For music (standard singles) and playlists on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

Essential Sun Rockabillies - Volume 1 (CPCD 8099) Various Artists
Essential Sun Rockabillies - Volume 2 (CPCD 8118) Various Artists
Essential Sun Rockabillies - Volume 3 (CPCD 8161) Various Artists
Essential Sun Rockabillies - Volume 4 (CPCD 8336( Various Artists
Essential Sun Rockabillies - Volume 5 (CPCD 8317) Various Artists
Essential Sun Rockabillies - Volume 6 (CPCD 8352) Various Artists

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

Rockabilly is a musical genre revered by the enthusiasts, yet the word started out more as a derogatory term than a compliment, a reference to hillbillies who put a beat to their music. In its purest form rockabilly only existed for about two years before it was obliterated by the commercial considerations of the music business moguls. And yet, because it was a music that came from the soul it lived on in the hearts of those who were captivated by its magic. This small band of worshippers kept it alive until new generations discovered the basic appeal of rockabilly, and youngsters started listening to and playing the music a quarter of a century after its original mayfly existence. Since the mid seventies more rockabilly music has been issued in Europe than was ever released in the mid fifties. 

It may not be strictly true to say that rockabilly was born in the Sun studios at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee (more like the cotton fields of Tennessee, Mississippi and the hills of Arkansas) but it was certainly first recorded there. The Sun studio was instituted by Sam Phillips to record the blues artists that Memphis and its Beale Street is so justly famous for, but it was Sam's vision of a white boy who could capture the beat of the blues that led to the emergence of rockabilly. The vehicle that converted Sam's dreams to reality was a local boy, born in Tupelo, Mississippi, one Elvis Presley. It was who combined the white man's country music with the black man's blues and came up with the hybrid rockabilly. 

What other independent record company could boast of a roster that included Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, let alone those who never fully achieved their potential like Sonny Burgess, Billy Riley, Carl Mann and Hayden Thompson. 

Small wonder then that the Sun label has been shrouded in a mystique that bestows upon its artists a legendary status. For rockabilly enthusiasts that their Mecca, and all bow reverentially towards Union Avenue. Sun Rockabilly, Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz: these are words that just naturally come together. When you listen to this 6 CDs you are listening to the ultimate rockabilly sound.


© 1995 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8099 mono digital

Essential Sun Rockabillies Volume 1 contains a few of the classic tracks associated with the legendary Memphis label, but mainly highlights some of the more obscure songs from Sun's vast catalog. One of the problems with these Sun compilation discs is they tend to feature the same 15 tracks over and over again. That isn't the case with this Charly release. Along with "Red Hot" and "Ooby Dooby" are lost artifacts by Johnny Powers, Harold "Conway Twitty" Jenkins, Kenny Parchman, Hayden Thompson, and Vernon Taylor.

by Al Campbell 

Digitally remastered at Charly Studios.
Compilation and liner notes: Adam Komorowski.

1 - Put Your Clothes On (Carl Perkins) (1985) 2:38 Not Originally Issued
2 - Red Hot (Billy Lee Riley) (1957) 2:29 > Sun 277-A < 
3 - We Wanna Boogie (Sonny Burgess) (1956) 2:14 > Sun 247-B <
4 - Tennessee Zip (Kenneth Parchman) (1986) 2:20 Not Originally Issued
5 - Rabbit Action (Jimmy Haggett) (1985) 1:38 Not Originally Issued
6 - Come On Little Mama (Ray Harris) (1956) 2:16 > Sun 254-B <
7 - Mad Man (Jimmy Wages) (1983) 2:08 Not Originally Issued
8 - Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache (Warren Smith) (1974) 2:15 Not Originally Issued
9 - Mama Mama Mama (Hayden Thompson) (1983) 1:46 Not Originally Issued
10 - Flat Foot Sam (Tommy Blake) (1958) 2:00 > Sun 278-A <
11 - Crawdad Hole (Jack Earls) (1976) 1:54 Not Originally Issued
12 - Goin’ Crazy (Mack Self) (1983) 2:28 Not Originally Issued
13 - Crazy Woman (Gene Simmons) (1976) 2:08 Not Originally Issued
14 - Tough Tough Tough (Andy Anderson) (1986) 2:33 Not Originally Issued
15 - Huh Babe (Luke McDaniel) (1986) 2:13 Not Originally Issued
16 - Ten Cats Down (The Miller Sisters) (1956) 2:19 > Sun 255-A <
17 - Rakin’ And Scrapin’ (Dean Beard) 1:56 (1976)
18 - Rockin’ With My Baby (Malcolm Yelvington) (1956) 2:16 > Sun 246-A < 
19 - Bottle To The Baby (Charlie Feathers) (1986) 2:01 Not Originally Issued
20 - This Ole Heart Of Mine (Eddie Bond) (1976) 1:54 Not Originally Issued
21 - Milkshake Mademoiselle (Jerry Lee Lewis) (1974) 2:04 Not Originally Issued
22 - Your Lovin’ Man (Vernon Taylor) (1977) 1:56 Not Originally Issued
23 - Me And My Rhythm Guitar (Johnny Powers) (1986) 2:35 Not Originally Issued
24 - Just In Time (Harold Jenkins) (1976) 2:43 Not Originally Issued
25 - Ooby Dooby (Roy Orbison) (1956) 2:11 > Sun 242-A <
Original Sun Recordings

© Original Sun Recordings, licensed from Sun Entertainment, Inc. 

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


© 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8118 mono digital

With this second volume of rockabilly, we continue to explore the Sun artists who did not record enough material to warrant their own release. or in the cases of people like warren Smith and Carl Perkins, takes not included on their CD'S are given an airplay. Some of the artists featured in this set appeared on Volume I, so detailed biographies will not be repeated in such cases. What both these volumes emphasise is the wealth of talent that was drawn to 706 Union. even if only a small portion actually managed to get released at the time. The large majority of sides on this compilation were not issued by Sam Phillips. but had to await subsequent decades to see the light of day.

Digitally remastered at Charly Studios.
Compilation and liner notes: Adam Komorowski.

1 - Go Ahead Baby (Luke McDaniel (1985) 1:54 (Not Originally Issued)
2 - Rock Me Baby (Jimmy Haggett) (1985) 1:47 (Not Originally Issued)
3 - Honky Tonk Babe (Carl Perkins) (1986) 1:49 (Not Originally Issued)
4 - Gonna Romp And Stomp (Slim Rhodes) (1956) 2:18 > Sun 238-A < 
5 - Tell 'Em Off (Onie Wheeler) (1957) 1:55 > Sun 315-B <
5 - Love My Baby (Hayden Thompson) (1957) 2:09 > PI 3517-A <
7 - That’s The Way I Love (Johnny Carroll) (1957) 2:32 > PI 3520-A <
8 - Love Dumb Baby (Ray Harris) (1985) 1:59 (Not Originally Issued)
9 - Heart Breakin' Love (Jimmy Wages) (1985) 2:14 (Not Originally Issued)
10 - Shake Around (Tommy Blake) (1985) 2:24 (Not Originally Issued)
11 - Chains Of Love (Gene Simmons) (1985) 2:35 (Not Originally Issued)
12 - Slow Down (Jack Earls) (1986) 2:15 (Not Originally Issued)
13 - Foolish Thoughts (Narvel Felts) (1985) 1:37 (Not Originally Issued)
14 - That's The Way I Feel (Jimmy Pritchett) (1985) 2:15 (Not Originally Issued)
15 - Treat Me Right (Kenny Parchman) (1985) 2:59 (Not Originally Issued)
16 - Walkin' With My Best Friends (Curtis Hoback) (1985) 2:30 (Not Originally Issued)
17 - Fool Proof (Mack Vickery) (1985) 2:33 (Not Originally Issued)
18 - Rock Around The Town (Dean Beard) (1977) 2:19 (Not Originally Issued)
19 - This Kind Of Love (Vernon Taylor) (1985) 2:04 (Not Originally Issued)
20 - Judy (Alternate Take) (Rudy Grayzell) (1985) 2:14 (Not Originally Issued)
21 - Johnny Valentine (Andy Anderson) (1985) 2:09 (Not Originally Issued)
22 - Dear John (Alternate Take 3) (Waren Smith) (1992) 1:53 (Not Originally Issued)
23 - Huh Huh Oh Yeah (Tracy Pendarvis) (1985) 1:51 (Not Originally Issued)
24 - Christine (Roy Hall) (1985) 2:23 (Not Originally Issued)
25 - Bop Pills (Mace Skipper) (1985) 2:23 (Not Originally Issued)
Original Sun Recordings

© Original Sun Recordings, licensed from Sun Entertainment, Inc. 

McDaniel's "Huh Baby''! appeared on the previous volume, as did his potted biog. ''Go Ahead'' was recorded at the same session on September 4, 1956. There are two takes of this song extant and this is the first which appeared on Sun LP 1019. The personnel is not certain, but the guitarist is either Bradd Suggs or Buddy Holobaugh with Johnny Bernero on drums. The bass player is not known but may have been Marcus Van Story. McDaniel added the name of Jimmy Rogers to the writer credits of "Uh Babe" and ''Go Ahead Baby'' as a thank you to the man who had provided the transport to get him to Memphis. The reason why none of these recordings were released at the time was explained by McDaniel to Derek Glenister in Roll Street Journal: "When / came out of the studio Sam Phillips was there and I was expecting to get paid for the session and I needed the money. Sam looked at me and said, 'We don't pay any of the artists for the session'. And / said, 'What do you mean, you don't pay 'em? They're entitled to Union scales'. He said again, 'We don't pay 'em, we take care of the musicians and then it's taken out of any money that is due to you on record sales. 'So that made me mad, and Sam knew it, and me and Sam clashed over the money, we just didn't see eye to eye at all, So / let him know it, and Sam let me know. He told me, 'Well, if we can't agree, we just will not put the record out. so that's that'. That's the reason the songs were never issued on Sun Records''.

This artist also makes a second appearance in this series. ''Rock Me Baby'' is from the same 1956 session as ''Rabbit Action", and this too was credited to Junior Thompson when first issued on Sun LP 1018. Just for the record, Haggett played acoustic guitar and was backed by Charlie Hardin on guitar, Billy Springer on steel, Jackie Lee Adkins on bass and Don White on drums. 

When Carl Perkins and his brothers along with W.S. Holland recorded their first session at Sun in October, 1954, the first tune they recorded was ''Honky Tonk Babe'' which on a subsequent take got changed to ''Honky Tonk Gal". First issued on Bear Family BFX 15211 it then appeared on the CD box-set BCD 15494. 

Slim Rhodes was one of the country artists who eventually teetered on the verge of rockabilly, bridging the transition from hillbilly to rockabilly. His early records were recorded by Sam Phillips for Gilt-Edge in 1950. The Rhodes family came from Arkansas, and the three Rhodes brothers, Slim, Dusty and Speck initially formed the Log Cabin Mountaineers in the thirties. They played various radio stations until they landed a spot on Radio WMC in Memphis in 1944, where they would stay for 20 years, and build up a considerable following. Sam signed the boys to Sun in 1955 and at their second session on February, 1956 they recorded ''Gonna Romp And Stomp''. With Slim on guitar, Speck on bass, Brad Suggs on guitar, John Hughey on steel, an unknown drummer and Dottie Rhodes-Moore (Dusty's wife) sharing vocal duties with Dusty who also played fiddle. It was released on Sun 216 and was at the rockabilly end of their recording spectrum. The band provided a training ground for several other artists, notably Hayden Thompson and Brad Suggs, who in fact was the vocalist on the flipside, "Bad Girl" The band went on to record on Cotton Town Jubilee, and they continued performing in and around Memphis right up to Slim's premature death in 1966 at the age of 53. The other two brothers kept the band going until the late sixties, and then went their separate ways. 

The song ''Gonna Romp And Stomp'' of Slim Rhodes can you hear on the soundtrack of the American neo-crime drama TV series ''Breaking Bad'' (January 20, 2008, to September 29, 2013), season 5, episode 11 with the title ''Confession'', when Todd, Uncle Jack, and Kenny exit the cafe and head down the road.

