Wednesday nights, Rufus was the emcee at the Palace Theater on Beale Street. This was amateur night, where he had graduated from being a dancer to becoming also a comic
foil for the emcee, Nat Williams, to now add to his roles that of the emcee himself. He kept the comedy, and was always...
...sharply dressed, continuing the theme he had started in school, and developing catchphrases like ''Ain't I'm clean?" or "Oh
I feel so unnecessary".
He described to Peter Guralnick the shape of the show and the scale of the talent. "First they had the movies and then the amateur,
which was the bottom hour, and then it was back to the movies. I reached back and got a friend of mine, his name was Robert Counts, they called
him Bones, and we were together for eleven consecutive years at the Palace Theater every Wednesday night. We were making five dollars a night and you had the Al Jackson band and they were only making 25 dollars and they had a big band too. The show was only a nickel then, but the place was packed''.
He told Beale
Street historians Margaret McKee and Fred Chisenhall: ''At that time we had contestants come up to perform, and then after everybody performed they'd all come back on stage and the audience would applaud for first prize. They used to have $5, $3, and $2 but they cut that out and later everybody who came up on stage would get a dollar.
B. B. King used to come with holes in his shoes, his guitar all patched up, just to get that dollar''. Guitarist Calvin Newborn has recalled
being presented with five dollars by Rufus on Palace amateur night for playing a piano duet with his brother, Phineas on ''Hey Bop A Re Bop''.
In 1950, Rufus
left the Palace because he couldn't get the money he felt he was entitled to for his emcee role and comedy dance routines. Four decades later it still pained him to explain to Peter Guralnick: "I wanted more, but I couldn't get Bones to go ask for it with me. So the man got with Bones and asked him if he would work with someone else, and
I got fired''.
However, Rufus was soon running a Saturday midnight amateur show at the Handy Theater. He
was by now a well-known name in black Memphis, and he was fast becoming associated with the good time Saturday nights for which Beale Street was famous. He said, "Beale Street was the black man's haven. They'd come into town and forget all their worries and woes''.
Rufus's daughter, Carla Thomas, had clear memories of those days. She told 'Soul And Jazz Record' in 1974: "Growing up in Memphis in the early 1950s held much excitement for me because of my musical environment. Even though I was a young girl at the time, no one could outdo me when I did the Hambone. Bo Diddley came to Memphis often and he laughed about it. My father had everyone in the Foote Homes project doing that routine. My father has been a hard worker all his life. Many times he worked three and four jobs to support our family, traveling with different musicians to parts of Arkansas and Mississippi
or wherever they could get a job, along with working in a textile mill and later as a disc jockey. My brother and myself would
be anxiously waiting for him to come home to give us accounts of his travels. He told us how country folks loved the blues, drank the booze, and we learned a lot about life from daddy''.
Carla had a clear picture of Rufus's work closer to home, too: "I was at the Palace Theater often because my mother
always took my brother and me to see daddy who was usually the emcee. Daddy danced so well that he eventually got barred from competition: that's how he got to be emcee. I laughed until I cried at the jokes he shared with his team partner Bones, of Rufus and Bones. It seemed to me then that to be associated with Beale Street
was to be associated with creativity, strength and pride. That's why many blacks, especially on the weekends, would congregate
up and down Beale Street to feel the pulse of life it had to offer''.
It's easy to overplay the extent to which Beale was buzzing. In August 1950, ''Ebony'' magazine ran a feature about 'The New Beale Street''', emphasizing the rise of black owned business and the real or hoped for gentrification of the street. ''Beale is but a
ghost of the boisterious, blustering thorefare of yesterday, ''Ebony'', reported. ''It's sweet men and easy riders are gone; its
gambling dens and nite spots are shut down. A new Beale Street is arising as a symbol of the new, enterprising, forward looking Southern Negro of today, looking forward to the day when Negro business will dominate the street''. It reported, ''by midnite these days the street is virtually deserted in contrast to the old days when the
nite spots operated all night''.
