CONTAINS 1959 SUN SESSIONS 1

Studio Session for Doctor Ross, Probably 1959 / Fortune Records
Studio Session for Rudy Grayzell, 1959 / Award Records
Studio Session for Luke McDaniel, 1959 (1) / Big Howdy Records
Studio Session for Luke McDaniel, 1959 (2) / Big Howdy Records
Studio Session for Warren Smith, Unknown Dates / Sun Records
Studio Session for Jean Hornbeck, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Mack Allen Smith, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Charlotte Smith, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Charlie Rich, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Edwin Howard, January 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Curtis Hoback, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Curtis Hoback, Unknown Date(s) / Sun Records
Studio Session for Sonny Burgess, Probably 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Warren Smith, January 7, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Billy Riley, January 7, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Billy Riley, January 19, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Jerry McGill, January 21, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Brad Suggs, January 22, 23, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Cliff Gleaves, Circa February 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Narvel Felts, February 1959 / Pink Records
Studio Session for Narvel Felts, Spring 1959 / Pink Records
Studio Session for Bobbie & The Boys, February 1, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Vernon Taylor, February 4, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Roland Janes, February 11, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for James M. Van Eaton, February 11, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Martin Willis, February 11, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Ray Smith, February 21, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Charlie Rich, February 25, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Ernie Barton, February 25, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Brad Suggs, March 6, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Vernon Taylor, March 8, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Jerry Lee Lewis, March 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Jerry Lee Lewis, March 22, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Brad Suggs, March 31, 1959 / Sun Records
Probably Studio Session for Edwin Bruce, April 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Alton Lott & Jimmy Harrell, April 5, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Tracy Pendarvis, Summer 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Brad Suggs, April 13, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Bill Justis, Probably April 30, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Bill Justis, Unknown Date(s) / Sun Records
Studio Session for Charlie Rich, May 25, 26, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Jerry Lee Lewis, Probably May 28, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Billy Riley, June 4, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Charlie Rich, June 18, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Jerry Lee Lewis, June 25, 26, 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Sherry Crane, June 1959 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Tommy Blake, 1959 / Recco Records
Studio Session for Narvel Felts, Summer 1959 / Pink Records

Biography of Artists (See: The Sun Biographies)


1958/1959

In 1958 or 1959 Ernie Barton recorded ''The Battle Of Earl K. Long'' b/w ''The Man With A Heart Of Gold''    for Honesty Records in Memphis. The record was designed to promote the gubernatorial ambition of    Louisiana's Earl K. Long, who was serving his third term as governor, but considered resigning so that he could run a constitutionally prohibited fourth time. ''Ann Higdon was Earl Long's niece''. said Barton, ''and    Long was trying to run for governor again. She'd written this poem, ''The Battle Of Earl K. Long''. It didn't    really work until I changed it around. I already had this song, ''She's Got A Heart Of Gold'', and I changed    that to ''The Man With A Heart Of Gold''. Sam put the deal together 'cause he got the publishing on both of    them. It got played off loudspeakers and was given away in supermarkets and the like. I was young enough    and stupid enough to get mixed up in Louisiana politics''.

1959

The unemployment problems eased to 5.5%. Television programmes included "Rawhide", "Bonanza" and "The Twilight Zone", movies included "Some Like It Hot", "Ben Hur" and "North by Northwest". Alaska is admitted to the union and becomes the 49th state and Hawaii is admitted to the the Union and became the 50th State. The Boeing 707 Jet Airliner comes into service and little girls love the Barbie Dolls created by Ruth Handler and made by Mattel.

Fidel Castro comes to power in Cuba. The  Cuban revolution ends with Fidel Castro holding power following the defeat of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.  1959 - 1960 Cuba Declares It is a now a Communist country and Nationalizes Land and Businesses including U.S. assets totaling $1 billion.

Martin Luther King Jr. visits Gandhi's birthplace in India where he affirms his commitment to non-violent resistance and America's struggle for civil rights.

Lake Charle's Phil Phillips's ''Sea Of Love'' goes to number 2 on Billboard's pop chart. Lloyd Price's ''Personality'' tops the rhythm and blues chart.


1959

Having decided that label ownership was not the route to take, for whatever reason, eventually Doctor Ross  took the obvious step and linked up with Fortune Records of Detroit, some seventy miles north from his new  home. Fortune had been formed in 1947 by pianist, poet, and songwriter Devora Brown and her husband  Jack as a showcase for her pop songs but the label soon took an interest in rhythm and blues and hillbilly  music and in 1952 scored a country hit with ''Jealous Love'' by the Davis Sisters backed by Roy Hall's group.


Fortune Recording Studio and Record Shop, 3942 Third Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. ^

The Fortune operation had already moved twice from its initial location, in the Brown's home by 1956 when  it landed at 3942 Third Avenue in premises big enough for an office, a studio and a record shop known as the  Hi-Q Record Mart. Although the label also used the larger United Sound studio, the likelihood is that Doctor  Ross recorded in Fortune's own studio at the back of the shop when he became the newest artist on the label  sometime around 1959/1960. Detroit rockabilly singer, Johnny Powers, remembered the Fortune studio as  having, ''only one or two microphones and a two track or mono machine... there was a little control room off  to the side - small closet type. They only had the one machine in there. I think they had a dub machine in  there, but I'm not sure. The studio was not big''.

The recording and release dates of the Fortune label are often a matter of dispute, company records being  sparse, trade paper reviews being intermittent, and the use of duplicate issue numbers being a source of  confusion. What seems to have happeneed is that Doctor Ross saw one disc on Fortune in 1961, followed by  two on the subsidiary label Hi-Q in 1963, and then a final single on Fortune sometime between 1965 and  1970.

1959

The extended play Sun EPA 113 ''I Walk The Line'' by Johnny Cash issued.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR DOCTOR ROSS
FOR FORTUNE RECORDS 1959

FORTUNE RECORDING STUDIO
3942 THIRD AVENUE, DETROIT, MICHIGAN
FORTUNE SESSION: PROBABLY 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - JACK BROWN

01 - "CAT SQUIRREL (MISSISSIPPI BLUES)'' - B.M.I. - 2:19
Composer: - Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Trianon Publications
Matrix number: F 221
Recorded: - Unknown Date(s) 1959
Released: - 1961
First appearance: - Fortune Records (S) 45rpm Fortune 857 mono
CAT SQUIRREL (MISSISSIPPI BLUES) / THE SUNNYLAND
Reissued: - June 14, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16939-25 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Doctor Ross's first session at Fortune was probably made in 1959 or 1960 and it produced one of his finest moments, the coupling of ''Cat Squirrel'', one of the songs he had tried out in Memphis in 1951, with ''The Sunnyland'', yet another song he had adapted from the well-known works of Sonny Boy Williamson. It's about a train that takes Sonny Boy's baby on the line to San Francisco; Ross changes the lyrics to Detroit. On this disc, Fortune 857. Ross was backed by a group credited on the record label as His Orbits. Ross's disc was reviewed in Billboard on April 24, 1961 around the same time another Fortune disc, by the Delteens, also credited the Orbits as the background band.


In the era of the Space Race, The Orbits was a popular name and it is not entirely clear who Ross's Orbits were. They were not the black vocal group active in Jackson, Mississippi but who saw record releases on Chess and Argo in 1957. They might have been the group that caused a white group to change their name to Johnny and the Hurricanes, as Johnny Paris explained: ''I was saxophone player already in local bands in Toledo, Ohio. And we changed our name to the Orbits. When we were offered a recording contract up in Detroit, there was already a band named the Orbits that was recording stuff, so we had to change our name''. Just as likely, the Orbits were a studio name for Tony Valla and the Alamos who had a disc released at the same time as Ross and with consecutive matrix numbers.

Whoever the guitarist, bass player and drummer were, they helped Ross record a version of ''Cat Squirrel'' that was especially fine and arguably better than the 1951 Chess session. In 1966, the white rock group Cream featured ''Cat Squirrel'' (cunningly retitled ''Cat's Squirrel'' and credited to Traditional Arranged S. Splurge) on the flip side of their first single, and the song's energy, not to mention its signature riff, came straight from Doctor Ross.

01 - "THE SUNNYLAND'' - B.M.I. - 2:34
Composer: - Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Trianon Publications
Matrix number: - F 222
Recorded: - Unknown Date(s) 1959
Released: - 1961
First appearance: - Fortune Records (S) 45rpm Fortune 857 mono
THE SUNNYLAND / CAT SQUIRREL (MISSISSIPPI BLUES)
Reissued: - June 14, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16939-26 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Charles Isaiah Ross - Vocal, Guitar, Harmonica
With The Orbits – Guitar, Bass, Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Billboard of the 1959 movie ''Hawaiian Boy''. >

1959

1959 was the last year in which Carl Perkins entertained serious hopes of recapturing his  place in the sun. Early in the year (1959) he filmed his part in ''Hawaiian Boy'', a movie so  obscure that a print has never surfaced.  Perkins segment (in which he reportedly sag  ''Y.O.U'' and "Where The Rio De Rosa Flows'' and had a bit part as a bartender) was shot in  Los Angeles. The rest was shot in the Phillipines.


The fourth Columbia single, ''Pointed Toe Shoes'' from Carl Perkins, is a contrived ''Blue  Suede Shoes'' sequel, actually grazed the Hot 100 in the summer of 1959 but was  inexplicably followed by a country single. By this point, Carl Perkins had started working  long stints in Las Vegas which would hardly seem to be his natural habitat. With his records  largely aimed at the country charts and his PAs largely confined to Vegas and the honky  tonks of the mid South, it was hardly surprising that Perkins saw his career heading  nowhere at a fast clip.

JANUARY 1959

Former Sun artist Buddy Cunningham launches Cover Records in Memphis from the downtown Exchange Building.

Bass player Jay W. Brown leaves the band of Jerry Lee Lewis for a year, except for a few replacements filling the empty slot.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

It was probably in 1958 that former Sun recording artists Rudy Grayzell relocated to San Jose, California, and signed with Award Records, a tiny offshoot of the Arrow Records manufacturing plant. Rudy's San Antonio buddy, Eddy Dugosh, already recorded there, and his first recording was an unreleased cover of Wynona Carr's 1956 Specialty recording of ''Should I Ever Love Again''. In 1959, Warner Bross. Pictures released a docudrama starring James Stewart called ''The F.B.I. Story'', and Rudy recorded a song inspired by the movie.

The label credited the Sparks (not the group that recorded for New Mexico-based Caron Records in 1962) in addition to Rudy's group, the Thunderbirds. 

In 1960, Elvis' buddy, Red West, covered ''The F.B.I. Story'' for Top Rank's Jaro subsidiary.  By 1960, Rudy Grayzell was in Las Vegas at the Fremont Hotel, and inststs that Wayne Newton was his supporting act. He stayed eighteen months before heading to Seattle when the World's Fair was there.

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR RUDY GRAYZELL
FOR AWARD RECORDS 1959

UNKNOWN STUDIO LOCATION
AWARD SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER & RECORDING ENGINEER – UNKNOWN

01 – ''F.B.I. STORY'' – B.M.I. - 3:05
Composer: - Joe Grayzell
Publisher: - Bayside Publishing
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - 1959
First appearance: - Award Records (S) 45rpm standard single Award 129/130 A mono
F.B.I. STORY / YOU'LL BE MINE
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837-32 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

02 – ''YOU'LL BE MINE'' – B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: - Joe Grayzell
Publisher: - Bayside Publishing
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - 1959
First appearance: - Award Records (S) 45rpm standard single Award 129/130 B mono
YOU'LL BE MINE / F.B.I. STORY
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837-21 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

Name (or. No. Of Instruments)
Rudy Grayzell – Vocal
The Thunderbirds
Junior Prueneda - Bass
Roy McMeans - Drums
Tony Kay – Piano
Al Gaffigan – Saxophone
The Sparkles – Vocal Chorus

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


1959

Radio stations respond by voluntarily putting severe restrictions on what they will play,  including widely adopting the Top 40 format which limits how many songs are given approval  for airing.

Dick Clark acts quickly to distance himself from rock and roll's bad image as he increasingly  showcases the talentless "teen idols" on "American Bandstand".

The rock instrumental has its biggest year ever in response to rock music facing bans for  lyrical content.

Ray Charles bursts into the mainstream after years as an rhythm and blues star with "What'd  I Say".

A new version of the Drifters are produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller who become the  first to use strings and introduce Latin rhythms to rock with the hit "There Goes My Baby".

Berry Gordy starts Tamla-Motown Records. It will eventually become the most successful  black-owned and operated company in American history, not just in music, with 600 million  records sold.


1959

With Elvis Presley in the Army, the teen sound grew all mushy, as a well-coifed set of teen  idols took over America. The younger set was thrilled and lulled by the saccharine sounds of  Bobby Darin, Frankie Avalon, and Paul Anka. That raucous rock noise, it appeared, had been  just a passing fad. But artists like Ray Charles and Jackie Wilson revealed that something  new was still on the way.

Rick Hall founds the FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

600 million records are sold in the USA.

Since 1955, the US market share of the four "majors" has dropped from 78% to 44%, while  the market share of independent record companies increased from 22% to 56%.

Since 1955, the US market has increased from 213 million dollars to 603 million, and the  market share of rock and roll has increased from 15.7% to 42.7%.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

At this point and through the radio station, Luke came into contact with Hack Kennedy, who owned Big Howdy Records, a local independent, based at different times between Louisiana and Mississippi. Hack recorded a large number of local artists, covering a wide variety of music and, in general, holding to a high standard of artistry and musicianship. Hack also broke the traditional independent mould of issuing a handful of singles and shutting up shops. He ran the company with assistance from B.J. Johnson, a local artist and disc jockey for many years and built up a considerable catalgue between 1959 and the 1970s. Luke pacted with Big Howdy and kicked off in 1959 with the rockabilly classic "Switch Blade Sam".

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR LUKE MCDANIEL
FOR BIG HOWDY RECORDS 1959

SINGING RIVER STUDIO, BILOXY, MISSISSIPPI
BIG HOWDY SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - PROBABLY PEE WEE MADDUX

01 – ''SWITCH BLADE SAM'' - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: Luke McDaniel-R. Smith
Publisher: - MCPS- Bayou State Music
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - May 25, 1959
First appearance: - Big Howdy Records (S) 45rpm standard single Big Howdy 777-A mono
SWITCH BLADE SAM / YOU'RE STILL ON MY MIND
Reissued: 2008 Stomper Time (CD) 500/200rpm Stomper STCD 24-1 mono
LUKE MCDANIEL – MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN

02 – ''YOU'RE STILL ON MY MIND'' – B.M.I. - 2:40
Composer: Luke McDaniel-R. Smith
Publisher: - Glad – Starrite Music
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - May 25, 1959
First appearance: - Bog Howdy Records (S) 45rpm standard single Big Howdy 777-B mono
YOU'RE STILL ON MY MIND / SWITCH BLADE SAM
Reissued: 2008 Stomper Time (CD) 500/200rpm Stomper STCD 24-34 mono
LUKE MCDANIEL – MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Luke McDaniel as Jeff Daniels - Vocal & Guitar
Pee Wee Maddux – Lead Guitar
Other Details Unknown

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

While America was swooning to teen delights purveyed by Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Darin, Jimmy Clanton, Ricky Nelson and many more, down in the Deep South, Luke McDaniel a.k.a. Jeff Daniels produced a raw, low down bar rocker, completely out of it's time frame, which probably got no further than Shreveport!

Luke still had faith in "Foxy Dan" and duly recut it for Big Howdy Records, but this more commercial sounding version failed again. Luke also made a number of demos, which appeared on Big Howdy Records singles.

Howdy Records owner, Hack Kennedy would later move to Picayune, Mississippi, where it seems that Luke did a session or two at B.J. Johnson's Studio, some of which is issued on ''Mississippi Honky Tonk Rockabilly Man (Stomper Time STCD) for the first time. By this time the days of Jeff Daniels, rockabilly man were over and the country singer Luke McDaniel reappeared.

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR LUKE MCDANIEL
FOR BIG HOWDY RECORDS 1959

B.J. JOHNSON RECORDING STUDIO, BOGALUSA, LOUISIANA
BIG HOWDY SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – HACK KENNEDY
AND/OF B.J. JOHNSON

01 – ''FOXY DAN-2'' – B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Stairway Music
Matrix number: - SON 96131
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - June 1971
First appearance: - Big Howdy Records (S) 45rpm standard single Big Howdy 8121-A mono
FOXY DAN / BYE BYE BABY
Reissued: 2008 Stomper Time (CD) 500/200rpm Stomper STCD 24-17 mono
LUKE MCDANIEL - MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN

02 - ''TABLE FOR TWO'' – B.M.I. - 2:15
Composer: - Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Big Howdy Music - Glad Music
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - November 1959
First appearance: - Big B Records (S) 45rpm standard single Big B 555-A mono
TABLE FOR TWO / UH-HUH-HUH

03 - ''UH-HUH-HUH'' – B.M.I. - 2:18
Composer: - Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Big Howdy Music - Glad Music
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - November 1959
First appearance: - Big B Records (S) 45rpm standard single Big B 555-A mono
UH-HUH-HUH / TABLE FOR TWO
Reissued: 1996 Hydra (LP) 33rpm BLK 7715 mono
LUKE MCDANIEL - DADDY-O-ROCK

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Luke McDaniel as Jeff Daniels - Vocal & Guitar
Unknown Musicians

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR WARREN SMITH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 

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

01 - "I COULDN'T TAKE THE CHANCE" - B.M.I. - 1:49
Composer: - Warren Smith
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date
Released: - 1975
First appearance: - Bopcat Records (LP) 33rpm Bopcat 300-2 mono
I'M MOVING ON
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-7-7 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-4-23 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

''I Couldn't Take The Chance'' is hardly a major contender but has a pleasant countrified charm to it. Smith is in fine voice but the tentative nature of the performance is betrayed by the guitarist (probably Al Hopson) who takes a hesitant solo. A piano is buried in the mix and doesn't add a lot to the proceedings. The drums are either absent altogether or confined to poorly mixed brushwork. This may have been a contender for a flipside but no-one could have held out great hopes for it.

02 - "I LIKE YOUR KIND OF LOVE" – B.M.I. - 1:55
Composer: - Frank Carter
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date
Released: - 1978
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30115-B-7 mono
SUN: THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 8 - SUN ROCKS
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-7-20 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-4-2-36 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

Never a prolific composer, Warren Smith depended largely on submissions from other writers for his material. Frank Carter dropped into 706 Union one day to record a set of demos and Clement of Phillips obviously saw ''I Like Your Kind Of Love'' as a potential candidate for release. It is delivered at a brisk mid tempo, has a sizeable hook and actually bears a distinct similarity to Elvis Presley's 1960 recordings. The guitarist has worked up a decent opening riff but hasn't given much thought to his solo. There are few clues to enable us to date this performance. Only the reference to Bandstand would seem to imply that it was recorded in 1958 or later (the show was not networked until August 1957). This is not the Melvin Endsley song of the some title that Andy Williams made a hit in the summer of 1957.

03 - "MY HANGING DAY" - B.M.I. - 2:21
Composer: - Warren Smith
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15514-31 mono
WARREN SMITH - THE CLASSIC SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Warren Smith - Vocal and Guitar
More Details Unknown

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


1959

Jack Clement and Bill Justis depart from the fold, whilst Carl Mann arrives at Phillips  International, almost by default. The legendary Sun Studio at 706 Union Avenue, closes its  doors during November.

A reader poll by Radio Mirror announces that Grand Ole Opry is America's favorite radio  program.

JANUARY 1959

Led by Fidel Castro, revolutionaries assume control of Cuba's government.

JANUARY 1, 1959 THURSDAY

Ray Price founds the Pamper Music publishing company with Hal Smith and Claude Caviness. It develops songwriters Hank Cochran, Willie Nelson and Harlan Howard, yielding such titles as ''Make The World Go Away'', ''Crazy'', and ''I Fall To Pieces''.

Johnny Cash performs at San Quentin prison. Merle Haggard is in the audience.

JANUARY 2, 1959 FRIDAY

Roy Acuff has a hernia operation on his right side at Nashville's Baptist Hospital.

JANUARY 3, 1959 SATURDAY

Future Oak Ridge Boy William Lee Golden welcomes a son, Rusty Golden, in Brewton, Alabama.

Alaska becomes the 49th state in the union. It provides the backdrop for Johnny Horton's ''North To Alaska'' and ''Lefty Frizzell's ''Saginaw, Michigan''.

JANUARY 5, 1959 MONDAY

Columbia released George Morgan's ''I'm In Love Again''.

Porter Wagoner recorded ''Who Will Buy The Wine'' at RCA Studio B in Nashville. A year later, it becomes a hit for Charlie Walker.

JANUARY 7, 1959 WEDNESDAY

David Lee Murphy is born in Herrin, Illinois. He earns outlaw-influenced hits during the 1990s with ''Dust On The Bottle'', ''Party Crowd'' and ''Every Time I Get Around You''. As a songwriter, he pens several hits for other acts, including ''Big Green Tractor'', ''Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not'' and ''Living In Fast Forward''.

Jimmie Rodgers perform on ''The Milton Berle Show on NBC.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JEAN HORNBECK
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE PROBABLY 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM PHILLIPS
AND/OR ERNIE BARTON, JACK CLEMENT, BILL JUSTIS

This gospel track is a complete mystery, as is its singer, Jean Hornbeck. It sits alone in an otherwise unlabeled tape box suggesting that it was submitted to Sun as a demo. If Ms. Hornbeck and company ever succeeded in placing this or any other disc for commercial release, we have been unable to discover the results. A search of the name 'Jean Hornbeck' produces several obituaries of women whose age places them in the possible range for this nearly 50 year old recording. Moreover, a number of these now deceased women were extremely religious.

However there is not a single word to suggest that any of them ever enjoyed, much less performed music.

01 - "BOUND FOR THE KINGDOM" - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Demo - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1959
Released: - August 2002
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16609-3-27 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS

It is hard to imagine that the energy and musicality present on "Bound For The Kingdom" would have surfaced on only this single occasion, produced a demo for Sun Records, and then disappeared without a trace.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jean Hornbeck - Vocal
Unknown Musicians

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



JANUARY 1959

In January 1959, future Sun recording artist Mack Allen Smith returned to Carrollton,  Mississippi, and immediately re-formed Mack Allen Smith and the Flames.

This group was  comprised of: Mack Allen Smith (lead singer), Keith Worrell (lead guitar), Red McGregor  (rhythm guitar), David Lee Cox (piano), and Durwood Herbert (drums).



Community House, Carrollton, Mississippi, 1959. Mack Allen Smith (lead singer). Then, left to right: David Lee Cox (piano), Laney O'Briant (lead guitar). Durwood Herbert (drums), Keith Worrell (lead guitar) and Red McGregor (rhythm guitar). >

Later, in 1959, Laney O'Briant was hired to play lead guitar, which gave the Flames two lead  guitars for a while. Mack Allen Smith and the Flames recorded three songs (Kansas City, Mean  Woman Blues, and Sandy Lee) for producer Ernie Barton at Sun Records in 1959; however,  Mr. Barton left Sun Records shortly thereafter to form Barton Records in Little Rock,  Arkansas. Efforts were made to recover the 1959 Sun recordings, but, to date, they have not  been found.

After re-forming the band in January 1959, Mack Allen Smith and the Flames performed for  25 more years (until October 1984) throughout Mississippi and surrounding states. Mack  Allen owned his own nightclub (Mack Allen Smith's Town & Country Night Club) in  Greenwood, Mississippi, for five years (1971-1976), and the Flames performed mostly at  clubs throughout the Mississippi Delta during his performing career.

Come home, after joined the Marines in January 1959, when the first flush of Sun rock and roll was over but Mack Allen Smith went to singing with his revamped band, the Flames, in the honky tonks to supplement his day job. Then he decided afterall to try at Sun. ''My audition at Sun was set up by Wayne Sanders, a cousin of my band member, Red McGregor, who was living in Memphis. I recorded four songs and David Lee Cox sang one, all with my band. The Sun producer, Ernie Barton, wanted me to come back in the studio and cut the songs again with a studio band. Red told me to go ahead and not worry about the band but David wanted to try another studio. Guess what my decision was? Bad career move number two. We did an audition for Jack Clement of Summer Records who wanted good original songs. The few original songs we had weren't very good. After a few months I went back to Sun to accept his offer, but Ernie Barton was gone''.


EARLY 1959

If Ray Smith took Elvis Presley's music as a blueprint then at least two songs from Mack Allen Smith's Sun session sound like the master was back in the fold for a day reprising his recent hits. Those who've reported sightings of Elvis everywhere since 1966 might feel that his superpowers started here. Most of us would just ask why Smith would record ''Mean Woman Blues'' and ''Young Dreams''? Well, it was a demo session, after all, and Mack Allen and his band probably felt entitled to show they were as good as the best, which they were, though not as innovative. On the original song, ''Sandy Lee'', the quality of the singer and his band is just as evident. ''Kansas City'' was not then the rock standard it has since become and shows the bluesy edge Smith retained through the ensuing decades, singing in Mississippi night clubs and making good records for small labels. Smith had been offered a session at Sun three years earlier and would have been well-advised to have gone for it then. 


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

I remember clearly the day I met Mack Allen Smith in April 1975. He was a 36 year old honky tonk singer and I was a 25-year old part-time music writer on my annual month-long trip around the USA. looking for records to buy and singers to interview.  I had flown into Jackson, Mississippi to meet London Record dealer Johnny Dickens and we had an appointment with Johnny Vincent, one of the legendary record men of the South. Vincent took us out to several record warehouses he had scattered around town and sold us a ton of his old records''. 

April 1959. At the VFW Club in Greenwood, Mississippi. Left to right: David Lee Cox (piano), Mack Allen Smith (lead singer), Durwood Herbert (drums), Keith Worrell (lead guitar) and Laney O'Briant (lead guitar). Not pictured: Red McGregor (rhythm guitar). >

''Then he said, "Why don't you come to the studio if you like that kinda stuff. We're recording a session with Mack Allen Smith. `We looked at each other. We'd heard the name,vaguely knew that he'd made some collectable records on the Mississippi rock & roll scene for some time, but that was about all.

Mack and his band, the Flames, were in the Jackson studio of Ace Records cutting a song called 'King Of Rock And Roll'. We listened to it back. It was a good rocking track. We knew it would sell a few copies in the European rock revival market. We knew it wasn't a pop record for 1975 but we didn't care. Did Mack know it too? It was hard to tell. But he did care about advancing his career, we could see that.

We talked to Mack about his older records - rockabilly, honky tonk country and bluesy rockers, Mack insisted on driving us to his house in Greenwood where he emptied a cupboard full of his 45s. They were impossibly rare discs unless you happened to be in that cupboard in that room. He gave us copies, Johnny bought some wholesale, and I made a plan to promote this enthusiastic and driven singer as best I could.

Back home in England, I issued LPs by Mack on Redneck, Checkmate, and Charly Records and then in 1979 I organized some show dates and radio spots for Mack in southern England. He was accompanied on the shows by Roger Humphries and his Cherry Pickers, a Kent group who sounded good with Mack. He sang rockers, ballads, old country. new country, the works. His voice sounded astoundingly good, everyone said so.

But converting that into record sales and more tours was beyond my abilities. Mack became frustrated, His friend and back-up vocalist Jessie Yates told me. 'He's fought this fame thing for so long. He just won't quit. He knows he's good and he just won't let it rest”. I felt bad that I couldn't really help him. We kinda fell out.

Over a quarter of a century later, Mack got back in touch. I helped him find the masters of his first ever recording session, made for Sun Records in Memphis in 1959. I agreed to write the notes for this CD and I'm happy to do it. We both know it's a damn fine record of a singing career that had the potential to go much further than it did.



It was almost inevitable that Mack Allen would take to the rockabilly sound of Elvis Presley and Sun Records. He remembers the impact of Presley's first record: "Man, when I heard that thing if splattered me all over the kitchen. I guess my main influence since 1954 would have to be Presley."

Mack formed a rock and roll band and had already played local shows with Roy Orbison, Sonny Burgess, Charlie Feathers and Warren Smith when he went into the Marines and was posted to California for two years.


By the time he came back in 1959, the first flush of Sun rock and roll was over but Mack Allen went along to Sun Records in Memphis anyway. He recorded four songs in the studio at 706 Union Avenue, produced by Ernie Barton, and pianist David Lee Cox sang on another one.

It is one of Mack's greatest regrets that his Sun session was never issued at the time. He thinks it's one of his best and certainly there is a vibrancy to his vocals and a powerful performance by his new band, The Flames. All five of those tracks are on CD. 

From an interview by Martin Hawkins

STUDIO SESSION FOR MACK ALLEN SMITH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – ERNIE BARTON

Mack Allen Smith's  Sun session was filed away, unreleased and in a box with someone else's name on it, So Mack Allen and the Flames had to wait for their first record release until 1962.

01 - ''MEAN WOMAN BLUES'' - B.M.I. - 1:54
Composer: - Claude DeMetruis
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - 1981
First appearance: - Redita Records (LP) 33rpm Redita LP 124-3 mono
ROCK AND ROLL BLUES
Reissued: - 2010 Redita Records (CD) 500/200rpm RDTCD 150-1 mono
GOTTA ROCK TONIGHT

02 - ''SANDY LEE'' - B.M.I. - 3:16
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - 1981
First appearance: - Redita Records (LP) 33rpm Redita LP 124-4 mono
ROCK AND ROLL BLUES
Reissued: - 2010 Redita Records (CD) 500/200rpm RDTCD 150-2 mono
GOTTA ROCK TONIGHT

03 – ''KANSAS CITY'' - B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - Jerry Leiber; Mike Stoller
Publisher: - Jerry Leiber Music-Mike Stoller Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - 1981
First appearance: - Redita Records (LP) 33rpm Redita LP 124-6 mono
ROCK AND ROLL BLUES
Reissued: - 2010 Redita Records (CD) 500/200rpm RDTCD 150-3 mono
GOTTA ROCK TONIGHT

04 - ''YOUNG DREAMS'' - B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Aaron Schroeder-Martin Kalmanoff
Publisher: - Gladys Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: -   1981
First appearance: - Redita Records (LP) 33rpm Redita LP 124-7 mono
ROCK AND ROLL BLUES
Reissued: -   2010   Redita Records (CD) 500/200rpm RDCD 150-4 mono
GOTTA ROCK TONIGHT

05 - ''I GOT A FEVER'' - B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: - David Lee Cox
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1956
Released: -   1981
First appearance: - Redita Records (LP) 33rpm Redita LP 124-5 mono
ROCK AND ROLL BLUES
Reissued: -   2010   Redita Records (CD) 500/200rpm RDCD 150-5 mono
GOTTA ROCK TONIGHT

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Mack Allen Smith – Vocal & Guitar
Keith Worrell – Lead Guitar
Billy Wayne Herbert – Lead Guitar
Red McGregor – Rhythm Guitar
Durwood Herbert – Drums
David Lee Cox – Piano & Vocal on Track 5

This session was wrongly filed in a tape box marked Bill Higgins. It also featured one vocal by David Lee Cox.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CHARLOTTE SMITH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE PROBABLY EARLY 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM PHILLIPS OR ERNIE BARTON,
AND/OF JACK CLEMENT OR BILL JUSTIS

The number of Sun Studio mysteries gets smaller every year. But some mysteries continue to haunt us, like the person behind the name Charlotte Smith's scrawled on notes in two tape boxes. One box contains several takes of ''What Are You Gonna Do Now'', a song about a girl pondering what comes next after kisses on a Saturday date. Another tape houses various takes of another teenage drama that should come with its own tube of acne cream, ''I've Just Discovered Boys''. Bobbie Jean Barton, the wife of Sun artist and producer Ernie Barton, also recorded the same two songs among others. Ernie became Sun's in-house producer in early spring 1959 and he was not averse to spending studio resources recording both himself and his wife. Eventually, two of Bobbie Jean's pop ballads, recorded at Sun's new studio on Madison Avenue, were issued on Sun 342 in July 1960, but Bobbie Jeans's versions of ''What Are You Gonna Do Now'' and ''I've Just Discovered Boys'' clearly come from over a year earlier and from the 706 Union studio. Think Warren Smith's last session with a Martin Willis-style sax.

The thing is, though, the two songs on the Charlotte Smith tapes sound like they were made by almost the same band... almost the same day... by almost the same singer. Charlotte sounds a little more country, a little more natural, but the arrangements and sax solos are very close. Also included a Charlotte version of ''What Are You Gonna Do Now'' on The Sun Rock Box, but the producers of the Box set could just as easily have used a Bobbie Jean Version. We can understand why Ernie Barton might have turned Bobbie Jean loose on the Charlotte material - he must have seen the potential in the little teenage dramas contained within the lyrics of both songs - but who was Charlotte Smith and how and why did she record the titles too?

01 - "WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO NOW" - B.M.I. - 2:23
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably Early 1959
Released: - August 2002
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16609-1-2 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS
Reissued: - May 29, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-8-7 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959

''What Are You Gonna Do Now'' was not issued at the time, by anyone. But the other common title, ''I've Just Discovered Boys'', was issued on RCA in August 1959 by Ann Grayson, backed by the Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra. The link between the unissued Sun versions and the RCA disc is this: veteran Nashville country and gospel singer Wally Fowler was working out of Birmingham, Alabama in 1957 when he started promoting a nine year old singer named Sherry Crane who saw two children songs issued as Sun 328 in the summer of 1959. Both sides of Sherry's Sun single as well as ''I've Just Discovered Boys'' were produced and published by Fowler.

02 - "I JUST DISCOVERED BOYS" - B.M.I. - 1:47
Composer: - John Smith-Bonnie Smith
Publisher: -  Zest Music Company
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably Early 1959
Released: - August 2002
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16609-1-30 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS

When Fowler, along with associate E.O. Batson, publisher of Gospel Singing World magazine, decided to record Sherry Crane he asked the brother and sister gospelwriting team, John and Bonnie Smith, to provide some suitable material for the young singer. The Smiths came up with the two songs that appeared on Sun 328 and also ''I've Just Discovered Boys''. ''I remember going over to their house to learn the songs'', Sherry told Hank Davis who found and interviewed her some 54 years later. Sherry remembered that the songs were recorded in Nashville's RCA Studio. After returning home with four masters, Wally Fowler pitched the session to Sam Phillips who took a flyer and issued Sherry's Nashville recordings of ''Willie Willie'' and ''Winnie The Parakeet'' on Sun. Apparently, Sam or Ernie Barton decided to keep back ''I've Just Discovered Boys'' for someone else to record and there exists a tape of Bobbie Jean Barton learning  the song with guitar accompaniment. We don't know how or why Charlotte Smith also recorded the two songs.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Charlotte Smith - Vocals
Unknown Musicians

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

There are two ways out of the mystery, if we disregard the notion that Bobbie Jean Barton successfully made her voice a little younger and a little more country and somehow two of her tapes ended up with the wrong name on them. One option is that someone we've not been able to trace called Charlott(e) Smith was brought in to record the songs at around the same time Bobbie Jean tried them. The second solution is that Charlott(e) was related to the songwriters, John and Bonnie Smith; perhaps she even was Bonnie Smith. As it is, we have no idea who she is and she exists solely as a name scrawled inside two tape boxes.

Footnote: Wally Fowler released Sherry Crane's two unissued tapes from 1959, ''I've Just Discovered Boys'' and ''Santa Bring Me A Puppy Dog'', on Trumpet Records of Birmingham through the NRC label and distribution network based in Atlanta. We don't know when he issued it but, bizarrely, it was reviewed in Billboard in July 1964 as the earliest Christmas disc ever.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CHARLIE RICH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

Both of these track by Charlie Rich include session chatter which gives quite a glimpse of the singer's feeling about rockabilly. At his best, Rich was one of the beat, most Presley-ish rockabilly singers ever recorded by Sun Records. But Rich was not altogether comfortable with the style. 

01 - "LITTLE WOMAN FRIEND OF MINE" - B.M.I. - 2:30
Composer: - Charlie Rich
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - 1998
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16152-1-28 mono
LONELY WEEKENDS - THE SUN YEARS 1958 - 1962
Reissued: - August 2000 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16405-3 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 17

On "Little Woman Friend Of Mine" he begins by good naturally trying to quiet down the studio so he can get some work done. He is obviously alone, trying to record his piano demo. When he finally succeeds in clearing out the studio, you can hear him parody the worst of rockabilly's breathless mannerisms. For all his disdain for this kind of excess, Rich turns in a flawless vocal with some pounding piano support. Rich never worked up this tuneful song for release, nor did he place it with another Sun artist. All that remains is this one take demo showing yet again how versatile Charlie Rich was.

