CONTAINS
For music (standard singles) and playlists on YouTube click on the available > buttons <
> Back 1951 Sun Schedule <

1951 SESSIONS (5)
May 1, 1951 to May 31, 1951

Studio Session for Howlin' Wolf, Probably May 14, 15, 1951 / Chess Records
Studio Session for William Stewart, Probably May 14 or 15, 1951
Studio Session for B.B. King, May 27, 1951 / RPM Records
Studio Session for Lou Sargent, Probably May 1951 / Chess Records
Studio Session for Rufus Thomas, Probably May/June 1951 / Chess Records
Studio Session for Joe Hill Louis, May 30, 1951 / Modern Records
Studio Session for Jackie Brenston, Probably May/June 1951 / Chess Records
Studio Session for The Evangelist Gospel Singers of Alabama,
Probably May/June, 1951 / Chess Records

For Biographies of Artists see: > The Sun Biographies <
MRS/Chess/RPM recordings can be heard on the playlists from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

MAY 1951

Sam Phillips records B.B. King for RPM Records.

Sam Phillips records Rufus Thomas for the first time and sends the dubs to Chess Records.

"Rocket 88" enters the Billboard's Rhythm and Blues charts at number 4. Jackie Brenston's back-up band, featuring Wilbur & Luther Steinberg, cut two sides for Sam Phillips, who forwards the dubs to Chess Records. "Ridin' The Boogie" b/w "She Really Treats Me Wrong" is rush-released as a single on Chess 1465 under the pseudonym "Lou Sargent".

Joe Hill Louis returns to the studio to cut a cover version of "Eyesight To The Blind", a regional hit for Sonny Boy Williamson on Trumpet and the Larks on Apollo.

And then at the beginning of May 1951 it all seemed to catch up with Sam Phillips. He was working eighteen to twenty hours a day, he was down to 123, 124 pounds, fifteen pounds less than what he normally carried on his slender fivefoot-nine-inch frame; and just like in Decatur he could feel the onset of the panic attacks that he had experienced from time to time ever since he was a boy. At what should have been his moment of greatest triumph he simply ran out of physical and emotional steam. Just as before he couldn't turn his mind off, the worries kept whirring and whirring around, and he finally told his wife Becky he couldn't stand it anymore, he needed to be admitted to GartlyRamsay Hospital out on Jackson, they were the best psychiatric hospital in the city, he told her, and he thought he needed some more electroshock.

Dr. Dick McCool, director of Electro-convulsive Therapy at Gartly-Ramsay, agreed. But, he told Sam, there was no guarantee of the results. Sam had eight electroshock treatments, one each day, with another five or six days in the hospital to recuperate. Marion Keisker was able to keep the business going and took over some of Sam's duties at the WREC radio station. She had been in a terrible state when Sam first went into the hospital, she had frantically besieged Becky the initial results, but she was no more surprised than Becky, she had seen it coming all along.

When Sam Phillips went back to work, everybody at the station seemed to treat him like he was just going to fall apart, and Becky confided that Dr. McCool had told her in confidence he really shouldn't be pressed too much at this point, maybe ever. He pored over the therapeutic papers that Dr. McCool had given him, papers with titles like ''Therapeutic Relaxation Treatment Procedures'', which advocated fifteen minutes of Bibliotherapy followed by half an hour of Educated Therapy and then capped by reciting the expression ''Feeling fine'' twenty times each day. But it was Dr. McCool's lack of faith that in the end Sam felt was the best therapy of all. Everybody tiptoeing around him like he was some kind of damn invalid only challenged him to find that inner strength he had always possessed, ''the strength that says, Okay, I can do it''.

The United States performs the first thermonuclear weapon test during May of 1951 as a part of “Operation Greenhouse.” The test was conducted at the Enewetak Atoll and the blast, named “George,” was the first successful small-scale demonstration of a non-weaponized hydrogen bomb. The test confirmed to scientists working on the project that the foundation of their design worked and it would be possible to create a large-scale hydrogen bomb. The U.S. would go on to to test the first full-scale thermonuclear hydrogen bomb during November of 1952 with “Ivy Mike” in “Operation Ivy''.

MAY 2, 1951 WEDNESDAY

Bass player Mike Fleming is born in Evansville, Indiana. As a member of the bluegrass band The Steel Drivers, he takes part in recording ''Blue Side Of The Mountain'', a country Grammy nomination in 2009.

MAY 6, 1951 SUNDAY

Johnny and Jack recorded ''Cryin' Heart Blues''.

MAY 9, 1951 WEDNESDAY

Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs recorded ''Don't Get Above Your Raisin'', covered some 30 years later by Ricky Skaggs.

MAY 12, 1950 SATURDAY

Hank Williams ''Cold Cold Heart'' reaches number 1 on the Billboard country singles chart.

MAY 1951

Like most of the true greats Sam Phillips recorded, Chester Burnett, a.k.a. Howlin' Wolf, brought to the studio a style that he neither cared to alter nor could possibly improve. Dressed in his field overalls, with holes cut in his oversize shoes to accommodate his corns, Wolf made his recording debut in the summer of 1951. Leaving his small group to find their way as best they could, he began to sing his unearthly tales of darkness and pain.

Chester Burnett had been a farmer, blues singer, and soldier by the time he first recorded. His adopted nickname, though far from original, fitted him with made-to-measure precision.

Born near Aberdeen, Mississippi, on June 10, 1910, Burnett developed a fondness for the music of the primordial Delta bluesman Charley Patton, who lived near the Burnett family after they moved to Ruleville, Mississippi. After four years in the service, between 1941 and 1945, Burnett returned to farming near Penton, Mississippi, before deciding to move to West Memphis, Arkansas.

Soon after coming to West Memphis, Wolf secured steady work playing whorehouses, black baseball parks, and other spots that catered to country folk in search of a little diversion. The feral energy with which he sang added a new dimension to the traditional Delta blues upon which he based his style. Wolf landed a spot on KWEM in 1950. Monday through Saturday, he appeared between 4:45 and 5:00 P.M., lacing his blues with pitches for grain and fertilizer. In his fortieth year, he became a hot item among the rural blacks around Memphis.

''A disc jockey from West Memphis told me about Wolf's show'', recalled Sam Phillips to Robert Palmer. ''When I heard him, 'I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies'. Then the Wolf came to the studio and he was about six foot six, with the biggest feet I've ever seen on a human being. Big Foot Chester is one name they used to call him. He would sit there with those feet planted wide apart, playing nothing but the French harp and I tell you, the greatest sight you could see today would be Chester Burnett doing one of those sessions in my studio. God, what it would be worth to see the fervor in that man's face when he sang. His eyes would light up, you'd see the veins on his neck and, buddy, there was nothing on his mind but that song. He sang with his damn soul!''.

