to light. "He was always saying 'These people in Memphis are making fun of me. They think if you don't play popular music, you ain't playing music. But I'm going to show 'em'".

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ernest Underwood - Vocal**/** Fiddle***
Jesse Frost - Vocal**/***
Jettie Cox - Vocal**
Raymond Kerby - Guitar
James Kerby - Guitar
Bill Webb - Guitar
James Wiseman - Bass**/***
Pete Wiseman - Bass*
James Haggard - Mandolin**/**

The Choppers did little touring, virtually all of it confined to within 50 miles of Memphis. Kerby recalls playing on a bill with Carl Perkins at the Jackson Armory in 1954. They may have smiled 'hello' backstage, but really never made contact. The last contact Kerby with Sam Phillips was in early 1955. He had run out of copies of his record and called Phillips to buy some more. Kerby still has the shipping box that held a dozen 78rpms. It is postmarked January 10, 1955.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 


JULY 13, 1953 MONDAY

Dick Curless has a son, Rick Curless, in Maine. 

Blues man Louis Prima marries pop vocalist Keely Smith. As a songwriter, his tune ''Sunday Kind Of Love'' is destined to become a country hit for Reba McEntire.

JULY 14, 1953 TUESDAY

Guitarist/mandolinist Mike Henderson is born in Independence, Missouri. He becomes a linchpin in the bluegrass band The Steel Drivers and plays on two Travis Tritt hits, ''More Than You'll Ever Know'' and ''Where Corn Don't Grow''.

Woodwind player Pat ''Taco'' Ryan is born in east Texas. He joins Asleep At The Wheel, playing with the band on its Grammy-nominated 1977 album ''The Wheel''.


On this day, several recordings were made, among others for Boyd Gilmore, Earl Hooker, Pinetop Perkins, and Walter Horton.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 STUDIO SESSION FOR BOYD GILMORE & EARL HOOKER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY JULY 15, 1953 (SESSION 1)
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01(1) - "BELIEVE I'LL SETTLE DOWN" - B.M.I. - 2:15
Composer: - Boyd Gilmore
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - August 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30127-B-8 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 12 - UNION AVENUE BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-19 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

This is the marginally different 1996 box version of the song and also issued on the original LP box.
 
01(2) - "BELIEVE I'LL SETTLE DOWN" - B.M.I. - 3:08
Composer: - Boyd Gilmore
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - 1989
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Charly LP 1060 mono
THE SUN BLUES ARCHIVES - VOLUME 1 - BLUE GUITAR 
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-9-10 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958
An altogether churchier song than Memphis Slim's 1940s song of the same name, this is the high water mark of one of the Earl Hooker's Sun sessions.   A fine rolling blues in the tradition that B.B. King was busy making his very own. Gilmore's vocal, although huskier than B.B.'s, follows the same familiar pattern, and Earl Hooker's guitar contrives to sound like a disciple - or at the very least, a close relative - of "Lucille". There's some fine two-handed piano from Gilmore's childhood buddy, Pinetop Perkins, but the tentative nature of the track is revealed at the end when Gilmore stops singing midway through the last verse, and we get a rather unexpected 4-bar instrumental ending. This take notable because Gilmore forgot the last line. As it turned out, Hooker didn't record again until 1956 and Gilmore never recorded again, as far as we know.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Boyd Gilmore - Vocal & Guitar
Joe Willie ''Pinetop'' Perkins - Piano
Adolph Duncan - Saxophone
Earl Hooker - Guitar
Little Walter - Harmonica
Unknown - Bass
Willie Nix – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

Earl Hooker >

Earl Hooker's Sun recordings are cloaked in some mystery. Sam Phillips' log notes two sessions, on July 15, 1953 and another on August 8. The personnel noted on the first session (above) was Boyd Gilmore, Little Walker (Hooker's warm-up act) on harmonica, Pinetop Perkins on piano, and saxophonist Adolph Duncan, all of whom worked together in Cairo, Illinois.
 

For the second session, Phillips only noted session bassist Kenneth Banks. Hooker left two tapes mostly full of instruments. Clearly, he was running down his set-list, checking to see if Phillips hear anything he liked. And Phillips liked Hooker enough to offer a one-year contract at the time of the first session, but not enough to release anything.

The second session was marked non-productive, and Hooker never returned. We're figuring that all the titles here except ''The Hucklebuck'' and ''Pinetop's Boogie Woogie'' stem from the first session, which is notable for the presence of an...
 
 
... electric bass, an instrument that had only been introduced in November 1951. The bass apparently belonged to Hooker, making him an early adopter. 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR EARL HOOKER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY JULY 15, 1953 (SESSION 2)
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Representing the blues men on instrumentals is guitarist Earl Hooker. His Sun recordings remained well concealed until eight tracks appeared on the "Blue Guitar" album in 1989, a short lived compilation. Whilst some of the tracks are of a bluesy nature, the ones selected here are real powerhouse rock and roll, from a guitarist who developed a hard hitting tough style.

There's a lot of energy here, but it resulted in nothing that Sam Phillips could release. In essence, it was two minutes of rejuggled blues cliches interspersed with some gloriously inventive guitar. The structure of the song is similar to Jimmy Rushing's 1937 outing with Count Basie, ''Don't You Miss Your Baby''.. itself a compendium of rejuggled lines. If Phillips had called for an earl Hooker vocal, this is what he got, and this is why he didn't call for another. The playing rates Hooker a mention in the same breath as the Kings (B.B., Freddie, and Albert), but his singing was never that strong. Perhaps that's why Boyd Gilmore was there. In 1953, Sam Phillips had very little money to spare, but he gave a thirty dollar advance to Hooker, another five to his manager, plus $4.75 for whiskey and another three bucks in gas to get them from and to Cairo, Illinois. By this point in the afternoon or evening of July 15, 1953, he must have seen that money slipping through his fingers.

01 - "MOVE ON DOWN THE LINE*" - 1 - B.M.I. - 2:15
Composer: - Earl Zebedee Hooker
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - 1981
First appearance: - Arhoolie Records (S) 45rpm Arhoolie 1066 mono
MOVE ON DOWN THE LINE / STEEL GUITAR RAG
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-20 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

As his future records would attest, Earl Hooker spent most of his time avoiding the role of singer - so this performance takes on a little extra significance. Although light and insubstantial its not an unpleasant voice, certainly capable of riding the rocking tempo driven by a drummer some have identified as Willie Nix. The call-and-response choruses which follow beg the involvement of a larger band, with more than just Adolph Duncan on tenor sax.

02 - "THE DRIVE" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Earl Zebedee Hooker
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - September 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30126 mono
SUN: THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 11 - MEMPHIS BLUES SOUNDS
Reissued: - 1989 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUN 29 mono
BLUE GUITAR

On the evidence of this track alone, Phillips might have thought about bringing Earl Hooker in to push of those early rockabilly sessions. God knows what kind of hybrid music might have raised the rafters at 706 Union if he had.

03 - "INSTRUMENTAL (THE DRIVE)" - B.M.I. - 2:19
Composer: - Earl Zebedee Hooker
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-21 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-6-25 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958
As well as his sole vocal excursion, Hooker recorded a number of instrumental features which were left untitled at the time. This is a later, third take of one which other compilers have called "The Drive". In the early takes, Hooker had had some trouble with the introductory riff, which here he simplifies by leaving out a set of repeats.

What follows stays for the most part in the middle register, once again pointing to his awareness of jump band etiquette. Its not known who plays the electric bass on this session: it would be facile to suggest Boyd Gilmore, but he was a capable guitarist.  A variation on this theme eventually appeared under Hooker's name on Ace Records in Chicago circa 1961. At that time, it was called ''Blue Guitar'', so that's the title we're using.

The electric bassist is very busy but Hooker is the star of this show. His limpid slide tone is sometimes reminiscent of his mentor, Robert Nighthawk, but make no mistake Earl Hooker was a guitar star in his own right.

05 - "INSTRUMENTAL (BLUE GUITAR)" - B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: - Earl Zebedee Hooker
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - 1989 - Not Originally Issued
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm SUN 29 mono
BLUE GUITAR
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-23 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

Earl Hooker had first recorded this tune, his arrangement of "Rock Me Baby", in Florida nine months earlier for King Records, and it was later issued by mistake on his cousin John Lee Hooker's King album as "Who's Been Jivin' You". The purity of tone which he achieves with a slide is the equal of his teacher and mentor, Robert Nighthawk. Later in the piece he alternates slide strokes with finger picket runs on the bass strings, evidence of the fact that he was one of the few guitarists who had no need of retuning his guitar to an open chord.

06 - "INSTRUMENTAL (MEXICALI SHAKE)" - B.M.I. - 2:57
Composer: - Earl Zebedee Hooker
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - 1989
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUN 29 mono
BLUE GUITAR

07 - "INSTRUMENTAL (RAZORBACK)" - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - Earl Zebedee Hooker
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - 1989
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUN 29 mono
BLUE GUITAR
Reissued: - 1997 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8302-18 mono
706 UNION INSTRUMENTALS

08 - "RED RIVER VALLEY (VARIATION)" - B.M.I. - 2:42
Composer: - Earl Zebedee Hooker
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - 1989
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUN 29 mono
BLUE GUITAR
Reissued: - 1997 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8302-19 mono
706 UNION INSTRUMENTALS

In Europe toward the end of his life, Earl Hooker was filmed backstage playing and singing Ernest Tubb's 1941 hit ''Walking The Floor Over You'' and he recorded Bill Monroe's ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''. Here he's taking a shot at ''Steel Guitar Rag'', Bob Wills'1936 feature for Leon Auliffe. Hooker probably didn't know or care, but ''Steel Guitar Rag'' was originally a blues tune recorded by Sylvester Weaver back in 1923. Hooker undoubtedly thought he was playing a hillbilly song. He takes it considerably faster than Wills, almost treating it like a polka. The electric bass is especially busy, but the whole show falls apart at the end, which was okay with Phillips because he wasn't about to release an instrumental he didn't publish anyway.

09 - "STEEL GUITAR RAG" - B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - Leon McAuliffe
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - 1981
First appearance: - Arhoolie Records (S) 45rpm Arhoolie 1066 mono
STEEL GUITAR RAG / MOVE ON DOWN THE LINE
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310 -6-23 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Earl Hooker - Vocal - 1 and Guitar
Joe Willie ''Pinetop'' Perkins - Piano
Little Walker - Harmonica
Unknown - Bass
Willie Nix - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

One of the few artists in this is still to be working, Perkins grew up around Willie Love and John Lee Hooker, and left Boyd Gilmore's band to join Robert Nighthawk.  During the 1940s he took to playing Pinetop Smith's magnum opus - and was accorded the nickname Pinetop for that, and to differentiate him from guitarist Joe Willie Wilkins.  His version of "Pinetop's Boogie-Woogie" is unspectacular but competent, with even Earl Hooker confine himself to comping chords of the beat-off.


Joe Willie ''Pinetop'' Perkins >
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR PINETOP PERKINS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY JULY 15, 1953 (SESSION 3)
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

So what changed between December 29, 1928 when Pine Top Smith recorded the original ''Pine Top's Boogie Woogie'' and when Pinetop Perkins recorded this version? Not much. Perkins had an electric guitar and drums reinforcing the beat, but his tempo and arrangement were much as Smith's. Sam Phillips visited enough disc jockeys and distributors to know that, as charming as this music was, it couldn't compete with Ray Charles and the other top sellers in rhythm and blues circa mid-1953, and so it remained until 1977 when the archivists came calling. Perkins' first recording under his own name wasn't released until 1988. That album, ''After Hours'', included ''Pinetop's Boogie Woogie'', a version that was, if anything, even closer to Pine Top Smith than this/ No one could accuse Perkins of pandering to fads and trends. By the time he died in March 2011, he was one of a handful of jazz/blues fans/musicians to remember the stir Smith's record created in 1929.

