CONTAINS 1955 SUN SESSIONS 1

Studio Session for Woodrow Adams, Unknown Date 1955 / Meteor Records
Studio Session for James Anderson, Unknown Date 1955 / Meteor Records
Studio Session for Red Hadley's Wranglers, Unknown Date 1955 / Meteor Records
Studio Session for Eddie Bond, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Mack Self, Probably 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Malcolm Yelvington, January 12, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Rosco Gordon, February 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Clyde Leoppard &
The Snearly Ranch Boys, February 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Charlie Feathers, February 2, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Rudy Grayzell, February 8, 1956 / Capitol Records
Studio Session for Slim Rhodes, February 23, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Charlie Feathers, March 2, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for The Miller Sisters, March 14, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Maggie Sue Wimberly, March 18, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Johnny Cash, March 22, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for The Marigolds (Prisonaires), May 23, 1955 / Excello Records
Studio Session for Sammy Lewis & Willie Johnson Combo, March 28, 1955 / Sun Records
Live Performance for Johnny Cash, May 21, 1955 / KWEM Radio
Studio Session for The Five Tinos, May 26, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Johnny Cash, Probably May 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Billy Emerson, May 31, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Johnny Cash, Probably Mid 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Mac Sales & Jake Rules, Mid-1955 / Meteor Records
Studio Session for Rosco Gordon, June 9, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for The Jones Brothers, June 11, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Gene Simmons, June 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Gene Simmons, June 18, 1955 / Sun Records

Biography of Artists (See: The Sun Biographies)


1955

Consumerism takes off in a big way with the sale of some 7.9 million cars in the United States with 7 out of 10 families now owning a motor car, and new laws were put in place requiring seat belts to be installed on all new cars. The average wages were now $3,851 per year, and the minimum wage was raised to $1.00 per hour. The first McDonalds was erected in 1955 and more fast foods and TV dinners are appearing including fish fingers. The first cans of Coca-Cola are sold up till then it had only been sold in bottles. Rock and Roll music continues to grow in popularity with more idols including Elvis Presley , Bill Haley and the Comets, Chuck Berry and The Platters, and young men's fashion matches the times with pink shirts and charcoal grey suits.

Fats Domino plays Alan Freed's sold-out ''Rock 'n' Roll Ball'' in Harlem.

Birth of avany-garde percussionist Hamid Drake in Monroe.

Shreveport country singer Faron Young's ''Live Dast, Love Hard, Die Young'' marks the first of Youngs's five number 1 hits.

Abbeville's Bobby Charles has a hit on Chess Records with the song ''Later Allogator''. Bill Haley and His Comets enjoy a bigger hit with it the same year as ''See You Later, Alligator''.

1955

After being used in the hit film about juvenile delinquency "The Blackboard Jungle", Bill  Haley & The Comets "Rock Around The Clock" becomes the first rock record to top the  Billboard Pop Charts, holding the number 1 position for two months and remaining in the Top  100 for a then-record 38 weeks. It would be 39 years before that mark was broken.

Crossover records start appearing on the pop charts led by Johnny Ace's posthumous  smash "Pledging My Love". Others by Fats Domino, The Moonglows, The Platters and the  first hits by Chuck Berry and Little Richard follow.

Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" cracks the Top Five on the Billboard Pop Charts and ushers in  descending pentatonic double-stops which becomes the essence of rock guitar.

The increased attention to rhythm and blues has negative impacts as well with The  Midnighters facing the toughest scrutiny resulting in their final hits of any kind for four  years due to radio blackballing.

Boston follows suit by assembling a record censorship board to prevent dirty rock records  from being played on the air.

With censorship prevalent, white cover records still hold the slight edge in radio play but  not in sales, with Pat Boone having the biggest impact with his watered down versions of  rhythm and blues hits.

Rock and roll music warrants a mention in the year end Encyclopedia Britannica music  review, which derogatorily refers to it in racist terms as "jungle music".


JANUARY 1955

Bob Neal takes over Elvis Presley's management from Scotty Moore. Presley is touring at this time with Texas Bill Strenght and The Browns.

1955

Proving that the mid 1950s was a simpler time, scoring a big hit this year was "The Ballad Of  Davy Crockett" ("Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier"). Also selling truckloads of  singles were the sleep-inducing piano stylings of Roger Williams, and the whole milk vocals  of Pat Boone .

1955

Johnny Cash officially joints the Sun rooster in March. His daughter Rosanne Cash is born.

Elvis Presley signs his RCA contract in Sam's office at Sun, on November 21st. 

Flip is  phased out at the end of the year due to pressure from Max Feirtag's west coast label of  the same name.

1955

A Baton Rouge teen-ager with several years of local radio and TV appearances behind her has  made some recordings, one of which has already been aired by local disc jockeys. She is 15- year-old Hannah Faye Harger, daughter of the W.L. Hargers and known professionally as  Hana Faye. She has made two platters so fast, "It Pays To Be True" and "It's Easy To
Remember", and "Searching" backed by "Oh Why".

Chuck Berry cuts his first rock and roll records, the first ones to have the guitar as the  main instrument, and invents the descending pentatonic double-stops (the essence of rock  guitar).

Bo Diddley invents the "hambone" rhythm.

The Chordettes and the Chantels are the first girl-groups.

Ray Charles creates "soul" music with "I Got A Woman'', a secular adaptation of an old  gospel.

Ace Records is formed by Johnny Vincent in New Orleans, specializing in black music.

The Blackboard Jungle is released featuring Bill Haley and His Comets "(We're Gonna) Rock  Around The Clock".

The Everly Brothers make their first studio recordings.

Alan Freed's Rock And Roll Ball" draws huge, half-white audience.

Carl Perkins records "Blue Suede Shoes".

Sales of 45 rpm records finally outsold 78s.

1955

This year, future Sun star Johnny Carroll graduated from high school, the band the Moonlighters included Bill Hennen on piano and Billy Bustin on bass. Lead guitarist Jay Salem from Burleson, Texas was brought in when he came second in a talent contest at which the Moonlighters won first prize. 

The Moonlighters never made a dime more than subsistence living even though, in Carroll's words, ''We played any place we possibly could and just tried to get on stage anywhere we could. We'd managed to play in a few shows and got some reviews and credentials even tho' I wasn't recording for anybody. Then I went to a show starring Ferlin Huskey and Hank Snow at the Northside Coliseum in Fort Worth. I got backstage and talked to Ferlin. I told him we were a local band trying to get started and that we'd had write-ups here and there. Ferlin said 'Let me hear a little bit of what you do'. So I got my band which was Bill Hennen and Billy Buntin and Jay who was probably with us then. No drummer, just a hillbilly band. Ferlin heard us and he said 'I tell you what I'm gonna do. There's a lot of important people out there, you go out and do the first 15 minutes of my show'. And we did and that's when this J.G. Tiger came up...''. 

J.G. stood for Jack Goldman who added a flamboyant but fictional surname to increase his prestige. He was a big man, 6'4, with a booming Texan diphthong and a black untamed, Santa Claus beard. He chewed on raw garlic and bits of the pungent tuber would lodge in it. He may have been a wrestler at one time. Johnny thought he was pushy but positive. He was impressed by Goldman's patter: ''At the time I thought he was 50 years older then me but it turned out he was only 28 or 29''.

J.G. Tiger took the band of Johnny Carroll, now renamed the Hot Rocks, into Dallas where he owned or had an interest in the Top Ten Recording Studio. ''It was a beautiful looking studio'', remembered Johnny, ''but the sound was horrible. Next door had a bunch of transformers and every tape that came out of that studio had a buzz on it''. The group added a drummer, one Dude Cohn, and made their recording debut at the Top Ten Studio in 1955.

''Why Cry'', ''Hearts Of Stones'', ''Sexy Ways'', Crazy Little Mama'' and ''Stingy Thing'' are among the tapes or acetates which survive and the rhythm and blues titles demonstrate how quickly Johnny Carroll and his chums jumped on this stuff. ''Hearts Of Stone'' and ''Sexy Ways'' had been around for a year or two but the Eldorados' ''Crazy Little Mama'' aka ''At My Front Door'', didn't enter the rhythm and blues chart until September 1955.

In the meantime, Johnny Carroll continued playing sock hops, school auditoriums and hillbilly pisspots all over North and West Texas. He often appeared with Mac Curtis but also recalled opening a show for Elvis, Scotty and Bill and Hank Snow. He played the Big D Jamboree when Elvis was there nut thought this Hank Snow bill-topper took place in Waco or Fort Worth. ''Hand hated Elvis with a passion'', he said. ''I can tell you that Hank Snow did not like Elvis at all. He way have liked him later, but I know from being backstage that he really had some vile things to say about Elvis''.

1955

Winston Cogswell had emigrated from the northeast to Memphis. ''I was born in Maine, about two miles from the Canadian border'', he said in 1977. ''I moved to Memphis in 1955. My sister lived there. My brother-in-law's daddy owned a stockyard. First time I went to Memphis I was selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door-to-door. Sold one to Sam Phillips for $285. Then I started Cogswell Livestock Trucking. I went to Sun, met Sam, and he told me that Ray Harris was looking for a guitar player''. By the time Cogswell recorded his own single for Phillips International in 1957, he'd become Wayne Powers.


Woodrow Adams, born on April 9, 1918 in Tchula, Mississippi, Woodrow earned his living driving a tractor   in rural Mississippi. Never more than a part-time Delta blues musician, he had learned both harmonica and   guitar during childhood with his friend L.C. Green. Their original stringed instrument had been a single   strand of wire on the side of a wall, fretted with a bottleneck. Adams learned much by playing along with   records and later went on to accompany Robert Nighthawk, Robert Junior Lockwood, Houston Stackhouse  and Willie Nix. After Adams moved to Robinsonville in Tunica Country during the 1940s, he followed and   accompanied Howlin' Wolf, who became his idol and major influence.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR WOODROW ADAMS
FOR METEOR RECORDS 1955

METEOR RECORDING STUDIO
1746 CHELSEA AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
METEOR SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - PROBABLY LESTER BIHARI

Adams' first session cut for Sun Records in May 1952, resulted in an ultra-obscure release on Checker of  which just one copy (listed in the back page auctions of Record Research 40 years ago) is reliably  substantiated as existing today. This first record was raw, crudely-translated Delta blues played by three  long-term friends. Woodrow plays bottleneck in standard tuning, turning it up loud with Fiddlin' Joe Martin  thrashing his drum set and calling encouragements while Sylvester Hayes provides insistent harmonica.  ''Pretty Baby Blues'' (Checker 757) was Tommy Johnson via Wolf, while the recent success of Elmore Janes  encouraged Adams to launch into the endearingly rough and tumble ''She's Done Come And Gone'' (Checker  757) (See: 1952 Sessions, May 24, 1952).

01 - ''BABY YOU JUST DON'T KNOW'' - B.M.I. - 2:59
Composer: - Leslo-Woodrow Wilson Adams
Publisher: - Meteor Publishing
Matrix number: - MR 5033
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1955
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Meteor Records (S) 78rpm Meteor 5018-A mono
BABY YOU JUST DON'T KNOW / WINE HEAD WOMAN
Reissued: - 2006 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCH2 1090-2-5 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR BLUES, RHYTHM AND BLUES & GOSPEL RECORDINGS


When Lester Bihari re-opened his doors, Woodrow had another chance to record. ''Wine Headed Woman''   was again from the Wolf tradition, while the reverse echoed Jimmy Reed, who had just hit the charts with his   best blues of all time, ''You Don't Have To Go''; artists from Elmore (''So Mean To Me'') to Jimmy   McCracklin (''It Ain't Right'') were also influenced by the song. On hand was Adam's old friend Joe Hill   Louis, and the ever-present Joe Martin, together with an unknown pianist. This time Woodrow played   harmonica, on which he was more proficient, while an unknown but quite fluent electric guitarist joined for   ''Baby You Just Don't Know''.

Fiddler Joe Martin and Woodrow Adams, Robinsonville, Mississippi, April 18, 1971. ^

He very effectively starts out with a wonderful interpretation of Elmore James, before contributing excellent fills throughout the performance. The pianist is absent from this side and Louis   maintains an insistent rhythm, playing the second guitar in walking bass style for what amounts to a juke   joint band gem. Lester Bihari had big hopes for this record, promoting it a second time in October and it sold  healthily. Adams also claimed to have accompanied Joe Hill Louis at a session, it is likely to have been at   this same date.

02 - ''WINE HEADED WOMAN'' - B.M.I. - 2:46
Composer: - Leslo-Woodrow Wilson Adams
Publisher: - Meteor Publishing
Matrix number: - MR 5032
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1955
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Meteor Records (S) 78rpm Meteor 5018-B mono
WINE HEADED WOMAN / BABY YOU JUST DON'T KNOW
Reissued: - 2006 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCH2 1090-2-6 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR BLUES, RHYTHM AND BLUES & GOSPEL RECORDINGS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Boogie Blues Blasters
Woodrow Adams – Vocal & Harmonica
Joe Hill Louis - Guitar
Unknown - Guitar & Piano
Fiddlin' Joe Martin – Drums

After this Adams had to wait until 1961 for a Home Of The Blues session with his guitarist stepson, Curtis   Allen, together with Fiddlin' Joe Martin. In 1967, researcher David Evans located Adams, still working on a   plantation. He recorded both him and Martin, and got their stories. Some of Evans' own words give us a   vivid picture: ''Highway 61 ran right by Woodrow Adams' door out in the country near Robinsonville,   Mississippi, a town in the Delta that has at one time been the home of such blues greats as Robert Johnson,   Son House, Willie Brown, and Howlin' Wolf. Adams is a tall, crane-like man, who hovers over the  microphone when he blows harp. I sensed in him a suppressed genius. Among his very few possessions   were two battered tape recorders on which he created full ensemble blues by playing a variety on instruments   in succession and using primitive overdubbing techniques. Adams is a spontaneous versifier, who likes to   remould old blues themes and delivers a spare but very effective and sensitive melodic line in both his   singing and instrumental work... Martin contributes the flavour of real juke joint performances with his   shouted encouragement and cymbal-pounding drum style''. Woodrow Adams died on August 9, 1988.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


1955

After service in the army from 1953 until 1955, future Sun icon Kenneth Parchman found a job driving a  Wells Fargo truck. Most nights, he played music. He met a young pianist, Jerry Lee Smith. ''Kenny was one  of the first bands I worked for'', said Smith. ''I was about fourteen. Kenny heard my play and he came and  asked my mother if she'd mind if I played piano for him. I was with Kenny for about six or eight months,  then Carl Perkins heard me and asked me to play for him. But Carl came real big with the success of ''Blue  Suede Shoes'' and I had to go back playing with Kenney because my mother wouldn't let me go on the road  with Carl - that's because my brother was killed in a car accident. The next thing we knew, Carl was a hit and  was driving around in a Cadillac, and we still had a Chevrolet. Mother said, 'Next time someone wants you  to go, I'll let you go'! After that, Kenny and I worked together for about a year we cut some tapes at Sun''.

Kenny's band comprised George Sykes or R. Willie Stevenson on bass, Bobby Cash or Kenney's brother Ronnie on drums, Jerry Lee Smith on piano, and Kenny on lead guitar. Someone remembered only as Elmo played drums, as well. Smith became better known as Smoochy, a nickname he got from Kenny. The band was playing a date at a local movie theater as a warm-up act, and they were all on stage except Smith, who was making out with a girl in the audience. When he finally got on stage, Kenny introduced him to the audience as Smoochy, and the name stuck. Smith remembers: ''Kenny liked to party and we had a lot of fun together. We played shows all over the place... we used to play on top of old drive-in theatre concession stands. We got up there and did a show with snow on the ground and it was so cold the people couldn't get out of their cars. They listened to us through the drive-in speakers and so at the end of the song, instead of applause we got the horns blowing! We were doing a lot of rockabilly and some of the old hillbilly songs - we'd speed them up and add drums and everything to give them that rockabilly sound''.


Despite many research efforts, information on James Anderson is scant. The likelihood of a link to Queen C.   Anderson, protege of the Brewster Singers would seem remote. His Meteor record was a less successful   affair, although this has nothing to do with Anderson and his Harmoneers excellent performances. Both   pieces attest to a powerful singing preacher, but the record is severely marred by very poor guitar and electric   bass, even as Anderson carries on regardless; his pianist is proficient but is hampered by Lester's out-of-tune   piano. Listening to certain of the guitar licks it becomes pretty apparent that this is Joe Hill Louis fumbling   around, while the bassist is equally lost.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR BROTHER JAMES ANDERSON
FOR METEOR RECORDS 1955

METEOR RECORDING STUDIO
1746 CHELSEA AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
METEOR SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - PROBABLY LESTER BIHARI

01 - ''LET MY LAST DAYS BE MY BEST'' - B.M.I. - 3:23
Composer: - James Anderson-Leslo
Publisher: - Meteor Publishing
Matrix number: - MR 5030
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1955
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Meteor Records (S) 78rpm Meteor 5020-A mono
LET MY LAST DAYS BE MY BEST / SOMETHING WITHIN ME
Reissued: - 2006 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCH2 1090-2-9 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR BLUES, RHYTHM AND BLUES & GOSPEL RECORDINGS

02 - ''SOMETHING WITHIN ME'' - B.M.I. - 3:35
Composer: - Lucie Canpbell
Publisher: - Screen-Gems-EMI Music Limited
Matrix number: - MR 5031
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1955
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Meteor Records (S) 78rpm Meteor 5020-B mono
SOMETHING WITHIN ME / LAT MY LAST DAYS BE MY BEST
Reissued: - 2006 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm Ace CDCH2 1090-2-10 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR BLUES, RHYTHM AND BLUES & GOSPEL RECORDINGS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Brother James Anderson - Vocal
The Anderson Harmoneers
Unknown Musicians

Sun Records recorded a 30-song session with Anderson in 1962, one of several such sessions designed to  produce a varied LP line for the subsidiary Phillips International label. Knox Phillips produced much of this  material, but he could only recall that Anderson came from out of town. There has been speculation that  Anderson had links with Chicago, but this seems unlikely. Anderson also cut a single for the Hattiesburg,  Mississippi-based label in 1960/1961, which suggests he was based in the South. Sun shelved the LP finally  issuing just two of his tracks on a single in 1967.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


EARLY 1955

In early 1955 future Sun recording artist Onie Wheeler got his first taste of the new wave  in country music when he was booked on tour with Elvis Presley. As far back as 1952, Onie  had been managed by Charlie Terrell who also operated trucking companies from his base  in Sikeston. Bob Neal, then managing Elvis Presley, contracted Terrell and placed Onie  Wheeler on tours in the Spring of 1955 booked through Colonel Tom Parker and Hank  Snow's Jamboree Attractions. Neal also assumed Onie's management for a while.


From Left: Elvis Presley, Bob Neal, Jimmy Work, Onie Wheeler in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, March 9, 1955. >

Onie Wheeler left his band, the Nelson brothers back in Sikeston area. After he returned,  they picked up where they had left off with no hard feelings on anyone's part. In fact, the  Nelsons were glad to see him back; their attendances were dropping off without him. Once  again, Charlie Terrell took over as Onie's manager.


G.D. Red Hadley was from Covington, Tennessee. He spent time in Memphis with his brother in a semiserious   attempt to get into the music business in the 1950s. Red was a pianist and Jay, known as Junior. A   guitarist. They acquired a Saturday afternoon show on radio WKBH in Covington and in November and  December 1952 they recorded for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Nothing was released though plans were laid   for the session to be issued by Trumpet Records. Why this did happen is unclear, but Sam Phillips'   recollection was this, ''Red was a guy I hoped I could get a hit on. He would come in and sound real good,   but he wouldn't apply himself consistently. He had it'. He could have made a great record''. Songwriter Bill   Cantrell agreed: ''Red Hadley was a really good artist. But there was a lot of contention between him and his  brother. It was hard to get them to work efficiently together''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR RED HADLEY'S WRANGLERS
FOR METEOR RECORDS 1954

METEOR RECORDING STUDIO
1794 CHELSEA AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
METEOR SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - LES BIHARI

01 - ''BROTHER, THAT'S ALL'' - B.M.I. - 2:11
Composer: - G.D. Hadley-Les Bihari
Publisher: - Meteor Publishing
Matrix number: - Unknown
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1955
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Meteor Records (S) 45rpm Meteor 5017-A mono
BROTHER, THAT'S ALL / RING OUT THOSE BELLS
Reissued: - 2003 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCH2 885-1-3 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR ROCKABILLY & HILLBILLY RECORDINGS

Sometimes in 1955, the Hadleys were working in West Memphis, Arkansas, and decided to give Meteor a  try. They produced an impressive honky tonk disc, ''Brother, That's All''. The instrumental ''Ring Out Those  Bells'' was based on folk music tunes with a little bit of ''Dixie'' thrown in. On the session the brothers were  supported by Roy Cooper, guitar, and Harold Buskirk, bass, both then working with Quinton Claunch and  Bill Cantrell. This style was already just about past its day when the group hit the Meteor studio and it does  not appear to have sold well.

The recorded sound breaks up somewhat more than usual on this disc, underlining the fragile state of  Meteor's recording equipment or the used of cheap or recycled tape. It was the Hadley brothers' misfortune to  have been in at the early stage of Sun as well, and to be recorded there on very primitive paper-backed tape.

In the 1970s, Junior Hadley recorded for Bill Glore's Glo-Lite label, and Red Hadley made a session for  Shelby County Records in 1974 backed by Marcus Van Story and Malcolm Yelvington.

02 - ''RING OUT THOSE BELLS'' - B.M.I. - 2:19
Composer: - G.D. Hadley-Les Bihari
Publisher: - Meteor Publishing
Matrix number: - Unknown
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1955
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Meteor Records (S) 45rpm Meteor 5017-B mono
RING OUT THOSE BELLS / BROTHER, THAT'S ALL
Reissued: - 2003 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCH2 885-1-4 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR ROCKABILLY & HILLBILLY RECORDINGS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
G.D. ''Red'' Hadley - Vocal & Piano
Junior ''Jay'' Hadley - Guitar
Ray Cooper - Guitar-playing
Harold Buskirk - Bass

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


1955

In contrast, local country singer Eddie Bond had all the commitment in the world but Sam Phillips didn't like  his voice, even when he coarsened it up on rockers like, ''This Old Heart Of Mine''. Bond had first auditioned  at Sun in 1955 and was turned down. He returned in 1958 after the end of his Mercury-Starday pact but, once  again, failed to secure a release. He was more successful in 1962 when he recorded two albums' worth of  material and actually saw one album released on Phillips International.


Even Eddie Bond admitted that Sam Phillips didn't find his voice good enough. ''I worried Sam to death. I wanted to be on Sun so bad'', he told Charles Raiteri. ''He said my voice was too mediocre. He just didn't believe I was commercial enough for Sun''. Even singing with Mercury Records left Sam Phillips unimpressed. When Bond's Mercury deal was up, he came back to Phillips, and tried out a few more times again without success. In the 1960s, Bond got a sort-of consolation prize when Phillips released an album of Bond singing country gospel tunes, but another album of country standards went unreleased.

If not one of the great singers, Eddie James Bond has been a great opportunist. He has tried to make sense of prevailing trends and find a place for himself within them. If nothing else, Bond was one of the very few Memphis rockabilly singers actually born in the city. The date was July 1, 1944; his parents were Bill and Doshie May Riley Bond. With some money earned in a competition to sell garden seeds. Eddie bought a Gene Autry guitar and began playing around town in 1948 or 1949. He left school in 1950, worked in a furniture factory, and joined the Navy. After serving eighteen months in Honolulu, he returned to Memphis and became a paint salesman.

Auditioning for a band led by Bob Williams, Bond left with Williams' guitarist, Reggie Young. Pianist Jimmy Smith joined from an all-blind band, and John Hughey came in to play steel guitar. Drummer Johnny Fine, who lived with Eddie and his parents, played drums.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR EDDIE BOND & THE STOMPERS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY UNKNOWN DATE 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Eddie Bond and his band made their first stop at Sun Records. ''After I auditioned for him, I said, 'Sam, let me have the tape'', he told Charles Raiteri. ''He said, 'No'. I said, 'What'cha gonna do with it'. He said, 'Destroy it'. He'd erase it and use it again. I don't blame him. That was good business''.  And so Bond's first record was released on Ekko around August 1955

4 Unknown titles were recorded.
The original tape boxes were accidentally erased.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Eddie Bond – Vocal & Guitar
Reggie Young – Lead Guitar
John Hughey – Steel Guitar
Johnny Fine – Drums
Jimmy Smith - Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


JANUARY 1955

Howard Seratt left Memphis to settle in West Palm Beach, Florida. He had met and married  his wife Miriam there in 1952, and they decided to go back permanently. They had two  daughters and Howard gave up music and records and took up watchmaking as a regular  career. In 1964 he moved to California. He reports that he still loves country music and plays  for his own interest with a country gospel group.

Future Sun recording star Dean Beard briefly attended Tarleton State College before declaring himself for music. He made his first recordings on January 1955 for Fox Records, co-owned by local TV personality, Bill Fox on KTSA in Coleman, Texas.

JANUARY 1955

Billy ''The Kid'' Emerson's ''When It Rains It Pours'' was listed in 'Billboard' as a top seller in  New Orleans in January 1955, competing behind Fats Domino's ''Ain't That A Shame'' and ''Bo  Diddley'' by Bo Diddley. In the week of 23 April, Rains was still given as the - top tip - in New  Orleans. It was probably at this time that Sam Phillips' recording files were altered to  remove the Billy Emerson's Clarksdale address and to log Emerson as living at the Foster  Hotel on LaSalle Street in New Orleans. He soon crossed that out in favour of 518 Douglas,  Cairo, Illinois.

JANUARY 1955

The average price of LPs in the USA is cut to $3.98.

Sam Phillips arranges the launch of his Flip label. It handles country music, although Phillips had considered starting the label a year earlier with Billy Emerson titles. These actually appeared on Sun 194 but with Flip master numbers.

Bud Deckelman's recording of "Daydreamin'" (Meteor 5014) is released as the first country  disc on Meteor Records. "Daydreamin'" becomes a manor hit. The song had been taken to  Sun Records by writers Claunch and Cantrell but had been turned down by Sam Phillips.  Billboard reviews the Meteor version as "a capable rural waxin". A cover version by Jimmy  Newman on Dot is a major country chart contender through the summer. Deckelman is  snapped up by MGM Records who are still looking for someone to continue in Hank  Williams's footsteps.

Malcolm Yelvington's "Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee O Dee"/"Just Rolling Along" (SUN 211) reviewed by Billboard as "a great rhythm oldie sung energetically to a brisk  beat. Some juke play should come through".

Hardrock Gunter signs with King Records of Cincinnati, although his first session there had  been held three months earlier. He also returns to work as the morning disc jockey on  WWVA, Wheeling, West Virginia.

JANUARY 1955

In the Army from 1952 until 1955, future Sun artist Glenn Honeycutt was eventually stationed near Valley Forge in Phoenixville,   Pennsylvania where he met his first wife, Mary. He Remembered a letter from home telling him that his   distant cousin was starting to do well in the entertainment business. In January 1955 Glenn and Mary   Honeycutt headed back to Memphis. ''I'm sure life was not great for Mary in those days. Our daughter was   born in February 1955 and I was off playing here, there and yonder, never even getting anywhere, just   making a little extra money. After I got out of the service I just worked in all kinds of different jobs for three   years''.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR MACK SELF
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS


"Got You On My Mind", at the time Bear Family released its Ernie Chaffin CD (BCD 16780) we included a vocal/guitar demo of this song that sounded more like Mack Self to us than Ernie Chaffin. Actually, the track had been credited to Chaffin on Bear Family's Sun Country Box (BFX 15211) back in 1986, and the liner notes at the time sound a lot more confident about the singer's identity than we feel listening to the track today.

Although the song was stored at Sun on an Ernie Chaffin tape reel, repeated listening suggested that Mack Self was the vocalist. On a phone conversation with Mack prior to the Chaffin release in 2005 and played the song over the phone.

Neither Mack nor his wife, Hazel, were convinced the song was his, although neither of them sounded as sure about it as we hoped they would. Hazel said she had never heard Mack sing it, but they met in 1958 (or late 1957) and by then the song could have been written, demoed and pushed aside.