A veteran of the country scene, Onie made a passing appearance at Sun that ran to three sessions in November and December, 1957 and resulted in five titles being recorded. He developed a distinctive vocal style accompanying himself on harmonica. Born in Sikeston, Missouri on November 27, 1921, Onie lost his mother at the age of four and was raised by his father. Upon leaving High School he started work on a farm in 1939, and enlisted in the Army in 1940. It was there that he found an audience for his singing and playing. After returning to Civvy street in 1945, the attraction of farm work had palled. He formed a band and obtained radio work in Polar Bluff, Missouri and then Jonesboro, Arkansas. This boost to their popularity resulted in an approach from Agana Records and the first recording by Wheeler as the Lonesome Ozark Cowboys. By 1949 they were touring all over the south and became Onie Wheeler & The Ozark Boys. In the early fifties he moved to Nashville and signed with Columbia Records. Records appeared on Okeh and Columbia and he recorded some excellent hillbilly, which by 1956 was verging on rockabilly. After the end of the Columbia contract, Onie came to Sun, and his recording ''Tell 'Em Off''' is a speeded up re-working of his earlier Columbia track, "Run 'Em Off". Not entirely satisfied with his Sun recordings, Onie drifted back to Missouri and recorded on K.Ark. In 1964 he joined Roy Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys with whom he played in tandem with pursuing a solo career. In 1973 he hit the country charts with "John's Been Shuckin' My Corn" on Royal American. He recorded prolifically over the years appearing on Vaden, United Artists, Musicor, Starday, Jab, Ole Windmill, Scottie, Papa Joe, Charta and Ranwood. He collapsed on stage at the Grand Ole Opry on May 25, 1984 and died of a cardiac arrest. 

Hayden Thompson came from the rural surroundings of Memphis, Booneville, Prentiss County, Mississippi. Born in 1938 he absorbed the classic rockabilly diet of hillbilly and rhythm and blues over the radio in his youth. In 1953 he formed a band with Marlin Grissom (bass), Clyde Hill (lead guitar), Perry King (steel) and Junior Jones (fiddle) with Marlin's sister Cricket sharing vocal duties with Hayden, calling themselves the Southern Melody Boys. In 1954 they cut four sides at WBIP in Booneville and two of the sides appeared on the Von label. As rock and roll started gaining a foothold in 1955, Hayden had himself a new band calling itself the Dixie Jazzlanders. Only Marlin Grissom remained from the original group with Bill Hill on lead guitar, joined by Bill Goddard on drums. Hayden started hanging around the Sun studios in early 1956 and eventually managed to get Sam to cut four sides on him. None were issued and the group split up, and Hayden joined the Slim Rhodes band as vocalist. At this stage Jimmy Van Eaton was playing with them. In December, 1956 he cut another session at Sun recording ''Love My Baby'' with Jerry Lee Lewis on piano, again no release resulted. In April, 1957 Hayden cut "Rockabilly Gal" accompanied by the Rhodes Band, but still no record was released. Finally a session on September 6, 1957 saw Hayden cut his first single "Love My Baby" / "One Broken Heart" (Phillips International 3517). Accompanied by Roland Janes (lead guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass) and Jimmy Van Eaton on drums, Hayden played the piano himself on ''Love My Baby'' this time round. The failure of the record disillusioned Hayden and in 1958 he moved to Chicago where he continued in radio, TV and live club work. He recorded on B.E.A.T., Profile, Arlen, Kapp, H.l., Brave and Nashville North during the sixties and early seventies. In 1975 he more or less gave up trying to make it in the music business and took up chauffeuring full time. Tours to Europe in the eighties rekindled his musical ambitions, and he nowadays pursues a part-time music career alongside his full time job. 

Johnny Carroll provided one of the classic rockabilly poses ranging alongside Ersel Hickey as the epitome of a fifties rocker, Johnny's being that of a demented rockabilly, which his Decca recordings tended to bear out. Born in Cleburne, Texas on October 23, 1937 and raised in Godley, Johnny's real surname was Carrell, but an error by Decca when he signed with them resulted in a permanent change of surname. His father was a dairy farmer and also bred greyhounds which brought Johnny into contact with a lot of blacks, making him unaware of racial segregation. Rhythm and blues music came to his attention courtesy of a cousin who ran a jukebox company, and Johnny was soon into the group sounds of the likes of the Charms and Clovers. Carroll formed a band in high school along with Jay Salem on guitar, Billy Bunton on bass and Bill Hennen on piano. (Amongst some early recordings was "Hearts Of Stone"). Opening the show for Ferlin Husky in 1955 in Fort Worth, they greatly impressed one LG. Tiger (real name Jack Goldman), owner of the Top Ten Recording Studio in Dallas. It all resulted in him becoming their manager and setting up the Decca Records deal. Goldman next got Carroll a part in the budget rock and roll film "Rock Baby Rock It". When Johnny discovered that Goldman was ripping him off (collecting $1000 a night for dates and paying Johnny $100), a legal battle ensued. It entailed a "cease and desist" order on Johnny that prevented him from working in the music business for six months. When he resumed work, he met Scotty Moore and Bill Black at the Louisiana Hayride and they started playing with him. Scotty gave him an intro to Sam Phillips. Carroll cut some four demos at Cliff Herring's Studio in Fort Worth on June 23, 1957, backed by Jay Salem (guitar), Bill Gustin (bass), Bill Hennen (piano) and George Jones (drums). He sent them to Phillips who issued ''That's The Way I Love'' / ''I'll Wait'' on Phillips International (3520). Sam offered Johnny the choice of Sun or his brand new label Phillips International, telling him that which ever record took off on Phillips International out of the first batch, all his efforts would go into it. In the event it was Bill Justis with "Raunchy" that went on to become the hit. Carroll's option with Sun wasn't renewed and he signed with Ed McLemore's agency in Dallas where he became good friends with Gene Vincent and wrote "Maybe" for him. Johnny signed with Warner Brothers cutting a couple of singles, and cut further sides on Duchess and WA. In the sixties Carroll became a fixer for Bill Sellers in Fort Worth, as well as running a club in Dallas. Ronny Weiser brought him back to the studio in 1978 to record for his Rollin' Rock label. Johnny also teamed up with model Judy Lindsey and started playing the nightclub circuit in Texas. They came to the UK in 1980 and became popular visitors to these shores on a number of tours. Following a liver transplant operation at the Baylor Hospital in Dallas, Johnny Carroll died on February 18, 1995 at the age of 57. 

Having made his debut on Volume 1 of this series, all that needs to be said of Ray Harris' ''Love Dumb Baby'' is that it was cut at an unknown session, somewhere between the summer of 1956 and 1957, backed probably by Wayne Cogswell (guitar), Joey Reisenberg (drums). 

Another previous contender in the rockabilly stakes, Jimmy Wages recorded but the one take of ''Heartbreakin' Love'' which was first issued on "Rockabilly Tunes" (Sun LP 1026). According to Jimmy the song was cut at his second Sun session, with backing provided by Grady Pannel (lead guitar), Jessie Carter (bass), Charlie Rich (piano) and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums), around mid 1956. 

"Flat Foot Sam" was Tommy's offering on Volume 1. This time we get ''Shake Around'' recorded at his second Sun session on March 10, 1958. Blake himself played guitar with Roland Janes on lead with possibly Sid Manker also playing guitar. Stan Kesler played bass, and Jimmy Van Eaton drums. The backing vocal group consisted of Andre Mitchell, Johnny Pryor, Elijan Franklin, and John Franklin. Ed Bruce also appeared on the session, but in what precise capacity is not known. First released on Sun 614 in France and subsequently on Sun LP 1029. The song was written by Ray Smith who also recorded it on Sun. 

A number of Sun recording artists found fame after leaving the label; Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty, Dickie Lee and Ed Bruce spring to mind as does Gene Simmons, who found his moment of glory in the "Haunted House" on Hi. ''(You Can't Break The) Chains Of Love'' dates back to around April, 1956 when, backed by brother Carl on guitar and Jesse Carter on bass he recorded five titles. First released on Sun LP 1024. 

Slow Down credited to Jack Earls & the Jimbos was Jack's only Sun single issued on Sun 240 in April, 1956. Recorded probably on April 14, of that year, the Jimbos (so named after an earlier unissued recording "Hey Jim") consisted of Warren Gregory (guitar), Johnny Black (bass), Danny Wahlquist (drums). 

Yet another Sun artist whose days of fame were yet to come. A prolific recording artist, Narvel met up with Jerry Mercer in the spring of 1956 and became the resident singer in Jerry's band, the Rhythm & Blues Boys. With Jerry on rhythm guitar, the band consisted of Leon Barnett on lead guitar, Calvin Ham on bass and Bob Taylor on drums. They got a slot on radio KTCB in Malden, Missouri, broadcasting regularly every Saturday afternoon. (Some of these recordings can be found on "Radio Rockabillies" . Rockstar RSR-LP 1016). Mercer left the group at the end of 1956 to get married, and the group turned into Narvel Felts & the Rockets. It was this group that made its Sun debut on January 23, 1957, recording amongst others ''Foolish Thoughts'', which first saw the light of day on Sun LP 1026. Felts and the Rockets went on to record for Mercury that same year. Felts stayed in the music business eventually hitting the jackpot with "Drift Away" in 1973, and achieved the distinction of the number one record of the year in Cashbox in 1975. 

An artist who made a fleeting appearance on Sun and to date has had but one track issued from the label. Both the tracks listed in the Sun Session Files ( ''That's The Way I Feel'' and "Nothing On My Mind", the latter written by Ramon Maupin), were re- recorded by Pritchett and issued on the Memphis Crystal label (503). Only ''That's The Way Feel'' has thus far appeared, released on "Shake Around" (Sun LP 1029) in 1985. These two sides were recorded with Ace Cannon's band; Roland Janes (lead guitar), Billy Riley (bass), Jimmy Wilson (piano), and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums), but no sign of Cannon's sax! The Crystal single was backed by Billy Riley & the Little Green Men. 

Parchman's Sun tracks must rate amongst the best rockabilly recordings not to have been issued by Sam Phillips. ''Treat Me Right'' was recorded in the first months of 1957 with backing probably provided by Jerry Lee Smith on piano, R.W. Stevenson on bass and either Bobby Cash or Ronnie Parchman on drums. This track was first released on Sun LP 1025 "Hop Flop & Fly". 

One of the relatively few artists to have recorded on Sun who have not (to the best of my knowledge) had their stories published in any of the rock and roll magazines. Strange, as he recorded for several labels. What is a fact is that his surname has been spelt three different ways, Hobeck, Hoback and Hobock. The backing group on most of his records has been credited as the Stardusters, but who they were, at present remains a mystery. Hobeck first recorded a couple of singles on Lu in 1957. In 1959 he cut his first session at Sun, and shortly thereafter recorded a second session at which ''Walkin' With My Best Friends'' as well as "Apron Strings" that Cliff Richard picked up on were cut. Apart from two tracks on Boo Cat 700 and "Apron Strings" which was issued on Redita, the only other Sun tracks were issued on Sun LP 1038. Two singles appeared on Cee & Cee and then in 1965 two singles were released on the Music Center label. 

Over the years Willard Mack Vickery has recorded under a whole host of names. Born June 8, 1938 in Town Creek, Alabama he spent some time living in Michigan. At the age of 17 he decided that Memphis was where was all happening and saved up enough money to travel down from Detroit. ''I just walked in there", he told Trevor Cajiao, "and I think Carl Perkins and his brothers were parked outside''. He introduced himself to Sam Phillips and on December, 20 1957, recorded three sides, amongst them ''Foolproof'' which was eventually issued on "More Rebel Rockabilly" (Charly CR 30116). Backing Vickery were Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass) and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums). Despite not releasing any of the three tracks, Phillips liked the sound of this young lad and encouraged him to stay. However homesickness drove Vickery home to Adrianne, Michigan, a fact that he now regrets. His first released single was recorded in Chicago for Princeton. (It will shortly appear on the Sequel compilation "Now Dig This"). After that Vickery signed for George Goldner's Gone label in New York ("Goin' To St. Louis" was on the Roulette Rock And Roll Collection - Sequel NEM CD 619). Then it was Jamie as Vick Vickers, and one off deals on Jack O'Diamonds, Afco and Boone. As Atlanta Jones he recorded on MCA, by which time he was heavily into writing as well. Jerry Lee cut three of his songs on the "Southern Roots" album, and a whole host of top country names have recorded his tunes rangng from Lefty Frizzell, through Waylon Jennings to Tanya Tucker. 

The story of Dean's abortive visit to Sun was recounted in Volume 1. ''Rock Around The Town'' was recorded on March 29, 1956, with Beard accompanying himself on piano aided and abetted by James Stewart on guitar, Johnny Black on bass, Jimmy Seals sax and Jimmy Van Eaton on drums. The track first appeared on Bopcat 200 and subsequently on the Charly 10'' album CFM 505. 

Due to make his debut in the UK next month, Vernon Taylor was also a contributor to Volume 1. This ''Kind Of Love'' was recorded at his penultimate session for Sun on March 8, 1959. It didn't see the light of day until it was issued in 1975 on the French Sun single (601), and ten years later appeared on "Country Rock" (Sun LP 1031), a further ten years on it appears on this CD! 

