CONTAINS
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1955 SESSIONS (2)
February 1 , 1955 to February 28, 1955

Studio Session for Rosco Gordon, February 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Clyde Leoppard &
The Snearly Ranch Boys, February 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Charlie Feathers, February 2, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Rudy Grayzell, February 8, 1956 / Capitol Records
Studio Session for Slim Rhodes, February 23, 1955 / Sun Records 

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

FEBRUARY 1955

Circa February 1955, Wade Moore and Dick Penner write a song originally titled ''The Ooby Dooby'' Roy Orbison hears it in campus. ''Roy was at the North Texas State University in Denton'' said Lane Cowart (daughter of Wade Moore), ''and he called Dad one day and asked if he could play guitar with them for a show. This was at the campus theater one night. Apparently, he got stage fright and his fingers froze. After the show, he apologized and told Dad that he wouldn't ask to play with them again until he overcame this''.

Roy Orbison's group had been Wink Westerners. ''We became the Teen Kings'', said mandolist James Morrow. ''Jack Kennelly came in on bass. Billy Pat Ellis had grown up with us in Wink and we met Johnny ''Peanuts'' Wilson when we were going to junior college in Odessa. He liked that kind of music (rock and roll), and he'd come over to where we roomed. Roy was a year ahead of me, and when he went to Denton for a year to North Texas State, I believe Billy Pat went with him. Then we all went to junior college in Odessa''. One of Roy's contemporaries at North State, Pat Boone, had just begun recording. ''All these people were doing what I wanted to do'', said Roy, ''but it seemed as though I was in the wrong place at the right time. I wanted to get a diploma in case I didn't make it in the music business. In the end, though, I decided I didn't wasn't to do anything half-way so I jumped into the music business''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR ROSCO GORDON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY FEBRUARY 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Rosco Gordon was one of the first artists to record at The Memphis Recording Service when it served as the pre-Sun designation of the facilities at 706 Union Avenue. Like all the best rhythm and blues artists he radiated eccentricity within a studio environment, casting a vivid image across his portfolio of goofball jump blues. "The Chicken" was proof enough that he could be an amourist one minute and a humourist the next. His audacious "good evening friends" at the conclusion says it all.

After three years away from Sam Phillips' studio, Rosco Gordon had returned to sign a three-year deal with Sun in June 1955. By the following year, the national music scene had changed broadly enough that black music could potentially cross over into the pop market, if it was oriented to white radio.

This was the first record by Rosco to appear on the Sun label (technically it was on both Sun and Flip label), although Gordon was no stranger to 706 Union Avenue. For two years, Sam Phillips had recorded him, peddling his music to Chess and RPM. He had also custom-recorded a Rosco session for Duke. In fact, it was Rosco's hits like "Booted" and "No More Doggin'" that helped to convince Phillips that he could compete in the cut-throat rhythm and blues business. So, in June 1955, when Rosco's Duke deal was up, Sam signed him to Sun on a three-year contract. Rosco was still living in Memphis when he signed, although by 1957 he had moved to New York.

> JUST LOVE ME BABY <
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 162 - Master (2:21)
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - September 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 227-A mono
JUST LOVE ME BABY / WEEPING BLUES
Reissued: - Flip Records (S) 45rpm standard single Flip 227-A mono
JUST LOVE ME BABY / WEEPING BLUES
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4/17 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Although he brings a confident and idiosyncratic vocal to "Just Love Me Baby", this remains one of Rosco's least distinguished offerings. The band finds a fine mid-tempo groove and the saxes riff like they tell you in the manual, but somehow this side never rises above mediocrity.

This side is rooted in a gimmick, one that had worked for Clyde McPhatter on Billy Ward's recording of "The Bells" in 1953, but one that fell flat here.

> WEEPING BLUES <
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 163 - Master (3:09)
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - September 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 227-B mono
WEEPING BLUES / JUST LOVE ME BABY
Reissued: - Flip Records (S) 45rpm standard single Flip 227-B mono
WEEPING BLUES / JUST LOVE ME BABY
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4/18 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Rosco Gordon claims that "The Chicken" was the biggest selling record of his Sun career. In a 1980 interview, Rosco repeatedly referred to it as his "million seller". According to Rosco, "The Chicken" was a "spot record", breaking in one regional rhythm and blues market after another, and taking a long time to run its course.