Mack Self commented that he had been listening to "Got You On My Mind" on the Chaffin disc and it was starting to sound more and more familiar to him. "Those words are coming to me real easy", he commented. "Everybody I play it for says it's me. Some of them say 'You were young on there'. But they all say it's me". "Is there enough of a chance that it's you to include it on here". We asked him. "You've gotta decide". "Slap it on there", Mack replied.

01 - "GOT YOU ON MY MIND" - B.M.I. - 1:47
Composer: - Mack Self
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-8-14 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16519-22 mono
MACK SELF - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Note: Session credited to Ernie Chaffin.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Mack Self - Vocal and Guitar

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


MACK SELF HIS OWN WORDS - Mack Self was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in  1998. As Mack, himself, would tell you, that probably has as much to do with his  association with the legendary Sun label as it does any strong leaning on his part toward  pure rockabilly. Strictly speaking, Mack never was a rocker. At least not in the sense that  Sun label-mates Billy Riley and Sonny Burgess were. Riley and Burgess, by the way, shared  more than a label affiliation with Mack; all three men hail from Arkansas.  The similarities, however, pretty much stop at the state line. Unlike Riley and Burgess,  Mack Self was and is pure country. Sun label owner Sam Phillips, to his enormous credit,  allowed Mack to be just what he was.

Three of the four tracks issued by Mack on the  original Sun and Phillips International labels wore unabashed country songs during a period  when Sun was dominated by southern wildmen. The releases adjacent to Mack's ''Easy To  Love'' (Sun 273) include Ray Harris's ''Greenback Dollar'' (Sun 272) and Carl Perkins' ''That's  Right'' (Sun 274). Billy Riley's ''Red Hot'' (Sun 277) came along two months later, and Jerry  Lee's ''Great Balls Of Fire'' (Sun 281) barely a month after that. The same was true of  Mack's ''Mad At You'', issued on Phillips International 3548. Adjoining releases on the label  included Charly Rich's ''Rebound'', Carl Mann's ''Rockin' Love'' and Sonny Burgess' ''Sadie's  Back In Town''. All in all, Mack's ''pure as country water'' offerings were surrounded by  some pretty hard-edged rockin' company.

Even Mack's uptempo songs like ''Mad At You'' contained down home lyrics like "My cows  gone dry/The hens won't lay''. His ''Going Crazy'' - a track that never saw light in the 1950s - offers lines  like "You got me barkin' like a dog/ rootin' like a hog/ skinning saplings/ eatin' paw paws''. It  doesn't get much more country than that.

For all his back-country charm, Mack Self remains beloved by rockabilly fans and  collectors. This is pretty easy to understand. Years of Sun archaeology has unearthed  undeniable rockabilly gems by Mack like ''Vibrate'' and ''Lovin' Memories''. Although they  were never released during the 1950s, these tracks provide strong credentials for Mack's  Hall of Fame status. At a personal level, Mack Self is a man who, as Johnny Cash sang, "was  there when it happened''. Self's sessions included players like Roland Janes, Stan Kesler,  Jimmy Van Eaton, Johnny Bernero, W. S. ''Fluke'' Holland, Billy Riley and Martin Willis. The  man in the control room hitting the record button was either Jack Clement or Sam  Phillips. The bottom line is that Mack's name appears on nearly a dozen tape boxes full of  songs recorded at what he calls "that little ole rinky dink studio" in Memphis. He's the real  deal. In fact, it's good to remind ourselves that Sam Phillips auditioned both Mack Self and  Harold Jenkins a.k.a Conway Twitty, an Arkansas running buddy of Mack's - at just about  the same time. Phillips passed on Twitty and decided to work with Mack.

At the least, Mack Self is a survivor. Settling into a comfortable chair, Mack begins to  summarize his life. ''I'm Mack Self. I was born in 1930. I'll be 77 years old the 22nd day of  May. My daddy was a farmer and he played the fiddle. My mother played the guitar and  they got me started. After that I taught myself. The first performing I did was at a street  dance in Barton, Arkansas. I was about 15 years old and I sang two Hank Williams songs. I  went up there with a guy named Henry Henderson. He told me about the dance and we  decided to go. We stopped at a little ''grab all'' grocery store out in the country and Henry  got us something to drink. I took a shot of it and said, 'That's good. What is it?' He said,  'That's Bobcat wine'. I never drank nothing before that and I really still don't drink. But  when I got up there I was feelin' pretty good. It woke me up a little bit. Made my nerves  get right, you know?''.

''They had a good band, at that dance. John Hughey (Conway Twittys steel guitarist) might  have been playing with them. I'm not sure but I know they had a good steel man. I finished  my songs and folks went crazy. I thought. 'Man! I m gonna try this a while''!.  "I went in the Army around 1948 and I was 19 when I got out. After that I started playing  with David Jackson and the Arkansas Cotton Choppers. We had a radio program on KFFA in  Helena, Arkansas. Harold Jenkins was with that band too, and so was John Hughey. I also  had a show on KXJK in Forrest City. Arkansas. We started around 1952. I sang with a band  called Johnny Farmer and the Farm Hands. Charlie Rich was playing up there at that time  or a little later. He was from a little old town, just a wide place in the road up above  Forrest City''.

''I wrote a song called ''Easy To Love'' and I sang it on the radio. Brother Hal Webber was a  disc jockey at KXJK at the time. We'd tape a week's worth of shows on Monday night and  he'd broadcast them over the next week or so. I taped ''Easy To Love'' and he got in touch  with me, said 'That's a good song! You need to do something with this.' Hal knew about  Sam Phillips because he had heard those first records by Elvis. Nobody knew what to make  of those records at the time. But he said, 'You ought to take this song up to that record
company in Memphis.

''Its unclear at this point whether Webber or Johnny Farmer carried the tapes to Sun, and  whether it was Bill Cantrell or Sam Phillips who first heard them. In any case, the folks at  706 Union Avenue in Memphis were impressed. Mack recalls hearing that Sam played the  tape and said 'Who's this boy singing this song right here?' and they told him. So Sam said,  'You tell him to come on up here'.

''So we went up to Sun. I carried Jimmy Evans and Thurlow Brown with me. Jimmy was a  lifelong friend. We go back to the David Jackson band. Jimmy played doghouse bass. You  know, one of them big standup basses. Jimmy was Conway Twitty's first bass man and also  played for Ronnie Hawkins. Thurlow picked guitar on all my Sun records. A fine, fine  picker. I met him when I was playing a talent show up in Helena. People started saying to  me, 'You hear that guy picking over yonder? I walked back and he was playing ''Sugarfoot  Rag'', just eating it up. I asked him his name and said, You want to play?'. He said, 'I ain't  got a guitar', I told him, Well get you a guitar'. Thurlow played with me for years. He died  in 1975. Sam said, How many songs you got?' I said., Just them two right there'. He said,  'What the hell you mean coming up here with just two songs? I said, 'That's all it takes to  make a record. He said, Come on, boy. Lets go get some coffee'.

''Anyway, we came back to Sun later on with more stuff and cut it all in that little studio  up there. I came back home and just forgot about it. Just kept playing my dances locally.  Just messing around and writing songs. Then in 1957 I got a call from Jack Clement. He  said. 'Mack, come on up here. They're going to release y'all s record'. So we drove up and  Jack carried us over to Plastic Products and gave us ten records each. I think it was.

"I came on back home and we started playing around promoting the record. We played up  in Memphis quite a bit and they had me playing clubs. That's no way to promote a record,  though. You got to have radio exposure. I did appear on shows like Wink Martindale and  Dewey Phillips. But there really wasn't any promotion. They wanted me to go on the  Louisiana Haynde. They weren't going to pay us but $15 apiece to go down there and sing  a couple of songs. From where I live its a pretty good drive and it seemed kind of stupid to  me. But I know some of those boys from Sun made the trip, like Elvis, Warren Smith,  Johnny Cash. I just decided not to go. I was working full time at the time. I'd stay up all  night then, go in and punch a clock at 7 or 8 in the morning. I worked 10 or 12 hours a  day''.

Mack acknowledges that Sam Phillips was not releasing much pure country music at the  time. "Me and Ernie Chaffin was pretty much it. Sam was balking at a lot of it. It had to be  pretty strong or he wouldn't fool with it. Guys like me and Ernie Chaffin... We didn't know  what a contract was. But you learn. Eventually you learn. I was just messing around,  having fun''.


Mack has long ago come to terms with the fates of the music business. Like other artists  before and after him, he didn't always feel treated right by Sun and Sam. Being a  secondary artist meant that he was unlikely to benefit from Sun's meagre promotional  energies.

Having your latest release shipped in the same package with a disc by Jerry Lee  Lewis or Johnny Cash usually meant being consigned to the No Play list. As Mack told Sun  historian Martin Hawkins, '' At Sun Records, the stars' pink Cadillacs would be parked up  front on Union Avenue. Out back would be the beat up Fords and pickup trucks of the  country boys trying to make it''.

Sometime around 1960 or 1961 Mack decided, ''that Sam wasn't going to do anything for  me''. He moved on to the Zone label and has recorded for a number of small, independent  labels since, including a number of self-produced projects.

Looking back at his career, Mack holds few regrets. The lack of a hit record? ''I didn't worry  about that kind of stuff back then. It's not till you get older that you start thinking about  what you might could have done. Or would have done. I didn't do too bad, though. I tried  to write good songs. My wife tells me I ain't never wrote a bad one'' (laughs).

''I never did try to big time' nobody,. I just never did do that. I went to the seventh grade  in school. That's as far as I ever got. I educated myself by reading Stop signs and  billboards. I learned to draw blueprints. If I had gone through high school, I might have  done a little better. But I also might have been a better drunk, You never know''.

Hazel observes, "Mack wrote some good songs. They deserved to be hits. But he never  pushed himself. He never got out there and did personal appearances. That's the only  reason he never made it. But we've had a good life together. You never know how it would  have been if he had made it. Sometimes the worst thing can happen to you is to have a hit  record''.

Mack has always maintained a job in the non-music world. 'I did sheet metal work when I  got out of the army. I started my own business and I made a living doing it until I retired in  1990. We'd build cotton gins, heating and air conditioning units and stuff like that. I had  about five trucks and at one time I worked ten men. After retired. I got to playing again.  I'm enjoying it and I've started writing again. I got a little studio out there. I just write my  songs and go out there and set down and sing. I've never really left it'. I had some great  guys played with me over the years''.

Mack and Hazel Self are approaching 50 years of marriage. They have ten grandchildren  and one great grandson. That doesn't include the children and grandchildren from his first  marriage. Mack can barely keep track of all his progeny and readily turns to Hazel for the  details. "That's a mess of them," he gleefully concludes. ''You see why I have that studio  out back?", he asks, laughing.

In June, 2007, Mack was looking forward to his first European concert tour and, in fact,  his first trip to Europe . "I've loved airplanes all my life. Years ago, we lived in an old  farmhouse right in the middle of a cotton patch. We picked cotton and pulled that sack.  My momma, she'd pick 300 pounds of cotton a day. I was about seven years old and one  day I got my little wagon and went to town hunting scrap iron. People were giving me little  pieces of iron and 'sold it and made a dollar and a half. Man I was rich! The first thing I  went looking for was a model airplane with a rubber band for the propeller, just mad out  of balsa wood''.

"So I bought it and went home and my momma said, 'You mean to tell me you wasted that  money on that little airplane when we ain't got enough food in the house to feed a cat!'  She whupped my ass, son, till it burned! I ain't never forgot that!

The lesson stuck - sort of. Mack made no more childhood trips to collect scrap iron to buy  model planes. But some twenty years later, he went and got his pilot's license so he could  fly real ones. "If I don't like the way that pilot's flying the plane over to Europe, I may just  go up there and take it over'', he laughed.

Mack recalled that he had gone back to 706 Union Avenue for the filming of a documentary  on the 50th anniversary of Sun Records. Standing there taking in the scene, Mack spotted  Sam Phillips. He went over to Billy Swan, another guest at the filming, to confirm Sam's  identity.

''I walked up to him and said, 'Sam, how you doing?' He looked at me and had no idea who I  was. I said, 'Mack Self.' He said, Well Ill be dogged and gave me a big hug. I wanted to hit  him. I guess that's what I should have done, (laughs). But I know that none of that stuff  would have ever happened if it hadn't been for him''.

That observation may be true, and Mack also knows today that he was among the more  fortunate country boys who never made it big. He saw his name on two of those original  Sun (and Phillips International) labels. All told, the eight or nine titles he recorded  multiple takes of during Sun's Golden Era have benefited from 30+ years of musical  archaeology. Every time he picks up his custom-made guitar with ''Easy To Love'' inlaid on  the neck, he knows he's a somebody. Like many Sun alumni, Mack has experienced the  attention and respect of people he never expected to meet. Today the grandchildren of  people who first enjoyed his records know his name. His reputation is assured.

Wiley Laverne ''Mack'' Self, of West Helena, Arkansas passed away on Tuesday, June 14,  2011 at his home of the age of 81. Mack is buried at the Caldwell Family Cemetery in  Aubrey, Arkansas.

Interview with Mack Self, July 2005 by Hank Davis


JANUARY 1, 1955 SATURDAY

Colonel Tom Parker became the manager of Hank Snow, one of the Grand Ole Opry's most  popular members and another RCA Victor recording artist. Snow, nicknamed "The Singing  Ranger" was Canadian by birth, although he had lived in the States for years. When Parker  took over Snow's affairs, he combined Jamboree Attractions under the banner of Hank Snow  Enterprises.

As a result of this quest for proper management, on January 1, 1955, Elvis Presley finally  signed a contract with Bob Neal, who, as noted earlier, had been "auditioning" for the role  for several months already. The details of this management deal had actually been worked  out a few months earlier, and the well-publicized signing with Neal was designed more to  promote Elvis' third single, "Milkcow Blues Boogie" and "You're A Heartbreaker", than  anything else. Neal will receive 15% of all his earnings, plus 10% for promotional expenses.

British conglomerate EMI takes a controlling interest in Capitol Records, whose roster has included, or will include, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban and Buck Owens, among others.

Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs move to Nashville to make regular appearance on WSM's radio and television stations and the Grand Ole Opry.

Jim Reeves rings in the new year with American soldiers in Stuttgart, Germany, during a USO tour of Europe.

JANUARY 2, 1855 SUNDAY

Columbia Records presents Gene Autry a plaque honoring his 25-year association with the label during the singer's ''Melody Ranch'' on CBS Radio.

JANUARY 3, 1955 MONDAY

Jim Reeves' 18-day USO tour of Europe comes to an end.

Bass player Corky Holbrook is born in Ashland, Kentucky. He plays on Billy Ray Cyrus' hit, including ''Achy Breaky Heart'', ''Could've Been Me'' and ''Some Gave All''.

Capitol released Tommy Collins' ''Untied''.

JANUARY 4, 1955 TUESDAY

Kathy Forester, of The Forester Sisters, is born in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. The Foresters emerge as a rare all-female harmony group in 1985, and the quartet scores 15 hits in the next six years.

Tennessee Ernie Ford's daytime TV show begins airing on NBC.

JANUARY 6, 1955 THURSDAY

Ray Acuff ends a one-month USO tour of Alaska, in which he crossed the Arctic Circle while performing for American Soldiers.

Judy Bailey is born in Winchester, Kentucky. She appears as a duet vocalist on Moe Bandy's 1980 hit ''Following The Feeling''.

Red Sovine and Goldie Hill recorded ''Are You Mine'' at the Castle Studio in Nashville.

JANUARY 8, 1955 SATURDAY

Sun 213 ''Look To Jesus'' b/w ''Every Night'' by The Jones Brothers is issued. It is the only black gospel recording to appear on Sun during the 1950s apart from the Prisonaires, although Sam Phillips has also released a country gospel disc by Howard Seratt (Sun 198)

The business in any case seemed to be leaving him, Sam Phillips felt like he was losing ground every day. He hadn't put out t he singles, Sun 214 an intricately constructed new blues ''Move Baby Love'' b/w ''When It Rains It Pours'' by Billy Emerson and  "Milkcow Blues Boogie" backed with "You're A Heartbreaker" (Sun 215) by Elvis Presley. But with neither the means nor the manpower to marked a new release effectively, and with none of the back catalogue selling except for Elvis' first record (which continued to enjoy exceptional success), Sam Phillips came up with a stopgap solution. rather than continue to press records with uncertain prospects of commercial success and try to distribute them on a nationale scale, Sam returned to an idea that had first occurred to him the previous year, an ''audition'' label called Flip Records, on which he could release variously hillbilly artists that Quinton Claunch and Bill Cantrell were working with, but strictly to a local marked. This would mean, according to his own interpretation, that he would not have to pay union rates, shipping, or anything but local pressing costs because he would simply be test-marketing the records in Memphis.

JANUARY 9, 1955 SUNDAY

Jim Reeves makes his national television debut on CBS-TV's ''Toast Of The Town''. The variety show is later renamed ''The Ed Sullivan Show''.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR MALCOLM YELVINGTON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY JANUARY 12, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Malcolm Yelvington was well placed to see it all. He started recording at Sun in October 1954, and his last sessions were held almost exactly three years later. In October 1954 Phillips was scuffling, selling a few Presley records and getting paid in blues returns. In October 1957 he had two records in the national Top Ten and a couple of others bubbling under. Yelvington reflected the changing musical values of that tiny studio, despite the fact that he only saw two releases during those three years.


 BCD 16757 AH

In many ways he was the John Wayne of rockabilly. A big man with a big heart, Malcolm Yelvington was more than just a performer, he was part of the very fabric of Southern culture. Such seniority (he was thirty-six when Sam Phillips invited him on board) reflected a diverse musical upbringing than encompassed the many fruits of western swing. "Yakety Yak" was all set to go when the first Presley rumblings began to happen, and with the master languishing, Malcolm alighted at Meteor Records where a recut resulted.


01(1) - "YAKETY YAK" - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Reece Fleming-Gordon Mashburn
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 12, 1955
Released: - 2006
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16757-8 mono
MALCOM YELVINGTON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Up to this point, Reece Fleming had been the Star Rhythm Boys' main songwriter and musical director, but he took less of a role in the band through 1955 and 1956 as the band gradually broke up. He did remain involved in recordings while the band, eager to record more of their large repertoire, pressed Sam Phillips for a second Sun release. Early 1955 they cut master versions of "Yakety Yak", a band favourite written by Reece Fleming and guitarist Gordon Mashburn, with a clever lyric.

For some reasons, Phillips chose not to release this, or anything by Yelvington, during 1955. Despairing of another release on Sun, and despite being still under contract, Yelvington took the song to Phillips' competitor, Les Bihari, at Meteor who released a version of ''Yakety Yak'' pseudonymously. The Sun version features an appealing blend of hillbilly and western swing, not far removed from the sound of ''Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee''. The rhythm is driving and the steel solos plentiful and deftly placed.

01(2) - "YAKETY YAK" - B.M.I. - 2:37
Composer: - Reece Fleming-Gordon Mashburn
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 12, 1955
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-4-11 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-3-2 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

02(1) - "WAY DOWN BLUES (I'VE GOT THE BLUES)" - B.M.I. - 2:34
Composer: - Reece Fleming
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 12, 1955
Released: - 2006
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16757-7 mono
MALCOLM YELVINGTON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

The atmospheric of "Blues In The Bottom Of My Shoes", which Fleming had adapted from one of his 1930s recordings. Sam Phillips remained preoccupied with Presley, though, and the second Star Rhythm Boys disc never materialized.

02(2) - "WAY DOWN BLUES (I'VE GOT THE BLUES)" - B.M.I. - 2:30
Composer: - Reece Fleming
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 12, 1955
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-4-13 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-3-3 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

There is a delightful old-timey sing-along quality to ''Way Down Blues''. It was a fair distance from anything that Phillips was selling in 1955. In fact a fair distance from anything that was selling in 1955, which is probably why it had to wait almost thirty years for release. The western swing feel predominates and there is some strong vocal harmony. The song was reportedly written by Reece Fleming in 1952, five years or so after his duo act with Respers Townsend had ceased recording. And that sounds entirely plausible. According to Yelvington, Reece Fleeming originally titled the song ''Blues In The Bottom Of My Shows''.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Malcolm Yelvington - Vocal and Guitar
Gordon Mashburn - Guitar
Miles "Bubba" Winn - Steel Guitar
Jake Ryles - Bass
Reece Fleming – Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Hayden Thompson >

JANUARY 15, 1955 SATURDAY

Kitty Wells recorded ''Makin' Believe'' and ''I'd Rather Stay Home'' at the Bradley Studio on Hillsboro Road in Nashville.

Bob and Betty Wills have their fourth child, a daughter named Cindy Wills.

Colonel Tom Parker attends the Louisiana Hayride at Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium, watching Elvis Presley for probably the first time. Within weeks, Parker is attempting to sign Presley to a management contract.

JANUARY 17, 1955 MONDAY

Singer/songwriter Steve Early is born at the Army hospital in Fort Monroe, Virginia. His gritty 1986 album ''Guitar Town'' subsequently becomes an influential signpost for the alternative country movement.

''Town And Country Time'', produced by country music promoter Connie B. Gay, debuts on WMAL-TV in Washington, D.C. The daily half-hour show is hosted by Jimmy Dean. The cast includes George Hamilton IV and, in short order, Ray Clark.

JANUARY 17, 1955 MONDAY

Elvis Presley play in Booneville, Mississippi, at Community College. Also on the show were  Jim Ed and Maxime Brown.  "Elvis played in Booneville when he just had a couple of records out on Sun," Hayden  Thompson remembers, probably describing a show that has been traced to January 17,  1955. 'I stood out back and chatted with him a while. I was a sixteen year old talking to a  nineteen year old. There wasn't a single person in that alleyway except him and me and  he had that pink Cadillac which just knocked me out.


I'd been playing on radio and little  dances, but this was somebody I could really relate to. Earlier, he had played a thirty-minute  set at the radio station with Scotty and Bill, and I stood right there in the studio,  which was maybe twenty by twenty. while this happened''. A life-changing experience or  what?

JANUARY 17, 1955 MONDAY

The USS Nautilus submarine was put to sea for the first time on. The USS Nautilus was the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. It was authorized for construction in 1951 by the United States Congress and commissioned into service for the United States Navy while it neared completion in 1954. As it made its first real voyage in January of 1955, Commander Eugene Wilkinson relayed the historic message of “Underway On Nuclear Power.” The USS Nautilus continued operating until it was decommissioned in March of 1980 and during its time in service it impressively broke many submarine records and completed several important research and naval missions. 

JANUARY 21, 1955 FRIDAY

Carl Smith recorded ''Wait A Little Longer Please, Jesus'' during an evening session at Nashville's Castle Studio.

JANUARY 22, 1955 SATURDAY

Porter Wagoner makes his Grand Ole Opry debut,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

''Ozark Jubilee'', featuring Red Foley as host, makes its prime-time debut on ABC-TV. It becomes a significant vehicle for Webb Pierce, Porter Wagoner, Wanda Jackson and Norma Jean, among others. Its theme song, Foley's ''Sugarfoot Rag''.

JANUARY 24, 1955 MONDAY

Bob Wills holds his first recording session in a new contract with Decca Records.

Tennessee Ernie Ford makes the last of three guest appearance on ''I Love Lucy'', in which he plays hick relative Uncle Ernie.

Ira Hayes dies after a night of drinking in Bapchule, Arizona. One of the men who raised the flag on Mt. Suribach at Iwo Jima, he struggled with his fame after the war, his story inspiring the Johnny Cash hit ''The Ballad Of Ira Hayes''.

Decca released Justin Tubb's ''I Gotta Go Get My Baby''.

Capitol released Hank Thompson's double-sided single, ''If Lovin' You Is Wrongs'' and the flip side ''Annie Over''.

JANUARY 26, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Faron Young recorded ''Live fast, Love Hard, Die Young'' and ''Forgive Me, Dear'' in Nashville in his first session since ending two years of military service.

JANUARY 27, 1955 THURSDAY

Cheryl White, of The Whites, is born in Wichita Falls, Texas. The family trio earns bluegrass-influenced hits with ''Hangin' Around'', ''You Put The Blue In Me'' and ''Give Me Back That Old Familiar Feeling''. They join the Grand Ole Opry in 1984.

Rhythm guitarist Richard Young, of The Kentucky HeadHunters, is born in Glasgow, Kentucky. The rock-influenced band wins the Country Music Association's Vocal Group of the Year honor in 1990 and 1991.

Ferlin Husky recorded ''I'll Baby Sit With You''.

JANUARY 28, 1955 FRIDAY

Sam Phillips wrote a letter to his brother Jud, ''I have just received your letter, and it apparently is not clear to you yet that Sun's liabilities are three times the assets and that I have been making every effort possible to keep it out of bankruptcy. As you well know, we have had only Presley, and with his Union contract of 3% of the 89c price, plus the fact that the songs cost 4c per record, it has been virtually impossible to make anything''. What Sam Phillips didn't tell Jud was that he continued to be in deep trouble with the IRS over the excise tax. The more than $8,000 he had been forced to pay in January of 1954 on his overdue 1953 tax had left him in a hole he didn't know if he would ever be able to dig himself out of. What he did tell his brother now was that he had been forced to issue ''merchandise credits'', in other words to write off as uncollectable debt, more than $7,000 since July, while paying full royalties and pressing costs on all those records he had reluctantly given away for free. Surely, he wrote to his brother, to whom he still owed $800 for his share of the business, Jud could ''see the precarious position of the company... Anybody less interested in saving face would have given it up long ago, but I intend to pay every dollar the company owes including you, even while I know that there is no possible way to even get out with a dollar''.

JANUARY 31, 1955 MONDAY

Jim Reeves and Abbott Records chief Fabor Robison tangle with a handgun in a Los Angeles recording studio, with Reeves ultimately demanding his release from the label. Nearly three weeks later, Abbott announces Reeves is leaving.

Decca released the two-sided Kitty Wells and Red Foley duet single.

*


FEBRUARY 1955

Circa February 1955, Wade Moore and Dick Penner write a song originally titled ''The Ooby Dooby'' Roy Orbison hears it in campus. ''Roy was at the North Texas State University in Denton'' said Lane Cowart (daughter of Wade Moore), ''and he called Dad one day and asked if he could play guitar with them for a show. This was at the campus theater one night. Apparently, he got stage fright and his fingers froze. After the show, he apologized and told Dad that he wouldn't ask to play with them again until he overcame this''.

Roy Orbison's group had been Wink Westerners. ''We became the Teen Kings'', said mandolist James Morrow. ''Jack Kennelly came in on bass. Billy Pat Ellis had grown up with us in Wink and we met Johnny ''Peanuts'' Wilson when we were going to junior college in Odessa. He liked that kind of music (rock and roll), and he'd come over to where we roomed. Roy was a year ahead of me, and when he went to Denton for a year to North Texas State, I believe Billy Pat went with him. Then we all went to junior college in Odessa''. One of Roy's contemporaries at North State, Pat Boone, had just begun recording. ''All these people were doing what I wanted to do'', said Roy, ''but it seemed as though I was in the wrong place at the right time. I wanted to get a diploma in case I didn't make it in the music business. In the end, though, I decided I didn't wasn't to do anything half-way so I jumped into the music business''.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR ROSCO GORDON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY FEBRUARY 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Rosco Gordon was one of the first artists to record at The Memphis Recording Service when it served as the pre-Sun designation of the facilities at 706 Union Avenue. Like all the best rhythm and blues artists he radiated eccentricity within a studio environment, casting a vivid image across his portfolio of goofball jump blues. "The Chicken" was proof enough that he could be an amourist one minute and a humourist the next. His audacious "good evening friends" at the conclusion says it all.

After three years away from Sam Phillips' studio, Rosco Gordon had returned to sign a three-year deal with Sun in June 1955. By the following year, the national music scene had changed broadly enough that black music could potentially cross over into the pop market, if it was oriented to white radio.

This was the first record by Rosco to appear on the Sun label (technically it was on both Sun and Flip label), although Gordon was no stranger to 706 Union Avenue. For two years, Sam Phillips had recorded him, peddling his music to Chess and RPM. He had also custom-recorded a Rosco session for Duke. In fact, it was Rosco's hits like "Booted" and "No More Doggin'" that helped to convince Phillips that he could compete in the cut-throat rhythm and blues business. So, in June 1955, when Rosco's Duke deal was up, Sam signed him to Sun on a three-year contract. Rosco was still living in Memphis when he signed, although by 1957 he had moved to New York.