The Sun label was just a brief interlude in Rudy Grayzell's recording career. Born Rudy Jimenez Grayzell on June 8, 1933, in Saspamco, Texas, it was through his friendship with singer/deejay Charlie Walker that he got into the music business. He cut his first sides for Abbott in 1953 and signed with Capitol in 1954 on a two year contract, gradually converting from a hillbilly singer to, by the time he recorded on his next label, a rockabilly singer. It was Walker who introduced him to Pappy Daily and in 1956 he recorded for Starday, cutting the rockabilly classic "Duck Tail" (Starday 229). As the Mercury-Starday deal started foundering, Rudy decided it was time to move on. His next port of call was Memphis. The session, held over two days (October 15-16, 1957), was supervised by Roy Orbison. Roland Janes (guitar), Dick Ketner (bass), a member of Rudy's band, the blind Jimmy Smith (piano) and Otis Jett (drums) provided the backing. There were two cuts of ''Judy'' one of which was released on Sun 290 and an alternate take. The one on this set, that was first issued on Sun LP 1029. Never one to hang around too long, Grayzell next recorded for Award in 1959 cutting "The FBI Story" (129). Thereafter his recording career took a sabbatical until 1986 when he recut "Duck Tail" on Sundial. In the interim he pursued a successful career as a live performer. More recently he recorded for Norton and made his debut in the UK at the Hemsby Weekender. 

Andy's extraordinary story can be found on the first volume. Here we get the fast version of Johnny Valentine, with the slow as yet unissued version hopefully making an appearance on a later volume. Cut in November, 1957 with his group the Rolling Stones: Joe Tubb on lead guitar, Billy Covington on bass, Roy Estes on piano and Roger Lyons on drums, the track first appeared on "Rockabilly Tunes" Sun LP 1026. 

Warren's full story can be found on his individual CD Charly CPCD 8119. This take of ''Dear John'' does not appear on that set. This take (3) first appeared on "Classic Recordings" Bear Family BCD 15514 in 1992. For discographical details see the above mentioned Warren Smith CD. 

Born and raised in central Florida, Tracy Pendarvis became pals with guitarist Johnny Gibson. Together they won a talent contest in Gainesville, Florida, which led to a recording on the local Scottie label. Married and working as an electrician, Pendarvis continued playing with Gibson and added drummer Merrill "Punk" Williams to the strength. Eventually in the fall of 1959, they decided they had to record for Sun, got in the car and drove to Memphis. Sam dug the sounds he heard and signed them up. Augmented by pianist Jimmy Wilson and Sid Manker on bass they cut their first single "A Thousand Guitars" (Sun 335) which was issued in January, 1960. Also recorded at this session was ''Uh Huh Oh Yeah'' that was ultimately issued on Sun LP 1031. In all Tracy recorded some three or four sessions on Sun and had three excellent singles released. After leaving Sun he set up Descant Records working closely with Bill Lowery's NRC set up in Atlanta, but folded it after one year. He moved to Chicago, divorced, moved back to Florida, remarried and settled in Tavares and has for many a year now worked in audio technology. 

One of the great characters of the music business, Roy Hall was one of the old time hustlers, doing what he knew best right up to his death in 1984. A piano boogie pounder par excellence, James Roy Hall was born May 7, 1922 in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. In the mid 40's Roy Hall & His Cohutta Mountain Boys first made their appearance on the music scene. They recorded on Jim Bullet's Nashvllle based Bullet label in 1950, and then cut sides on Fortune in 1953, as well as backing the Davis Sisters on "Jealous Love". After meeting Webb Pierce, Roy worked as his road manager. and this in turn led to a Decca recording contract in 1955. By now Hall was into rockabilly and cut a number of excellent sides including "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" (two years before the Killer got his hands on it), "Three Alley Cats" , and "Diggin' The Boogie". His Decca sides were collated on the Charly album "Diggin' The Boogie" (CR 30227). One of the unissued sides on this album was ''Christine'' which had been recorded in December, 1955. It came as a complete surprise when tapes of unissued Roy Hall titles were discovered in the Sun vaults, amongst them another version of ''Christine''. Recorded December 12, 1957, Hall played piano and was backed by Reggie Hall on guitar, Stan Kesler bass, Jimmy Smith piano and Otis Jett on drums. In all Hall cut four sides on Sun, but how he came to Sun is something of a mystery. ''Christine'' was first released on "Sun Set" Sun LP 1035. 

Discovered in the Sun vaults by Ding Dong around the same time as the Hall tracks, were three sides by Macy "Skip" Skipper. Hitherto Skipper had been known for his single on Light (2020) "Who Put The Squeeze On Eloise" / "Quicksand Love" recorded in 1957. These sides predate that single having been recorded in the summer of 1956. Born in the late 1920's, Macy was a mite old to join in with the rockabilly kids on Sun, but he certainly gave it his best shot. Albeit a pianist, he did not play on his session, Melton McNatt performed that chore. With Brad Suggs on guitar, Nelson Grilli on tenor sax, (the bass player and drummer are unknown), three tracks were recorded that have a distinct Bill Haley feel to them. All first appeared on the album "Rock & Roll Pills" (Sun LP 1023). The Light label was Skipper's own enterprise and Brad Suggs again provided the guitar work. One last single appeared on Stax (117) "Night Rock" around 1960 before Skipper returned to the dance band scene, and his first love, the theatre. 

So there it is, Volume 2 of Sun Stars Rockabilly, eyes down for Volume 3, and who knows, perhaps some unissued sides? 

Adam Komorowski
April, 1995.

With acknowledgements to:
Martin Hawkins & Colin Escott
Big Al Turner
Derek Glenister
Trevor Cajiao
Ding Dong
Bill Millar 

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


© 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8161 mono digital

After a diversion into "Unissued Sun Rockabilly" we resume the "Essential Rockabilly" series with volume 3, but this time there are a few unissued alternates and unissued sides lacing the collection. The objective of this segment of the series is to round up the best of the Sun rockabilly artists who did not make enough sides at Sun to warrant a complete solo CD. It is also hoped to include as many good unissued and alternate sides as can be found in forthcoming volumes, as well as putting out many sides that have not previously appeared on CD format, and all at a modest mid-price range to boot!

Digitally remastered at Charly Studios.
Compilation and liner notes: Adam Komorowski.

1 - The Prisoner's Song (aka ''Wings Of An Angel'') (Sonny Burgess) (1991) 2:34 (Not Originally Issued)
2 - Juice Fruit (Gene Simmons) (1995) 2:49 (Not Originally Issued)
3 - Do Me Like You Do (Jimmy Haggett) (1995) 1:50 (Not Originally Issued)
4 - Whast Can I Do (Version 1) (Dean Beard) (1995) 2:19 (Not Originally Issued)
5 - I Dig You Baby (Tommy Blake) (1958) 2:11 > Sun 300-A <
6 - Rock Boppin' Baby (Edwin Bruce) (1986) 2:17 (Not Originally Issued)
7 - Rock Baby, Rock It (Johnny Carroll) (1976) 2:17 (Not Originally Issued)
8 - I Won't Be Rockin' Tonight (Jean Chapel) (1958) 2:06 > Sun 244-B <
9 - Let's Bop (Jack Earls) (1974) 1:52 (Not Originally Issued)
10 - Rock All Night (Glenn Honeycutt) (1987) 2:01 (Not Originally Issued)
11 - My Baby Don't Rock (Luke McDaniel) (1985) 1:57 (Not Originally Issued)
12 - The Man In Love (Charlie Feathers) (1986) 1:54 (Not Originally Issued)
13 - Sweet Love On My Mind (Alternate Take) Roy Hall) (1995) 2:08 (Not Originally Issued)
14 - Lonely World (Carl McVoy) (1995) 2:32 (Not Originally Issued)
14 - My Girl In My Hometown (Tracy Pendarvis) (1995) 1:55 (Not Originally Issued)
16 - Thinkin' Of Me (Mickey Gilley) (1987) 1:37 (Not Originally Issued)
17 - Vibrate (Version 1) (Mack Self) (1977) 1:58 (Not Originally Issued)
18 - Rockhouse (Harold Jenkins) (1995) 2:07 (Not Originally Issued)
19 - For All I'm Worth (Curtis Hobock) (1995) 2:16 (Not Originally Issued)
20 - Spark Of Love (Harold Dorman) (1995) 3:18 (Not Originally Issued)
21 - You Don't Care (Narvel Felts) (1984) 2:20 (Not Originally Issued)
22 - Have Myself A Ball (Malcolm Yelvington) (1974) 1:43 (Not Originally Issued)
23 - Dixie Fried (Carl Perkins) (1985) 2:39 (Not Originally Issued)
24 - Slow Rock Andf Roll (Macy Skipper) (1995) 3:06 (Not Originally Issued)
25 - The Frog (Lee Mitchell) (1958) 1:48 > PI 3530-A <
Original Sun Recordings

© Original Sun Recordings, licensed from Sun Entertainment, Inc. 

The first volume of Sonny Burgess, "Arkansas Wild Man" (CPCD 8103) included ''The Prisoner's Song'' which was originally issued as "Wings Of An Angel". Burgess gives a rendition in keeping with the title of his CD on this number. A not uncommon trait whilst recording at Sun was to try the same song at different tempos; Elvis did it, Andy Anderson did it on "Johnny Valentine" , and further instances can be found on this set, commencing with Prisoner's Song. Recorded at Sonny's first Sun session on May 2, 1956 with Jack Nance on trumpet, this alternate version is about half a minute shorter than the originally issued take. It has previously only appeared on the double Bear Family CD (BCD 15225).

The first of the unissued alternate takes on this set comes courtesy of Gene Simmons who has already made contributions on Volumes 1 & 2. ''Juicy Fruit'' dates from one of Gene's early Sun sessions in 1956. The song was first issued on Sun LP 1025 "Hop Flop & Fly" and was recorded before his solitary Sun single. The version featured here is some 4 seconds longer than the previously released take. 

A complete session of four songs from 1956 by Jimmy Haggett was initially credited to Junior Thompson when released on Sun LP 1018 "Rabbit Action". Amongst the four titles was ''How Come You Do Me'', and what purports to be an alternate take appeared on the Bear Family Country Boxset (BFX 15211). However, there are three versions of the song in the vaults. All three versions have different timings, but both the Sun LP and the Bear Family release run to 2.05 minutes, whereas the other two versions clock in at 1.48 and 1.51 respectively, all of which suggests that the Bear Family is not an alternate take. The version included here has definitely not be issued before and is the shortest one of all. 

The late Dean Beard has featured on both previous volumes in this series. Recorded on March 29, 1956 with backing provided by James Steward (guitar), Johnny Black (bass), Jimmy Seals (sax) and Johnny Bernero (drums), ''What Can I Do'' has only previously appeared on the boot album Bop Cat 700. 

''I Dig You Baby'' was on the second of two Sun singles that this Shreveport based artist had out on Sun. Recorded on March 16, 1958, Blake is backed by 706 regulars Roland Janes. Stan Kesler. Jimmy Wilson, Sid Manker and Jimmy Van Eaton with a contribution from Ed Bruce and a vocal group. Biographic details can be found on volume 1. 

Having contributed on Tommy Blake's session, Edwin Bruce subsequently appears in his own right. Nowadays a well known country singer with numerous hits under his belt, Edwin commenced his recording career at Sun in 1957. ''Rock Boppin' Baby'' was recorded between May 810, 1957 with Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass). Jimmy Smith (piano), and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums) providing the backing. The song was on one side of his first Sun single (Sun 276). However the version included here is an alternate take that first appeared on Sun LP 1024 "Hot Southern Boppers". Born in Kaiser, Arkansas in 1941. Bruce became a used car salesman after leaving Sun. In the sixties he signed with Scepter and recorded several pop songs. At the same time he started concentrating on writing songs. His "Save Your Kisses" appeared on the flip of Tommy Roe's smash hit "Sheila" and this gave him encouragement to continue. He moved to Nashville in 1964 and spent several years singing with the Marijohn Wilkin Singers. In 1965 he started recording for RCA, and stayed with the label for three years without managing to get a hit. He recorded on Transonic, but it was when he signed with Monument that his luck changed. "Song For Ginny" gave him his first hit. In the seventies he really concentrated on his writing and "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" was a smash hit as well as establishing him firmly in Outlaw Country when it was also a hit for Waylon & Willie. He signed with VA in 1975 and moved on to Epic in 1977. 

Johnny Carroll's sad passing was chronicled in the previous volume in this series. A frequent visitor to these shores in the 1980's and 1990's, he will be sadly missed. However his manic rockabilly music remains as a testament to his talent. ''Rock Baby Rock It'' appeared in the film of the same name in 1957. Johnny recorded a session of four songs at Cliff Herring's Studio in Fort Worth, Texas on June 23, 1957 which were sent to Sun and realised the one release on Phillips International. ''Rock Baby Rock It'' was first issued on Charly CR 30105 "Rebel Rockabilly" as "Rock It" in 1976. Also featured in the film was Sun artist Rosco Gordon, who has a companion CD in this series entitled "Do The Bop". 