In December, on the same theme, 'Billboard' reported a speech at Booker T. Washington High School by W. C. Handy, 77-year-old bandleader and composer of the ''Beale Street Blues'' and ''Memphis Blues''. Handy thought, "In the days when I was here, everything in the
Negro community centers around three or four blocks on Beale. There were theaters, drug stores and saloons. Everybody put on his
best to be seen on Beale: it was a promenade. Now there are many Negro communities in the city and Beale has lost its charms. (It has) the character of an avenue of commerce, filled pawnshops, cheap cafes and second-hand stores where the tourist can find no lure''. Handy felt the same thing had happened in New York on Lenox Avenue and in Harlem, Handy, who had him created a successful business in the North, felt that "a certain race pride has gone by the boards. To many Negroes are trying to live
white, and it's not good''. There may have been a generations element in this because, to the Thomas family, the,scene was still
buzzing, and Rufus was as integral part of it.
For people like Rufus Thomas, and Nat Williams, the pride was still very much there, too, and I started to take other
forms as well, not least through the efforts of radio WDIA, the first station to cater to black America in the South.
WDIA opened in June 1947 as the sixth station
in town, and one of the least important. At first, it purveyed classical, popular and hillbilly music, alongside the news. Bert Ferguson, who
co-owned the station with John Pepper, knew that Nat Williams was a communicator, someone who could inform as well as entertain. With low ratings, WDIA figured that through Nat they could try to gain listeners among the black community, which made up nearly half the local population. Williams started in October 1948 with a show called 'Tan Town Jamboree' and he quickly got a very positive response. Within a few years, WDIA moved to an all-black format and was being promoted as the 'Mother Station Of The Negro'. Besides Williams, WDIA recruited other local personalities from the schools and theaters of Memphis, including Gatemouth Moore, Maurice Hulbert, Theo Wade, Willa Monroe, Martha Jean ''The
Queen'' Steinberg, Robert Thomas, Ford Nelson, A. C. 'Moohah' Williams - and, in September 1950,
Rufus started at WDIA announcing two hour-long record shows, 'House Of Happiness' and 'Special Delivery'. At first,
it seems that he tried to sound upmarket, smooth and articulate, like the announcers he heard on WREC broadcasting from posh venues like the Peabody Hotel. In fact, his own rasp of a voice was much more suited to selling records and sponsored goods to his home-town audience, and station manager David James Mattis counseled
him about retaining the sort of hip rapport that he had with theater and night club crowds. "Once I became just Rufus, man, I started getting
sharp and everything. My delivery stepped up, and there I was, a personality", he told a radio colleague, Louis Cantor. So much so that Mattis
later described Rufus as ''the best black entertainer I ever saw in my life''.
In 1951, Rufus inherited the 'Sepia Swing Club' from B. B. King when King went on the road on
the back of his burgeoning recording career. 'Sepia Swing Club' was on at 3pm. Rufus had already worked a 6.30 to 2.30 shift American Textile and he used to catch the streetcar to the radio station, often leaping into his chair at or just beyond the opening of the show, ready to take off "like a late freight" as he put it. After a while he would get a
ride in his friend's car and then from 1954 he traveled in his own automobile. His opening patter remained the same though: "Come in the club,
we're ready and right/ Got records and jive, no fuss no fight/ This is Rufus Thomas of Sepia Swing/ Gonna try to make you laugh and sing''.
In June 1954,
WDIA increased its signal power significantly to 50,000 watts, covering not just the Memphis area but the entire South. This was a big success with sponsors, and it cemented the station's place in the local black community. According to Rufus, ''I don't care what - if it was said on WDIA, that was it. They would argue you down. They'd say,
I heard it on WDIA, and that was it''. By this time, Rufus had another Saturday morning show, 'Boogie For Breakfast', and he was on with the
'Hoot 'N' Holler' show every night from 9.30 to 11pm starting the party with "I'm young and loose and full of juice/ We're all feeling gay though we ain't got a dollar/ So let's all get together and hoot 'n' holler''. Dora Todd, a teacher at Washington High said: "Most folks in the 1950s may not have been able to tell you
who the mayor or governor was, but they sure knew the names of Nat Williams and Rufus Thomas''. One of the additional reasons
folks knew Rufus in the 1950s was that he had just broadened his entertainment portfolio and emerged as a major name in the world of rhythm and blues recordings.
By the end of the 1940s, Rufus Thomas had spent several years singing in Memphis night spots with a number of good local bands; those
of Bill Harvey, Al Jackson, Bill Fort and Tuff Green. He hadn't seen this as his main forte but it was a developing part of his gamplan as an entertainer.