01 - "JUST LOVE ME BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:21
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 162 - Master
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - September 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 227-A mono
JUST LOVE ME BABY / WEEPING BLUES
Reissued: - Flip Records (S) 45rpm standard single Flip 227 mono
JUST LOVE ME BABY / WEEPING BLUES
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4-17 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1


Although he brings a confident and idiosyncratic vocal to "Just Love Me Baby", this remains one of Rosco's least distinguished offerings. The band finds a fine mid-tempo groove and the saxes riff like they tell you in the manual, but somehow this side never rises above mediocrity.

This side is rooted in a gimmick, one that had worked for Clyde McPhatter on Billy Ward's recording of "The Bells" in 1953, but one that fell flat here.

02 - "WEEPING BLUES" - B.M.I. - 3:09
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 163 - Master
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - September 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 227-B mono
WEEPING BLUES / JUST LOVE ME BABY
Reissued: - Flip Records (S) 45rpm standard single Flip 227 mono
WEEPING BLUES / JUST LOVE ME BABY
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4-18 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1


On May 29, 1957, the rock and roll movie ''Rock, Baby, Rock It'' is released to drive-in theatres. Rosco Gordon sings ''The Chicken''. >


Rosco Gordon claims that "The Chicken" was the biggest selling record of his Sun career. In a 1980 interview, Rosco repeatedly referred to it as his "million seller". According to Rosco, "The Chicken" was a "spot record", breaking in one regional rhythm and blues market after another, and taking a long time to run its course.


Although it never blazed a trail on national charts, the record stirred up enough regional attention to garner Rosco a movie  (the notorious "Rock Baby, Rock It"). His performance of "Chicken In The Rough" is captured forever on celluloid, along with his trusty rooster dancing on the piano while Rosco pounded away on the ivories. "They used to call me Rosco 'Chicken' Gordon. Man, that record was so big!". Rosco claimed that the rooster remained part of his act for quite a while, giving added credence to his version of the record's success.

03 - "THE CHICKEN (DANCE WITH YOU)" - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 182 - Master
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - December 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 237-A mono
THE CHICKEN (DANCE WITH YOU) / LOVE FOR YOU, BABY
Reissued - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-1-17 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

For his part, Sam Phillips must have had an interesting view of "The Chicken". It was released on both the Sun and Flip labels, although the significance of that strategy remains unclear. Perhaps more tellingly, Phillips did not simply see this release as an rhythm and blues contender. Original versions of "The Chicken's" record label plainly say "Rock and Roll Vocal". In simply terms, that meant crossover potential. By 1956, Sam Phillips was not releasing much black music anymore. What little appeared on the Sun label had better have some potential to sell to white kids.

There is a final sidebar to the tale of "The Chicken". According to Rosco, the song ultimately got him into more trouble with Sam Phillips than it was worth. He claims that when he and his band were practising the song at the Club Handy at Beale, Bill Harvey (who represented Duke Records) got the song on tape and delivered it to Don Robey. Robey offered $450 for the publishing rights, which the singer gladly accepted. According to Rosco, Robey waited for the song to run its long and successful course before threatening local action against Sun yet again. Rosco believes that this event helped sour Sam Phillips on further business dealings with him. Its a fascinating tale, but it remains somewhat suspect in light of two further Sun singles by Rosco issued in 1957 and 1958; as well as a mountain of unissued tapes dating from this same period in the Sun archives.


This 1955 session gives further indications of the onslaught of rhythm and blues. No longer a 17-year-old punk, Rosco's musical style had evolved considerably since his first session for Sam Phillips some five years earlier. At the least, the lyrical content of his songs - whilst not timeless poetry - was still a vast improvement on the primitive rantings of sides like "Rosco's Boogie". This was one of his more sophisticated offerings to date, utilising the irony of opposites to make its point: also, Rosco's celebrated sense of humour is readily in evidence on lines like "I wear oil on my face/Powder on my hair/I'm s strange acting man/But I just don't care". Perhaps he should have offered the song to Little Richard! His second reading of the title line in each couplet is particularly melodic, whilst the song lopes along nicely with that easy shuffle peculiar to Rosco's best work, which he'd effectively made his own (Rosco's Rhythm). This side is also memorable for a surprisingly active performance from guitarist Foree Wells. When Rosco moved on again - to Vee-Jay - three years later, the song was still buzzing around in his head. He subsequently re-cut it, albeit with a considerably different arrangement, which is when it finally saw commercial release.

04 - "LOVE FOR YOU BABY" - B.M.I. – 2:59
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 183 - Master
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - December 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 237-B mono
LOVE FOR YOU, BABY / THE CHICKEN (DANCE WITH YOU)
Reissued - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-1-18 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

The result of this later session by Rosco Gordon give clear evidence of the advent of rock and roll. Rosco's style had evolved since his first session for Sam Phillips four years earlier. At the least, the lyrical content of these songs, while not timeless poetry, was still beyond the primitive rantings of ''Rosco's Boogie''. This used the irony of opposites to make its point... a lyrical device he'd first used earlier on ''Saddled The Cow (And Milked The Horse)''. Rosco's well known sense of humor resurfaces in lines like ''I wear oil on my face, powder on my hair / I'm a strange acting man, but I just don't care''. His second reading of ''That's What You Do To Me'' of the title line in each couplet is especially melodic. The song rolls along nicely with the loping shuffle Rosco made his own. The recording features a surprisingly active guitar player. When Rosco moved on to Vee-Jay Records three years later, the song was still buzzing around in his head. He recorded it for that label in 1959, with a considerably different arrangement, and that's when it finally saw commercial release.

05 - "THAT'S WHAT YOU DO TO ME" - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30133 mono
ROSCO GORDON - THE LEGENDARY SUN PERFORMERS
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 8-7-19 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

''I Found A New Love'', this title is a very effective version of Rosco's trademark shuffle. The man turns in a slick and confident vocal performances, bringing an unexpected measure of variety into his phrasing. The instrumental highlight of the cut is Richard Sanders' baritone sax which provides a solid bottom, ample rhythmic thrust, and an ending that must have pushed Phillips' VU meter into the red zone.

06 - "I FOUND A NEW LOVE" - B.M.I. 3:06
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-7-29 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

It's pretty clear that Little Richard had appeared on the scene by the time Rosco recorded ''I'm Gonna Shake It''. This is a rollicking performance, if not one of Rosco's lyrical masterpiece. It's rhythm and blues on the cusp of rock and roll, mirroring the changing musical times. Richard Sanders provides a solid anchor with his guttural baritone sax, but the real instrumental highlight comes from drummer John Murry Daley, who offers some standout counter-rhythms in the 2-bar break between verses.

07 - I'M GONNA SHAKE IT" - B.M.I. - 1:57
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
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 7-8-20 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

Conversely, this rollicking performance is hardly one of Rosco's lyrical masterpieces, epitomising the standard good-time rhythm and blues fare which was in the process of evolving into full-blooded rock and roll. Richard Sanders anchors the recording with his baritone sax, but the real instrumental highlight comes from drummer John Daley, who throws in some standout counter-rhythms in the 2-bar break between verses.

08 - "LET'S GET HIGH" - B.M.I. 2:37
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 1955
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30133-A-1 mono
ROSCO GORDON - THE LEGENDARY SUN PERFORMERS
Reissued: - May 1994 Rhino Records (CD) 500/200rpm R271780-2-17 mono
THE SUN RECORDS COLLECTION

Following his patented "No More Doggin'" introduction, Rosco and the boys launch into a confident arrangement which features prominent drumming John Daley, and a riffing baritone sax played by Richard Sanders. A strong song and performance throughout, only an inappropriate major seventh ending reveals the likely spontaneous nature of the arrangement. Interestingly, when Rosco went back into the studio in 1984 to record a moving tribute to his late wife, he cut a new version of "Let's Get High" for the flip.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rosco Gordon - Vocal and Piano
Billy Duncan - Alto Saxophone
Charles Taylor - Alto Saxophone
Richard Sanders - Baritone Sax
Willie Wilkes - Tenor Saxophone
Foree Wells - Guitar
Tuff Green - Bass
John Murry Daley – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CLYDE LEOPPARD & THE SNEARLY RANCH BOYS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY FEBRUARY 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

"Clyde Leoppard ran a local band out of West Memphis, based at the Cotton Club there", recalled Sam Phillips, "he brought in several fine musicians and singers out of his band. Clyde usually kept a pretty damn good band - for over two decades he played the local clubs here in Memphis and that band knew its way around. He had Stanley Kesler on steel, and Bill Taylor and a string of vocalists - Warren Smith, Barbara Pittman and others".


Clyde Leoppard & Snearly Ranch Boys: From left: Stan Kesler (steel guitar); Buddy Holobaugh (guitar); Clyde Leoppard (drums); Bill Taylor (trumpet and vocals); Smokey Joe Baugh (piano and vocals); Barbara Pittman (vocals). >

Local drummer Clyde Leoppard led his band of colourful characters on this decidedly strange release. On "Lonely Sweetheart" certainly deserved some attention for its novel concept and sound. Its a case of guy meets girl, girl leaves guy, guy becomes multiple personality. Jekyll and Hyde meet country music.


Trumpeter-balladeer Bill Taylor sings the loving part, while gravel-voiced Smokey Joe Baugh, soon to become a Sun legend in his own right, delivers the hateful lines. No doubt this side kept the jukeboxes humming around the combo's home base, the Cotton Club in West Memphis, Arkansas, but it failed to spark any sizeable national attention. On "Split Personality" is an undistinguished country weeper sung and recited by Taylor. If nothing else, it guaranteed that attention would remain focused on "Split Personality".

01 - "LONELY SWEETHEART" - B.M.I. - 3:01
Composer: - Stanley Kesler-Roy Rogers
Publisher: - Arsak Music
Matrix number: - F 16 - Master
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: March 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single Flip 502-A mono
LONELY SWEETHEART / SPLIT PERSONALITY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-23 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1


For the next snappy little hoedown, vocalist Bill Taylor and Smokey Joe took a leaf out of the Western Swing novelty manual. At the time they were both front liners with Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranch Boys, stepping up to the mike to sing one minute and playing a hot trumpet and piano the next. Stan Kesler also featured strongly, in this instance outlaying some facy steel work. Released on Flip, "Split Personality" represented one of the first times "rock and roll" was mentioned in a country song.

02 - "SPLIT PERSONALITY" - B.M.I. - 2:19
Composer: - Stanley Kesler-Bill Taylor
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - F 17 - Master
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Vocal duet Smokey Joe Baugh and Bill Taylor & Clyde Leoppard Snearly Ranch Boys
Released: - March 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single Flip 502-B mono
SPLIT PERSONALITY / LONELY SWEETHEART
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-24 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Bill Taylor - Vocal
Smokey Joe Baugh - Vocal and Piano
Stanley Kesler - Steel Guitar
Clyde Leoppard - Drums
Buddy Holobaugh - Guitar
Marcus Van Story - Bass

In a later era, Bill Taylor went on to become part of Jerry Lee Lewis's touring group and he wrote a fair number of filler songs on some of Jerry Lee's later albums, as well as some hits like ''There Must Be More To Love Than This''. Taylor went to Texas from Memphis, working with R.D. Hendon and Jimmy Heap, before returning to work with Jerry Lee Lewis. Smokey Joe Baugh and Buddy Holobaugh also went to Texas, but lapsed into obscurity. Clyde Leoppard was last seen serving 99 cents lunches at a greasy spoon behind the Greyhound terminal in Memphis before his little operation fell a victim to urban renewal and he retired to Mississippi. C-composer and steel guitar player Stan Kesler went on to run his own studio and record labels after working for Sam Phillips as resident engineer/producer at the Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis, and for a time he took his studio career to Nashville, where he too worked with Jerry Lee Lewis. As a producer, his hits included Sam the Sham's ''Woolly Bully''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Flip Records first 45rpm pressing, Carl Perkin's ''Movie Magg''.

FEBRUARY 1955

Through the experiments, Sam Phillips was searching for something different from the   Nashville mainstream. In February 1955 he launched the Flip Records label in an attempt to   give direction to his country output. Among the first artists on Flip were three of enormous   potential: Carl Perkins, Charlie Feathers, and the Miller Sisters.

Charlie Feathers was, conceivably, the cream of the crop. A masterly vocalist and incandescent spirit from Slayden, Mississippi, near Holly Springs, he had grown up on Bill Monroe bluegrass and cotton-patch blues, with a rambunctious personality whose nature could barely be contained within the confines of either. Sam Phillips saw his as possessing almost unlimited potential, with all of the blues feeling he could put into a hillbilly song. What they got in the studio, complete with yelps, hiccoughs, and the propensity to stretch out his syllables like a damned gospel singer, was only a tenth of what Sam was convinced he had to offer. But Charlie, as Sam was equally well aware, could certainly test your patience. Or as Quinton Claunch, a great champion of Charlie's talent, put it, ''He was his own worst enemy. He didn't trust anybody. It was like he'd wake up in a new world every morning''. A world in which Quinton, ordinarily easygoing to a fault, just didn't want to pick up the phone sometimes, he got so sick of listening to Charlie's bullshit.

It didn't really matter anyway. Neither Sun nor Flip could do anything for Charlie at this point, any more than the label could do anything for the Miller Sisters, even though Sam was determined to keep trying. Just as he was determined to keep trying with the few blues acts he still had left on his roster.


Elvis Presley is the opening act on the bill at the Memphis Civic Auditorium. Faron Young, the Wilburn Brothers, and Ferlin Husky star on the show. Presley then tours Cleveland and New Orleans with Jimmy Work and Bud Deckelman.

Ekko Records is launched in California. A Memphis office is established under the operation   of Red Matthews.

The first records on Sam Phillips' Flip label are released during February and March. Flip   501 is "Movie Magg" b/w ''Turn Around'' by Carl Perkins, a single that Sam Phillips had been holding for some time, and Flip 502 is a novelty item called "Split Personality" featuring a gravel-voiced piano player named Smokey Joe Baugh whose vocals alternated with crooner Bill Taylor on ''Lonely Sweetheart''. Sam Phillips was crazy about the Carl Perkins record, to him ''Turn Around'' was a deeply felt as anything that Hank Williams had ever done, and ''Split Personality'' just tickled him, with the smooth-voiced singer murmuring ''I love you'', while the other, the dark side of the split personality, is snarling ''I hate you'', in that deep, guttural voice. He was intrigued by the possibilities of exploiting that voice, which seemed to have been influenced by the singer's exposure to Howlin' Wolf, whom Smokey Joe Baugh, along with the rest of the band, had met in the course of their broadcasts on KWEM in West Memphis. But neither record did a thing without the benefit of any real distribution or promotion.


Charlie Feathers (left) and Quinton Claunch (right). >

FEBRUARY 1955

In a very sense, Charlie Feathers has been his own worst enemy. Chewing the fat between  sets at countless low-life nightclubs over the last two decades, Feathers recounts the  origins of rockabilly music and the ''Sun sound'' with a strangely skewed perspective, in  which one Charles Arthur Feathers plays a starring role. But his larger-than-life boasting  merely eclipses the simple fact that the man was a superb stylist who made a handful of  brilliant records.

Feathers never really became more than an underground figure in his adopted hometown.  Until recently (1992), his convictions for gambling outnumbered mentions of his music in  the files of the local newspapers. Yet for a few months in 1956 it seemed as though  Feathers might indeed take a place alongside Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and possibly even  Elvis Presley. But a mixture of impatience, bad luck, and worse judgment brought him  back to the bitter reality of endless gigs at local bars, leaving him to eke out an existence  on the fringe of the local music scene. To compensate, he has evolved the Feathers  Mythology, elaborated with every retelling, in which he is finally a star.


Charlie Feathers was one of the first country artists to audition at Sun after the initial success of Elvis Presley, although Feathers insists that he was at Sun before Elvis Presley. From the distance, it is impossible to piece together the true story of Feathers' association with Sam Phillips. A generous portion of bullshit certainly clouds Feathers' version. Only the quality of the music is not in doubt and the great pity is that so little of it has been preserved. The session tapes of the last three sessions have been recorded-over, although, by way of compensation there are three previously unissued gems on the sessions.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CHARLIE FEATHERS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAT FEBRUARY 2, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Within a year, the style of music heard on Feathers' first record would be an anachronism. but its last blooms were the strongest and loveliest. This was music of brilliant economy. ''Peepin' Eyes'' also reminds us that guys like Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, and Elvis Presley had an understanding of rhythm that came first-hand from African American musicians. Others could play fast, but Hank, Monroe, and Elvis swung. Feathers shared that innate understanding. Either Phillips and Claunch and Cantrell mixed the rhythm track way upfront, hurtling the song forward. ''Peepin' Eyes'' was Charlie's composition, but, for all its bounciness, it's s sinister piece, hinting at voyeurism and guilty little secrets. Reviewing it on April 30, 1955, Billboard was surprisingly prescient, saying, ''Indie Flip label has found itself a major piece of talent in Feathers. This is one of the few distinctive voices to emerge in a field that has long suffered from stereotypes. He's fresh, sincere, and most effective in handing a lyric''. Amen to that, in August 1956 Sam Phillips sent out royalty statement showing that ''Peepin' Eyes'' had sold 2585 copies. Its importance stemmed from the fact that it became a totemic item among rockabilly collectors, first in Europe and then worldwide, even if it's not rockabilly.

Artistically-speaking, Charlie Feathers walked a fine line somewhere between backwoods country and toothless rockabilly. By hanging out interminably at Sun, he pestered Sam Phillips into freeing-up some studio time to record his Appalachian-drenched "Peepin' Eyes". Here was a hint of things to come, like the high lonesome yelps and woops that would become the Feathers trademark. For now though, the side was considered fitting to be given just a trail release on the new Flip outlet. 

01 - "PEEPIN' EYES" - B.M.I. - 2:11
Composer: - Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 21 - Master
Recorded: - February 2, 1955
Released: - April 30, 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single Flip 503-B mono
PEEPIN' EYES / I'VE BEEN DECEIVED
Flip 503 also issued as Sun Records 78rpm standard single SUN 503
after legal action from the Flip label in Los Angeles.
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-26 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1


"Peepin' Eyes" is unusual in that it reveals few of Feathers' excessive rockabilly vocal tics, despite the fact that the material is uptempo. Its just as well since rockabilly purists would have disqualified this track on the basis of Bill Cantrell's omnipresent fiddle.

No-one should underestimate Charlie Feathers' importance. Charlie Feathers certainly does not underestimate it. He had a unique style that certainly borrowed some phrasing from Lefty Frizzell and some intensity from Hank Williams but was identifiably his own. He is primarily known as a rockabilly pioneer but Sam Phillips saw him as a pure country singer who could have rivaled George Jones if the circumstances had been different.

02 - "DEFROST YOUR HEART" - B.M.I. - 2:57
Composer: - William "Bill" Cantrell-Quinton Claunch
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Demo Version - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955
Released: - 1990
First appearance: Zu-Zazz Records (CD) 500/200rpm  ZCD 2011-5
ROCK-A-BILLY RARE & UNISSUED RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2005 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm SNAP 230-15 mono
CHARLIE FEATHERS - GONE, GONE, GONE

02 - "CRACY LOVE FOR YOU"*
Composer: - Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

03 - "BABY PAY ME NO MIND"*
Composer: - Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

04 - "I WANT TO GO WHERE THE GOOD GIRLS GO"*
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

05 - "PRETTY LITTLE FLOWER"*
Composer: - Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

06 - "HAMMER HAMMER"*
Composer: - Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

07 - "I FORGOR TO REMEMBER TO FORGET"*
Composer: - Charlie Feathers-Stan Kesler
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

* - Tapes have not been found and were probably re-used.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Charlie Feathers - Vocal and Guitar
Bill Cantrell - Fiddle
Marcus Van Story or William Diehl - Bass
Stanley Kesler - Steel Guitar
Quinton Claunch - Guitar

Unfortunately, his prolificacy coincided with near bankruptcy at Sun and once the chosen cuts from this session had been mastered, Sam Phillips recorded over the session tapes. All the unissued titles from this session have been lost.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



Jody Chastain, Charlie Feathers, Jerry Huffman >

THE ELVIS CONTROVERSY - Peter Guralnick’s book ''Lost Highway'' first alerted fans to Feathers’ more  sensational claims about rockabilly music and his alleged role in Presley’s success. Feathers told Guralnick  he arranged all of Presley’s Sun material and gave Jerry Lee Lewis the idea for his "pumpin' piano" sound.  They are among many claims Feathers made throughout his lifetime which are difficult to disprove or  believe, though testimony exists on both sides.


Stan Kesler, who played on dozens of Sun sessions, told contemporary musicians, "I never saw him work in  the studio with Elvis at all. I really don’t think that's true, to tell you the truth''. He grudgingly allowed, "He  might’ve worked with him when I wasn't looking''. Presley's 1950-1960s drummer D.J. Fontana was asked  by contemporary musicians if Elvis ever talked about Feathers during their many long hours on the road  together. "He never mentioned him one time, at no time'', later adding, "If his name had come up I would've  remembered it because I was familiar with him and a lot of other guys. I never heard Elvis say anything  about learning from anybody. He just sang what he felt like singing and that was the end of it''. In Craig  Morrison’s book ''Go Cat Go! Rockabilly Music and Its Makers'', Presley sideman Scotty Moore stated that  Feathers was constantly in and out of the studio but was not a factor on Presley's sessions.

Both Jimmy M. Van Eaton and Roland Janes arrived at Sun after Charlie Feathers left, but played on all of  Jerry Lee Lewis’s most important sessions. As with all of Feathers' associates contacted by contemporary  musicians, they admire Feathers' talent and believe he knew what rockabilly was all about, but are hesitant to  believe his claims, including former Sun rockabilly artist Sonny Burgess. It’s important to note that author  Guralnick himself barely referred to Feathers in his exhaustively researched, best-selling biographies on the  life of Elvis Presley.

Yet Feathers’ wife Rosemary has related clear memories of the early days to her daughter, Wanda Vanzant.  "We were living on Pauline Street here in Memphis and Elvis would come by in an old black pick-up truck  and pick my dad up and they would go to the studio and stay all day'', Wanda Vanzant told Contemporary  Musicians. "We did not have a car and my mother had to catch the bus to go to her job downtown and she  would always catch the bus back and get off in front of the studio at 9:00 p.m. just about every night, and she  and my dad would walk home together. Sometimes she would have to wait on him to finish whatever they  were doing in the studio. Sometimes when (Elvis) would pick my dad up they would go to the fan club  house. Shirley, president of my dad’s fan club, has told me that Elvis had a little crush on a girl that was  living across from them''.

Further, in the liner notes for Norton's ''Uh Huh Honey'' CD, no less a figure than country legend Johnny  Cash recalls Charley Feathers running the board during Elvis Presley's "Baby Let's Play House" session.  More controversially, in ''Rockabilly - A Forty Year Journey'' author Billy Poore claims that he has heard  Feathers' private collection of Sun session tapes featuring the distinct voices of Charley Feathers, Elvis  Presley, and Sam Phillips working together. In a stranger twist, Wanda Vanzant reports that no Sun studio  tapes exist in her late father’s archives. With so many conflicting stories, it’s unlikely that there will be a  definitive explanation of what Feathers did or didn’t do at the Sun studio.

FEBRUARY 3, 1955 THURSDAY

Carl Smith recorded ''Wicked Lies'', ''Old Lonesome Times'', ''I've Changed'' and ''There She Goes'' during  the evening at the Tulane Hotel's Castle Studio in Nashville.

FEBRUARY 4, 1955 FRIDAY

Rhythm and blues vocalist Al Hibbler recorded ''Unchained Melody''. The pop hit is destined to reach hit  status in country twice, in the hands of Elvis Presley and LeAnn Rimes.

FEBRUARY 5, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley recorded ''Baby, Let's Play House'' at Memphis' Sun Recording Studio.

FEBRUARY 6, 1955 SUNDAY

Back in Memphis, Elvis Presley performed two shows, at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. at Ellis Auditorium's North  Hall in a show "Five Star" bill, with headlined by Faron Young.

The concert also featured "Beautiful Gospel Singer" Martha Carson making her Memphis debut, Ferlin  Husky (who dropped the "e" in his last name a year later), the Browns, the Hushpuppies Doyle and Teddy,  Floyd Tillman, and the Wilburn Brothers. Admission was $1.00 for general admission seats to $1.25 for the  best seats.

The first show went fine. Elvis Presley sang his new song, "Milkcow Blues Boogie" and "You're A  Heartbreaker", as well as "That's All Right" and "Good Rockin' Tonight". Elvis Presley was fascinated, too,  with the performance of Martha Carson, a spectacular redhead who looked like a movie star and sang and  moved like Sister Rosetta Tharpe when she performed her trademark hit, "Satisfied" and a host of traditional  "coloured" spirituals. She broke several strings, danced ecstatically at the end of a long guitar chord, and in  general created the kind of smouldering intensity and infectious enthusiasm that Elvis sought to achieve in  his own performance. He asked Miss Carson afterward if she knew a particular Statesmen number, and he  made it clear that "He knew the words to every song that I had ever had out", Martha Carson. "He was very  complimentary and very interest in what I did. I could feel this was sincere, it was from the heart, it wasn't  just someone saying this, he just really idolized me, and I could feel it".

Elvis Presley meets for the first time with Colonel Tom Parker at Palumbo's, across the street from Memphis'  Ellis Auditorium, where he performs two shows with Faron Young, Martha Carson, Ferlin Husky and The  Wilburn Brothers.

The meeting at Palumbo's did not get off to an auspicious start. The tension in the air was already make when  Elvis Presley and Scotty Moore walked in. Colonel Tom Parker was sitting there with a big cigar, his jaw  thrust out, and a pugnacious expression on his face, as Diskin tried to explain to Sam Phillips that the  Colonel didn't really mean anything against the Sun label in particular, that he was just trying to point out the  shortcoming that would attach to any small record label, which necessarily lacked the kind of distribution  that a major company like RCA, with which the Colonel had been associated for many years through both  Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow, could offer.

Later in the week, Tom Diskin, among others subjects, wrote RCA's head of Artists of Repertoire, Steve  Sholes, to report that ''Elvis Presley is pretty securely tied up''. The off-handed remark took Sholes by  surprise, as the Colonel had given him the impression that it was likely they could sign him to RCA.

FEBRUARY 7, 1955 MONDAY

The Maddox Brothers and Rose recorded ''A Rusty Old Halo''. The song become a hit for Hoyt Axton two  dozen years later.

Columbia released Carl Smith's ''Wait A Little Longer Please, Jesus''.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR RUDY GRAYZELL
FOR CAPITOL RECORDS 1955

UNKNOWN STUDIO AND LOCATION, DALLAS, TEXAS
CAPITOL SESSION: TUESDAY FEBRUARY 8, 1955
SESSION HOURS: 3860
PRODUCER & RECORDING ENGINEER – KEN NELSON

In February 1955, Ken Nelson brought future Sun recording artist Rudy Grayzell back to the studio for his second and last capitol session. The Kool Kats were augmented by a saxophonist. The one single from the session coupled Rudy's ''Heart Of Stone'' clone, ''Please Big mama'' with Ralph Yaw's ''My Spirit Is Willing''. Yaw had written arrangements for Capitol's avant-garde jazzman Stan Kenton, so ''My Spirit Is Willing'' was probably a tune that Nelson had picked up in Los Angeles. Two more songs from the session, the Clovers inspired ''Yes daddy Yes'' and ''Be Mine Forever'', make their first appearance here. Once again, the session was daringly electric with doo wop harmonics, jazzy instrumentation, and vocals that Billboard called ''Johnnie Ray in cowboy boots''.

