© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Since blues tunes were important to Elvis Presley, he searched for an obscure blues song, settling on a tune by a Georgia bluesman, Kokomo Arnold. After launching his music career in the South, Arnold had moved to Chicago and made his living bootlegging whiskey. Music was a sideline for him, but Arnold was a still a historically significant bluesman who influenced many performers.

Sam Phillips liked the idea of using "Milkcow Blues Boogie" because he believed that a rhythm and blues or blues tune couplet with a country ballad was still the best way to advance Elvis Presley's career. The recording session was an excellent one. Elvis Presley started slowly, then announced, "Hold it, fellas let's get real real gone".

According to Sam Phillips, ''It's called ''Milk Cow Blues'' there was no boogie on it. I took the liberty of taking the old country song and called it ''Milkcow Blues Boogie''. It was a play, kinda like ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''. Who would take an old broken down hillbilly song called ''Milk Cow Blues'', and attempt to foisted it upon the public? We did. You have to get people's attention in different ways. I didn't listen to the market to see, you could get confused like that, if you were trying to do something other than being a copyist''.

And about the slow and fast arrangement he said, ''Well, that was my suggestion, and I was always very hesitant to put words on the front end, because of jukeboxes. At that time they didn't like the spoken words, Elvis he loved Bill Kenny of the Ink Spots so much, and Bill's narrations, that Elvis really instinctively was pretty damned good at it''.

He then completed an extraordinarily vigorous version of the song. After listening to the cut, however, Sam Phillips had some reservations about "Milkcow Blues Boogie". He believed that Elvis' version lacked the ingredient necessary to become either a country or pop hit. Sam Phillips suggested they try another tune.

A payment slip of November 15 seems to indicate a session date, but it may be a falsification; December 8 has also been mentioned as a possible date for this session. Its more than likely that other songs were tried out on the session, although apparently no other tapes survive. RCA never received master tapes our outtakes from this session from Sun; their masters were dubbed from a SUN 78rpm.

STUDIO SESSION FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1954

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION 6: MONDAY DECEMBER 20, 1954
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

"MILKCOW BLUES BOOGIE" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:38
Composer: - James "Kokomo" Arnold
Publisher: - Leeds Music Incorporated Limited - MCA Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U-140 - Unknown Take
Recorded: - December 20, 1954 - Sales 20,600 copy's
Going on forty-five years later, and it still works - that corny false start, Elvis Presley mewling like okey country bluesman (see, he could have gone to Havard), then breaking off command, "Holt it fellas!", "That's don't move me", "let's get real... real gone, for a change". "Wellllllll", before crashing into a jumped up, hiccuping version of the same tune. Had Sam Phillips subtitled it "HISTORY LESSON NUMBER ONE", the point couldn't have been clearer. Or more irrefutable.
Released: - December 28, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 215-A mono
MILKCOW BLUES BOOGIE / YOU'RE A HEARTBREAKER
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-3-23 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

A theater manager from Covington, Tennessee, was the first to come to Sam Phillips' rescue: Jack Sallee ran the Ruffin Theatre, which hosted a hillbilly jamboree on Friday nights. He went to the Memphis Recording Service to record a few promo shots for the show, and listened while Sam Phillips related his dilemma for original material. A few days later, while eating breakfast, Sallee came up with the idea for "You're A Heartbreaker". He made a rough demo for Sam Phillips who liked it. The song was Sallee's first and last published composition. It was an undistinguished piece of material (one of the few Presley songs that almost no one has attempted to cover or revive), but Phillips owned the rights to it and Elvis Presley duly recorded it.

On "You're A Heartbreaker", drummer Jimmie Lott was brought in to augment Elvis Presley's sound. Lott was a well-known local drummer, but the use of a drummer was a major change for Elvis' music. No record was kept of which cuts Lott played on, but he probably also appeared on an alternate cut of "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone".