02 - "GOODBYE MARY ANN" - 1 - B.M.I. - 3:15
Composer: - Charlie Rich
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - 1998
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16152-1-28 mono
LONELY WEEKENDS - THE SUN YEARS 1958 - 1962
Reissued: - August 2000 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16405-20 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 17

"Goodbye Mary Ann" was recorded several times by Charlie Rich and two other versions have been previously issued. This version is special for two reasons. First, it is recorded in stereo. Second, it is preceded by a fascinating exchange between Charlie and Sam Phillips, in which the label owner tries to get his reluctant artist to crank up the Presley sound a bit. That spend nearly a minute arguing over the "we..ll..ll" that begins the song. At one point, Charlie breaks off the debate and launches into the opening lines of "Whirlwind", his first single for the label. Later, he tells the incessant Mr. Phillips "Don't put me down like that or I can't hit it at all". Ultimately, Phillips gets his way and Charlie tears into one of his best unreleased Sun recordings.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Charlie Rich - Vocal and Piano
Unknown Musicians

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


JANUARY 1959

Edwin Howard did entertainment reporting for the Memphis Press Scimitar, and everyone knew him pretty  well professionally as well as personally because he had some mutual friends. The Sun crew was surprised  when he showed up one day saying that Sam Phillips had agreed to let him make a record to report on what  the process was like as well as to explain what Sun was all about and how records were merchandised. He  had a light and rather pleasing voice, but was far from professional. He chose as his A-side the Woody  Guthrie song ''More Pretty Girls Than One'' and for the B-side dashed off an innocuous tune called ''Forty  Leven Times''.

The newspaper articles he wrote were more memorable than the record, truth be told. He sold 975 copies and  ended up with artist and composer royalties, after a deduction for the $181 session cost and 10 percent  promotion cost, with a check for $14.62 for his fifteen hours of studio time and other time he had spent  privately writing and practicing.

The headline of his first article proclaimed that Sam Phillips had made $2 million with Sun and he didn't  even have a desk. The text of the article quoted Sam as saying he didn't need one, because he had four  women running the company. In addition to a photo of the front window and a shot of Sam on the board,  there was a picture of Regina Reese outside the front door, carrying her huge handbag. Asked why so large,  she was quoted as saying, ''I'm starting my own label in there''. This was a bit of an in-house joke, as it  seemed everybody who had ever worked in the company was starting their own label.


Journalist Edwin Howard as Entertainer. >

Virtually everyone who worked at Sun Records - the artists, the backing musicians, those who worked behind the scenes - have a general recollection of the studio, with only a blurry grasp of what the actually recording process was like.

Of course, we can hardly blame them; after all, Sam Phillips' own reasoning, if they had been more concerned with making history than music, they likely would never have reated the fresh, unguarded music that they did.


Journalist Edwin Howard, the entertainment editor of the Memphis Press Scimitar, persuaded Sam Phillips to let him cut a record and document the odyssey in print. The following is extracted from his account, and is probably the most objective and detailed portrait we have of the Sun studio at work during the late 1950s.

"Behind the dusty, bent Venetian blinds in a three-desk office at 706 Union stands the man who, in six years, has brought a brand new industry to Memphis. The office is identified only by a small neon sign in the window, which says Memphis Recording Service. The man is Sam C. Phillips. He stands because, although he has made roughly $2 million for himself in those six years, he has no desk at which to sit. 'If I have a real long telephone call', he admits, 'I will ask someone to get up and let me sit down", describe Edwin Howard.

"Even without a desk, Phillips somehow manages to run eleven corporations from the building at 706 Union, which consist of a tiny reception room (two desks), a studio which doubles as a small room, a control room with attached half bathroom, a promotions office (one desk), and a storage room.

"Some have wondered why Phillips never dressed up the studio at 706 Union or hung out a sign identifying it as the Sun Record Company. Phillips has several reasons: 'I just felt like if I put up a big sign on this little building or tried to fancy it up, it would look all out of proportion. There's something about that little Memphis Recording Service sign that just goes with it. As for a desk, well, I'm not the kind that runs things by bangin' on a desk, so I didn't figure I needed one. Anyhow, I've got four girls and a man at the three desks and they know how to handle the desk work. Everyone around here has a smattering of knowledge of the whole business, and I've got no secrets. Our informality is what gives us our hit records. Our artists just get the feeling we're goofing off. As I tell 'em, there's no sence being nervous, because there's nobody else here can do any better'", wrote Edwin Howard.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR EDWIN HOWARD
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: JANUARY 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
RECORDING ENGINEER - JACK CLEMENT
MUSICAL DIRECTOR - BILL JUSTIS

01 - "FORTY 'LEVEN TIMES" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:30
Composer: - Edwin Howard
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 345 - Master
Recorded: - January 1959
Released: - April 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3540-B mono
FORTY 'LEVEN TIMES / MORE PRETTY GIRLS THAN ONE
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-1-4 mono
THE SUN SINGLE COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

"Forty Leven Times" was based on something Howard had heard his mother say many times, and was set to the melody of Barbara Allen.

Edwin Howard went on to describe how he came to make his record. "Phillips turned me over to his director of Artist and Repertoire, Bill Justis. A big part of his job is auditioning talent. They come in from all over the sticks, man. Justin told me, 'We end up recording maybe one out of a hundred'. He auditions songs too. Everybody wants to do the songwriting scene. We get like fifty or sixty a day through the mail on tapes. Most of them are real nothing. We use one out of every four hundred we listen to''.


''One of Sun's regular composers is Jack Clement, who handled the control board for my sessions. Office space is at such a premium that business is often transacted and lead sheets written in Taylor's restaurant next door (plate lunch sixty cents). In fact, Taylor's has been to rock and roll what Pee Wee's saloon on Beale Street was to the blues. It was in a booth at Taylor's that Justis first heard my idea for the record. He was unimpressed, but that's probably a good sign, man. If I hate something it usually turns out to be a hit. I wrote the B-side of my record, on a piece of copy paper, using the studio piano as a desk''.


''Justis liked it even less than the other side, and I was encouraged. He made an arrangement (all in his head: he writes music but nobody there reads it), using three guitars and a vocal trio. Now he thinks it stands a good chance of becoming a hit''.

''I spent fifteen hours working on the record. Phillips himself listened to the various cuts and offered suggestions as to how they could be improved. Once Justis got the echoes sound he wanted from my record, Phillips had to give his final OK and set a release date. He listened to the final tape of "Forty 'Leven Times" over and over again, waxing more enthusiastic every time".

02 - "MORE PRETTY GIRLS THAN ONE" - A.S.C.A.P.- 2:01
Composer: - Edwin Howard
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 346 - Master
Recorded: - January 1959
Released: - April 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3540-A mono
MORE PRETTY GIRLS THAN ONE / FORTY 'LEVEN TIMES
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-1-3 mono
THE SUN SINGLE COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

"More Pretty Girls Than One" (a traditional tune that Fiddlin' Arthur Smith first recorded as "There's More Pretty Girls Than One") was a song that Howard remembered his father singing. There's a heavy reverb guitar on Howard's record, not unlike the one behind Onie Wheeler on his Sun session one year earlier.

Edwin Howard's record charted locally on the strenght of his stories in the press but, as Howard was quick to point out, Memphis represented only 1.3 percent of the national market. Six months after release, he got a royalty statement. "Sofar", he wrote, "it has sold 975 copies. With a contract rate of 3% of the 98c list price, minus 10% for promotions, my royalty on paper is $25.81. However, since recording costs must be paid first, and they amounted to $181.50, I am $155.69 shy of earning my first penny as a recording artist. However, since I took the precaution of recording my own songs and songwriters get three-fourths of a cent on every copy sold, I have made something after all - $14.62".

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Edwin Howard - Vocal
Sidney Manker - Guitar
Cliff Agred or Jack Clement - Bass
Billy Riley - Harmonica

Overdub Session: January 20, 1959
Lee Holt - Vocal Baritone
Vernon Drane - Vocal Bass
Bill Abbott - Vocal Tenor


Vocal group heard echoing Edwin Howard on ''Forty 'Leven Times'' is made up of, left to right: Bill Abbott, tenor; Vernon Drane, bass; and Lee Holt, baritone. >

Edwin Howard's record was finally released in April 1959. A few months later he wrote a follow-up report containing reflections, then surprising but now familiar, on the tyranny of Top 40 radio programming and the difficulties inherent in breaking new artists. They are worth repeating for they proved to be factors that contributed heavily to the decline of Sun Records as the new decade dawned.


Bill Fitzgerald, former manager of the South's oldest independent distributor, Music Sales, and then general manager of Sun Records said, "The fallacy in the system is this: since it is the Top 40 records that the retailers stock, they are obviously the records that they are going to sell. And as long as those records are selling, they are going to stay on the list.

So, its as hard to get a record off the Top 40, and make way for a new one, as it was to get it there in the first place. And ironically, the more a record is played after a certain point, the less likely people are to buy it. It reaches saturation point". In other words, he concluded, "we can't live without Top 40 - and we have a hard time living with it". As Edwin Howard's account shows, even by 1959 Phillips was delegating an increasing part of the recording function to others. Howard mentioned a few of them in passing, but it is worth looking a little closer at some of the sessionmen who made part of their living at the studio during the years in which Sun Records rose to prominence. Every one of them contributed to the unfettered atmosphere that Sam Phillips cherished, and were as resilient and adaptable as he needed.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



EDWIN HOWARD WITH HIS OWN STORY – Memphis Press-Scimitar amusement editor Edwin Howard  tells how ''Forty 'Leven Times'' and ''More Pretty Girls Than One'' was recorded. (April 27, 1959).

''Almost everybody has ''turned'' on a radio or dropped a dime in a juke box, listening a moment, and said,  ''Why, I could make a better record than that''! More-have said it than acted on it, of course. But the do-ityourself  craze has carried over into the record business, all right. 


Thousands of people, from truck driver to  movie stars are making records, and thousands more want to. But what are the average shower-shouter's  changes of turning out a hit? To try to find out, I set out to make a record myself.

Because the recording  industry in no longer centered in New York and Los Angeles, I didn't even have to leave home. I found I  could make a record on a leading international distribution label, right here in Memphis. Only time time -  and the record buying public - can tell whether my record will become a hit or not, but it is made and is  being released today to record shops all over the country''.

FORTY 'LEVEN TIMES - ''My do-it-yourself disk is ''Forty 'Leven Times'', a song I wrote myself backed  with ''More Pretty Girls Than One'', on the Phillips International label. Doing it myself didn't turn out to be  quite what I expected, tho. Just one person doesn't make a record – whether better or worse than the
prevailing platters. It may not take the voice of a Como, but I found it does take time, teamwork, and  patience. Heard of the team that made ''Forty 'Leven Times'' is Sam Phillips, head of Sun Records, and  discoverer of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Justis, and Johnny Cash. Phillips is one of the country's  five or six top independent record-makers and there are as many as 4000 of them, including the one-timers  who try to a hit, and run. I proposed to Phillips that he make and release a record of me singing my own new  ''country'' lyrics, with a beat, to a mournful old hillbilly waltz called ''There's More Pretty Girls Than One''.  He agreed to go along with the idea. He didn't bother listening to me sing. Apparently gimmicks are as  important in the record business as voices, and I had a gimmick, at least. ''If you sound too bad'', he said, ''we  can always cover you up with a vocal group''. Phillips turned me over to his director of artists and repertoire  (A&R) Bill Justis, bop talking bandleader whose Phillips International recording of ''Raunchy'', which he  wrote with guitarist Sid Manker, sold well over a million copies, just last week Justis went into business  himself, his new label being Play Me Records. A big part of an A&R man's job, especially with an  independent company like Sun, is auditioning talent, which these days mean mostly singers''.

ONE OUT OF 100 – ''They come in from all over the sticks, man'', Justis told me while he was with Phillips.  ''We end up recording maybe one out of a hundred''. He auditioned songs, too. ''Everybody wants to do the  songwriting scene. We get like 50 or 60 a day thru the mail on tapes. Most of them are real nothing. We use  may be one out of every 400 we listen to. It can be a real drag, but most of our hits have been originals by the  artists who recorded them, or by somebody in Memphis. We have four or five who write for us exclusively,  and of course they get more material recorded than anybody''.

''One of Sun and Phillips International's regular composers was Jack Clement, a Jack of all musical trades  who handled the control board for my recording session. Besides composing and engineering, Clement did  artist and repertoire work and was himself a recording artist. He, too, has just started his own company, with  the name, Summer Records. Altho new studios are being built, Sun still operates out of the tiny studio to  which Elvis Presley went just over five years ago to make a record at his own expense. Office space is at  such a premium that business is often transacted and lead sheets written in Taylor's Restaurant (plate lunch:  60 cents) next door. In fact Taylor's has been to rock and roll what Pee Wee's Saloon on Beale Street (where  W.C. Handy wrote ''Memphis Blues'') was to the blues.

A GOOD SIGN – ''It was in a booth at Taylor's that Bill Justis first heard my new lyrics for ''More Pretty  Girls Than One''. He was unimpressed ''But that's probably a good sign man'', he reassured me. ''If I hate  something it usually turns out to be a hit''. Justis as led if I had anything in mind for the other side of the  record. I said I had an idea for a song to one of the several tunes to 17th century English ballad, ''Barbara  Allen'' (Such songs are in the public domain – that is, they are uncopyrighted. By writing new lyrics to a  ''P.D.'' tune, an author can claim full author-composer royalties on it''. What I finally wrote on a piece of copy  paper, using the studio piano as a desk was ''Forty 'Leven Times'', a romantic ballad with, I think, a folksong  sound.. At first Justis liked this even less than ''More Pretty Girls'', and I was encouraged. But over the  months (18 from idea to record release), it grew on him. He made an arrangement (all in his head, he writes  music, but not many guitar players read it), using three guitars and a vocal trio. Now he thinks it has a good  change of becoming a hit. I spent 15 hours working with Justis in preparation for the recording session which  resulted in the released record. Phillips himself listened to the various ''cuts'' and offered suggestions as to  how they could be improved. The term ''cut'' is a hold over from the time when records actually were cut  with a sharp, wedge-shaped needle. Now only the ''master'', from which the pressings were made, is cut. All  the preliminary recording is done on magnetic tape. The tape recorder has revolutionized the recording  industry in the past 10 years and is responsible for the rise of the independent companies''.

RISE OF ROCK AND ROLL – ''Fifteen years ago, there weren't more than 10 recording companies in the  whole country-not as many as are operating in Memphis today. Only the big companies in New York and Los  Angeles could afford the delicate and expensive equipment and the large, acoustically perfect studio which  were then required for making records. Today, all you need to go into the record business is an Ampex-type  tape recorder and a room with a good ''sound'' to record in. Of course, once you're in business, it takes knowhow  to make hits. A touch of genius and a little luck help, too. It is the tape recorder - more than any other  single thing – that is responsible for the rise of rock and roll. Tape took the recording business out of the  hands of a big bands and vocalists in New York and Los Angeles and put it into the hands of dynamic young  people to whom music was not a profession but an emotion. Like it or not, rock and roll is what resulted  when they started putting that emotion on record. Many a record hit has been made at the control board  rather than the microphone, however. ''Witch Doctor'', ''Purple People Eater'', and ''The Chipmunk Song'' are  three of the more obvious electric hits. But who know where Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone – and for truly –  would be without electronic echo chambers? Most voices sound better – as you probably know from singing  in the shower – with an echo effect which lends resonance and covers up the quavers''.

PHILLIPS LIKED IT – ''Once Justis got the echoey sound he wanted for ''Forty 'Leven Times'' and ''More  Pretty Girls Than One'' on tape, Phillips had to give his final O.K. And test a release date. Phillips listened to  the final ''Forty 'Leven Times'' tape over and over again, waxing more enthusiastic each time. By the time the  master was cut and send to the pressing plant, he was much more interested in the record itself than in the  story I got making it. Whether or not ''Forty 'Leven Times'' clicks, I found out these four things which wouldbe  recording artists would do well to ponder''.

1 – ''Thanks to the tape recorder, which brought the recording industry out of its three or four ivory towers  and into hundreds of grass-roots recording shacks all over the country, there are more opportunities than ever  before for quick fame and fortune on the spinning disks''.

2 – ''However, only about one in every 100 persons who audition is ever actually recorded, and not more than  one in several hundreds records released can become a real hit''.

3 – ''And this one-out-of-hundreds hit is hardly ever what you could call a do-it-yourself project. It takes  teamwork to make a hit record from the head of the company right down thru the A&R man, the composer,  the artist, and the promotions staff. It also takes a ''sound'' that appeals to the record-buying public.  Sometimes the song itself provides that sound. Sometimes it is something in the way it is recorded.  Sometimes it is a certain quality in the voice of the singer. Many successful recording artists cannot perform  well before live audiences. And many top performers just don't go over on records''.

4 – ''But for the lucky few, who aren't so few as they used to be, the rewards range from considerable to  staggering. The average minimum artists royalty on a single record is about 3 cents a copy, the average  maximum is about 5 cents a copy. Composers draw from three fourths to a full cent a side. Thus the artist on  a million-selling record stands to make between $30,000 and $50,000. And if he has also written his own  material, he can add another $20,000 (or more, if others record his tune) to his bank account. No wonder  everybody wants to make a record''.

This article is appeared in the April 27th 1959 edition of the Memphis Commercial Appeal for posterity.



Curtis Hoback, 1957 >


Around 1956-1957, Curtis Hoback began playing music with a local band the Stardusters, eventually taking     them over as his backing group. They worked in local joints within driving distance of Jackson. Hobock     mostly sang other people's songs, notably those of Jim Reeves, and drove to Memphis to appear on WHBQ's     Talent Party with George Klein and Wink Martindale.


He first recorded for Lu Records in Jackson, a label owned by Lamar Davis and Lonny Blackwell and named for Lamar's wife, Marilu. Hobock's first single on Lu Records appeared in June 1959, coupling ''The Whole Town's Talking'' b/w ''Do You Think''. The following month, Lu issued ''Tom Dooley Rock And Roll'' b/w ''China Rock''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CURTIS HOBOCK (HOBACK)
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR STAN KESLER

One of the songs he recorded, ''Apron Strings'', has a surprisingly   convoluted history. Co-writer Aaron Schroeder, also co-wrote ''It's Now Or Never'' and ''A Big Hunk O'Love''   for Elvis Presley, and was Gene Pitney's manager. The first version was probably by ''Billy The Kid'' on   Kapp Records, and it appeared in January or February, 1959. Music publisher Freddie Bienstock took the   song to Germany to play for Elvis, and Elvis recorded it at home around April 1959, but told Bienstock he   wouldn't record it commercially.

01 - "APRON STRINGS" - B.M.I. - 2:34
Composer: - George David Weiss-Aaron Schroeder
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - 1985
First appearance:- Redita Records (LP) 33rpm Redita 125-3 mono
ROCK 'N' ROLL FEVER
Reissued: - August 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16210-19 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 14

Bienstock gave the song to Cliff Richard who put it on the flip side of   ''Livin' Doll'', and it charted in July 1959. Jay B. Loyd recorded it for Hi Records, but it wasn't released at the   time, and Sam Phillips chose not to release Hobock's version. Apparently, Hobock wanted to use his   musicians while Phillips wanted to use session guys. With the exception of guitarist Tommy Jones, the  identity of the guys who play on ''Apron Strings'' is unknown. Hobock and Phillips fell out at some point in   1960.

02 - ''THE KING IS BACK'' - B.M.I. - 2:47
Composer: - Curtis Hoback
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - 1998
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8137-22 mono
UNISSUED SUN MASTERS
Reissued: - 2003 Star Club Records (CD) 500/200rpm Sweden 506003-3 mono
HEY EVERYBODY - ANTOLOGY 1958-1965

03 - ''TRIP INTO LOVE'' - B.M.I. - 1:53
Composer: - Curtis Hoback
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - 1998
Reissued: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8318-24 mono
SUN ROCK 'N' ROLL – VOLUME 2
Reissued: - 2003 Star Club Records (CD) 500/200rpm Sweden 506003-10 mono
HEY EVERYBODY – ANTOLOGY 1958-1965

04 - ''WITH MY BEST FRIEND'' - B.M.I. - 2:30
Composer: - Curtis Hoback
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number:
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959
Released: - 1986
First appearance: – Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1038-1 mono
FEEL LIKE ROCKIN'
Reissued: - 1998 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8137-23 mono
UNISSUED SUN MASTERS

05 - ''TELL ME''
Composer: - Curtis Hoback
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Curtis Hoback - Vocal & Guitar

Probably members of The Stardusters
Tommy Jones - Lead Guitar
Coy Lomax - Bass
Joe Ritchie - Drums
More Details Unknown

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


In 1959, Curtis Hobock recorded at Sun, and a  round 1963-1964, Curtis Hoback fell into the orbit of Nashville dealmaker Murray Nash, who produced  four records by Hobock, two on Cee And Cee and two more on Musicenter, including a cover version of  ''Lonely Weekends''. Throughout, Hobock worked as a millwright and played as many as six nights a week at clubs around west Tennessee, southern Kentucky, and northern Mississippi. On weekends during the summer, he'd load up the family head to the Tennessee River for camping, boating and water skiing. At night   he would leave the family at the river and head back town for a gig, returning before dawn the next day.

Curtis Hoback and the Stardusters at the Delmar Inn, Humboldt, Tennessee, 1956 or 1957. From left: Coy Lomax, Mrs. Eula Mae Stevens, Curtis Hoback, Tommy Jones, and Joe Ritchie. >

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CURTIS HOBOCK (HOBACK)
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE(S)
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR STAN KESLER

01 - ''FOR ALL I'M WORTH'' - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Curtis Hoback
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date(s)
Released: 1979
First appearance: - Bopcat Records (LP) 33rpm Bopcat 700 mono
ROCK AROUND THE TOWN
Reissued: -  2006  Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample-15 mono
ROCK CLASSICS - AMPHETAMING ANNIE

02 - ''MY BONNIE LIES'' - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Curtis Hoback
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date(s)
Released: 1979
First appearance: - Bopcat Records (LP) 33rpm Bopcat 700 mono
ROCK AROUND THE TOWN

03 - ''YOUR CHEATIN' HEART'
Composer: - Hank Williams
Publisher: - Acuff Rose Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date(s)

04 - ''LIVE AND LET LIVE - B.M.I. - 3:42
Composer: - Curtis Hoback
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date(s)
Released: - 2006
First appearance: - Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample-12 mono
ROCK CLASSICS - AMPHETAMING ANNIE

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Curtis Hoback - Vocal & Guitar

Probably members of The Stardusters
Tommy Jones - Lead Guitar
Coy Lomax - Bass
Joe Ritchie - Drums
More Details Unknown

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR SONNY BURGESS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN POSSIBLY 1959
OR JUNE 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - PROBABLY JACK CLEMENT

The Sun log books show that Sonny Burgess returned to Sun in 1959 and cut another single that was issued in January 1960 on the Phillips International label: "Sadie's Back In Town" b/w "A Kiss Goodnite". However, Sonny believes the single was recorded earlier, and released on Phillips International to try and breach a new market, was his last for Sam Phillips. With the unpredictability of Sun paperwork, he could be correct. Oddly, the record sported a thin, poorly balanced sound but was nonetheless true to the Burgess credo.


From left: Kern Kennedy, piano; Jack Nance, trumpet; Russell Smith, drums; Joe Lewis, guitar; Sonny Burgess, vocal & guitar; Johnny Ray Hubbard, upright bass. >
 
Spirited as ever, Sonny turns in an enthusiastic piece of nonsense, surrounded by a group of sidemen who had obviously never seen the inside of a Prozac bottle. Sonny recalls that his brother-in-law, Harry Adams, came up with "Sadie's Back In Town", although Jimmie Rodgers might very well recognize a good portion of the words and melody as belonging to his 1928 song "My Little Lady".


For some reason, the pianist had a very hard time with these chord changes (several out-takes confirm his repeated difficulties) and he manages to blow his solo here as well. But, again, feeling prevailed over perfection.  A final note: That little spoken intro was not accomplished by speeding up the tape in the style of David Seville's "Chipmunks". One of the guys in Sonny's band, drummer Raymond Thompson, could actually speak that way. It seemed to work at gigs, so they decided to include it on one of their records.

01(1) - "SADIE BROWN (SADIE'S BACK IN TOWN)"* - B.M.I. - 2:23
Composer: - Albert Burgess-Harry Adams
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 367  - Master
Recorded: - Possibly 1959
Released: - January 1960
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3551-A mono
SADIE'S BACK IN TOWN / A KISS GOODNITE
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-2-3 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

The idea for "Sadie" was given to Sunny Burgess by his brother-in-law, Harry Adams. For some reason, the single caught the attention of someone on the Albert Embankment in London, England, and was released on Decca's London subsidiary (the only Sonny Burgess Sun record released in Europe while he was more-or-less under contract).

01(2) - "SADIE BROWN (SADIE'S BACK IN TOWN)"* - B.M.I. - 3:11
Composer: - Albert Burgess-Harry Adams
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
(Studio Talk) (Take 3 Count-In, Take 4 Count-In, Take 5 Count-In)
Recorded: - Possibly 1959
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-6-8 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS - WE WANNA BOOGIE
Reissued: - May 29, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-4-19 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959

02(1) - "A KISS GOODNITE" - B.M.I. - 1:51
Composer: - Albert Burgess
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 368 - Master
Recorded: - Possibly 1959
Released: - January 1960
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3551-B mono
A KISS GOODNITE / SADIE'S BACK IN TOWN
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-2-4 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

"A Kiss Goodnite" reveals the romantic, or at least the less frenetic side of Sonny Burgess. History has shown this to be a fine, engaging track. The shuffle rhythm works to perfection and guitarist J.C. Caughron has some fun with the vibrato arm of his guitar. It is disappointing that no more Sonny Burgess material was issued in the three years of life still remaining in Phillips International (and six years in Sun). In particular, Sonny's "Find My Baby For Me", recorded with Roy Orbison, would have made a wonderful and worthy single.

This record caught the ear of someone on the Albert Embankment in London, and it became the only of Sonny's records to be released overseas while under contract to Sun.

02(2) - "A KISS GOODNITE" - B.M.I. - 1:49
Composer: - Albert Burgess
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take
- Mistitled "I Love You So"* - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Possibly 1959
Released: - 1975
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30115-A-2* mono
SUN: THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 8 - SUN ROCKS
Reissued: - 1991 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15525-2-26 mono
SONNY BURGESS - THE CLASSIC SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1959

03 - "SMOOCHIN' JILL" - B.M.I. - 1:58
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Possibly 1959
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1039 mono
SONNY BURGESS – V 3
Reissued: - 1991 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15525-2-25 mono
SONNY BURGESS - THE CLASSIC SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Sonny Burgess - Vocal and Guitar
Roland Janes - Guitar
J.C. Caughron - Bass
Frankie Siddeth - Electric Bass
Raymond Thompson - Drums and
Woody Woodpecker' Noises*
Ed Thomas - Piano
Jimmy M. Van Eaton - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



From above: Jack Nance, trumpet; Joe Lewis, guitar; Johnny Ray Hubbard, upright bass; Sonny Burgess, vocal.

Sonny Burgess never quite recaptured the magic he had sparked at Sun. Sam Phillips and subsequently Jack Clement knew how to capture the booming and assertive quality of Burgess' vocals, and Sam Phillips' years recording the blues gave him a feel for the dirty tone of the guitar and the Pacers thunderous sound. "There was no way Sonny was going to be a ballad singer", asserted Sam Phillips. 


"His forte was rock and roll. He could have been one of the greats but he never got the right break. I believed in the guy. We gave him what exposure we could but ultimately its the disc jockey's and the public who made the decision". 

"Sam's secret", maintains Burgess, "was to get you to play like you'd play live. He'd just turn you loose. You'd play like you had a crowd watching - that's how come there's all the mistakes. It wasn't super good music, but it felt good to us. I was trying to play guitar and sing too, and that's tough to do. We should have brought in another picker".


From left: Sonny Burgess, Joe Lewis, unidentified bassplayer, circa 1959 in Conway Twitty's band. >

1959

In 1959, Sonny Burgess joined Jack Nance and Joe Lewis in Conway Twitty's band, and Bobby  Crafford took over the Pacers. Burgess stayed with Twitty until the move to Oklahoma City,  when Twitty decided to re-cast himself as a born again hillbilly. Sonny returned to Newport,  took a day job for a while before resuming his career as a professional musician with the  Kings IV (subsequently the Kings V).

He played clubs in and around Newport, and on Sun-days  he and his group would drive to Memphis to check out the rhythm and blues bands at  Sunbeam Mitchell's Paradise Club.

''There was us and maybe a table of college kids'',  remembered Sonny, ''and the rest of the room would be blacks. Willie Mitchell, Bowlegs  Miller and the musicians made us feel real welcome, but then toward the end the racial  thing got real tense and we stopped going. We never saw rhythm and blues bands in the  1950s, and that was the only chance we got to see the real good rhythm and blues acts''. It  was not until 1970 that Sonny gave up the music as his primary source of income.

There are a raft of reasons why Sonny Burgess never made it. Part of the problem may have  been that he was never tempted to leave Newport. Nashville never crossed his mind;  Memphis and Los Angeles did, but he stayed put with his ''little town baby''. Part of the  problem may have been that he was too raw – his natural sound shaded too close to rhythm  and blues. There was also a measure of sheer bad luck. If a dee-jay in a trend-setting market  had picked up on one of his singles and spun it relentlessly, Sonny could have had a hit. As it  was, he accepted the verdict of the marketplace with relatively good grace and became a  salesman. Interviewed in 1971 he could see no place for himself in the then-current music  scene. However, fifteen years later, Burgess became one of the founding members of the Syn  Rhythm Section band with whom he has toured far and wide and enjoyed some lately-come  acclaim. The long hiatus from the business ensured that Sonny had not burned himself out.  His music still sports the contagious quality that we find on his Sun sessions.

Despite the fact that Sonny dislikes all but a few of his Sun recordings, it is upon them that  his reputation rests. Sam Phillips' enthusiasm for him was well placed. Sonny did not owe an  obvious stylistic debt to anyone and he captured the freewheeling spirit of early rock and  roll. It is a truism (perhaps never truer): They simply do not make records like this any  more. Sonny Burgess still lives in Newport, Arkansas.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR WARREN SMITH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY JANUARY 7, 1959 WEDNESDAY
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN

OVERDUB SESSION: JANUARY 13, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT

At some point, Marcus Van Story dropped out and was replaced by Al Hopson's brother, Will. As Warren's star began to fade, Jimmie Lott also packet his bags and eaded to Memphis. Smith began working with the Hopson brothers and a pick-up drummer. When he returned to the studio in January 1959 after a long hiatus he was paired with the Billy Riley band to work up his final Sun single.

With the short-lived fad for primitive rockabilly consigned to the past, Warren Smith's thoughts were turning towards crossover country music. Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, Don Gibson and others had shown the immense potential of the mid-ground between pop and country. Smith knew he could cover their territory and isolated a song from Don Gibson's first album.

01 - "GOODBYE MR. LOVE"* - B.M.I. - 2:37
Composer: - Warren Smith-Billy Byrd
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 343  - Master
Recorded: - January 7, 1959
Released: - February 15, 1959
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 314-B mono
GOODBYE MR. LOVE / SWEET, SWEET GIRL
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16803-3-22 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

"Goodbye Mr. Love", was a song that Warren Smith had written with veteran country picker Billy Byrd. It was also attempted in at least two sessions. The first was a throwback to pre-crossover hillbilly music but the finished version was simply excellent current country music.

''Goodbye Mr. Love'' proves the truth in Jack Clement's assertion that Smith was the ''closest approximation of a mainstream 'Nashville' singer ever to enter 706 Union''. It also disproves Smith's assertion that he could not record country music at Sun. The overall sound on this recording is very close to the product coming out of Nashville in 1959, particularly in view of the chorus. All of this makes Smith's lack of success on Sun after 1957 double incomprehensible. In retrospect, this was far from Smith's best work but, coupled with ''Sweet Sweet Girl'', it was an exceptionally strong double sided contender.


Marcus Van Story, Warren Smith, and Al Hopson on stage, Ellis Auditorium, Memphis, Tennessee. >

Once again, Warren Smith had the profound disappointment of watching a single die of neglect after Billboard had called it "ultra commercial", speculating that "Smith'll have the top money making coupling of his career". On the day that Billboard published their review, Sun prepared a royalty statement showing that Smith was unrecouped to the tune $634.00. At roughly the same time, Warren Smith's three year term with Sun was up. A change was due.


The confusion is natural. The first line of "Goodbye Mr. Love" is the same as the title of Warren Smith's previous record on Sun. Moreover, there are numerous alternate versions in the Sun vaults showing how differently this song was conceived at various stages.

Even the version released on this disc reveals some curious glitches. Despite its slickly produced exterior (good instrumentation, fine choral overdub), the second verse is a lyrical mess. It is awkward rhythmically and it doesn't rhyme. Was the wrong version chosen for overdub?

02 - "DEAR JOHN" - B.M.I. - 1:54
Composer: - Tex Ritter-Aubry Gass
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 7, 1959
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-8-4 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-5-4 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

''Dear John'', this minor hillbilly classic was first penned by Aubrey Gass in 1949. Hank Williams revived it two years later and probably discovered it on the flip side of ''Cold Cold Heart. The song's roots are well and truly obscured by Smith's treatment which replaced the jaunty hillbilly beat with a liberal dose of the blues, especially from the lead guitar. At first the bluesy intensity of the guitar carries the song but there is a hole after the first 12-bar solo. The song meanders for another 12 bars which suggests that a sax overdub was contemplated. Smith's vocal performance is first rate and a fair amount of tape was expended on this cut, suggesting it was a candidate for release at some point. Perhaps it was consigned to storage when Phillips realised that he was not recording a Hi-Lo copyright but, rather, stood to give 3 cents a side to another publisher.

03(1) - "SWEET, SWEET GIRL" - B.M.I. - 2:22
Composer: - Don Gibson
Publisher: - Acuff Rose Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 7, 1959
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-8-3 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-5-3 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

Many versions of ''Sweet Sweet Girl'' remain on tape, and it is clear that it was worked out leaving one or two spaces for a vocal chorus to fill. Nevertheless this early take alternate take 1, free of chorus, retains arguably a more country feel than the finally version show us that recording at Sun may have been hard work but was not an ordeal. It has been said that Warren Smith was not easy to work with but the boys seemed to be having a fine time on this occasion.

03(2) - "SWEET, SWEET GIRL" - B.M.I. - 1:05
Composer: - Don Gibson
Publisher: - Acuff Rose Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take with False Starts - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 7, 1959
Released: - 1992
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15514-28 mono
WARREN SMITH - THE CLASSIC SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1959

03(3) - "SWEET, SWEET GIRL"* - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Don Gibson
Publisher: - Acuff Rose Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 342  - Master
Recorded: - January 7, 1959
Released: - February 15, 1959
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 314-A mono
SWEET, SWEET GIRL / GOODBYE MR. LOVE
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803-3-21 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Don Gibson was so extraordinarily prolific during this period that a song as strong as "Sweet, Sweet Girl" was used as album ballast. Over the course of at least two sessions, Smith worked up a very strong arrangement in conjunction with Jack Clement, Bill Justis and the Riley band.

"Sweet Sweet Girl", shows how powerful a force Don Gibson was at this point in his career. This title was a throwaway track on a Gibson album, yet it was deemed strong enough material for a Warren Smith release on Sun Records. The lyrics contain a rare sentiment in country music: I ain't gonna talk about you when you're gone. You were good to me and that's good enough for me. I was the jerk, not you. How many times have you heard that message expressed in country music? Billboard failed to pick up on this one. They gave the side a mediocre two-star review, missing the Don Gibson connection altogether. Instead they called it "a wild rocker". Given Smith's past flirtation with "Miss Froggie" and trip to "Ubangi" country, this hardly quality as "wild". What it was, sadly, was Warren Smith's last release on Sun Records before starting a successful career on Liberty as a mainstream country vocalist.



Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Warren Smith - Vocal and Guitar
Billy Riley - Guitar
Sid Manker - Guitar
Cliff Acred - Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Charlie Rich - Piano

Overdubbed Session*
Lee Holt - Vocals
Bill Abott - Vocals
Gerald Nelson  - Vocals
Charlie Rich - Vocals


Sam Phillips and Warren Smith, May Festival, Beale Street, Memphis, 1978. >

"As the releases for all of us became fewer and fewer, Jerry Lee Lewis came out with "Whole Lot Of Shakin' Goin' On" and I was on tour working my way up north when it was released", recalled Warren Smith. "Well, it started hitting tremendously. And naturally a smaller label like Sun at the time.  So Sun pushed the heck out of Jerry Lee's record, and let the rest of us slow back a bit. That's when I decided it was time to leave Sun.


There were a couple of reasons, lack of releases, royalties, etc. You know there were three or four of us at that time who were just idling and not doing anything at all", says Smith.  "The promotion being concentrated to one individual and all. So I asked for my contract and left for California. Johnny Cash was living out there at the time and I did some shows with him for awhile when I got my chance to cut some country. Joe Allison  was the one who approached me from Liberty Records, they had just started a Country series and I was the first artist to cut on it".