He said, "My models were Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, and a fellow named Gatemouth Moore, Dwight Moore out of Memphis. They were all good entertainers, very very versatile''.
Gatemouth Moore had recently been a successful recording artist before returning to Memphis to work over WDIA, and he
was one of the reasons why Rufus started to think about making records himself. He recalled: "I was working in a club as a singer, and it was something
I wanted to do. It was a chance. I just wanted to be on record. I never thought of getting rich. I just wanted to be known, be a recording artist''. The opportunity presented itself one day around Christmas, 1949, in the form of a visit from
Jesse and Louise Erickson ran Louise's Record Shop at 3313 Oakland Avenue in south Dallas. Erickson was a regional record distributor who started
issuing records on his Talent and Star Talent label to showcase local artists. He issued many hillbilly recordings, made in his local area,
before launching out with a short-lived blues series in 1950, comprising of recordings largely made on location.
Country artist Boots Bourquin said: "Jesse
and Louise did a lot of advertising on the radio, and he wholesaled and retailed records. That was a pretty big thing because all them stars had
records in there and they would come by and meet him. It was a gathering place for musicians, all those guys that was trying to get a start in country music. He was a real nice guy, a real big guy, six foot four and weighed 250''.
Rufus was singing at the Club Tropicana, also known as Johnny Curry's Club, on Thomas Street
on the north side of Memphis when Jesse Erickson walked through the door tarrying a bulky recording machine and a microphone. According to Rufus, he just introduced himself and asked if he could set up and record the band for his label. Rufus had never heard of the Talent label, but he did want to be on records, so he agreed. It is likely that
Erickson had made some prior arrangement to be there, but if so the details remain undiscovered. Rufus recalled a little of the session:
"They'd put this big heavy needle down, and when you'd be singing you could see the needle cutting into that acetate, just digging those grooves right around there."
The label of Rufus's record stated at the top that it was in the 'Folk Series,' but at the side indicated in smaller
print that it was in fact part of the 'Blues And Rhythm Series'. The disc was listed in 'Billboard' among the 'New Rhythm & Blues Releases' for the week of 25 February 1950, and ''I'm So Worried'' was also reviewed, although the opinion was mixed, and indeed a little Harsh on the band: "Thomas shows first class style on a slow blues,
but the combo work is amateurish behind him''.
If Rufus was disappointed at the lack of a second release on Star Talent, then his sorrow should d have been short-lived. Within six months, he was back on record again. However, this time he was disguised on the record label as 'Mr. Swing' and he may not even have known about his release on Nashville's Bullet label. If he did know at the time, he seemed to have forgotten about it through most of his career and only acknowledged it nearly
fifty years after the event. When we played him the disc in 1999 he appeared, saying, ''Hey that is me. I had forgotten all about
those songs, but you know, that really is me''. He seemed to have no recollection of the matter being raised with him three years earlier by Dave Clarke of ''Blues And Rhythm'' magazine – but he undergone a bypass operation in-between times.
The release of ''Beer Bottle Boogie'' and ''Gonna Bring My Baby Back'' on Bullet 327 came about in similar 'on location' circumstances to those surrounding the Star Talent episode. The songs were apparently recorded sometime around 9 to 11 June 1950 when the Lionel Hampton orchestra was playing at the Handy Theater in Memphis, and when Rufus Thomas sang with a smaller band drawn from Hampton's musicians. The band was credited to Hampton's saxophonist and songwriter, Bobby Plafer, and the deal was apparently set up between Overton Gong, then head of Bullet Records, Robert Henry, the manager of the Handy Theater, and Bert Ferguson of WDIA who had"the previous year been instrumental in sending B. B. King's first recordings to Bullet.
Boogie has, a strong boogie piano opening from Milt Buckner, whose trademark grunting can be clearly heard on these recordings. Rufus tells how he got higher than a kite, then all hipped-up, then burned at poker - the recipe for getting the beer bottle boogie way down deep inside. Then the classy band really comes into its own with a fabulous
sax solo while the other players interject and swirl all around it. Rufus said: ''I do remember that ''Beer Bottle'' song, and that
is a good band, a quality band on there. I, think so''. Incidentally, Marilyn Scott recorded a ''Beer Bottle Boogie'' on Regent in September 1950; it appears to be a different song altogether, but Mr. Swing may have inspired the title. ''Gonna Bring My Baby Back'' is a swinging mid-pace item driven by the piano towards a
smooth tenor solo that builds up while the band riffs effectively. Rufus tells a familiar tale about his baby leaving but he's gonna find
her, and he tells it with some vocal style. 'Billboard' listed the disc among the New Rhythm & Blues Releases of July 22, 1950, where Mr. Swing lined up alongside ''Mr. Cadillac'' and his The R D Boogie, Louis Jordan's ''Blue Light Boogie'', Gatemouth Brown's ''Boogie Rambler'', and Ray Charles' ''The Ego Song'', among others.
