CONTAINS
For audio recordings click on the available > buttons <
> Back 1954 Sun Schedule <

1954 SESSIONS (10)
October 1, 1954 to October 31, 1954

Studio Session for Hayden Thompson, October 1954 / VON Records
Studio Session for Malcolm Yelvington, October 10, 1954 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Maggie Sue Wimberly, October 25, 1954 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Billy Emerson, October 27, 1954 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Carl Perkins, October 1954 (1) / Sun Records
Studio Session for Carl Perkins, 1954 (2) / Sun Records
Studio Session for Onie Wheeler, October 28, 1954 / Columbia Records

For Biographies of Artists see: > The Sun Biographies <
Playlists of the Artists can be found on 706 Union Avenue Sessions of > YouTube <
  

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

OCTOBER 1954

The Southern Melody Boys featured with Hayden Thompson, were managed by a local promoter and disc jockey, Charles Boltop, who put on stage shows and radio shows in and around Booneville, and who offered the band a step up from the schools, churches, and low scale gigs they could find for themselves.

Hayden looks back on those days fondly: "One of the little theaters we played in Booneville was the Von Theater, and on Saturdays that was the venue for the 'Dixieland Jamboree' stage show that also went out over radio WBIP. It was organised by Charles Bolton as a very miniature version of the Opry format. I led the stage band there, and we'd have other local artists, and then there'd be a headliner from Memphis or somewhere, like Johnny and Dorsey Burnette or Eddie Bond.

They would drive about 125 miles and barely make gas money. I recall clearly the first time Eddie Bond came to town, he had a 1955 Pontiac, and to see someone come out of Memphis like that was really something. I was totally impressed. Elvis Presley played the Von once, in a show with Johnny Cash, who actually took the applause because people weren't always sure what to make of Elvis''.

Charles Bolton once confirmed that in the main people wanted to see country shows. ''Hayden Thompson was doing country music - he sang the Elvis songs, but with a country band. Johnny Burnette was doing country because his brother Dorsey was playing steel guitar and they had a fiddle player and a bass. You have to keep in mind that Presley and Cash were country artists; all they had was electric guitar and bass. They didn't have loud drums and all that back then''.

Bolton ran a company called 'Dixie Talent and he remembered that he had to pay a 'pretty steep' cost of $350 to hire talent such as Elvis Presley. Johnny Cash, and David Houston who came as a package one day in January 1956. He also told researcher Jim Cole that, ''one week each month, we would do a special weeknight show and bring in some of the Grand Ole Opry stars like Grandpa Jones or Flatt & Scruggs''. Bolton recalled that on special holidays he would hire local singers like Hayden Thompson or Lloyd McCullough to play a show in-between screenings of musical movies, a format Hayden would follow again.

Although he had the germ of a career going and was enamoured of Presley's new rocking music, Hayden was well aware of his place in the pecking order in those days. He told Ken Burke, "I met Presley several times in those days, and we talked, but he was three years older than me. Every single day there was something in the paper about what he was doing and how his shows were going, so be just became family to everybody because we all watched his career develop. We watched it happen and we all felt like we knew him''.

Hayden's own first recordings came about through the fledgling local company, Von Records, that had grown out of the musical promotions at the Von Theater, Charles Bolton explained. "The label was owned by Sam Thomas who performed as part of a blackfaco comedian team called 'Rastus and Hastus'. He named the record label Von because of our shows there and he recorded the people we were promoting: Johnny Burnette, Lloyd McCullough, Hayden Thompson, Shorty Sullivan and so on''.

Hayden's recording session was held not in Booneville but at the radio studio of WERH in Hamilton Alabama. ''We played a country show over there regularly'', said Hayden. "It was a live radio broadcast every Saturday afternoon at the skating rink there''.

The recording engineer at the station was local disc jockey, recording artist and songwriter, Edgar Clayton, a long-time mainstay of the Alabama music business.

The Von recordings had limited distribution but to Hayden, at the time, ''I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. People in Booneville played it all the time and I became a little local star for a while there''.

The recordings were ''Act Like You Love Me'' and ''I Feel The Blues Coming On'', both in the typical hillbilly style that predominated in the years during and just after the heyday of Hank Williams. They feature steel guitar and fiddle solos and are underpinned by a muted walking guitar pattern on the bass strings similar to that played by Quinton Claunch on contemporary country recordings by other mid-South performers such as Bud Duckelman on Meteor and Carl Perkins on Sun. Claunch was, like radio jockey and recording engineer. Edgar Clayton, a former member of the Blue Seal Pals who performed in a similar style on Mississippi radio and then on WSM in Nashville a few years before.

The Von recording session was held at a time when Hayden was "throwing in" his little bit of Presley's songs to the 'Southern Melody Boys' shows at little schoolhouses and dance venues in Tupelo, Corinth and that area of northern Mississippi. He recently told Ken Burke, "Once Elvis came along, we all started singing what he was, and we could all sing it just a little bit, not as good as he could, but everybody jumped on that bandwagon. The guys in my band were just quivering when I started to do that stuff''. Charles Bolton remembered, "Hayden's voice resembled Elvis so much that people thought he was mocking him, but he wasn't. That was just his natural voice''. But actually, that was incorrect, to judge from the voice we hear at Hayden's first decade of recording sessions. His voice was very much his own; just the occasional mannered hiccups hinted at his Presley imitation, which must have been more visual than aural.

Anyway, Charles Bolton continued to book the 'Southern Melody Boys' in the local area throughout 1955, and Hayden continued to build up the rocking element in their performances, adding the music of Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, and Bill Haley to the band's stone country repertoire. They continued to hold down their regular spots in their hometown. "On Saturdays". Hayden said, ''we'd be on the radio. There would be several local bands coming on one after another in thirty-minute slots, filling up the local radio time all day. We were sponsored by auto dealers. restaurants, and especially flour companies, Sunshine Mills, and the like''.

Both Bolton and the band were not without wider ambition though, especially the band's youngest member: "We went to Nashville sometime early on in 1955. We went around all the music places to see what we could get. We couldn't get onto the Grand Ole Opry, but we managed to find a slot on the Saturday morning Opry radio show on WSM. Then we were on Ernest Tubb's 'Midnite Jamboree' radio show that was broadcast late Saturday nights on WSM after the Grand Ole Opry was over. It was made right there in Tubb's store on Broadway in Nashville''. Hayden told George Hansen of 'Screamin' magazine that the band also passed an audition to be on the 'Louisiana Hayride' stage and radio show in Shreveport, Louisiana. Unfortunately, it seems that the aims and ambitions of all the band members were not the same, and instead Thompson split from the 'Southern Melody Boys. '' 'I'd already made up my mind by that time that I wanted to make my living in the music business. I didn't want to go to college at that time. I just didn't want to'', he told Ken Burke.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR HAYDEN THOMPSON
FOR VON RECORDS

RADIO STUDIO WERH, HAMILTON, ALABAMA 1954
VON SESSION: OCTOBER 1954
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

Fresh from his life-changing wallflower experience in the twenty by twenty radio studio, Hayden Thompson's twist on the 'Southern Melody Boys' basic style was, as he says. ''You'll hear where I was throwing a little rock n' roll in there." He also says, It liked to drive the hand crazy''.

Although the overall sound of ''Act Like You Love Me'' remains country, its provenance was a little more complicated than just throwing some Presley into a hillbilly tune. In fact, it wasn't a hillbilly tune at all, although the composer credit on the Von 78 was interestingly blank, the song was written by James A. Lane, also known as blues singer Jimmy Rogers, who recorded it and released it on Chess in 1953.

Of course, blues lyrics tended to go round and round and the opening lines of "Baby, that's all right, that's all right with yell: baby that's all right, that's all right with you, you treat me mean, that's the way you do" were just the words Hayden would also have heard on Presley's first Sun discs and his early live performances.

ACT LIKE YOU LOVE ME
Composer: - James A. Lane
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Lyn Music
Matrix number: - B 7555 - Master (2:32)
Released: - 1954
First appearance: - Von Records (S) 78rpm Von 1001-B mono
ACT LIKE YOU LOVE ME / I FEEL THE BLUES COMING ON
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16131-24 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON – THE SUN YEARS PLUS

''I Feel The Blues Coming On'' is the pick of the two Von sides, the playing being better balanced and Hayden's vocal more assured, with the twin speed effect working to good effect. "It was typical of the music we were playing in those days'',Hayden remembered.

"The rest of the band was much older than I was and they were all brought up as country musicians. Everybody was thinking country until Elvis came along. Country was the thing. They didn't care for the Presley records at all. They'd say, 'Aw, he won't last', but recognised straight away that this was something new and different, and was music I wanted to play''.

I FEEL THE BLUES COMING ON
Composer: - Hayden Thompson-Charles Bolton
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Lyn Music
Matrix number: - A 7355 - Master (2:33)
Released: - 1954
First appearance: - Von Records (S) 78rpm Von 1001-A mono
I FEEL THE BLUES COMING ON / ACT LIKE YOU LOVE ME
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16131-25 mono
HAYDEN THOMPSON – THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No Of Instruments)
Hayden Thompson – Vocal & Acoustic Guitar
Junior Johnson – Fiddle
Perry King – Steel Guitar
Bill Hurt – Bass
Clyde Hill – Guitar
Martin Grissom – Bass

For Biography of Hayden Thompson see: > The Sun Biographies <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

OCTOBER 1954

Malcolm Yelvington came from country music, or more precisely western swing. He saw what was selling and tried his damndest to get hip on his second and last Sun single, ''It's Me Baby''/''Rockin' With My Baby'' (Sun 246). Returning to Sun in 1957, he recorded ''Trumpet'', and it's still a mystery why it was left in the can. Timing out at 1 minute, 22 seconds, it was a little short, but another solo would have taken care of that.

LaVern Baker records her first hit ''Tweedle Dee'', in the office of Atlantic Records.

OCTOBER 2, 1954 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley makes his only appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, singing ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' at Nashville's Rayman Auditorium. Opry manager Jim Denny allegedly tells him not to give up his day job. (See: Elvis Sun Sessions / Elvis 1954).

Guitarist Greg Jennings is born in Nicoma Park, Oklahoma. He joins Restless Heart, playing on such smooth hits as ''Why Does It Have To Be (Wrong Or Right)'', ''I'll Still Be Loving You'' and ''Bluest Eyes In Texas''. He also plays on hits by Dan Seals, Rob Crosby and BlackHawk.

''The George Gobel Show'' debuts on NBC-TV, a pivotal moment for the show's star, who first gained acclaim as a comedian on WLS Radio's National Barn Dance.

OCTOBER 3, 1954 SUNDAY

Hank Snow recorded ''Let Me Go, Lover!'', and he recorded with Chet Atkins the instrumental ''Silver Bell'' at Thomas Productions in Nashville.

OCTOBER 4, 1954 MONDAY

Decca released Bill Monroe's hyper-charged remake of his own bluegrass classic ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''.

OCTOBER 5, 1954 TUESDAY

Lefty Frizzell recorded ''I Love You Mostly''.

OCTOBER 6, 1954 WEDNESDAY

Guitarist David Hidalgo is born in Los Angeles. As a founding member of Los Lobos, he will co-write ''Will The Wolf Survive'', a country hit for Waylon Jennings.

OCTOBER 9, 1954 SATURDAY

Jo Walker-Meador, future executive director of the Country Music Association, marries Charlie F. Walker

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

During the 1950s, there were two other rockabilly singers in and around Memphis; those who copied Elvis Presley, often providing nothing in the way of originality, and those who pre-dated Presley with a style of their own that somehow became swept up into the rocking amalgam.

Malcolm Yelvington was one of those who had something original to bring to the mix. His music had style, as well as a compelling energy, a real sense of swing. When put together with that unmistakeable Sun Records sound, his music exemplified all the best things that could happen to country music as a response to the oncoming rush of rock and roll.

STUDIO SESSION FOR MALCOLM YELVINGTON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1954

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY OCTOBER 10, 1954
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Malcolm Yelvinton's music exemplifies all the best things that could happen to country music as a response to the oncoming rush of rock and roll. Malcolm was never a great vocalist but he had an aptitude for what Sam Phillips wanted, country music with a rhythm and blues feel.