Talking to Martin Hawkins in 1985, Phillips offered the following assessment of Warren Smith: ''He was probably the best pure singer for country music I've ever heard. He has a pure country voice and an innate feel for a country ballad. With that music he was as good as anyone I've heard before or since. ''So Long I'm Gone'' was just a wonderful country record. Warren had a lot of emotional problems. I don't think he ever got on dope or anything but he was the kind of character that needed to be loved a lot. He needed recognition more than the average person. He liked himself, but he didn't. Despite that, Warren and I got along real well. But a lot of people didn't like Warren and he perceived that. And if they didn't, then in essence it was his fault in a lot of cases. He was a difficult personality but just interesting enough that I liked him a whole lot''. 

On January 30, 1980, Warren Smith died of a heart attack, aged just forty-seven.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Billy Riley stayed on at Sun Records until sometime in 1958 when his growing frustration with Sam Phillips putting all (or most) of his promotional resources behind Jerry Lee Lewis and not Billy Lee got the best of him. Several volatile encounters between Sam and Riley occurred. Riley recalled, ''Sam Phillips and I both had respect for each other, but we didn't get along too well at times. Mostly it was just words, but I did get a little riled one time and tore his studio up a little''. Sam sweet-talked Riley the first time, and the singer returned to Sun. Then it happened again. Things never got back to normal. The short version is that the multi-talented Billy Riley moved on.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR BILLY RILEY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY WEDNESDAY JANUARY 7, 1959 - SESSION 1
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - JACK CLEMENT & BILL JUSTIS

01(1) - "NO NAME GIRL" - B.M.I. - 1:54
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 7, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY - THE OUTTAKES

01(2) - "NO NAME GIRL" - B.M.I. - 1:54
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 7, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES



''DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE''

There is probably no more famous spiritual than ''Down By The Riverside''. Dating back to unknown sources in the 19th century, the song has been recorded by hundreds of artists, including Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Patsy Cline, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Al Hirt, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Governor Jimmie Davis, Roger McGuinn, Alabama, Clara Ward and Neil Young, to name but a few.



Listening to the playback in the studio. From left: Jimmy M. Van Eaton, Martin Willis, Pat O'Neill, Jimmy Wilson, and Billy Riley, January 7, 1959. >

Its chorus ('ain't gonna study war no more') stems from Isaiah 4:2 ('neither shall they learn war any more') and expresses a hope for peace. It came to be used as an expression of anti-war sentiment during the Vietnam War.  The song's strong ties to the southern gospel tradition were underscored when ''The Million Dollar Quartet'' (Presley, Perkins, Cash and Lewis) included it in their spontaneous repertoire in 1956, with Elvis handling the vocal on most of the 2 ½ mins the quartet spent on it.



From left: Billy Riley Jimmy M. Van Eaton, Pat O'Neill (behind the magazine), and Martin Willis, relaxing between takes at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, January 7, 1959.

By this reckoning, you might wonder if Billy Riley's 1959 rockin' version might be considered sacrilege. Let's put it this way. If this is sacrilege, Riley had plenty of company. In 1953, the Four Lads enjoyed a hit record with their ultra-pop version. ('I met my little bright-eyed doll / Down By The Riverside...').


Five years later, budding pop star Sal Mineo tried his luck with the same lyrics and got nowhere. By 1958, a 'bright-eyed doll' sounded pretty square and so, in fact, did Mineo's record.

Just a year later, when Riley turned his attention to the old spiritual, the words got updated again. Gone was the "bright-eyed doll" in favor of a 'swinging chick." In fact, Riley's goals on that riverside were a lot more carnal than putting an end to war. He had come there to do some dancing and heavy breathing with his swinging chick and get over his ex. ''Ain't gonna study war no more" had been replaced by ''Ain't gonna worry `bout you no more''. Take that, Mahalia.

Here five alternate takes and the same number of false starts, recorded over two separate sessions. The first session is pretty spare - just Billy and a band. The vocal line begins, "Gonna slip (or put) on my rockin' shoes" but that will change by the second session. We also include as false start 1 a- musician's nightmare: Billy begins with a solo vocal and is joined by the band playing in a different key. This is the only time during this session that Billy slowly sings the title before the song begins, a job that a chorus will take over in the second session.


02(1) - "DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE" - B.M.I. - 2:06
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley-Edwin Howard
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 7, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY - THE OUTTAKES

02(2) "DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE" - B.M.I. - 2:12
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley-Edwin Howard
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Chatter & Alternate Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 7, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY - THE OUTTAKES

02(3) - "DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE" - B.M.I. - 2:01
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley-Edwin Howard
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 7, 1959
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15444-2-14 mono
BILLY RILEY - THE CLASSIC SUN RECORDINGS 1956 – 1960
Reissued: - 2011 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES

Edwin Howard put some new words to the old gospel tune "Down By The Riverside" in the first flush of enthusiasm following the release of his own record, and showed them to Sam Phillips. Billy Riley record the song, and gave Howard 50 percent of the writer's share as a token of goodwill because Howard had originally conceived the idea. Riley's record sold 10,633 copies during its first six months on the market, giving Howard $39.86 in writer's royalties.

02(4) - "DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE" - B.M.I. - 0:33
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley-Edwin Howard
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 7, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Billy Riley – Vocal & Guitar
Pat O'Neill – Bass
Jimmy M. Van Eaton – Drums
Charlie Rich or Jimmy Wilson – Piano
Martin Willis – Saxophone

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


JANUARY 9, 1959 FRIDAY

''Rawhide'' makes its prime-time debut on CBS. It was an American television Western about cattle drives featuring Trail Boss "Gil Favor" played by Eric Fleming and ramrod "Rowdy Yates" played by Clint Eastwood. The theme music "Rawhide" performed by Frankie Laine. Series ran from 1959 till 1966.

JANUARY 10, 1959 SATURDAY

Aaron Neville weds fellow New Orleans performer Joel Roux. During their marriage, he goes on to receive a pair of Grammy nominations for country projects.

JANUARY 12, 1959 MONDAY

Capitol released Ferlin Husky's ''My Reason For Loving''.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans adopt Debbie, a six-year-old orphaned Korean girl.

Columbia released Marty Robbins' ''The Hanging Tree''.

JANUARY 12, 1959 MONDAY

Sun SLP 1240 ''Greatest'' by Johnny Cash issued.

Berry Gordy, Jr. a former boxer, automobile assembly-line worker, and record-store owner started on this day  his own record label, operating out of a white bungalow on 2648 West Grand Boulevard (''Hitsvilly, U.S.A.'')  in Detroit, Michigan, as Tamla Records, and was incorporated as "Motown Record Corporation" on April 14,  1960. The name, a blending of motor and town, is also a nickname for Detroit. Motown played an important  role in the racial integration of popular music as an African American-owned record label which achieved  significant crossover success. In the 1960s, Motown and its subsidiary labels (including Tamla Motown, the  brand used outside the US) were the most successful proponents of what came to be known as the Motown  Sound, a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence. During the 1960s, Motown achieved spectacular  success for a small record company: 79 records in the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 record chart between  1960 and 1969.

Gordy relocated Motown to Los Angeles in 1972, and there it remained an independent company until June  28, 1988, when Gordy sold the company to MCA and Boston Ventures (which took over full ownership of  Motown in 1991). Motown was then sold to PolyGram in 1994, before being sold again to MCA Records'  successor, Universal Music Group, when it acquired PolyGram in 1999.

Motown spent much of the 2000s as a part of the Universal Music subsidiaries Universal Motown and  Universal Motown Republic Group, and headquartered in New York City. From 2011 to 2014, Motown was  a part of The Island Def Jam Music Group division of Universal Music. On April 1, 2014, Universal Music  Group announced the dissolution of Island Def Jam; subsequently Motown relocated back to Los Angeles to  operate under the Capitol Music Group.

JANUARY 14, 1959 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley talks to a reporter at the entrance to his hotel in Bad Nauheim, West Germany, providing physical proof that rumors of his death in a car accident are completely unfounded.

Hudson and Nash join to become AMC (American Motors Association.

JANUARY 15, 1959 THURSDAY

Carl and Valda Perkins have their fourth child, George Jay Perkins. He joins his dad and older brother, Stan, in writing Dolly Parton's ''Silver And Gold''.

Bass player Kathy Mac is born in Lexington, Kentucky. She joins the all-female band Wild Rose, whose ''Breaking New Ground'' becomes a minor hit in 1989.

JANUARY 19, 1959 MONDAY

Tennessee Ernie Ford guests on the CBS sitcom ''The Danny Thomas Show'', as Kentucky Cal, a stranger the kids invite to dinner.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

''NO NAME GIRL''

This record certainly has its fans, including John Prine who cut it 20 years after Riley in 1979. So what makes this track so lovable? Quite a few things, actually. For one, that incessant rhythm is quite a hook. It's even more prevalent in some of the alternate takes. Just listen to the first four bars before Martin Willis joins them on sax. Willis' repeated riff is also contagious as hell. In fact, this might have been a workable instrumental.

But it isn't. Rileys vocal is charming, if a bit tamer than his Little Richard style. The lyrics are delightful, even bizarre. Part of them came from ''Rockin' On The Moon'', Billy's one-off record for Brunswick in 1958. In that opus, the Queen of the Moon has eyes in the back of her head, so that ''she cans tell where she's going but she knows where slips been''. Its a clever image and there was no reason not to recycle it a year later for Sun. ''Rockin' On The Moon'' was credited to Vic McAlpin. This song is credited to Riley and Jack Clement, although Riley claimed vehemently in later-life interviews that Jack Clement had nothing to do with it, other than perhaps some tinkering in the studio.



Billy Riley's Sun outtakes. >

Then there's the matter of that sack dress. Women didn't look shapely in a sack dress, and guys were complaining about it on wax in 1958. Most successful was Jerry Granahan's ''No Chemise Please'', Sunbeam 102 ('I couldn't tell the front from the back'), but there were also the Beavers' ''Sack Dress'', Capitol F 3956 ('I can't see the way you look') and the Lane Brothers' ''Boppin'In A Sack'', RCA EP 4175 ('You can't tell the front from the back').


But Riley? His lyric evolves from 'She goes around in a sack dress' on the earlier alternate to 'She'd get lost in a sack dress'. The punch line in both cases was, "but I don't care". He was a sensitive New Age man, ahead of his time.

Let's think more thoroughly about the subject of this song: "the girl I love". What makes her so lovable? She's got no home, she's got no name, she's tall, she's too thin to cast a shadow, she's just skin and bones, she's got big feet, she's a little peculiar, she doesn't know where she's going (though she knows where she's been). He's got little good to say about her; her long black hair is her only obviously endearing quality. But he loves her just the same. And by the end, so do we.

We've got five alt takes here and the same number of false starts. The most striking difference in these alternate takes has nothing to do with lyrics; it's the key modulations between verses that develop in the later takes. On the later alternate takes and the released version, the song starts in C, migrates through C, goes up to D, back to C and ends up in D. Note to guitar players: When is the last time a rockabilly singer intentionally recorded anything in the key of C? You may be holding a piece of history here.

It's also interesting to notice what chords the band plays behind Martin Willis' sax work. In some versions (including the released take), the band plays a recognizable 1 / 4 - 1 l / 5 - 1 chord sequence. In some of the alternate takes, the band barely changes chords at all; Willis' solo is constructed so that's possible. There also aren't any chord changes during the vocals. So we get a record in which the band plays few solid chord changes behind a one-chord lyric that consists of a bunch of cute two-line couplets. Between verses, there's a catchy tune sax response played over a catchy rhythm. Put that all together, delete the tune on the saxophone but keep its catchy rhythm, and you've got.... Bo Diddley. Rockabilly records with more obvious debts to that source include the Crickets ''Not Fade Away'' (Brunswick 55035, 1957). Tommy Blake's ''Sweetie Pie'' (Sun 300, 1958), and the lesser-known ''Daisy Mae'' by Jody Reynolds (Demon 1509, 1959).

STUDIO SESSION FOR BILLY RILEY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY MONDAY JANUARY 19, 1959

WEDNESDAY SESSION 2
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - JACK CLEMENT & BILL JUSTIS

The session for the single master was filled with the AFM on January 19, 1959

01(1) - "NO NAME GIRL" - B.M.I. - 1:52
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 341  - Master
Recorded: - January 19, 1958
Released: - February 1, 1959
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 313-B mono
NO NAME GIRL / DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803-3-20 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3



Front row: Pat O. Neill, Martin Willis. Back row: Jimmy Wilson, Billy Riley, and Jimmy M. Van Eaton. >

"No Name Girl" was a somewhat hokey sing-song composition credited to Jack Clement and Billy Riley, although Riley claims that Clement's contribution was to appropriate half of the writing credit. According to Riley, he wrote the song while taking a shower in Jimmy Wilson's apartment next door to the studio above Taylor's Cafe.



The single reflected the changing times but was less than impressive by the standards Riley had set for himself. Edwin Howard reported that it sold 10,633 copies during its first six months on the market.

Even though "No Name Girl" portrays a spirited and carefree atmosphere, the record required considerable thought and energy to get right. True, it was a simple formula, alternating eight bar verses with sax breaks, while modulating keys up and down. However, the released version came from the third session devoted to getting it right. Things finally clicked on January 19, 1959. A session held twelve days earlier on the same two titles had produced nothing releasable. Neither had a December 16 date the previous year, "No Name Girl" was attempted for the first time. The final work, a "driving countryish effort with blues and hoedown overtones", to quote Billboard, was the brainchild of Riley and Jack Clement.

01(2) - "NO NAME GIRL" - B.M.I. - 2:02
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 19, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES

01(3) - "NO NAME GIRL" - B.M.I. - 0:15
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start 1- Not Originally
Recorded: - January 19, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES

01(4) - "NO NAME GIRL" - B.M.I. - 2:05
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start 2 - Alternate Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 19, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY - THE OUTTAKES

01(5) - "NO NAME GIRL" - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start 3, 4, 5 - Alternate Take 5 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 19, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES

The session for the single master was filled with the AFM on January 19, 1959

02(1) - "DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE" - B.M.I. - 2:14
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley-Edwin Howard
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 340  - Master
Recorded: - January 19, 1959
Released: - February 1, 1959
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 313-A mono
DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE / NO NAME GIRL
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803-3-19 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

The original idea for a rocked-up version of "Down By The Riverside" came from Memphis Press Scimitar reporter Edwin Howard who had recorded one single for Sam Phillips in order to document the process of recording. In the first flush of enthusiasm after its release, Howard re-wrote the lyrics to "Down By The Riverside" and was given 50% of the song after Riley subsequently copped the idea. Bill Justis overdubbed a chorus and a second sax part over the bed track which went some distance towards disguising Riley's somewhat lackluster vocal.

Billy Riley reworked the traditional anti-war song into a suitably rocking style for the 1959 marketplace.

02(2) - "DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE" - B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley-Edwin Howard
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 19, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES

02(3) - "DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE" - B.M.I. - 0:29
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley-Edwin Howard
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 19, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY - THE OUTTAKES

02(4) - "DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE" - B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley-Edwin Howard
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start 3, 4 - Alternate Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 19, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES

02(5) - "DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE" - B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Jack Clement-Billy Riley-Edwin Howard
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start 5 - Alternate Take 5 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 19, 1959
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-2 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES

Anyone listening to this, or Billy Riley's four previous releases on Sun (not to mention his solitary outing on Brunswick), might conclude that the man was a chameleon. Was this the same guy who performed "Trouble Bound" or "Red Hot"? Apparently so, although the fact eduded Billboard which gave Sun 313 a Pick Hit review, but also managed to describe the release as Riley's "first disk assignment".

03 - "SWANEE RIVER ROCK" - B.M.I. - 2:15
Composer: - Floyd Huddleston - Traditional Arranged by Billy Riley
Publisher: - Public Domain
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - January 19, 1959
Released: - 1979
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30151-2 mono
BILLY RILEY - SUN SOUND SPECIAL
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15444-2-15 mono
BILLY RILEY - THE CLASSIC SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1960

Riley recorded Stephen Foster's "Swanee River (The Old Folk At Home)" as "Swanee River Rock", a fairly pointless choice in view of the fact that Ray Charles had scored his first major pop with the song a year earlier. It remained unissued until the vaults were combed 15 years later.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Billy Riley - Vocal & Guitar
Pat O'Neill - Bass
Jimmy M. Van Eaton – Drums
Charlie Rich or Jimmy Wilson - Piano
Martin Willis - Saxophone
Unknown Vocal Chorus

The vast majority of Sun recordings from the era that involve choruses were the result of overdubs made after the original recording session was complete. There is no choral overdub here: the chorus is actually present during the session.

Sessions 1 and 2 can also be distinguished by whether Billy slips on his Rockin' shoes (Session 1) or his Boppin' shoes (Session 2, as well as Sun 313). An impressive aspect of the alternates at Session 2 is how well-rehearsed all the players are; but for James Van Eaton's drumming, all the performances at this session are nearly identical.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

From left: Jerry McGill, Glen Campbell, Waylon Jennigs. >

According to Colin Escott's bio-notes in Charly Sunbox 109, McGill was a wannabe rockstar 'cum' ganster. He appears to have had more success at the latter than the former. Even by Southern good ole boy standards, Jerry McGill still carries a somewhat inglorious reputation. Brandishing pistols, passing bad cheques and experiencing all kinds of run-ins with the law came naturally to this onetime road manager Waylon Jennings.

On a more positive level. James M. Van Eaton drum characteristics grew in stature with each passing season at Sun and by the time McGill's boulder-rolling track was recorded, his snare had finally reached full maturity.

STUDIO SESSION FOR JERRY MCGILL & THE TOPCOATS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SETVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY JANUARY 21, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - ERNIE BARTON

On this side, "Lovestruck", McGill seems to be more enamored of teen idols like Bobby Rydell than Elvis Presley. Our best guess as to the identity of the label- billed "Topcoats" seems to be the little girl-sounding chorus on this side. One thing is for sure: this wasn't Gene Lowery.

01 – "LOVESTRUCK" - B.M.I. - 2:03
Composer: - Ernie Barton
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 369  - Master
Recorded: - January 21, 1959
Released: - August 11, 1959
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm standard single SUN 326-A mono
LOVESTRUCK / I WANNA MAKE SWEET LOVE
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803-4-19 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

02 - "I WANNA MAKE SWEET LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:18
Composer: - Branson-Burt-Klein-McGill
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 368
Recorded: - January 21, 1959
Released: - August 11, 1959
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm standard single SUN 326-B mono
I WANNA MAKE SWEET LOVE / LOVESTRUCK
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803-4-20 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

There is a whole generation of Sun performers who seems to be well versed in the atmospherics of rockabilly rather than the music. Even Elvis Presley began to imitate himself later years. It is not clear whether Jerry McGill's ambitions in recording "I Wanna Make Sweet Love" were fueled by listening to Elvis records or looking at Ersel Hickey's publicity photo. In any case, he seems to have learned his lessons. And, unlike most, he has a Sun release to show for it: a perfectly pedestrian one, but nothing to be ashamed of.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jerry McGill - Vocal
Jim King - Lead Guitar
Bobby Scott - Rhythm Guitar
Frank Thomas - Bass and Keyboard
Ronnie Rich - Drums
Dwayne Fowler - Tenor Saxophone

Or Sun Studio Musicians
Brad Suggs - Guitar
Bill Black - Bass
Jimmy M. Van Eaton - Drums
Charlie Rich - Piano
Martin Willis - Saxophone

Vocal Chorus:
Opal Green, Twila Taylor, 
Nanci Drake, Carolyn Marharrey

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Jerry McGill >

JERRY MCGILL -  A TRUE JERRY MCGILL TESTIMONIAL FROM RONALD RICH, HIS DRUMMER IN THE TOPCOATS IN 1959 - ''I played drums with Eddie Cash and The Madcaps, Dickie Lee, Mac Davis, Jerry Reed, Ray Stevens, The   Marvels, Jerry McGill and The Topcoats, and a few other Memphis groups plus my Sun sessions. I knew  George Klein, Elvis, Sam Phillips, and a few of the other Memphis music influencers''. ''I played with Jerry McGill (the only name I knew him by) when he was starting out as a singer and until   The Topcoats finally disbanded.

Honestly, I don't remember why we disbanded but I went away to Georgia   Tech for college and that's all I can remember. Jerry was a really great guy and very friendly to me. The girls   were all over him whenever he played live.

He had a musical soul and was destined to do well. At the time, I   was doing session work playing drums at Sun Studios at the age of 17. If you recall the drums in   ''Lovestruck'', you know my work''.  ''The musicians playing on ''Lovestruck'' and I Wanna Make Sweet Love'' were Charlie Rich on piano (I  think), Bill Black on bass, Martin Willis on sax, and I think Brad Suggs on guitar. The session ran about 3   hours as far as I can recall. None of Jerry's other band members played on the actual record. For some  reason, they wanted me on both A and B sides. I remember giving Charlie Rich (no relation) a ride after a  recording session to the Holiday Inn in Memphis one night and this might have been the one, but this was   over 50 years ago. Charlie was not big yet but very talented''.

''I definitely remember Martin Willis, a Sun powerhouse, playing sax with me on Jerry's only Sun record.   The backup singers on ''Lovestruck'' were Opal Green, Twila Taylor, Nanci Drake and Carolyn Maharrey. All   of the girls were juniors at Treadwell High School in Memphis. Jerry McGill was very talented and was really great to his entire band.   Jerry was totally dedicated at the time to making it in the music business. I understand after I moved away he   became very involved in producing records as well but I lost touch with him''.

''Here are the names of all the Topcoat musicians who played with Jerry McGill on all live performances   around Memphis. You may remember some of them. The group was tight and put out an amazing sound for a   garage type band in 1959. Jim King was lead guitar and band manager, Ronnie Rich on drums, Frank Thomas on bass and keyboards, Bobby Scott rhythm guitar, Dwayne Fowler sax''.

''Jim King ran the band very well and kept us really booked. Some of the live appearances got "quite lively''   including an occasional fight in the parking lot. There is a Commercial Appeal newspaper photo of the   Topcoats playing at the National Guard Armory with Jerry standing on a round stage but I don't know how to   get it posted. George Klein cooked up this huge "dance" at the Armory to promote a teenage dance club   according to what I heard and Barney Sellers did the photography for the newspaper promotion''.

''Unfortunately, the entire band never got in the photo since Jerry was the real focal point. By the way, the   girls backing Jerry on ''Lovestruck'' are also on the Jerry Lee Lewis song "Let's Talk About It''. Not sure what   happened to all the Topcoats. Jim King is alive and well and living in Texas. No idea what happened to the   others. Most people assume Jimmy M. Van Eaton played on Jerry McGill's session but that is not true. I   stopped by to see Jimmy M. Van Eaton in Memphis a couple of years ago during a visit from California. He   was working out in Germantown for an investment company and gave me some new drumsticks from his   line of Jimmy M. VanEaton drum products. What a great guy! He has a wonderful history with Sun and   should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in my opinion. JM is the only session drummer that actually has his picture on the Sun Studios wall and it is certainly earned. Jimmie Lott was another Sun session drummer I   knew. He also went to East High while I was a student there. I understand Jimmy died. We had a few "battle   of the drums" on stage for the kids which was always fun. I think I won. And he thinks he won. The one that   really won was the student...they had great fun''.

''I still have the original ''Lovestruck'' 45rpm in my collection. It is one of my prized possessions. If Jerry   sees this message, I wish him continued success with his new music coming out. I live in San Diego and   have been in California since 1968. Don't know if Very Extremely Dangerous will ever get a viewing out   here but if it does, I'll be the first in line. Wish I could get my hands on a DVD if one comes out''.

''Glad to hear Jerry is alive and hanging in there. He may remember me. It has been 53 years since we cut his   only Sun Record but maybe he will. I had no idea he would take the path he did with crime and all the other   crazy stuff but it sounds like he finally came back to his roots and love of music which is really his calling in   life in my opinion. If you ever see or talk with him, please tell him Ronnie Rich, his old drummer from the   Topcoats said hello. And let him know his guitar player, Jim King, asks about him as well''.

Testimony by Ronnie Rich, June/July 2010


JANUARY 21, 1958 WEDNESDAY

The Kingston Trio's ''Tom Dooley'' is certified gold. The folk single later wins a Grammy in the country category.

JANUARY 23, 1959 FRIDAY

Flatt and Scruggs recorded ''Crying My Heart Out Over You''. It later becomes a hit for Ricky Skaggs.

Buddy Holly performs in Milwaukee, where the temperature is 25 below. Sharing the bill with Ritchie Valens, Frankie Sardo, The Big Bopper and Dion. Waylon Jennings plays bass for Holly on what proves to be the first date on Holly's final tour.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR BRAD SUGGS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SETVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION:  THURSDAY JANUARY 22, 23, 1958
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - ERNIE BARTON

01 – "SAM'S TUNE''
Composer: - Brad Suggs
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - January 22, 23, 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Brad Suggs, - Guitar
Pat O'Neil - Bass
Jimmy M. Van Eaton - Drums
Jimmy Wilson - Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


JANUARY 24, 1959 SATURDAY

Songwriter Jimmy Driftwood plays ''The Louisiana Hayride'' in Shreveport, where he works with Johnny Horton to streamline the lyrics to ''The Battle Of New Orleans'', which Horton recorded three days later.

JANUARY 27, 1959 TUESDAY

 Johnny Horton recorded ''The Battle Of New Orleans'' during an evening session at Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville's Music Row.

A still-unknown Ed Bruce has a guest role on the ABC police drama ''Naked City''.

JANUARY 29, 1959 THURSDAY

Ray Price recorded ''Heartaches By The Number'' in the evening at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

Marty Robbins and his wife, Marizona, have a daughter, Janet.

JANUARY 30, 1959 FRIDAY

Skeeter Davis recorded her first Top 10 solo hit, ''Set Him Free''.

Freddie Hart recorded ''The Wall'', his first charted single.

JANUARY 31, 1959 SATURDAY

Buddy Holly performs in Duluth, Minnesota, during what proves to be his final concert tour, with Waylon Jennings playing bass guitar. In the audience, Bob Dylan and future country record producer Jimmy Bowen.

Former ''National Barn Dance'' figure George Gobel occupiers the cover of TV Guide.

FEBRUARY 1959

The singles PI 3536 ''The Minstrel Show'' b/w ''Three Little Guitars by Clement Travelers; PI 3537 ''Hopeless  Love'' b/w ''If I Had My Way'' by Jimmy Demopoulos issued.

FEBRUARY 1, 1959 SUNDAY

''No Name Girl'' b/w ''Down By The Riverside'' (Sun 313) by Billy Riley issued.

FEBRUARY 2, 1959 MONDAY

Buddy Holly plays his final concert, using a band that includes Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup, in Clear Lake, Iowa. It's also the last show for J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) and Ritchie Valens.

Pat Boone, the father of Debby Boone and son-in-law of Red Foley, appears on the cover of Life magazine.

''Dear Oakie'' singer/songwriter Doye O'Dell makes his second appearance on the ABC western ''Sugarfoot''.

FEBRUARY 1959

According to Barbara Barnes, ''About February, we put out a single on Billy Riley, the perennial sideman. It  was ''Down By The Riverside'', a song everyone knew but with some newer lyrics. About the same time, we  released Warren Smith's ''Sweet, Sweet Girl'' (February 15). Billy was rock and Warren was country. I gave  each equal attention, but the Riley number was selling more. Actually I liked Warren's just as well. He had a  very nice voice. Billy was better known than Warren because of his extensive touring with his Little Green  Men. Also, his record of ''Red Hot'' had been pretty popular, as had his earlier novelty record about flying  saucers''.

''Warren was the only musician who ever took out his career frustrations on me. During the period when we  were trying to launch his record, he gave me the evil eye each time our paths crossed. He would sarcastically  call me ''Mrs Riley'', and accuse me of denying him the success he deserved. He had a few other releases, and  Sam thought he was a good singer, but we just couldn't get one of his records to take off. The reason had to  do more with his material than his singing, I thought. He just didn't have a number 1 song'', Barbara said.

Jud Phillips introduced Ersel Hickey and his manager to  Kay Martin, vice-president of the Jerry Lee Lewis Fan Club at the Manhattan Hotel. Ersel, who was from Rochester, New York, was her buddy at the time and Jerry Lee Lewis was coming to town, so she invited Ersel to come meet him and to bring his guitar... so that Jerry might play it.

FEBRUARY 1959

Cliff Gleaves had a perfectly acceptable voice but the star of his session was the song, ''Love Is My Business'', along with the guitar solo by Roland Janes. Gleaves, from Jackson, was one of Elvis Presley's buddies and was a local disc jockey, recording later for Jack Clement's Summer label and half of dozen others.


Cliff Gleaves and Elvis Presley, E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game for the Blind, Friday, November 30, 1956. Elvis arrived late, missed the first half and half-time ceremony where he was supposed to crown Sue Manker as queen of half-time activities. >

Dating Cliff Gleaves' Sun recordings opens up a range of possibilities. One of the song, ''As Long As I Have You'', was one that Elvis performed in ''King Creole''; another was a Bill Cantrell-Quinton Claunch song, ''Love Is My Business'' in 1957 when they were working with Chuck Matthews at OJ Records.


Warming up for ''Love Is My Business'', Gleaves tried singing ''Your Cheatin' Heart'', a song Elvis had recorded a few weeks after ''As Long As I Have You'' in 1958. Another version of ''Love Is My Business'' became Gleaves' first single on Jack Clements's post-Sun indie label, Summer Records, and sounds as if it was recorded with another group. It's B-side ''Easy Goin' Guy'', was a Clement song copyrighted in February 1959. So there's a three-year range of dating possibilities.

The likeliest scenario is that ''Love Is My Business'' was recorded early in 1959. In fact, Jack Clement told James Dickerson that he was recording Gleaves on the night Sam Phillips fired him. ''Cliff Gleaves had hit another member of Elvis's entourage over the head with a tennis racquet and Elvis threw him out of the house. For some reason, Cliff was staying with me. At the time, I lived over in Frayser. It got into the evening and we'd been recording Cliff all day. Bill Justis had downed a few cocktails. I wanted to go home because it was snowing and I wanted to get across the bridge before it froze. We were in the control room. Cliff was telling jokes. I said, Cliff, we need to go'. Sam interpreted that as, 'You don't want to stay here and talk to this idiot'. In the meantime, him and Justis had been arguing''. 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CLIFF GLEAVES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1958

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE CIRCA FEBRUARY 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - PROBABLY JACK CLEMENT

01(1) - "YOUR CHEATIN' HEART/LOVE IS MY BUSINESS" B.M.I. - 3:45
Composer: - Hank Williams-Quinton Claunch-Bill Cantrell
Publisher: - Fellow Music – Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Rehearsal, FS, FS, Alternate Take 1
Recorded: - Unknown Date February 1959
Released: - 2006
First appearance: - Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample mono
ROCK CLASSICS - AMPHETAMING ANNIE

01(2) - "LOVE IS MY BUSINESS" B.M.I. - 1:44
Composer: - Quinton Claunch-Bill Cantrell
Publisher: - Fellow Music – Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - S 102 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date February 1959
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Teenage Heaven (LP) 33rpm TH 576 mono
COUNTRY ROCKERS - VOLUME 3 - GOIN' WILD
Reissued: - 2000 Saar (CD) 500/200rpm Saar 41006 mono
THE BEST OF SUN ROCKABILLY - VOLUME 1 

Despite a set of chancy lyrics (for the time) i.e. "sittin' and a thinkin' with my pencil in my hand", the macho "Love Is My Business" encom passed a strong hook and a surging backbeat. Local disc jockey Cliff Gleaves first cut a version at Sun, then resurrected the idea for Jack Clement's short-lived Summer label (Summer 501 1957) after the song had gained a late cover by Memphis piano player Bobby Wood. Gleaves ultimately made his mark as a key member of Elvis Presley's inner-circle.

01(3) - "LOVE IS MY BUSINESS" B.M.I. - 2:22
Composer: - Quinton Claunch-Bill Cantrell
Publisher: - Fellow Music – Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date February 1959
Released: - 1982
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) CFM 10 509-3 mono
HILLBILLY ROCK
Reissued: - 2002 Sanctuary Records (CD) 500/200rpm FBUBX002-4-6 mono
50 GOLDEN YEARS 1952 – 2002

Well, love is my business, got a lovely plan just sittin' here thinkin' like a business man gotta find my.

02 – ''YOUR CHEATIN' HEART'' – B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: Hank Williams
Publisher: - Hiriam Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally issued
Recorded: Unknown Date February 1959
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Redita Records (LP) 33rpm Redita LP 124-14 mono
ROCK AND ROLL BLUES
Reissued: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8277-8 mono
SUN ROCK AND ROLL - VOLUME 1

03 – ''EASY GOIN' GUY'' – B.M.I.
Composer: Jack Clement
Publisher: - Jack Clement Music
Matrix number: - S 101
Recorded: Unknown Date FEbruary 1959
Released: - Sun Unissued

04 – ''AS LONG AS I HAVE YOU'' – B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: Unknown Date February 1959
Released: - 2006
First appearance: - Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample mono
ROCK CLASSICS - AMPHETAMING ANNIE

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Cliff Gleaves - Vocal
Roland Janes - Guitar
Sid Manker - Bass
Charles "Pinky" Buehl - Drums
Charlie Rich - Piano

The next morning, Jack Clement arrived to find two letters (one for him and one for Bill Justis) from Phillips firing him, so the likeliest scenario is that he took Gleaves to Summer Records, and that Gleaves went to Germany to rejoin Elvis soon after the record was released. The letters were dated February 5 and appeared to have been typed by Sam. They were identical except for the salutation. ''Mr. Jack Clement'', Jack's began: ''Your services have been terminated with this company. Your services have been appreciated. I sincerely hope that you feel that they have. You must realize that much responsibility rests on my shoullders and that I have never tried to encoumber any encoumberance on any situation or circumstance that has ever occurred. Therefore, I feel that you two people have not entirely had the best interest of this company in mind. Please believe me when I say I'm sorry to loose you, but when we feel that we must know more than the man that's paying the bills, we must all prove it. My best, Appreciatively, Sam C. Phillips''.

After a suitably brief period of separation, Sam Phillips and Jack Clement renewed their friendship and continued to be the best of friends to the end of Sam's life. Bill Justis remained close as well, until his own early death at fifty-five, and whatever else Sam may have felt on the subject, he never said another word about it.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Conway Twitty recommended Narvel Felts for the club circuit in Canada that he had been working prior to ''It's Only Make Believe'' becoming a number one record. He also recommended Ronnie Hawkins to that circuit. ''I had recommended both Conway and Ronnie to Pop Warner's and some other local places a little bit earlier and Conway started playing around my home area around 1957'', said Narvel Felts. ''Conway became quite successful in Canada then he recommended Ronnie Hawkins, who became quite successful. Then Conway recommended me and so January 5, 1959 we opened at the Flamingo Club in Hamilton, Ontario.

We had played Pop Warner's in Malden, Missouri on the Saturday night prior to that and my voice had started breaking that night, and we left after work and drove on ice and snow all the way to Hamilton. Took us all night Saturday and got to Hamilton on Monday morning and by the time we got there I had laryngitis and could not even talk. Luckely I did have a good band, so all I did was play guitar the first week and by the second week I was able to sing again. We wound up doing well on that circuit and that's where we worked mostly in 1959 and 1960. During that month at the Flamingo Club in Hamilton, Leon Barnett, Jerry Tuttle and myself wrote ''Three Thousand Miles'' in the dressing room. The some room that Conway Twitty and Jack Nance had written ''It's Only Make Believe'', said Narvel Felts.

''We got to London, Ontario which we played the entire month of February at the Brass Rail. When we got there two disc jockeys from CKSL in London came out to see us, one of them being Dean Hargopian. They invited us up to the studio to put down some of the new songs we had written. One afternoon we took the band and went up to CKSL Studios and sat up, and the engineer got some slap-back echo going, and we recorded ''Three Thousand Miles'' and three other songs, and I sent the original tape to Art Talmadge in Chicago and followed up with a phone call and David Carroll, the orchestra leader of Fascination-fame, talked to me. He was the head of A&R for Mercury at the time, and he said he thought they would pass on ''Three Thousand Miles'', and told me I could go elsewhere if I felt that strong about it. So when we got back home, I sent the tape to Chet Atkins in Nashville at RCA and also Hi Records had just been formed in Memphis, so I sent them a copy. Chet called me back and told me that he thought the song ''Darlin' Sue'' on there was the bag I needed to be in but he did not think the song was quite there. I got a call back from Hi saying that they thought ''Three Thousand Miles'' was a smash, and to get on down to the studio and record it. We went down to Memphis and tried to re-record it; we never could get the feel that we had on the original demo-tape that we did in the radio station in Canada, and so they wound up releasing that and it came out on Pink Records and was my first national chart hit. After it made the charts, Mercury Records sent me a magazine with ''Three Thousand Miles'' circled in the chart, saying, ''Narvel, we obviously missed on this one''.