01 - "PINETOP'S BOOGIE WOOGIE" - B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: - Clarence Smith
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - August 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30127-B-6 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK – VOLUME 12 – UNION AVENUE BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-24 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958 
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Pinetop Perkins - Vocal and Piano
Earl Hooker - Guitar
Unknown - Bass
Willie Nix – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 STUDIO SESSION FOR LITTLE WALKER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY JULY 15, 1953 (SESSION 4)
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01(1) - "TALKIN" OFF THE WALL" - B.M.I. - 2:13
Composer: - Walter Jacobs
Publisher: - Tristan Music
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
Released: - August 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30127-A-6 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 12 - UNION AVENUE BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-25 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

Here's a mystery that may never be solves. There's an Earl Hooker tape from July 15, 1953, and at the end of the reel, are several takes of ''Off The Wall''. Little Walter (Jacobs) recorded ''Off The Wall'' in March 1953; it charted in April on the flip-side of ''Tell Me Mama'' and charted in its own right in mid-May. Phillips' logbook noted that Hooker's group included Little Walker, and it appears as if Walker was a harmonica player introduced on-stage to play a few of Little Walter's songs and confuse people into thinking that they were seeing the real deal. As far as we know, there's no other recorded evidence of Walker, but according to Hooker's biographer, Sebastian Danchin, he could sound eerily like Walter Jacobs. Much of Hooker's repertoire that day was other people's songs, so ''Off The Wall'' was certainly consistent with that.

Previously this track was issued as by Walter Horton. On May 28, 1953 Horton was in Phillips' studio with Pat hare, Joe Hill Louis, and Albert Williams. The tunes recorded that day were not noted (although $1.28 for food was logged), so it's just possible that Horton recorded ''Off The Wall'' because Little Walter's song was popular then. The guitarist doesn't play enough for us to be sure if it's Hare or Hooker, thereby placing the issue beyond doubt, but we're betting that this was recorded by Little Walker.

01(2) - "TALKIN" OFF THE WALL" - B.M.I. - 2:13
Composer: - Walter Jacobs
Publisher: - Tristan Music
Matrix number: - None - Two Incomplete Takes  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 15, 1953
This is the 1990s box version,
or rather two versions spliced together.
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-26 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-9-9 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

Also present on the tape from this session is the crude combination of two incomplete takes included here to show how the arrangement was developed. The first of these takes runs just over a minute and shows how the drummer - be it Willie Nix or Edward Irvin - had started with Fred Below's machine-gun snare figure. Horton is noticeably less inventive at this stage but Earl Hooker pushes thing along, playing boogie pattens close to the bridge of his guitar. When this take falls apart, another cuts in at a roughly equivalent place. This time Horton is playing with a much more muted tone, whilst Hooker maintains his precise rhythm. The band once again attempt an ending worthy of the musicians they are copying.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Little Walker - Harmonica (? Walter Horton)
Earl Hooker - Guitar
Unknown - Bass
Willie Nix – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

JULY 16, 1953 THURSDAY

Singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith is born in Seguin, Texas. Primarily a folk artist, she writes the Kathy Mattea county hit ''Love At The Five And Dime'' and ''Suzy Bogguss' single ''Outbound Plane''.

More than 20 years after the band's leader strated his career in Texas, Bob Wills and His Playboys return to the state, beginning a regular appearance on KGNC radio in Amarillo.
 

JULY 18, 1953 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley pays $3.98 plus tax to recorded "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" at Memphis Recording Service.  (See: Elvis Sun Sessions / Elvis 1948-1953 / July 18, 1953).

JULY 26, 1953 SUNDAY

Guitar player Randy Bethune is born. He spends five years as a member of Bill Anderson's Po' Folks Band.

JULY 28, 1953 TUESDAY

Steve Duncan is born. After playing drums for the house band at The Palomino Club in North Hollywood, California, he joins The Desert Rose Band, propelling the twangy country-rock vibe of ''One Step Forward'', ''Love Reunited'' and ''Summer Wins''.

But the promise of a tripartite arrangement, if that was it was intended to be, barely survived the sales-and-promotion trip Jud Phillips and Jim Bulleit took together at the end of July on this day. ''I got back to Nashville this am'', Jud wrote to Sam Phillips after five-day visit to Washington and New York. ''Had a long talk with Jim. I put the fear in him regarding the business''. In fact, Jud, with no apparent authority to do so (he was at this point no more than a minister without portfolio on a salary of roughly $75 a week), had suggested to Jim that perhaps he should just leave the business. To which Jim, with that indefatigable good cheer that had so endeared him to Sam at the start, simply responded that he thought he would stick it out, that, as Jud reported, he continued to believe ''the three of us can make some good money out of the operation''. He didn't even seem to take it amiss when Jud made it crystal clear, with that same combination of brash confidence and disarming charm that he brought to all of his enterprises, that if this new arrangement were to be realized, Jim Bulleit would be under the authority mot just of Sam Phillips but of Jud, too. He would be in charges of sales, to be sure, but with certain very explicitly defined restrictions. It might all work out, Jud concluded his report to Sam Phillips, because now Jim knew ''where he would stand in this matter, and he knows, too, that I know why he acts like he does''.

JULY 28, 1953 TUESDAY

Jim Bulleit taken Jud Phillips out to the Tennessee State Penitentiary to visit with the Prisonaires, who, Jud wrote to his brother, ''are getting from 10 to 25 letters every day from all over the country. They plan to bring all of them to you when they come over to record again the following week. They make me think of a bunch of baby birds. They are fine boys, all of them. I get a great joy out of helping people that I think really appreciate it, and I know you to do''.
 
JULY 1953

While once he traveled through Mississippi in a jalopy, hustling gigs where he could, Little  Milton Campbell now travels North America in a converted Scenicruiser. Chart success has  been elusive for some time, but Milton continues to keep a full engagement book. Some of  his appearances today may seem half-hearted, the inevitable product of unpacking his guitar  and walking out on stage ahead of the Miltonettes a few times too many. At his best, though,  Little Milton can still recapture the fire of his youth, and make one believe he is walking the  streets crying.

Old Club Paradise nightclub owner Andrew ''Sunbeam'' Mitchell and Little Milton >

''Big'' Milton was Milton's father, although his parents never married. Milton grew up with his  mother and stepfather near Leland, Mississippi, and developed an early fascination for the  guitar. ''We lived on the outskirts of Leland'', he told Living Blues magazine. ''The town  would close up by . . . 11:00 at night, ...
 
 
... and most of the black people who could do so would  have suppers or juke joints out in the country, even if it was just outside the city limit's  where we lived. . . . My mom would put the kitchen table across the door and sell  sandwiches, lemonade, corn liquor. My stepfather would have a dice game going and they  would hire a guitar player, they'd look around and I'd be standing there, little long drawers
on''.

''Like many rural blacks, Milton's family listened to the Grand Ole Opry as regularly as any  other radio program, and Milton still cites such country musicians as Ernest Tubb and Roy  Acuff among his favorites. At the age of eleven he got his first guitar from a mail order  catalog, eventually parlaying his $14.52 Roy Rogers guitar into a career.

Married at fourteen and single again at fifteen, he started sitting in with the Eddie Cusic (or  Kusic) band in Leland. ''My older brother took me to this club in Leland. Eddie was playing  there. I picked up his guitar, which was an electric model and sounded much better than my  little thing, and I said, 'I'm really gonna get into this'. I'd come into town every weekend and  sit in. Finally, the lady who owned the club (who was B. B. King's mother-in-law), she started  throwing me a few bucks. Then Eddie hired me for $1.50 a night''.

Milton made his studio debut as a sideman for Willie Love, who recorded for the Trumpet  label in Jackson, Mississippi. But it was the ubiquitous Ike Turner who landed Milton his deal  with Sun. ''Ike lived seventy-five mites north of me in Clarksdale'', recalled Milton to David  Booth. '' We were all playing up and down the Delta; I'd meet him here and there. I'd get into  a car on Monday and travel to maybe three towns to set up my gigs, try and get a deposit,  you know. Ike was always a smooth operator. He had a lot of ingenuity. He'd act as a talent  scout for record companies, and he was solely responsible for getting me onto Sun Records''.

Milton suffered from two problems during his tenure at Sun. The first was that he lacked a  unique, identifiable style. His Sun output, considered as a whole, covered virtually the  entire spectrum of early 1950s blues styles; among those Milton imitated, with chameleon  like adaptability, were Fats Domino, B. B. King, Elmore James, and Guitar Slim. Milton  himself admits as much: ''Back then I didn't know who Little Milton was. I was just doing  whoever came out with a hit recorded''.

The second problem lay in Milton's writing. His songs were random collections of choruses,  without the kind of repetitive hook that would be remembered by listeners. Virtually all of  his recordings could have had any one of half a dozen title's (as those who later cataloged  Milton's Sun tapes would discover, to their dismay). Yet some of the writing was undeniably  good. ''It's got to the place lately where I can't tell that woman what to do'', Milton bemoans  in ''Running Wild Blues'', a song that Phillips chose not to release; ''She sticks her anger in my  face and says 'I'm working just like you'''. (Milton was so enamored of that cameo of domestic  grief that he reprised it word-for-word on ''That Will Never Do'' on Bobbin Records five years  later).

His paint-by-numbers approach to the blues nevertheless got Milton three shots on Sun. The  principal element to which Phillips responded was undoubtedly Milton's guitar playing. He  may have borrowed some licks, but the fire with which he delivered them bore an intensity  that emulation alone could never have produced. A master of the use of silence within a  solo, Milton played with passion and a sense of drama surpassed by few of his  contemporaries at Sun or elsewhere.

Milton's last Sun session was held in March 1954. Like Rufus Thomas, Milton probably  returned with new material later in the year, only to and that his place had been usurped by  Elvis Presley. Like Thomas, Milton went to Meteor Records, for whom he recorded one single  before relocating to St. Louis. ''Ike Turner was up there and was forever saying how good it  was'', he told Booth, ''so I finally moved''. Milton recorded for Bobbin Records in St. Louis  until Chess bought his contract.

After he moved to Chess, the guitar gradually assumed a lower profile in Milton's work; it  certainly never stood front and center again. He finally began to make it with ''So Mean To  Me'' in 1962, and he hit number 1 on the Rhythm & Blues charts with ''We're Gonna Make It''  in 1965. Milton subsequently recorded later for Stax and Glades during the 1970s before  settling with the keepers of the flame at Malaco Records in Jackson, Mississippi. Little Milton  died in Memphis, Tennessee on August 4, 2005 from complications following a stroke.
 
 
 © - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©   

STUDIO SESSION FOR LITTLE MILTON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY JULY 28, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCED AND RECORDING ENGINEER - IKE TURNER
AND/OR SAM C. PHILLIPS

James Milton Campbell, late of Inverness, Mississippi, was first afforded an audience with Sam Phillips by the keen-eyed Ike Turner. Ike booked the players and together they cut "Beggin' My Baby" unashamed clone of Fats Domino's "Goin' To The River" for the topside of his first Sun single. Some five years later, partnered by one-time Sun musician, Oliver Sain, Little Milton went on to open Bobbin Records in Chicago, before returning to Memphis during the latter days of the Stax label.