Proving its worth in the white market, Sticks McGhee's rhythm and blues chesnut from the forties came up for air several times during the rockabilly groundwell. Sid King and The Five Strings latched on in Texas and The Rock And Roll Trio did the same in Nashville, but Malcolm Yelvington was the first off the mark in Memphis when the song made the topside of his debut Sun single this year. As a newly-signed artist, he had to know to the recently-launched Elvis Presley when it came to the promotional spend.

> DRINKIN' WINE SPO-DEE-O-DEE <
Composer: - Stick McGhee-J. Mayo Williams
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Leeds Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 134 - Master (2:47)
Recorded: - October 10, 1954
Released: - November 10, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 211-A mono
DRINKIN' WINE SPO-DEE-O-DEE / JUST ROLLING ALONG
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3/15 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Malcolm Yelvington's first Sun record revealed that even after he had discovered Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips was still continuing to look for that elusive hybrid sound. Even middle aged country singers like Yelvington, with a flair for western swing, were given a shot. "Drinkin' Wine Spodee-0-Dee" is a revival of Stick McGhee's massive rhythm and blues hit from 1949, one of the first hits on the Atlantic label. For a moment there, during the first two bars of Yelvinton's record you might think you were at a rockabilly session. It happens again at the start of the guitar solo. There is also a slap bass buried somewhere in mix to keep the illusion going, but by then Red Winn's steel guitar intrudes to let you know this is still 1954 and these are the Star Rhythm Boys.

Recording first for Sun in the immediate wake of Elvis Presley's "That's All Right", Yelvinton and his Star Rhythm Boys came up with Sun 211, "Drinkin' Wine Spodee-O-Dee", a blues song that was to become a favourite with rockabilly singers through the mid-1950s. The flipside said more about where the band was coming from - "Just Rolling Along" is a western-swing item that might easily have been recorded in prewar Texas. "The time we cut that first record", recalled Malcolm Yelvington, "we went in the middle of the week. He was getting quite a few artists coming in, and the way Sam ran his studio you went when he said to come.

That is if you were interested in getting a record out and doing anything in music. It just happened at this time that it was in the middle of the week, daytime, when all of us was supposed to be working. We all took off from our jobs and went. At that time I was not yet living here in Memphis and all the rest of the boys lived back in Covington, which is about forty miles to the north, where I was born and raised.

I moved to Memphis here just after the recording. I was here November 1954. We'd been playing music a long time by then. In fact I got started playing weekends with the boys back in Covington. We all lived there and came to Memphis just to record. By the time of the second record I had moved".

> JUST ROLLING ALONG** <
Composer: - Lavern Fleming
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Leeds Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 135 - Master (2:19)
Recorded: - October 10, 1954
Released: - November 10, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 211-B mono
JUST ROLLING ALONG / DRINKIN' WINE SPO-DEE-O-DEE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3/16 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

"Just Rolling Along" serves as an adequate flipside, unlikely to deflect any attention from "Wine". This is really country and western music, with a strong emphasis on the latter term. The spirit of the Sons of the Pioneers was looming large during this session. Reece Fleming seems to have made an easy transition to western-swing music which is reflected in Sun 211, but it seems that he was no longer with Yelvington by 1955 when the group was retitled "The Warmed Over 4".

There was little chance of ''Just Rolling Along'' becoming a hit, but ''Wine'' sold quite well and Yelvington was perhaps unlucky that Sam Phillips was able to compare his sales figures with those of Presley. It would be a year and a half before Sam found time to put another Yelvington disc.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Malcolm Yelvington - Vocal and Guitar
Gordon Mashburn - Guitar
Jake Ryles - Bass
Reece Fleming - Piano*
Miles "Bubba" Winn - Steel Guitar
Lavern Fleming – Piano**

For Biography of Malcolm Yelvington see: > The Sun Biographies <
Malcolm Yelvington's Sun recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Malcolm Yelvington came from the area of Covington, Tennessee, some forty miles north of Memphis, born on September 14, 1918 to Frank Yelvington and Sarah Edwards. Covington is a country area, as famous for its Tomato Festival as much as anything else, but back in the 1930s when Malcolm's musical interests were first formed, it was a very country area indeed. The big musical influences back then were the string bands of barn dance radio shows, the popular ballads of the day, Bob Wills' western swing music, and the emerging honky-tonk sounds of Al Dexter or Ernest Tubb. When asked in later years, Malcolm would normally list his musical interests as 1930s and 1940s popular swing and big bands and the country music of Bob Wills and Jimmie Rodgers. Nearer to home, the Swift Jewel Cowboys played jazzy western-swing on Memphis radio every week, while Reece Fleming and Respers Townsend were a famous local duo who recorded blues and ballads for Victor and Decca.

At some point, Malcolm decided that he would try his hand at performing in public. He usually described a show at the Gem Theater in Covington in 1943 as his first public appearance, singing and playing solo acoustic guitar. He had played for years at family events and suchlike, and had formed several alliances with other musicians. One of his neighbours, Charles Yoakum, recalled: "We were both from Tipton County and played music together. We shared a common love of music and Malcolm was the genuine article''. Around 1941, Malcolm met and married his wife, Lou Ella, who also encouraged him in his musical ambitions.

Soon after this, Yelvington got together with Reece Fleming, already a veteran recording artist, to put together a small band in Covington with steel guitarist Miles 'Red' Winn, called the Tennesseans. Fleming was the son of William Robert Fleming and Emma Raynor, the last of eight children. He and Respers Townsend had first recorded for Victor in Memphis in May 1930, and over an eight year period they went on to see releases on Bluebird, ARC, and Decca as well. Mostly they made vocal and yodelling duets with Fleming on guitar and Townsend on harmonica. Drawing on blues and hillbilly folk traditions, they sometimes took a salacious approach - ''I'll Tell You About Women'', ''Bad Reputations'', ''She's Just That Kind'', and so on - but mastered a full range of folk and popular songs.

Reece Fleming played both guitar and piano when the newly-formed Tennesseans played club dates on weekends and the occasional theatre or school house. Fleming was married to Lavern West, a good pianist, who often played with the band. One day in 1948 they cut some western-swing demos direct onto an old acetate recording machine owned by Fleming. Unfortunately these very first recordings by Malcolm Yelvington are now lost.

In 1952, the Tennesseans merged with another local band, the Star Rhythm Boys. Their guitarist and leader, Gordon Mashburn, and bass player Jake Ryles joined Yelvington, the Flemings, and Winn in the newly-named outfit, Malcolm Yelvington and the Star Rhythm Boys. The group played wherever they could locally, but now they started a three-year residency at the Clover Club. They also gained a half-hour slot on Covington radio station WKBH on Sunday afternoons, and in 1954 they added a daily show of fifteen minutes. This meant taping a weeks' worth of shows each weekend since most of the band members, apart from the older Flemings, moved to Memphis in the winter of 1954/55 to gain steadier day jobs in the city.

One day at the end of 1953 or early 1954, Gordon Mashburn learned from a friend in Ripley, Tennessee that the Sun recording company of Memphis had just issued its first country record, by a local band, the Ripley Cotton Choppers. (He probably didn't know that the Covington band of Red and Junior Hadley, who had the Saturday afternoon slot on WKBH, had also recorded there two years earlier, as those sides remained unissued at the time). Armed with this knowledge, Yelvington and Mashburn visited Sam Phillips at his Sun studio on Union Avenue in Memphis sometime in the cold winter of 1953/54. "We went down there and talked to Sam," Malcolm remembered, "and he asked us what we had. We said 'country'. He said he wasn't so interested in pure country music, so I asked, 'well, what do you want?' He said, 'I don't know yet but I'll know when I hear it.' Gordon told him, 'Mr. Phillips, then you'll have to listen to every single person who comes in off the street.' Sam said, 'I intend to."

Wielding a fine Martin acoustic guitar purchased a few years earlier from the Houck Pianos store on Union Avenue, Yelvington pestered Phillips again and again that winter until eventually a demo session was set up in the spring. Yelvington and the band taped several songs including ''Yakety Yak'', but those earliest Sun tapes have apparently not survived.

Then one day in the summer of 1954, the band was putting some western-swing titles on tape for Phillips when this happened: "Sam was getting quite a few artists coming in, and the way he ran his studio you went when he said to come, that's if you were interested in getting a record out and doing anything in music'', Yelvington remembered.

"It just happened that this time it was in the middle of the week, daytime, when all of us was supposed to be working. We all took off from our jobs and went. We were going through some material that we had, but we couldn't come up with anything that Sam wanted to record. I would have preferred something like Hank Williams or Moon Mullican, but Sam said 'No, that kind of music is already available'. He wanted rhythm and blues or something with a solid beat to it. So then I decided to try ''Drinkin' Wine Spodee-Odee'', because that was a song we had done for dances years before and I could sing it in my sleep. I said to the boys that we play it every week so we don't need to rehearse it. Gordon Mashburn took off on it, and soon Sam poked his head round the control room door and asked, 'Where'd you get that one?' I said, 'Man, we've been playing that every week for a long time. It's a blues record by a feller name of Stick McGhee'. Sam said, 'Let's cut that. That sounds good. So we cut it and it took about six or seven hours to get it like he wanted. He was most particular. He went out and got some boys to sing in the background, along with my friend Charles Yoakum from Covington. The group on the record was Reece Fleming, who played piano on it, Miles Winn played steel, Joke Ryles was on bass, Gordon Mashburn on lead, and me on rhythm. We didn't have drums on it. At that time I was not yet living here in Memphis and all the rest of the boys still lived back in Covington. I moved to Memphis just after the recording and I was here by November when the record came out''.

Almost immediately, Sam Phillips played our a similar scene with the young Elvis Presley who also transformed an older blues song into a new Sun record that summer. The release of ''Drinking Wine'' was delayed several months, but Yelvington was adamant: "Our 'Drinking Wine' was cut and ready to go by the time Elvis' first record was made''.

The Star Rhythm Boys eventually saw their disc issued on 10 November 1954. Drinking Wine sold to a local market and was not heavily promoted due to the efforts Phillips was putting behind Presley. The flipside of the disc was ''Just Rolling Along'', a song Reece Fleming had written years earlier and which the Tennesseans had used as a show opener and signature tune. It was closer to Yelvington's day-to-day style, and it sounds like the sort of thing recorded in pre-War Texas.

Up to this point, Fleming had been the Star Rhythm Boys' main songwriter and musical director, but he took less of a role in the band through 1955 and 1956 as the band gradually broke up. He did remain involved in recordings while the band, eager to record more of their large repertoire, pressed Sam Phillips for a second Sun release. Early in 1955 they cut master versions of ''Yakety Yak'', a band favourite written by Fleming and guitarist Mashburn, with a clever lyric, and the atmospheric ''Blues In The Bottom Of My Shoes'', which Fleming had adapted from one of his 1930s recordings. Sam Phillips remained preoccupied with Presley, though, and the second Star Rhythm Boys disc never materialised.

Eventually the waiting became too much and the enthusiastic band, now without steel player Miles Winn and known as the Warmed Over Four, engineered themselves an invitation to record ''Yakety Yak'' for a rival label. Meteor Records was owned by Lester Bihari and based on Chelsea Avenue in the black part of Memphis. The disc appeared in the summer of 1955 under the name Mac and Jake and the Esquire Trio, on one side, and Mac Sales and the trio on the other. Sales was Malcolm's middle name, and its connotations amused Bihari who decided to use it on the label to sidestep any argument Sam Phillips may have had about holding a contract on Yelvington. The Meteor disc sold steadily on a local basis but Meteor's distribution system was geared mainly to rhythm & blues. It was a really excellent honky-tonk country record, and deserved a for better fate.

Early in 1956, with Presley making a big splash on RCA and with Sun and Carl Perkins breaking through in a big way with sales of ''Blue Suede Shoes'', the Yelvington band decided to take a more focused tilt at the emerging rock and roll market. They got together in a house in Ripley owned by the mother of their friend, Russell Crawford, and gathered round Russell's tape recorder and one microphone. They demoed ''Rockin' With My Baby'' and ''It's Me Baby'' to take down to Sam Phillips to try out one more time for that elusive second Sun release. Phillips was impressed with Yelvington's song Rockin', with its references to popular song titles, and with the bluesy feeling of Fleming's ''It's Me Baby'', and that spring Phillips recut the songs as Sun 246 along with ''Gonna Have Myself A Ball'', a song that used the catchphrases of several local disc jockeys.