During the compilation of this set, came news of the death of Jean Chapel otherwise known as Jean Amurgey (her real name), Mattie Jean, Opal Jean and Jean Amber. She was born in Neon, Kentucky in 1925 and first started working professionally with sisters Irene and Bertha in a group calling itself the Sunshine Sisters on Radio WLAP in Lexington. Kentucky. When Bertha married the group broke up and Jean and Irene joined the Coon Creek Girls. In 1940 the group moved to WSB in Atlanta, Georgia and there Irene met James Roberts and they teamed up as James and Martha Carson. Jean pursued a solo career on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance and around 1946 changed her name to Mattie O'Neal under which name she appeared on the National Barn Dance in Chicago. There she teamed up with Salty Holmes and as Salty & Mattie they recorded on London. They then moved on to King where Jean also recorded with her sisters as Mattie. Martha & Minnie. Irene (Martha) moved onto Capitol and a career in gospel, but found time to record with her sisters on the same label as the Amber Sisters. Bertha meantime also recorded as a member of the Carlisles. After recording with Salty Holmes on MGM in 1953. Jean signed with Hickory the following year, recording under the name of Opal Jean. ''I Won't Be Rockin' Tonight'' was released on Sun (244) on May 15, 1956, a couple of months before appearing on RCA. Recorded in Nashville, it was purchased in by Sam Phillips. Jean appeared with Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranch Boys, arousing considerable interest as a result of which RCA purchased her contract from Phillips. This and the subsequent release on RCA "Oo Ba La Baby" (RCA 6892) were the only flirtation with rock and roll by Jean Chapel, in what was otherwise a country music career. She went on to record on Crest, Smash, Challenge, Kapp as well as concentrating on her song writing, which resulted in over 500 compositions. Daughter Lana scored a hit on Monument in 1968 with "Hooey Hoop De Do", whilst younger brother Don married a young aspiring country music singer by the name of Tammy Pugh, later to find fame under the name of Wynette. Jean died of cancer on August 12, 1995 at her home in Florida. 

A regular on the two previous volumes, Jack Earls contributes ''Let's Bop'', a track recorded on June 4, 1956 with Warren Gregory (guitar), Johnny Black (bass), and Danny Wahlquist (drums). It first appeared on "Sun Rockabillys Vol 3" (6467 028) and was then issued on the 10" Charly album "Rockabilly Craze". 

First contribution from Glen in the "Essential Sun Rockabillies" series, albeit his unissued "Campus Love" appeared on "Unissued Sun" (CPCD 8137). Three versions of ''Rock All Night'' have been issued, and the one on this compilation has only appeared on "The Rocking Years" Sunbox 106. Recorded on December 28. 1956, Honeycutt is backed by Roland Janes (guitar), Jimmy Wilson (piano), and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums). 

Third in a row from the late Luke McDaniel. Whilst the Sun Session Files show two McDaniel sessions, Luke's own account of his experiences at Sun strongly suggest that he cut but the one session. and then fell out with Sam Phillips over session payment. ''My Baby Don't Rock'' is allegedly from the second session on January 6. 1957 with Roland Janes (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass). Jimmy Wilson (piano). Martin Willis (sax) and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums). However, it seems likely that the song was recorded on September 4/5, 1956 at what would have been McDaniel's solitary Sun session. The number was first issued on Sun LP 1025 "Hop Flop & Fly". 

If he had only kept his mouth shut. Charlie Feathers would have gone down in history as one of the great rockabillies. His outrageous claims and contradictions have only served to diminish his standing in many fans' eyes. However there is no denying that he recorded some superb sides during his career. This recording is a 1958 demo of a song that was cut by Tommy Tucker on Hi on which Feathers is accompanied by an unknown guitarist. 

Roy Hall made his debut in this series on Volume 2 with "Christine". The track on this volume is an unissued alternate take of ''Sweet Love On My Mind''. It is a slower version of the song that was first issued on Sun LP 1035 "Sunset Special" and is 14 seconds longer than that version. It was something of a surprise to find that Roy Hall had recorded on Sun at all. His recordings on Decca and Fortune were known, but this 1957 detour to Memphis was a fairly closely guarded secret. 

Yet another Sun artist who has recently departed this mortal coil, Carl McVoy was one of Jerry Lee Lewis' numerous cousins who found fame and notoriety. Mickey Gilley became a country super star and owner of the largest nite club in Texas. Jimmy Swaggart became a man of the cloth and recorded gospel music but still managed to get himself caught out dipping his wick with ladies of the night. There can have surely been no more nauseating spectacle than this self-confessed sinner publically repenting and begging forgiveness of his wife on TV? Carl, some years older than Jerry Lee provided the young Lewis with a role model as a musician. However his musical career was rather shorter lived than that of his cousins. ''Lonely Heart'' was recorded at the same 1957 session that produced the first release on Hi. namely "Tootsie" /"You Are My Sunshine" and was recorded in Nashville with Chet Atkins (guitar). Ernie Newton (bass), Ace Cannon (sax) and Johnny Bernero (drums). It has been previously only issued on Redita RLP 125. 

Tracy contributed "Huh Huh Oh Yeah" to Volume 2, here we hear the previously unissued ''Girl In My Home Town'' recorded on October 8, 1959. It is not clear if the Florida based Pendarvis is backed by any members of his own group or whether it is the regular Sun session crew who provide the backing. The same session produced Tracy's second Sun single "Is It Me"/ "Southbound Line" (Sun 345). 

Gilley has already rated a mention in this compilation, for his link with Carl McVoy, however here he appears in his own right. It would take a book to recount the complete Mickey Gilley Story. Suffice to say that before he found fame and fortune in the seventies on the Playboy label and his subsequent involvement in the film "Urban Cowboy", he served a long musical apprenticeship. His musical career commenced part time when at the age of 17 he combined construction work during the day with singing in Houston clubs at night. He recorded on a series of small labels commencing with Minor in 1957. His second single appeared on Dot, "Call Me Shorty" / "Come on Baby" was recorded at 706 Union in February, 1958. Prior to this Gilley recorded other titles at the Sun Studios, having come over to Memphis at Jerry Lee's instigation. One of the three titles found was ''Thinkin' Of Me'' on which Gilley accompanies himself on piano and is aided and abetted by an unknown bass player. These three titles, the other two being "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "C'mon Baby I Have A Little Party" have only previously appeared on "The Rocking Years" Boxset (Sunbox 106). Gilley went on to record on Rex, Khourys, Goldband, Lynn. Sabra, Princess. Eric. Supreme. San Daryl, Astro before achieving his first country hit on Paula with "Now I Can Live Again" in 1968. 

One of the unsung rockabilly heroes at Sun, Mack had a mere two singles issued by Sam Phillips, one on Sun and one on Phillips International, despite recording for Sun over a four year period. ''I Vibrate'' was cut at his penultimate session on January 4. 1958. Roland Janes and Therlow Brown are the guitarists, Van Eaton plays the drums and the bass player is probably Stan Kesler. You can catch Mack performing "Goin' Crazy" on Volume 1. 

Conway Twitty was returning to Nashville from a concert in Branson on Friday June 4, 1993 when he collapsed with a ruptured abdominal aneurysm, riding on his tour bus. He died the next day, and yet another former Sun recording artist became a "late great". However it was as plain ole Harold Jenkins that he recorded his first session at Sun on November 16, 1956. Backed by Jimmy Luke Pashman (guitar), Bill Harris (bass), Martin Willis (sax) and Billy Weir (drums), Harold recorded a number of sides: "Crazy Dreams", "Give Me Some Love", "l Need Your Lovin' Kiss" and the recently surfaced ''Rockhouse''. None of these sides were issued at the time and it was only after Harold had changed his name to Conway Twitty, recorded on Mercury, hit international fame with "It's Only Make Believe" on MGM and eventually became a household name in the country field on Decca, that these sides eventually were issued. ''Rockhouse'' was Conway's first hit composition, albeit not in his own hands, but recorded by fellow Sun artist. Roy Orbison. 

None of Curtis' Sun recordings were issued at the time and he was best known for his singles on Lu and Tennessee. The first intimation that he had recorded on Sun was when ''For All I'm Worth'' and "My Bonnie" appeared on Bop Cat 400 "Goin' Tó Memphis", "Apron Strings" then appeared on Redita RLP 125 and eventually this and "Walking With My Best Friend" were released on Sun LP 1035 "Sunset Special", the latter being included on Volume 2 of this series. The unissued "The King Is Back" appeared on the "Unissued Sun" CD, whilst this volume lauds us with ''For All I'm Worth''. Curtis Hoback/Hobeck/ Hobock and the Starduster remain obdurately obscure in terms of biog details. 

Yet another Sun recording artist who has failed to make it into ripe old age, Harold Dorman will always be best known for his hit "Mountain Of Love". His first appearance in this series was on the recent "Unissued Sun" compilation with "I'm Stepping Aside". From the same sessions, recorded over several days (May 16. 24 & 31 and June 17, 1957) comes the unissued ''Spark Of Love''. Backing is provided by those Sun stalwarts Roland Janes (guitar). Stan Kesler (bass), Jimmy Wilson (piano) and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums). The song along with numerous others was written by Dorman himself. and eventually he found greater fame as a writer than a singer. These sides were recorded four years before the sides that were eventually issued on Sun, tracks he recorded after the hit "Mountain Of Love". He died in 1988 of a heart attack barely into his sixties. 

Just one of several artists on this set who found fame elsewhere than Sun, Felts like Gilley had to wait a good few years after recording at Sun to gain chart recognition. Narvel regaled us with "Foolish Thoughts" on Volume 2 and had three unissued tracks on CPCD 8137. ''You Don't Care'' was recorded at his first Sun session on January 23, 1957 and was first issued on CFM 510 "Rockabilly Fever". Narvel recently suffered the tragic loss of his son Albert "Bub" in a car accident. 

Malcolm was a mite older than the average rockabilly who made his way into Sam Phillips' studio. A career on the local country music circuit had, however, given him a good grounding for the rockabilly genre which he recorded for Sun between 1954-57. ''Have Myself A Ball'' dates from early 1956 with Gordon Mashburn (guitar), Jake Ryles (bass), Frank Tolley (piano) and Billy Weir (drums) providing the backing, and is a typical Yelvington excursion into Sun styled rockabilly. Yelvington, who as a septuagenarian flew for the first time in his life, played the Rockhouse Festival in Holland, the first time he had performed outside the States, indeed the first time he had travelled further than Oklahoma! 

Besides his solo CD - "Boppin' Blue Suede Shoes" (CPCD 8102) - Carl has made an appearance on both previous volumes of "Essential Rockabilly". as befits a man of his stature. He makes a further contribution on this volume with the earliest recording of ''Dixie Fried'' that first appeared on Sun LP 1018 "Rabbit Action" and is significantly longer than the version that was issued on Sun 249. 

Macy Skipper's rather scant biog was summarised on Volume 2, where he can be found prescribing "Bop Pills" to anyone who will listen. His Sun recordings were released on Sun LP 1023 "Rock And Roll Pills" and included a version of ''Slow Rock And Roll'', a tune that was also recorded as an instrumental along with "Slap Happy Bass" by Sid Elrod on Summer 503. Macy "Skip" Skipper cut two versions of this song and it is the shorter fast version that has already been issued. Here we include the slower version that is over half a minute longer than the one on LP 1023. There is also a slower version of "Watch That Stuff" which will appear on a future volume. 

The "Unissued Sun Rockabilly" CD featured a track by Curley Money entitled "Chain Gang Charlie". In fact this was recorded at a session credited to Lee Mitchell, and it would appear that he is the vocalist on this side, as he is one of the two others. ''The Frog'' is an instrumental, and with "A Little Bluebird Told Me" was issued on Phillips International 3530. Although the session files show Billy Riley, Jack Clement, Charlie Rich, Bill Justis and Jimmy Van Eaton providing the backing, the actual record gives credit to the Curley Money Combo. The session was cut on September 4. 1950, and the band had been invited to Memphis by Sam Phillips after hearing their recording of "Gonna Rock" on Rambler. Why he never got round to recording more sides by this excellent band is not clear. Mitchell went on to write a number of sides for subsequent Curley Money recordings, and whilst his Phillips International single may not be exactly essential rockabilly, and has never been re-issued since its original release, it is included here as a sort of addendum to "Chain Gang Charlie". 