MAY 1951

Sam Phillips must have liked what he heard of the Ike Turner's piano playing at the ''Rocket 88'' session because, a few weeks later, he used Ike backing the blues giant (in all senses of the word) Chester ''Howlin' Wolf'' Burnett on his wonderful loping blues boogie ''How Many More Years''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

The first demo session for Howlin' Wolf at Memphis Recording Service framed by the small group he had assembled in West Memphis. There are records of some 60 complete tracks recorded by Howlin' Wolf at Sam Phillips' studio in Memphis and down the road in West Memphis, Arkansas, about two and a half years. Most of this material founds its way to Chess Records in Chicago, although the open double-dealing whereby tapes also went to RPM/Modern lingered for a while, as with the 1952 RPM single "My Baby Stole Off'/"I Want Your Picture". But it meant that Leonard Chess need not hurry the Wolf into a Chicago session, even though that initial hit was not repeated in such Memphis Chess releases as "The Wolf Is At Your Door", "Saddle My Pony", "Oh Red" and "All Night Boogie", all of them powerful witnesses to the singers' outstanding talent. sales ticked over while the Wolf established his club reputation, and Chess was kept busy with hits by other members of his growing blues stable.

STUDIO SESSION FOR HOWLIN' WOLF
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR CHESS RECORDS 1951

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: POSSIBLY MAY 14, 15, 1951 (POSSIBLY EARLIER)
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR MARION KEISKER

MOST OF THE REPERTOIRE ON THIS SESSION WAS DUBBED
FROM ACETATE OR DISC SOURCE
MANY OF THE ORIGINAL MASTER TAPES HAVE BEEN LOST

"If you ain't thought about, you ain't talked about".
"And they talks about me every day".
Big Foot Chester (courtesy of Dick Shurman)

The sessions took place on different dates and the May 14 date may apply to one of them. Phillips sent the dubs to RPM/Modern, and may have sent them to Chess.

They concentrated on two songs on this session, that changed with every take, throbbing mid-tempo blues called ''How Many More Years'' which seemed to be Wolf's calling card, and a more conventional up-tempo number, ''Baby Ride With Me'', that served as a showcase for Wolf's pulsating rhythmic drive and Willie Johnson's unrelenting attack. For one of the few times in his life, Sam Phillips couldn't think of a thing to do. ''I was totally blinded by the sound of his voice. I'm not sure that I heard anything in the way of instrumentation. I mean, I was sure enough that I knew I didn't have everything quite right. But his distinctiveness was so overwhelming to me that I could find a way to make a suggestion. Wolf and Willie alone, I knew it wasn't going to wind up with that, it would wind up with, more, structure on the piano, but I didn't want anything much but Wolf, I mean, the minute I opened the microphones and that look came over his face, like, 'I'm getting ready, I'm getting ready, everybody else better be ready, too''.

But he knew he could do better, once the initial spell began to wear off. He knew the Wolf had even more to offer than just the elemental energy that poured out of him, he knew he could do more to bring it out, not by complicating things by by simplifying them, by helping to frame all the contradictory ingredients that constituted the uncategorizable whole.

He did add a piano in subsequent sessions, if only to fill out the bare bones of the sound, and they continued to work on the same two songs, always subtly changing, and sometimes not so subtly. Sam Phillips continued to be overwhelmed by the sheer force of the music and by the intensity of its presentation. He was fascinating by the Wolf, mesmerized each time the man sat down at the mike with his harps spread out all around him.

01(1) - "BABY RIDE WITH ME (RIDIN' IN THE MOONLIGHT)" – B.M.I. - 2:55
Composer: - Chester Burnett-J.L. Sanders
Publisher: - Universal Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Possible May 14, 1951 or earlier
Released: - 1989
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15460-21 mono
MEMPHIS DAYS - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION - VOLUME 1

01(2) - "BABY RIDE WITH ME (RIDIN' IN THE MOONLIGHT)" – B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Chester Burnett-J.L. Sanders
Publisher: - Universal Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 14, 1951 Possibly June
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15500-1 mono
MEMPHIS DAYS - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION - VOLUME 2

01(3) - "BABY RIDE WITH ME (RIDIN' IN THE MOONLIGHT)" – B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: - Chester Burnett-J.L. Sanders
Publisher: - Universal Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 14, 1951 Possibly June
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15500-18 mono
MEMPHIS DAYS - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION - VOLUME 2

01(4) - "BABY RIDE WITH ME (RIDIN' IN THE MOONLIGHT)" – B.M.I. - 2:34
Composer: - Chester Burnett-J.L. Sanders
Publisher: - Universal Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 14, 1951 Possibly June
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15500-19 mono
MEMPHIS DAYS - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION - VOLUME 2

01(5) - "BABY RIDE WITH ME (RIDIN' IN THE MOONLIGHT)" – B.M.I.
Composer: - Chester Burnett-J.L. Sanders
Publisher: - Universal Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 14, 1951 Possibly June
Released: - Unknown
First appearance: - Ace Records (LP) 33rpm CH 52 mono
RIDIN' IN THE MOONLIGHT

Sam was so struck by his differentness, he was so drawn to the particularity of his demeanor, but he didn't want to over promise anything. He simply suggested that maybe Wolf could come in with his band sometime, they could try a few things, just see what they could get. Wolf showed up several days later with a guitarist and drummer in tow, plus an assortment of harmonicas, and before long the trio was just blowing as if Sam wasn't even in the room, encouraging one another with unrestrained shouts while he switched the mikes around and adjusted the levels to get the absolutely maximum out of each individual sound. Most of all, though, he was just stunned by the uniqueness, the overwhelming thrust, subtlety, and power of the Wolf's voice, as riveting an instrument as he had ever encountered in all his life.

According to Sam Phillips, ''He would set in the middle of the studio and he would stretch those long legs and his feet out in front of him, his feet had to be a number sixteen shoe. And when he opened up his mouth to sing, this guy hypnotized himself along with you. To see him on a session, it was just the greatest show, the fervor in than man's face, his eyes rolling up into his head, sweat popping out all over, setting up on the front of his chair and locked into telling you individually about his trials and tribulations. He's the only artist I ever recorded that I wish I could have had a camera on, the vitality of that man was something else''.

02(1) - "HOW MANY MORE YEARS" – B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Chester Burnett
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Possibly May 14, 1951 or earlier
Released: - 1989
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15460-20 mono
MEMPHIS DAYS - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION - VOLUME 1

02(2) - "HOW MANY MORE YEARS" – B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer:- Chester Burnett
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 14, 1951 Possibly June
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15500-16 mono
MEMPHIS DAYS - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION - VOLUME 2

02(3) - "HOW MANY MORE YEARS"
Composer: - Chester Burnett
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - Unknown - Take 2
Recorded: - May 14, 1951 Possibly June
Released: - Sun Unissued - Damaged

02(4) - "HOW MANY MORE YEARS" – B.M.I. - 2:26
Composer: - Chester Burnett
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - May 14, 1951 Possibly June
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15500-17 mono
MEMPHIS DAYS - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION - VOLUME 2

02(5) - "HOW MANY MORE YEARS" – B.M.I.
Composer: - Chester Burnett
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 4
Recorded: - May 14, 1951 Possibly June
Released: - Sun Unissued

The guitarist Willie Johnson's playing very nearly matched its inspiration as Johnson, a small, dark-skinned man of twenty-eight with a cherubic face and haunted eyes, created the effect almost of playing two guitars at once, a role imposed upon him perhaps by the trio format but one that he would very likely have carried out in any context by the sheer inventiveness of his playing. He combined not just lead and rhythm in the conventional sense, putting together a combination of thick, clotted chords and deftly distorted single-string runs, but then he threw in bebop inflections, along with echoes of T-Bone Walker's delicate phrasing and the dirtiest sound you could ever imagine being drawn from an electric guitar.