Up to now, Malcolm Yelvington had been in the habit of placing paper between his guitar strings to deaden the sound and produce a drum effect. The Sun 246 session was the first time that the band used a drummer, but Yelvington did not remember who he was. Evidence from Sun's files indicates that it was Billy Weir. Certainly the drums underlined the shift in thinking towards the new rocking music. So did the change in Gordon Mashburn's lead guitar style. Mashburn had been a classy and hot guitarist all along, but now he was clearly trying to take on board the style of another Tipton County neighbour, Carl Perkins. Yelvington told me: "My boys had sat in with his band some nights and Carl was very unusual with a style all his own. He picked guitar very clean, one note at a time, no chords, like a blues guitarist''. The trade paper, 'Billboard,' described Yelvington as a talented rockabilly and his song as a 'jumper' while it found the swinging, bluesy flipside "a good enough warble." The disc made healthy local sales but it was not the big hit Yelvington longed for.

Gradually, the original band was breaking up as its members found other pressures more important than pursuing the recording dream. Frank Tolley replaced the Flemings on piano, and Reece Fleming dropped out of the band completely. He died during the 1960s. However, in 1957, Malcolm Yelvington was back at Sun hustling for another release. He made at least two sessions that year, now working not with Sam Phillips but with Bill Justis, a new producer Phillips had taken on. Justis was a trained musician who saw the future for a smoother kind or rock and roll than Phillips had. He encouraged Malcolm to use a different band and a different musical formula.

For a session in July 1957, which produced three songs, Yelvington brought in Frank Tolley on piano and Bubba Winn on guitar, brother of the departed steel player, Miles. Justis augmented this group with members of Phillips' studio bands. For a second session in October that year, which produced two more songs, the hesitant Bubba Winn was apparently replaced by Sun's star session guitarist, Roland Janes, and the guitarist's spacey, ringing sound comes to the fore. It is just possible that Gordon Mashburn was back on this session, but the union payments went to Janes.

The songs Yelvington cut in 1957 were mostly upbeat ballads written by Louie Moore, a young man from Alabama, who turned up at the Sun studio with a file full of good unpublished songs. The first session worked up three rockaballads, ''Mr. Blues'', ''Did I Ask You To Stay'', and ''First And Last Love''. A brooding, reflective mood was created on this session but none of the songs was quite developed to final release standard. Yelvington became particularly enthusiastic about ''Mr. Blues'', but its progress was blocked by Bill Justis, who persuaded Phillips that this was not the song to go with. Maybe Justis preferred songs he had some commercial interest in, or maybe it was the lack of an authoritative guitar solo that made the difference. In any case, Yelvington's contract expired before the matter could be resolved and Phillips decided to drop Malcolm in favour of his younger artists. This was despite the July session producing wonderful takes of two memorable Louie Moore songs, the clever ''It's My Trumpet (I'm Going To Blow It)'', and ''Goodbye Marie'', where Yelvington really sings his heart out.

"I didn't try to imitate Elvis," Yelvington declared defiantly. "That's the one thing I didn't do that all the younger guys came in and did. I had been playing music my way for years. I couldn't have done it if I'd wanted to. I wanted to be on Sun Records. I was trying to do something upbeat that would be new to Sam Phillips. I called it boogie-woogie. Later, they called it rockabilly."

Reluctantly, Yelvington started to accept that he wasn't going to be a recording star: "Carl Perkins was the big artist at Sun in 1956. That style was very successful for him. Then in 1957, the big artist at Sun was Jerry Lee Lewis. First time I saw him, I was down at the studio one day and Sam wasn't cutting anything, he was just listening to Lewis. As soon as I saw Lewis singing and playing piano the way he was and carrying on and going up and down the keyboard, right then I knew my days as a recording artist were numbered."

Malcolm Yelvington continued to play his music through the later 1950s at Memphis area clubs like the Wayside Inn, the Wagon Wheel, and the Gay Duck. As he moved into the 1960s, the opportunities started to dry up for his band and he eventually quit in 1961 to concentrate on his regular job as a welder, on his developing passion for ten-pin bowling, and on his family of five. Just before he gave up, he had been working on a song called ''Disappointed'' - written years before by Reece Fleming - that was recorded in a local studio but not released. When first met him, he joked that the title summed up his career
in records.

It was in the frying heat of the west Tennessee August of 1971 that Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins went to Malcolm Yelvington's house on Creston in Memphis. When we'd finished talking about his career in music he got out his 1948 Martin acoustic, sat on his sofa, and played all his songs. It was wonderful. ''Drinkin' Wine'', ''Rockin' With My Baby'', ''It's Me Baby'', and the rest. We were straight out of University, writing our first book, and here was a genuine legend of Sun Records playing a concert directly for us. He sounded the some as on his records, and as he wormed up his voice became stronger and more fervent. He kept the rhythm strongly, like a one-man western-swing band. He played ''Yakety Yak'', ''A Gal Named Jo'', and then he went into unknown territory - ''Blues In The Bottom Of My Shoes'', ''It's My Trumpet (I'm Going To Blow It)'', songs we'd never heard. They could have been hits, he explained, if events had turned out differently. If Sam Phillips hadn't dropped him in favour of promoting the music of younger men, and if his great cut on ''Trumpet'' had actually been issued.

Then he changed the subject. He hadn't played his music for almost a decade, he said, but he was ready to make a come-back. He'd get a stage suit and a hat or a wig and he'd be there, if any promoter wanted to employ him. We smiled, reassuringly, nervously. Weren't quite sure what to say to this living legend, this obviously deluded old guy (he was only 53 but we were 21) sitting there sweating and smoking and playing guitar in his old white tee shirt, with his thinning hair and lined face. We knew he was great. We'd just heard it. But we knew that the music we liked was very far off the mainstream. We didn't know any promoters, and we didn't think there was much call in the pop music world of 1971 for the likes of Malcolm Yelvington. That moment has often haunted me. I really wish we had known how to do something for him, but we didn't.

There is a happy post script to the Yelvington story, though. While he was apparently out of music, in fact Malcolm kept his hand in all along, in gospel music. He joined a group called the Carpenter's Crew at his local church, and even made some cassettes of their performances in 1993. He was also in a gospel group called the Dempsey's with Jimmy Van Eaton and Mark Bell.

Then, in 1988, six months before his seventieth birthday, on the back of a decade of Sun reissues, he was invited to play some rockabilly revival shows in England and Holland. These were performed with Dave Travis's fine band to great acclaim from European fans of the Sun sound, most of whom were young enough to be Malcolm's grandchildren. The music was captured by Collector Records in Holland and issued three years later on the CD, ''A Tennessee Saturday Night''. The disc enabled Malcolm to record Disappointed, at last.

This kick-started something of a Yelvington revival, and when the old Sun Records studio was revamped and opened to tourists, Malcolm took his turn with others at showing people round, hanging out, and generally being revered. He continued to play special revival shows and local events. For instance, in July 1998, when he appeared at the Lauderdale County Tomato Festival, headlining with blues singer Little Milton, another veteran of Sun and Meteor Records.

That year saw a Malcolm Yelvington CD album, '''There's A Little Life Left In This Old Boy Yet'', appear on Freedonia Records. It was recorded in the old Sun studio and included a country song, ''One Rose'', that Yelvington had been performing since his days at the Gem Theater in 1943, a proper studio performance of ''Disappointed'', a number of Yelvington's own songs and favourites, and some new songs written especially by Billy Swan and Billy Lee Riley.

Singer Billy Swan, of ''I Can Help'' fame, said: "Malcolm Yelvington was one of the sweetest, kindest men I knew. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. He loved singing and performing, and he talked a lot about the old days and about his church."

Malcolm Yelvington died at Memphis Baptist Hospital on February 21, 2001, press reports variously blaming cancer, heart failure, or pneumonia but in truth it was all three. His funeral service in Bartlett, Tennessee, included recordings of Malcolm's Christian songs, and was attended by his five children, eleven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren as well as friends and fellow musicians.

Remarkably, and pleasingly, there is still an audience out there for Malcolm's music, rooted in Southern country styles and recorded over half a century ago by a local band trying to tailor their style to the popular demands of the moment. Malcolm Yelvington and the Star Rhythm Boys created an effortless blend of western-swing and country blues that was badged under rock and roll at the time, and is still well worth reviving today.

OCTOBER 1954

Sam Phillips worked alone with his blues artists, believing that no one else could do as good a job rehearsing and recording them. But he had fewer reservations about entrusting some of his country music production to the team of Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch. ''They were old friends I had known for many years'', recalls. ''We all lived in the same part of Alabama when we starting out. I lived in Florence and they worked out of Muscle Shoals''.

Claunch and Cantrell had formed a hillbilly band, the Blue Seal Pals, in the mid-1940s and had played for a spell on WSM, the home of the Grand Ole Opry. By 1948 the group had disbanded, and both Claunch and Cantrell had moved to Memphis to take up full-time jobs outside music, retaining only a limited involvement.

In 1954 Claunch and Cantrell worked up a song called ''Daydreamin''', which they planned to record with a local singer, Bud Deckelman. After they had auditioned it for Phillips, who refused it, they went to see Phillips' local competitor, Meteor Records. With Meteor they were able to make a deal-as part of the arrangement, Cantrell and Deckelman, both engineers, agreed to fix Meteor's recording machine - and despite lukewarm reviews in the trade press ''Daydreamin''' became a strong-selling record. Jimmy Newman quickly covered the song and scored the hit, but Deckelman's version secured him an MGM contract.

Phillips realized his mistake, which must have been doubly galling given that he had mastered the Meteor disc. By that point Elvis Presley was selling well in the country market, and Phillips' thoughts turned quickly and seriously toward country music. He asked Claunch and Cantrell to work with him rehearsing new country acts, and asked for first refusal on their new material.

Claunch and Cantrell discovered some of the artists they worked with; Phillips found others. Cantrell's protege included Maggie Sue Kimberly, a four- teen-year-old gospel singer from Muscle Shoals, who sang a ''Daydreamin''' sequel called ''Daydreams Come True'' that betrayed her tender years. After a subsequent session for Sun in a rock and roll vein, Maggie Sue retired from secular music for a while, re-emerging as Sue Richards in the early 1970s. She scored a few minor hits under her own name and then joined up with Tammy Wynette's group.

THE STORY ABOUT THE TWO BLUE SEAL PALS - Bill Cantrell, described himself as a farm boy from Hackleburg, Alabama, population 300. Among those 300 at one tim3 were the Loden family, including future country star Sonny James. Cantrell first took up playing guitar and fiddle at square-dances back in the late 1930s, recalling such dances as the major source of entertainment out in the country where he lived.

His first professional music jobs were with radio stations in Birmingham, followed by a stint in the Army and then a move to Florence where he formed a country band. It was at this time, in 1942, that he first met Sam Phillips who was then working as an announcer at radio station WLAY in Muscle Shoals. Cantrell's band, the Dixie Pals, gained a sponsor in the Blue Seal Flour Co. of Columbia, Tennessee and Cantrell obtained a spot on the Florence radio station WJOI sometime after Sam Phillips moved to Decatur, Alabama in 1943 and from there on to WLAC in Nashville.

Sam Phillips was still in Nashville in the early part of 1945 when Cantrell renamed Blue Seal Pals gained a regular Saturday morning radio show on the rival Nashville station, WSM. Commuting to Nashville from Muscle Shoals, the band had by now been joined by Quinton Claunch. Originally from Tishomingo, Mississippi, Claunch had moved to Muscle Shoals in his teens and met Cantrell on a trip to Memphis.

Between 1946 and 1948 the Blue Seal Pals worked professionally in Nashville on WSM and as a backing group on tour with WSM Grand Ole Opry acts. Their jobs included acting as strait men for country comics Minnie Pearl and Rod Brasfield. Musically they were able to keep up with trends in country music on the emergent Nashville scene.