01 – ''MY SPIRIT IS WILLING'' – B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Charlie Aldrich
Publisher: - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 13446 – Take 16
Recorded: - February 8, 1955
Released: - June 1955
First appearance: - Capitol Records (S) 45rpm Capitol F 3149 A mono
MY SPIRIT IS WILLING / PLEASE BIG MAMA
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837 AH-12 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

02 – ''PLEASE BIG MAMA'' – B.M.I. - 3:03
Composer: - Rudy Gray
Publisher: - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 13447 – Take 5
Recorded: - February 8, 1955
Released: - June 1955
First appearance: - Capitol Records (S) 45rpm Capitol F 3149 B mono
PLEASE BIG MAMA / MY SPIRIT IS WILLING
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837-7 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

03 – ''BE MINE FOREVER'' – B.M.I. - 3:02
Composer: - Rudy Gray
Publisher: - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 13448 – Take 14 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 8, 1955
Released: - 2010
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837-14 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

04 – ''YES DADDY YES'' – B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Rudy Gray
Publisher: - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 13449 – Take 14 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 8, 1955
Released: - 2010
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837-8 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

Name (or. No. Of Instruments)
Rudy Grayzell (as Rudy Gray) – Vocal
Charlie Harris - Guitar
Wayne Wood – Steel Guitar
Joe Pruneda or Bobby Brown - Bass
Gerald Carner or Kermit Baca - Drums
Rusty Hornbeak – Fiddle
Ernie Cortez - Saxophone
Unidentified – Vocal Chorus

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


FEBRUARY 12, 1955 SATURDAY

Hawkshaw Hawkins and Jean Shepard appear with host Red Foley on ABC-TV's music series ''Ozark Jubilee''. 

FEBRUARY 14, 1955 MONDAY

Decca released Kitty Well's double-sided ''Makin' Believe'' and ''Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On''.

FEBRUARY 15, 1955 TUESDAY

Sun cheque that was made out to Malcolm Yelvington in 1955 for $37.43 for royalties. >

FEBRUARY 16, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley opens for Hank Snow in Odessa, Texas, where the audience includes one Roy Orbison.

FEBRUARY 17, 1955 THURSDAY

The Wilburn Brothers recorded ''I Wanna Wanna Wanna''.

FEBRUARY 18, 1955 FRIDAY

Congress authorizes president Dwight Eisenhower to award a gold medal to songwriter Irving Berlin. Among Berlin's compositions is ''Blue Skies'', which becomes a country hit for Willie Nelson in 1978.

The movie ''Timberjack'', featuring Sterling Hayden and Chill Wills, appears in theaters. The cast includes ''Georgia On My Mind'' songwriter Hoagy Carmichael as a saloon pianist.

FEBRUARY 19, 1955 SATURDAY

Fabor Robison announces he's given Jim Reeves his release from Abbott Records in exchange for all of Reeves' future Abbott royalties. The announcement comes not quite three weeks after the two argued in the recording studio with a handgun.

FEBRUARY 22, 1955 TUESDAY

Elvis Presley performs a sold-out show in Hope, Arkansas, the home of nine-year-old Bill Clinton. Presley gets his first pink Cadillac stuck in mud in a two-car caravan that includes June Carter and Justin Tubb.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR SLIM RHODES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 23, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCERS AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Bandleader Slim Rhodes had been a broadcasting veteran around the mid-South since 1950, both on radio and TV with regular slots over WMCTV in Memphis and KATV in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Sponsored by Mother's Best Flour, the shows were truly provincial - steel-player John Hughey was hired after Slim announced on TV that a slot was vacant in his band. "Uncertain Love" captures the last vestiges of old-country which were then disappearing over the musical horizon.

In 1955, Sam Phillips recorded the Slim Rhodes band again, this time for Sun. Despite a similar line-up to that of the Gilt-Edge era, the sound of the band was now much more hillbilly influenced. Subsequent sessions developed further, toward a rockabilly sound, and Slim's vocalists changed from the swing balladeers (Slim, Dusty and Brad) to rockabillies like Sandy Brooks and Hayden Thompson.

01 - "DON'T BELIEVE"** - B.M.I. - 2:15
Composer: - Brad Suggs-Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 144 - Master
Recorded: - February 23, 1955
Released: - April 1, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 216-A mono
DON'T BELIEVE / UNCERTAIN LOVE
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3-25 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1


The Slim Rhodes Band. From left (top): Sandy Brooks, Slim Rhodes, John Hughey.  From left (bottom): Speck Rhodes, Dot Rhodes, Dusty Rhodes. >


The Slim Rhodes band was an institution in Memphis, known for radio and TV shows, as well as personal appearances. Although these were the first Rhodes sides issued by the Sun label, the band was no stranger to the Sun studio. In 1950, Sam Phillips had held two separate sessions with Slim, Dusty, Spec and all the gang.


Four singles were leased to the Gilt-Edge label that reflected the state of Memphis hillbilly music circa 1950: a mixture of weepers and hillbilly boogie. There would be four Sun singles by Slim Rhodes.

The first three would continue to reflect that tradition.  Here, Brad Suggs, whose guitar work is known to many Sun fans, takes the vocal on "Don't Believe". The steel guitar player is John Hughey, who later made a reputation as a fixture in Conway  Twitty's touring band, and later played some recordings for Elvis Presley. The ebullient Hughey often kept the audience's attention while the tongue-tied Twitty confined himself to singing. The electric guitar work on this track reveals that Luther Perkins' style was not invented out of whole cloth. ''Slim's steel guitar player, Rocky Caple, had gotten called into the Army in 1953'', recalled Hughey. ''Harold and I always watched their TV show every week. After Rocky left for the Army, Slim started advertising on TV for a steel player. Harold started in on me trying to get me to go and audition for the job, and I kept saying, 'I'm not good enough to play with those guys'. After about two months he talked me into it. Harold called Slim and made an appointment to go up and do an audition. Harold carried me to Memphis, and I played a few instrumentals and Harold sang a couple of songs. That was on a Monday night, and the following Thursday they called and told me to pack my suitcase and guitar and meet them at some little town in Mississippi. I forgot the name of the town. That was March the 12th in 1953''. Brad Suggs takes the vocal on ''Don't Believe'', which is a fairly ordinary country song. Billboard reviewed the disc in May 1955 describing it as ''a routine plea for proper understanding''.

On "Uncertain Love" for the first time, Dusty Rhodes combined with his wife, Dot, to deliver this very pleasant hillbilly vocal. Dot had taken over from Bea Rhodes who had been the original girl member of the group through the early 1940s. Dot was featured in surviving radio air-shots from 1948. The theme of ''Uncertain Love'' was nothing new and the composition itself was almost a paint-by-numbers Hank Williams soundlike. However, the years that Dusty and Dot had sung together obviously bore fruit here in their unerring harmonies. The new boy on the block, John Hughey, contributed some lovely work on the steel guitar. Billboard showed the disc in the Memphis country Top 5 that May along with Webb Pierce, Hank Snow, Eddy Arnold and Charlie Feathers, and decided that the group had ''strong talent''.

02 - "UNCERTAIN LOVE"* - B.M.I. - 2:12
Composer: - Dusty Rhodes-Dottie Rhodes
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - U 145 - Master
Recorded: - February 23, 1955
Released: - April 1, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 216-B mono
UNCERTAIN LOVE / DON'T BELIEVE
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3-26 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1


''House Of Sin'' was the Rhodes Band's second release to appear on the Sun label and it features a strongly moralistic tone, consistent with music hillbilly music of the era. Dusty and Dot Rhodes have worked up a lovely vocal harmony on the chorus and after the third hearing of ''A baby cries...'' its hard not to understand the meaning of the songwriter's term ''hook''. This side might have contended for wider attention had Sun's promotional and distribution efforts supported it. Nevertheless, Rhodes sold well in and around Memphis, where his band was well known via radio and TV appearances.

03 - "THE HOUSE OF SIN"*/** - B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Brad Suggs-Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 158 - Master
Recorded: - February 23, 1955
Released: - August 1, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 225-A mono
THE HOUSE OF SIN / ARE YOU ASHAMED OF ME
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4-13 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Guitarist Brad Suggs takes the spotlight on ''Are You Ashamed Of Me''. His singing has almost no trace of Hillbilly in it, only the wonderful fiddle playing from Dusty Rhodes takes us back into the country. This is supper club country music. Perhaps the more sophisticated city listeners that Slim catered to demanded this type of material. From this distance, it's hard to tell. At its best, the country music that Phillips recorded can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up with its chilling backwoods intensity. On that count, this recording fails but it probably sold well to Slim's television audience.

04 - "ARE YOU ASHAMED OF ME"** - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - Brad Suggs-Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 159 - Master
Recorded: - February 23, 1955
Released: - August 1, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 225-B mono
ARE YOU ASHAMED OF ME / THE HOUSE OF SIN
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4-14 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ether Cletus ''Slim'' Rhodes - Vocal and Guitar
Dusty Rhodes - Vocal* and Fiddle
Dorothy ''Dot'' Rhodes Moore - Vocal*
Perry Hillburn ''Dusty;; Rhodes - Vocal* and Fiddle
Luther Bradley ''Pee Wee'' Suggs - Vocal** and Guitar
John Hughey - Steel Guitar
Gilbert Ray ''Spec'' Rhodes – Bass

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


FEBRUARY 24, 1955 THURSDAY

Eddy Arnold presents a special album to the Library of Congress designed by RCA commemorating 30 million records sold.

FEBRUARY 25, 1955 FRIDAY

Webb Pierce recorded ''I Don't Care'' in Nashville at the Castle Studio.

FEBRUARY 26, 1955 SATURDAY

The Louvin Brothers join the Grand Ole Opry,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Lillie Williams, Hank Williams' mother, dies in Montgomery, Alabama.

Five years after scoring a hit as the writer of Margaret Whiting and Jimmy Wakely's ''Let's Go To Church (Next Sunday Morning)''. Steve Allen shares the cover of TV Guide with Judy Holliday.

FEBRUARY 28, 1955 MONDAY

Capitol released Faron Young's double-sided hit, ''Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young'' and ''Forgive Me, Dear''.

MARCH 1955

Despite his early success with recording black music, Sam Phillips did not abandon the idea  of producing successful country records. He continued to try his luck with country artists  during the same period that Elvis Presley's emerging success was drawing national attention  to the Sun label.

Bo Diddley recordings "Bo Diddley" and "I'm A Man" for Chess Records subsidiary Checker  Records, introducing his trademark guitar styling and African Rhythms to rock and roll.

Flip 502 ''Split Personality'' b/w ''Lonely Sweet Heart'' by Bill Taylor and The Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranche Boys issued.

MARCH 2, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Jay Osmond is born in Ogden, Utah. With four brothers, he forms The Osmonds, a pop family group that succeeds in the 1970s, then shifts into country, getting a hit with ''I Think About Your Lovin'''. They back Conway Twitty on ''Heartache Tonight''.

Claudette Colvin (15) was arrested for violating Alabama bus segregation laws on March 2, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CHARLIE FEATHERS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY MARCH 2, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

The ghost of Hank Williams clearly presided over this hand-me-down-Hank number. The melody is lifted almost note-for-note from ''Honky Tonk Blues'' and the backing has more than a few shades of the Drifting Cowboys. However, it shows that Feathers had assimilated everything that Hank Williams had to offer and distilled it into his own style. This is simply a wonderful performance. It was discovered at the tail end of a tape containing material by Bill Cantrell who had recorded over one of Feathers' session tapes but not quite reached the end. Phillips' wretched financial shape in 1954 and 1955 surely had no more distressing consequence than he need to re-use session tapes after the chosen cuts had been mastered.

01 - "RUNNIN' AROUND" - B.M.I. - 2:05
Composer: - Traditional - Arranged by Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None- Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 2, 1955
Released: - November 1986 (as "Bunnin' Around")
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-5-1 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-3-12 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

02(1) - "I'VE BEEN DECEIVED" - B.M.I. - 3:17
Composer: - Quinton Claunch-Bill Cantrell
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 1 - Not Originally Issued 
Recorded: - March 2, 1955
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-5-2 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-3-13 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

This recently discovered alternate take shows that Feathers had already had a very good idea of how he intended to deliver his vocal but the backing group was still feeling their way though the song. Stan Kesler's standout steel guitar work underwent some changes before the final version was committed to tape. In fact, this take is primarily a duet between Kesler and Feathers.

While Quinton Claunch and Bill Cantrell supplied the Bible Belt gloom of "I've Been Deceived" (Flip 503) it was Feathers who composed the sly and sometimes sinister "Peepin' Eyes" on the reverse. Remove Bill Cantrell's fiddle and switch Stan Kesler from steel guitar and the result would be rockabilly of a very strange kind.


This balled side of this ultra-rare record reveals the depth of Charlie Feathers' country soul. It has become clear to many Sun fans that if Feathers deserves an enduring reputation, it is as a hillbilly singer, not a rockabilly. It is truly in the former style that the distinctive features of his voice are best expressed. Long overshadowed by his mannered rockabilly work, Feathers; country ballads are true originals. Yes, he was influenced by Hank Williams, but on "I've Been Deceived" Feathers stretches beyond the boundaries of William's style and forges his own distinct sound.

Perhaps more than anything, this song is a vehicle for Feathers' wonderful phrasing. He would add any number of little filigrees and embroider the lyrics in ways that still hold the sound of surprise. There is not a level on which this song does not succeed. The lyrics have it all from the depths of self-pity to divine retribution, and Feathers sells every word. Once again, Stan Kesler is outstanding. The bassist on this occasion was William Diehl, a friend of Sam Phillips who had even considered buying a stake in Sun Records but lacked the upfront cash that Phillips needed.

02(2) - "I'VE BEEN DECEIVED" - B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Quinton Claunch-Bill Cantrell
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 20 - Master
Recorded: - March 2, 1955
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single Flip 503-A mono
I'VE BEEN DECEIVED / PEEPIN' EYES
Flip 503 also issued as Sun Records 78rpm standard single SUN 503 mono
after legal action from the Flip label in Los Angeles.
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-25 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

02(3) - "I'VE BEEN DECEIVED" - B.M.I. - 3:17
Composer: - Quinton Claunch-William "Bill" Cantrell
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - False Start - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 2, 1955
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Zu-Zazz Records (CD) 500/200rpm ZCD 2011-7 mono
THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION OF RARE AND UNISSUED RECORDINGS 1954 - 1973
Reissued: - 2005 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm  SNAP 230 CD-14 mono
GONE, GONE, GONE

Unfortunately, his prolificacy coincided with near bankruptcy at Sun and once the chosen cuts from this session had been mastered, Sam Phillips recorded over the session tapes. All the unissued titles from this session have been lost.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Charlie Feathers - Vocal and Guitar
Bill Cantrell - Fiddle
Stanley Kesler - Steel Guitar
Quinton Claunch - Guitar
William Diehl - Bass

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



MARCH 5, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley makes his television debut on Louisiana Hayride.  Elvis Presley appeared on that portion of the "Louisiana Hayride" which was telecast by Shreveport, Louisiana, station KWKH-TV, the local CBS affiliate. This was Elvis' first TV performance, and he was introduced on the show by Horage Logan. Elvis' previous "Louisiana Hayride" shows were broadcast on radio only. Even over the radio, the ovation greetings his arrival was spectacular.


Elvis set seemed to change very little, despite the Hayride's edict that performers maintain a fresh repertoire, ''Tweedlee Dee'', ''Money Honey'', and ''Shake Rattle And Roll'' were not Elvis' own records, but they had become mainstays in his concert repertoire, and the Hayride as well.  This Saturday evening, Elvis had added another of his Clovers favourite, an enthusiastic version of their 1954 rhythm and blues hit, ''Little Mama''.


MARCH 1955

On March 14, 1955, Sam Phillips had his first exposure to the Miller Sisters. What he saw during their first meeting were two young women from Mississippi whose warmth and closeness were reflected in their harmonies. They were pretty and had a appealing honesty about them that shone through in their music. Phillips was immensely impressed. Mildred ''Millie'' Miller was the younger of the two sisters-in-law. She was barely 17 years old. Elsie Jo, who preferred to be known simply as Jo, was married to Millie's older brother Roy. Roy Estes Miller was born on October 16, 1921 in Nettleton, Mississippi and he married Jo in 1944. Millie Miller was noted down as being Mildred Wages when it came time for Sun to do the paperwork. Roy Miller was a fine singer who played guitar and wrote songs. Occasionally the three of them harmonised, but it was the stark purity of the duet that impressed Phillips most. He decided there and then to try his luck recording them. Their first release on the Flip label appeared barely three weeks after it was taped. Flip records were essentially non-union productions, designed for local consumption. The distinction between Flip and Sun was really never clear, and only five Flip singles were ever issued. The Miller Sisters were in good company; other Flip artists included Carl Perkins, Charlie Feathers, and Rosco Gordon.

MARCH 1955

Over the next two years, Sam Phillips recorded over a dozen titles with the Miller Sisters, as well as using them as backup singers on sessions by Glenn Honeycutt and Cast King. Three single records by the duet were released during the mid-1950s. Two previously unissued titles appeared during the 1970s. The Miller Sisters made their final record for Sun in 1956. One side, ''Ten cats Down'', shows their attempt to grapple with the undeniable forces of rock and roll. By then, Sun was heavely committed to rockabilly and had a roster of artists who were more comfortable with the idiom than Jo and Millie. Their contract was minated in 1957. The Miller Sisters were essential a pure country act at a time when pure country music was becoming harder to sell.

Jo and Millie went on singing and appearing locally until 1957, when Millie left for Indiana. For all intents and purposes, the Miller Sisters entered the realm of history on that afternoon as Millie's bus headed north. Jo stayed in Mississippi with Roy and their sons, while 20 year old Millie headed for a new life without music in alien territory.

MARCH 7, 1955 MONDAY

Decca released Al Hibbler's pop hit ''Unchained Melody''. The song finds new life in country music later, becoming a hit in 1978 for Elvis Presley and again in 1997 for LeAnn Rimes.

Capitol released Ferlin Husky's ''Cuzz Yore So Sweet'', under the alias Simon Crum.

The Broadway musical “Peter Pan” was broadcast live on NBC-TV. The occasion marked the first time a stage musical was performed on television in almost the exact same way it was performed on stage. The live performance featured most of the original Broadway cast, including Peter Pan portrayer Mary Martin, and it aired only a few days after the show’s run on Broadway ended. It was shown as a part of a show called “Producer’s Showcase” and drew in 65 million viewers, the largest single episode television audience in history at that time. Actress Mary Martin also won an Emmy for her performance in the live television production of Peter Pan.

MARCH 11, 1955 FRIDAY

Jimmy Fortune is born in Nelson Country, Virginia. He replaces Lew DeWill in The Statler Brothers in 1982, writing their hits ''Elizabeth'' and ''My Only Love''. The Statlers enter the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.


It was always a mystery to everyone connected with Sun's little operation why the Millers Sisters were not a resounding success. The portents seemed to be good: singing sister acts were in vogue in both country and popular music, the girls could handle almost any type of material, and they were good. In fact, they were exceptionally good. Their harmony was unerring. This first retrospective of their work shows that Elsie Jo and Millie, actually sister-in-law, were a top class act who just could not fulfill their promise. Their siren song has never been more than a by-word among the few.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR THE MILLER SISTERS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY MARCH 14, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

The two Millers Sisters were two fine vocalists from Tupelo, Mississippi, were in fact sister-in-law, Elsie having married Mildred's brother, guitarist Roy Estes Miller. To begin with they performed as a trio, which was how they presented themselves at Sun when Sam Phillips first showed an interest early in 1955. Their first single "Someday You Will Pay" (as yet another release on the company's Flip ancillary) skips along with an abundance of charm, proffering as it does a back porch bib and braces rhythm.

"The Miller Sisters had just the greatest harmony I've ever heard", recalled Sam Phillips, "it was along the line of the Davis Sisters but it was natural to them. Roy Miller was the leader on the sessions and his wife's name was Jo. His sister was Millie and it was the two girls who did the harmony so well. Roy played a guitar, and I used local musicians to add to the group, people like Bill Cantrell, Quinton Claunch, and some others. We had a pretty good country houseband through 1954 and 1955. People like the Miller Sisters didn't have a stand alone band as such, so I set up a band with Bill Cantrell that we could call at any time. Bill and I grew up in the same area, out on Florence, Alabama. Bill was a fiddle player. Later on he started the Hi label here in Memphis".


The Miller Sisters:   Elsie Jo Miller and    Mildred ''Millie'' Wages in Memphis City Park, Memphis, Tennessee, during a break from the second recording session at Sun, July 1955. >

"Someday You Will Pay" and "You Didn't Think I Would" was a powerful debut disc for The Millers Sisters. The top side was honest, spirited and rural - qualities that have all but disappeared from country music. The entire proceedings have the sound and feel of a back country dance. Unquestionably, part of the side's flair and drive comes from Charlie Feathers' virtuoso performance on the spoons.


Although credited to Roy Miller, "You Didn't Think I Would" was written by Jo and Millie on the way back from a gig in Roy's car. It's a fairly conventional country weeper with some faily strong feminist sentiments in an era where such possibilities were all but unknown. The prospect that Roy Miller could or would have cranked out lyrics like these is utterly hilarious. The big surprise here is that material like this could have come from the heart and mind of sweet 17 year old Millie Miller.

01 - "SOMEDAY YOU WILL PAY"* - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Roy Estes Miller
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Knox Music Ltd
Matrix number: - F 22 - Master
Recorded: - March 14, 1955
Released: - April 30, 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single Flip 504-A mono
SOMEDAY YOU WILL PAY / YOU DIDN'T THINK I WOULD
Flip 504 also issued as Sun Records 78rpm standard single SUN 504
after legal action from the Flip label in Los Angeles.
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-27 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1


Although credited to Roy Miller, "You Didn't Think I Would" was written by Jo and Millie in Roy's car on the way back from a local gig. Its a family conventional country weeper with some nascent feminist sentiments. The surprise is that potent material like this could have come from the heart and mind of sweet, 17 year old Millie Miller. Despite its origins, the sisters-in-law perform it convincingly to the sound of Claunch/Cantrell Sun hillbilly backing.

02 - "YOU DIDN'T THINK I WOULD" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Jo Miller-Mildred Miller
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 23 - Master
Recorded: - March 14, 1955
Released: - April 30, 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single Flip 504-B mono
YOU DIDN'T THINK I WOULD / SOMEDAY YOU WILL PAY
Flip 504 also issued as Sun Records 78rpm standard single SUN 504
after legal action from the Flip label in Los Angeles.
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-28 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

03 - "LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO MY HEART
Composer: - Jo Miller-Mildred Miller
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 14, 1955

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elsie Jo Miller - Duet Vocal
Mildred Wages - Duet Vocal
Roy Estes Miller - Guitar
Quinton Claunch - Guitar
Bill Cantrell - Fiddle
Stanley Kesler - Steel Guitar
Marcus Van Story - Bass
Charlie Feathers - Spoons*

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Mildred ''Millie'' Miller (Wages) and  Elsie Jo Miller (right) >

The following story stems from material derived from the correspondence between Sun Records historian  Hank Davis and Jo and Millie as well as an extended conversation with Millie at his home in Canada: The  Miller Sisters got their start while Millie was still quite young. She recalled, ''When I was a kid we listened to  Hank Williams. We used to listen to the radio at night. On weekends we listened to the Opry. If the battery  went dead on the radio, God forbid, it was a catastrophe. Neither of my parents played any instruments but  my dad would sing all the time''.

''My mother sang in church. I was real small when Jo and Roy got married. Jo  is ten years older than me. I have two older brothers. Roy is in his sixties.  It was Roy who was the ambitious  one for the Miller Sisters. He pushed us a lot. Of course, he didn't have to push that hard, but he really  pushed us more than he had to. And that sometimes made us not want to do it even though we loved it. If we  had a practice that night, I couldn't go out on a date. Ray was a very good singer but no one wanted Roy after  they heard us. He never recorded, never got a chance. Maybe that's why he pushed us so hard. I don't think it  was for the money''.

Roy managed the Miller Sisters throughout their career although an interesting alternative appeared early on.  ''At one point, Col. Tom Parker saw us perform and came over afterwards. He wanted to manage us and take  over out careers. Roy turned him down because he thought he could do a better job of it himself. He really  didn't know what he was doing, as far as managing went. I can't blame him, he probably thought he was  doing right. And we couldn't question him. He was the type who thought he knew what he was doing. Other  men might have been able to question him, but not his wife and sister. Not at that time''.

It is hard for Millie or Jo to gauge the success of their Sun records. ''We never saw a cent. If there ever was  money, Jo and I never saw a penny of it. I don't even know if the records sold that well for there to have been  any money. Everyone around me was buying them, but that doesn't really count for much''. Millie recalls  three recording sessions for Sun, but there may have been more. Indeed, Jo remembered several additional  titles which weren't on the session logs and have not yet turned up in the tape inventory. ''We had an old  Jimmie Rodgers tune we did as a trio with my husband Roy. I believe it was called ''Listen To Me Mama''.  Also we had a trio gospel song called ''Believe In His Name''. I recall Millie and I recording ''Satisfied Mind''  and another gospel tune called ''I Saw A Man''. I'm sure there were more''.

Roy Miller arranged for the Miller Sisters to record for Sun. At the time, Roy, Millie and Jo had a daily half  hour radio program over WTUP in Tupelo. ''We did it live, Jo and I and Roy. Roy played the guitar and we  had another guy who played the fiddle. I used to play a little guitar too but never on records. I haven't played  in years. Anyway, the disc jockey gave Roy Sam Phillips' telephone number. He called to get an audition,  Actually, the audition turned out to be our first session''. The three hour trips to Memphis from Tupelo were  recalled vividly by Millie. ''We'd take Roy's old Buick. Roy would have his acoustic guitar and the three of  us would make the drive. We's sing all the way up. Not just what we were going to record, but anything. Out  of the blue, whatever came to us. When we got to the studio on Union Avenue, Sam would greet us at the  door. Very friendly guy. Usually the musicians were there already. Everything was set to go. Sometimes the  session would last all day''. The material by the Miller Sisters came from several sources. Roy wrote some,  and Jo and Millie wrote songs as well. Sometimes Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch contributed the song.  ''We lived in Memphis for a year or so later in our Sun career and it was easier then. During that time we had  a lot of dealings with Bill and Quinton''. Jo and Millie's versatility led to additional session work. In addition  to an early demo with Gene Simmons, also a Tupelo resident, the Miller Sisters sang backup for other Sun  artists. Their harmonies can be heard behind Glenn Honeycutt on Sun 264, ''I'll Wait Forever'' b/w ''I'll Be  Around''. Millie also recalled a project involving another male vocalist. ''At one point, Sam had us come in  and work with a male singer. It was an experiment. I can't remember his name, but he had a really great  voice. The three of us harmonised very well. We worked a lot with him. I wish I could remember his name.  He never made it. I vaguely remember what he looked like. He had brown hair, nice looking, and a little  chubby''. Jo was equally unsuccessful in recalling the mystery singer's name, although she immediately  recalled the song ''I Can't Find Time To Pray''. Subsequent research has identified the mystery singer as Cast  King.

Tracking down a clean copy of the Miller Sisters' official publicity picture became a major concern during  the original LP production, Millie recalled, ''There was one on the front desc when you walked into Sun.  There was a glass top over the desc and our picture was under it. They were taken because Sam was thinking  of doing an album with us. He sent us down to the Webbs. I remember they draped these black things around  our shoulders. It was supposed to look sexy''. An early photo of Scotty Moore reminded Millie of her  meeting with Elvis back when he and the Miller Sisters both recorded for the fledgling Sun label. ''I wasn't  crazy about Elvis as everyone else. I guess he struck me as very stuck up. Conceited. Expected the girls to  fall all over him. I always liked Carl Perkins' music better than Elvis or Johnny Cash's. I remember seeing  Elvis several times. Once was when he came into the studio to watch us recording. He was wearing his truck  driver suit. Sam introduced us but we didn't really talk. Another time we were playing on the same program  as Elvis in Saltillo, Mississippi. At a baseball gymnasium. Must have been in 1954. He came up to me  backstage and offered me pills. Aspirin, he said it was, but I don't think they were. He was really cocky. Very  nice looking man, you know, but I think he knew it. Seemed very sure of himself. He was the headliner of  the show then and we were both waiting to go on, just chatting, killing time backstage. When we went on,  Roy backed us up on stage and Scotty and Bill played for us too. I remember Elvis asking me to hold his  guitar and I said, 'Hold it yourself. I'm not your flunky'! And I walked away from him. 'Cause he was the  type to say 'Here, hold my guitar' and I wasn't about to. Even though I wanted to''.