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR NARVEL FELTS
FOR PINK RECORDS 1959

CKSL RADIO STATION STUDIO, LONDON, ONTARIO, CANADA
PINK SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE FEBRUARY 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – NARVEL FELTS & BAND

01 - ''THREE THOUSAND MILES'' - B.M.I. - 1:56
Composer: - Narvel Felts-Leon Barnett-Jerry Tuttle
Publisher: - Walmay Jac Publisher
Matrix number: - 2048
Recorded: Unknown Date February 1959
Released: - 1959
First appearance: - Pink Records (S) 45rpm standard single Pink 701-A mono
THREE THOUSAND MILES / CUTIE BABY
Reissued: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16220-25 mono
NARVEL FELTS - DID YOU TELL ME

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Narvel Felts - Vocal & Guitar
Leon Barnett - Guitar
J.W. Grubbs - Bass
Bob Taylor - Drums
Jerry Tuttler – Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR NARVEL FELTS
FOR PINK RECORDS 1959

ROYAL RECORDING STUDIO
1320 SOUTH LAUDERDALE STREET, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
PINK SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE SPRING 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – RAY HARRIS

01 – ''CUTIE BABY'' - B.M.I. - 1:51
Composer: - Narvel Felts-Leon Barnett-Jerry Tuttle
Publisher: - Walmay Jac Publisher
Matrix number: - 2049
Recorded: Unknown Date February 1959
Released:
First appearance: - Pink Records (S) 45rpm standard single Pink 701-B mono
CUTIE BABY / THREE THOUSAND MILES
Reissued: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16220-26 mono
NARVEL FELTS - DID YOU TELL ME

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Narvel Felts - Vocal & Guitar
Leon Barnett - Guitar
J.W. Grubbs - Bass
Bob Taylor - Drums
Jerry Tuttler – Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Barbara, Ed, and Cliff Thomas. >


Cliff, Ed and Barbara Thomas were frequent visitors to the Sun studio during 1958. Their efforts resulted in three singles issued under the trio's name, and this, their final effort, issued by sister Barbara.  It almost every case, the group laid down very competent and surprisingly commercial white pop music, with considerably more bite than most owing to Ed's bluesy piano and J.M. Van Eaton's drumming.



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR BOBBIE & THE BOYS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY FEBRUARY 1, 1959 SUNDAY
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - BILL JUSTIS

01 - "THESE SILLY BLUES" - B.M.I. - 1:36
Composer:- Ed Thomas Jr.
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 352  - Master
Recorded: - February 1, 1959
Released: - June 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3543-A mono
THESE SILLY BLUES / TO TELL THE TRUTH
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-1-9 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6


Jackson, Mississippi, TV News, October 1959. >

"These Silly Blues" is driving and catchy, yet tame enough to sell to white teens. There's a bit of bite here, although its teeth have all been capped. The parents of those same white teens would have been quite comfortable as this 45 spun around. This is basically a Cliff Thomas record with Barbara taking over the lead vocal. Although not usually prized by record collectors, there is source for much pride in the four Phillips International singles made by the Thomas family, who continued to combine musical activities with running the family garment business in Jackson, Mississippi. 

Fortunately, this record did not mark the end of recording activities for the Thomasses. They are known by collectors for a   superior outing on Ace 613, titled "Do You No Wrong", billed as "Cliff and Ed Thomas featuring Fats on piano".

Cliff and Ed Thomas worked for Huey Meaux's publishing company and wrote "Pickin' Wild Mountain Berries" and "Lover's Holiday", both major soul and pop hits for Peggy Scott and Jo-Jo Benson on Shelby Singleton's SSS International Records in Nashville.

02 - "TO TELL THE TRUTH" - B.M.I. - 2:08
Composer: - Ed Thomas Jr.
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 351  - Master
Recorded: - February 1, 1959
Released: - June 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3543-A mono
TO TELL THE TRUTH / THESE SILLY BLUES
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-1-10 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

"To Tell The Truth" is make-out music. It borrows liberally from the anthem of such efforts, "Earth Angel" by the Penguins. The kind of vocal unison singing at the top was still being taken to the bank as recently as 1958 by Little Anthony and the Imperials with "Tears On My Pillow". With the exception of a not so strong release (the middle part of the song), this one had what it look to be a major hit in 1959. The verses are powerful and there are vocal hooks galore. its any body's guess why this didn't make it big. Perhaps Sun/Phillips International were simply not in a position to capitalize on music like this. Certainly, few would have mistaken it for Memphis product. It could have come just as easily as from New York or California.

03 - "I'M THE ONLY ONE (ALL YOUR LOVE'' - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Ed Thomas Jr.
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 341  - Master
Recorded: - February 1, 1959
Released: - March 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3538-A mono
ALL YOUR LOVE / TIDE WIND
Reissued: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15805-4-23 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 5

The uptempo "I'm The Only One" (also known as "All Your Love") is weaker than previous Thomas material and Cliff's vocal is, with apologies, just awful. His reading of the word "day" in the second line is so flat its a wonder that Sam Phillips or Jack Clement or someone didn't simply abort the take. But as usual, if we could magically transform this into an instrumental track featuring Ed's rocking piano and an adventurous drummer (probably Jimmy van Eaton), we'd have something to smile about.

04 - "TIDE WIND" - B.M.I. - 1:45
Composer: - Ed Thomas Jr.
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 342  - Master
Recorded: - February 1, 1959
Released: - March 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3538-B mono
TIDE WIND / ALL YOUR LOVE
Reissued: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15805-4-24 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 5

"Tidewind", is a tad bizarre to say the least. Somebody, perhaps Ed or Barbara, should have understood that their admittedly cute adolescent sib was not up to sing ballads. This one lies beyond Cliff's evolving capabilities. When the song gets into that 4-chord, do you notice a melodic similarity to "Cattywampus" (Also known as "Tuf")? Its actually more than a similarity. Its a note for note vocal line based on that forbidden melody.

05 - ''THE LAST GOODNIGHT'' – B.M.I. - 2:22
Composer: - Ed Thomas Jr.
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: February 1, 1959
Released: 1999
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8353-23 mono
SUN ROCK 'N' ROLL - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Cliff Thomas - Vocal and Guitar
Ed Thomas Jr. - Vocal and Piano
Barbara Thomas - Vocal
James M. Van Eaton - Drums

Cliff Thomas' final session and final record on PI is arguably his worst. This one pushes the formula til its paper thin. We don't know what happened to Ed and Barbara, but Cliff Thomas hung around the entertainment scene, such as it was, in Jackson, Mississippi, and was last seen "improving" the old Ace masters for reissues. Interviewed in 1990, he was on the point of leaving Ace to take up a position in the garment business in Jamaica. "Do they have country stations in Jamaica?" he asked quite innocently. "Man, I hate that Reggie music".

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


FEBRUARY 3, 1959 TUESDAY

A small-plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, killed three American rock and roll pioneers,  Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, as well as the pilot, Roger  Peterson.  The day was later called ''The Day the Music Died'' by Don McLean, in his song "American  Pie". The plane crash has been called the first and greatest tragedy rock and roll has ever  suffered.  "The Winter Dance Party" was a tour that was set to cover twenty-four Midwestern cities in  three weeks.


A logistical problem with the tour was the amount of travel, as the distance  between venues was not a consideration when scheduling each performance.  Adding to the  disarray, the tour bus used to carry the musicians was not equipped for the weather; its  heating system broke shortly after the tour began. The condition of the bus and the grueling  pace of the tour are evidenced by the fact that Holly's drummer, Carl Bunch, had been  hospitalized in Ironwood, Michigan, due to a severe case of frostbitten feet that developed  when the bus broke down en route to Appleton, Wisconsin during the overnight trip  following the January 31, 1959, show in Duluth, Minnesota. As Holly's group had been the  backing band for all of the acts, Holly, Valens and Dion DiMucci (of Dion and the Belmonts)  took turns playing drums for each other at the Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Clear Lake, Iowa,  shows.

The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, was never intended to be a stop on the tour, but  promoters, hoping to fill an open date, called Surf Ballroom manager Carroll Anderson and  offered him the show. He accepted and the show was set for Monday, February 2.



The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Richie Valens >

By the time Buddy Holly arrived at the Surf Ballroom that Monday evening, he was frustrated  with the tour bus. According to VH-1's Behind the Music episode, "The Day the Music Died",  Holly was also upset that the laundromat in Clear Lake was closed that day, and he would  need time before the next performance to finally clean some undershirts, socks, and  underwear.



Holly told his remaining band mates, Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup, that  they should try to charter a plane to save time and to avoid the cold bus ride of 380 miles  (610 km) to the tour's next stop, Moorhead, Minnesota.

Flight arrangements were made with Roger Peterson, a 21-year-old local pilot who worked  for Dwyer Flying Service in Mason City, Iowa. A fee of $36 per passenger was charged for the  single-engined 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza 35 (V-tail), registration N3794N (later reassigned).  The Bonanza could seat three in addition to the pilot.

Richardson had developed a case of flu during the tour and asked Waylon Jennings for his  seat on the plane. When Holly learned that Jennings wasn't going to fly, he said in jest,  "Well, I hope your old' bus freezes up" and Jennings responded, also in jest, "Well, I hope  your old' plane crashes". This exchange of words would haunt Jennings for the rest of his  life.

Ritchie Valens had never flown in a small plane before, and, in spite of his own fear of flying,  asked Tommy Allsup for his seat on the plane. Tommy said "I'll flip ya for the remaining seat".  Contrary to what is seen in La Bamba, the coin toss did not happen at the airport shortly  before takeoff, nor did Buddy Holly toss it. Bob Hale, a DJ with KRIB-AM, was working the  concert that night and flipped the coin in the ballroom's sidestage room shortly before the  musicians departed for the airport. Valens won the coin toss, and with it a seat on the flight.

Dion had been approached to join the flight, although it is unclear exactly when he was  asked. Dion decided that, since the $36 cost of the flight was the same as the monthly rent  his parents paid for his childhood apartment, he couldn't justify the indulgence.

The plane departed from the ramp and taxied to then-Runway 17 at around 12:55 AM  Central Time on Tuesday, February 3. Contrary to popular belief, there was no blizzard at  the time but a very light snowfall with winds out of the south at 20 knots, gusting to 30  knots and a cloud ceiling of 3,000 feet above the ground. The ceiling had dropped by 2,000ft  in the previous hour. Though there were indications of deteriorating weather along the  route, the weather briefings that Peterson received failed to relay the information.

Hubert Dwyer, owner of the plane and the flight service company, watched from a platform  outside the tower and "saw the tail light of the aircraft gradually descend until out of sight",  just after 1:00 AM. Peterson had earlier told Dwyer he would file a flight plan with Air Traffic  Control by radio after takeoff. When Peterson did not call the tower personnel with his flight  plan, Dwyer requested that they continue to attempt to establish radio contact, but all  attempts were unsuccessful. By 3:30 AM, when Hector Airport in Fargo, North Dakota, had  not heard from Peterson, Dwyer contacted authorities and reported the aircraft missing.

Around 9:15 AM, Dwyer took off in his own Cessna 180 to fly Peterson's intended route.  Within minutes he spotted the wreckage less than 6 miles (9.7 km) northwest of the airport,  in a cornfield then belonging to Albert Juhl. The Bonanza was at a slight downward angle and  banked heavily to the right when it struck the ground at around 170 miles per hour (270  km/h). The plane tumbled and skidded another 570 feet (170 m) across the frozen landscape  before the crumpled wreckage came to rest against a wire fence at the edge of Juhl's  property.

The bodies of Holly and Valens lay near the plane, Richardson was thrown over the fence  and into the cornfield of Juhl's neighbor Oscar Moffett, and Peterson's body remained  entangled inside the plane's wreckage. With the other participants on "The Winter Dance  Party" enroute to Moorhead, it fell to Surf Ballroom manager Carroll Anderson, who drove  the musicians to the airport and witnessed the plane's takeoff, to make positive  identifications of the musicians. All four had died instantly from "gross trauma" to the brain,  the county coroner Ralph Smiley declared.

Investigators concluded that the crash was due to a combination of poor weather conditions  and pilot error, resulting in spatial disorientation. Peterson, working on his instrument rating  at the time, was still taking flight instrumentation tests and was not yet certified for flight  into weather that would have required operation of the aircraft solely by reference to his  instruments rather than by means of his own vision. The final Civil Aeronautics Board report  noted that Peterson had taken his instrument training on airplanes equipped with an  artificial horizon attitude indicator and not the far-less-common Sperry Attitude Gyro the  Bonanza was equipped with (it was further discovered that Peterson had failed his  instrument checkride shortly before the incident). Critically, the two instruments display  aircraft pitch attitude but depict such information in a visual manner opposite of one  another; therefore, the board considered that this could have caused Peterson to think he  was ascending when he was, in fact, descending. They also concluded that Peterson was not  given adequate warnings about the weather conditions of his route, which, given his known  limitations, might have caused him to postpone the flight out of prudence.

In 2007, Richardson's son had his father's body exhumed and an autopsy performed to verify  the original finding. In part this was done because of the long known discovery of Holly's 22  caliber pistol by Juhl in the cornfield two months after the wreck, giving rise to the question  of whether or not an accidental firearm discharge had caused the crash, and whether or not  Richardson was not hurt as badly and able to try to crawl for help, because his body was  found farther from the crash site. William M. Bass undertook the procedure and confirmed  Smiley's original report. The body of Richardson was well-preserved, but showed "massive  fractures", showing that he, too, had died on impact.

In 1988, Ken Paquette, a Wisconsin fan of the 1950s era, erected a stainless steel monument  depicting a steel guitar and a set of three records bearing the names of each of the three  performers. The monument is located on private farmland, about one quarter of a mile west  of the intersection of 315th Street and Gull Avenue, five miles (8 km) north of Clear Lake. A  large plasma-cut-steel set of Wayfarer-style glasses, similar to those which Holly was known  for wearing, sits at the access point to the crash site. Paquette also created a similar  stainless steel monument to the three musicians located outside the Riverside Ballroom in  Green Bay, Wisconsin, where Holly, the Big Bopper and Valens played on the night of  February 1, 1959. This second memorial was unveiled on July 17, 2003. In February 2009, a  new memorial made by Paquette for pilot Roger Peterson was unveiled at the crash site. A  road originating near The Surf Ballroom and extending north past the west of the crash site  is now known as Buddy Holly Place.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR VERNON TAYLOR
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959  

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: FEBRUARY 4, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

01 - SWEET AND EASY TO LOVE''
Composer: - Roy Orbison
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - February 4, 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Vernon Taylore - Vocal
Unknown Musicians

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


FEBRUARY 4, 1959 WEDNESDAY

Webb Pierce recorded the Mel Tillis-penned ''A Thousand Miles Ago''.

FEBRUARY 5, 1959 THURSDAY

Jim Reeves recorded the Roger Miller-written ''Home'' during an evening session at Nashville's RCA Studio B.

FEBRUARY 6, 1959 FRIDAY

Stonewall Jackson recorded ''Waterloo''.

FEBRUARY 7, 1959 SATURDAY

Four days after the infamous plane crash, funeral services are held for Buddy Holly in Lubbock Texas. Pallbearers include Sonny Curtis and Bob Montgomery. Phil Everly sits with Holly's parents.

The day of Buddy Holly's funeral, band-including Waylon Jennings, is forced to stay on the road, playing the Val Air Ballroom in Des Moines.

FEBRUARY 8, 1959 SUNDAY

Johnny Cash appears on CBS-TV's ''The Ed Sullivan Show'' performing ''Don't Take Your Guns To Town''.

Nat Kelly Cole, the adopted son of Nat ''King'' Cole, is born. His father earned a pair of country hits 15 years prior.

FEBRUARY 9, 1959 MONDAY

Mercury released George Jones' ''White Lightning''.

FEBRUARY 10, 1959 TUESDAY

Faron Young recorded ''That's The Way It's Gotta Be'' at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville, Tennessee.

FEBRUARY 11, 1959 WEDNESDAY

The Gary Cooper movie ''The Hanging Tree'' debuts in New York City, featuring Marty Robbins performing the title track.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Towards the end of the life of 706 Union as a recording studio, several members of the house band saw sessions logged under their own name. Roland Janes recorded a guitar figure known as ''Rolando'' featuring his own prowess with the axe as well as sigficant piano and sax solos from Jimmy Wilson and Martin Willis. Janes brought in singer Eddie cash on ''Little Bitty Pretty Girl'' and ''Hey Good Lookin'', but these vocal sides were also designed to show off the band to maximum effect. After a long career in the music business around Memphis, Roland Janes later returned to the Phillips fold and still works at the Phillips Recording Studio to his death in 2013. bIt is clear which month the Janes sides were made, February, but the year is uncertain. 1958 is possible, but 1959 is more likely, not least because saxophonist Martin Willis and drummer Jimmy Van Eaton both led sessions that the same month in 1959.

STUDIO SESSION FOR ROLAND JANES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 6-11, 1959 WEDNESDAY
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - ROLAND JANES

In addition to playing lead guitar on the early Jerry Lee Lewis records, Roland Janes had a great deal more to offer in that he could write, engineer and produce as well. Born in 1933 in Brookings, Arkansas, Roland came to Sun early in 1956 where he got his chance to shine some three years later. None of the sides cut at this session were commissioned, yet "Rolando" certainly impresses - despite its conspicuous melodic parallel with Buddy Holly's "Modern Don Juan".

01(1) - "ROLANDO 1''- B.M.I. - 2:09
Composer: - Roland Janes
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 6-11, 1959
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15340-3 mono
ROLAND JANES - GUITARVILLE
Reissued: - 1997 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8302-14 mono
706 UNION INSTRUMENTALS

01(2) - "ROLANDO 2'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Roland Janes
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 6-11, 1959
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15340-7 mono
ROLAND JANES - GUITARVILLE

02 - "UNCLE SAM ROCK" - B.M.I. - 2:06
Composer: - Roland Janes
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 6-11, 1959
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8302-15 mono
706 UNION INSTRUMENTALS

03 - ''PATRIOTIC GUITAR'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Roland Janes
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 6-11, 1959
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family (LP) 33rpm BFX15340-2 mono
ROLAND JANES - GUITARVILLE

04 - ''GUITARVILLE' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Roland Janes
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 6-11, 1959
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family (LP) 33rpm BFX15340-1 mono
ROLAND JANES - GUITARVILLE

05 - ''LITTLE BITTY PRETTY GIRL/STUDIO TALK''* - B.M.I. - 1:36
Composer: - Roland Janes
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 6-11, 1959 – Vocal Eddie Cash
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-12-12 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS - RAUNCHY
Reissued: - 2000 SAAR Records (CD) 500/200rpm SAAR 41008-13 mono
THE BEST OF SUN ROCK AND ROLL - VOLUM 2

06 - ''ROLAND'S GROOVE (BLUES)'' – B.M.I.
Composer: - Roland Janes
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 6-11, 1959
Released: - 1990
First appearance: Bear Family Records (LP) BFX 15340-4 mono
ROLAND JANES - GUITARVILLE

07 - ''HEY GOOD LOOKING/STUDIO TALKING''* – B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Hank Williams
Publisher: - Acuff Rose Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 6-11, 1959 - Vocal Eddie Cash
Released: - 1986
First appearance: Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1037-12 mono
AFTER THE HOP
Reissued: - November 1987 Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-12-13 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS - RAUNCHY
Reissued: - May 29, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-8-26 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959

08- ''DOIN' ALRIGHT''* – B.M.I. - 2:34
Composer: - Eddie Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Probably Recorded: - February 6-11, 1959 - Vocal Eddie Cash
Released: - February 1, 2011
First appearance: - Master Classics Records (MP3) Internet Sample mono
50S ROCKABILLY PIONEERS - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Roland Janes - Guitar
Eddie Cash - Vocal*
Billy Riley - Guitar
Probably Jimmy Wilson - Piano
Pat O'Neill - Bass
Billy Weir or
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Martin Willis - Tenor Saxophone

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



STORY ABOUT THE AMERICA'S MUSICAL STORYTELLER - For years the artist behind the name  Eddie Cash was a question mark. Interviewer Bo Berglind had heard he'd played in Las Vegas  but he could not locate him, and it was not until 1991 when his buddy Erik and he visited  Memphis they saw him name on a sign. He played at one of those cheap hotels close to the  airport, there tried to get hold of him but had not the time stay and look further. Next  rumors said that Klaus Kettner of Hydra had been in touch with him so there asked Klaus,  but still no luck.


It wasn't until Tony Wilkinson caught his act in Branson, Missouri in 1995 and Bergling asked  him if he had any interest to have his story told. Berglind contacted Eddie and he agreed to  the article. This is what came out of there correspondence.

EDDIE CASH - Edward Allen Cash was born on February 28, 1941, in Memphis, Tennessee. He  was the only child to Virginia and James Cash (no relation to Johnny). His father worked at  Firestone Tire & Rubber and was a foreman in the machine shop, he was also a machinist  and a tool and tire man. Eddie's mother was a house wife and he commented, ''My mom had  a fulltime job raising an idiot like me''.

In school Eddie's biggest interest was history. He didn't caught a really interest for music  until the cool cat music came along. He thought that there would be a place for him also.  Asked him what his main music influences had been before Elvis entered the scene and after, Eddie says: ''Well, to be quite honest with you I was very much affected by as far as  my heart concerns with blues. I've always been a great fan of blues. I got into rockabilly or  rock and roll as you now call it at a very early age. I began in the business in 1956 and this is  my 40th year. My biggest rockabilly influence was probably Carl Perkins. I think the first song  I ever sang first at a contest which I entered at the Casino at the Fairground which here in  Memphis and incidentally won was a song called "Matchbox". I'm a big B.B. King fan, I love  blues very much. I like all styles of music as far as answer your question. I grew up in a  neighbourhood full of kids that wanted to be in the entertainment business. I don't know  why but for some strange reason, when I was a kid growing up in Memphis we had a  neighbourhood full of kids like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Isac Hayes, Al Green,  The Staple Singers, Kay Starr, The Blackwood Brothers Quartet, Booker T & The MGs, The  Willie Mitchell Band, Sam The Sham & The Pharroas, goodness me head goes blank.. Carl  Perkins of course came down from Jackson and that's just 40-50 miles from Memphis. We  had a neighbourhood full of these kids who just wanted to pick and sing and be like these big
stars''.

Eddie put his first band together in 1956 which was called "The Mad Caps". But, first of all  Eddie wanted to be a drummer, but fait wanted different, Eddie recall, ''I was about  fourteen. I began in the business wanting to be a drummer. I'm a frustrated drummer, I don't  play very well, and I haven't played for a long time, but I love to play drums very much. In  the first band I organized I was the drummer. The kid that was gonna sing was Virgil Henry,  and Virgil got arrested for stealing hub caps and they told me I had to sing. The reason being  that they had another drummer but they did not have another singer. So I had to sing and  give up my drums or get out of the band, so I threw my drums away and began to sing and  I've been singing for four decades now''.

Eddie managed to get bookings through Bob Neal without having a record released. He also  got his first manager in Gary Peters, who was soon replaced by Bill Harris, Bill had played the  bass for Harold Jenkins but when Harold left Memphis Bill quit his job, Eddie recall, ''Bob  Neal was a dear friend and Bob booked some dates for me, but he was not my agent or  manager. My first manager was a man who worked for Quickeroots Company and he was a  bass player and manager for the original Conway Twitty band. When he left Conway he came  with me and was my manager and as a matter if fact he was influential in getting me my first  record contract with the American Recording and the Lansky Brothers at Peak. Bill was also  instrumental in having me do my recordings with Fernwood and Scotty Moore''.

When Elvis Presley, in September 1956, travelled to Los Angeles to make his first movie  "Love Me tender", Scotty Moore, Bill Black and D.J. Fontana was left behind in Memphis,  they needed job to pay their bills, say Eddie. ''Scotty Moore and Bill Black was pretty much  in the same bag as far as my interest was concern because we all worked together. My first  professional job was singing with the original Presley band, this what happened; Clearpool  was an old place located out on the highway. Presley had gone to do his first motion picture.  Colonel Parker asked Bill Harris and my other friend, a radio announcer that acted as a part  time manager, Ray Brown was his name. They wanted me to sing with the Presley band  because they knew I knew all the Presley songs and all of his keys and tempos and they  would not have to rehearse anybody. It was kinda sneaky but quite an experience. My band  members were tickled to death that I were able to go on stage with some of the greatest  musician around and they did not mind''.

Eddie struck a long relationship with Scotty and Bill and Bill even played bass with Eddie  before he founded the Bill Black Combo, more about that later. On April 12 1957 did Eddie  and his band participate in a talent contest called "The Mid-South Youth Talent Contest" at  the Memphis Fairground which he won by performing "Matchbox". A few days before the  contest Eddie had picked up his brand new red coat with the initials "EC" and a pair of pin  striped pants. On the same day as the contest he received a good luck telegram from the  Lansky Brothers Mens Shop. Eddie recall, ''I entered the contest because I had been watching  a lot of them playing around Memphis and I thought I could do better than them, it was that  simple''.

The Mad Caps only lasted a short time until he formed a new band called "Eddie Cash and  Company" and after a while a third band came with "Eddie Cash and The Cashiers". Among  the musicians around this time were Jackie Hartwell (guitar), Tommy Bennett (piano),  Dennis Smith (drums) and Prentill McPhail (electric bass).

In 1989 in England Charly Records had two previously unreleased tracks by Eddie in their  box "The Rocking Years". These were credited to Roland Janes and held on February 11,  1959. The two tracks released were "Hey Good Looking" and "Little Bitty Pretty Girl".  Musicians were Roland Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (guitar), Pat O'Neill (upright bass), Martin  Willis (tenor saxophone) and Billy Weir or Jimmy Van Eaton (drums). Eddie may well have  the time wrong as he's sure he did the Sun session before the Peak recordings.

The Sun session and the peak session seem to be very close, talking about this 40 years,  later Eddie might very well be mistaken. Eddie say, ''The first recording session I ever did  was at the Sun Recording Studio. I still have fond memories of that. It was a terrible thing,  they were really bad. We used all the Sun musicians, everybody that cut with Jerry Lee and  all those guys, Bill Riley but it was terrible. My dad was a camera and recording nut and  thanks to him I have a copy of every session I ever did. At about the same time I also did  recordings for a television show at WHBQ. They had a disc jockey by the name of Dewey  Phillips who they used to call "Daddy-O-Dewey", he first broke Elvis'' Eddie recalled.

Like all the other musicians in Memphis Eddie bought his stage suits at Lanskys and struck a  friendship with them. A friendship that would lead to a recording contract. ''To be quite  honest with you I knew the Lansky Brothers very well as I bought all my cloths there because  Elvis did and so did everybody else that I grew up with. The Lanskys were pretty much the  people who did all the clothing things around because they had black cloths on Beale Street,  which is a black street in a black neighbourhood full of black people and the black influence  and black music and the Lansky Brothers were selling loud cloths and that was very much  the thing for a young teenagers in 1956 who wanted to be cool and nosy. The Lansky  Brothers very much had the market and all of us went there. The Lanskys owned Peak and  the American Recording which was a small studio they had build in the back of their  warehouse where they kept all their cloths. Bill Harris knew about this and when he came  along and asked if they wanted to record me they said yes. So they got together and I was  probably one of the first artists ever signed to Peak and I would have a hit record with "Doin'  All Right". It did hit in several markets and did very well. However Lansky Brothers fell on  their knees because they didn't have too many distribution contacts. When people in the  east, like in New York or New Jersey or up in Chicago began to want the record, 'cause I was  pushing it hard, they couldn't follow up so the record died and fell of the charts. I'll never  forget them for that, I think that was very bad''

The signing of the contract and the actual recording session happened with a seven-day  period. Asking him if there were other unreleased songs and how many takes they used  before it came out satisfactory, Eddie continues, ''Oh, my goodness, how many takes? To be  quite honest I don't know, but it was a song that we got from Harold a little earlier and we  reharsed it for maybe a couple of hours, I guess. We got it down pretty good and I did all of  the arranging. I arranged pretty much everything until we got with Scotty Moore at  Fernwood, and then he helped us a lot. But I did most of the Peak stuff because it was my  band that played the music, they were not session musicians, they were my personal  musicians and they played only with me. The arrangement was pretty much done before we  even got into the studio and it went on real quick, probably not more than one or two takes.  I wrote "Land Of Promises" myself along with my guitar player Gerald Hunsucker. I did all the  producing and the Lansky Brothers were executive producers. They put the money in the  bank and behind it. We did approach them, Bill and I went down and brought the band. They  had heard me but not the band, so one day we got them into the little studio and played a  few tunes and they were quite impressed and basically I had a contract the same day. Most  everything I did went very very quick. I never had any problem standing around and waiting  for anything to happen. All the people I grew up with in Memphis were in the business. I  used to hang around the Sun Studio for probably a year just looking and watching everybody  else making big records. So I knew how to act when it was my time'', recalled Eddie.

Eddie's first record "Doing All Right" b/w "Land Of Promises" was released in November 1958.  The Memphis disc jockey George Klein had it as his "Pick Of The Week" on November 21  together with Johnny Cash' "It's Just About Time". Elvis held the number one spot with "One  Night", Kimball Coburn , another Memphis singer, was on position eleven with "Please,  Please" on Hi Records. On January 16 it was number eight on radio WTUP chart, and in  February we could read in the Memphis Press-Scimitar where Robert Johnson wrote:

''When WLEE-Richmond presented its chart for September 21, 1959 they had Eddie on spot  thirteen. Rod Bernard held the second position with "This Should Go On Forever", Tommy  Dee had "Three Stars" at number 14 and Neil Sedaka was at number 15 with "I Got Ape". The  month he appeared in the Stardom Magazine''.

In 1959 Eddie entered another talent contest sponsored by the daily newspaper "Memphis  Press-Scimitar" and WREC-TV. This appearance opened more doors and Eddie appears several  times on Wink Martindales TV-show "Talent Party" over WHBQ-TV. By this time Harold  Jenkins had turned Conway Twitty and was a big star and had gone off to Hollywood to make  a movie. His musicians was left behind and he was again asked to step in for the star and did  several shows with them during the shooting of Twitty's first movie.

By this time Peak Records had released quite a few recordings and this article appeared  some time during 1959.

During this time Eddie Cash hand Bill Black on bass and they appeared during weekends on  local clubs and in the nearby states of Arkansas and Mississippi. Most of them time they had  advanced booking on the same route during Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The following  story it quite remarkable. ''I put a band together, Bill Black and Scotty Moore had just left  Presley and were looking for jobs. Both Scotty and Bill worked with me several times on jobs  and I had done some jobs with them so we knew each other and we worked together.  Everybody in Memphis worked together at that time. All the Sun and Hi studio musicians and  all those people at Stax. Everybody know everybody from bass player Duck Dunn and all the  way down to Jimmy van Eaton. I was the youngest and the most inmature and probably the  worst in town, but I was working and some of them not, Anyhow, I called up Bill and we put a  little band together, he had a drummer called Jerry Arnold, who was to be the original  drummer in the Bill Black Combo, they used to call him Satch. Satch Arnold and I had a  saxophone player by the name of Martin Willis who was one of the finest musicians in town.  He did a lot of stuff for Sun Records and was also with Conway for a time. The greatest guitar  player I ever run across in my life is Reggie Young. Anyhow, we were working this "C&R Club"  in Truman, Arkansas and another toilet called "The Silver Moon" in Newport, Arkansas. Those  were jobs that we would work after school on Fridays and Saturdays.

''On this occasion I called Bill and said, ''Bill, get ready to go to the thing and I'll pick you up,  and he said, 'We're not going. So what do you mean, you're not going? This is Wednesday  we're opening at the Silver Moon Night Club in Newport, Arkansas and Friday we're making  $15 dollars a piece and you ain't going.

Bill said, 'No, Joe Cuoghi from Hi Records called and he's gonna give us a recording session. I  said, 'Well, you go ahead and do your recording session and I'll organize another band and  I'm going my way. He said, 'Ok. So Bill went on and recorded "Smokie Part 1 & 2" and made  his first million seller and I got $15 and went on singing at the Silver Moon Night Club in  Newport, Arkansas. But that's a true Bill Black Story. It's a shame too that Bill's gone. He was  a fine man a lot of fun and I miss Bill Black, he was a good friend.''.

In late 1959 or early 1960 Peak released his follow up single "Come On Home" b/w "Day After  Day", which ad been recorded in 1959. Unfortunately this record died on the day of its  release and Eddie Cash was very disappointed at the Lanskys for not pushing his records and  he recorded a session at Fernwood Studio in Memphis.

''We recorded at the Fernwood Studio, downtown on the Main Street. Scotty gave me the  story that Elvis was sorry to see them leave and bought Bill Black a house and Fernwood  Records for Scotty. Bill Harris wrote one side called "Thinkin' Man" and he got the idea from a  Marlboro slogan. Then I wrote the other side "Livin' Lovin' Temptation". On the session we  used Jackie Hartwell (guitar), Gerald Hunsucker (rhythm guitar), Prentiss McPhail (electric  bass), Tommy Bennett (piano), Dennis Smith (drums) and Martin Willis(tenor sax). We had  female vocal group The DeLons, which also appeared on Thomas Wayne's recording of  "Tragedy". But it got to the attention of Randy Wood through a friend of mine at radio WMPS  here in Memphis, I think it was Ray Brown or it might have been Scotty Moore, I can't recall.  Anyhow, they got to Randy and told him to sign me up. Randy heard the record but didn't  want it on Dot so he placed it on Dot's subsidiary label called Todd and it did absolutely  nothing'' recalled Eddie.

The record was released in March 1960 and Todd spent money on advertisement in Cash Box  and it was also reviewed. There are also two different label designs, my copy is pressed in  Los Angeles by Monarch. Eddie's next stop was Roulette Records, which came by coincidence  where one single was released. ''How I got my Roulette contract was a sick thing. I had  graduated from High School in 1959 and left Memphis. I left Bill Harris and everything behind  me because my records didn't do what they were supposed to do. I wanted to go on the road  as the record at this time made some noise in Chicago I went there to work. The record  plays on the radio, people know your name and get jobs, it's that simple. In Chicago I  organized another band as the musicians from Memphis wouldn't leave town. When I got to  Chicago I got a trio together and we played all over the city. We had a couple of tunes that  we were just playing and we went over to some guy's and for forty or fifty dollars we cut a  two demos. It was a demo, a junkie demo, really a bad cheap demo in a garage with seven  microphones. I had at the time signed a contract to work with Orchestras Incorporated at  332 South Michigan in the McCormick building. They saw me on the Jim Lounsbury Show,  which was the Chicago version of American Bandstand, at the ABC Building right across from  the Chicago Theatre. They asked me to do several TV spots here because "Doing All Right"  was pretty big in that area. It got to the top ten in no time. While I was there and organizing  the band and doing all these things I did this little Mickey Mouse thing. I sent the demo to my  new agent Herb Grownauer, and asked him what do you think about this and Herbie knew  somebody at Roulette and send it to them to see what they thought. Next thing I know  Herbie says that we gotta sign a contract real quick, they are gonna release the thing. I said,  'Release what?  and he said, 'Your demo. I said, 'Oh no, it's terrible. He said, 'No, they love it. So I signed a  contract, they released it and it bell right on its butt'', Eddie said.



Eddie Cash (squat) with The Blue Jays in Chicago, 1960. >

Eddie continued to make demos when opportunity occurred, when in Chicago he did   recordings in a studio owned by RCA Victor. ''In the early 1960s I did a lot of sessions. We did   one at RCA Studios in Chicago, I hired the studio and took my musicians in there and paid   them for the session. I borrowed the money from my mother-in-law. I have never forgiven   myself for not doing anything with them.



They were done with my trio and a band called The  Warner Brothers, not the Warner Brothers Record Company, it was an act that I worked with   in Chicago. They were about five musicians so we put the two bands together and I did all   the arrangements and the stuff myself''

''I was with The Warner Brothers Band and worked   with them at The Baritz with the Bucus Brothers at the Erwin Park and Sherdon Road in   Chicago. These recordings are not be be confused with the one's I did in Nashville. But if   you're into Nashville I got some recordings that I did with Fred Carter that has not been  release''.

''I also did some great recordings in Nashville for a very dear friend of mine, Fred Carter, he's   a guitar player and has his own studio before Uncle Sam closed him down. They closed him   down and guttered him about three times. Fred knew me from Conway Twitty's band where I   had played. He knew that I was capable of doing different styles of music and asked me to   come to Nashville at three different times and do some dub work for him which I did and I   still have those recordings from the early 1960s with all the Nashville musicians. I remember   Floyd Cramer, Hank Garland and Bob Moore. They are gorgeous and that's probably the finest   quality things I have recorded at the same time. Most of my recordings happened 1958-1964,   right through that era, before I went to Vegas'', recalled Eddie.