Bill Cantrell moved briefly to Chicago by 1948 he and Claunch get settled in Memphis. They both found Memphis a more convenient location for family reasons. They also quit full time work. Quinton Claunch obtained a job as a salesman for a steel products company which he retained for 43 years.

In Memphis, Quinton Claunch and Bill Cantrell continued to play country music intermittently through the early 1950s, mostly with singer Bud Deckelman and his brothers. This group would occasionally make live performances or appear on radio but their activities were fairly low key. The leading country bands in Memphis at the time were the Slim Rhodes Show, Buck Turner's Buckaroos, the Bob McKnight Band, the Garrett Snuff Variety Boys, and Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranch Boys. Sometime during the fall of 1951, a childhood friend of Quinton Claunch named Price Twitty came to Memphis to play a few country music gigs. (See The Sun Sessions: 1951 Sessions).

During the intercreding years, Claunch and Cantrell were writing songs with Bud Deckelman for use on their evening and weekend country gigs. One song in particular, ''Daydreamin''', gained a good audience reaction so in the summer or early fall of 1954 Claunch finally approached Sam Phillips with a view to recording the song. ''I don't recall exactly when this was'', Claunch mused, ''but it was just before Elvis Presley broke onto the market. Sam told us, 'I'm too busy with other things. That ''Daydreamin'''is a good song and I'd like to use it someday. I intend to record more of that kind of music but right now I can't do it''.

In another conversation with John Floyd, Quinton added, ''We took the demo to Sam. He said, 'Well, I like the concept but you need to do this and that'. I felt I knew as much about country music as he did''. And so Claunch and Cantrell went elsewhere. Claunch continues: ''It happened that there was another studio in town, Meteor Records, over on Chelsea Avenue, so we decided that we couldn't wait on Sam forever. We took the song over to Lester Bihari at Meteor. He too was mainly recording blues up to that point, but he took a chance with ''Daydreamin'' and it was a hit.

Bill Cantrell described the kind of chance taken by Lester Bihari, recalling that it was really a two-sided deal. ''Les had not issued a record in a little while because his recorder was bust. Bud Deckelman was a mechanic, and he had to patch up the old recorder machines that Les used before we could go in there and record''.

''Daydreamin'''was recorded in the latter part in 1954 by Deckelman with a band that included Bud's brother Dood and Quinton Claunch on guitars, Bill Cantrell on fiddle, Dan Chambers on bass and Eddie Emanus on steel guitar. The record was issued in January 1955 and charted locally before being covered by Jimmy Newman on Dot Records in Nashville. Newman's version entered the national country charts in April 1955. The song has since become a minor country standard. On the strength of the one record on Meteor, Bud Deckelman was signed by MGM Records as one of the many next Hank Williams and went on to make several good country discs.

Sam Phillips had been aware of the Deckelman saga, not least because he had mastered the Meteor disc on his own equipment at 706 Union. The success of ''Daydreamin''' must have galled Sam, but it also helped to convince him that his recently increased excursions into the hillbilly marketplace were justified. Before ''Daydreamin''' hit, Sam had started to use Claunch and Cantrell on his sessions, particularly with Carl Perkins. Now he called them and offered a more substantial deal. They would work either with his singers or find their own, writing and polishing the songs to be recorded and rehearsing bands up to session standard.

''We didn't have a contract'', Sam recalled, ''it was just a general understanding. They were trying to find an outlet for their services. Their main interest was in scouting talent and songwriting. Plus, they could work on a song as musicians which was very useful to me''. Claunch and Cantrell accepted this chance to make music and money, though they both recall that there was more of the former than the latter. ''After the hard work was done, mostly at night after we got off our regular jobs'', said Cantrell, ''and after the session itself, if Sam found anything on tape he could use, then we'd get paid''.

Sun's push toward the country market commenced in the fall of 1954. Sam concentrated on the promotion of Elvis Presley for most of the year and Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch concentrated on working with several artists including Carl Perkins, Charlie Feathers, and the Miller Sisters who would start off Sam's new Flip label at the turn of the year. Possible the first of Phillips' artists to work with Claunch and Cantrell was Charlie Feathers. He had apparently contacted Sam Phillips during 1953 if not earlier, but found that Sam was too involved with blues recordings to commit time to him. The first, unissued, session of Feathers was held in the fall of 1954 and apparently included ''Runnin' Around''. A Feathers song based on the Hank Williams formula, the Claunch and Cantrell song ''I've Been Deceived'' and several titles since lost. According to Claunch these included the rhythm and blues tune ''Corrine Corrina'' (since discovered and released on Zu-Zazz) and several Claunch and Cantrell originals. It was some time later, in February 1955, that Sam Phillips accepted cuts of ''I've Been Deceived'' and ''Peepin' Eyes'' for release on Flip 503 that April. By then the country production deal had also yielded ''Turn Around'' and ''Movie Magg'' (Flip 501) by Carl Perkins and ''Someday You Will Pay Someday'' (Flip 503) by the Miller Sisters. Claunch was enamored of Feathers' talent, but realised the problems: ''If that guy had had a little education and common sense'', he told John Floyd, ''he could have been where Carl Perkins had got, or a lot of those guys. He could feel a song, but man, putting up with him was something else''.

Carl Perkins, Charlie Feathers and the Miller Sisters had found Sam Phillips of their own accord, and in turn had been passed on to Bill and Quinton to rehearse. Maggie Sue Wimberly, in contrast, was also a Claunch and Cantrell protege (See Maggie Sue sessions). Through 1955, the Claunch and Cantrell productions prospered with Sun's growing involvement in country music. They consistently made classically fine hillbilly music. Their formula was a modified Hank Williams sound, and it was very effective. Quinton Claunch explained it this way to John Floyd: ''Bill and I were cutting pretty much straight country, but Memphis could never cut down-home redneck country. They didn't have the engineers who understood it, didn't have the musicians who could play it professional like the guys in Nashville. It was a lot more rough. I played that peck rhythm, a thump rhythm on guitar. Sam asked me to do it, and it went over real well''. It was taken to its logical conclusion when Luther Perkins recorded with Johnny Cash. No fiddle, no steel guitar, no electric guitar fills, just the peck rhythm.

Claunch and Cantrell liked full country productions. Around the simple bass and rhythm backdrop there was the interplay of steel guitar, fiddle, and plaintive, high-pitched hillbilly vocals. Cantrell provided the fiddle, but the key instrument was often the steel guitar. Usually, but not always, this was played by Stan Kesler whose timely and inspiring solos served to put the finishing touch onto many of the Claunch and Cantrell songs. Among the best of their music was ''Turn Around'' and ''Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing'' by Carl Perkins, ''Finders Keepers'' and ''You Can Tell Me'' by the Miller Sisters, and ''I've Been Deceived'' and ''Defrost Your Heart'' by Charlie Feathers.

The end of the road for this country music productions deal was signaled in December 1955 when the Claunch and Cantrell song ''Sure To Fall'' was scheduled to appear on Carl Perkins' next record, backing ''Honey Don't''. At the last moment, Sam and Carl decided to use a new rock and roll song Carl had come up with titled ''Blue Suede Shoes''. Bill reluctantly agreed to leave ''Sure To Fall'' off the record: ''That little mistake cost me about &140,000 in royalties. From that moment on Quinton and I decided we should put our songs on the back of every record we could. The only way to control this was to have our own record company. That was really the time when Hi Records was born, at least in our minds''.

''Sam wanted us to work with Barbara Pittman'', Claunch told Floyd. ''She couldn't sing. We worked with her night after night, months after month, but couldn't get nothin' going. No voice, no range, no feeling. So Bill and I left and went to work with another Memphis label, OJ. Then Bill and I and Ray Harris started Hi Records with (record store owner) Joe Cuoghi''. Claunch was forced out of Hi for peddling a Bill Black Combo sound alike to Chess, and he started Goldwax Records. Cantrell remained one of the Hi partners until the label was sold to Cream Records in 1977.

OCTOBER 12, 1954 TUESDAY

Tommy Collins recorded ''It Tickles''.

OCTOBER 14, 1954 THURSDAY

Three Hurricanes strike United States in one year including Hurricane Hazel one of the worst hurricanes of the 20th century U.S. Hurricane Carolstrikes New England killing 70 people.

OCTOBER 15, 1954 FRIDAY

Bill and Cliff Carlisle's father, Van Carlise, dies Bobby Lord signs a recording contract with Columbia. The association yields his first hit within two years.

''The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin'' make it's debuts, is an American children's television program. Beginning in October 15, 1954 until May 8, 1959, 166 episodes originally aired on ABC television network. It starred child actor Lee Aaker as Rusty, a boy orphaned in an Indian raid, who was being raised by the soldiers at a US Cavalry post known as Fort Apache. He and his German shepherd dog, Rin Tin Tin, helped the soldiers to establish order in the American West. Texas-born actor James E. Brown appeared as Lieutenant Ripley "Rip" Masters. Co-stars included veteran actor Joe Sawyer and actor Rand Brooks from ''Gone With The Wind'' fame.

OCTOBER 16, 1954 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley makes his first appearance on The Louisiana Hayride, singing ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' two times each. Drummer D.J. Fontana performs with Presley for the first time, though he's forced to play behind a curtain.

OCTOBER 18, 1954 MONDAY

Capitol released Faron Young's ''If You Ain't Lovin' (You Ain't Livin')''.

OCTOBER 24, 1954 SATURDAY

Carl Perkins signs a two-year recording contract with Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee.

OCTOBER 25, 1954 SUNDAY

Justin Tubb and Goldie Hill recorded ''Sure Fire Kisses''.

Columbia released Marty Robbins' ''Time Goes By''.

Decca released Kitty Wells ''Thou Shalt Not Steal''.

Capitol released Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West's ''Stratosphere Boogie''. The recording is ranked among country's 500 greatest singles in the Country Music Foundation's 2003 book ''Heartaches By The Number''.

(Above) Sun's country band in the studio, 1954, for a Maggie Sue Wimberly session. (From left, standing) Sam Phillips, Quinton Claunch, Dexter Johnson, unknown. (Kneeling and sitting) Stan Kesler, Bill Cantrell, and Kenny Lovelace.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Like Dolly Parton, country singer Maggie Sue began her professional career a bit younger than most. In Parton's case, she has spent most of her adult life trying to live down those horrid sides she left in Goldband's tape vaults. Maggie Sue had far less to be ashamed of. In truth, if you knew nothing about this record, you'd be unlikely to guess that the singer was barely a teenager when she recorded these sides.

Maggie Sue Wimberly, was a Quinton Claunch and Bill Cantrell protege. Like Bob Price, Maggie Sue was known by Quinton for her ability to sing around the house back in Muscle Shoals. At one time she lived within a few streets of both Bob Price and Quinton Claunch.

STUDIO SESSION FOR MAGGIE SUE WIMBERLY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1954

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY OCTOBER 25, 1954
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - BILL CANTRELL & QUINTON CLAUNCH

It was on one of their trips home that Claunch and Bill Cantrell decided to take Maggie Sue to Memphis to see Sam Phillips. Maggie Sue, born in Muscle Shoals in 1941, was very young, only 14, but possessed an acceptably adult voice and sufficient talent to persuade Sam Phillips to record her. "How Long" is perhaps the stronger of her two sides, although neither garnered much sales attention. Apart from the novelty of Maggie Sue's youth, or the marketing of an answer record, these sides provide a clear glimpse of the Memphis country sound circa 1954-1955. It is a magic moment in music history. The crystal clear hillbilly style heard here had all but vanished within the next year.

It is captured to perfection on this record: Bill Cantrell's sawing fiddle, Stan Kesler's melodic steel, and the muted walking guitar of Quinton Claunch. The song was plucked from obscurity by Rita Robbins who recorded a cover version in the early months of 1956.

> HOW LONG <
Composer: - Quinton Claunch-Bill Cantrell
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 166 - Master (2:47)
Recorded: - October 25, 1954
Released: - December 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 229-B mono
HOW LONG / DAYDREAM COME TRUE
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-1/2 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

''How Long'', recorded the previous year, is perhaps the stronger of the two released sides, although neither garnered much sales attention. Maggie Sue recalled her Sun sessions, saying "I had never given much thought to country music before I went to Sun to cut "How Long". I was singing in a gospel choir, the Harmonettes, when Quinton and Bill asked me to change to country music. I soon found that country was down to earth music. I felt comfortable singing it".