Drummer Willie Steele meanwhile socked away with undiminished good cheer, while Wolf's harp playing filled the air with a broad pneumatic vibrato, as guitar and harmonica fused to create a single impenetrable line of attack.

But it was Wolf, Wolf's voice, that unwaveringly compelled attention. It was a voice that mixed the roughest elements of the Delta blues styles on which he had been weaned with its most graceful modulations, cutting through the studio atmosphere with a sandpaper rasp, an almost overwhelming ferocity, but retaining at the same time a curious lyricism, a knowing combination of fury and fragility, which set it off from any other blues singer in that rich tradition. It was at one and the same time, Sam Phillips would always say in later years with his ingrained love of paradox, both the worst voice he had ever heard in his life and, in its own inimitable way, the most beautiful. There was no other way of saying it, he sang ''with his damn soul''.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Howlin' Wolf - Vocal and Harmonica
Willie Johnson - Guitar
Willie Steele - Drums
James Cotton - Harmonica
Ike Turner - Piano

"It was Ike Turner got us recording", said James Cotton. "He played piano and was acting as some kind of talent scout for the Sun label. They was paying him to find people to record, so we went in there and recorded "Moanin' At Midnight" and "How Many More Years". It was a little old room, we just played how we felt and Sam Phillips kept himself busy getting the microphones right. We didn't think we were making a new sound or anything, we were just playing the way we played. Sam Phillips got real excited, he was real friendly and far as I was concerned he was a real nice person... Then Wolf decided he was gonna go up to Chicago, so he left Willie Johnson behind and took Hubert Sumlin along with him".

For Biography of Howlin' Wolf see: > The Sun Biographies <
Howlin' Wolf's Chess recordings can be heard on his playlists from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

In a studio conversation added as a coda to the Charly boxed set of his work, which like all Chess material on the Charly label was deleted in 1996 when MCA Records won the rights to the catalogue, after a long and bitter dispute, Howlin' Wolf recalled his start in music:

"I was ploughing, ploughing four mules on the plantation. And a man come there picking a guitar called Charley Patton. And I liked his sound, so I always did wanna play guitar. So I got him to show me a few chords, y'know, and so every night that I'd get off work I'd go his house and he'd learn me how to pick the guitar. So I got good with it and I went out for myself''.

''I got out there and everything was great, with the people seeing what I was putting down. Then I decided I would play so I asked my father to get me a guitar...".

"Then along comes Sonny Boy with the harp, Rice Miller, he married my sister then he learned me how to blow the harp. Then I went to play from there. I been playing ever since.

I been playing through Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and around Kentucky. I never was in Texas but I played all over the cottonbelt country, y'know, so that's what started me playing the blues". "Then I had a woman, she was kinda nice to me, then she pulled off and left me. And that give me the blues sure 'nuff. I went to Howlin' like a dog then, you know what I mean. So I's been playing ever since".

Pop' Stapless, head of the family gospel group the Staples Singers, has recalled seeing Patton and the Wolf working at this time.

"My daddy though the blues was the devil's music. Wouldn't even let me play the guitar, said that was the instrument of the devil too. So I'd sneak out of the house, and that's how I saw Charley Patton and Wolf, when I was 12 or 13 years old. It would be where someone had a big house, and on Saturday night they'd organize a dance. ladies would be cooking chicken and chitlin' in the kitchen, and they'd have a room for gambling, playing cards, drinking bootleg liquor, and a big room out in front where they'd play and dance".

"Charley and me was on the same plantation, he'd always be playing there, and Wolf came along later. Wolf was my main man. Charley Patton was a good man, far as I know - I was young, and didn't know about his life or anything''.

''But Wolf, I thought he was the greatest thing. A big guy, a real tall handsome man, he was really something else. He was just a few years older than me, but he was so powerful I wouldn't even dare speak to him. They were already calling him Wolf then.

He was playing with Charley, I think he was maybe playing Charley's songs, but he was something different altogether. As far as I was concerned, he was the blues", according Howlin' Wolf.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Years ago, it was assumed that the William Stewart who recorded unamplified blues at Sun was the same guy who played unamplified acoustic guitar with the Prisonaires. Even Sam Phillips claimed to remember Stewart playing cottonpatch blues. This, we're certain now, is not the case. For one thing, the guitarist with the Prisonaires was a harmonically sophisticated player; Talking Boy Stewart was most assuredly not. And a newly-discovered note in the tape box dates the session 1951 when the Prisonaires were securely confined elsewhere. That said, we know very little of William talking Boy Stewart.

These were, as far as we know his only recordings, and he sounds as if he came up from points South without listening to much of what happened in blues after about 1929.

STUDIO SESSION FOR WILLIAM ''TALKING BOY'' STEWART
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE 1951

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY MAY 14 OR 15, 1951
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01(1) - "COUNTRY FARM BLUES" - B.M.I. - 1:54
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-12 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

The presence of old Mississippi looms heavy over ''Counrty Farm Blues''. With a layer of crackle and hiss, you could easily believe that it had been recorded twenty or more earliers. In fact, Son House recorded a more-or-less unrelated ''Mississippi County Farm Blues'', as did Bukka White and others. Both House and White knew whereof they sung because both had served time at Mississippi's Parchman Farm (as had Elvis Presley's father), but Stewart leaves no clue to tell us which country farm is on his mind. true, John Lee Hooker and Lightnin' Hopkins were selling records rooted in rural blues around 1951, but they brought a sheen of modernity (and in Hooker's case electricity) to their music. William Stewart gave every indication of having just arrived from the late 1920s.

There's some confusion about exactly who's gone out on the country farm; in his second verse, he sings, "Well my gal done left me, gone out on the county farm". Its a bit like, "Have a sandwich, my feet are killing me". Given the context of the other verses, perhaps there should've been an "I've" separating the two statements.

02(1) - "THEY CALL ME TALKING BOY" - 1 - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951
Released: - August 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30127-B-3 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK – VOLUME 12 – UNION AVENUE BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-13 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

It don't get much more primitive than this. This is backporch music to the extreme: one foot, one guitar. Like many bluesmen of this style, Stewart changes chords when he wants to, and that muse seems to be pretty erratic. The lyrics are a string of blues cliches, and the title is possibly a Sam Phillips concoction. This track is more a documentary than an attempt at commercial recording. This song is a calling card, ''They call me Talking Boy/but that's well understood/it ain't my name/my name is William Stewart''. As with several of these songs, some verses are wholly unintelligible.