''Ike Turner had a little three or four piece band'', Little Milton told Jim O'Neal. ''Himself, Junior (Jesse Knight) who was his nephew, Willie Sims who we called Bad Boy. And I took the saxophone from my band, C.W. Tate. Ike introduced me to Sam Phillips. 'You want to cut a record'? 'Yeah', So start singing and playing'. We had not rehearsed anything, but two or three of those tunes I was doing with my Playmates of Rhythm. Sometimes you'd get in (to Sun) around one or two o'clock in the afternoon and we'd be there all night, sometimes into the next day. Nobody worried about the time. Ike, he'd be playin' piano, showin' you different things. Sam Phillips, he'd be running the board'', said Milton.
 
01 - "BEGGIN' MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:23
Composer: - James Milton Campbell
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - U 92 - Master
Recorded: - July 28, 1953
Released: - December 24, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 194-A mono
BEGGIN' MY BABY / SOMEBODY TOLD ME
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2-9 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
Milton Campbell >
 
Milton Campbell was the second most talented performer Ike Turner brought along to Sun Records (Wolf being - unquestionably - the first), and whilst at this stage of the game he didn't possess an identifiable style of his own, he was capable of turning in an amazing range of convincing performances - truly a chameleon of the blues (although arguably, this was just about the last type of artist that lawsuit-prone Sam Phillips needed on his roster). 
 
Here, Milton turns his attention to a barely-disguised version of Fats Domino's "Goin' To The River" - but despite its derivative nature, his performance is totally arresting.  From the rolling and melancholy 4-bar piano introduction it was dear that "Beggin' My Baby" was a winner: even Billboard concurred, giving it highest marks and observing on January 23, 1954: "here's a sock rendition of a most melodic new effort by Milton over a pounding backing. The lyric has suspense, and Milton sings it for all he's worth. A solid slicing that could easily break out for the big coin'".

 
 02(1) - "SOMEBODY TOLD ME" - B.M.I. – 2:52
Composer: - James Campbell
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - U 93 - Master
Recorded: -   July 28, 1953
Released: - December 24, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records 78/45rpm standard single SUN 194-B mono
SOMEBODY TOLD ME / BEGGIN' MY BABY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2-10 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Once again Milton contributes a highly-charged blues performance, this time deep in B.B. King territory. However, it somehow lacks the impact of his best Sun work, predominantly because he seems constrained by the Mambo rhythm: in fact, Milton's vocal phrasing is clearly ill-suited to the latin rhythm and his guitar does not get the chance to shine, being limited to a supporting role. Fortunately, the band breaks free of the dreaded Mambo during the chorus and extended instrumental break.

Just as fats Domino inspired one side of Milton's first single, so this side ripped from B.B. King's 1953 hit ''Woke Up This Morning''. King used an almost identical arrangement down to the stinging guitar-over-mambo intro, and the switch to 4/4 on the chorus and break.

02(2) - "SOMEBODY TOLD ME" - B.M.I. - 2:22
Composer: - James Campbell
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 1  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -   July 28, 1953
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30102-B-5 mono
SUN: THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 2 - SAM'S BLUES

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Milton Campbell - Vocal and Guitar
Ike Turner - Piano
C.W. Tate - Tenor Saxophone
Jesse Knight - Bass
Willie Sims - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

JULY 30, 1953 THURSDAY

Webb Pierce recorded ''I'm Walking The Dog'' during a morning session at the Castle Studio in Nashville.
 

 
AUGUST 1953
 

AUGUST 1953

Jud Phillips  is in Shreveport, Louisiana, negotiating with distributor Stan Lewis to get Sun product played  on the radio shows which Lewis sponsors. Jud's field reports indicate a "terrific advance  reaction" to "Tiger Man". 

According to the trade press, Sun 187 "Feelin' Good" is starting to sell significantly in in Atlanta.

Big Mama Thornton recorded "Hound Dog" with Johnny Otis and his band.

AUGUST 1953

The Soviet Union announces it has tested its own hydrogen bomb during August of 1953. The version that they tested was a “Layer Cake” bomb, a smaller and more portable version of the hydrogen bomb compared to what the US had tested in November of 1952. This announcement helped to increase the tension between the USSR and United States during the Cold War. It also greatly escalated the arms race between the two powers.

AUGUST 2, 1953 SUNDAY

Studio session with Bonnie Turner at Sun Records, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee.

AUGUST 1953


Following the success of ''Rocket 88'' on Chess in 1951, and the ensuing arguments about money and artist credits, Ike Turner spent much of the next three years employed by the Bihari brothers to help find and record blues musicians across the South. Starting with Howlin' Wolf in September 1951, Ike recorded in Memphis with various singers, he produced sessions in Little Rock that November. During 1952 he recorded with Houston Boines, Boyd Gilmore, Charly Booker, Elmore James, Junior Parker and others.

In January 1952 he was in Greenville, then in Canton, and during that year he was recording in makeshift studios in Memphis, Little Rock, West Memphis and Clarksdale. He was also touring with the Kings Of Rhythm. According to a future King, Eugene Fox, Turner came back to Clarksdale sometime in the summer of 1953. In July, Ike brought Little Milton to Sun; in August, he returned with Johnny O'Neal. And now, Ike's Sun recordings with Bonnie are most likely to date from around the same time, although, as always with Ike, you're never really sure.
 



Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm at Birdcage, 1955. (Front row) Raymond Hill, Eddie Jones and club owner Collins Polk. (Back) Billy Gayles, Eugene Washington, Jesse Knight, Ike Turner, and singer and pianist Anna Mae Wilson >


Off the back of his involvement in a raft of pre-Sun recordings made at 706 Union Avenue by rhythm and blues pioneers like Jackie Brenston, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King, Ike Turner was periodically apportioned studio time for his own needs.

As the itinerant leader of The Kings Of Rhythm, he introduced into the ranks a coquettish piano-player conveniently known as Bonnie Turner. One of the less-chronicled female acquaintances in Ike's life, she nevertheless showed great promise on the spirited "Love Is A Gamble".  In March, 1953, pianist Bonnie Turner traveled from Clarksdale, Mississippi to Memphis with her then boyfriend/husband Ike, and recorded these titles for Sam Phillips. 

 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 
STUDIO SESSION FOR BONNIE TURNER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY AUGUST 2, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - IKE TURNER

''Love Is A Gamble'' showcase Bonnie's stacato delivery, and her pleasant, nondescript voice. The pianist was a very emphatic boogie player. If, as seems likely, it was Bonnie, she was good, as Ike has said she was. Or it could be Ike. His adventures with the whammy bar and the cocaine spoon sometimes lead us to forget how good he was on piano.
 
  01(1) - "LOVE IS A GAMBLE" - B.M.I. - 2:12
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None  -  Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30103-A-4 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 3 - DELTA RHYTHM KINGS
Reissued - August 2002 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 166094-3 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS
 
 01(2) - "LOVE IS A GAMBLE" - B.M.I. - 2:09
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None  -  Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - August 2002
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 166094-4-21 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS 

To the ''Rock Me Baby'' riff, Ike set some new words. Presumably he's playing guitar, with Bonnie at the piano. The result, as Sam Phillips and probably Ike himself knew, was not releasable. Bonnie's vocal just wasn't that good. Fast forward to 1962. Bluesman Frank Frost was in the new Sun studio and recorded ''old brother Jack he was a jelly roll king'' as ''Jelly Roll King'', this time to a Jimmy Reed beat. Fast forward again to 1969. With Bonnie long gone and Tina fronting the band, Ike revisited ''Rock Me Baby'' for their ''Outta Season'' LP. It proved that Ike's idea of how to approach the song hadn't changed much in sixteen years; it also proved how much he needed Tina. ''Outta Season'' by the way, was a neglected classic, at least in part for the jacket. On the front, Tina ate watermelon in whiteface; on the reverse, Ike did the same. The message that Ike and his producer, Bob Krasnow, wanted to get across was that in 1969 if you wanted to play the blues, you had to be white.

02 - "OLD BROTHER JACK" - B.M.I. - 2:14
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
It will special notice of "Old Brother Jack", which predates Frank Frost's
"Jellyroll King" by nine years and was plainly descended from the same source.
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30103-A-3 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 3 - DELTA RHYTHM KINGS
Reissued: - August 2002 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16609-4-2 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS

From the evidence at hand, Bonnie was unlikely to build a career around her vocal chops. She did, however, make a major - even if invisible - contribution to the history of popular music. Bonnie was a good enough keyboard player to allow Ike to relinquish the piano stool and concentrate on his newly purchased Fender Stratocaster. In fact, it might have been his faith in Bonnie's piano playing that allowed him to browse the shiney new electric guitars of Houck's music store in Memphis in the first place.

03 - "WAY DOWN IN THE CONGO*" - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30103-A-8 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 3 - DELTA RHYTHM KINGS

04 - "CAMPING DOWN IN CANAAN'S LAND''
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Sun Unissued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
 
 Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Marion Louise ''Bonnie'' Turner - Vocal and Piano
Ike Turner - Guitar & Vocal*
Jesse Knight Jr. - Bass
Willie Sims or Bob Prindell - Drums
Raymond Hill - Tenor Sax
Possibly Thomas Reed, James Wheeler - Saxophones

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOHNNY O'NEAL
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY AUGUST 2, 1953
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Johnny O'Neal had been in an earlier incarnation of the Kings of Rhythm, but left prior to ''Rocket 88'' to sign with King Records. Around the time that Ike Turner to Clarksdale in the summer of 1953, he brought O'Neal back into the fold. Eugene Fox joined in October and remembered that O'Neal left soon after. Sometime in-between, Turner married O'Neal's girlfriend, Alice. ''He was a fighting son-of-a-bitch'', said Turner. ''If I married her, he couldn't do nuthin'. One day, she thought I was going to Memphis, but the job was cancelled and I caught her on the porch with Johnny O'Neal's head in her lap''. Turner's memory of O'Neal as a ''fighting son-of-a-bitch'' is borne out by Eugene Fox's nickname for him ''Scarface brother''.

01(1) - "DEAD LETTER BLUES" - 1 -  B.M.I. - 3:39
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 97 - Take 1  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30103-B-2 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK – VOLUME 3 – DELTA RHYTHM KINGS
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-6-9 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

The opening verse is an adaptation of one of the most celebrated stanzas in the blues. Ida Cox's 1924 ''Death Letter Blues'' became part of Son House's 1930 ''My Black Mama Part ii'', and was in turn adapted into Muddy Waters'1950 recording of ''Sad Letter Blues''. (The tape box calls this song ''Death Letter Blues'', but a dead letter was one that was undeliverable; it should have been titled ''Death Letter Blues''). This variation on an immemorial theme genuflects toward the Kingdom of B.B. As impassioned as O'Neal's vocal is, he's overshadowed by Ike Turner on guitar. This was a commanding performance that did not deserve to languish so long on a shelf.

01(2) - "DEAD LETTER BLUES" - 2 - B.M.I. – 3:37
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1986
First appearance: -  Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-6-3 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-9-12 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

This was a routine that Ike Turner cooked up for his nightclub act. He'd do it with the stage lights out, and only the amp lights on. As a song, it had its roots deep in vaudeville and in records like Bessie Smith's ''Blue Spirit Blues'' in which she dreamed she was dead and led into Hell. When Phillips first logged the song, he called it ''Devil's Dream''. It could be Ike as the Devil and the Doctor. O'Neal seems to call the Devil ''Ike'' at one point, and he wouldn't be the last to do that. It's certainly Ike playing guitar and Phillips' notes indicated that Bonnie Turner was at the session so she is probably playing the part of ''Mary''.
 