Apart from the novelty of Maggie Sue's youth, or the marketing of an 'answer record', these sides provide a clear glimpse of the Memphis country sound circa 1954-55. It is a magic moment in music history. The crystal clear hillbilly sound heard here had all but vanished within a year.

It is captured to perfection on this record: Bill Cantrell's sawing fiddle, Stanley Kesler's melodic steel, and the muted walking guitar of Quinton Claunch. Claunch's work would live on in Luther Perkins' minimalist picking on Johnny Cash records, but the rest of the Memphis country sound was soon to disappear into the ether. Maggie Sue didn't disappear with in, though. She reappeared as Sue Richards, scored a few country hits under her own name, including albums issued on Epic and Dot Records. She finally settled into a regular job in country music, singing years backup for Tammy Wynette.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Maggie Sue Wimberly - Vocal
Bill Cantrell - Fiddle
Stanley Kesler - Steel Guitar
Quinton Claunch - Guitar
Marcus Van Story - Bass

There is some uncertainty about the genesis of Sun 229 by Maggie Sue. The disc coupled two Claunch and Cantrell songs, How Long" and "Daydreams Come True" (recorded March 1955), and was evidently issued in December 1955 judging by the known release dates of other Sun singles. However, the filed session details give the recording date as March 18, 1955, some nine months before the release date.

It is possible that Sam Phillips was too busy with Elvis Presley and other artists to issue the record immediately it was ready. It is also possible that he only decided to put the record out at all when he learned that Les Bihari at Meteor had also recorded a version of "Daydreams Come True". The Bains' version came out on Meteor early in 1956.

Sam obviously would not have wanted to lose out on the sequel to "Daydreamin'" as he had on the original song. One other twist to the story is that demo tapes of Carl Perkins singing "Turn Around", dating from October 25, 1954, also contain two cuts of Maggie singing "How Long". It is not clear whether this was the true date of the Wimberly session or whether, tragically, some of the Perkins tape was re-used for Maggie's session in March 1955. In any event, the changing musical climate at the dawn of 1956 doomed "Daydreams Come True". It only sold a little over two thousand copies.

For Biography of Maggie Sue Wimberly see: > The Sun Biographies <
Meggie Sue Wimberly's Sun recordings can be heard on her playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR BILLY EMERSON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1954

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 27, 1954
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

By the time of Billy Emerson third session at Sun, on October 27, 1954, he was no longer a local musician. He told: "I was in Chicago when I cut ''When It Rains It Pours'' for Sun. I came back to Memphis to make the session on that''. ''We brought some fellas, some musicians, all the way down, car broke down, rain storm, it rained like water pouring out of a barrel, never seen it rain that hard... And you're talking about when it rains it pours, I sang that song from my heart that day''. Emerson went to describe how the car broke down and they stopped at a club they knew in Arkansas. They owner drove them to Memphis the next day to make the session.

Sure enough, the recording logs from Sun show that this time Ike Turner was not involved and that Emerson and drummer Prindell were augmented by the rhythm and horn players they had joined up with in Cairo some months earlier. The session had an accordingly different sound and, Billy said, ''it was the next two records that really were hits for me''. By it's, what he meant was not action on the national sales charts, but that his songs regularly became 'Pick Hits' when reviewed in the trade press and tipped for success in regional markets.

During the early 1950s in the world of rhythm and blues, if one performer annexed another's work it wasn't considered a cardinal sin. The odd lawsuit might result (as in the case of Rufus Thomas' "Bear Cat") but Jesse Stone who had authoured the famed "Shake Rattle And Roll", kept a low profile when Billy Emerson transformed his song into "Move, Baby Move". Following a shift to Chicago, "The Kid" (as he'd become known) then worked his way through most of that city's independents.

Look at it this way. Perhaps the only rip-off of Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle And Roll", better than this was Turner's own "Flip, Flop And Fly". Emerson and his tight little combo have crafted an infectious rolling groove on "Move Baby Move", as well as a clever new lyric.

Lines like "Stop that catting and gives this dos a break" are worth remembering. In case there was any doubt, Robert Prindell is a drummer who likes to have the last word. Upon release in January 1955, Billboard picked ''Move Baby Move'' over ''When It Rain It Pours'' saying, ''This hand-clapping, foot-stomping opus is tailore made for the current trend... solid, irresistible beat sell this side''.

> MOVE BABY MOVE <
Composer: - William R. Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 138 - Master (2:39)
Recorded: - October 27, 1954
Released: - January 8, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 214-A mono
MOVE BABY MOVE / WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3-21 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

The melody is a note-for-note reconstruction of Joe Turner's massive contemporaneous hit - although that song most certainly did not originate with Turner. However, "Move Baby" is a wonderful and driving performance, no the worse for its derivative origins. Once again Billy sets Bennie Moore up for a memorable sax solo - mind you, it's a good thing the rhythm was propped up by some percussive handclapping, as this track is not of Phillips' better efforts in the art of criply-recorded drums.

Drummer Robert Prindell certainly made a solid contribution to the disc, but so did guitarist Elven Parr and then there is the all too brief sax solo to admire. Despite his attempts at a rocking sound, it was the beautifully crafted stop-time blues on the flipside that became the real hit in several territories and went on to be what Emerson recalls as his best-selling record. ''When It Rains It Pours'' is a desolate song. strongly sung and with some marvellous jazz-based sax playing by Luther Taylor.

> WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS <
Composer: - William R. Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 139 - Master (3:05)
Recorded: - October 27, 1954 (Or September 18, 1954)
Released the same day as Elvis' third Sun single, "Milcow Blues Boogie", (and also a favourite of the Hillbilly Cat's) this captures the kind of foreboding bluesiness that was already beginning to disappear from the Sun gameplan.
Released: - January 8, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 214-B mono
WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS / MOVE BABY MOVE
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3/22 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Emerson's version stands up well. The riffing is fairly aggressive, whilst the instrumental break is simply one of those beautiful moments in Sun rhythm and blues folklore: Emerson's cry of "All right" sets up tenor saxman Bennie Moore's powerful solo, which begins with a tense, sustained note. Reportedly, Moore was angry with Phillips for having to do so many takes and his frustration was put to good use here. Elven Parr's guitar has a fine, dirty tone, and his incessant showcases Moore's impassioned honking.

Emerson includes a wonderful little slice of black patois in his lyric to "Rains". With the exception of Elvis Presley, who covered this song both on Sun Records and RCA Victor, it is unlikely you will ever hear a white man say "She really opened up my nose". The meaning is simply: I was on her case once I got her scent. One can only wonder if Sam Phillips had to ask Billy what it meant.

The hit that got away. Marion Keisker remembers that Elvis Presley continually coming into the Sun studio asking whether he could do cover versions of the current hits. Sam Phillips usually had two reasons for refusing - either he didn't own the publishing rights, or there were already enough versions on the market competing for airplay. This Phillips fed Presley Hi-Lo copyrights whenever possible, most notably Emerson's

"When It Rains", which Billy cut three months after Presley's first Sun session. Elvis Presley duly recorded the number for Sun Records, although it remained unreleased until its inclusion on an early 1980s Legendary Masters compilation. More surprisingly, perhaps, Elvis Presley re-cut the song for RCA Victor in 1957.

INTERVIEW BILLY EMERSON
Billy Emerson was hardly over-interviewed. (1:01)
His harrowing tale of how he journeyed to Memphis to cut the record,
stems from a chat we had during his maiden visit to the
United Kingdom at the beginning of the Eighties.
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Sanctuary Records (CD) 500/200rpm FBUBX002-8-12 mono
50 GOLDEN YEARS 1952 - 2002

The version "Shim Sham Shimmy" presented here is an alternate to that issued on the Sun Blues Sun Box 105. It remains a real mystery as to why this side was never released: it's among the most instantly catchy of Emerson's songs, made all the more memorable by the band chanting the refrain. Admittedly the pure blues content here is low, but this was a solid commercial effort - and was resurrected by Emerson as "Do The Chicken" some three years later at a Vee-Jay session. (The take used here is different to that used on the original Sun Box).

> SHIM SHAM SHIMMY <
Composer: - William R. Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (2:22)
Recorded: - October 27, 1954
Released: - 1978
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30148 mono
SUN SOUND SPECIAL - SHOOBIE OOBIE
Reissued: - 2009 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16937-9 mono
BILLY THE KID EMERSON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

No music stands still without atrophying and dying, and this bears evidence of the changes overtaking rhythm and blues. White kids were picking up on the music.. In fact, a few weeks after this session, one of them would walk into Phillips' studio. Rhythm and blues disc jockeys loved the commercially savvy music pouring forth from Atlantic Records in New York. As the gutbucket era receded into the past, Billy The Kid Emerson could and made it.

> SHIM SHAM SHIMMY <
Composer: - William R. Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:23)
Recorded: - October 27, 1954
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm SUN 36 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - 1992 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CD SUN 36-22 mono
THE SUN BLUES ARCHIVES - WAY AFTER MIDNIGHT - VOLUME 4

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
William Billy Emerson - Vocal and Piano
Bennie Moore - Tenor Saxophone
Luther Taylor - Alto Saxophone
Charles Smith - Trumpet
Elven Parr - Guitar
Robert Prindell - Drums

For Biography of Billy ''The Kid'' Emerson see: > The Sun Biographies <
Billy ''The Kid'' Emerson's Sun recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

''When It Rains It Pours'' and the story about Elvis - "That song'', Billy Emerson said of ''When It Rains It Pours'', "was nearly a monster seller. Sam Phillips loved it but he didn't concentrate on it, he didn't push for it. He wanted Elvis Presley to cut it as a single, and he later did record it for RCA''. In fact, Elvis Presley recorded the song for Sun sometime in 1955 and it lay in a tape box unissued until included in an RCA boxed set in 1983. Presley recorded the song again for RCA in 1957, though that version did not appear until 1965, when it brought Billy Emerson some deserved credit as a songwriter.

Although there was fairly limited connection between black musicians and white in the Sun studio. There is no doubt that the paths of Billy Emerson and Elvis Presley crossed on more than one occasion in 1954 and 1955. Certainly enough for Emerson to have some first-hand stories and some opinions. Billy told that he first met Elvis in the Sun studio during 1954, and it is the case that the recordings of a song called ''Shim Sham Shimmy'' that Emerson made at the same time as ''When It Rains It Pours'', in October 1954, were found on the same tape as a take of Elvis Presley's ''I Don 't Care If The Sun Don't Shine'', made just a month before. ''Shim Sham Shimmy'' was introduced by some churchy piano but soon developed into a fully-fledged rocker with growling guitar figures, riffing saxes, punctuating guitar and sax solos, handclapping and general enthusiasm all round.

Emerson has more than once recounted how "Sam would let Elvis go out with us, but there's not printed anywhere where Elvis Presley was associated with Phineas Newborn, Calvin Newborn, Kenneth Banks, and Billy Emerson. Pee Wee Crayton was playing at the Flamingo, upstairs there on Hernando, and he went with us down there to hear Crayton play. Ah man, he thought that was something, and it learned him about stage personality. He was just watching, learning how to do it. And so I understand, he went out to West Memphis with Phineas Newborn's band''.

The trip of Elvis to see Crayton was probably not in the fall of 1954 but may have been made around May 31, 1955 when Emerson returned to Memphis to make his fourth session for Sun, this time backed not by his own band, but by that of Phineas Newborn. He was paid 25 dollars for the session and Newborn 90, but it was at this low budget session that Billy made what turned out to be his most lasting contribution to rock and roll.

OCTOBER 1954

There is an enduring belief among Carl Perkins' diehard constituency that if fate had just taken a few different turns, if he had not suffered an automobile accident at a critical juncture in his career, if he had only had a manager as wily as Colonel Tom Parker, if Sun had not deserted him to concentrate on Jerry Lee Lewis, then Carl would have been as big as Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins leaped into the public consciousness at approximately the same time, each with a brand of music that broke down well-established barriers. Indeed, both were nourished by the same musical wellsprings; but the similarity ends there.

It's not that Perkins was an inferior musician to Presley, for in many ways he was superior; it's not even that Perkins' potential was sapped by his fifteen minutes of fame back in 1956.