Millie also recalled Johnny Bernero, who played drums on one of the Miller Sister's sessions, as well as  playing behind Elvis. ''I had a crush on him at the time. He played locally with Gene Steele. Gene was  known as the ''Singing Salesman''. He was sort of a Bill Monroe type. A high voice. Very popular in  Memphis, had a show on WMC. We toured around Memphis with Gene and Johnny Bernero. He was a very  good drummer. I think he played on ''Ten Cats Down''.


Millie had some interesting memories about how some of the Miller Sisters' material was written. ''Jo and I   wrote ''You Didn't Think I Would''. We wrote it in the back seat of a car going to Memphis. It turned out   pretty well. That's the way my brother Roy did a lot of his writing also. Just go off somewhere by himself, or   take a drive''. Davis pointed out to Millie that ''You Didn't Think I Would'' deals with divorce, a pretty gritty   topic for a 17 year old trying to be writing about. ''Well, its was from my heart. A lot of country music is  depressing. That's why it's so pretty. I think the only way you can sing from the heart is to have something   depressing to sing''.

Millie had a number of reactions to listening for the first time in decades to titles she and   Jo had recorded thirty years ago. ''Isle Of Golden Dreams''. I loved that one. I remember it was terrible to   sing. It had such a range. But it was pretty after you got it. I really had to do some tall singing there. ''Ten   Cats Down'' was a fun song. Either Bill or Quinton wrote it. We were living in Memphis when they wrote it.   We got together and decided to do it. We auditioned it for Sam and he decided to try it, then to put it out.   ''Woody''. I remember that stupid song. I think Roy wrote it. We must have gone through about ten takes of it.   It was a hard one to sing, actually, as I recall''. Hank Davis asked Jo about Charlie Feathers presence in the   studio and how he came to play spoons on ''Someday You Will Pay''. ''Charlie wasn't an old friend. We met   him for the first time at Sun. He was a very pleasant guy, always clowning around, seemed to always be in   the studio. I don't rightly know how he came to play the spoons. I suppose they were just trying different   sounds''. Jo recalled, ''I very remembered that Stan Kesler was a very good steel guitar player. The session   that had drums on it was Johnny Bernero. Scotty Moore also played on one or two of our sessions. Also   Elvis' bass player Bill Black. It also stands out in my memory that Blind Jimmie Smith played piano on some   tapes we made, and also Sonny Haley, the bass player who worked with Gene Steele on WMC in Memphis''.

In 1976, Millie and her family went back to Tupelo to live for a brief period. She recalled: ''There was a barn   dance down there, run by a guy named Archie Mackie. on Saturday night they'd set up a PA system, it was   amateur night. But a lot of the artists were good. He conned me and Jo into going on stage. He didn't have to   con me too much! We still had it. Our voices weren't as young as before, but we harmonized well. We always   had this thing, like mental telepathy. We could switch parts if we sensed the other was going to have trouble   hitting the note. We used that switching a lot on ''Finders Keepers''. We just know who was going to sing   what, where and when. I was usually the high part. Jo had a very low voice''.

Millie recalled some of the excitement and highlights of their brief recording career. ''I recall that once before   I moved to Indiana, I came north to visit my sister. Somewhere between Mississippi and Indiana the bus   made a rest stop and the waitress said to me, 'Aren't you one of the Miller Sisters'? I said 'Yes! How did you   know'? She said she'd seen us somewhere. That was kind of a thrill. Someone that far away knew about us.   Another high point was when we sang on the Louisiana Hayride. I had laryngitis so bad that night I knew I   wasn't going to be able to do it. I got up on stage and it suddenly disappeared. Lots of people. I was so high.   The more people, the better! I recall some of the other people playing on the Hayride that night: George   Jones, Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton. I remember after the show, Johnny Horton had a radio show and he  interview Jo and me. Jo never wanted to talk so it was always up to me to do the interview. Afterwards, we   went to a place where all the stars went to drink and be together. Jim Ed Brown was there with his sisters and   I danced with Little Jimmie Dickens. I thought I was little at the time. I can't recall if we were down there   plugging a record or what. I don't even remember the song we sang. But I remember we were dressed exactly   alike. Had little blue wedge teal plastic shoes on, little blue dresses. At the time that was anything. Roy paid   for the outfits, the whole thing. He wanted us to look nice. Roy had to wait off on the side. That wasn't good.   The trip back was pretty bad too. We drove straight from Louisiana to Mississippi. Shreveport to Tupelo.

Jo recalled some additional highlights of the Millers career. ''We played the Ernest Tubb Record Show in   Nashville. We also played on Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Day in Meridian, Mississippi. We followed Elvis on   that program. In fact, his band also baked us up. We also did some shows with Johnny Cash, Warren Smith   and George Jones. I think they were in Armory, Mississippi. We toured as well for Paul Johnson, the onetime   governor of Mississippi, and appeared on several TV shows in Memphis, Tupelo (WTWV), and   Meridian. Also, our radio show on WTUP in Tupelo for about two years''.

Millie had one noteworthy recollection of working a show with Hank Williams' group after his death. ''I   remember his wife Audrey. Terrible voice! Terrible voice! She sang her heart out, you know? She evidently   loved it but she... oh god, that voice. It would stop a clock. But she was bound and determined she was going   to sing. She sang quite a bit that day and everybody around was going 'oooh...'. Just terrible. But she was   very nice and friendly''.

Millie described the end of the Miller Sisters as a formal act. ''I stopped doing all of this singing with Jo right   before I came up to Indiana in 1957. We had stopped recording for Sun before that. Jo was like a sister for   me. We were so close, sometimes we could tell what the other was thinking. We both loved singing so much,   and it broke my heart when we stopped. Even now I want to sing so bad sometimes I almost cry''. There was   some additional recording after Sun, but it led to no releases. ''Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch had a small  studio. They had us come in and cut stuff for them. It never came out as far as I know. We cut a lot of tapes   that they kept. We recut some of the stuff we had done for Sun, and also did some new stuff they had   written''. (These recordings were presumably made for Hi Records, during its formative period. Presumably   all tapes of these sessions were lost, along with all Hi masters dating from before 1960, in a studio flood).

Millie carried virtually none of her musical experiences with her when she first came north to live. ''My life   had gotten really bad around 1957 right before I left. I needed to put it all out of my mind, get away from it.   There were some really bad times then. Some problems with Roy as well. I just needed to get away. The few   times I told friends up north about the recording, I don't think they really even believed me. I just stopped   talking about it and thinking about it. Music hasn't really been a part of my life for quite a few years. When I   listened to the tape of out music you made for me I almost cried. To hear those songs for the first time in 30   years... Little flashes came back. I could see myself in the studio with the earphones on. I could see Elvis   sitting over the corner listening to us records. I could see the musicians. One of the reasons I have trouble   remembering a lot of the details you ask about is that I was so into music. I just concentrated on singing. I   didn't really know what was going on around me. Nothing else mattered I loved it so much''.

Roy Estes Miller died in Satillo, Tupelo on September 6, 2001.

Hank Davis, July 1985


MARCH 15, 1955 TUESDAY

Fats Domino recorded ''Ain't It A Shame'' in Los Angeles. The song is later re-recorded as a country single, titled ''Ain't That A Shame'' by Hank Williams Jr. 

Elvis Presley amends his management contract with Bob Neal, signing a one-year deal that gives Neal 15%.

MARCH 17, 1955 THURSDAY

Paul Overstreet is born in Antioch, Mississippi. The singer/songwriter is a member of Schuyler, Knobloch and Overstreet before going solo. He also writes numerous hits for others, including ''On The Other Hand'' and ''Forever And Ever, Amen''.

Although Ray Campi played a style of music popularized by Elvis Presley, he didn’t go to any   of the three shows Presley played in town in 1955 at The Dessau Hall, the Sportcenter and   the Skyline, or the January 1956 show at the City Coliseum where Elvis opened for Hank   Snow.

''If you weren’t Elvis, you didn’t like Elvis, at the time'', Campi said. The Memphis Cat had   everything that eluded Campi, most notably fame, screaming girls and a fleet of brand new   Cadillacs.

But the first time Elvis Presley played in the area, at Dessau Hall on March 17, 1955, only   about 75 people showed up. The only disc jockey in town that had been playing his   records was KVET’s rhythm and blues jock Lavada Durst, so most people thought he was   black. And not many white kids went to black shows back then. 

MARCH 18, 1955 FRIDAY

In her role as Lucy Ricardo on CBS' ''I Love Lucy'', Lucille Ball is asked to write a story for Photoplay magazine about her marriage to Ricky Ricardo. The episode includes a version of ''Let Me Go, Lover!'', a country hit at the time for Hank Snow.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR MAGGIE SUE WIMBERLY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: FRIDAY MARCH 18, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - BILL CANTRELL
AND QUINTON CLAUNCH

Like Dolly Parton, country singer Maggie Sue began her professional career a bit younger than most. In Parton's case, she has spent most of her adult life trying to live down those horrid sides she left in Goldband's tape vaults. Maggie Sue had far less to be ashamed of. In truth, if you knew nothing about this record, you'd be unlikely to guess that the singer was barely a teenager when she recorded these sides.


Magie Sue Wimberly with Charlie Feathers' guitarist Jerry Huffman, Alabama 1956.

This was a competently crafted 'answer' record to Bud Deckelman's regional hit "Daydreamin'". Apart from the novelty of Maggie Sue's youth, or the marketing of an 'answer record', these sides provide a clear glimpse of the Memphis country sound circa 1954-55. It is a magic moment in music history. The crystal clear hillbilly sound heard here had all but vanished within a year. It is captured to perfection on this record:


Bill Cantrell's sawing fiddle, Stanley Kesler's melodic steel, and the muted walking guitar of Quinton Claunch. Claunch's work would live on in Luther Perkins' minimalist picking on Johnny Cash records, but the rest of the Memphis country sound was soon to disappear into the ether.

Maggie Sue didn't disappear with in, though. She reappeared as Sue Richards, scored a few country hits under her own name and for years sang backup for Tammy Wynette.

01 - "DAYDREAMS COME TRUE" - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Bill Cantrell-Quinton Claunch
Publisher: - Met Music
Matrix number: - U 167 - Master
Recorded: - March 18, 1955
Released: - December 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 229-A mono
DAYDREAMS COME TRUE / HOW LONG
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-1-1 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Maggie Sue Wimberly - Vocal
Bill Cantrell - Fiddle
Stanley Kesler - Steel Guitar
Quinton Claunch - Guitar
Marcus Van Story - Bass

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



Luther Perkins, Johnny Cash, Marshall Grant, circa 1955. >

MARCH 1955

Johnny Cash returned with Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant for a formal audition. At the  audition Cash sang ''I Was There When It Happened'', ''Belshazzar'' and ''I Don't Hurt  Anymore'', mainly gospel material. Sam, was impressed with Cash's voice and also the  limited guitar style of Luther Perkins.


Unfortunately he had no interest in recording religious  material and told Cash that he would be unable to market him as a religious artist and to go  away and write something different.

Johnny Cash went away and reworked a poem he had written during his time in the Air  Force and went back to Sun Records with ''Hey Porter''. With its train rhythm, simple  melody and strong lyrics it was an impressive debut. During a 1980 radio special Cash  spoke about the recording: "I did a song I wrote called ''Hey Porter'' that I had written on  the way home from Germany when I was discharged from the Air Force. And it was kind of  a daydreamin' kind of thing. I used a train as a vehicle in my mind to take me back home  and counting off the miles and the hours and minutes till I would get back home. It wasn't  to Tennessee though, it was to Dyess, Arkansas where my parents were still living at the  time''. The version included here is an early take and is noticeable when Luther falters  during the second instrumental break.

The session also produced an early version of ''Folsom Prison Blues'', another attempt at  ''Wide Open Road'' and ''Two Timin' Woman''. The four takes of ''Folsom Prison Blues''  included on this set are completely different to the released version. Here Cash uses a  high-pitched vocal style completely different to anything else he over recorded. Whilst  Cash may not have perfected his style on the song Luther most definitely had and his  guitar solo changed little over the years to come. It is interesting to note that these  versions do not feature the famous guitar introduction or closing notes that became the  songs trademark. Cash would go on to re-record the song a few weeks later.


MARCH 19, 1955 SATURDAY

The Ginger Rogers movie ''Tight Spot'' debuts in New York, with Lorne Green and songwriter/guitarist Doye  O'Dell also in the cast.

Elvis Presley performs at the eagle's Nest in Houston, Texas. Attending the show is future country singer  Tommy Overstreet.

MARCH 20, 1955 SUNDAY

''The Big Tip Off'' starring Richard Conte, debuts in movie theaters, with Spade Cooley appearing on screen.

MARCH 21, 1955 MONDAY

Johnny Cash has an unscheduled audition with producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis. Phillips  passes on the bulk of Cash's material, but after hearing ''Hey, Porter'', has the youngster come back the next  day to record.

MARCH 22, 1955 TUESDAY

James House is born in Sacramento, California. A songwriter on Diamond Rio's ''In A Week Or Two'',  Martina McBride's ''A Broken Wing'' and Dwight Yoakam's ''Ain't That Lonely Yet'', he earns a hit of his  own in 1995 with ''This Is Me Missing You''.

Coral Records hires disc jockey Alan Freed to run the label's A&R department. At the time, The McGuire  Sisters have a number 1 pop hit for the label with a song Freed co-wrote, ''Sincerely'', also future country hit  for The Forester Sisters.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOHNNY CASH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY MARCH 22, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Other titles recorded approx. this time. This is, of course, a landmark recording: Johnny Cash's first hit record for Sun Records, issued in June 1955. If nothing else, it reveals that the essential of Cash's style were fixed by the time he set foot in Sam Phillips' tiny studio. It also shows that Sam Phillips had a clear idea of how to record Cash from the first - a spartan style that would remain virtually unchanged through Cash's first half a dozen singles. During a 1980 radio special Cash spoke about the recording of "Hey, Porter": "I did a song I wrote called "Hey, Porter" that I had written on the way home from Germany when I was discharged from the Air Force. And it was kind of a daydreamin' kind of thing. I used a train as a vehicle in my mind to take me back home and counting off the miles and the hours and minutes till I would get back home. It wasn't to Tennessee though, it was to Dyess, Arkansas where my parents were still living at the time". The version included here is an early take and is noticeable when Luthers falters during the second instrumental break. The session also produced four early unreleased version of "Folsom Prison Blues".

01(1) - "HEY PORTER" - B.M.I. - 2:09
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15517-1-5 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE MAN IN BLACK 1954 – 1958
Reissued: - 2007  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16325-1-4 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN OUTTAKES

01(2) - "HEY PORTER" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955

01(3) - "HEY PORTER" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955


"Hey! Porter" was re-cast from a semi-autobiographical poem Cash had published while he was in the service. Needing some secular material in a hurry, Cash resuscitated "Hey Porter" and previewed "Folsom Prison Blues". The latter was a virtual note-for-note and word-for-word adaptation of a Gordon Jenkins tune, "Crescent City Blues", which formed a segment of a 1954 concept album called Seven Dreams, tracing an imaginary journey from New York to New Orleans. Even Jenkins' technique of linking the segrement with spoken passages would later be adapted by Johnny Cash on his own concept albums. Surprisingly, Cash was not sued by Jenkins until the song was repriced on the bestselling live album recorded at Folsom Prison in 1968.

01(4) - "HEY PORTER" - B.M.I. - 2:11
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 150 - Master Take 4
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - June 21, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 221-B mono
HEY PORTER / CRY! CRY! CRY!
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-6 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1


"I had recorded "Hey Porter", recalled Cash to Bill Flanagan, "and I'd also recorded "Folsom Prison Blues" which Sam didn't care all that much for. I saw a note on his desk, a memo to himself, 'Send "Folsom Prison Blues" to Tennessee Ernie Ford? after I had recorded it. I challenged him on that. I said, 'I know Tennessee Ernie Ford is hot, but I don't want him singing that song. I want to do it myself'. Sam said, 'Well, let's see what else you can come up with. Go home and write me an uptempo weeper love song'. I went home and I heard Eddie Hill say, 'We got some good songs, love songs, sweet songs, happy songs, and sad songs that'll make you cry, cry, cry'. I wrote "Cry Cry Cry" that night, called Sam the next day, and said, 'I got it'".

02(1) - "FOLSOM PRISON BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Gordon Jenkins-Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15517-1-6 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE MAN IN BLACK 1954 - 1958
Reissued: -  2007  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16325-1-5 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN OUTTAKES



The Sun Outtakes


Johnny Cash's early version of "Folsom Prison Blues" were delivered in a curiously high-pitched voice, although those early takes show that Luther Perkins had already worked out his guitar solo - which would later became a model of minimalist country picking. But Sam Phillips did not want to couple "Folsom Prison Blues" with "Hey Porter" for the first record.


Here Cash uses a high-pitched vocal style completely different to anything else he ever recorded. Whilst Cash may not have perfected his style on the song Luther most definitely had and his guitar solo changed little over the years to come.

It is interesting to note that these next versions do not feature the famous guitar introduction or closing notes that became the songs trademark. Cash would go on to re-record the song a few weeks later.

02(2) - "FOLSOM PRISON BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Gordon Jenkins-Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-11-4 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-6-25 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

02(3) - 'FOLSOM PRISON BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Gordon Jenkins-Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 103-1 mono
THE SUN YEARS - JOHNNY CASH
Reissued: - 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16325-1-7 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN OUTTAKES

02(4) - "FOLSOM PRISON BLUES" B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Gordon Jenkins-Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 2007
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16325-1-8 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN OUTTAKES

03 - "WIDE OPEN ROAD"* - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Overdubbed April 21, 1964 with drums and guitar for issue on LP 1275.
First issued undubbed on Sunbox 103
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 103-1 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15517-1-7 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE MAN IN BLACK 1954 - 1958


Wide Open Road'' is the only known take to feature the steel guitar playing of A. W. 'Red' Kernodle and gives us a clue to how they would have sounded had he remained a member of the group. It has to be said that he was not the greatest steel guitar player and his decision to leave was ultimately a benefit to the Cash sound as he recalled in a 1980 interview. "We had a steel guitar player working with us, but he was afraid to go in the recording studio and guess maybe it was lucky for us that he didn't because 'The Tennessee Two' came up with a sound that was kinda unique. I think a steel guitar would've taken is more toward Nashville than what was happening up there''.

04 - "MY TWO TIMIN' WOMAN" - B.M.I. - 1:54
Composer: - Clarence E. Snow
Publisher: - Carlin Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Overdubbed April 21, 1964 with drums and guitar for issue on LP 1275.
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 1965
First appearance: - Sun Records (LP) 33rpm Sun SLP 1275 mono
THE ORIGINAL SUN SOUND OF JOHNNY CASH
Reissued: - 1975 Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30117-B-1 mono
SUN COUNTRY - THE ROOTS OF ROCK – VOLUME 10

Despite being vocally sound "Two Timin' Woman" suffers from an out of tune acoustic guitar and one of Luther's more forgettable solos.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Cash - Vocal and Guitar
Luther Perkins - Guitar
Marshall Grant - Bass
A.W. "Red" Kernodle - Steel Guitar*

Overdubbed Session April 21, 1964
at 639 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Stan Kesler - Guitar
Bobby Wood - Piano
Gene Chrisman - Drums

"Sam Phillips had a vision", recalled Cash in an interview with Bill Flanagan. "Nashville in 1955 was grinding out all these country records. If you took the voice off, all the tracks sounded the same to me.... All the arrangements were calculated and predictable. Its kinda that way with my music - but, at least, its my music. It's not done to try and sound like someone else in Nashville". Red Kernodle played on the first sessions and then quit. "There was no money in it", he contends with little apparent regret, "and there was getting to be too much staying up late at night and running around". ''Red was so nervous he couldn't play'', Cash recalled. ''We did about three numbers with the steel guitar, and he just packed up and left. He said, 'This music business is not for me'. And I thought the songs sounded terrible, so I didn't argue''. 

His halting attempts at playing the steel guitar can be heard on an early version of "Wide Open Road", proving that his disappearance was no great loss. Luther Perkins' oldest daughter, Linda, recalled that Kernodle's wife had threatened to leave if he concentrated on music. He also held a better-paying job than the other members of the group. His gradual disappearance was taken with some relief by the others.

Kernodle's shortcomings were certainly no greater than Luther Perkins. Worse yet, Marshall Grant had only just learned how to play bass. "I'd never held one in my hand and didn't even know how to tune it", he recalled. "I bought one for seventy-five dollars and a friend showed me how to tune it. I figured it out from there. We didn't work to get that boom-chicka-boom sound. That's all we could play".

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


The Prisonaires/Marigolds jamming in the prison auditorium with other prison musicians, circa 1955. >


MARCH 1955

Although they have become identified with Sun Records, the Sun era was actually just the  beginning for the Prisonaires. The original group started to break up on October 1954 when  bass singer Marcell Sanders was paroled, followed by second tenor John Drue in December.


Drue was back just three months later to serve another two years for housebreaking but in  the meantime Johnny Bragg had recruited new men to the group. He told Jay Warner:  ''I'd go  around the prison and listen to the other groups, and I'd pick someone who could do it all...  who could sing better than me, and when the time come I'd pick my replacements''.

Bragg  said that by early 1955 the Prisonaires consisted of himself, Thurman and Stewart, new bass  singer Willy Wilson and new tenor Hal Hebb. Because John Drue was soon back inside again  and both Stewart and McCollough played guitar, the group now often had six or seven singers  plus piano and guitars when they went out to sing at local TV and radio stations or the  Governor's parties.

Sam Phillips did not renew the contract between Sun Records and the Prisonaires in 1955.  This was partly because Sun was focused on meeting the demand for Elvis Presley recordings  and developing the emerging markets for rhythmic country music, and partly because the  initial novelty of the singing prisoners had worn off as far as record sales were concerned.

Red Wortham was one of the first to know that Sun's interest was waning and early in 1955  he approached Nashville-based record man Ernie Young who ran the Nashboro and Excello  labels alongside a lucrative mail order business. Wortham took Young to the prison to talk  with Johnny Bragg and his renewed group and Young was impressed enough to make a deal  immediately. Bragg had decided that the new group should be called something different.  First he tried the Junior Prisonaires but quickly changed the name to The Sunbeams when  Hal Hebb suggested it had a forward-looking, less oppressed feel to it. Besides, as Bragg told  Colin Escott later, ''we were bringing the beat up a little bit'' at that time. Red Wortham  arranged with the warden for himself and Ernie Young to make recordings of the new group  at the prison.

The Sunbeams first recorded for Young on March 3, 1955, according to the date on the tape  box, using the prison auditorium as a studio. They recorded three songs, ''Rollin' Stone'',  ''Why Don't You'', and ''Don't Say Tomorrow''. Bragg told Bill Miller: ''When we first started  with Excello we went under the Sunbeams for just a while. The Marigolds, they was all the  same, Hal Hebb, Alfred Brooks, Willy Wilson, and Henry Jones, a guy we called ''Dishrag''.  He's gone now. You talk about talent: the guy had so much talent it's a shame... When we  recorded for Excello we did a lot of it on the stage in the prison, and also at the Excello  studio downtown''.

Little is know about Willy Wilson or Alfred Brooks, and it is likely that Brooks did not in fact  join the group until after this March session. Harold Hebb was front a well-known musical  family in Nashville and had been doing a song and dance act with his brother Bobby since  they were children. He worked with the Jerrie Jackson Revue in the 1940s and sang at night  clubs including the Paradise Club and the Hollywood Palm in the years before he found  himself in prison. He was soon released and then became floor manager at Nashville's Club  Baron until he was killed in a mugging in 1963.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

RECORDING SESSION FOR THE MARIGOLDS
FOR EXCELLO RECORDS 1955

TENNESSEE STATE PENNITENTIARY
PRISON AVENUE, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
EXCELLO SESSION: WEDNESDAY MARCH 23, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – ERNIE YOUNG

The Excello recordings give some scope to the new singers but Ernie Young was also keen to keep Johnny Bragg's voice well to the fore. Of the three songs recorded at the first session, ''Don't Say Tomorrow'' was the closest to the Sun style of the Prisonaires, and indeed it was a song the group had recorded for Sun. Sam Phillips had not issued it, and neither did Ernie Young, perhaps thinking that the drumbeat was a little tentative and that the lead vocal was too in places. However, the other two were more positive cuts. ''Rollin' Stone'', written by Robert Riley, was a real contender with its catchy Latin beat, a memorable interplay between the vocalists who each had their own part and their moment to shine, and a repetitive cry, 'rollin' stone'. ''Why Don't You'' has something of the Nat Cole Trio about it with its conversational vocal, warm guitar notes and tinkling piano. It is almost a solo vocal with backing' aahs' and 'ditdederda's from the group. Both issued titles feature very recognizable piano and drum sounds with guitar support and these are almost certainly played by Henry Jones, Hubbard Brown and L.B. McCollough. There is one surviving alternate take of ''Rollin' Stone''.

Ernie Young scheduled ''Rollin' Stone'' and ''Why Don't You'' for release as Excello 2057 in April 1955 but decided he did not want the group to use a name like the Sunbeams that contained the name of their previous record label. Someone came up with the idea of The Marigolds, and Young duly put the name on the record label and took out ads in the music trade press. On April 30, Billboard magazine reviewed ''Rollin' Stone'' saying merely;y, ''the boys sing a novelty with a good beat and plenty of zip''.

Despite this half-hearted review ''Rollin' Stone'' had reached number 1 in the Rhythm & Blues charts in Charlotte by June, number 5 in Los Angeles, and number 6 in Baltimore, Atlanta and New Orleans. On July 23, it reached at number 8 on the Billboard National Rhythm & Blues chart. The Cadets covered the song on Modern Records and the Fontane Sisters took the song into pop sales chart in June, reaching number 13. Even the rejected take of ''Don't Say Tomorrow'' had its uses two years later. Ernie Young gave it to another group, the Hollyhocks, who recorded the song for Young's new Nasco label in 1957.

01(1) - ''ROLLIN' STONE'' - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Robert Riley
Publisher: - Excellorec Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - March 23, 1955
Released: - April 1955
First appearance: - Excello Records (S) 45rpm Excello 2057-A mono
ROLLIN' STONE / WHY DON'T YOU
Reissued: - 2011 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-13 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - ONLY BELIEVE

01(2) - ''ROLLIN' STONE'' - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Robert Riley
Publisher: - Excellorec Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Not Original Issued
Recorded: - March 23, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-16 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - ONLY BELIEVE

02 - ''WHY DON'T YOU'' - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Robert Riley
Publisher: - Excellorec Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - March 23, 1955
Released: - April 1955
First appearance: - Excello Records (S) 45rpm Excello 2057-B mono
WHY DON'T YOU / ROLLIN' STONE
Reissued: - 2011 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-14 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - ONLY BELIEVE

03 - ''DON'T SAY TOMORROW'' - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Robert Riley
Publisher: - Excellorec Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Not Original Issued
Recorded: - March 23, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-15 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - ONLY BELIEVE

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal
Harold Hebb - Tenor Vocal
Possibly John Drue - Tenor Vocal
William Stewart - Baritone Vocal & Guitar
Willy Wilson - Bass Vocal
Henry ''Dishrag'' Jones - Piano
L.B. McCollough - Guitar
Hubbard Brown - Drums
Unknown - Maracas

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


MARCH 23, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Jim Reeves signs his first RCA Records contract.

Elvis Presley auditions in New York for the CBS-TV show ''Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts''. The producers pass.

MARCH 24, 1955 THURSDAY

''Cat On A Hot Tin Roof'' opens at the Morosco Theater on Broadway in New York. The play features occasional country singer Burl Ives, who also stars in the movie version three years later.

MARCH 26, 1955 SATURDAY

Songwriter Dean Dillon is born in Lake City, Tennessee. He writes the George Strait hits ''Ocean Front Property'', ''The Chair'' and ''Unwound'', plus Keith Whitley's ''Miami My Amy'', Vern Gosdin's ''Set 'Em Up Joe'' and ''George Jones' ''Tennessee Whiskey''.

MARCH 28, 1955 MONDAY

Reba McEntire is born in McAlester, Oklahoma. The winner of multiple Entertainer of the Year awards, she becomes a country icon while expanding into movies, Broadway and even a TV sitcom, entering the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

Capitol released Tommy Collins' ''It Tickles''.

