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- Santo Records -

SANTO RECORDS - was a record label based in Memphis, Tennessee. It was one of these small companies that popped up after Sun hit with Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and other rockabilly singers. It was started in the early 1960s by singer Wayne McGinnis, and that Santo Records was a subsidiary of Fernwood.

McGinnis was originally from Mississippi County, Arkansas, and moved to Memphis around 1953. There he performed in a band with guitarist Billy Joe Miller, playing a mixture between jazz and country. He later joined Slim Wallace's Dixie Ramblers along with Billy Lee Riley, Jack Clement, Bob Deckelman, and Ramon Maupin.

When Ronald ''Slim'' Wallace set up his label Fernwood Records in 1956, McGinnis was amongst those who recorded a couple of songs in Wallace's garage studio, which remained unissued. He then unsuccessfully auditioned at Sun Records before finally signing with Lester Bihari's Meteor record label, also based in Memphis. There he formed the Swing Teens with Billy Joe Miller on lead guitar and Curley Wilson on bass, recording "Rock, Roll And Rhythm" b/w "Lonesome Rhythm Blues''.

He continued to play with the Swing Teens for a while, before he moved into record production and promotion. The first record on his Santo Records label came out in the summer of 1961 by the Holidays with Darrell Tatum on guitar, who also recorded solo for Santo as well as for Fernwood Records later on. From the many recordings done for Santo, there were remarkable many artists of note. Anita Wood, who was at some point Elvis Presley's girl friend, recorded at least two records for Santo. Harold Dorman, who had a hit with "Mountain Of Love" on Billy Lee Riley's Rita Records, also recorded for the label as well as Thomas Wayne, who charted with "Tragedy" in the 1950s on Fernwood. Bobby Lee Trammell, famous for his wild stage appearances and songs like "Shirley Lee'', "You Mostest Girl" or "Arkansas Twist'', had one release on the label. Sylvia Mobley, a country singer, had also several records on small Memphis and Arkansas based labels in the 1960s and 1970s. Santo had also a sublabel called San Wayne Records.

Wayne McGinnis also had other business interests and eventually concentrated on his work as a business man, retiring from performing. What has happened to Santo and McGinnis? Well, one of those many questions in rockabilly history. The last known release on Santo Records was by David Wilson in 1964 or 1965. Discographical info came mostly from here. In fact, McGinnis bought Fernwood Records after the label's home on North Main Street was destroyed in 1968. Eventually, he sold the Fernwood and Santo master tapes to Dave Travis, owner of the reissue label Stomper Time Records. Concerning Santo recording artist Darrell Tatum and the label itself, Larry Manuel said: I've checked all my sources here in Memphis and have come up with almost nothing. Stan Kessler remembers a Santo label but never heard of Darrell Tatum.

 

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