Rather, the fact is that Presley had the personal and musical malleability to sustain a career in an orbit beyond the one that had spawned him. Carl Perkins did not. His music was born and bred in the barrooms of the mid-South. The rhythms that underpinned his music and the images in his songs were pure honky-tonk. He got lucky with one song near the dawn of his long career, and he certainly deserved that luck, but you could never take the country out of Carl Perkins.

OCTOBER 1954

The Perkins Brothers Band headed for Memphis. Marion Keisker apparently showed them away, but they met Sam Phillips outside on the street. Perkins was impressed by Sam Phillips' new car and his matching suit and shirt. For his part, Sam Phillips encountered someone whom he later decided as "one of the greatest plowhands in the world", adding, "There was no way Carl could hide that pure country in him - although pure country can mean an awful lot of soul". "Sam later said he felt sorry for me", recalls Perkins. "He said I looked like I would have died if he hadn't listened to me.

And I might have. He said he liked "Turn Around" although he later said that he wasn't knocked out by anything else I did". Sam Phillips remembers seeing more promise than fulfilment: "He was a tremendous honky-tonk picker.

He had this feel for pushing a song along that very few people had. I knew that Carl could rock and in fact he told me right from the start that he had been playing that music before Elvis came out on record. I was so impressed with the pain and feeling in his country singing, though, that I wanted to see whether this was someone who could revolutionize the country end of the business. That didn't mean we weren't going to rock with Carl. That was inevitable because he had such rhythm in his natural style".

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CARL PERKINS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE SUN RECORDS 1954

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE OCTOBER 1954
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - BILL CANTRELL & QUINTON CLAUNCH

Sun label boss, Sam Phillips, heard in Carl Perkins: "a voice that could have revolutionised the world of country music, if his guitar playing hadn't revolutionised rock and roll first". Sam knew that he had gained a unique acquisition. A young man who could sing either ballads or rockers while playing his own searing lead guitar licks. A man whose background in gospel, country and blues music up in Lake County, Tennessee was so uniquely moulded in his own style that an entirely new form of Southern music resulted. During his all too brief 3-year association with Sun, Carl Perkins cut some of the most commercial rockabilly discs ever, like "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Glad All Over", and some raw tunes like "Dixie Fried" that he could have hardly expected to sell across the state line. He also left behind some of the most heartrending hillbilly songs, some of which appear in previously unissued versions.

"My daddy", recalled Carl Perkins, "would say, don't play so fast, son, you'll never amount to nothing playing like that. But I said, daddy, that's the only way I like to play. That's the way I feel. Later on, Sam Phillips told me that was what was important, to play what you feel. And I believe it's true today".

Carl Perkins first recording session appeared at Sun came a bare three months after Elvis Presley in October 1954, and it yielded a fully-developed rockabilly sound, hillbilly songs with the Perkins rhythm. He recorded "Honky Tonk Gal" and "Movie Magg" with his trio before Sam Phillips placed him in the hands of Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch to work upon a hillbilly single with a fuller instrumentation.

> HONKY TONK BABE (GAL) <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (1:52)
Recorded: - October 1954
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-3-9 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311 FK-2/13 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

> HONKY TONK BABE (GAL) <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2- Not Originally Issued (2:16)
Recorded: - October 1954
Released: - April 27, 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-1/2 mono
CARL PERKINS – THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> HONKY TONK BABE (GAL) <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued (2:11)
Recorded: - October 1954
Released: - April 27, 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240 ER-1/3 mono
CARL PERKINS – THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> HONKY TONK BABE (GAL) <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 4- Not Originally Issued (2:22)
Recorded: - October 1954
Released: - April 27, 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240 ER-1/4 mono
CARL PERKINS – THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> HONKY TONK BABE (GAL) <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 5 - Not Originally Issued (1:57)
Recorded: - October 1954
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Phonogram Records (LP) 33rpm 6467 028 mono
SUN ROCKABILLYS - VOLUME 4 - PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311 FK-6/22 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

''HONKY TONK BABE / GAL''

In late October or early November 1954, the Perkins Brothers Band made its second trip to the Sun studio. The first trip had been to audition for Sam Phillips, this trip was for a recording session. The second song they recorded at this session was ''Honky Tonk Babe/Gal'' (the title is taken from the tag tag line but, like so many other lyrics in Carl's early performances, it didn't always come out the same). The band had been performing the song for a whale in the bars around Jackson, Tennessee.

At the session, they did the song five times but Sam, though he said he laked it, didn't think they'd got It perfect And so these recordings remained unheard for decades.

And what's wonderful about these takes is the enormous infectious energy that drives all of them from start to finish. The seeds of rockabilly were sown early. Listening to them more than half a century later, we can see that both of Sam's opinions were correct - they never nailed ''Honky Tonk Babe'' and this band was destined to make a lot of stunningly wonderful recorders.

Even though the Perkins band had been playing this song in the bars for years, we can hear the arrangement evolve over these five takes One notable change is that in the first of the five, Carl's vocal opens the song but he adds a guitar introduction In the following four. The one guitar solo in the first take proves to be his favorite after he tries a different approach in the second take. The later takes have two solos and eventually they're all alike - repeats of the one from the first take. That chosen solo has an exciting aggressive opening, similar in feel to what Scotty Moore plays on the second solo of Elvis's ''Baby Let's Play House''. Carl and Elvis were playing shows together and we shouldn be surprised that two first-class guitar pickers who were inventing a new style of music would draw inspiration from each other.

The song's structure seems to be made up on the spot. Sometimes there are two verses after a solo, sometimes three. The lyrics change as well. Of course, there's the shift from ''Honky Tonk Babe'' to ''Honky Tonk Gal''. Verses come and go. One notable verse in the first take (''they took the sand from the dance floor''), never reappears. But it raises a possibility that could resolve an old mystery: Is the ''sand from the dance floor'', the source of ''you got that sand all over your feet'' in ''Honey Don't''.

One constant in all the takes is the verse where Carl scat sings two lines, ending ''la dah dee doh'' (which rhymes with ''floor''). We guess he picked that idea up from Elvis' record of ''That All Right''. It works tine here too. What's remarkable about these five recordings ís the way they give hints of what was to come - the blended of country music with other forms of pop music. Surely, this is a country song. The theme of the lyric is a country staple - woman seduced by the bright lights and honky tonks ''downtown''. Carl's singing starts out very country - he cracks his voice in a near-yodel as was common for country singers of the day. But over the course of the five takes, the vocals become more energetic and more confident and tie cracked-voice trick disappears. Also, notice the tune. In the second line the melody is anchored on a ''bluesy'' note - the flatted third surrounded by a IV chord. In these ways, ''Honky Tonk Babe/Gal'' is not nearly so pure a country record as the other song they recorded that day, ''Movie Magg''.

'MOVIE MAGG''

Carl Perkins was a virtual unknown when all first record appeared in early 1955 and hiss name wasn't even on a sun label. In some way, neither side of Flip 501 pointed to what was to make Carl famous or endear him to generations of rockabilly fans. But in other ways this song gave us lots of clues about what made Carl so special.

According to Carl's bio ''Go Cat Go'', the earliest version ''Movie Magg'' was written when Carl was just 14. Although the lyrics were tweaked over the years, the song remained fundamentally unchanged until the day Carl recorded it in 1954. In ''Movie Magg'', Carl has presented us with what might be a movie script. The story couldn't be any more rural, and it takes us back to an earlier time. Here's a good old, hard-working form boy who ''slicks himself for a Saturday night'' and ''polished up his old horse Becky'' as takes his girl Maggie into town to see a ''western picture show''. Even in 1954, there were memories of an earlier, gentler America.

In this very early recording, we can hear fraces of Carl's underiably lyrical gift. The song title is a tellin play on words, although its not clear at this point who created it. By his own admission, Carl ''was not good with titles''. Perhaps it was Sam's shorthand way of referring to the song. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland s recalls, ''I don t think that song even had a title before we auditioned it and recorded it at Sun. It could very well have been Sam who names it''. In any case, back in the 1950s, movie magazines were all the rage. They were referred to as ''movie magg''. Here, Mag becomes Magg, short for Maggie. That alone was worth the price of admission. And the story line, including a reference to Maggie's suspicious father who waits behind the door with a shotgun, added humor and depth to the story line. The irony is that from where we sit, it's hard to imagine what Maggie's dad could object to about Carl (who inserts his own name into the lyric). Maybe he didn't like the fact that Carl didn't motor up to his gate in a 1952 Ford. He was making Maggle ''climb upon old Beckie's back'' in order to get into town. Maybe dad wanted more for his daughter, but at least he didn't have to worry about any backseat shenanigans with Carl at the reins. Beckie didn't have a backseat. For that matter, she didn't have a front seats either.

This early outtake, the only one that has survived, has a more country feel than the issued version. Carl shambles over some of the lyrics and phrases them a bit awkwardly. The take also includes some alternative lyrics that wisely never made it to release. (''Look out dad, just back up boy, cause you are in the way''). The last four bars of the guitar break strongly suggest the presence of Stan Kesler's steel guitar, an instrument that was unknown and uncredited on the issued version of the song. At the least, Kesler is playing a muted duet with Carl.

A small coda to the story: W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland observes today that its hard to imagine how a bunch of unknowns, including a boy who had never played the drums before, could walk into a recording studio with a song about a boy taking his girl to the movies on a mule, and walk out with a recording contract. Of course, barely a year later they were all making more money than they ever thought possible.

> MOVIE MAGG <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (2:03)
Recorded: - October 1954
Released: - March 1982
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sun Box 101 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494 EH-1/2 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

No, "Blue Suede Shoes" wasn't Carl Perkins' first record. It was preceded by two less revolutionary efforts. Flip 501 was the first of these and, while it might not have jolted folks to attention many miles from Memphis, it reveals Perkins to be a talented artist with unmistakable leanings towards 'hillbilly bop'.

The lyrics to "Movie Magg" are decidedly back country, although the title gives an early glimpse of Perkins' cleverness with language. Soda mountains in the early 1950s, even in Jackson, Tennessee, usually housed racks of 'movie mags' geared to star struck kids with a few cents in their pockets. Perkins has managed to name a song, even a woman, after the genre.

> MOVIE MAGG <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 18 Take 2 - Master (2:08)
Recorded: - October 1954
Released: - February 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single Flip 501-A mono
MOVIE MAGG / TURN AROUND
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4/21 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

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

Probably more than one session.

For Biography of Carl Perkins see: > The Sun Biographies <
Carl Perkins' Flip/Sun recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CARL PERKINS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE SUN RECORDS 1954

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE OCTOBER 1954
SESSION FILED AS SATURDAY JANUARY 22, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - BILL CANTRELL & QUINTON CLAUNCH

''TURN AROUND''

When Sam Phillips mixed ''Honky Tonk Babe/Gal'' for release, he told Carl that he wanted a good country ballad to go on the flip side of ''Movie Magg''. The result was ''Turn Around''. Sam gave it that title; Carl had been calling it ''I'll Be Following You''. Sam brought in Quentin Claunch (guitar), Bill Cantrell (fiddle) and Stan Kesler (steel) to join the Perkins band on the session. He wanted a real country record.

The song is absolutely gorgeous - simple, heartfelt, and honest with a sing-along melody. Jerry Lee Lewis noticed that and included the song on his 1957 Sun EPA 107. If it had been a bigger hit, it would have been a natural for Ray Charles to resurrect in the early 1960s when he was recording country songs like ''I Can't Stop Loving You'' with a full orchestra and chorus. And Carl wrote it because Sam asked for a good country ballad. Sam should have sent in a request every week.

On the one complete outtake, Carl's vocal is every bit as pure and earnest as it is on the released version. The instruments - mainly the fiddle - are not all tuned up together, providing some truly uncomfortable moments which we guess were recognizable only when the tape was played back. This one belonged in the outtake box.

There is also a few fragments and some studio chatter among musicians. At one point in the chatter there's a discussion of Elvis and someone, probably Cantrell, says he doesn't like that sort of music. The old guard passeth.