"YOU'RE A HEARTBREAKER" - B.M.I. - 2:12
Composer: - Charles "Jack" Alvin Sallee
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U-414 SUN - BOX 9
Recorded: - December 20, 1954 - Sales 20,600 copy's
Released: - December 28, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 215-B mono
YOU'RE A HEARTBREAKER / MILKCOW BLUES BOOGIE
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-3-24 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

"YOU'RE A HEARTBREAKER" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Charles ''Jack'' Alvin Sallee
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - BOX 9
Recorded: - December 20, 1954 - Tape Lost
Released: - Unissued

Unlike most artists who recorded for Sun, Elvis Presley did not turn up on the doorstep of 706 Union with a guitar case full of original songs. Presley was more likely to have heard a tune on the radio or jukebox, become obsessed with it, and to have worked up a novel arrangement with Scotty Moore and Bill Black. Although this gave music journalists something to write about, it was a costly procedure for Sam Phillips. Every Presley record pressed on Sun provided income for a music publisher. That income came out of Phillips' pocket.

By the third record Presley recorded for Sun, Phillips was determined to get at least one of his copyrights on the disc. This resulted in "You're A Heartbreaker", one of the weakest, least reissued tunes in the Presley/Sun archives.

When Elvis Presley left the session, he was still very happy with "Milkcow Blues Boogie". Keeping with his timetested procedures, Sam Phillips allowed that it was best to test the new tune before a live audience. Actually, all the ingredients for a mainstream rock and roll hit had coalesced during the recording of "You're A Heartbreaker". The echo used in the song, for example, contributed an early, almost mystical quality to it, and the instrumental background was raw and energetic.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Scotty Moore - Electric Lead Guitar (Gibson ES 295)
Bill Black - Acoustic Upright Bass (Kay Maestro M-1)
Jimmie ''James'' Lott - Drums (Gretsch Round Badge Kit)
Doug Poindexter - Acoustic Rhythm Guitar

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

JAMES "KOKOMO" ARNOLD - Also known as "Gitfiddle Jim", born in Lovejoy, Clayton County, just South of Atlanta, Georgia, on February 15, 1901, Arnold was influenced by John Wigges, and was an unlikely musical influence upon Elvis Presley.

He interested in music early and learned some guitar from his influenced cousin John Wigges at the age of 10, he later raised and worked on the farm through his teens. His nickname "Kokomo" is from title of his 1934 song "Old Original Kokomo Blues". (Kokomo is a coffee brand).

Arnold moved in 1919 from Georgia to Buffalo, to work outside music, occasionally worked on small clubs in Buffalo area from 1924. He also worked with Willie Morris in the local clubs of Glen Allen , Mississippi in late 1920s.

He also moved to New York, where he learned his music in the streets. In 1929 Arnold moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he made and sold bootleg whiskey much of his life. Arnold worked mostly from 1929 to 1930s outside the music with occasional gigs in the local clubs and juke joints in the area.

In 1930, he recorded for the Victor label in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1934 to 1935 for the Decca label in Chicago, and recorded in 1936 for the Decca label in New York City and Chicago. He was also a musician who had a race hit in 1934, "Old Original Kokomo Blues". The flip side to this record was "Milk Cow Blues", which Elvis Presley recorded as "Milkcow Blues Boogie". Believed he recorded and accompaniment with Oscar's Chicago Swingers for the Decca label in Chicago, Illinois, and worked on 33rd Street Club in Chicago in 1937, recorded for the Decca label in Chicago in 1937 and in New York City in 1938.

Kokomo Arnold worked also in the Club Claremont in Chicago in 1939, in Ruby's in Chicago in 1940, and worked mostly outside the music in Chicago in the area from 1940. By 1941 Arnold had given up music and returned to work in local steel mills.

Kokomo influenced artists as Elmore James, Robert Johnson, Fred McMullen, Sam Montgomery, Curley Weaver and Elvis Presley. Kokomo Arnold was one of the great post- Depression bluesmen, and was one of the greatest blues singers ever recorded. Worked in 1962 for the gate Of Horn in Chicago, he later suffered a heart attack at home, he moved to and died on November 8, 1968 in the DOA at Provident Hospital in Chicago. Kokomo Arnold is buried at the Burr Oak Cemetery in Worth, Illinois.