02(1) - "NIGHTMARE (JOHNNY'S DREAM)" - B.M.I. - 2:56
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-6-10 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958
 
02(2) - "NIGHTMARE (JOHNNY'S DREAM)" - B.M.I. - 3:37
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-6-4 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-9-13 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

This little psychodrama - which features the acting and musical talents of Ike and Bonnie Turner - was actually cut for release on Sun Records. Recorded in August 1953, it was mastered on both 78 and 45 rpm in January 1954 - but it somehow never quite made it onto the release schedule. The most likely scenario is that Sam Phillips ran short of cash and held this one back, alongside a couple of Mose Vinson sides which had been mastered at the same time. Meanwhile, Ike Turner decided the idea was too strong to be left on the back burner until Phillips' finances had improved, to which end he returned to Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he recorded essentially the same song as "Sinner's Dream", with Eugene Fox. He promptly sold it to the Chess brothers in Chicago, who lost no time in releasing it. Yet another version by Fox was produced by Ike Turner and flogged to RPM Records a few months later - whilst this original lay in the can for more than thirty years. (The take used here is different to that used on the original Sun Blues Box).

03(1) - "UGLY WOMAN" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
 
 03(2) - "UGLY WOMAN" - 2 -  B.M.I. - 2:21
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 96 - Take 2  - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30103-B-1 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 3 - DELTA RHYTHM KINGS
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-9-11 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

03(3) - "UGLY WOMAN" -  1 - B.M.I. – 2:27
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 3  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-6-5 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

From the same session, this song, of course, has its origins deep in the dozens ("Your old lady is so ugly that...") welded to the "Rocket 88" riff. Things sound pretty spirited on this, the third take - although before the session was completed, Sam Phillips had the boys try the song ten times in all, and yet surprisingly, never released any of them. The lyrical content is strong throughout, and Ike Turner weighs in with a stinging guitar solo which never falls short of ideas on a memorable good-time record. (The take used here is different to that used on the original Sun Blues Box).

''Ugly Woman'' deserved to be on a record, and if Phillips' bankroll had been a little fatter, it might have been. Turner waited a couple of years before trying it again. With Billy Gayles aka Willie King singing, it finally appeared on Vita Records as ''Peg Leg Baby''.

03(4) "UGLY WOMAN" - 2 - B.M.I.
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Takes 4-10 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953

04 "PEG LEG BABY'' - B.M.I. - 2:26
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - October 1985
First appearance: Krazy Kat Records (LP) 33rpm Krazy Kat KK 7427 mono
MEMPHIS BLUES - UNISSUED TRACKS FROM THE 1950S

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny O'Neal - Vocal
James Wheeler - Saxophone
Thomas Reed - Saxophone
Bonnie Turner - Piano
Ike Turner - Guitar & 2nd Vocal
Jesse Knight - Bass Guitar
Willie Sims – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
 
 

The Prisonaires at Tennessee State Penitentiary, Nashville, Tennessee, 1953. From left: Ed Thurman inspects  cloth in prison textile school; Johnny Bragg clean the prison floors; Robert Riley, in his cell composing  music, Marcell Sanders working in prison textile school; William Stewart and night warden; John Drue at  rehearsal >



AUGUST 3, 1953 MONDAY

Songwriter/guitarist/producer Randy Scruggs is born to Earl Scruggs in Nashville. His credits include George Strait's ''Heartland'', Vince Gill's ''Go Rest High On That Mountain'' and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's ''Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Volume 2''.

Capitol released Hank Thompson's ''Yesterday's Girl''.

Jack Cardwell recorded ''Dear Jean''.
 


On this date, the Prisonaires came back to Memphis to cut a follow-up session that comprised "Softly And Tenderly", "My God Is Real", "Prisoner's Prayer", and "No More Tears", featuring Ike Turner in the unaccustomed role of church pianist. Note how Turner's intro to "Softly And Tenderly" is cloned from his intro to "Rocket 88". Releasing the two religious numbers, Sam Phillips neatly shot himself in the foot. The record sold poorly, and oblivion was beckoning when the group came back into the studio on October 17, 1953.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR THE PRISONAIRES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY AUGUST 3, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Sam Phillips thought enough of this record to release it as The Prisonaires, July 1953 follow-up to their hit "Just Walkin' In The Rain". It was a risky venture that paid few commercial reworks, and did little to convince Sam Phillips that he could sell gospel music. Track 1 on this session radiates an undeniable energy and "live" feeling that nearly a half a century has done little to dilute. Two things of note: - one is the appearance of Ike Turner in the unexpected role of church pianist. The other is the joyous uptempo arrangement. Listen to a hundred other versions of "Softly And Tenderly" and you'll be lucky to find a single one that doesn’t' approach it as a pious dirge.

Recorded through the years by Elvis Presley (1956 Million Dollar Quartet), Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, and Countless others, ''Softly And Tenderly'' was written by Ohio businessman, Will Thompson, in 1880. The hymn remains immensely popular among white concregations, but was sung at the memorial service for Martin Luther King at the Elbenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 8, 1968. It's hard to know who or what inducted the Prisonaires to record it jubilee style for their second single.
 
01 - "SOFTLY AND TENDERLY* - B.M.I. - 2:30
Composer: - Will Thompson-Public Domain
Publisher: - Babb Music
Matrix number: - U 82 - Master
Recorded: - August 3, 1953
Released: - September 1953
First appearance: - Sun Record (S) 78/45rpm single SUN 189-B mono
SOFTLY AND TENDERLY / MY GOD IS REAL
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-28 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

In its way, the Prisonaires version of ''My God Is Real'' this classic is as good as any other, and others who've recorded include Mahalia Jackson, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Al Green. The piece was written in 1944 by an African American minister and hymnodist, Kenneth Morris, as ''Yes, God Is Real''. ''There are some places I cannot go'' was one of the most awfully true lines on a Sun record. That said, the Prisonaires were getting out of the prison gates on a fairly regular basis, and on one of their Sunday forays into the free world they attended a service with the legendary Clara Ward and her choir. Ward had recorded ''My God Is Real'' in 1949 and made it her own until Mahalia Jackson took ownership of it. Inspired by Ward, the Prisonaires h  olds a unique place among gospel records.   Out of every hundred versions of this classic title, ninety nine of them are dirge like, but, with Ike Turner in the unaccustomed role of church pianist, the Prisonaires approach the tune with uncommon energy and enthusiasm that must have raised a few sanctified eyebrows. The recording has a strong live feel, abetted by handclapping and shouts. This may have truly been a one take wonder, a warmup effort that became a contender for release simply by the spontaneous joy it projected. That feeling is undiminished sixty years later.

02 - "MY GOD IS REAL"*** - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Kenneth Morris-Public Domain
Publisher: - Babb Music - Morris Music
Matrix number: - U 81 - Master
Recorded: - August 3, 1953
Released: - September 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 189-A mono
MY GOD IS REAL / SOFTLY AND TENDERLY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1-27 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Only in the most technical sense is this a gospel recording. The subject matter is only remotely spiritual. More cynically, this is a pop record designed to capitalize on the unique status of the group.
 
 
Johnny Bragg delivers an impassioned lead vocal. There must have been special meaning to singing lines like "There are some places I can not go".

Written by Jim Proctor, a white Tennessee Bureau of Investigations official, the song gave Sam Phillips a change to garner more attention and airplay by capitalizing on the group's unusual status. At some point, it would have been desirable to establish the Prisonaires in the marketplace, and let them stand on the merits of their music, not the novelty of their situation. A "Prisoner's Prayer" with its hokey reference to 'cellblock 23', was a step in the opposite direction.

The vocal performance owes little to the classic quartet tradition, and equally little to then-current vocal group music. It centres more upon the lead singing of Johnny Bragg, dueting with bass singer Marcell Sanders. Sparse and effective instrumental support was provided by Ike Turner on electric guitar and William Stewart on acoustic guitar. The problem was that Sam Phillips had seen the coverage of ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'', and decided that the Prisonaires' story was more significant than their music. In pandering to that, he got it wrong. After a gospel single pairing ''Softly And Tenderly'' with ''My God Is Real'', this was another commercial mis-step.

03 - "A PRISONER'S PRAYER"** - B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - James Proctor
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - U 85 - Master
Recorded: - August 3, 1953
Released: - November 1, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 191-A mono
A PRISONER'S PRAYER / I KNOW
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2-3 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

04 - "NO MORE TEARS" - B.M.I. - 2:30
Composer: - Johnny Bragg
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 3, 1953
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15523-10 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal
John Drue - 2nd Tenor Vocal
William Stewart - Baritone Vocal and Guitar
Marcell Sanders - Bass Vocal
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal
Ike Turner - Piano* and Electric Guitar
Unknown - Bass**, possible Ike Turner

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

AUGUST 5, 1953

The movie ''From Here To Eternity'' premieres in theaters with cast member Merle Travis performing ''Re-Enlistment Blues'' and appearing in several scenes. The picture, starring Burt Lancaster, inspires the 1997 Michael Peterson hit of the same name.

Justin Tubb recorded four songs for Decca Records at Nashville's Tulane Hotel in his very first session.

Fiddler Larry Franklin is born in Whitewright, Texas. After a stint in Asleep At The Wheel, he becomes a Nashville session player in the 1990s, appearing on hits by Shania Twain, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire and Gretchn Wilson, among others.

Rex Allen investigates diamond smugglers in the Old West, as the western movie ''Down Laredo Way'' appears in theaters. Clayton Moore, known for his role as ''The Lone Ranger'', has a secondary role.
 


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JUNIOR PARKER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY AUGUST 5, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

In those seminal times when the birth pangs of rhythm and blues could still be felt, such diversities as be bop, smooth ballads and foreboding saga songs were all considered fair game as influences upon the new genre. It is in the latter category that "Mystery Train"slots most fittingly for its author, the suave Junior Parker from Clarksdale, Mississippi. That other son of the same city, Ike Turner, acted as the go-between here, thereby earning his talent scout bonus from Sam Phillips. 

The fight with Little Junior Parker that had been smoldering for more than six months was temporarily set aside when Sam Phillips brought him back into the Sun studio. Parker and his band the Blue Flames, cut three songs, including versions of "Love My Baby" and "Mystery Train"; the sessions were not successful ones. Parker had been touring with a package group of Duke Records' artists, and Don Robey was pursuing Parker to record for his label.
 
01 - "MYSTERY TRAIN" - B.M.I. - 2:19
Composer: - Herman Parker-Sam C. Phillips
Publisher: - Memphis Music - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 89 - Master
Recorded: - August 5, 1953
Released: - November 1, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 192-A mono
MYSTERY TRAIN / LOVE MY BABY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2-5 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

This beautiful poised blues is one of the widely acknowledged genuine classics to emerge from Sam Phillips' early output. Everything meshes together so effectively that the end result is something considerably greater than the sum of its parts. Mind you, those parts are disarmingly simple: Junior's melodic song and high-pitched vocal; the gentle rhythm established by bass and drums; a breathy sax; an instantly-memorable guitar riff (whilst the piano is buried in the mix). The disc is a deeply affecting, personal and atmospheric blues - which sadly, stood precious little chance of emulating the success of its predecessor. But perhaps the greatest "mystery" is the derivation of the song's title, as at no point is it either used or made clear. When it originally appeared, "Mystery Train" was credited solely to Junior Parker and published by Memphis Music: but by the time Elvis Presley recorded it in 1955, Sam Phillips had added his name to the copyright (possibly in part settlement of Parker's contract dispute) and the publishing had been transferred to Phillips' Hi-Lo Music. The mellow tone of Parker's original contrasts sharply with Elvis Presley's rather more famous version, which exudes a brash confidence and coll assertiveness.