London, October 1995 

With acknowledgements to:
Hawkins & Escott
Lansaddler & Ding Dong 

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


© 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8236 mono digital

For this fourth volume in the series, the mixture is much the same as before; a few unissued sides, a couple of alternate takes and a whole host of superb Sun rockabilly, most of which has not appeared on CD previously.

Digitally remastered at Charly Studios.
Compilation and liner notes: Adam Komorowski.

1 - Red Headed Woman (Sonny Burgess) (1985) 2:05
2 - High High High (Luke McDaniel) 1976) 2:43
3 - Lonely Wolf (Ray Harris) (1976) 2:48
4 - I Feel Like Rockin' (Kenny Parchman) (1976) 2:30
5 - You Better Believe It (Tommy Blake) (1985) 2:31
6 - Don't Lie To Me (Dean Beard) (1981) 1:57
7 - Pop And Mamma (Gene Simmons) (1987) 1:38
8 - Fairlane Rock (Hayden Thompson) (1976) 2:28
9 - Miss Pearl (Jimmy Wages) (1978) 2:32
10 - Lovin' Memories (Mack Self) (1985) 2:04
11 - Blue Day Tomorrow (Vernon Taylor) (1996) 2:14
12 - Drive In (Mack Vickery) (1985) 2:09
13 - Oh Yeah (Carl McVoy)* (1996) 1:58
14 - I Need Your Lovin' Kiss (Harold Jenkins) (1985) 1:58
15 - My Bonnie (Curtis Hoback)* (1996) 2:48
16 - Love Is My Business (Cliff Gleaves) (1987) 2:16
17 - Whole Lot Of Shakin' Goin' On (Mickey Gilley) (1987) 2:26
18 - Cindy Lou (Dick Penner) (1957) > Sun 282-B < 2:17
19 - Donna Lee (Charlie Rich) (1996) 1:12
20 - To Be With You (Harold Dorman) (1996) 2:59
21 - A Thousand Guitars (Tracy Pendarvis) (1960) > Sun 335-A < 2:34
22 - Honey Bee (Don Hinton) (1960) > PI 3556-A < 1:50
23 - Heart Throb (Jack Frost) (1996) 2:42
24 - Watch That Stuff (Macy Skipper) (1996) 2:22
25 - My Girl And His Girl* (Roy hall) (1996) 2:28
26 - Frankie And Johnny (Charlie Feathers) (1986) 2:32
27 - Linda (Ernie Chaffin) (1977) 2:12
28 - My Babe (Narvel Felts) (1981) 1:49
* - Previously Unreleased Track
Original Sun Recordings

© Original Sun Recordings, licensed from Sun Entertainment, Inc. 

''We Wanna Boogie''/''Red Headed Woman'' was of course Sonny's first Sun single (Sun 247), and both these sides appeared on "The Arkansas Wild Man" (CPCD 8103). There are three versions of ''Red Headed Woman'', and the one featured here is the second alternate take that was first released on "We Wanna Boogie" (Charly Sun LP 1022). Recorded on May 2, 1956, Sonny is backed by Joe Lewis on guitar, Johnny Ray Hubbard on bass, Kern Kennedy on piano, Jack Nance on trumpet and Russ Smith on drums. Apart from the a fore mentioned LP, this track has also appeared on the Bear Family double CD "The Classic Recordings 19561959" (BCD 15525).

The late Luke McDaniel has appeared on all the three previous volumes in this series, and rightly so, for his Sun recordings are top drawer quality rockabilly. The shame of it is that his "misunderstanding" with Sam Phillips should have limited his 706 Union recordings to a mere five titles. Although the Sun Session Files give the recording date of ''High High High'' as January 6, 1957, it seems more probable that this track was cut in September 1956, at what, according to McDaniel, was his only Sun session. He recalled it lasting over two days, which tallies with the 4th and 5th September dates logged in the files. It seems likely that the musicians backing McDaniels on the first day may not have been the same as those backing him on the second. Certainly the guitarist on ''High High High'' sounds like Roland Janes, and McDaniel confirmed that he was backed by local musicians on his Sun session. Thus Janes, Marvin Pepper (bass); Marlin Willis (sax); and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums) logged for the January 6 session, are almost certainly the musicians backing Luke on ''High High High'', albeit probably on September 5th, 1956 and not January 1957. The track was first issued on the French Sun release 620. McDaniel also recorded rockabilly as Jeff Daniels, and the long awaited album on Hydra (BLK 7715) - seven years in the making - "Daddy-O-Rock" has just been released. It features 24 tracks including McDaniels' country sides on Trumpet and King as well as the rockabilly sides on Meladee, Big B, Big Howdy and Astro, as well as some unissued demos. A quality artist, Luke McDaniel passed away on June 27, 1992. 

Homer Ray Harris is also no stranger to this series. ''Lonely Wolf'' comes from his last Sun session held on April 7. 1957 on which he is backed by Wayne Cogswell (guitar); Red Hensley (guitar); unknown (bass); Joe Reisenberg (drums). This track first appeared on the Charly album "Rebel Rockabilly" (CR 30105). 

''I Feel Like Rockin''' was scheduled for release on Sun 252 having been recorded in September, 1957, and copyrighted on the 9th, but was unaccountably never issued, after the lacquers had been sent to the plant. Parchman confessed himself baffled by this turn of events, and could only surmise that it might have had something to do with his manager, Jimmy Rhodes leaving town shortly before the scheduled release. ''I Feel Like Rockin''' appropriately enough made its debut on "The Rocking Years" (Sun Box 106), just one of a whole host of terrific Parchman recordings that lay for years in the Sun vaults. Parchman was backed on this session by R.W. Stevenson (bass); Jerry Lee Lewis (piano) and either Bobby Cash or Ronnie Parchman (drums), whilst he himself played guitar. 

Blake had a couple of singles issued on Sun, but ''You Better Believe It'' wasn't one of them. Recorded at his second Sun session on March 18, 1958, which also saw "Shake Around", "Sweetie Pie" and "l Dig You Baby" cut, ''You Better Believe It'' first appeared on the French Sun single 614, before appearing on "More Rebel Rockabilly" (Charly CR 30116). Whilst Blake brought members of his own band to play on his first Sun session, on this one the accompaniment was provided 706 Union stalwarts, Roland Janes (guitar); Stan Kesler (bass); Jimmy Wilson (piano); Jimmy Van Eaton (drums) with Ed Bruce and Sid Manker also weighing in, probably on guitars. There is another version of this song that appeared on "The Rocking Years" boxset, on which Blake sings just accompanied by his own guitar. 

Like Blake, Beard has appeared on all the previous volumes in this series, and continues his contributions with ''Don't Lie To Me'', recorded at what was in effect a demo session on March 29, 1956. Dean brought two musicians with him; guitarist James Steward and saxman Jimmy Seals, and they were augmented by Johnny Black on bass and drummer Johnny Bernero. All four sides recorded on this occasion first appeared on the Bop Cat label. ''Don't Lie To Me'' was subsequently issued on the 10" LP "Rockabilly Jamboree" (Charly CFM 505), on which the recording location was erroneously ascribed to Fort Worth, Texas. 

Gene Simmons first came to Sun from Tupelo with the Miller Sisters, and his first recording in 1955 was very much a country offering. However by 1956, when he moved to Memphis, he had completely espoused the rock and roll sound, as was ably demonstrated by his recording of songs such as "Drinkin' Scotch", "Blues At Midnight", "Juicy Fruit" and ''Pop And Mama'', of which there are two versions in the Sun vaults. Backed by brother Carl on guitar and Jessie Carter on bass, the version included here is the second one that appeared first on "Rockabilly Billies" (Sun LP 1019). 

His only single appeared on Phillips International, but that is not to say that Hayden did not record some exemplary rockabilly tracks on Sun, most of which only came to light in subsequent years. ''Fairlane Rock'' was another of the French Sun single (605) releases initiated by Henri Ferrero and the Barbat Brothers. Recorded at Hayden's last Sun session on September 6, 1957, the backing was provided by Roland Janes (guitar); Marvin Pepper (bass) and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums). 

''Miss Pearl'' coupled with "Mad Man" was Jimmy's first Sun release when issued on the French Sun single 618. Given further exposure on the Charly album "Raunchy Rockabilly" (CR 30147), it would ultimately lead to this native Tupelonian playing dates in the UK! It is interesting to see that the sleeve on "Raunchy Rockabilly" notes that nothing is known of Jimmy Wages, but speculates that he may in some way be related to Mildred Wages of the Miller Sisters. In fact Jimmy is the brother of Ben Wages, a popular 70's Memphis deejay, and the son of Leona Wages who at one time worked with Gladys Presley at Reed Brothers Manufacturing! 

Issued as "Love Love Memories" on the "Country Rock" album (LP1031), ''Lovin' Memories'' was recorded at Mack Self's last Sun session on August 15, 1959, but nevertheless retains that authentic rockabilly feel despite Martin Willis' sax. But with Roland Janes playing guitar and with Billy Riley on bass and Van Eaton on drums that is hardly surprising. Basically a country singer, Mack recently appeared on "Sun Hillbilly" in this series, but was equally adept at turning his hand to rockabilly with the likes of "I Vibrate" (CPCD 8161). 

A relatively recent visitor to these shores, Vernon was spotted by Sam Phillips when he appeared on American Bandstand following the release of his Dot single, and as his two releases on that label did not sell too well, Dot did not retain him, and Sam snapped him up. In late October Vernon cut four sides at 706 Union; "Breeze"/"Today Is A Blue Day" (issued on Sun 310) and "Your Lovin' Man" (included on Volume 1 in this series) and the till now unreleased ''Blue Day Tomorrow'', (although I believe it may be appearing on a Vernon Taylor CD on Eagle in the near future). A good rocking number it features Jimmy Wilson's piano with James Van Eaton on drums, Jack Clement on guitar and Cliff Acred on bass. Seemingly, Taylor (the surname was adopted for showbiz purposes), only ever had records issued on Dot and Sun, and thus is not the same artist who recorded "Crazy Road Hog" with Rocky Lane & His Troubadours on Ridgecrest (contrary to my notes on Volume l). A native of Washington D.C., Taylor retired from the music business in 1960 to go into printing, and only started performing again in 1989, when he was talked into appearing at a benefit concert for Charlie Feathers in Baltimore, Maryland. 

This is the second of three numbers recorded by Mack when he made the long haul from Detroit to Memphis in 1957. For the rest of Mack's story see Volume 2 (CPCD 8118), suffice to say that ''Drive In'' first appeared on "Rockin' Rollin' Country Style" (LP 1030), slightly inaccurately entitled "Drivin'"! 

The late Carl McVoy has been featured on Volume 3 as well as on the "Unissued Sun Masters" release, and just as "Lonely Heart", ''Oh Yeah'' was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee and has only previously appeared on Redita album "Rock'n'Roll Fever" (RLP 125). 

Over the years more and more of Conway Twitty's Sun sides have surfaced, and this one, cut when he was plain ole Harold Jenkins was recorded on November 16, 1956 with Jimmy Luke Pashman (guitar); Bill Harris (bass); Martin Willis (sax) and Billy Weir (drums). It first appeared on the Bear Family Boxset "Rockin' Rollin' Years" (BFX 15174). 

Still no further information on Curtis who continues to be an elusive figure, certainly as far as this writer is concerned! So all I can usefully add is that ''My Bonnie'' was recorded with the Stardusters in 1959 and its only outing so far has been on "Rock Around The Town" (Bopcat 700). 

Just for a change we have an artist making his debut in this series. Cliff Gleaves was a deejay from Jackson, who met Elvis when they were both visiting Dewey Phillips at the radio station, and they all wound up going back to Dewey's house on Perkins Avenue. This was just prior to Elvis going to New York for the second Ed Sullivan Show appearance. Gleaves was invited along for the trip all expenses paid, and became one of Elvis' close friends. It was he who introduced Elvis to Anita Wood, accompanied him to Hollywood when Elvis was filming "Love Me Tender", and later joined him out in West Germany in 1958. Prior to that Gleaves cut a session at Sun which included two cuts of ''Love Is My Business''. The one featured here first appeared on "The Rocking Years" (Sun Box 106), albeit the chatter and false starts have been left off. None of the Sun recordings were issued by Sam Phillips. Gleaves subsequently recorded on a number of other labels including Bojo, Cucamonga, Dore, Liberty and Summer. 

After basking in the shadow of his tear-away cousin Jerry Lee Lewis throughout the rocking years, Mickey Gilley came out of the shadows with a vengeance in the 1970's, to become one of the giants of country music. However when Jerry Lee was king, in the 1950's, he managed to arrange a session for his cousin at Sun. Doubtless in recognition of this favour Mickey recorded ''Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On'', and thus far its only appearance has been on the "Rocking Years" boxset. 