At the end of March Ike Turner brought in a harmonica player named Sammy Lewis into the Sun studio, along with Howlin' Wolf's old guitarist, Willie Johnson, and together they created a sound so explosive that when Willie called out, ''Blow the backs off it, Sammy'', you felt like he really would.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR SAMMY LEWIS & WILLIE JOHNSON COMBO
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY MARCH 28, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01 - "GONNA LEAVE YOU BABY*" - 1 - B.M.I. - 2:18
Composer: - Sammy Lewis-Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 28, 1955
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 7-8-6 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

There are some absolutely magnificent moments on ''Gonna Leave You Baby'' - and also, a couple of real bummers. The decidedly rural sound of Lewis' harp introduction is both poignant and haunting, setting us up for something of a minor classic - but unfortunately it is so out of tune with Johnson's guitar, that the performance loses much of its potential impact. One noteworthy feature which survives even this discordant pall is Lewis' extremely melodic vocal reading of the first verse. It is a gem which shows just how musical the blues can be, despite the chordal restrictions of the form.

02(1) - "I FEEL SO WORRIED*" - 1 - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Sammy Lewis-Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 28, 1955
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 7-8-7 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

This alternate take of SUN 218 made its first appearance on the original Sunbox, and was erroneously passed off as a "slower warmup version". However, it differs only slightly from its rather better-known counterpart - mainly lyrically, being a lot closer to the number which inspired it, viz: "Feelin' Good". Which merely suggests that Sammy Lewis was having trouble in remembering the words! For one thing, the guitar on this version is again out of tune, as it was on ''Gonna Leave You Baby''. It must have been a long night at 706 Union to get from this tentative take to the released version.

02(3) - "I FEEL SO WORRIED*" - 1 - B.M.I. 2:07
Composer: - Sammy Lewis-Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 28, 1955
Released: - March 8, 2013
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-6-31 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1959


Sammy Lewis >

Smokestack lightning in a bottle would be a fair account of "I Feel So Worried". The song's steam-driven pulse coupled the driving rhythm of "Mystery Train" to the formidable roar of Howlin' Wolf. 

This scenario can be partly explained by the presence of Willie Johnson who had occupied the guitar chair in Wolf's group. Double-headed by Memphis harmonica player, Sammy Lewis, this made for a classic Sun blues issue.


The productive and all too brief meeting between vocalist/harp player Sammy Lewis and guitarist Willie Johnson produced one of the best blues issued by Sun Records. In the eyes of many collectors and Sun blues fans, there is no finer release for this period than "I Feel So Worried".

02(4) - "I FEEL SO WORRIED*" - 1 - B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: - Sammy Lewis-Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 146 - Master Take 3
Recorded: - March 28, 1955
Released: - April 25, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 218-A mono
I FEEL SO WORRIED / SO LONG BABY GOODBYE
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3-29 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1


Willie Johnson, guitarist for Howlin' Wolf (left) with Adolph Duncan. >

It is easy to see appeal of this record. For one thing, it lives in that tense netherworld between a major and a minor key. The material is, as Billboard used to say, "potent stuff". Sammy Lewis' vocal combines those octaves leaps with a really engaging talk/sing approach that hooks even the casual listener. When he greets us with "Let me tell you, 'bout one thing I done wrong", we want to respond with an appropriately churchy, "Yeh, tell us, Sammy. Go ahead!".


Even allowing for the charm of Lewis' vocal, it is the Willie Johnson combo that really carries the day. The sound of this record, beginning with the haunting stop-line intro, is something to treasure. Even rockabilly fans who merely tolerate Sun blues are often fond of this record, owing in no small way to Willie Johnson's guitar style.

03(1) - "SO LONG GOODBYE**" - 2 - B.M.I. - 2:08
Composer: - Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporation
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 28, 1955
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 7-8-8 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958


Sammy Lewis >


An alternate take of the track which gave us the immortal dictum "Well all right Sammy, blow the backs off it!". This take is not markedly different from the released version, but it does offer another opportunity to listen to guitarist Willie Johnson as a vocalist. Here Johnson propels his defiant, hell-raising blues with biting guitar work and carries it all through with a hard-edged wolf-like vocal. 



"So Long Baby Goodbye" is more conventional rhythm and blues that showcases Sammy Lewis harp. How could Lewis not have responded when Johnson issued him the immortal edict "blow the backs off it".

03(2) - "SO LONG BABY GOODBYE**" - B.M.I. - 2:06
Composer: - Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Fort Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 147 - Master
Recorded: - March 28, 1955
Released: - April 25, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 218-B mono
SO LONG BABY GOODBYE / I FEEL SO WORRIED
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3-30 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Sammy Lewis - Vocal* -  & Harmonica
Willie Johnson - Vocal** & Guitar
L.C. Hubert - Piano
Joe Nathan Franklin – Drums
Unknown Possibly L.C. Hubert - Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


MARCH 30, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Randy Vanwarmer is born in Denver, Colorado. Following his pop hit, ''Just When I Needed You Most'', he writes the country hits ''I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes'', ''I Will Whisper Your Name'' and ''I'm In A Hurry (And Don't Know Why)''.

Connie Cato is born in Carlinville, Illinois. She nabs a country hit in 1975 with her remake of Timi Yuro's ''Hurt''.

APRIL 1955

In April of 1955, it was announced to the world that Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was determined to be safe and highly effective in preventing the disease. Salk had started to develop the vaccine in 1952 and the trials began in 1954. By 1957, the vaccine was more widely available and the number of new cases of polio had dramatically declined. In 1962, a new, more effective oral polio vaccination was created by Albert Sabin and quickly replaced Salk’s vaccine. The creation of these vaccines nearly eradicated the formerly rampant illness and now in most developed countries there are only a handful of cases each year.

APRIL 1, 1955 FRIDAY FRIDAY

Sun 216 ''Don't Believe'' b/w ''Uncertain Love by Slim Rhodes released.  Billboard reviews Rhodes' (Sun 216) (''Don't Believe''/''Uncertain Love'') as ''strong talent, despite run of the mill ideas''.

APRIL 3, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley receives a speeding ticket outside of Shreveport.

APRIL 4, 1955 MONDAY

Hank Snow recorded ''Cryin', Paryin', Waitin', Hopin'''.

Columbia released Carl Smith's two-sided hit, ''There She Goes'' backed with ''Old Lonesome Times''.

APRIL 5, 1955 TUESDAY

''Seven Spanish Angels'' singer Ray Charles marries Della Howard in Dallas, Texas.

APRIL 6, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Songwriter Red Hayes recorded his own composition, ''A Satisfied Mind'', with his daughter, Betty, for Decca Records in Nashville.

APRIL 7, 1955 THURSDAY

Webb Pierce recorded three future singles in Nashville's Bradley Studios, although all are deemed unsuitable and re-recorded later. At issue, ''Yes, I Know Why'', ''Cause I Love You'' and a duet with Red Sovine, ''Little Rosa''.

Red Foley and his daughter, Betty Foley, recorded ''Satisfied Mind''.

APRIL 8, 1955 FRIDAY

Kitty Wells recorded ''There's Poison In Your Heart'' at the Bradley Studio on Hillboro Road in Nashville.

APRIL 9, 1955 SATURDAY

Red Foley performs ''Peter Cottontail'' and ''Foggy River'' on ABC's ''Ozark Jubilee''. Red Stewart delivers ''Tennessee Waltz''.

APRIL 10, 1955 SUNDAY

Sun Records released Elvis Presley's ''Baby, Let's Play House'', backed with ''I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone'' (Sun 217).

APRIL 11, 1955 MONDAY

Jean Shepard recorded ''A Satisfied Mind'', ''Take Possession'', ''I Thought Of You'' and ''Beautiful Lies'' during an overnight session at the capitol Studios on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.

Capitol released Ferlin Husky's ''I'll Baby Sit With You''.

APRIL 13, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Bass player Louis Johnson is born in Los Angeles. A member of the rhythm and blues group The Brothers Johnson, he contributes to Bill Anderson's country-disco hit ''I Can't Wait Any Longer'' and T.G. Sheppard's ''I'll Be Coming Back For More''.

APRIL 1955

Slim Rhodes is signed to Sun Records. Slim and his band The Mountaineers are now on WMC-TV, Memphis and KVTV, Pine Bluff, Arkansas weekly.

APRIL 13, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Future Sun recording star, Dean Beard appeared alongside Elvis Presley at Breckenridge High School Auditorium. Elvis's supporting act that day was Onie Wheeler, and Beard was one of the local added attractions, alongside sixteen year-old Weldon Myrick, who became one of the top steel guitarists in Nashville.

APRIL 14, 1955 THURSDAY

Imperial released Fat Domino's pop hit ''Ain't It A Shame''. Hank Williams Jr. earns a country hit with the song in 1972.

Decca released The Wilburn Brothers' ''I Wanna Wanna Wanna''.

APRIL 16, 1955 SATURDAY

Red Foley, Porter Wagoner and Jean Shepard perform ''A Satisfied Mind'' during ABC's ''Ozark Jubilee''.

APRIL 19, 1955 TUESDAY

Aurelia Browder (37) was arrested for violating Alabama bus segregation laws on April 19, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama.

APRIL 23, 1955 SATURDAY

Justin Tubb joins ''Ozark Jubilee'' host Red Foley on the ABC series.

APRIL 24, 1955 SUNDAY

The Denton Record-Chronicle reports Wade & Dick's appearance on local television. ''We won't say the whole NTSC faculty and student body are making guest appearances on television, but the college will have a good representation on TV this week. Two students, Wade Moore and Dick Fender (sic), who appeared on the campus stage not long ago, will be on the Jerry Haynes Show Monday. The noon-time show is seen on KRLD-TV''.

APRIL 25, 1955 MONDAY

Sun 217, ''I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone'' b/w ''Baby Let's Play House'' by Elvis Presley is released. Elvis Presley is now touring with Onie Wheeler. He also appears on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, Texas, with Tex Ritter.

Also this day, Sun 218 ''I Feel So Worried'' b/w ''So Long Baby Goodbye'' by Sammy Lewis/Willie Johnson Combo are released.

Capitol released Hank Thompson's double-sided hit, featuring ''Breakin' In Another Heart'' and a collaboration with guitarist Merle Travis, ''Wildwood Flower''.

APRIL 26, 1955

The Platters recorded the pop hit ''Only You (And You Alone)'' at Capitol's Melrose Avenue Studio in Los Angeles. Reba McEntire recorded a hit country version of the song 26 years later.

APRIL 28, 1955 THURSDAY

Eddy Arnold four hits with Hugo Winterhalter's orchestra at Webster Hall in New York, ''The Cattle Call'', ''The Richest Men (In The World)'', ''The Kentuckian Song'' and ''I Walked Alone Last Night''.

APRIL 29, 1955 FRIDAY

Patsy Cline makes her first appearance in the Apple Blossom Festival parade in her hometown of Winchester, Virginia.

APRIL 30, 1955 SATURDAY

Marvin Rainwater performs ''I Gotta Go Get My Baby'' on ABC-TV's ''Ozark Jubilee'', also featuring Shug Fisher and host Red Foley.

APRIL 30, 1955 SATURDAY

Sam Phillips put out two more singles on Flip, before a combination of union opposition and a renewal of faith, or maybe it was just hope on Sam's part, led him to virtually abandon the label. One was a well-crafted harmony vocal by the Miller Sisters ( Flip 504/Sun 504), called ''Someday You Will Pay'' backed with ''You Didn't Think I Would'', the sisters-in-law, actually, from Tupelo, Mississippi, whom Sam Phillips compared favorably to the very popular Davis Sisters, and who sang a wonderful, almost Cajun-flavored original set off by Bill Cantrell's ''corn-stalk'' fiddle and the spoons-playing of Charlie Feathers, and Sam released  Flip 503, ''I've Been Deceived'' backed with ''Peepin' Eyes'' by Charlie Feathers. 

text


MAY 1955

Billy Emerson's "When It Rains It Pours" enters the New Orleans chart. This is very probably  Sam Phillips last-ever chart entry with a black artist, despite good sales on forth-coming  titles by Emerson and Rosco Gordon.

The first Rock LP is released by Bill Haley & His Comets, but full-length albums with their  higher prices that limit their appeal for teenagers, remain largely the realm of adult pop  singers for another decade.


A rock and roll show in Connecticut to be headlined by Fats Domino is cancelled for fear it  will lead to rioting. State police subsequently ban all further rock concerts in the state.

MAY 1, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley performs in New Orleans, beginning a three-week tour as an opening act for Hank Snow.

MAY 2, 1955 MONDAY

''The Ooby Dooby'' published by Ideas, Inc., Dallas, Texas.

MAY 4, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Robert Ellis Orrall is born in Winthrop, Massachusetts. He has a minor hit as an artist in 1992 with ''Boom! It Was Over'', and write Martha McBrite's ''Wrong Baby Wrong'', Clay Walker's ''What's It To You'' and Shenandoah's ''Next To Me, Next To You''.

Merle Travis and Bettie Lou Robinson are married in Tijuana, Mexico. A judge later rules the wedding is not legally recognized in the United States, and they repeat the ritual in Los Angeles.

MAY 5, 1955 THURSDAY

Fiddler Glen Duncan is born in Columbus, Indiana. His credits include George Strait's ''When Did You Stop Loving Me'', Dierks Bentley's ''What Was I Thinkin''', Faith Hill's ''This Kiss'' and Shania Twain's ''Man! I Feel Like A Woman!''.

Johnny Horton holds his last recording session in a three-year association with Mercury Records at the Bradley Recording Studio in Nashville.

MAY 6, 1955 FRIDAY

Buddy Holly registers for the draft. A mentor of Waylon Jennings, his song ''True Love Ways'' becomes a country hit for Mickey Gilley.

MAY 7, 1955 SATURDAY

Jerry Johnson, known as the Smokey Mountain Sweetheart, ends a nearly two-year run as the bass player for Roy Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys.

Songwriter Werly Fairburn joins The Louisiana Hayride, performing at the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana. His writing credits later include Carl Smith's ''I Feel Like Cryin''' and Jim Reeves' ''I Guess I'm Crazy''.

Eddie Dean performs ''I Dreamed Of A Hill-Billy Heaven'' during the ABC telecast of ''Ozark Jubilee''. Also appearing guitarist Grady Martin and host Red Foley.

MAY 9, 1955 MONDAY

Marvin Rainwater claims first place on ''Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts''.

MAY 11, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Alabama drummer Mark Herndon is born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He joins the Hall of Fame band in 1979, just prior to its launch into country's mainstream. Herndon is a live fixture with the group, though he rarely plays on its recordings.

MAY 12, 1955 THURSDAY

Kix Brooks is born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He co-writes hits for John Conlee and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band before forming Brooks and Dunn with Ronnie Dunn. Together from 1991 to 2010, they become the most successful country duo of all-time.

MAY 13, 1955 FRIDAY

An Elvis Presley performance causes a riot for the first time in Jacksonville, Florida. Mae Boren Axton sees the show, and promises to write him a hit. Six months later, she brings him ''Heartbreak Hotel''.

MAY 14, 1955 SATURDAY

Dobro player Uncle Josh Graves auditions for Flatt and Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys. He remains with the group until Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs split in 1969, continuing to work for Flatt.

The Soviet Union and seven of its Eastern Bloc allies sign the Warsaw Pact in Poland. The seven Soviet satellites that took part in the deal with the Soviet Union included Bulgaria, Albania, Hungary, East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. The Warsaw Pact treaty set up a mutual defense agreement between the eight members and was created as a response to the Western formation of NATO and their inclusion of West Germany during the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact remained intact with six of the original eight members until 1991 when the Soviet Union fell apart and was dissolved. 

MAY 16, 1955 MONDAY

Capitol released Jean Shepard's double-sided hit, ''A Satisfied Mind'' backed with ''Take Possession''.

An intelligence officer writes to FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover that Elvis Presley is a ''definite dancer to the security of the United States'' and ''possibly a drug addict and a sexual pervert''. The letter is placed in an FBI file on The King.

MAY 21, 1955 SATURDAY

Chuck Berry recorded ''Maybellene'', a song inspired by Bob Will's ''Ida Red'', at Chicago's Chess Recording Studio, with Willie Dixon on bass. George Jones and Johnny Paycheck have a country hit with the song, with the spelling changed to ''Mabellene'' in 1979.

Webb Pierce quits the Grand Ole Opry on the WSM airwaves after a three-year membership. Pierce laments that he never had his own half-hour Opry segment.

Drummer Stan Lynch is born in Gainesville, Florida. A member of Tom Petty's band, The Heartbreaker, he co-writes Tim McGraw's 2004 country hit ''Back When''.

Pre-dating his success as a hit country songwriter, Jackie Gleason makes the cover of TV Guide with Audrey Meadows, his co-star in the sitcom ''The Honeymooners''.

Mac Wiseman performs the ''Ballad Of Davey Crockett'' on ABC's ''Ozark Jubilee''. Host Red Foley also welcomes Jean Shepard and Harold Morrison.


Bob Neal with Johnny Cash >

MAY 1955

Charlie Feathers' "I've Been Deceived" enters the Memphis Top Five country discs on  Billboard.

Malcolm Yelvington's Star Rhythm Boys are now reported to be playing under the  name Malcolm Yelvington and the Warmed Over Four.

MAY 21, 1955 SATURDAY

Johnny Cash playing regular fifteen-minute show on KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas, and   started playing local gigs arranged by Bob Neal. Though later in his career Cash would deny   it, Marshall Grant recalled that the level of the honky-tonks they were playing in those days   was pretty low. He remembered "more guns and knives than fans at most of those early gigs".

Cash became the hit of Bob Neal's Eighth Anniversary show, just as Elvis Presley had been   the surprise hit a year earlier. Dick Stuart, who worked as a disc jockey on KWEM as "Uncle   Richard" reported to Billboard that "this year Johnny Cash broke through as the outstanding   new act in Memphis". Stuart promptly signed him to a management deal.

So Johnny Cash went to his boss at the Home Equipment Company, George Bates, to see if he would sponsor a fifteen-minute show on KWEM to help promote his new career. Mr. Bates had been very good to him in the eight or nine months he had worked for the company; he had advanced John money nearly every payday, and he had told him frankly that he didn't think he'd ever make much of a salesman, but he allowed him to keep trying. Whatever his opinion of John's musical talent, if he had one at all, he never hesitated about sponsoring the show. The only question he had was whether John thought he would ever be able to pay back the money that he owned, over $1,000 at this point, and John I said, 'One of these days I'm going to walk in here and give you a check for that full amount'', and Bates said, ''Well, I hope you'll be able to, but I've taken care of you because I believed in you, and I believe you will do something''.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

LIVE PERFORMANCE FOR JOHNNY CASH

KWEM STUDIO
231 BROADWAY STREET, WEST MEMPHIS, ARKANSAS
KWEM SESSION: SATURDAY MAY 21, 1955
SESSION HOURS: 4:00PM
PRODUCER & ENGINEER: GEORGE KLEIN

This 20 minute recording of the first Johnny Cash radio show broadcast on KWEM Radio in 1955. Johnny had already been playing at the KWEM Joe Manuel "Saturday Night Jamboree" with Marshall Grant and Luther Perkins and brother Roy Cash. The recording was made by a new engineer and disc jockey at KWEM, George Klein, on Saturday May 21, 1955. The company that Johnny worked for, Home Equipment Company, sponsored the show each week.

Surprisingly, Johnny Cash didn't play either of the songs on his scheduled Sun release, and even more surprisingly, for all of his self-disparagement and George Bates' assessment of his selling capabilities, he was a very convincing salesman, cool and confident and focusing on Cool-Glo Awning as a plausible alternative to the more expensive option of air-conditioning.  Cash sang on the show ''Wide Open Road'', an original number that he had written in Germany, and a jaunty version of the Sons of the Pioneers' ''One More Ride'', both of which he had already auditioned for Sam Phillips, and solicited listener requests for future broadcast, if he didn't know the song already, he and Luther and Marshall would endeavor to learn it. Then, after highlighting Luther's guitar playing Cash says, ''Luther, step up and show all the little children how to play a big boogie'', and Cash concluded with ''a good sacred song, one of my own, I wrote it a while back'', and sang the song he had first tried to interest Sam Phillips in, the one he considered his best composition, ''Belshazzar''.



Johnny Cash at home with his brothers and sisters, Memphis, 1955, before his broadcasting at KWEM. From left:, Tommy, Louise, Reba, Johnny, Roy and Joanne Cash. >

The recordings also features on the air commercials from KWEM advertising the Avon Movie Theatre, the upcoming Overton Park Shell Country Music Show that would also feature Elvis Presley. You'll hear the voice of Texas Bill Strength, a popular country recording artist and KWEM disc jockey who was good friends with Elvis.


You'll also hear the voice of Dick "Poor Richard" Stuart who was Charlie Feathers brother-in-law, a close friend of Elvis Presley and who would become Carl Perkins manager.

Also on this release ( MOVLP285) is a recording of a Johnny Cash demo, "Rock 'N' Roll Ruby" that was released on Sun Records by another West Memphis artist, Warren Smith. The demo was recorded by Johnny Cash at the KWEM radio studios in West Memphis, probably late 1955.

01 - ''KWEM ANNOUNCEMENT AND ADVERTISEMENTS'' - B.M.I. - 0:47
Recorded: - May 21, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Music On Vinyl (LP) 33rpm MOVLP285-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD
Reissued: - 2011 Columbia Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

02 - ''JOHNNY CASH SHOW INTRO AND THEME'' - B.M.I. - 1:38
Recorded: - May 21, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Music On Vinyl (LP) 33rpm MOVLP285-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD
Reissued: - 2011 Columbia Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

03 - ''WIDE OPEN ROAD'' - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - May 21, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Music On Vinyl (LP) 33rpm MOVLP285-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD
Reissued: - 2011 Columbia Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

04 - HOME EQUIPMENT COMPANY ADVERTISEMENT'' - B.M.I. - 1:17
Recorded: - May 21, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Music On Vinyl (LP) 33rpm MOVLP285-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD
Reissued: - 2011 Columbia Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

05 - ''ONE MORE RIDE'' – B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Bob Nolan
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - May 21, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Music On Vinyl (LP) 33rpm MOVLP285-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD
Reissued: - 2011 Columbia Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

06 - ''HOME EQUIPMENT COMPANY ADVERTISEMENT/
LUTHER PERKINS INTRO'' - B.M.I. - 1:51
Recorded: - May 21, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Music On Vinyl (LP) 33rpm MOVLP285-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD
Reissued: - 2011 Columbia Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

07 - ''LUTHER'S BOOGIE'' - B.M.I. - 0:45
Composer: John R. Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - May 21, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Music On Vinyl (LP) 33rpm MOVLP285-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD
Reissued: - 2011 Columbia Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

08 - ''BELSHAZZAR INTRO'' - B.M.I. - 0:43
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - May 21, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Music On Vinyl (LP) 33rpm MOVLP285-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD
Reissued: - 2011 Columbia Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

09 - ''BELSHAZZAR'' - B.M.I.-– 2:19
Composer: - Johnny R. Cash
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - May 21, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Music On Vinyl (LP) 33rpm MOVLP285-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD
Reissued: - 2011 Columbia Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

10 - ''CLOSING COMMENTS AND THEME'' - B.M.I. - 1:26
Recorded: - May 21, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Music On Vinyl (LP) 33rpm MOVLP285-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD
Reissued: - 2011 Columbia Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1 mono
BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Cash - Vocal & Guitar
Luther Perkins - Guitar
Marshall Grant - Upright Bass

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


MAY 22, 1955 SUNDAY

Ain't that a shame, Fats Domino's concert in Bridgeport, Connecticut, is cancelled when police predict it will lead to a riot. Domino's current hit, ''Ain't It A Shame'', is eventually reconstituted for the country audience by Hank Williams Jr.

MAY 23, 1955 MONDAY

''The Pee Wee King Show'' debuts on ABC-TV, where it remains for four months. The program originates at WEWS in Cleveland.

MAY 24, 1955 TUESDAY

Rosanne Cash is born in Memphis, Tennessee. The daughter of Johnny Cash, she infuses pop and rock influences in her own progressive recording career beginning in the late-1970s, winning a Grammy for ''I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me''.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, resident Sharon Williams receives a telegram saying she's won a contest to name Faron Young's band. The singer is nicknamed the Young Sheriff and his band becomes the Country Deputies.

Faron and Hilda Young buy their first home, on Bel Air Drive in Nashville.

Producer, engineer and mixer David Leonard is born. He works with Barenaked Ladies, Dwight Yoakam and Ty Herndon and produces John Hiatt for the soundtrack of ''Where The Heart Is''.

MAY 25, 1955 WEDNESDAY

The Louvin Brothers recorded ''When I Stop Dreaming'' in Nashville.

Faron Young recorded ''Go Back You Fool'' and ''All Right'' in Nashville.



The Five Tinos session notes. >

Doo wop on Sun? Although the archives have yielded some unissued treasures (by the Vel-Tones, Ed Kirby and Hunki Dori, to name a few), the Five Tinos stand virtually alone among Sun releases.  Group harmony was not an area of high priority or personal preference to Sam Phillips. If his recording activities reflected these values, then his release schedule was an even tougher nut to crack. The Five Tinos must have appeared very special to Sam Phillips.


The group consisted of two Melvins - Walker and Jones; in fact, there were two Walkers in the group - the aforementioned Melvin and Marvin. The five vocalists were backed by a tight little studio rhythm and blues group featuring Phineas Newborns Jr. and Sr. on guitar and drums, respectively.  The band also featured twin saxes played by Jewell Briscoe and Moses Reed. This was a larger and more expensive production than Phillips was used to bankrolling.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR THE FIVE TINOS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: THURSDAY MAY 26, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01 - "GONNA HAVE TO LET YOU BE" - B.M.I. - 3:03
Composer: - Five Tinos
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 26, 1955
Released: - 1978
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30148-B-1 mono
SUN SOUND SPECIAL - SHOOBIE OOBIE
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-8-5 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

''Gonna Have To Let You Be'', this unissued comes from the same session that yielded the group's lone Sun single. Its vocal highlight, if such exists, was a brief appearance by the falsetto singer. Instrumentally, there is one surprise; the appearance of a 16-bar guitar solo by Calvin Newborn. Most of the competition would have paraded a sax player up to the mic, and this session had some on the floor. Newborn doesn't seem quite sure whether to reach into his bag some rhythm and blues or jazz, and so we get a touch of both. It's not likely this track was a strong contender when it came time for Sam Phillips to decide which tracks to issue.

02 - "DON'T DO THAT" - B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Five Tinos
Publisher: - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - U 148 - Master
Recorded: - May 26, 1955
Released: - June 21, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 222-A mono
DON'T DO THAT / SITTIN' BY THE WINDOW
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4-7 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

"Don't Do That" features a cutesy, ersatz sexy vocal, mambo rhythm and double length honking sax solo (if you're going to pay them, get them to work!). If this record had appeared as the follow-up to the Turbans' "When You Dance", on the New York Herald label. not an eyebrow would have been raised. In short, this was neither typical Memphis, nor typical Sun fare. Its appearance in the fall of 1955 came at a transitional time in Sun's country and western was evolving, and the presence of sideburned hybrid music was becoming a greater factor with each passing day.

03 - "SITTING BY MY WINDOW" - B.M.I. - 3:24
Composer: - Five Tinos
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 149 - Master
Recorded: - May 26, 1955
Released: - June 21, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 222-B mono
SITTIN' BY MY WINDOW / DON'T DO THAT
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4-8 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1


Melvin and Marvin Walker (3rd and 4th from left) of the Five Tinos. >

The Tinos' weaknesses come into sharper focus on the slower tempo. The lead vocal isn't sufficiently commanding and the harmonies aren't as seamless as the idiom demands. In its depiction of idealized love, ''Sitting By My Window'' was conventional doo-wop, but if it had been on a conventional doo-wop label, it would be viewed as a lesser entry.  On Sun, it's an anomaly. The backing group was led by the father-and-son team of Phineas and Calvin Newborn. 


By 1955, Phineas, Jr. was making a name by himself in New York; replacing him on piano was another Memphis legend, Honeymoon Garner. At the time, Garner was a disc jockey on WDIA, but in later years led a sax-organ combo with Fred Ford.

