Mean Mountain Mike (Muskovitz) ran one of the early collector stores in the Milwaukee area specializing in rare rock 45's. The first store was located on Windlake Avenue in Milwaukee before moving to the 9th and Oklahoma location a couple of miles away around 1980. That store eventually caught fire a few years later destroying a lot of the inventory. The store continued operation after word. Mike ran his house label of vintage unissued and reissued recordings out of his stores, along with a few "remakes" of original labels. He'd be the one to ask about the supposed Canadian release. He's still around the Southeastern Wisconsin area, although the store itself closed on June 2004.

''written in the context of circa 1979 and published with permission''

Memphis In May Festival and Interview with Sam Phillips
Ray Smith
Barbara Pittman Interview
Conversation with Warren Smith
Conversation with Dickey Lee

Copyright 1979 © by Mean Mountain Music. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in any form or manner without prior express written permission of the publisher or owner. This issue is dedicated to Rockabilly, Memphis Tennessee and Music lovers everywhere. I also feel it necessary to mention that without the help and friendship of Don Ezell (The Memphis Rooster) this issue would have probably never existed. Also information on Ray Smith was given to us by Howard and Tommie Wix of Joliett, IL. We thank you all and especially the dealers and collectors from all over the world who have faith and trust in our work. Ray Smith pictures courtesy of Howard and Tommie Wix Warren Smith on stage in the 1950's pictures courtesy of Marcus Van Story. Cover photo courtesy of Don Ezell and the Phillips family.

For information about ''Mean Mountain Music'' mail or write to:
Mike Muskovitz
527 River Drive
Mayville. Wisconsin 53050

Memphis In May Festival and Interview with Sam Phillips
by Mean Mountain Mike

Sam was born January 5th, 1923 on a small farm in Alabama. In high school Sam played sousaphone and drums for the school band, when not in school he worked in the cotton fields which were a southern tradition. During his younger years Sam always wanted to become a lawyer but when his father died the tragedy made him quit school and go to work. Sam drifted from city to city and did some work at radio stations announcing white gospel and hillbilly records. It wasn't till 1945 that he moved to Memphis and become serious about his goals. I guess you could say that a Baptist church Sam joined when he was 16 gave him the inspiration to record blacks. ''They felt the music''. When you were singing a spiritual or listening to them sing, it made you feel happy. They had their heart in what they were doing. All this is reflected in that the first 15 Sun releases were all by black artists.

People like Rufus Thomas, The Prisonaires, and Little Junior parker had the first hits for Sam's Sun label. ''Bear Cat'', ''Just Walking In The Rain'' and ''Feelin' Good'' were just some of the great songs to come along.

Then there was Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Ray Smith, Dickey Lee and many more who rose to fame through their beginning at Sun.

This magazine is not an attempt to tell the whole Sun story. It would take a 300 page bound boot to do that (or this complete website). Not that we wouldn't like to, but all we want on this page to show the reading audience are some of the great picture and stories we encountered while in Memphis during the month of May, 1978.

The Memphis in May festival was held in the W.C. Handy park in Memphis on Third Avenue and Beale Street. The whole idea was put together as an entertainment package to promote Memphis throughout the world. During the Sun Record Segment there must have been 2 or 3,000 people in attendance. George Klein was the emcee and started it of with a chuckle. He had two records on the Sun label and said that he bought one and his mother bought the other. Ha Ha!

George introduced the performing artists to us and there's what some of them had to say.

Warren Smith: ''It's real nice to be here again. It's the second time since the 1950s that I've been here and I couldn't think of a better reason for coming than honoring Sam Phillips''.

Charlie Feathers: ''Thank you a lot. I really feel good today, that's all I can say. I been all over the world and I hear people talking about ''What is Memphis Music''? I say it's an upright bass, a rhythm guitar and a good vocal. That's what Elvis started here. That was rockabilly. Then you go way back, blues came out of Memphis at 706 Union to That's were I think rockabilly was created''.

Marcus Van Story: ''I used to hang a small skull from my bass when we did ''Ubangi Stomp'' and everybody want's to know what I did with it. Well I put it away in the closet but I still have it''.

Dickey Lee: ''I'm really glad to be here''. Dick didn't say much but as we all know he's now a RCA recording artist and is doing very well.

Bill Justis: ''I'm very happy to be here. This was my home originally, and I am very happy to have been invited here because Sam Phillips put Memphis on the map in the music industry, and he is truly a pioneer''. (Bill nicknamed Jerry Lee Lewis the Killer).

Barbara Pittman: ''We're not all here today. Elvis is gone, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis couldn't make it but this is one of the happiest days of the year for me, to see all my old friends again''. (Others who couldn't make it were Charlie Rich, Sonny Burgess, Roy Orbison, and Billy Riley).

Marcus Van Story: ''People used to mistake Bill Black and I for each other you know. Yea, him and I was like twin brothers. I was playing bass before Bill was, and we'd be playing some of the honky tonks around, and after the people got loaded dancing and drinkin', Bill say ''Let me have that bass for awhile, I wanna learn to play that thing like you do'', besides, that'll give you a chance to get a drink and dance with some of the good lookin' women! So Bill and I had a great time down through the years. A lot of records have been recorded and well, some people think Bill did them, and others think I did. So you would never really tell who was playing that big ''bull Fiddle'' and I'm really proud to say that Bill was a darn good friend of mine. I'm really sorry that he's gone''.

Stan Kesler: ''It;s a real pleasure to have been a part of the great era of 1950s music''.

Jack Clement: ''Jack just said it's great to be here but as we all know he's responsible for the Johnny Cash hits: ''Ballad Of A Teenage Queen'' and ''Guess Things Happen That Way''.