Although it never blazed a trail on national charts, the record stirred up enough regional attention to garner Rosco a movie (the notorious "Rock Baby, Rock It"). His performance of "Chicken In The Rough" is captured forever on celluloid, along with his trusty rooster dancing on the piano while Rosco pounded away on the ivories. "They used to call me Rosco 'Chicken' Gordon. Man, that record was so big!". Rosco claimed that the rooster remained part of his act for quite a while, giving added credence to his version of the record's success.

> THE CHICKEN (DANCE WITH YOU) <
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 182 - Master (2:48)
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - December 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 237-A mono
THE CHICKEN (DANCE WITH YOU) / LOVE FOR YOU, BABY
Reissued - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-1/17 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

For his part, Sam Phillips must have had an interesting view of "The Chicken". It was released on both the Sun and Flip labels, although the significance of that strategy remains unclear. Perhaps more tellingly, Phillips did not simply see this release as an rhythm and blues contender. Original versions of "The Chicken's" record label plainly say "Rock and Roll Vocal". In simply terms, that meant crossover potential. By 1956, Sam Phillips was not releasing much black music anymore. What little appeared on the Sun label had better have some potential to sell to white kids.

There is a final sidebar to the tale of "The Chicken". According to Rosco, the song ultimately got him into more trouble with Sam Phillips than it was worth. He claims that when he and his band were practising the song at the Club Handy at Beale, Bill Harvey (who represented Duke Records) got the song on tape and delivered it to Don Robey. Robey offered $450 for the publishing rights, which the singer gladly accepted. According to Rosco, Robey waited for the song to run its long and successful course before threatening local action against Sun yet again. Rosco believes that this event helped sour Sam Phillips on further business dealings with him. Its a fascinating tale, but it remains somewhat suspect in light of two further Sun singles by Rosco issued in 1957 and 1958; as well as a mountain of unissued tapes dating from this same period in the Sun archives.

This 1955 session gives further indications of the onslaught of rhythm and blues. No longer a 17-year-old punk, Rosco's musical style had evolved considerably since his first session for Sam Phillips some five years earlier. At the least, the lyrical content of his songs - whilst not timeless poetry - was still a vast improvement on the primitive rantings of sides like "Rosco's Boogie". This was one of his more sophisticated offerings to date, utilising the irony of opposites to make its point: also, Rosco's celebrated sense of humour is readily in evidence on lines like "I wear oil on my face/Powder on my hair/I'm s strange acting man/But I just don't care". Perhaps he should have offered the song to Little Richard! His second reading of the title line in each couplet is particularly melodic, whilst the song lopes along nicely with that easy shuffle peculiar to Rosco's best work, which he'd effectively made his own (Rosco's Rhythm). This side is also memorable for a surprisingly active performance from guitarist Foree Wells. When Rosco moved on again - to Vee-Jay - three years later, the song was still buzzing around in his head. He subsequently re-cut it, albeit with a considerably different arrangement, which is when it finally saw commercial release.

> LOVE FOR YOU BABY <
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 183 - Master (2:59)
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - December 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 237-B mono
LOVE FOR YOU, BABY / THE CHICKEN (DANCE WITH YOU)
Reissued - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-1/18 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME

The result of this later session by Rosco Gordon give clear evidence of the advent of rock and roll. Rosco's style had evolved since his first session for Sam Phillips four years earlier. At the least, the lyrical content of these songs, while not timeless poetry, was still beyond the primitive rantings of ''Rosco's Boogie''. This used the irony of opposites to make its point... a lyrical device he'd first used earlier on ''Saddled The Cow (And Milked The Horse)''. Rosco's well known sense of humor resurfaces in lines like ''I wear oil on my face, powder on my hair / I'm a strange acting man, but I just don't care''. His second reading of ''That's What You Do To Me'' of the title line in each couplet is especially melodic. The song rolls along nicely with the loping shuffle Rosco made his own. The recording features a surprisingly active guitar player. When Rosco moved on to Vee-Jay Records three years later, the song was still buzzing around in his head. He recorded it for that label in 1959, with a considerably different arrangement, and that's when it finally saw commercial release.

> THAT'S WHAT YOU DO TO ME <
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued (2:48)
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30133 mono
ROSCO GORDON - THE LEGENDARY SUN PERFORMERS
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 8-7/19 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

''I Found A New Love'', this title is a very effective version of Rosco's trademark shuffle. The man turns in a slick and confident vocal performances, bringing an unexpected measure of variety into his phrasing. The instrumental highlight of the cut is Richard Sanders' baritone sax which provides a solid bottom, ample rhythmic thrust, and an ending that must have pushed Phillips' VU meter into the red zone.