disc it should have sat alongside was ''Phillips Sent Me'', Bullet 329 by Jerome Richardson, Lionel Hampton's young saxophone prodigy, fronting the same Bobby Plater band that had backed Rufus. The disc possibly included vocals by Hampton's vocalist Betty Carter but this is uncertain because a copy of the record has not been located. What is
clear is that the tune was inspired by Memphis disc jockey, Dewey Phillips, whose catchphrase was to tell radio listeners to 'say
that Phillips sent ya" when entering a store. A year later, in July 1951, 'Billboard' reported that "Dewey Phillips'' advice to his WHBQ listeners to tell merchants 'Phillips sent me' has become a by-word in Memphis and his show is being considered for coast to coast broadcast over the Mutual network. Newest twist is that he's to be immortalized in song, with Joe Liggins and his Honeydrippers planning to record a ditty entitled ''Phillips Sent Me''. It is possible that there had been some copyright, wrangling
over the song and a threatened legal restraint that led to Bullet pulling the disc from sale in 1950. Either way, it is a fascinating,
and frustrating, side issue to what was already a confused picture surrounding Rufus's second, cording venture.
By the time Rufus realized that his Bullet
disc existed but was not going to be a big seller and that Bullet Records was making no noises about recording Mr. Swing again - he also started
to realize that there was an emerging recording opportunity right on his doorstep. In fact, Memphis radio announcer and producer Sam Phillips had first opened the doors of his Memphis Recording Service on Union Avenue pretty much at the same time Rufus was recording for Star Talent. By the early part of 1951, Phillips had already sold rhythm and blues and blues recordings to out of town record companies like RPM and Chess and was gait hing something of a reputation on the back of recordings of B.B. King, Rosco Gordon
and others. ''Rocket 88'' by Jackie Brenston was top of the Rhythm And Blues Charts when Rufus started to think about going along
to Union Avenue. He told Peter Guralnick: ''Everyone was just going up there, and I found out about it, so I went, too. You could come right off the street and go in there''.
When Rufus entered 706 Union Avenue, the first person he encountered was Marion Keisker, Sam first, and at that time
only, assistant. She arranged for him to visit when Sam would be there, and Phillips was pleased to have a go at recording one of the rising stars of Beale Street and Memphis radio. Marion recorded Rufus's address in her files as 440 Vance, and later changed this to 1376 Kerr when the Thomas family moved. She set up setup a recording session for sometime in May or June 1951, and Sam Philips started to make a deal with Leonard Chess for the output of the session to be leased to Chess records in
As far as is known, the first title Phillips recorded was ''Night Workin' Blues'', a song Rufus had been singing for some years, although it
was credited to Marty Witzel. It opens with a swinging riff from the band and Herman Green and Richard Sanders both feature throughout on
tenor and baritone sax. Pianist Billy Love swoops around the tune and keeps a solid rhythm section going. The music is more rhythm than blues but Rufus forcefully gets across his tale of woe about coming off the night shift to find he's getting no attention at home. ''I try to make her happy/But my life is misery'' and the solution seems to be to
"let this all night working go''. We may never hoe biographical the song was, and the same goes for the next song Rufus recorded,
''Why Did You Deegee''. It's about a man who didn't believe his gal would leave him and it's about as close to recognized blue structure as Rufus gets. A slower pace is set here by drummer Houston Stokes and is emphasized by prominent use of cymbals, while Rufus really opens up his vocal chords and sells his story of heartbreak, punctured by sax riffs, jazzy guitar figures from an unidentified guitarist, and more prominent interventions from Billy Love.
Blues'' and ''Why Did You Deegee'' were issued as Chess 1466 in the midsummer of 1951, and at the end of July it was noted in Sam Phillips' logbook that he paid Rufus an advance on sales of fifty dollars.