Jim Dickenson: ''Yea, I played piano for the Rolling Stones, and I did some other things, too. I don't know whether they're heavy or not. I do know that the proudest thing I ever did was my yellow Sun Record. And it's Sun 400 for all you collectors. I'm the Cadillac man!. Thank you Sam. The only person in the world I call Mister - Mr. Phillips''.

A moment of silence was given to the memory of Dewey Phillips and Elvis as a hush came over the entire crowd and all paid tribute to their memory.

Barbara Pittman had the honor to present Sam Phillips with an award from the city of Memphis, and it read as follows. ''In appreciation for outstanding contributions in the world of music, Memphis in May, 1978''.

As Barbara handed the plaque to Sam Phillips you could tell that he was honored to receive it and the following is what he had to say about music and Memphis.

''I hope everybody knows that even though this is a tribute to me, that it's a tribute to the people that stand behind me, it's a tribute to the people that couldn't be here today, and it's also a tribute to you people! That through persistence, through hard work, and through the belief in something, hopefully innovation, that you would accept it, and you did! Thank God for it. Thank God for having you here today. I hope this thing will be 50,000 people in the next few years cause I think this town is (and I don't think there's any question about it) the total Capitol of Music! And if you don't believe it you can go down to the Delta right now, and you can hear things you never heard before and won't hear again anywhere else. That came to Memphis in the days of B.B. King, Little Junior Parker, Howlin' Wolf and the Prisonaires. Let's think about it ladies and gentleman, this is the spirit that ought to be here in this town, ''The hell with Sam Phillips''.

''We want to have this biggest event ever because music is the only damn thing that I give a damn about! It's not Sam Phillips, it's not Elvis, it's not any one individual in particular; but it is the sole want to communicate one to another! Once you communicate from the heart and soul, I guarantee you will get together and lick it!

''Don't leave here today without saying that Memphis is gonna have the festival of good time from year to year, because I'm gonna work myself to death for it! We need this communication. This is a relaxed crowd here today, this is a good crowd, this is a crowd of spirit of music - Thank you''.

What follows is almost a word for word interview conducted by Memphis TV and radio along with yours truly standing by and reporting on what happened.

During part of the festival at the Memphis in May festival crowds were gathering everywhere and talking about old times. The back stage area was nearly as jammed with people as the stands waiting for the performance. During all the commotion Sam Phillips was talking to reporters from the Memphis media and I came in when Sam was looking around for Stan Kesler. 

Sam Phillips: Where's Stan Kessler? Now here's a guy now that, probably outside of me, had the most patience of anybody in the world! And I think he'll say it's not the genious of the person, it's the patience, perseverance and the belief''. 

Stan Kesler: ''That's about 90%''. 

Sam Phillips: ''Yea, that's about 90%, add a little sweat, a few headaches and you can come up with a hit record''. 

Stan Kesler: ''Tranquilizers''? 

Sam Phillips: ''Well now. I didn't know what they were then. But, Stan, I was telling them that I think everybody's orderly, the people are relaxed and there's a great sound up on the stage. But there should be 50,000 people here today! There really should! Memphis, for God sake, Clarksdale, Tupelo, let's get on with it. Let's make this thing the biggest. Let's have the people come from all over America. If we persevere it can be done'' 

Question: ''What things do you think would help it go right. So that we would see a resurgence of music in Memphis”The way it was''? 

Sam Phillips: ''Well I think that it's a part of the younger generation to really devote themselves, maybe starve a little bit! Because I'm gonna tell you that I believe it's necessary - it's unfortunate that it's this way - but it's necessary to be a little bit humble, but not a lot humble. And I feel like the younger people, who are great, but I think are trying to do something with too much sound, too much instrumental, too much instrumentation. Really. What we've all got to say has got to come from in here (Sam points to his heart). Really! Sure it can come through an instrument, but I like to hear the words spoken. I like to hear a singer or a group of singers. You can't turn the clock back, but I'd like to think that we can roll back a little bit to some of the basics. I;m certain we can embellish those! But let's don't go for that clean sound jazz with rock and roll! Cause that will crusift anyone''. 

''Fiddles and all this stuff is all right on some things, you know Perry Como, great, love to hear it. But I really think that the persuasion has got to be on the basis of a dedication of the people behind that mixing board, the people on that floor and the real love! Man, the real love to do something good. The hell with the money! That's what the hell's gone wrong with this business! Everybody wants a million dollar contract to do something the he or she should love to do. And that is wrong. Wrong! Certainly we've got to eat, but we should give our attentions to the expression that we have in us, and forget that we're gonna get a million or 2 million or a guarantee for life contract, then sit down on the job. That is wrong any way you look at it. Yes, to answer your question, I really think that those things, even with inflation, if we want to persist enough, the people, the younger people are devoted enough. I'll guarantee you it could come back. In this city! As strong as it was before! Now, I'm not one of these cats whose known as a total optimist, you know. I'm a realist!. I hope? But it can be done. But only when the ingredients are right. You can't corner up artistry with a bunch of loud sounds! Now we don't have to stay back with the 1950s, it's great, you know! We really need to do something that is basic. When you feel it, you really feel it! Without all the noise, then I can assure you something is going to happen''. 

Question: ''Can you give us an example of a national group which may not have the lavish orchestration that you've been talking about but that you think would be a good example of the New Wave''? 

