UNTOLD SUN STORIES – DON HINTON - Born in Caruthersville, Missouri, some 90 miles north of Memphis, in 1942, Don Hinton not only grew up in
the immediate post-Elvis generation but in awe of what was happening in Memphis. To him and his buddies, Memphis was the epicenter of the musical universe. His first gigs were with Junior Upchurch and the Rockers. They reckoned themselves to be the number
2 local band, second only to Narvel Felts. There was a jukebox supplier in Caruthersville named Bo Young (rumors of Bo's contacts with local organized crime seemed to be borne out when he was later murdered).
Young knew Sam Phillips, and took Don to Memphis. ''Bo liked our songs'', said Don. ''He financed the session, and Sam was there. Sam liked it well enough to want to release it on Sun. All the Sun guys were there: Roland Janes,
Billy Riley, Charlie Rich... and so on.
Roland liked what we'd done and wanted to issue it on his label, Rita Records. Hi Records was interested, and so was Fernwood.
I remember going to Fernwood and Bill Black's bass was there with the white trim. Fernwood wanted the record too, but everyone wanted to be on Sun, and when Sam says he wanted to release it, we jumped. They pushed ''Jo Ann'' but ''Honey Bee'' was the side
that fit the era much better. Sam told me I should move to Memphis, stay at the YMCA, and hang out at Sun. I didn't do it, and I've regretted it all these years''.
says that ''Jo Ann''/''Honey Bee'' was released on the same day as Carl Mann's ''South Of The Border''. ''They sold 20,000 ''South Of The Border'' on the first day'', he told Dave Booth, ''and all the Phillips International power was behind Carl Mann. Mind
You, if I was Phillips I would have done the same thing''.
Before and after his Phillips single, Don opened a few shows for Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich, Carl Perkins,
and others. It was, he says, a joyful period. Then he went to Chicago. ''I went for a two-week stand in June 1961, and I left in 1972'', he says. He met his wife, Sabina, in Chicago and when they left it was to take his Elvis show on the road. He modeled himself
after Elvis' Vegas period. Sabina made the sequined jumpsuits. Together, they toured the United States and Canada. They did this until 1985 or 1986. ''I'd be on the road five or six months at a stretch'', he says. He'd hang a sign outside the lounges he played,
''If you like Elvis, you'll love Don Hinton''. Playing places that Elvis didn't play made Don a lot of money, but much of it went on life sweeteners. He had no home, just a recreational vehicle.
Don came close to Elvis just once. Elvis's girlfriend, Linda Thompson caught his act and invited him to join a party of Elvis's friends at the Memphian Theater. They watched a bad war movie, and Don asked Linda if Elvis was in a mood to meet
anyone. She went to ask and never came back. Don was on a trek across Canada when he heard that Elvis had died.
Don eventually settled in Mobile, Alabama. ''I loved the
mystique of the town'', he says. ''Down here on the Gulf, it's a very unique area. We liked anything unique... and I'm not going to elaborate on that. I flew down one January and bought a house''. There wasn't much recording after Sun. ''I recorded in Chicago
for a little offbeat label. Then I did an LP in 1985 for Mister Music Records in Nashville. It sounds cheesy, and I guess it was. We had two singles off that record''.
the greater part of his musical career, Don inhabited the twilight world of bars and lounges. Tours could be extended indefinitely. If he went over well in one market, his booker would call ahead to other markets and line up more shows. He had no hits, but
he didn't really need them as long as Elvis was in the charts. Still, it was a punishingly hard life, and Don now seems more less relieved to be putting on his sequined jumpsuit only for the occasional charity with his son, Bo, on drums, his son-in-law on
organ, and his daughter Jessica, singing backup, but for the moment (1998) he's in Mobile running a dry cleaning business.
MID MARCH 1960
As a result of the payola investigations, Washington calls on record companies to stop sending free promotional records to radio stations.
MARCH 17, 1960 THURSDAY
The Platters open for a week at the Olympia in Paris.
Jeanne Black recorded ''He'll Have To Stay'', intended as a response to Jim Reeves' ''He'll Have To Go''.
Janis Joplin is suspended at
high school in Port Arthur, Texas. She eventually gets her degree, and delivers a recording of ''Me And Bobby McGee'', regarded among country's 500 greatest singles in a Country Music Foundation publication, ''Heartaches By The Number''.
MARCH 18, 1960 FRIDAY
The Everly Brothers recorded the pop hit ''Cathy's Clown'' at RCA Studio B
in Nashville, Tennessee.
Carl Smith recorded ''Cut Across Shorty''. A Nat Stuckey version of the song becomes a country hit nine years later.
MARCH 18, 1960 FRIDAY
New York deejay Doug "Jocko" Henderson produces the Rocket Ship Reeve featuring the Coasters, Dave
"Baby" Cortez, the Isley Brothers and Luther Bond at the Apollo. Wilbert Harrison is booked for three days at the Lindenwold Inn in Philadelphia.
MARCH 19, 1960 SATURDAY
Bobby Darin, Freddy Cannon, Dorsey Burnette and the Contours appear on the Dick Clark Show. Brook Benton and the Coasters break the house record during their week at the Howard Theater in
The Browns perform ''The Old Lamplighter'' on ABC's ''The Dick Clark Show'', also featuring Johnny Cash, Bobby Darin, and The Coasters.
MARCH 21, 1960 MONDAY
Waylon Jennings' third child, Buddy, is born.
Elvis Presley recorded "Stuck On You" backed with ''Fame And Fortune'' is Elvis Presley's first hit single since he was discharged from the Army. He recorded the song during March 1960 session at the Nashville's
RCA Studio B in his first stereo session, and the single was released within weeks and went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in late-April 1960, becoming his first number-one single of the 1960s and thirteenth overall. "Stuck On You" peaked at
number six on the rhythm and blues chart. The song knocked Percy Faith's "Theme From A Summer Place'' from the top spot, ending its nine-week run at number one on the chart. The record reached number three in the United Kingdom. The song was written by Aaron
Schroeder and J. Leslie McFarland and published by Gladys Music, Elvis Presley's publishing company.
In New Zealand (and perhaps other countries), the single had a special
paper sleeve with the usual RCA logo top left and 45 R.P.M. bottom left and included, in large letters, "ELVIS" top right and bottom left: "Elvis' 1st new recording for his 50,000,000 fans all over the world''.
Decca released Kitty Wells' ''Left To Right''.
MARCH 21, 1960 MONDAY
Jerry Lee Lewis starts tour of Hawaii and Australia with Tommy Sands as headliner.
Afrikaner police open fire with sub machine guns on demonstrators
in the black township of Sharpeville, South African.
MARCH 22, 1960 TUESDAY
Playmates appear on American Bandstand and sing "Beep Beep''.
attempt to break into a different type of music with an LP was cut in the Skyway of the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, where Sam Phillips had once engineered big-bands broadcasts. Chuck Foster was popular with Memphians during his two engagements each
year at the Peabody, and he had national standing, having played the Academy Awards Ball and other big events. In March, the band cut a bunch of sides live during one of their shows. That LP, designated PLP 1965, was intended not only for national distribution
but to be sold to guests at the hotel. This music was pretty formulaic and was exactly of the type Sam Phillips had grown to detest when he worked there. Tunes of the vintage of ''Oh, You Beautiful Doll'' marked the LP as music of decades past.
This time they returned to the old standby artist, Andy Anderson, and he executed a blue cover with pictures of people dancing in the Skyway and a bellman leading the famous Peabody ducks
through the lobby for their daily bath. This wasn't a great-selling album either.