02(1) - "LOVE MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - Herman Parker
Publisher: - Memphis Music - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 88 - Master
Recorded: -   August 5, 1953
Released: - November 1, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 192-B mono
LOVE MY BABY / MYSTERY TRAIN
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2-6 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
This extraordinary track certainly qualities for inclusion on any list of early rock and roll recordings - and it is also arguably one of the earliest Rockabilly records. However, because it originally appeared on the flip of "Mystery Train" it is frequently overlooked - but when Jud Phillips went out on the road in November 1953, many disc jockeys were picking up on "Love My Baby" as the follow up to "Feelin' Good". The track sports an instantly-catchy guitar riff (although the guitarist - Murphy - loses it momentarily, blowing a chord-change during the third verse), whilst Parker's high, creamy tenor soars over the instrumental backdrop. Three years later - when Sun's blues are was firmly consigned to back-catalogue status - Sam Phillips would play Junior Parker's uptempo numbers to his Rockabilly artists. instructing the guitarists to duplicate Floyd Murphy's riffs. Ironically, the guitar work on this track has crept into the psyche of a whole generation of Rockabilly and Rock guitarists who've probably never, ever heard of Junior Parker, much less guitarist Floyd Murphy. Perhaps the first to be influenced by this solo was Sun's most famous guitarist, Scotty Moore. 

02(2) - "LOVE MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Herman Parker-Sam C. Phillips
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - Unknown - Alternate Take  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -   August 5, 1953
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Rounder Records (CD) 500/200rpm Rounder CD SS 38-6 mono
MYSTERY TRAIN

03 - "FEELIN' BAD" - B.M.I. – 2:41
Composer: - Herman Parker-Sam Phillips
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 87 & U 104  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -   August 5, 1953
"Feelin' Bad" were to have made it into the release schedules, such a pessimistic title would have scuppered any potential airplay.
The track was replaced at the eleventh hour with "Love My Baby".
Released: - November 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30135 (mono)
THE LEGENDARY SUN PERFORMERS - JUNIOR PARKER & BILLYLOVE
Reissued: - 1990 Rounder Records (CD) 500/200rpm CD SS 38-5 mono
MYSTERY TRAIN

It didn't take much thought to switch moods for this repetition of "Feelin' Good". Audibly, this is Floyd Murphy once again, although he takes a less demonstrative role, both in his solo and throughout the performance. The cause of Junior's malaise is his woman - naturally. Seems "some other guy was holdin' her tight" and Junior's solution is to slink off home and call her on the telephone. The idea of making your own answer record was a good one but the end result is rather mechanical. With Junior's defection, Sam Phillips might have considered putting this out to scotch any Duke releases - although perhaps his previous troubles with Chess and RPM Records dissuaded him from going down that road again.

Looked at another way, this is the weakest ''Feelin' Good'' squel in the Sun vaults. Sammy Lewis' and Willie Johnson's ''I Feel So Worried'', Hot Shot Love's ''Wolf Call Boogie'', and Albert Williams' ''Rumble Chillen'' ate better. Without ''Feelin' Good'', this would have been listenable, but as a sequel it offers nothing new.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Little Junior's Blue Flames consisting of
Herman Parker - Vocal
James Wheeler - Tenor Saxophone
Floyd Murphy - Guitar
William "Bill" Johnson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Houston Stokes or John Bowers - Drums
When Herman Parker's group reassembled at Sun in the fall, they had worked up two more countrified blues, "Love My Baby" and a "Feelin' Good" sequel, unimaginatively titled "Feelin' Bad". Sam Phillips originally scheduled those two cuts as SUN 192. However, at the last moment he replaced "Feelin' Bad" with "Mystery Train". One of the mysteries about "Mystery Train" is a stirring performance, though. The elements are disarmingly simple but they coalesce to the point where the finished product id truly more than the sum of its parts. 

From left: Walter Bailley, Herman Parker, Elvis Presley, and Bobby Bland at WDIA Goodwill Revue, Ellis Auditorium,  Memphis, Tennessee, December 6, 1957 >

By contrast, "Love My Baby" is almost the first black rockabilly record (and those wanting too see just how well it adapts to the rockabilly treatment should check out Hayden Thompson's version on Rounder's Sun Rockabilly Anthology, SS 37). An interesting footnote to this track is that it once again reveals that, despite his eminence as a producer, Sam Phillips was totally uncomfortable with fadeout endings.
 
 
He either shunned them or never mastered the rudimentary skill of producing one during Sun's peak blues years.

Released in November 1953, "Mystery Train"/"Love My Baby" failed to sustain the momentum of "Feelin' Good" and Junior Parker began to get itchy feet. In an unfortunate sidebar, Sam Phillips once again found himself in a legal dispute with Don Robey, this time over Parker's contract. Perhaps in part settlement, the name 'Phillips' now appears appended to 'Parker' whenever the composer credits are listed for "Mystery Train". Considering the number of times this title has been performed, that turn of events has been anything but trival.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 AUGUST 6, 1953 THURSDAY

Confederate Railroad's Mark DuFresne is born in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Heavily influenced by southern rock, the band earns 1990's hits with ''Queen Of Memphis'', ''Trashy Women'' and ''Daddy Never Was The Cadillac Kind''.

AUGUST 8, 1953 SATURDAY

Songwriter Todd Cerney is born in Detroit. He authors Restless Heart's ''I'll Still Be Loving You'' and Steve Holy's ''Good Morning Beautiful''.

AUGUST 9, 1953 SUNDAY

After an association with Columbia Records, The Stanley Brothers hold their first recording session in a five-year deal with Mercury.

''Old American Barndance'' airs on TV's Dumas network for the last time, after just six weeks in its Sunday night time slot. Tennessee Ernie Ford and Pee Wee King are regulars on the program.

AUGUST 10, 1953 MONDAY

Decca released Kitty Well's ''Hey, Joe''.

Studio session with Earl Hooker at Sun Records, Memphis, Tennessee.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 STUDIO SESSION FOR EARL HOOKER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY AUGUST 10, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

Note: For some reason Sam Phillips marked the session up as "unproductive".

01 - "JIVIN' BOOGIE" - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: Earl Hooker
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 10, 1953
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8302-20 mono
706 UNION INSTRUMENTALS

02 - "THE HUCKLEBUCK" - B.M.I. - 3:05
Composer: - Paul Williams-Andy Gibson-Alfred
Publisher: - Tradition Music
Matrix number: - None -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 10, 1953
Earl Hooker's take on Paul Williams classic from 1949, is high on the list of outcast   Sun masters. Its overlong shelf-life is doubtless attributable to the casual free-for-all that accounted for his fleeting parley at Sun.
Released: - September 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30126-A-4 mono
SUN: THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 11 - MEMPHIS BLUES SOUNDS
Reissued: - 1989 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUN 29 mono
BLUE GUITAR

In 1945, be-bop giant Charlie Parker recorded ''Now's The Time'', in 1948, Lucky Millinder began playing an adaptation of it called ''D-Natural Blues'', and  Andy Gibson adapted Charlie Parker's "Now Is The Time" and called it "The Hucklebuck". Baritone saxman and bandleader Paul Williams recorded it in December 1948 and it remained in the Rhythm and Blues charts for 32 weeks after its entry on February 11, 1949. Earl Hooker manages to give some idea of the original when he moves from playing the main melody on single strings to a riff that approximates the sound of a horn section. The lyric exhorted dancers to "start a little movement in your sacroiliac", at a time when 'ignorance with style' ensures that the young can hardly pronounce the word, let alone spell it, its lucky that Hooker's version is purely instrumental.

Accordingly, Hooker plays riffs where the horn section should have been, and he plays single string fretted lead instead of slide. This was probably a set-opener to get folks in the mood to drink, dance, and place some money in the kitty, but it was never going to be a Sun record.
 
Earl Hooker, a cousin of John Lee Hooker, learned to play the guitar as a child in Chicago. He recorded widely in the early 1950s, sometimes as a sideman and sometimes under his own name as either guitarist or vocalist. Hooker came to Sun and ran through his on-stage repertoire hoping to impress Sam Phillips and get a recording contract. He got his contract but never had a release on Sun. Happily for us, Sam kept that audition tape where it could be discovered decades later.

03 - "DYNAFLOW BLUES''
Composer: Earl Hooker
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - August 10, 1953
 

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Earl Hooker - Guitar
Willie "Pinetop" Perkins - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Edward Lee "Shorty" Irvin – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

AUGUST 14, 1953 FRIDAG

Ernest Tubb recorded ''Divorce Granted'' during an afternoon session at the Castle Studio in Nashville.

Patti Page makes the cover of TV Guide.

AUGUST 15, 1953 SATURDAY

Lula Grace Wood is officially divorced from Mearle Wood. Seven years later, she is destined to score her first hit record under the name Jan Howard.

AUGUST 17, 1953 MONDAY

Songwriter and guitarist Eddie Hill has a son, Gary Wayne Hill.

AUGUST 20, 1953 THURSDAY

Jean Shepard and Ferlin Husky recorded ''Forgive Me, John'' during an afternoon session at the Capitol Studios on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.

AUGUST 22, 1953 SATURDAY

Goldie Hill makes her debut appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

AUGUST 26, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Nearly 11 months after its debut, the Patti Page-hosted ''Scott Music Hall'' airs for the last time on NBC-TV.

AUGUST 29, 1953 SATURDAY

Future Sun recording star Onie Wheeler recorded four songs in his first session. One of them, ''Run Ém Off'', becomes a hit the following year after being re-recorded by Lefty Frizzell.
 
Bass player, Jerry Johnson joins Roy Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys, where she is billed as the Smokey Mountain Sweetheart.

Dobro player Cousin Jody returns to the Grand Old Opry stage at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium following an absence of several years.
 



Front row: Onie Wheeler, Doyal Nelson.  Back row: Aldon J. Nelson, Ernest Thompson >

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Future Sun Records country singer, Onie Wheeler landing a gig on KSIM, Sikeston, Missouri. At that time, the Nelson Brothers, Doyal and Aldon J., and Ernest Thompson were working in factories in St. Louis and playing local hillbilly bars at night. They were originally from Sikeston and went back there often; on one of those trips they met Onie Wheeler.
 

Onie asked them to join him, and they decided to give up their day jobs, move back to Sikeston and try for a career in music. Billboard reported that Onie had started on KSIM in May 1952, the Nelson and Ernest Thompson probably joined him soon afterwards. They held down a regular show on KSIM and played the honky tonks all over north-east Arkansas, southern Illinois and southeast Missouri, but the trail from there to Nashville was not as straightforward as it might appear.

 
After a while, Onie Wheeler and the Nelsons decided that they had over-exposed themselves locally and should go to California. Every night they saved part of their earnings and put it into a California kitty. ''We'd saved about fifty bucks'', remembers Aldon J., ''so we decided to leave, go as far as we could in one day then find a club, maybe even play for tips. We left the women at home, and started out. We stopped the first night in Texarkana, another few nights in Lonview, Texas and then we ended up outside of Odessa in a place called Monahans. There was a club with cars as far as you could see. Doc Bryant was running a remote broadcast out of there. I guess you could spot musicians back then 'cause Doc walked right up and started talking to us. He told us to get our instruments and play. He loved us cause we were different from that Texas stuff. He offered to book us, and he got us a gig in Odessa for six months or so, before the place closed because of a liquor violation. Onie had a day job so he stayed in Odessa, and we headed off to Wichita, 'cause we heard it was wide open''.

''On the way to Wichita we stopped off to see Doc Bryant, who'd gone home to Chickasha, Oklahoma. He offered us a job with his band, so we stayed working the clubs and playing TV and radio. One night they called me to the phone. It was Onie. We hadn’t told him where we were, and he'd called clubs between Odessa and Wichita 'til he found us. He said the club in Odessa was open again and we should join him, so we went back''.