02(2) - "THEY CALL ME TALKING BOY" - 2 - B.M.I. - 2:23
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued - Take 2
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951

03 - "RATTLESNAKE MAMA" - B.M.I. - 2:47
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951
Released: - August 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30127-B-2 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK – VOLUME 12 – UNION AVENUE BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-14 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

Another figure from the past is evoked here, this time the shade of Blind Boy Fuller, who recorded "I'm A Rattlesnakin' Daddy" back in 1935. By dying in 1941, Fuller was spared the horror of hearing this, quite possibly the worst ever adaptation of this song. This time the accompaniment is strummed but the untutored air remains intact. Stewart sings in a curiously adenoidal tone, which again poses the question, is he imitating someone else's delivery? He also lapses into a coarser vocal tone at times, before retreating back up his nasal passages.

04 - "FORTY FOUR BLUES" - B.M.I. - 3:01
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Krazy Kat Records (LP) 33rpm KK 7427 mono
MEMPHIS BLUES - UNISSUED TITLES FROM THE 1950
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-5-15 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

This is performed at a faster tempo than most of his repertoire and doesn't follow the verse structure of the familiar "Forty Four Blues" in other bluesmen's songbooks: "Well I said 'Good mornin' Mr Pawnshop man'/just as I rapped upon his door/I ain't in no hurry but I need my 44". William Stewart even manages to put a macabre turn on the one verse tag he does use: "I wore my 44 so long it made my shoulder sore/after I find that woman (and) kill her, won't wear that thing no mer". In the light of Pat Hare's later "Gonna Murder My Baby", is there an added dimension to this verse?

Other verses are his own, but he's trying his damndest to set them to the famous. ''44 Blues''. Some reckon that song originated before Little Brother Montgomery and Roosevelt Sykes popularized it in the 1920s, but it has had a long afterlife with recordings by Johnny Winter, Little Feat, the Black Crowes and many others, most of whom take their cue from Howlin' Wolf's 1954 version. If this were the only version, the song wouldn't have had so many takers.

05 - "BLACK SNAKE BOOGIE" - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Krazy Kat Records (LP) 33rpm KK 7427 mono
MEMPHIS BLUES - UNISSUED TITLES FROM THE 1950
Reissued: - June 25, 2006 Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample mono
WILLIAM TALKING BOY STEWART

06(1) - "HEY GAL" - B.M.I. - 1:44
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm SUN 37 mono
BACK COUNTRY BOOGIE
Reissued: - June 25, 2006 Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample mono
WILLIAM TALKING BOY STEWART

06(2) - "HEY GAL" - B.M.I. - 2:34
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm SUN 37 mono
BACK COUNTRY BOOGIE
Reissued: - June 25, 2006 Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample mono
WILLIAM TALKING BOY STEWART

07 - "I LOVE MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm SUN 37 mono
BACK COUNTRY BOOGIE
Reissued: - June 25, 2006 Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample mono
WILLIAM TALKING BOY STEWART

08 - "TALKING BOY" - B.M.I. - 2:23
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm SUN 37 mono
BACK COUNTRY BOOGIE
Reissued: - June 25, 2006 Charly Records (MP3) Internet Sample mono
WILLIAM TALKING BOY STEWART

09 - ''HEY, LITTLE GIRL''
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951

10 - ''I GONNA LEAVE HERE WALKIN'''
Composer: - William Stewart
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably May 14 or 15, 1951

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
William Stewart – Vocal and Guitar

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

MAY 15, 1951 TUESDAY

Roy Rogers is caught up in a drough-related scandal with the movie debut of ''In Old Amarillo'', featuring an appearance by Pat Brady

Buck Owens relocates from Phoenix, Arizona, to Bakersfield, California, with his family, including wife Bonnie Owens and son Buddy Alan.

MAY 18, 1951 FRIDAY

The movie ''Inside The Walls Of Folsom Prison'' makes its debut in American theaters. The picture inspires Johnny Cash to write ''Folsom Prison Blues''.

The comedic picture ''Kentucky Jubilee'' appears in movie theaters. The film includes appearances by ''Atomic Power'' songwriter Fred Kirby and steel guitar player Les ''Carrot Top'' Anderson.

MAY 21, 1951 MONDAY

Hank Williams is sent to the North Louisiana Sanatorium in Shreveport, moaning about back pain. The pain remains throughout the rest of his life.

Columbia released Gene Autry's ''Old Soldiers Never Die''.

MAY 23, 1051 WEDNESDAY

Mac Wiseman has his first recording session as a solo artist, cutting sides for Dot Records.

Judy Rodman is born in Riverside, California. After singing background on hits by George Strait, T.G. Sheppard and George Jones, Rodman develops her own solo career, earning the Academy of Country Music's Top New Female award in 1986.

MAY 24, 1951 THURSDAY

Lefty Frizzell recorded ''Always Late (With Your Kisses)'', ''How Long Will It Take (To Stop Loving You)'' and ''Mom And Dad's Waltz'' at the Jim Beck Studio in Dallas, Texas.

MAY 25, 1951 FRIDAY

Marty Robbins signs a recording contract with Columbia Records in Phoenix. He remains with the company for most of the next 31 years, racking up such classics as ''El Paso'', ''Devil Woman'' and ''My Woman, My Woman, My Wife''.

Faron Young graduates from Fair Park High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, ranked #236 in a class of 244.

MAY 26, 1951 SATURDAY

Songwriter Richard Leigh is born in McLean, Virginia. He writes Crystal Gayle's ''Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue'', Billy Dean's ''Somewhere In My Broken Heart'', Steve Wariner's ''Life's Highway'' and Reba McEntire's ''The Greatest Man I Never Know''.

Jimmy and Sue Dean have a son, Garry Taylor Dean.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR B.B. KING
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR RPM RECORDS

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
AND/OR YMCA, 254 SOUTH LAUDERDALE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: SUNDAY MAY 27, 1951
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER - SAM C. PHILLIPS AND JULES BIHARI
RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Hudson Whittaker - better known as kazoo-blowing Chicago blues patriarch Tampa Red - had just cut the rollicking original "She's Dynamite" for RCA Victor in March of 1951. Then B.B. grabbed hold of it two months later for RPM, hiking its energy level in the esteemed company of two generations of Newborns, Phineas Sr. on drums and Phineas Jr. on piano.

Joe Bihari said to Colin Escott, ''I was in Atlanta and our distributor Jake Friedman said, 'RCA is getting a lot of jukebox plays on ''She's Dynamite'', but people can't buy the record'. So I went up to Memphis to Sam Phillips studio''. What emerged was a record that almost said more about Sam Phillips than B.B. King. Unlike the restraint of Tampa Red's original, this was modelled on the giddy, hormonal rush of ''Rocket 88''. The thunderous rhythm track and the sax teetering on the edge of atonatily were Phillips' trademarks, not B.B's. It was rock and roll in all but name. The guitarist was certainly not B.B. because he plays under the vocals... something B.B. never did. We're probably hearing Calvin Newborn on guitar and his brother, Phineas on piano. Phineas's trademark was finesse, not the jackhammer left hand called for here. Upon release, the Biharis left the composer credit ominously blank, as they unusually did when they didn't own the publishing. Phillips noted that he sent out seven dubs of ''She's Dynamite'' to disc jockeys, emphasizing the rapidity with which the record was released (ordinarly, the Biharis would have taken care of this). It showed up on some local charts (Richmond and New Orleans), but surely deserved to do better.