> TURN AROUND / DIALOGUE BILL CANTRELL & CARL PERKINS <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Fragment 1 - Not Originally Issued (2:31)
Recorded: - October 1954
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494 EH-1/6 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
Reissued: April 27, 2012 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240 ER-1/6 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> TURN AROUND <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 False Start - Not Originally Issued (3:17)
Recorded: - October 1954
Released: - March 1982
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sun Box 101 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494 EH-1/5 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

The coupling of "Turn Around" with "Movie Magg" was issued in February 1955 on Phillips new Flip subsidiary. The sincerity that Sam Phillips responded to was plainly on view in "Turn Around". It owed a measure of debt to Hank Williams in terms of both composition and execution but Phillips' hopes for Carl Perkins in the country market were not without foundation.

"Turn Around", is a solid country outing that Jerry Lee Lewis recorded four years later, and Carl himself continues to feature on his personal appearances some forty years later.

> TURN AROUND <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Fragment 2 (0:51)
Recorded: - October 1954
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240 ER-1/8 mono
CARL PERKINS – THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> TURN AROUND <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 19 Take 2 - Master (2:57)
Recorded: - October 1954
Released: - February 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single Flip 501-B mono
TURN AROUND / MOVIE MAGG
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4/21 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Carl Perkins - Vocal and Guitar
James Buck Perkins - Rhythm Guitar
Lloyd Clayton Perkins - Bass
W.S. "Fluke" Holland - Drums
Quinton Claunch - Electric Guitar
Stanley Kesler - Steel Guitar
William E. Cantrell - Fiddle

For Biography of Carl Perkins see: > The Sun Biographies <
Carl Perkins' Flip/Sun recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

CARL PERKINS – THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES - Carl Perkins had eight singles and one LP released on the original Sun label. The LP contained five previously unissued tracks so that's a total of 21 songs, his entire released Sun legacy. When Carl left the label in 1958 he left numerous additional titles, many of which would eventually find their way into commercial release as Sun archacologists dug more deeply into the tape archives. Not all of those original unissued titles were gems, but many were strong compositions and performances that had been worthy of release the first time around. Carl also left outtakes of most of his issued titles. They, too, deserved attention.

Here for the first time, almost all that previously unissued material in one place together with some never-issued home recordings from the era and release it about as systematically and complete as it is likely to appear. This project is a labor of love, and because it is far from a Greatest Hits compilation, its marked will be as small as it is dedicated. In any case, a collection of ''Hits'' was hardly viable. Carl Perkins did not have enough hits, Greatest, or otherwise, to sustain a project of this description. Once you get past ''Blue Suede Shoes'', the recognition factor declines pretty rapidly.

What doesn't decline is the quality of the music. Carl made a lot of good recordings. We were repeatedly remanded in compiling this boxed set of just a how fine a guitarist, singer and songwriter Perkins was. It is our hope that listening to these sides will remand you of the same. There is a prodigious amount of raw energy on these tapes, some of it admittedly fueled by alcohol. Much of this music will rivet your attention. Carl Perkins was truly a major talent, whether allowing the Hank Williams side of his Hillbilly roots to come up for air; working the bluesy edge of rockabilly that drew collectors to him; or attempting to be a teen poet, much as Chuck Berry had done during the same decade. Carl Perkins was about as deeply involved in teenage life as Chuck Berry was - which is to say ''not''. But that didn't stop either man from speaking to that audience in credible images.

In barely over 3 years, Carl Perkins made the transition from pure hillbilly singer to aspiring teen idol. Of course, he never succeeded in the latter. Despite the best promotional efforts behind him, Perkins was never really teen idol material. Sam Phillips had it right the first time he met Perkins in mid-l954. ''I thought he was one of the worlds greatest plowhands''. Phillips wasn't being in any way demeaning. He simply saw how intractably country the young man standing before him was. It was going to be a full time job separating Carl from a life of sharecropping and singing in the rough-hewn honky tonks of Jackson, Tennessee. It's a long way from that life to the stage of the Brooklyn Paramount or the Dick Clark TV show. The question was whether Carl could make that journey and retain the feeling and originality that Phillips detected even before the first recordings had been set down on tape.

You won't find a detailed Carl Perkins biography in the book. That work has already been done and, fortunately, most of it is still in print. David McGee, with a lot of input from Carl, wrote his biography ''Go Cat Go'' and Carl's own (with Ron Rendleman) book ''Disciple in Blue Suede Shoes'' covers much of the same ground. Bear Family's Carl Perkins Box (BCD 15494) contains a wealth of biographical material by Colin Escott and Bill Milar, and Bear Family CD ''Carl Rocks'' (BCD 16752, compiled by Hank Davis) does as well. In shorts there's no shortage of information about Carl's life.

Rather the needlessly recreating a biography, there have devoted almost all of our attention to the music. As you'll see, we have examined it in considerable detail. As we mentioned before, this is far from a (Greatest' Hits' package, and that tells us something about you and your interest in Perkins and Sun Records. It's also likely you are no stranger to Bear Family's Box series, which ranges from Johnny Cash (BCD 16325 ) and Billy Riley (BCD 17122 ) to the Everly Brothers (BCD 15931). There may not be hundreds of thousands of us fans and collectors out there any more, but it is a fair to say that with this boxed set, you have come to the right place.

As we all known Sun Records has a social place in music history. The combination of country musical feeling with blues musical structure changed - popular music. Much of that happened in the Sun studio, accomplished by a long list of musicians, most of whose names you know. And Carl Perkins has a special place in that list. Many of those musicians, and others of the era, earned and received admiration, respect, and success. But Carl, in addition to those, inspired something more in lots of the people who came to know his music: affection for the man himself. Many of those people took his music and incorporated various aspects of it into their own contributions to popular music. Most prominent of those, of course, were the Beatles. But there were many others. Elvis had imitators. Carl had descendants.

As we old earlier, you will learn or be reminded that Carl had command of all aspects of his music. He wrote a lot of terrific songs – beautiful ballads, danceble rock and roll numbers, slices of the rural southern life he knew. His guitar stylings ranged from the hard-edged to the frankly pretty and the slightly jazzy, and he played what the music needed (with a level of versatility and virtuosity that will surprise some people when they get to Disc 5.) He sang straight-ahead or stylized as befitted the song but it was always recognizably him. And the combination of all these approaches, as you will hear, remind us that he was far more sophisticated the he's generally thought to be, and far more sophisticated the casual listening would reveal. You're in for a treat.

Hank Davis & Scott Parker, 2012

A CONVERSATION WITH W.S. ''FLUKE'' HOLLAND - ''My first name is WS.. That's my actual name. Those aren't initials for anything. A lot of people also know me the Fluke. That's a childhood name. When I was a kid I used to hang around this service station. I 'd help put gas into cars, stuff like that. I had this expression I used: instead of saying, 'What's that thing over there, I'd say, 'What's that that thing over there . I thought it made me sound smart. The boy at the service station pinned that name on me and it stuck. It's gone around the world with me.

Carl Perkins asked me on a Saturday night to go to Memphis with him and play drums. He said, 'We got an audition with Sam Phillips next Thursday'. This was some time at the end of 1964. Elvis and Scotty and Bill had already been there in the middle of that year. I had never thought about playing drums before. It never crossed my mind. I was working for an air conditioning company here, but the next day I went and borrowed some drums. I never played them before. The next Tuesday we took the drums down to a club and I played them, if you could call, with Carl. I used the brushes. Two days later we drove to Memphis to audition for Sam Phillips.

''Sam didn't really care anything about drums, but for some reason, he didn't run me off. We set up and played in the middle of the floor there, and I used my brushes. I wasn't doing much and at took both hands to do that. That's the way we recorded the first couple of records''.

''But then I was starting to learn to play a little bit better. The big thing I learned we to use the drum sticks. So I was learning to play more and more., and other guys around us were also starting to use drums more and more. It was about that time that Sam started to like the drums. (laughs) That was also about the point where you could start to hear me on those records. Before that, putting it simply, Sam didn't like drums all that good and I wasn't playing all that good''.

''We'd go into the studio abound the middle of the day. We'd record all afternoon and into the night. When we left it'd be midnight. Sometimes daylight was coming up as we drove home. By the time we got home it we the next day. Needless to say, none of us ever got paid a penny for all that overtime. Looking back many years later, I wish Sam had known about a record session and known about a time clock. But that's of the way it was in of those days''.

''One thing about Carl, and I'd say this if he were still alive and setting right here He would tell stories. It got to be a joke. Some of the stories he'd tell, and some of the stuff that's written out there, it's just not true. Here's one example. There's a story about the first time we went to Sun Record. It says we sat there and saw a big old Cadillac in the parking lot. We figured it either belonged to Sam or Elvis. Well, that story may sound good but it never happened. I don't think Elvis had him a Cadillac in 1954 and I now for a fact that Sam Phillips didn't. And there was no parking lot at Sun. You left your car out on the street like everybody else''.

''There's stuff in that ''Disciple in Blue Suede Shoes'' book that just ain't true. Carl was like John cash in that way. They both loved to make up stories. They had great imaginations. Trouble is, sometimes they were giving interviews and those stories stuck. They got taken seriously. There's stuff written about Cash that's totally wrong. John had this saying: I hear him say it probably a hundred times: 'When you're writing stories, don't let the truth get in the way of a good story'. When people ask me why I haven't written a book about those days. I tell them, Í don't have enough talent or imagination to make up stories about what happened''.

''The Million Dollar Quartet was something none of us planned. That was typical for Sun Records. At least Sam did think to call in a photographer had just panned his camera over a few feet, he would have fit me into the photograph and I'd be famous too''.

''I remember when we finally got to New York for the Perry Como show, we were staying at a hotel in Times Square. I think it was called the Astor Hotel. When we checked in, I can still picture this, Clayton walked up to the desk without a suitcase. He had his clothes in a pillow case. It was a big long sack. And he drug his clothes across the floor in the lobby of that big fancy hotel in Times Square''.

''A lot of people don't like the stuff Carl did at Columbia as much as Sun, but I think he did some of his best recordings there. At first they had us upstairs right in the middle of that big Bradley studio and it may have been too large for us. But later when I went there with John Cash we recorded some stuff downstairs in the smaller room. That sounded a lot better''.

''If I had been from a wealthy family, if I had been able to go to a private teacher and learn how to play drums correctly, I would never have been in the music business this long. So many players at Sun Records like myself really didn't know what we were doing in the usual sense. Musicians at Sun were often doing the only thing they knew how to do. Best example of that is Johnny Cash's guitarist, Luther Perkins. Here is a guy who knew nothing about a guitar. He could never play anything except what he did on Johnny Cash's records. We'd be on tour with Johnny cash in the 1960s and Luther 'd find himself in the middle of a jam session with guys like Roy Clark and Chet Atkins... It was just hilarious. I used to kid him. I'd say, 'Luther, if you 'd just leave that guitar in the case except when we're up on stage, nobody'd ever know you're not a good guitar player''.

''When I borrowed that set of drums the first time Carl asked me to play I never had seen a drum set-up. So when I took the drums out to my mom's house, I set ém down wrong. I had the high hat on the right side and the bass drum with my left foot. It felt like it was the way it ought to be. When I saw some other drummers, I tried to change. But then I said 'Wait a minute, I don't think I'm the one who's wrong'. I did a sow last night with my band and I did some things I simply couldn't do if I had the high hat set up over there on the left where most drummers have it. I'm a right handed drummer but I play a left handed setup. What I'm saying is, me not knowing how to set the drums up and not knowing how to play, is one of the reasons that I've been playing drums for 57 years''.

Interview by Hank Davis, September 2011

A CONVERSATION WITH STAN PERKINS - The oldest of Carl's Perkins' four children, was born on September 17, 1953.

''I was born before my dad and his brothers ever went to Sun Records. That part of their lives began about a year alter I was born. 'My father's main love was playing the guitar. It was more important to him than singing or songwriting. He we a very big Chet Atkins and Les Paul. Their records were often played around the house. In the early days, my uncle Jay was the primary singer in the band. My dad was the guitar player; he was in the background''.