Sam Phillips: ''Fleetwoods Man''. They've got a big band but man they stay with the basics. I'm not that up on all the groups, believe me, but they're a good example. There are many, many others. I hate the idea of coming back, reserection or whatever. But the people of Memphis, especially of Memphis, because I love this town, it's the most beautiful city I've ever been in, and I'm proud to be here! This is the most beautiful city, some of the finest human beings. Now believe me I'm not trying to you know- flater people to say ''Oh he's a sweet cat and all'' but man we got a beautiful city, we got the basics! We got the Delta. They might not be pickin as much cotton, and I'm not sure that's not good. You know, to keep us close to God and earth, man and sky!. 

Question: ''Do you believe, like I do, that it really didn't happen here by accident''? 

Sam Phillips: ''I know it didn't happen by accident! And I know it didn't happen by any one man either, it didn't happen by one or two artists. It happened because there are certain things that are indigenous to this area. You had industry here and still have it. You had some basic facts that are fundamental. The Delta of Arkansas and Mississippi, you had the people in northern Tennessee that were so poor, that they had to be total persevering people, that wanted to stay on, that took that red elay and made it grow crops! So we need to get back to the fundamentals. The fundamentals! And it's not just rolling the clock back, we got to move on, but we've got to be very dedicated. If I could say one word to sum up everything I have said, put it this way. To truly believe and be dedicated and really now quote un quote, ''Persevere''. 

Question: ''Sam, could you possibly reflect and tell a few rock and roll stories about some of the people that are here today''? 

Sam Phillips: ''No, I really don't need to tell some stories. We have a lot of fine people here today and well, some of my stories might be lock a few people up. Ha Ha Ha!. 

''Let's get Bill Justis over here for a minute. Because Bill is the first Hip-Talkin' Cat that I ever heard. He used to say ''Hey, man'', I said well. Bill was playin' ''Raunchy'' , the biggest instrumental hit that was ever cut when it was out in the 1950s, since T. Dorsey's ''Boogie Woogie''. Mu God, Bill played nothing but super clean dance music. But Bill kept coming by the studio all the time and I'd say, now Bill, ''You've got to get Raunchy - ''Sounding''! Darn if he and Sid Manker didn't write a song and instrumentally put it down to become as I said, the biggest hit! Man, I been preachin' over here and they're not passing the plate, so I need a little help along the here so Bill''? 

Bill Justis: ''You know I'm kind of worried about my hair! You know it's windy, and it's doing damage to my hair! 

Sam Phillips: ''Well Bill, I'll tell ya, you got a beautiful head''! 

Bill Justis: ''You're right''! 

Sam Phillips: ''A beautiful head, beautiful head... But Bill Justis was the one who repeatedly came by the studio at 706 union. He'd play these little dangle deals, ''Two Step'', ''Soft Shoe''. 

Bill Justis: ''Be-Bop''. 

Sam Phillips: ''Be-Bop''? 

Bill Justis: ''Hot Stuff''! 

Sam Phillips: ''But he forgot to put the ''Lula'' on it, you know! (while Bill Justis chuckles). But anyway Bill had come by and I had never really took him seriously. I don't know why. I guess I thought he was a joke. I think everyone did. In my opinion, really, the guy's a genious, there's just no question about it. He's just been mis-directed all his life, till he cut ''Raunchy''! Ha Ha... But we were trying to get the Phillips International label started for some reason or other, I don't know but we started it and Bill had one of the first releases''. 

Bill Justis: ''Yes, I think there was B. Blake, Barbara Pittman, and a few others...''? 

Sam Phillips: ''I never released four records in my life one time''? 

Bill Justis: ''Then there must have been three. Ha Ha''. 

Question: ''Were you a beatnik''? 

Sam Phillips: ''Beatnik? I guess. I don't know what a Beatnik is really, but then again I guess I know. But when Bill Justis came in, this guy had a language! Fascinated the hell out of me! It really did. It took me a while to really believe that Bill wanted to get in there and cut a record because of the stuff we were doin'. Bill is musically trained, unfortunately, ha ha. But when he came in with that Bop talk there was something that fascinated me about Bill and really I know he was a hell of a good musician, but he had his own language and could very definitely communicate with words. Man, I had never heard of phrases like that put together before. It astounded me and that's probably why Bill and I got together for better or worse...''. 

Question: ''Where did you learn this language, Bill''. 

Bill Justis: ''Where'd I learn it! Well ya see, I was a musician ya know! And all musicians seem to talk that way more or less''. 

Question: ''Are you from Memphis''? 

Bill Justis: ''A yea, I left here in 1960 or 61''. 

Sam Phillips: ''Ya, far as I'm concerned, Bill, you couldn't go wrong, yea the first super smash hit instrumental we had. Then later on Hi studios came along with Bill Black and just a series of great songs! Memphis! I hate to sound sickening because I live here, but it's just so fundamental! I know if this gets back to Nashville, if Bill carries it back or anybody hears this, I love Nashville, I have a studio over there and you talk about fine musicians! But we're so damn primitive over here and really in a way I never did try to copy Nashville, cause there was no way! Those people and there category have got the best thing going that's ever been! And ain't nobody can tough it! But to me, even though they stay with fundamentals, I just don't like too much paint, powder and rouge! Even though Bill accuses me of dying my hair! Now he knows damn well I don't dye my hair''! (While the crowd chuckles Sam runs his hand through his hair) (he really does look better than ever). 

Bill Justis: ''What you have here in Memphis, and still have it, is innovation! And you'll always have it. A place like Nashville is more a music center. There are always 10 or 15 different things going on at the same time. So it's a different kind of thing''. 