01 - "SHE'S DYNAMITE" – B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Hudson Whittaker
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1563 Master
Recorded: - May 27, 1951
Released: - June 1951
First appearance: - RPM Records (S) 78rpm standard single > RPM 323-B < mono
SHE'S DYNAMITE / B.B. BLUES
Reissued: - 2002 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-2-6 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

The next recordings mainly a mystery. Original session master tapes have never been found for "Three O'Clock Blues", "That Ain't The Way To Do It" and "She Don't Move Me No More" These sides were probably cut in September at the YMCA, 254 South Lauderdale in Memphis, Tennessee, after the Biharis dispute with Sam Phillips in the summer of 1951. As a result of a feud between Phillips and Modern over Sam handing Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88" to Chess Records, the Biharis eschewed the use of Phillips' studio that September to cut what would be King's national breakthrough, "Three O'Clock Blues". "When they would come in town, usually they would bring portable equipment like Ampex 600s, things like that", said King, whose backing cast for the session included illfated pianist Johnny Ace, Sanders and Billy Duncan on saxes, and drummer Earl Forrest. "And they would set them up in any vacant place that we could find. In fact, when we made "Three O'Clock Blues", we made it at the YMCA''.

02 - "THREE O'CLOCK BLUES" – B.M.I. - 2:59
Composer: - Jules Taub-Riley B. King
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1682 Master
Recorded: - September 1951 / Probably May 27, 1951
Released: - 1951
First appearance: - RPM Records (S) 78rpm standard single > RPM 339-A < mono
THREE O'CLOCK BLUES / THAT AIN'T THE WAY TO DO IT
Reissued: - 2002 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-2-13 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

The Bihari brothers recorded the first B.B. King sides at the colored YMCA on Lauderdale in Memphis. ''I called B.B., and I said, 'I'm coming in'''said the youngest brother, Joe Bihari, twenty-six-years-old and now in charge of the field recording division. ''We rented a room in the black YMCA, big room, and had to put up blankets over the windows so you wouldn't hear the noise from the cars outside''.

B.B. King had assembled a splendid crew of up-and-coming musicians for local gigs that he dubbed the Blues Boys. "The group first was mine, and then it was called the Beale Streeters after that," he explained.

"The Beale Streeters, at that time, consisted of Richard Sanders, Johnny Ace was the piano player - his name was John Alexander, but he later started making records under his own name with the Beale Streeters.

In fact, the whole group was the group that I put together when we made ''Three O'Clock Blues''. But when ''Three O'Clock Blues'' became a hit and I started to work out of a booking agency called Shaw Artists Corporation, and Universal (Attractions), they didn't want me to have a band.

''They wanted me alone. So I left the band, and when I did, gave it to Johnny Ace. And that's when he changed it. Instead of calling it the Blues Boys as it had been, he started calling it the Beale Streeters''.

B.B. picked up "Three O'Clock Blues" from fellow blues guitar master Lowell Folson, who scored his own first national hit with it in late 1948. B.B's did even better, topping the Billboard's rhythm and blues charts for five weeks in February and March of 1952.

"That Ain't The Way To Do It", is a playful romp highly reminescent of Louis Jordan's "Ain't That Just Like A Woman" (the ebullient alto saxman was another primary King influence).

03(1) - "THAT AIN'T THE WAY TO DO IT" – B.M.I. - 2:16
Composer: - Riley B. King-Jules Taub
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1683 Master Take 1
Recorded: - September 1951 / Probably May 27, 1951
Released: - 1952
First appearance: - RPM Records (S) 78rpm standard single > RPM 339-B <  mono
THAT AIN'T THE WAY TO DO IT / THREE O'CLOCK BLUES
Reissued: - 2002 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-2-14 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

03(2) - ''THAT AIN'T THE WAY TO DO IT" – B.M.I. - 2:17
Composer: - Riley B. King-Jules Taub
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1682 - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - September 1951 / Probably May 27, 1951
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-2-15 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

Despite a large gap in the matrix, the bonechilling "She Don't Move Me No More" apparently dates from the same session.

04 - "SHE DON'T MOVE ME NO MORE" – B.M.I. - 3:11
Composer: - Riley B. King
Publisher: - Modern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - MM 1752 Master
Recorded: - September 1951 / Probably May 27, 1951
Released: - 1952
First appearance: - RPM Records (S) 78rpm standard single > RPM 348-B < mono
SHE DON'T MOVE ME NO MORE / FINE LOOKIN' WOMAN
Reissued: - 2002 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835-2-16 mono
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
B.B. King - Vocal and Guitar
Richard Sanders - Tenor Saxophone
Phineas Newborn Jr. & Ike Turner - Piano
Calvin Newborn - Guitar
Possibly James Walker - Bass
Unknown - Baritone Saxophone
Phineas Newborn Sr. - Drums
Adolph "Billy" Duncan - Tenor Saxophone
Possibly Earl Forrest or Man-Son – Drums

Ike Turner was also present at the seminal recordings of B.B. King's massive hit ''Three O'Clock Blues'' recorded around the same time as the Howlin' Wolf session. The story goes that regular pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. couldn't get the right feel, so up steps the young Turner and hits the groove in two takes.

According to Bihari, ''it just was not working, and I told everybody, I said, 'B.B., come on, everybody, take a break'''. He had been using Phineas Newborn Jr. on piano, as he recalled, ''but he played jazzy, he wasn't good a blues, or he didn't want to play blues, and that's why nothing was really happening''. During the break another piano player ''wandered in'' he had just been listening and now sat down at the upright Joe had rented for the session and started playing exactly what Joe had been looking for. So after the break, he paid off Phineas Newborn Jr. and hired the new piano player. ''That piano player'', said Joe, ''was Ike Turner''.

Whether or not this is exactly the way it happened, and there are, certainly, numerous (though not unrelated) variations, the session proved to be momentous in two fundamental respects. The first was that B.B. King had his first national hit with Modern ''Three O'Clock Blues'', an old tune of Lowell Fulson's that B.B. had often played as a disc jockey, which hit number 1 on the rhythm and blues charts in early February 1952. The song was close to the kind of thing Sam Phillips had been groping for in his last sessions with B.B., with a pair of saxophones providing a churchy background to the gospel overtones of B.B.'s voice. Here, though, for the first time voice and guitar were fused, the approach was more muscular, more compressed, the record was stamped once and for all as B.B. King's and nobody else's. Ike Turner's contributions to this sound, whatever the tangled truths of everyone's memories, were not all that significant, but his place in Joe Bihari's esteem could not have been higher. There was something about Ike, sharp, in charge, always on the hustle, that really captured Joe Bihari's attention. According to Joe, ''I hired Ike. I bought him a car. I bought him a Buick Roadmaster. I gave him some of my suits, we wore the same size. I gave him an expense account and a weekly salary. I said, 'You go scout talent all through Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and when you have talent, you call me. I'll come in'''.