''One Night Little Jimmy Dickens played there and told us we oughta be recording, so we headed back to Missouri, loaded down the car with tapes of all our songs and went to Nashville. We tried everyone in town, then finally someone said, 'Go see Troy Martin over at the Tulane Hotel'. We went and played him ''Mother Prays Loud In Her Sleep''. Troy asked Onie what he wanted for the song, and Onie said wanted a recording contract. Troy said, 'You got it'''.



The Tulane Hotel, northeast corner of Eight Avenue and Church Street. Man on corner, two horse-drawn buggies in front of the hotel; arches and columns decorate corner doorway; florist shop on near left corner; sign in upstairs window says "Dr. A. B. Cooke'' >


Troy Martin (real name Jerry Organ) was one of the first operators in the Nashville music scene. He had started his career back in the 1930s as a recording artist of no great distinction. 


By the early 1950s he was working under several aliases depending upon which publishing company he was representing that week. Martin was especially tight with Don Law at Columbia who recalled their double-edged relationship in the following terms:  ''Troy was a big help to me. He'd make suggestions and bring people to me. He'd leave the impression that if you want to get to Don Law, you've got to do through me', although I didn't find out about this until a lot later''. 
 
 
Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR ONIE WHEELER
FOR OKEH RECORDS 1953

CASTLE RECORDING STUDIO,  TULANE HOTEL
EIGHT AVENUE / CHURCH STREET, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
OKEH SESSION: SATURDAY AUGUST 29, 1953
SESSION HOURS: 15:30-18:30
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – DON LAW
 
Landing Onie Wheeler's deal with the Okeh division of Columbia Records was not an act of altruism on Martin's part. He secured the publishing on Onie's material for Peer, whom he was representing in 1953, and half of the composer credit for himself under the pseudonyms ''Tony Lee'', ''George Sherry'' and ''B, Strange''. Columbia offered a two year contract at two percent to commence August 28, 1953. On that date, Onie cut four songs including two that became closely associated with him: ''Run 'Em Off'' and ''Mother Prays Loud In Her Sleep''. It was an astonishing debut. In fact, Martin had such faith in ''Mother Prays Loud In Her Sleep'', that he persuaded Flatt and Scruggs to record it the following day. Onie had written the song with the three-part harmony of Doyal, Aldon J., and himself in mind, and it is Dayal's stilling high tenore heard to such good effect on the bridge.

Troy Martin and Don Law chose ''Run Ém Off'' for the first single, though. It was the song that went over best on show dates, and although it didn't chart in Onie's hands, it made a strong impact, and, according to Nelson, eventually sold 250,000 copies. It's worth remembering that in those days the Billboard country chart only had fifteen positions: a record such as ''Run 'Em Off'' could sell well, but slowly, and never show up on the chart. Lefty Frizzell certainly sat up and took notice of it; he covered ''Run 'Em Off'' in November 1953, and charted briefly with it the following year. Onie's version had subtle, but telling, differences from the country mainstream of the day; the steel guitar (an instrument that he personally disliked) was absent, drums (still no-go on the Opry) were present and hustled the rhythm along, and solo honours were shared by the fiddle and harmonica.

01 – ''RUN 'EM OFF'' – B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - Onie Wheeler-Tracy Lee
Publisher: - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 1717 / CO 49895
Recorded: - August 29, 1953
Released: - 1953
First appearance: - Okeh Records (S) 78rpm standard single Okeh 18022-4 mono
RUN 'EM OFF / WHEN WE ALL GET THERE
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-30 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

02 – ''WHEN WE ALL GET THERE'' – B.M.I. - 2:01
Composer: - Onie Wheeler-Tracy Lee
Publisher: - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 1718 / CO 49896
Recorded: - August 29, 1953
Released: - 1953
First appearance: - Okeh Records (S) 78rpm standard single Okeh 18022-4 mono
WHEN WE ALL GET THERE / RUN ÉM OFF
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-27 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

03 – ''MOTHER PRAYS LOUD IN HER SLEEP'' – B.M.I. - 3:23
Composer: - Onie Wheeler-Tracy Lee
Publisher: - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 1719 / CO 49897
Recorded: - August 29, 1953
Released: - 1953
First appearance: - Okeh Records (S) 78rpm standard single Okeh 18026-4 mono
MOTHER PRAYS LOUD IN HER SLEEP / A MILLION YEARS IN GLORY
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-29 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

04 – ''A MILLION YEARS IN GLORY'' – B.M.I. - 3:23
Composer: - Onie Wheeler-Tracy Lee
Publisher: - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 1720 / CO 49898
Recorded: - August 29, 1953
Released: - 1953
First appearance: - Okeh Records (S) 78rpm standard single Okeh 18026-4 mono
A MILLION YEARS IN GLORY / MOTHER PRAYS LOUD IN HER SLEEP
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-28 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Onie Wheeler – Vocal, Harmonica, Guitar
Alden J. Nelson – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Doyal Nelson – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Jerry Rivers – Fiddle
Ernest G. Thompson - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
SEPTEMBER 1953
 

SEPTEMBER 1953

Sun 189 ''My God Is Real'' b/w ''Softly And Tenderly'' by The Prisonaires is issued. Life magazine sends a photographer and a journalist to interview the Prisonaires and photograph them, but the story doesn't run.

Sun 190 ''Blues Waltz'' b/w ''Silver Bells'' by the Ripley Cotton Choppers is the first country release on Sun (78rpm only), and the first by a white  artist(s) on any of Phillips' labels. The record have a ''hillbilly'' stamp on the label to distinguish them from Sun's blues releases.

An article in the rhythm and blues magazine ''Beat'' read: ''Rosco Gordon and Ray Charles are prepping themselves for a road tour beginning in Decatur, Illinois and winding up on September 26 at the Belmont Ballroom, Toledo, Ohio''.

''A new package consisting of the Clovers, the Rosco Gordon Orchestra, Little Esther and Chuck Willis will be sent out by Shaw Artists Corp. for a 15-day swing thru Southern territory starting October 1. Trek will be handled by promoter Eli Weinberg''.

SEPTEMBER 1, 1953 TUESDAY

Steel guitarist Jerry Brightman is born in Akron, Ohio. He joins Buck Owens' Buckaroos during the 1970s, playing on several hits, including ''On The Cover Of The Music City News'', ''Big Game Hunter'' and ''You Ain't Gonna Have Ol' Buck To Kick Around No More''.

SEPTEMBER 2, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Eddy Arnold and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, officially end their contract.

Lula Grace Wood takes her second husband, Lowell Smith, in Columbus, Ohio. She is destined to be best known through her third marriage, as Jan Howard.

SEPTEMBER 7, 1953 MONDAY

Decca released Red Foley's ''Shake A Hand''.

SEPTEMBER 8, 1953 THUESDAY

Tommy Collins recorded ''You Better Not Do That'', his first hit single, at Capitol's Melrose Avenue studio in Los Angeles, with Buck Owens playing guitar.
 


 
 
 
Pianist Mose Vinson worked some sessions at Sun. If nothing else, he had the virtue of proximity, living upstairs at Dell Taylor's Restaurant Fine Food, next door to the studio. Rooted in earlier times, he was nowhere close to the cocktail blues piano combos and equally far removed from Ray Charles, Amos Milburn, and their uptown ways.  Tracks all emanate from a session which took place on September 9, 1953, largely devoted to pianist Mose Vinson. All eight sides are of a uniformly high standard, which makes it all the more surprising that they should have languished unheard and unissued until the appearance of the original Sunbox.
 
Mose Vinson >

 
 
 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR MOSE VINSON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 9, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
 
"Mistreatin' Boogie'", a fairly straightforward rip-of of "Pinetop's Boogie-Woogie" - is classic stuff (although drummer Israel Franklin occasionally muffs the tempo along the way), pumped along by Vinson's powerful left hand and repeated righthand triplets. Indeed, Mose really shines on this track, taking no less than five solo choruses, running through the whole gamut of tremelos, triplet figures, and other classic boogie devices.

01 - "MISTREATING BOOGIE" - B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 9, 1953
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 7-6-6 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

02(1) - "WORRY YOU OFF MY MIND" - B.M.I. - 3:12
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  September 9, 1953
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956

02(2) - "WORRY YOU OFF MY MIND" - B.M.I. - 2:30
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  September 9, 1953
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15524-18 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - THE BE-BOP BOY

02(3) - "WORRY YOU OFF MY MIND" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: -  September 9, 1953

02(4) - "WORRY YOU OFF MY MIND" - B.M.I. - 3:09
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 9, 1953
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 7-6-7 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

Several takes of this track were recorded, this version being the first. It is clearly a close relative of "44 Blues", being a fairly basic 12-bar blues carried by Mose's characteristically high, nasal, and somewhat garbled vocals. Joe Hill Louis vamps aggressively in the background, chiming in with the occasional set of slashing notes behind the first phrase of the verse, whilst a harmonica presumably, Walter Horton - although aural evidence would suggest perhaps not) is also present.
 
 03 - "REAP WHAT YOU SOW" - B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 9, 1953
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 7-6-11 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

''Reap What You Sow'' is a medium-tempo blues with a typically fine Vinson vocal and a sprightly piano solo, marred only by Joe Hill Louis' difficulty in figuring out what key the rest of the band are playing - which particularly shows up in his low end runs. Nevertheless, the track is worth hearing for Mose's vocal and sprightly piano solo.

04(1) - "44 BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 9, 1953
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-5-19 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

04(2) - "44 BLUES" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2  - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - September 9, 1953

04(3) - "44 BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U 100 - Take 3  -  Not Originally Issued
Were scheduled for issue on Sun, but never released
Recorded: - September 9, 1953
Released: 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15524-14 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - THE BE-BOP BOY

This title was Mose's signature tune: "It was an old song way back in my father's day, and I just put some words to it". The ringing authority of Mose's opening descending line immediately announces that this is something special. The band generally just vamps along behind Vinson, double-timing everything, giving the impression that they are playing a 24-bar blues, whilst Mose sings a 12-bar over the top. The nett effect is a non-stop backbeat which sounds as though the drummer is hitting the offbeat of all four beats in the bar! Louis takes the solo playing out some call-and-response with himself. During the solo, Sam Phillips boosts the level of the drums and bass - and this, coupled with the bass playing double-time, gives the effect of speeding the track up.

05(1) - "MY LOVE HAS GONE (AKA "COME SEE ME)'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Possibly Summer 1953
 
 05(2) - "MY LOVE HAS GONE (AKA COME SEE ME)" - B.M.I. - 2:17
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 9, 1953
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15524-15 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - THE BE-BOP BOY

05(3) - "MY LOVE HAS GONE (COME SEE ME)"** - B.M.I. - 2:12
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U 101 - Take 2  -  Not Originally Issued
Were scheduled for issue on Sun, but never released.
Recorded: - September 9, 1953
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 7-6-13 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Mose Vinson teach a young generation >
 
This is the second of three takes of this track. It opens with piano, bass, and hi-hat doodling on a variation of "Shortnin' Bread", and ''Hucklebuck'' riffs. The hi-hat is hitting all four beats while the bass accents 1 and 3. After a couple of 12-bar vamp verses, Vinson takes two solo choruses rooted in the swing style, throwing in a little boogie at the beginning of the second. Overall, the amount of variety in his playing throughout this session is quite remarkable.



In 1954, Phillips assigned two master numbers to ''44 Blues'' and ''Come See Me'' (which he titled ''My Love Has Gone''). In the event, the record wasn't issued, and it's doubtful if it would have eased Phillips' pitiful financial situation at the dawn of 1954. And so Mose Vinson had to wait another thirty years for his Sun recordings to be issued.
 