Sam Phillips: ''Bill, I don't think I've ever asked you this question, but I never did get Bill's conscious, or unconscious statement about what he thought the hell we were trying to do about the time that he came over! We were making a little noise, really very little, and if you don't believe me you should have followed me on the road! Anyway, what the heck motivated you to stop by 706 Union! Was it just to see what the heck was going on? To see insanity working at its finest''. 

Bill Justis: ''I wanted to get into this business, you know! And you put me in the business which I appreciate very much. I love ya, Sam, I really do! That's about it. There were a lot of people who did good from that little hole in the wall over there, and Elvis helped all of us! I mean if it wasn't for Elvis, like good bad or indifferent to what everyone says about him, well if it wasn't for him, well a lot of us probably wouldn't be in the business today! I think I would though, because I trained for music and my training has paid off. I do make a living out of writing music. The record business has been great! 

Sam Phillips: ''I think Bill is 100% right about Elvis, but I'd like to extend it just a little bit further. I think that the people that came out of that little studio and the ones that followed in line, our rhythm and blues artists that went on to be really great, the B.Bs, Howlin' Wolf, Junior Parker and on, certainly Elvis was the catalyst. I think it was a very hungry effort on the part of everybody, the people were in there man! To try to do something! There wasn't that big dollar sign! But I really think that any one person, be it Elvis, Phillips or Justis, or you name it, it was a type of cohesive spirit. A little congregation so to speak. And they had a podium you know, that they could hear instructions from and they could feed it back to you. I think that Bill will agree with me when I say that in essence that's what really made it. ''Perseverance''. Way back when we took Elvis to different places they didn't know whether to ''Fish or Fight''. But with persistence the people picked up on it gradually and it really was a catalyst. And I think that the total effort of people like Bill Justis, Jack Clement, Ray Harris, and Hi records and on and on is what really got it rollin'''. 

''Unfortunately everybody got a little money hungry later on and there was a studio on every corner, not that I've ever been scared of competition, because I never have! I may be to damn crazy, but I really think there was too much motivation by money, and man that ain't the way it's gonna exist! I don't care who does it, what they know or who they know, if you don't have the real ''real'' dedication it cannot sustain itself. This dedication has to be on the part of the artist and the A&R man too, the people who are supposed to arrange and help the artist''. 

Question: ''So what you're talking about now is something that doesn't really exist much anymore, the independent who has been driven down and out''? 

Sam Phillips: ''Here's what happened when I started in the business. There were 5 labels of major status, the rest of them were all little labels that were as hungry as we were''. 

Question: ''And they had to hustle''? 

Sam Phillips: ''Yea, but it's really no different now! It's just recycled itself. The majors bought out many of the little labels and companies. But, that's not insurmountable if you've got the product! If you've got the product, you'll find a way to distribute it. ''It's got to be in that groove''! And I've been talking so long that I've got to have a beer. Thank you''.

Ray Smith
by Howard and Tommie Wix

Raymond Eugene Smith was born October 30th, 1934. His family consisted of six brothers and one sister. Born in the small town of Melber, Kentucky, just outside of Paducha, he is the seventh son of a seventh son! Believe it or not his destiny was forming when, in only 2nd and 3rd grade, he'd sing Tex Ritter songs for his classmates. He left home at the age of 12 and continued on in school through the eight grade.

Ray got married at the age of 18, his wife Lillie was only 16 at the time. He entered the Air Force shortly thereafter and was a medic for 8 years. Ray might have become a doctor if it wouldn't have been for a talent contest that was held base. Some friends of his who could also sing were asked by their commanding officers if they'd like to perform, but they told the officers that Ray could sing much better, and since Ray had just happened to walk in at the exact moment – well – guess we all know who sang at the show. And that he did – Ray sang ''Love Sick Blues'', and won first place in the competition.

After leaving the Air Force in 1956, ray formed his own band called The Rock And Roll Boys. The band consisted of the following members, Henry Stevens, Raymond Jones, Dean Perkins, and James Webb. While playing the clubs and other gigs Ray met a fellow called Charlie Terrell, who later became his manager. Charlie liked what he heard so much that he took a tape the boys made and went to Sam Phillips. Sam liked what he heard and shortly thereafter signed Ray to a contract. To Ray's knowledge, he's the only artist that Sam signed to a contract without first meeting.

Sun Records released five 45s through the years 1958, 1959. All five were very successful. In 1960 Ray also recorded ''Rockin' Little Angel'' on the Judd label. Charlie Walker, at that time a disc jockey in Texas was one of the first to give it air play, others followed immediately, and in no time at all, presto. 3 ½ million copies were sold. To this day it's still Ray's biggest seller, and if you count the repressing of it on the Oldies label – 5 million were sold... Ray's next step was to issue an LP for the Judd label. The LP was taped in Nashville at the RCA recording studios. The LP should have sold a million, but because it didn't it's highly sought after today by collectors world wide.

During Ray's association with Sun and Judd he like many other artists did a great deal of traveling and personal appearances. Some of the more memorable were, Vegas with Jane Russell, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Lee Riley and Bob Wills; Dick Clark's American Bandstand; and even Milwaukee where he appeared with Jimmy Clanto.. (I had to sneak Milwaukee in somewhere)!

As rock and roll began to change somewhat in the 1960s Ray issued a country and western record for the Cinnamon Label called ''Tilted Cup Of Love''. It made the top ten. In 1966 Ray moved to Canada were rhythm and blues was still very popular. In Ray's own words ''I moved to Canada to continue doing the music I love best, rock and roll''! Since his move he's continued to be in great demand as a performer in Canada working 50 weeks in 1977 and still being booked solid through most of 1979.