When things had cooled down in Chicago Eddie was already working on a totally different   thing. He was by this time tired of people who asked if he was Johnny Cash's brother. He had   since 1960 spent six years on the road playing constantly on the east coast, the mid-west,   Canada and Greenland. He had appeared together with, and played with the cream of the   crop from the golden fifties. None of his recordings had been national hits at the very best  they were local hits and he began to look for other things to put into his stage act. He began   to do imitations. When in Los Angeles in 1966 he became friendly with an agent from Studio   City who liked Eddie's show and offered him a 10 days at a hotel in Las Vegas. He was very   uncertain about this, he had shows lined up and they had to be cancelled, the musicians he   used would have to be left with full pay to be sure to have after the Vegas show. But the  possibility was that he could be a hit.

Eddie says, ''In about 1966 when I got to Vegas I noticed there's a couple of things going on   that I wasn't aware of. When I got to Las Vegas the place had about fifty-eight major lounges   and fifty-nine major casinos downtown and on the strip in each one of these. I guess you can   call them cabaret or showbar and each of them had an eighteen hour shift with four or   sometimes five different acts working back-to-back. We were doing three or four shows a  piece with an hour in between so the other guys can do it and that went on seven days a   week, fifty-two weeks a year for almost eighteen or nineteen years. If you didn't think of   something unique or something good the other acts would get your people and you'd be fired   if you didn't draw people. I'm proud to say that when I went to Vegas I had a ten day contract   with the Mint Hotel in downtown Las Vegas with Del Webb, that 10 days contract turned into   some eighteen years. So what I have written in the stories I done on the stage and this is   exactly what you people would enjoy listening to. All this stuff that I'm telling you now I do   on my show on the stage and sing the music at the same time. I do not understand why   somebody would not be interested in sitting down and listen to this put to music. Your letter   proves that I am right and this is my act today singing those songs of all those people that I  have worked with and telling those stories. I don't believe that somebody is interested is   seeing some idiot at 55 years old sit on the stage and sing "Doing All Right" that is absolutely   stupid. What do you think of that? I'm getting strong I guess, pardon, my ages are beginning   to show or is it years of frustration''.

Before Eddie Cash went to Las Vegas in 1966 he did a show in Memphis at the end of July at   Little Abner's Rebel Room. The show was reviewed by Bill E. Burk for the Memphis Press-  Scimitar on July 28, 1966 .

Eddie did his last Vegas show in 1984 and returned to Memphis. He had been acquainted   with Siegfried & Roy who had all their music programmed on a computer and did not need a   forty-piece orchestra, they just pushed a button. This was something Eddie knew was   coming and he came home to began working on this. But most of all his parents were ill and   in bad shape and Eddie felt he needed to be home and take care of them. In Memphis he also  opened a dinner theatre and worked there for five years.

''We didn't start the computer thing until 1990. We moved to Cicero, Missouri, just a few   miles down the road from Branson, Missouri in the 1992. We've been here at The Olympic   Theatre on 6134 Cermak Road for three years and are still doing fine. We're doing five shows   a week and we'll stay here a few more years until we move on'', says Eddie.

By the end of the nineties Eddie was back in Memphis. When doing these interviews and the   talks we had over several phone calls over the duck pond I found him a to be a very nice   man. But, also very bitter and suspicious over that he was not gonna get paid properly. He   wanted to come to Europe, but at the same time afraid he's not gonna be paid. He told me   that, ''I have done tons of recordings, I have boxes and boxes and boxes of Eddie Cash   singing stuff that nobody wanted to buy and that makes me bitter 'cause some of it was in   fact very good''.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JAMES M. VAN EATON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION:  PROBABLY SAME SESSION ON WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 11,  1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

The ubiquitous Sun drummer is given the credits on a driving version of "Bo Diddley" which was recorded towards the end of the 1950s. The sensational drumming man, beats up a storm normally guitar-led tune, titled on the tape box ''Hey, Bo Diddley''. The beat is actually closer to ''Bo Diddle'', and no doubt some kind of tribute to Bo was intended, though Martin Willis's sax lines are closer to ''Willie And The Hand Jive''. Drummer Van Eaton always had a loose and unorthodox approach which today, in the age of drum machines, sounds very out of place and very refreshing.

01 - "BO DIDDLEY" - B.M.I. - 2:22
Composer: - Ellis McDaniel
Publisher:- Arc Music
Matrix number: - 45-107
Recorded: - Probably February 11, 1959
Released: - 1960
First appearance: - Nita Records (S) 45rpm Nita 127-A mono
BO DIDDLE / MIDNITE BLUES
Reissued: - 1997 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8302-1 mono
706 UNION INSTRUMENTALS

02 - "MIDNITE BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:00
Composer: - James M. Van Eaton
Publisher:- Beaik Music
Matrix number: - 45-106
Recorded: - Probably February 11, 1959
Released: - 1960
First appearance: - Nita Records (S) 45rpm Nita 127-B mono
MIDNITE BLUES / BO DIDDLE

03 - "FROGGY" - B.M.I. - 1:55
Composer: - Billy Riley-Roland Janes-Jimmy M. van Eaton
Publisher: - Vaugh Music Publishers
Matrix number: - 45-R-104
Recorded: - Probably February 11, 1959
Released: - 1960
First appearance: - Rita Records (S) 45rpm Rita 1004-A mono
FROGGY / BEAT-NIK
Reissued: - 1988 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15272-12 mono
BILLY RILEY AND THE LITTLE GREEN MEN

04 - "BEAT-NIK" - B.M.I. - 1:45
Composer: - Billy Riley-Roland Janes-Jimmy M. van Eaton
Publisher: - Vaugh Music Publishers
Matrix number: - 45-R-103
Recorded: - Probably February 11, 1959
Released: - 1960
First appearance: - Rita Records (S) 45rpm Rita 1004-B mono
BEAT-NIK / FROGGY
Reissued: - 1988 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15272-11 mono
BILLY RILEY AND THE LITTLE GREEN MEN

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Roland Janes - Guitar
Billy Riley - Guitar
Pat O'Neill - Bass
Jimmy Wilson - Piano
Martin Willis - Saxophone

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


JAMES M. VAN EATON IN HIS OWN WORDS - ''You get in the 7th grade and you can either play in the band or go sing in the chorus. I had a choice of that, so I tried to get in the band, but it wasn't until probably the 9th grade that I started playing drums. Then I was able to take the marching band and I really started to feel some changes coming on as far as the type of music I like to play as compared to what was going on at the time. Believe it or not, I liked dixieland music a lot. There was a lot of country music in my home and I likes country music, but I guess I liked dixieland because the drummer always had a pretty good part''.


''I used to listen to this group, the Dukes of Dixieland. I guess the reason I liked it was they had a pretty heavy backbeat in dixieland music. You go back and listen to the really dixieland and it's a whole lot like what we're doing.  And then the Big Band era - Buddy Rich, I always thought, was one of the best drummers there ever was. I mean, that guy can do more with drums than anybody else I've ever heard. I never was on e to really listen to other people. I played my way of playing. It either worked or it didn't''.

''You could get a little group together and go down to Sun and cut a record. You'd give them 15 bucks and you'd do two sides. That's what we did. There were a couple of guys in school who were pretty good musicians and we'd been playing this dixieland thing. I was still awfully young and we started playing some of the nightclubs around Memphis. We had a pretty good little group and we decided to go down and cut a record. In essence, we were auditioning. I didn't realize it at the time. There was a bass player named Marvin Pepper and myself, and Jack Clement asked us if we'd be interested in playing on some sessions. Of course, I said yeah. He invited me to come back and he introduced me to some other people, Billy Riley. And it just kind of started from there really. One thing led to another and it didn't take long before everybody wanted you to come and play for them''.

''I was in the eleventh grade or senior year of high school when I really started to get into the recording and of music and started playing with some of the bigger names. I really didn't realize how big it was. I thought it was just a local thing, Memphis musicians. I never dreamed that it was a worldwide thing, but there were a lot of good little groups around. I didn't even have a car. Jack Clement, who was the engineer at Sun, used to have to come and pick me up and take me to the session. It was a couple of years later before I ever bought my first car when I was 18 and I'd been playing a couple of years before that''.

''A guy named Johnny Bernero was playing drums at Sun at that time and Johnny was more into the country type stuff they were doing at Sun. Sun really hadn't gotten off into rock and roll. Even Elvis, his first records didn't have a drummer. I was the first drummer that ever played with Johnny Cash. I didn't go on the road with him, but I played on his sessions. It was the first time they ever tried to put a drum with Johnny Cash''.

''My sound was a combination of a lot of things. It was a feel of Memphis bred musicians, like myself, a black church background. When I was a junior in high school, we used to go over to East Trigg Baptist Church on Sunday night just to hear the music. It was great. It had a feel like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin. And they were doing this in church and I was in awe of all this. We wouldn't miss it for the world. It was just an every Sunday night thing, but that was before the racial turmoil came into effect. It's a shame because there was a real good rapport at that time. We were welcome. They brought us up front. We sat on the front left-hand side of the church every Sunday night and I'm sure that there are still some people in that congregation who remember that because it was great, 50, 60 or 100 people over there. And then you take that and incorporate it with country music that a lot of us were brought up on''.

''At Sun they had one microphone and it was over the snare. They tried to use maybe two, maybe one for the bass drum, but they would always bring the bass and the drum in on the same mic. But the majority of the time they had only one mic and it was over the snare. You take your billfold and lay it on the head of the snare. I had Gretch drums. That was the best sounding set for what we were doing. All I has was a snare, bass drum, a ride cymbal, and a hi-hat. That was it. I had tom toms that I used out in public, but they never could record them. Boy, it threw the needle all the way over. The engineer would go crazy. A few songs we did have some tom-tom stuff on them, but it was very few''.

''I went on the road with different groups. I played with Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty, Billy Riley. We didn't travel that much. I didn't get on the West Coast, but we worked from Canada to Florida, on down the East Coast. I really thought Riley was going to be a big star. That was one of the best bands I've ever played with. They had some musicians in that band that were as good as anybody in the country at that time. The only thing that kept Riley back was that he never had a big hit record. I think what it really boiled down to was they didn't want us to have a hit record because they would lose their staff band''.

''Sam Phillips knew what he wanted and the records he released were the records he obviously liked more than others. He gave you the freedom to do what you wanted to do. Jack Clement had a lot to do with it, too. Jack was doing most of the engineering and Sam was just there. He'd come in later and listen to what was done. He'd make suggestions, 'Let's do it over' or ''That sounds great'. Jack would make suggestions because he was more a musician than Sam. See, Sam, to my knowledge, is not a musician. He's a radio man and he knows sound, but he's not a musician. Now Jack, on the other hand, could come out and say, 'We need to do this' or 'Let's change this chord progression - it doesn't sound right' or 'do this rhythm pattern here'. But most of the time they were kind of excited as to what you might come up with. If you hit on a chemistry that worked then that was it. 'Hey, that sounds good! Let's cut it'. And it was that simple. I was pretty young and didn't realize that there was that much conflict going on between (Sam, Jack, and Bill Justis). It's a shame that they couldn't have all stayed because it was definitely something that was catching on worldwide. Now I look back on it, it was probably some of the happier times of my life''.

''One thing that made a big difference in that studio, Sam never rented it out like a lot of people would do for different artists to come in. If you weren't one of his artists, you didn't record there. And that made the difference. It was a personal touch type thing. You were his artist and he was going to try to do for you the best he could do, give you that sound, that Sun sound. You can go to Nashville. You can rent different studios and cut demos and cut whatever if you've got the bread. Right now you can go down there (to Sam Phillips Recording Service currently located on Madison Avenue) but back then you couldn't do that''.

''I'd never seen Jerry Lee before we cut his first record. I'd just met him that morning. He lived in a different part of the country. We didn't work on that style. ''Whole Lotta Shakin''' was just an old song of Jerry's. We did it at a club we were playing at. He was on the road and ''Crazy Arms'' was doing pretty good. So we were out doing some dates on that. And, of course, we didn't have a long list of songs. His repertoire was pretty short. So he said, 'I used to do this one when I was playing in the club and people went crazy over it'. It was the first time I'd ever hear it. At that time you played these 9 to 1 gigs and we probably did that song 4 or 5 times that night. People kept coming up saying, 'Play that 'Shakin' song'. So the next time we were in the studio we did it''.

''I think that shuffle beat I use came from the big bands. We were rehearsing with a group one night and I said I wonder if we could get this rhythm pattern going (standard swing shuffle) with a back beat and see what we could come up with. That's where it came from. When Jerry Lee came in, that's the rhythm he played. A lot of people try to copy Jerry Lee's sound, but they'll never copy it because they're trying to play a straight 4/4 and it's in fact a shuffle with backbeat. And that's the whole rhythm. I went out with Jerry recently (1986). We did three nights. And the rhythm was still there. It's a shuffle beat, but it's not the country shuffle''.

''I didn't realize that it was that much of an influence really. At that point in time you didn't realize you had a style. I didn't realize we were setting trends to be followed. I was just playing. I wasn't trying to perfect what I was doing because I didn't know that it needed perfecting. I was just playing it because that's what came natural to me''.

Article in the ''Modern Drummer'' by Bowman/Johnson 1986.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR MARTIN WILLIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION:  PROBABLY SAME SESSION ON WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 11, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

Martin Willis was of course one of Billy Riley's Little Green Men, as well as appearing on a variety of sessions. His rendition of Hank Garland's "Sugar Foot Rag" is backed by most of the other Little Green Men, although the precise personnel is not known, and nor is the date. Like Ace Cannon, Martin Willis also recorded on Hi Records in Memphis, and played with The Bill Black Combo, replacing Cannon when he scored with "Tuff".

01 - "SUGARFOOT RAG" - B.M.I. - 1:49
Composer: - Martin Willis
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably February 11, 1959
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: – Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-12-14 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS - RAUNCHY
Reissued: - 1997 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8302-13 mono
706 UNION INSTRUMENTALS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Martin Willis - Saxophone
Roland Janes - Guitar
Billy Riley - Guitar
Billy Weir or Jimmy M. Van Eaton - Drums
Jimmy Wilson - Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

MY MUSICAL SOJOURN
by Martin Willis 2012

Although my professional musical career only lasted from 1956 to 1966, I was fortunate to have been associated with ground-breaking artists and musicians who wrote the book regarding how we ''hungry'' musicians were instrumental in laying the foundation for the rock and roll show and recording industry.

It was my privilege to have worked with very talented performers and “side men” while the historical musical saga unfolded that became the phenomenon that it is today the era of the super stars.

My entry into the musical world began in 1949 as a fifth grade school youngster at Hollywood Jr. High in Memphis, Tennessee, when a saxophone player named John Henry Cannon (later known as Ace Cannon) came into my fifth grade class with a snare drummer and cymbal player and played the Dark Town Strutters Ball for the class.

I said right then that I wanted to be able to do that. This desire was further reinforced upon hearing and seeing musical artists such as the Dorseys, Harry James, Artie Shaw and others in movies and listening to Dixieland jazz on Sunday nights broadcasted live on the radio from the Blue Room in New Orleans.

My dad was musically inclined and played the steel guitar and harmonica. He borrowed a tenor-saxophone from one of his friends so that I could see if I could play it. At school, we formed a band of eight grade school buddies that we named ''The Jivin' Five'' and since there wasn’t a trombone player who could play well enough in our school, my mom bought me a used one so I could play with the band. In the meantime, I played all the instruments available in school such as the flute, trumpet and sousaphone and my mom-bought me a clarinet and the squawking and squeaking practicing in the laundry room began (later I used it on Bill Black’s Smoky Part 1). This little band played at bank openings, movie theaters and talent shows (they even black-faced for one show in Mississippi, of all places).

In 1953, I entered high school at Memphis Tech and my dad gave me a Silvertone guitar to learn to play (this paid off later when I would work with guitarists in arranging various music for the groups). From 1955 – 1956 I played in area night clubs (in those days they didn’t question your age if you were in the band) and my mom made the down payment for me for an alto sax and I was ready to venture into the professional arena. I labored with the instruction books and in the school bands (concert, football and marching)and placed 1 st chair in the Tennessee Allstate Band. In 1956 JM Van Eaton and I played in a talent show at Memphis Tech High School and a musical association that lasted more than 50 years began.

1956 proved to be a pivotal period in my musical career when playing in a local night club I was approached by Bill Harris, the manager of Harold Jenkins and the Rockhousers, to play with his rock and roll band. I was a student at Memphis State University and a big fan of Bill Haley and the Comets and their Rock Around The Clock recording so I went with the group. They would pick me up on Friday afternoon after school and we would spend the weekend playing dates.

Harold Jenkins later changed his name to Conway Twitty. It was with Conway that I got my first experience in the recording industry at the famous Sun Studio in Memphis followed by sessions in Nashville at the Owen Bradley Studio for Mercury Records. It became evident that I needed a tenor sax so I bought a used one and this gave me more flexibility to play in the guitar-keys, E, A and D. We toured the mid-south and went to Canada in 1957for a stint at the Flamingo Lounge in Hamilton, Ontario.

JM and I finished the engagement and left Conway to join Billy Lee Riley and the Little Green Men at the Brass Rail  in London, Ontario after which the band returned to Memphis to work the clubs and recording at Sun Records.

This was a very active period that I experienced with the bands as we worked clubs, made recordings, played dances and even performed a 72hour marathon for publicity. Our recording work gave us great experience as we were the “studio band” that backed up many artists (and paid the bills). One of the most unusual “gigs” was when we were hired to promote Aunt Jemima corn meal mix for the Quaker Oats Company. We would   play just about any job available including drive-in movie theater roof tops,Dairy Queens and college dances and I made a lot of studio recordings for artists including Bill Black (see Discography).

After the musical jobs became infrequent and our recording work dwindled,I went to Chicago in 1960 to play with the Eddie Cash show band and also with the fabulous Blue Jays which was a fun job and allowed me to record at RCA backing Louise Brown. While working the show bars, I received a call from Bill Black inviting me to join his group to record and travel. This call got me our of the cold snowy Chicago and took me to Miami to play the Juke Box Operators convention where the group received the Most Played Instrumental Group award for Smoky and White Silver Sands and started us on the road to multiple successes in personal appearances and recordings including performing Yogi and Smoke, Part II  in the movie Teenage Millionaire.

The Combo recorded many singles and even a country and western album entitled Bill Black Combo Goes West featuring the steel guitar great, John Huey (that turned a few heads). Bill wanted to start his own label so he recorded my first solo single on clarinet entitled, It Is No Secret and Kook for his own label, Louis Records. We also recorded several instrumentals in his own studio, American Recording, on Chelsea avenue in Memphis where, as a youngster, I used to go with my mom to shop in the 5 &10 cent store that previously occupied that space.

I continued to record behind local artists and then Bill Harris came up with the idea for me to wear a derby to promote my next single, Cattawampus/San Antonio Rock , produced by Billy Lee Riley and Roland Janes for their record label, Rita Records. The derby became my trademark  but a hit record wasn’t in the cards for me so I continued my club performances at the Nite Liter Club first, with the Johnny Bernero Band  and then I formed my own group, The Marty Willis Combo consisting of a group of Memphis State students that were top musicians.

We were the most popular band in Memphis and had a very successful tenure but the club was sold so we moved on to the classy Top of the100 Club performing our dance music and comedy routines to very pleased crowds. One night, Kemmons Wilson, the founder of the Holiday Inn chain, came by and invited me to come and talk with him about his personal club, Club LaRonde, a revolving private restaurant and lounge atop the Mid City Building.

As things progressed, I not only received managerial training and experience but also got to sit in with the band, a trio named the Holiday Trio that was bolstered with a trumpet and trombone on weekends. From there I went to the famous Peabody Hotel  as Catering Manager and then was promoted to my first hotel general manager position at the new Sheraton Motor Inn in Tallahassee, FL and the hospitality business gained a former musician as a manager. The rest of the story is another story of totally different career.

As a postscript, in 2006, I was invited to come out of retirement and perform at the Memphis in May concert in Memphis with Billy Lee Riley and the Little Green Men and my old high schoolfriend, JM Van Eaton, along with Little Richard, James Brown and Chicago. That was a hoot! Pictures of that gig along with others appear in the Photo Gallery. Finally, in 2008, the Memphis Federation of Musicians, Local #71, nominated me for the American Federation of Musicians’ Hall of Fame, a fitting consummation to My Musical Sojourn.


FEBRUARY 1959

Sun Records had been minus a sales manager since Jud Phillips's departure in August 1958, and Sam Phillips  didn't seem to be in a hurry to find a new one. But he surprise on early one February morning with a call  asking Barbara Barnes to come into the office. He said he'd hired a man by the name of Cecil Scaife to take  the job of national sales manager end they needed Barbara to provide Cecil with some information before he  took off on his first round of calls to Sun's distributors and radio stations. Cecil came to Sun from Hi  Records, a small Memphis label, but he'd worked before that in radio in Helena, Arkansas, his hometown.  With his new job, as with Hi, he commuted the sixty-five miles from home to the studio each day.

Helena was one of those Mississippi River towns that had long attracted wandering musicians. Located in the  Arkansas Delta, it was important in blues history because Rich Miller (aka Sonny Boy Williamson II) had  made a name for himself as a performer on KFFA Radio's King Biscuit show. It was said to be the first blues  radio program. The legendary bluesman Robert Johnson spent some time in Helena too. More recently, it  was the home of someone Cecil knew, Conway Twitty, who had cut some unreleased records for Sun under  his real name of Harold Jenkins.

The purpose of Cecil's debut trip was to promote a new Jerry Lee Lewis single, ''Big Blon Baby'' and ''Lovin'  Up A Storm''. He was facing an uphill battle promoting the disgraced Jerry Lee Lewis. Sam Phillips wanted  him to hit the usual big cities on the East Coast, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Hartford, and then  Cleveland, Buffalo, and Chicago. After that he might go to Pittsburgh, Detroit, Kansas City, and so on, or  maybe Sam would call him back in. Cecil had advised Jerry Lee to get a crew cut and some Ivy League  threads so as to cut a cleaner, sleeker figure, but so far Jerry Lee Remained Jerry Lee. Still, Cecil had to try  to sell this record. Nevertheless, Jerry Lee's record didn't become a hit.

According to Barbara Barnes, ''Cecil Scaife seemed like a friendly guy, with nice blue eyes. The greatest  impression he made to the female employees of Sun, that he was large, wide shoulders, large feet, large head,  large lips. He was over six feet, and well built, but a little awkward, like a big dog in a little room. Someone  said he had spent some time in Hollywood trying to get into the movies''. Cecil and Barbara Barnes spent  most of that Saturday in her office as she typed up a list of contracts in all the major cities Cecil might visit  and briefed him on all Barbara knew about them. She gave him the names, addresses, and phone numbers of  the distributors, with the names of the managers and promotion people, and any information. She had about  their methods of operation. Then she made a list of the radio stations in the major cities and the names and  phone numbers of any disk jockeys she had been talking with on the phone or that Jud Phillips had  cultivated. There were also some TV dance hosts in the list for Cecil to check out.


FEBRUARY 15, 1959 SUNDAY

The singles, "Sweet Sweet Girl" b/w ''Goodbye Mr. Love'' (Sun 314) by Warren Smith; "Jump Right Out Of  This Jukebox" b/w ''Tell 'Em Off'' (Sun 315) by Onie Wheeler; ''Thanks A Lot'' b/w ''Luther Played The  Boogie'' (Sun 316) by Johnny Cash all released.

"Big Blon' Baby" b/w ''Lovin' Up A Storm'' (Sun 317) by Jerry Lee Lewis is released and widely promoted  by Sun, but the hits of 1957 are not to be repeated for Lewis.

During the sessions they had cut July 30, 1955, Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two had cut a novelty  number that Sun all got a kick out of. Whether the public in general would appreciate it was it was another  matter, but in February 1959 Sun put out ''Luther Played The Boogie''. It was another occasion to poke gentle  fun at Cash's lead guitar player, and it had the real Cash sound. When they did the show on stage, the  audiences liked it because Luther was even more deadpan than Cash and made a perfect straight man for the  star. His appearance, which couldn't help remind one of a scarecrow, was endearingly humorous. When he let  himself go, Johnny Cash could be very funny, and the three of them had some chemistry that worked.  ''Luther Played The Boogie'' was a little surprised it made it to number 8 on the country charts. It never  placed in pop.

This was one of the tunes included on the third LP Sun put out on Johnny cash. This one came out about the  same time as the single and was called ''Greatest! Johnny Cash''. It was a more attractive package than the  other two, but all three currently being offered sold steadily for a long time.

Norma Jean sign her first recording contract, with Columbia Records. The association lasts 18 months.

FEBRUARY 17, 1959 TUESDAY

The Wilburn Brothers recorded ''Somebody's Back In Town''.

FEBRUARY 20, 1959 FRIDAY

Tennessee Ernie Ford becomes the first country artist to receive a gold album from the Recording Industry Association of American, for his ''Hymns'' release.


Ray Smith >

Next time out, on February 21, 1959, Ray Smith was produced not by Sam Phillips or Jack Clement, but by saxophonist and bandleader Bill Justis, himself a big- selling recording artist with ''Raunchy'' on Sun's subsidiary label, Phillips International. Justis was keen on Sun moving away from the raw sound of the first wave rockabillies towards a classier, more produced, sound. As it turned out, the session took a turn for the good, and for the not so good.



The not so good song was called ''Rockin' Bandit'', written by Ira Jay Lichterman, a local teenager working in a leather factory, who later recorded on Sun himself, and brought to Bill Justis who sold Ray on it against his better judgement.

Justis was probably right to think that the lowest common denominator was a factor in making hit pop records, and Bandit certainly fit that bill. It was a novelty song, but rather a confused one, with a grating rather than endearing vocal chorus. Justis had persuaded Ray to leave his band at home, apart from Stanley Walker, and he used his tried and tested studio musicians on the session.

The good part of the February session was Charlie Rich's excellent loping ballad, ''Sail Away'', which Ray Smith sang as a duet with Stanley Walker. Ray told Dave Booth, years later: ''We did ''Sail Away'' with Stanley Walker singing tenor. Stanley was a short guy, so we took five stacks of records - in fact it was Bill Justis 's record of ''Raunchy'' - and stood Stanley up there on those so he could get even with me to sing in the mike''. Somewhere inbetween the good and the less good was a heartfelt vocal reading of a promising ballad called Ill Try that was never quite worked up to release standard.

''Rockin' Bandit'' and ''Sail Away'' were issued as Sun 319 on March 23, 1959. With the classic country ballad buried on the B-side and the gimmicky A-side not pulling in the coin, it was time for everyone to take stock of Ray Smith's Sun career during the summer of 1959.

Charlie Terrell was concerned that his protege was going nowhere, Jud Phillips was wondering how to unlock the potential, and the singer himself was beyond frustrated. Smith said in later years: "Sun had the best damned sound! It had the sound for that day and time. I knew that I could have done something big on that label with a little more help''. Sam Phillips once told: "Ray Smith was probably the most intense person ever recorded. He was totally wrapped up in what he was doing. Nobody wanted recognition more than Ray".

It seems that, less than two years down the line from their first meeting, Sam Phillips still wanted to keep Ray on Sun, but he was now focusing his personal attention on other things. Jack Clement and Bill Justis had left Sun in the spring of 1959 not long after the ''Rockin' Bandit'' session, and the prospects for Ray Smith to hit the big time with Sun were diminishing rapidly. Jud Phillips and Charlie Terrell both had other ideas. Charlie Terrell told: "Eventually both Jud Phillips and I became fed up with Ray not being able to get ahead at Sun. Jud and I talked and we decided to move him to a new label, and Jud put up the money for that. There had came a point where Jud was disgusted about how Jerry Lee Lewis's career had taken a dip and at the same time Sam was disgusted with Jud's style - Jud would give tips to people all the time, to get Ray onto the Steve Allen Show say. Sam would fuss at Jud all the time about his expense accounts. Sam knew that Jud had the ability to get people onto shows that he could never do himself, but he didn't like the cost of it. Jud would say, 'Sam, you get onto me all the time about expenses. but I've got to impress people if we want to get ahead in the business and promote an artist. We have to look successful to be successful''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR RAY SMITH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SATURDAY FEBRUARY 21, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - BILL JUSTIS

01(1) - "ROCKIN' BANDIT" - B.M.I. - 2:16
Composer: - Ira Jay Lichterman
Publisher: - Charly Music
Matrix number: - None – Undubbed Master
Recorded: - February 21, 1959
Released: - 1985
First appearance: – Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1029-1 mono
SHAKE AROUND
Reissued: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm SUN 32-4 mono
ROCKIN' WITH RAY

This side was supplied by a thirteen year old younster named Ivor Jay Lichterman* who worked in a leather factory in Memphis and had sent in a demo of the song on which he accompanied himself by slapping his thights. It was not a song that Ray was keen to do, but Bill Justis insisted and so they did it.

01(2) - "ROCKIN' BANDIT" - B.M.I. - 2:05
Composer: - Ira Jay Lichterman
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 354  - Master
Recorded: - February 21, 1959
Released: - March 23, 1959
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm standard single SUN 319-A mono
ROCKIN' BANDIT / SAIL AWAY
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803-4-5 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Ray Smith confirmed what a powerful vocalist he was on both of his March 1959 release (SUN 319). Given the novelty value of "Rockin' Bandit", it is really surprising that the disc met with little success. The very same gunshot effects had appeared on the pop charts the previous year in the Olympics' record of Western Movies. Maybe teenagers were tired of being shot at. "Rockin' Bandit" was composed by a local teenager named Ira Lichterman, who emerged as a Sun artist in his own right in November, 1960.

02(1) - "SAIL AWAY" - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Charlie Rich
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 21, 1959
Released: - 2009
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16936-29 mono
RAY SMITH - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

02(2) - "SAIL AWAY" - B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: - Charlie Rich
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 355 - Master Take 2
Recorded: - February 21, 1959
Released: - March 23, 1959
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm standard single SUN 319-B mono
SAIL AWAY / ROCKIN' BANDIT
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803-4-6 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

At one session Charlie Rich was playing various compositions of his own for Ray to pick from. Ray wanted to do "Whirlwind", but Charlie Rich wouldn't let him have it stated that he wanted to do it himself. Instead Ray cut Charlie's "Sail Away". For a while it was thought that Charlie himself was harmonising with Ray Smith on this number, but in fact it is guitarist Stanley Walker. Ray clearly recalled having to hunt around for some books for Stanley to stand on so that he could reach the microphone! Walker stayed with Ray Smith for 13 years before going on to back Jean Shepherd.


Stanley Walker and Ray Smith >

"Sail Away" is a less gimmicky and highly effective outing for Smith. Here, the vocalist duets with his regular guitarist, Stanley Walker, in a Charlie Rich tune. Rich's influence can be heard in some powerful lyrical images ("I may find joy in some green valley / be a bum, live in an alley") as well as his omnipresent piano. No matter how you slice it, this is an anti love song. The feeling may be fairly universal, but the marketplace has rarely opened its arms to a lament saying "whatever it takes to get away from you, I'm all for it".


When visited an abandoned 706 Union Avenue in June, 1960, there were few signs of life at the old Sun studio. The floor was littered with returned 45s in piles nearly 3 feet deep.  On the day everyone moved to the new quarters on Madison Avenue, nobody had bothered to erase the chalkboard in the studio. It still contained the latest sales figures for the last batch of Sun releases. The very last entry on the list was SUN 319. Only five thousands units had been shipped as of moving today. Presumably, sales of this release eventually broke into five figures, before Sam Phillips realized that all the gunshot overdubs had been in vain.

03 – ''I'LL TRY'' - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 21, 1959
Released: - 2009
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16936-28 mono
RAY SMITH – THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No Of Instruments)
Ray Smith - Vocal
Stanley Walker - Guitar and Duet on "Sail Away"
Brad Suggs - Guitar
Billy Riley - Guitar
Stan Kesler or Cliff Acred - Bass
Jimmy M. Van Eaton - Drums
Charlie Rich - Piano

Vocal Chorus overdubbed on unknown date March 1959

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


FEBRUARY 22, 1959 SUNDAY

Loretta Lynn twice sees her father in a casket in dreams. He dies that night.

FEBRUARY 23, 1959 MONDAY

Ernest Tubb recorded ''I Cried A Tear'' during the evening at Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

Johnny Cash earns a number 1 country single in Billboard magazine with ''Don't Take Your Guns To Town''.

FEBRUARY 25, 1959 WEDNESDAY

Rose Maddox has her first Capitol recording session in Los Angeles. Though it's a solo date, she's backed by two of her brothers, guitarist Gal Maddox and mandolin player Henry Maddox.

FEBRUARY 25, 1959 WEDNESDAY

Rich had been coming in for a while playing on sessions, writing songs, and working with Bill Justis with  the goal of becoming a recording artist himself instead of always being in the supporting role. In fact, he had  a release the previous summer, though Sam wasn't all out for the idea. It was one of those songs they called  ''manufactured'', written for a purpose other than artistic expression. This was ''Philadelphia Baby'', a fast  number with a repetitive refrain that Charlie wrote, most likely at the urging of someone at Sun who thought  Dick Clark and his listeners would jump on it because of the local angle. It bombed.

All of the people of the Sun office found Charlie intriguing, partly because he was so reticent. He was due in  for a session in early February, and they were sitting around talking about him. Roland James, the faithful  guitar session man, said, ''When I heard him for the first time, I thought he was colored''. Sally Wilbourn  said, ''I think he could be a great ballad singer, like Brook Benton''. Regina said with a little shiver, ''He's so  good looking''! His prematurely gray hair, his soulful blue eyes, and his aura of solid masculinity did indeed  make an appealing hunk of man, reflected, now that Regina mentioned it.

When Charlie walked in, then they told him been talking about him, but they didn't mention the good looking  part. It was fun to tease Charlie because he was painfully shy. He was a big guy, good enough to get a  football scholarship to the University of Arkansas. He had planned to major in music but finished just part of  his freshman year. Instead, he had gone into the Air Force, gotten married, had three kids, farmed in West  Memphis for a time, and now he was with Sun.

His wife, Margaret Ann, was his high-school sweetheart and biggest booster. She had come in once with him  recently, and Barbara Barnes had sat in a booth across from the two of them, having coffee at Taylor's  Restaurant. According to Barbara, ''I could sense their closeness and the obvious love and strong bond that  united them. When we had finished our coffee, he patted his wife's hand and said, ''Come on, let's go, Maggie  Jean''. A fond nickname, obviously, the way Sam called Sally ''Sally Bo'', though her name was Sally Jo.  Later I said to Charlie, ''You two look really married'', and he smiled and thanked me. It was Margaret Ann  who had brought some tapes of Charlie to Bill Justis, who in turn introduced Charlie's work to Sam''.

Sam Phillips instantly grasped that Charlie could be of benefit to the company in several ways. He  immediately signed him to a songwriting contract, and Charlie also started playing on sessions. Sometimes  he would come in and sit at the piano all morning, just noodling, working out some lyrics, a melody, or some  interesting harmony. At those times, he would look utterly lost in his thoughts or the music in his head.  During the past year, he had written lead sheets for the songs Johnny Cash and some others wrote, a big help  to Bill Justis, who up until then had been the only one around the studio writing out the compositions.

For this session, Bill and Sam were both present, one of the few times that Sam present when they were in  the process of cutting a record. Things seemed to be going pretty well. After a time of letting the musicians  ''mill around'' as Jack Clement called it, getting comfortable in the studio, they could tell were running  through a couple of numbers. Ten all of a sudden the musicians started filing out of the studio and spilled out  onto the sidewalk, headed for coffee next door. Roland Janes mumbled, ''Charlie don't like that song. He says  he won't record it''.

Sam Phillips had come into the session with ''Big Man'', a number with a spiritual sound that was well suited  to Charlie's style. But Charlie objected that calling God ''Big Man'' was sacrilegious. He came from a devout  family in which the parents were gospel singers, and he was religious, having in his younger days aspired to  be a preacher. He wanted no part of using God in a commercial song such as ''Big Man''. Sam had sent the  others on break while he reasoned with Charlie. How could Charlie resist when Sam turned on his oratory?  After awhile, they did cut the song but Sam chose not to release it right away.



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Charlie Rich's second Phillips International session revealed once again that the label had more than a session pianist and composer on its hand. "Rebound" was the nearest Charlie Rich came to assimilating a pure rock and roll performance in all the time he was cut at Sun. A product of Arkansas turf, his love of jazz and blues spawned an intimate style that was fine-tuned during a spell with the US Airforce.


However it was undoubtedly Jerry Lee Lewis whom he was trying to emulate when he committed this rattling little exercise to tape. The song was also cut by ex-labelmates, Conway Twitty for MGM and Ray Smith for Judd  respectively.