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

From the early 1950s until his death, King played several hundred gigs a year, sometimes well over 300, so he's certainly spent more time on his various buses than he has his regular home, he maintains one in Las Vegas.

B.B. King had assembled a splendid crew of up-and-coming musicians for local gigs that he dubbed the Blues Boys. "The group first was mine, and then it was called the Beale Streeters after that," he explained. "The Beale Streeters, at that time, consisted of Richard Sanders, Johnny Ace was the piano player - his name was John Alexander, but he later started making records under his own name with the Beale Streeters. In fact, the whole group was the group that I put together when we made ''Three O'Clock Blues''.

But when ''Three O'Clock Blues'' became a hit and I started to work out of a booking agency called Shaw Artists Corporation, and Universal (Attractions), they didn't want me to have a band''. ''They wanted me alone. So I left the band, and when I did, gave it to Johnny Ace. And that's when he changed it. Instead of calling it the Blues Boys as it had been, he started calling it the Beale Streeters'', recalls B.B.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR LOU SARGENT (LUTHER STEINBERG)
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR CHESS RECORDS 1951

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: PROBABLY MAY 1951
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01 - "RIDIN' THE BOOGIE" – B.M.I. - 2:16
Composer: - Sam Phillips-Leonard Chess
Publisher: - B.L.P.C
Matrix number: - U 64 Master
Recorded: - Probably May 1951
Released: - July 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1465-A < mono
RIDIN' THE BOOGIE / SHE REALLY TREATS ME WRONG
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-10 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

Lou Sarcent was actually a pseudonym for Luther Steinberg, although in the broader sence, the name was used as a front to describe the entire assembled musical aggregation. And in time-honoured fashion, Steinberg himself was unaware that he'd acquired a new identity until this record appeared. This could almost have been the backing track for "Rocket 88", which is hardly surprising when you consider that the group became Jackie Brenston's touring band following his (invatableble split with Ike Turner.

The track is driven along by the piano, playing of Phineas Newborn Jr. (who was probably still under contract to Modern Records at the time), whilst the nominal leader, "Sargent", is barely audible on trumpet. Luther's brother Wilbur played bass and provided the vocal on the flipside "She Really Treats Me Wrong" under yet another pseudonym, Les Mitchell.

02 - "SHE REALLY TREATS ME WRONG – 1" – B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - Sam Phillips-Leonard Chess
Publisher: - B.L.P.C.
Matrix number: - U 65 Master
Vocal Les Mitchell (Wilbur Steinberg)
Recorded: - Probably May 1951
Released: - July 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1465 < mono
SHE REALLY TREATS ME WRONG / RIDIN' THE BOOGIE

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Lou Sargent (Luther Steinberg) - Trumpet
Tot Randolph - Saxophone
Phineas Newborn Jr. - Piano
Les Mitchell (Wilbur Steinberg) - Vocal 1 and Bass
Jeff Greyer - Drums

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

LOU SARGENT - was Luther Steinberg, scion of a prominent music family. From the Beale Street barrelhouses to the Stax era, the Steinbergs were present. Milton Steinberg was a pianist at Pee Wee's Saloon from around 1910 until the 1950s and had four sons who became musicians (Luther, Wilbur, Morris, and Lewie) as well as a daughter, Nan, who sang with Fats Waller and various swing bands. Luther played trumpet, while Wilbur and Lewie both played bass. Their last name was honestly come by, it seems.

Either Milton of his father was the product of a union between a Beale Street pawnbroker and an African American woman, although the brothers were reportedly brought up in the Catholic faith. Luther and Wilbur led the first African American band on television in the mid-South. Either Sam Phillips or Chess Records changed Luther's name to Lou Sargent and Wilbur's to Les Mitchell.

The pseudonym Lou Sargent was coined by Chess Records for "Ridin' The Boogie", the sole release for a band nominally fronted by trumpet-player Luther Steinberg, but which was effectively Phineas Newborn Jr's band (whom Jackie Brenston would annex following his split with Ike Turner). However, the Lou Sargent name has generally become associated with Steinberg, whose brother Wilbur played the bass on the session and sung lead on the flip-side "She Really Treats Me Wrong".

Luther later married WDIA on-air personality and black socialite Martha Jean Jones, and left Memphis to work for Lionel Hampton, as did Morris, who later worked with B.B. King, Willie Mitchell, and other bands. Wilbur, who sings on ''She Really Treats Me Wrong'', became a bassist at Stax and Hi Records (he's reportedly on Ace Cannon's signature hit, ''Tuff'' and Rufus & Carla Thomas's ''Cause I Love You''). Lewie also became a bassist at Stax, playing on Booker T's ''Green Onion''.

As the sole surviving brother, Lewie was on-hand to acknowledge the debt that Memphis music owed the Steinbergs when they were accorded a Brass Note on Beale Street's Walk of Fame in November 2010.

Luther's wife, Martha Jean, became in 1963 a radio legend in Detroit, Michigan (her station's call-letters, WCHB in Inkster, was, she said, an acronym for Queen Broadcast Here), and on the occasion of her death in February 2000, it was noted by Billboard that Luther Steinberg had died on February 15, 2004, age of 72. Both died back in Memphis. Luther and Martha Jean's daughter, Dianne Steinberg Lewis, sang back-up for Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton, and others, and has recorded quite prolifically.

MAY 1951

Probably studio session with Rufus Thomas at the Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee.

By the time Rufus Thomas realized that his bullet disc existed but was not going to be a big seller and that Bullet Records was making no noises about recording Mr. Swing again - he also started to realize that there was an emerging recording opportunity right on his doorstep. In fact, Memphis radio announcer and producer Sam Phillips had first opened the doors of his Memphis Recording Service on Union Avenue pretty much at the same time Rufus was recording for Star Talent. By the early part of 1951, Phillips had already sold rhythm and blues recordings to out of town record companies like RPM and Chess and was gaining something of a reputation on the back of recordings of B. B. King, Rosco Gordon and others. "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston was top of the rhythm and blues charts when Rufus Thomas started to think about going along to Union Avenue. He told Peter Guralnick, "Everyone was just going up there, and I found out about it, so I went, too. You could come right off the street and go in there".

MAY 28, 1951 MONDAY

Columbia released Carl Smith's double-sided single, ''Mr. Moon'' backed by ''If Teardrops Were Pennies''

MAY 30, 1951 WEDNESDAY

Studio session with Joe Hill Louis at the Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee.

Lee Wallard wins the Indianapolis 500 at a speed of 126 miles per hour. The crowd includes Tiny Hill, who earned a hit months earlier with ''Hot Rod Race''.

MAY 31, 1951 THURSDAY

Tony Bennett recorded Hank Williams' Cold Cold Heart'' with producer Mitch Miller at the CBS Studio in New York.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR RUFUS THOMAS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR CHESS RECORDS 1951

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: PROBABLY MAY/JUNE 1951
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

When Rufus Thomas entered 706 Union Avenue, the first person he encountered was Marion Keisker, Sam Phillips' first, and at that time only, assistant. She arranged for him to visit when Sam would be there, and Phillips was pleased to have a go at recording one of the rising stars of Beale Street and Memphis radio.

