CONTAINS 1956 SUN SESSIONS 2

Studio Session for Slim Rhodes, August 14, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Dean Beard, August 26, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Warren Smith, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Warren Smith, August 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Hayden Thompson, August/September 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for The Marigolds (Prisonaires), September 1956 / Excello Records
Studio Session for Luke McDaniel, September 4, 5, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Kenneth Parchman, September 9-10, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Hayden Thompson, October 1, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Carl Perkins, Probably Mid-1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Johnny Cash, October 1, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Onie Wheeler, October 9, 1956 / Columbia Records
Studio Session for Rosco Gordon, October 25, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Johnny Bernero, November 4, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Jerry Lee Lewis, November 14, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Harold Jenkins (Conway Twitty), November 16, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Rufus Thomas, 1956 / Meteor Records
Studio Session for Ramsey Kearney, December 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Carl Perkins, December 4, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Carl Perkins, 1956/1957 / Sun Records
Jam Session for The Million Dollar Quartet, December 4, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Billy Riley, December 11, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Billy Riley, December 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Ray Scott, Late 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Ernie Chaffin, December 10, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Unknown Artist, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Johnny Cash, December 13, 1956 / Sun Records
TV Show Recordings for Roy Orbison, Fall 1956 / KOSA TV
Studio Session for Roy Orbison, Possible Late 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Roy Orbison, December 14, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for The College Kids, December 14, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Hayden Thompson, December 11, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Hayden Thompson, December 20, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Jerry Lee Lewis, November/December 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Glenn Honeycutt, December 28, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Unknown Trio, Late 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Unknown Singer, Late 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Harold Jenkins (Conway Twitty), December 31, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for J.R. & J.W. Brown, Late 1956/Early 1957 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Unknown Artist (Probably Chuck Stacy) 1956/1957 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Jerry Arnold, 1956/1957 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Rudy Grayzell, Fall 1956 (1) / Starday Records
Studio Session for Rudy Grayzell, Probably 1957 (2) / Starday Records
Studio Session for Milton Mitt Addington, Unknown Date (1) / Sun Records
Studio Session for Mitt Addington, Unknown Date 1956 (2) / Sun Records
Studio Session for Mitt Addington, Unknown Dates 1956/1957 (3) / Sun Records

Biography of Artists (See: The Sun Biographies)
 

 
JULY 1956
 

Johnny Cash and his wife Vivian Loberto with two of their four daughters >

JULY 1956

Johnny Cash signs with the WSM Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. He then embarks on a tour of  Florida with Jim Reeves and Hawkshaw Hawkins, followed by a package tour with Roy  Orbison and Johnny Horton in both Texas and Canada.

"Boppin' The Blues" appears as number one on several local charts, including Memphis and  St. Louis, but figures poorly on the national country chart, reaching number 9 at best.

Hardrock Gunter and Sonny Durham from WWVA, Wheeling have been getting local reaction  to their recording of "Jukebox Help Me Find My Baby" on the Cross Country label. Sam  Phillips leases the record and issues it with 20 seconds edited from the original tape. The  Cross Country label had been established in January 1956 in Garfield, New Jersey by James  Frishione, Jack Peters, and Eddie McMullen.

JULY 1956
 
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal during July of 1956. The move to nationalize the canal was made after the United States and United Kingdom decided not to help finance the construction of the Aswan Dam due to concerns over Egypt’s blossoming relationship with the Soviet Union. Nasser thought that by nationalizing the canal he would be able to collect tolls to help fund the Aswan Dam project. He also thought he could reduce British and French influence in the country as the Suez Canal had been operated by the Suez Canal Company (a French and British joint venture). Later in the year a group of Israeli forces, backed by France and Britain, made their way toward the canal leading to a standoff and conflict known as the “Suez Crisis.” The conflict ended in 1957 but the Suez Canal remained a flash point for future conflicts in the region.

JULY 1, 1956 SUNDAY

Elvis appears on the second airing of NBC-TVs "The Steve Allen Show". Aware of the Berle controversy Elvis is  dressed in a tuxedo and sings ''Hound Dog'' to a Basset hound.

The Osborne Brother and Red Allen recorded ''Ruby, Are You Mad?''. at the RCA Studio in Nashville, Tennessee.

JULY 2, 1956 MONDAY

Elvis Presley recorded ''Don't Be Cruel'' and ''Hound Dog'' at the RCA Studios in New York. The latter song requires 31 takes.

Marty Stuart drummer Gregg Stocki is born. He backs a multitude of musicians on the Grammy-winning ''Same Old Train''.

Johnny Burnette and The Rock And Roll Trio recorded ''The Train Kept A-Rollin'''at the Bradley Recording Studio in Nashville. The rockabilly effort will be named among country's 500 greatest singles in the 2003 Country Music Foundation book ''Heartaches By The Number''.

JULY 3, 1956 TUESDAY

While catching a train home to Memphis, Elvis Presley meets ''Be-Bop-A-Lula'' artist Gene Vincent for the first time at New York's Penn Station.

JULY 4, 1956 WEDNESDAY

The city of Memphis declares Elvis Presley Day when the singer performs at the Memphis Chicks' ballpark.

Jimmy Stoneman of The Stoneman Family, marries Peggy Brain.

JULY 6, 1956 FRIDAY

Guitarist John Jorgenson is born in Madison, Wisconsin. He joins The Desert Rose Band, which fashions a string of 1980s hits, and plays on records by Pam Tillis, Rick Trevino and Mary Chapin Carpenter, among others.
 

JULY 7, 1956 SATURDAY

Johnny Cash performed at the Grand Ole Opry at the City Auditorium in Nashville, other acts  on the bill was Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Riley, Glen Douglas and Onie Wheeler. It  was barely one year since his first record had been released, and a shade over two years  since he had been discharged from the Air Force. It had taken other major country artists  years of playing low-life beer halls, county fairs, and five-hundred-watt radio stations to  achieve half as much.

On this date, Roy Orbison's single ''Ooby Dooby'' peaks at number 59 on the Billboard Charts

After Carl Smith's introduction, Johnny Cash makes his Grand Ole Opry debut at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, performing ''I Walk The Line'', ''Get Rhythm'' and ''So Doggone Lonesome''. Backstage, Cash also meets his future wife, June Carter, for the first time.

''The Patti Page Show'' closes out a four-week summer stint on NBC-TV.
 
American Bandstand debuted on October 7, 1952, live from WFIL Studios at 4548 Market Street, Philadelphia, hosted by Bob Horn >

JULY 7, 1956 SATURDAY

On July 7, 1956, a young radio disc jockey named Dick Clark made his first  appearance hosting an afternoon TV show called Bandstand. Broadcast from Philadelphia, the show had  originally begun in 1952. Bandstand played the new rock and roll music and featured kids from local high  schools dancing to the music.

When it first began, the dancing was almost accidental, but local TV viewers  called in saying they liked watching ''those young people dancing''. As the show's new host, Clark made the  most of that novelty, and took Bandstand to the national level.

The son of a radio-station owner in Utica,  New York, Dick Clark had been a radio disc jockey as a student at Syracuse University. By 1951, when he  landed a job at ABC's WFIL station...
 
 
...in Philadelphia, he worked in radio, regarded as too youthful looking to  be a credible TV newscaster. Clark’s big break came when the station decided to replace former Bandstand  host Bob Horn. A youngish-looking 26 when he took over, Clark quickly made the show his own. He  featured musical guests lip-synching their songs and used his teenage audience to ''rate'' new records. Local  audiences loved the show.

Bandstand, out of Philadelphia, soon became the highest rated local daytime TV show in the nation. That got  the attention of network executives in New York. By August 1957, now called American Bandstand, ABC  began broadcasting the show nationwide at 3 p.m. for an hour-and-a-half. Within six months of going  national, American Bandstand was picked up by 101 stations. Twenty million viewers were now tuning in,  half of whom were adult. The show was also receiving 20,000 to 45,000 fan letters a week. Teenagers came  to Philadelphia from wide and far for a chance to dance on the show. Bandstand also became known as a  place where new talent could be seen; a place where aspiring artists could get their start. On the November  22, 1957 show, for example, two young singers using the name ''Tom & Jerry'' appeared. The duo would later  become known as Simon & Garfunkel. New dances were often introduced on the show. It was on Bandstand  that Chubby Checker brought ''the Twist'' to the nation in the summer of 1960. Bandstand's ''regular'' dance  couples approached daytime soap-opera fame, and in the 1950s and 1960s they were written about regularly  in teen magazines, as was Clark and the show. It didn’t hurt, of course, that Bandstand's WFIL-TV station  was owned by the Walter Annenberg empire, which also included, among other media outlets, TV Guide and  Seventeen magazine for girls. Seventeen had a regular column on Bandstand, “written” by one of the show’s  regulars. And TV Guide put Clark’s telegenic face on its cover several times during the 1950s.

American Bandstand also played another critical role - especially for mainstream culture and the music  business. It helped make America more receptive to rock and roll, a music genre not then accepted as it is  today. ''From the time it hit the national airwaves in 1957'', observes rock historian Hank Bordowitz,  ''Bandstand changed the perception and dissemination of popular music''. The show helped make rock and  roll more acceptable to many adults by bringing the music and the dancing kids into their homes every  afternoon, with Clark providing the responsible, clean-cut adult supervision. Clark’s income was soon  approaching $500,000 a year.

American Bandstand also helped to open the doors to a new kind of music business. And along the way, Dick  Clark became a wealthy man, buying into music publishing companies, record labels, and promoting ''Philly  sound'' recording artists on those labels - stars such as Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, and Fabian. Clark also  became involved in managing the artists, formed a radio offshoot, and conducted live productions. He also  made personal appearances as a disc jockey hosting live dance events called ''sock hops'' - as many as 14 a  week. And he also packaged concert tours, taking the music on the road. He soon had a nice little musical  empire in the making. ''We built a horizontal and vertical music situation'', explained Clark of his various  businesses''.... We published the songs domestically and abroad, managed the acts, pressed the records,  distributed the records, promoted the records...''.

In 1960, however, the ''payola'' scandal broke, a controversy involving prominent radio disc jockeys then  implicated in playing records for payment to make them popular. Clark was investigated by Congress during  the scandal, along with other prominent disc jockeys like Alan Freed. But Clark, in his appearance before a  Congressional committee, was cool and thorough in his testimony, and denied taking ''payola''. He emerged  from the hearings without lasting harm. However, it was later revealed that Clark had been ''given'' royalty  rights to more than 140 songs. ABC did require him to divest his outside ventures, more than 30 by one  count, including a number of record labels. Still, Clark and American Bandstand held their popularity.

American Bandstand was broadcast every weekday through the summer of 1963. But in the fall of that year,  it became a once-a-week show run on Saturday afternoons. By February 1964, American Bandstand moved  to Los Angeles, in part to facilitate Clark's expansion into other TV ventures and film production. It was also  easier in Los Angeles to tap into the recording industry. By 1965, Dick Clark, then 35, was making about $1  million a year. Musically, the sound on Bandstand changed with the times, featuring the California surf  sound in the 1960s, and a decade later, the 1970s disco beat. Through it all, dating from the 1950s when  Clark took over, Bandstand was one of the few places on television where ethnically-mixed programming  could be seen.

In fact, Clark later claimed that he had integrated the show in the 1950s - a claim disputed by some. Clark  did feature black recording artists as guests on the show in its early years. When American Bandstand first  went national with ABC in August 1957, Lee Andrews and the Hearts appeared among the first guests  performing their song, ''Long Lonely Nights''. In that year as well, other black artists also appeared, including  Jackie Wilson, Johnny Mathis, Chuck Berry, Mickey & Sylvia, and others. Integration of the studio audience,  however, appears to have been slow and controlled according to research by John Jackson in his 1997 book,  American Bandstand, and also Matthew F. Delmont in his 2012 book, The Nicest Kids in Town. However,  there are also reports that when Clark took black and white artists on the road to perform concerts in his  ''Caravan of Stars'' shows of the 1960s - sometimes in towns where segregation was still practiced - he  insisted on equal treatment of his performers at those venue otherwise threatening to pull his show.

In the 1970s, with the rise of disco, Bandstand began to become something of an artifact rather than a trendsetter,  although still netting its share of popular guests. By the mid-1980s, with the rise of MTV and other  music video channels, American Bandstand’s format became dated. In September 1987 Bandstand moved to  syndication, and in April 1989 it ran briefly on cable's USA Network with a new host and Clark as executive  producer. The show ended for good on October 7, 1989. Yet over its three decades, American Bandstand  played a key role in the music business. Not only did it become the place where major record labels sought to  showcase their songs and artists, it also generated millions in record sales each year, plus millions in  advertising revenue for ABC. As for recording artists - with the notable exceptions of Elvis Presley, the  Beatles, and the Rolling Stones - most of the major rock and roll acts from the 1950s through mid-1980s  appeared on the show.

Sonny and Cher made their first TV appearance on American Bandstand, June 12, 1965. The Jackson 5 made  their TV debut on the show February 21, 1970, as did Aerosmith in December 1973. In January, 1980, Prince  made his TV debut on Bandstand. Among others appearing during the show's 33-year run were: Buddy  Holly, Chuck Berry, James Brown, the Beach Boys, the Doors, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson & the  Miracles, the Temptations, the Carpenters, Van Morrison, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Neil Diamond, Ike &  Tina Turner, Pink Floyd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, George Michael, Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi, Gloria  Estefan, Michael Jackson, and last but not least, Madonna, who appeared January 14, 1984 singing the tune  ''Holiday''. But even after the show’s on-air demise, American Bandstand did not die. In early 1996, MTV's  sister network, VH-1 began broadcasting old Bandstand episodes, mostly from the 1975-1985 period. Within  three months, these reruns - called the Best of American Bandstand, with taped introductions by Dick Clark  himself - became one of VH1’s top-rated programs.

In addition to American Bandstand, Clark amassed a portfolio of other TV and movie productions, among  them, numerous TV specials and awards shows. In the late 1960s he did various television series, talent  shows, and also hosted TV game shows, culminating in the late 1970s with The $25,000 Pyramid. In the  1980s and 1990s, his Dick Clark Productions, Inc. turned out more than a dozen made-for-television movies,  at least 60 TV specials, several Hollywood films, and radio shows. By 1986, Clark had made the Forbes 400  list of the wealthiest Americans. In recent years he continued his TV productions, landing a prime time TV  series, American Dreams. That show was set in 1950s-1960s Philadelphia and used American Bandstand  footage in its storyline. It ran for three seasons on NBC during 2002-2005. Clark also parlayed the American  Bandstand name into other businesses, using it as a brand and capitalizing on its nostalgia cache. He opened  a chain of music-themed restaurants using the name Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Grill. Several of these  have opened at airports - Indianapolis, Indiana; Newark, New Jersey; Phoenix, Arizona; and Salt Lake City,  Utah. Two others are located in Overland Park, Kansas and Cranbury, New Jersey.

In June 2006, Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater - which uses some now-senior performers from the  1960s era in its acts - was opened in Branson, Missouri. An American Bandstand Grill opened there as well.  In 2007, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Music Complex, with restaurant, opened in Pigeon Forge,  Tennessee.

Throughout his career, Clark kept one foot in the world of radio, and would later focus some of his business  interests there, also using it as a platform for rock and roll nostalgia. In 1981, he created The Dick Clark  National Music Survey for the Mutual Broadcasting System, which counted down the Top 30 contemporary  hits of the week.

Beginning in 1982, Clark also hosted a weekly weekend radio program distributed by his own syndicator,  United Stations Radio Networks. That program focused on oldies, called Dick Clark’s Rock, Roll, and  Remember - also the name of a 1976 autobiographical book he wrote with another author. This radio  program would also sell recordings of its shows, some of which involved Clark interviews with, and/or  features on, current and former music stars. By 1986, he left Mutual Broadcasting to host another show,  Countdown America. In the 1990s, Clark hosted U.S. Music Survey, which he continued hosting up until  2004, when he suffered a stroke. Although he recovered partially from his stroke, his public appearances  since that time have been limited.

In June 2007, Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins professional football team and Six Flags  amusement parks, and also a partner with Tom Cruise in a film venture, announced the purchase of Dick  Clark Productions for $175 million. In the deal, Snyder became the owner of American Bandstand's entire  library of televised dance shows stretching over 30-plus years. In addition, Snyder is also acquiring other  Dick Clark assets, including the New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast from Times Square, the Golden Globe  Awards show, the American Music Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and the Family  Television Awards. The Dick Clark properties also include the Bloopers television shows and Fox’s popular  reality TV show, So You Think You Can Dance. Snyder, who will take over as chairman of Dick Clark  Productions, said in a press release, ''This was a rare opportunity to acquire a powerhouse portfolio and grow  it in new directions''. It was not entirely clear at the time of the deal's announcement, exactly what Snyder  would do with the American Bandstand material, other than mention of possibly using it visually on  television screens throughout Six Flags amusement parks while patrons were standing on line.

Today, the legacy of American Bandstand is alive and well, and can be found in various venues, including  the internet, YouTube, and various fan web sites. There are also a number of books on Dick Clark and the  show, including Clark’s 1976 autobiography written with Richard Robinson, and a 1997 volume authored by  John A. Jackson entitled, American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Empire. (See also: 1957 Sun Sessions 2 / August 5, 1957).
JULY 9, 1956 MONDAY

Capitol released Wanda Jackson's ''I Gotta Know''.

JULY 11, 1956 WEDNESDAY

Johnny Cash at this point was selling so many records that artists and repertoire man Steve Sholes from RCA, riding high now on Elvis' unprecedented popularity, even tried to buy his contract. The negotiations never really went anywhere (''Johnny could be bought'', Sam Phillips wrote back to Sholes somewhat disingenuously, ''but he'll come high. Of course any deal would be subject to Johnny's consent''), but not long afterward Sam told John he wanted to talk to him, as he had once talked to Elvis, about the perils of success.

JULY 12, 1956 THURSDAY

Singer/songwriter Julie Miller is born in Dallas, Texas. She becomes a duet partner of husband Buddy Miller, working to critical acclaim in the alternative country-movement, and playing on cuts by Emmylou Harris.

RCA released Elvis Presley's double-sided hit, ''Don't Be Cruel'' and ''Hound Dog'' (RCA Victor 47-6604).

The ABC series ''Polka Time'' debuts, featuring Stan Wolowic's Polka Chips. The band is a hybrid version of The Prairie Ramblers and still includes banjo player Chick Hurt and bass player Jack Taylor, both of whom backed Patsy Montana on ''I Wanna Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart''.

JULY 14, 1956 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley earns a number 1 country single in Billboard magazine with ''I Want You, I Need You, I Love You''.

Sony James performs on ABC-TV's ''Ozark Jubilee''.

JULY 16, 1956 MONDAY

Columbia released Bobby Lord's ''Without Your Love''.

JULY 17, 1956 TUESDAY

The cruise ship Andrea Doria sets sail from Genoa, Italy, for New York. Among the passengers is songwriter Mike Stoller, a co-author of Elvis Presley's current pop and country hit ''Hound Dog''.

JULY 18, 1956 WEDNESDAY

Jim Reeves recorded the original version of ''Am I Losing You'' and ''According To My Heart'' during an evening session at RCA's McGavock Street studios in Nashville. Reeves re-cuts ''Am I Losing You'' in 1960, gaining a hit with it a second time.

JULY 20, 1956 FRIDAY

Patsy Cline writes tiredly to fan club president Treva Miller: ''I'm working six days a week and I've been going to Dr. He says I'm not getting enough rest and he's going to put me in bed about three days a week or the hospital if I don't slow down''.

JULY 21, 1956 SATURDAY

Skeeter Davis marries Kenny Depew.

JULY 22, 1956 SUNDAY

The Ames Brothers appear on CBS-TV's ''The Ed Sullivan Show'' singing ''It Only Hurts For A Little While'' from New York. In 1978, the song will become a country hit for Margo Smith.

JULY 25, 1956 WEDNESDAY

The S.S. Andrea Doria collides with the Swedish-American ship the Stockholm in fog off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Songwriter Mike Stoller, a co-writer of Elvis Presley's current ''Hound Dog'', survives the collision along with his wife, Meryl.

JULY 26, 1956 THURSDAY

Record producer Scott Hendricks is born in Clinton, Oklahoma. An executive with Capitol, Virgin and Warner Bross., he produces Brooks and Dunn, Blake Shelton, Restless Heart, Tracy Adkins and Alan Jackson, among others.

In a 373-9 vote, the House of Representatives cites eight entertainers figures, including Pete Seeger, with contempt for alleged communist involvement. A year later, Seeger's ''Kisses Sweeter Than Wine'' becomes a country hit for Jimmie Rodgers.

''Hound Dog'' songwriter Mike Stoller and his wife Meryl are safely off the S.S. Andrea Doria as it sinks into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. The vacationing Stoller will also write ''Stand By Me'' and ''Jailhouse Rock''.

JULY 27, 1956 FRIDAY

Buddy Holly recorded ''That'll Be The Day'' for Decca Records in Nashville. That version is not released, as producer Owen Bradley calls it ''the worst song I've ever heard''.

Guitarist Duncan Cameron is born in Utica, New York. Following a tour of duty with The Amazing Rhythm Aces, he joins Sawyer Brown in 19991, contributing to ''Thank God For You'', ''Treat Her Right'' and ''The Boys And Me''.

JULY 28, 1956 SATURDAY

Gene Vincent guests on NBC's ''The Perry Como Show''.

Three weeks after his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, Johnny cash returns to Nashville's Ryman Auditorium for his first performance as a member.

Ray Price spends the first of 11 weeks at number 1 in Billboard magazine with ''Crazy Arms''.
 
 
Roy Hall >
 

JULY 28, 1956 SATURDAY

Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps make their national television debut singing "Be-Bop-A-Lula"  on the "Perry Como Show" on NBC-TV.

JULY 29, 1956 SUNDAY

Singer Patti Scialfa is born in Deal, New Jersey. In 1991, she marries Bruce Springsteen, the writer of Mel McDaniel's country hit ''Stand On It''.

JULY 30, 1956 MONDAY

Brenda Lee has her first recording session, remaking the Hank Williams classic, ''Jambalaya (On The Bayou)'' at the Bradleys Recording Studio in Nashville. 

 
Jesco White is born in Bandytown, West Virginia. Known as ''the dancing outlaw'', he gets name-checked in the 2005 Big and Rich hit ''Comin' To Your City''.

JULY 31, 1956 TUESDAY

Elvis Presley receives a speeding ticket in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Brenda Lee recorded ''I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus'' at the Bradley Recording Studio in Nashville. The song will be used more than 40 years later on the soundtrack to ''The Santa Claus 2''.

 
SUMMER 1956

In the summer of 1956, Pee Wee Maddux had taken future Sun artist Ernie Chaffin into his  own small studio in Long Beach, just outside of Gulfport and recorded several acoustic guitar  demos including "Lonesome For My Baby". The tape was sent to Sun in August 1956, where it  made its way to producer Jack Clement, sufficiently impressing him to get Chaffin and  company their all-important first session.
 
 
Plans were set in motion and when Ernie Chaffin,  along with steel player Ernie Harvey and bassist Leo Ladner, arrived in December 1956 in  Memphis to record, the magic began almost immediately.

Between 1954 and 1956 Roy Hall appeared on a major radio and TV show from Missouri. ''I was on the Ozark Jubilee show with Red Foley. I played accordion as well as piano; used the accordion on some of that sacred stuff he used to sing''. ''Peace In The Valley'' and such''. In 1956, while Roy was still running his night club, he took on the job of road manager and bandleader for one of the stars of country music, Webb Pierce. He had known Pierce on and off for a couple of years, saying, ''I met Webb Pierce for the first time in Detroit. I had a little band up there, playing in a club, and Pierce came through town. He had just recorded a big song, an old country Cajun song called, ''Wondering''. We got on well and we continued to get together when O moved back to Nashville. And he needed someone to travel with him and run a band, so I went to work with him for quite a while there in the 1950s. I spent two years on the road as a staff pianist and roadman''.

During the mid-1950s, Roy Hall toured with Webb Pierce and backed up many of the greats of country music, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Marty Robbins, and Patsy Cline included. It seems that Hall gave this up as a reguler job around 1958, but he continued to play shows with Pierce and others for many years into the 1960s. The connection extended beyond records and live shows, too. Hall appeared in the western movie, ''Buffalo Gun'', alongside Webb Pierce, Carl Smith and Marty Robbins, and as late as 1966 in ''Music City USA'' with a similar cast of country music stars.
 

 
AUGUST 1956
 

AUGUST 1956

At this time Sonny Burgess and the Pacers were managed by Gerald Grojean, the assistant   manager of a local radio station, KNBY. On one of their early trips to Memphis, the Pacers   went to see Bob Neal, who held the promise of broader horizons and promised to get them   on tour with Elvis Presley. "We come back home", remembered Sonny Burgess, "and about a   year later we hadn't heard nothing so we went back and saw him again. He said that Gerry  Grojean had got on the phone crying, saying 'You can't take them away from me'.
 
Newspaper advertisement, Sunday July 15, 1956 >

Bob said he didn't need all that crap and told Gerry he could keep us". Grojean, who knew little more   about the business than the Pacers themselves had no idea how to expose the group outside   Newport during a critical stage in their career.

Bob Neal took over the Pacers' bookings. Now outsted from Presley's camp, Neal placed the   Pacers on his treks through the hinterlands, usually in support of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison.
 
Burgess and Orbison's amp on the road; it was one of the few built by Ray Butts in  Cairo, Illinois with a tape loop giving built-in slapback. Scotty Moore had bought one of the  first (and paid $500 for it); Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins went to get one each, paying $600  apiece. "It was the best-sounding amp I ever heard", assert Sonny. "I've used digital equipment that can't get anything close to that sound".

The Pacers developed a frantic stage act, forming a pyramid on top of the bass player and   jumping into the audience. "We were young, crazy and wild. Hot and cold running women",   recalled Jack Nance. "I remember one time we drunk more than we should have and woke   up in our car in a field. A tractor had plowed all around us and the farmer charged us $10.00   to pull us out. Sonny never drank as much but he was a good athlete - an exceptional  baseball player - so there was a lot of energy there that he used onstage".

AUGUST 1956

One of Warren Smith's tasks on the early Stars Inc. tours was to lead Roy Orbison, who was almost sightless without his glasses, to the microphone much as Blind Lemon Jefferson had been led on stage. In addition to the Stars Inc. tours, Smith also played a monthly spot on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas and made regular guest appearances on the Louisiana Hayride. He and his band were often working seven days a week with matinee and evening shows on weekends. ''Every now and again, Warren would slip in a Ray Price number, recalled Jimmie Lott, ''but he thought that rock and roll was where the money was. He wanted to make a name for himself. But when Warren sang a Ray Price song, Ray could have learned from him. He made my spine tingle when he got into that style''.

AUGUST 1956

The Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention, where each party nominated their respective candidates, were held during August of 1956. The Republicans chose incumbent President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Vice President Richard M. Nixon to run in the upcoming 1956 Presidential election. The Democrats chose the former governor of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson, for President and Estes Kefauver, a U.S. Senator from Tennessee, for Vice President. The Republican National Convention was held in San Francisco, California, while the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago, Illinois. Eisenhower would be re-elected in November.

AUGUST 3, 1956 FRIDAY

The singles, Sun 246 ''Rockin' With My Baby'' b/w ''It's Me Baby'' by Malcolm Yelvington;  Sun 248 ''Jukebox   Help Me Find My Baby" b/w ''Fiddle Bop'' by the Rhythm Rockers;  Sun 249, Carl Perkins ''I'm Sorry, I'm Not Sorry'' b/w ''Dixie Fried'' and Sun 255   "Ten Cats Down" b/w ''Finder Keepers'' by the Miller Sisters;  Sun 247, Sonny Burgess ''Red Headed Woman'' b/w ''We Wanna Boogie''   all issued. When Sonny Burgess single came out, Billboard deemed it a ''jumping, pounding boogie... shouted and orked with plenty of spirit that should get plenty of Southern action, rhythm and blues-wise'', and while it never charted, Sonny was soon out on the road with an all-star Stars Inc. package. There his true genius manifested itself, as he and his band the Pacers perfected an act that, as Sam Phillips suggested, reflected the very essence of rock and roll.

 
Ray Price recorded the Don Gibson-penned ''Wasted Words'' in a midnight session at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

AUGUST 4, 1956 SATURDAY

Jimmy C. Newman joins the Grand Ole Opry,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee,  the same night that George Jones debuts on the show.

AUGUST 6, 1956 MONDAY

Columbia released Marty Robbins' ''Singing The Blues'' and its Top 10 B-side ''I Can't Quit (I've Gone Too Far)''.
 
 
Production begins on "Rock, Rock, Rock" a rock and roll movie starring Alan Freed, Bill Haley   and   His Comets. Also appearing are Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Chuck Berry, the   Flamingos and LaVern Baker.

AUGUST 7, 1956 TUESDAY

''The Gene Autry Show'' makes its final prime-time appearance on CBS-TV, with ''Back In The Saddle Again'' serving as the theme song.

AUGUST 8, 1956 WEDNESDAY

As he turns 30, Webb Pierce agrees to return to the Grand Ole Opry, which he left the previous year.

Faron and Hilda Young close on a house at 4001 Brush Hill Road in Nashville.

AUGUST 10, 1956 FRIDAY

After seeing his matinee show in Jacksonville, Florida, judge Marion Gooding tells Elvis Presley if he repeats the afternoon's moves in his two evening performances, he'll be arrested for indecency. Presley does both shows wiggling only his pinky.

AUGUST 11, 1956 SATURDAY

Painter Jackson Pollock dies in an alcohol-related accident in Springs, New York. Noted for his abstract work, he's recognized nearly 60 years later in the Erik Church country hit ''Mr. Misunderstood''.

AUGUST 12, 1956 SUNDAY

The Platters guest on "The Ed Sullivan Show"

Pee Wee Maddux mailed Jack Clement, producer at Sun Records, a demo tape of Ernie   Chaffin's work including "No Fool Like An Old Fool" and "My Heart Tells Me".

Webb Pierce recorded ''Teenage Boogie'' at the Bradley Recording Studio in Nashville. He also makes his first pass at ''Cryin' Over You'', though he discards it in favor of a version he recorded in November.

Danny Shirley is born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He fronts Confederate Rialroad, whose mix of country and Southern rock gives them a biker image and a handful of 1990s hits, including ''Trashy Women'', ''Daddy Never Was The Cadillac Kind'' and ''Queen Of Memphis''.

AUGUST 14, 1956 TUESDAY

Hound dogs need friends, too: Washington, D.C., disc jockey Bob Rickman founds the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Elvis Presley.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR SLIM RHODES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY AUGUST 14, 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

By the summer of 1956, Elvis Presley's domination of the American charts was casting a mesmeric sway over the way in which pop recordings were being crafted. With this issue in mind, the Slim Rhodes band set out to freshen up its rube-like profile by introducing a husky new vocalist named Sandy Brooks. Whilst the exercise didn't quite generate a hepcat image, it nevertheless heralded the crux of the band's Sun inventory. The angst wrought from this torturous ballad "Take And Give" is proof itself.
The relationship between country band leader Slim Rhodes and Sam Phillips goes back to the dawn of The Memphis Recording Service in 1950. Rhodes was nothing if not a survivor. Working local gigs and a popular Memphis television show, Rhodes had a close-up view of musical trends. In 1956 it was clear to everyone (especially in Memphis) that the look and sound of Elvis Presley were serious business. There was no one in his regular aggregation who could fill the bill, so Rhodes brought in Roy Hesselbein from Neighboring Mississippi. Hesselbein had the right look and sound, but the wrong name. And so Roy became Sandy Brooks.

01(1) - "TAKE AND GIVE" - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Ronny Hesselbein-E.C. Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 216  - Master
Recorded: - August 14, 1956
Released: - November 21, 1956
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 256-A mono
TAKE AND GIVE / DO WHAT I DO
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-3-5 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

Slim Rhodes was really a misnomer on the Sun label. Sandy Brooks, aka Ronnie Hesselbein, is the artist of note. Slim was nothing if not a survivor. Here, his aggregation makes a valiant effort to come to terms with country music's crossover into pop ballads and rockabilly. Although Brooks offers credible emotional and breathy warbling on this both sides of the record, the band's capacity for teen music is streched to the breaking point. The ballad side, "Take And Give", reveals steel player John Hughey, who later joined forces with Conway Twitty, to be an engaging and inventive musician. Drummer Johnny Bernero adds a wonderful, if underrecorded shuffle rhythm to the proceedings, and contributes a memorable rimshot just before the first steel solo. Few Sun records employed as many minor chords as "Take And Give".

The record itself has a commanding presence from its driving intro to the final major 7th chord. It features a surprisingly pounding rhythm, virtually none of which is due to the drumming! What the drummer does contribute is a memorable but almost throwaway rimshot on the snare right before the first steel solo. The steel playing throughout is delightful, with swelling chords complementing Brooks' vocal. The song features an almost completely expendable lyric, but a full assortment of 6-minor chords to give it that haunting quality that might have carried it over into popular success.

For some reason, Billboard was quite unimpressed with both sides, calling the material "ordinary" and "quite thin". These sides made the Memphis charts with little effort, but evaporated into obscurity outside the limits of Rhodes TV show. These days, Hesselbein sell tires in Jackson, Mississippi.

01(2) - "TAKE AND GIVE" - B.M.I. - 2:16
Composer: - Ronny Hesselbein-E.C. Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 14, 1956
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Bopcat Records (LP) 33rpm Bopcat 400-5 mono
GOIN' BACK TO MEMPHIS
Reissued: - August 2000 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16405-19 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 17
''Do What I Do'' is out-and-out rockabilly. Sandy Brooks contributes another strong vocal and Brad Suggs turns to the Carl Perkins guitar manual for his solo. Slim was obviously intent upon being a survivor and he was probably featuring rockabilly acts ob his new WMC-TV show. This is unrecognisable as a Slim Rhodes record of yore but, taken on its own terms, is a fine record for its time and season. It was the last time the names Slim Rhodes or Sandy Brooks appeared on a Sun record. The last anybody checked, Ronnie Hesselbein had gotten into the family business selling tires in Mississippi, a concern that has since expanded to include franchises in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. There turned out to be a lot more money in selling tires than singing rockabilly.
 
02(1) - "DO WHAT I DO" - B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Slim Rhodes-Ronny Hesselbein
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 217  - Master
Recorded: - August 14, 1956
Released: - November 21, 1956
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 256-B mono
DO WHAT I DO / TAKE AND GIVE
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-3-6 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

The alternate take of ''Do What I Do'' reveals that Brooks' song began life in a style far more country than the released version. The slower, more deliberate tempo and countryish finger picking during the instrumental solo offer a new glimpse at a song most of us have only heard in its breakneck rock and roll arrangement. Brooks offers one vocal difference here during the last release, singing the line "When you know" an octave above his take on the single. In many ways, this version works better than the original single, although it was plainly passed over in the interest of surviving in the rock and roll marketplace in 1956.

02(2) - "DO WHAT I DO" - B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: - Slim Rhodes-Ronny Hesselbein
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 14, 1956
Released: -  1976
First appearance: - Bopcat Records (LP) 33rpm Bopcat 400-5 mono
GOIN' BACK TO MEMPHIS
Reissued: - August 2000  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16405-7 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 17

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ethmer Cletus ''Slim'' Rhodes - Guitar
Sandy Brooks - Vocal
Luther Bradley ''Pee Wee'' Brad Suggs - Guitar
John Hughey - Steel Guitar
Gilbert Ray ''Speck'' Rhodes - Bass
Johnny Bernero – Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
 
Royalty check Jack Earls >

AUGUST 15, 1956 WEDNESDAY

Cashing royalty check of Jack Earls for ''Slow Down''/''A Fool For Lovin' You''.

After cashing his royalty check, Earls bought a new Indian Chief motorcycle. "I got it out  there on Poplar Avenue ... They brought it out and showed me how to ride it. I'd ride that  thing for a little while, and then the motor would quit''.

''Man, I rode that thing for hours,  until/got to where t could ride it pretty good. My wife was working at a potato chips  company, and I picked her up and brought her home. Then I wound up buying a Harley from  the same place where Elvis bought his''.
 
 
 
AUGUST 15, 1956 WEDNESDAY

Warren Smith went to Sun Records to pick up his first royalty statement of his "Rock And Roll  Ruby". The single had sold 68,277 copies up to June 30 and was still going strong. Smith was  owed over $1600 in royalties. Not even Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash or Carl Perkins had done  as well with their first record. Warren Smith though his place in the pantheon of rock and  roll greats was assured.

There was either an implicit or explicit agreement that Warren Smith would share royalties  and billing with the Snearly Ranch Boys and that they would become his band. Smith reneged  upon the deal shortly after "Rock 'N' Roll Ruby" broke. Stan Kesler recalled: "When Warren  arrived in Memphis we didn't really need him because we had singers and pickers but Clyde  gave him a little work and put him up in a boarding house, paid his rent and food for about  six months. Then, after "Rock 'N' Roll Ruby" hit, Warren just informed us that he was putting  his own band together. With hindsight, I can see that the co-op deal we anticipated between  Warren and us would never have worked but there was a lot of bad feeling about it at the  time".

Sonny James recorded ''The Cat Came Back''.

AUGUST 16, 1956 THURSDAY

The day he turns 17, singer Billy Joe Shaver enlists in the Navy.

AUGUST 18, 1956 SATURDAY

Charlie Feathers recorded ''One Hand Loose'' with steel player Jody Chastain and guitarist Jerry Huffman at the King Recording Studio in Cincinnati. It ranks among country 500 greatest singles in a Country Music Foundation book ''Heartaches By Number''.

Merle Travis' wife, Bettie Travis, is taken to North Hollywood Receiving Hospital with a overdose of tranquilizers.

AUGUST 21, 1956 TUESDAY

Geraldine Price, referring to herself as a common-law wife, files for divorce from Ray Price, saving he has told her he's ''tired of being married'' and that he has started seeing another woman.
 
AUGUST 22, 1956 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley begins filming his first movie, "The Reno Brothers'' for 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles. By the time of its release, it's re-titled ''Love Me Tender''.

Faron Young recorded ''I'll Be Satisfied With Love'' and ''I'm Gonna Live Some Before I Die'' at Nashville's Bradley Film and Recording Studio.

AUGUST 23, 1956 THURSDAY

A dozen years after he appeared on the Billboard country charts, Nat ''King'' Cole addresses the Republican National Convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

AUGUST 24, 1956 FRIDAY

Elvis Presley recorded ''Love Me Tender'' at the 20th Century Fox Studios in Hollywood.

AUGUST 25, 1956 SATURDAY

George Jones joins the Grand Ole Opry,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee,  for the first time.

Hank Locklin guests on the ABC-TV music series ''Ozark Jubilee'', hosted by Red Foley and Porter Wagoner.
 

 
Dean Beard >

One of the two Sun sessions, Dean Beard told Wayne Russell that he recorded with Jimmy Seals on saxophone, Johnny Bernero, and Johnny Black. Asked why he didn't see a release, Beard said that he ran around town with Sam Phillips' girlfriend, Sally Wilbourn, thereby ensuring that his sessions would remain in the can. The truth might have been more prosaic: the recordings weren't that good. The songs were undistinguished and if it's Seals saxophone he sounds like an angry goose.
 

Sam Phillips had many options at the end of 1956, and Dean Beard simply wasn't the best one. One of the Sun recordings ''Rakin' And Scrapin''', was cowritten with Ray Doggett, who later wrote one of Kenny Rogers' earliest hits and became a rockabilly cult hero.
 

 
 
 
 © - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR DEAN BEARD
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY AUGUST 26, 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR STAN KESLER

01 - "LONG TIME GONE" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Dean Beard
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 26, 1956
Released: - 1982
First appearance: Sun England (LP) 33rpm CFM 10 512-1 mono
THE SWINGIN' BLAST
Reissued: - 1999 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8352-26 mono
ESSENTIAL SUN ROCKABILLIES - VOLUME 6

02(1) - "RAKIN' AND SCRAPIN'" - B.M.I. - 1:56
Composer: - Dean Beard-Slim Willet-Ray Dogget as Elmer Ray in the credits.
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 26, 1956
Released: - 1982
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm CFM 10 512-2 mono
THE SWINGIN' BLAST
Reissued: - August 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16210-31 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 14

02(2) - "RAKIN' AND SCRAPIN'" - B.M.I. 2:16
Composer: - Dean Beard-Slim Willet-Ray Dogget
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 26, 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1021-4 mono
ROCK POP BOOGIE
Reissued: - 1996 Encore Japan (CD) 500/200rom ECD 193587-16 mono
DEAN BEARD - ROCK AROUND THE TOWN
 
03 - ''WHEN YOU'RE GONE'' - B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: - Dean Beard
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August 26, 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: -  Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1021-6 mono
ROCK BOP BOOGIE
Reissued: - 1996    Encore Records (CD) 500/200rpm ECD 193587-15 mono
DEAN BEARD - ROCK AROUND THE TOWN

04 - ''UNFAITHFUL HEART''
Composer: - Dean Beard
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - August 26, 1956

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Dean Beard - Vocal and Guitar
James Steward - Guitar
Jimmy Seals - Saxophone
Johnny Black - Bass
Johnny Bernero - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 


 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR WARREN SMITH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1957/1958

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Stan Kesler recalls(?) that Warren Smith was working on "Old Lonesome Feeling" shortly before he left Sun Records, which is born out by the fact that he recorded it shortly after arriving at Liberty Records. The presence of the electric bass would also appear to date the session to 1957 or later.

01 - "OLD LONESOME FEELING" - B.M.I. - 0:55
Composer: - Stan Kesler
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued - False Start - Incomplete
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1956
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15514-17 mono
WARREN SMITH - THE CLASSIC SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1959
Reissued: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rom Charly 81119 mono
WARREN SMITH - ROCKABILLY LEGEND

Warren Smith or someone in his camp probably discovered ''Tell Me Who'' on the flip-side of Big Maybelle's 1955 hit ''Mean To Me''. His treatment is a very tasty excursion into early rockabilly that veers back into the country by virtue of some deftly executed steel guitar work. The empathetic drumming seems to suggest that Johnny Bernero sat in on this session, which would also tend to date it from 1956. Smith dispenses with Maybelle's growls and drum rolls and delivers a very straight reading of the song. Incidentally, the composer Billy Myles, later scored a huge with ''The Joker''.

02 - "TELL ME WHO" - B.M.I. - 2:06
Composer: - Billy Miles
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  Unknown Date 1956
Released: - May 1975
First appearance: - Hallmark Records (LP) 33rpm SHM 864-A5 mono
VARIOUS ARTISTS - KINGS OF COUNTRY VOLUME 2
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-7-6 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-4-22 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

The writer and one-time rockabilly Ray Scott submitted a demo tape to Sun and Sam Phillips wrote for ''Tonight Will Be The Last Night'' ''Ray Scott - good song'' on the tape box. When it came time for the next Warren Smith session, Phillips played the tape of this song, which he had already identified as the best of the crop. Smith and the band worked up a very decent arrangement with twin lead guitarist that must have been a serious contender for release in 1956 or 1957. The real surprise is that Phillips did not overdub tracks like this and issue them when Smith finally gained a measure of success in the country market in the early 1960s.

03 - "TONIGHT WILL BE THE LAST NIGHT" - B.M.I. - 1:59
Composer: - Ray Scott
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -   Unknown Date 1956
Released: - 1978
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30132-12 mono
WARREN SMITH - THE LEGENDARY SUN PERFORMERS
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-7-5 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-4-21 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Warren Smith - Vocal and Guitar
Unknown group, probably including Stan Kesler - Steel Guitar and - Electric Guitar

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

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

1956

Warren Smith lost no time in recruting his own band, which included guitarist Al Hopson (a  friend since their school days in Mississippi), bassist Marcus Van Story (whom he had met  while he was still working with the Snearly Ranch Boys), and drummer Jimmie Lott, who had  played on Elvis Presley's first session with drums at the tail end of 1954.

(For a while they  used Johnny Bernero on drums, but Bernero had been unwilling to travel with Elvis Presley  and was certainly unwilling to jeopardise his day job at Memphis Light, Gas & Water to tour  with Smith).
 
After Bob Neal formed Stars Incorporated in May 1956, Smith saw that he would  be working tours and began to cast around for a regular drummer. Sam Phillips suggested  Jimmie Lott whom he had used on Elvis Presley's sessions).
 

"I had a knock on the door one night", recalled Jimmie Lott, "and three dubious looking guys  were there. They identified themselves as Warren Smith, Marcus Van Story and Al Hopson.  They said, 'We're looking for a drummer and Sam Phillips said you might be interested'. I said  I might and we went over to Warren's attorney's house in east Memphis. We had an audition  in the den and Warren hired me".

"One of the first gigs we played was at the Club Zanzibar in Hayti, Missouri. The place was  full of rednecks and I was maybe seventeen years old, hanging onto Warren's coat-tail. I said,  'Are we gonna be alright tonight?'. Warren said, 'Don't worry 'bout it, drummer'. He was  raised in Greenwood, Mississippi and had a real good rapport with these people. He was one  of them".
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Sun was truly in its golden era. Most releases in the 250 series represent second or third releases by artists whose rockabilly promise had been established within the last six months. 

The influential trade paper Billboard had caught on and was beginning to refer to the "Sun Sound" in its reviews. Eyes were turning to Memphis as  it became obvious that Elvis Presley was not a unique phenomenon.