Ray is one of the most versatile artists still around, who still stands on the piano stool and rocks those keys with his feet. He also plays guitar and drums, but doesn't read music. He says ''You have to feel it. I've loved music all my life and I'll continue to play and sing till I die! It's not work! Just good old rock and roll''!

I'd like to tell you about a vacation I spent with Ray and family. I'm proud to say that we witnessed ''Rockin Ray Smith'' at his best... We booked him at a local recording studio, where he cut four of the wildest rockin songs that ever came close to the old Sun sound. All we had to do was tell Ray, no overdubbing, no studio musicians, just good old rock and roll. You know what his answer was? ''I cut my teeth on rock and roll''. There were only four musicians playing on the session, Ray on piano, Erwin Giles on drums, Keith Baumgardner on bass, and Garfield McDonald on lead guitar. No rehearsing was done. All the guys had played with Ray before, but some hadn't met each other before. Ray took only a couple of minutes to explain the sound he wanted and then they all fell into perfect harmony. Ray led off with the wildest version of ''Room Full Of Roses;; you've ever heard! Pumping piano, screaming and all. It was fantastic. Next came ''Whole Lotta Shakin'''. About half way through this one Ray was rockin so hard that the earphone he was wearing fell of his head and ended up hanging on his back. Never missed a note! Finally screaming – ''Good Golly Miss Molly'' the earphone took a final dive for the floor! He finished the song without them, while the recording engineer was shaking his head sating he'd never seen anything like it before. The next song was ''Me And Bobby McGee''. By this time the whole group was caught up in the wild frenzy playing that track for a full ten minutes. Of course it had to be done over! Not because it wasn't great, mind you, but simply because it was entirely too long a version to put on 45. The last song recorded was ''Break Up''. Of course everyone knows that Ray was first to record this one and when he went on tour, Jerry Lee recorded it and had a great hit. Ray was fantastic on it, and because of that we released that single backed with ''Room Full Of Roses''. It's on our label WIX 101 and is available from either Mean Mountain Music of us Wix Records.

Even though we couldn't attend the Memphis in May Festival, Mike from MMM tells us that the performance by Ray was just as electrifying as the session described above.

Barbara Pittman Interview
by Mean Mountain Mike, 1978

''I have the highest regard for Mr. Sam Phillips. Without Sam Phillips there would be no Elvis Presley. And without Elvis Presley and Sam Phillips there would be no music. My rememberances of the beginning and past ranble a bit so we'll start at what I call the beginning''.
                                                      - Barbara Pitmann

''I walked into Sam Phillips recording studios when I was only 12 years old. After expressing my interest to sing with the receptionist, I was discouraged and told my voice wasn't good enough and that maybe I should learn to be a secretary or something. Well that broke my heart and I went home and cried for two days. If there was ever one thing that made me want to sing it was that disappointment at the Phillips studios. So I went out and learned how to sing. While doing this I went on the road with the famous Lash LaRue for a one year traveling tour. This took me to California, but I was eager to come back home and did so that next year. The one place to work those days was at the Cotton Club in West Memphis, Arkansas. When I was there so was Jerry Lee and Charlie Rich. Charlie was only a studio musician then, and top dollar was $5.00 to $10.00 a night for 5 hours work''.

''If it wasn't for Elvis I would have never started my singing career. Everybody I think one way or another whether Elvis realized it or not, was around because Elvis was! It's the truth, and indirectly I would have never gotten into the music industry without him. I got my first singing job because of Elvis. He was working at a club called the Eagles Nest then, and his manager, by the way most people think his first manager was Bob Neal but it wasn't, his first manager was a guy called Sleepy Eyed John a local disc jockey here. Anyhow he was auditioning singers and I was currently working as a carhop when Elvis got me that audition. Well I got the job, It was only $5.00 a night but it was worth it. So you see if it hadn't been for Elvis I wouldn't have been at Sun, I never would have recorded at 706 Union''.

''I knew Elvis when I was around 10 years old. His mother and mine used to have Stanley parties. I used to go over there and just hang around. I guess I was madly in love with Elvis the first time I met him. Yea, when Elvis used to wear those wild clothes, long side burns and all, you know. But in those days Elvis wasn't very popular with people. You know he looked like a rebellious young guy who liked to get into fights. So anyhow he'd stay home and sit around the house during these Stanly parties and we'd play games and talk, we've always stayed friends. Well anyhow, while I was gone a year with Lash LaRue we didn't talk or see each other, and when I came back I'd grown up a bit! I remember Elvis saying, 'Hey, hey, hey, Well, well, well!! What ever happened to that little girl I once knew? So we started dating and kept on dating till he went in the service. Elvis' mother was a beautiful person and a great mother and I'll always remember her that way. One thing that people should know about Elvis' mother is that she was just like anybody else's mother. She was a beautiful lady. She was a beautiful young woman then and just like any other beautiful young woman then, she'd listen to the radio. She's be listening to her favorite songs on the radio sipping on a can of beer and dancing all over the kitchen floor. Gladys Presley was a hell raisin, fun lovin', life livin, beautiful lady. She was''!

'' Anyhow, while knowing Elvis he talked me into doing a demo for him, a tune that Stan Kesler wrote, ''Playing For Keeps''. Well, I did it in Elvis' key and style and Elvis bought it. Of course Elvis and I were sating then and we knew each other real good so he took this dub over to Sam Phillips. Well Sam listened to it and said my Lord who the heck is that? He liked what he heard. Just think and I was told only a year earlier that I didn't have enough talent to sing. Guess I did a good job of learning, yeh. I've always been ment to be a singer you know! My mother used to tell me so. She said, 'You were born singing'. Either singing or cussin! I can't remember which one cause I really never stopped doing either! My first record was ''I Need A Man'', ''Raunchy'' came out at the same time so it didn't do well. My second record was ''Two Young Fools In Love''. It was a hit. Stan and I wrote it together and that's how I got started at Sun''.