Marion recorded Rufus' address in her files as 440 Vance, and later changed this to 1376 Kerr when the Thomas family moved. She set up a recording session for some time in May or June 1951, and Sam Phillips started to make a deal with Leonard Chess for the output of the session to be leased to Chess Records in Chicago.

01 - "NIGHT WORKIN' BLUES" – B.M.I. - 2:51
Composer: - Marty Witzel
Publisher: - B.L.P.C.
Matrix number: - U-62 Master
Recorded: - Circa May/June 1951
Released: - July 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1466-A < mono
NIGHT WORKIN' BLUES / WHY DID YOU DEEGEE?
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-7 mono
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

As far as is known, the first title Phillips recorded was "Night Workin' Blues", a song Rufus had been singing for some years, although it was credited to Marty Witzel. It opens with a swinging riff from the band and Herman Green and Richard Sanders both feature throughout on tenor and baritone sax. Pianist Billy Love swoop around the tune and keeps a solid rhythm section going. The music is more rhythm than blues but Rufus forcefully gets across his tale of woe about coming off the night shift to find he's getting no attention at home.

"I try to make her happy/But my life is misery" and the solution seems to be to "let this all night working go". We may never know how biographical the song was, and the same goes for the next song Rufus recorded. ''Why Did You Deegee?", its about a man who didn't believe his gal would leave him and its about as close to recognized blues structure as Rufus gets. A slower pace is set here by drummer Houston Stokes and is emphasized by prominent use of cymbals, while Rufus really opens up his vocal chords and sells his story of heartbreak, punctured by sax riffs, jazzy guitar figures from an unidentified guitarist, and more prominent interventions from Billy Love. "Night Workin' Blues" and "Why Did You Deegee?" were issued as Chess 1466 in the mid-summer of 1951, and at the end of July it was noted in Sam Phillips' logbook that he paid Rufus an advance on sales of fifty dollars.

02 - WHY DID YOU DEEGEE?" – B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - B.L.P.C.
Matrix number: - U 63 Master 
Recorded: - Circa May/June 1951
Released: - July 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1466-B < mono
WHY DID YOU DEEGEE? / NIGHT WORKIN' BLUES
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-8 mono
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

A third song had been made at the session and the master of "Crazy About You Baby" was sent to Chess at the same time as the masters for Chess 1466. "Crazy" was a pounding proto-rocker of the "Rocket 88" style that had gained Sam Phillips a massive rhythm and blues hit not long before. It is Billy Love pounding piano this time, rather than Ike Turner, and Rufus reeling off the honking vocals rather than Jackie Brenston. Saxophonists Green and Sanders do as good if not better a job than the Turner/Brenston band, and all the pieces were in place for a hit. Rufus was a few months too late with this one despite it being a considerably good record - and his song was about a girl rather than a car. Mistake. Sales of "Night Workin' Blues" must have been sufficient to encourage Phillips and Chess to plan a second release.

03 - "CRAZY ABOUT YOU BABY" – B.M.I. - 2:37
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - U 7400 Master -
Recorded: - Circa May/June 1951
Released: - January 1952
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1492-B < mono
CRAZY ABOUT YOU BABY/NO MORE DOGGING AROUND
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-9 mono
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas – Vocal
Herman Green - Tenor Saxophone
Richard Sanders - Baritone Saxophone
Billy Love - Piano
Unknown - Guitar
Unknown – Bass
Houston Stokes - Drums

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

MAY/JUNE 1951

Probably studio session for the Evangelist Gospel Singers of Alabama at the Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

At the same time that Sam Phillips shipped some masters of B.B. King to California, he sent out dubs to seven disc jockeys, so strong was his and Joe Bihari's belief in its commercial potential. Three days later, on May 30, he cut a one-song session on Joe Hill Louis, this one, too, inspired by a record that was beginning to make a little noise, though in this case the artist himself brought it to him. ''Eyesight To The Blind'' by Sonny Boy Williamson was a song that was very popular locally, and we really wanted to get a good cut on it. Joe had learned the song from Sonny Boy, whom he knew from his broadcasting experience on both KWEM and WDIA, and Sam Phillips for the first time added drums and piano to get the best sound they could on a number that Joe himself acknowledged was a killer in its original version. With this rhythmic underpinning, Joe was able to deliver a ''much more focused and upfront vocal'', and this, too, was rush-released, although to even less commercial effect than the B.B. single.

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOE HILL LOUIS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR MODERN RECORDS 1952

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: WEDNESDAY MAY 30, 1951
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01 – ''EYESIGHT TO THE BLIND'' – B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Sonny Boy Williamson
Publisher: - EMI Music Publisher Limited
Matrix number: - MM 1564 Master
Recorded: - May 30, 1951
Released: - 1951
First appearance: - Modern Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Modern 828-A < mono
EYESIGHT TO THE BLIND / GOING DOWN SLOW
Reissued: - 2001 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHD 803-18 mono
BOOGIE IN THE PARK

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joe Hill Louis – Vocal, Harmonica, Guitar, Hi-Hat, Bass Drums
Ford Nelson - Piano

Joe did get entangled in the Chess-Bihari-Phillips wars and new research makes it apparent that the Biharis recorded his sixth and final Modern record in early 1952 during their own field recordings. It is notable that the usual spark and enthusiasm is absent in ''Peace Of Mind'' and ''Chocolate Blonde''.

The latter is actually quite an inferior performance with a torturously slow boogie guitar break that goes out of tune at the ninth bar. Joe had a habit of doing this on slow numbers but none had reached release before. It appeared simultaneously with a Phillips produced record Checker. This was period of change as Phillips shifted a tough combo outing with Joe only on guitar for ''Dorothy Mae'. '' 'When I'm Gone'' features Joe's dangerously amplified guitar accompanied only by the insistent thud of his bass drum.

By the time the exciting November/December sessions for his lone Sun single, Joe had amplified his harp and Phillips uses Willie Nix for the drums. Joe's Meteor session in February of 1953 returns to a one-man-band format and is the second focal point of this collection. It was recorded during a Modern field trip and not by Lester Bihari himself as has sometimes been speculated. On return to the West Coast, very anonymous bass and drums were overdubbed to the four sides slated for release. This addition basically only served to dilute the sound. The original undubbed recordings are used in this collection. ''Western Union Man''/''Jack Pot'' as by Chicago Sunny Boy was a good seller but would have been of unlikely long-term value to Joe's career. The pseudonym, which even fooled researchers for years, suggests that his contract with the Biharis had by this time ended.

''Jack Pot'' is actually ''Woody Herman's At The Woodchopper's Ball'' and Joe's superb was performance was indicated as such on the tape box. Two takes exist with both equally meriting fusion, but the shorter previously unissued and looser alternate take is heard here.

Exceptionally fine are two further instrumentals (originally logged as ''Boogie'' and ''Boogie 2'') which eventually came out on the Howling Wolf Crown LP as ''Twisting And Turning'' and ''Backslide Boogie'' respectively. The rock solid 'Twisting And Turning' has never been on CD and it is a more deliberate and superior take to that originally issued as ''On The Floor'' on the rare second Meteor 78.