A third song had been made at the session and the master of ''Crazy About You Baby'' was sent to Chess
at the same time as the masters for Chess 1466, Crazy was a pounding protorocker of the ''Rocket 88'' style that had gained Sam Phillips a massive rhythm and blues hit not long before. It is Billy Love pounding piano this time, rather than Ike Turner, and Rufus reeling off the honking vocals rather than Jackie Brenston. Saxophonists Green
and Sanders do as good if not better a job than the Turner/Brenston band, and all the pieces were in place for a hit. Unfortunately, Rufus
was a few months too late with this one despite it being a considerably good record - and his song was about a girl rather than a car. Mistake.
Sales of ''Night
Workin' Blues'' must have been sufficient to encourage Phillips and Chess to plan a second release, and in October 1951 Rufus was back in Phillips' studio recording a song called ''No More Dogging Around''. It was the first of many he would record over the years with Dog in the title, though this time he was talking about being led a dance
by his woman rather than promoting dance steps. The same band as before sets up a stomping rhythm and Herman Green takes a flowing
sax solo. Rufus follows the catchy riff, his voice rising and falling as he sets out how he intends to get out from under. It is evident that Rufus knew exactly what he wanted his bands to do, and overall the sound on this disc is one that can,be heard for Sun, Meteor and Stax.
logged that the master of ''No More Dogging Around'' was mailed to Chess on October 5, and that Chess "already have ''Crazy About You'' and the ''Xmas Song". The latter, whatever it was, has not been found, and it was ''Crazy About'' that was issued along with ''No More Dogging Around'' on Chess 1492. The record gathered some steady but not spectacular sales through the spring of 1952.
By early 1952, several of Sam Phillips' recording artists were caught up in commercial and legal arguments
between the companies who took recordings from him - principally Chess in Chicago and Modern/RPM in Hollywood. Companies not unreasonably wanted exclusivity on the bestselling singers. One of these was Rosco Gordon who had registered hits with RPM but who would also appear shortly on Chess and then, for good measure, on the Duke label.
23 January 1952 Rosco Gordon made a session for Chess at Phillips' studio that included an engaging bar room song called ''Decorate The Counter''. However, by February 15 wrangling between the various companies had seen Gordon's contract signed over to Modern/RPM Records and two days later most of the recordings from the January session were passed to Modern. ''Decorate The Counter''was not one of them because Chess had expressed an interest in the song. Sam Phillips apparently held it back as the prototype
for someone else to record. That someone was Rufus Thomas, and so we had tuned an extended version of the earliest of Rosco's versions
of the song.
Rosco Gordon made another version of the song - one that has more often been issued and so is not included here - that contained a number of
vocal asides and tricks and had a generally anarchic aura. It was that version Rufus faithfully reproduced when he went into the
studio on April 21, 1952. There is little wonder that the difference between the two men's versions of this good time Saturday night song was not wide since Rufus used Willie Wilkes, Richard Sanders and John Murray Daley on the session – the,.same band as Rosco. Rufus calls ''What you say Richard'' as Richard Sanders is about to take his solo,
as had Rosco. Only Rosco himself is missing, replaced by Billy Love on piano. Rufus's vocals are slightly more prominent and assured
than Rosco's even though it is not his own song. ''Decorate The Counter';'was apparently written by or in the name of Robert Henry, who managed the Handy Theater and booked Rufus and Rosco there along with other local talent and all the big bands of the day. He was also the first manager of B. B. King, and one of the real enduring characters of Beale Street, right up to his death in 1978. He ran a pool hall and store there for years and liked to tell people that if they wanted to get served,
they'd better decorate the counter, put their money down.
According to Marion Keisker's session logs, Rufus recorded four other songs at the ''Decorate'' session. One of these was the intriguing ''Beale Street Bound'', a recording that has not apparently survived. Of the three we do have, the song that was chosen for release
along with ''Decorate The Counter'' was ''Juanita'', an impassioned ballad complete with mock crying and a style that found fevour
in the early 1950s and was exemplified in hits like Tommy Brown's ''Weepin' And Cryin'' on Dot Records which was the number one rhythm and blues
hit of December 1951. If anyone was going to be able to carry off this histrionic style, then Rufus Thomas - the entertainer - was probably the man. No doubt his performance of ''Juanita'' went down a storm in live performance, but this is a very slow song and although Richard Sanders contributes a moving baritone sax solo, the performance drag a little
on record. It was left to Chuck Willis -with a different song -to take ''Juanita'' into the top ten and rhythm and blues history four years
The day after the session, the Phillips studio airmailed dubs of ''Decorate The Counter'' and ''Juanita'' to Chess Records, and twelve days later masters were "sent to
Shaw (probably meaning Billy Shaw's New York based Shaw Artists Corporation). Marion Keisker logged that copies were sent to influential
disc jockeys on June 16, including Gene Nobles at WLAC in Nashville, and that payments at musicians union scale were made to the session musicians directly
by Chess. The record was released as Chess 1517 at the start of July.