Something was stirring at 706 Union Avenue. Lineups of guitar strumming truckdrivers and farmers were forming at the intersection of Union and Marshall. Young men, looked longingly at Sun records, eager to trade the sentiskilled drudgery of their lives for a moment in the spotlight.
 
While Warren Smith was assembling his new band, he returned to the studio to record a follow-up to "Rock 'N' Roll Ruby". Once again, he coupled a hillbilly song with a rock and roll novelty.

 
 
 STUDIO SESSION FOR WARREN SMITH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE AUGUST 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT

"After "Rock 'N' Roll Ruby" about 6 months later Sam called me for another session", recalled Warren Smith. "I met Charles Underwood who was also in Memphis. Well he had a song he wrote called "Ubangi Stomp", and Sam said give it a listen. I did, and seemed like the more I heard it the more I liked it. We cut it and it became a fair hit too, I guess you could call it a hit".
Once again, Sam Phillips hedged his bets by coupling a rockabilly anthem with a hillbilly tune. Reportedly originating in Scotland circa 1600, ''The Gypsy Laddie'' began: ''The gypsies they came to my lord's castle/And O but they sang so bonnie/They sang sae sweet and soe complete/That down came our fair ladie''. And of course off went the lady. The first to chronicle the song's tortuous history was Francis James Child in his nineteenth century tome ''English And Scottish Popular Ballads''. After crossing the ocean with the early settlers, it changed in the hollows of Appalachia. Bits of another song called ''Seventeen Come Sunday'' were added as the woman lost her nobility along with her virginity. The first recording was by a folklorist, Professor I.G. Greer and his wife, in 1929. Another folklorist, John Jacob Niles, recorded ''The Gypsy Laddie'' for RCA in 1939. Cliff Carlise cit it that year, although he said he learned it from T. Texas Tyler, and Tyler copyrighted it in August 1939, one month after Carlise's recording. The Carter Family recorded it in 1940. Tyler's adaptation became the first post-War recording, and probably led to Warren Smith's recording. While unaware of the song's origins, Smith was undoubtedly aware that it was far from original. In fact, his lyrics were considerably less salty than the Carter Family's. In a 1956 interview in the Memphis Press Scimitar' Smith hurriedly pointed out that, even though ''Black Jack David'' was a rake and philanderer, ''the lyric is fixed so there's time enough that she could have gotten a divorce or something before she goes with him''. Of course, Warren. This is a stellar performance that needs no apologies. Sparse, achingly pure, and haunting in the best tradition of hillbilly music. A standout cut on every front. And, as on Johnny Cash's ''Folsom Prison Blues'', the hook is provided by a repeated guitar solo, in this case played by Bradd Suggs or Buddy Holobaugh. 

On "Black Jack David", Smith takes the old folk ballad for an unexpected bluesy hillbilly ride. The bass string guitar figure had nascent pickers running for their instruments, sure they could duplicate what they heard. Smith's vocal is powerful throughout, and the drummer - although listed as "unknown" - sounds alone like Johnny Bernero. Who else went so effortlessly from the 4/4 backbeat of the instrumental breaks to the delicious shuffle beneath Smith's singing?

01 - "BLACK JACK DAVID" - B.M.I. - 3:08
Composer: - Warren Smith
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 218  - Master
Recorded:- Unknown Date August 1956
Released: - September 24, 1956
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 250-A mono
BLACK JACK DAVID / UBANGI STOMP
Reissued - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-2-19 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2
Charles Underwood, then a student at Memphis State University, contributed "Ubangi Stomp".  ''I didn't like it, you know'', recalled Warren Smith. ''Then one night we were cutting, it was around 12:30 at night and I was up against the wall, really biting the bullet trying to find the fourth song. Charles came through the door and he changed four or five things I didn't like in the song and we went to work on it''. In a later era, Charles Underwood became a producer at Sun and, even later, engineered ''The Monster Mash'' and Herb Alpert's debut hit ''The Lonely Bull''. In 1956 he was a struggling student. He seems to have cheerfully assigned a common dialect to American Indians and Africans (''...heap big jam session'') and in all honestly, the song is as close to denigrating as anything released on Sun. However, it entered the Memphis charts and helped to sustain the momentum of ''Rock 'N' Roll Ruby''. Rather than make a big splash, it appears to have sold over 100,000 copies throughout an eighteen month period. The guitarist is Brad Suggs, stalwart of the Slim Rhodes Show, and the drummer is Johnny Bernero. Other musicians are somewhat unclear although the bassist may be Jan Ledbetter. Smith's interpretation of the song has all the contagious enthusiasm of pure rockabilly which has enabled it to survive the years well, and even survive a beleaguered and belated cover version from Alice Cooper.

With "Ubangi Stomp", Warren Smith showed what he could do with the right material. This tune offered the singer a fine piece of politically incorrect rockabilly and despite the group's misgiving about making "nigger music", Smith and his tight little band drove this ditty for all it was worth. The October 6, 1956 Memphis charts showed Smith's efforts in second place, eclipsed only by Guy Mitchell's "Singing The Blues".

02 - "UBANGI STOMP" - B.M.I. - 1:58
Composer: - Charles Underwood
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 219  - Master
Recorded: - Unknown Date August 1956
Released: - September 24, 1956
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 250-B mono
UBANGI STOMP / BLACK JACK DAVID
Reissued - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-2-20 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

Marcus Van Story recalls, "I used to hang a small skull from my bass when we did "Ubangi Stomp" and everybody wants to know what I did with it. Well I put it away in the closet but I still have it". "People used to mistake Bill Black and I for each other you know. Yea, him and I was like twin brothers. I was playing bass before Bill was, and we'd be playing some of the honky tonks around, and after the people got loaded dancing and drinkin', Bill'd say 'Let me have that bass for awhile, I wanna learn to play that thing like you do', besides, that'll give you a chance to get a drink and dance with some of the good lookin women! So Bill and I had a great time down through the years. A lot of records have been recorded and well, some people think Bill did them, and others think I did. So you would never really tell who was playing that big "Bull Fiddle" and I'm really proud to say that Bill was a darn good friend of mine".
 
Johnny Bernero played here on ''Ubangi Stomp'' just about one year after he backed Elvis Presley on ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget''. During that year, when rock and roll took over American popular music, Bernero showed that he could be a rock and roll drummer in addition to his more country work. halfway through that year, he played on Warren Smith's ''Rock 'N' Roll Ruby'' and moved some distance toward rock and roll from his country starting point.
 
By the time of ''Ubangi Stomp'', those Western swing band origins are thoroughly subordinated to the new style. Here, Bernero is aggressive in a way very different from what he did behind Elvis. He creates a stop rhythm for the introductory guitar lines and a drum roll takes us into the song. During the song, Bernero inserts occasional brief decorative rolls and, especially during the guitar solos, he puts some variation in the rhythmic accents. And for the vocal line ''Heap big jam session 'bout to begin'' he beats the tom-tom appropriately for a cowboys-and-Indians movie. And a few times (the first comes after the line ''I seen them natives doin' an odd-lookin' skip'') he gets to play a one-stroke drum solo.
 
Sam Phillips was slow to adapt to having drummers as a cornerstone of the music he produced and often did not record drummers well. That sadly deprives us of getting to hear clearly just how Bernero added some drama with the crash cymbal in the reprise of the intro that ends the record.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Warren Smith - Vocal and Guitar
Al Hopson - Guitar
Marcus Van Story - Bass
Johnny Bernero - Drums
Brad Suggs - Guitar
Smokey Joe Bauch - Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

Al Hopson (left) and Warren Smith >

AL HOPSON - Al Hopson worked for Warren Smith, whom he had known from schooldays in  Mississippi. At that point, Hopson had more professional experience that Warren Smith. He  had begun his career in 1949 with Bill Nettles in Monroe, Louisiana and claims to have  played on Nettles' smash hit, "Hadacol Boogie". After splitting from Nettles, Hopson returned  to Lexington, Mississippi before moving to Jackson to play fiddle with Slim Scoggins for a  year.

From there he moved to New Mexico with his own group and then joined Hoyle Nix and  the West Texas Cowboys in Big Spring, Texas.   Hopson played with Nix between 1953 and  1954 before returning to Canton, Mississippi to host the Saturday afternoon Jamboree on  WDOB. Warren Smith joined them on at least one occasion before he headed for Memphis.

Smith met Hopson again in Greenwood. "Warren knew I could play", asserted Hopson, "and  we'd talk. I was playing with some local boys at the baseball park in Greenwood...
 
 
...on the same  bill as Warren, Eddie Bond, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. Warren was by himself then and  he asked me to come pick with him".

A NOTE FROM AL HOPSON - ''To me it only seems like a short time back to the Sun Records heyday and all the great artists that came from that era. As all my friends know, I played lead guitar with Warren Smith and he also recorded two of my songs, ''I Fell In Love'' and ''Uranium Rock''. Even now though the one that gets the most comments is ''Miss Froggie''. My guitar work seems to have help up very well on that one. The only band that Warren ever had (that I knew of) consisted of myself on lead guitar, Marcus Van Story on bass and Jimmie Lott on drums. We were on many tours and shows with all the Sun stars at that time such as Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Ray Orbison. But I would have to say I really liked to be around the Carl Perkins bunch as there was never a dull moment''.
 


 
 
Newspaper >

MID-1956

NEWSPAPER LINED - New Memphis 'Rock-a-billy' Recording Star Rising Billboard, the show  business trade paper, has coined a new word to describe a type of music for which Memphis  has been the hotbed.  The word is "rock-a-billy", and Billboard used it in giving its "Review  Spotlight" to a new record by a young Memphis singer Warren Smith. Smith's record, while it  is being played widely on rock and roll disc jockey shows, is cataloged by Billboard in the  country and western field.

The record is "Ubangi Stomp", backed by "Black Jack David", and it already has gotten off to  a good start. Billboard says of it' "Another disk to keep the Sun label near the top of the  rock-a-billy heap. Smith really blasts with "Ubangi Stomp" and rocks with rhythm backing  that produces excitement".
 
 
Warren, 24, who formerly lived in Greenwood and Jackson, Mississippi, moved to Memphis  when he became a Sun recording artist with "Rock 'N' Roll Ruby", his first click, and now  lives in Holiday Towers. He drives a Cadillac, has somewhat less than Elvis-length sideburns.

"Ubangi Stomp" was written by Charles Underwood, a 19-year-old Memphis State student  who intents to make a career of song-writing. Warren himself wrote the other tune, "Black  Jack David", adapting it from a folk song he heard as a boy, and he thinks perhaps it has the  best chance of hitting big. "Black Jack David" is a sort of folklore hero, not too scrupulous,  who entreats a pretty woman he meets in his wanderings to leave her husband and baby and  come with him. But, Warren hurries to explain, "the lyrics is fixed so there's time enough  that she could have got a divorce or something before she finally goes with him".

Warren, formerly a machinist, served two years in the Air Force. He is now managed by Bob  Neal and has been touring with Carl Perkins, He'll appear with the Grand Ole Opry show  which Neal is presenting at the Auditorium at 3 and 8 p.m. Sunday, alone with Faron Young,  Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton and others.
MID 1956

One of Warren Smith's tasks on the early Stars Incorporated tours was to lead Roy Orbison,  who was almost sightless without his glasses, to the microphone much as Blind Lemon  Jefferson was led on stage. Smith also played a monthly gig on the Big "D" Jamboree in  Dallas, Texas, and had a regular guest shot on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport,  Louisiana. He and his band were often working seven days a week with matinee and evening  shows on the weekends.

Johnny Bernero recalled that Warren Smith played primarily country music on his live shows  but Jimmie Lott and Al Hopson recall that, although Warren loved country music, his stage  shows were mostly rock and roll.

"Every now and again, Warren would slip in a Ray Price number", recalled Lott, "but he  thought that rock and roll was where the money was. He wanted to make a name for  himself. But when Warren sang a Ray Price song, Ray could have learned from him. He made  my spine tingle when he got into that style".

AUGUST 27, 1956 MONDAY

Stephanie Winslow is born in Yankton, South Dakota. She nothes a hit in 1979 with her remake of Fleetwood Mack's ''Say You Love Me''.

Columbia released Carl Smith's two-sided hit, ''Before I Met You'' and ''Wicked Lies''.

Capitol released The Louvin Brothers' double-sided hit ''You're Running Wild'' backed with ''Cash On The Barrel Head''.

AUGUST 29, 1956 WEDNESDAY

Keyboard player Dan Truman is born in St. George, Utah. He joins Diamond Rio, whose tight harmonies and positive values combine in a series of hits, including ''Meet In The Middle'', ''I Believe'' and ''One More Day''.

Carl Perkins wrecks the Cadillac Sam Phillips presented him in April while speeding near Brownsville, Texas.
 

 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Instead. Hayden formed a new more rocking band called the Dixie Jazzliners, presumably named in connection with the 'Dixieland Jamboree' show and Bolton's Dixie Talent through whom they were booked. Quite how the jazz element figured, no-one remembers, least of all Hayden, but it may have been a compromise by a promoter who wanted to recognise that this was new-sounding music but was shy of calling it rock and roll in case it didn't last. Marlin Grissom switched from bass to play guitar in the new group but the other Jazzliner musicians were new.

The Dixie Jazzliners: from left, Billy Hurt, Unidentified, Hayden Thompson, Jimmy Hill, Bill Gunter >

According to Hayden, "We had a friend in Booneville who had connections with theater circuits in several states. The Dixie Jazzliners played that circuit for quite a few months there in 1955 and 1956. It was a little different from what the Sun recording artists were doing: people like Carl Perkins.
 
 
Johnny Cash and Charlie Feathers, they were playing in package shows with several artists on the bill. What we did was to tour movie theaters and give a show billed jointly with a featured movie. mainly ''Rock Around The Clock''. We would do our show. then they'd play the movie, then we'd give another show. that was how it worked''. 
 It was the movie package tour that eventually took Hayden Thompson to Memphis and to Sun Records. "We played the theater show in West Memphis for about or 'lights over a weekend sometime in the simmer of 1956. Jack Clement was the studio engineer at Sun Records and he saw my show over the river there in Arkansas''.

''He said, ''why don't you come across to Union Avenue and we'll see what we can do as far as making some records. I said 'sure' and shortly after that we went back to Memphis for our first session at Sun''.

The Southern Melody Boys: front row from left: Clyde Hill, Perry King; back row from left: Junior Johnson, Cricket Grissom, Hayden Thompson, possibly Charles Bolton, Marvin Grissom >

''That was me and the Dixie Jazzliners, who at that time were Jimmy Hill on guitar, Bill Hurt on bass,and Bill Gunter on drums. It was our only session together and Jack set the tapes going while we ran through some songs. We had ''Blues, Blues Blues'', ''You Are My Sunshine''...
 
 
..., ''Fairlane Rock'', and ''Oh Mama'', which was also known as ''Mamma Goose Is Rocking''. In fact, Marlin Grissom from the Southern Melody Boys may still have been with the Jazzliners: on ''Fairlane Rock'' it is clear that Hayden calls his name as an introduction to the Scotty Moore styled guitar solos on the session.

STUDIO SESSION FOR HAYDEN THOMPSON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1957

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION : AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - JACK CLEMENT
Hayden Thompson is one of the last active (2008) performers from the first of white rock and rollers, those mid-South movers and shakers dubbed rockabillies by Billboard, the music trade paper, in 1955. He has also been among the most impressive of the American artists on the European rockabilly revival tours since he first signed up for them in 1984. What he did have were credentials and style. He had been there at the epicentre of rockabilly back when nobody knew quite what it was or what to call it.

He was born within a few miles of Elvis Presley, he made his first record within a few months of Presley, and he was on the legendary Sun Records, or at least the subsidiary Phillips International, where he recorded one of the acknowledged classic of rock and roll "Love My Baby".

Like Elvis Presley, Hayden had a good voice that, crucially, was adaptable. He was billed on his first record as "the Souths most versatile singer" and if that was a little optimistic a claim for a sixteen year old, the analysis was headed in the right direction. He was capable of a good Elvis imitation - in fact he and Johnny Cash were probably the first to feature such an imitation in their early acts - but he came out of a pure country band, he listened to rhythm and blues radio at night, and he could turn his hand to popularstyle ballads, folksy sagas or post-Nashville Sound country as the sounds of the 1950s gave way to those of the 1960s.
It was that vital three-year age difference behind Presley that accounted for Hayden's initial lack of chart success - the reason he didn't have that hit to revive - because by the time he got to Memphis the pure rockabilly sound he was so smitten with was already giving way to smoother, more produced, rock and roll. But it was the versatility,trumpeted on his first disc, that enabled him to adapt over the years and to fight on and on for the hit that unfortunately - and probably it does just come down to fortune - never came.

Hayden Thompson hung around the Sun studio for nearly a year beginning in late 1956, and everything he committed to tape during this period has since been reissued.

As Elvis Presley did on "Mystery Train", Thompson and company borrow "Love My Baby" from Sun bluesman Little Junior Parker and turn it into a first rate rockabilly rave-up. In truth, Presley's theft was far more impressive. Parker's original of this tune, especially its guitar figure, was considerable closer to the spirit and sound of rockabilly than was "Mystery Train". In any case, as Sam Phillips was fond of explaining to all assembled guests, there was nothing sweeter than recycling your own copyrights.

01(1) - "FAIRLANE ROCK" - B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August/September 1956
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Gee Dee Music (CD) 500/200rpm 270131-2-1 mono
LOVE MY BABY

Martin Grissom from the Southern Melody Boys may still have been with the Jazzliners on "Fairlane Rock" it is clear that Hayden calls his name as an introduction to the Scotty Moore-styled guitar solos on the session. Although nothing came of Hayden's first Sun session, "Fairlane Rock" was the contender from among the four songs recorded. It's a driving rockabilly number, mixing nursery rhyme lyrics with references to iconic things like "Blue Suede Shoes" and twin exhausts. Vocally, the Presley style is not too evident and the influence of Gene Vincent, whose "Be-Bop-A-Lula" was riding the charts all that summer, is possibly more evident in the little asides and the slurred vocals that seem to slide in almost apologetically in places.

01(2) - "FAIRLANE ROCK" - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August/September 1956
Released: - 1988
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15263 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - FAIRLANE ROCK
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16131-3 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

01(3) - "FAIRLANE ROCK" - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August/September 1956
Released: - 1988
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15263 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - FAIRLANE ROCK

 02(4) - "FAIRLANE ROCK/
BLUES BLUES BLUES (FALSE START)" - B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally issued
Recorded: - August/September 1956
Released: - May 29, 2013 / Released by Mistake
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-5-14 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959

"Blues, Blues, Blues" was an atmospheric rockaballad where he laments that his "baby don't treat me right". Apart from the occasional hiccupped "baby", Hayden seems to have very much his own style here, and there is a short but classic rockabilly take-off guitar solo. Hayden said: "I took some of my style from the blues. I was hearing a lot of blues around then. I got my blues from WLAC radio in Nashville. I used to listen to Gene Nobles and John Richbourg who would play late night rhythm and blues record shows".

02(2) - "BLUES, BLUES, BLUES" - 2 - B.M.I. - 2:25
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August/September 1956
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Gee Dee Music (CD) 500/200rpm 270131-2-32 mono
LOVE MY BABY
Reissued: - Emusic Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm Charly 11312766 mono
ESSENTIAL SUN ROCKABILLIES - VOLUME 6

02(3) - "BLUES, BLUES, BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:21
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August/September 1956
Released: - 2008
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16131-5 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

02(4) - "BLUES, BLUES, BLUES/THAT'S ALL RIGHT/
STUDIO TALK/LOVE MY BABY (FALSE START)" - B.M.I. - 2:55
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August/September 1956
Released: - May 29, 2013 - Released by Mistake
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-5-14 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959
 
 03(1) - "OH MAMA (MAMA, MAMA, MAMA)" - B.M.I. - 1:49
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August/September 1956
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm CR 30262-9 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - ROCKABILLY GUY 1954-1962
Reissued: - 1997 Gee Dee Music (CD) 500/200rpm 270131-2-6 mono
LOVE MY BABY

"Mama, Mama, Mama", down the years, obscuring the song's construction around rocked-up nursey rhyme verses. This recording has the most attacking guitar solo's on the session, but probably the feeling at Sun was that it did not have enough lyrical impact.

03(2) - "OH MAMA (MAMA, MAMA, MAMA)" - B.M.I. - 1:48
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August/September 1956
Released: - 2008
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16131-6 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS


From left: Billy Hurt, Bill Gunter, Jimmy Hill >

Trying a different tack, the band recorded an interesting version of the old Jimmie Davis country hit "You Are My Sunshine". This is the closest yet to the Presley sound, particularly in guitar style and in its build up to a fast pace from an almost whispered intro in the manner of Presley's version of "Milk Cow Blues". Again, though, there is more evidence of Hayden's as his own man than there is of him using Presley as a vocal blueprint.


On this side, Thompson provided Knox Music with some original material of his own. Starting with a deceptive Latic rhythm. Thompson soon breaks free into 4/4 rhythm, much as his hero Elvis had done in this same studio just two years earlier on "Milkcow Blues Boogie".


 
 
 
04 - "YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE" - B.M.I - 2:38
Composer: - Davis-Mitschell
Publisher: - Peer Southern
Matrix number: - None – Master - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - August/September 1956
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm CR 30262-8 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - ROCKABILLY GUY 1954-1962
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16131-7 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Hayden Thompson - Vocal and Guitar
Jimmy Hill - Guitar
Bill Hurt - Bass
Bill Gunter - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
SEPTEMBER 1956
 

SEPTEMBER 1956

The idea of marketing a new group obviously did not work out and when Johnny Bragg  returned to Excello some seven months later it was on his own, even though the recordings  he made would be billed on the label of Excello 2078 as Johnny Bragg and the Marigolds. Cut  around March 1956 the disc coupled ''Beyond The Clouds'', a gospel lyric that sounded like  an achingly sad popular song written by Bragg with Leon Luallen, with the bluesier ''Foolish  Me''.

The Marigolds, from left: Henry Jones, Hal Hebb, Johnny Bragg, John Drue, L.B. McCollough, Alfred Brooks, and Willy Wilson >

By the summer of 1956 Johnny Bragg was having to accept that Excello was not able to  promote his discs to hit status, but he would have been cheered considerably to find that  ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' had been recorded by pop singer Johnnie Ray for Columbia  Records. He would have been beyond the clouds to find that Ray's record started a six  months stay on the pop charts in August...
 
 
...and that it would peak at number 2 in Billboard on  October 27. The song had been recorded in 1954 by Gene Autry whose Golden West Melodies  publishing company had bought the copyright from Red Wortham.

Co-writer Robert Riley was interviewed when he left prison in October 1956 and a November  10, United Press report spread the word that: ''A couple of songwriters are making a lot of  money, with ''Just Walkin' In The Rain''. It's the rage among the juke box set... (Writer  Johnny Bragg's) collaborator is Robert S. Riley, 28, who has just finished a term. Riley said  they wrote ''rain'' in 1953 on a typical April shower afternoon. They were walkin' from the  main prison building when Bragg told Riley; 'Here we are walking in the rain – I wonder what  the little girls are doing'. Bragg mused that the words sounded like a song title and ''Just  Walkin' In The Rain'' was born, Riley said. Bragg has... what warden Lynn Bomar describes as  a wonderful voice. Twenty percent of Bragg's earnings from ''Rain'' go into the prison  recreation fund. Prisoners who work for pay contribute that amount to the fund.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOHNNY BRAGG & THE MARIGOLDS
FOR EXCELLO RECORDS 1956

NASHBORO RECORDING STUDIO
177 THIRD AVENUE NORTH, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
EXCELLO SESSION: POSSIBLY SEPTEMBER 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – ERNIE YOUNG

As Johnnie Ray's disc was in the ascendant, producer Ernie Young had Johnny Bragg and the Marigolds back to the studio trying to find Bragg's next top song. They pinned their hopes on ''Juke Box Rock And Roll', a title that spoke for itself. The song was another shift in style for the group and featured an exuberant vocal by Bragg soaring above a piano-driven rocking beat and a classy sax solo by Freddy Young. The flipside ''It's You, Darling, It's You'' seems to come from the hit template of the Platters with its aching lead vocal, melding group voices, supportive sax and repeated piano notes. There is also a spoken section, probably delivered by Alfred Brooks. The September 29 issue of Cash Box magazine found that this fourth Marigold disc, Excello 2091, contained ''a couple of exceptionally strong sides... a tender love given a moving performance... a complete change of pace... a quick beat jumper with the sound and feeling that has the kids crazy today''.

Much of the group's material was still being written by Bragg and Riley though ''It's You, Darling, It's You'' was written in collaboration with another singing inmate, Sullivan Hayes, who would later join the group. The focus on songwriting as a serious mode of employment became even stronger after October 22, 1956 when Robert Riley was paroled and went to work for Ernie Young as a writer, soon joining one of Nashville's premier publishing companies, Tree Music. In November, Joe Perkins and the Rookies cut the Bragg/Riley song ''How Much Love Can One Heart Hold'' for release on Cincinnati's King label early in 1957. It was probably through Robert Riley that King's local agent booked the Marigolds to sing back-up on a King session held at Nashville's RCA studio at that time. The lead singer was Memphis rockabilly master Charlie Feathers whose session was deemed to need backing voices on several songs including ''When You Decide'' and ''Too Much Alike''. It is probably that Bragg and Feathers knew each other from their days in the Sun studio a few years earlier.

01 – ''JUKE BOX ROCK AND ROLL'' - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - Johnny Bragg-Robert Riley
Publisher: - Excellorec Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Possibly September 1956
Released: - 1956
First appearance: - Excello Records (S) 45rpm Excello 2091-A mono
JUKE BOX ROCK AND ROLL / IT'S YOU, DARLING, IT'S YOU
Reissued: - 2011 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-21 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - ONLY BELIEVE

02 – ''IT'S YOU, DARLING, IT'S YOU'' - B.M.I. - 2:37
Composer: - Johnny Bragg-Robert Riley-Sullivan Hayes
Publisher: - Excellorec Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Possibly September 1956
Released: - 1956
First appearance: - Excello Records (S) 45rpm Excello 2091-B mono
IT'S YOU, DARLING, IT'S YOU / JUKE BOX ROCK AND ROLL
Reissued: - 2011 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-22 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - ONLY BELIEVE

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal
John Drue - Tenor Vocal
Harold Hebb - Tenor Vocal
Alfred Brooks - Tenor Vocal
Willy Wilson - Bass Vocal
Freddy Young - Saxophone
Skippy Brooks - Piano
Kid King - Drums
Clifford McCray – Bass

Back in the penitentiary Johnny Bragg redoubled his songwriting efforts. He told Bill Millar fifteen years later, ''I put in maybe 16 to 20 hours a day just singing... I thought about the music so strong that when I went to sleep I'd go to dances in my dreams and every song they'd play seemed like a new song. I woke up in the morning and started writing them''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

SEPTEMBER 1956

"Rockin' With My Baby" b/w ''It's Me Baby'' (Sun 246) by Malcolm Yelvington is issued at the beginning of the  month, together with the debut single by Billy Riley and Sonny Burgess. Yelvington's single is  reviewed as one which "may not break out of the territories".

"Dixie Fried" b/w ''I'm Sorry I'm Not Sorry'' (Sun  249) by Carl Perkins are also issued this month, as is  Carl Perkins is now working rock and roll caravan tours with Little Richard, Bobby Charles  and others, and has a regular slot on the Big D TV show in Dallas, Texas.

Billboard reports  that Ernie Chaffin "recorded for Sun Records recently" and that "Sam Phillips, Sun prexy, is  reported much impressed with Ernie's work on the new waxings". It is a little difficult to  reconcile this report with the Sun session information since the first session was logged in  December 1956.

Future (1959) Sun recording artist Mack Allen Smith, after entering college at Holmes Junior  College in September 1956, Mack Allen hired Charlie McCarty from Kosciusko, Mississippi, to  play drums, and Eddie Lee Alderman from Carroll County to play lead guitar. Mack Allen then  changed the name of the band to Mack Allen Smith and the Flames. They performed on  weekends at the 51 Club in Durant, Mississippi, and the VFW in Kosciusko and Greenwood,  Mississippi.

SEPTEMBER 1956

IBM releases the first computer with a hard drive, the IBM 305 RAMAC, during September of 1956. The machine weighed about one ton and measured about 16 square feet. It was created by IBM employee Reynold Johnson and his research team. The hard drive stored about 5 megabytes of data and allowed users to immediately retrieve the data they needed without the use of punch cards. The development of the hard drive was a piece of revolutionary technology at the time and it greatly influenced the advancement of how we now use computers in the modern day.

SEPTEMBER 1, 1956 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley buys his mother a pink Cadillac and recorded ''Love Me'' at Radio Recorders, 7000 Santa Monica Boulevard  in Los Angeles.

SEPTEMBER 2, 1956 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley recorded ''Too Much'' at Radio Recorders, 7000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, California.

The Wilburn Brothers recorded ''Go Away With Me''.

 
Fats Domino guests on The Steve Allen Show., and Shirley and Lee release ''Let The Good Times Roll'', another Dave Bartholomew production.

Gene Vincent starts first professional tour.

SEPTEMBER 3, 1956 MONDAY

Police in Springfield, Missouri, answer a disturbance call to find Red Foley's wife, Sally, in the front seat of their car crying. Her face and forehead are covered with marks, and she accuses her husband of hitting her, though she does not file charges.

Ray Price recorded ''I've Got A New Heartaches'' in an evening session at the Bradley Recording Studio in Nashville.

SEPTEMBER 4, 1956 TUESDAY

Marty Robbins recorded ''Knee Deep In The Blues'' and ''The Same Two Lips'' at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

SEPTEMBER 5, 1956 WEDNESDAY

Ivory Joe Hunter recorded ''Since I Met You Baby'' in New York. Thirteen years later, Sonny James remakes it as a country hit.
 

 
ANOTHER STAR FROM SUN RECORDS TELLS HIS TRUE STORY - Luke McDaniel a.k.a. Jeff Daniels, the  singer and guitarist from Ellisville, Mississippi, is in the recording room at Sun, Sam Phillips's  little red-bricked studio on 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, where Elvis Presley  and Carl Perkins and the other gods first recorded.

Dressed in a cowboy shirt embroidered with flowers, Western bow tie, and cowboy hat, he  positions himself behind the mic: "Although your mama's looking/Your papa's at the door/Go  ahead and kiss me/'Cause I can't wait no more'', he yelps on "Go Ahead Baby'', a lascivious  rabble-rouser that, drenched in reverb and slapback echo, reveals a voice and style a little  bit Elvis, a little bit Perkins, but all his own.

Elvis and Carl were pals of Luke's; they'd met in Shreveport, and both had told Luke to send  Sam Phillips a demo. He'd already recorded cracking sides for independent labels, but never  broke through, as he should have, with them. Sales figures aside, Sam liked what he heard  and booked him in.

 
Four boppers and a ballad are put down live, all in one or two takes with the Sun house  band, including guitarist Roland Janes, saxophonist Martin Willis, and drummer Jimmy Van  Eaton. There's the amazing aforesaid "Go Ahead Baby'', plus the rockin' "Uh Babe'', "High,  High, High'' and, the best of the bunch, perhaps, "My Baby Don't Rock'', defined by Luke's  hair-raising yells and squeals, Willis's wailing sax, and a frantic guitar solo from Janes. The  country-tinged "That's What I Tell My Heart'', sees a change of pace; an exquisite ballad, it  shows there's more than one side to McDaniel at Sun. It also features Jerry Lee Lewis on  piano.

When the session is over, Luke goes over to Sam. "Can I get my union fee?", he asks. Sam  shakes his head. He doesn't pay union fees. Sparks fly, and the songs are put in the can,  where they remain. Luke McDaniel's career at Sun Records was over just as it was beginning.

Before and after the Sun Records fiasco, from 1952 to 1960, Luke McDaniel tore it up with a  series of hillbilly and rockabilly sides for Jackson, Mississippi, label Trumpet, for King  Records over in Cincinnati, and for Meladee in New Orleans. He played alongside Hank  Williams on TV, shared a stage with Elvis Presley, and saw his songs recorded by Buddy Holly,  Jim Reeves, George Jones, and The Byrds. Yet he never received his due. He doesn't even  get a footnote mention in Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins's Good Rockin' Tonight: Sun  Records and the Birth of Rock 'N' Roll. Neither is he in Escott's Tattooed on Their Tongues nor  his All Roots Lead to Rock. Ditto Nick Tosches's Unsung Heroes of Rock 'N' Roll. But while on  this earth from February 3, 1927 to June 27, 1992, he blazed a trail with his exuberant,  unfettered mix of white country and black rhythm and blues.

Enthralled by the sounds of Gene Autry, Ernest Tubb, Cowboy Copas, and the Bailes Brothers  as an early teen, he picked up a mandolin, then moved on to guitar. He was good, and he  honed his craft on the road with the Jamup and Honey Show, a blackface comedy duo, then  played with Hank Williams at the New Orleans Coliseum in 1950.

About Hank Williams, "I saw him play live for the first time'', said McDaniel. "And it just about  changed everything I had thought and done before. He set the standard: I wanted to sound  like him, be like him. He really wielded an influence with songs like ''I Saw the Light'',  ''Lovesick Blues'', ''Mind Your Own Business'', and he made me see I had to get a record  made''.

Lillian McMurry's Trumpet label provided the means. She said to make McDaniel sound "like  something that is selling right now...something like Hank Williams'', and his debut 1952  "Whoa, Boy!" did. Over infectious, western swing, he exudes: "Way down yonder in New  Orleans/The black cat jumped on the sewing machine/The sewing machine caught the black  cat's tail/And you could hear that black cat wail''. The record's flip side, "No More'', a  mournful wail, is in the Williams mold, too, and when Williams died only months later, Luke  cut a song called "A Tribute to Hank Williams, My Buddy''.

It was another Williams fan, singer/guitarist Jack Cardwell, who gave McDaniel his next  break. Cardwell had also mourned Hank Williams's passing on wax with "The Death of Hank  Williams'', and the pair found themselves sharing a bill in Mobile, Alabama. On his advice,  Luke jumped ship to Syd Nathan's King, while "Whoa, Boy!" had been a local hit for Trumpet,  Luke had received no royalties, and he put down three sessions of bop and boogie. These  sessions gave rise to songs about cars in the rollicking "The Automobile Song'', and about girls  in the poignant "Hurts Me So''.

He also appeared on Louisiana Hayride, a radio and TV country-music show that took place  at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium. "That's how I met Elvis Presley'', he said. "He had  everything going for him. He looked mean, he sounded mean, he played mean, but he was a  nice guy. He said he liked what I did, he was friendly, and he liked to encourage. He told me  to keep singing and playing''.

Which is what Luke did. In 1955, due to contractual obligations, he penned a song called  "Midnight Shift'', a red-hot rockabilly number à la Elvis, under the stage name of Earl Lee. It  had all the crucial ingredients, barely disguised lewd lyrics, ample twanging guitar, but Luke  never recorded the song. Buddy Holly, however, later succumbed to its allure, covering it on  his 1958 album with The Crickets, That'll Be The Day.

By this time, McDaniel had upped sticks to Mobile, Alabama, and, signing to Mel Mallory's  Meladee label, started recording less country and more rockabilly under the name Jeff  Daniels. "I just thought that name sounded better'', he said. "I thought it had a star quality to  it''. (And it did, years later, for the Georgia actor of that name). But it was ambition and not  his stage name that was his downfall. When the unhinged "Daddy-O-Rock'', the very  apotheosis of wild, raw rockabilly, started to sell for Meladee, Luke/Jeff set his sights on a  bigger prize and struck up with Sam Phillips, only to walk out on him as well.

"The session went well, we got the songs down raw, it felt exciting to be standing in that  studio, knowing Johnny Cash and Elvis and Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison had all recorded  there before me. But I didn't think twice about leaving when Sam Phillips didn't pay. I blew  it. Sun got the best out of me'', he said.

After that Sun session, Luke soldiered on, working on the Grand Ole Opry Big Tent Show in  1957 with The Everly Brothers and Bill Monroe, "That was a good one, you didn't realize the  importance at the time, The Opry, The Everly Brothers, Bill Monroe, it was history in the  making", and founding his own label Venus to release the plaintive "You're Still On My Mind'',  soon to become a standard covered by the likes of George Jones and The Byrds. Next there  were singles for Astro and, most notably, the furious "Switch Blade Sam'', for Hack Kennedy's  Big Howdy label. But with no success, Luke hung it up. "My home life was hard. I divorced,  had ten children to feed, and I wasn't making any money''. He left music, setting up a  trucking company in Baton Rouge. By the 1980s, though, he was back doing what he did  best. "The pull was too much, it was something I had to do. I needed to be in a studio and  out on stage. I recorded for Duell, it felt right'', he said. H continued to do so up to his death  in 1992, at age sixty-five. He may have died a cult hero, but he could have held his own on a  bigger stage.
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
Louisiana Hayride Crew, September 1, 1955. From left: Scotty Moore, Jack Cardwell, Roy Parker, Jimmy Swan, Ernie Chaffin, Mrs. Jimmie Rogers, Al Terry, Jim Reeves, Jeff Bidderson, Lawton Williams, Luke McDaniel, Joe Clay, Elvis Presley. In front: Ann Raye with Red Smith >
 
In 1956 Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins urged Luke McDaniel to submit a demo to Sam Phillips. Sam was impressed and signed McDaniel to a contract with Sun Records.

It's unsure whether he cut two sessions or just one at Sun (either September 1956 or/and January 6, 1957). Nothing was issued though, as Sam and Luke had a financial disagreement. The unissued Sun sides have now seen the light of day thanks to reissue labels like Charly Records.

"Uh Babe" is more seminal-Sun rockabilly with Jimmy Van Eaton on fine form behind the skinned boxes. "Go Ahead Baby" is more exciting bop and sounds like a cross between Hayden Thompson and Gene Simmons.

STUDIO SESSION FOR LUKE MCDANIEL (A.K.A. JEFF DANIELS)
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 4-5, 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT
 
Luke McDaniel and Jimmie Otto Rodgers arrived at Sun Records in September 1956. The first session, which McDaniel recorded which culminated in a musically wonderful session. Musically wonderful, but financially not so! It seems that Luke had expected to pick up a session fee for the studio and work time he had put in, but it was not to be. Whilst Sam Phillips paid all the musicians, he would not pay Luke stating that he did not pay  session fees to artists. Apparently harsh words were exchanged between Sam and Luke culminating in a very angry Luke McDaniel storming out of the studio.

Later, Luke was adamant that he only did the two day session at Sun in September 1956, despite claims to a second slightly later session. A change had also taken place in Luke's professional outlook.

With the up and coming new rocking music, Luke decided to use the more commercial name of Jeff Daniels, which began with the Mel-A-Dee single. Not surprisingly perhaps, Sam Phillips decided not to issue any of Luke's recording made at that session.

 
 01(1) - "UH BABE (HUH BABE)" - B.M.I. - 2:13
Composer: - Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 4-5, 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Charly (LP) 33rpm MID 8099-15 mono
ESSENTIAL SUN ROCKABILLIES VOLUME 1
Reissued: - 2008 Stomper Time Records (CD) 500/200rpm STCD 24-5 mono
MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN

It sounds as if McDaniel was working with the guys who'd played with Warren Smith on some of his 1956 sessions. ''We just went to Sun and Sam Phillips had made all the arrangements for the musicians'', McDaniel said later. ''Huh Baby'' was interesting because of the first licks on the guitar. I arranged those myself. I had never heard that particular sound before''.

01(2) - "UH BABE (HUH BABE)" - B.M.I. - 2:10
Composer: - Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 4-5, 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1025 mono
ROCK-A-BILLY BLUES
Reissued: - 2008 Stomper Time Records (CD) 500/200rpm STCD 24-16 mono
MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN

01(3) - "UH BABE (HUH BABE)" - B.M.I. - 2:04
Composer: - Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 4-5, 1956
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly (LP) 33rpm CR 30104-A-5 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 4 - COTTON CITY COUNTRY
Reissued: - 2008 Stomper Time Records (CD) 500/200rpm STCD 24-23 mono
MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN

02(1) - "GO AHEAD BABY" - B.M.I. - 1:54
Composer: - Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 4-5, 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1025-1 mono
HOT FLOP AND FLY
Reissued: - 2008 Stomper Time Records (CD) 500/200rpm STCD 24-3 mono
MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN

02(2) - "GO AHEAD BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:08
Composer: - Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 4-5, 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1019-12 mono
ROCK-A-BILLY BLUES
Reissued: - 2008 Stomper Time Records (CD) 500/200rpm STCD 24-14 mono
MISSISSIPPI HONKY TONK ROCKABILLY MAN
 
03 - "THE CAUSE OF IT ALL" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Luke McDaniel
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued - Incomplete
Recorded: - September 4-5, 1956

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Luke McDaniel (a.k.a Jeff Daniels) - Vocal and Guitar
Jimmie Otto Rodgers - Guitar
Roland Janes or Buddy Holobaugh - Guitar
Brad Suggs - Guitar
Marvin Pepper - Upright Bass
Martin Willis - Tenor Saxophone
Johnny Bernero or Jimmy Van Eaton - Drums
Unknown – Piano

The problems began for Luke McDaniel when the sessions ended. McDaniel expected to get AFM scale for the sessions but Phillips didn't work that way. He regarded the sessions as demos. He paid the backup musicians on an hourly basis (usually $2.00 per hour) and would not file the session with the AFM unless the results were destined for release. Upon release, Phillips would log a session with AFM members so that the titles could be cleared. McDaniel was probably expecting approximately $80 if not $160 as session leader and was told by Phillips that he was getting nothing unless the records were released. ''When I came out of the studio Sam Phillips was there and I was expecting to get paid for the session's'', he told Derek Glenister. ''I needed the money! Sam looked at me and said, 'We don't pay any pf the artists for the sessions. We take care of the musicians and then it's taken out of any money that is due to you''. I said, 'What do you mean you don't pay 'em? We're entitled to union scale'. That made me mad and Sam knew it. We just didn't see eye-to-eye at all and I let him know. And Sam let me know! He said, 'Well, if we can't come to an agreement then we just won't put the record out'. And that was that''. And so Luke McDaniel's affiliation with Sun Records ended on the sidewalk  outside 706 Union. McDaniel was bitterly disappointed because he had broken his contract with Mel Mallory to sign Sun. The sidewalk outside Sun was the place to be in 1956 or 1957, but only if you were walking in, not if you were walking away pissed off.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

SEPTEMBER 1956

Jackson, Tennessee, was a fertile source of talent for Sun Records. Carl Perkins and Carl Mann came from  there, and never moved away. Cliff Cleaves, Rayburn Anthony, Ramsey Kearney, Curtis Hobock, Danny  Stewart, and Tony Austin also came to Sun from Jackson without seeing much success, but Kenneth  Parchman was the unluckiest of all. Two of Parchman's recordings, ''Love Crazy Baby''/''Feel Like Rockin''',  were assigned a release number (Sun 252) but withdrawn after tapes had been sent for processing. If ''Feel  Like Rockin'''had been a hit, there would have been a lawsuit because it was litigiously close to Piano Red's  ''Rockin' With Red'', but ''Love Crazy Baby'' surely deserved a shot. Parchman's recording of ''You Call  Everybody Darin'''came in the wake of the rocket-up-oldie formula that Carl Mann brought to Sun. Although  Parchman eventually saw a release on Jackson Records, he soon gave up on music and became a successful  house-builder.

A series of arrests and riots follow British screenings of ''Rock Around The Clock'', a movie featuring Alan Freed, Bill Haley and the Comets, and the Platters. The movie is subsequently banned in cities across Britain.

SEPTEMBER 7, 1956 FRIDAY

Songwriter Diane Warren is born in Van Nuys, California. Primarily a pop composer, she earns country hits with Trisha Yearwood's ''How Do I Live'', Mark Chesnutt's ''I Don't Want To Miss A Thing'', Sara Evans ''I Could Not Ask For More'' and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's ''Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me''.

SEPTEMBER 8, 1956 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley makes the cover of TV Guide.

Singer/songwriter Eddie Cochran signs a recording contract with Liberty Records, where he recorded the original version of ''Summertime Blues''. The song will become a 1994 country hit for Alan Jackson.

Jimmy Boyd is arrested for reckless driving in Los Angeles after he was spotted drag racing and skidded into a fire hydrant on Kesler Avenue trying to elude the police. Boyd is fined $100.

SEPTEMBER 9, 1956 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley makes his first appearance on ''The Ed Sullivan Show''. He sings four songs, including ''Love Me Tender'' and ''Don't Be Cruel'', shot only from the waist up. Charles Laughton hosts in place of Sullivan, recuperating from an auto accident.
SEPTEMBER 1956

At age 15, John Lennon formed the skiffle group, the Quarrymen. Named after Quarry Bank High School,  the group was established by him in September 1956. By the summer of 1957, the Quarrymen played a  "spirited set of songs" made up of half skiffle and half rock and roll. Lennon first met Paul McCartney at the  Quarrymen's second performance, held in Woolton on 6 July at the St. Peter's Church Garden Festival, after  which he asked McCartney to join the band. By the end of that year, both McCartney and George Harrison  had joined the group, which eventually changed its name to Johnny and the Hurricanes. More name changes  followed, until the group, with Pete Best on drums, settled on the Beatles. On February 21, 1961, the band  began playing at the Cavern, a dark, dank, basement club located near Liverpool's docks. At the time,  Liverpool had a thriving music scene, which was documented in a paper called Mersey Beat. In May 1962,  the group, aided by manager Brain Epstein, signed with Parlophone Records, a division of EMI. That same  month, Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best as the Beatles's drummer.
 