''Yea, Elvis and I hung around a lot together. And just like anybody else we had a bunch of people we always hung around it. One funny thing I remember, Elvis would sometimes drive around in an old two tone Plymouth, his father's car. We called in the Push-mo-bile. Cause that's the only way it would run, if you stood behind it and pushed it! Anyway, when we were all together we'd go to a place called Kay's Drive-In, sort of the Arnolds of Happy Days! We were all eating cheese burgers or something, by the way, whew, could Elvis eat. I mean no one left anything on the table when Elvis was around, cause it would have been Miss America sitting right next to him and he'd still be saying' ''Hey Chick'' you know''. Anyhow he goes over to these girls and says ''I'm Elvis Presley'', well this one girl says ''Yea, if you are, how come you're driving that old car''. Elvis said, ''Oh that car, well that's my weekday car, you should see my weekend car''. It happened to be Saturday night. Elvis was great, always trying to be funny. Speaking of funny, I remember a mine bird that Elvis had. It was a cute bird and Elvis taught it how to talk. The darn thing would say whole phrases. Now Mrs. Presley loved to nibble on left overs in the refrigerator late at night. And Elvis didn't want Gladys to gain weight so he trained this bird to say, (everytime Gladys would open the refrigerator at night) ''Gladys get out of there and turn off the light''! Can you imagine that''?

''I moved to California in 1961, guess I wanted to be a big star. But that didn't last too long at least I didn't think it was to long. The next time I remember talking to Elvis was in 1970. You know I don't think Elvis ever really loved anyone other than Priscilla. She was very young and was the picture of his mother in youth. I think it was a heart breaking thing for Elvis to think that there was someone else who could take her away from him. But Elvis was on the road a lot and away too long and Priscilla was like a bird in a gilded cage. She couldn't go anywhere or do anything and after the baby was born, she couldn't even go on the road with him anymore because Elvis felt that the baby would be better off at home where Priscilla could take better care of her. And well along came Mike Stone and the rest is history''.

''I talked to Elvis about three months before he died. It still doesn't seem real to me that he's gone. He was very down when we talked. He had done it all, he had done everything. I said ''Elvis you're sick''! He had a bad heart and bad hyper tension you know. It was terrible! The stage would do that to you it would take your blood pressure up sky high, that's why he used to sweat like he did. I said, ''Why Babe, you don't need it. You've got all the money in the world''! He said I'm bored, so bored, and the only time I feel alive, really alive is when I'm front of my audience, my people! That's the only time that I really feel like I'm human''.

''You know hew really never did those concerts for the money, he'd end up giving away anyhow. He game away more in diamonds on that stage than he'd make on the performance. After 22 years he just said ''heh is this all there''? Some people think that if Elvis would have retired he'd have done talk shows, etc. But I think he would have persued religion. He'd always wanted to be a preacher. To do nothing but religious LPs and shows. He wanted to show Billy Graham that there was somebody else in the world that loved God besides him. I think he really wanted that''.

''The bight before Elvis died he was out playing handball, everyone knows that, and his tours just wore him out. I mean, they just ripped him up. Like someone putting their foot down on the gas pedal. He was getting heavy and his hair was white. You know Elvis was really never black haired. His hair was really sandy brown and it had gradually turned grey. He always worried a lot about looking just right for his appearances. Anyway he was out there playing hand ball till 4 a.m. He had an enlarged heart. He really did, and he shouldn't have been out there exerting himself like that. So he went in the house and crawls in the bath tub and reads. And I guess his heart gave out. I don't know I really wasn't there''.

''I think some of the things that people are saying about Elvis now after his death are terrible, just terrible. I'll never talk to Red West again. I mean no matter what Elvis does in his personal life, that was no one else's business. And to live with a man and to be paid! Red West was paid by Elvis to keep his privacy. That's what he was there for. And then he goes out and publishes a book because Elvis fires him. After 22 years of being with a man who gave him diamonds and homes. He goes out because the man fires him and puts out this book. I think it's horrible! I don't give a damn if the whole thing could be the essence of truth. The public had no right to know that about Elvis. ''It's what he did, not what he was''!

''Elvis was getting to the point, I really think that he was getting to the point of coming down off that thrown and saying Heh look at me, I'm a man just like you. That thrown wasn't his anyhow it was Colonel Tom Parker's. Elvis said, ''That's the image they're making of me, but if people just knew me, I get sick and I feel bad and I get depressed you know just like everyone else from time to time. And that's what Elvis wanted to be. ''Just like everyone else''!

Conversation with Warren Smith
by Mean Mountain Mike

Warren Smith was born February 7, 1933 in Humphreys County, Mississippi; and first achieved national success on Sun Records with ''Rock And Roll Ruby''. Since then his career has been a series of ups and downs marked by bad luck a certain amount of tragedy.

Warren's failure to stay in the big time has never been due to his lack of talent as he has always had an abundant supply of that. This is our conversation with Warren in 1978, we hope you find it informative.