 
 
 
06 - "MY LOVE HAS GONE (COME SEE ME) " - B.M.I. - 2:40
Composer: - Mose Vinson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 9, 1953
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15524-17 mono
JOE HILL LOUIS - THE BE-BOP BOY

Note: Mose Vinson was paid $1 for gas on November 7, so the session might date from then. On November 14, Phillips gave Vinson $5 to get married.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Mose Vinson - Vocal and Piano
Joe Willie Wilkins - Guitar
Walter Horton - Harmonica
Joe Hill Louis - Guitar and High-hat
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Isreal Franklin - Drums and Handclapping
Possibly Thomas ''Beale Street'' Coleman - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

SEPTEMBER 11, 1953 FRIDAY

MGM released Hank William's  ''Weary Blues From Waitin'''.

SEPTEMBER 14, 1953 MONDAY

Capitol released the Jean Shepard and Ferlin Husky duet ''Forgive Me John''.

SEPTEMBER 15, 1953 TUESDAY

Though not yet divorced from his first wife, Jerry Lee Lewis marries a pregnant Jane Mitcham in Fayette, Louisiana.

SEPTEMBER 16, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Bass player Michael Rhodes is born in West Monroe, Louisiana. He plays on records by Trisha Yearwood, Lady Antebellum, Conway Twitty, Alabama, Brooks and Dunn, Toby Keith, Darius Rucker and George Strait, among others.

SEPTEMBER 17, 1953 THURSDAY

Kitty Wells recorded ''Cheatin' A Sin'', plus a duet with Red Foley, ''I'm A Stranger In My Home'', during a session at the Castle Studio in Nashville.

Carl and Valda Perkins have their first child, Carl Stanley Perkins, who later plays in his dad's band. Stan also joins his father and brother, Greg, to co-write Dolly Parton's ''Silver And Gold''.

SEPTEMBER 18, 1953 FRIDAY

Red Foley recorded a duet with daughter Betty Foley, ''As Far As I'm Concerned'', and a seasonal solo hit, ''Put Christ Back Into Christmas'', at Nashville's Castle Studio.

Banjo player/songwriter Carl Jackson is born in Louisville, Mississippi. His songwriting credits include Vince Gill's ''No Future In The Past'', Glen Campbell's '''(Love Always) Letter To Home'' and Pam Tillis' ''Put Yourself In My Place''.

Record producer Steve Fishell is born in Oak Harbor, Washington. After playing steel guitar with Emmylou Harris' Hot Band, he goes on to produce Jann Browne's ''Tell Me Why'', Radney Foster's ''Nobody Wins'' and Pam Tillis' ''Mi Vida Loca''.

SEPTEMBER 19, 1953 SATURDAY

The first full-time country station, KDAV, debuts in Lubbock, Texas. Among those who work for the station, Buddy Holly, who's frequently visited in the studio by rival disc jockey Waylon Jennings.

SEPTEMBER 20, 1953 SUNDAY

Roy Acuff kicks off a one-month tour of Pacific military bases, sponsored by the USO, just two months after the close of the Korean War. Moon Mullican sits in with the Smokey Mountain Boys.

Gene Autry sings ''Back In The Saddle Again'', ''Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer'' and ''Your Cheatin' Heart'' on CBS-TVs ''Toast Of The Town'', destined to become ''The Ed Sullivan Show''

Gene Autry performs the Stephen Foster classic ''Beautiful Dreamer'' in the debut of ''Saginaw Trail''. The script requires Autry and sidekick Smiley Burnette to keep restless Indians from attacking a settlement.

SEPTEMBER 21, 1953 MONDAY

Hank Snow recorded ''The Next Voice You Hear'' and ''When Mexican Joe Met Jole Blon'' during an evening session at Thomas Productions in Nashville, Tennessee.

Decca released Webb Pierce's double-sided hit, ''There Stands The Glass'' and ''I'm Walking The Dog''.

SEPTEMBER 22, 1953 TUESDAY

Hank Snow recorded ''Would You Mind?'' at Thomas Productions in Nashville.

SEPTEMBER 26, 1953 SATURDAY

Skeeter Davis makes her Grand Ole Opry debut,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Less that a year after Hank Williams' death, Johnny Horton marries Williams widow, Billie Jean Williams.

SEPTEMBER 28, 1953 MONDAY

The western ''Shadows Of Tomstone'' debuts in movie theaters, with Rex Allen and his ever-present sidekick Slim Pickens.

Columbia released Carl Smith' ''Satisfaction Guaranteed''.

SEPTEMBER 30, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Deborah Allen is born in Memphis, Tennessee. She earns a Grammy nomination for her 1983 performance of ''Baby I Lied'', but also writes John Conlee's ''I'm Only In It For The Love'', Janie Fricke's ''Let's Stop Talkin' About It'' and Patty Loveless' ''Hurt Me Bad (In A Real Good Way)''.

POSSIBLY SEPTEMBER 1953

Studio session(s) with Doctor Ross at Sun Records, Memphis, Tennessee.
 

 
OCTOBER 1953
 


OCTOBER 1953

Sun 187, ''Feelin' Good'' enters the rhythm and blues charts at number 6 on October 10, climbs to number 5 and remains in the top ten during the month. ''Ebony'' magazine does a story on Junior Parker.

Jud Phillips is approached by Lillian and Wilard McMurry with a view to forming a working  relationship between Sun and Trumpet Records of Jackson, Mississippi.

Article in the rhythm and blues magazine ''Beat'' read: ''Duke Records has just released Rosco Gordon's ''Ain't No Use'' and Bobby Bland's ''Army Blues'' plus two spirituals.

OCTOBER 1, 1953 THURSDAY

Kitty Wells and Red Foley recorded ''One By One'' in an afternoon session at the Castle Studio in Nashville.
 
 
 
On October 3, 1953 Doctor Ross and Reuben Martin attended 706 Union Avenue to make the sides that would appear as Ross's first disc on Sun Records, ''Come Back Baby'' and ''Chicago Breakdown''. two days later Ross signed a one-year recording contract with Sam Phillips' still fairly new Sun Records.

On ''Come Back Baby'' Ross finally found the groove Sam Phillips didn't quite find worthy of release on ''Texas Hop'' or ''1953 Jump''. This one did catch his ear. It was not a song to sit still through. Its enduring appeal has a little to do with the singer's entreaties to his girl to come home and the recycled jokey lines about his baby having no hair, but mostly this is about his warm delivery and back country dance rhythm that charms the hell out of all his listeners. 
 
It was a fine track but Sam found an even better one in ''Chicago Breakdown'', the lick that had been threatening to fall into place for nearly a year. Ross was promoting the ''Chicago Breakdown'' as the next dance craze and it was an untamed, percussive joy. Phillips issued it just before Christmas 1953 and it proved a big hit that winter in Chicago and points South.

Billboard's rhythm and blues review section hailed ''Come Back Baby'' as ''a happy rumba blues sung by Ross with spirit and life while the combo goes to town behind him''. They thought ''Chicago Breakdown'' was a good juke side for Chicago and elsewhere. As Sun historian Hank Davis has said, ''The sheer amount of Ross material in the Sun vaults attests to the time and resources Phillips invested in recording him. There was much to like: the infectious rhythms, the primitive, unaffected emotionality. In short, the directness of the music, and the honesty. These are the hallmarks that Phillips sought most consistently''.
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR DOCTOR ROSS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SATURDAY OCTOBER 3, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01 - "COME BACK BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - U 90 - Master
Recorded: - October 3, 1953
Released: - December 24, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 193-A mono
COME BACK BABY / CHICAGO BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2-7 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

The music of Doctor Ross is instantly recognizable - and true to form, this track is totally engaging. But it certainly ain't music to sit still through. How this side manages to retain its charm more than forty years after its release is anyone's guess: surely it was nothing whatsoever to do with the entirely forgettable lyric, nor the one-chord musical backing - whatever, somehow the good Doctor with his warm delivery and back country dance rhythm manages to charm the hell out of all us patients. A damn fine track, and no mistake.

02(1) - "CHICAGO BREAKDONW" - B.M.I. - 2:56
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 1  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 3, 1953
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-6-19 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - 2013 JSP Records (CD) 500/200rpm JSP4239-2-23 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE MEMPHIS CUTS 1953 - 1956

 02(2) - "CHICAGO BREAKDOWN (DOCTOR ROSS BREAKDOWN)" - B.M.I. - 2:51
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 2  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 3, 1953
Released: - November 29, 2004
First appearance: - Arhoolie Records (CD) 500/200rpm CD 371 mono
DR. ROSS – BOOGIE DISEASE
Reissued: - 2013 JSP Records (CD) 500/200rpm JSP4239-1-23 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE MEMPHIS CUTS 1953 - 1956

There are three takes of "Chicago Breakdown", of which the third was issued on SUN 193. On this and the second take, the singer refers to it as "Doctor Ross' Chicago Breakdown", but drops his name from the issued version. This first take is slower than the following two and the verse structure is different: here his assertion, "You known, I was born and raised right down in Tunica, Mississippi", is almost an afterthought, whereas it becomes the second verse of version two. As he sings here, he prefers the Chicago Breakdown to the 'old Hambone'.

Up in Detroit some ten years later, Doctor Ross recycled ''Chicago Breakdown'' almost note-for-note and word-for-word as ''New York Breakdown''. He even re-used the wonderful colloquialism ''all y'll''.

02(3) - "CHICAGO BREAKDOWN" - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - U 91 - Master Take 3
Recorded: - October 3, 1953
Released: - December 24, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 193-B mono
CHICAGO BREAKDOWN / COME BACK BABY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2-8 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

More than anything it is dance music. Its venue is the back country juke joint rather than the Savoy Ballroom, but it is dance music none the less.

Note: Doctor Ross recorded other versions of these songs at this session.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Charles Isaiah Doctor Ross - Vocal, Guitar and Harmonica
Reuben Martin - Washboard

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

OCTOBER 5, 1953 MONDAY
 
Earl Warren is appointed as the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Warren had previously been a three-term governor of the state of California and in 1948 he had been the republican candidate for vice president. Earl Warren was involved in several of the Supreme Court’s most important decisions on subjects like civil rights, most notably the decision that made segregation in public schools unconstitutional. He was also the head of the committee that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy. Warren remained Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court until he retired in 1969.

OCTOBER 7, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Drummer Tico Torres is born in New Jersey. He earns acclaim as a member of the rock band Bon Jovi, which nets a country hit in 2006 with ''Who Says You Can't Go Home'', featuring Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles.

OCTOBER 8, 1953 THURSDAY

Ricky Lee Phelps is born in Paragould, Arkansas. He sings lead for the Kentucky Head Hunters, twice named Vocal Group of the Year by the Country Music Association, before leaving the band in 1992 to form Brother Phelps.

Anthony Kenney is born in Glasgow, Kentucky. He takes over the bass player for The Kentucky Head Hunters when Doug Phelps and Ricky Lee Phelps leave to form their own duo in 1992.

Already married to his second wife, Jerry Lee Lewis divorces his first wife, Dorothy, in Monroe, Louisiana.

Pop singer Cathy Carson is born. She makes up one-third of Hot, whose 1977 hit ''Angel In Your Arms'' is remake as a country single in 1985 by Barbara Mandrell.

OCTOBER 11, 1953 SUNDAY

Paulette Carlson is born in Northfield, Minnesota. She becomes the sassy lead vocals for Highway 101, essential on such hits as ''The Bed You Made For Me'', ''Somewhere Tonight'' and ''Cry, Cry, Cry''.