''Around 1954 my father bought a 1953 Les Paul guitar. He was paying it off at $5 a week. That was a lot of money back then, or it certainly was in our family. Sam Phillips commented when he first met that Carl had a pretty fancy guitar for a country boy. Prior to that, Carl played a Harmony electric guitar. It we a pretty terrible cheap brand and he we so ashamed of it he put tape over the head to cover the brand name''

''After ''Blue Suede Shoes'', dad went almost overnight from making $30 w week and living in Government Housing to being a star and making $4000 a week. That wasn't an easy change to make. He got two artist royalty checks from Sun for ''Blue Suede Shoes''. The first was for $14,000 and the second was for $12,000. He gave the second one to his brothers and W.S. Dad sued Sam successfully in 1978 to get the rights to his songs returned to him. That's when we established Carl Perkins Music.''

''My father bought a home tape recorder about the same time he got his first Cadillac in March or April 1956. He said it we about the best you could get at the time, although that's obviously none too good by today's standard. The recorder we located in the den, right near the piano, just off from the kitchen. You can hear me an my brother playing in the background on some home recordings. We were just kids''.

''My, mother Valda, didn't like country music very much, although that was my father's favorite. She played piano and liked pop music. We had an old upright with the front taken off so you could see the strings. If you heart piano on any of the home recordings, that's her''.

''My father's version of ''Blue Suede Shoes'' differs from Elvis 'largely in the introduction with the stops. Elvis version is mob conventionally rock and roll. My father's was slower and more country. My father actually abandoned his own version at personal appearances very early and started using Elvis' arrangement. (Notes: When Perkins did his now-famous jam session with Paul McCartney backstage at the Liberty bowl in Memphis, Paul insisted on performing ''Blue Suede Shoes'' in the original style of Sun 234, which had helped to shape his musical consciousness back in the 1950s).

''I grew up in the midst of my father's alcoholism. There were some pretty dark times for all of us. I think the worst of his alcoholism was between 1958 (right after his bother Jay died of cancer) to 1966. When dad was drunk he could get into Pity Mode pretty easily. He was frustrated: he had no money; there were no hit records; his brother had died and they were to close as any two brothers could be''.

''My father got into an accident in 1964. He caught his left hand in a ceiling fan hanging over the stage at a political rally. He nearly bled to death and the doctor thought they were going to have to amputate his hand. I can remember seeing him sitting at home with a cast on his hand. It had wires coming out of it. The doctor set his hand to accommodate holding the neck of a guitar, rather than being in a normal position. I can picture him sitting around squeezing a ruber ball to strengthen his hand as he recovered''

Guitar fans may note an interesting parallel between Carl's experience and that of one of his idols: Les Paul. In January 1948, Paul shattering right arm and elbow in a near-fatal automobile accident. Doctors told Paul they could not rebuild his elbow so that he would regain movement; his arm would remain permanently in whatever position they placed it. Paul instructed surgeons to set his arm at an angle - just under 90 degrees – that would allow him to cradle and pick the guitar. Like Carl, Les Paul favored playing the guitar over a semblance of normal life.

Carl joined the Johnny Cash troupe in 1966 and remained with them for 10 years. An interesting footnote to the story is that Cash had made a similar offer to another Sun Records alumnus about six years earlier. When Warren Smith first left the south and moved to California in 1959, he was befriended by John and Vivian Cash. Smith was offered a spot on the Cash show. Cash was working steadily at the time and it would have meant a regular income, not to mention wide exposure for his music, but Warren declined the offer. Warren Smith's widow Doris recalls, ''I guess it was pride. Warren was sure he could be a star and have his own show. He wasn't willing to play second fiddle for anybody; which is how he saw Johnny's offer. Carl Perkins said yes to the same deal and toured with Cash for years, during good times and bad. I always felt Johnny was trying to bring has old friends together, trying to help the ones that hadn't been as fortunate the he was''.

In any case, the touring association between Perkins and Cash began began in an unusual way. Stan Perkins recalls, ''My father had a very serious hunting accident. He nearly blew the back of his foot of. His recovery was long and painful and he was sitting around the house driving himself and everyone around him crazy. John Cash heard about at and came to visit my father. When he got there, my mother said to him. 'You've got to get him out of the house. He cant 'sit here like this anymore. It's going to kill him, if it doesn't drive him crazy first. Cash had a gig up in Chattanooga. I think. He told my dad, 'Pack a suitcase, you 're coming with me for a few days'. That few days turned out to be ten years''.

''Cash probably saved my father's life by giving him steady work during that period. I thank my father and Johnny Cash challenged each other to get and to stay sober and straight in. In that sense at was very good for both of them. But I also think that Carl forfeited his chance to be of star in his own right. I believe he was primed for a comeback around 1969-1970 but he settled for being a sideman. He had a Top 20 country hit in 1969 with ''Restless''. 'I'm sure that gave him to reminder of what it was like to have a hit record and I know he missed it. But he stayed on with Cash. If that record had gone to number 1, think it would have been easier for him to leave.0 That would have been good in some ways, but there's no telling what it would have led to. (Perkins also supplied Johnny Cash with his 1968 hit, ''Daddy Sang Bass''). I know some good things came his way like doing the soundtrack for that 1970 movie with Robert Redford, ''Little Fauss & Big Halsy''. He wouldn't have had That opportunity if he weren't with Cash. But I think he also lost a lot by being there''.

''The four of them traveling on the road must have been horrible. Can you imagine it? The three brothers and W.S. Packed into that Cadillac. Smoking and drinking and fighting in the car. Sometimes Clayton would pick up some bum when he was out drinking and he'd bring him along the next day, wherever they were headed. Five of them in that car. Just unbelievable''.

''Clayton was terrible when he was part of the Cash troupe. He'd do just about anything when he was drunk, and he was drunk a lot of time. Cash loved to have him along. It kept him entertained. He'd dare Clayton to do things and he rarely said no. At first it was up to my father to clean up the damage, but dad finally put his foot down. He told John he couldn't afford to keep buying Clayton out of all the trouble he'd get into. Told John he had to stop encouraging him. John said no, but he did agree to pay for the damage instead, which solved things for a while. Finally, my father couldn't take it anymore and packed up Clayton and his bass and drove him back to Jackson. It just got to be too much. That was the last time they played together''.

''Jay said his biggest fear when he was dying was that Carl and Clayton would kill each other. He wouldn't be there to separate them or keep the peace. It seems like they came pretty close at times. Clayton ended up killing himself in 1973, at Christmas time. I found his body. There was an empty bottle and an unopened half a pint by the bedside when I found him. He had shot himself with a .22 pistol He. had tried to kill himself two or three times before. He we 38 years old when he died''.

''Johnny Cash fired my father in 1975 after about ten years. He just put in a letter and had his chauffeur deliver it. I can picture daddy setting there holding that letter. He was devastated. The first five years with Cash were great. The next five weren't so good. The ten years that followed were black''.

''I finally confronted him and told him it just couldn't continue. In 1985 I took over management of his career. He made more money in the next 12 years - 1985 - 1997 – than he ever did before... And he was treated better too''.

Stan Perkins was on road and played drums with his father from 1976 until the end, 22 years later. He recalls, ''The first few years working with my dad were tough. I had him on a pedestal and he always fell off it. I had to learn to love him for who he was. It took work from both off us to build the relationship we had. We were very close. Even now, I don't remember where we played or how much or how little we got paid. I remember the relationship I had with him. When he died, I lost my dad, my best friend and my career''.

The last few years were really rough for my father. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1991. He had several strokes in 1997. I was taking him for daily therapy and he told me, 'If I can't play the guitar anymore, I don't want to live'. A month or two later he was gone''.

''When he was in Jackson, Tennessee, Carl Perkins didn't have to put a fence around his yard. He lived to be 65 years old. I know that's not old, but he smoked and drank for much of his life. I can honestly say he had as good a life as any of them. Probably a lot richer than many''.

''My daddy never could just never accept how good he was. He could write songs in 15 minutes. It was like a brainstorm. It all came to him at once. He was a very gifted man. But at the end of the day, it seems like his insecurity was even bigger than his talent. When he died in 1998 a lot of famous people came to his funeral. George Harrison was there, Garth Brooks, Billy Ray Cyrus, Wynona Judd, Sam and Jerry were there too''.

''If there's one word that describes my father it's Survivor''. That's what he was. A survivor. He went from the bottom to the top to the bottom again. He ended up somewhere around the middle. I think he was at peace with himself. At the end, he was content''.

''I think my dad really wanted another big hit. He was frustrated. He kept making records and trying. He wasn't really content just to be a sideman. He was humble, but he wasn't that humble. He had tasted what it meant to have a number 1 record early on. It's hard to put that behind you completely. He wanted a comeback. But toward the end he said to me, Another ''Blue Suede Shoes'' might have caused me not to care, about people, about things'. I think he made peace it with and who he was''.

''When my dad left Sun to go to Columbia, Sam said o him, 'They won't know what to do with you there. They won't know how to record you. It'll be OK with John (Cash), but you'll get lost in the shuffle and they'll do it all wrong''. Sam was right. That's exactly what happened. Those first Columbia records sound awful. I remember my dad telling me he was driving home from that first or second Columbia session (June 1958) with Eddie Cisco (known as Eddie Starr) and dad said to him, 'That was all wrong. They just didn't get it at all''. Can you imagine that? Right from the start and he saw the problem. But what could he do? He had just signed the contract. His confidence was low. His self-esteem was way down. He was still grieving over his brother (Jay). So he did nothing for the next three years. It was a bad combination: he was drinking too hard, even during the sessions. There were some musicians on there who didn't understand the music. The studio itself was wrong for him. I don't think the producer ever understood dad's music the way Sam did. Drinking can be OK during a session. There had been plenty of it at Sun, including Sam, himself. But there's a thin line between creative and being drunk. That line got crossed at Columbia''.

''I remember my dad saying to me, Í should never have found a reason to leave Sun Records. If I was ever going to have another ''Blue Suede Shoes'', it would have come from there''.

Hank Davis interview with Stan Perkins, September 2011

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR ONIE WHEELER
FOR COLUMBIA RECORDS 1954

CASTLE RECORDING STUDIO, TULANE HOTEL
EIGHT AVENUE / CHURCH STREET, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
COLUMBIA SESSION: THURSDAY OCTOBER 28, 1954
SESSION HOURS: 15:30-18:30
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – DON LAW

'CUT IT OUT
Composer: - Crowe
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 1930 / CO 52672 - Master (2:13)
Recorded: - October 28, 1954
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Columbia Records (S) 78rpm standard single Columbia 21454-4 mono
CUT IT OUT / I'M SATISFIED WITH MY DREAMS
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-13 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

'I'M SATISFIED WITH MY DREAMS
Composer: - Crowe-Strange
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 1931 / CO 52673 - Master (2:15)
Recorded: - October 28, 1954
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Columbia Records (S) 78rpm standard single Columbia 21454-4 mono
I'M SATISFIED WITH MY DREAMS / CUT IT OUT
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-16 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

THAT'S WHAT I LIKE
Composer: - Onie Wheeler-Tracy Lee
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 1932 / CO 52674 - Master (2:07)
Recorded: - October 28, 1954
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Columbia Records (S) 78rpm standard single Columbia 21418-4 mono
THAT'S WHAT I LIKE / SHE WIGGLED AND GIGGLED
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-14 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

SHE WIGGLED AND GIGGLED
Composer: - Onie Wheeler-Tracy Lee
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 19323/ CO 52675 - Master (2:38)
Recorded: - October 28, 1954
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Columbia Records (S) 78rpm standard single Columbia 21418-4 mono
SHE WIGGLED AND GIGGLED / THAT'S WHAT I LIKE
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-15 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Onie Wheeler – Vocal, Harmonica, Guitar
Alden J. Nelson – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Doyal Nelson – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Delbert ''Dub'' Hale – Fiddle
Ernest G. Thompson - Drums

For Biography of Onie Wheeler see: > The Sun Biographies <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

OCTOBER 29, 1954 FRIDAY

Carl Smith recorded ''Kisses Don't Lie'' during an afternoon session at the Castle Studio is downtown Nashville.

OCTOBER 30, 1954 SATURDAY

T. Graham Brown is born in Atlanta, Georgia. Infusing country with a blue-eyed soul style, Brown finds favor in the late-1980s with such hits as ''Don't Go To Strangers'', ''Darlane'' and ''Hell And High Water''.

> Page Up <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©