04 - "MAMBO BABY"
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - May 26, 1955

05 - "MEMORIES''
Composer: - Five Tinos
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - May 26, 1955

06 - "MY ONLY ANGEL''
Composer: - Five Tinos
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - May 26, 1955

07 - "GO AHEAD''
Composer: - Five Tinos
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - May 26, 1955

08 - "ROCKIN' CHAIR''
Composer: - Five Tinos
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - May 26, 1955

The Tinos recorded a total of eight tracks. More information unknown.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
The Five Tinos consisting of:
Haywood Hebron - Vocal
Melvin Jones - Vocal
Luchrie Jordan - Vocal
Melvin Walker - Vocal
Marvin Walker - Vocal

Phineas "Calvin" Newborn Jr. - Guitar
Phineas Newborn Sr. - Drums
Jewell Briscoe - Tenor Sax
Moses Reed - Tenor Sax
Robert Garner - Piano
Kenneth Banks – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOHNNY CASH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY MAY 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT



Johnny Cash suggested a gospel song for the other side of their first single, most likely ''I Was There When It Happened''. Sam liked the song but wanted something different for the b-side of their first single and suggested that Cash should go away and come up with something more suitable. A few days later he came up with ''Cry Cry Cry'' which he wrote after hearing DJ Eddie Hill announce "stay tuned, were gonna bawl, squall and runup the wall." He adapted the lyrics to "You're gonna bawl, bawl, bawl", but reconsidered and came up with ''You're gonna cry cry, cry''.


A few weeks later, an exact date is unknown but May is the most likely date, they returned with their new composition which, along with ''Hey Porter'', became the first single to be credited to Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two and a top twenty country hit. There was first some talk initially of crediting the record to The Tennessee Three, the group's loose title before before Cash had joined, but Sam Phillips said, No, John was front and center on the record, and furthermore, he thought ''Johnny'' Cash sounded better than ''John'', if you were looking to appeal to young people. So he agreed to the name change. When the record came out, it would be by Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two, but with artist royalties split 40-30-30.

Unflappable, understated and unmistakable would be sure fire descriptions of what made John R. Cash such a virtuoso at Sun Records. Raised on the banks of the Mississippi in rural Arkansas, he'd tried out as a trainee radio announcer but despite his rich baritone he didn't secure a broadcasting gig. By badgering Sam Phillips on an almost daily basis, he was allotted studio time and the plaintive "Cry! Cry! Cry!" from his third session, was chosen as the Johnny Cash launchpad in the spring of 1955.


Johnny Cash artists files.

"Their material was all religious at that time", recalled Sam Phillips, "songs which Cash had composed. I liked them, but I told him that I would not at that time be able to merchandise him as a religious artist and that it would be well if he could secure some other material or write some other songs. I told him that I was real pleased with the sound we were getting from just the three instruments. If I'm not mistaken, I think it was on this third occasion in the studio that I actually commenced seriously to get Johnny Cash down on tape.


He continued to be very  apologetic about his band.  However, I told him that I did not want to use any other instrumentation because of the unique style they had.  They would practice a lot, but I told them not to be overly prepared because I was interested in spontaneity too".

01(1) - "CRY, CRY, CRY" - B.M.I. - 3:03
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 151 - Take 1 - Extended Version
Recorded: - Probably May 1955
Released: - 1971
First appearance: - Pickwick Records (LP) 33rpm JS-6097-3 mono
I WALK THE LINE
Reissued: - 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16325-1-11 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN OUTTAKES

01(2) - "CRY, CRY, CRY" - B.M.I. - 3:03
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 151 - Take 2 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably May 1955

01(3) - "CRY, CRY, CRY" - B.M.I. - 3:03
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 151 - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May 1955
Released: - 1969
First appearance: - Sun International (LP) 33rpm SUN 100-6 mono
ORIGINAL GOLDEN HITS - VOLUME 1
Reissued : 1969 Sun International (LP) 33rpm SUN 106 mono
SHOWTIME

The master of "Cry, Cry, Cry" featured an instrumental break after the second and fourth verse but here we present the rare extended version with Luther playing a break after every verse. It was only issued, probably by mistake, on a budget album simply titled "Johnny Cash"

Charted on August 20 locally and eventually reaching number 1 on September 3, beating out such local favourites as Elvis Presley and the Louvins, and spent one week on the national country charts in November 1955. That was message enough for Sam Phillips. Cash was clearly an artist worth investing in. Within two months, he would join the Louisiana Hayride and see the release of his second Sun single.

"Cry, Cry, Cry", backed with "Hey Porter" was released on June 21, 1955, under the name Johnny Cash. Cash had been christened simply J.R. and had been dubbed John later in life. It was Sam Phillips who coined Johnny. Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant were dubbed the Tennessee Two. They agreed to divide the royalties on a 40-30-40 percent split. The original compositions were credited solely to Cash, although a lawsuit later brought by Luther Perkins family and Marshall Grant contended that they had contributed substantially to almost every composition during the endless rehearsals.

01(4) - "CRY, CRY, CRY" - B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 151 - Master Take 4
Recorded: - Probably May 1955
Released: - June 21, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 221-A mono
CRY! CRY! CRY! / HEY! PORTER
Reached at number 14 on the Billboard's Country and Western charts.
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-5 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Cash - Vocal and Guitar
Luther Perkins - Guitar
Marshall Grant - Bass

The essential elements of Johnny Cash's music were there from the start. The stark, lonesome vocals were front and center, with Luther doing little more than keeping time, even during his solo. Where most guitarists relish the opportunity to solo, Luther seemed to dread it. The fear of failure - of messing up an otherwise good take - seemed to haunt him every time he entered the studio.

For his part, Sam Phillips challenged the conventions of recording balance, placing Cash's vocals more assertively in the mix than had ever been the case in country music. Sam Phillips fattened the sound of the vocals and the rhythm track with slapback echo. Musicians scoffed, but Cash and the Tennessee Two possessed the quality that had been lacking in country music since Hank Williams died: originality.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


MAY 27, 1955 FRIDAY

Buddy Holly graduates from Lubbock High School. A mentor of Waylon Jennings, his ''True Love Ways'' becomes a country hit for Mickey Gilley.

MAY 29, 1955 SUNDAY

Drummer Joe Porcaro has a son, Mike Porcaro, in Hartford, Connecticut. While dad becomes a session player, appearing on the Glen Campbell hit ''Southern Nights'', son replaces David Hungate in the rock band Toto.

MAY 30, 1955 MONDAY

After scoring his first two hits on the 4 Star label, Hank Locklin has his first recording session for RCA, at the labels studio on McGavock Street in Nashville.

Decca released Red Foley and Betty Foley's ''Satisfied Mind'', and Webb Pierce;s ''I Don't Care''

MAY 31, 1955 TUESDAY

Jim Reeves recorded ''Yonder Comes A Sucker'' during his first RCA recording session, at the label's studio on McGavock Street in Nashville.

Eddy Arnold recorded ''Wayfaring Stranger'' at the RCA Studios in Nashville. It will become a hit for Emmylou Harris 25 years later.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR BILLY EMERSON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY MAY 31, 1955
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Billy Emerson needed another single, after ''When It Rains It Pours'', he together with Phineas Newborn, that's old Phineas senior, the drummer. He had a great jazz combo with his son Calvin on guitar. He got some saxes in, Moses Reed and Jewell Briscoe, they were about the best in town. He cut a blues, ''No Greater Love''. But the main song was ''Red Hot'''. He took that from a chant that the girl cheerleaders used in school sports. you know- ''our team is red hot, your team ain't doodley squat''.



Newspaper clipping of Billy Emerson >

Certainly the dirty-dozens type of call and response insults that Emerson turned the sports chant into - one protagonist has a gal that's never been kissed, the other has one who's never been missed - is the memorable feature of ''Red Hot'', but there is some fine sax playing too and a rolling and rumbling beat that kicks the whole affair along, Emerson sings powerfully and interacts well with bass player Kenneth Banks who provides the second voice.


In contrast, ''No Greater Love'' is a heartfelt plea sung to Emerson's favoured stops in time and accompanied brilliantly by Calvin Newborn on guitar and the offing saxes who nothing to undermine their leaders view that they were the best around.

It doesn't take much imagination to discern that Billy "The Kid" Emerson got his nickname from a fascination with the famed Western outlaw. A similar story surrounds his enduring "Red Hot". This was a slogan he'd originally heard as part of a cheerleaders' chant at a Friday night football game, and like most of his self-penned items, the title went on to become more familiar by other artists. When the first covers began to roll in, the hit-less pianoplayer was heading to Chicago for stage two of his career with Vee-Jay Records.


''Red Hot'' was a territorial seller through that summer and it kept Emerson's name out there. It was one of the songs he say "really were hits'' even though it didn't sell enough in all markets at one time to figure on any national sales charts. Two years later, Sun issued the song again in a pulsating rockabilly version by Billy Lee Riley and it was covered by other white singers of the day. In the 1960s it was revived by the Memphis recording of Domingo Samudio - Sam the Sham - and became a well known song to a new generation and an international hit leased to  MGM. Then Robert Palmer recorded it in the next decade and Emerson's little ditty has been part of the songbook of rock and roll ever since.

01(1) - "RED HOT" - B.M.I. - 2:25
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - U 154 - Master
Recorded: - May 31, 1955
Released: - June 21, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 219-A mono
RED HOT / NO GREATER LOVE
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4-1 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Emerson originally derived this song from a cheerleaders' chant: "Our team is red hot". Recorded in May 1955 - backed by a session band assembled by drummer Phineas Newborn Sr. - the Rock and Roll revolution was by now well under way. Some eighteen months later, rockabilly wildman Billy Lee Riley recorded a lyrically stripped down, cleaned-up version, retaining the classic retort "your girls ain't doodley squat" and creating a bona-fide rockabilly classic in the process. Bob Luman recorded a strong version shortly afterwards, but it languished forgotten until Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs took it into the Billboard Top 100 in 1966. Ten years later

Rockabilly/Quiffabilly revivalist Robert Gordon turned in a sizzling recut (which also made the Top 100), whilst in the ensuing years Billy Riley has gone on to make it his life's work. It is certainly not identical to Billy Riley's landmark rockabilly version from two years hence, but neither is it that those school girls were taunting the opposing team with. Once again, Emerson has crafted a song out of a throwaway bit of pop culture. The song is essentially an extension of "the dozens"24, a friendly trading of insults perhaps made most famous in the "Say Man" recordings by Bo Diddley. If you're keeping score, the end of "Red Hot" represents yet another blown fade by engineer Sam Phillips.

01(2) - "RED HOT" - B.M.I. - 1:53
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 31, 1955
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CD SUN 36-24 mono
THE SUN BLUES ARCHIVES - WAY AFTER MIDNIGHT - VOLUME 4

Emerson was a very creative composer and good vocalist. At its best, his material like "Red Hot" and "Crazy 'Bout Automobiles" has withstood the joint tests of time and genre switching. His songs have strengthened the repertoire of artists from Billy Riley to Elvis Presley. Emerson's later work for Vee-Jay Records is every bit as good and in serious need of re-issuing.

"Red Hot" is a bizarre song. Rockabilly freaks cannot imagine it having started as an rhythm and blues tune, and blues collectors have a difficult time imagining it as a high school cheer ("Our team is Red Hot"), as Emerson first heard it. If there were any justice in the music business (not even close), material like this would have made Billy Emerson a rich man.

01(3) - "RED HOT" - B.M.I.
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 31, 1955
Released: - August 2006
First appearance: - Titanic Records (CD) 500/200rpm TCR 6006 mono
RED HOT ABOUT THE BLUES - UNRELEASED SUN RECORDINGS


Emerson offers a powerful vocal here, showing a more soulful style than appears on any of his other Sun releases. The entire recording has tremendous tension; you can feel it in Emerson's vocal, but it also runs through Calvin Newborn's guitar work. It would not be inappropriate to include this track on a "Roots Of Soul Music" anthology. The last four bars provide a marvellously sweet release from the tension and are similar to the ending of Guitar Slim's classic "The Things I Used To Do".

"Red Hot" (1) and "No Greater Love" (3) are alternates both wonderful songs. These alternate versions give broader perspective to their potential and to the creative process that yielded the known versions. "No Greater Love" features superb guitar and piano work. The session produced three versions of the tune and one can feel intensity growing as the session progressed. It culminates in the well known Take 3 ("play you guitar, Calvin"), but things were really beginning to crackle on this take.

02(1) - "NO GREATER LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 155 - Master Take 1
Recorded: - May 31, 1955
Released: - June 21, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 219-B mono
NO GREATER LOVE / RED HOT
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4-2 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

02(2) - "NO GREATER LOVE" - 2 - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 31, 1955
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CD SUN 36-23 mono
THE SUN BLUES ARCHIVES - WAY AFTER MIDNIGHT - VOLUME 4
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-8-11 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

There's no reason to put this recent addition to Emerson's discography at this point, apart from its stylistic similarity to "Red Hot". Since most of his later sessions used much the same instrumentation, the task of identifying individual musicians on such scanty evidence is made even harder. Guitar and sax confine themselves to repeating the melody line in between verses, the only marked difference coming when the guitarist plays an octave higher. The lyrics are largely unremarkable, chosen one suspects as much for their syncopated rhythms as for their content. "When I'm broke, she always gives me money/when I'm sad, she makes me glad/then comes thirst, she always gives me water/now she's gone, you know I feel so sad".

02(3) - "NO GREATER LOVE" - 3 - B.M.I. - 2:49
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 31, 1955
Released: - August 2006
First appearance: - Titanic Records (CD) 500/200rpm TCR 6006-17 mono
RED HOT ABOUT THE BLUES - UNRELEASED SUN RECORDINGS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
William Billy Emerson - Vocal and Piano
Jewell Briscoe - Tenor Saxophone
Moses Reed - Tenor Saxophone
Calvin Newborn - Guitar
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Phineas Newborn Sr. - Drums
Billy Love - Piano
Band Chorus

According to Billy Emerson, he had been in Chicago in the early summer of 1955. working at a club at 55' and Prairie, owned by Frank Taylor, and ''When It Rains It Pours'' had been out for some time. He said: "I went by VJ which was on 48th and Cottage at that time, and I asked Calvin Carter there 'Can I look at some of your 'Billboards' to check what it was doing? He saw ''When It Rains It Pours'' listed in Dallas and New Orleans and so on. Carter said ''Man that record's been out a long time and everybody's looking fort the guy who recorded it''. Say, 'there's a reward out for Billy The Kid''. Emerson went out on tour for the summer but remembered this exchange after his last, apparently acrimonious, dealings with Sam Phillips in November. '''By December 1955 my contract with Sam was out. I called up Ewart Abner at Vee-Jay and said ''If you give me $1000 I'll sign with you'. So they brought me in and recorded me''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOHNNY CASH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE PROBABLY MID 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Its official. The bottom of the barrel had finally been reached. This is Johnny Cash's last release in 1964 on the original Sun label. For it, the powers that be had to go back, all the way back, to the beginning. How many Cash fans in May 1964 knew that they were listening to Cash's audition tape from nearly ten years earlier, featuring the likes of Mr. Red Kernodle on steel guitar? If its primitive you like, its primitive you get. Stan Kesler led an overdub session that could do little to disguise the raggedness of the original, although the song's gently baiting, self-deprecating humor was probably one of the factors that sold Sam Phillips on Johnny Cash all those years earlier.

01 - "WIDE OPEN ROAD" - B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Johnny Cash Music
Matrix number: - U 505 - Master
Recorded: - Mid 1955
Released: - May 1, 1964
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm standard single SUN 392-A mono
WIDE OPEN ROAD / BELSHAZZAR
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15805-1-23 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 5


Cash was represented by a two-sided gem. Even Billboard got on "Port Of Lonely Hearts", calling it, in essence, a diamond in the rough and extolling its singalong qualities. Sam Phillips had to dig deep for this; it was a 1955 demo, and the fact that it was issued at all spoke volumes about Sun's dependence upon Cash and about the timelessness of his music. Somehow the marketplace failed to grasp the song's subtle charms. Sam Phillips must have been wondering whether the jocks and distributors were conspiring to stay off Cash's old product, even when it stacked up well against his more recent work on Columbia in the early 1960s.

02(1) - "PORT OF LONELY HEARTS" - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Fort Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1
Recorded: - Mid 1955
Released: - Sun Unissued

02(2) - "PORT OF LONELY HEARTS" - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Fort Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 412 - Master Take 2
Second vocal and harmony overdubbed by Johnny Cash
Recorded: - Mid 1955
Released: - 1960
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 347-A mono
PORT OF LONELY HEARTS / MEAN EYED CAT
Reissued: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15804-2-11 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 4

03 - "I COULDN'T KEEP FROM CRYING" - B.M.I. - 1:59

Composer: - Marty Robbins
Publisher: - ATV Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Mid 1955
Released: - 1969
First appearance: - Sun International (LP) 33rpm LP 115-A-1 mono
THE SINGING STORY TELLER
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15517-1-13 mono
JOHNNY CASH THE MAN IN BLACK 1954 - 1958

04 - "NEW MEXICO" - B.M.I. - 2:03
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Overdubbed for release on LP 1275. 
Undubbed on Sunbox 103.
Recorded: - Mid 1955
Released: - 1965
First appearance: - Sun Records (LP) 33rpm SLP 1275-9 mono
THE ORIGINAL SUN SOUND OF JOHNNY CASH
Reissued: - 1984 Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 103 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN YEARS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Cash - Vocal and Guitar
Luther Perkins - Guitar
Marshall Grant – Bass

Overdub Session April 21, 1964 for ''New Mexico''
Bobby Wood - Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR MAC SALES &
JAKE RULES WITH THE ESQUIRE TRIO
FOR METEOR RECORDS 1955

METEOR RECORDING STUDIO
1746 CHELSEA AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
METEOR SESSION: MID 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - LESTER BIHARI



Lester Bihari launches Meteor Records in Memphis with his secretary, Leona Wynn. >

Mac Sales is a pseudonym for Malcolm Yelvington, who still was under contract with Sun Records at the time of this recording. This group first recorded for Sun Records and were frustrated by the wait for a second Sun release. In the meantime, they found Lester Bihari happy to give them a shot on Meteor Records.  Neither Lester nor the artists were clear about the contractual position, so they used a different name.


Mac Sales was actually Sun's Malcolm Yelvinton and Jake Rules and The Esquire Trio were what had been the Star Rhythm Boys. Malcolm played acoustic guitar, Jake was on bass, and the trio was Frank Tolley on piano, Miles Winn on steel and Gordon Mashburn on lead guitar.

Yelvinton's music always had a compelling energy without any of the histrionics of later rockabilly. His was really a small western-swing outfit looking to play rocking hillbilly music, and they succeeded spectacularly.


''Yakety Yak'' had been mastered as the second release on Sun in January 1955 after Yelvinton's ''Drinkin' Wine'' issued in 1954. ''But we waited on the release and nothing happened'', said Malcolm, ''so one day I was passing along Chelsea Avenue and I saw the Meteor studio and thought I would call in, just to see.

They said to bring the band in, so we went along and re-made the song and Lester liked them. I don't guess the record ever sold anything though - I never heard any more about it from Lester''. Billboard reviewed the disc in October 1955. It made very few waves at the time of release, but has since been hailed as a honky tonk rockabilly classic.

The Meteor disc sold steadily on a local basis but Meteor's distribution system was geared mainly to rhythm and blues. It was a really excellent honky-tonk country record, and deserved a far better fate.

01 - "YAKETY YAK" - B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: - Reece Fleming-Gordon Mashburn
Publisher: - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - MR 5035
Recorded: Mid 1955
Released: - October 1955
First appearance: - Meteor Records (S) 45rpm standard single Meteor 5022 mono
YAKETY YAK / A GAL NAMED JO
Reissued: - 2006 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16757-3 AH mono
MALCOM YELVINGTON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS


One hot summer's day in 1971 Malcolm Yelvington pulled out his old Martin guitar and sat in his living room on Creston Avenue in Memphis to play through his entire repertoire for Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins. Included was a show- topping ''A Gal Named Joe'' that swung as much as rocket.

Malcolm said, ''I learned most of my style off the radio in the old days. I didn't try to imitate Elvis Presley. That's the one thing I didn't do that all the younger guys came in and did. I had been playing my way for years. I couldn't have changed if I'd tried''.

02 - "A GAL NAMED JO" - B.M.I. - 2:40
Composer: - Reece Fleming-Lavern Fleming Jones
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - MR 5034
Recorded: - Mid 1955
Released: - October 1955
First appearance: - Meteor Records (S) 45rpm standard single Meteor 5022 mono
A GAL NAMED JO / YAKETY YAK
Reissued: - 2006 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16757-4 mono
MALCOLM YELVINGTON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Malcolm Yelvington - Vocal and Guitar
Jake Ryles - Vocal and Bass
Reece Fleming - Piano
Miles Red Winn - Steel Guitar
Gordon Mashburn - Guitar

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


JUNE 1955

Rosco Gordon leaves Duke Records and returns to Sun after an absence of over two years.  His recordings will be released both on Sun and Flip.

Eunice Kathleen Waymon (blues-singer Nina Simone) returns in Atlantic City, New Jersey,at Midtown Bar and Grill. Meet Ted Axelrod. Performance in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at Poquessing Club. Nina made a demo record and released as a bootleg ''Starring Nina Simone'' in 1964; the recording was the subject of a lawsuit.

The popular game show “The $64,000 Question” debuted on CBS-TV. Based on the radio quiz show “Take It Or Leave It,” it was created by Louis G. Cowan who had also created several popular radio quiz shows like “Quiz Kids.” Contestants on the game show boasted specialized knowledge in specific areas of expertise such as spelling or Shakespeare. The suspenseful format of the show meant that they would compete week to week building up their winnings until they reached the final round. The show became extremely popular but the success was relatively short-lived and it ended in 1958 when it was revealed that several popular game shows had been rigged.

JUNE 1, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Patsy Cline has her first recording session in Nashville, cutting ''A Church, A Courtroom And Then Goodbye''.

JUNE 2, 1955 THURSDAY

Eddy Arnold recorded ''That Do Make It Nice'' at the RCA Studio in Nashville.

JUNE 5, 1955 SUNDAY

During a party celebrating his re-signing with RCA Records, Eddy Arnold, fresh from recording with an orchestra, is asked if he'd ever seen so many fiddles; ''Yes'', he replies, ''but I've never seen so many in tune at the same time''.

Elvis Presley's pink Cadillac is destroyed when it catches fire while traveling between Hope, Arkansas, and Texarkana.

JUNE 6, 1955 MONDAY

Curtis Writh is born in Huntington, Pennsylvania. A member of Vern Gosdin's band in the late-1980s, he becomes a backing vocalist in recording sessions, and writes Ronnie Milsap's ''A Woman In Love'', plus Shenandoah's ''Next To You, Next To Me''.

JUNE 7, 1955 TUESDAY

Pop singer Joey Scarbury is born in Ontario. Best known for the 1981 hit ''Theme From Greatest American Hero (Believe It Or Not)'', he provides background vocals on albums by Dolly Parton, Michael Murphey and Kenny Rogers.

JUNE 8, 1955 WEDNESDAY

MGM chief Frank Walker telegrams Sun Records' Sam Phillips with an offer to buy Elvis Presley's recording contract. It's the latest among a series of offers from Decca, Capitol, Mercury, Chess, Atlantic and Dot.

JUNE 9, 1955 THURSDAY

Studio session with Rosco Gordon at Sun Records, Memphis, Tennessee to recorded ''Weeping Blues''. Session details  unknown. Rosco's Sun contract was dated June 9, 1955 and sent to W. Fay St., Memphis.

JUNE 11, 1955 SATURDAY

Mike Daly, of The Gibson/Miller Band, is born in Cleveland, Ohio. He plays steel guitar on both of the act's early-1990s albums. The band wins the Academy of Country Music's Top New Group or Duo honor in 1994 but breaks up later that year.

JImmy C. Newman appears on the Red Foley-hosted ABC show ''Ozark Jubilee''.

SUMMER 1955

By the summer of 1955, Emerson was booking through the Buffalo Agency in Houston, along  with B.B. King and Junior Parker, and he seems to have gained plenty of road work on the  strength of ''The Woodchuck'', ''When It Rains' It Pours'' and ''Red Hot''.

In the damp heat of summer 1955, Jack Earls' unnamed quartet practiced every day at  various members' homes before they cut their first sessions that fall. Phillips was mostly  interested in original songs that his Hi-Lo publishing company could sign up. Earls recalled  Phillips telling him, "You know I'd rather have one guy like you that writes his own songs,  than ten that don't.' Because material is not easy to come by And back then had more  material than I knew what to do with''! The group recorded takes of a few Earls originals,  including the superb honky tonk anthem ''I'm A Fool For Lovin' You'', rockin' stroller called  ''Hey Jim'' (and another version of it where Earls mistakenly sang ''Hey Slim'', but included  a verse that he left out of ''Hey Jim'', and ''They Can't Keep Me From You'', another love  song that no doubt inspired more than a few couples to polish their belt buckles while  dancing close.



SUMMER 1955

During the summer the Roy Orbison and the Wink Westerners regrouped back in West Texas.  When not appearing at local clubs, they would play at the Saturday Night Jamboree in Jal,  New Mexico. The band somehow managed to appear, along with other local Country and  Western bands, on a Saturday afternoon television show on KMID-TV Channel 2, out of  Midland.



Roy Orbison & The Wink Westerners: (From left) James Morrow, guitar; Billy Pat Ellis, drums; Roy Orbison, vocal and guitar; Charles Evens, Bass; Richard West, piano. ^

In addition to their regular repertoire, they began to play some Rock and Roll  numbers including "That's All Right'', "Rock Around The Clock" and of course, "Ooby Dooby" .  They were an instant success and as a result were given their own thirty-minute show on  Friday nights on KMID.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR THE JONES BROTHERS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SATURDAY JUNE 11, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

The Jones Brothers were a performing aggregation for at least twenty years before they recorded for Sun Records in the early 1950s. In fact, their four Sun recordings. We always believed that there was just one Jones Brothers session that resulted in one poor-selling single. Now we have to revise that notion backward and forward. There's a version of ''Every Night'', that clearly derives from an undated earlier session, and a newly discovered note inside a tape box suggest that ''Amazing Grace'' and ''Gospel Train'' were recorded nearly eighteen months after the single. The ballsier reverb certainly supports the later date. The modestly applied tape delay reverb on the single has been amped up rockabilly style. 


The Jones Brothers, circa 1952. >

Johnny Prye of the Jones Brothers always insisted that the group recorded with Elvis Presley. We never wholeheartedly embraced this notion because the Jones' only known session was in January 1954, six months before Elvis began recording, but the date inside the tape box for ''Amazing Grace'' / ''Gospel Train'' is June 11, 1955. Elvis was in Shreveport to play the Louisiana Hayride that day, but his datebook noted that he was at Sun on June 12, and no known recording resulted.


Of course, if we could plainly hear Elvis on either of these songs, it would place the matter beyond dispute, but we cannot. Behind the strong lead vocal there's some excellent close harmony, so close in fact that we cannot isolate one voice from another.  It's well known that Elvis Presley loved this style of singing and that his first gospel LP ''His Hand In Mine'' blended black and white quartet gospel, but we would need to hear him to believe that he was there.

The story above does not end well. Johnny Prye died several years later and shortly after his death, there was structural damage to his house resulting in the contents of his attic collapsing into a downstairs bedroom. In the course of making the necessary repairs, the contents of Prye's attic, were unceremoniously carted off with shards of plaster, wood and other rubble.

Recording this track, the Jones Brothers resurrected a selection that had become the signature song for the world famous Golden Gate Quartet, In fact, the Gates had performed it during the 1938 From Spirituals To Swing concert at Carnegie Hall. Inspiration for the Jones Brothers' version might have come from closer to home, though. WDIA carried a show titled ''Gospel Train'' and the 1956 program for the station's Goodwill Review mentioned the ''Jones Boys'' as among the station's regular gospel performers. The Joneses turn in a spririted version in a style that owes more to Jubilee than most of their recorded work. As on the Gates' version, there are vocal train effects and, to make the song their own, there is a reference to ''Memphis''.