OCTOBER 12, 1953 MONDAY

Harmonica player Terry McMillan is born in Lexington, North Carolina. Working with the likes of Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and Dolly Parton, he gains his biggest recognition for his parts on Garth Brooks' ''Ain't Goin' Down (Till The Sun Comes Up)''.

Decca released Ernest Tubb's ''Divorce Granted''.

Rosco Gordon's new rhythm and blues single ''Ain't No Use'' b/w ''Rosco's Mamboo'' (Duke 114) released.

OCTOBER 15, 1953 THURSDAY

Jimmy Boyd is hit with a $30,000 lawsuit in Los Angeles. The suit claims the ''I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus'' singer and two classmates assaulted a 13-year-old girl in Griffith Park September 24.

OCTOBER 17, 1953 SATURDAY

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


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR THE PRISONAIRES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SATURDAY OCTOBER 17, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

On this date, the Prisonaires recorded "I Know" and re-cut "No More Tears". Sam Phillips decided to capitalise upon the group's novelty appeal by releasing the hockey "Prisoner's Prayer" (composed by a white Tennessee Bureau of Investigations employee, James Proctor) and "I Know", on November 1, 1953. Surprisingly, Sam Phillips released "I Know" without holding the publishing; it was originally recorded by the Jubalaires for Decca in 1945 - and was later revived by Johnny Moore and the Drifters in April 1957.
 
01 - "I KNOW" - A.S.C.A.P. - 3:41
Composer: - Jennings-Brook
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - U 86 - Master
Recorded: - October 17, 1953
Released: - November 1, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 191-B mono
I KNOW / A PRISON'S PRAYER
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2-4 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Revives a 1946 hit by the Jubalaires that may have needed reviving like a fish needs a bicycle. Johnny Bragg gives a credible reading in a style that was almost self parodying when the Inkspots' Bill Kenny worked it a decade earlier with its soaring falsetto, controlled vibrato.

02 - "NO MORE TEARS" - B.M.I. - 2:46
Composer: - Johnny Bragg
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 17, 1953
Released: - 1979
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30176 mono
FIVE BEATS BEHIND BARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15523-12 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN

03 - "IF I WERE KING" - B.M.I. - 1:34
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 17, 1953
Released: - 1979
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30176 mono
FIVE BEATS BEHIND BARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15523-13 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal
John Drue - 2nd Tenor Vocal
William Stewart - Baritone Vocal and Guitar
Marcell Sanders - Bass Vocal
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

OCTOBER 18, 1953 SUNDAY

While stationed in Germany with the Air Force, Johnny cash makes his first trip to Paris, where he takes in the Eiffel Tower and views the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. 

OCTOBER 20, 1953 TUESDAY

Rocker Tom Petty is born in Gainesville, Florida. He writes ''Thing About You'', by Southern Pacific, ''Never Be You'' by Rosanne Cash, ''You Got It'' by Roy Orbison. He also appears on Hank Williams Jr.'s ''Mind Your Own Business''.

Roy Acuff closes a one-month USO tour of the Pacific, where he performed for soldiers in Korea and Japan, among other locations. Moon Mullican also took part as a member of Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys.

Songwriter Fred Ahlert dies in New York City. His song ''I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)'' has already been a hit for Kate Smith, Tommy Dorsey and The Andrews Sisters, among others, and is destined to score in country for Marty Robbins in 1977.

OCTOBER 21, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Guitarist Charlotte Caffey is born in Santa Monica, California. A member of the 1980s all-girl pop\rock band The Go-Go's, she teams with bandmate Jane Wiedlin and Keith Urban to write Urban's hit ''But For The Grace Of God''.

OCTOBER 23, 1953 FRIDAY

Eddy Arnold recorded ''I Really Don't Want To Know'' at Nashville's Thomas Productions.

OCTOBER 24, 1953 SATURDAY

Drummer Billy Thomas is born in Fort Myers, Florida. As a member of McBride and The Ride, he contributes to four Top 10 hits in the early 1990s, including ''Sacred Ground'', ''Going Out Of My Mind'' and ''Love On The Loose, Heart On The Mend''.

OCTOBER 25, 1953 SUNDAY

Patti Page performs ''The Tennessee Waltz'' on the CBS variety show ''Toast Of The Town'', destined to become ''The Ed Sullivan Show''.

OCTOBER 28, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Songwriter Tommy Brasfield is born in Jasper, Alabama. He writes Barbara Mandrell's ''Angel In Your Arms'', Ronnie Milsap's ''(There's) No Gettin' Over Me''.

OCTOBER 30, 1953 FRIDAY

Carl Smith recorded ''Dog-Gone It, Baby, I'm In Love'' during the afternoon at the Castle Studio in Nashville.
 

 
NOVEMBER 1953
 

 
NOVEMBER 1953

On November 14, Sam Phillips paid Junior Parker and (Blue Flames leader) William Johnson $50.12 in royalties. Two days later, he paid Floyd Murphy and Kenneth Banks for a Junior Parker session for a share of Parker royalties. On November 18, Phillips paid Houston Stokes two dollars for taxi fare in conjunction with a Parker session in addition to a session fee, and paid James Wheeler a session fee nothing ''Blue Flames session''.   Sun 192 was issued on November 1, so it's possibly that one or more of the Parker titles listed below were recorded on November 14, 16, or 18.

Junior Parker joins a package   tour of Southern one-nighters headlined by Willie Mae Thornton and Johnny Ace. B.B. King   joins them for a big Thanksgiving Day concert in Houston, Texas.

''Ebony'' magazine profiles the Prisonaires, a four-page spread extolling the manner in which the group was acting ''as goodwill ambassadors for a revolutionary and sometimes condemned prison rehabilitation program''.

Jud Phillips is in Atlanta, reports that Southland Distributors want 1,000 copies of Sun 192 "Mystery   Train", and urges Sam Phillips to press up in significant quantities in anticipation of a major   hit.

Jud Phillips moves through Nashville to New York. He talks to Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), in New York about Sun starting its own publishing company. So far, Sun has assigned most original copyrights to Delta Music or its affiliates, owned by Jim Bulleit.

Thus far, Sun has assigned most of its original copyrights to Jim Bulleit's Delta Music or its   affiliates.

Jud Phillips also reports that distribution of Sun Records via Nashville is becoming too   intricately tied in with Bulleit's promotion of his own Delta and J-B product.

David James Mattis, founder of Duke Records, announced that he will launch Starmaker Records, possibly in conjunction with WDIA, which calls itself the ''starmaker station''.

NOVEMBER 1953

By the fall of 1953, even though Sam Phillips was again riding the kind of wave he had  enjoyed with ''Rocket 88'' two summers earlier, he had not found the prosperity he had  doubtless anticipated. Phillips' margin per single was small; his profit was tied up in  repressions, and with slow-paying distributors.

After ''Bear Cat'' broke, Sam's first move had been to bring his brother Jud into the picture.  Jud had the knack for promotion that Sam had for production. He was gregarious,  flamboyant, and, given half an opportunity, extravagant. By the time he joined Sam, Jud had  worked as a singer, a gospel promoter, a front man for Roy Acuff's tent show, and a  production assistant to Jimmy Durante.

In November 1953 Jud was on the road by himself, where he learned that some of the deals  Bulleit had cut were not necessarily in Sun's best interest. From Richmond, Virginia, Jud  wrote, ''we've found the same thing here that I've found in several other places. Jim has  promised them (distributors) free Sun records to compensate for the bad stock they were  caught with on his other labels such as J-B. They were very fed up with the way Jim had  given them the runaround since he had been with Sun''.

By the end of 1953, Sam and Jud Phillips were pressuring Bulleit to sell his share of Sun  Records. In February 1954 Jud borrowed the money to buy him out. The amount, Bulleit  later recalled, was ''twelve hundred dollars, but it really wasn't worth any more than that''.  During that same month Sam and Jud got a license from BMI to form their own publishing  company, Hi-Lo Music, so they wouldn't have to place their copyrights through Bulleit.

The infrastructure that Sam and Jud had created-reliable distributors, accommodating disc  jockeys, and so on, was built on the assumption that the hits ' would keep on coming. As it  happened, they didn't. Junior Parker left for greener pastures in Houston, Rufus Thomas  could not recapture the novelty appeal of ''Bear Cat'' and the Prisonaires, unable to support  their records with many personal appearances, found their popularity hard to sustain. The  new artists that Phillips recorded did not have the allure of those faded or departed
hitmakers. The most prolific artists during the demise of the blues era at Sun were Little  Milton and Billy ''The Kid'' Emerson.

NOVEMBER 1953

Cambodia declares its independence from France during November of 1953. King Sihanouk, having previously pushed for independence, took over as the country’s leader. Starting in 1946, Cambodian resistance fighters had launched armed attacks against French occupation in a push for independence. Cambodia had been under French-colonial rule for ninety years prior to its independence. After achieving independence the country remained the Kingdom of Cambodia until 1970 when Norodom Sihanouk was overthrown in a United States backed military coup.

NOVEMBER 1, 1953 SUNDAY

The singles Sun 191 ''A Prisoner's Prayer'' b/w ''I Know'' released by The Prisonaires, this one with accompaniment on one side by Ike Turner on guitar, but despite the continued allure of Johnny Bragg's voice, and  Sun  192 ''Mystery Train'' b/w ''Love My Baby'' by Little Junior's Blue Flames are released. Action is split between the two sides of 192,  although Billboard picks out "Mystery Train" as the likely hit. ''Mystery Train'' become a rhythm and blues hit for Elvis Presley two years later.

Jud Phillips was out for over a month promoting the two singles. Jud's letters continue to show a steady pattern of success both in collecting money owed and reorganizing the distribution system, most of all in helping to restore Sun's good name. ''I don't plan to leave a stone unturned'', Jud wrote on November 15, describing the pervasive sense of mistrust ''of any organization that Jim Bulleit was connected to''. It might look to Sam Phillips like he was ''taking a lot of time in each location'', he continued, ''but I'm taking no more than I feel is absolutely required''. But there is no sign of any emotional reciprocity on Sam's part.

Songwriter Max D. Barnes marries Patsy. Barnes' credits include Vern Gosdin's ''Chiseled In Stone'', Conway Twitty's ''Red Neckin' Love Makin;  Night'' and George Jones' ''Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes''.

Producer/songwriter Keith Stegall is born in Wichita Falls, Texas. Stegall produces Alan Jackson, The Zac Brown Band and Craig Campbell, and writes such hits as ''Don't Rock The Jukebox'', Minkey Gilley's ''Lonely Nights'', Glen Campbell's ''A Lady Like You'' and Mark Wills' ''I Do (Cherish You)''.

NOVEMBER 2, 1953 MONDAY

Pee Wee King appears on NBC-TV's daytime show ''The Kate Smith Hour''.

NOVEMBER 3, 1953 TUESDAY

Pee Wee King recorded ''Bimbo'' and ''Changing Partners'' in an afternoon session at the RCA Studios in New York.

Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette both perform in the debut of ''Last Of The Pony Riders'', a western built around the Pony Express. It's the last movie to feature Autry as a singing cowboy.

NOVEMBER 4, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Pee Wee King debuts a weekly program on WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Ohio.

Van Stephenson is born in Hamilton, Ohio. He writes Lee Greenwood's ''You've Got A Good Love Comin''' and Restless Heart's ''Bluest Eyes In Texas'', and has a pop hit as an artist with ''Modern Day Delilah'' before joining the 1990's trio BlackHawk. 

NOVEMBER 5, 1953 THURSDAY

Elton Britt begins a daily radio show on WCOP in Boston.