 
 
When the rockabilly revival of the 1970s and 1980s and the exploration of the Sun Records catalog came about, one track was guaranteed to fill the dance floors of the rock and roll clubs, and it was ''Tennessee Zip'' by Kenny Parchman.

No one ever came closer than Kenny to having a record issued on Sun in its halcyon days. Release Sun 252 was assigned to ''Love Crazy Baby''/''I Feel Like Rockin''', but it was withdrawn at the last minute.  We had to wait twenty-five years to get our hands on those and other great slabs of true original rockabilly music from Kenny Parchman.
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR KENNETH PARCHMAN
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY/MONDAY   SEPTEMBER 9-10, 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT
 
From left: Jerry ''Smoochie'' Smith, George Sykes,  Kenny Parchman, Richard Page, Ronnie Parchman >
 
 

It was pianist Jerry Lee Smith who made the contact with Sam Phillips via Carl Perkins. Phillips liked ''Love Crazy Baby'' and ''I Feel Like Rockin''' and readied the record for release but at the eleventh hour decided not to issue.  Two songs were cut, publishing contracts were signed, recordings were mastered, assigned an issue number, scheduled... then cancelled at the last moment.  

The reasons for this have never explained but when Kenny was asked years later about the circumstances, he told Colin Escott: ''God man, I don't know why Sam Phillips never released my record. My manager left town shortly before the record was to be released''.  ''Maybe Phillips didn't want to release a single if I didn't have a manager behind me. I felt for sure we were going to have a record out on Sun''.
 
 
01(1) - "LOVE CRAZY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:03
Composer: - Kenneth Parchman
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Master Take 1
SUN 252 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 9-10, 1956
Released: - 1988
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) Sun 6-1 mono
SUN - ROCK AND ROLL ORIGINALS - VOLUME 2
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-2-23 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

01(2) - "LOVE CRAZY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:09
Composer: - Kenneth Parchman
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  September 9-10, 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1025-5 mono
HOT FLOP AND FLY
Reissued: - 1999 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16311-25 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 16

01(3) - "LOVE CRAZY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - Kenneth Parchman
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  September 9-10, 1956
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Sun England 33rpm LP 1038-12 mono
FEEL LIKE ROCKIN'
Reissued: - 2004 Fury Records Internet iTunes MP3-20 mono
KENNY PARCHMAN - I FEEL LIKE ROCKIN'
With nearly 40 years' hindsight, it is clear that these sides would have broken no new ground for Sun. Parchman's style is credible, if a bit mannered and lightweight. The truth is, if a Sun record from the 250 series had to be lost, better this than "Ubangi Stomp". Parchman came back to 706 Union to record again, although release of his work had to wait for Sun archaeologists a quarter century later.

This version of "Love Crazy Baby" clearly comes probably from another session. The guitar is to the fore on this version, which probably dates from early 1957.
 
   02(1) - "I FEEL LIKE ROCKIN'" - B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Kenny Parchman
Publisher: - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - None - Master Take 1
SUN 252 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  September 9-10, 1956
Released: - 1988
First appearance: - Sun England (CD) 500/200rpm SUN 6-2 mono
SUN - ROCK AND ROLL ORIGINALS - VOLUME 2
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-2-24 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

02(2) - "I FEEL LIKE ROCKIN'" - B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: - Kenny Parchman
Publisher: - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  September 9-10, 1956
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1038-6 mono
FEEL LIKE ROCKIN' 
Reissued: - May 29, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15213-3-2 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954-1959

02(3) - "I FEEL LIKE ROCKIN'" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Kenny Parchman
Publisher: - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - None - Take 3
Recorded: -  September 9-10, 1956
Released: - Sun Unissued

03 - "TENNESSEE ZIP" - B.M.I. - 2:21
Composer: - Kenneth Parchman-Jerry Lee Smith
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  September 9-10, 1956
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-4-1 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS - I FEEL LIKE ROCKIN'
Reissued: - 1999 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16311-14 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 16

"Tennessee Zip" is very much in the mode of Sun's big star from Jackson, Carl Perkins. Parchman has nailed Perkins' style right down to the scats.

04(1) - "TREAT ME RIGHT" – B.M.I. - 2:11
Composer: - Kenny Parchman
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  September 9-10, 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1025-4 mono
HOP FLOP AND FLY
Reissued: - August 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16210-9 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 14

"Treat Me Right" came from sessions this year, and passed over yet again, Parchman went on to record for Jaxon Records.

04(2) - "TREAT ME RIGHT" – B.M.I. - 3:01
Composer: - Kenny Parchman
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  September 9-10, 1956
Released: - 1988
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1036-5 mono
MORE SUNDOWN ROCKERS
Reissued: - 1998 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8137-6 mono
UNISSUED SUN MASTERS

04(3) - "TREAT ME RIGHT" – B.M.I. - 2:09
Composer: - Kenny Parchman
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: -  September 9-10, 1956
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1038-14 mono
FEEL LIKE ROCKIN'
Reissued: - 2004 Fury Records Internet iTunes MP3-18 mono
KENNY PARCHMAN - I FEEL LIKE ROCKIN'

04(4) - "TREAT ME RIGHT" – B.M.I.
Composer: - Kenny Parchman
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: -  September 9-10, 1956

 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Kenneth Parchman - Vocal and Guitar
Ronnie Parchman - Guitar and/or Drums
Jerry Lee Smith - Piano
R. Willie Stevenson - Bass

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 




Poster for Sonny Burgess and The Pacers at the Ozark Drive-In Theatre, Harrison, Arkansas, September 7, 1956 >

SEPTEMBER 9, 1956 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley makes his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, introduced by Charles  Laughton. Sullivan himself was recuperating from a car accident. Elvis performed ''Don't Be Cruel'', ''Love Me Tender'', and ''Ready Teddy'', to which he appended two versions of ''Hound Dog''.


During the final song, the cameras pulled away from Elvis's gyrating hips, so as not to shock the viewers. And there were a lot of them. More than 80 percent of American televisions were tuned to the show. At the end of Elvis's performance, Laughton joked, ''Well, what did someone say? Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast''? Elvis  is paid $50,000 for three appearances.

SEPTEMBER 9, 1956 SUNDAY

Frankie Lymon and the teenagers are on "Rock And Roll Dance Party on CBS radio.

SEPTEMBER 10, 1956 MONDAY

Bobby Bare holds the first recording session of his career, at the Capitol Recording Studio in Hollywood. His caking band includes Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West, Buck Owens and future Buckaroo drummer Pee Wee Adams.

Decca released Webb Pierce's ''Teenage Boogie''.

Sam Phillips completed the purchase of a new house in a leafy area of Memphis ''out east'' that had barely been developed. The whole family had been driving around every Sunday for what seemed like weeks to ten-year-old Knox, looking at various other houses in the area, ''and we got to 79 South Mendenhall'', Knox recalled,,''man, that was it, all in turquoise and a beautiful sort of pink. It had been designed by the builder, Chester A. Camp, who specialized in ''houses of the future'', in a U shape, with an interior courtyard, a pale adobe exterior with red mortar to accentuate its delicate highlights and an overhanging turquoise-colored roof, a spacious den with a back wall and fireplace made from the same Arkansas cut stone that carried over onto the patio, and a latticed carport that looked like it had been made for Sam's two-tone, air-conditioned Cadillac.

SEPTEMBER 10, 1956 MONDAY

Wade Moore and Dick Penner sign contracts with Sun. The Paris News, October 17, reports that Wade and Dick were ''playing weekends dates in theatres and a few weeks ago they made some recordings for Sam Phillips' Sun Recording Co. of Memphis''.

SEPTEMBER 11, 1956 TUESDAY

Kitty Wells recorded ''I'm Counting On You'' at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

SEPTEMBER 12, 1956 WEDNESDAY

Kitty Wells and Webb Pierce recorded ''O' So Many Years'' and ''One Week Later'' in Nashville at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio.

SEPTEMBER 13, 1956 THURSDAY

Kitty Wells recorded ''Repenting'' at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

Seventeen-year-old David Allan Coe is discharged from the Army.

SEPTEMBER 14, 1956 FRIDAY

Singer/songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman is born in Harlingen, Texas. Primarly a pop recording artist, she writes many country hits, including Faith Hill's ''This Kiss'', Alabama's ''Here We Are'', Lorrie Morgan's ''Five Minutes'' and Trisha Yearwood's ''You Say You Will''.

SEPTEMBER 15, 1956 SATURDAY

Dot released Leroy Van Dyke's pop hit ''Auctioneer''.

SEPTEMBER 17, 1956 MONDAY

Decca released Brenda Lee's first single ''Jambalaya (On The Bayou)''.

Capitol released Sonny James ''The Cat Came Back''.

SEPTEMBER 20, 1956 THURSDAY

Wanda Jackson recorded the original version of ''Silver Threads And Golden Needles'' at the Capitol Studios in Hollywood. It takes nearly two decades for the song to become a hit, when it's remade by Linda Ronstadt.

SEPTEMBER 21, 1956 FRIDAY

Filming concludes on Elvis Presley's first movie, ''Love Me Tender'', in Los Angeles.

SEPTEMBER 22, 1956 SATURDAY

Debby Boone is born in Hackensack, New Jersey. The daughter of Pat Boone and granddaughter of Red Foley, she earns a million-selling pop/country hit in 1977 with ''You Light Up My Life'', then scores a 1980 country hit, ''Are You On The Road To Lovin' Me Again''.

June Forester is born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. The Forester Sister emerge as a tight-harmonied female vocal group in the 1980s, leaning toward positive messages with such hits as ''I Fell In Love Again Last Night'', ''You Again'' and ''Letter Home''.


SEPTEMBER 23, 1956 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley and Nick Adams fly back to Memphis from Hollywood, California, and later visited the Sun studio. Here  Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley and Marion Keisker, together on the birthday of Marion Keisker, front of 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. Elvis also together with Sun recording star Warren Smith and some other Sun musicians, including band members of Johnny Cash >



NBC-TV debuts ''Circus Boy'', starring Micky Dolenz as an orphan. Dolenz goes on to sing lead on The Monkeys' ''Lat Train To Clarksville'', cited in the Country Music Foundation's ''Heartaches By The Number'' among country's 500 greatest singles.
 

SEPTEMBER 24, 1956 MONDAY

The singles,  Sun 250 "Black Jack David" b/w ''Ubangi Stomp'' by Warren   Smith;  Sun 251 ''Rock House'' b/w ''You're My Baby'' by Roy Orbison;  Sun 253 ''I Need A Man'' b/w ''No Matter Who's The Blame'' by Barbara Pittman;   Sun 254 ''Where'd You Stay Last Night'' b/w ''Come On Little Mama'' by Ray Harris released.

The Grand Ole Opry fires Jim Denny, booking agent for Opry road shows, after Roy Acuff accused Denny of favoritism and misappropriation of funds.

Carl Smith recorded ''You Can't Hurt Me Anymore'' during the afternoon at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

Capitol released Faron Young's two-sided single, ''Turn Her Down'' and the B-side, ''I'll Be Satisfied With Love''.

SEPTEMBER 26, 1956 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley returned to Tupelo, Mississippi to perform two shows at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. Elvis Presley Day is proclaimed in Tupelo, Mississippi. Elvis' parents join him as he returns to the town of his birth as a big star. He performs two shows at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, the same fair at which he had performed at age 10. This time there are a hundred National Guardsmen surrounding the stage to control the crowds of excited fans. 14 year old Wynette Pugh (Tammy Wynette) watchs from the front row.

SEPTEMBER 28, 1956 FRIDAY

RCA Victor released Elvis Presley's ''Love Me Tender'' and ''Any Way You Want Me (That's How I Will Be)'' (RCA Victor 47-6643).

''The Eddy Arnold Show'' makes its final prime-time appearance on ABC-TV.

SEPTEMBER 28, 1956 SATURDAY

Rose Maddox joins the Grand Ole Opry,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Christian singer/songwriter Bob Carlisle is born in Los Angeles. He writes Dolly Parton's ''Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That'' and gains a pop hit as an artist by recording ''Butterfly Kisses'', remade in country music by The Raybon Brothers.

Elvis Presley goes to number 1 on the Billboard country chart with a double-sided hit, ''Don't Be Cruel'' and ''Hound Dog''.
 

 
OCTOBER 1956
 


OCTOBER 1956

Sun 244, Jean Chapel's ''Welcome To The Club'' b/w ''I Won't Be Rockin' Tonight'', is re-released on RCA 20/47-6681, only 8 to 10 weeks after its Sun  launching.

Charlie Feathers has moved to King Records of Cincinnati, and his first single is released this   month.

OCTOBER 1956

Johnny Carroll and The Moonlighters never made a dime more than subsistence living even though, in Carroll's words, ''we played anyplace we possibly could and just tried to get on stage anywhere we could''. It was at the Northside Coliseum in Fort Worth that Carroll met Ferlin Husky. ''Ferlin heard us and he said, 'I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. There's a lot of important people out there. You go out and do the first fifteen minutes of my show'. And we did, and that's when this J.G. Tiger came up...". J.G. stood for Jack Goldman, who added a flamboyant but fictional surname to increase his prestige. Johnny thought he was pushy but positive. Tiger took the band, now renamed the Hot Rocks, into Dallas where he had an interest in the Top Ten Recording Studio. Tiger used the tapes they made to pitch to Paul Chen, Decca's artist and repertoire chief in Nashville. ''Tiger called me saying, 'I've got you a deal but the regular boys in the band can't come to the session'. We went down and did three tunes and the next day we did three more. They were cut in the basement of a house that belonged to Owen Bradley. The session guys listened to our demos and copied ém almost exactly''. The Decca singles were played in the South and the North East. Most of Carroll's fan mail, enough to fill two suitcases, came from New York or New Jersey, but on a national scale kids paid more attention to ads for pimple cream. The entrepreneurial Goldman decided that a movie would best promote his nineteen year old protege. His family financed ''Rock Baby, Rock It'', filmed mainly in Dallas, a movie about a group of youngsters who thwart gangsters threatening to evict them from the building in which they run their Hot Rock Club. Filmed in October 1956 and released in the summer of 1957, the musical interest centered on the rhythm and blues of the Five Stars and Rosco Gordon. Johnny Carroll and the Hot Rocks injected their own kind of blues, a wild, passionate, thoroughly abrasive music, recorded for the film at Pappy Sellers' studio in Dallas. The film played in a few venues and was then withdrawn. Carroll continued on stage but he and Goldman parted in acrimonious circumstances when Carroll discovered a Dallas venue had been paying a thousand dollars a night to Goldman, but Johnny had been getting a hundred. (See Johnny Carroll Sessions: June 23, 1957)

OCTOBER 1956

While still hanging around Sun, Conway Twitty management was taken over by Don Seat. In the big band are, Seat had been a pianist (turored he said by Count Basie). Later, he became an agent (Seat says a partner) with General Artists Corporation (GAC), one of the largest artist management companies in the United States. He worked with Johnnie Ray, Nat King Cole, Desi Arnaz, and many others. Twitty said that he got a letter from Seat, who'd been told him by someone who'd served with him in Japan. ''Seat wanted to know if I was doing this new rock and roll music that was happened down around Memphis'', Twitty said later. ''I wrote back and told him I was. He wrote back and asked for a demo tape, so I sent him a copy of two or three things I had done at Sun. A couple of weeks later I got a letter back saying that he could get me a contract with any label I wanted. I said, I want to go with Sun'. He said, 'No, not Sun. They're just a small label'''. Completely untrue, insisted Seat. He'd known Sam Phillips from the time when there had been plans to move Elvis from Sun to Columbia Records. He said he went to Memphis with Columbia's cheque for $25,000 in his pocket, and ''as soon as I saw Sam Phillips' face, I knew we didn't have a deal''. Seat said he was on his way back from another visit to Memphis when he met someone in Cincinnati who had a letter from Twitty in which Twitty said that he had written some songs for Elvis. Seat flew to Memphis, driving on to Helena to meet Twitty. This, he said, was around the time that Twitty was getting married for the second time, in other words October 1956. Seat sent him a tape recorder. A tape arrived from Twitty, and, in Seat;s account, he took it to Bob Shad, Mercury Records' New York head of A&R, and landed a contract. Around the same time, Harold Jenkins became Conway Twitty (needless to add, Seat and Twitty couldn't agree on how that came about, either).


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 STUDIO SESSION FOR HAYDEN THOMPSON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY OCTOBER 1, 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - ROLAND JANES

Perhaps Jack Clement and Sam Phillips decided that the recordings were not the finished article, but for whatever reason they were put to one side and Hayden was invited back to a second session two months or so later, on October 1, 1956. This time, he was backed by Sun's session musicians in the form of a band that played with Arkansan rocker Billy Lee Riley. They were Roland Janes on guitar, Marvin Pepper on bass, and drummer Jimmy Van Eaton. Two songs had been chosen as the focus for this session and for subsequent sessions in December.

From left: Marvin Pepper, Roland Janes, Hayden Thompson, Jimmy M. Van Eaton >

The first was "One Broken Heart", a shuffling ballad written by Hayden, and the other was a blues song that had been a minor hit on Sun Records for Junior Parker a few years earlier. Hayden doesn't remember exactly how he came to record Parker's "Love My Baby", saying:, "I had never heard of Junior Parker back at that time. I always thought that I heard the song from Billy Riley but he doesn't recall it that way,...
 
 
...so I think it was someone else at Sun was playing the song. Maybe it was Roland Janes. I never knew where it came from, but I did know that I liked it immediately. I thought it was a tremendous song for me"

01(1) - "ONE BROKEN HEART" (1) - B.M.I. - 2:25
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Gee Dee Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 1, 1956
Released: - 1988
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15263-2 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - FAILANE ROCK
Reissued: - 1997 Gee Dee Music (CD) 500/200rpm 270131-2-30 mono
LOVE MY BABY

0(2) - "ONE BROKEN HEART" (1) - B.M.I. - 2:18
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment
Matrix number: - None -Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 1, 1956
Released: - 1988
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15263-5 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - FAILANE ROCK  
Reissued:  - 2008  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16131-4 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

02(1) - "LOVE MY BABY" (1) - B.M.I. - 2:30
Composer: - Herman Parker-Sam Phillips
Publisher: - Memphis Music - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 1, 1956
Released: - 1988
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15263-1 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - FAIRLANE ROCK 
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16131-1 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

The version of "Love My Baby" were fired-up rockabilly from the off, even the initial run-through versions, and the slapped upright bass became more prominent as the song evolved, keeping time with ever more cutting guitar solos. Hayde delivered a raw and rocking vocal and Roland Janes came in with Scotty Moore-styled guitar solos. Jack Clement recognised the possibilities in this song and called a further session for December 11.

02(2) - "LOVE MY BABY" (1) - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Herman Parker-Sam Phillips
Publisher: - Memphis Music - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 1, 1956
Released: - 2008
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16131-34 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Hayden Thompson - Vocal and Guitar
Roland Janes - Guitar
Marvin Pepper - Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CARL PERKINS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
UNKNOWN SUN SESSION: PROBABLY 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

''THAT DON'T MOVE ME''

A real oddity, this song. Carl Perkins is known as a fine lyricist and songwriter but you'd never convince anybody by playing them ''That Don't Move Me''. The melody contains three chords and four notes - G A C C (in the key of C). Likewise, the lyrics aren't going to send Irving Berlin or Leiber and Stoller running for cover. There's basically nothing to this song. And that is exactly its strength.

It is pure energy. This is a tense, incessant, driving song that might as well have been an instrumental. The words mean next to nothing. All you need is that sample little guitar figure. If you insist on lyrics, the chorus and title phrase are all you get. Those extra lyrics in the verses are clunky and Carl has obvious difficulty phrasing them.

We've got six takes here, including a false start. The truth is, none of them works from start to finish. At its best, this sounds like a live recording - wild, energetic, sloppy and full of spontaneous feeling. Clayton slaps the hell out of his bass and drives the performance. W.S. provides a rock solid underpinning and keeps the verses separate with his tasty drum rolls after each 12 bars. Sometimes he accents on the tom-tom during the guitar solo. As live recordings go, this is a fine one. But it wasn't meant to be a live recording; it was cut in the studio and, as such, It falls far short.

The vocal is often off-mike. The echo cycles distractingly in and out. The lyrics are constantly being reshuffled, even in the chorus which only contains eight words!

The fifth take is the wildest, most spirited performance. But it's also quite sloppy. We may love this glimpse of Golden Age Carl Perkins a half a century later, but whether this was ever releasable material is another question. It sure is a perfect addition to an Outtake Box though.

01(1) – "THAT DON'T MOVE ME" - B.M.I. - 1:57
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-8 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

01(2) – "THAT DON'T MOVE ME" - B.M.I. - 1:58
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-9 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

01(3) – "THAT DON'T MOVE ME" - B.M.I. - 1:57
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-10 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

01(4) – "THAT DON'T MOVE ME" - B.M.I. - 0:14
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - False Start 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-11 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

01(5) – "THAT DON'T MOVE ME" - B.M.I. - 1:56
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240R-4-12 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

 01(6) – "CHATTER/THAT DON'T MOVE ME" - B.M.I. - 2:06
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 5 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - March 1982
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 101 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2-10 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

''LONELY STREET''
 
The first thing we can tell you about this song is that you can disregard all previous liner notes that talk about Carl Belew and Andy Williams. This song by Perkins shares a title with that 1959 hit by Williams and nothing more.

If you actually listen to the songs before writing about them, it's clear that the compositions have nothing in common musically. We truth is, the Belew/Williams song with this title is the hands down winner.


It's not clear what this recording is all about. Carl's vocal isn't that bad, although it is a bit emotionally overwrought. It's the band work that dooms these takes to their status among the worst things Carl recorded at Sun (or at ' least during the Sun years). The overall effect is about as draggy as Carl ever sounded on tape. Worse yet all versions feature the electric bass from hell.

 
It's hard to believe that a track sounding this bad ever emerged from 706 Union Avenue. You could have gotten a letter mix by throwing darts at the mixing board. In the unlikely event this is Clayton playing bass, we can charitably say this isn't among his finest work. It isn't just the overbearing sound of the bass in the  mix, it's the bass playing as well. Listen for some memorable clams at the end of the third take. The addition of a piano on the fourth take does little to relieve the tedium.

At least we can confident of thee time period during which this song was written and recorded. The lyric is directly insured by ''Heartbreak Hotel'', which pretty locates this sometime in 1956. In fact, ''Heartbreak Hotel'' spawned more the this unknown composition by Carl Perking. It seems to have given rise to a subgenre
of ''that's where you go when you're lonely'' compositions including Johnny Cash's ''Home Of The Blues'' (Sun 279, September 1957); The Gosdin Brothers' ''Lonely Lonesome Street'' (Cullman 6415, May, 1959); and Ricky Nelson's ''Lonesome Town'' (Imperial 5545, October, 1958).

To our misfortune, we don't get just one version of this song. Four times the boys went went back to the well, and four times they came back with something that sounded this bad. Unusually, amateurish home recordings are singular events. Do it, and move on to the next. The presence of four takes here does raise the legitimate question about the source of these recordings.

02(1) - "LONELY STREET" - B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Carl Belew-Kenny Sowder-W.S. Stevenson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-5-21 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

02(2) - "LONELY STREET" - B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Carl Belew-Kenny Sowder-W.S. Stevenson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released:  - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-5-22 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

02(3) - "LONELY STREET" - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: - Carl Belew-Kenny Sowder-W.S. Stevenson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released:  - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-5-23 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

02(4) - "STUDIO TALK/LONELY STREET" - B.M.I. - 2:51
Composer: - Carl Belew-Kenny Sowder-W.S. Stevenson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released:  - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-5-24 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

02(5) - "LONELY TREET" - B.M.I. - 2:46
Composer: - Carl Belew-Kenny Sowder-W.S. Stevenson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - 1975 
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 300 003 mono
CARL PERKINS - ROCKIN' GUITAR MAN
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2-11 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Carl Perkins - Vocal and Guitar
Thomas E. Cisco (Eddie Star) - Rhythm Guitar
Lloyd Clayton Perkins - Bass
W.S. "Fluke" Holland - Drums
Jimmy Smith – Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 STUDIO SESSION FOR JOHNNY CASH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY OCTOBER 1, 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT

"One More Ride", like "Brakeman's Blues", is another incomplete take that falls apart. It is a mystery as to why they gave up on what would have been another song suited to Cash's style. It was the only song recorded at this session in October 1956. Fortunately Cash did return to the song during is early sessions for Columbia Records.

01 - "ONE MORE RIDE" - B.M.I. - 1:23
Composer: - Bob Nolan
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Incomplete Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 1, 1956
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 103 5-1-27 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 1557-1-28 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE MAN IN BLACK 1954 - 1958

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

OCTOBER 1, 1956 MONDAY

Capitol released Tennessee Ernie Ford's ''Hymns'' album.

Columbia released Ray Price's double-sided single, ''I've Got A New Heatache'' and ''Wasted Words''.

OCTOBER 4, 1956 THURSDAY

NBC-TV broadcast the debut of ''The Ford Show'', a variety program featuring Tennessee Ernie Ford as host and regular cast member Molly Bee. The show runs nearly five years.

OCTOBER 5, 1956 FRIDAY

''Daniel Boone, Trail Blazer'' debuts in theaters, with Lon Chaney Jr. and Faron Young.
 
The wildly popular epic film “The Ten Commandments” premieres in the United States. The film, directed by legendary icon Cecil B. DeMille, starred Charlton Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Rameses and Anne Baxter as Nefretiri. The film told the Biblical tale of Moses in a grand and cinematic way and was filmed on location in Egypt. At the time it was created, “The Ten Commandments” was the most expensive film ever made and featured some of the largest sets ever created. It was a huge financial success and had critical acclaim, being nominated for 7 Academy Awards.

OCTOBER 9, 1956 TUESDAY

Instrumental partners Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West hold what proves to be their final recording session as a duo in Los Angeles.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR ONIE WHEELER
FOR COLUMBIA RECORDS 1956

MUSIC CITY RECORDERS
804 16TH AVENUE SOUTH, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
COLUMBIA SESSION: TUESDAY OCTOBER 9, 1956
SESSION HOURS: 14:00-17:00
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – DON LAW

01 – ''A BOOGER GONNA GETCHA'' – B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Onie Wheeler
Publisher: - Peer Music
Matrix number : OB 1210 / CO 56953
Recorded: - October 9, 1956
Released: - 1956
First appearance: - Columbia Records (S) 78rpm standard single Columbia 40787-4 mono
A BOOGER GONNA GETCHA / A BEGGAR FOR YOUR LOVE
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-5 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

02 – ''A BEGGAR FOR YOUR LOVE'' – B.M.I. - 2:34
Composer: - Crowe
Publisher: - Peer Music
Matrix number : OB 1211 / CO 56954
Recorded: - October 9, 1956
Released: - 1956
First appearance: - Columbia Records (S) 78rpm standard single Columbia 40787-4 mono
A BEGGAR FOR YOUR LOVE / A BOOGER GONNA GETCHA
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-10 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Onie Wheeler – Vocal, Harmonica, Guitar
Joseph Edwards - Guitar
Ray Edenton – Guitar
Buddy Emmons – Steel Guitar
Roy M. ''Junior'' Huskey – Bass
Dale Potter - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

OCTOBER 10, 1956 WEDNESDAY

The movie ''Giant'' premieres, starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and the late James Dean. Years later, Taylor's role in the picture inspires The Statler Brothers' Jimmy Fortune to write ''Elizabeth''. Also in the movie, Shen Wooley and Ray Whitley.

A New Jersey woman testifies in court that her husband hit her because she's a fan of Elvis Presley. The husband, a Bing Crosby fan, claims she hit him, too. The judge finds both innocent of assault charges.

OCTOBER 13, 1956 SATURDAY

Ricky Nelson and the Nelson family appear on the cover of TV Guide.

OCTOBER 16, 1956 TUESDAY

George Morgan recorded ''There Goes My Love''.

Little Richard recorded the rhythm and blues hit ''Send Me Some Lovin'''at J&M Studio in New Orleans. Hank Williams Jr. and Lois Johnson will earn a country hit by remaking the song 15 years later.

OCTOBER 18, 1956 THURSDAY

When Elvis Presley stops at a Memphis gas station, fans cause a scene, and station owner Ed Hoper pops Elvis in the head. Presley gives Hopper a black eye. They are booked, with one other participant for assault. Charges against Presley are dropped.

Just five months after playing on the classic ''Be-Bop-A-Lula'', Cliff Gallup takes part in his final recording session as a member of Gene Vincent's Blue Caps.

OCTOBER 19, 1956 FRIDAY

RCA Victor released Elvis Presley's second album, ''Elvis'' (RCA Victor LPM-1302).

Sax player and band leader Isham Jones dies in Hollywood. He wrote ''It Had To Be You'', ''You're In The Army Now'' and ''My Best To You'', an Eddy Howard pop hit that was re-constructed for the country charts by the Sons Of The Pioneers.

OCTOBER 20, 1956 SATURDAY

Fiddler Benny Martin makes his first solo appearance on the Grand Ole Opry,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

OCTOBER 21, 1956 SUNDAY

Carrie Fisher is born in Berverly Hills. The daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, the ''Star Wars'' actress marries Paul Simon in 1983, three years after his song ''The Boxer'' became a hit for Emmylou Harris.

OCTOBER 22, 1956 MONDAY

Decca released The Wilburn Brothers' ''Go Away With Me''.

Capitol released Wanda Jackson's ''Silver Threads And Golden Needles''. The song becomes a hit for Linda Ronstadt in 1974.

OCTOBER 23, 1956 TUESDAY

Dwight Yoakam is born in Pikeville, Kentucky. With an edgy vocal style and a proclivity for roots music, he becomes one of country's most creative forces, augmenting such iconic hits as ''Honky Tonk Man'', ''Ain't That Lonely Yet'' and ''Fast As You'' with a side career as an actor.

OCTOBER 1956

A very different African American artist, Rosco Gordon had an affiliation with Sam Phillips that predated   Sun Records. In the early 1950s, Phillips recorded him for RPM, Chess and Duke. Returning to Phillips in   1955, Rosco cut four singles that remained true to his credo while staying up on what was happening. The   third in 1956, ''Cheese And Crackers'', was co-credited to Hayden Thompson. Gordon said that he found the   song fragment on the piano. Thompson said he met Gordon next door to Sun at Dell Taylor's Cafe and insisted   that they wrote it together there. ''Hayden Thompson'' said Rosco. ''No, I never met him. Never heard of   him''. Billboard gave it a nomination as ''Far Out Record of the Week'' on January 5, 1957, adding, in its   review that, ''cat is on a real screaming kick... a far-out novelty that youngsters may dig''. Sadly, not so,   Rosco's last Sun single was a sweetly anomalous slice of black rockabilly, ''Sally Jo''. It would take a move to  Vee-Jay to get his career back on track.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Rockabilly artist Hayden Thompson storms out of the Sun Recording Studio at 706 Union Avenue, after wasting the whole day with Sam Phillips. The boys had been trying to work up some material good enough for an upcoming single, most of the songs that day were covers of old blues songs, but one "Cheese And Crackers" was penned by Hayden himself. Unfortunately the song's awkward structure left Hayden creatively lost. Disgusted at the lack of inspiration with the song, Hayden left the lyrics on top of the studio's beat up Wurlitzer piano and headed for home.

''sittin' at the bar, high as a bat
when up walked to me, this old alley cat
he looked at me and said now son "Cheese and Crackers anyone?"
I said "No! I don't like 'em!"

''my friend got sick, laid up in the bed
Ole' doctor came over, you know what he said?
"Cheese and crackers anyone?"
I don't like 'em that's why I said No!

''when I was just boy, still at home
that's before I decided to roam
when the dinner bell rang, you could hear my daddy yell...
"Cheese and Crackers anyone?!"
I said No!

Sam Phillips calls Rosco Gordon and tells him to come to the studio for a night of recording, and Rosco finds Hayden's unused lyrics on the piano and in about 10 minutes he has worked up the song as a shuffle. The novelty song is so strange that Sam reserves it for the B side and has Roscoe cut a Fats Domino inspired song called "Shoobie Oobie". Neither side cracked the charts but "Cheese And Crackers" was quoted by Billboard as the "weirdest record of the week."

STUDIO SESSION FOR ROSCO GORDON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: THURSDAY OCTOBER 25, 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Rosco Gordon >

His head to one side, and with the kind of inert enunciation that someone like Mose Alison would adopt in the seasons ahead, the irrepressible Rosco Gordon puts in yet another appearance on the Sun release schedule.  A quick look at Sun's output reveals that Rosco was the only black artist who still caught Sam Phillips' fancy from January, 1956 until April of the following year.  During his formative sessions at Sun, Hayden Thompson was trying to work up a lyric called "Cheese And Crackers", which he apparently left laying around the Sun studio in September or earlier October.

It was picked up by rhythm and blues singer Rosco Gordon, who finished the song and changed the melody a little in time to record the song at the end of October that year. Gordon's disc was issued within a month, at the end of November, while Hayden was still awaiting his break on the label. Nevertheless, id did give him his first credit as a songwriter apart from his Von disc.
Rosco Gordon used his larynx more as an instrument than as a vocal attribute: Witness his gargling fluid delivery on "Cheese And Crackers". Even more oblique is the rolling piano intro, which conjures up the accompaniment to a silent movie - the part where the villain makes his entrance. There must have been a permanent high at Sun cutting records like this.

"Cheese And Crackers", gives full vent to Rosco's zaniless. As Billboard noted, "Cat is on a real screaming kick here". The story goes that Hayden Thompson left the lyrics (or most of them, anyway) on the piano at Sun, and Rosco found them and worked them up into the song we know. Its an engaging tale if true, and almost too bizarre not to be true.
 
01 - "CHEESE AND CRACKERS" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Hayden Thompson
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 225   - Master
Recorded: - October 25, 1956
Released: - November 21, 1956
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 257-A mono
CHEESE AND CRACKERS / SHOOBIE OOBIE
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-3-8 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

When Rosco Gordon made his triumphant return to performing in Memphis in 1981, ''Shoobie Oobie'' was one of his featured numbers. He turned in a dazzling performance and, as he must have done in Phillips' studio, he left his trademark ''blood on the keys'' from playing so hard. The first twelve bars of this track are incessant and memorable. It's a bit surprising that all of this musical tension and power abates so soon and the song resolves itself into a playful and scat-nonsense lyric with the band joining in the backing vocals. This track, and its utterly bizarre flipside, ''Cheese And Crackers'', attracted a fair bit of southern attention during its original release in November 1956. Billboard noted that it ''had some flash'' and was ''good for a few spins''. There had been seismic changes in blues, rhythm and blues and popular music in general in the six years since Gordon first recorded at Sam Phillips' studio. His shambolic, loping rhythms were framed differently... but not much differently. The core of his music was still essentially and delightfully the same.
 
 02 - "SHOOBIE OOBIE" - B.M.I. - 2:57
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 224  - Master
Recorded: - October 25, 1956
Released: - November 21, 1956
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 257-B mono
SHOOBIE OOBIE / CHEESE AND CRACKERS
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-3-7 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

03 - "NEW ORLEANS" - B.M.I. - 2:08
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 25, 1956
Released: 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-8-22 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUEAS YEARS 1950 - 1958

Another example of Rosco's Vee-Jay output having its origins in his Sun recordings, this early version of "New Orleans" boasts a full production and could quite easily have been released as a single. The opening couplet is derived from Stick McGhee's earlier opus about the Crescent City's lifestyle - viz: "Drinkin' Spo - Dee-O-Dee" - whilst the general background anarchy puts one in mind of Gary U.S. Bond's early 1960s hits. Whatever, Sam Phillips never saw fit to release this infectious track, which remained in the can until its inclusion in the original Sun Box.

04 - "HARD HEADED WOMAN" - B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 25, 1956
Released: - 2006
First appearance: - Charly Records Internet iTunes mono
ROSCO GORDON - SELECTED HITS

05 - "STAY WITH ME BABY'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - October 25, 1956

06 - "JUST MY MEMORIES OF YOU'' - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 25, 1956
Released: - April 21, 2009
First appearance: - JSP Records (CD) 500/200rpm B001TKKAFK mono
LET'S GET HIGH - THE MAN ABOUT MUSIC FROM MEMPHIS
Reissued: - 2014 Cherished Records Internet iTunes-6 mono
ROSCO GORDON - JUST A LITTLE BIT

07 - "REAL PRETTY MAMA'' - B.M.I. - 2:08
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - October 25, 1956
Released: - April 21, 2009
First appearance: - JSP Records (CD) 500/200rpm B001TKKAFK mono
LET'S GET HIGH - THE MAN ABOUT MUSIC FROM MEMPHIS
Reissued: - 2014 Cherished Records Internet iTunes-21 mono
ROSCO GORDON - JUST A LITTLE BIT

 Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rosco Gordon - Vocal and Piano
Phillip Walker - Guitar
L.W. Canty - Bass
Joe W. Payne - Drums
James Jones - Tenor Saxophone
Lionel Prevost - Tenor Saxophone

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

OCTOBER 27, 1956 SATURDAY

Brenda Lee makes a guest appearance on NBC-TVs ''The Perry Como Show''.

OCTOBER 28, 1956 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley makes his second appearance on "The Ed Sullivan show, performing ''Don't Be Cruel'', ''Hound Dog'', ''Love Me'' and ''Love Me Tender''.

OCTOBER 29, 1956 MONDAY

Charley Pride pitches four innings of shutout ball, as the Negro League All-Stars beat the Major League All-Stars, including Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, 4-2.

Priscilla Beaulieu, the future wife of Elvis Presley, is crowned queen of the Popham Halloween Carnival in Austin, Texas.

OCTOBER 30, 1956 TUESDAY

Sonny James recorded ''Young Love'' and its B-side ''You're The Reason I'm In Love'' at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

END OCTOBER 1956

Jerry Lee Lewis begins to appear at the Sun studios to make demo tapes.
 

 
NOVEMBER 1956
 

 
NOVEMBER 1, 1956 THURSDAY

Singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett is born in Klein, Texas. Following his 1986 debut album, his eclectic music reaches a national audience, making him one of the ambassadors for the Texas red-dirt scene.

Elvis Presley purchases a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in Memphis and goes for a ride with film star Natalie Wood, escorted by local police.

Blues singer Tommy Johnson dies in Crystal Springs, Mississippi. His ''Cool Drink Of Water Blues'' is named in the Country Music Foundation's ''Heartaches By The Number'' among country's 500 greatest singles.

NOVEMBER 3, 1956 SATURDAY

The Tulane Hotel is demolished at 8th and Church Street in Nashville. Home of the Castle Recording Studio, the building was a recording site for Ernest Tubb, Red Foley, Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Carl Smith, The Louvin Brothers, and others.

Jerry Lee Lewis gives his final performance at the raunchy Blue Cat Club in Ferriday, Louisiana. The next day, he heads to Memphis in search of a deal with Sun Records.
 


Johnny Bernero played drums on Sun Records by Elvis Presley, Warren Smith, Barbara Pittman, Billy Riley, Smokey Joe, and many more. His kit was set up in the studio, and Sam Phillips would place a call across the street to Bernero's place of employment, Memphis Light Gas & Water. Seeing fifteen bucks for records that sold hundred of thousands of copies. Bernero's unweird sound was deeply rooted in western swing and his tapes were shelved immediately after the sessions. Perhaps his music fit no known definition of rock and roll, but its contagious energy and innate musically counts for something. Bernero always spoke highly of Hugh Jeffrey's steel guitar playing, and now we understand why. He was barely outclassed by Joaquin Murphey, Leon McAulife and the other giants of western swing steel guitar.

Stylistically, the Kirby Sisters' exquisite harmonies belonged with Johnny Bernero, and neither of them belonged on Sun. It's Bernero we hear again on Barbara Pittman's first Sun single.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOHNNY BERNERO & THURMAN ENLOW
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY NOVEMBER 4, 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - PROBABLY JACK CLEMENT

When Elvis chose to use drums during the latter stages of his time at Sun Records, Johnny Bernero was one of the players who fulfilled the task. Apart from his musical capabilities Bernero was easy to hire because he worked right across the street from the studio at The Memphis Light, Gas and Water Corporation. On a couple of occasions he was given the chance to flex his wrists as a possible artist and the high-tailed "Cotton Pickin' Boogie" represents an area of excitement that Sun rarely covered.

01 - "COTTON PICKIN' BOOGIE" - B.M.I. - 3:15
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 4, 1956
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - 2002 Sanctuary Records (CD) 500/200rpm FBUBX002-4-4 mono
50 GOLDEN YEARS 1952 - 2002
Reissued: - May 29, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-2-1 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959
Johnny Bernero & The Atomics. From left: Bill Torrance, Hugh Jeffries, Johnny Bernero, Thurman Enlow, Dick Wharton >

According to vocalist/pianist Thurman Enlow, this next and six other tracks recorded by The Johnny Bernero Band were never leased by Sam Phillips simply because they were "too good". By "good", Phillips was no doubt referring to the distance between Bernero's style and the more promitive rock and roll sounds that were sweeping the marketplace. And who knew this better than Sam Phillips?

In an interview with Colin Escott, Bernero reflected that he'd sat in Taylor's Café next door to Sun. "I looked at the jukebox and there were maybe five or six Sun records on there and I'd played on all of them.  All the guys were driving Cadillac's, making big money and I was getting $15 a session. That's when I got the idea of bringing my own band in".

Even if Bernero's perception of his Sun brothers' fortunes was a bit exaggerated, this was plainly not the music Sam Phillips was looking for in 1956. These guys were too good.
 
 
Their style was firmly rooted in western swing and big band music. Nevertheless on this track the band comes as close as it could to the sound Phillips was after. Enlow's vocal may be a bit laid back, but there is a real edge to the playing here, with a fine sax break by Dick Horton and a wonderful guitar solo by Buddy Holobaugh when he comes in for the final eight bars.
02 - "ROCKIN' AT THE WOODCHOPPER'S BALL" - B.M.I. - 3:19
Composer: - Bishop-Herman
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably November 4, 1956
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8302-10 mono
706 UNION INSTRUMENTALS
Reissued: - May 29, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-2-2 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959

03 - "BERNERO'S BOOGIE/FALSE START/''I DON'T MIND'' - B.M.I. - 3:47
Composer: - Johnny Bernero
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably November 4, 1956
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8302-11 mono
706 UNION INSTRUMENTALS
Reissued: - May 29, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-2-4 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959

The 1947 Spade Cooley classic is dressed up fit to kill on this stunning version by the Bernero Band. Probably dating from 1956, it was delightfully at variance with the rockabilly trend that was sweeping Memphis and, of course, stood little or no chance of getting released. At the very least, it shows that the high regard in which Hugh Jeffries was held by local musicians was well justified. His steel playing is outstanding and the ensemble work is very tight and swings beautifully. Johnny Bernero was a powerhouse on drums, always to be found accenting and pushing at the right moments. This was the music that he loved to play, even though many of the rockabilly classics from 1955 and 1956 bear his imprint. Ted Enlow recalled that Jack Clement asked him to sing half a tone higher than he wanted on this cut, but he doesn't sound uneasy. This is compelling music and there is little doubt that the group would have seen some releases on Sun if they had arrived a couple of years earlier. Phillips loved this style of music to, but he also had a fine grasp of what was selling.
 
04 - "RED HAIR AND GREEN EYES" - B.M.I. - 3:33
Composer: - Spade Cooley-Jay Milton
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably November 4, 1956
Released: - November 1987
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-4-10 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-3-1 mono
SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

05 - "I DON'T MIND" - B.M.I. - 2:57
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably November 4, 1956
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-2-11 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE ROCKING YEARS - COME ON LITTLE MAMA
Reissued: - May 29, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-2-5 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959

06 - "BLUEBERRY HILL'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Al Lewis-Larry Stock-Vincent Rose
Publisher: - Victoria Music Publishing Corporation Limited
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably November 4, 1956

''Blueberry Hill'' was originally recorded by Gene Autry in 1940 for the film ''The Singing Hill'' but was soon picked up by other artists and producers who realised the simple little song had the makings of a classic. Countless artists have put their own stamp on the song but it is the version of Fats Domino, released in 1956, which had best stood the test of time. Domino's influential oeuvre has compassed pianobased rhythm and blues, rock and roll, zydeco, Cajun and boogie woogie. It was almost certainly his version - lilting rock and roll which the quartet was best acquainted with. According to several reports, Elvis started the session with this song. Needless to say the piano parts would have been put in Jerry Lee's hands. ''Blueberry Hill'' has been recorded by numerous acts over the years, from the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1940 to Led Zeppelin, who performed it live at the Los Angeles Forum in 1970 at a concert from which a bootleg album called ''Live At Blueberry Hill'' subsequently appeared.

  Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bernero - Drums
Thurman Enlow - Vocal and Piano
Hugh Jeffries - Steel Guitar
Herman "Hawk" Hawkins - Bass
Johnny "Ace" Cannon - Tenor Saxophone
Hank Bowers - Trumpet
  
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

NOVEMBER 1956

Future Sun artist Ray Smith started with his group the Rock And Rollers on radio at WMOK in Metropolis, Illinois, and became one of the hottest bands in the Ohio Valley and the mid-West. ''We did mostly one-nighters, concerts and night clubs in Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, California, as many states as there are in the USA... we worked them all. I also had my own TV show for two and one half years on WPSD, channel six, in Paducah'', recalled Ray.