> I FOUND A NEW LOVE <
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued (3:06)
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sun Box 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-7/29 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

It's pretty clear that Little Richard had appeared on the scene by the time Rosco recorded ''I'm Gonna Shake It''. This is a rollicking performance, if not one of Rosco's lyrical masterpiece. It's rhythm and blues on the cusp of rock and roll, mirroring the changing musical times. Richard Sanders provides a solid anchor with his guttural baritone sax, but the real instrumental highlight comes from drummer John Murry Daley, who offers some standout counter-rhythms in the 2-bar break between verses.

> I'M GONNA SHAKE IT <
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued (1:57)
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sun Box 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-8/20 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

Conversely, this rollicking performance is hardly one of Rosco's lyrical masterpieces, epitomising the standard good-time rhythm and blues fare which was in the process of evolving into full-blooded rock and roll.

> LET'S GET HIGH <
Composer: - Rosco Gordon
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:37)
Recorded: - February 1955
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30133-A-1 mono
ROSCO GORDON - THE LEGENDARY SUN PERFORMERS
Reissued: - May 1994 Rhino Records (CD) 500/200rpm R271780-2/17 mono
THE SUN RECORDS COLLECTION

Following his patented "No More Doggin'" introduction, Rosco and the boys launch into a confident arrangement which features prominent drumming John Daley, and a riffing baritone sax played by Richard Sanders. A strong song and performance throughout, only an inappropriate major seventh ending reveals the likely spontaneous nature of the arrangement. Interestingly, when Rosco went back into the studio in 1984 to record a moving tribute to his late wife, he cut a new version of "Let's Get High" for the flip.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rosco Gordon - Vocal and Piano
Billy Duncan - Alto Saxophone
Charles Taylor - Alto Saxophone
Richard Sanders - Baritone Sax
Willie Wilkes - Tenor Saxophone
Foree Wells - Guitar
Tuff Green - Bass
John Murry Daley – Drums

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CLYDE LEOPPARD & THE SNEARLY RANCH BOYS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY FEBRUARY 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

"Clyde Leoppard ran a local band out of West Memphis, based at the Cotton Club there", recalled Sam Phillips, "he brought in several fine musicians and singers out of his band. Clyde usually kept a pretty damn good band - for over two decades he played the local clubs here in Memphis and that band knew its way around. He had Stanley Kesler on steel, and Bill Taylor and a string of vocalists - Warren Smith, Barbara Pittman and others".

Local drummer Clyde Leoppard led his band of colourful characters on this decidedly strange release. On "Lonely Sweetheart" certainly deserved some attention for its novel concept and sound. Its a case of guy meets girl, girl leaves guy, guy becomes multiple personality. Jekyll and Hyde meet country music.

Trumpeter-balladeer Bill Taylor sings the loving part, while gravel-voiced Smokey Joe Baugh, soon to become a Sun legend in his own right, delivers the hateful lines. No doubt this side kept the jukeboxes humming around the combo's home base, the Cotton Club in West Memphis, Arkansas, but it failed to spark any sizeable national attention. On "Split Personality" is an undistinguished country weeper sung and recited by Taylor. If nothing else, it guaranteed that attention would remain focused on "Split Personality".

> LONELY SWEETHEART* <
Composer: - Stanley Kesler-Roy Rogers
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Arsak Music
Matrix number: - F 16 - Master (3:01)
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: March 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single Flip 502-A mono
LONELY SWEETHEART / SPLIT PERSONALITY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4/23 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

For the next snappy little hoedown, vocalist Bill Taylor and Smokey Joe took a leaf out of the Western Swing novelty manual. At the time they were both front liners with Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranch Boys, stepping up to the mike to sing one minute and playing a hot trumpet and piano the next. Stan Kesler also featured strongly, in this instance outlaying some facy steel work. Released on Flip, "Split Personality" represented one of the first times "rock and roll" was mentioned in a country song.

> SPLIT PERSONALITY*/** <
Composer: - Stanley Kesler-Bill Taylor
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 17 - Master (2:19)
Recorded: - Probably February 1955
Released: - March 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single Flip 502-B mono
SPLIT PERSONALITY / LONELY SWEETHEART
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4/24 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Bill Taylor - Vocals*
Smokey Joe Baugh - Vocals** and Piano
Stanley Kesler - Steel Guitar
Clyde Leoppard - Drums
Buddy Holobaugh - Guitar
Marcus Van Story - Bass

