November 1987 Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-5A/B mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS - ROCKIN' WITH MY BABY
This album gathers together some of the lesser known artists who recorded for Sun during 1955-1957. Jimmy Williams only saw one release on Sun but he recorded quite prolifically starting
in 1956. He returned in January, May and June 1957 and eventually saw a Sun release later that year. Williams has enjoyed dual careers in both music and aviation. At the time of his Sun recordings he was living in Little Rock, Arkansas but was last heard of
in St. Louis, Missouri.
Rosco Gordon's affiliation with Sam Phillips predates Sun Records. Before the birth of Sun, Phillips had recorded Rosco for RPM, Chess and Duke.
Throughout the rock years, Rosco remained a sweet holdover from the earlier era, peddling his loping, good timing music. ''The Chicken'' was a big seller for Flip-Sun but not even a classic slice of black rockabilly, ''Sally Jo'', could sustain the momentum.
It would take a move to Vee-Jay to get Rosco's career back on track.
The Miller Sisters enjoyed a long career with Sun stretching from 1954 until 1957. The two girls
(who were really sisters-in-law because Elsie Jo married Millie's brother, Roy) journeyed to Memphis from Tupelo on countless occasions and saw three singles released to scant acclaim. Despite the fact that singing sister acts were in vogue and despite the
high quality of the material and the performances the Millers simply seemed unable to realise their potential.
Rudi Richardson recorded one session for Sun (or one session
that was leased to Sun) in late 1956 or early 1957. ''Fools' Hall Of Fame'' was obviously seen as a song to watch because Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash also recorded it. Richardson, whose recording career dated back into the 1940s, turns in a beautifully swinging
performance that was delightfully at variance with the pattern of Sun releases at that time.
There was also a delightfully understated swing to the work of Malcolm Yelvington.
However, the inspiration came from a different source: western swing. Yelvington was really caught out of time and switched to rockabilly because he had an astute grasp of what was selling. He managed to come up with a wonderful combination of styles that
was quite uniquely his own.
Most of the Sun recordings of Gene Simmons with be found on Side 13 of this box. The songs included here date either from Simmons first audition
in 1955 or even perhaps from a home-made tape in the case of ''Shake Rattle And Roll''.
Recommended further listening:
The complete Sun recordings of the Miller Sisters and Malcolm Yelvington can be found on the ''Sun Country Box'' (Bear
Family BFX 15211). A cross-section of Rosco Gordon's recording for Sam Phillips can be found on the ''Sun Blues Box'' (Charly Sunbox 105). There is a more detailed look at his Sun career on ''The Legendary Sun Performers'' (Charly CR 30133) and his Vee-Jay
career on ''No More Doggin''' (Charly CRB 1044). Many of his early recordings for Sam Phillips are on two volumes of Modern/RPM cuts (Ace CH 26 and 51).
Jimmy Williams, ''Like Elvis, I came out of a government housing project in Memphis. After a while, seeing the way Elvis was received (girls by the thousands) and the way I was received (tomatoes and coke bottles) I decided to pursue a career in flying instead
of music. I always try to live up to a coinage from a number of my friends. That Jim Williams is still the biggest unknown in the music business''.
(Millie) ''When I
was a kid we listed to Hank Williams We used to listen to the radio at night. On weekends we listened to the Opry. If the battery went dead on the radio, God forbid, it was a catastrophe! We got started singing on the front porch, singing here and there. We
got a few engagements after we got a little better and a little older. Roy (Jo's husband) had a lot of ambition for us. He pushed us a lot. Roy always managed us but at that point, Col. Tom Parker saw us perform and came over afterwards. He wanted to manage
us and take over out careers. Roy turned him down because he thought he could do a better job of it himself''
''We did three sessions for Sun, in addition to the backup
work we did on other peoples' sesessions. The arrangements for us to record at Sun were made by Roy. He, Millie and I had a daily radio program over WTUP in Tupelo. So the disc jockey gave him Sam Phillips' telephone number. He called to get an audition. Actually,
the audition turned out to be our first session''.
''On the drives up to Sun we'd take Roy's old Buick. Roy would have his acoustic guitar and the three of us would make
the drive. We'd sing, all the way up. Not just what we were going to record, but anything. Out of the blue, whatever came to us''.
''I remember Johnny Bernero. I had
a crush on him at the time. He played locally with Gene Steele. Gene was known as the Singing Salesman. He was very popular in Memphis, had a show on WMC. We toured around Memphis with Gene and Johnny Bernero. He was a very good drummer. I think he played
on ''Ten Cats Down''. It was a fun song. Either Bill or Quinton wrote it. We were living in Memphis when they wrote it. We got together and decided to do it. We auditioned it for Sam and he decided to try it, then to put it out''
''Sam didn't produce in a modern sence. I recall him mostly being in the background listening. I don't recall him advising or telling us what to do, although I guess he was in charge. Just being there, you knew
it. If he ever said 'Try this' or 'do it this way' it was very subtle. Roy did most of the arrangements for the songs he wrote''.