Ray Smith (playing acoustic guitar), 1956 >

Charlie Terrell owned a lime and fertilizer company in Sikeston, Missouri, but he'd detoured into artist management with Onie Wheeler. ''Charlie saw my TV show'', said Ray, ''and gave me a call at the station after my show was over, asking me if I had a manager. He also asked me if I was a recording artist. I replied 'No' to both questions and he asked me if I would like to have one. I replied, 'I don't know...
 
 
...I'm working seven nights a week and doing a TV show as it is'. He said, 'When can I meet you for discussion regarding management and a recording contract'? He came to my home three times, and on the third time I drove into my driveway and there was a car sitting in front of my home. The man got out of the car with an attache case in his hand, walked up to me and said, 'Are you Ray Smith'? I said, 'Yes'. We proceeded to talk business. After a conversation and everything was settled, the final words were, 'If I can get you a contract from Sun Records signed by Sam Phillips. Charlie Terrell was my manager for fifteen years''. Not so fast says Gerald Nelson, who later wrote ''Tragedy'' and a slew of Nashville hits. ''Ray was from Paducah where Fred Burch and I are from'', Nelson told Jim Newcombe, ''and he fooled around there for many years and was quite a big local name. We grew up with him. The internet says his manager took him to Sun but I'm the guy who got him on Sun, me, myself, and I... When Fred and I first went to Memphis we lived with Jack Clement for a long time. Jack was an engineer at Sun, so we knew them all... The Sun studio was wall to wall cigarette butts and Thunderbird wine. It was a fun place''. Nelson's account isn't entirely inconsistent with Terrell's, but Terrell certainly didn't mention that Nelson and Burch were involved.

NOVEMBER 1956

As Sam Phillips told Malcolm Yelvington's guitarist in 1953, he was willing to listen to  anybody who walked in off the street, for a fly years, at least. He discovered Elvis Presley,  Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis that way. All that was required was to be in  the right place, which Phillips evidently was.

Some of those who came to the little storefront studio were invited back to cut a session.  They were usually backed by the nucleus of the Riley band, unless the had their own  musicians. Some, such as Ed Bruce and Dickey Lee, saw a release or two before going on to  carve out a career elsewhere. Others, Conway Twitty, tried hard to secure a Sun contract,  but fell short. Very few had ever recorded before; some would never record again.

''Sam was totally involved in what he was doings'', recalls Edwin Howard, who worked across  the street at the Memphis Press Scimitar. ''He was very enthusiastic. He played that control  board like a musical instrument and talked a lot back and forth between the control room  and the studio. He'd do a take, talk about it, do another, talk about it. Over and over and  over''. All the while the tape was rolling. ''I remember Sam telling me'', says Roland Janes,  ''that nothing was cheaper team tape''.

By 1957 Phillips had begun to delegate the task of checking out tapes and aspirants to Bill  Justis and Jack Clement. In the two years that followed, Sun's recorded output would  increasingly bear their stamp. Unlike Sam Phillips, they were practicing musicians, and their  tastes were more sophisticated than his. Yet they sometimes recognized a raw talent for  what it was worth, as Jack Clement proved one afternoon toward the end of 1956, when he  was asked to audition a young man who had just arrived from Ferriday, Louisiana.

NOVEMBER 5, 1956 MONDAY

Don Gibson signs with RCA Records.

Elvis Presley attends the opening of the Beginner Driver Range in Memphis, the first driving school in the nation sponsored by the police department.

Jerry Lee Lewis scores an impromptu adition at Memphis' Sun Records, with engineer Jack Clement. In less than 10 days, he makes his first record.

NBC debuts ''The Nat King Cole Show'' making the former country hitmaker the first African-American host of a national TV show.

Decca released Kitty Well's double-sided hit ''Repenting'' and ''I'm Counting On You''.

NOVEMBER 6, 1956 TUESDAY

Webb Pierce recorded ''I'm Tired'', ''It's My Way'' and ''Cryin' Over You'' at Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

Stonewall Jackson moves to Nashville from North Carolina. Just three days later, he makes his Grand Ole Opry debut.

NOVEMBER 7, 1956 WEDNESDAY

Ferlin Husky recorded ''Gone'' in Nashville at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio.

Stonewall Jackson makes a rough demo tape of three songs, including ''Don't Be Angry'', at Acuff-Rose Music in Nashville, seeking an evaluation. Even better, it results in a guest slot on the Grand Ole Opry.

NOVEMBER 8, 1956 THURSDAY

Patsy Cline recorded ''Walkin' After Midnight'' and ''A Poor man's Roses (Or A Rich Man's Gold)'' at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

Merle and Bettie Lou Travis remarry in Los Angeles after a judge had declared their Tijuana wedding invalid. The ceremony is witnessed by Wesley and Marilyn Tuttle.

NOVEMBER 9, 1956 FRIDAY

Stonewall Jackson debuts on the Grand Ole Opry,  at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee,  singing ''Don't Ne Angry'', backed by Ernest Tubb's band.

Drummer Bruce Rutherford is born in Birmingham, Alabama. He joins Alan Jackson's Strayhorns in 1990, appearing on such hits as ''Chattahoochee'', ''Mercury Blues'' and ''Tonight I Climbed The Wall'.

NOVEMBER 10, 1956 SATURDAY

Stonewall Jackson and The Wilburn Brothers join the Grand Ole Opry, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

NOVEMBER 11, 1956 SUNDAY

Billy Smith is born in Reidsville, North Carolina. He becomes a singer and bass player with The Osborne Brothers.

NOVEMBER 12, 1956 MONDAY

Johnny Horton recorded ''I'm Coming Home'' during a night-time recording session at Nashville's Bradley Film and Recording Studio.

Columbia released George Morgan's ''There Goes My Love''.

NOVEMBER 14, 1956 WEDNESDAY

In his first session, Jerry Lee Lewis recorded ''The End Of The Road'' and Crazy Arms'' at Sun Recording Studio in Memphis (See: below).

Bassist Alec John Such is born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He becomes a member of the rock band Bon Jovi, evetually leaving in 1994. The group is mentioned in the lyrics of Joe Nichols' 2005 country hit ''Tequila makes Her Clothes Fall Off''.
NOVEMBER 1956

When musicians sit around and trade heir stories of wildness, onstage and off, the  conversation almost inevitably turns to Jerry Lee Lewis. In a profession founded on excess,  Lewis has made his name as one of the most excessive. Tortured by an unfathomable religion  and driven by an ego as big as all outdoors, he has built a legend around himself that eclipses  mortal bounds. He is the self-created Killer, defying God to come and reclaim him with his  feats of debauchery, defying the law and the Internal Revenue Service to take him alive, and  defying every singer who fancies himself a showman to follow Jerry Lee Lewis on stage.

The legend of Jerry Lee Lewis had its humble beginnings when the young singer, barely in  his twenties, stood at the door of Sun Records in November 1956, waiting for a chance to sit  at the tired studio spinet and ply his wares, a chance conspicuously denied him at other  studios. Sam C. Phillips would later look into the singer's eyes and see a craziness that  matched his own. More than that, Phillips saw an artist who could do all the things that he  would have done if he could have sung and played. It's difficult not to believe that Sam  Phillips and Jerry Lee Lewis were destined to come together, and together they defined all  that is best in rock and roll.

Lewis s musical reputation rests on the strength of his Sun recordings. The Top 20 hits were  only four in number; few legends in popular music have been grounded in such low gross  sales. Lewis is prone to brag about the sales of ''Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On'', but the fact  remains that not merely one but two versions of ''The Banana Boat Song'', together with  some thirty or forty other records, out-sold ''Whole ditto Shakin''' in 1957. And by the middle  of the following year Jerry Lee Lewis's career in the Top 20 was over. All of which goes to  show that even in popular music chart placings aren't everything. God-Given Talent, as Jerry  Lee Lewis will be the first to tell you, counts for something.

It was not until the 1970s and 1980s that the full picture of what Lewis recorded at Sun  became clear. The rejected masters and outtakes, unearthed from Shelby Singletons  basement, revealed a wonderfully consistent body of work, every take minted afresh. Even  the session chatter and jive between songs was entertaining. In terms of capturing the sheer  joy of performing, nothing can match Jerry Lee Lewis's recordings at Sun.
NOVEMBER 1956

At some point in (end of October) 1956, after a demoralising sojourn in Nashville, Jerry Lee Lewis read an  article about Elvis Presley in Country Song Roundup. He decided that his music might fall  upon more receptive ears in Memphis. He and his father, Elmo Lewis, sold 13 dozen eggs and  drove north to Memphis. Sam Phillips had gone out to work on a new radio station in Marked  Tree, Arkansas. Jack Clement was in the control room and said: "I was working with Roy  Orbison, and Sally Wilbourn brought Jerry Lee back to me''.


''She said, 'I've got a fella here  who says he play piano like Chet Atkins' and I believe he was playing piano with his right  hand and drums with his left.  I finally made a tape with him because he was different. We  recorded "Seasons Of My Heard", but I told him to forget about country because it wasn't  happening at that time. I took his name and told him I'd let Sam hear the tape when he got  back. After Jerry left, I started listening to the tape and I found that I liked it. It really grews  on me".
 


 
A LITTLE STORY ABOUT THAT SESSION - ''Sam was burned out on this engineering stuff'', Jack   Clement remarks. ''He had been doing it for years, so he hired me as his assistant and pretty   soon he was letting me work with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and all the rest of them''.

Nevertheless, when Clement played Phillips the tape of Jerry Lee Lewis performing country   standards, following the studio owner’s return from his Florida vacation, it piqued his   interest.

''I really was looking for an artist who could be a lead piano player and hopefully a vocalist,   too, and damn if Jerry Lee Lewis wasn’t like that'', Sam Phillips recalled. ''I really do think   that the guitar is the greatest instrument on the planet, but there were so many guitarists   by that time that I wanted a piano. So, when I heard this demo of Jerry Lee Lewis, I said,   'Where is that cat? Get a hold of him and get him in here! I want to talk to him'''.

Jack Clement picks up the story: ''Jerry Lee’s phone number was on the back of the box of   tape, but one day he just walked in with his daddy and I said, 'Well, I’ve been meaning to   call you'. This was on a Monday, and I told him that if he could come back on Thursday we'd   cut some tracks. When Thursday arrived, Sam Phillips had gone to the annual Disc Jockey   Convention in Nashville, so I took charge of the session. Jerry Lee played me this song he   had written called ''End Of The Road'', and I liked it. Then he had a rocking version of the old   Gene Autry country song ''You’re The Only Star In My Blue Heaven'', and he sat down at the   piano and played the heck out of that in a whole different way. I said, 'That’s great'. So, we   cut ''End Of The Road'', and just as we were about to quit I asked him, 'Do you know ''Crazy   Arms''?. That song had been out for quite a while''.

Recorded by Ray Price and released in May 1956, ''Crazy Arms'' had topped the Billboard   country music chart the following month and remained there for 20 weeks. ''Jerry Lee said,   'I know a little of it''', Clement continues, ''so I said, 'Well, let's do it'. I'd been messing with   that little old spinet piano, putting thumb tacks on the hammers that made it sound a whole   lot different, especially the way Jerry Lee Lewis played it. I wasn't the first one to do that,  but I found out that if I pulled off the piano’s panel down below and stuck a mic under there   instead of miking it from the top, it sounded really good. That’s the sound you hear on all of   his big hits. It was a big day when he finally got a small concert piano, but most of the stuff   was done on the little old spinet. He could play the heck out of that thing''.

Clement can't recall the microphone that he used to record the piano, but he says ''we had   some Shure and ElectroVoice mics; nothing fancy. One day, we got three new RCA 77s, and   for us that was a big deal''.

For the ''Crazy Arms'' session, guitarist Roland Janes was recruited, along with drummer   Jimmy M. Van Eaton. At one point, while Janes was in the bathroom, Billy Lee Riley walked   in and picked up Janes' guitar, so Janes then played an upright bass. However, since Riley   only played a chord at the very end of the song and Janes wasn’t near a microphone, the   only instruments that can really be heard on the finished record are the piano and drums.   Jay W. Brown was Jerry Lee's bass player on the road, but Lewis solid left hand on the   keyboard made the bass superfluous in the studio.

''Sam came back over the weekend and on the Monday I played him ‘''Crazy Arms'', said Jack   Clement. ''Well, before we even got to the singing, he told me to stop the machine and he   said, 'Now, I can sell that!' as if to say, 'You young whippersnapper, you’ve finally done   something I like!'''.

''I was just blown away'', Sam Phillips recalled in 1998. ''The guy was different... The   expression, the way he played that piano and how you could just feel that evangelical thing   about him, man, was I looking for that, and there it was''!

''Sam made a disc in the control room and took it down to local radio disc jockey Dewey   Phillips that night'', Clement adds. ''Dewey played it and people responded to it, they loved   it. By the following Thursday, it was in the stores, and it did very well for a record by a new   artist''.

''Crazy Arms'' was released on December 1, 1956. It wasn’t a hit, but it sold respectably and   for several weeks after its release Jerry Lee Lewis took work wherever he could find it, both   on the road and in the studio. This often consisted of backing Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash,   while developing the onstage persona for which he would become famous/infamous, unable   to dance around with a guitar, he would kick away his piano bench, slam the keys with his   feet and, when said piano was big enough to support him, burn off more unbridled energy by   standing on its lid and gyrating to the music.
 

ALL ABOUT THE JERRY LEE LEWIS SUN TAPES

Jerry Lee Lewis At Sun Records: The Collected Works, gathers together every authentic, original recording that Bear Family Records has been able to find Jerry Lee at work, on his own account, in the Sun studios. It's as simple as that; a straightforward, sonic encyclopedia of every traceable note he sang and played at Sun, just as they were electronically etched onto magnetic tape between November 14, 1956 and August 28, 1963. Many of the recordings are interspersed with vignettes of studio chatter, preserved for posterity as the spools kept rolling between rehearsals and takes; from the mildest self-rebuke at a false start, to the legendary, emotional confrontation with Sam Phillips during which Lewis contemplates the dangers to his immortal soul having embarked upon the recording of ''Great Balls Of Fire''. 

Thus CDs 1 to 15 (BCD 17254) comprise, in a chronological sequence, all extant recordings Jerry Lee made at Sun, including a small number of damaged and clipped tapes, exactly as cut in the studio. Any recording that proved to be available at source in stereo only have been down-mixed to mono to achieve the desired continuity in sound, thereby enabling the systematic delivery of everything concerned as a coherent body of work. It will be noted that this continuum includes eleven recordings which, in the accompanying discography, are designated ''undubbed masters'', a term that some readers may, with some justification, consider paradoxical. The expression merely reflects the fact that the basic tracks concerned are the original studio tapes of recordings that were subsequently reinforced with a vocal chorus and/or instrumentation prior to their initial release. 

Complementing the main presentation, all the stereo mixes dating from 1960 to 1963 that have come to light in the Sun archives then follow, commencing on the latter part of CD 15 and continuing on CDs 16 and 17. Save only for minor repairs being applied to one or two damaged items, the tapes concerned have been reproduced faithfully; no stereo remixing has been undertaken by Bear Family. CD 18 then draws together the masters, as originally issued, of those recordings that were overdubbed, or otherwise re-engineered, for release during Lewis's tenure at Sun. These encompass not only the tracks from 1957 to 1960 that feature dubbed vocal choruses but also the spliced master of both ''High School Confidential'' and ''I've Been Twistin''', as released on the singles Sun 296 and Sun 374 respectively. All these records as first issued are, of course, rather better known  than the unadorned performances featured in the main concatenation; although the accent in this set is on authenticity, the exclusion of these embellishments on a point of principle simply couldn't be justified. And those who do wish to be reminded of a rather less well judged application of the technique of splicing, when Sam Phillips and his fellow producer Jack Clement conspired in cobbling together snippets from Lewis's hit records to synthesise the novelty item ''The Return of Jerry Lee'' will find this at the very end of the set. 

The eighteen CD also covers a selection of less familiar augmented recordings, where a vocal overdub or instrumentation was added to the original work on an experimental basis. Foremost amongst these is a tape of ''Settin' The Woods On Fire'' embellished shortly after Lewis had finished his work in the studio. This, and the other overdubs featured, pass muster on the grounds that these alterations were generated contemporaneously by the original studio personnel. In the case of ''Settin' The Woods On Fire'' the recording dubbed with guitar, bass and drums, was first released in 1971 amongst the series of albums issued by Sun International Corporation following Shelby Singleton's purchase of the Sun catalogue. A not insignificant number of such tapes were concocted, many burdened with unappealing supplements that add little of interest to the raw productions. IN one or two instances, the items in question have been published on latterday CD Sun compilations but, given that the underlying original recordings are made available within this set, the enhanced tapes have not necessarily been included here. Rather, it has been decided to select a representative sample of such overdubs simply to unveil the process. 

It should be also noted that a number of other tapes corrupted with added instrumentation, when leased in the mid-1960s to the budget label Pickwick, have been left to gather dust on the obscure vinyl on which they emerged fifty years ago. Adhering to the same principle, any tarnished material that Shelby Singleton contrived to transform from the original without, it might be said, a great deal of subtlety, will not be found in this box set. The only duets accommodated here are entirely genuine. And for the avoidance of any doubt, this set does not, of course, incorporate anything of the so-called ''re-processed stereo'' effect exhibited on Sun International LPs released between 1969 and 1972. 

There is a further qualification. We are not concerned here with Jerry Lee's several engagements at Sun as a session musician during late 1956 and early 1957, when he played piano on the recordings of Billy Riley, Carl Perkins and others. The observation both of this principle and, it has to be said, issues of copyright, explain why the celebrated ''Million Dollar Quartet'' tapes, dating December 4, 1956, likewise do not feature in the box set.

Since the discovery in the late 1980s of tapes from a 1960 session that revealed ''The Great Speckled Bird, ''Don't Drop It'' and ''Keep Your Hands Off Of It (Birthday Cake)'', no ''new'' distinct titles as such by Jerry Lee Lewis have been found in the Sun storeroom. Since that time, in terms of unreleased material, fans have had to be satisfied by the occasional unheralded first outing of an alternate take, such as those of ''It'll Be Me'' and ''How's My Ex Treating You'' which slipped out on obscure US CD issues in 1996 and 1999 respectively, or an extra few seconds of a recording prematurely faded out on earlier releases, cases in point being ''Ramblin' Rose'', ''Hong Kong Blues'' and ''Money''. The full-length tapes of the latter have, of course, been used in compiling this collection. 

Rumours of undiscovered titles nonetheless persist. The first to be mentioned in this connection is invariably Lewis's interpretation of ''We Three'', a 1940 hit for The Ink Spots. When introducing the song at a live show in Memphis in June 1961, Lewis stated ''...we intend to have it coming out on record pretty soon'', but was it recorded at Sun? The indications are positive. The surviving performance, familiar to fans thanks to an audience tape made public on a bootleg LP in 1972, bears witness that ''We Three'' had been worked on diligently; Jerry Lee's arrangement and a memorable piano solo suggest that it was well practised. Were it to have been recorded professionally, it would certainly have been worthy of a release. Noticeably, it possesses the hallmarks of Lewis's reading of another 1940s pop song, ''My Blue Heaven'', recorded in the Sun studio at 369 Madison Avenue on June 14, 1961. Moreover, on the ''live'' tape, ''We Three'' immediately precedes a jaunty recital of ''Hello Josephine'' which mirrors the arrangement of the song as cut at the same June 14 session. So it's not inconceivable that ''We Three'' was recorded in the studio and that the tape was lost or, heaven forefend, re-cycled. Perhaps it lies forgotten in a box abandoned in someone's attic outhouse, having been purloined from the official repository decades ago. 

However, leaving aside that enigma, what have we actually got here that's ''new''? More than one hundred items included in this set are being issued officially for the first time, albeit as many as forty of these have been circulating privately on home-copied CDs amongst a few of Lewis's hard-core fans over the last twenty years or so, having somehow slipped out of the archives. Even so, at least fifty of the recordings here presented have escaped prior detection and have remained unheard until now. 

Listening to these ''new'' takes, it is hard to understand quite how and why such an eccentric cut of ''It'll Be Me'' (BCD 17254-2-22) remained unacknowledged and unreleased. Equally, there are some remarkable prototype cuts of ''High School Confidential'' that have, it seems, lain undiscovered or been ignored for more than half a century. The tape boxes involved were examined by at least one authority back in the 1970s but it appears that these alternates were overlooked. One might argue that these earliest readings of the song are representative of a different, experimental, version of the song rather than being simply ''alternate takes'', which makes their fate in remaining unreleased until now all the harder to explain. 

It has also been possible to accommodate a number of previously unheard false starts, fragments of incomplete ''lost'' takes and snippets of conversation and banter in the studio. At the same time, published examples of the latter have, where necessary, been restored to their rightful places in the continuum; for whatever reasons a number were, on earlier releases, re-edited with a cavalier disregard for their true origins and placed ahead of recordings to which they were wholly unrelated. 

A great debt is owed to the producers of the several progenitors of this collection, including the first box set of Lewis's Sun recordings, the twelve LP set ''The Sun Years'', released in 1983 by Charly Records in the UK. Charly's ambitious approach which, for fans of early rock music, took the idea of a retrospective of an artist's work at a single company to an unprecedented level, established a template that was later adopted for the even more extensive eight CD box set issued during 1989 both by Charly Records and by Bear Family. At last, the collector could find almost every Lewis Sun recording thought worth having in one, or another, convenient package, the painstaking assembly of a library of scores of LPs, involving the repeated purchase of the same recordings of familiar songs for want of a particular title or an alternate take, was made a redundant exercise. 

On all three occasions the compliers decided to present everything in a simple chronological order insofar as the dates of origin could reasonably be ascertained, it having been stated in the notes accompanying the 1983 vinyl set that a number of assumptions had been made to fill in the extensive blanks where conclusive information was unavailable, i.e. for almost entire two year period from November 1956 to the end of 1958. Notwithstanding this and similar disclaimers upon the release in 1989 of the rival CD products, Charly's ''The Sun Years'' and Bear Family's ''Classic'', such assumptions have subsequently come to be regarded by many as facts. 

Thus the prevailing wisdom surrounding the chronology of Lewis's work at Sun dates from the materialisation of Charly's twelve LP collection and the dispositions arrived at in 1983 which since that time, subject only to minor revision in 1989, have remained largely unchallenged. To be fair, those involved were at pains to quality the vast majority of the quoted recording dates during the period concerned with either of the words ''probably'' or ''possibly''. Furthermore they conceded that much of their understanding, not only in respect of the allocation of particular recordings to discrete sessions but also the attribution of the names of backing musicians to specific events, amounted to nothing more than guesswork. 

In 1993, Charly withdrew from sale its 208-track 1989 set and averred that it had produced ''The Ultimate'' collection of Jerry Lee's work at Sun, spread over twelve CDs nominally containing 318 separate tracks. Although the size of the box was increased by some fifty per cent it was again a case of simply adding to the inventory numerous alternates of familiar songs, the vaults having been emptied of any new titles per se with the release of ''Don't Drop It'' and others some four years previously. However, rather than proffer six or seven consecutive takes of ''Great Balls Of Fire'' or ''Breathless'', in ''The Ultimate'' Charly adopted an atypical course compared to that taken in the compilation of the earlier sets. The modus operandi was the marshalling of songs by reference to express themes; a collection of rock titles here, ''country roots'' there, ''rhythm and blues covers'' on the next CD and so on and so forth. This neatly avoided the tricky question of the assumed chronology, serious doubts about which, with the benefit of hindsight, were already beginning to surface. 

The problem with ''The Ultimate'', leaving aside the misidentification and repetition of several recordings and the inadvertent exclusion of two titles altogether, was that from a fan's perspective the concept just didn't produce the goods. Amongst the well intentioned jumble, with different takes of individual titles scattered at random across the twelve CDs, there was no opportunity to make sense of how a particular song had been worked on by the musicians in the studio and how it had evolved into a finished master, something which the earlier sets had selectively allowed; rather, both the listener and, as it had turned out, the compilers, could become all too easily confused in trying to assess the distinctions between take ''x'' and take ''y'' of a particular title. 

And so, to the current set, ''The Collected Works''. It has already been pointed out that the filing of session details at Sun had been notoriously lax, or, for much of the time, had been subject to deliberate obfuscation on the part of Sam Phillips. The rules of the American Federation of Musicians specified that recording sessions might comprise up to three hours work, involving work on four titles, but no more than that. Sam was required to submit returns to the union demonstrating compliance with these rules and it would seem that he wasn't averse to producing paperwork that would somehow stand up to official scrutiny, no matter that it bore little relationship to what had actually gone in the studio. As Colin Escott put it in his 1989 essay accompanying the ''Classic'' box set, Sam's reports were, to all intents and purposes, ''largely a work of fiction''. So, during the years 1956 to 1959, a key discipline had effectively been disregarded at Sun. And this was, of course, the period in respect of which such information would have proved most useful to the archivist, given that it was when Jerry Lee was at his most prolific in the recording studio, working intensively and regularly on the development of his hit records. 

To complicate matters further, Phillips habitually used up any remaining free space at the end of previously recorded tapes and sometimes re-cycled them completely; this is yet another of the underlying causes of confusion about how sessions evolved, given that certain recordings had a habit of ending up in tape boxes where they bore no obvious relationship to many of the other contents. This consideration also begs the question of just what was lost by the indiscriminate erasure of many rehearsals and outtakes. What price just one ''alternate'' of ''Mean Woman Blues''? 

In the absence of any definitive indication about exactly when particular recordings had been made, it was felt that there was every justification in trying to reassemble the jigsaw puzzle of the hundreds of tapes that have survived. The intention was to examine and where appropriate re-evaluate, though certainly not to traduce, any earlier studies of the subject. For the greater part the work of the 1983 team of experts has been revalidated. But it is deemed appropriate to amend the nominal chronology at certain points, in view of some fairly obvious anomalies in the 1983 list and with the benefit of thirty years hindsight. 

The starting point was a conspicuous misunderstanding about the recording of Frankie And Johnny''. Having analysed various aspects of the performance it was realised that this track could not, as had been supposed by those involved in the compilation of the 1980s box sets, date from March 1958 but that it was much more likely to be the product of a session some nine months later. Listen to the drums and guitar; the much fuller sound indicates that this tape is out of place when set amongst relatively unpolished jewels such as ''Hello Hello Baby'' and ''Your Cheatin' Heart'', whereas it does share many of the atttributes of ''Lovin' Up A Storm'' and ''Big Blon' Baby'', songs with which it has now been realigned. 

Prompted by that reflection, what else might be amiss? This narrative will not explain every change to the chronology; listeners accustomed to the 1983 running order can make comparisons and assess for themselves the conclusions put forward here. Perhaps some cherished notions have been subjected to what may be regarded by some as inappropriate revisionism, but the team which worked on this project throughout much of 2013 and 2014 is confident of the outcome of its findings.

It's only fair to acknowledge that one facility the pioneering researchers lacked was the luxury of time, a benefit granted in rather greater measure to those reassessing their work some thirty years later. The compilers of this set have been listening to the antecedent publications countless times over the course of several decades, rather than being new to much of the material and then having to make appraisals in a period of just a few weeks. Moreover, the ease of communication afforded by the internet, with the ability to exchange sound files instantaneously across vast distances, fostered the creation of a ''virtual'' committee that could pore over the details of each track with relative ease. 

Modern technical conveniences not available to original researchers in the comfort of their own homes in the 1980s have provided other advantages. For example, the comparison of tapes from different sources is made possibly by listening at the same time to two recordings, with appropriate adjustment of their respective speeds as separate channels, in one test stereo track. In this way an undetected minor variation between successive takes may suddenly be made very apparent. Conversely, the existence of a supposedly distinct recording may be disproven; the dismissal of the identification of a bogus third take of ''Ramblin' Rose'' being an example of this. 

Equally, for all the sins ascribed to digitalised sound files there's no doubt that ''flac'' files and MP3s provide an immense convenience when it comes to analysing subtle distinctions between successive takes of the same song. The fact that we can now enjoy no fewer than nine takes of ''Little Green Valley'', rather than the three previously determined, may well be down simply to the six new additions having been overlooked by the 1983 team, due both to time pressures and to the remarkably analogous sound across the entire suite of recordings. Is it possible that some alternates were dismissed by those erstwhile investigators in the belief that the tracks in the ''newly found'' batch were merely copies of other tapes found in another box? The nine variants of ''Little Green Valley'' also give a lie to the maxim that Lewis never recorded a song the same way twice; eight of nine are superficially consonant and one can spend hours poring over the detailed differences to tell them apart. Similarly, the manifold examples of ''Great Balls Of Fire'', ''Milkshake Mademoiselle' and High School Confidential'', though usually more recognisable as distinct entities, still require analysis of the slightest detail, be it a glissando buried in the mix during a guitar solo, or the substitution of an endearment such as ''sugar'' in place of ''honey'' somewhere in the lyric, to tell them apart with complete confidence. 

The underlying methodology employed to arrive at the new timeline is much the same as that used hitherto, with the few irrefutable facts, such as the release of Lewis' singles, being taken as pointers to the recording dates of specific titles. Although an attempt has been made to define a calender of events, it often remains necessary to qualify the supposed date with an appropriate reservation. Consequently the emphasis is very much on treating the period concerned ''in the round'', and on simply charting the evolution of the Lewis sound over periods of months and years rather than trying to reconstruct what, given the deficiency of source date, will inevitably be an imprecise diary. 

In so doing, we chart progress not simply in respect of individual titles, for example across the more than twenty takes of ''High School Confidential'', but also from one song to the next, as in the cases of ''Ubangi Stomp'', ''Rock 'N' Roll Ruby'' and ''So Long I'm Gone'', a trio which are obvious bed-fellows. This is an important principle to follow given that there are so many songs of which only one performance was recorded. In this way, we can accommodate everything into the story of the development of the Lewis sound and highlight, where appropriate, the significance of a notable aspect of one recording to other titles in a linked sequence. 

The written analysis is purposely selective. A few of the songs that Lewis performed once only at Sun, or at least where only one take has endured, will not necessarily receive a mention here; the accompanying discography is the authoritative guide to the content. Nor does this text furnish comprehensive details of the origins of all the songs that Lewis recorded; it is reasoned that such facts will be known to many readers by virtue of earlier releases while in the twenty-first century online resources can easily be referred to for this information. A core function of this text is simply to emphasise the slight distinctions between separate takes of the same song where the listener might not be expected, without spending a disproportionate amount of time and effort, to be able to segregate recordings with confidence. But those who independently wish to analyse each track to establish their singularity may, of course, chose to leave this essay aside! 

In providing this commentary it is hoped that the listener will become all the more cognisant of the often painstaking work undertaken, on the part of Lewis, the backing musicians and the recording technicians, in arriving at the finished product. This thought prompts a further word of explanation. The authors of the first detailed account of Jerry Lee's work at Sun, Martin Hawkins and Colin Escott, having invited Jerry Lee to help in trying to establish the facts, had been told ''I played on them, what the hell else do you need to know''? It remains difficult to offer definitive pointers to who else was actually involved on specific occasions, although some guidance is offered in the accompanying discography. The presence of Roland Janes as guitarist on most of the early sides is not in doubt, not least thanks to Jerry Lee habitually identifying him at the start of each guitar solo, while Jimmy Van Eaton is likewise an almost constant companion on the recordings made at 706 Union Avenue. 

There is nonetheless cause to mistrust previously published session lists detailing the supposed involvement of certain personnel; and to be candid, good reason to be wary of some of the revisionism presented here! This work is not devoid of speculation. But much of that now postulated reflects the careful analysis of individual performance traits, while any obvious anomalies in earlier works have been addressed. For example although the Charly discographies stuck resolutely to the idea that Sidney Manker was the sole guitarist involved in the session which produced ''Ooby Dooby'', this suggestion openly disregards the fact that Jerry Lee is heard calling Roland to attention in the usual way before the delivery of his readily identifiable contribution. 

It also needs to be said that the assertions of some of those directly involved have been treated with a degree of circumspection, given that all too frequently they contradict one another, and the statements volunteered sometimes don't tally with the few documented facts. In Rick Bragg's exposition' (''Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story'' - Rick Bragg: Harper Collins Publishers, 2014), Jerry Lee claims not to have known the name of the drummer on the ''historic recording'' of ''Great Balls Of Fire'', while his recollection of the bass player's identity, ''Sidney Stokes'', is at odds with that of Jay W. Brown, who suggests in his own book (''Whole Lotta Shakin''' - J.W. Brown with Rusty Brown: Continental Shelf Publishing 2010) , that it was Al Stanger. As Lewis also told Bragg, ''...people like to remember things in a certain way''. In this instance, though, they might both be right; the most positive lead we can follow out of the melee of memories is that these rival stories lend weight to the proposition that the recording of ''Great Balls Of Fire'' was by no means as straightforward as many would have us believe. 

by Andrew McRae, 2015 (*)

 


 

Whatever the truth may be about Jerry Lee's first recordings in the Sun studio at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, it would amount to heresy to propose that anything other than ''Crazy Arms'' could possibly open this set. Even if one had incontestable evidence to legitimise a re-write of this chapter of events, to do so now wouldn't be appropriate. There are grounds to suspect that ''Crazy Arms'' may well have been preceded be either or both of the two nominally contemporaneous performances of ''You're The Only Star (In My Blue Heaven)'', or, possibly, by that of ''Born To Lose'', but the story is too well ingrained in folklore; ''Crazy Arms'' was Jerry Lee's ''first'' Sun recording and duly became the A-side of his first release. For the same reason ''End Of The Road'' is always going to be at number two on the list; Sun 259 is were the story starts.(*) 

Leaving that matter aside, the chronology reflects the findings of a comprehensive reassessment of the entire body of work. The analysis has taken into account the similarities and variations in guitar work, bass, drums, piano, along with the balance between them and Jerry Lee's voice, the amount of  echo used, and other production values. The sound of the cymbals, for example, and the way they are struck, has many a time proven to be the defining quality in the differentiation of sessions.(*) 

For example, on practically all the songs of the early sessions, one can hear cymbals being played by the drummer Jimmy Van Eaton in what is essentially the same way. This factor alone helps to place both ''Honey Hush'' and ''Singing The Blues'' as products of the earliest sessions and the latter, having previously been ascribed to a date in the late summer of 1957, has now been brought forward in the running order. The song's popularity in late 1956, when Guy Mitchell's version topped charts worldwide, provides another hint that it may have been recorded rather earlier than formerly supposed, but the decision to make the switch is based on the sound alone. Moving the opposite way, two titles which hitherto have been allocated to late 1956 or early 1957, namely ''I'm Throwing Rice'' and ''I Love You So Much It Hurts'', are now believed to be from much later sessions, in 1958; aural clues suggest that the latter was effectively part of a number of ''warm up'', balancing exercises prior to the recording of ''Breathless'' in February 1958, while ''I'm Throwing Rice'' is thought to have been cut at the March sessions that produced the single master of ''High School Confidential''. Thus it's contended that ''I'm Throwing Rice'' is at least a year younger than the 1983 findings allowed.(*) 

To appreciate the logic, listen carefully to the titles identified below, in the sequence followed on BCD 17254-4; as the session progresses, one can hear the instruments backing Jerry Lee gradually coming to the fore, with the engineer trying out his settings during the course of the recording of three songs. In ''I Love You Because'' the bass and drums gradually get a little louder; in ''I Love You So Much It Hurts'' the guitar becomes audible; finally, in ''I'm Sorry, I'm Not Sorry'', both the guitar and bass become more prominent.(*) 

The pace in then stepped up a few gears with ''Sexy Ways'' aka ''Cool Cool Ways''. Now, they're ready to craft one side of the next million selling hit, ''Down The Line''. Along the way Jerry Lee tries his hand at a Hank Williams favourite, ''Jambalaya'', perhaps to help him relax a bit. The work on ''Down The Line'' is followed by an unsatisfactory attempt to fashion a worthwhile cut of ''Milkshake Mademoiselle'' before attention centres on ''Breathless''.(*) 

It's also feasible that ''Cold Cold Heart'' was recorded somewhere in and amongst the nine takes of ''Breathless'', all of which are here presented consecutively to help demonstrate the evolution of the song. Turning to the Hank Williams selection may again have been an exercise to get Jerry Lee back into the swing of things following a break in the proceedings, given the likehood that the ''Breathless'' session extended over two or more days. It is, however, felt that ''Cold Cold Heart'' sounds quite at home in its place at the end of this series of takes.(*) 

It has to be acknowledged that many a time it's night on impossible to define with absolute certainty the order in which the songs were recorded at any particular session, or even where one session ends and the next begins. If the tape boxes define a reputable running order this has usually been followed, but if there are clear aural indications that point to another interpretation then appropriate adjustments have been made.(*) 

 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JERRY LEE LEWIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 14, 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER -  JACK CLEMENT

A landmark session. Jerry Lee's first Sun recording session would be important even if it were bad. And this one is far from bad. The legend of Jerry Lee Lewis had its humble beginnings when the young singer, barely in his twenties, stood at the door of Sun Records in November 1956, waiting for a chance to sit at the tired studio spinet and ply his wares - a chance conspicuously denied him at other studios.

When Jerry Lee Lewis entered Sun Records for the first time, he was twenty-one years old. He was barely educated, twice married, once jailed, and good for nothing much other than pounding the piano - which he had been doing every day for eleven years.

Sam Phillips was in Florida, taking his first vacation in many years, and Jack Clement decided to cut a complete demo session on Lewis while Phillips was gone. He called in the musicians he had met during his brief stint at Fernwood Records.
Acetate ''Crazy Arms'' >

"Jack phoned me", Roland Janes recounted to Bob Bowman and Ross Johnson, "and said, 'Man, I got this piano player, cat from down in Louisiana. He's pretty good. I'm gonna put a few things down on him. Do you want to come in and help us out?'. I said, 'Yeah, sure'. He said, 'Man, could you drop by and get Van Eaton? Think you can get him to come out?'. I said, Yeah, I'm pretty sure I can'. Van Eaton didn't drive at the time, that's how young he was. During the course of the session, I got up and went to the bathroom, and Jerry started doing "Crazy Arms".


''I don't think Jack was even in the control room. He was out in the studio and just left the machine running. Billy Riley had walked in about that time and he picket up my guitar''.  ''Right on the end of the song he hit a chord... I came out of the washroom about halfway through the song and pucked up an old upright bass and started playing it - and I don't play upright bass. Fortunately, I wasn't close to a microphone. On that song, there are technically only two instruments, drums and piano".
 

In the months leading up to his arrival at Sun, Jerry Lee Lewis had tried out unsuccessfully as a staff pianist at The Louisiana Hayride and was given short shrift by label bosses when he visited Nashville. Producer Jack Clement, then only just ensconced at 706 Union himself, had a more charitable attitude and he auditioned the piano man the moment he saw him. "Crazy Arms" was taped in an equally Impromptu manner and its pre-holiday release marked the beginning of a whole new era.

1 - "CRAZY ARMS" - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: - Charles Seals-Ralph E. Mooney
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 229 - Master
Recorded: - November 14, 1956
Released: - December 1, 1956
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 259-A mono
CRAZY ARMS / END OF THE ROAD
Reissued - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-3-11 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

The young wildman from Ferriday tears into Ray Price's hillbilly weeper with verve and style, bringing a maniacal energy that Price never intended nor anticipated. Sixteen year old drummer James M. Van Eaton matches Jerry Lee's enthusiasm and the two launch a musical synergy here that would remain intact for literally hundreds of recordings. Like all the best music, this record is timeless. Its unbridled energy remains contagious even in an era where listeners expect overproduction and electronic sophistication. It pays to remind ourselves that "Crazy Arms" was performed by two very young men playing acoustic instruments nearly forty years ago.

"Crazy Arms", originally recorded by Kenny Brown and Marilyn Kay for the small Pep label, "Crazy Arms" had been at or near the top of the country charts for months in the hands of Ray Price. Although it was late in the game, Phillips decided to test the waters with Jerry's version. Ralph  Mooney wrote the lyrics of "Crazy Arms" after his wife temporarily left him because of his drinking.
 
And another story is: it didn't take long for Jerry Lee and teenage drummer Jimmy Van Eaton is forge a musical alliance. They had it here, the first time they met and recorded. Exactly which titles were recorded and in what sequence is a matter of conjecture at this point. One thing we can be sure of is that by the time they reached ''Crazy Arms'', which became Jerry Lee's first Sun release, they were soaring together. There was nobody there to fill in the blanks: no bass, no guitar, no strings, no voices. Just Jerry and Jimmy, whose combined ages at this point didn't total 40 years. 

Van Eaton is doing so much more than keeping time, it's almost comic. He's kicking and prodding, and providing drum rolls and counter-rhythm. It's like having Jerry Lee accompanied by a marching band. When Jerry launches into his 16-bar piano solo, J.M. follows suit and begins to solo on his drums. Much of what Van Eaton does here he would continue to do for the next seven years in the Sun studio, but never so much of it in such a compressed time and place. ''Crazy Arms'' runs under three minutes (2:45, to be exact) and there's enough drumming to fill a dozen records. The amazing this is neither of these young men knew exactly what they were doing. They were ''feeling each other out'' musically, taking risks, seeing if the other would follow.

They did, and we get to listen to it happen all over again 60 plus years after it ignited spontaneously that afternoon on November 14, 1956.

 In the combination of Jerry Lee Lewis, Roland Janes, and J.M. Van Eaton, a magic formula had fallen into Sam Phillips' lap. Janes and Van Eaton happened to be friends of Jack Clement, and Clement just happened to be running the board while Sam Phillips was away; but Jerry couldn't have hoped for two more sympathetic accompanists. Janes, or "Roland Boy" as Jerry would call out to him on sessions, read Jerry like a book, and knew better that to try and dominate his sessions; in fact, it was never in his nature to do so. 

J.M. Van Eaton quickly developed a rapport with Jerry comparable to that between Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison. He had a telepathic ability to know in which direction Jerry was heading, as his subtle tempo changes and perfectly judged rolls and accents eloquently attest.
 
Though Jay W. Brown would travel with him as a bassist on the road, Jerry's solid left hand made a bass superfluous in the studio. With Roland Janes and J.M. Van Eaton, Jerry Lee Lewis had the core of his studio band that would bring him to the turn of the new decade.

 
 2 - "END OF THE ROAD" - B.M.I. - 1:46
Composer: - Jerry Lee Lewis
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 230 - Master
Recorded: - November 14, 1956
"End Of The Road" probably recorded at a later date.
Released: - December 1, 1956
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 259-B mono
END OF THE ROAD / CRAZY ARMS
Reissued - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpUME 2

 
This tune, long thought to be that rarest of species, a Jerry Lee Lewis composition, is in fact a loose adaptation of Irvin Berlin's "Waiting At The End Of The Road", first a hit for Paul Whiteman in 1929, then a minor hit for Frankie Laine twenty years later.   Although Jerry did a “solo” performance at the end of the famed Million Dollar Quartet session on December 4th 1956, there’s only been one released studio re-cut and that was for the 1963 ‘Golden Hits’ album, he also cut an interesting version of the song for Elektra in 1980 but this remains unreleased.

Moments like this in music history don't come about very often. What Billboard called "distinctively smart wax" launched a career that has transcended time, style and personal tragedy.
 
3 - "BORN TO LOSE" - B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: - Frankie Brown (aka Ted Daffen)
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Unknown Take
Recorded: - November 14, 1956 - Not Originally Issued
Released: - July 1974
First appearance: - Sun International (LP) 33rpm 6467 029-B4 mono
JERRY LEE LEWIS - ROCKIN' AND FREE
Reissued: - September 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15420-1-4 mono
CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE DEFINITIVE SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1963

''Born To Lose'', his superb mid-tempo country performance wasn’t released until 18 years later on the U.K. Phonogram ''Rockin’ & Free'' LP. The 1969 re-cut from the album  ''Country Music Hall Of Fame Hits Volume 1'' is slower and more refined, but beautifully sung and played. It’s a very difficult choice, but if push comes to shove then I think the Sun cut has the edge…

4(1) - "YOU'RE THE ONLY STAR IN MY BLUE HEAVEN" - 1 - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - Gene Autry
Publisher: - Shapiro Bernstein & Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Take 1
Recorded: - November 14, 1956  - Not Originally Issued
Released: - 1970
First appearance: - Sun International (LP) 33rpm Sun LP 121-A6 mono
OLE TIME COUNTRY MUSIC
Reissued: - September 1989 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15420-1-3 mono
CLASSIC JERRY LEE LEWIS - THE DEFINITIVE SUN RECORDINGS 1956 - 1963

Written by Gene Autry and recorded by the Delmore Brothers and Roy Acuff. It was also recorded by Jerry Lee during the Million Dollar Quartet session on December 4, 1956 at Sun Recording Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.

4(2) - "YOU'RE THE ONLY STAR IN MY BLUE HEAVEN" - 2 - B.M.I. 2:37
Composer: - Gene Autry
Publisher: - Shapiro Bernstein & Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Take 2
Recorded: - November 14, 1956  - Not Originally Issued
Released: - 1978
First appearance: - Sun Star (LP) 33rpm SS-002-A7 mono
SUN OUT-TAKES
Reissued: - 1989 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CD Sunbox 1 mono
THE SUN YEARS


An obvious early favourite of Jerry’s, ''Blue Heaven'' was recorded at three separate sessions during the first couple of years of his career (four if you include the playful run-through at the end of the Million Dollar Quartet session), though none were released until years after he left the label. The 1956 version (actually 2 takes) was taped here at his very first professional session (along with both sides of his first single and  ''Born To Lose''). Sounding a little hesitant compared to later versions, this wasn’t released until the ground-breaking ''The Sun Years'' vinyl box-set in 1983.