STUDIO SESSION FOR CHARLIE RICH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 25, 1959
PRODUCER - BILL JUSTIS AND/OR CHARLIE RICH
RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01(1) – "REBOUND" - B.M.I. - 1:47
Composer: - Charlie Rich-W.E. Bill Justis
Publisher: - Justis Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 349  - Master
Recorded: - February 25, 1959
Released: - June 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm PI 3542-A mono
REBOUND / BIG MAN
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rom BCD 15806-1-7 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

01(2) – "REBOUND" - B.M.I. - 0:45
Composer: - Charlie Rich-W.E. Bill Justis
Publisher: - Justis Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - With Intro - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 25, 1959
Released: - 1998
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16152-2-1 mono
LONELY WEEKENDS - THE SUN YEARS 1958 - 1962

01(3) - "REBOUND" - B.M.I. - 1:59
Composer: - Charlie Rich-W.E. Bill Justis
Publisher: - Justis Music Incorporated - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 25, 1959
Released: - 1998
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16152-2-2 mono
LONELY WEEKENDS - THE SUN YEARS 1958 - 1962

02 - "SAD NEWS"* - B.M.I. - 2:10
Composer: - Charlie Rich
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 425 -  Master -  Instrumental
Recorded: - February 25, 1959
Released: - December 10, 1960
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm SUN 354-B mono
SAD NEWS / RED MAN
Reissued: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15804-3-2 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 4

Bobbie Sheridan alias Charlie Rich, was Sun's answer to Floyd Cramer; or, looked at another way, "Sad News" was Sun's answer to "Last Date". The trouble is, Floyd Cramer could go out and promote his records whenever he could get away from all that session work in Nashville. Bobbie Sheridan? Well, he sure looked an awful lot like Charlie Rich. About as much as "The Hawk" looked like Jerry Lee Lewis. "Sad News", the "hit" side of the disc, is pretty much forgettable fare.

03(1) - "BIG MAN" - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: - Dale Fox
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 350  - Master
Recorded: - February 25, 1959
Released: - 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm PI 3542-B mono
BIG MAN / REBOUND
Reissued: - 1998 Bear family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-1-8 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6


Charlie Rich the Big Man..! >

The story behind "Big Man" has only recently come to light (See on bottom). Drummer J.M. Van Eaton recalls that the song's composer, Dale Fox, had booked the studio and Sun house band to record his tune. Things were going from bad to worse and Sam Phillips finally suggested that pianist Charlie Rich take a shot at the vocal.  The results were highly impressive and a restrained chorus was overdubbed for release as a single.



Van Eaton recalls taking the unusual step of separately miking his bass drum, which became one of the arrangement's most distinctive features. "Big Man" is a wonderful record. Charlie's soulful vocal is at least five years ahead of its time.  Otis Redding, Percy Sledge and Solomon Burke sounded like this in the mid-1960s, but this was early 1959 and, as this and several outtakes, Charlie was totally comfortable with the melisma and cadences of the black church long before they had been drawn into the musical mainstream.

Sam Phillips was duly impressed with the driving and intense style of the next alternate recording and following the session called Rich over for a private chat. In essence, he told him: "This record sounds great Charlie, but I doubt we can sell a lot of it. Keep this feel and write me a pop song and we can make a ton of money for you". Charlie went home thinking about Phillips words. The next time he appeared in the studio it was to record "Lonely Weekend". which went to the top of the charts and made Sam Phillips look like a prophet.

03(2) - "BIG MAN" - B.M.I. - 2:46
Composer: - Dale Fox
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 25, 1958
Released: - 1998
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16152-2-6 mono
LONELY WEEKENDS - THE SUN YEARS 1958 - 1962

Interestingly, the deity is never mentioned by name here. The "Big man" is a clever way of keeping things fairly secular despite the song's underlying message. The result are deeply southern more than deeply religious. Charlie's line "I holler  on the Big man" market this record as simultaneously enchanting and native to only one region of the country. Sales of the record were relatively flat but Sam Phillips was mightily impressed. "Write me a song that keeps this feeling, but doesn't have all that religious crap and we've got us a hit record", he told Charlie after the session. Rich heard him and went home rolling ideas over in his mind. Four months later he was back in the studio to work on his next single. It would make Sam look like a prophet.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Charlie Rich - Vocal and Piano
Roland Janes - Guitar
Brad Suggs - Guitar
Cliff Acred - Bass
Billy Riley - Bass
J.M. Van Eaton - Drums
Unidentified - Trumpet

Gene Lowery Singers consisting of
Edwin Bruce, Sara Bruce, Nita Smith, Lee Holt, Vocal Chorus

* - Issued as by Bobby Sheridan

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



In 1958 or 1959 Ernie Barton recorded ''The Battle Of Earl K. Long'' b/w ''The Man With A Heart Of Gold'' 
for Honesty Records in Memphis. The record was designed to promote the gubernatorial ambition of 
Louisiana's Earl K. Long, who was serving his third term as governor, but considered resigning so that he 
could run a constitutionally prohibited fourth time.

''Ann Higdon was Earl Long's niece''. said Barton, ''and 
Long was trying to run for governor again. She'd written this poem, ''The Battle Of Earl K. Long''.


Entering Sun Studio at 706 Union, Regina Reese, one of the four women employees who, Sam Phillips says,   run the business. Asked what she had in her king-sized handbag, which is only slightly smaller than the  
office she works in, Regina says ''I'm starting my own company'' (1958-1959). >

It didn't 
really work until I changed it around. I already had this song, ''She's Got A Heart Of Gold'', and I changed 
that to ''The Man With A Heart Of Gold''. Sam put the deal together 'cause he got the publishing on both of 
them. It got played off loudspeakers and was given away in supermarkets and the like. I was young enough 
and stupid enough to get mixed up in Louisiana politics''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

The story about ''Big Man'' Jimmy M. Van Eaton recalls, ''Sam hardly ever rented out his studio. Most of the time it was just Sun artists in there. But for some reason he rented it out one day to a guy who had just written a gospel tune. It was called ''Big Man''. The guy (Dale Fox) was having an awful time trying to sing it. We did it over and over and he just couldn't get it right. Finally, Sam said to him 'Why don't you just let Charlie went ahead and did it and he just did a tremendous job. Everybody loved the way it came out. We really all got into it. I did this bass drum thing that we had never done before. Prior to that, we never featured the bass drum because we didn't have enough microphones in the studio. Sam used to run the bass drum through the same mike as the bass guitar or string bass. For some reason, he miked them separately that day and we got a very different sound''.

Jimmy M. Van Eaton continues, ''After ''Big Man'' came out, Sam talked to Charlie and said Í think we really got something here'. Trouble is, it was a gospel song and Sam probably figured he was going to have trouble selling it. So he suggested to Charlie that he go home and work up a pop song with the same feel to it. That's how ''Lonely Weekends'' was born. Charlie wrote that and ''Everything I Do Is Wrong'' and when he came back into the studio we got that same bluesy feel. I used the same bass drum figure on both sides of the record that we had on ''Big Man''. It was very unusual at the time''.

STUDIO SESSION FOR ERNIE BARTON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 25, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - ERNIE BARTON


Ernie Barton in a photo session, 1965. >

The tale of this record by Ernie Barton could keep a team of archaeologists in business. Among out most recent discoveries. First, the wonderful free spirit that you hear on this release did not emerge spontaneously off the floor; rather, it was layered together piece by piece - first the band track, then Barton's vocal, and finally the chorus.  Second, many knowledgeable Sun collectors will recognize "Open The Door Richard", credited to Ernie Barton, has previously been released on several occasions as a Billy Riley title. 


The mistake is understandable. For one thing, Barton sounds a lot like Riley - two southern white boys talking and singing in jivey black style.  For another, according to the Sun Records Discography by Escott and Hawkins, Billy Riley recorded a version of this title on November 25, 1957, over a year before the Barton session. It didn't help the confusion when the Barton version was stored on a Riley reel in the Sun vault.

It now appears that if Billy Riley ever recorded a version of "Open The Door Richard" at Sun, the tapes haven't survived. As if this puzzle needed more complications, consider the fact that Barton's record has never been seen by Sun collectors. It may have simply been assigned a number and never released for reasons that have been lost to time. Interviewed by Colin Escott in 1987, Ernie Barton insisted that "Richard" had indeed been released, but the fact that not one copy has surfaced doesn't seem to bear this out. To confuse matters yet more, Riley has never once suggested that the version issued under his name was not his.

01 - "OPEN THE DOOR RICHARD" - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Jack McVea-Dusty Fletcher-John Mason-Dan Howell
Publisher: - MCA Music Ltd
Matrix number: - P 347  - Master
Recorded: - February 25, 1959 - Issued under Ernie Barton's name
Released: - 1959 (Unissued)
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3541-A mono
OPEN THE DOOR RICHARD / SHUT YOUR MOUTH
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-1-5 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

"Open The Door Richard" was a slice of black vaudeville, and on immense hit record in the 1940s, crossing over into the pop marketplace. Interestingly, many of the competing versions were quite different. Black music hall star Dusty Fletcher popularized the number, which dated back to a much earlier routine by John "Pider Bruce" Mason. Jack McVea's record became the biggest hit, though, and it was McVea's record that was generally copied, albeit with more variations, by the likes of Count Basie. All versions returned to the same chorus, which provided instant recognition, and the selling point.

02 - "SHUT YOUR MOUTH"* - B.M.I. - 1:43
Composer: - Ernie Barton
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - P 348  - Master
Recorded: - February 25, 1959 - Issued under Ernie Barton's name.
Released: - 1959 (Unissued)
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3541-B mono
OPEN THE DOOR RICHARD / SHUT YOUR MOUTH
Other Sun releases: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-1-6 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

This side, "Shut Your Mouth", is, if nothing else, a very politically incorrect song in this day and age. The grating whiney female part played by Sun's secretary Regina Reese, and Barton's abusive male might have been stock figures in 1959 culture but 40 years later they don't do much to enhance anyone's reputation. Joe Turner sent a similar message with his "Honey Hush" in a far more engaging way, both lyrically and musically.

03 - "ANYTIME ANYMORE''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - February 25, 1959

04 - "TOMORROW NEVER COMES''
Composer: - Ernest Tubb-Johnny Bond
Publisher: - Universal Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - February 25, 1959

05 - "THE BATTLE OF EARL K LONG'' - B.M.I. - 1:55
Composer: - Ernie Barton
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - H 302 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - February 25, 1959
Released: - 1975
First appearance: - Bopcat Records (LP) 33rpm Bopcat 300 mono
I'M MOVING ON 
Reissued: - 1987 White Label (LP) 33rpm WLP 8918 mono
MEMPHIS, ROCK AND ROLL CAPITAL OF THE WORLD - VOLUME 5

06 - "WEDDING BELLS''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - February 25, 1959

07 - "WHIRLPOOL''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - February 25, 1959

08 - "KEEP ON LOVING YOU''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - February 25, 1959

09 - "SHE'S GONE AWAY''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - February 25, 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ernie Barton - Vocal
Regina Reese - Vocal*
Roland Janes - Guitar
Billy Riley - 2nd Vocal & Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Charlie Rich - Piano
Martin Willis - Saxophone

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



Sun-Liner March 1959 >

EARLY 1959

Bill Justis and his band continued to work in 1958 and Early 1959 to work up instrumental themes but their philosophy was at odds with the simplicity and raw emotion Sam Phillips preferred. Vernon Drane said, ''Sam was a funny man, If there was one little thing about a tune he didn't like he wouldn't release to no matter how much time he'd invested recording it.

There were a lot of things we sweated blood on that he never released''. Justis took his work seriously despite his sometimes glib style, and this led to his downfall at Sun.

FEBRUARY 26, 1959 THURSDAY

''September Song'' songwriter Maxwell Anderson suffers a stroke at his residence in Stamford, Connecticut, on the 28th anniversary of his first wife's death. Anderson dies two days later.

Songwriter Kenny Beard is born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He authors Tracy Adkins' ''The Rest Of Mine'', Tracy Lawrence's ''Is That A Tear'' and Aaron Tippin's ''Where The Stars And Stripes And The Eagle Fly''.

FEBRUARY 27, 1959 FRIDAY

Jerry Lee Lewis has a son, Steve Allen, in Ferriday, Louisiana. The boy is named after TV host Steve Allen.

Billy Grammer joins the Grand Ole Opry,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Johnny Van Zant is born in Jacksonville, Florida. The brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant and 38 Special's Donnie Van Zant, he joins Skynyrd in the 1980s and also teams with Ronnie to form Van Zant, a duo that nabs a country hit in 2005.

FEBRUARY 28, 1959 SATURDAY

Playwright Maxwell Anderson dies in Stamford, Connecticut, two days after suffering a stroke. Anderson co-wrote ''September Song'', which becomes a country hit for Willie Nelson 20 years later.

MARCH 1959

Bill Justis and Sam Phillips came to a parting of the ways. In circumstances that are still not  entirely clear, Bill Justis and Jack Clement were fired for insubordination during a Cliff Gleaves session. Each started his  own label, looking to emulate Phillips' success. Bill Justis started Play-Me Records, but found  the road Sam Phillips had traveled to be a hard one.

Justis said, ''I left Sun in March 1959 because I was fired for insubordination. Sam Phillips and some of his cronies came into the studio one night when I was trying to record Charlie Rich (Jack Clement, incidentally, remembered that they were recording Cliff Gleaves) - we recorded often at night, incidentally, because as Sun's fame grew you couldn't get anything done during the day for cats sitting on the doorstep, trying to audition. Even when I left early in the morning there'd by some guy sitting on the front steps with his guitar. Anyway, on this occasion Sam came in. And they were making merry, passing comments and clashing cups around so I stood it for as long as I could then I told them to get out. I was really conscientious at that time and I wanted to keep the sessions going. Sam fired me and then he fired Jack Clement at the same time for laughing at what I'd said. It was actually a good break for Jack and me, both, because we started making money after that. I feel that I learned a lot, though. More than I could ever re-pay''.

''Bill didn't even know'', said Sun recording artist Ernie Barton. ''He came by the next day and Jack told him. Bill said, 'That's cool', and left. I went in and walked to Sam and told him I'd do the job. He said, Ernie, why don't you take over''. And so, for the last few months that the old Sun studio operated, Ernie Barton was in charge. He produced Will Mercer, Jerry McGill, and others. He tried overdubbing a chorus on Jerry Lee Lewis's ''Let's Talk About Us'', but Jerry Lee nixed it. Soon, though, Barton himself ran afoul of Phillips. ''Sam was wearing the overcoat he always wore when he was drinking'', said Barton. ''We got into some dumb argument about some release or other and we came to a parting of the ways''.

MARCH 1959

The singles, PI 3538 ''All Your Love'' b/w ''Tide Wind'' by Cliff Thomas; PI 3539, Carl Mann's first disc ''Mona Lisa'' b/w ''Foolish One'' is issued.

MARCH 2, 1959 MONDAY

Review about Jerry Lee Lewis in Billboard magazine says: ''The pumping piano cat has two frantic sides. His energetic vocals on each have the hit sound. ''Big Blon' Baby'' (Sun 317) is a rockabilly song that's given a driving vocal. The flip ''Lovin' Up A Storm'' is performed at a slower clip, but is rendered with equal excitement. Strong country and western appeal also''.

The Everly Brothers recorded in stereo for the first time at RCA Studio B in Nashville. The session yields two minor pop hits, ''Take A Message To Mary'' and ''Poor Jenny''.

Restless Heart's Larry Stewart is born in Paducah, Kentucky. He sings lead on the band's singles in the 1980s before going solo in 1992. He scores one hit on his own with ''Alright Already'', then returns to the band when it reforms in 1998.

Decca released Carl Belew's ''Am I That Easy To Forget''.

MARCH 3, 1959 TUESDAY

Lefty Frizzell recorded ''The Long Black Veil'' during an evening session at Nashville's Bradley Film and Recording Studio, hours after Marijohn Wilkin and Danny Dill wrote it.

MARCH 4, 1959 WEDNESDAY

Ricky Nelson performs ''You Tear Me Up'' in his role on the ABC sitcom ''The Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet''.

MARCH 5, 1959 THURSDAY

Bill Phillips and Mel Tillis recorded ''Sawmill'', three years before it becomes a hit for Webb Pierce.

MARCH 6, 1959 FRIDAY

"There Goes My Baby" is recorded by the Drifters (Atlantic 2025). It is considered the first  high-profile rhythm and blues disc to use a string accompaniment. Its combined artistic and  commercial success inspired an upsurge in the development of sophisticated recording  techniques for African American music, culminating in the "Golden Age of Soul" (1964-1968).

MARCH 7, 1959 SATURDAY

Review from Cash Box says, ''Lovin' Up A Storm'' (Sun 317) backed by ''Big Blon baby'' is the track that can give the rocker a chart residence again. The artist's ''Lovin' Up A Storm'' is only exceeded by the Big Best storm he originates on the deck. A belter sure to wow the teeners. More sock work by Lewis on the under-cut, but tophalf has more beat inventiveness. So, we're stickin' with the vigorous ''Lovin' Up A Storm'' portion.''.

Throw this in the grocery bag, too, Walter Brennan, who will earn a 1962 country hit with the recitation ''Old Rivers'' appears on the cover of TV Guide.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR BRAD SUGGS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: FRIDAY MARCH 6, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR STAN KESLER

01 - ''MY ONLY LOVE''
Composer: - Brad Suggs
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 6, 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Brad Suggs - Guitar
Stan Kesler - Bass
Chris Ferronti - Drums
Jimmy Wilson - Piano
Unknown Chorus

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR VERNON TAYLOR
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY MARCH 8, 1959
SOME SOURCES REPORT AN INCORRECT DATE AS AUGUST 15, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR STAN KESLER

Following a guest spot on American Bandstand, an invitation was extended for Vernon Taylor to join the Sun fold. This in-house copyright, with an added 6 minor chord, became the topside of his second single for the company.

01 - ''BREEZE''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959

02(1) - "SWEET AND EASY TO LOVE" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Roy Orbison
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959

02(2) - "SWEET AND EASY TO LOVE" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Roy Orbison
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959

03 - '' MYSTERY TRAIN" 1 - B.M.I.
Composer: - Sam Phillips-Herman Parker
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-11-5 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS - YOUR LOVIN' MAN
Reissued: - May 29, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-7-28 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959

By 1958-1959 the loose, primitive rockabilly music was giving way to a fuller sound that was undeniably less countrified. Vernon Taylor version of ''Mystery Train'' epitomises those changes. The understand beat and acoustic feel of Presley's version had been replaced by a rock solid backbeat and a brittle electric feel. Vernon Taylor had the potential to become a serious contender but the magic failed to rub off on him. He was also unusual in that he had previously recorded for another label (in this case, DOT) before coming to Sun.

04 - ''THIS KIND OF LOVE'' - B.M.I. - 2:06
Composer: - Roy Orbison-Sam Phillips
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1031-2 mono
COUNTRY ROCK SIDES
Reissued: - 1995 Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-11 mono
THERE'S ONLY ONE

05(1) - ''WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT YOU'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-12 mono
VERNON TAYLOR - THERE'S ONLY ONE ... YOUR LOVIN' MAN

05(2) - ''WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT YOU'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 8 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-22 mono
VERNON TAYLOR - THERE'S ONLY ONE ... YOUR LOVIN' MAN

05(3) - ''WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT YOU'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 17 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-24 mono
VERNON TAYLOR - THERE'S ONLY ONE ... YOUR LOVIN' MAN

05(4) - ''WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT YOU'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 18 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-27 mono
VERNON TAYLOR - THERE'S ONLY ONE ... YOUR LOVIN' MAN

06(1) - ''ALL THEY WANNA DO IS STROL'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-13 mono
VERNON TAYLOR - THERE'S ONLY ONE ... YOUR LOVIN' MAN

06(2) - ''ALL THEY WANNA DO IS STROL'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-19 mono
VERNON TAYLOR - THERE'S ONLY ONE ... YOUR LOVIN' MAN

06(3) - ''ALL THEY WANNA DO IS STROL'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-25 mono
VERNON TAYLOR - THERE'S ONLY ONE ... YOUR LOVIN' MAN

07(1) - ''DINAH LEE'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-14 mono
VERNON TAYLOR - THERE'S ONLY ONE ... YOUR LOVIN' MAN

07(2) - ''DINAH LEE'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 11 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-20 mono
VERNON TAYLOR - THERE'S ONLY ONE ... YOUR LOVIN' MAN

07(3) - ''DINAH LEE'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 12 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-21 mono
VERNON TAYLOR - THERE'S ONLY ONE ... YOUR LOVIN' MAN

07(4) - ''DINAH LEE'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 13 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 8, 1959
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Eagle Records (CD) 500/200rpm EA-R 90120-23 mono
VERNON TAYLOR - THERE'S ONLY ONE ... YOUR LOVIN' MAN

08 - ''WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT YOU''
Composer: - Vernon Taylor
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued - Incomplete
Recorded: - March 8, 1959


Vernon Taylor with his manager, 1957. >

''Sam Phillips saw me on Dick Clark's show and sent Sun Records producer Jack Clement out  to Washington to check me out:, recalled Vernon Taylor. “Jack liked me, and when I come  off a promotion tour for Dot he picket me up at the Memphis bus station.

There was a lot of  electricity in Memphis in those days, and Sun Studio was the center of it. People were  popping in and out all the time”.


''Sam was still a good ol''southern boy, he wasn't a big conversationalist. He was an advocate  of, 'Let's roll the tapes and see what happen, maybe something spontaneous will occur.  Charlie Rich played piano on couple of those songs, and he gave me a song called, “Dinah  Lee”. After recording, we'd hang out in Taylor's, next the studio, and we'd party at night. It  was a great time”.

Vernon Taylor cut two Sun singles, “Today Is A Blue Day”in 1958, and “a version of “Mystery  Train”in 1959 with Coasters-style saxophone added. Neither went anywhere, and things  began to wind down for Taylor. Most of the country and rockabilly musicians from D.C. Were  moving to Nashville by the early 1960s, but Taylor decided he wanted to stay in Maryland  and raise a family. He entered the printing business and eventually moved to Myersville in  Frederick County. His musical activity dwindled down to the occasional weekend gig and  eventually stopped altogether.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Vernon Taylor - Vocal and Guitar
Brad Suggs - Guitar
Billy Riley - Bass
Martin Willis - Sax
Charlie Rich - Piano
Jimmy Van Eaton - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JERRY LEE LEWIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1958/1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY MARCH 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM PHILLIPS
 AND/OR JACK CLEMENT  AND/OR BILL JUSTIS

Jerry Lee Lewis recorded probably on March 1959 a trio of fairly raw ''one-offs'', ''Release Me'', to the lack of sophistication of ''Shanty Town'' and Chris Kenner's ''Sick And Tired'', which collectively exemplify a very different technigue in the drumming. A not dissimilar sounding recording dating from this time, but distinguished from the aforementioned in having guitarist Brad Suggs taking a prominent part, is the high energy George Vaughn's ''Hillbilly Music'' also known as ''Country Music Is Here To Stay'', from March 22.

"(In A Shanty In Old) Shanty Town" is a popular song written by Ira Schuster and Jack Little with lyrics by Joe Young, published in 1932. Ted Lewis and His Band performed it in the film The Crooner in 1932. His version was released as a single and it went to number 1, where it remained for 10 weeks.

The Johnny Long and His Orchestra had a million seller of the song in 1946. This version was a slight revision of the Long band's 1940 version. Their version reached number 13. Jerry Lee Lewis recorded a unfinished version here probably in March 1959. Somethin' Smith and the Redheads re-charted the song in 1956 where it reached to number 27.

In the contemporary ''stock'' dance-band orchestration published by B. Feldman & Co., sole agents for M. Witmark & Sons (arranged by Frank Skinner) credit is given thus: words by Joe Young and music by Little Jack Little and John Siras. Ira Schuster is not given credit. Ira Schuster is also not mentioned in the credits for the song in the 1940 film "Always A Bride" or in the 1951 film Lullaby of Broadway starring Doris Day.


01 - "(JUST A SHANTY IN OLD) SHANTY TOWN" - B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Joe Young-Little Jack Little-John Siras
Publisher: - Warner Bross Music
Matrix number: - None – Breakdown - Unknown Take
Recorded: - Probably March 1959  - Not Originally Issued
Released: - November 1974
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 300002-B8 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AND HIS PUMPING PIANO
Reissued: - September 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15420-5-17 mono
CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE DEFINITIVE SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1963

The Sun cut ''Release Me'' from this March 1959 session as no-one seems sure of the exact date) is a mid-tempo rock and roll treatment with a heavy drumbeat. It’s been suggested that Jerry doesn’t play piano on this, but it certainly sounds like him to me. This was first released on the United Kingdon ''Rockin’ And Free'' compilation in 1974 (a superb collection of 22 previously unissued Sun cuts that seems to be almost forgotten by fans now). The preferable version for me is the stunning performance recorded for the ‘She Still Comes Around’ album in 1968 (some people may have noticed by now that I’m slightly biased towards this era; indeed my “creative peak” years for Jerry would probably cover the decade from 1961 to 1971, a time when he seemed almost incapable of making a bad recording or doing a sub-standard concert). A re-cut for his new album ‘Mean Old Man’ can only come 2nd or 3rd best, but it is one of the more palatable tracks on the album, with Gillian Welch’s (very obviously) overdubbed duet vocal working quite well. 

02 - "RELEASE ME" – B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - Eddie Miller-Robert Yount-Dub Williams
Publisher: - Palace Music Company - 4 Star Music Company Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Unknown Take
Recorded: - Probably March 1959  - Not Originally Issued
Released: - July 1974
First appearance: - Sun International (LP) 33rpm 6467 029-A11 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - ROCKIN' AND FREE
Reissued: - September 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15420-5-18 mono
CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE DEFINITIVE SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1963

"Release Me" (sometimes rendered as "Release Me (and Let Me Love Again)"), is a popular song written by Eddie Miller and Robert Yount in 1949. Shortly afterward it was covered by Jimmy Heap, and with even better success by Ray Price and Kitty Wells. Subsequently a big seller was recorded by Little Esther Phillips, who reached number one on the Rhythm And Blues chart and number eight on the pop chart. A version by Engelbert Humperdinck reached number one on the UK Singles Chart.

The Engelbert Humperdinck song has the distinction in the UK of holding the number-one slot in the chart for six weeks during March and April 1967, and preventing The Beatles single, "Penny Lane" backed with "Strawberry Fields Forever", from reaching the top. "Release Me" was also the highest selling single of 1967 in the UK, recording over one million sales, and eventually became one of the best selling singles of all time with sales of 1.38 million copies.

Although Miller later claimed to have written the song in 1946 and only being able to record it himself in 1949, he co-wrote it with Robert Yount in 1949. As they were working at that time with Dub Williams, (a pseudonym of James Pebworth), they gave him one-third of the song. The song was released with the writing credited to Miller-Williams-Gene, as Yount was using his stage name of Bobby Gene. Although owner of Four Star Records, William McCall, would usually add his pseudonym "W.S. Stevenson" to the credit of songs he published, he failed to do so in 1949. However in 1957, Miller and Yount entered into a new publishing agreement with Four Star Records, in which "W.S. Stevenson" replaced Williams as co-writer.

Yount signed away his royalty rights to William McCall in 1958, after which the credits to the song officially became "Miller-Stevenson", although multiple variations also existed. Engelbert Humperdinck's version, for example, is credited to Eddie Miller, Robert Yount, Dub Williams and Robert Harris. That last one, however, turned out to be also a pseudonym for James Pebworth.

With the bankruptcy of Four Star’s successor in interest, the copyright to the song was acquired by AcuffRose Music. When the initial term of copyright ended in 1983, it was renewed for a second term. Between 1983 and 1985 Acuff-Rose paid royalties to Yount, until they were notified by the family of the deceased William McCall of the 1958 assignment. Acuff-Rose then suspended payments until the dispute between the claimants was resolved. On December 24, 1996 the United States Courts of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, upheld the claim of the McCalls.

In country music, "Release Me" became a hit for Jimmy Heap, Kitty Wells, and Ray Price, all in 1954. Even though Price had several major hits beforehand, "Release Me" is sometimes considered his breakthrough hit. The song had elements of the 4/4 shuffle, Price's signature sound that would become more evident on future successes such as "Crazy Arms''. Price's version was part of a double-A sided hit, paired with another song that introduced fans to the 4/4 shuffle: "I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)''. Both sides went on to become major hits for Price, with "Release Me" peaking at number 6 and "I'll Be There" stopping at number 2. Elvis Presley recorded ''Release Me'' on February 17, 19, 1970 live on stage at the International Hotel in Las Vegas for his live album ''On Stage''. This album was released in June 1970 and reached number 13 on both the Billboard 200 and country musc charts. It was certified Gold on February 23, 1971, and Platinum on July 15, 1999, by the Recording Industry Association of America.


03 - "SICK AND TIRED" - B.M.I. - 2 :43
Composer: - Christopher Kenner- Dave Bartholomew
Publisher: - EMI Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Unknown Take
Recorded: - Probably March 1959  - Not Originally Issued
Released: - July 1974
First appearance: - Sun International (LP) 33rpm 6467 029-B10 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - ROCKIN' AND FREE
Reissued: - September 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15420-5-16 mono
CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE DEFINITIVE SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1963

''Sick And Tired'' recorded here on this session by Jerry Lee Lewis was written by Chris Kenner and was a New Orleans rhythm and blues singer and songwriter, best known for two hit singles in the early 1960s that became staples in the repertoires of many other musicians.

Born on December 25, 1929 in the farming community of Kenner, Louisiana, upriver from New Orleans, Kenner sang gospel music with his church choir, and moved to New Orleans in his teens. In 1955  he made his first recordings, for a small label, Baton Records, without success; and in 1957 he had his first taste of success when he began working with Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew a year later at Lew Chudd's Imperial Records label, hitting the charts briefly in August 1957 with "Sick and Tired," a song he had written with help from the other two. Fats Domino covered it the next year and the song became a hit. "Rocket to the Moon" and "Life Is Just a Struggle", both cut for the Ron Records label, were other notable songs from this period.

Moving to another New Orleans label, Instant, he began to work with pianist and arranger Allen Toussaint. In 1961, this collaboration produced "I Like It Like That", his first and biggest hit, peaking at number 2 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart (covered in 1965 by The Dave Clark Five) and "Something You Got", covered by Wilson Pickett, Alvin Robinson, the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Chuck Jackson, Earl Grant, Maxine Brown, Bobby Womack, The Moody Blues on their 1965 debut album, The American Breed, Fairport Convention and Bruce Springsteen. "I Like It Like That" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.

In 1962 he produced his most enduring song, "Land Of A Thousand Dances", which was covered by various artists, including Cannibal and the Headhunters, Thee Midniters, Wilson Pickett, The Action, and Patti Smith. Kenner continued to record for Instant and for various other small local labels, including many of his lesser-known songs from the 1960s, such as "My Wife", "Packing Up" and "They Took My Money". He released an album on Atlantic Records in 1966; the Collectors' Choice label reissued the LP, Land Of A Thousand Dances, on CD in 2007.

In 1968 Kenner was convicted of statutory rape of a minor, and spent three years in Louisiana's Angola prison. Chris Kenner was found dead in his apartment at the age of 46 in New Orleans on January 25, 1976. The cause was a heart attack, triggered by his alcohol problems.


Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jerry Lee Lewis - Vocal and Piano
Probaby Charlie Rich - Piano
Unknown - Guitar
Jimmy M. Van Eaton - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


MARCH 8, 1959 SUNDAY

Country stars gather for a pair of concerts at Louisville's Freedom hall to raise money for the newly-founded Country Music Association. On the bill, Johnny cash, Ray Price, Ernest Tubb, Minnie Pearl, Carl Smith and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.

MARCH 9, 1959 MONDAY

Decca released Webb Pierce's ''A Thousand Miles To Go''.

Barbie Doll is launched and is a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy-company Mattel, Inc., and launched in March 1959. American businesswoman Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the doll using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration.

Barbie is the figurehead of a brand of Mattel dolls and accessories, including other family members and collectible dolls. Barbie has been an important part of the toy fashion doll market for over fifty years, and has been the subject of numerous controversies and lawsuits, often involving parody of the doll and her lifestyle.

Mattel has sold over a billion Barbie dolls, making it the company’s largest and most profitable line. However sales have declined sharply since 2014. The doll transformed the toy business in affluent communities worldwide by becoming a vehicle for the sale of related merchandise (accessories, clothes, friends of Barbie, etc.). She had a significant impact on social values by conveying characteristics of female independence and, with her multitude of accessories, an idealized upscale life-style that can be shared with affluent friend.

MARCH 10, 1958 TUESDAY

RCA Victor released Elvis Presley's ''(Now And Then) A Fool Such As I'' and ''I Need Your Love Tonight'' ( RCA Victor 47-7506).

Johnny Cash appears on NBC's ''The George Gobel Show''.

MARCH 12, 1959 THURSDAY

Johnny Cash recorded ''I Got Stripes'', ''You Dreamer You'' and ''Five Feet High And Rising'' in Nashville at the Bradley Recording Studio.

MARCH 16, 1959 MAANDAG

Keyboard player Stan Thorn is born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. As a member of Shenandoah, he has a hand in such hits as ''The Church On Cumberland Road'', ''Two Dozen Roses'' and ''I Want To Be Loved Like That''.

Don Gibson recorded ''Lonesome Old House'' in the afternoon at Nashville's RCA Studio B.

Wanda Jackson completees her first tour of Japan, spurred by her success with the pop hit ''Fujiyama Mama''.

The variety series ''The Patti Page Olds Show'' makes its final appearance after six months on ABC.

MARCH 17, 1959 TUESDAY

Lida Carlichael dies in Los Angeles, the same day her son, Hoagy Carmichael sings a contract to star in the NBC-TV western series, ''Laramie''. Hoagy wrote ''Georgia On My Mind'', destined to become a country hit for Willie Nelson.

Brenda Lee performs a historic show at the Olumpia Theater in Paris, France, where she's been billed by the promoter as a midget.

MARCH 18, 1959 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley injures his knee when he's thrown from a Jeep while serving with the Army in West Germany. He requires three days of bed rest.

MARCH 20, 1959 FRIDAY

The Bob Hope comedy ''Alias Jesse James'' appears in movie theaters, with Roy Rogers and Bing Crosby both appearing on screen in cameo bits.

MARCH 22, 1959 SUNDAY

Jim Reeves performs the final concert in his first Las Vegas engagement, a two-week run at The Showboat.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JERRY LEE LEWIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY MARCH 22, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT OR JACK CLEMENT AND/OR BILL JUSTIS

In stark contrast to the lack of sophistication of ''Shanty Town'' etc., the employment of overdubbing applied to a Lewis performance reached its height with the recording of ''Let's Talk About Us'' in the spring of 1959. This proved to be almost as tortured an exercise in trying to generate a hit as had the taping of ''Break Up''. Along the way there were numerous changes of course, including one relatively uninspired affair with a male, as opposed to the female-led, chorus overlaid on the master, which first slipped out on Charly's ''Ultimate'' box set. That tape presented on BCD 17254-18, to stand comparison with the master, as originally issued in 1959, which features the more harmonious mixed chorus. (*)

1 - "HILLBILLY FEEVER (MUSIC)" - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - George Vaughn Horton
Publisher: - Anglo-Pic Music Corporation Limited
Matrix number: - None - Master
Recorded: - March 22, 1959
Released: - December 1961
First appearance: - Sun Records (LP) 33rpm SLP 1265-A3 mono
JERRY LEE'S GREATEST
Reissued: - September 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15420-5-22 mono
CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE DEFINITIVE SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1963

As the house drummer at Sun, J.M. Van Eaton probably saw more of the famed studio than anyone else. After his band The Echoes cut a demo there in 1956, he became first call for the majority of the sessions. His affable nature, which he fully displayed when the first clip was taped, was crucial to the recording equation. So when Jerry Lee Lewis might suddenly decide to re-jig something like Little Jimmy Dickes' hit from 1950, "Hillbilly Fever", J.M. would be all fired up ready to go to work in the blink of an eye.

2 - "INTERVIEW JAMES M. VAN EATON" - B.M.I. - 1:20
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Sanctuary Records (CD) 500/200rpm FBUBX002-8 mono
50 GOLDEN YEARS 1952 - 2002

Jerry Lee Lewis recorded several different takes of ''I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You'' here on this session, and  is widely regarded as a song Hank Williams wrote for Billie Jean Jones Eshlimar, whom he married on October 18, 1952 in Minden, Louisiana. In the episode of American Masters about Hank's like, singer Billy Walker explained, "Billie Jean was Faron Young's girlfriend. Faron had just moved to Nashville. Billie Jean and Faron was out clubbin' around and Hank Williams joined them. And they went to the lavatory and Hank pulled out a gun on Faron and said, "Boy, this is gonna be my girlfriend from now on''. In the same film, Ray Price, who shared an apartment with Williams, recalls Hank using Billie Jean as leverage to try and win back his ex-wife Audrey Williams, "He told Audrey, 'If you don't come back to me I'm gonna marry Billie Jean'. Well, Audrey said, 'Go ahead'''.

Williams cut ''I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You'' at his last recording session in Nashville at Castle Studio in the Tulane Hotel, with Fred Rose did the producing. By this point, the singer had been fired from the Grand Ole Opry for drunkenness and had returned to Shreveport to play the Louisiana Hayride. Although he was in terminal decline, the quality of the songs Williams recorded at his final session was astonishing, "I Could Never Be Ashamed of You'', "Take These Chains From My Heart'', "Kaw-Liga'', and "Your Cheatin' Heart''. As biographer Colin Escott marvels, "Most singers hope to hang their careers on one or two classics; Hank cut four classics between 1:30 and 3:40 on the afternoon of September 23, 1952...". Williams was backed by Tommy Jackson (fiddle), Don Helms (steel guitar), Chet Atkins (lead guitar), Jack Shook (rhythm guitar), and Floyd "Lightnin'" Chance (bass).  A demo version of Williams singing this song with just his guitar, likely recorded in 1951, is also available.