''Yea Mike, I came out of the Air Force in 1950 and moved to Memphis where I worked in some of the bars around town for a while. I heard that Clyde Leoppard was looking for entertainers so I went and auditioned for him and was hired. Clyde put me to work at a place called the Cotton Club in West Memphis, Arkansas. I ended up working there for over a year. Anyhow, one night Sam Phillips and Johnny Cash came in. I think Carl Perkins had told them that there was a singer over at the Cotton Club they might be interested in. Anyhow, I was playing straight country music then and I hadn't any releases on the market at the time. Sam and Johnny invited me back to their table, and Johnny said he had a song called ''Rock And Roll Ruby''. He asked me to come over to the Sam Phillips studio, (Sun Records on Union Avenue) and give it a try. I think that was a Sunday night if I'm not mistaken. Well I was over there bright and early in the morning. I mean I was there before they were even open! Well, I waited around for a while and finally Sam, Johnny and Carl Perkins along with a couple other musicians came in the studio. I was nervous as heck! You know how that goes! I mean Elvis Presley had been at Sun, and Sun was a heck of a good label at that particular time''.

''Johnny brought out ''Rock And Roll Ruby'' and gave me an idea how he wanted it done, and just like magic all the boys started clickin together, so I fell into it and started singing along with the band. Yea, we worked it up very good! Well when we finished they said come on back tomorrow and we'll cut it. I decided on Clyde Leoppard's bunch of guys to accompany me, as I had been working with them a year or so and we all knew each other pretty well. We got to the studio the next day, cut the record and it came off a pretty good sized rock hit. It sold over a half million copies).

''Rock And Roll Ruby'' started hitting in the South pretty good then and Bob Neal who was Elvis' manager booked me for personal appearances, so I had to get a hand together to travel with. Well, Marcus Van Story happened to be one of the guys I chose. He's a great bass man and he stayed with me the duration that I was on Sun Records, five years. I got Al Hopson and a few others and we were all set''.

''That reminds me, there was a story going around about who actually wrote ''Rock And Roll Ruby''. Well, I found out a little later on that Johnny Cash bought it from George Jones! I bumped into George after I left Sun and was cutting records for Liberty, so naturally I started traveling with the country group. Yea, I was booked on shows with I guess everybody who was on the Grand Ole Opry at one time or another. Anyway, I bumped into George Jones when we were playing down in Texas, we were on his bus and he said that he wrote ''Rock And Roll Ruby'' and sold it for $40.00. I said Aww come on now, and he said 'No I really did''! Well, as time went on I began to talk to other people and they said George wrote it and Johnny bought it from him. That's what I heard! I wasn't there so I can't say for sure, but that's what I heard''.

''After ''Rock And Roll Ruby'' about 6 months later Sam called me in for another session. I met Charles Underwood who was also from Memphis. Well he had a song he wrote called ''Ubangi Stomp'', and Sam said give it a listen. I did, and seemed like the more I heard it the more I liked it. We cut it and it became a fair hit too, I guess you could call it a hit''.

''The first record I wrote was ''Miss Froggie'', even though a few verses were borrowed from another song (like ''Drinking Muddy Water'' and ''Sleeping In A Hollow Log''). Yea, the Sun days were real good days and there'll never be any more like that. I had some real good times with some of the people who were on Sun. When I was there Sun was strictly a rock and roll label, with the exception of Johnny Cash''.

''As the releases for all of us became fewer and fewer, Jerry Lee Lewis came out with ''Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On'' and I was on tour working my way up north when it was released. Well it started hitting tremendously. And naturally a smaller label like Sun at that time had to go with the hit record of the time. So Sun pushed the heck out of Jerry Lee's record, and let the rest of us slow back a bit. That's when I decided it was time to leave Sun. There's were a couple of reasons, lack of releases, royalties, etc. You know there were three or four of us at that time who were just idling and not doing anything at all. The promotion being concentrated to one individual and all. So I asked for my contract and left for California. Johnny Cash was living out there at the time and I did some shows with him for awhile when I got my chance to cut some country. Joe Sllison was the one who approached me from Liberty Records, they had just started a country series and I was the first artist to cut on it. I did ''I Don't Believe I'll Fall In Love Today'', that was the big break I needed in the country and western field, and I had good success till 1965 when I got into an auto accident while on tour, since than I've drifted away from music''.

Tuesday, Aug. 17, 1965
LeGrange, Texas

Warren Smith, 33, Country and Western singer formerly with the Grand Old Opry was seriously hurt in an auto accident on U.S. Hwy. 77 atop the bluff Sunday during a light rain at 8 a.m. Smith was driving downhill in a 1965 Pontiac when his car skidded to the left on wet pavement, then into a steep inbankment. Smith's skidding car nearly missed a 1962 Ford Falcon that was traveling south, uphill at the time. The Falcon was forced against a guard post and damaged it side. An ambulance took the injured singer to Fayette Memorial Hospital having sustained a severe back injury and facial cuts.

''Before I went to London a while back, I had people telling me that I was popular over there on Charly Records. I kept telling these people that I haven't had a record in years, but they told me the old Sun stuff was re-issued... Well, I said awe get off of it man, you know, but it's fantastic yea. I'm a hit over there and here I am over in Texas starvin' to death! Ha Ha... (no royalties have been paid by the English company)''.

''Speaking of food, I used to be a farmer you know? Yea, I was a farmer before Sun records. We lived down in the Delta of Mississippi about 100 miles from Tupelo. I spent my time haulin' ice and helping on the farm, so I guess I can say I was from the Cotton Patch''.

''Then I moved to the big city, Memphis. Elvis and I were friends later on, parties and all. I remember a bunch of us all went with him to a special premier showing of his first movie. He was a fine individual. Not only a great entertainer, but he was good people! I'll always cherish the few years I knew him in my memory. It just don't seem real that he's not here''.