Much better (and faster) is the 1957 version, first released on ''Olde Tyme Country Music'' in 1970, unlike the 1958 version (which features a couple of additional musicians to the earlier takes) which again wasn’t released until ''The Sun Years'' in 1983.
 
 
 
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jerry Lee Lewis - Vocal and Piano
Roland Janes - Guitar off-mic on "Crazy Arms".
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Billy Riley - Guitar last note on "Crazy Arms"
Billy Riley claims to have played the single guitar note at the end of "Crazy Arms". Roland Janes plays acoustic bass off mike. When Sam Phillips returned, Jack Clement played him the tape. "I don't know if I'd told Jack this", Sam Phillips told Robert Palmer, "but I had been wanting to get off this guitar scene and show that it could be done with other instruments. They put that tape on and I said, 'Where in hell did this man come from?'.  He played that piano with abandon. A lot of people do that, but I could hear, between the stuff that he played and didn't play, that spiritual thing. I told Jack, 'Just get him in here as fast as you can'".

As it happened, Jack Clement didn't have to call Lewis. Before the end of the month Jerry Lee was back in the studio, bringing along his uncle Jay W. Brown and one of the few songs Lewis ever took credit for writing. taking Clement's advice to forget about country music, Lewis had reworked an old jug band tune - in which others heard shades of Irving Berlin - into a darkly obscure original boogie called "End Of The Road". Sam Phillips decided to couple "End Of The Road" with a song from Clement's demo session, "Crazy Arms".
 

"Crazy Arms" wasn't a hit, but it sold respectably. Lewis took work where he could find it. Jack Clement got him a gig in West Memphis, Arkansas, substituting for the ever-unreliable Smokey Joe Baugh in the Snearly Ranch Boys; Bob Neal got him a pair of gigs in Alabama; Sam Phillips gave him a little work in the studio, backing Carl Perkins, Billy Riley, Johnny Cash, and some others. Roland Janes and Billy Riley took him out of some of the dance halls they played in Arkansas. Jay W. Brown let him sleep on the couch.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

NOVEMBER 11, 1956 SUNDAY

Dixie Dialing -

COUNTRY MUSIC IN SPOTLIGHT - DISC JOCKEYS WONDER WHY

By Henry Mitchell
Radio and Television Editor

NASHVILLE, Nov. 11 - The national disc jockey convention here is the only large gathering in  the country where a thousand people show up for breakfast before schedule. Something of  his tremendous energy has been reflected at Nashville since Thursday when platter spinners  arrived by plane, train and blue-nose mule. They came from stations so big the whole world  knows of them and stations so little it would take the Federal Communications Commission  two days to trace them.

Although called the National Disk Jockey Festival and sponsored by WSM, its concern is  strictly country music - what used to be called hillbilly. The spinners, the artists, the record  firms, the promoters of all types, departed late Sunday after 72 hours of congratulating each  other on the country music outlook.

Some saw trends. Like the less-sharp distinction between country and popular music, the  appearance of a more insistent beat and maybe less importance attached to songs that tell a  story. Something is happening when tunes like "Singing The Blues" and "I Walk The Line" have  jockeys puzzled where to spin them. On country music shows? Pop shows? One platter  spinner from Worcester, Mass., told me, "I Walk The Line" is the only record he's ever worn  out and its because it fits into almost all disk shows.

Great Deal On Air

This kind of music accounts for a great deal heard on radio. It accounts for four out of every  10 records sold. It accounts for literally millions of viewers for such shows as Ozark Jubilee  and Grand Ole Opry. Country music fans require several things. The music must come "from  the heart". It must tell a story and it must have guitars.

Among Memphians taking in the Hayride i've seen Slim Rhodes and some of his men from  WMC; Pappy Lambert from KWEM and record-cutter (Elvis was the boy) Sam Phillips. But the  hottest offering from our town is Johnny Cash. He collected a batch of awards as the most  promising new country music artist. He's also been talked about as much as any other artist  in the convention's informal and important casual players.

I asked him what he considered the main glory of his current record, "I Walk The Line", and  he says its instrumentation. Elsewhere, disc jockeys like Johnny Talley of Minneapolis say its  the hum 'n it. Some jockeys like it because its so simple. Others like it because its message is  so deep.

Label Boys Don't Know

The label boys - RCA Victor, Dot, Decca, Capitol, Sun and so on - tell you just can't tell what  makes country music go over. They are content to just cut the disks and hope fervently the  public will request jockeys to repeat. A few reorders of records and the labels begin to  promote.

Our Johnny Cash, speaking of promotion, has just, returned from a tour of 50 one-night  stands. He grew up in Dyess, Arkansas, and now lives in Memphis with his brother Roy and  his wife Vivian. He was telling me he entered this green country music through a back gate.  He bought a guitar in Germany (he was in the Air Force four years) chiefly to annoy four  Yankees he shared living quarters with. They ribbed him about being a Southern country  boy.

He had wanted to be a disk jockey - still has an eye on it if his singing ever drops off. His  first music was hymns. He wrote four overseas, without any particular thought of  publication. His - and Sun's - first album comes out in a few days. This album, long-play, and  general package angle is something we'll be seeing more of in country music they say here. A  few years ago only the very top names had albums and they didn't sell too well. Elvis has had  something to do with this new look in packaged music in the country field. As one contented  Mercury man said: "People go in to buy Elvis. Its like you go in a store to buy a shirt - you  may buy some socks while you're about it".

Elvis Rumors Thick

And speaking of Elvis, his rumoured appearance here almost broke up the convention. Saw  Scotty Moore (musician with Elvis) and his appearance may have sparked the rumour that  Presley would show. Teenagers sprang up in lobbies like a cover crop. School Principals here  blamed unusual absenteeism on pupils determination to see Elvis. At least three sideburned  disc jockeys were mistaken for him and got the once over from fans.

Hotels cleared lobbies by announcing on loudspeakers that Presley had signed in at a rival  hotel. Weary police dreamed of other jobs. Presley was here in spirit if not in person. Whole  handfuls of jockeys have made their way through Presley gimmicks. One broke a Presley  record on the air. The result convinced his sponsor people were listening. He wound up with  a pro-Presley disk show and an anti=Presley show. Does he like Presley?? Do people like  dough?

There's been a lot of strictly business talk, about the number of grooves leading in, the  gripes about distribution, but we can skip it now. These platter spinners have been having  themselves a time, on the whole. There have been a lot of receptions and feasts. Everybody  had tickets.

Three Crash Gates

Because most of the men showed up well before printed times, the ticket collectors rarely  had much to collect. Three lads from Springfield, Mo., just fans, dined sumptuously at the  Maxwell House without the ghost of a ducat. For three days the marble halls of this solemn  city have been jammed. They have two kinds of elevators here. One runs by jet power. The  other relies on a tranquillized battery in the basement. But all have been packet at all  hours.

Hosts of various events have been surprised; I think - if not bruised - by the hearty entrance  of guests the instant doors opened. But one place nobody went without a ticket was the  Grand Ole Opry. This classic show of country music celebrated its last birthday. The Governor  of Tennessee (a great fan of country music) spoke. They do the show in an auditorium built  they year the waters receded.

Downstairs, if you get very far back of the front edge of the balcony you can't see much of  the stage. The balcony chops off the view better than any other in the country. They say  country music will last forever. I tell you one thing, you'll find yourself dropping perfectly  good dimes in boxes to hear it. Once it bites you, something happens to the brain. It is very  pleasant. Or maybe its the heart, like they say.
 

NOVEMBER 15, 1956 THURSDAY

Kay Wheeler at front of Bob Neal Record Shop, 50 South Main Street, Memphis, Tennessee, November 15,   1956.   Memphis disc jockey Bob Neal (WMC) open his disk shop on February 25, 1956. Music distributors   and operators welcomed popular WMC disc jockey Bob Neal into the fold that week. Bob opened the Bob   Neal Record Shop in the heart of Memphis. It's the only walk-in record shop in town. Formal opening is set   for March 1, 2, and 3, 1956 >

KAY WHEELER - who among other things, is "the very first white female who was ever headlined as the   "Queen Of Rock And Roll'', in the starring role of the cult 1957 rock movie called "Rock Baby, Rock It''. The   vintage film is currently available through Rhino video. Rhino advertises the film as, "The most sought after   of all the 1950s rock and roll films featuring early rock legend, Kay Wheeler". Kay was originally   "discovered" by a rock promoter named J.G. Tiger when she danced at a Johnny Carroll rock and roll concert   at the Palace Theater in Dallas, Texas in 1956.
 

One of the most outspoken representatives of the first American Rock Culture of the mid-1950s, Kay   Wheeler formed the very first documented National Elvis Presley Fan Club in the world. She was a teenleader   in the early rock and roll movement who stepped out in the media and dared to represent Elvis and the  scandalous new rock and roll to the outraged adults of the boring, sterile Eisenhower generation in the mid-  1950s. Kay was also a girl friend and a promoter of Elvis Presley in his early career - whom Gladys Presley,   Elvis' mother favored as a candidate for Elvis, with the comment "Kay reminds me of myself when I was   young''.

As if all this excitement was not enough, Kay was imported to Hollywood at the tender age of 17 to make   films for American International studios and to be the "Hollywood/West Coast Editor" of Cool and Hep Kats   Magazine, a contributing editor to Dig Magazine and Modern Screen Movie Magazine, among others.

But above all, Kay loved to dance-developing her own style of rock and roll dancing, she called, the "Rock   And Bop - with dance steps that she taught to the early Elvis himself (who was then only known for shaking   his leg) when they met at San Antonio, Texas. Kay was the very first white female to ever do a rock and roll   tour when she traveled with the Johnny Carroll band in a promotional tour in major Texas cities for the   movie, ''Rock baby, Rock It''. Kay had a center stage dance number dressed in hot pink velvet pedal pushers   with a blue spotlight - while Johnny Carroll sang!

But before all the notoriety and media whirlwind hit Kay's life - in 1955, she discovered rock and roll when   she first heard "Little Mama" by the Clovers and "Sexy Ways" by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. Later   that year, Kay transferred from the elite (and very boring) Highland Park High School (called a tea-sipping   school located in the more exclusive area of Dallas) to attend Dallas' version of a "Blackboard Jungle" High   School, Crozier Tech, in order to be closer to her "greaser" 1950's boyfriend (who had been kicked out of   every other High School in Dallas).

During this time of "Rockabilly Heaven" in Texas, when Elvis was knocking them dead in country and   western juke joints in places like Gladewater, and other rockabilly greats like Gene Vincent and Roy Orbison   were just getting started, Kay hosted several teenage local TV shows as well as an "All Elvis DJ'' show on  radio station WRR in Dallas. She had a very high profile in the media with newspapers articles on her   appearing in associated press national stories published throughout America. One national newspaper story   in particular angered Colonel Parker when Kay called Waco, Texas - "The Squarest Town In America",   because they hardly clapped or screamed for Elvis during his concert there in 1956. The screaming   newspaper headline stated, "Elvis Head Hits Squares''. Waco was in an uproar over Kay's proclamation.   Colonel Parker rushed Tom Diskin, Elvis' road manager, to Dallas to get Kay to apologize to the city of   Waco. But Kay refused - even though Parker sent Kay one of Elvis' shirts, a type of bribe. Diskin made the   comment, "We Can Control Elvis, But We Can't Control You"! This Waco escapade signaled the break in the   relationship between Kay and Colonel Parker.

All this media attention attracted Gene Vincent to Kay when he played the Big D Jamboree in Dallas. They   became friends and he visited her house on several occasions. Later in Hollywood, in 1958, she was featured   in a rock and roll movie with Gene called ''Hot Rod Gang'', produced by American International Films. Kay   also designed Elvis Presley products, prepared national advertising for teenage products, did artists and   repertoire work for record companies and appeared regularly on the local KCOP television talk show. She   met Ricky Nelson in Hollywood as well as Eddie Cochran. Elvis was also in Hollywood at that time   completing "Jailhouse Rock." Kay attended the press premiere of "Jailhouse Rock" with Elvis Presley.   When asked about her background, Kay likes to say that she was born at age 15 when she heard her first rock   and roll record! It was the Clovers singing "Little Mama." However, in the world outside of rock and roll,   Kay was actually born December 22, 1938, in Houston, Texas, the largest city in the southwest which is the   hometown of original blues and rock pioneers such as Johnny Ace, Big Mama Thornton, Lightning Hopkins,  among others. Kay's musical heritage is rooted in listening to her mother's favorites like, Fats Waller playing   boogie woogie, King Cole Trio, Sister Rosetta Thorpe, etc... However, her father favored the raucous country   and western honky tonk music. Kay's father moved the family away from Houston when Kay was a baby.   For the most part, the family settled in Dallas where Kay , the eldest, and her two sisters and brother grew   up.

She has written, with the help of writer W.A. Harbison, her autobiography titled ''Growing Up With The Memphis Flash'' which was published in   Europe and sold out immediately. Kay tells her story in Kodachrome detail of what it was like to grow up in   the days of rockabilly heaven! A screenplay has also been written of Kay's story titled, "That's All Right   Little Mama", which Kay hopes will be the most exciting, authentic, true rockabilly story of all time with the   real life characters including Gene Vincent and the King himself - and a soundtrack made in rock and roll   heaven!

But for now, Kay Wheeler is alive and well and living in Northern California. She has raised a son and a   daughter. She has been through 2 marriages and is presently single because she says, "I think I'm just too   darned independent, that's just the way it is, plus I still play my record player too loud. It would plumb kill   anyone else my age''! She still loves rock and roll and has an extensive collection of early 1950s   memorabilia. She was recently featured in a 1997 Hollywood movie called "Elvis Is Alive". Kay's comment   on her life during the beginning of rock and roll and Elvis, "There will never be another time like that, I   promised myself back in the 1950s that I'd never be a square and that I would always be, “”Cool Until The   Living End''. I hope I've kept the promise''!
 


NOVEMBER 15, 1956 THURSDAY

Elvis Presley attends Liberance's opening at the Riviera Theater in New York and is introduced from the stage.

Bobby Helms recorded ''Fraulein'' in an afternoon session at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.

Elvis Presley makes his film debut, as ''Love Me Tender'' opens at Paramount Theater in New York.

Buddy Holly has his third Nashville recording session for Decca Records. Like the previous session, it's commercially unsuccessful.
 


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR HAROLD JENKINS (CONWAY TWITTY)
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOIR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: FRIDAY NOVEMBER 16, 1956 / POSSIBLY OTHER DATES
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
 
Harold Jenkins completed his US Army service in March 1956. He heard Elvis on the radio and decided he wanted to do that too. So he assembled a band called The Rockhousers, named for a song Jenkins had written and that he recorded Mid-1956 and Roy Orbison later recorded for Sun.

01(1) - "CRAZY DREAMS" - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: - Ben Oakland-Herb Magidson
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - (A) Take 1 – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 16, 1956
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16112-1-20 mono
CONWAY TWITTY - THE ROCK AND ROLL YEARS 1956 - 1964

01(2) - "CRAZY DREAMS" - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: - Ben Oakland-Herb Magidson
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start - (A) Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 16, 1956
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16112-1-21 mono
CONWAY TWITTY - THE ROCK AND ROLL YEARS 1956 - 1964

01(3) - "CRAZY DREAMS" - B.M.I. – 2:48
Composer: - Ben Oakland-Herb Magidson
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - (A) Take 3 – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 16, 1956
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16112-1-22 mono
CONWAY TWITTY - THE ROCK AND ROLL YEARS 1956 - 1964

01(4) - "CRAZY DREAMS" - B.M.I. – 2:53
Composer: - Ben Oakland-Herb Magidson
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - (B) Take 2 – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 16, 1956
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16112-1-2 mono
CONWAY TWITTY - THE ROCK AND ROLL YEARS 1956 - 1964 

01(5) - "CRAZY DREAMS" - B.M.I. – 2:44
Composer: - Ben Oakland-Herb Magidson
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - (B) Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 16, 1956
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16112-1-14 mono
CONWAY TWITTY - THE ROCK AND ROLL YEARS 1956 - 1964

02(1) - "GIVE ME SOME LOVE" - B.M.I. – 2:02
Composer: - Harold Jenkins
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 16, 1956
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30128-A-5 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 13 - ROCKABILLY SUNDOWN
Reissued: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16112-1-15 mono
CONWAY TWITTY - THE ROCK AND ROLL YEARS 1956 - 1964
 
Billy Weir >
 
The Rockhousers' drummer was Billy Weir, a local kid still in high school. In 1957, the band had a date in Canada but Weis's parents wouldn't let him leave school before graduation and so Jimmy M. Van Eaton was engaged to replace him for that gig.
 
The Rockhousers got an audition at Sun in late 1956 and their first recording session when Weir was barely 16 gave us this ''Give Me Some Love''. Weir may have been young, but he provides lots of presence in this performance. His drumming is continuous energy and, despite being the junior member of the band, he is not inclined just to hit the back beat and otherwise stay out of the way. In fact, he never goes through two entire bars without playing some rolls or extra accents. All that youthful exuberance provides much of the record's considerable appeal. It's frustrating to listeners today that the drums were not better recorded by Jack Clement. Weir recalls, ''They had me sitting all the way over by the door and there was one mike on the drums. The cymbals were lost. Those weren't ideal conditions to record drums''.
 
 
''They actually sometimes had me come in and overdub drums where the original recordings were too muddy''.
 
The Rockhousers recorded at least three times at Sun, but Sam Phillips didn't sign them. Not long after their last session, they got a contract with Mercury Records and re-cut ''Give Me Some Love''. By that time, though, Harold Jenkins was using the stage name, Conway Twitty. 
 
02(2) - "GIVE ME SOME LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:01
Composer: - Harold Jenkins
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 16, 1956
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16112-1-3 mono
CONWAY TWITTY - THE ROCK AND ROLL YEARS 1956 - 1964
 
03 - "I NEED YOUR LOVIN' KISS" - B.M.I. - 2:00
Composer: - Harold Jenkins
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 16, 1956
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16112-1-4 mono
CONWAY TWITTY - THE ROCK AND ROLL YEARS 1956 - 1964
Reissued: - 1999 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16311-4 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 16
 
"I Need Your Lovin' Kiss" which also sounds as though it might have been titled "Love And Happiness", Sam Phillips was right on both counts when it came to Twitty: he definitely had talent, but didn't display it at Sun. This is good journeyman rockabilly with all the energy and contagious enthusiasm that Twitty brought to his work, but it lacks the spark of originality that informs the very best Sun recordings, and would later inform Twitty's best recordings.
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Harold Jenkins - Vocal and Guitar
Jimmy Ray Paulman - Guitar
Bill Harris - Bass
Billy Weir - Drums
Martin Willis – Saxophone
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

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

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

STUDIO SESSION FOR RUFUS THOMAS
FOR METEOR RECORDS 1956

METEOR STUDIO, 1746 CHELSEA AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
METEOR SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - LESTER BIHARI
 
 
01 – ''THE EASY LIVIN' PLAN'' – B.M.I. - 2:51
Composer: - Rufus Thomas-Joe Bihari
Publisher: Meteor Publishers
Matrix number: MR 5064
Recorded: Unknown Date November 1956
Released: - November 1956
First appearance: Meteor Records (S) 45rpm Meteor 5039-A mono
THE EASY LIVIN' PLAN / I'M STEADY HOLDIN' ON
Reissued: -2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-27 mono
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Rufus Thomas came up with two really excellent songs with fine lyrics particularity evident on ''The Easy Livin' Plan''. This has a verse pattern song over just the drums which brings to mind Little Richard's ''Rip It Up''. Rufus and the band are really cooking here. ''I'm Steady Holdin' On'' is more classic Rufus, with sly lyrical boasting of his prowes, for just one of his many fine but generally overlooking slow blues. In spite of technical defects both of these recordings qualify as classics.

02 – ''I'M STEADY HOLDIN' ON'' – B.M.I. - 3:24
Composer: - Rufus Thomas-Joe Bihari
Publisher: Meteor Publishers
Matrix number: MR 5065
Recorded: Unknown Date November 1956
Released: - November 1956
First appearance: Meteor Records (S) 45rpm Meteor 5039-B mono
THE EASY LIVIN' PLAN / I'M STEADY HOLDIN' ON
Reissued: -2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-28 mono
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas -m Vocal
Evelyn Young – Tenor Saxophone
Harvey Simmons – Tenor Saxophone
Willie Dee – Trumpet
Billy Morrow – Piano
Unknown – Guitar
Lewis Steinberg – Bass
Jeff Greyer - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

 
NOVEMBER 17, 1956 SATURDAY
 
Marty Robbins takes over the number 1 position on Billboard's country singles chart with ''Singing The Blues''.
 
NOVEMBER 18, 1956 SUNDAY
 
A young Robert Blake makes a guest appearance on NBC-TV's ''The Roy Rogers Show'', alongside cast members Dale Evans and Pat Brady in an episode titles ''Paleface Justice''.
Rufus Thomas & Elvis Presley, Friday, December 7, 1956, WDIA Goodwill Revue at Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, Tennessee >
 
 
NOVEMBER 18, 1956 SUNDAY

Fats Domino sings Blueberry Hill on CBS-TV's Ed Sullivan Show.

NOVEMBER 21, 1956 WEDNESDAY

National US release of Elvis Presley's ''Love Me Tender''.

Gene Vincent cancels a month long engagement at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas after three  weeks due to pains in his leg. The leg had been injured while he was in the Navy. He will  remain in the hospital three months.

The singles, Sun 256 "Take And Give" b/w ''Do What I Do'' by Slim Rhodes and  Sun 257 ''Cheese And Crackers'' b/w ''Shoobie Oobie'' by Rosco Gordon  released.
 
 
 
"Train Of Love" b/w ''There You Go'' (SUN 258) by Johnny Cash is released as Cash returns from a tour of   California.

Six days after its premiere in New York, Elvis Presley's first movie, ''Love Me Tender'', opens across the nation.

Actress Cynthia Rhodes is born in Nashville. Best known for her appearance in 1987's ''Dirty Dancing'', she is destined to marry singer/songwriter Richard Marx, who authors several Keith Urban hits and Kenny Rogers' ''Crazy''.

NOVEMBER 22, 1956 THURSDAY

An unemployed sheet-metal worker in Toledo, Ohio, punches Elvis Presley, claiming the singer caused the break-up of his marriage. The attacker is found guilty of assault.

NOVEMBER 24, 1956 SATURDAY

After more than two years on Broadway, the musical ''The Pajama Game'' closes at Manhattan's Shubert Theater. The production introduced Jerry Ross and Richard Adler's ''Hernando Hideaway'', a country hit when parodied by Homer and Jethro.

Billboard of November 24, 1956 listed Rufus Thomas record ''The Easy Livin' Plan''/''I'm  Steady Holdin' On'' (Meteor 5039) as among the New Rhythm And Blues Releases, alongside  Little Richards ''The Girl Cant Help It'', LaVern Bakers ''Jim Dandy'', and ''Love Is Strange'' by  Mickey and Sylvia. It was as good as any of them, but Meteor didn't have the distribution or  organisation to make it a hit.

The following week (December 7), Rufus Thomas introduced Elvis Presley to the crowd at  the annual Goodwill Revue and was pictured with a sharp-looking Presley while wearing thu  costume that went with the Indian theme of the Revue that year neither man sang his latosi  release at the Revue but Rufus was one of the first black disc jockeys to play Presley's  records.

In terms of recording success, and as far as his name and influence beyond Memphis are  concerned, Rufus Thomas's best days were still ahead of him when he left Meteor Records.  But that's a whole other story, about music that has been more readily available than the  product of Rufus's Rhythm and blues years.

NOVEMBER 25, 1956 SUNDAY

Gene Autry and The Cass County Boys perform ''Back In The Saddle Again'' and ''Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer'' on an installment of NBC-TV's ''The Steve Allen Show'' that also features singer and disc jockey Jim Lowe.

NOVEMBER 26, 1956 MONDAY

Big band figure Tommy Dorsey dies in Greenwich, Connecticut, after taking sleeping pills on top of liquor. The death comes after Elvis Presley made five appearances on The Dorsey Brothers ''Stage Show'', Elvis' first national TV exposure.
 

NOVEMBER 30, 1956 FRIDAY

First broadcast videotape recording. Douglas Edwards and the News is recorded in New York  by CBS on the Ampex machine and played back with three hours’ time difference on the  West Coast. Two simultaneous video recordings are backed up by 35mm and 16mm film  recordings all played back together to insure against disaster.

NOVEMBER 1956

Twentieth Century-Fox makes a $30 million licence deal covering television distribution of  its pre-1948 films. During the year most of Hollywood’s pre-1948 film library stock - a total  of 2,700 titles has been released for television screening; at the same time, the possibility  of the studios launching pay TV is a hotly debated subject.

FALL 1956

During the fall of 1956, Jack Clement is also on hand when Jerry Lee Lewis undergoes an  impromptu audition at the Sun studio on 706 Union Avenue.

During the fall of 1956, Memphis-grown rockers Johnny Burnette and Paul Burlison, who had  signed with Coral Records and were touring the Northeast with Johnny's older brother  Dorsey as the Rock and Roll Trio, recruited Johnny Black to play bass. Dorsey left the group  in a huff after the promoter gave his brother top billing (as Johnny Burnette & The Rock and  Roll Trio). Johnny Black appeared with Burnette and Burlison in New York City disk jockey  Alan Freed's movie ''Rock, Rock, Rock'', playing bass left-handed on ''Lonesome Train (On A  Lonesome Track''), the trio's latest release.
 

 
DECEMBER 1956
 


DECEMBER 1, 1956 SATURDAY

Jerry Lee Lewis' first record "Crazy Arms" b/w ''End Of The Road'' (Sun 259) is released.
 
Only by an article in the "Shreveport Times" on December 1, the Shreveport citizens learned that Elvis Presley came back to the city. In his announcement of Elvis' appearance on December 15, Henry Clay, General Manager of the radio station KWKH, announced that the show was moved from the Municipal Auditorium in the Youth Center on the grounds of the Louisiana State Fairgrounds - the largest hall in the city, the Hirsch Youth building - to accommodate Shreveport resident found out the expected crowd. Elvis really loved Shreveport and put on one of his best shows ever in December 1956. There were no seat reservations and the tickets for the price of $ 2 in advance ($ 2.50 at the box office at the entrance) were available or could be purchased from: Security Jewelers, Domestic Appliance Center, Harbuc Sporting Goods, the Southern Made Doughnuts Company, the Central YMCA and Stan’s Record Shop. The proceeds were used to - besides other things - to build a Swimming pool for the Youth Building.

DECEMBER 1956

Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line" still sat at number 3 in the country charts and at number 88   in the pop charts at the end of 1956. Cash's new record, which coupled "Train Of Love" with   "There You Go", was starting to show up strongly; the year-end results showed that Johnny   Cash ranked third among best-selling country artists, right behind Marty Robbins and Ray   Price.

Warren Smith's "Ubangi   Stomp" enters Memphis charts on December 1.

DECEMBER 1956

MPAA Production Code for US film releases is substantially revised, leaving only two taboo   subjects: venereal disease and sexual perversion.

Twentieth Century-Fox introduces CinemaScope-55, a format with a film width of 55.625mm   to improve the definition of the image (the CinemaScope format inherently reduces the   definition by expanding the projected image of the film to 2.33 times its photographic   width). Two films, Carousel and The King and I are shot in the new format but reduction   printed to by-now conventional 35mm CinemaScope. The format is abandoned.

There are 200 art-house and over 4,000 drive-in cinemas in the USA.

RCA develops a prototype colour videotape recorder with two fixed heads and quarter-inch   tape travelling at 360 inches (9.14m) per second, capable of giving 15 minutes of recording.

Scotch brand Magnetic VR tape 179 is introduced commercially by 3M Company to   complement Ampex's two-inch quadruplex videotape recorder. The tape is nearly half a mile   long and the reel weighs 10 kg (22 lbs). US network CBS is the first customer.

In United States, unused educational television channels start to be re-assigned by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to  commercial applicants.

Bob and Betsy Magness open their first cable television relay business, a 700-home network   in Memphis, Texas.

Cable television system at Reno, Nevada owned by Jack Gallivan relays signals from Salt Lake   City imported by common carrier microwave.

DECEMBER 1, 1956 SATURDAY

More than two decades before recording the country hit ''I Wish I Was Eighteen Again'', George Burns shares the cover of TV Guide with Gracie Allen.

DECEMBER 2, 1956 SUNDAY

Scotty Stoneman of The Stoneman Family, becomes a father for the first time, with the birth of a daughter Sandra.

DECEMBER 3, 1956 MONDAY

Elvis Presley buys a 1957 Cadillac Seville in Memphis for $8,400.
 

 
Jackson, Tennessee, has been the home for several Tennessee rockabilly musicians, most notable Carl   Perkins. Local record companies, e.g. Jaxon and Lu Records recorded local artists just as Kenny Parchman,   Curtis Hobock, Carl Mann and others, and a young Ramsey Kearney, who also was part of the Jackson music   scene and recorded for Jaxon Records.  Coincidence or not, some of the artists that Jimmy Martin featured on Jaxon had already been turned down   by Sun Records. Ramsey Kearney, the first vocalist with the Martin Combo, had already been mixed by Sun   with good cause.


Still, two very mediocre Kearney songs, "Rock The Bop" and "Red Bobby Sox" were   copyrighted by Sun's Hi-Lo Music in December 1956 and subsequently issued under Jimmy Martin's Combo   on Jaxon Records.

 
 
 
 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR RAMSEY KEARNEY
FOR JACKSON RECORDS 1956

PROBABLY SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE DECEMBER 1956
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – SAM PHILLIPS

 01 – ''ROCK THE BOP'' – B.M.I. - 2:12
Composer: - Eddie Star-Ramsey Kearney
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - J 10
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1956
Released: - 1957
First appearance: - Jaxon Records (S) 45rpm Jaxon 501-A mono
ROCK THE BOP / RED BOBBY SOX
Reissued: 1993 Stomper Records (CD) 500/200rpm Stomper STCD 3-13 mono
THE LEAST GREAT ROCKABILLY SATURDAY NIGHT

02(01) – ''RED BOBBY SOX'' – B.M.I. - 2:56
Composer: - Eddie Star-Ramsey Kearney
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - J 11 - Take 1
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1956
Released: - 1957
First appearance: - Jaxon Records (S) 45rpm Jaxon 501-B mono
ROCK THE BOP / RED BOBBY SOX
Reissued: 1993 Stomper Records (CD) 500/200rpm Stomper STCD 3-22 mono
THE LEAST GREAT ROCKABILLY SATURDAY NIGHT

02(2) – ''RED BOBBY SOX'' – B.M.I. - 2:01
Composer: - Eddie Star-Ramsey Kearney
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1956
Released: - January 1, 2005
First appearance: - Stomper Time Records (CD) 500/200rpm STCD 20 mono
HOT ROCKIN' MUSIC FROM TENNESSEE

02(3) – ''RED BOBBY SOX'' – B.M.I. - 2:00
Composer: - Eddie Star-Ramsey Kearney
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 3
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1956
Released: - January 1, 2005
First appearance: - Stomper Time Records (CD) 500/200rpm STCD 20 mono
HOT ROCKIN' MUSIC FROM TENNESSEE

Note: Issued on Jaxon Records by Jimmie Martin Combo. Tapes stored at Sun and songs copyrighted by Hi- Lo Music.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jimmy Martin Combo consisting of
Ramsey Kearney – Vocal & Guitar
Junior Vestal - Guitar
Ickie Havener - Piano
Jimmy Martin - Bass

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

From left: Luther Perkins, Carl Perkins & Johnny Cash, backstage May 1959 >

Carl Perkins back in the Sun studio seriously trying to recapture his place in the pop market. Jerry Lee Lewis was sitting in on piano trying to make enough money to buy his folks some Christmas presents. Elvis Presley dropped by to see what was shaking at his old stomping ground and sing a few songs.


Before the so-called "MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET" session started, Elvis Presley listened to the tapes of Carl Perkins' newest songs and declared that they had real potential.

It is hard to know exactly what Elvis Presley heard that day. Carl Perkins originally planned to couple an old blues standard, "Matchbox", with a novelty rock number called "Her Love Rubbed Off" on which he mumbled some of the lyrics in a manner that would have done credit to Jimmy Reed.
 
 
Interviewed by Ronnie Weiser twenty years later, Carl Perkins had no recollection of "Her Love Rubbed Off", concluding that he must have been two thirds drunk when he performed it.

STUDIO SESSION FOR CARL PERKINS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY DECEMBER 4, 1956
AND PROBABLY OTHER DATES DECEMBER 1956/JANUARY 1957
SESSION LOGGED JANUARY 30, 1957
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
''CALDONIA''

This song was a smash hit for Louis Jordan 1945 and was quickly covered by Erskine Hawkins (composer of ''Tuxedo Junction'', a source for ''Perkins Wiggle''), Woody Herman, and Louis Prima. ''Caldonia'' has had staying power and in the years since 1945, it has appealed to a remarkable variety of musical performers. There was something of a revival flurry beginning in the late 1950s. Carl's recordings date from early 1957 most likely Bill Ramsey, largely famous for German-language versions of English-language hits, sang it in Engles in 1958 (available on BCD 16151).
 
Bill Haley & the Comets put it on a single in 1959 and Dale Hawkins recorded it in 1959 also (though it was not released then). The Rondels' single came out in 1962 as did Gene Simmons, and James Brown's was issued in 1964. Very engagingly, pianist Big Tiny Little did a boogie-woogie version on the Lawrence Welk TV show in 1958. In years since ''Caldonia'' has been recorded by B.B. King, the Band, Van Morrison, and others. And quite recently it was done as a duet by Willle Nelson and Wynton Marsalis.

The song's huge hook is the rhythm (quarter-note triplets) of the line – ''What makes your big head so hard?''. That hook shows up in Sonny Burgess' Sun recording of ''Fannie Brown'' (available on BCD 15525). The adaptation of it that is probably most familiar (''when-you-make-me-cry-hi'') occurs in the final verse of the Crickets ''That'll Be The Day''.

The song is a natural for bands like Carl's to play in dance halls - it's energetic and it's got that hook which permits the dancers to occasionally join in on the singing and then get back to business. We don''t know though, whether it was a standard entry in Carl’s playlíst at the honky tonks. The first of the two versions here present here suggest that it wasn't. The boys spend over a minute working out how they're going to play it, and it's not dedicated to figuring out how to work Jerry Lee s piano into an arrangement that the rest of the band already knows well.

Once they get the kinks worked out, the band plays it as they play most 12-bar blues with Carl's percussive guitar work driving the song along. We've got two takes. In both, guitar solos last for 24 bars (twice though the 12-bar blues chord changes); there are two solos on the first outtake and only one on the second. In the second solo on the first outtake, the melody consists of one note for the first 12 bars which is considerably more interesting to hear than to read about; the second twelve bars are more varied. There's only one 24-bar solo in the second outtake and in the second 12 bars Carl reprises one of his terrific moves from the first solo in the released version of ''Boppin' The Blues'' (Sun 243). The other boys are working hard as well. Jerry Lee Lewis throws in long glissandos after ''What makes your big head so hard?'', and fiddles around entertainingly at the end of the first outtake. Unlike most of his work behind Carl, on these takes Jerry Lee of ten plays chords rather than single notes with his left hand. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland doesn't recapture the magic of ''Matchbox'' when he puts an unexpected drum roll into the guitar solo in the second outtake; this one really is in the wrong place.

Of course, the most striking thing about these takes is the vocals. This is Carl Perkins as we don't usually hear him – alternately growling and restrained, gimmicking up his voice in numerous ways. Sun Records aficionados are familiar with Billy Riley's remarkable ability to change his sound. Unfortunately, Carl just sounds peculiar doing it on these tracks. In tins case, the familiar bottle of Early Times seems to have affected not only the vocals but Car's guitar-playing as well.

01(1) – "CALDONIA" - B.M.I. - 4:44
Composer: - Fleecy Moore
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - False Start 1, 2, 3, 4, Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-2-32 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

01(2) – "CALDONIA" - B.M.I. - 2:05
Composer: - Fleecy Moore
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Phonogram Records (LP) 33rpm 6467 028-2 mono
SUN ROCKABILLYS - VOLUME 4 - PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2-22 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
 
''SWEETHEARTS OR STRANGERS''

This song has a muddled history, to put it mildly. It dates back to the 1930s and depended on where you get your facts, it has been credited to Jimmie Davis, Gene Autry, Leon Payne, Hylo Brown. Jimmy Wakely and even Faron Young (who must have owned a time machine).

At the least we know they all recorded the song, as did countless other artist. Among those others was Carl Perkins, during his tenure at Sun.

Although this was a spontaneous (some would say throwaway) track, it has been reissued many (some would say too many) times. The reason for that is no doubt the presence of session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis.

The haphazard nature of the recording is matched by the care with which the title has been reissued on various record labels - it's often been titled ''Sweetheart's A '' Stranger''. Close, but no cigar!

 
There are three outtakes here. Actually, these are more aptly called ''alternates' since there never was an ''intake''. The song was never issued by Sun, nor was it ever a contender. On the first of these three versions, Jerry Lee's presence looms large over everything. His left-hand piano fills are a mayor, truly dominant part of the arrangement. Carl's vocal is not among his best. He sounds distracted and his vocal is quite mannered. It is even sloppy in place. The ideas in his guitar solo are unfinished, his playing is working towards something but it isn't there yet. Putting it bluntly, the whole thing sounds like a parody of Carl Perkins.

The second take (from the same session) has considerably more echo on it. This has ''warm- up taken'' written all over it. It's the kind of thing the Million Dollar Quartet might have knocked off in one take and then moved on.

The final version of ''Sweethearts Or Strangers'' is plainly from a different session. The tempo is slowed down, the mix is different, and the song is performed in a different key (the first two versions were in A; this one ls m,G).

The slower tempo and lower key seem like a more workable approach if the boys (and Sam) were serious about getting something usable. Clearly, they never did.

02(1) - "SWEETHEART OR STRANGERS" - B.M.I. - 2:00
Composer: - Jimmie Davis-Lou Wayne
Publisher: - Southern Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-2-34 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

02(2) - "SWEETHEART OR STRANGERS" - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: - Jimmie Davis-Lou Wayne
Publisher: - Southern Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30104-8 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 4 - COTTON CITY COUNTRY
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2-26 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

02(3) - "SWEETHEART OR STRANGERS" - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Jimmie Davis-Lou Wayne
Publisher: - Southern Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2-24 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
 
''BE HONEST WITH ME''

The thing about ''Be Honest With Me'', (a song written by Fred Rose and recorded by Gene Autry in 1946), is that it is so scalar to ''Sweethearts Or Strangers'', you can starts singing one and up singing the other without notice the transition. That's probably what happened to Carl or Jerry Lee when they found themselves at the informal hillbilly jam that produced some of these recordings. The melodies to the first time of the verse are identical - G - E - D - J - C- E (in key of C) and the second line is, as they say, close enough for jazz. 

You can put all kinds of filigree around those notes, but at the core it doesn't matter whether you're singing ''Sweet - hearts - or - stran - gers or Be honest - with - me- (dear)''. You're going to hit that same descending pattern, and end up back on the E.

The first outtake makes it hard to see similarity between the two songs. The first 8 bars begin in a quasi-Latin rhythm before launching into a tough guitar riff which stinging than any of the outtakes in ''Sweetheart Or Strangers''.
 
 
The key modulation 2/3 the way through offers a nice touch. A1l in all, this is a surprisingly versions. The second outtake has taken on some additional echo and is closer to completion, although it seems unlikely this song was ever a serous candidate for release. Perhaps it might have been an album track, at best Sam wasn't giving away publishing revenue without a fight.

W.S.'s drumming is quite free compared to the previously released samples of his craft we've heard through the years. W.S. got a rough deal. First he was buried in the mix at Sun. He managed to get a few licks through, for example on ''Matchbox'', but most of his freest, much expressive playing remained on the outtake reels awaiting discovery decades later. And after recording with Carl, he spent the lion's share of his career playing brushes behind Johnny Cash, where tasty drum licks were strictly verboten.

Outtake 3 is a vastly different story. There's a tempo change, a substantial key change and a difference in overall feel. It's safe to say this take stems from a different session. The style is much more country, especially in the piano work, leaving open the possibility that we're listening to Jimmy Wilson this time around. Carl is a lot more focused Ii his half of the instrumental solo a than the piano player, whether Wilson or Lewis The final key modulation seems to throw Car's vocal off-kilter, from which be never quite recovers.

03(1) - "BE HONEST WITH ME" - B.M.I. - 2:14
Composer: - Fred Rose
Publisher: - Fred Rose Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-2-37 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

03(2) - "BE HONEST WITH ME" - B.M.I. - 2:25
Composer: - Fred Rose
Publisher: - Fred Rose Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2-25 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
Reissued: - April 27, 2012  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-2-38 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

03(3) - "BE HONEST WITH ME" - B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Fred Rose
Publisher: - Fred Rose Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-2-39 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES
''MATCHBOX''

According to Carl's biography, it was his father Buck who suggested (at the recording studio just after ''Your True Love'' had been completed) that the band do this 1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson song of which Buck remembered only the chorus (about wondering ''would a matchbox hold my clothes''). So Carl cobbled together a few other stock blues verses and thus was one of Carl's greatest records born. What Carl recorded contains two additional verses with lyrics that appear on most Top Ten lists of blues cliches (e.g., ''Let me be your little dog...''). Indeed, wondering whether a matchbox will hold your clothes goes back at least to Ma Raney's 1924 record of ''Lost Wandering Blues''. Songs resembling Lemon Jefferson's and using something like his record's title (''Matchbox Blues'') got recorded many times in the 1930s and 1940s, both by black blues and white country singers. Carl was part of a long tradition when he recorded ''Matchbox''. Its a tradition that has continued since Carl's record, including versions by the Beatles, Sleepy LaBeef and Warren Phillips & The Rockets.

In a way, it's disappointing that Perkins did not learn the song directly from the old 1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson record. It's fun to picture Carl sitting alone in the wee hours, playing an old Paramount 78, transcribing lyrics on a potato sack. But it just didn't happen that way.

This songs recording date, listed as December 4, 1956, was Carl's first experience with the young session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis impressed Carl as cocky and arrogant, a point of view borne out by Jerry Lee's performance on the one alternate take present here. His piano-styling intends more to be attention -grabbing and showy than to fit into a Carl Perkins record. And so there are numerous glissandos, gratuitous high-key doodling, and ''Hey listen to me!'' moments. Sadly, one of thorn occurs when he gets lost in the harmonic complexities of a 3-chord 12-bar blues in the chorus between the two guitar solos. Somehow. Carl and company tamed Jerry between takes - to our everlasting benefit.

Carl's vocal and guitar solos are much like what he performed on Sun 261 and this outtake sounds like a warm-up for the the real thing. More interesting is the pair (the released version has only one) of singlestroke drum rolls leading into the guitar solos, both extending two beats ''too long''. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland was certainly blazing a new trail here when he played a drum ro11 that extended two beats into the bar. The fact that it occurs on an outtake here as well makes it seem likely that this moment of memorable and aspired drumming were carefully planned. Not so, according to W.S. ''I didn't I really now what I was doing. I didn't know there were four beats to a bar. I didn't I know what a bar was. (laughs) I was doing what felt good. The truth is, back then I didn't know if I was right or wrong. I didn't know where to start or end anything. If I had known anything else to do. I might have done it differently. But I didn't''.

Most of the outtakes remedied unheard until someone thought to dig them up and issue them. But not this one. When Carl made an appearance on the ''Town Hall Party TV'' show and performed a lip-synched version of ''Matchbox'', it was to this outtake and not to the actual released! Joe Maphis was on-stage standing behind Carl, off to his left, a sax and trumpet player pretended lo contribute to a rockabilly classic that has no horns whatsoever.

So why was this outtake chosen for lip-synching? Was it a simple mistake where someone provided the wrong tape? Was there actually a (pre-release) time when Sam or Carl believed this outtake was the version they'd soon be putting out on Sun? Did someone think that if Carl lip-synched a version that the audience hadn't already heard, then it might be more convincing as a live-performances? We'll never know.

It's not a bad choice, though. Much of what is wonderful about the released version is wonderful in this outtake as well. The rhythmic energy driven by all five players, the solid bottom provided by Jerry Lee's left hand, the crisp drumming, Carl s exuberant vocalizing. All of that is here. Unlike on the released version, Carl sings an ''extra'' third verse on this outtake before launching into his familiar guitar solo. It's a bit surprising to hear, but like most of the track, you can learn to love it. This outtake is a mighty good, if spotty, recording. And it led to Sun 261 which is simply sublime. And by the way, W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland says that ''Matchbox'' is still one of his favorite things to play after 55+ years, and notes that his band still performs it every night.

04(1) - "MATCHBOX" - B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - March 1982
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 101 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm 15494 EH-2-28 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

If a Sun collector dies and hears the first four bars of "Matchbox", its a sure sign he's gone to heaven. This track is a landmark recording in Perkins' work for Sun Records. Although credited to Carl, the song had been kicking around in one form ar another longer than he had.

What makes this record great, however, is hardly the lyric or melodic structure. Rather, it is the sound the musical energy that literally shook the walls of 706 Union. The Perkins Brothers band was loose, and young session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis brought a manic enercy and drive that brought everything to life. Even Carl's instrumental work carries an aggressive edge that goes beyond his own fiery standards. When he cries "Let her go boy, go go!" the skies literally open up for 12 bars. Even drummer W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland sounds inspired as he boots things along.