01 - "GOSPEL TRAIN" - B.M.I. - 2:16
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 11, 1955
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Charly Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - May 1994 Rhino Records (CD) 500/200rpm R271780 mono
THE SUN RECORDS COLLECTION

''Amazing Grace'' is the best known and most widely recorded statement of faith in the world. It also became an unlikely Top 20 pop hit in consecutive years, first for Judy Collins and then a team of bagpipers. From the opening notes of this track, played by an electric guitar, it's clear the Jones Brothers are from a different gospel tradition. There is certainly vocal blending, but the lead vocalist has been listening to gospel shouters. There is little of the Jubilee harmony style here, despite the fact that the group's arranger, Johnny Prye, purported to be strongly influenced by the Golden Gate Quartet. The Jones Brothers' reading of ''Grace'' is done entirely in free-meter. During the first verse the group stays close to the original material. However, things change radically during the second verse, when their performance loses its debt to the classic hymn. It is nearly as free of traces of ''Amazing Grace'' as it is of meter. Rather than singing any of the lyrics from Dr. Newton's original (and there were verses galore), the singer chants a personal testimonial about calling on God in the midnight hour.

02 - "AMAZING GRACE" - B.M.I. - 3:27
Composer: - Public Domain
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None  -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 11, 1955
Released: - 2000
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16387-28 mono
SUN GOSPEL

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
The Jones Brothers consisting of:
William Gresham - Vocal
Jake McIntosh - Vocal
Charles Jones - Vocal
Eddie Hollins - Vocal
Johnny Prye - Vocal
James Rayford - Vocal
Charles Bishop – Guitar

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


JUNE 1955

Most of Gene Simmons Sun recordings are on the CD5 from the Sun Rock Boxset (BCD 17313) these songs probably date  from his 1955 audition and a home-made tape. The Johnnie & Jack-inspired ''Down On The Border''  certainly sounds like a studio recording, but ''Shake Rattle And Roll'' doesn't. Taken together, they capture  hillbilly music becoming rockabilly before our ears.

JUNE 15, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Singer/songwriter Billy Mize recorded ''Who Will Buy The Wine''. Five years later, it becomes a hit for Charlie Walker.

JUNE 17. 1955 FRIDAY

Tommy Collins recorded ''I Guess I'm Crazy'' and ''You Uoghta See Pickles Now''.

JUNE 18, 1955 SATURDAY

Faron Young's signature hit, ''Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young'', reaches number 1 on the Billboard country chart.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR GENE SIMMONS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Gene Simmons was no stranger to microphones. He sang into them at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, and on lots of stages at local clubs and in makeshift studios at radio stations. During the early years, if a friend had a halfway decent home tape recorder, Gene sang into that as well. When they were kids during the late 1940s and early 1950s, Gene and his older brother Leon entertained strangers in the town courtyard for spare change. Even though they were more involved in agricultural work than the music business, Gene and his brothers (by now Carl had joined them) did their share of singing into make believe microphones that were crafted out of tree branches, picked up in the fields they were plowing. Singing into tree-branch microphones was an image Gene shared with more than one interviewer long after his recording "Haunted House" hit the pop charts in 1964.


Gene Simmond >

From the myopic point of view of most music journalists, Gene is a good example of a One-Hit-Wonder. He sort of came out of nowhere in the fall of 1964, scraped the Top 10 with his version of the Johnny Fuller song, Hauted House", and disappeared again. His follow-up record, "The Dodo", put in a three-week token appearance at number 83 on the Billboard charts, and then it was all over.  To begin with Gene Simmons had already been at it for nearly ten years when "Haunted House" hit the charts.


Not just at it singing into make-believe microphones and tree branches. But at it singing on the radio, at local clubs and - most of all - traveling to Memphis, spending whatever time he could auditioning for and, finally, recording in that little hole-in-the-wall studio on the corner of Union and Marshall.

It was the same studio in which Mr. Phillips had discovered another unknown singer from Tupelo named Elvis Presley. Like Gene after him, Elvis had also done his share of singing into make-believe microphones and a few real ones when Sam Phillips finally got serious about experimenting with him in the studio. That was all Gene was asking for. Just a chance to show what he had.

According to Gene, it was Elvis Presley who, one way or the other, got him interested in Sun Records. Gene recalled, "Growing up in Tupelo, I never actually met Elvis. We never knew each other as kids. Right before his first record came out, we kind of crossed paths. Me and my kid brother Carl, had a radio show in Tupelo. There weren't many places to play. You'd play the Moose Club or you wouldn't play at all. Or you'd go down to Betty McKissick's house on Saturday afternoon for a jam session. She was a distant cousin of Elvis. So we're all down there and in walks Elvis. He had hitchhiked down from Memphis to spend a weekend with his grandmother in Tupelo. So Betty introduces us and tells us he can sing some too. So I hand him my guitar and he says, 'No. I don't really do it in public. I just play and sing for myself. 'Kinda shy, very polite, but I remember how weird he looked. Very greasy-like. Pink stripes his pants".

"A few months later, I heard his first record out on Sun and Betty tells me it's the same guy I had met back at her house. A while later I was at the radio station and Bob Neal, who had started managing Elvis, calls up and says, 'You have a radio show down there. This new boy is local and I'd like you to help promote him. You boys can play on his show. So that night I really got to meet with him and see him in action. I asked him, 'Can you get us an audition with that record label?. So he agreed to and a while later we went up there and met Sam Phillips".

In all likelihood, the show on which Gene appeared with Elvis and helped to promote on the radio was the June 15, 1955 date in Belden, Mississippi. It was held at the local high school gymnasium. Local disc jockey and promoter Bobby Ritter was on hand to MC the show of their earliest visits to Sun. Indeed, Ritters name appears on a tape box holding multiple takes of "Down On The Border", the very first song Gene auditioned at Sun Records. This suggests that Ritter may have been there as more than a casual friend from Tupelo, making the drive to Memphis for the fun of it.

01 - "DOWN ON THE BORDER" - B.M.I. - 1:53
Composer: - Gene Simmons
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Corporation
Matrix number: - 2544 – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1955
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-5-11 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS - ROCKIN' WITH MY BABY
Reissued: - 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16758-9 mono
GENE SIMMONS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

01(2) - "DOWN ON THE BORDER" - B.M.I. - 1:54
Composer: - Gene Simmons
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Corporation
Matrix number: - 2544 - Alternate Take – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1955
Released: - 2007
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16758-23 mono
GENE SIMMONS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Gene Simmons - Vocal and Guitar
Carl Simmons - Vocal and Mandolin
Jessie Carter - Upright Bass
John Green - Fiddle


From left: Jessie Carter, Gene Simmons, Talmadge Hester, Carl Simmons, John Green. >

Gene may have been eager to show what he had, but, at least initially, it was not exactly what Sam Phillips was looking for. Gene's brother Carl, who would become a spectacular lead guitar player, recalls those early years with a wistful smile. "We were really a bluegrass band when we first went up there. I wasn't even playing guitar. I brought my mandolin to the first audition. Sam Phillips told us, as politely as he could, that he wished we'd just lose the mandolin. 


Actually Sam's exact words were, 'Wrap the mandolin around a telephone pole and pick up a guitar'. Back then, he was God so you did what he told you. All the musicians I knew wanted to go up to Sun Records and record''.  ''I didn't actually wrap the mandolin around a telephone pole, but I did put it down and buy me a guitar. My first electric was a Kay".  "I also had a Harmony at about the same time. All the stuff I recorded at Sun was on one of those two guitars. I graduated to a Chet Atkins Gretsch after than and then, later on, I got really uptown and bought a Fender Telecaster.

Sam Phillips probably also told the boys to take the fiddle they had brought, played by John Green, and wrap it around the same telephone pole. Sam Phillips was just not looking for a pure hillbilly band, no matter how much dust they might kick up on a Saturday night dance floor. Phillips was not making a documentary about life in the rural honky-tonks in 1955. He was trying to sell records and that meant finding something different. Presley had been different. Carl Perkins, another soldier in the honky tonk wars, had been different. Could Phillips work his magic once again? Was there anything here he could work with?

Fortunately, we have samples of just what Phillips was listening to. You can almost feel Sam Phillips' presence as he tries to push the group beyond their familiar music into what they might become. The earliest recordings, like "Down On The Border", reveal the truth of Carl Simmons' words. They really were a bluegrass group. With Carl on Mandolin, John Green on fiddle, Gene on acoustic guitar, and Jessie Carter taking his first tentative steps on upright bass, these guys were raw and very country. The song itself is kind of catchy, but it would have been in alien territory in the Sun catalogue. Sam was right to have passed. He listened, even recorded several takes, but then uttered the immortal words, "What else you got?".

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR GENE SIMMONS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SATURDAY JUNE 18, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

The sound on this session clearly echoes the recordings that Sam Phillips was making with Elvis Presley at the same time. Bass player Jesse Carter recalls those days and the price of insistence. ''Getting into the studio to record, that was the toughest nut to crack. You just don't know what it was like. We'd get up early in the morning, leave Tupelo, drive to Memphis, do a 3 or 4-hour session, pack up, drive back to Tupelo. It'd be 10 or 11 at night before we'd get back home. No expressways in those days. Country highways. Sometimes Sam would call at the last minute and have to cancel. Said, 'I've got something else come up. I'll give you a call next week'. Sometimes we wouldn't hear from him for 2 or 3 weeks. Maybe have to call him again, remind him...''.

01(1) - "MOM AND POP" - B.M.I. - 1:38
Composer: - Gene Simmons
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 2550 - Alternate Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 18, 1955
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1019-5 mono
ROCK-A-BILLY BLUES
Reissued: - August 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16210-3 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 14

01(2) - "MON AND POP" - B.M.I. - 1:39
Composer: - Gene Simmons
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 2550 - Alternate Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 18, 1955
Released: - 2007
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16758-19 mono
GENE SIMMONS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS
Reissued: - Mid Century Music (CD) 500/200rpm 6003-17 mono
GENE SIMMONS - 706 UNION AVENUE AND BEYOND

02 - "DRINKIN' SCOTCH" - B.M.I. - 3:02
Composer: - Gene Simmons
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 2547 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 18, 1955
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1019-4 mono
ROCK-A-BILLY BLUES
Reissued: - 1999 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16311-5 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 16

"Drinkin' Scotch" was a prototypical version of "Drinkin' Wine", a song that Gene Simmons recorded in 1956 but wasn't released until August 1958.

03(1) - "BLUES AT MIDNIGHT" - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Gene Simmons
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - 2548 - Alternate Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 18, 1955
Released: - 1985
First appearance: Sun England - (LP) 33rpm 1019-1 mono
ROCK-A-BILLY BLUES
Reissued: - 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16758-8 mono
GENE SIMMONS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS


The group carried another lead guitar player early on named Talmadge Hester. You can hear his work on "Blues At Midnight". There's nothing particularly distinctive about the song. It's a standard, if a bit more melodic than most, 12-bar blues. It is Hester's work that marks the group, indeed the recording, as ordinary. The timing is ragged and the lead guitar work, if one can call it that, sounds like a guy who was busy learning his instrument. (Jesse Carter recalls, ''We found out after just a few weeks that Carl was a much better guitar player than Hester was''.) Gene added that Hester's lead guitar role probably occurred at the very time that Carl was making the transition from mandolin to electric guitar.

Perhaps Hester would develop into a competent musician, but there's no evidence of it here. Sam Phillips was operating on blind faith at this point.  As Carl adds, ''We were obsessed with going in there''. The group made many trips to Memphis: sometimes to record, sometimes simply to watch and listen and mingle.

03(2) - "BLUES AT MIDNIGHT" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Gene Simmons
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - 2549 - Alternate Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 18, 1955
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-7-1 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS - THE CHAINS IN LOVE
Reissued: -  Mid Century Music (CD) 500/200rpm 6003-16 mono
GENE SIMMONS - 706 UNION AVENUE AND BEYOND

A lot of tunes, some of them forgettable, some intriguing, most not fully realized, were committed to tape at Sun. Most of them just sat in tape boxes waiting for discovery decades later. Gene described them collectively in 2006 as ''novelties and fun songs''.


"Juicy Fruit", fifty years after the fact, some of these titles had become a little vague to Gene, Jessie and Carl. But one that stood right out a half a century later to all three men was Gene's good-natured opus to lust, "Juicy Fruit". Maybe everyone remembered it because they had sung together on the chorus (live during the take and no overdubbing). But more likely, it was the lustfully zany lyrics.

Back in 1956 you could make a little money naming a song after a popular confection, and "Juicy Fruit" was one of the bestselling chewing gums in teen land. But the lyrics here were just a little bit over the top for airplay.

Sam Phillips must have known that, even as he was recording take after take of the catchy song. "Have a lollipop, baby, 'cause you're my Juicy Fruit". Yeah, that was bound to get heavy airplay in the Bible Belt. 

04(1) - "JUICY FRUIT" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Gene Simmons
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - 2552 - Alternate Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - June 18, 1955
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1025 mono
HOT FLOP AND FLY
Reissued: - 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16758-16 mono
GENE SIMMONS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

04(2) - "JUICY FRUIT" - B.M.I. - 2:47
Composer: - Gene Simmons
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - 2552 - Alternate Take 2
Recorded: - June 18, 1955
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-7-4 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS - THE CHAINS IN LOVE
Reissued: - 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16758-4 mono
GENE SIMMONS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

04(3) - "JUICY FRUIT" B.M.I. - 2:49
Composer: - Gene Simmons
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - 2552 - Alternate Take 3
Recorded: - June 18, 1955
Released: - 2007
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16758-25 mono
GENE SIMMONS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

05 - "YOU CAN'T BREAK THE CHAINS OF LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Gene Simmons
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - 2553
Recorded: - June 18, 1955
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1024-1 mono
HOT SOUTHERN BOPPERS
Reissued: - 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16758-11 mono
GENE SIMMONS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Gene Simmons - Vocal
Jesse Carter - Bass
Carl Simmons - Guitar
Talmadge Hester - Guitar

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Back row: John Green, Carl Simmons, Jessie Carter. Front row: Gene Simmons, Talmadge Hester. >

THE TRUE STORY ABOUT GENE SIMMONS - When Gene Simmons was a teenager in Tupelo,  Mississippi, in the early 1950s, his two sisters brought home an old guitar. He could not  stop smacking its strings. In a few months, he was strumming them sweetly and performing  on the radio and at dances with his brother in the Simmons Brothers band. Simmons'  career has taken him from Tupelo to the world, from obscurity to fame, and from fame to  relative obscurity again.

Yet the man who started recording for Sun Records as a rockabilly  artist in the 1950s finally succeeded with "Haunted House" on Hi Records in 1964.  "One  day, I guess it was about 1954," Simmons recalled, "I was visiting a cousin of Elvis Presley. I  didn't know who this Elvis fellow was at the time, but everybody said he played the guitar,  so I handed him one. He just smiled. He was real shy. He said, 'I only play by myself'. Personally, I thought the guy looked weird. Greased back hair, tight pants, all that. Yeah,  this guy was 'weird' all right; hipper than we country boys. Well, one day a short time later  I had the opportunity to hear his first record on the radio. I said to my brother, 'Hey, is  that the guy I met? I'd sure like to hear more about this record deal'.

So a few weeks later a guy named Bob Neal called and said he wanted to book Elvis back in  his old hometown of Tupelo. Neal asked our band to play with Elvis on his date. That's  really how my career got started". Eventually, Simmons approached Presley about getting  in to see Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun, about a contract. "I can arrange an audition",  Presley told Simmons, "but I'm afraid that's all I can do for you boys. The rest is up to you".  Phillips apparently liked what he heard, for he took Simmons into the little Memphis studio  to record eight sides. But Sun was too involved with other artists and projects at the time,  and Jumpin' Gene Simmons - called that because of his antics on stage - got only one  release. "So I just left to go on tour all over the country", he recalled. "In Canada I met a  woman who later became my wife. When I brought her to Memphis with me, vocalist Ray  Harris got me on the Hi label. At the time, in the early 1960s, Bill Black's group needed a  vocalist, so I started singing for him. In all, I had releases on Hi in 1961, 1962, 1963 - but  no hits. I looked around and saw my buddies `having hits, and I started to think that  maybe this was just not meant to be for me. By 1963, I was ready to hang it up.

Then I found a guy named Domingo Samudio - you'd probably know him better as Sam The  Sham - playing in the clubs with me. All the pickers laughed at me for saying so, but I  thought Sam had such a different stage presence. I cut the first record on him on a Tupelo  label, a record called 'Betty Ann Dupree', but nothing happened. About that time Sam was  singing a song that had been recorded unsuccessfully before called 'Haunted House'. I liked  it. Sam got a wild reaction when he played it in the clubs. Well, the folks over at Hi asked  me to ask Sam if he would record it for them. Sam didn't like Hi for some reason, and he  said to tell them that he would make the record on his own. Anyhow, the man over at Hi  said, 'Look, Gene, we're gonna make that record anyway. Would you like to cut it?' I said,  'Hey, why not?' My contract with Hi had already expired, though, and they had to make  arrangements for me to record again. But what Sam turned down I had a hit on. It was all  so unlikely". Simmons said the session was not like his others in that everyone involved  had fun. The label president called his distributor in New York City and said Hi was putting  out a new Gene Simmons record. "Man", the distributor complained, "we've got that guy's  records stacked up to the ceiling now, and they aren't doing a thing", "Well, get ready for a  stone smash", the president said. By August, 1964, "Haunted House" had rested at number  eleven on the Hot 100, and the Hi executive seemed to be a teller of fortunes.

In a time when disc jockeys seemed obsessed with English bands, "long" hair, and a new  sophistication in music, a Memphis label came along with a novelty record about a man  who refuses to leave his new house just because it's haunted. "Actually, the English thing  helped me", Simmons said. "The DJs were sort of tired of all that stuff, I think, and my  record was a refreshing one because it had a funky beat that you could dance to. I was  just happy to be on the charts. Later, I got tagged as a novelty act. I couldn't find anything  nearly as good as 'Haunted House' and I never had another big national hit". He didn't mind  all that much, however, for he had always wanted to be a country singer. Yet Simmons was  not like his contemporaries in country or rockabilly because he could sing a variety of  music and sing with soul. He was an excellent vocalist in an era when many singers were  mediocre. "I started out singing country and I was happy with it", he said. In recent years  Simmons has been performing as a country-rockabilly artist and producing, writing and  publishing music, He even recorded a less frenetic version of "Haunted House" on a local  label called Deltune Records. But the big national hits have stopped coming for now, and  Simmons has moved from Tupelo to the Nashville area to work for a music publishing  company. He said he will keep singing country music as long as somebody wants to hear  him. "That's where my heart is", he said.

Tupelo, Mississippi, February 1987


From left: Charles Eldred, Jesse Carter, Ace Cannon. >

ON THE ROAD WITH JESSE CARTER – ''One morning I was listening to the local radio station, WTUP,  and Gene had a program on at that time. I think it was just him and Carl. This is probably around 1953. I had  been playing the guitar a little myself so I decided to go over there one Saturday morning to check them out.  The first time I went over, I just listened. The second time I asked if I could play with them on the shoe.  He  said, 'Yeah, man. Bring your guitar and come along'. And so I joined the band''.


''Then this guy I had gone to  school with named John Green, a fiddle player, he comes along. The this other boy comes along named  Talmadge Hester. And he plays the guitar. So now we have three guitar players: me and Gene and Hester''.

''We  decided three guitars was too much and somebody had to go to playing bass. So I went down to Witt's Music  Store in Tupelo and got me an old upright Kay bass. I got pretty good on the thing and that started my bass  playing days''.

''The group got pretty good. We had been playing together about two or three years and there really weren't  many bands around Tupelo that could touch us. One of the first thrills we had was they were booking Elvis  and Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins in the National Guard Armory, Mississippi (The actual date appears to  have been December 12, 1955). We opened that show up with ''Truck Driving Man''. We felt so good  afterwards; we got as good a hand as Johnny cash. Now Perkins and Elvis, that was something else again.  But they brought us back out on stage. For a bunch of old country boys just starting up, that felt pretty good.  We just went on from there. It gave us a lift we really needed''.

''Gene was real creative when it came to writing. He was always thinking. We could be just going down the  road and he'd think of something. 'Give me a piece of paper, give me a pen'. Gene and me and Carl, we lived  close together. We were together at least 60 hours a week. We were all the time playing, coming up with  stuff. If they weren't at my house, I was at their house''.

''Carl and I and Gene were part of those tours through Ontario, Canada back in the late 1950s. We were  playing in Toronto, Kitchener, London, Hamilton, Windsor... Clubs like the Brass Rail, The Coq d'Or, the  Flamingo Lounge. I remember we finished about a week before Conway Twitty so we drove over to  Hamilton to see him at the Flamingo and we sat in with him. We had the best time... just tore that place up. A  lot of us from Sun made that tour. Riley was there too. When we got black, I played with guys like John  Hughey – a fine steel guitar player and a good old country boy. He was with Slim Rhodes at the time but me  and him used to do side jobs together. WE played out at the Naval Base together. Reggie Young is another  guy I played with for three or four years. He's a tough guitar player. I also played a lot at Hi''.

''I was playing clubs with Carl. We played in Memphis at a place called Little Abner's Supper club. At the  time, Joe Cuoghi, who owned Hi Records told Ace Cannon that he was going to release a single on him  (''Tuff'') and he ought to be looking to put together a band of his own. Ace came into the club and listened to  me and Carl for about two hours. Then he told us he wanted to hire us to go on the road with him. That's  when Carl and I left Gene and went off with Ace Cannon. Gene worked as a single, playing with house bands  in Memphis. He did a lot of singing with the Bill Black Combo and he also came and sang with us after me  and Carl had been with Ace for about a year or so. The bookings would say ''Gene Simmons and the Ace  Cannon Combo''. I stayed on the road with Ace for quite a few years''.

''When we left Sun back then as kids, we had nothing to show for it. No paperwork. No recordings. If  something didn't come out on a single, it just stayed in the can. We didn't even leave with an old 78 acetate.  When someone comes into my studio today I make sure they leave with something. I'll burn them a CD  whether they have any more or not. I've gotten a lot from this business and I want to give something back''.


LIFE IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS BY CARL SIMMONS - ''I had really been around a guitar all my young  life. I was only about 15, maybe a little younger, when I got my own guitar. Both my sisters were musicians.  Agnes played rhythm guitar and Izetta played mandolin. My sisters were actually playing on the radio when
I was a kid. I picked the mandolin up first by my sister Agnes taught me chords on the guitar so I knew a  little something even before I got my own. I was listening to a lot of different music. I spent plenty of time  listening to the Opry and the country stars, but I also liked big band music. I loved Les Paul and Chet Atkins.  My heroes are really guitar players''.

''It was mostly Sam who recorded us. Jack Clement did a couple of the later sessions but it was really mostly  Sam. We were up at Sun during a lot of other people's sessions. We were there when Jerry Lee recorded  ''High School Confidential''. It was a pretty basic studio, not very sophisticated, but it sounded great to us''.

''Sam was pretty impatient with us. We were more or less a bluegrass band when we went up to Sun. We had  our own radio show. But Sam just didn't think he could sell it. He was very successful and nobody can have  that much luck. He knew what he was doing. He couldn't necessarily tell you what he wanted, but he sure  knew it when he heard it. I remember Sam playing us a very early session he had cut on Johnny Cash. (Note:  ''Cry Cry Cry'' (Sun 221) was cut in May 1955). He was very excited about it. He told us, 'This guy is going  to be as big as Hank Williams'. We didn't think it sounded so good at the time, but he was right''.

''We did a lot of shows with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins. We did shows with Elvis, Charlie  Rich. I worked with Charlie personally myself for a while. Sam told me that one of his biggest  disappointments was never really getting a big hit on Charlie Rich. He had ''Lonely Weekends'' but he  believed there was much more there''.

''I was on the road with the Bill Black Combo for about a year and did sessions with them at Hi Records. I  probably played on 60-70% of the sessions he did. Me and Reggie Young, he was the other guitar player they  used. Gene was working as a vocalist with the Bill Black Combo when we were on the road. I recall a  package tour we were all on with Brenda Lee, Fabian, Chubby Checker..''.

''Hi Records was actually a lot like a family. There'd be disagreements or a bit of jealously here and there.  Bill Black got upset with Ace Cannon when he had that big hit record on ''Tuff''. Ace had been Bill's sax  player but after that hit record, Ace left Bill and went out on his own. I worked with Ace on the road for  about four or five years and on all his sessions''.

''Joe Cuoghi wanted to cut ''Haunted House'' using Sam the Sham and the Bill Black Combo. Sam wouldn't  do it for some reason and Ray Harris asked for Gene. So Gene came in with Bill's combo, they set up and did  it in two takes. And it's a million seller. That's the way things happen sometimes''.

''Almost anyone can be made to sound good today, at least in the studio. It's a little different out on the road.  It's harder to cover up all the flaws out there. Although today the sound system are getting more and more  elaborate. You can fill a whole tractor trailer with equipment to put on the stage. When we were recording, it  was live off the floor and when we were out on the road, it was just a station wagon with a guitar, a bass and  a couple of amps. I remember being on the road with Elvis. Him and Scotty and Bill with a guitar in the car  and the big bass out on top of the Cadillac. That was it. The whole band''.


JUNE 20, 1955 MONDAY

The movie ''Webb Pierce And His Wonderin' Boys'' debuts in theaters. Hank Penny, Sue Thompson, Red Sovine and Johnny Burnette also appear in the film, which includes rendition of ''Slowly'' and ''In The Jailhouse Now''.

Red Hot was issued on Sun 219 on 20 June 1955 and it received favourable reviews though  Sun's limited promotional efforts were being put behind Johnny Cash's first hit Cry Cry Cry,  released the next day.

JUNE 21, 1955 TUESDAY

"Cry, Cry, Cry" backed with "Hey! Porter" (Sun 221) is released under the name Johnny Cash.  Cash had been christened simply "J.R" and had been dubbed "John" later in life. It was Sam  Phillips who coined "Johnny". Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant were dubbed the Tennessee  Two. They agreed to divide the royalties on an equal three way split. The original  compositions were credited solely to Cash although the substance of a lawsuit brought by  Luther Perkins' family and Marshall Grant was that they had contributed to almost every  composition during the endless rehearsals. It was one of the biggest thrills of his life, Cash often said, to hear his record played on the radio for the first time. For the first time, too, he was beginning to think, ''I might can make a living at it, and I won't have to do all those other things I don't want to do, like be a policeman or work as a disc jockey or a salesman, maybe, you know, by the end of the year I might make enough to pay the rent''. But when Cash took a promotional copy to Elvis' manager, WMPS disc jockey Bob Neal, and Neal dropped it and broke it, ''I thought my world had ended. I didn't think they'd make another one!''.

Also this day, the singles Sun 219 ''Red Hot'' b/w ''No Greater Love'' by Billy Emerson (Sam Phillips wrote to West Coast pressing plant operator Nate Duroff, was ''taking off big and going white, even though, other Emerson releases have been strictly for the Negro trade'');  Sun 220 ''Homesick For My Baby'' b/w ''Lookin' For My Baby'' by Little Milton and Sun 222 ''Don't Do That'' b/w ''Sittin' By The Window'' by The Five Tinos are released.

JUNE 22, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Carl Smith recorded ''Don't Tease Me'' during an evening session at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

Hank Thompson recorded ''Don't Take It Out On Me'' during an evening session at the Capitol Studios on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.

JUNE 25, 1955 SATURDAY

Wade Moore and Dick Penner are on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, Texas, singing ''Hey Miss Fannie'' and ''Dance With Me, Henry'', appearing alongside Charline Arthur, Sonny James, and Jimmy Patton.

JUNE 26, 1955 SUNDAY

Patsy Cline opens for Ernest Tubb at a free concert beneath the Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park. The show draws 15,000 people.

JUNE 27, 1955 MONDAY

Capitol released a double-sided Faron Young single, ''All Right'' and the flip-side ''Go Back You Fool''.

Decca released Kitty Wells' double-sided ''There's Poison In Your Heart'' and ''I'm In Love With You''.

JUNE 30, 1955 THURSDAY

The movie ''Wichita'' opens with Joel McCrea, Vera Miles, Lloyd Bridges and Peter Graves in starring roles. Tex Ritter sings the title track.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



Continued: 1955 Sun Sessions 2