3(1) - "I COULD NEVER BE ASHAMED OF YOU" – B.M.I. - 2:25
Composer: - Hank Williams
Publisher: - Acuff Rose Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Unknown Take
Recorded: - March 22, 1959  – Not Originally Issue
Released: - October 2015  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-9-30 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

3(2) - "I COULD NEVER BE ASHAMED OF YOU" – B.M.I. - 1:19
Composer: - Hank Williams
Publisher: - Acuff Rose Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – 2 False Starts
Recorded: - March 22, 1959  - Not Originally Issued
Released: - January 1983
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 102-8-B5 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: -  October 2015
First appearance: -   Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-9-31 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

3(3) - "I COULD NEVER BE ASHAMED OF YOU" – B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: - Hank Williams
Publisher: - Acuff Rose Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – 2 False Starts - Unknown Take
Recorded: - March 22, 1959  - Not Originally Issued
Released:  - September 1989
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15420-5-19 mono
CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE DEFINITIVE SUN RECORDINGS 1956 – 1963
Reissued: – 1993 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm Sun 18 mono
ROCK AND ROLL ORIGINALS - VOLUME 9

3(4) - "I COULD NEVER BE ASHAMED OF YOU" – B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Hank Williams
Publisher: - Acuff Rose Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – False Start - Unknown Take
Recorded: - March 22, 1959  - Not Originally Issued
Released: - January 1983
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 102-8-B5 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued:  - October 2015  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-9-33 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

4(1)(2) - "NEAR YOU" - B.M.I. - 3:05
Composer: - Kermit Goell-Francis Craig
Publisher: - Warner Chappell Music
Matrix number: - None - Chatter - 2 False Starts - Instrumental 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - January 1983
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 1028-B6 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - September 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15420-5-20 mono
CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE DEFINITIVE SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1963

Jerry Lee recorded  two versions of "Near You" as a sort of warm-up, a popular song written and originally recorded by Francis Craig in 1947, with lyrics by Kermit Goell, that has gone on to become a pop standard.

The recording by Francis Craig (the song's composer) was released by Bullet Records as catalog number 1001. It first reached the Billboard Best Sellers chart on August 30, 1947, and lasted 21 weeks on the chart, peaking at number one. On the "Most Played By Jockeys" chart, the song spent 17 consecutive weeks at number one, setting a record for both the song and the artist with most consecutive weeks in the number-one position on a United states pop music chart. In 2009, hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas surpassed Craig's record for artist with most consecutive weeks in the number one position with the songs "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling". However, their record was accomplished with combined weeks of two number 1 songs, one succeeding the other in the top position. Billboard ranked it as the number 1 song overall for 1947.

In 1977, "Near You" became a number one country hit for the duo of George Jones and Tammy Wynette, one of the more unlikely compositions the two country legends ever sang together. Recorded in the winter of 1974, its atypical arrangement showed that country fans still had an appetite for any music performed by the estranged couple, who had been country music's "First Couple" in the early seventies. In fact, it was their second consecutive number 1 single since their divorce in 1975; they had only managed to top the charts once during their six year marriage with "We're Gonna Hold On" in 1973.


4(3) - "NEAR YOU" - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Kermit Goell-Francis Craig
Publisher: - Warner Chappell Music
Matrix number: - None - Instrumental
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - November 1974
First appearance: - Sun International (LP) 33rpm CR 300002-B4 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AND HIS PUMPING PIANO
Reissued: -  October 2015
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-9-35 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

5(1) - "MY BLUE HEAVEN" - B.M.I. - 1:56
Composer: - Walter Donaldson-George A. Whiting
Publisher: - Donaldson Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Slow - Unknown Take
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - January 1983
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 102-9-A1 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - September 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15420-5-23 mono
CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE DEFINITIVE SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1963

No doubt inspired by Fats Domino’s hit at the time, Jerry cut 4 fast takes of  ''My Blue Heaven'' the old Gene Autry song in early 1959. The best of these was first issued on Sun International’s ''Olde Tyme Country Music'' album in 1969, with the others issued during the 1980s. He made a 2nd attempt at the song 2 years in a slower “cocktail” style, but none of them saw the light of day until the late 1980s. These all pale into insignificance compared to the truly stunning 1969 cut (and check out those extra lyrics during the intro). Recorded at the productive ''Country Music Hall Of Fame'' sessions in February 1969 where he recorded two albums in two days, it’s a mystery why this wasn’t released at the time (though when Jerry heard it again in 1987 he claimed there was a mistake during the piano solo). Instead it was issued on Bear Family’s ''The Killer: 1969-1972'' box-set in 1986.

5(2) - "MY BLUE HEAVEN" - B.M.I. - 1:41
Composer: - Walter Donaldson-George A. Whiting
Publisher: - Donaldson Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Chatter - Unknown Take
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released:  - April 1993
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/22rpm Sunbox 4-7-25 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE ULTIMATE - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - October 2015  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-2 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

5(3) - "MY BLUE HEAVEN" - B.M.I. - 1:44
Composer: - Walter Donaldson-George A. Whiting
Publisher: - Donaldson Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Chatter - Take 2
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - January 1983
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 1029-A2 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - September 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15420-5-24 mono
CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE DEFINITIVE SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1963

5(4) - "MY BLUE HEAVEN" - B.M.I. - 1:39
Composer: - Walter Donaldson-George A. Whiting
Publisher: - Donaldson Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Chatter
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - September 1970
First appearance: - Sun International (LP)m 33rpm Sun 121-A5 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - OLE TYME COUNTRY MUSIC
Reissued: -  October 2015  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-4 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

My Blue Heaven" is a popular song written by Walter Donaldson with lyrics by George A. Whiting. It has become part of various fake book collections. In 1928, "My Blue Heaven" became a huge hit on Victor 20964-A for crooner Gene Austin, accompanied by the Victor Orchestra as directed by Nat Shilkret; it charted for 26 weeks, stayed at number 1 and sold over five million copies becoming one of the best selling singles of all time. In 1928, Blue Amberol Records released an instrumental piano version by Muriel Pollock (issue number 5471). The music for "My Blue Heaven" was written in 1924.

Donaldson wrote it one afternoon at the Friars Club in New York while waiting for his turn at the billiard table. The song was written while Donaldson was under contract to Irving Berlin, working for Berlin's publishing company, Irving Berlin Inc. George Whiting wrote lyrics adapted for Donaldson's music, and for a while, performed it in his vaudeville act; three years later, Tommy Lyman started singing it on the radio as his theme song.

Donaldson established his own publishing company in 1928, and his rights in the song were apparently assigned to his company at that time, with the song listed as having been published by George Whiting Music and Donaldson Music. The song was subject to copyright in 1925 and 1927. These copyrights were renewed in 1953 and 1955, after the death of both composers, at which time the rights in the song were owned by Leo Feist, Inc.. The rights were thereafter assigned to the EMI Catalogue Partnership, controlled and administered by EMI Feist Catalog Inc.

The song has become a standard. Hit versions were also recorded by Jimmie Lunceford in 1935 and Fats Domino in 1956. The Fats Domino version was a two sided hit, with, "I'm In Love Again" and reached number nineteen on the Billboard magazine charts and number five on the Rhythm & Blues Best Sellers chart. Mary Lou Williams recording a version for her 1964 Folkways Records album Mary Lou Williams Presents (F 2843); Smithsonian Folkways re-issued the recording as part of its 2004 album Mary Lou Williams Presents Black Christ of the Andes (SFW40816).

6(1) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Chatter - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released:  - April  1993
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/22rpm Sunbox 4-7-26 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE ULTIMATE - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: -  October 2015  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-5 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

It took a great deal of largely fruitless experimentation to settle on the right arrangement for ''Let's Talk About Us''. After as many as thirteen takes involving a rigid, drumled pattern, in which Lewis sounds inhibited, increasingly frustrated and eventually bored, they take a break from the endeavour. Returning to it afresh at a later session, the earlier template is abandoned and Otis Blackwell's latest commission to furnish Lewis with another hit to complement ''Great Balls Of Fire'' and ''Breathless'' is reinvented with a striking boogie-woogie introduction. (*)

Reassembling into a logical order the various alternates produced at the first, ultimately unproductive session, scattered as they were across a number of tape boxes, proved to be a painstaking process. Given the homogeneity of the musical arrangements across the piece, the analysis here relied much more upon the variations in Jerry Lee's efforts to learn, then master, and finally invest some interest in the lyrics. Notice how he stumbles in his first, uncertain foray, misreading the lyrics as ''...if you're not just a friend'' (at 1:010 and ''...if you just, just a friend'' (at 1:32) and towards the end of the take is clearly ad-libbing, having disregarded the script. (*)

In the second alternate, again there are clumsy ''if it's just want to be your friend'' (at 0:59); he's having to concentrate on his playing rather than the vocal to be sure of keeping in time. Greater confidence is palpable from take 3 onwards, with some command of the words finally in evidence, the phrase ''if you just want me for your friend'' being sung cleanly for the first time. That's probably the wording that was printed on the lead sheets. As matters progress, however, Jerry Lee brings his own twist to the lyric and from take nine onwards the passive resignation of ''if you just want me for your friend, has given way to the rather more assertive challenge ''...if it's just to be a friend'', the phrase that would become familiar courtesy of the master take. The latter doesn't appear to have been the final attempt; a forceful alternate with a rather more rousing last few bars closes the sequence. (*)


6(2) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 2:06
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Chatter - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - October 2015
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-6 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

6(3)(4) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 3:04
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - 3 False Starts - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - January 1983
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 1029-A3 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - September 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15420-5-25 mono
CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE DEFINITIVE SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1963 

6(5) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - False Start - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - October 2015
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-9 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

06(5) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US"* - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Unknown Take
Female Chorus Overdub, Unknown Date 1959
by the Gene Lowery Singers
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - October 2015
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-18-28 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

6(6) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 1:58
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - October 2015
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-10 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

6(7) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 1:58
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - October 2015
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-11 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

6(8) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 2:00
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - October 2015
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-12 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

6(9) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 1:58
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - October 2015
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-13 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

6(10) -''LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 1:59
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - April 1993
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/22rpm Sunbox 4-11-21 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE ULTIMATE - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: -  October 2015  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-14 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

6(11) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 2:02
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Chatter - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released:  - April 1993
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/22rpm Sunbox 4-9-22 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE ULTIMATE - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: -  October 2015  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-15 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

6(12) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 1:59
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - October 2015
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-16 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

6(13) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 2:04
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Chatter - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - October 2015
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-17 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

6(14) - "LET'S TALK ABOUT US" - B.M.I. - 1:57
Composer: - Otis Blackwell
Publisher: - Roosevelt Music
Matrix number: - None - Unknown Take 
Recorded: - March 22, 1959 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - October 2015
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17254-10-18 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS AT SUN RECORDS THE COLLECTED WORKS

A Charlie Rich composition, ''The Ballad Of Billy Joe, was chosen to pair with in June 25-26 session recorded take of ''Let's Talk About Us'' on Sun 324, issued on June 1959. Conceived not so much as an answer song, but rather as a back story to complement Johnny cash's massive hit ''Don't Take Your Guns To Town'', all involved no doubt hoped they'd have a huge payday. They were to be disappointed; Jerry Lee's isolated foray into the western genre did not prove rewarding. The song provided another of the few examples of Lewis standing aside to allow Rich to take over at the piano keyboard, a practice that was not so frequent as some have alleged although, as we have seen, it was manifest on the originally issued performance of ''I'll Make It All Up To You'', from the July 9, 1958 session, and on all six takes of ''It Hurt Me So'' from the November 5, 1958 session. (*)

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jerry Lee Lewis - Vocal and Piano
Brad Suggs - Guitar
Cliff Acred - Bass
James M. Van Eaton – Drums

* Vocal Overdubs by Gene Lowery

According to Jim King, manager of Jerry McGill and The Topcoats, said that the backup singers were not the Gene Lowery Singers but four juniors from the Treadwell High School, located at 920 North Highland Street in Memphis. The girls were probably brought in to keep the project costs within budget. The quartet actually had no official name, but consisted of (maiden names) Opal Green, Twila Taylor, Nanci Drake, and Carolyn Maharrey.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


MARCH 23, 1959 MONDAY

The singles Sun 318, Jimmy Isle's ''Time Will Tell'' b/w ''Without A Love'' and Sun 319, Ray Smith's ''Sail   Away'' b/w ''Rockin' Bandit'' is issued.

Capitol released Buck Owens' first charted single, ''Second Fiddle''.

Johnny Cash takes his first screen test in Hollywood.

MARCH 24, 1959 TUESDAY

Kitty Wells recorded ''Left To Right'' and ''Your Wild Life's Gonna Get You Down''.

MARCH 26, 1959 THURSDAY

Elvis Presley's father, Vernon, and secretary, Elisabeth Stefaniak, are injured in a car accident on Germany's autobahn.

MARCH 28, 1959 SATURDAY

Sixteen tons of television fun, Tennessee Ernie Ford makes the cover of TV Guide.

MARCH 30, 1959 MONDAY

Decca released Ernest Tubb's ''I Cried A Tear''.

Columbia released Johnny Cash's double-sided hit, ''Frankie's Man, Johnny'' backed with ''You Dreamer You''.

MARCH 31, 1959 TUESDAY

The inaugural episode of ''The Jimmie Rodgers Show'' airs on NBC-TV.

Bill Porter begins a four-year run as a engineer at RCA Studio B in Nashville, running the board for hits recorded by Jim Reeves, Roy Orbison, and Elvis Presley.

MARCH 1959

One cold night in March 1959, and at 8:30 Barbara Barnes walked through the door at Sun, she saw Sally   Wilbourn at her desk. This was unusual. Barbara couldn't remember Sally's ever being there before Regina  Reese or her. She often came in with Sam Phillips, and that could by anytime from 10:00 a.m. Until  sometime in late afternoon. When Regina arrived soon afterwards, Sally told the girls what had happened the  night before. She said that Sam Phillips had fired Bill Justis and Jack Clement and that he had threatened to  fire Regina, Barbara, and Sally herself. She said he was mad about everybody goofing off. Except for Cecil  and Kay, that would have been the whole staff. She said that he had dictated a letter, and she had typed one  for Bill and the same for Jack. When they came about in about 11:00. as they always did, these letters would  be waiting for them and they would know they had been fired because of ''insubordination''. Sally usually  had a very even disposition, but this time they could tell she was upset.

According to Barbara Barnes, ''This shocking incident explained to my satisfaction my anxiety attack of the   night before. From our first meeting, Sam and I had often seemed to be on the same wavelength and found it  easy to communicate our ideas and feelings to each other by just a word or a look. He was extremely  intuitive, almost psychic, and he had remarked to others that he didn't need to explain things to me, just a  hint of what he meant would do. I also picked up his moods without anything having been said. This is the  first time I had had a sense of Sam at such a distance. He must have been having extreme emotions to take  such a drastic move as firing our whole musical staff''.

In later days and weeks Bill Justis dropped by the studio once or twice, and Jack Clement kept coming   regularly. Regina and Barbara were dying with curiosity to know what had happened, and their stories about  the night they got fired didn't exactly jibe. Bill said that it was because he had asked Sam and his friends,  who had come to the studio to party, to keep it down because he was working with some musicians on an  arrangement for a record he was cutting. Jack had laughed when Bill asked Sam and his friends to be quieter. This is where the ''insubordination'' factor came in.

Jack Clement's version was a little different. He said it was beginning to snow that night, and he was afraid   the bridge between the studio and his home would be closed, as it often was when authorities feared ice  forming on the bridge. According to Jack, Cliff Gleaves (a fast-talking perpetually black-clad Elvis intimate)  was talking with Sam in the control room when Jack approached Cliff to tell him they needed to leave. Sam  felt something Jack said about ''getting out of here'' was meant to be disrespectful, not understanding that he meant everyone should leave because of the weather.

''I wondered if there may have been two incidents, one with Bill in the studio, and then one in the control   room'', says Barbara. ''First Sam was asked to leave the studio, and then his conversation was interrupted in  the control room. One could see how he might feel his ''help'' were high-handed. Sam's informality invited us  to feel free in expressing outselves, but it seemed Bill and Jack had misjudged the degree of freedom Sam  would tolerate. I am sure they meant no disrespect''.

Jack Clement seemed to take losing his job much harder than Bill Justis did. His whole life revolved around   music and the work he did at Sun Records. His friends were the musicians. Regina and Barbara went out to  his house after work several times immediately after the incident to let him know they missed him. Jack  Clement's former wife, Doris, also visit, and a good thing came of the firing in that they were reunited,  remarried, and not long afterwards the parents of baby boy Niles. For some time afterwards Jack tried to get  his own label, Summer Records, off the ground, with little success, because he didn't have the type of big  artists he had produced at Sun. Eventually, Jack Clement moved to Nashville, and they didn't see him very  much.

Bill Justis kept in touch occasionally and later told the Sun staff that Sam had approached him about   returning, but he was ready to move on. Bill had a band, a family, and some financial security. For a time he  was involved with a business in Memphis and then turned to work in Nashville and then in Hollywood  involved with scoring movies. Eventually he as well as Jack, who had an interval in Beaumont, Texas, settled  permanently in Nashville, and continued his career mainly as a musical arranger there.

''The sudden departure of our A&R staff seriously affected the way I thought about my work at Sun'', Barbara   said. ''Whereas before I had accepted all the ups and downs as part of the business, I began to wonder how  things were going to end. The departures of Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, the descent of Jerry Lee Lewis,  and now with Jack Clement and Bill Justis no longer cutting sessions, who could predict what would happen  to our company''.

Sam Phillips was often gone to Florida to attend to matters with his radio station there, another all-girl   station with call letters WLIZ, and sometimes he would be in Arkansas looking after his zinc mine. Most  often he was at 630 Madison overseeing the construction of the new studio and getting it outfitted with all  the equipment it would require.

Barbara said, ''Sam's decision about Jack and Bill didn't seem to make sense, if decision it was and not just a   flare-up of anger. I wondered what he had in mind for Sun, and if this seemingly emotional and unplanned  firing were grounded in a deeper dissatisfaction with being in the recording business. Even though his  untiring enthusiasm about the new building indicated a commitment to Sun, he had had little time for  developing new talent and creating records. While he alone had at the company's beginning discovered the  artists and led them to find their sound and their niche in the market, Jack and Bill had been doing all the  producing of records and auditions of songs and would-be artists ever since I came on the scene. Sam would  listen to what Jack and Bill had recorded and make or call for the changes he felt needed, and he alone could  decide whether or not to release material. Bit I couldn't see that he was interested in sitting on the board any  more listening to auditions and cutting records''.

At this time, a host of young teen heartthrobs, such as Ricky Nelson, Fabian, Bobby Vinton, and Bobby   Darin, were coming along with a type of watered-down rock and roll. The sizzling sounds of Chuck Berry,  Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis were in competition with tamer, dreamier soft sounds for the teenage  dollar. The major labels like RCA, Columbia, and Decca were catching on and began to climb on the teen  bandwagon, too. Maybe Sam Phillips saw the end, and the incident with Bill and Jack was a sign of  frustration. Also, on a more personal level, Jerry Lee Lewis's disgrace, following the departure of Johnny  Cash and others, may have caused Sam to question the point of his efforts in discovering and grooming new  talent. So the provocations the night of the firings may have been merely the fuse that set off an explosion  waiting to happen.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR BRAD SUGGS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERIVE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY MARCH 31, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

03 - "OOH WEE" - B.M.I. - 2:13
Composer: - Brad Suggs
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 364   - Master
Recorded: - Probably July 1959
Released: - October 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3549-A mono
OOH WEE / I WALK THE LINE
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-1-21 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

"Ooh Wee" is actually a much better record than it deserves to be. The lyric is strictly cornball, but the piano/guitar/drums play beautifully together and the whole thing finds a totally enjoyable groove. Its a cinch that the piano player on this track is the same guy (playing the same riffs) as the pianist on Billy Riley's "Wouldn't You Know". The session file lists that man as James Paulman, but nobody, including Brad Suggs, seems to recall a piano player named Paulman. More to the point, its hard to imagine that those rolling chords don't belong to Charlie Rich.

04 -"I WALK THE LINE" - B.M.I. - 2:11
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 363   - Master
Recorded: - Probably July 1959
Released: - October 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3549-B mono
I WALK THE LINE / OOH WEE
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-1-22 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

On this session, this time complete with orchestra and chorus. Sam Phillips' thinking was probably if he was going to spring for a French horn, he was going to level them an "Orchestra". Might as well get some class out of it. What we really have here is an attempt to garner some revenue for the Sun publishing catalogue. Suggs recalls that an instrumental version of "I Walk The Line" was presently showing up at the low end of the pop charts. "I just can't remember who it was. I'm pretty sure he was a west coast musician who also did some movie soundtracks". In any case, Sam wanted to get his own version of the tune out there to help stimulate sales and radio plays because he owned the copyright to the Johnny Cash tune. The aforementioned French horn played the bass part, and a baritone sax and guitar (Suggs) play the melody line in unison. Its a long way from the version J.C., Luther and Marshall left in the can at 706 Union just three years earlier.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Brad Suggs - Guitar
Charlie Rich - Piano
Martin Willis - Alt Saxophone
R.W. Stevenson or Billy Riley - Bass
James M. Van Eaton – Drums

Gene Lowery Singers consisting of
Edwin Bruce, Sara Bruce, Nita Smith,
Lee Holt, Vocal Harmony

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Cookie & The Cupcakes >

APRIL 1959

Jerry Lee Lewis is on tour with Cookie and the Cupcakes, as a supporting act.  Cookie and the Cupcakes are an American swamp pop band from south Louisiana, best known for their 1959  hit "Mathilda". The band originally started as The Boogie Ramblers, led by Shelton Dunaway. Huey  "Cookie" Thierry (1936–1997) joined the band in 1952, and shared lead vocals and tenor sax with Dunaway.


Other original members were Sidney "Hot Rod" Reynaud (tenor sax), Marshall Laday (or LeDee) (guitar),  Ernest Jacobs (piano), Joe "Blue" Landry (bass) and Ivory Jackson (drums).[2] The band was based in Lake  Charles, Louisiana.

They started playing in 1953 as the house band at the Moulin Rouge Club in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In  1955, the Boogie Ramblers released "Cindy Lou" and "Such As Love" on Goldband Records. They became a  popular regional live act, and toured with big names like Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino. In 1956, Cookie  began being the band's front man and the name of the band was changed to "Cookie and the Boogie  Ramblers''. Soon after, the band was changed to its final name after hearing it shouted in jest from an  audience. In 1957, they recorded their signature song ''Mathilda'' for Judd Records. After initial struggles to  get the song recorded they were able to use KAOK's studio. The record rose to number 47 on the Billboard  pop chart in early 1959, and is regarded as the unofficial anthem of the swamp pop genre. They followed up  with a number of highly regarded but less commercially successful singles in the early 1960s, including  "Belinda", "Betty And Dupree", and "Got You On My Mind", the latter reached The Billboards Hot 100 in  May 1963.

In August 1965, Thierry moved to Los Angeles, leaving the Cupcakes to continue without him. Cookie was  replaced as lead singer by "Little Alfred" (or "Lil' Alfred") Babino (January 5, 1944, Lake Charles,  November 14, 2006). With Ernest Jacobs as bandleader, the group continued for several years but dispersed  in the early 1970s.

Thierry was rediscovered in the 1990s and played at occasional blues festivals, reunited with the rest of the  band, until his death in 1997. Thereafter, the band, led by Lil' Alfred, continued to perform at clubs in  Louisiana and southeast Texas. Babino died at his residence in Lake Charles, in 2006.

APRIL 1959

Bill Justis sets up Play Me Records at 2065 Union Avenue. Jack Clement starts Summer Records in Buckalew-Pierce Offices, Columbian Mutual Tower, and joins Stan Kesler as a partner at Echo Studio on Manassas Avenue. By this point, Kesler's Crystal Records has folded. 

Construction starts on a new Phillips Recording Studio at 639 Madison Avenue, Memphis.

PI 3540 ''Forty 'Leven Times'' b/w ''More Pretty Girls Than One'' by Edwin Howard issued

APRIL 1959

Songwriter/guitarist Alton Lott and Jimmy Harrell nearly were different enough, with their supercharged Everly Brothers duet style and their weighty guitar riffs and solos. By the time they appeared at Sun in mid-summer 1959 they were perhaps that little bit too late. They had to take their commendably tough style of pop-rock on to several small Mississippi labels.

APRIL 1959

NASA introduces the first group of astronauts, known as the Mercury Seven, during April of 1959. The astronauts were Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Walter Schirra, Donald Slayton, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, L. Gordon Cooper, and M. Scott Carpenter. The group consisted of military aviators, 3 from the Navy, 3 from the Air Force, and 1 from the Marine Corps. The astronauts took part in the United States’ first human space flight program, Project Mercury. Many of the men would also go on to take part in future NASA projects such as the Gemini program and the Apollo program. Some notable achievements by the Mercury Seven included Alan Shepard becoming the first American in space and John Glenn becoming the first American to orbit the Earth.

APRIL 2, 1959 THURSDAY

Dean Townson, from Pirates Of The Mississippi, is born in Battle Creek, Michigan. He plays bass on their lone hit, 1991's ''Feed Jake''.

APRIL 3, 1959 FRIDAY

''Battle Of New Orleans'' songwriter Jimmy Driftwood performs at a Folksong 1959 concert at New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall, along with Muddy waters, Memphis Slim, Mike and Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax.

APRIL 4, 1959 SATURDAY

Bill Anderson makes his Grand Ole Opry debut at Nashville's Rayman Auditorium.

The John Wayne movie ''Rio Bravo'' opens in theaters. Ricky Nelson has a part in the flick, as do Dean Matin and Walter Brennen.

APRIL 5, 1959 SUNDAY

Flatt and Scruggs recorded ''Cabin In The Hills'', and Bill Anderson recorded ''Ninety-Nine''.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR EDWIN BRUCE
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERIVE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY APRIL 1959
OR MAYBE JUNE 5, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

A lot of tape was expended on ''King Of Fools''. If the cryptic notes inside Sun tape boxes are to believed, Edwin Bruce returned for Sun for the last time in April 1959 to try ''King Of Fools'' yet again. If so, it was his swansong at Sun.

01 - "KING OF FOOLS" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Edwin Bruce
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probaby April 1958 or July 21, 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Edwin Bruce - Voacl & Guitar
Unknown Musicians

During his final year on Sun, Edwin Bruce took over Elvis Presley's original backup duo of Scotty Moore and Bill Black. ''I had a gig at the Rebel Club in Osceala, Arkansas. It was one of those places where you take someone to count the door so you get a fair shake. Play for $10 a night and all the pride you can swallow. Elvis (Tom Parker) had fired Scotty and Bill and I called Bill when I was putting together a group for the Rebel Club. Bill said, 'Who else you got'? I said, ''Johnny Cannon, who later became Ace Cannon, playing sax' and he said, 'Well, why don't you call Scotty. He needs the work''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR ALTON LOTT & JIMMY HARRELL
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERIVE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY APRIL 5, 1959
OR MAYBE JUNE 5, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS,
JACK CLEMENT AND/OF STAN KESLER

Once in a while Sun Records might take a call regarding an act from The Louisiana Hayride and it was the show's entrepreneurial Tillman Franks who put in a good word for Alton and Jimmy. The two buddies from Hillsboro, Mississippi had already seen the inside of a recording studio when they tried-out for Ace Records but their real worth came when they made it up to Memphis. A hasty audition became a fully-fledged session some two months later, from whence this fine 45 emerged.

Alton Lott and Jimmy Harrell have not received a lot of attention in the Sun reissue sweepstakes. On this basis of the single, it is not clear why.

01(1) - "NO MORE CRYING THE BLUES" - B.M.I. - 1:58
Composer: - Jimmy Harrell-Alton Lott
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Cajun Publisher
Matrix number: - U 363   - Master
Recorded: - April 5, 1959
Released: - June 1959
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm standard single SUN 323-A mono
NO MORE CRYING THE BLUES / HAVE FAITH IN MY LOVE
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803-4-13 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

If someone told you that "No More Crying The Blues" was cut bu a garage band in 1991, you might not bat an eye. In some ways, Alton and Jimmy were ahead of their time. Certainly, this is not the kind of rockabilly Sun is famous for. Yet, by 1959, this was all that was left of the vintage Sun sound. Assisted by Billy Riley (bass) and Jimmy Van Eaton, this was as close to the old days as anybody was likely to get in a changing marketplace. Truly, what we have here is a countryside vocal duet over intense guitar-driven rock and roll.

01(2) - "NO MORE CRYING THE BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:00
Composer: - Jimmy Harrell-Alton Lott
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Cajun Publisher
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - April 5, 1959
Released: - August 2000
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16405-16 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 17

01(3) - "NO MORE CRYING THE BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:00
Composer: - Jimmy Harrell-Alton Lott
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Cajun Publisher
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - April 5, 1959
Released: - May 15, 2012
First appearance: - Sun REcords Music Group (CD) 500/200rpm X5-2 mono
SUN RED HOT ROCKABILLY SUMMER


From left: Alton Lott and Jimmy Harrell, 1956. >

Mississippi-born singer Jimmy Harrell prefers the above alternate take of "No More Cryin' The Blues" to the version issued on SUN 323. Although the difference are subtle, there is an undeniably tougher edge to this track. "That's Alton playing the lead guitar" Harrell was quick to inform. 

"For years the credits has gone to Roland Janes, but its not him. Roland was on the session, but when he heard how good Alton was, he just sat back and let him take it".


The April 5, 1959 session (not June 5, as appears in most discographiest) that produced their lone Sun single was arranged by a phone call from Tillman Franks. "We thought we were going up there for an audition, but Sam was waiting for us with a recording contract and a studio full of musicians. We couldn't believe it".

Alton and Jimmy, who recorded two unissued sides for Ace Records in 1958, never saw a penny in royalties for Sun 323. Despite the lack of financial reward, Jimmy concedes that "having recorded for Sun is probably the main thing people will remember me for, no matter how much else I accomplish in my life". In truth, there were few Sun records released in 1959 that sounded this good.

02 - "HAVE FAITH IN MY LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:22
Composer: - Alton Harrell-Jimmy Lott
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated - Cajun Publisher
Matrix number: - U 362  - Master
Recorded: - April 5, 1959
Released: - June 1959
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm standard single SUN 323 mono
HAVE FAITH IN MY LOVE / NO MORE CRYING THE BLUES
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803-4-14 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

On this side, "Have Faith In My Love", is an almost uncanny cross between Mack Self's glorious "Easy To Love" and Riley's "One More Time", recorded just 24 hours earlier at 706 Union!. This hybrid is obsoletely clear during the solo guitar intro.

Alton and Jimmy were clearly among the few keepers of the flame that had burned so brightly in the mid-1950s and drawn aspiring Elvises to the label.

03 - "I JUST DON'T KNOW" - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - Jimmy Harrell-Alton Lott
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - April 5, 1959
Released: - 1988
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1036-3 mono
MORE SUNDOWN ROCKERS
Reissued: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8318-11 mono
SUN ROCK 'N' ROLL - VOLUME 2

04 - "WHAT'S THE USE" - B.M.I. - 2:01
Composer: - Jimmy Harrell-Alton Lott
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - April 5, 1959
Released: – 1999
First appearance: – Sun International (LP) 33rpm 706 2-9 mono
MEMPHIS BOP – VOLUME 2
Reissued: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8318-12 mono
SUN ROCK 'N' ROLL - VOLUME 2

05(1) - "WHY DO I LOVE YOU" - B.M.I. - 2:19
Composer: - Jimmy Harrell-Alton Lott
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - April 5, 1959
Released: - 1988
First appearance: – Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1036-2 mono
MORE SUNDOWN ROCKERS
Reissued: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8318-10 mono
SUN ROCK 'N' ROLL - VOLUME 2

05(2) - "WHY DO I LOVE YOU" - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Jimmy Harrell-Alton Lott
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - April 5, 1959
Released: - May 15, 2012
First appearance: – Sun Records Music Group (CD) 500/200rpm X5-12 mono
SUN - ROCKABILLY ARCHIVE

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jimmy Harrell - Vocal and Guitar
Alton Lott - Vocal and Guitar
Roland Janes - Guitar
Billy Riley - Bass
Probably Martin Willis - Saxophone
James M. Van Eaton – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


At the Recreation Center, Jackson, Mississippi, 1958 performance. From left Nanette Workman, Jimmy Harrell, and Alton Lott. >

UNTOLD SUN STORIES: ALTON LOTT AND JIMMY HARRELL – Quite a few Sun artists saw their  stories in print for the first time on the series of Sun Records, but despite our best efforts,  several eluded us. One such was Alton & Jimmy who made one of the best records in Sun's  300 series.  Jimmy Harrell was born some 30 miles east of Jackson, Mississippi in the small  town of Forest, on November 16, 1936.


Jimmy's cousin, Alton Lott, was also born in Forest  on June 17, 1940. ''We lived at the Harrell homeplace'', said Jimmy. ''Alton's parents moved  to New Orleans, but we still saw each other lot. His parents played in bands in Mississippi,  Alabama, and Georgia. My father, Monroe Harrell, was a fiddle player and a guitar player, and  played on radio in Forest and Jackson. Alton and I would listen to our families sing and play  country music''.

The Harrells moved to Hernando, just south of Memphis around 1947. Jimmy's father  managed a plantation there. Jimmy joined the Navy in 1954. ''I got out, and there were no  jobs'', he said. ''Then we had a family get-together in Forest, and my Aunt Peggy said I should  come to Jackson. Alton lived there then, working at the University of Mississippi Medical  Center, so we lived in the same household. Alton didn't care for singing. He just wanted to  play the guitar''. Alton was hugely influenced by Scotty Moore and Chuck Berry, and  remembers seeing Elvis, Scotty and Bill in their early days. Jimmy also remembers seeing  Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys stop for gas in Hernando. Living in the Memphis vicinity, he'd  listen to locally popular disc jockeys like Dewey Phillips, Rufus Thomas, and Eddie Bond.

''After I moved to Jackson, Alton and I would sit around and come up with song ideas'', said  Jimmy. ''Alton had a group that played locally. Right down the street there was a little  recording studio, and there was a trailer outside that said 'Andy Anderson and the Rolling  Stones'. We'd rehearse together. Andy had a recording contract, and we said that if he could  do it, we could do it. We walked into Ace Records, did an audition, and Johnny Vincent took  us to Cosimo's in New Orleans and recorded a joint session with Harry Lee'. This would have  been around 1957. Lee's single was released on Vin that year, although Alton & Jimmy's  single went unreleased.

''We'd heard of Melvin Cox, who wanted to be a manager'', remembered Jimmy. ''We went  and played for him, and he had a manager's contract ready, and signed us in the kitchen. He  knew (Slim Whitman's ex-guitarist) Curley Herndon, and Curly introduced up to Tillman  Franks, who managed the Louisiana Hayride's booking agency. We auditioned for Curley and  he told Tillman that he needed us. We went on the Hayride that night. Tillman asked us to  come back to his office, and we played him ''No More Crying The Blues'' and ''Have Faith In  My Love''. He jumped on the phone to Sam Phillips and Sam said, 'Send ém up'''.

Tillman had cut the Hayride's publishing company, Cajun Music, in for 50 percent of the  songs, and arranged a date at Sun. ''We walked in the old studio'', said Jimmy. ''Scared as  rabbits. Eyes as big as quarters. Sam was there. Jud too. Sam signed us and said, 'Let's get  ready. Let's go'. We cut it right there and then, but we came out kinda depressed. We  thought we could have done it better. We expected more attention to the music. We just did  a few takes and that was it. We went back a couple of months later and cut ''I Just Don't  Know'' and ''What's The Use''. Sam was looking for songs he could pitch to Elvis. The record  came out. Sam gave us two boxes of 50 to take away for promotion.''

''I was in the Naval Reserve at the time. I got a letter saying I was being recalled for active  duty because I hadn't been attending drills as required. I spent eight years as an enlisted  man, and 25 years more mostly with the Medical Corps. In the Washington, D.C. Area''.

Alton stayed in music as a session musician. ''It was devastating when Jimmy left'', he said. ''I  didn't play for a while there, then I started back doing sessions for Ace and then Malaco. I  worked a few shows with Jerry Lee Lewis, and played some with Murray Kellum and with  showbands around Jackson. Then, in 1965, I joined a band called Faux Pas, and stayed with  them until 1978. Played all over. The manager of Rolox Windows in Kansas City used to come  see us, and he said that if we ever wanted to settle down and get off the road, he'd give us  jobs. I went and the drummer went too. I still listen to music, though. I really like a lot of  the new stuff. Alanis Morisette, Pearl Jam, Rush. I'll go see their concerts''.