Penner had one track on the "Unissued Sun Masters" release, but this is his first appearance in the "Essential Rockabilly" series. Penner had but the one single out on Sun in his own name, albeit he previously appeared as the Dick in Wade & Dick. He quickly accepted that he was not cut out for the music business (despite penning "Ooby Dooby"), and opted for a life in academia. "Cindy Lou" was recorded at his second and last solo session on February 16, 1957 and was coupled with "(l Need Your) Honey Love" on Sun 282. Accompanying Penner were guitarist Don Gilliland and an unknown pianist, drummer and bass player. 

As a recording artist and a versatile session man, Charlie Rich was virtually a permanent fixture at 706 Union. Consequently there is a wealth of his material in the Sun tape inventory. Many of the sides are simply demos, with Charlie just accompanying himself on piano. Just such a one is the previously unissued ''Donna Lee'' dating from April 8, 1958. It lasts just over a minute, and would undoubtedly have been worked up into a full production a la "Whirlwind", had Charlie resumed to it. Perhaps one of the reasons why he did not do so was because Vernon Taylor recorded it, albeit changing the title to "Dinah Lee". 

''To Be With You'' is the third and final unissued side by Harold Dorman to be issued in the CPCD series, from sessions held in March and June 1957. A pulsating rockaballad, it principally features Jimmy Wilson's piano playing, with Roland Janes' guitar work definitely taking on a secondary role. Stan Kesler fills in on bass and Jimmy Van Eaton displays the lightest of touches on the drumkit. 

Although a relative late-comer at Sun, Pendarvis recorded some fine material for Sam Phillips, resulting in three singles being issued. At a time when the Sun label was losing its golden touch, Tracy's recordings harked back to the heyday of Sun's output. Thus by the time he recorded such titles as ''A Thousand Guitars'' at his first Sun session in 1959, personally produced by Sam Phillips, the commercial appeal of his recordings had been drowned in a flood of Bobbies and Frankies. It was Tracy and his guitarist Johnny Gibson along with drummer Merrill "Punk" Williams who decided that they must head for Memphis and Sun Records from their native Florida to record. Sam augmented the trio with Sid Manker on bass and Jimmy Wilson on piano and duly recorded ''A Thousand Guitars''/"Is It Too Late". The answer to the latter was an emphatic "yes", they should have come in 1956! 

''Honey Bee'' was co-written by Narvel Felts who brought Don along to Sun Records. The song has a decided Elvis influence and rocks along nicely in a turn of the decade style. It was recorded at a four song session on March 16, 1960 which resulted in ''Honey Bee''/''Jo Ann" being released on Phillips International 3556. The backing was provided by Roland Janes (guitar); Sid Manker (guitar); Billy Riley (bass); Charlie Rich (piano) and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums). There is no trace of Hinton having ever recorded again. 

The only release I've managed to track down by Jack Frost appeared on Big State (572) which coupled "Crying My Heart Out" with "There Is No Tomorrow". There are no records of when he cut his three sides on Sun or indeed who backed him on them. ''Heart Throb'' is by far and away the best of the three Sun recordings with a sparse accompaniment that sounds as if it is probably Roland Janes, Jimmy Van Eaton, and maybe someone like Riley on bass, and Jack adopting a slurpy vocal style. "Tell Me" is a relatively slow ballad with prominent piano work whilst "I'll Be Around" also includes tinkling ivories and lies somewhere between ''Heart Throb'' and "Tell Me" in terms of tempo. 

''Watch That Stuff'' is the last of the unissued alternate takes available from Memphis the spian Macy Skipper. This version runs a good 13 seconds longer than the version that first appeared on "Rock And Roll Pills" (LP 1023). Recorded around mid 1956, the backing musicians include Brad Suggs on guitar, Nelson Grilli on sax and Melton McNatt on piano. 

Whilst Roy recorded a couple of sides at 706 Union in December, 1957, there is no clear record of where he cut this version of ''My Girl And His Girl'', a number that he recorded on more than one occasion. He first recorded it for Decca in August, 1956, but it wasn't issued until it appeared on the Charly LP (CR 30228). A second version was cut in Detroit for Fortune in 1958, but again it failed to gain release. There is some suggestion that this particular recording may have been cut in Nashville around 1958/9. It appeared on the Redita album "Rock & Roll Blues" (RLP 124). 

King or Court Jester? In the Rockabilly Kingdom you take your pick. As long as he sticks to singing, I subscribe to the former. Here Charlie imposes his inimitable style on the traditional Frankie And Johnny saga. Accompanied by his Musical Warriors, Jody Chastain and Jerry Huffman with percussion courtesy of Johnny Bernero, this is vintage Charlie Feathers from January, 1956. The second of two takes this was first issued on the ZuZazz album "The Legendary 1956 Demo Session" (ZZ 1001). 

Whereas most of Ernie Chaffin's recordings were firmly rooted in the country tradition, the guitarwork on ''Linda'' shifts it definitely into the rockabilly mould. Seemingly recorded on its own on August 11, 1957, no other records of the session appear in the Sun Session Files. When it was first issued on "Rockabilly Sundown" Charly CR 30128, the personnel was listed as Roland Janes (guitar); Billy Riley (bass); Jimmy Van Eaton (drums). 

This is the sixth Felts release in this series, leaving five more Sun recordings to come, which with an artist of his calibre is an odds on bet. Willie Dixon's ''My Babe'' was recorded on April 5, 1957 with Narvel being backed by his own band; Leo Burnett (guitar); J.W. Grubbs (bass); Jerry Tuttle (sax); Bob Taylor (drums). This virtually exactly a year before Ricky Nelson cut it on Imperial and some 19 months before Dale Hawkins followed suit on Checker. With several numbers clocking in under two minutes, the track allocation on this CD has been increased to 28, with a view to giving maximum value for money as we round up the best of Sun rockabilly. 

With acknowledgements to:
Hawkins & Escott,
Ding Dong, Hank Davis, New Kommotion
Now Dig This
Adam Komorowski, London, April, 1996 

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


© 1997 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8317 mono digital

The fifth volume of Charly's Essential Sun Rockabillies series continues their collector-sanctioned mission to reissue every rockabilly inch of tape ever recorded or owned by Sun Records. There are a number of interesting items, including early recordings by future country and pop stars Dickey Lee, Conway Twitty (as Harold Jenkins), Ed Bruce (as Edwin Bruce), Jumpin' Gene Simmons, and Narvel Felts. Other artists are well known among Sun enthusiasts, including Malcolm Yelvington, Sonny Burgess, and Tracy Pendarvis. The Sun rockabilly tapes have been exhaustively reissued so, despite the obscurity of many of these tracks, none is previously unreleased. However, the assortment of alternate takes ensures that few collectors will already have every recording on offer. The sound quality is very good, the program is lengthy, and the liner notes informative, but most of these cuts were never released in their day because they were deemed unfit for one reason or another. Only serious rockabilly collectors will have need for them today. If you fall into that category, the Charly series and Bear Family's That'll Flat Git It! volumes devoted to Sun are recommended for their attention to detail and minimal overlap.

by Greg Adams (Allmusic) 

Digitally remastered at Charly Studios.
Compilation and liner notes: Adam Komorowski.

1 - Green Back Dollar, Watch & Chain (Alternate Take) (Ray Harris) 2:38
2 - Take Me (10 (Jimmy Wages) 2:23
3 - Rhythm Called Rock 'N' Roll (Jimmy Haggett) 2:02
4 - Get It Off Your Mind (Ken Parchman) 2:30
5 - Lonesome Feeling( Narvel Felts) 2:43
6 - Money, Money, Money (1) (Gene Simmons) 2:19
7 - I Need Your Love (Dean Beard) 2:18
8 - Don't You Worry (Sid Watson) 2:07
9 - Red Headed Woman (1) Sonny Burgess) 2:05
10 - Where'd You Stay Last Night (Ray Harris) 2:09
11 - Sweetie Pie-Tommy Blake) 2:06
12 - Doll Baby (Edwin Bruce) 1:30
13 - Lonely River (Narvel Felts) 2:06
14 - Let 'Em Know (Tommy Ruick) 1:43
15 - Hypnotised (Tracy Pendarvis) 1:48
16 - Crazy Dreams (2) (Harold Jenkins) 2:42
17 - Please Don't Cry Over Me (Jim Williams) 2:37
18 - I Lost My Baby (Ron Hall) 2:22
19 - Don't Need Your Lovin' Baby (Dick Penner) 3:00
20 - Good Lovin' (Dickey Lee) 2:52
21 - Bop Bop Baby (Wade & Dick) 2:07
22 - Mad At You (Alternate Take) (Mack Self) 2:26
23 - Broke My Guitar (Eddie Bond) 2:03
24 - That's What I Tell My Heart (Luke McDaniel) 3:06
25 - Laughin' And Jokin' (Ernie Chaffin) 2:04
26 - Yakety Yak (Malcolm Yelvington) 2:36
Original Sun Recordings

© Original Sun Recordings, licensed from Sun Entertainment, Inc. 

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


© 1999 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8352 mono digital

Digitally remastered at Charly Studios.
Compilation and liner notes: Adam Komorowski.

1 - You Call Everybody Darling (Kenny Parchman)
2 - Flat Foot Sam (Tommy Blake)
3 - Born To Sing The Blues (Take 5) (Herald Jenkins)
4 - Drinkin' Scotch (Gene Simmons)
5 - I'd Rather Be Safe Than Sorry (Master) (Warren Smith)
6 - Take Me (Take 1) (Jimmy Wages)
7 - Blues Blues Blues (Hayden Thompson)
8 - Judy (Rudy Grayzell)
9 - How Come You Do Me (Jimmy Haggett)
10 - Foolish Heart (Ray Harris)
11 - Huh Babe (2) (Luke McDaniel)
12 - Willie Brown (Mack Self)
13 - Fine Little Baby (Dick Penner)
14 - Be Honest With Me (Carl McVoy)
15 - Sweet Rockin' Mama (Jimmy Williams)
16 - Baby That's Good (Edwin Bruce)
17 - Rock'n'Roll With My Baby (Alternate Take) (Malcolm Yelvington)
18 - Rockin' Daddy (Eddie Bond)
19 - Move Baby Move (Dick Penner)
20 - Kiss Me Baby (Narvel Felts)
21 - Mystery Train (Vernon Taylor)
22 - Southbound Line (Tracy Pendarvis)
23 - Rock All Night (1) Glenn Honeycutt)
24 - How Do You Do Me (3) (Jimmy Haggett)
25 - What's The Reason (2) (Kenny Parchman)
26 - Long Time Gone (Dean Beard)
Original Sun Recordings

© Original Sun Recordings, licensed from Sun Entertainment, Inc. 

Kenny Parchman
Had the misfortune to be an also-ran in the history of Sun Records, but not for lack of talent, as the surviving evidence demonstrates. While Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash carved out the beginnings of national (and international) followings on the Memphis-based label, Parchman never got any further than a record number assigned to his single of "Love Crazy Baby" b/w "I Feel Like Rockin'," which was thereupon canceled, for reasons lost to time. Born on January 15, 1932 near Jackson, TN, he was drawn to the music he heard on the radio, and his parents bought him a guitar while he was still a boy. He learned to play from his mother, and it seemed like he might find a future, at least part of the time, in music. He later made a living driving a truck for Wells Fargo, but spent a lot of his spare time hanging around the clubs in Memphis, taking in the music. He finally formed his own band in 1955. The outfit, heavily influenced by Carl Perkins' band of the same period, busied themselves playing local dances and record hops. The core of the band, known as the High-Hats, featured Jerry Lee Smith on piano while Parchman sang and played lead guitar. By mid-1956, they'd made some demos for Sam Phillips at Sun Records, and they were signed in August of that year, with a planned debut of "Love Crazy Baby," which was subsequently canceled. He recorded other sides, including several originals, for Sun, none of which ever got released. Finally, in the summer of 1957, he received an offer of a contract from the newly founded Jaxon label, based in Jackson, TN, and cut sides for them, making his belated debut as a commercial recording artist with "Treat Me Right" b/w "Don't You Know."