04(2) - "MATCHBOX" - B.M.I. - 2:08
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 231 - Master Take 2
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - January 23, 1957
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 261-A mono
MATCHBOX / YOUR TRUE LOVE
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-3-15 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

The Beatles recorded "Matchbox" which was no more from Perkins' pen than it was from Lennon and McCartney's. However, they attributed the song to Perkins  because they had learned it from his "Dance Album". Thus, Perkins began receiving astronomically high airplay and publishing royalties from a song that had been a thrwaway flipside to perhaps his least creditable Sun single. In view of the sums of money at stake, it is surprising that no-one was slimy enough to contact the surviving relatives of Blind Lemon Jefferson who had recorded "Matchbox Blues" back in October 1927, thereby creating a protracted and messy court battle. 

''HER LOVE RUBBED OFF''

This is surely one of the strangest songs Carl wrote or recorded at Sun. Carl's biography refers to it as rockabilly's most surreal moment. Carl's observation to biographer David McGee was, ''It sounds like bunch of drug addicts so high they don't know where they're at .. Well, we were pretty high. I remember that session. I slept on the studio floor that night''.

From left: Loyd Clayton Perkins, Car Perkins, W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland, James Buck Perkins in the movie Jamboree singing and playing ''Glad All Over'' >

We've got five outtakes and it's unlikely any of them could pass a sobriety test. That isn't in itself necessarily bad. Carl's biography makes it clear that many, perhaps most sessions at Sun were fueled by some freeflowing ''Early Time'' whiskey. The problem in this case is that you can hear the inebriation. Carl's son Stan Perkins recalls, ''My dad was never so ashamed of anything he did at Sun as he was this song. It even bothered him when people brought up the title because, he knew...
 
 
...what had gone on in the studio and the kind of shape he was in''. Carl was a good lyricist and too much of what he's written and sung are lost. Much of the singing sounds garbled, muffled and/or off-mike. In short, the boys may have squandered a good song here.

It's hard to fault Sam for keeping this title away from commercial release, either as a single or on Carl's lone LP. Yet. given the number of outtakes, though, its clear that a serious amount of time and effort were invested in making this work.

The structure of ''Her Love Rubbed Off'' is a bit of a novelty, both for Carl and for Sun Records. It's got that Indian war drum effect - or is that supposed to be Latin rhythm? Carl whoops and hollers and howls until everything is resolved into a fairly conventional major key song structure, abetted by Jerry Lee's piano licks. Minor keys weren't altogether unknown at Sun (think of Dick Penner's ''Cindy Lou'', both of which teeter on the edge of a major/minor and Rufus Thomas' ''Walkin' In The Rain''). This song forces you to listen to a sustained manor chord for a full 16 vars before turning you loose and resolving things into its relative major key (E minor to G). What a relief?

The lyrics deals with an irresistible, compulsive love. It's what some listeners today might call an addiction. On the first take, the piano (which would become quite important in the arrangement) is still buried in the mix. Carl sounds like he's singing through a pillow. Good luck figuring out his mumbled lyric. Around 1:40, the song is faded prematurely, a trick that probably happened after original recording was made. Even on this first take, Carl is really working the whammy bar on his Les Paul Gibson guitar.

The end of outtake 2 is again filed with Carl's whoops and howls. Carl must have had immense fun whupping that whammy bar and playing through the stops. Clayton is a lot more audible slapping his bass at the start of outtake 3. Jerry Lee is also becoming hotter in the mix. It's the best so far, but it ain't there yet. At around 2:25 of that take Carl's blood alcohol level was probably into the need for a designated driver.

Listening to the fade of outtake 4 makes you wonder: If Sam had ever released this, would he have faded it in the studio using declining record levels like everyone else did, or would he have asked the boys to play more and more softly like he did with Little Junior Parker on ''Mystery Train''?

The final outtake is the winner, but it still isn't really there. Carl changes the melody here, almost singing a harmony vocal to what he's been singing on the previous four. For the first time his vocal is clear! Whose idea was it to remove the pillow he's been singing through? The chords, as usual, are a mess. Some of the boys are in the I-minor, others are hitting the V. Still, this was the version to use. Listening to these tapes years later, it frustrated Carl to think they hadn't invested a few minutes more to nail it. As he sadly concluded, they were just too drunk.

05(1) - "HER LOVE RUBBED OFF" - B.M.I. - 1:41
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3-20 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

Carl Perkins using his new Gibson ES-5 maple-top with three P-90 pickups where you can hear him using  the Bigsby vibrato.

05(2) - "HER LOVE RUBBED OFF" - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3-21 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

05(3) - "HER LOVE RUBBED OFF" - B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3-22 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

05(4) - "HER LOVE RUBBED OFF" - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3-23 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

05(5) - "HER LOVE RUBBED OFF" - B.M.I. - 2:18
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 5 - Not Originally Issued
Scheduled for SUN 261 but replaced by "Your True Love".
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1969
First appearance: - Sun Canada (LP) 33rpm LP 112 mono
CARL PERKIS – BLUE SUEDE SHOES
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2-21 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

Shortly before release of this song, Sam Phillips decided to jettison "Her Love Rubbed Off" and take his chances with a very self conscious shot at the pop charts. It was called "Your True Love" and it was as innocuous as it sounded. Sam Phillips even decided to knock a few years and some hillbilly edges off Carl's voice by speeding up the tape. He almost overdid it; the vocal chorus sounds like the Chipmunks and Carl sounds almost pre-pubescent. The high point of the record for many was Perkins' wonderfully aggressive guitar intro.
''YOUR TRUE LOVE''

These five complete takes all sound different from what was released on Sun 261 because, as is well known, Sam Phillips had the final master tape speeded up before committing it to vinyl. That trick was routine for Fats Domino records; they were mastered on a tape machine with a special capstan that sped them up and raised the pitch so that Fats sounded younger and the band sounded peppier. And lots of Fats 'speeded-up records were very big hits.

So Sam must have thought that speeding up records was a good thing to do. In Shakespeare's As You Like It, Rosalind asks, ''can one desire too much of a good thing?''. The answer here is a resounding YES. Fats' records were speeded up enough the change the pitch by just one half-tone (e g., from C to C-sharp or from E to F). But Sam speeded up Carl's tape enough to raise the pitch by a full tone (from E to F-sharp). And as a result the vocals on ''Your True Love'' on Sun 261 don't just sound youthful and energetic, they sound perilously close to Alvin & the Chipmunks. Sam never tried this trick again despite the fact that ''Your True Love'' did make it onto the lower reaches of the ''Billboard'' charts.

We have an early fragment of a warm-up done at Carl's home (we'll discuss the home-recording conditions later, in the notes on ''The Way That You're Living''), as well as five later complete takes (plus a false start starts), all presented at the original speed. They make clear that Carl and his band knew from the beginning how how they wanted to do the song, including backing vocals by Clayton and Jay, and that Jerry Lee Lewis fit right into a pre-existing arrangement.

One constant in all these versions is the wonderfully aggressive and growling guitar introduction (with only a slight rhythmic variation in the third full outtake). It's a brilliant and attention-grabbing intro, but it's also disorienting as hell. Those first few chords don't tell us what to anticipate of the song's tonality or how the melody will relate to it. For the first four bars we're kind of left floating in free musical space, not knowing what to expect. It's only when the solo guitar intro ends and the band joins in, we finally know exactly where we are even though we're not entirely sure about where we started. (Musicians will discover that the intro begins on a III chord).

Our first outtake is an early fragment with Carl and the boys working out the arrangement without Jerry Lee. The remainder of the tracks here include Jerry Lee. You may notice a slight change of key between the home tape and the later ones. The reason force the change is probably that at home the instruments merely needed to be in tune with each other and didn't have to anchor their tuning to the piano. It turns out they were playing In E-flat, a half-tone below where they would later pitch the studio sessions.

Once they get to the studio and Jerry Lee joins in things evolve only a little bit more. In the first studio outtake, Carl's vocal seems a bit timid at first but becomes more confident and energetic as the song progresses. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland plays a shuffle rhythm behind the band; he shifts to emphasizing the back-beat in the remained takes. Carl's guitar solos don't change much; they're mostly patterns of rhythmic chords rather than runs of single notes. He fiddles around with the second half of the solo a few times, but rhythmic chords are the choice. And the last line of the solo leading back into the vocal is solid am unchanging, dominated by Jerry Lee's left hand (playing pretty much what he does behind the line at the end of the release, ''and my baby she'll always be...'').

Our sixth outtake should sound the most familiar. It is the master recording without the speed change. This is Sun 261 as it was really played. And it's wonderful.

Not yet satisfied the band went on to try it one more time. But the seventh outtake is decidedly less good the the one sped up for the released version.

There are sensing vocal errors, such as Carl beginning the second verse by saying ''Your'' a bit early. It's also played a bit faster than the one sped up for release, perhaps in an attempt to do modestly what seeding up the tape would soon do excessively.
 06(1) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:56
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-2 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 

06(2) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-3 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 

06(3) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 0:19
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start 1- Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-4 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 

06(4) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 3:02
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-5 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 

 06(5) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 3:03
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2-27 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
Reissued: April 29, 2012 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-6 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 

06(6) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 3:02
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 5 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-7 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 

The tale of "Your True Love" being speeded up for release has often been told. Whether teens were fooled by the Chipmunk-sounding 'youthful' chorus is hard to tell. The record did sell in sufficient quantities for Perkins and Sam Phillips to see crossover potential lying within their grasp. However, this was Perkins' last serious flirtation with the pop charts. To their credit, Sun did not follow the Fats Domino model and release a neverending series of speeded up singles in order to attract the teen market. If it had been more successful, though, they might have.

"You True Love" climbed to number 67 on the pop charts before running out of steam. Ironically, it was the flip side that would reap the big pay-off, albeit ten years later.

06(7) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 235 - Master Take 6
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - January 23, 1957
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 261-B mono
YOUR TRUE LOVE / MATCHBOX
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-3-15 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2
''YOU CAN DO NO WRONG''

From the ''Matchbox'' era comes this peculiar and engaging little song. Lyrically, it's a return to ''Blue Suede Shoes'' - a list of bad things you can do I that will nonetheless for forgiven. A year earlier, the bad things were trivial compared to stepping on the shoes; this time, they're trivial because you're you. The fun, of course, is in making up a list of entertaining infractions that rhyme like, ''smash my hat, tease my cat''. In fact, whoever this song is sung to can ''eleven step on my blue suede shoes''. Now, that's love.

That catchy lyrical idea appeared again in ''Going For A Song'' on Matthew Fisher's (best-known as the organist with Procol Harum) from the solo album from 1973. That, coincidentally was the year Charly first issued ''You Can Do No Wrong'' in the United Kingdom. Fisher's lyric lists things you can do that will be acceptable, (like, ''put piranhas in my swimming pool'') but ''please don't make me sing ' that song again''. One of them is ''scratch your name all over my Lamborghini''; Carl had a mere Cadillac.

By the time of his session, Carl was two singles beyond ''Blue Suede Shoes'' but without another big hit to his credit. Perhaps that was the appeal of writing a song that explicitly connected with his earlier success. The song is indeed clever but it never got a chance to become Carl's vehicle back to the Top 10.

Here five takes, and they show some evolution. The most striking change is that the first take does not - include the little instrumental hook that will dominate all the rest of them. It's a three-note figure eat bears a very strong similarity to the figure that served as the hook in Lavern Baker's 1955 smash ''Tweedlee Dee'' (or ''Tweedle Dee'' both spellings show up on the Atlantic record labels). Not only is it played to open the record, it shows up later in the song and sometimes appears in Carl's guitar solos.

Even the chord structure of the song evolves. What chord will the first verse end on? Initially it's the I (a C chord in the key of C), but in the later takes it's the V (G-chord in the key of C) and Carl's Vocals change to match those shifts. Because the song's chord structure changes across takes, Jerry Lee sometimes finds  himself playing at odds with Carl.

A lot about these takes is both interesting and good. Jerry Lee's left hand is the bass line (listen closely: is there even a bass player here?) Often Jerry seems to be the entirety of the harmonic backing for Carl's vocals, with everyone else very subdued or laying out altogether. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland's drumming is tasteful and energetic throughout all the takes. Carl gets some particularly good solos in, especially m the third and fifth of our outtakes) and his vocal gets very free-sounding. And perhaps most important, it sounds like the boys are having fun doing this one.

Sadly, though, not one of these takes is flaw-free There are ragged moments in every one of them. Chords get messed up, the band speeds up during the take, stuff happens. It's ironic that in a song with the title ''You Can Do No Wrong'', they couldn't get even a single take right.

But it's a good song with a good hook and it deserved a better performance. For reasons unknown, Carl never returned to it. We can only wonder why.

07(1) - "YOU CAN DO NO WRONG" - B.M.I. - 2:03
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-14 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 

07(2) - "YOU CAN DO NO WRONG" - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-15 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 

07(3) - "YOU CAN DO NO WRONG" - B.M.I. - 2:25
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-16 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 

07(4) - "YOU CAN DO NO WRONG" - B.M.I. - 2:23
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Phonogram Records (LP) 33rpm 6467 028-1 mono
SUN ROCKABILLYS - VOLUME 4 - PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2-23 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

07(5) - "YOU CAN DO NO WRONG" - B.M.I. - 2:21
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 5 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-18 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 
Or course, no artist is completely original and Perkins' version of "Matchbox" showed how successfully he had assimilated all the music he had heard while growing up. He had a rich and varied heritage to draw upon and during his early career the disparate elements coalesced into something truly unique. After being hailed as one of the godfathers of rock and roll, Carl Perkins became very self conscious of his achievement and started writing songs like "Birth Of Rock and Roll", which actually said less about the birth of rock and roll than a throaway couplet from an out-take of "Everybody Trying To Be My Baby": "They're squallin', ballin', runnin' down the hall. I guess ole daddy's got a lot on the ball...".

08(1) - "PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON" - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 16 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2-30 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
Reissued: - April 27, 2012  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3-16 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

Due to its tape vault incarceration, this next ebullient rally cry didn't enter the collective public conscious until  the early 1970s. By that stage Carl had all but erased "Cat Clothes" from his memory, which is odd considering  that the song was tried out at Sun on at least three separate occasions. In their earlier attempts the Perkins band  adopted something of a souped-up hillbilly approach but when Jerry Lee Lewis augmented the line-up as a  session pianist, the outcome was a good deal more fearsome.

08(2) - "PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON" - B.M.I. - 3:25
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - None - False Start 2 - Take 17 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Reissued: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3-17 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

08(3) - "PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON" - B.M.I. - 2:51
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - None - Take 18 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - 1986 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm Charly 16-9 mono
THE BEST OF SUN ROCKABILLY
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-3-2 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

''KEEPER OF THE KEY''

You may have heard Carl sing this one before, but It probably wasn't this version. By far the better down source is the Million Dollar Quartet session, on which Carl appeared during that fateful afternoon on December 4, 1956. The version we have here (which again features Jerry Lee Lewis on piano) seems to have been a throw-away, one-off studio take assayed in much the spirit of the Million Dollar Quartet, which has some the world's most famous extended jam session - deserving of its own Broadway show.

Carl's vocal on this Wynn Stewart song is quite impassioned and utterly sincere. The song itself, which bears more than a passing similarity to ''Seasons Of My Heart'', falls in that appealing overlap between a love song and a gospel song. ''I can't sing about my love for you, darlin', without bringing the Lord into it''. On the first go-around, Carl turns the ''key'' to his fate over to his woman. By the last verse, that all-important ''key'' has been passed along to the Lord.

Another noble feature here is the recitation. Once again, Carl has taken time away from his singing to spend 8 bars reciting the lyrics. We’ve discussed this practice elsewhere (see ''I Care'') and can add that according to his biography, Carl recorded a number of religious/sentimental narrations late in his life which do not able to have in released.

09 - "KEEPER OF THE KEY" - B.M.I. - 3:21
Composer: - Harlan Howard-Kenny Devine-Lance Guynes-Berverly Steward
Publisher: - Southern Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - March 1982
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 101 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-3-3 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
''ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN''

Chuck Berry's first top Top l 0 hit was has first record ''Maybellene'' In 1955. His second Top 10 hit, ''School Day'' came about a year-and-a-half later. ''Roll Over Beethoven'' was his only other entry in the top 40 during the interim, barely making it into the Top 30 in the summer of 1956. Yet it has a sort of classic status that some of his bigger records never achieved. Part of that is, undoubtedly due to the wonderful guitar intro that Chuck re-used on ''Johnny B. Goode'' and that the Beach Boys grabbed for ''Fun, Fun, Fun''. But another reason may be the fact that this was one of the first hit records with lyrics about rock and roll itself. It had the ready- made status of an anthem.

Although ''Roll Over Beethoven'' exists among Carl's Sun recordings, it is unlikely that it was ever intended to be more than a warmup track. The fact that only one take exists strengthens that conclusion. As such, it certainly served the purpose. There are some good reasons why Carl and the boys decided to record it. For one big, they all (including Jerry Lee) knew the song. For another, they surely liked Chuck's music at the end of 1956. In fact, four tracks on the Million Dollar Quartet sessions are performances of Chuck Berry songs, though not of this one. Carl and Chuck had recently become friends on tour and Carl liked both his guitarplaying and his songwriting. And it makes sense that two of the greatest contributors to the hybridizing of country music and blues - coming from the opposite directions - should find themselves to be kindred spirits.

Carl's guitar style here is here obviously intended to be Berry-like. What's more, Jerry Lee tinkles the upper end of the piano sounding more like Johnnie Johnson (who played behind Chuck) than usual. The lyric is an amalgam of lines and verses from Chuck's record sung in no particular order. But you can't take the country out of the boy and it's clear that we're listening to a band with country roots, more comfortable with shuffle rhythm than with the very steady one that drove the original. ''Roll Over Beethoven'' by Carl is entertaining and it's good, but it's not hit material. It's an homage.

10 - "ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Chuck Berry
Publisher: - Arc Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Phonogram Records (LP) 33rpm 6467 028-6 mono
SUN ROCKABILLYS - VOLUME 4 - PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-3-4 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Carl Perkins - Vocal and Guitar
James Buck Perkins - Rhythm Guitar
Lloyd Clayton Perkins - Bass
W.S. "Fluke" Holland - Drums
Jerry Lee Lewis - Piano

Carl Perkins was essentially a rural poet like Hank Williams. He ran into problems when he tried to pander to the teenage market. In contrast, Chuck Berry could sit in his hotel room, guitar in hand and become a pimply white teenager instead of a middle aged black rhythm and blues singer. Berry empathised with experiences light years from his own; Perkins did not. His best music was always rooted in the west Tennessee bar-rooms that spawned it.

From time to time, Perkins would try to emulate Chuck Berry's achievement and write something patently aimed at the teenage market but the results were nowhere near as convincing as Berry's little playlets. Carl Perkins was younger than Chuck Berry and, of course, he was white but the grim rural poverty of the Depression years meant that Perkins had never enjoyed the spare time and the spare change that characterised the teenagers to whom he was playing. He had never really been a teenager and he found it difficult to identify with them.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CARL PERKINS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY DECEMBER 1956
AND/OR OTHER DATE JANUARY 1957
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

''TRY MY HEART OUT''

The origin of this over-emoted ballad is something of a mystery. Despite the presence of several instruments,  it's far from certain it was cut at Sun. For one thing, the quality of these recordings is well below the standard  for 706 Union Avenue. For another, these outtakes, including the incomplete version that runs about 1:40,  were found on a home tape in Carl's possession that contained another title not previously released (see ''Poor  People Of Paris''). And so the question of where these recordings originate remains a mystery: it's too sloppy  for a Sun recording and too elaborate for a home recording (at the least here's quite a bit of echo on the  vocal, a feature that lay beyond the capacity of mid-1950s home recorders.) One thing to note: If these are  home recordings, that piano player is more likely to be Valda Perkins than Jerry Lee Lewis.

The song itself is a whole other matter. What makes the lyrics most interesting is likely to be lost on modem  listeners. The composer (probably Carl) has adapted what was a common advertising gimmick - most  frequently appearing on radio commercials - and put it to use in a love song. In its original form, the phrase  might be ''Bear Family yeast provides every vitamin and mineral known to man. It'll give you more vim and  vigor than you've ever felt. Try our yeast out. Put it to your test. If after one week you don't feel better than  you ever have, return the unused portion and we'll refund your full purchase prize''.

It was an appealing offer. Buy our product. Put it to your test. What could be fairer? If this ain't the best  cereal/orange juice/cake mix/pain reliever you've ever used, just send it back. There's no risk to you. Make  up your own test for it. You be the judge. Carl has turned this common gimmick around and applied it to  love, with himself as the product. ''Take me home. Let me love you. See how you feel with me in your life''.

It's a pretty funny idea when you think abut it because it's an unchaste offer in a generally conservative era.  But that, too, contributes to why it's a fanciful and clever song.

Musically, its most effective moments come during the release (''a newborn feeling...'') when the melody  shuttles between the IV and V-chords. Performance wise, Carl seems to be trying a little too hard to deliver a  hiccup-laced marketable ballad. He should have laid back a bit and let the clever lyrics do the work.

01(1) - "TRY MY HEART OUT" - B.M.I. - 1:41
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 1956/January 1957
Reissued: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: -  Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-5-14 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

01(2) - "TRY MY HEART OUT" - B.M.I. - 2:49
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 1956/January 1957
Released: - November 1987
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-3-17 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-2-21 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959
 
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Carl Perkins - Vocal and Guitar
James Buck Perkins - Rhythm Guitar
Lloyd Clayton Perkins - Bass
W.S. "Fluke" Holland - Drums
Jerry Lee Lewis - Piano

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

On November 19, 1956 Elvis Presley and then girlfriend Marilyn Evans (far right) promote Easter Seals. Born in 1937, Evans was a dancer whom Elvis Presley met her at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas when he appeared there earlier that year >
 
 
DECEMBER 4, 1956 TUESDAY

After Carl Perkins' Sun session, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash  hold the impromptu "Million Dollar Quartet" session singing mainly religious songs. Pianist  Smokey Joe Baugh is also present along with members of Carl Perkins' band.

Elvis Presley,Cliff Cleaves, and Marilyn Evans, the Las Vegas showgirl, stopped at 706 Union  Avenue by Sun Studios in Memphis. There they found Carl Perkins middle in a recording  session. Also on hand was Jerry Lee Lewis, who had just had his first single, "End Of The  Road"/"Crazy Arms", released by Sun Records. For the next three hours, the three  performers, later with the addition of Johnny Cash, also...
 
 
...a Sun recording artist, ran through a  succession of gospel and popular songs. Sam Phillips called the Memphis Press-Scimitar, and a  reporter Bob Johnson, and the photographer George Pierce, were dispatched to cover this  impromptu event. later, this would be referred to as "The Million Dollar Quartet".

While the group sings some country and rock and roll, it is ragged gospel harmonies which  predominate, along with Elvis' animated impression of the unnamed "colored" singer Jackie  Wilson, who has so captivated him in Las Vegas with his version of "Don't Be Cruel". "He tried  so hard", Elvis tells a disbelieving audience of fellow singers and hangers-on, "till he got  much better, boy, much better than that record of mine. Man, he was cutting out. I was  under the table when he got through singing".
 
DECEMBER 4, 1956 TUESDAY

Carl Perkins was completing a recording session. Jerry Lee Lewis had been playing piano for  him. Johnny Cash called into see how things were turning out. This already formidable trio  was joined by Elvis Presley who dropped by to visit his old friends at Sun.  Before too long  the Million Dollar Quartet" was launched into a jam session. Sun label boss, Sam Phillips,  decided to invite the local press along and at some point he also had the tapemachine  switched on.

What survives on tape is a fascinating and enjoyable flashback to the time  when rock and roll was young, when its earliest exponents retained their brash enthusiasm  and innocence.  Johnny Cash had left by the time these recordings were made but the trio of  Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis provide a thoroughly rivetting country music  and a into rock and roll. None of these artists yet had a million dollars. They just had a  million dollar worth of talent.

 
 
Johnny Cash was only present for publicity photographs before this session took place, he   was not present when the session was recorded (as was previously believed), although the   following is what Johnny Cash has to say about this session: "I was there, I was the first to   arrive and the last to leave, contrary to what has been written, but I was just there to   watch Carl record, which he did until mid-afternoon, when Elvis came in with his   girlfriend.

At that point the session stopped and we all started laughing and cutting up  together. Then Elvis sat down at the piano, and we started singing gospel songs we all   knew, then some Bill Monroe songs. Elvis wanted to hear songs Bill had written besides   ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', and I knew the whole repertoire. 

So, again contrary to what   some people have written, my voice is on the tape.   It's not obvious, because I was farthest   away from the mic and I was singing a lot higher than I usually did in order to stay in key   with Elvis, but I guarantee you, I'm there..". Johnny Cash claims more, there is another   tape missing of him with the group. Another tape in poor quality exists of Christmas songs.   Since the sound quality is awful its hard to tell who's who is.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 JAM SESSION FOR THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
ELVIS PRESLEY, JERRY LEE LEWIS & CARL PERKINS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVIVE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: DECEMBER 4, 1956 TUESDAY AFTERNOON
SESSION HOURS: 76 MINUTES
PRODUCER - SAM C. PHILLIPS AND/OR MARION KEISKER
RECORDING ENGINEER - JACK CLEMENT
RECORDED ON SCOTCH MAGNETIC TAPE

Marilyn Evans sits on the cabinet of the piano >

Recorded for "The Million Dollar Quartet", authentic studio recordings. Session Hours, 59,34 minutes Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. RCA Matrix numbers used for release. Photos taken by photographer George Pierce.

While Elvis was home in Memphis celebrating Christmas and New Years Eve he dropped in at 706 Union Avenue (the Sun studio) where the three others were present.


They all had a nice time talking, singing, and playing for a couple of hours. Sam Phillips turned the tape recorder on and recorded The Million Dollar Quartet".  Because of copyrights and probably due to the lack of technical and artistic quality too, the material from this session most likely won't ever be available to the public. What does exist on tape is difficult to say.

 
 
 
01 -"INSTRUMENTAL" - B.M.I. - 1:46
Composer: - Million Dollar Quartet
Publisher: - Public Domain
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - December 4, 195
Released: - September 19, 2006
First appearance: - Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-1   mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

This rhythm and bluesy instrumental opening jam probably features Carl Perkins and his band, brothers Jay and Clayton with W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland on drums, plus Jerry Lee Lewis, whose unmistakeable pumping left hand enlivens the number and adds a powerful rhythmic undertone. There are no composer credits and it has not been identified as any particular song. It is a driving, though fairly aimless, piece of improvisation with Carl's rockabilly guitar and Jerry Lee's relentless piano to the fore most of the time before it fizzles out. Apart from Jerry Lee's contribution, the playing is unspectacular though competent, but the band sounds tight. Fluke lets rip on the drums every now and then, demonstrating a real confidence in his ability despite a total lack of training and a fairly short career. Carl later said he did not think his guitar playing was particularly good that day. It all sounds like the sort of musical backdrop you might expect to hear at any number of smokey bars and honky-tonks on a Saturday night in small town fifties America, the kind of place Carl and his brothers had headlined countless times. Perhaps this was a piece Carl and his brothers had in reserve for those occasion when they had worked their way through their repertoire and needed something else to keep the crowd happy.

Although it is only speculation, this instrumental might have been played after the initial unrecorded songs, and after the photographs had been taken and Elvis was saying goodbye to Johnny Cash and the men from the press. Alternatively, Elvis might simply have been taking a break, chatting to Sam or others, possibly in the control booth. Perhaps the sound of Carl playing about with one of his recent big hits towards the end of the number made him think it was about time he was getting back to the musical fray.

02 -"LOVE ME TENDER (INSTRUMENTAL)" - B.M.I. - 1:00
Composer: - Vera Matson-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - Hill and Range Songs Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - September 19, 2006
First appearance: - Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-2  mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Carl's session was over, the quartet had probably worked their way through some songs together, posed for some photographs, and now, for a spell, Elvis was apparently absent, but in their thoughts. Carl and Jerry Lee start this ''Love Me Tender'' instrumental quite tentatively but soon get the hang of it. They are of course familiar with it since it has been a national hit; both were well able to play songs by ear. Jerry Lee embellishes the sound with some flowery piano phrases. Fluke hits a few beats but there is no rhythm to get hold of so he gives up. Voices can be heard in the background.

''Love Me Tender'' was an updated version of a sentimental ballad of the Civil War are, written by George R. Poulton and W.W. Fosdick and published in 1861. It was originally called ''Aura Lee'' (and sometimes known as ''The Maid Of Golden Hair''). it became popular with barbershop quartets and also soldiers at West Point where it had become a graduating-class song in the nineteenth century. It was embedded in America history, popular with several generations.

Elvis' recording had been released at the end of September 1956, one of a veritable blitz of releases by RCA, keen to recoup the money they had spent on Elvis' contract and exploit his massive commercial potential. Elvis performed the song on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 9, 1956. The following day RCA received a million advance orders making it a gold record before it was released. The composers of the song are stated to be Vera Matson and Elvis Presley.

The song reached number one on the main Billboard chart at the start of November 1956 and stayed there for five weeks, a period which included the day of the Million Dollar Quartet session. ''Love Me Tender'' became a standard for a while and was recorded by many artists including Paul Anka and Engelbert Humperdinck.

After playing ''Love Me Tender'' for approximately 50 seconds, Jerry Lee cuts into ''Mr. Sandman'' with some support from Carl. Fluke tries to add some drums momentarily but gives up after a while, apparently unable to get a handle on the song. This was traditional clean-cut pop, with completely innocent lyrics, the sort of thing that happened before rock and roll came along and shook everything up. It had been a number one hit for the Chordettes in 1954.

Now a standard, the song has been covered and adapted by a wide variety of artists. It was a Top 20 UK hit for Max Bygraves at the beginning of 1955. In 1978 the trio of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt recorded a version. The songs is a gift for a piano player with its chord progression in the chorus which follows the circle of fourths for sic chords in a row.

03 -"JINGLE BELLS (INSTRUMENTAL)" - B.M.I. - 1:58
Composer: - James Lord Pierpont
Publisher: - Public Domain
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - September 19, 2006
First appearance: - Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-3 mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

No doubt the festive season was already well underway by early December, with Santa Claus much in evidence in the shops, and thoughts of Christmas would naturally have come to mind. This family favourite is familiar to all, young and old, and Jerry Lee and Carl deliver a fairly straight, jaunty rendition, respectful of the traditional nature of the song, though naturally with Jerry Lee at the piano it bounces along at a fair lick.

Though they had only for the first time that day, Carl and Jerry Lee play together as if they were used to each other's musical company. One of the best-known and commonly sung winter songs in the world, it was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822-1893) and originally published under the title ''One Horse Open Sleigh'' in the autumn of 1857. It was recorded in 1898 by the Edison Male Quartette on an Edison cylinder as part of a medley of Christmas songs.

Even though it is commonly thought of as a Christmas song, it was originally written and sung for Thanksgiving. It is one of the best known and best loved of all secular songs, albeit one associated with Christmas in the minds of many. It duly earned its writer a place in the American Songwriters Hall of Fame.

As with other songs by the quartet, ''Jingle Bells'' represents traditional values and customs; this is quite ironic when the four young performers were often associated with behaviour which was deemed by many to be a threat to good morals and the American way of life.

04 -"WHITE CHRISTMAS (INSTRUMENTAL)" - B.M.I. - 2"07
Composer: - Irvin Berlin
Publisher: - Irvin Berlin Music Group
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - September 19, 2006
First appearance: - Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-4  mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

As ''Jingle Bells'' peters out, Carl neatly morphs the chords into those instrumental of ''White Christmas'' after after momentarily revisiting ''Don't Be Cruel''. Themes of family and tradition are once more the fore. Written by Irving Berlin in 1940, ''White Christmas'' is a secular song which looks back nostalgically, with all the trimmings, to a bygone image of Christmas, with references to such festive delights as glistening treetops and sleigh bells in the snow. Given the song's strong association with Christmas, some commentators have referred to it as a secular hymn. Bing Crosby's version, which was featured in the film Holiday Inn is the biggest selling single of all time according to Guinness World Records. It was recorded in 1942 with backing vocals provided by the Ken Darby singers. The huge success of the song might, as with ''Aura Lee'', be related to its warmly sentimental nature and the connection to a time of war. Elvis went on to record the song in 1957 for ''Elvis' Christmas Album''.

Jerry Lee delivers a colourful and showy version of the song with Carl adding occasional guitar flourishes and Fluke messing about on the hi-hat, trying to find a beat amongst Jerry Lee's Liberace-like twist and turns. Once more their instinctive choice of song shows a respect for tradition of them which was based on the new cutting edge sounds with which they were exciting their younger fans, and upsetting many in the establishment

05 -"BLUEBERRY HILL" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Larry Stock-Al Lewis-Vincent Rose
Publisher: - Redwood Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956

''Blueberry Hill'' was originally recorded by Gene Autry in 1940 for the film ''The Singing Hill'' but was soon picked up by other artists and producers who realised the simple little song had the makings of a classic. Countless artists have put their own stamp on the song but it is the version of Fats Domino, released in 1956, which had best stood the test of time. Domino's influential oeuvre has compassed pianobased rhythm and blues, rock and roll, zydeco, Cajun and boogie woogie. It was almost certainly his version - lilting rock and roll which the quartet was best acquainted with. According to several reports, Elvis started the session with this song. Needless to say the piano parts would have been put in Jerry Lee's hands. ''Blueberry Hill'' has been recorded by numerous acts over the years, from the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1940 to Led Zeppelin, who performed it live at the Los Angeles Forum in 1970 at a concert from which a bootleg album called ''Live At Blueberry Hill'' subsequently appeared.

06 - "RECONSIDER BABY" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:53
Composer: - Lowell Fulsom
Publisher: - ARC Music Corp
Matrix number: - WPA5-2537
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Elvis can be heard faintly off microphone.
Released: - June 1992
First appearance: - 1992 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm PD 90689(5)-5 mono
THE COMPLETE 50'S MASTERS
Reissued: - September 19, 2006   Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-5  mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

This is the point at which Elvis is first heard singing on the recordings; the point at which he returns to the music and takes over the show. Although others provide backing vocals, it is Elvis who now leads the singing, until he hands over to Jerry Lee Lewis towards the end of the session. He is the undisputed main man; that said Carl Perkins had probably been singing without much of a break for several hours by this stage and might well have been content to have Elvis sit in the driving seat and    is singing off mike for the last of the recording. "Reconsider Baby" was written and recorded by blues guitarist and singer Lowell Fulson in late 1953. Fulson, one of the founding fathers of West Coast blues, a sub-genre which features elements of jazz, rhythm and blues with piano and guitar solos to the fore. It developed when blues players moved from Texas (or in Fulson's case Oklahoma) to California in the 1930s and 1940s and then blended the music they brought with the music they found in their new home. West Coast blues favours smooth vocals and is generally more accessible than some of the purer, harder edged types of blues.   His recording (Checker 804) reached number 3 on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues chart in 1954 and remained his biggest hit. A blues classic. Once more the instinctive draw for the quartet was towards outstanding songs, iconic examples of particular key styles. At times Elvis' singing is barely audible whereas the piano and drums remain constant; perhaps he was moving around as he was singing, putting himself out of range of the fixed microphone emplacements. Fluke provides a rock solid shuffle beat.

Elvis Presley recorded "Reconsider Baby" on April 4, 1960, at RCA's Nashville Studios. For years, his performance at the Bloch Arena in Honolulu on March 25, 1961, has appeared on bootleg albums. Finally, in 1980, RCA released the live recording on the Elvis Aron Presley boxed set. Originally, a live afternoon performance of the song at Madison Square Garden on June 10, 1972, was scheduled for the 1973 "Elvis" (APL1-0283) LP, but was finally deleted. The performance, which was filed by RCA's as "A Blues Jam" later appeared on "Elvis A Legendary Performer, Volume 4". ''Reconsider Baby'' has since been done by many artists, including Eric Clapton who has often featured it in its live concerts. Fulson's original version was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in the ''Classic of Blues Recordings;; category. It it also included in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll.

07 - "HOME, SWEET, HOME - WHEN IT RAINS, IT REALLY POURS" - B.M.I.
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - Unreleased - Probably Tape Lost

"Home, Sweet, Home" was written by American John Howard Payne and Englishman Sir Henry Bishop in 1823 as the closing number to Act 1 of their opera "Clari". It was introduced on stage on May 8, 1823, at London's Covent garden by Maria Tree in the title role. Payne wrote his lyrics based in part on his own homesickness for America. Bishop's melody came from "A Sicilian Air", which he had written one year earlier. In 1842 Henry Bishop was knighted by Queen Victoria for his "Home, Sweet, Home" - the first musician ever knighted. During the Million-Dollar-Quartet sessions, Elvis Presley sang "Home, Sweet, Home". While the band was playing the song, Elvis blurted out two lines of "When It Rains, It Really Pours" (You know what it takes, you've got it, baby").

08 -"YOU BELONG TO MY HEART" - B.M.I. - 0:45
Composer: - Ray Gilbert-Augustina Lara
Publisher: - Public Domain
Matrix number: - VPA4-5298
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Laurel Records (LP) 33rpm LPM-3002 mono
PLAY IT HOT
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-1 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Elvis Presley sang it primarily by himself, with his own guitar accompaniment.

''You know a song that'll come back some day''? says Elvis. ''It'll make a splash... it's an old popular song''. This one could be said to have an interesting and unusual provenance for a song plucked out of the air in a jam session in Memphis.  Written by Ray Gilbert and Augustin Lara, "You Belong To My Heart" was introduced by Dora Luz, who played a live-action bathing beauty in the 1944 fulllength animated Disney film "The Three Caballeros". The song's Spanish title is "Solamente Una Vez".  Both Bing Crosby (Decca 23413) and Charlie Spivak (Victor 1663) had hit versions of "You Belong To My Heart" in 1945. Ezio Pinza recorded a version for the 1951 Lana Turner movie "Mr. Imperium".

Elvis sings the song, with effortless and convincing passion, adding colour by mixing the English and Spanish lyrics, and humour by camping up his vocal delivery.

09 - "WHEN GOD DIPS HIS LOVE IN MY HEART" - B.M.I. - 0:18
Composer: - Gleavant Derricks
Publisher: - Public Domain
Matrix number: - VPA4-5299
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-2 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins provided vocal harmony.

As with the other religious songs, ''When God Dips His Love In My Heart'' is one which will have been familiar to most of the people Elvis and the others grew up with; it would have been a favourite at church and in gospel concerts. Perhaps the first version they heard was the 1946 recording by the Blackwood Brothers, the white gospel quartet of whom Elvis in particular was a great fan. 

It was not just that they all knew so many religious songs, they clearly loved listening to them and singing them. It is hard to avoid the feeling that modern country singers include a few religious songs in their repertoire because some expert in the publicity department has said they will go over well with some sections of their potential demographic target. No such thinking applied with the quartet in the fifties.

Although sometimes attributed as ''traditional'', t his gospel song was written by Cleavant Derricks in 1944, whose whole life was devoted to religious matters. He was a pastor, a church builder, a choir director, a poet and the composer of around 300 religious songs. His initial motivation for embarking on his writing career was to inspire and give hope to people, especially poor black people, whose lives had been made even worse by the ravages of the Great War and the Great Depression. That said, Derricks understood that his concerns applied just as much to poor whites as they did to poor blacks and as the years went by many of his gospel songs were sung by black and white people, though not often together initially; as with many areas of life, churches were divided along racial lines. They were sung by innumerable mass choir, quartets and Sunday night gatherings around the piano in little country churches. It can be argued that they succeeded in helping people to rise above many instances of racial segregation and an atmosphere of prejudice, both commonplace during this era. Ironically Derricks, a black man, did not receive anything like the financial rewards he should have done while his publishers raked in large profits from the songs he wrote.

The ensemble just has a very brief stab at the song. In what might be a fragment of a longer version, Jerry Lee is singing lead and the uptempo rhythm is emphasised by hand-clapping and some vocal sounds from Elvis which might have been an indication that on this occasion he did not in fact know the words. 
 
 10 - "JUST A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS" - B.M.I. - 3:52
Composer: - Clevant Derricks
Publisher: - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5300
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-3 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, co-lead Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins.

Towards the end of ''When God Dips His Love In My Heart'', with Jerry Lee in full flow on lead vocals, Elvis cuts in and brings the song to an abrupt ens, ''I known one Carl... 'Just A Little Talk With Jesus'... remember that''? Carl does and they quickly start it up. Jerry Lee is once more relegated to piano player and backing singer albeit one who is doing his level best to be at the forefront of the action, providing the calls for Elvis to respond to, something he had clearly done many times before.

This is another inspirational gospel song from the pen of Cleavant Derricks which was originally copyrighted in 1937 as ''Have A Little Talk With Jesus''. An instant classic, black and white audience quickly took it their hearts; they loved the simple and direct message of the comfort provided by religious belief and devotion. It was framed in language that resonated with ordinary people leading lives that were often hidebound by poverty and where physical pleasure were few.

After doing the song for a while, Elvis gets Carl to slow down from uptempo gospel swing to a more soulful tempo. Once more he is in charge, making things happen in the way he believes brings out the best in the song. This was his modus operandi regardless of whether he was in an RCA studio or enjoying an informal jam with friends in Memphis. Carl delivers some tastefully picked country style leads.
 
 
11 - "JESUS WALK THAT LONESOME VALLEY" - B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - William L. Dawson
Publisher: - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5301
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-4 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Jerry Lee Lewis, co-lead Elvis Presley, guitar Carl Perkins and band. Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis continually share the lead.

''Remember some of those real old ones Carl''?, Elvis inquires. The impression is given that the session is all about Elvis with Carl as a kind of first mate. Elvis' remarks are rarely addressed to Jerry Lee. Apparently not even waiting for a reply, he launches into the song; Jerry Lee positively explodes with delight when he realises which song is kicking off and again does his best to hijack it. He is in his element with music like this and makes no attempt to retrain his exuberance; on this one he outshines Elvis. He comes alive in the joy of the moment, breaking into a kind of delirious falsetto at times. As for Elvis, his singing is natural and relaxed, free from the exaggerated mannerism which were often in evidence on his later official RCA releases such as ''Jailhouse Rock'' and ''Are You Lonesome tonight''.

The song is sometimes described as ''traditional'' which is partly right; it can also be attributed to William L. Dawson, born in 1899, who, as well as being a famous composer, was a teacher and arranger of music. For this and other songs he drew on the lyrics of traditional American folk songs. He also used melodies of old spiritual songs whose origins were lost in the mists of time. 

His Negro Folk Symphony of 1934 garnered a great deal of attention at its world premiere; it was later revised and revamped with greater emphasis on African rhythms. The composition attempted to convey elements of native music that were lost when Africans came into bondage outsite their homeland. The music the quartet chose to play really did connect to deep roots which spread far beyond the comparatively limited geographical boundaries of where they had been brought up.

At this stage it appears there are fewer people in the studio since there is hardly any applause at the end of the song, and what handclapping there is appears to come mainly from the musical participants themselves. Throughout the session there is an ebb and flow of people.

Both the Carter Family (Vocalion 03112) and Roy Acuff (Vocalion 04730) had popular recordings of "That Lonesome Valley" in the 1940s under the title "Lonesome Valley". Another popular version was Stuart Hamblen's 1955 recording (RCA 47-6152). The Kingston Trio recorded the song as "Reverend Mr. Black" (Capitol 4951) in 1963, reaching number 8 on the Hot 100 chart. It was their second most successful recording, after the number one hit "Tom Dooley".
 
 
12 - "I SHALL NOT BE MOVED" - B.M.I. - 3:21
Composer: - Traditional Arranged by H. Young
This popular gospel tune was written by John T. Benton in 1949,
with an arrangement by Mrs. James A. Pate.
Publisher: - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5302
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-5 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins and band.

''Here's an old one'', says Elvis by way of introduction. The group launch into the song with real gusto, all contributing to the lead vocals.

''I Shall Not Be Moved'' is a traditional African American spiritual whose origins might well date back to the slave era. It has also gained worldwide popularity as a protest song in the form, ''We Shall not Be Moved''. The song's format meant that it was easy to remember and it lent itself to group singing where all participants could feel included and express straightforward ideas. It consists of a series of verses, each of four lines. The title is repeated three times with one new line being introduced each time; this new line can easily be adapted to suit particular new situations. It came to be strongly associated with the Civil Rights Movement.

This version stresses the song's religious origins, which is how it would have been experienced by all participants as they were growing up. If unaware of the true situation, a listener to the recording might reasonably think it was made in church on a Sunday afternoon not least because of the ''Glory Hallelujahs''. The image of ''the tree that's planted by the water'' is one that seeks to express a message of hope, security and faith, to equip people for the trials of life. It images a better world ahead.

From left: pianist Smokey Joe Baught, Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips >

 
 

Quote at end: ''Boy this is fun, I think Jerry Lee Lewis would be a quartet". The person on the left side of the frame is Smokey Joe Baugh. This statement, at the end on a quartet is very strange because, some researchers say that Johnny Cash was not present. Then it is not sure who the fourth person could be.
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 13 - "PEACE IN THE VALLEY" - B.M.I. - 2:11
Composer: - Thomas A. Dorsey
Publisher: - Chappell Music Incorporated - Unichappel Music
Matrix number: - VPA4-5303
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-6 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Elvis Presley, background vocal Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Possible Marilyn Evans or Marion Keisker, guitar Carl Perkins, most likel

Before this song starts, there is talk of doing''Softly And Tenderly'' again but after doodling for a while, and after Elvis apologises for burping, he leads the way into ''Peace In The Valley'' against a background of doors closing and opening, people coming and going. There are no drums and on this song Jerry Lee takes a break from the piano, just providing backing vocals. Occasional snatches of a woman singing in the background are also detectable. See above.