A glance at the discography reveals that the undubbed version of this take no longer exists while '' She Broke Up My Life'' is the correct title for '' She Got Me Welkin'' . This title had been assigned to another take of the same song, which now only exists as a fragment due to tape damage.

''Good Morning Little Angel'' is a pretty weak adaptation of Sonny Boy's ''School Girl'' but this Meteor session still finds Joe in absolute top form with wonderful cohesion between the instruments. It occupies a unique place in his discography as the only full one-man-band session recorded with amplified harp.

Joe returned to Sun a couple of months later to cut scintillating versions of his two most commercial songs - ''Tiger Man'' and ''Hydramatic Woman'' with a band including Walter Horton on harmonica but no release at the time resulted. A mystery version of the latter song by Louis with a full rhythm and blues band was eventually released by 4-Star on their Big Town subsidiary in 1954. Clearly taken from an old acetate, it is very likely an earlier version sent by Phillips to Don Pierce at 4-Star during the time of their earlier dealings. All that would follow during Joe's tragically short life would be two chaotic 1953 sessions held at a radio station with George Lawson's band for Henry Stone's Rockin' label - followed by an unissued session for Johnny Vincent the next year. Later on, there was a strange record on Vendor (taken from a radio broadcast) and a very rocking 1957 record on House Of Sound, which proved that Joe Hill Louis's talent was still intact for the talented producer who could capture it - just as Sam Phillips had done.

For Biography of Joe Hill Louis see: > The Sun Biographies <
Joe Hill Louis' Modern/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 JACKIE BRENSTON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR CHESS RECORDS 1951

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: PROBABLY MAY/JUNE 1951
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR MARION KEISKER

01 - "INDEPENDENT WOMAN*" – B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Jackie Brenston
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - U-7350 - Acetate
Recorded: - Probably May/June 1951
Released: - July 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1472-B < mono
INDEPENDENT WOMAN / JUICED
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-8 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

Brenston and the band get in something of a pickle here as they all lock into tortuous, uncomfortable riffs, apart from Ike Turner who belabours the piano's treble keys with some abandon. Willie Kizart's fingers don't always find the right frets, whilst Willie Sims bravely - if foolhardily - persists with a rhythm pattem which combines his floor tom and sundry splashes on his hi-hat. Raymond Hill adds his tenor sax to the rippling riff before Jackie commends him "Play your horn, Raymond! Blow!". At the end of the piece, Jackie picks up his saxophone to supplement Hill's tenor. This was in fact yet another variation on "Rocket 88", recorded the same day and held over until it was used as the B-side of "Juiced", of which more later.

A musical clone of ''Rocket 88'' without the automotive hook. Chess coupled it with ''Juiced'' and released it as Brenston's third single. His career lost further momentum as a result. As before, he shouts encouragement to Raymond Hill during the sax solo. in fact, there's so much saxophone, it's almost a Raymond Hill record. One possibility is that dissension had already set in between Brenston and Ike Turner's band, leading Phillips to retrieve this substandard cut and pair it with ''Juiced'', a song that didn't even have Brenston on it, even though it was credited to him.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jackie Brenston - Vocal and Baritone Sax
Raymond Hill - Tenor Sax
Probably Ike Turner - Piano
Willie Kizart - Guitar
Willie Sims - Drums

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

In the early days of the Memphis Recording Service, one of Sam Phillips' staple activities was recording community events including church sermons and gospel music. He made these recordings both on location and in his recording studio. Much of this was for the personal use of his clients but occasionally he was in a position to suggest that a singer or group might make a commercial session.

We know that Phillips recorded the Gospel Tones and the Gospel Travelers in 1950 and the Brewsteraires in 1951, and the Chess master numbers suggest that two disc by the Evangelist Gospel Singers of Alabama were made by Sam Phillips for Chess Records in the summer of 1951.

STUDIO SESSION FOR THE EVANGELIST GOSPEL SINGERS OF ALABAMA
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR CHESS RECORDS 1951

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: POSSIBLY MAY/JUNE 1951
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

This recording session is not logged in the MRS files, but the Chess Records archives indicate that the masters were purchased from Sam Phillips.

The Evangelists are good, no matter who recorded them. What's good here includes the highly syncopated rhythm and highly arranged and rehearsed performance. This quartet didn't walk into a studio and lay down a track after agreeing on a key, a tempo and some lyrics. In that sense they differ from many of the blues performances presented here. These guys rehearsed, and they worked the piano player into their arrangement. he's not just comping mindlessly behind them; the piano is driving and fronting the performance. The cold stop at the end and the voicing of the final vocal chord tells you that a lot of prep work went into what you're hearing. Perhaps the strongest evidence to suggest this may not have been a Phillips recording is the sheer skill that went into balancing the lead vocalist with the quartet, and the quartet as a whole with the piano. The studio at 706 Union was small and some other Phillips recordings of the era show that Sam was not always skilled at doing this kins of balancing act. This ''Leaning On The Lord'' hymn was one that the Golden Gate Quartet, the Famous Blue Jay Singers, and many others had recorded.

01 - "LEANING ON THE LORD" – B.M.I. - 2:55
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U-7351 Master
Recorded: - Possibly May/June 1951
Released: - August 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1473-A < mono
LEANING ON THE LORD / LORD STOP THE WAR
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-19 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

Before we get into the music, we want to remind everyone near and far that, while there are discographical reasons to believe these may be recordings made by Sam Phillips, we remain sceptical on aural evidence alone. The record labels offer no clues: no composer and no publisher. Now the music. Originally appearing on one side of Chess 1473, this ''Lord Stop The War'' might have competed for radio airtime because of its content. The Korean War loomed large over the black community and dragged its tendrils into the repertoire of gospel quartets and their recording session. The content was clear: Let our boys come home from this senseless war being fought god knows where over issues none of us understands. Just make our families and community whole again. That message, sung to a familiar 8-bar structure is what you get here for 2:46 sec. What it lacks in originality, it more than gains in topicality. A lot of P's get popped, but that's what happens when you're singing about ''everybody Praying''. The topicality is hammered home in the final line when the group asks God not to stop the War, but to Stop This War. Amen.

02 - "LORD STOP THE WAR" – B.M.I. - 2:46
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U-7352 Master
Recorded: - Possibly May/June 1951
Released: - August 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1473-B < mono
LORD STOP THE WAR / LEANING ON THE LORD
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-18 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Evangelist Gospel Singers of Alabama consisting of:
Willie McInstry - Lead Vocal
Leroy Terry - Tenor and Piano
Willie Banks - Baritone Vocal
John Davis - Bass Vocal
Unknown - Vocal

For Biography of Evangelist Gospel Singers see: > The Sun Biographies <
Evangelist Gospel Singers' Chess recordings can be heard on the playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube >

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

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For Biographies of Artists see: > The Sun Biographies <
MRS/Chess/RPM recordings can be heard on the playlists from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

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