Two final songs from the session remained unissued at the time. The first was ''Married Woman'',
which is presented here in two alternative takes. It is a thumping blues about Rufus sitting around trying to drink his blues away. His baby's leaving - ''she was a married woman" - and how loving a married woman will do you no earthly good. The first version contains a storming sax solo by Willie Wilkes, and the second is similar except that Rufus adds some slurred speech at the start to emphasize the depth of his plight. The last title to be recorded at the session was also a moral tale - of temperance, abstinence and
fidelity - told to a mid-paced rhythm and blues stomp. This time the solo is taken by Richard Sanders on baritone sax, and you
can just imagine Rufus the entertainer delivering the lyrics of ''I'm Off That Stuff'' with a twinkle in his eye.
It would be eleven months before Rufus was
back at Phillips' Memphis Recording Service studio, and this time the output would be on a hometown record label. Billboard reported on March
14, 1953: "Sun Record Label launched In Memphis - a new indie rhythm earl blues label headed by Jim Bulleit and Sam Phillips. The Sun label plans to give even opportunity to untried artists to prove their talents, whether they play a broomstick or the finest jazz sax in the world''. Phillips had in fact toyed with his Sun label throughout 1952 and
he had tried and failed with the country blues and nightclub saxophone instrumentals. Now he had a new partner in – Jim
Bulleit, an experienced record man from Nashville who knew how to sell records - and a new style to sell in the form of a novelty rhythm and blues song about a ''Bear Cat''. Phillips figured that the song was just right for the extrovert gravel voiced Rufus Thomas.
As a disc jockey on WDIA, Rufus
would have been one of the first to be aware of the sales potential of a new record called ''Hound Dog'', issued by Peacock Records out of Texas and sung by Willie Mae 'Big Mama' Thornton. Big Mama was from Montgomery, Alabama but had been based in Houston for several years when she joined the local Peacock label in 1951.
In the late summer of 1952 she was on tour on the West Coast with the Johnny Otis band when Otis arranged to record her along
with several other singers and ship the masters back to Peacock. The session featured songs by a new, young songwriting team, Jerry Leiber and Mike
Stoller who had been asked to write something for the fearsomely built Big Mama, whom Leiber later told.
Rolling Stone' looked like the biggest, baddest, saltyist
chick you would ever see. The writers came up with the classic line, "You ain't nothing but a hound dog'', for Thornton to snarl out as
an admonishment to those would-be suitors who were more interested in home comforts than in her. She knows, ''you ain't no real cool cat''. With its loping rhythm, cutting blues guitar solos, unusual story line and occasional yelps and howls, ''Hound Dog'' soon registered as a juke box favourite when it was issued in early March 1953. By the end of
the month, it was on the Rhythm And Blues Charts and it stayed at number one for seven weeks that spring.
would have been in character for Rufus to have the idea parody the lyric on his radio show and to invent his own fearsome big cat to rival Big Mama's dog, and indeed people have spoken about hearing him do that on the radio. But in fact it was someone else who had the idea and who wrote the song. Rufus just told: ''No, I didn't write that song. Someone
else wrote that''. He wouldn't say who it was but the discussion was in the context of his relationship with Phillips. The composition
was registered under Sam Phillips' name and Sam did talk in years about working up songs with Rufus, though he never made much claim to have
written ''Bear Cat'' outright. Maybe he did, or his wife Becky who helped him with songs in the 1950s did, or perhaps they took the idea from someone else? Either way, Sam was keen that Sun should record the song immediately, and that to increase the fun it would be made clear on the record label that this was the 'answer to ''Hound Dog'' and that
the singer going head to head with the Big Mama was Rufus 'Hound Dog' Thomas Jnr.