While Reverence Thomas A. Dorsey was travelling from Indiana to Cincinnati in 1939, the train he was on passed through a valley. Dorsey noticed how peaceful the animals on the farm was guest of honour at the E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game in Memphis, which was a benefit for the blind, lands seemed to be. That tranquil scene inspired him to write "Peace In The Valley". The full title of the song is "(There'll Be) Peace In The Valley", and was originally performed by Mahalia Jackson who, apart from being an outstanding gospel singer, was also a prominent civil rights campaigner. Dorsey originally played jazz and rhythm and blues but switched to writing religious music in the 1930s. According to some sources it was he who coined the term ''gospel music''. It was one of Elvis' favourite styles of music throughout his life and he would often listen to it for pleasure in his spare time, away from the pressures of the studio. 

''Peace In The Valley'' has been covered by countless artists and is one of the first gospel songs to sell a million copies. It is not hard to see the link between traditional gospel music and the soul music which developed from the late fifties onwards. The version freshest in Elvis' mind could have been Red Foley's 1951 country hit.

In order to please his mother, Gladys, Elvis sang this song, against the wishes of the producers, during his 1957 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was probably the moment when most people started to see him not as a satanic figure who was a threat to women and the morals of the nation but actually a nice boy who believed in God and American values. later in the year he recorded a version for RCA.

As the song draws to a close, Jerry Lee says to Elvis with great sincerity, 'Yeah that's brilliant. It is, it's beautiful'''.
 14 - "DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE" - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5304
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-7 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Elvis Presley, background vocal Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins and band, drums W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland. Quote at end: ''Take It Easy Boy'' by Elvis Presley. It is here that Elvis Presley's guitar can be distinctively heard and in fact is probably the only guitar heard prominently although Carl Perkins is playing too.

As they mess about between songs, Jerry Lee appears to suggest, tentively, doing ''My God Is Real'', but is quickly outgunned as the others get going with ''Down By The Riverside''. Elvis sparks it off once he has checked what key Carl was playing in before - A. This is the last in this continuous run of religious/spiritual songs but the singers have lost none of the fervour shown in the previous songs. Somebody, possibly Fluke, adds percussion from about halfway through by hitting something metallic rhythmcally, but it is not a conventional drum-kit sound.

Carl Perkins recalled people working in the cotton field singing this song in unison in order to raise their spirits and get through the day. A traditional gospel song, it was known during the American Civil War and also has associations with slavery in the Deep South. The words have been adapted to many situations over the years.

It falls into a category of folk music which is beyond mere entertainment; rather it is a traditional part of the fabric of particular communities, especially the rural working class, a unifying activity in which everybody can join. Such songs can be readily understood by anyone and the themes they cover include war, civil rights, work, satire and love. Such music is timeless; in the years following the Million Dollar Quartet sessions, many other artists deployed folk music in their opposition to the Vietnam War and the government's unpopular economic policies. ''Down By The Riverside'' is still sung regularly all over the world, little changed, as an anthem of hope and triumph over adversity.

15 - "I'M WITH THE CROWD BUT ON SO ALONE" - B.M.I. - 1:20
Composer: - Ernest Tubb-Carl Story
Publisher: - Ernest Tubb Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5305
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-8 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, imitating Hank Snow.

The indefatigable Jerry Lee suggest another religious song, ''Jesus Hold My Hand'', even as Elvis launches into an imitation of Ernest Tubb doing ''I'm With A Crowd But So Alone'', and managing to sound like Hank Snow along the way. This is clearly a spoof with Elvis trying to force his voice lower than its usual comfort zone. Such imitations were not unusual and were more affectionate than mocking, Johnny Cash regularly imitated Elvis during his live concerts around this time.

Country singer Ernest Tubb, The Texas Troubadour, was someone Johnny Cash in particular looked up to; Tubb gave Johnny a lot of useful advice early on in his career and acted as an informal mentor. Country through and through, he was at the height of his career in the mid fifties. It was a career which lasted more than half a century during which time he scored numerous hits and helped to popularise country music beyond the strict confines of Nashville and environs. In 1955 he had enjoyed an enormous hit with ''The Yellow Rose Of Texas''.

Ernest Tubb, singer born in Crisp, Texas, on February 9, 1914. Tubb composed with Carl Story ''I'm With A Crowd But So Alone, and composed, with Johnny Bond, "Tomorrow Never Comes", which he recorded in 1949 (Decca 46106), and which Elvis Presley recorded in 1970. When he was a lad in 1936, Jimmie Rodgers' widow gave Tubb one of her husband's guitars. In 1940 Tubb began a long association with Decca Records. His record store, the Ernest Tubb Record Store in Nashville, Tennessee, is world famous. It was out of that shop that publicist Gabe Tucker worked. Elvis Presley appeared on Ernest Tubb's radio program, "Midnight Jamboree", the same night he made his only appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, on October 1954. Tubb wrote and recorded "I'm Walking The Floor Over You", which has been recorded by several people, including Bing Crosby. Tubb's son, Justis Tubb, toured with Elvis Presley from January to April 1956.

Tubb, who in 1965 was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, was portrayed by Ed Moastes in the 1980 TV special "Hank Williams: The Man And His Music". Ernest Tubb died of a heart attack in 1984.

16 - "FATHER ALONG" - B.M.I. - 1:54
Composer: - Reverend W.B. Stone
Publisher: - Charly Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5306
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-9 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, voices by Marion Keisker.

The group returns to religious music at this point following a request from a woman in the studio, called Marion Keisker. ''Would this rover boy's trio play ''Father Along''? The request does provide a particularly strong piece of evidence in support of the proposition that Johnny Cash was not present when the recordings were made, quite apart of course from the fact that his voice is nowhere to be heard and none of the recorded conversations make direct reference to him.

The rover boy's trio can indeed play ''Father Along''. The fact that so often they all knew all the words of the religious songs provided s strong flavour of a bygone era when a certain level of social cohesion was achieved, and cultural values shared, through the practice of all children in particular areas learning the same songs. Apart from knowing the words, the trio of vocalists give an excellent close harmony rendition of the song; clear evidence that even at this early stage, their credentials as top notch vocalists were established beyond question. 

The lyrics of ''Father Along'' were written in 1911 by an itinerant preacher called Reverend W.A. Fletcher. A gospel promoter, J.R. Baxter, then arranged for the words to be put to music.   Since that time, the song has served as a standard for gospel groups.   The theme of the song is that in heaven all truths will be revealed and all questions, in particular those relating to the many injustices in the world, will be answered. To this day the song is included in the repertoires of many of the top traditional country artists.

Just after the songs finished a female voice can be heard to say, ''There go the strings'', which might refer to the departure of Carl's brothers.

17 - "BLESSED JESUS (HOLD MY HAND)" - B.M.I. - 1:32
Composer: - Albert E. Brumley
Publisher: - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5307
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-10 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

Jerry Lee was not to be denied. The ensemble now turns its attention to the song he had mentioned just before Elvis launched into ''I'm With A Crowd But So Alone''. His appetite for religious songs was huge. This fairly brief rendering is a vocal duet by Elvis and Jerry Lee with acoustic guitar courtesy, presumably, of Carl. Elvis and Jerry Lee sound as if they have been regular singing partners for years despite a brief breakdown halfway through.
 
This gospel song was written by Albert E. Brumley in 1933 and was popular in church services in the 1940s and 1950s. It is a heartfelt plea for God's protection through life's journey and even more importantly for the believer, the reward of a place in heaven at the end.

18 - "AS WE TRAVEL ALONG ON THE JERICHO ROAD" - B.M.I. - 0:48
Composer: - Donald S. McCrossan
Publisher: - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5308
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-11 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

This song flows almost seamlessly from its predecessor. When after a few bars of the song Elvis says, ''Take young Johnny Cash to do this;;, he surely provides yet more evidence of Johnny's absence.

The Jericho road runs from Jerusalem to Jericho; it is a difficult road, very steeo, a place where in the past robberies routinely occurred. In the song it serves as a metaphor for the difficult and perilous journey of life that everybody has to go through on the wat to eternal happiness, a journey that can only be successfully negotiated with the help of Jesus in the view of Christian believers. The underlying message of many of the songs is the same, it is just framed in different ways; a bit like country love songs.   Once more the song is an Elvis and Jerry Lee duet with acoustoc guitar backing.

Donald S. McCrossan wrote "On The Jericho Road" in 1928. The arrangement was by Luther G. Presley, who was not related to Elvis Presley. The Speer Family recorded this traditional gospel tune in early 1951 (Columbia 20762).

19 - "I JUST CAN'T MAKE IT BY MYSELF" - B.M.I. - 1:08
Composer: - Herbert Brewster - Copyright Control
Publisher: - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5309
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-12 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Quote at end: - Jack says Sam's gonnabe - Carl Perkins (referring to Sam Phillips) going out to get photographer George Pierce.

This soulful gospel song, initiated once more by Elvis, was written by Herbert Brewster. A trained minister, he experienced a great deal of racial prejudice at the outset of his career when he tried to get work; as a result, he set up the Brewster Theological Clinic. He also worked as a pastor at other churches most notably East Trigg Avenue Baptist Church in Memphis. The congregation was black but quite a lot of white people, including Sam Phillips and Johnny Cash, regularly tuned in to the radio broadcasts of the service. Elvis Presley attended service there from time to time. Yet again the song contains the same message of obedience and reassurance which is found in so many religious songs.

''Though afflictions fill my soul
I'm determined to make the goal
I've gotta have Jesus
Cause I just can't make it by myself''

Elvis stammers slightly in his enthusiasm to propose the song; in the end gives up and just starts singing it. It is striking that once he starts singing, in other words once he is in his natural element, his vocals are almost invariably smooth and consistent.

20 - "LITTLE CABIN ON THE HILL" - B.M.I. - 0:44
Composer: - William Smith "Bill" Monroe-Lester Flat
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - VPA4-5310
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-13 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Elvis Presley, imitating Bill Monroe, guitar Elvis Presley. Vocal support was provided by Carl Perkins.

Just as the previous song is starting to fizzle out, a voice is heard. ''Jack said sing some of Bill Monroe''. No further encouragement was required following this command, which was presumably passed on from Jack Clement in the control room. The trio fire straight into a medley of brief extracts from four Bill Monroe song; along the way Elvis amuses the others with an imitation of Monroe's high tenor voice.  Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt wrote "Little Cabin On The Hill" in 1948, and  now regarded as classics and include the four laid down during the Million Dollar Quartet. Elvis recorded a version of this song (it was entitles ''Little Cabin On The Hill'') in June 1970.

21 - "SUMMERTIME HAS PASSED AND GONE" - B.M.I. - 0:15
Composer: - William Smith "Bill" Monroe
Publisher: - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - VPA4-5311
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-14 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Elvis' imitating Bill Monroe.

''Y-y-y-you know what I like''? Without further ado Elvis has a go at the first line of the song but doesn't remember where to go after that. Carl tries to help but it quickly fizzles out. The spirit was keen but the memory weak.

The lyrics of the song are typical of many classic Bill Monroe songs of this era, poignant folksy classic about love and loss

''Summertime is past and gone
And I'm on my way back home
To see the only one I ever loved
Now the moon is shining bright
It lights my pathway tonight
Back to the only one I ever loved''

Bill Monroe wrote and recorded "Summertime Has Passed And Gone" (Columbia 20503) in late 1948.

22 - "I HEAR A SWEET VOICE CALLING" - B.M.I. - 0:34
Composer: - William Smith "Bill" Monroe
Publisher: - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - VPA4-5312
Recorded: - December 4, 1954
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-15 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, guitar Elvis Presley.

Having failed to ignite the previous song there is some chat about other possibilities, Elvis suggests ''Christmas Time's A Comin''', but that comes to nothing. Then someone suggests ''I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling'' which someone describes as a ''pretty thing''. They have a go but beyond providing a hilarious opportunity to mimic Bill Monroe's high voice, this one also fails to take off. Clearly the boys did not know their Bill Monroe songs as well as they knew the religious material, but then again they had not learned them all through their childhoods.

Bill Monroe recorded this song in 1946 and then again in 1956; presumably it was the latter version that was fresh in the minds of the guys. Following a long established country tradition of tragic tear-jerking songs, often with religious overtones, it is about a dying girl who is sure there will be a place for her in heaven. Popular music has always found room for songs like this. In the seventies Terry Jacks had a major international hit with ''Seasons In The Sun'' about a boy dying of cancer.

23 - "SWEETHEART YOU'VE DONE ME WRONG" - B.M.I. - 0:31
Composer: - William Smith "Bill" Monroe
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - VPA4-5313
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-16 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley - Carl Perkins singing harmony.

Elvis initiates this song which seems to take off well with an uptempo bluegrass beat emphasised by someone working a bass drum pedal (or something similar) in time to the music. Reflecting the feel of the song somebody says, ''Yeah, sounds like a party''. Like the other Bill Monroe songs however, this one soon falls away. Once more the maudlin lyrics are typical of Bill Monroe's music.

''You told me that your love was true
Sweetheart, I thought the world of you
But now you've left me all alone
I have no one to call my own
Now sweetheart, you've done me wrong''

Bill Monroe wrote and recorded "Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong" (Columbia 20423) in 1948. Lester Flatt played guitar and Earl Scruggs banjo on his recording.

24 - "KEEPER OF THE KEY" - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - Harlan Howard-Kenny Devine-Lance Guynes-Berverly Steward
Publisher: - Southern Music Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5314
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-17 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins background, Elvis Presley guitar, Jerry Lee Lewis, piano.

Carl now wonders aloud if anybody knows Wynn Stewart's ''Keeper Of The Key''. He leads the singing with Jerry Lee providing harmonies and positive comments about the song. After a pause Elvis yet again asks about the key A, and it seems that he might have a go at it himself but this does not happen; Carl sings this one.

The song brings the trio into the orbit of one of the most prolific and successful writers of everyday country songs of all time, Harlan Howard, one of four writers of this particular song. Howard's career lasted for more than a half century and his songs have been recorded by countless artists including Patsy Cline, Ray Charles and the Judds. Asked for his definition of a good country song Howard is reported to have said, ''Three chords and the truth''.

At the time of the Million-Dollar-Quartet session on December 4, 1956, country singer Wynn Steward had just released "Keeper Of The Key" (Capitol 3515), which his wife, Beverly, had written with Harlan Howard, Kenny Devine, and Lance Guynes. Along with Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, Stewart was associated with West Coast country music and the Bakersfield sound, stripped down honky-tonk, a driving beat, with the instrumental emphasis on electric guitars ahead of steel guitars.  Although popular in the South, "Keeper Of The Key" did not chart nationally. Porter Wagoner later had a version that also did not chart, as Jimmy Wakely (Shasta 110).

As the song finished Jerry Lee says, ''Yeah, that's the way I done it... on the piano... a while ago''. Does he mean that he and Carl Perkins, with his band, played the song on Carl Perkins earlier session on this day.

 
25 - "CRAZY ARMS" - B.M.I. - 0:15
Composer: - Ralph Mooney-Charles Seals
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5315
Released: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-18 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Elvis Presley.

In 1956 Ray Prize had a number one country hit and million-seller with "Crazy Arms" (Columbia 21510) produced by Don Law. The song, which was written by Ralph Mooney and Chuck Seals, peaked at number 27 on the Top 100 chart. Mooney wrote "Crazy Arms" after his wife temporarily left him because of his drinking. In 1963 Marion Worth had a number 18 country hit with his rendition (Columbia 42703). On this track Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis sang a few lines of "Crazy Arms" during this Million Dollar Quartet session on December 4, 1956.  For his part Jerry Lee was doubtless keen to show it off to the assembled group. However he had to wait until later in the session, when Elvis was otherwise engaged, to play something approaching the full version, in his own unmistakeable swaggering stomping style, a star performance by a star in waiting.  Just three days earlier, Sun Records released "Crazy Arms" as Lewis's first record (Sun 259).

"Crazy Arms" must have sounded decades old the moment it was released, for Ray Price spends the whole record on the edge of a pure Jimmie Rodgers yodel and the fiddles and steel guitar belong to another era, one in which Elvis and Little Richard are barely conceivable, much less standing at center stage. On the other  hand, the concept of the pop star as a person on the edge of insanity has some of its most important roots in just this kind of country record, in which the singer confesses - and genuinely seems to feel - that his behaviour is a form of madness, that he has little or no control over what his body is going to do even though his mind (or at least, his conscious moral sense) urges him in a more godly (or at least sensible) direction. You tell me the difference in attitude between that posture and many random heavy metal band's.

26 - "DON'T FORBID ME" - B.M.I. - 1:17
Composer: - Charles Singleton
Publisher: - Campbell Connelly & Company Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5316
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-19 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

"Hey, have you heard Pat Boone's new record?", Elvis says, to laughter all around. "It was written for me. It stayed around the house for ages, never did see it - junk lyin' around''. Elvis kicks it off with Carl providing rhythm guitar.  ''That's Pat Boone'' says Jerry Lee during a vocal pause. Someone else says, ''He's got a hit, man''. 

''Crazy Arms'' was a piece of straightforward country music from which the guys moved effortlessly to the clean-cut mainstream pop of ''Don't Forbid Me'', which Elvis returned to a few minutes later. They were easily able to turn their hands to a wide variety of musical styles; for them what mattered most was the quality of the song.

"Don't Forbid Me" was written for Elvis Presley by Charles Singleton in 1956 (who later co-wrote the Frank Sinatra hit ''Strangers In The Night''.  Pat Boone recorded it in November 1956, he had a number one hit and million-seller with the song in late 1956 (Dot 15521).
27 - "TOO MUCH MONKEY BUSINESS" - B.M.I. - 0:05
Composer: - Chuck Berry
Publisher: - Isalee Music Company
Matrix number: - VPA4-5317
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-20 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

28 - "BROWN-EYED HANDSOME MAN" - B.M.I. - 1:13
Composer: - Chuck Berry
Publisher: - Jewell Music Publishing Company
Matrix number: - VPA4-5318
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-21 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

Jerry Lee tries to generate interest in ''Too Much Monkey Business'' but Carl, who says shortly afterwards that he has just ''come off a five-week tour with Chuck Berry'', quickly moves them onto another Chuck Berry song, ''Brown Eyed Handsome Man''. Not long afterwards Elvis responds to a question about ''Too Much Monkey Business'', making it clear he prefers ''Brown Eyed Handsome Man''. He says, ''It's all right but I like this one better''.

They have real fun with the song, stumbling over the words, stopping and starting, and getting some help with the lyrics from one of the women present in the studio. One or possibly more children can be heard in the background adding to the party atmosphere.

Whilst there is no one person who can legitimately claim to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry surely has a strong a claim as any artist alive or dead. It was inevitable that the guys would come across one of his songs sooner or later. Their sheer delight in the irresistible fun qualities of the song is palpable, although they break down several times as they try to get the words right.

Chuck Berry wrote and recorded "Brown-Eyed Handsome Mane" (Chess 1635) produced by Leonard Chess, in 1956. It was the flip side to his "Too Much Monkey Business". Both songs reached number 7 on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues chart. 

Despite the light-hearted feel of the song it was inspired by the kind of racial tensions which were all too prevalent in parts of fifties America. It was written by Berry after a visit to California when he had witnessed a Hispanic man being arrested by a policeman in questionable circumstances, an incident which prompted a bystander to intervene on his behalf. One commentator has surmised that the song is subtly challenging racial attitudes in suggesting for instance that the very white and very beautiful Venus de Milo would ''lose both her arms in a wrestling match to win a brown eyed handsome man'' (i.e. a black man). Elvis later said that Chuck Berry told him the song was originally called ''Brown Skinned Handsome Man'' but that, ''They made me change it''.

One point that emerges from the sessions is a clear lack of racial prejudice on the part of members of the quartet, no mean feat at a time when it was so prevalent. Then again, their eclectic taste in and respect for all types of music by black and white artists would surely have made it illogical for them to have held any such views.

In 1969 Waylon Jennings revived the song in a popular country hit (RCA 0281), reaching number 3. Years later, Felton Jarvis recorded a studio jam session in which Elvis sang many Chuck Berry tunes, included "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man". The tape has never been released. A decade before "black is beautiful" achieved radical chic, Chuck communicated that very message with a jittery, ragged guitar line and rapidfire vocal delivery that suggested just how much he risked merely by celebrating the facts. I've always wondered whether that home run hitter in the final verse was Jackie Robinson or Willie Mays, but what really matters is that its the most organic connection anybody's ever made between rock and baseball, Bruce Springsteen and John Fogerty included. Here, Chuck fakes nothing - except for his substitution of "-eyed" for "-skinned", of course.

29 - "OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND" - B.M.I. - 0:41
Composer: - Ivory Joe Hunter-Clyde Otis
Publisher: - Charly Publishing Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5319
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-22 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Elvis Presley. Elvis patterned his styling after the Five Keys' recording.

''Hey I'll tell you one I like'', Elvis knowledge of songs was seemingly inexhaustible. This pop song, with its doo wop crooning, was an ideal vehicle for Elvis' smooth soaring tenor; and his simple acoustic guitar backing fitted the feel to a tee. ''Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind'', was written by Ivory Joe Hunter and Clyde Otis, two black men who had considerable success in a white dominated world. 

Otis was one of the very first black executives of a major record company, Mercury Records. He produced records by Brook Benton, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, amongst others. He also wrote or co-wrote hundreds of songs which were recorded by artists from Bobby Darin to Aretha Franklin. Ivory Joe Hunter started out as a rhythm and blues singer and pianist but latterly he also achieved recognition in the fields of blues and country. Each man enjoyed a substantial degree of success and ''Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind'' was merely one passable piece of pop they conjured up together; a small part of a huge body of work. Hunter alone is estimated to have written or co-written more than 7,000 songs.

The year after the Million Dollar Quartet session, Elvis invited Hunter to visit him at Graceland. They spent a day together, talking and singing songs. Hunter said later that he was struck by Elvis' courtesy and spirituality. Even at this early stage he felt moved to say, ''I think he's one of the greatest''.

Sheet music for ''Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind'' >'

Jimmy Wakely recorded "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind" (Capitol 2484) in 1953. His recording didn't chart, nor did one by Porter Wagoner (RCA 47-7457) in 1959. The hit recording was by the Five Keys (Capitol 3502), who reached number 23 on the Top 100 chart in 1956.  Thirteen years later, Little Anthony and The Imperials had a moderately successful version of the song (United Artists 50552), reaching number 52 on the Hot 100  chart and number 38 on the Rhythm and Blues chart.
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 30 - "BROWN-EYED HANDSOME MAN" - 2 - B.M.I. - 1:53
Composer: - Chuck Berry
Publisher: - Jewell Music Publishing Company
Matrix number: - VPA$-5320
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-23 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Elvis Presley.

31 - "DON'T BE CRUEL" - B.M.I. - 2:21
Composer: - Otis Blackwell-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - Elvis Presley Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5321
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-24 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

During between track 23 and track 27 on this session Elvis commented to Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins that he'd heard a member of Billy Ward and His Dominoes sing "Don't Be Cruel" in Las Vegas. He enjoyed the slower version so much that he wished he'd recorded it that way. The unnamed member of the Dominoes to whom Elvis was referring was Jackie Wilson. Elvis then demonstrated to Lewis and Perkins how Wilson sang "Don't Be Cruel".

Here the conversation: ''I hear this guy in Las Vegas - Billy Ward and his Dominoes. There's a guy out there who's doin' a take-off on my - ''Don't Be Cruel''. He tried so hard, till he got much better, boy - much better than that record of mine''.  ''He was real slender - he was a colored guy - he got up there an' he said...''.

And Elvis leapt into an imitation of this other singer's version of his song, carefully mimicking every changed inflection, every turn of his performance.

''He had it a little slower than me.... He got the backin', the whole quartet. They got the feelin' on in.... Grabbed that microphone, went down to the last note, went all the way down to the floor, man, lookin' straight up at the ceiling. Man, he cut me - I was under the table when he got through singin'.... He had already done ''Hound Dog'' an' another one or two, and he didn't do too well, y'know, he was tryin' too hard. But he hit that ''Don't Be Cruel'' and he was tryin' so hard till he got better, boy. Wooh! Man, he sang that song. That quartet standin' in the background, y'know - BA-DOMP, BA-DOMP. And he was out there cuttin' it, man, had all'm goin' way up in the air.  ''I went back four nights straight and heard that guy do that. Man, he sung hell outta that song, and I was under the table lookin' at him. Get him off! Git him off''!.

Although Elvis Presley probably didn't know it, the singer he was watching must have been Jackie Wilson, then the lead singer with Billy Ward's Dominoes.

Jackie Wilson (1934-1984), one of Elvis' favorite artists. On occasion, Wilson was referred to as the "Black Elvis". His first hit song, in 1957, titled "Reet Petite" was co-composed by Berry Gordy Jr., founder of Motown Records. In the 1950s Wilson was a member of Billy Ward and His Dominoes: (their 1951 hit "Sixty Minute Man" (Federal 12022), which was the first rhythm and blues record to chart on Billboard's Hot 100, can be heard in the 1979 movie Elvis).

Wilson replaced Clyde McPhatter, who had just departed the group to join the Drifters. In 1975, when Wilson suffered a disabling stroke while singing "Lonely Teardrops" at the Latin Casino nightclub in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Elvis Presley offered to help pay the hospital bill, sending Wilson's wife a check for $30,000. Elvis Presley said to Wilson, upon meeting him in Las Vegas, "I thought it was about time the white Elvis Presley met the black Elvis Presley".
 RCA CD 74321 13840 2 >

At the Million-Dollar Quartet session on December 4, 1956, Elvis remarked that in Las Vegas (November 1956) he saw Billy Ward and the Dominoes perform six times and that the lead singer sang a terrific version of "Don't Be Cruel:, in a style he wished he had recorded it. Unknown to Elvis Presley at the time, that lead singer was Jackie Wilson.

Wilson died on January 21, 1984, never having awakened from a coma after collapsing onstage in New Jersey and paralyzed since September 29, 1975. He was buried in Westlawn Cemetery at 31472 Michigan Avenue, tel, 313/722-2530, in Wayne, Michigan.

Otis Blackwell wrote "Don't Be Cruel" in 1955 and sold the publishing rights to the song on Christmas Eve of that year to Shalimar Music for $25. The song's full title is "Don't Be Cruel (To A Heart That's True)". Reportedly, the song was first offered to the Four Tunes, a rhythm and blues group that recorded for RCA Records, but they turned it down.
 
 
When Elvis Presley heard Blackwell's demo of "Don't Be Cruel", he fell in love with it. To get Elvis to record the song, Blackwell had to give 50 percent of his writers's rights to Elvis Presley. That's why Elvis is listed as co-composer. In 2004, the song was listed at number 197 in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. The fact that Elvis performing it during all three of his appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show contributed to its massive commercial success. The record quickly reached number one on the Billboard chart, to be followed onto the top spot by ''Love Me Tender''. It was all part of an annus mirabilis for Elvis when virtually everything he touched turned to gold. Everybody round the piano seemed to love the song  since they had three shots at it.

32 - "DON'T BE CRUEL" - 2 - B.M.I. - 2:08
Composer: - Otis Blackwell-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - Elvis Presley Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5322
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-25 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley. 

During ''Don't Be Cruel'', when Elvis takes a break from singing to talk about Jackie Wilson, someone, probably Carl, asks about him doing Paralyzed'' in the same way but Elvis declines, at which point a woman's voice can be heard pleading with him to do it. The moment passed but once the first two takes of ''Don't Be Cruel'' come to an end it seems Elvis has a change of heart and the ensemble drifts into the song. Once more Elvis imitates Jackie Wilson's delivery, slower than his own version, and once more he asks what key it is in before he starts singing. For this song Jerry Lee is more restrained, more like the lowly session musician he was supposed to be.

With Elvis now in full flow, the session takes on the feel of an informal concert and there is enthusiastic applause from those fortunate enough to be in the studio, little did they know what historic events were unfolding before their eyes. Despite the best efforts of the engineers who restored the tapes, there are moments when some damage to the originals cannot be disguised, although it is to their immense credit that this barely affects the overall listening experience.

33 – "PARALYZED" - B.M.I. - 3:07
Composer: - Otis Blackwell-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - Elvis Presley Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5323
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-26 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Otis Blackwell wrote "Paralyzed" special for Elvis Presley, but once more the writing credit is shared with Elvis who had recorded it in the Hollywood studio at Radio Recorders for RCA earlier in the year. It appeared on his 1956 album ''Elvis'' and was also released on EP. As a sign of Elvis' star status the studio was locked when he recorded it and a guard vetted people who came and went, only those approved by Tom Parker gained admittance.

Even for a private recording engagement such as this Elvis felt he was on show and made sure that his clothes would make him stand out from the crowd. He wore black slacks, yellow socks, a red checked shirt, and black oxfords with red inserts. By contrast, for the Million Dollar Quartet session he wore genuinely casual clothes, confident that he was among friends for whom he did not need to make a special sartorial effort.

''Paralyzed'' was not released as a single, possibly as a result of some uneasiness amongst disc jockeys and others about the title, with its connotations of disability. This might have been an early example of a kind of political correctness; there is some irony if so. In a mixture of altruism and favourable publicity, Elvis had agreed to become a supporter of the March of Dimes. This was a high profile national campaign aimed at raising funds for research into a new vaccine for polio, responsible amongst other things for childhood paralysis. Perhaps Elvis' own people were also uneasy about the associations which might be created in listeners' minds. Despite such considerations, Elvis did feature it when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Apart from being photographed receiving a vaccination, he also recorded a public service announcement in support of the campaign.
 
But, on this track Elvis said he wished he'd recorded "Paralyzed" at a slower tempo, similar to the way Jackie Wilson sang "Don't Be Cruel" with Billy Ward and the Dominoes in Las Vegas. Elvis Presley then sang "Paralyzed" at a slower tempo for Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis in the studio.  "Paralyzed" inspired Terry Noland and Norman Petty to write "Hypnotized", which the Drifters (with Johnny Moore singing lead) recorded in 1957 (Atlantic 1141). Noland recorded his own version of "Paralyzed" (Brunswick 55010) in 1957.

34 - "DON'T BE CRUEL" - 3 - B.M.I. - 0:31
Composer: - Otis Blackwell-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - Elvis Presley Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5324
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-27 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

35 - "THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME" - B.M.I. - 3:41
Composer: - John Howard Payne-Henry Rowley Bishop
Publisher: - William Son Music Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5325
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-28 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal Elvis Presley, piano Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins.

Carl Perkins kicks off this song which is often simply referred to as ''Home Sweet Home''. He starts tentatively picking the notes of the melody which Elvis quickly picks up on after humming it mellifluously for a few moment. ''Is that ''No Place Like Home'', Carl''? he asks. Things develop from there. The group choose a midtempo upbeat delivery, eschewing the more common slow ballad interpretation. Carl plays some tasty country-rockabilly guitar while Jerry Lee lays down some honky-tonk piano in the background. At this stage it appears that Carl's backing band, certainly Fluke Holland on drums and Clayton on bass, are still playing in support.

There is a lot of to and fro chatter in the background, some of which relates to the song. Elvis is asked if he has recorded the song for a new album, he had not but then he asks if there is a copy ''here''. Presumably he means a Sun recording. The response is '' Yeah, somewhere, I'll have to find it''. At other times the subject is football. It all goes on as the music continues.

This is a song with a historic stretching back to 1822. It was originally an operatic aria from Sir Henry Bishop's  opera Clari also known as The Maid Of Milan. The lyrics were written by John Payne. The melody was used by Rossini in The Barber Of Seville.

It has been adapted, and indeed had liberties taken with it, countless times over the years. However the powerful emotional message of the song, about the vital human desire to have somewhere to call home, a house, a region, a country, has never varied and has struck a chord with people all over the world. In Japan, a version which is akin to a secular hymn is regularly played ad weddings. Not surprisingly it was very popular during the American Civil War; so popular that, according to some reports, senior officers tried to ban it because it might make soldiers more likely to desert. The song has been part of the rich embroidery of popular American music for nearly 200 years. In the early days it was a song that was marketed to families as something they could, and perhaps should, sing at home.

Elvis' rich and honeyed tenor voice does full justice to the song, suggesting that even at this early stage in his career he was able to work his vocal magic on any musical style.

36 - "WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN" - B.M.I. - 2:17
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Charly Publishing Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5326
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-29 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Elvis Presley, piano Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins.

''The Saints'', as it is often referred to, is a traditional gospel hymn which could be said to fall under the general umbrella of folk music in the broadest sense. It marks the start of a run of eight religious-oriented songs which the ensemble performs with effortless confidence. Given their experiences during childhood, it was really inevitable that gospel would be one of the styles they would turn to early on in the session.

The song is often featured as a standard by jazz bands. There is however no definitive way of performing it and extra verses are Sometimes added. In New Orleans it is often part of the musical accompaniment to funerals; a dirge on the way to the cemetery, uptempo Dixieland on the way back, which is how the quartet do it. Jerry Lee can be heard singing backing response vocals with real fervour, reflecting his heavy personal involvement with so many aspects of evangelical religion throughout his 21 years. The listener can imagine the dilemma he regularly faced. Talking about his live performances he once said, ''I'm out here doing what God don't want me to do, I'm leading people to hell''. He was a sinner who would not stop sinning, but who always felt able to ask God for forgiveness. At the end he says with feeling, ''I sure do love that spiritual music''.

Earlier versions of the song emphasised its apocalyptic nature, ''When the sun, refuse to shine'', taking much of its imagery from the Book of Revelation, but excluding its more horrific depictions of the Last Judgment. Such aspects of religion would have been very familiar to the quartet as they were growing up and experienced the onslaughts of hellfire preachers for whom joy and damnation were inextricably linked. As time has gone by the lyrics have generally been softened. Louis Armstrong popularised the song in the 1930s to the disapproval of his sister who felt that his version wrongly took the focus off the religious nature of the song. Elvis later recorded his own version.

37 - "SOFTLY AND TENDERLY" - B.M.I. - 2:47
Composer: - Will L. Thompson
Publisher: - Babb Music
Matrix number: - VPA4-5327
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
- Lead Elvis Presley, piano Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840-2-30 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Elvis Presley, piano Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins.

''Do you know 'Softly And Tenderly'''?, somebody asks. ''Gimme a key'', snaps Elvis, eager to get into another song. Carl starts playing some notes. ''That's a little bit high Carl'''. He brings it down, songs are invariably geared up to Elvis' vocal range; in consequence Carl and Jerry Lee's vocal sound a little strained at times as they try to fit Elvis' preferred keys. It is a given that Elvis knows the words.

The full title of this song, which dates back to the late 1870s, is in fact, ''Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling''. It was written by Will L. Thompson and is a Christian hymn, a meditation on impending death, which was sung at the memorial service for Martin Luther King in 1968. Although Elvis is inevitably the lead singer, Jerry Lee does his best to keep up with him, oblivious to any notion that it might be appropriate for him to defer to a major star. That said Jerry Lee never sounds like a lesser star in the firmament; completely familiar with the song he sings lead and harmonises with ease, imbuing it with real gospel energy. A listener who did not know otherwise might well think he was black.

There is constant background chatter which appears to be vary convivial. People were clearly not yet in awe of Elvis as they would be soon, when the idea of a lot of people making noise when he was in a studio, some of them unconnected to the music, would be out of the question.

38 - "IS IT SO STRANGE" - B.M.I. - 1:11
Composer: - Faron Young
Publisher: - Carlin Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5328
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-31 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

Country singer Faron Young (aka ''The Singing Sheriff''), wrote ''Is It So Strange''. One of the most popular purveyors of smooth honky-tonk of his day, his career lasted around 30 years and included major hits such as ''Hello walls'', ''Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young'' and ''It's Four In The Morning'' (the last-named being his only UK hit).

Before he starts singing, Elvis jokes that Faron had sent the song to him but that he, ''Didn't want to give me none of it. He wanted it all''. This is presumably a (slightly sheepish-sounding) reference to the practice of compelling writers to give up a large part of the writing credit if they wanted Elvis to record their songs. In fact, Elvis recorded the song for RCA in 1957.

During this number, which Elvis sings solo and accompanies himself on acoustic guitar, a child's voice can be heard in the background, giggling at times.(The children's voices are probably Jerry and Knoxsons of Sam Phillips, according to Knox Phillips).  When Elvis stops singing, he is addressed by a woman: ''My little granddaughter (Susan) is a big fan of yours, would you put your name here''. Elvis, by now very used to dealing with such situations, display characteristic courtesy, completing the transaction with a very polite, ''Thank you ma'am'', as if he was the one being done the favour.

39 - "THAT'S WHEN YOUR HEARTACHES BEGIN" - B.M.I. - 5:09
Composer: - William J. Raskin-Billy Hill-Fred Fisher
Publisher: - Lowe Music Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5329
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-32 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

Elvis starts talking about this song, which he had clearly mentioned before at some point. ''I lost the dub on it''. This is the longest individual song by nearly a minute. It has a particularly treasured place in the history of Elvis Presley since it was one of the two songs that started it all; one of the songs he recorded at the Memphis Recording Service in July 1953. He says he had lost the disc but according to other reports he gave it to a friend of his who had provided the money for him to make the recording in the first place. By 1956 his voice is transformed, it is now smooth and assured, delivering his own interpretation of the melody with confident aplomb.

He next recorded it in rather different circumstances for RCA in 1957, when it appeared as the B-side of ''All Shook Up'' (RCA 20/47-6870). The song's three composers Fred Fisher, William Raskin and Billy Hill were all born in the late nineteenth century and were mainly associated with music from a different, bygone world. Fred Fisher, for instance, wrote music to accompany silent films and also co-wrote ''Whispering Grass''. Billy Hill, one of the most successful songsmiths on Tin Pan Alley in the thirties, co-wrote ''Have You Ever Been Lonely'' and ''The Old Man Of The Mountain''.

''That's When Your Heartaches Begin'' was first recorded in 1937 and in 1941 the Ink Spots also recorded a version which might well have been and  Elvis suggested that the right singer could really make a hit with the old Ink Spots song "That's When Your Heartaches Begin", something he himself had tried before, and would again. The Ink Spots were a popular black gospel vocal group whose heartfelt songs were characterised be sweet melodies with soaring vocals and gentle arpeggiated acoustic guitar breaking. The conservative, unthreatening nature of their songs and their clean-cut image made them acceptable to white audiences. They were major contributors to the development of the doo wop style of popular music. Their influence on Elvis is crystal clear on some of his later songs.

A particular feature of such songs, which Elvis here demonstrates, is the practice of speaking one or more of the verses in an emotionally charged voice, something he did with considerable skill in various songs over the years.

Elvis expresses the view that if someone could sing it right, ''a guy with a really deep voice'', it would sell. Could this be yet another reference to the self-evident absence of Johnny Cash?

40 - "BROWN-EYED HANDSOME MAN" - 2 - B.M.I. - 0:25
Composer: - Chuck Berry
Publisher: - Jewell Music Publishing
Matrix number: - VPA4-5330
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-33 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

41 - "RIP IT UP" B.M.I. - 0:15
Composer: - Otis Blackwell-John Marascalco
Publisher: - ATV Music Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5331
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
- Lead and guitar Elvis Presley
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840-2-34 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Elvis has fun with this one which he does in response to a request from a spectator; but he only really does the opening line. He deliberately gets the opening words wrong: ''It's Saturday night and I just got paid... laid''. This caught the mood of much of the session. It is delightful to listen to these artists simply being themselves and not putting on a show manipulated to fit in with demands of promoters or television producers.

Composer John Marascalco drove to Los Angeles in 1955 to sell "Ready Teddy" to Specialty Records as a tune for Little Richard to record. After selling the song to Specialty, Robert "Bumps" Blackwell, the label's A&R man, asked Marascalco if he had any other songs. Marascalco told him he had a country tune called "Rip It Up" that he could rework to suit Little Richard. 

After spending a week rewriting the song at a fleabag motel in Hollywood, Marascalco went back to Specialty and Blackwell bought it, taking partial writing credit, as he had for "Ready Teddy". Little Richard's "Rip It Up" (Specialty 579) sold over a million copies in 1956 and hit number one on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues chart and number 17 on the Top 100 chart. 
 
Marascalco also wrote songs with Fats Domino and a young Harry Nilson among many others. Blackwell went on to work extensively as a producer and was involved with the early careers of stars such as Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Sly and the Family Stone. Later in his career he produced some songs for Bob Dylan's album ''Shot Of Love''.   Bill Haley and His Comets cover version of "Rip It Up" (Decca 30028) stayed at number 25, also in 1956. Elvis Presley later recorded "Rip It Up" at Radio Recorders in Hollywood on September 3, 1956. Take 19 is the master. 

Occasionally over the years, Elvis sang "Rip It Up" in concerts. Some of these performances have surfaced on bootleg albums. "Rip It Up" was one of the many songs Elvis performed during the Million Dollar Quartet session on December 4, 1956.
''Did you ever hear ole Hank Snow do a song called ''I'm Gonna Bid My Blues Goodbye''? With that Elvis launches into a brief take on the song, once more, it appears, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, unlike Carl, his ability level was merely competent.

Close to the height of his career in the mid fifties, Hank Snow was one of the leading country artists of the immediate post-war era, whose inclusion in the session was highly fitting. All four members of the quartet grew up listening to his music on the radio and for all of them he was something of a hero as well as a strong influence.

Sheet music for ''I'm Gonna Bid My Blues Goodbye'' >

A natural showman, Clarence Eugene Snow, whose main early influence was Jimmie Rodgers, wrote, recorded and regularly performed a clutch of classic hits including ''I'm Moving On'' and ''The Golden Rocket'' in the fifties. Born in Canada he eventually became an American citizen in 1958 and settled near Nashville, the logical place for him to live.
 
 
His career spanned over 60 years and when he was 61, he became the oldest country performer to achieve a number one hit, with a song called ''Hello Love''.

Elvis brings the song to an end and moves away from the microphone. There is chatter, a door opening and closing and he is gone. His involvement in the music is now at an end. The last thing he can be heard saying is, ''That's why I hate to get started in these jam sessions, I'm always the last one to leave, always''.

There is a brief pause and then Jerry Lee can be heard seizing his opportunity and starting up on the piano which he now plays solo until the end.
 
42 - "I'M GONNA BID MY BLUES GOODBYE" - B.M.I. - 0:34
Composer: - Hank Snow
Publisher: - Charly Publishing Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5332
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-35 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

Hank Snow recorded "I'm Gonna Bid My Blues Goodbye" (Bluebird 55-3233) in the 1940s.

43 - "CRAZY ARMS" - B.M.I. - 3:45
Composer: - Ralph Mooney-Charles Seals
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5333
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-36 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and piano Jerry Lee Lewis.

Before he starts ''That's My Desire'', Jerry Lee grabs his turn in the limelight with a swaggering version of his first single, ''Crazy Arms'', released at the beginning of December. This time he was able to play it all the way through, earlier he could only deliver a brief snatch of the song because Elvis was still in charge of things at that point. This was the start of a run of five solo songs by Jerry Lee.

He does full justice to ''Crazy Arms''. His virtuoso display provides a detailed picture of the Jerry Lee Lewis piano technique, a veritable master class; the pounding left hand, the flowery embellishments with the right, the syncopation, it was all there. Johnny Cash later described him as ''the master of the keyboard''. The piano playing is remarkably clear unlike Jerry Lee's vocals which sound as if they were laid down in a different room from the microphone.

Jerry Lee plus piano really could cover all angles, a banking band was merely an optional extra. The song is now a country/honky-tonk standard which has been covered by everyone from Bing Crosby to Linda Ronstadt. Perhaps the quartet's spontaneous attraction to such material was a sign of the kind of musical instinct that led them to be so successful themselves.

After ''Crazy Arms'' Jerry Lee moves onto classic, old school pop territory with the kind of song that his and his friends' parents might have listened to. ''That's My Desire'' was written by  Caroll Loveday and Helmy Kresa in 1931, and  Helmy Kresa who was the principal arranger and orchestrator for Iving Berlin. Since Berlin could not read or write music, he got Kresa to fulfill this role for the songs he wrote at the piano. Amongst many others, Kresa worked on ''White Christmas''.

Over the years the song has been covered in various styles by artists including Louis Armstrong, Dion and the Belmonts.  Sixteen years later after writing, bot Frankie Laine (Mercury 5007) and Sammy Kaye (RCA 2251) had big hits with the ''That's My Desire'', reaching number 7 and number 3 respectively on Billboard's Best-Selling Singles chart. In 1968 the song was one of many that Elvis rehearsed for the "Elvis" TV special but did not use in the broadcast.

44 - "THAT'S MY DESIRE" - B.M.I. - 1:15
Composer: - Carroll Loveday-Helmy Kresa
Publisher: - B. Feldman & Company Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5334
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-37 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and piano Jerry Lee Lewis.

45 - "END OF THE ROAD" - B.M.I. - 1:48
Composer: - Jerry Lee Lewis
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5335
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-38 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

''Sing ''End Of The Road'', is the request from a female present, possibly Marilyn Evans. Jerry Lee says, ''I might as well do another one'' with an audible smile.  "End Of The Road" was the flip side of Jerry Lee Lewis's first record at Sun Records (SUN 259), which was released on December 1, 1956. The A side was "Crazy Arms".  Lewis sang "End Of The Road" (his own composition) during this session and again he gives a star performance which brings out the very best in a routine but highly catchy little song. Unaccompanied, his playing once more takes the breath away; his legendary skills are already well established and clearly in evidence.  Elvis and Carl Perkins did not participate in this song.