Alton and Jimmy reunited at Alton's mother's funeral, and are now keen to work together  again. Jimmy retired from the Navy in 1993 and lives in Jacksonville, Florida, while Alton remains in Grandview, Missouri.


APRIL 1959

The first week in April the the Music Operators of America (MOA) were set to convene in Chicago. Sam   Phillips didn't like to travel, didn't like the crowds, and though Sun didn't have a booth or a hospitality suite,   it fell to Barbara Barnes to go and see what she could discover about new trends in the business that might   affect Sun. The independent manufacturers sometimes sort of spied on each other at these meetings, and   everybody was ''fronting'', putting forward the best they had in product or at least talking it up. Barbara   planned to go to the meeting, too, and not hang out in the bar as Jud Phillips had done. It was also another   chance for her to talk with reporters and editors from the major trade papers. Cash Box was especially slanted   toward the jukebox segment of the industry, but Billboard and other papers were represented, too.

Since Jud Phillips and Barbara had gone together last year, she knew what to expect and had no trepidation   about jumping into the mix on the convention floor, eager to see the exhibits that other record companies,   manufacturers of jukeboxes, vendors of technical equipment, and others were showing this year. In the   evening Jack Weiner came to attend the show. He was a studio designer and sound engineer who, as a boy   whiz of twenty, had designed the famous Chess studios at 2120 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The   Chess brothers had been enjoying great success with Chuck Berry, but had also recorded many great African   American artists including Muddy Waters. Sam Phillips had once leased blues masters to them while they   were getting out of the scrap-metal business and into recording in a converted auto-parts factory.

Jack Weiner had been coming to Memphis to advise Sam Phillips about the new Sun studios. He looked even   younger than he was, but cute. He had a very direct, some would say aggressive, manner, which in Memphis   came off as a lack of manners at times. But they got along fine. Syd Nathan of King Records in Cincinnati   was there on the convention. He was one of the grandfathers of the rhythm and blues movement, a tough old   bird. He had recorded ''Sixty Minute Man'' and ''Work With Me, Annie'', two great recordings. Herman   Lubinsky of Savoy in New Jersey, like some other manufactures, had brought one of his artists to MOA, Big   Maybelle caught everyone's eye when she walked onto the floor, truly enormous, in her shimmering electric blue   dress. She was a blues shouter from Jackson, Tennessee, also the hometown of Carl Perkins.

The evening promised to be exciting, but Barbara soon became alarmed about being alone at the convention.   Sometimes with Jack Clement and at other times joining other informal groups, she had drifted from one   little cluster of people to another, hearing conversations that to her southern ears were very rude, indicating a   lack of respect for a woman's presence. She felt threatened in a way, not just shocked. Barbara didn't think   she was a prude or overly sheltered, but she was beginning to feel creeped out.

Lubinsky was the most foul-mouthed of them all. He didn't have a reputation in the business for being a   scrupulous person, so perhaps Barbara should have expected to find him repellent. But it wasn't just the   language of these record-industry men; they were just so crude that she began to wonder what they thought   of her. Maybe they'd never seen a woman in a professional role at these meetings. Surely they didn't think   she was a hooker! With Jud Phillips, everyone she met had been reasonably polite, now she came to believe   only in deference to him, not her. She remembered the rumors last year about Chicago and organized crime,   and her imagination began to kick in. She booked a flight for early the next morning and waved a relieved   goodbye to Chicago.

APRIL 6, 1959 MONDAY

Columbia released Ray Price's ''Heartaches By The Number'', and Capitol released Hank Thompson's ''Anybody's Girl''.

APRIL 7, 1959 TUESDAY

Marty Robbins recorded ''El Paso'' and ''Big Iron'' in the same recording session at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville while cutting the entire ''Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs'' album in a single day.

APRIL 8, 1959 WEDNESDAY

Ricky Nelson performs ''It's Late'' on ABC's ''The Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet''.

APRIL 9, 1959 THURSDAY

Keyboard player Dave Innis is born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. He helps form Restless Heart and is with the band through its largest commercial success, including ''I'll Still Be Loving You'' and ''When She Cries''.

APRIL 12, 1959 SUNDAY

Blues and soul singer Brook Benton performs ''It's Just A Matter Of Time'' in New York on CBS' ''The Ed Sullivan Show''. The song is destined to become a country hit twice, for Sonny James and for Randy Travis.

Columbia released Johnny Horton's ''The Battle Of New Orleans''.

APRIL 13, 1959 MONDAY

George Jones picks up his first number 1 country single in Billboard magazine as a recording artist with ''White Lightning''.

SUMMER 1959

Tracy Pendarvis, on the other hand, saw nothing that even approached a hit. His sound was a sweet   anachronism in the changing times. Coming from Florida, Pendarvis was one of the few early rock and roll   artists to call the Sunshine State his home. Pendarvis managed to make music that was both lyrical and  hardedged and he certainly made the right move in journeying to Memphis, but he was arguably two years   late.



Tracy Pendarvis >

Had the misfortune to arrive at Sun just a little too late. If he had arrived in 1956     instead of 1958 or early in 1959 then his career night have taken a different direction. As it was, he made     some of the best records to appear on the magic yellow label as the new decade approached. Certainly, he     was the only artist whose style harked back to the golden days of Sun Records. 



By this point, Tracy Pendarvis had married and had started a career as an electrician. However, he, his buddy Johnny Gibson and drummer Merrill ''Punk'' Williams decided that they should take a shot at Sun Records. They were met by fellow Floridian Ernie Barton who arranged an audition with Sam Phillips. Despite the fact that their sparse rockabilly sound had fallen from vogue, Phillips signed them on the spot.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR TRACY PENDARVIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE EARLY (SUMMER) 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - ERNIE BARTON AND STAN KESLER

In time-honoured fashion, Tracy Rexford Pendarvis homed in on the fabled Sun Record company by loading up his car in Cross City, Florida, and heading north west to Memphis. Already under his belt were two singles he'd cut for the local Scott label on the strength of winning a radio station talent contest. Sam's house producer, Ernie Barton, was sufficiently impressed and this session ethereal - sounding "rockabilly" became Tracy's debut for Sun.

01(1) - "UH HUH, OH YEAH – 1" - B.M.I. - 1:53
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1959
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1031-10 mono
COUNTRY ROCK SIDES
Reissued: - August 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16210-27 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 14

01(2) - "UH HUH, OH YEAH – 2" - B.M.I. - 1:50
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1959
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Buffalo Bop Records (LP) 33rpm BP LP 2078-B-4 mono
TRACY PENDARVIS - A THOUSAND GUITARS
Reissued - 1997  - Buffalo Bop Records (CD) 500/200rpm BP CD 55054-11 mono
TRACY PENDARVIS - A THOUSAND GUITARS

02(1) - "A THOUSAND GUITARS – 1" - B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 388  - Master
Recorded: - Early 1959
Released: - January 1960
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm standard single SUN 335-A mono
A THOUSAND GUITARS / IS IT TO LATE
Reissued: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15804-1-13 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 4

Had this record been recorded and released three or four years earlier, it might rank among Sun's best work. Certainly, it retains touches of what drives Sun Records collectors to the heights of ecstasy. To begin with, Tracy Pendarvis is a name that belongs on a Sun record. Then there's that guitar solo on "A Thousand Guitars". Yes, its true that the song is relatively romantic, even sappy, but it still has an edge. And that edge is nowhere clearer than during those brief four bar interludes when the backbeat sharpens and the guitar comes to the fore.

02(2) - "A THOUSAND GUITARS – 2'' - B.M.I. - 1:30
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1959
Released: - 1991
First appearance: - Buffalo Bop Records (LP) 33rpm BP LP 2078-A-8 mono
TRACY PENDARVIS - A THOUSAND GUITARS
Reissued: - 1997 Buffalo Bop Records (CD) 500/200rpm BD CD 55054-16 mono
TRACY PENDARVIS - A THOUSAND GUITARS

03(1) - "IS IT TO LATE" - B.M.I. - 2:08
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 389  - Master
Recorded: - Early 1959
Released: - January 1960
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm standard single SUN 335-B mono
IS IT TO LATE / A THOUSAND GUITARS
Reissued: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15804-1-14 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 4

This bluesy side also has its moments. Its hard not to get drawn into that simple device of emphasizing the title phrase with a booming 1-2-3-4- on the drums. Once again, the biggest drawback to this record went beyond anything under Pendarvis' control. Not even his sidemen or engineer could help. The overdubs at 839 Madison Avenue was simply out of control and what could have been a tight, tense and focussed record simply swam out of control in an emasculating sea of echo.

03(2) - "IT'S TOO LATE" - B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1959
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Buffalo Bop Records (LP) 33rpm BP LP 2078-14 mono
TRACY PENDARVIS - A THOUSAND GUITARS
Reissued: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8383-20 mono
RUN ROCK 'N' ROLL - VOLUME 3

Tracy is at pains to point out that of the cuts were simply demos that were played live in the studio for Phillips. On of them ''Beat It'', had a very raw and aggressive sound for the time. ''I guess I was ahead of Michael Jackson with that title, wasn't I?'', concluded Perdarvis. ''I had a few years on him with that one. My song makes about much sense as his, though. It was just stuff  nonsense''.

04 - "BEAT IT" - B.M.I. - 2:37
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1959
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS
Reissued: - 2002 Sanctuary Records (CD) 500/200rpm FBUBX002-5 mono
50 GOLDEN YEARS 1952 – 2002

Tracy Pendarvis managed to sustain no less than three 45s during his twelve months at Sun, all of which crested the realms usually associated with Carl Mann and Charlie Rich. Bearing in mind the pop climate of the time, it was understandable that he might focus on such an image, which makes the unissued "Beat It" all the more remarkable. In place of a light touch arrangement and some expected teen cliches, we get a demented piano player and a screwball lyric straight out of Deliverance: Hallelujah!

05 - ''HYPNOTISED – 2'' - B.M.I. - 1:48
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1959
Released: - 1991
First appearance: - Buffalo Bop Records (LP) 33rpm BP LP 2078-A3 mono
TRACY PENDARVIS - A THOUSAND GUITARS
Reissued: - 1998 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8317 mono
ESSENTIAL SUN ROCKABILLIES - VOLUME 5

06 - ''MY GIRL IN MY HOMETOWN'' - B.M.I. - 1:55
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1959
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8161 mono
ESSENTIAL SUN ROCKABILLIES - VOLUME 2
Reissued: 1999 Dressed To Kill (CD) 500/200rpm DTKBOX 66 mono
THE SUN GODS

07 - ''BOP-A-CHA-CHA-BABY'' - B.M.I. - 1:37
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1959
Released: - 1991
First appearance: - Buffalo Bop Records (LP) 33rpm BP LP 2078-A-5 mono
TRACY PENDARVIS - A THOUSAND GUITARS
Reissued: - 1997 Buffalo Bop Records (CD) 500/200rpm BP CD 55054 mono
TRACY PENDARVIS - A THOUSAND GUITARS

08 - ''PLEASE BE MINE (COME TO ME)'' - B.M.I. - 1:44
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1959
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1031-3 mono
COUNTRY ROCK SIDES
Reissued: - 1997 Buffalo Bop Records (CD) 500/200rpm BP CD 55054-7 mono
TRACY PENDARVIS - A THOUSAND GUITARS

09 – ''I NEED SOMEBODY'' – B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Tracy Pendarvis
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: Probably July 1960
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Buffalo Bop Records (LP) 33rpm BP LP 2078-B-3 mono
TRACY PENDARVIS - A THOUSAND GUITARS       

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Tracy Pendarvis - Vocal and Guitar
Johnny Gibson - Guitar
Sid Manker - Guitar or Bass
Merrill "Punk" Williams - Drums
Jimmy Wilson - Piano

For all the disappointment, Pendarvis respected Phillips' studio method. ''It was just off the cuff - a lot of it. We were just having fun and you could tell. Hard times and a lot of fun. I had a kinda screwy voice but Sam pulled the best out of me. He said, 'Tracy, sing! Cry when you sing'! Sam was really the greatest man I've ever confronted in terms of bringing out my talent. He could look at you and burn your brains out. He had that quality''

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR BRAD SUGGS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY APRIL 13, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS 
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT

01 - ''SAM'S TUNE''
Composer: - Brad Suggs
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - April 13, 1959

02 - ''GAME OF LOVE''
Composer: - Brad Suggs
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - April 13, 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Brad Suggs - Guitar
Unknown Musicians

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


APRIL 14, 1959 TUESDAY

''The George Burns Show'' comes to a conclusion on CBS-TV following a six-month prime-time run. Twenty years later, Burns nets a country hit the nostalgic ''I Wish I Was Eighteen Again''.

APRIL 15, 1959 WEDNESDAY

Ricky Nelson performs two songs on ABC's ''The Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet'', ''You Tear Me Up'' and ''I Can't Help It''.

APRIL 17, 1959 FRIDAY

Jerry Lee Lewis' Australian tour with Sammy Davis Jr. is cancelled.

APRIL 20, 1959 MONDAY

Louisiana-based Goldband Records released the first single by 13-year-old Dolly Parton, ''Puppy Love''.

Columbia released Lefty Frizzell's ''The Long Black Veil''.

APRIL 21, 1959 TUESDAY

Johnny Mathis recorded ''Misty'', destined to receive a country treatment when remade by Ray Stevens.

David Frizzell holds his first recording session for Columbia Records.

APRIL 23, 1959 THURSDAY

Record producer Michael Clute is born in Devils lake, North Dakota. He oversees a string of hits for BlackHawk and Diamond Rio.

APRIL 26, 1959 SUNDAY

''The Dinah Shore Chevy Show'' features an all-country lineup on NBC, with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Minnie pearl, Ernest Tubb and The Everly Brothers.

APRIL 27, 1959 MONDAY

Eddy Arnold recorded ''Tennessee Stud'' at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee.

Sheena Easton is born in Glasgow, Scotland. Known for such pop hits as ''Modern Girl'', ''Stru'' and ''For Your Eyes Only'', she earns a number 1 country single when she teams with Kenny Rogers in 1983 on ''We've Got Tonight''.

Columbia released Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs ''Cabin In The Hill''.

Decca released The Wilburn Brothers' ''Somebody's Back In Town''.

Gebe Vincent's girlfriend, Darlene Hicks, delivers their daughter, Melody Jean, in Anchorage, Alaska.

"Don't Ever Leave Me" b/w ''Miracle Of You'' (Sun 320) by Ernie Chaffin is released.

APRIL 28, 1959 TUESDAY

MEMPHIS INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN AS RECORDING CENTER
by Edwin Howard, Memphis Press- Scimitar Amusement Editor, April 28, 1959.

On Jack Paar's Tonight show on TV last week, Broadway producer Leonard Stillman talked about the new   edition of his periodic New faces revues coming up next fall.

''I'm going to audition in Memphis next week'', he told Paar. ''There's a lot of talent there''. The statement   probably surprised no one in the vast television audience except Memphians. For, altho most Memphians are   now aware that Elvis Presley is a person of some importance in the entertainment world, few realize that the   city itself has, during the past five years, become one of the capitals of that world.

Cotton, hardwood flooring, plywood, mules, chemicals – these are the products traditionally mentioned in   connection with Memphis. Not even the Chamber of Commerce seems to realize yet that recording and   record manufacturing have given Memphis a major new industry with a total annual gross business of close  to $10 million.

Since it is a popular art as well as an industry, it also brings Memphis priceless international publicity. It   makes people such as producer Sillman talk about Memphis on network television. It has so influenced   musical styles the world over that in Europe and Japan, record labels – as on the German version of ''Raunchy'' by Heinz Lips and the Seven Robins – often carry a line which says, ''As recorded in Memphis by
Sun''.

SUN THE FIRST - Sun Records, established six years ago by Sam C. Phillips, was Memphis' first record   label. Today there are 14 active labels, and the business is growing so fast there may be more tomorrow. (As   a matter of fact, one was added today, Elston Leanard read yesterday's story and called to say he and Hillburn   ''Pappy'' Graves are going to start releasing records next week on the Fonofox, TV and commercial film   producing firm at 1447 Union Avenue). To the size and importance of the recording business in Memphis is   not generally realized, most Memphians do know that recording is done in Memphis. Very few know,   however, that Memphis has the largest independent record manufacturing plant in the country.

Plastic Products Co., 1746 Chelsea, was established by Robert E. ''Buster'' Williams in 1949 in one Quonset   hut at a cost of about $40,000. In 1959, Plastic Products it is bulging at the seams of four connected   Quonsets, and Williams is building a branch plant in Coldwater, Mississippi, which will be twice the size of   the present one. That last year, despite the recession, the company produced 15 million records for some 30   different companies, with a retail value of more than $20 million. Buster Williams, who lives with his family   at 203 Lombardy, expects to press 25 million disks of all types - singles, LPs, EPs, and stereo. The growth of   the recording business in Memphis has, of course, stimulated the growth of Plastic Products, but the   Memphis labels account for only 10% of the company's volume.

Among the independent Eastern and Chicago the Memphis firm presses for are ABC Paramount, Cadence,   Carleton, Chess, Checker, Argo, and Atlantic. Besides pressing for practically all the Memphis firms, it also   produces records for labels in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Mobile, Shreveport, Jackson, Mississippi (home   of Ace Records, which has had a couple of recent hits), Houston, Dallas, and Nashville.

130,000 CAPACITY - In 1959, the capacity of the Memphis plant is 80,000 records daily, and the Coldwater   plant, altho unfinished, can already turn out an additional 50,000 a day. The Memphis plant employs about   100 persons. Plastic Products' records are distributed everywhere this side of the rocky Mountains and   sometimes west of them, too. About 60% of its volume leaves the Memphis trade area.

Buster Williams, who started salting and selling peanuts at the age of 12 in his home town of Enterprise,   Mississippi, and was the nation largest jukebox operator (18,000 machines) before going into record   manufacture and distribution, also owns Music Sales in Memphis. It is the oldest independent record   distributing firm in the country. Prior to that, the record business was dominated by the four ''major'' - RCA,   Columbia, Decca and Capitol, which had their own distributors. There are a few other so called ''majors'' in   1959, but most of the companies established sine then are called independents. Williams, of course, is a champion of the independent recording companies. It was they, he points out, who   developed vinyl as a disk material. ''And don't let anybody tell you RCA found Elvis'', he says with a note of   hometown pride. ''Elvis wasn't lost. Sam Phillips had already made him a big star when they bought him''.

LOTS OF COMPETITION – Altho the Sun and Phillips International labels have produced the longest string   of hits of any Memphis company, several of the newer companies are coming up fest. Pepper Records, which   also records under Diane and Tom-Tom labels, is expecting big things for two disks released, ''Little Ole Man   In The Well'' b/w ''Ooh Yeah, Baby'' by deep voiced Wayne Hefner on Tom-Tom, and ''Eight Wonder Of The   World'' b/w Mary Me'' by Gerald Nelson on Diane. ''Build A Mountain'' by the Keynotes on Pepper has gotten good play and the girls' quartet is booked for an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show this Sunday.   John Pepper, head of this company, is one of Memphis' best-known businessmen, and Floyd Huddleston,   artist and repertoire director is composer of such hits as ''Island Queen''.

Fernwood ''Tragedy'' by Thomas Wayne is Memphis most recent million-seller, and the company has a new   one out by Wayne titled ''Eternally'' which is off to a fast start. The Hi label is making an impressive showing   with disks by three local lads – Kimball Coburn, Tommy Tucker and Joe Fuller.

One of the newest Memphis labels, Summer, has a promising disk going in ''Motorcycle Michael'' by the   Achers. Lee, Cover, Albe, Meteor, and Stomper Time might score any time, and Bill Justis, who produced   many of Sun and Phillips International's best sellers besides those he made with his own band, is almost   certain to click with the something on his new Play Me label.

There have been a number of other Memphis labels which for one reason or another are no longer active. OJ   Records had a national hit in \\White Silver Sands'', which sent Dave Gardner soaring to fame. A local   wrangle over authorship of the song has tied up profits from it, however, and suspended OJ activities. OJ   also launched former Memphis disc jockey Wink Martindale as a recording artist. His first record was   featured in a movie and Dot records later bought his contract. King, Kay and Crystal are other Memphis   labels no longer Spinning.

4 RECORDING STUDIOS – Altho there are 14 active labels, there are only 4 recording studios in Memphis.   Still, this is a high ration when you consider such top eastern independents as ABC-Paramount and Mercury   do not own studios but rent space in other companies. The Memphis studios are Pepper at 62 Diane Street;   Sun Records at 706 Union Avenue; Royal Recording Studio (the Hi label) at 1320 South Lauderdale Street;   and American Studio (the Albe label) on Second Street at Beale. The other Memphis companies use these facilities for their recording session on a rental basis. The newest Memphis studio is Pepper's last-word   $50,000 facility. It is equipment to record -three-channel tape masters and with in a month will be cutting   acetate masters on a German-made Nueman lathe, the best there is. Memphis companies now sent their tape   masters to Chicago to have the acetate master cut. With this equipment, Pepper engineer Welton Jetton will   be able take the three-channel tape masters and balance and mix them into one monaural master or into two   masters for stereophonic reproduction.

SUN IS BUILDING – Work is nearing completion on new studios for Sun and Phillips International which   will even larger than Pepper's and will also include multi-channel tape equipment and Neuman acetate   cutting facilities. The recording business has, of course, been a boom to the Memphis Federation of   Musicians. Up to now, more guitar players have been employed than anything else, but piano players,   drummers and bass players have benefitted, too. And Bill Justis' band has become nationally known thru its   recordings. Future Memphis recording promises to utilize even more and a greater variety of musicians.   Jamison Brant's arrangements for Jack Hales' band, which provides most of the background for the Pepper,   Diane and Tom-Tom labels, liberally utilize Nick Vergos' oboe and Jim Terry's flute. And that's a long way from Elvis!


APRIL 29, 1959 WEDNESDAY

HE'S MADE $2 MILLION ON DISKS - WITHOUT A DESK
Story of Sam Phillips, Memphis Recording Pioneer
 by Edwin Howard Memphis Press-Scimitar Amusement Editor, April 29, 1959

Behind the dusty, bent Venetian blinds in a three desk office at 706 Union stands the man who in six years   had brought a brand-new industry to Memphis, and helped make Memphis a leader in that industry. The man   is Sam C. Phillips. The office is identified only by a small neon sign in the window which says Memphis   Recording Service. The man stands because, altho he has made roughly $2 million for himself in those six   years, he has no desk at which to sit down. Even without a desk, Phillips somehow manages to run 11  corporations from the building at 706 Union, which consists of a tiny reception room (two desks), a studio   which doubles as a mailing room, a control room with attached half-bath, a promotion office (one desk), and   a storage room. Keystone of the vest-pocket empire is Sun Record Company, which started Elvis Presley,   Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny cash on their way to fame and fortune, and made Memphis the   rock and roll capital of the world. The same little studio is the home of Phillips International Records, which  introduced Bill Justis and a million' selling record called ''Raunchy'' to the world.

SWANKY NEW OFFICES – One day within the next two months, however, Sun and Phillips International   and related firms will be moving to swanky new studios nearby. ''Because we ran out of corners for   corporations'', Phillips has luxurious new offices and the last word in recording facilities under construction   at 639 Madison Avenue. The new studios, which will be available for use by other companies as well as used   for Sun and Phillips International releases, should be ready by summer, Phillips said. He is personally  supervising the construction and the installation of electronic equipment, while at the same time tending to   his oil interest in Illinois, his zinc and lead mines in Arkansas, and his other financial interests, including the   Holiday Inns stock, the Memphis all-girl radio station, WHER, and the new all-girl station, WLIZ, which he   is opening in Lake Worth, Florida, adjoining Palm Beach and West Palm Beach.

The Phillipses live at 79 South Mendenhall, Sam, his wife Becky, and their two sons, Knox and Jerry, for   whom two of his music publishing companies are named. (There are five publishing companies in all, the   others being Hi-Lo Music, Jack Clement Music, and Justis Music. Jack Clement and Bill Justis are partners   in the last two). Some have wondered why Phillips never dressed up the studio at 706 Union or hung out a   sign identifying it as the Sun Record Company. After all, it has been five years since Sun began its swift rise   in the record firmament, and three years since it reached its apex. Sam Phillips has several reasons.

OUT OF PROPORTION - ''I don't know. I just felt like if I put up a bug sign on this little building, or tried to   fancy it up, it would look all out of proportion. There's something about that little Memphis Recording   Service sign that just goes with it. As for a desk for myself, well, I'm not the kind that runs things by hangin'   on a desk, so I didn't figure I needed one. Anyhow, I've got four girls and a man at three desks we do have   that know how to handle all the desk work''. Sally Wilbourn, Barbara Barnes, Regina Reese, Marion Keisker,   and Sales Manager Cecil Scaife. Everyone around here has a smattering of knowledge of the whole business.   And I've got no secrets. Plenty of times, I've talked thousands of dollars worth of business with 10 or 12   people squeezed into the same room doing different things. Allegiances and enthusiasm are what gives us our   efficiency. And our informality is what gives us hit records. Out artists get the feeling we're just goofin'   around as I tell 'em, there's no sence being nervous, because there's nobody else here that can do any better''.   Sam himself makes no bones about being a country boy. He was born on a farm near Florence, Alabama. In   the evenings on the farm and later in town with an old negro who worked for the family, Uncle Silas, would   pull Sam into his knee and sing to him.

UNCLE SILAS' SONGS – Little Sam's favorite song, both rhythmical and funny, was about a trip to Africa   where ''they got battercake trees, and right next to them sausage trees. We gonna pick us some of those fluffy   battercakes an' some of those juicy sausages an' go down to Molasses River an' have ourselves a time''.  ''Uncle Silas lived with us from the time I was 12 till I was 17'', Sam recalls, ''and practically raised me. He'd   tell me those fantastic stories and sing me those funny songs, and man it just fascinated me''!

Sam never outgrew his fascination with the rhythms and nonsense of the negro, altho other musical styles   crowded it out for a while. At 17, he went to work for a Muscle Shoals radio station as engineer-announcer,   then moved to WLAC in Nashville, where he learned to appreciate the so-called hillbilly form of folk music.   In 1945, he moved to Memphis and an engineering job with WREC. ''I used to handle those Peabody band   feeds (to the CBS network) and man, did I get tired of listening to the same old arrangements over and over''.   In order to hear and share with others, some of the different kinds of music he liked. Sam persuaded the   station management to let him have his own record program on Saturday afternoon – the Saturday Afternoon   Tea Dance show which Fred Cook has continued. Sam not only played music, he talked about it avidly and articulately and developed a large, faithful following.

STARTING RECORDING – At the end of 1949, while still working for WREC, Sam started putting some of   his strong musical tastes into practice. In his spare time, he cut so-called rhythm and blues records in   Memphis, leasing the master tapes to some of the independent record companies which were springing up in
other cities, such as Chess, RPM and Modern, among the Memphis negro artists he helped start on their way   were B.B. King, Rosco Gordon, Little Junior Parker, Jackie Brenston, and many more. ''It got so you could   sell a half-million copies of rhythm and blues records'', Sam said. ''These records appealed to white   youngsters just as ''Uncle Silas'' songs and stories appeal to me. To city-born white children who had never   had an Uncle Silas, it was something new, and it became their nonsense – like faily tales. But there was   something in many of these youngsters that resisted buying this kind of music, the southern ones, especially,   felt a resistance that even they probably didn't quite understand they liked the music, but they weren't sure   whether they ought to like it or not. So I got to thinking how many records you could sell if you could find   white performers who could play and sing in this same exciting, alive way'' As the whole world knows, he   found him.

THEN CAME ELVIS – In 1952 and later re-started in January of 1953, his own Sun Record company,   giving Memphis the first of its presents 14 record labels, a few months later, a young truck driver came in to   use the Memphis Recording Service facilities to make a record for his own. He sounded so distinctive that Sam wrote down his name and address and kept an ear out for material for him to record for Sun. Early in the   summer of 1954, Elvis Presley – and Sun Records – were on their way with a disc called ''That's All Right''   b/w ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''.

Elvis was first classified as a hillbilly – or country music, as the phrase had become – artist. He guessed on   the Louisiana Hayride and Grand Ole Opry shows. But he was not the conventional country-type singer.   Marion Keisker, who constituted Phillips' office staff ten, called him ''a hillbilly cat''. What his style really   stemmed sung to negro and rhythm tunes. One reason Memphis became the capital of this music, which   came to be called rock and roll, was that Nashville, already a recording center, snubbed it. ''They not only   snubbed it'', declares Phillips. ''They fought it. With the Grand Ole Opry there, they were committed to   country music. They didn't think rock and roll would last, and they did all they could to kill it. Finally, of   course, they realized they couldn't lick it, so the joined it. The old established Grand Ole Opry stars got so   they couldn't draw the crowds anymore unless they had rock and roll artists with them. Eventually, the   Opry's two top executives resigned and went into the rock and roll publishing business. But in the meantime,   Memphis had become the rock and roll recording capital of the world. Even tho Nashville has come around,   We're still neck and neck with them as the country's fourth or fifth biggest recording center in actual number   of session held''.

WHY HE SOLD ELVIS – The question most often asked Phillips is, doesn't he regret selling Elvis Presley's   contract. ''Never'', he says firmly. ''Selling that contract gave us the capital we desperately needed at the time   for expansion. The record business isn't like any other branch in show business. You can borrow money to   produce a movie or a play, but not a record. The record business is so precarious, you can't get financial   backing until you don't need it. I had gotten a lot of offers for Elvis' contract, but I had turned them all down   till I learned RCA was interested. I asked them just twice what I thought they'd pay – about $40,000 – for the   contract and all the masters. To understand why I have never regretted the decision, you have to remember something. At that time, most of the experts thought Elvis was a flash-in-the-pan. Even RCA wasn't sure they   had made a good deal. We had Carl Perkins ''Blue Suede Shoes'' just out then, and RCA wondered for several   months if they had bought the wrong contract. Of course, the sale turned out to be tremendous for RCA, and   it gave us what we needed then – proof that we weren't one shot flukes, financing for expansion, and good   credit. A total pressing bill of $150,000 at our three pressing plants (in Memphis, Los Angeles and   Philadelphia) isn't unusual, so you've got to have good credit.

ROCK AND ROLL NOT DEAD – ''No'', says Phillips. ''The kids got tired of some of the ''typical'' rock and   roll, but I think they've shown they don;t want any big change. We're keeping the flavor and modifying the   best and the lyrics a little. Yet you still have one of those wild ''Stagger Lee'' type of things every now and  then. No, rock and roll isn't dead. We'll feel its influence for a long time to come''.

IS SUN COMMITTED TO THIS KIND OF MUSIC? - ''Not exclusively, no. The reason we're building the   new studio is to make more EPs (Extended Play) and LPs (Long Play), a better grade of pop, and to get into   stereo, which is just getting started good. We'll continue rock and roll, but we're broadening our scope. We   have to consider the fact that 60 percent of the record business is now on EPs and LPs. To get into this end of   the business, out outlay will be more and our return slower, but at the same time we'll be stabilizing our   product. I believe the record business is still in its embryonic stage. It will continue to grow and develop, and   with our new studios we expect to grow and develop along with it''.

''A lot of people thought we were thru after Elvis. We came up with Carl Perkins. They thought we were   finished when we had some bad luck and began to fade. We came up with Jerry Lee Lewis. Then Bill Justis.   And altho Johnny cash is no longer with us, we're still bringing out new singles by him and we have two LP   albums and three EPs that are consistent top sellers. If people don't realize it by now, let me say it one more   time. We're in this business to stay''.

This article appeared in the April 29, 1959 edition of the Memphis Press-Scimitar for posterity.


Becky and Sam Phillips at WLIZ Radio, Lake Worth, Florida, April 1959 >

WLIZ Radio,  was a religious all-girls station licensed to Lake Worth, Florida from 1975 until the mid 1980s. The station first went on the air in 1959 and was owned by record producer Sam Phillips. Sam named WLIZ for Elizabeth Taylor because "she was the hottest female going in 1959''. The station was run entirely by women, both onthe-air and management positions, something Phillips had tried previously at WHER in Memphis.


The allgirl WLIZ played show tunes, ballads and light jazz but no rock and roll, odd given the fact that its owner played such a huge part in rock history.  By 1988 the station had changed its calls to WLVS. Currently 1380 AM is a Regional Mexican station "Radio Fiesta" WWRF. 

Sam Phillips made the fourteen-hour drive a number of times over the next few months, taking the family on vacation to Dayton Beach in April (he loved the sun and sand, observed his son Jerry, eleven at the time, but he thought beaches make people lazy, but whether he was in Florida or Memphis, he was never far removed from the challenge of putting the new station on the air. The whole family drove the two hundred miles from Dayton Beach to Lake worth to see the new studio, and Sam stayed on there after the family went home. Dottie Abbott, Sam's first hire at WHER and still program director, was screening job applicants while helping to establish the same format in Florida that had proved so successful in Memphis, The call letters for the new station were WLIZ, in tribute, Sam said, to film star Elizabeth Taylor, a glamorous symbol of female success, and the station's slogan when it went on the air at the end of May was ''You'll love LOZ, LIZ loves you''.

''It's an axiom in radio, based on painful experience, that lady announcers don't have what it takes'', was the lead for Billboard's June 1 story on WLIZ debut. ''Last week, a certain rule-buster.. Sam Phillips by the name, opened a new station in Lake Worth, Florida... He made the move with serene confidence because three years ago in his home town of Memphis, Phillips opened a 1,000-watter, named it WHER, staffed it entirely with 'femsees', and sent quivers thru the town that have still not let up''. Billboard puzzled over this, but, really, there was no mystery about it. For Sam, diversification alone offered any hope of success in the music business as it was currently constituted. The way Sam saw it, much of the point of the ''payola'' hearings that were still going on in Washington was to put the little man out of business, with one easy way being to charge collusion on the part of any independent record manufactured who had the temerity to acquire his own radio stations and then left himself open to the accusation of ''self-dealing'' by playing music in which he had a financial interest. 

But, as Sam had pointed out in his voluntary testimony to Congress the previous April, while nearly all of the songs in Sam's publishing catalogues were registered with BMI, not only had his radio station played none of his own songs but nearly 8- percent of the songs that it played were registered with ASCAP.

In addition, he offered a ringing defense of capitalism and creative diversity (''I am sure that this Committee is aware of the fact that 'creative talent's not limited to a group or class, but rather to the genius of the individual'', which had been greatly encouraged by BMI's ''broad ad divergent mode of operation'') while stressing the punitive nature of forcing the independent entrepreneur to divest himself of assets that the big corporations could retain. ''I respectfully submit'', he concluded, ''that the passage of this proposed legislation would... be an unnecessary and discriminatory barrier to the freedom of individuals, such as myself, to engage in lawful competitive enterprise'', and he was clearly determined to hold on to that same freedom now.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Early in March 1959 producer and instrumentalist, Bill Justis, departed from Sun for pastures new. He returned briefly just a few weeks later to fulfill his contractual obligations and recorded one final single, the reverb-laden ''Flea Circus''. His reticence to control budgeting costs had been at the heart of the problem and with eight players present, this session was no exception. Some token respite was gained from the track being recorded at one of Memphis' cut-price jingle studios.

STUDIO SESSION FOR BILL JUSTIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1959

 PROBABLY PEPPER-TANNER STUDIO
2076 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY THURSDAY APRIL 30, 1959
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER -  JACK CLEMENT

This is the final session under Bill Justis' name. By the time it appeared in July 1959, Bill Justis had left Sun to pursue an independent music career.

01 - "CLOUD NINE" - B.M.I. - 2:06
Composer: - Charlie Rich
Publisher: - Justis Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 354  - Master
Recorded: - Probably April 30, 1959
Released: - July 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3544-A mono
CLOUD NINE / FLEA CIRCUS
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-1-11 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

"Cloud Nine" might have been subtitled "Billy Vaughn meets Charlie Rich". Its really a beautiful tune featuring Rich's soaring piano and Justis altoish harmonies. An interesting solo piano version of this tune by composer Rich is worth comparing to the arrangement issued under Justis' name. The spirit of pianist Eddie Heywood ("Canadian Sunset") looms large over the session, although Rich's chord changes during the release are both original and truly heavenly.

02 - "FLEA CIRCUS" - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Steve Cropper-Bill Justis
Publisher: - Justis Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - P 353  - Master
Recorded: - Probably April 30, 1959
Released: - July 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3544-B mono
FLEA CIRCUS / CLOUD NINE
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806-1-12 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6

''Flea Circus" must have been a lot of fun to record. The spirit is quite contagious. The first three verses repeat the simple riff, adding one note to the harmony each time. Its only with Justis' sax solo and the truly awful guitar break (whether by Roland Janes or Sid Manker) that things start to unravel. The hand clapping percussive verse at the end almost redeems the side.

03 - "COUNTRY ROCK" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Bill Justis
Publisher