''All in all, my whole experience with Memphis, Sun Records and everybody there was extremely satisfying. We had one heck of a good time. Why, I remember one time on tour with Carl Perkins, Johnny cash and the bunch, we were all practical jokers. And I mean we were all really had about cherry bombs, loved 'um. We all used to carry shoe boxes full of the little devils all over the place. Well it was 2:00 a.m. And there was a convention going on in the hotel. People everywhere partyin'. Johnny got four cherry bombs and proceeded to tape them together. Then he twisted the stems just like a professional munitions man, lit the thing, and flushed it down the commode! ''Now you know cherry bombs go off under water''! After it's lit, ''I mean that's it'', you can't even stomp it out! So he flushed it down the toilet, and in this hotel all the bathrooms came directly off the same pipe, one pipe from the top floor all the way to the bottom. Well these cherry bombs must have passed three of four floors and all before it went off, and it just so happens that some poor unfortunate souls was sitting on the commode right next to where these cherry bombs went off. Well I tell you, not only did that explosion tear up that poor man's bathroom, do tremendous damage to the building, and scare that man half to death, but it darn well blew him completely off that commode and sent him flying into his living room with the commode close behind! I mean those cherry bombs blew that toilet right off its spot. You know cherry bombs under pressure like that, well that's like having a small stick of dynamite. Anyways this poor unfortunate came running downstairs, scared to death, holding his pants up! I guess he thought the whole building had blown up! Yea, they had the police and everybody there and they were getting ready to take this poor unfortunate away and lock him up. They figured that since his room was the room that blew up he must have been at fault, and they were gonna make him pay for all the damage. No sir, the authorities just wouldn't believe that this poor fellow was just sitting there on his own commode minding his own business when it blew up, no sir they just wouldn't believe that... Well, just before the police carried this poor soul off to take him to the jail house, Johnny confessed to the whole thing. Yea, that one cost about 2,000.00 dollars''. ''It's little things like that we remember that was funny at the time. But now you think of the danger and all, and well you'd never do it now. With all the touring we did I guess we did these practical jokes to break up the monotony''.

''There's one thing I've got to say before you leave. I've got a very sensitive spot in my heart about Sam Phillips, because I think the man's a genious. He gave me my first break to make records out of that cotton patch and put me on my way in the entertainment business. He's a hard business man and a fine person. He has contributed tremendously to the entertainment field. A lot of people might not know it but some of his artists of the 1950s are some of the giants now. If it hadn't of been for Sam Phillips those people might still be ''Pickin''' around West Memphis today. So hats off to Mr. Sam C. Phillips''.

Conversation with Dickey Lee
by Don ''The Memphis Rooster'' Ezell and Mean Mountain Mike

Dickey Lee Lipscome, a 39 year old country and western star for RCA Records now, started recording at the age of 17 during high school in Hollywood, Florida, for the Tanpa label. His first and only release on Tampa was ''Stay True Baby'' (Tampa 131). Sun Records was next, ''Good Lovin'''(Sun 280) and ''Fool Fool Fool'' (Sun 297) got Dickey Lee on his way.

After Sun he went to Dot Records with ''Life In A Teenage World'' written and produced by Jack Clement. Smash was next with many releases including the ever popular ''Patches''. Other labels were 20th Century, Bill Hayley's Hallway label, and Diamond Records with ''Ruby Baby'', cut in Memphis at the Sounds of Memphis Studio.

After all that recording Dickey said: ''I wasn't really interested in recording anymore when Jack Clement asked me to come to Nashville. I was much more interesting in publishing and producing et, Well, Jack got me to come to Nashville, and we were just kind of goofing around and cut a record that Jack leased to RCA. A pop tune called ''Charlie'' was put on wax and not much happened, but since we were all on a country and western kick, we kept turning them out and ended up with a bunch of chart records after that''.

''Ever since then I guess I've made Nashville my home. I've been married 13 years now and have 2 beautiful daughters 5 and 10 years old. We've lived in South Nashville now about 9 years, and I started commuting from Memphis to here in 1969, and bought a house in January 1970. I didn't like Nashville at first, guess I was too used to Memphis but I really love it now and the tables have turned because now I only see Memphis every 6 months or so''.

''You know we do a Sun medley in our club acts, and you'd be surprised how very popular it is. A lot of people grew up with that stuff just like I did. I think that no matter where you go, or what you sing, there's gonna be someone who grew up with Sun Records. I think I liked Carl Perkins music the most. Man, when he played that guitar you couldn't sit still''.

''It seems that anyone who was connected with Sun Records in the past, has gone on to some sort of success in the music business. Sun was a good omen for everybody''.

''Ha ha even though some of us were substantial tax write offs for Sun, we all did good in the long run''.

''Music had to change you know! Things just can't stay still. It's just like buying a car, a 59 Ford or 79 Ford! They're just not the same even though they're both Ford. There are a lot of purists in music. Especially folk and country and western. Early country and western was acoustic. No electric guitars and such. Well I like what happened then, and I like what's happening now it's all just fun and there's good and bad in all of it''.

''I was only a minute part of the Sun thing, but I was glad to be a part of it because I think it's a part of musical history. If it hadn't have been for Sun, I might not be doin' what I'm doin' today''.

''Not too long ago I got out an RCA album of Elvis and his Sun hits, and was playing it for a lead guitarist of mine. He was listening to it, and it was real exciting you know, cause I haven't heard some of those things for quite a while – ''That's All Right'', ''Mystery Train'', and all. Well we played half of the LP and he turned to me and said: ''That's when Presley was really great, wasn't it''? I think back and that's when all the magic was around. We all had fun, Everyone was going crazy and having a good time. I had a good time and I'll aways remember it''.

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