''After we began recording for Sun we
sang on the Louisiana Hayride once and that was a thrill. I had laryngitis so bad that night I knew I wasn't going to be able to do it. I got up on stage and it suddenly disappeared. That was a nice experience. Lots of famous people were there, George Jones,
Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton had a radio show and he interviewed us''.
Excerpts from 1985/1986 interviews with Millie and Jo Miller by Hank Davis
Record 5 Side 1 ''Rockin' With My Baby''
9.1 - Good Lookin' Woman (Jimmy Williams)
9.2 - Rock-A-Bye-Baby (Jimmy Williams) (Previously Unissued)
9.3 - Sweet Rocking Mama (Jimmy Williams) (Previously Unissued)
9.4 - Sonny Boy (Jimmy Williams) (Not Originally Issued)
9.5 - Fire Engine Red (Jimmy Williams) (Not Originally Issued)
9.6 - Tomorrow (Jimmy Williams) (Previously Unissued)
9.7 - Please Don't Cry Over Me (Jimmy Williams) (Originally Sun 270)
- That Depends On You (Jimmy Williams) (Originally Sun 270)
9.9 - All I Want Is You (Jimmy Williams) (Not Originally Issued)
9.10 - My One
Desire (Jimmy Williams) (Not Originally Issued)
Original Sun Recordings
Record 5 Side 2 ''Rockin' With My Baby''
10.1 - Down On The Border (Gene Simmons) (Previously Unissued)
10.2 - Don't Let Me Down (The
Miller Sisters) (Previously Unissued)
10.3 - Shake Rattle And Roll (Gene Simmons) (Previously Unissued)
10.4 - It's Me Baby (Malcolm Yelvington)
(Originally Syn 246)
10.5 - Rocking With My Baby (Malcolm Yelvington) (Originally Sun 246)
10.6 - It's My Trumpet (Malcolm Yelvington) (Not
10.7 - Ten Cats Down (The Miller Sisters) (Originally Sun 255)
10.8 - The Fools Hall Of Fame (Rudy Richardson) (Originally
10.9 - Cheese And Crackers (Rosco Gordon) (Originally Sun 257)
10.10 - Sally Jo (Rosco Gordon) (Originally Sun 305)
Original Sun Recordings
Name (Or. No. of Instruments)
9.1 to 9.5 (June
Jimmy Williams – Vocal
Unknown – Sax, Guitars, Bass, Drums
9.6 to 9.10 (Various dates 1957)
Jimmy Williams – Vocal
Jerry Smith – Piano
Jimmy Wilson – Piano
Roland Janes – Guitar
Billy Riley – Guitar
Marvin Pepper – Bass
Stan Kesler – Bass
Jimmy M. Van Eaton – Drums
10.1 (1955 or 1956)
Gene Simmons – Vocal
Carl Simmons – Mandolin and Vocal
John Green – Fiddle
Talmadge Hesler – Guitar
Jesse Carter – Bass
Elsie Jo Miller, Mildred Wages, Ray Miller, Gene Simmons – Vocals
Simmons, Gene Simmons, and Roy Miller – Guitars
Jesse Carter – Bass
Gene Simmons – Vocal and Guitar
Carl Simmons – Guitar
Jesse Carter – Bass
10.4 and 10.5 (February 1956)
Malcolm Yelvington – Vocal and Guitar
Tolley – Piano
Gordon Mashburn – Guitar
Jake Ryles – Bass
Weir – Drums
Malcolm Yelvington – Piano
Janes – Guitar
Sid Manker – Bass
Otis Jett or Jimmy M. Van Eaton – Drums
Elsie Jo Miller and Mildred Wages – Vocals
Johnny Cannon – Saxophone
Buddy Holobaugh – Guitar
Jan Ledbetter – Bass
Johnny Bernero – Drums
10.8 (1956 or 1957)
Rudi Richardson - Vocal and Guitar
Vocal Chorus - Jimmy Hart, Steve Spear, Mike
James Tarbutton, David Beaver
10.9 (October 1956)
Rosco Gordon – Vocal and Piano
James Jones – Saxophone
Lionel Prevest – Saxophone
Phillip Walker – Guitar
L.W. Canty – Bass
Joe Payne – Drums
10.10 (July 1957)
Rosco Gordon – Vocal
Freddie Tavares – Guitar
Titles exept 10.8 recorded at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee.
10.8 Location uncertain.
listed do not all play on every song.
Cover Photo: Jimmy Williams
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UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©