In a later era, Bill Taylor went on to become part of Jerry Lee Lewis's touring group and he wrote a fair number of filler songs on some of Jerry Lee's later albums, as well as some hits like ''There Must Be More To Love Than This''. Taylor went to Texas from Memphis, working with R.D. Hendon and Jimmy Heap, before returning to work with Jerry Lee Lewis. Smokey Joe Baugh and Buddy Holobaugh also went to Texas, but lapsed into obscurity. Clyde Leoppard was last seen serving 99 cents lunches at a greasy spoon behind the Greyhound terminal in Memphis before his little operation fell a victim to urban renewal and he retired to Mississippi. C-composer and steel guitar player Stan Kesler went on to run his own studio and record labels after working for Sam Phillips as resident engineer/producer at the Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis, and for a time he took his studio career to Nashville, where he too worked with Jerry Lee Lewis. As a producer, his hits included Sam the Sham's ''Woolly Bully''.

For Biography of Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranch Boys see: > The Sun Biographies <
Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranch Boys' Sun recordings can be heard on their playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

FEBRUARY 1955

Through the experiments, Sam Phillips was searching for something different from the Nashville mainstream. In February 1955 he launched the Flip Records label in an attempt to give direction to his country output. Among the first artists on Flip were three of enormous potential: Carl Perkins, Charlie Feathers, and the Miller Sisters.

Charlie Feathers was, conceivably, the cream of the crop. A masterly vocalist and incandescent spirit from Slayden, Mississippi, near Holly Springs, he had grown up on Bill Monroe bluegrass and cotton-patch blues, with a rambunctious personality whose nature could barely be contained within the confines of either. Sam Phillips saw his as possessing almost unlimited potential, with all of the blues feeling he could put into a hillbilly song. What they got in the studio, complete with yelps, hiccoughs, and the propensity to stretch out his syllables like a damned gospel singer, was only a tenth of what Sam was convinced he had to offer. But Charlie, as Sam was equally well aware, could certainly test your patience. Or as Quinton Claunch, a great champion of Charlie's talent, put it, ''He was his own worst enemy. He didn't trust anybody. It was like he'd wake up in a new world every morning''. A world in which Quinton, ordinarily easygoing to a fault, just didn't want to pick up the phone sometimes, he got so sick of listening to Charlie's bullshit. It didn't really matter anyway. Neither Sun nor Flip could do anything for Charlie at this point, any more than the label could do anything for the Miller Sisters, even though Sam was determined to keep trying. Just as he was determined to keep trying with the few blues acts he still had left on his roster.

Elvis Presley is the opening act on the bill at the Memphis Civic Auditorium. Faron Young, the Wilburn Brothers, and Ferlin Husky star on the show. Presley then tours Cleveland and New Orleans with Jimmy Work and Bud Deckelman.

Ekko Records is launched in California. A Memphis office is established under the operation of Red Matthews.

The first records on Sam Phillips' Flip label are released during February and March. Flip 501 is "Movie Magg" b/w ''Turn Around'' by Carl Perkins, a single that Sam Phillips had been holding for some time, and Flip 502 is a novelty item called "Split Personality" featuring a gravel-voiced piano player named Smokey Joe Baugh whose vocals alternated with crooner Bill Taylor on ''Lonely Sweetheart''. Sam Phillips was crazy about the Carl Perkins record, to him ''Turn Around'' was a deeply felt as anything that Hank Williams had ever done, and ''Split Personality'' just tickled him, with the smooth-voiced singer murmuring ''I love you'', while the other, the dark side of the split personality, is snarling ''I hate you'', in that deep, guttural voice. He was intrigued by the possibilities of exploiting that voice, which seemed to have been influenced by the singer's exposure to Howlin' Wolf, whom Smokey Joe Baugh, along with the rest of the band, had met in the course of their broadcasts on KWEM in West Memphis. But neither record did a thing without the benefit of any real distribution or promotion

FEBRUARY 1955

In a very sense, Charlie Feathers has been his own worst enemy. Chewing the fat between sets at countless low-life nightclubs over the last two decades, Feathers recounts the origins of rockabilly music and the ''Sun sound'' with a strangely skewed perspective, in which one Charles Arthur Feathers plays a starring role. But his larger-than-life boasting merely eclipses the simple fact that the man was a superb stylist who made a handful of brilliant records.