Ironically, it was after that release that Parchman cut what is usually thought of as his best classic track, "Tennessee Zip," for Sun Records, and again, it sat on the shelf for a quarter century. Although they continued to play some hillbilly-style country numbers, the band had pumped up their drum sound and pushed the tempos and slid easily into the booming rock & roll groove of the era, and their music morphed directly into a hot rockabilly sound -- just as effective on their records -- that audiences 25 years later devoured as fast as it poured off the grooves of their singles. He was later signed to the LU label, also based in Jackson, which issued his second single, "Get It Off Your Mind" b/w "Satellite Hop," in 1958. He and the band were still getting lots of work locally, playing a mix of hillbilly-style country music and rock & roll. He later left the music business to start a very successful home construction company in Jackson; he was amazed to learn in the '70s and '80s of the discovery of his unissued Sun sides, and the degree to which his classic recordings of the '50s were idolized, especially in Europe. His health began failing in the early '90s, however, and he passed away in 1999 at the age of 67 after a long illness.

by Bruce Eder

Tommy Blake
Rockabilly artist Tommy Blake, like so many before him, started his career as a straight-ahead country singer before making the switch to the big beat. Born and raised in Shreveport, LA,Blake(born Thomas Givens) was already working in a teenage combo playing country music at station KTBS in the early '50s. By 1955, he had graduated to the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, TX, and Shreveport's junior version of the Opry, the Louisiana Hayride. A year later, he was a regular member of Johnny Horton's TV show out of Tyler, TX, and had cut his first record for the tiny Buddy label out of Marshall, TX. By 1957,Blakehad put together his first great band, the Rhythm Rebels, featuring the red-hot guitar talents of one Carl Adams, who would later find fleeting fame with Dale Hawkins.

After a one-off session for RCA Victor, yielding a track called "All Night Long,"Blake met Sam Phillips and re-recorded the same tune for Sun as "Lordy Hoody." By March of 1958,Blake was back at 706 Union recording more material, with another single seeing release and the rest finding its way into rockabilly history via reissues in the 1970s and '80s.Blakekept recording for smaller and smaller labels, pitching songs to anyone who had a ready advance, leaving "Story of a Broken Heart" for Johnny Cash to record after Blake had left Sun. He continued to write tunes, like "Cool Gator Shoes" with Carl Belew, and record a few stray 45s for Chancellor and Recco after his time with Sun, but Blake continued a downward spiral until he was killed by his wife in a domestic dispute over the Christmas holidays in 1985.

by Cub Koda

Harold Jenkins
With dreams of recording for Sun Records, Jenkins headed to Memphis, where Sam Phillips did indeed sign him to a recording contract, but none of the tracks he cut were ever released; Jenkins' biggest contribution to the label was writing "Rock House," a minor hit for Roy Orbison. Leaving Sun in late 1956, he set out on a rockabilly package tour, during which he invented the stage name of Conway Twitty by combining the names of an Arkansas and Texas city, respectively. At the beginning of 1957, he signed to Mercury Records, where he released a handful of singles that didn't make much of an impact, though "I Need Your Lovin'" scraped the very bottom of the pop charts. In 1958, he moved to MGM Records, where he finally achieved success with "It's Only Make Believe," a song he had written with Jack Nance. Recorded with vocal support by Presley's back group, the Jordanaires, "It's Only Make Believe" became a major hit, spending two weeks at number one and going gold. Over the course of 1959 and 1960, Twitty released a number of singles, the most popular of which were the Top Ten "Danny Boy" and "Lonely Blue Boy," and appeared in the B-movies Sex Kittens Go to College, Platinum High School, and College Confidential.

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Gene Simmons
Not the member of hard rockers Kiss, had a number 11 hit in 1964 with the novelty "Haunted House," but his heart was actually in the rich and rootsy rock, soul, and country traditions of his home base of Memphis. Born in Tupelo, MS, Simmons relocated to Memphis after recording some rockabilly for Sun Records, who actually only got around to issuing one single from his sessions. Moving to the Hi label in the early '60s, he recorded several singles and an album, but "Haunted House" was the only one that met with success before his last single for the company in 1966. With his white Southern R&B, Simmons echoed such fellow travelers as Roy Head, Bruce Channel, and post-rockabilly Dale Hawkins, although he was not as gritty as any of them. He was a likable performer, though, and gave the Hi label some of their first tastes of success.

by Richie Unterberger

Warren Smith
More than a few early rockabilly rebels went on to careers as country singers, but few made the jump quite as gracefully as Warren Smith. Smith earned the ultimate rockabilly seal of approval, a contract with Sun Records, and he cut a number of memorable sides for the label, but in the early 1960s, he also enjoyed a brief but memorable run on the country charts after signing with Liberty Records. Warren Smith was born in Humphreys County, Mississippi, on February 7, 1932. His parents divorced when he was very young, and he spent most of his childhood with his grandparents in Louise, Mississippi. Smith grew up with a love of music, and while serving in the United States Air Force, he taught himself to play guitar during his time off the base in San Antonio, Texas. Once he received his discharge, Smith focused his energies on a career in music, and he began playing dancehalls and honky tonks throughout the South. He landed a regular gig at the Cotton Club, a nightspot in West Memphis, Arkansas, when he was spotted by Stan Kessler, who played steel guitar with another act that frequented the Cotton Club's stage, the Snearly Ranch Boys. Kessler was impressed by Smith's voice, and arranged an audition with Sam Phillips, the proprietor of a small Tennessee label called Sun Records. Phillips agreed with Kessler's assessment of Smith's talent, and on February 5, 1956, Smith cut his first single, "Rock & Roll Ruby" b/w "I'd Rather Be Safe Than Sorry." While the flipside was a straight-ahead country tune, the A-side was a feisty rocker, given to Smith by Johnny Cash (who claimed to have bought the tune from George Jones for a mere $40.00). "Rock & Roll Ruby" turned out to be a significant regional hit, and Smith followed it with a number of classic tunes, including "Ubangi Stomp," "Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache," "Uranium Rock," and "So Long, I'm Gone." The latter tune, penned by Roy Orbison, proved to be Smith's most successful Sun release, eventually reaching 74 on the Billboard singles charts. However, though Smith consistently cut fine records for Sun, his rich voice (and his country-leaning vocal style) didn't make him sound like a teenage idol, and Phillips seemed unsure of how to promote him. In 1959, Smith's deal with Sun ran out, and he moved to California.

by Mark Deming

Jimmy Wages
In a genre jammed full of artists who made one brilliant record and vanished into the mists of obscurity, rockabilly singer Jimmy Wages may be one of the most fascinating of all of them. Following his fellow Tupelo, Mississippi musicians the Miller Sisters up to Memphis, he landed a session in 1956 with Sun Records. Like many of his contemporaries, he wrote his own material, but unlike them, he didn't play an instrument. He was accompanied on his 706 Union Avenue recordings by stalwart Sun players like J.M. Van Eaton on drums and Ray Harris on lead guitar. Produced by Jack Clement (who also utilized Wages' string bass player Jesse Carter, acoustic guitar and steel guitar on Wages' sessions), the music from Wages' lone brush with fame is Southern music in the extreme -- full of quasi-religious images and tales of recrimination that were at total odds with the sunnier, "gonna bop tonight" lyrics of the rockabilly tunes that were actually seeing release on Sun. Sam Phillips was hot to release "Mad Man" from these sessions, but Clement reportedly talked him out of it, sensing that nothing from the sessions had true commercial appeal. The session remained unreleased until some 25 years later, when the music of Jimmy Wages was finally heard by the worldwide rockabilly community and lauded as raw genius. Wages record fed again for Hi Records and Sun producer Stan Kesler, but never saw an actual release on any of his material until his Sun material was reissued.

by Cub Koda

Hayden Thompson
Was among the groundswell of rockabilly cats who recorded for Sam Phillips' legendary Sun Records in the wake of the label's breakthrough superstar, Elvis Presley. His lone Sun effort, "Love My Baby," remains a cult favorite among connoisseurs of early rock & roll at its most potent. Thompson was born in Booneville, Mississippi, on March 5, 1938. According to a profile on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame website, he was given his first guitar at age five, quickly teaching himself to play. A fixture of local talent contests, he made his local radio debut at nine, originally singing gospel but in time turning to country. Memphis-based rhythm & blues stations WDAI and KWEM profoundly shaped Thompson's musical development as well, and in high school he formed his first band, the Southern Melody Boys, playing energetic covers of current country & western hits. In late 1954, the group signed to the fledgling Von label to cut its debut single, "I Feel the Blues Coming On," inching toward a rockabilly sound via the flip side, "Act Like You Love Me." Thompson continued to push the Southern Melody Boys in the direction of rock & roll, and even passed up an audition for the country music radio showcase Louisiana Hayride in an effort to sever ties with traditional roots music. Creative differences split the group, and Thompson soon landed with the Dixie Jazzlanders, who were hired to tour Southern movie theaters in conjunction with the just-released 1956 rock & roll musical Rock Around the Clock. The months passed, and when a record deal failed to materialize, the Dixie Jazzlanders dissolved. Thompson next surfaced in the Slim Rhodes Band, spending another year on the road with no contract in sight.

Thompson eventually settled in Memphis, and like Presley before him became a regular presence at Sun Studios. Finally, in late 1956 Phillips agreed to cut a single, recruiting guitarist Roland Janes, bassist Marvin Pepper, drummer Jimmy Van Eaton, and then-unknown pianist Jerry Lee Lewis to provide backing for a propulsive rendition of Junior Parker's "Love You Baby." A series of additional sessions followed throughout 1957, but only at year's end did Phillips finally issue "Love You Baby" as a single, releasing the disc via his fledgling Phillips International imprint. Thompson soon after joined a Sun package tour headlined by Sonny Burgess and Billy Lee Riley. He continued recording and touring for Sun but Phillips never released a follow-up effort, and in 1958 the singer relocated to Chicago, where he landed a headlining gig at the Tally Ho Club in Highwood. Backed by guitarist Travis Westmoreland and drummer Bob Travis, Thompson recorded the B.E.A.T. label release "Tom Thumb" in 1959.

by Jason Ankeny

Rudy Grayzell
Pioneering rockabilly musician Rudy “Tutti” Grayzell was born on June 8, 1933 in the small Texas town of Saspamco and grew up listening to all the strains of country and Tex-Mex music that were then popular in the San Antonio region. Although he originally aspired to be a baseball player, picking up a guitar at the age of 13 bounced his life in a different direction. Now all about playing music, Grayzell formed a country band called the Silver Buckles with friends while he was still in high school. The band, which morphed into the Texas Kool Kats, garnered enough of a local reputation to land a daily spot on a radio show broadcast from San Antonio’s KMAC station. A DJ there, Charlie Walker, recognized Grayzell’s talent and took him to see Fabor Robinson, who signed the musician to his Abbott Records imprint. Grayzell recorded three singles for the label, all country-styled, and ended up playing on high-profile country shows, including The Grand Ole Opry and Louisiana Hayride. But Grayzell had discovered rockabilly and couldn’t wait to try it on -- Capitol Records gave him a contract to do just that. He released three singles of vintage rockabilly for the label before moving on to Starday Records, where he tracked his most memorable and energetic sides, including his signature song, 1956’s “Duck Tail,” whose chart success allowed Grayzell to tour with Elvis Presley. Grayzell left Starday in 1957, signing with legendary Memphis label Sun Records early in 1958 for one single, “Judy” b/w “I Think of You.” Following a move to California, he next recorded for Award Records, releasing the arresting novelty “F-B-I Story.” It was to be his last rock & roll record. Pushed by his managers to tone things down and be more of a mass entertainer, Grayzell complied, but later admitted he regretted the decision. He moved to Oregon in 1960 and it remained his base of operations for the rest of his career. Grayzell never cracked the Top 40 with any of his releases, but his rockabilly sides in particular have allowed him to work regularly in Las Vegas and on the nightclub circuit.