46 - "JERRY'S BOOGIE (BLACK BOTTOM STOMP)" - B.M.I. - 1:12
Composer: - Jerry Lee Lewis
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA5-5336
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-39 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and piano Jerry Lee Lewis.

This rollicking jazz instrumental, imbued with hints of ragtime and Dixieland, provides Jerry Lee with an opportunity to show off another side of his effortlessly dazzling piano skills. On some early Million Dollar Quartet releases it is referred to as ''Jerry's Boogie''. It was written by Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe (other spellings of this last name are often quoted), better known as Jelly Roll Morton, in 1925, and was originally called ''Queen Of Spades''. He recorded it in 1926. His version was a multilayered musical affair. In one fairly brief number he maintained listener interest with a range of techniques, stomps, breaks, backbeat, two-beat, four-beat, melody played all over the keyboard, increasing volume, reducing volume, and Jerry Lee does much the same in his interpretation. It might have been impromptu but it revealed the studious nature of his exploration and understanding of the music of key figures in the development of popular music from an early age.

Jelly Roll and Jerry Lee had other things in common apart from a gift for playing the piano, in particular a confident belief in their own abilities which regularly crossed over into arrogance. Jelly Roll often claimed that he had single-handedly invented modern jazz. Whilst his contribution was undoubtedly considerable, such a claim has been challenged by many commentators, although it is true that his number ''Jelly Roll Blues'' was in 1915 the first published jazz composition. He is even said to have falsified details of his birth date in order to make the claim more credible. Jerry Lee got up to similar tricks when it came to his early marriages. The pair also had colourful private lives with an impressive array of relationship with women to their credit.

47 - "YOU'RE THE ONLY STAR IN MY BLUE HEAVEN" - B.M.I. - 1:13
Composer: - Gene Autrey
Publisher: - B. Feldman & Company Limited
Matrix number: - VPA5-5337
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-40 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and piano Jerry Lee Lewis.

The inclusion of a Gene Autry song creates a connection between the Million Dollar Quartet and cowboy music, which has been an important strand of country music for as long as there has been country music. He was one of the most successful of a small number of singing cowboys which also included Ray Rogers. He is probably best known for the western song ''Back In The Saddle Again'' although he was also responsible for some favourite Christmas songs including ''Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer'' and ''Here Comes Santa Claus''. Jerry Lee brings the song to an abrupt end as Elvis plus some others leave the building; he gets up to join in the farewells.

Back in the mid-1930s, while Gene Autry was appearing on "The Old Barn Dance" radio show, he began receiving love letters from a woman in Iowa. After several months the woman's doctor wrote to Autry and told him she was mentally disturbed. The physician requested that Autry write to her and tell her that he was not at all interested in her romantic overtures. In the last letter Autry received from the woman, she described being alone. After hearing Autry on the radio she walked outside and stared at the night sky. She wrote: "I looked at the stars in the heavens. I saw millions of them, but you're the only star in my blue heaven". That line inspired Autry to write the song "You're The Only Star (In My Blue Heaven)". His recording (conqueror 9098) was released in December 1935. Roy Acuff had a popular 1936 recording of the song (ARC-7-04-51). Autry sang the song in his movie "The Old Barn Dance" (1938).

48 - "ELVIS FAREWELL" - B.M.I. - 0:35
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-41 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

During the goodbyes the irrepressible Jerry Lee can be heard to sing the line, ''You're the only star in my blue heaven'', a couple of times. Elvis says, ''Good night boys, I'll see you again'', suggesting that the session has gone on well into the evening. Jerry Lee says, ''Yeah, mighty glad to have met y'all''. Elvis is heard saying, ''Thank you sir'' to someone.

It is poignant to think that these casual events, which the participants probably intended to repeat some time, never in fact happened again. It had been a once in a lifetime event. Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis did subsequently get together a few times, but never all four. Elvis' fame took him away from the possibility of such carefree spontaneous encounters for the rest of his life.

The recordings, a remarkable piece of audio archaeology, provide an extremely rare glimpse into s crucial stage in the development of western popular music. In the course of an unguarded and uninhibited jam session, without pre-planning, or pre-agreed set lists worked out by managers and producers, four giants revealed the musical DNA which they would transmit to the world. As Colin Escott said, ''This is what the founding fathers of rock and roll music heard and played solely for the love of playing it''.
 
 
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Guitar
James Buck Perkins - Guitar
Jerry Lee Lewis - Vocal and Piano
Johnny Cash – Vocals (?)
Lloyd Clayton Perkins - Bass
Carl Perkins - Vocal and Guitar
Charles Underwood - Guitar
W.S. "Fluke" Holland - Drums
Marion Keisker - Vocals
Cliff Cleaves - Vocals
Marilyn Evans - Vocals
Smokey Joe Baugh - Piano

Before Elvis Presley leaving he remarked, with no regret, "That's why I hate to get started in these jam sessions. I'm always the last one to leave".
 
 PROBABLY RECORDED ON THIS SESSION

01 - ''MY ISLE OF GOLDEN DREAMS'' - B.M.I.
The Hawaiian guitar sound became hugely popular in America in the early part of the twentieth century as musicians from the archipelago brought the instrument with them on visits to the United States. This process was boosted by songs like ''My Isle Of Golden Dreams'' which mixed the sound of the Hawaiian guitar with sentimental English lyrics. This particular song was written in 1919 by Walter Blaufuss and Gus Kahn. A song like this would have been very suitable for Elvis who had an outstanding gift for romantic ballads; some reports have it that Johnny Cash sang on it too.

American enthusiasm for the sound of the Hawaiian guitar faded in the late twenties but the instrument, in the form of the steel guitar, became permanently established as the signature instrument of country music whose followers have loved its sweet emotional sounds ever since.

Though mainly as novelty numbers, Hawaiian songs enjoyed regular resurgences of popularity in subsequent years, notably in the hands of Marty Robbins and Bing Crosby.

02 - ''I WON'T HAVE TO CROSS JORDAN ALONE'' - B.M.I.
This is a gospel standard, originally copyrighted in 1934, which has been recorded by numerous artists; it has long been a fixture in American church hymn books. It would have been as obvious a choice of religious number as any of the others that definitely were performed that day. As with many other spiritual songs, it is concerned with the comfort offered to believers through religious faith. In 1962 Johnny Cash included it on his second album of religious material for Columbia, ''Hyms From The Heart'' (the first was ''Hymns By Johnny Cash'', released by Columbia in 1959 not long after Johnny's arrival at his new label). One of the reasons he had grown dissatisfied with Sam Phillips was his resistance to Johnny's wish to be allowed to record gospel songs for Sun.

03- ''THE OLD RUGGED CROSS'' - B.M.I.
Religious numbers featured strongly in the quartet's spontaneous selection. ''The Old Rugged Cross'' is a Christian song, loved by millions of people across the world, which was written in 1912 by a Methodist evangelist called George Bennard, whose ancestors came from Scotland. The song has been a standard, popular with black and white artists and audiences. It has been recorded by singers from Patsy Cline to Al Green and Willie Nelson. It even turned up in an episode of the popular British science fiction television series Doctor Who in 2007. 

04 - ''WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN'' - B.M.I.
This Christian hymn, written in about 1907 by Ada Ruth Haberson and Charles H. Gabriel, is one of the best known and best loved of all religious anthems. The lyrics aim to provide comfort for people who have recently been bereaved but over the years, singing the song in unison has come to be seen as an anthem appropriate for groups of people standing together in the face of adversity of any kind, announcing their common resolve to overcome their difficulties to the world. Countless concerts by traditional country-oriented musical groups, right up to the present day, feature the song as their finale, with the audience joining in. The quartet was probably able to sing bits of it before they could read and write.

Modern arrangements vary from medium paced and soulful to uptempo and joyous. Most are based on a rearrangement of the song in the thirties by A.P. Carter, of the legendary Carter Family, whose music provided the foundation upon which much of modern folk and country music has been built.

As evidence of its continuing appeal and relevance, the song was used as the title for a famous recording in 1972 by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band which brought together musicians young and old to record traditional old time songs. Bill Monroe was a notable refusenik.
 
  05 - ''THERE ARE STRANGE THINGS HAPPENING EVERY DAY'' - B.M.I.
This is a traditional black American gospel song often adapted to various musical styles according to the preferences of performers and audiences. Although there have been many versions over the years, the most famous is that by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the electric guitar-toting firebrand Christian advocate. She recorded it in 1944 and regularly featured it in her live concerts. Some have claimed it as the first ever rock and roll record, others as an important precursor of rock and roll. This was partly due to the rocking nature of the song but also to Tharpe's stage presence and attack; she swung her hips and moved around the stage as she picked out catchy licks on her steelbodied guitar. The song's popularity was such that it crossed over from gospel charts to the ''race'' (later rhythm and blues) charts. Its popularity continues and there have been recent versions by Tom Jones and Michelle Shocked.

It would certainly have been a suitable vehicle for Jerry Lee who would doubtless have underpinned the song with a rollicking piano foundation.

06 - ''THAT OLD TIME RELIGION'' - B.M.I.
This traditional call and response song, alternatively called ''(Give Me That) Old Time Religion'', might trace its origins to English folk music. It has been a southern gospel rallying call since the late nineteeth century in America, loved by both black and white spiritual singers and their audiences. A standard for well over a century, it is a song the quartet would all have known well from early in their lives. Carl Perkins said he recalled it being sung at some point during the session and Johnny Cash said he remembered singing on it.

07 - ''BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY'' - B.M.I.
Written by Bill Monroe, this song has been discussed elsewhere. As one side of Elvis' first single, it would have been an obvious choice for inclusion at an informal jam session. In his 1997 autobiography, Johnny Cash said he remembered singing it.

08 - ''WHEN I TAKE MY VACATION IN HEAVEN'' - B.M.I.
In a similar vein, ''When I Take My Vacation In Heaven'', sometimes simply called ''Vacation In Heaven'', is a gospel song, originally published in 1925, which has enjoyed considerable popularity over the years. It was also included on Johnny Cash's 1962 album, ''Hymns From The Heart''.

It was co-written by Herbert Buffum, a Christian evangelist whose output was prolific, around 1,000 published songs in his lifetime. When he died in 1939 one newspaper described him as ''The King of Gospel Song Writers''.

09 - ''TUTTI FRUTTI'' - B.M.I.
A major hit for Little Richard in 1955, the often indecipherable ''Tutti Frutti'' is among the most famous rock and roll song ever recorded, right up there with anything by Elvis, Bill Haley or Buddy Holly. The unaccompanied rhythmic onslaught that sets it off, ''A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom'', is arguably the most memorable opening to any piece of popular music. In 2007 a panel of experts assembled by Mojo placed the song at number one on its list, ''The Top 100 Records That Changed The World''. They characterised the record as no less than the ''sound of the birth of rock and roll''. RCA clearly saw that it was perfect material for Elvis and it was included on his debut album for them - albeit with the lyrics toned way down from some of the original words which were aggressively saxual. This song would have been a lot of fun for Jerry Lee Lewis and a real opportunity for him to show off his skills.

10 - ''THIS TRAIN (THIS TRAIN IS BOUND FOR GLORY)'' - B.M.I.
This well known gospel song was first recorded in 1925 though it had been sung in churches for some years prior to that. In 1935 a version was recorded with the title ''Dis Train'', a probable indicator that the origins of the song lay in black music. Sister Rosetta Tharpe recorded a version in the early fifties which, with her trademark electric guitar, sounded a lot closer to rock and roll than anything that might normally be heard in church. The song was also brought to wider public attention by the work of folklorists John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax.

The song has been covered by a great many artists in a wide range of musical styles from blues and folk to reggae and zydeco. A shortened version of the main hook line of the song provided the title for Woody Guthrie's autobiographical book, ''Bound For Glory'', which was later used as the basis for a biopic on Gunthrie's life,

Bruce Springsteen borrowed the theme of ''This Train'' on his song ''Land Of Hope And Dreams'', which was written in 1998 or early 1999, and debuted live with the E Street Band in March 1999. According to some reports Elvis also sang ''You Belong To My Heart;;, which was also sung later on, when the tapes were rolling.
 
Sam Phillips learn Elvis to play the guitar >

As this was an informal jam session a number of songs are done only half, while some are mere attempt that all to soon disintegrate. The above has become known as the "Million Dollar Quartet". Probably more songs were recorded, but the owner of the tapes, Shelby Singleton's Company, with holds further information due to the many legal problems surroundings these tapes.

With the exception of the last six titles, all the above have been released on bootlegs and in some parts of the world even officially by local licensees of Singleton's catalogue, but nothing has been released officially in the U.S. Remarkably enough, Johnny Cash is not featured on any of the material so far available. Elvis sings lead or co-lead with Jerry on all songs, except on "Keeper Of The Key", which has Carl singing lead. Carl's band (Perkins, Perkins and Holland) can be heard on the first five songs.

 
 
The first four of the last six songs have been cited by both Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash as having recorded on this occasion. The last two were mentioned on a promotional single for a bootleg that apparently never was released, and "You Belong To My Heart" was in fact one of the items on that promo-single.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 

The man at the right is Robert (Bob) Johnson a music writer at the Memphis Press Scimitar. Sam Phillips invited Bob, colleague, Lee Soroca (left), the local agent for United Press to the studio. Bob coined the phrase "Million Dollar Quartet" and used it to headline his article. Bob left the studio before the session started >

DECEMBER 5, 1956 WEDNESDAY

THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

From TV News And Views - Memphis Press Scimitar by Robert Johnson December 5, 1956.

"I never had a better time than yesterday when I dropped in at Sam Phillips' Sun Records on  Union and Marshall. It was what you might call a barrel-house of fun. Carl Perkins was in a  recording  session, and he has one that's going to hit as hard as "Blue Suede Shoes". We're trying to  arrange an advance audition for you Memphis fans before the song is released in January.  Johnny Cash dropped in. Jerry Lee Lewis was there, too, and then Elvis Presley dropped by.

Elvis headed for the piano and started in on "Blueberry Hill". The joint was really rocking  before they got truth. Elvis is high on Jerry Lee Lewis. "That boy can go', he said. "I think he  has a great future ahead of him. He has a different style, and the way he plays piano just  gets inside me". I never saw Elvis more likeable than he was just fooling around with these  other fellows who have the same interests as he does. If Sam Phillips had been on this toes,  he'd have turned the recorder on when that very unrehearsed but talented bunch go to  cutting up on "Blueberry Hill" and a lot of other songs".

This was the first intimation the world had of the existence of what was to become known as  The Million Dollar Quartet. Rumoured, speculated upon; it was the ultimate mystery, the  ultimately unobtainable recording for a quarter of a century. Even now the whole mystery  isn't solved but at least our voracious appetite for anything pertaining to the Million Dollar  Quartet is partially appeared; at least we now know what they sounded like.

I suspect that the Robert Johnson piece didn't arouse the intense interest that the M.D.Q.  was to subsequently generate. The American '16 Magazine' obviously picked up on the  Johnson story for in their May issue of 1957 they had this to say about the event: "Here's  how the jam session came about: One afternoon recently Elvis dropped in to see his old  friend, Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records, where Elvis got his start. With Elvis were two  friend, Marilyn Evans and Cliff Gleaves. In a nearby studio, Jerry Lee Lewis, who records for  Sun, was rehearsing for a recording session; and with him were Carl Perkins and Johnny  Cash, who had stopped by to hear the tape on Carl's newest, "Matchbox Blues".

After talking for a while, Elvis moved over to the piano in Jerry's studio and started  pounding out "Blueberry Hill". Then he began singing it. Carl and Johnny drifted over and  they and Jerry joined in. making it a quartet. Marilyn leaned on the piano, listening to this  fabulous group. From "Blueberry Hill" Elvis swung into "Isle Of Golden Dreams" - and there  followed perhaps the most fantastic vocal concert ever heard as these four young artists just  let loose and enjoyed themselves, singing old songs, new songs, soft songs, rock "n" roll  songs - and hymns.

The article in the Memphis Press Scimitar establishes the exact date of this momentous  occasion as the 4th December 1956. Odd then that there is no such date filed for a Perkins  recording session. Could this just be an error in the Sun files, or is there another  explanation?. Bear in mind that Carl and his brother were involved in a near fatal accident  on their way to New York the previous March. (For Jay Perkins it was ultimately to prove  fatal). The band hadn't played or recorded for some nine months. So finally they're ready to  record and go in for another session.

One of the songs they have lined up, an old Blind Lemon Jefferson number (last recorded by  the Shelton Bross. in 1947), is called "Matchbox Blues". Sam had suggested a young blonde  kid who'd just cut his first single, Crazy Arms", to augment the group on piano. They cut  "Matchbox", maybe another tune or two and in walks Elvis, a knock-out dolly on his arm.  "Hey, Elvis man who's that chick...". Elvis is back home for Christmas. He's just swept the  nation with his second appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show a month ago. He chats to Carl,  after all whilst Carl's been languishing in hospital Elvis has taken his song "Blue Suede Shoes"  up the top of the charts. Jerry Lee demand to be introduced. The musicians sit back, waiting  to get on with the session. But instead Elvis strolls over the piano, hits a few desultory  notes, carries on chatting, the guys start reminiscing; the Million Dollar Quartet session is  under way. After Christmas Carl returns to the Sun studio to do a full session and records  "Matchbox" again along with "Your True Love", "Put Your Cat Clothes On", "You Can Do No  Wrong", and "Caldonia". Purr speculations of course, but its interesting that a whole lot of  new tapes by Carl have just recently been discovered amongst the Sun archives. There's two  versions of "Matchbox" and a whole host of "Put Your Cat Clothes On", but back to December  4th.
SUN LP 1006 >

Once it had become obvious that Elvis was in no hurry to leave, Sam Phillips never one to  miss an opportunity, phoned the local press who sent along photographer George Pierce  along with columnist Robert Johnson. "Everything was off mike. If it was on mike, it was by  accident", recalls Sam. "I told Jack Clement, "Man, let's just record this. This is the type of  feel, and probably an occasion, that who knows? - we may never have these people together  again'". Jack Clement remembers it much the same way; "it was rather a momentous  occasion''.

''The only reason I taped it was we just decided: all that carrying' on ought to be  recorded". And recorded it most certainly was, but what became of the tapes?. Well, one of  the reasons for recording it was "to send everybody a copy. Which I never did get round to  doing".
 
The tapes then seemingly disappeared. The speculation as to their contents filled  many a magazine over the years. One popular contender, "Big Boss Man" wasn't even written  as the time of the session.
 
 
Published articles obviously accounted for the inclusion of  "Blueberry Hill", and "Isle Of Golden Dreams". Other suggested titles included "I Won't Cross  Jordan Alone", The Rugged Old Cross", "Cry Cry Cry", "Down The Line" and "Peace In The  Valley". In fact out of that list of titles only "Peace In The Valley" has emerged on the hour  tape at present available. It is interesting to note that at the time of the M.D.Q. Elvis hadn't  recorded any religious songs. At his very next session he was to do so, cutting "I Believe",  "Take My Hand Precious Lord" and, yap you guessed it, "Peace In The Valley" in Hollywood by  Radio Recorders on 12/13 January 1957, having sung it on the Ed Sullivan show six days  earlier. Now I wonder what prompted him to sing it there?. Everybody recalls Jerry Lee  singing the Sister Rosette Tharpe number "Strange Things Happening", but it doesn't appear  on this tape. Obviously then there was more. Jack Clement puts it at two to three hours, in  which case, somewhere there's another 4 to 5 albums still to be revealed. But what of the  songs that we actually have?.

We kick off with "Just A Little Talk With Jesus"; Carl, his brother, W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland  provide the instrumental backing, Elvis and Jerry Lee harmonise. Most of the time Carl's  tenor harmony is consigned to oblivion. Says Carl, "I sat down beside Elvis on the piano stool  and we shared a microphone. Jerry Lee had a microphone by himself, and he - as always -  did get in there. I remember most of the things he was singing would be too high or too low,  but they was in the one or two keys that Elvis could play in. That's why on some of the stuff  it was almost impossible for me to sing tenor rhythm". And where does Johnny Cash figure in  all this?. Well, Carl recalls that once the photographic session was over he went shopping!.  Just a Million Trio then perhaps?. They chat, they prompt each other through "Walk That  Lonesome Valley", "I Shall Not Be Moved", "Peace In The Valley", "Down By The River Side".  Gradually the band drop out. Maybe they come to the conclusion that the session just isn't  going to be continued now and they've got better things to do. Elvis sets about imitating  Hank Snow's nasal tones with uncanny accuracy on "I'm With The Crowd But Oh So Alone",  after all he's toured with Snow quite extensively. When he first introduced himself to Snow  at the Grand Old Opry, Snow asked him what his real name was. Now everybody knows the  name Elvis Presley. He's the kid who has shocked and outraged middle-aged America. He's  the Devil incarnate. And yet here he is singing "Father Along", "Blessed Jesus Hold My Hand",  "As We Travel Along On The Jericho Road" and "I Just Can't Make It By My Self". And singing  along with him are those other two exponents of the godless music, Carl Perkins and Jerry  Lee Lewis.

Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was one of the songs that helped launch the Presley  legend. Elvis demonstrates his familiarity with Monroe's music by not only singing "Little  Cabin On The Hill" but also giving a passable imitation of Monroe's vocal. (It would be  another 14 years before Elvis actually recorded the number on his "Country" album). Then  its back to the religious tunes that they were all weaned on: "Summertime Has Passed And  Gone", "I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling", a touch of country lament on "And Now Sweetheart  You've Done Me Wrong" and a lovely rendition by Carl of Wynn Steward's "Keeper Of The  Key". A snatch of "Crazy Arms" (after all Jerry Lee has just recently recorded it, he'd be  bound to bring it in), and then perhaps the biggest surprise of all. Pat Boone has just hit with  "Don't Forbid Me". (Bear in mind that Boone is still something of a rival to Presley). Elvis  explain with a touch of bravado that he's had the song for months but never really bothered  with it. He proceeds to prove the point by singing the number accompanying himself at the  piano. At some point Jerry Lee took over the piano stool for Carl remembers Elvis saying,  "The wrong man's been sitting here at the piano". To which Jerry Lee riposted, "Well, I been  wanting to tell you that. Scoot over". But that must have happened later. Exactly what  happened later is still a closed book. but let us be thankful for this brief moment of history  being made, now after all these years, available to us. Sam was right, all these people never  would all get together in a studio again".

With acknowledgements to Peter Guralnick - "Million Dollar Memories", New Kommotion no  25, and Nick Tosches "The Million Dollar Quartet Marked Down", Goldmine No. 56.

Adam Komorowski, editor New Kommotion
 

SOME MINOR RECOLLECTIONS ABOUT THE SESSION OF 
THE PRODUCTION PEOPLE BEHIND THIS DOOR

Jack Clement he says, ''Well, first of all Carl Perkins was cutting a session, Sam was  engineering it and I am sitting in the control room and Jerry Lee had been in town for a few  weeks and then I was using him on session, and I had convinced Sam and Carl to hire Jerry  Lee to play the piano and that is the reason Jerry Lee was there. He was hired to do piano.  The thing we did that day that was memorable was "Matchbox''. Johnny Cash was there  because Carl had invited him and they were good buddies.

The session was about to end and  Elvis walked in with a small entourage and of course everything just sort of stopped. Sam  went next door to Dell Taylor’s Restaurant''.  ''They were talking and pretty soon started jamming on some old gospel tunes, and the  mikes were still out there so I turned on the volume because I was still in the control room. I  was thinking that I would be remiss not to record some of this so I put on a tape and walked  out into the studio and moved a couple of the mikes around where the people were jamming  and stuff and let it roll.
 
 
Every time the tape would end I would put another one on. So I  think that there was about a total of about one and a half hours of it recorded that day.  Nobody thought much about those tapes and they just set there in the control room and now  it has found it’s way onto a record. I think they are going to prerelease it'', said Clement.

Carl Perkins recalled, "I had hired Jerry Lee Lewis to play piano, he got $15 for playing on  ''Matchbox'' and ''Your True Love''. Johnny Cash was there 'cause we'd often sit in on each  others' sessions. Then Elvis came in just after we finished recording those songs and my  session fell apart. We were all glad to see Elvis because by that time he was the biggest thing  in the country. He'd just been out to Las Vegas and he was tellin' us all about how exciting it  was and everything, and we just start singing old spirituals, gospel songs and things we all  knew. We all loved to sing those gospel songs. We had no idea it was being recorded. I went  back to the studio the next day and Sam Philips played some of it to me but I had no idea  there was so much of it. It sounds a lot better than I thought it would. Looking back on it  now, it was probably one of the highlights of my time at Sun Records".

More Johnny Cash recollections, "That particular session was a Carl Perkins recording  session, and when I went in Elvis Presley had just arrived and the session practically ended  when Elvis walked in. He sat down at the piano and then Jerry Lee Lewis came in later. Elvis  played the piano.. and the microphone was one of those old RCA Victor microphones way  down to Elvis' left. I was down at the other end of the piano, that's the reason you don't  hear me much, but we sang Bill Monroe songs and a little bit of everything, mainly gospel. It  was a big time, it took about two hours of Carl Perkins' recording session and we didn't know  at the time it was being recorded. I didn't leave,I was there for the whole thing. I was singing  the high part, the tenor part, I was singing Bill Monroe's part''!

From Johnny Cash's 1997 biography where Johnny Cash describes, "I was there. I was the  first to arrive and the last to leave. . Contrary to what has been written my voice is on the  tape. It's not obvious, because I was farthest away from the mike and I was singing a lot  higher than I usually did in order to stay in key with Elvis, but I guarantee you, I'm there".

And in the book 'Johnny Cash The Life of an American Icon' by Stephen Miller Jack Clement  said, "Elvis was cruising Memphis in his Cadillac with then girlfriend Marilyn Evans when he  saw that something was on at Sun and decided to drop in. An informal jam session started  up, and Sam Phillips, wise to the commercial possibilities of such a gathering, called up a  reporter from the Memphis newspaper the Press-Scimitar and told him to get along quickly.  He also phoned Johnny who was now the biggest star at Sun and he and Vivian called by  shortly after woods.

In no time at all. Elvis was at the piano with Carl, Jerry Lee and Johnny grouped around him.  Some reports that Johnny only stayed for a short time and then left, possibly to do some  Christmas shopping, though Johnny himself doesn’t accept this for a minute. He reckons he  was there pretty much for the duration and that he took part in a lot of the songs, more than  the eight to ten he is sometimes credited with. He recalls the gathering singing hymns and  folksy gospel type things like ''The Old Rugged Cross'', ''Will The Circle Be Unbroken?'' and  ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' on which he sang high tenor, and that the microphone was at the  far end of the studio, and that's why he can't be heard clearly".
 


TAPES - BOOTLEGS - RELEASES

When the final goodbyes had been said and everybody had left the studio on December 4, 1956, it was, for   Jack Clement, the end of another day's work, albeit quite a special one. He put the tapes on the session in   metal containers and then put them away in a cupboard. He told the participants that he would send them   acetates of the session but has said in subsequent interviews that he never got round to it. However it seems   likely that somebody, perhaps Sam Phillips, made arrangements for this to happen. Copies were later found   in Elvis vault at Graceland, after his death, and Carl Perkins is thought to have possessed a copy as well.

There was a frisson of excitement in the press the day following the session as a result of Bob Johnson's   article in the Memphis Press-Scimitar but after that it was business as usual; there were always more artists   to record and aspiring hopefulls to consider. In the months that followed, Jack did listen to parts of the tapes   occasionally, but says that Sam Phillips never showed any particular interest in them.

Sam grew less interested in the studio business as the years went by. Jack Clement said he became bored by   it. In part at least this was because he no longer discovered artists who created that magical buzz that made   him believe he could once more take the music world by storm.

From time to time he received offers for the business and the back catalogue but these initiatives came to   nothing until 1969 when Sam Phillips agreed a sale to Shelby Singleton, a successful and shrewd music   producer and record label executive. He had started up and run a number of labels and had a knack for   identifying hit material from unlikely sources. He produced the ''Boll Weevil Song'' for Brook Benton in   1961 and ''Harper Valley PTA'', a massive worldwide hit for the then unknown Jeannie C. Riley, in 1968.

As part of the deal to purchase Sun, Singleton took delivery of a large quantity of boxes full of badly   catalogued tapes running to around 10,000 hours. Singleton began trawling through this material; in the mid   to late seventies he embarked on a major programme of re-releasing material by Sun artists including the big   names of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. He agreed a licensing deal with the British Charly   label which released material in Europe where the music from the Sun archives went over particularly well.

It was during his searches of the tapes that Shelby Singleton came across the Million Dollar Quartet session.   If he had chosen not to go through all the countless Ampex tapes from Sun in this way, it is possible that   these priceless tapes might simply have festered at the back of a cupboard, eventually becoming unusable,   and thus lost to the world forever. It seems the tapes, or at least about 35 minutes worth of them, came to   light in about 1978. Interest in items of this sort became intense after Elvis' death; there was a huge  worldwide desire for recordings, information and artefacts relating to all aspects of his life and career.

When it became known that Singleton was planning to release extracts from the Million Dollar Quartet   session, there were suggestions in some quarters that thousands of copies had already been pressed but this   has never been substantiated, lawyers acting on behalf of Elvis' estate, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins quickly   swung into action in an attempt to prevent this happening. A protracted court battle followed. Elvis' label   (RCA Victor) took the view that when the session was recorded in 1956, albeit in the most casual way, Elvis  was under contract to them and nobody other than them had the right to releases the resultant material.   Nobody was in any doubt that the main value of the tapes lay in the presence of Elvis. Apart from preventing   release of the recordings, RCA was seeking an order that they were the rightful owners of all recordings   which featured Elvis and that they and they alone were entitled to market them. Further, they sought an order   that they had the exclusive right to use Elvis' name, image or biographical material in connection with the  promotion and marketing of records and tapes which featured him.

Johnny Cash' and Carl Perkins' representatives stated in the course of the proceedings that the recordings   were private and that there had never been any intention that they be issued publicity. Carl Perkins put   forward the argument that since the ''practice'' session that day was his session then he had at least some   claim on the material that was recorded, even though on a commonsense view it was clear that as soon as the   Million Dollar Quartet session started the Carl Perkins session was over.

Johnny Cash's position was complicated by the fact that his voice was not audible on the tapes; however his   name was associated with the session and photographs proved he was there at some point and so he joined   the legal attempts to prevent release of the material. The point of all actions was not that the recordings   should never be released, simply that they should not be released by and for the exclusive benefit of Shelby   Singleton. Carl said that once they were released he would like at least some of the income to be used to help   underprivileged children, a particular passion of his and a cause he felt sure Elvis would have approved of.

At some point, when exactly is not clear, some of the tapes were stolen and bootlegged and released in   Europe. According some aficionados and collectors were extremely excited to be afforded the opportunity to   listen to parts of the 1956 session for the first time in more than 20 years; to eavesdrop on a vital moment in   history that up until then had been for most of them a matter of speculative conjecture rather than absolute   fact.

Following a legal settlement of the court case and an appropriate licensing deal, an LP, ''The Million Dollar   Quartet'', was released in Europe on Charly/Sun in 1981. It featured a section of the recordings with 17   tracks, mainly religious material, lasting about 35 minutes. Additional material came to light in the following   years and double albums (in LP and CD formats) entitled ''The Complete Million Dollar Session'' were   released on Charly/Sun in 1987. The lack of any evidence of Johnny Cash's voice on the recordings resulted   in the word ''quartet'' being dropped for his particular release which contained 40 tracks, close to the entire   amount of commercially usable material that has ever some to light. In 1990 RCA released the same   recordings for distribution in America as ''Elvis Presley- The Million Dollar Quartet''.

In 2006, the fiftieth anniversary year of the session, Sony BMG released what is almost certainly the   definitive version of the Million Dollar Quartet session. It included a further 12 minutes pf previously   unreleased recordings which were apparently found on a recording of the session in an archive in Graceland.  Strenuous efforts were made to ensure that the tracks appeared in the order they were originally recorded so   that the album is as true to the actual events of the day as humanly possible. That said, not everything that   was found was used, the tapes included items like Carl's band tuning up for instance, of interest to real   anoraks but not commercially justifiable.

The 2006 double album runs to 79 minutes and includes certain items omitted from previous releases, for   instance nearly a minute of the song ''Jesus Walked That Lonesome Valley''. This is a real boon since it adds   in a section of the song when Elvis and Jerry Lee work themselves into a religious lather when trading some   of the lines. There have been other releases of the Million Dollar Quartet session including a two-disc picture   vinyl edition on the Universe label in 2007.
 

TV News and Views
_________________

by Robert Johnson
Press-Scimitar Staff Writer

… His purpose in coming to Memphis is to investigate how this tremendous important work can be spread to  other sections of the country. You can get an idea of what Streamlined Reading is about by watching Channel 1 0 at 8 tonight. It's not entertainment. It is teaching. And it is wonderful in concept and execution.

On Ted Mack Show
Billy Boren, 19, of Verona, Miss., won our Mid-South Fair's annual Youth Talent contest this fall, and Billy  will be on the Ted Mack show on Channel 13 Sunday night. Billy is the younger brother of Charlie Boren,  owner and manager of Radio WAMY in Amory, Miss.

Charlie was the first person ever to put Elvis Presley on the air. He used to have a station in Tupelo, and   Elvis made his debut there singing in an amateur contest about 1945 or 1946. Didn't even have a guitar, then.  If Charlie had a movie of the event, he could get rich. But this is about Billy Boren.

He idolizes Elvis, but he sings a different type of music. He formerly attended Mississippi Southern, the  Memphis State rival down in Hattiesburg, but go so many requests to sing here and there he has left school.  He was worked as an announcer for the past three years on Charlie's station.

Send in a Vote
Listen to out local boy Sunday night, and send in a vote for him, we're really getting to be a musical center –  everything from Elvis to Phineas Newborn to Marguerite Piazza, even tho did disown us on the Herb Shriner  show last night. (Said New Orleans is her home town, which it was but isn't any more, she's ours).  I ever had a better time than yesterday afternoon when I dropped Sam Phillips' Sun Record bedlam on Union   at Marshall. It was what you might call a barrell-house of fun. Carl Perkins was in a recording session... and  he has one that is going to hit as hard as ''Blue Suede Shoes''. We're trying to arrange an advance audition for  you Memphis fans before the song is released in January, Johnny cash dropped in. Jerry Lee Lewis was  there, too, and then Elvis stopped by.

Elvis headed for the piano and started to Fats Domino it on ''Blueberry Hill''. The joint was really rocking   before they got thru.  Elvis is high on Jerry Lee Lewis. ''That boy can go'', he said. ''I think he has a great future ahead of him. He   has a different style, and the way he plays piano just gets inside me''.

Elvis debunked the newest rumor. ''No I haven't bought 200 acres at Collierville'', he said. ''How do those  stories get started''?
 

He talked earnestly about the Toledo incident. ''I talked to that fellow for at least 15 minutes, trying to be nice  to him and keep him from starting anything, but finally it just got out of hand''.  I never saw the boy more likeable than he was just fooling around with these other fellows who have the   same interests he does. 

If Sam Phillips had been on his toes, he'd have turned the recorder on when that very unrehearsed but  talented bunch got to cutting up on ''Blueberry Hill'' and a lot of other songs. That quartet could sell a  million.

This article was originally published in the Memphis Press-Scimitar on December 5, 1956.
 

DECEMBER 1956

After the Christmas break, Elvis Presley went out to Hollywood to cut some sessions for RCA.  In January 1957 he recorded four of the songs from the December jam session, ''Blueberry  Hill'' (reported by Johnson as having been sung, but as yet undiscovered on tape), ''Peace In  The Valley'', ''Is It So Strange'', and ''That's When Your Heartaches Begin'' (one of the first  songs he had recorded for Sam Phillips almost three years earlier). In February he recorded  ''When It Rains It Really Pours''.

Toward the end of his life, in an effort to get Elvis Presley to record something - anything -  RCA brought truckloads of recording equipment into Graceland. Twenty years earlier,  though, Presley had needed no encouragement to pick and sing all night. ''That's why I hate  to get started in these jam sessions'', he says on the tapes, ''I'm always the last one to  leave''. The surviving tapes from the ''Million Dollar Quartet'' sessions (as it was dubbed by  Robert Johnson in his feature the following day) hold some of Presley's least-guarded  moments on record. The tapes also say more about the origins of rock and roll than a  thousand treatises. Presley is loose, effortlessly in command, unself-consciously blending a  host of musical disciplines in what amounts to a primer on the creation of rock and roll.

DECEMBER 5, 1956 WEDNESDAY

The rock and roll movie, ''Rock, Rock, Rock'' opens nationally.

With the birth of ''Duke'' Stephenson, Kitty Wells becomes a grandmother at age 37.

Merle and Bettie Travis are awarded custody of her two sons from a previous marriage by a Los Angeles judge.

DECEMBER 6, 1956 TURSDAY

Carl Smith and June Carter divorce after four years of marriage.

DECEMBER 6, 1956 THURSDAY

Two days after the Million Dollar Quartet session at Sun Records, at 8:00 p.m. Elvis Presley  returns to the Loew's State Theater for another viewing of "Love Me Tender". With his Las  Vegas visitor, Marilyn Evans, and his Marine friend Red West, he entered the theater quietly  from the alley door, but word soon spread up and down Main Street that he was in the  theater and business immediately picked up. Once he went to the rest room, and a cluster  of girls and women camped outside the door till he came out. He signed autographs for  them, then sat in the balcony for the rest of the showing. As he left by the alley door a  cluster of fans went with him, and he signed more autographs.
DECEMBER 7, 1956 FRIDAY

On December 7, 1956, Elvis Presley and George Klein attended the otherwise segregated WDIA black radio station’s  annual fund-raiser for ''needy Negro children'' at Memphis' Ellis Auditorium. Firstly, in June 1956, The  Memphis World newspaper reported, ''the rock and roll phenomenon cracked Memphis’s segregation laws'  by attending the Memphis Fairgrounds amusement park ''during what is designated as ''colored night''.

Elvis Presley and B.B. King backstage WDIA Radio Goodwill Revue, Ellis Auditorium, Memphis, Tennessee, December 7, 1956 >
 
Elvis performed alongside some of his own heroes, Ray Charles, B.B King, the Moonglows, Claudia Ivy, and Rufus Thomas. There was no  doubt that Elvis was seen as a champion in the black Memphis, among others is community and his concert audiences were  certainly not all white as is often believed. Although Elvis’ recording contract did not permit him to perform...
 
 
...at the fund-raiser for radio station WDIA, he set off a sensation. The Pittsburgh Courier described the  reaction that night as, ''A thousand black, brown and beige teen-age girls in the audience blended their alto  and soprano voices in one wild crescendo of sound that rent the rafters … and took off like scalded cats in  the direction of Elvis Presley''.

The radio station called itself the ''Mother Station of the Negroes''. In the aftermath of the event, a number of  Negro newspapers printed photographs of Elvis with both Rufus Thomas and B.B. King. (''Thanks, man, for  all the early lessons you gave me'', were the words The Tri-State Defender reported he said to Mr. King).  When he returned on December 6, 1957 night to the revue, a stylish shot of him ''talking shop'' with Little  Junior Parker and Bobby Bland appeared in Memphis’s mainstream afternoon paper, The Press-Scimitar,  accompanied by a short feature that made Elvis' feelings abundantly clear. ''It was the real thing'', he said,  summing up both performance and audience response. ''Right from the heart''.

DECEMBER 7, 1956 FRIDAY

Drummer Carlos Vega is born in Cuba. In addition to working on pop albums by the likes of George Benson, James Taylor and Olivia Newton-John, he also appears on country hits by Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and Reba McEntire.

DECEMBER 8, 1956 SATURDAY

Rockabilly musician Dave Rich joins The Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport.

DECEMBER 9, 1956 SUNDAY

Sylvia Hutton is born in Koomo, Indiana. A secretary for record producer Tom Collins, she emerges with a series of glossy, pop-tinged recordings in the 1980s; topped by the million-selling ''Nobody''.

DECEMBER 10, 1956 MONDAY

Capitol released Sonny James' ''Young Love'' and its hit flip side, ''You're The Reason I'm In Love''.

Hank Thompson recorded ''Rockin' In The Congo'' at the Capitol Recording Studio in Hollywood during an afternoon session.

Decca released Webb Pierce's ''I'm Tired''.

DECEMBER 11, 1956 TUESDAY

Patsy Cline's father, Sam Hensley, dies of throat cancer in a West Virginia hospital.

Decca Records throws a birthday party for Brenda Lee, as she turns 12, at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

''FLYING SAUCER ROCK AND ROLL''

Guitarist Roland Janes confirms that he brought Indiana-born songwriter Ray Scott over to Riley's house so they could go through Ray's material and come up with a follow-up to ''Trouble Bound''. "We went through everything Ray had and is only one we took was ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll''. But it was a good one."

Scott was no stranger to the Sun studio but fancied himself as more of songwriter than a recording artist. Nevertheless, his several vintage recordings at sought today by collectors. Two of his demos for Sun appeared on Bear Family That'll Flat Git It (Sun) - Volume 17 (BCD 16405 AH). If you listen closely to these ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll'' sits, you'll hear an obvious separation between two different sessions. Alternates Take 1 to Take 6 were recorded before session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis joined on, and so the sound changes appreciably starting with Alternate Take 7. But along with that there's also a surprising key change. Prior to the addition of a piano, the boys rake the song in C, a most unlikely key for a rockabilly band. Once Lewis joins them, they take it up a half a tone to the key of D. D is an accessible key for a piano, guitar and bass. It's C that needs some explanation, and the best one is simply that without a piano or sax in the band, the stringed instruments only had to tune to each other - not to the outside world. In all likelihood, they thought they were playing in D at the first session. But Jerry Lee's instrument was less flexible, so at the second session the piano defined what D was. Riley's wife Joyce confirms that during the later years of his life, Billy performed the song in the key of C - a comfortably lower key for a more mature voice.
Riley fans may listen to Alternate Take 10 of ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll'' and wonder why we have included the original single among this collection of alternates. The answer is simple. It isn't the master. It's very close, but the difference tells quite a tale. This is the bed track upon which the master was based. It was overdubbed for release. So what was added to this nearly perfect piece of 1956 rock and roll? The answer is Screaming! This is the very opposite of 'sweetening', which later became the industry standard for overdubbing. Leave it to Sam Phillips and Sun Records.

No strings or choral voices were added. This was an attempt to unsweeten a track, if ever there was one. It's true that the original recording (Alternate Take 10) did have some screaming on it.
 
But not enough for Sam Phillips. And so more of Marvin Pepper's raucous screams were added before release. You don't believe it? Listen for yourself. Do a side buy side comparison between this track and Sun 260. Lord knows, we've done plenty of them The results are unmistakable.
 
 
Half a century later, we reluctant tim learn that not all that wild abandon we heard on the single was as spontaneous as we had hoped or assumed. Some of it had to be added after the fact.

In case you're wondering why anybody would go to all this trouble to layer in more screaming, think about the era. ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll'' was recorded in December, 1956. In January of that same year, Little Richard , the iconic screamer of rock and roll - hit the charts with ''Tutti Frutti''. Three months later, he was back with ''Long Tall Sally''. The era of screaming rock and roll had begun. Billy's vocal here already sounded like Richard Penniman. Why not add some screams and complete the picture? Another rockabilly record of the period that included screaming was Gene Vincent's ''B-I-Bickey-Bi, Bo-Bo-Go'' (Capitol 3678).

Billy Riley's attraction to Little Richard's musical style will be an in these notes. It was apparent in more than just the recording studio. Roland Janes recalls a road tour with Hayden Thompson. ''Every night Hayden would do a special set where he'd do nothing but Elvis songs and imitate his style. Billy would do the same thing with Little Richard songs. At the end of the show the two of them would come out onstage and do a grand finale so they'd have Elvis and Little Richard on stage together. It was something to see."

STUDIO SESSION FOR BILLY RILEY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY DECEMBER 11, 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

With a record on the market, Billy Riley needed to put a band together. Jack Clement was too busy engineering at Sun and to be playing clubs and Bernero had always been temporary. That left only guitarist Roland Janes. Billy Riley and Roland Janes had met a teenage drummer, James M. Van Eaton had been down at Sun with another group. He was quickly drafted into the fold, as was upright bassist Marvin Pepper. By the end of 1956, Riley's group had been co-opted as the house band at Sun Records.

During November and December 1956 Billy Riley and his group worked up their second single. Two weeks before Christmas they were joined by Jerry Lee Lewis who, ten days earlier, had cut his first single with the help of Roland Janes and James M. Van Eaton. On December 11, they cut one of the all-time rockabilly masterpieces, "Flying Saucer Rock And Roll".

01(1) - "FLYING SAUCER ROCK AND ROLL" - B.M.I. - 2:02
Composer: - Ray Scott
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 11, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-1-12 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES

According to Billy Riley, ''When we did ''Flying Saucer Rock And roll'', that night Sam gave our band its name. He said, 'We'll call you the Little Green Men'. So he put the name on the record, and we just lived with it''. That upstart piano player would be gone by the time Riley cut the second of his records (''Red Hot''). By then Jerry Lee Lewis was out on the road in support of his own emerging hit called ''Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On''.

01(2) - "FLYING SAUCER ROCK AND ROLL" - B.M.I. - 2:01
Composer: - Ray Scott
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 11, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-1-13 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES

01(3) - "FLYING SAUCER ROCK AND ROLL" - B.M.I. - 2:00
Composer: - Ray Scott
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take