by Steve Leggett

Ray Harris
In the history of Sun Records, Ray Harris is but a minor footnote. He only saw two singles released on the little yellow label, but his inclusion in any rock history book is based on the fact that both of those records just happen to some of the greatest and rawest rockabilly ever recorded at Sun or anywhere else in the 1950s. Born in Mississippi, Harris started out as a straight ahead country singer before hearing Elvis Presley and surmising that he could be doing the same thing and reaping every bit of the same share of the rewards. He moved up to Memphis and armed with little more than a burning desire to make it in the record business, put together a small combo with an eye on recording for Sam Phillips and being on Sun Records. The two singles he recorded, "Come On Little Mama" and "Greenback Dollar Watch & Chain" both did brisk local sales but were both too ultimately raw to be heard on radio stations North of the Mason-Dixon line. After playing lead guitar on a few stray sessions at the Sun studio (he can be heard on Jimmy Wages' sessions), Harris defected to the other side of the glass, becoming a successful producer for Hi Records in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

by Cub Koda

Glenn Honeycutt
Was a singer/guitarist who came to Memphis from Mississippi, the same route as a younger contemporary of his named Elvis Presley - who also happened to be a cousin of his (their grandmothers were sisters), though they never did meet. Born near Belzoni, MS in 1933, Honeycutt was brought up in Memphis after the death of his father. He was always musically inclined, and after the draft pulled him into the military for a couple of years, he decided to try making it as a musician. By 1954, Honeycutt was playing and singing around Memphis and auditioned for Sam Phillips at Sun Records -- a balladeer by inclination, Honeycutt came in with a few country-style songs, but was rejected on that basis. The following year, however, he was leading a band called Glenn Honeycutt & His Rhythmaires, which included guitarist Jack Clement in its ranks. And when Clement was hired at Sun, he persuaded Phillips to give Honeycutt another chance -- the result was one of the best records that Sun never issued, "Rock All Night." Actually, the latter apparently was scheduled and then pulled for its risqué lyric. Instead, Honeycutt's sole Sun release was "I'll Be Around"/"I'll Wait Forever." There were a dozen sides recorded, most of which never surfaced, and Honeycutt subsequently recorded for labels such as Black Gold ("Right Gal Right Place Right Time" b/w "You'll Die of Loneliness"), and Fernwood ("Tombigbee Queen" b/w "Campus Love"), all without notable or lasting success. He kept his day job with the United States Postal Service in Memphis, and might have been a footnote in history had it not been for fellow country artist Randy Rich, who brought Honeycutt's name to Rhythm Bomb Records, a London-based rockabilly revival label -- the result was a tour of Germany and Sweden, on which Honeycutt proved he could still deliver musically, and the recording of Honeycutt's first album, 40 years after he entered the business. And just to prove that Honeycutt still had what it took after all of those years, of the 12 songs on Mr. All Night Rock, 11 were originals.

by Bruce Eder

Dick Penner
isn't exactly a household name, even in rockabilly circles, but any man who could co-write a classic like "Ooby Dooby" has carved some kind of a place for himself in the history of the music. Despite his having been born in Chicago, Dick Penner got a shot at being an authentic country music and rockabilly legend when he was a year old and his family moved to Dallas, TX. It was there that he was exposed to country music on the radio, and by age 16 he'd taken up the guitar. At 18 he entered North Texas State University in Denton, TX, where he hooked up with Wade Moore and later met Roy Orbison, who at that time was leading a group called the Wink Westerners, who subsequently transformed themselves into the Teen Kings. In collaboration with Moore, Penner co-authored a song called "Ooby Dooby," which Orbison and his band later turned into one of the best-selling rockabilly singles of all time at Sun Records. Making the switch from country music to rock & roll, Penner and Moore formed a duo and recorded for Sun in 1957, sometimes as Wade & Dick and sometimes as the College Kids. Wade & Dick recorded six songs, and Penner did a handful of songs on his own, all of which displayed a hard, youthful edge and were aimed at the new teen market, but none of them were notably successful. Penner's three singles (on at least one of which he shared guitar chores with Don Gilliland), "Move Baby Move," "Fine Little Baby," and "Someday Baby," all seemed to hook around a certain thematic similarity. They weren't in a league with "Ooby Dooby," however, which made a respectable showing on the national charts in Orbison's hands and has since come to be regarded as a classic of the genre. Moore continued working in music with Orbison, but Penner decided on a career in academia and reportedly became a professor of English.

by Bruce Eder

Eddie Bond
Despite never becoming a major national figure, Eddie Bond carved out a place as a rockabilly and country star, as well as a radio personality, for 50 years. A contemporary of Elvis Presley and a fixture in Memphis and on the Louisiana Hayride in the mid-'50s, Bond was one of the best singers of the period, and led the Stompers, one of the hottest bands, but he never broke out the way Elvis did. His records, whether rockabilly, country, or gospel, however, were among the best to come from Memphis from the mid-'50s through the 1960s, and helped Bond remain a much loved country/rockabilly performer into the new millennium. Born Eddie James Bond in Memphis, he was originally drawn into music by the work of Ernest Tubb and Roy Acuff. By age eight, Bond had saved enough to buy his first guitar, and as a teenager he played at beer joints around Memphis. He drifted through various jobs after finishing school, including furniture factory worker and truck driver, before serving an 18-month hitch in the Navy.

After returning to civilian life, he began putting together his band, the Stompers, whose membership at various times in the years 1952-1954 included Jody Chastain and Curtis Lee Anderson. By 1955, the group's mainstays included Reggie Young on lead guitar, John Hughey on the pedal steel, and Johnny Fine at the drums. Bond led the Stompers on tours across the South and Southwest, billed alongside Roy Orbison, among other future country and rock & roll stars. They failed in auditions for Sam Phillips at Sun and the Bihari brothers' Meteor label, and in 1955 he signed with tiny Ekko Records, which resulted in a pair of singles issued late in the year, "Double Duty Lovin'"/"Talking Off the Wall" and "Love Makes a Fool (Everyday)"/"Your Eyes." These were pleasant, well-played country numbers, but they didn't include the band, only Bond as singer. With Hank Garland on lead guitar, Jerry Byrd on steel guitar, and Marvin Hughes at the ivories, they were OK records and then some, but not representative of Bond's real sound -- "Talking Off the Wall" was a rocker, with a solid beat and lots of tension in the lead and rhythm guitar parts, but it was the B-side to the milder "Double Duty Lovin'." In any case, neither record attracted any notice from the public or the musical world.

Bond and his band managed to get signed to Mercury Records in 1956, and this was where they came into their own. From their first Mercury session in February of 1956, Eddie Bond & the Stompers cooked, with a lean, hard rockabilly sound that rocked with the best of them. The band in those days featured Young, Hughey, and Fine, with Bond playing rhythm. The single "I Got a Woman"/"Rockin' Daddy" from that session is testimony to the excitement they could generate. That Mercury debut sold well in the spring of 1956, and they were getting lots of gigs and broadcast exposure at the time. Bond played the Louisiana Hayride alongside Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Johnny Horton, and it was around this time that he started his own radio show, an activity that was to loom ever larger in his career. His second Mercury session produced still more rockabilly gold, including "Slip, Slip, Slippin' In" and "Flip, Flop Mama," and they sold respectably, if not spectacularly.

Bond didn't stay with rockabilly music, however, and his later Mercury sessions produced country sides, although "Love Love Love" rocks pretty well. His Mercury contract ended in 1957, and for his next sessions, Bond was back doing rockabilly again, followed by more country music and even a foray into gospel in the early '60s. Bond's biggest success in the years that followed came on radio, where his show achieved huge ratings; this, in turn, helped sustain his record sales, as he recorded or licensed various songs to different labels, mostly in a country vein.

Eddie Bond was never going to be another Elvis Presley -- he wasn't going to be turned into a movie star as easily, or branch into other, heavily produced sounds, and he was too successful early on as a radio personality to abandon that activity. But he made a more than fair rival to Conway Twitty (whom he played with around 1955, when the latter was still known as Harold Jenkins), with a pleasing tenor voice, understated in its sweetness and dramatic nuance, and a good sense of how to deliver a song, whether ballad, rocker, or gospel number. He continued performing through the 1990s and into the new century. His broadcasting career was especially successful and assured him of a wide country audience, while his classic rockabilly sides from the '50s helped make him a living legend among enthusiasts, especially in Europe. Five decades into performing, he remained true to his country and rockabilly roots.

by Bruce Eder

Malcolm Yelvington
Like the second man to fly the Atlantic solo, or the second guy to orbit the Earth, Malcolm Yelvington stands somewhat in the shadow of history -- he's there, but he's eclipsed by his predecessor. He had the good fortune to be signed to Sun Records in 1954, but the bad luck to get the spot on the release roster one record after Elvis Presley's debut 45, "That's All Right." Yelvington is one of those artists signed to Sun Records who never made it as big as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, or Carl Perkins -- but whose music and abilities were still impressive, enough that he made a decent living performing in and around Memphis for years while he couldn't chart a record. The man never made it to national television, much less the national charts, but Yelvington today is highly regarded in Memphis as a living piece of the city's musical transformation of the country.

Yelvington was born in Covington, a rural enclave close to Memphis, and was playing guitar and singing locally at age 14. He developed a good baritone voice that brought him some listeners and engagements into his early 20s. One of the few models he had for his music was Ernest Tubb, himself a baritone who was just rising to national prominence at the time with "Walkin' the Floor Over You." Yelvington mastered a honky tonk sound similar to Tubb's. Strangely enough, despite being influenced by Tubb, and working within hailing distance of Memphis, Yelvington and his music were separated by a wide gulf from the blues. His sound came from hillbilly music, and he was scarcely aware of the presence of players like Furry Lewis or Frank Stokes in nearby Memphis.

During World War II, Yelvington was rejected for military service for health reasons. After the war, Yelvington met Reece Fleming and Respers Townsend, who had already recorded together for RCA-Victor, at a series of impromptu performances at the Gem Theater. Through these informal gigs at the Gem Theater, he eventually joined Reece Fleming's band, a western swing outfit called the Tennesseeans, who played all kinds of gigs, including school dances and honky-tonks, in the vicinity of Covington. They broke up in 1952, but Yelvington and the core players joined up with the Star Rhythm Boys, a local outfit, and landed a daily spot on a radio station. Most of the bandmembers were older men with families, and limited their work to local gigs in Covington. Yelvington, however, lived in Memphis and faced the reverse problem -- he began playing in Memphis as much as possible even as he continued with the band, playing with them on weekends. The band's gigs were always in the vicinity of Memphis, most notably at a honky-tonk called the Clover Club, north of Covington, where they played for three years, built up a huge following, and made a good living just from the door receipts. Yelvington and lead guitarist Gordon Mashburn began looking into the idea of recording, to build on what they'd accomplished locally, and heard about Sam Phillips and Sun Records, which had already recorded the Ripley Cotton Choppers.

Yelvington and Phillips first met late in 1953, and their initial contact was less than promising. The band played country music, and western swing, and Phillips wasn't interested in recording either. He did like the band, however, and got them to audition a huge part of their repertory, whatever they brought in, among them a song called "Yakety-Yak" (no, not the Coasters' song), but it was all too country for Phillips. They finally struck gold with a number called "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee," by blues singer Sticks McGee. That got Phillips' attention -- the mix of black and hillbilly music was compelling to the label owner, who ran out of the control room, found out what the song was, and had the band cut it right there. Ironically, Yelvington had learned the song from a member who was no longer in the band, steel guitarist Carey Busey, and had played rhythm behind it so many times that he ultimately adopted the song himself, even though Busey had originally sung on it. With background vocals provided by Reece's wife and another singer, the number had a freewheeling honky tonk feel, and had its feet planted in country music with the prominent use of a steel guitar, but it also had just enough of the energy of its black source material to stand out from the country material of the day. That made it special, but it also proved to be the record's undoing, on another level. Unfortunately for Yelvington and his band, around that same time Phillips also recorded a young Memphis-based, Mississippi-born singer named Elvis Presley, and his debut, "That's All Right," eclipsed "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee."

Yelvington and the Star Rhythm Boys took responsibility for promoting their own single, a frustrating process that required them to approach radio stations directly, one at a time, and leave copies of the 45. They found out then that, despite its inherent drive and the mix of black and country influences, their record was still pegged as a country release, due to the presence of a steel guitar. The record died, labeled neither fish nor fowl -- too black for country stations, and too country for the deejays playing more rhythm-oriented songs.

Sun never released another record by Yelvington or his band, and they next turned up on the Bihari Brothers'-owned competitor, Meteor Records, cutting music under the name "Mac Sales and the Esquire Trio" to avoid a lawsuit by Phillips, who still held their contract. Their Meteor re-recording of "Yakety-Yak" failed to sell, and the Star Rhythm Boys were back, under their own name, at Sun in 1955, where they tried releasing some rockabilly-style material in the guise of "Rockin' With My Baby."
Neither Yelvington -- who was nearing 40 at the time -- nor his fellow bandmembers (who were even older) were entirely comfortable with rockabilly as a sound, and never took to it as naturally as the 20-year-old Presley. The group finally broke up in 1958, after six years of steady gigs and no luck in the recording studio. Yelvington gave up music after trying to play on his own, in order to devote his attention to a family of five children. In the mid-'80s, however, Yelvington would suddenly find a new music career, ironically enough, as an original rockabilly star -- more than 25 years after his rockabilly records were passed over as too country-ish.

Histories of Sun Records mentioned him and the Star Rhythm Boys, and people started looking for him, as one of Sun's original roster of rockabilly players. He was initially approached by European concert promoters, catering to a still huge and dedicated audience who loved American music, and who got him over there to play a series of shows. He was back at Sun the following year, to record again, which led to the making of his first album, released in 1997, when he was 69-years-old. By that time, he was a living part of Memphis history, and a respected elder statesman in country music and, yes, rockabilly - although in his heart, he'll always consider himself a country musician.
by Bruce Eder

More Biographies of Artists see: > The Sun Biographies <
Sun recordings can be heard on the playlists from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

> Page Up <