Feathers never really became more than an underground figure in his adopted hometown. Until recently (1992), his convictions for gambling outnumbered mentions of his music in the files of the local newspapers. Yet for a few months in 1956 it seemed as though Feathers might indeed take a place alongside Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and possibly even Elvis Presley. But a mixture of impatience, bad luck, and worse judgment brought him back to the bitter reality of endless gigs at local bars, leaving him to eke out an existence on the fringe of the local music scene. To compensate, he has evolved the Feathers Mythology, elaborated with every retelling, in which he is finally a star.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Charlie Feathers was one of the first country artists to audition at Sun after the initial success of Elvis Presley, although Feathers insists that he was at Sun before Elvis Presley. From the distance, it is impossible to piece together the true story of Feathers' association with Sam Phillips. A generous portion of bullshit certainly clouds Feathers' version. Only the quality of the music is not in doubt and the great pity is that so little of it has been preserved. The session tapes of the last three sessions have been recorded-over, although, by way of compensation there are three previously unissued gems on the sessions.

STUDIO SESSION FOR CHARLIE FEATHERS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAT FEBRUARY 2, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Within a year, the style of music heard on Feathers' first record would be an anachronism. but its last blooms were the strongest and loveliest. This was music of brilliant economy. ''Peepin' Eyes'' also reminds us that guys like Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, and Elvis Presley had an understanding of rhythm that came first-hand from African American musicians. Others could play fast, but Hank, Monroe, and Elvis swung. Feathers shared that innate understanding. Either Phillips and Claunch and Cantrell mixed the rhythm track way upfront, hurtling the song forward. ''Peepin' Eyes'' was Charlie's composition, but, for all its bounciness, it's s sinister piece, hinting at voyeurism and guilty little secrets. Reviewing it on April 30, 1955, Billboard was surprisingly prescient, saying, ''Indie Flip label has found itself a major piece of talent in Feathers. This is one of the few distinctive voices to emerge in a field that has long suffered from stereotypes. He's fresh, sincere, and most effective in handing a lyric''. Amen to that, in August 1956 Sam Phillips sent out royalty statement showing that ''Peepin' Eyes'' had sold 2585 copies. Its importance stemmed from the fact that it became a totemic item among rockabilly collectors, first in Europe and then worldwide, even if it's not rockabilly.

Artistically-speaking, Charlie Feathers walked a fine line somewhere between backwoods country and toothless rockabilly. By hanging out interminably at Sun, he pestered Sam Phillips into freeing-up some studio time to record his Appalachian-drenched "Peepin' Eyes". Here was a hint of things to come, like the high lonesome yelps and woops that would become the Feathers trademark. For now though, the side was considered fitting to be given just a trail release on the new Flip outlet.

> PEEPIN' EYES <
Composer: - Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 21 - Master (2:11)
Recorded: - February 2, 1955
Released: - April 30, 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single Flip 503-B mono
PEEPIN' EYES / I'VE BEEN DECEIVED
Flip 503 also issued as Sun Records 78rpm standard single Sun 503-B mono
after legal action from the Flip label in Los Angeles.
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4/26 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

"Peepin' Eyes" is unusual in that it reveals few of Feathers' excessive rockabilly vocal tics, despite the fact that the material is uptempo. Its just as well since rockabilly purists would have disqualified this track on the basis of Bill Cantrell's omnipresent fiddle.

No-one should underestimate Charlie Feathers' importance. Charlie Feathers certainly does not underestimate it. He had a unique style that certainly borrowed some phrasing from Lefty Frizzell and some intensity from Hank Williams but was identifiably his own. He is primarily known as a rockabilly pioneer but Sam Phillips saw him as a pure country singer who could have rivaled George Jones if the circumstances had been different.

> DEFROST YOUR HEART <
Composer: - William "Bill" Cantrell-Quinton Claunch
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Demo Version - Not Originally Issued (2:57)
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955
Released: - 1990
First appearance: Zu-Zazz Records (CD) 500/200rpm ZCD 2011-5
ROCK-A-BILLY RARE & UNISSUED RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2005 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm SNAP 230-15 mono
CHARLIE FEATHERS - GONE, GONE, GONE

CRACY LOVE FOR YOU*
Composer: - Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

BABY PAY ME NO MIND*
Composer: - Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

I WANT TO GO WHERE THE GOOD GIRLS GO*
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

PRETTY LITTLE FLOWER*
Composer: - Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

HAMMER HAMMER*
Composer: - Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

I FORGOR TO REMEMBER TO FORGET*
Composer: - Charlie Feathers-Stan Kesler
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably February 2, 1955

* - Tapes have not been found and were probably re-used.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Charlie Feathers - Vocal and Guitar
Bill Cantrell - Fiddle
Marcus Van Story or William Diehl - Bass
Stanley Kesler - Steel Guitar
Quinton Claunch - Guitar

Unfortunately, his prolificacy coincided with near bankruptcy at Sun and once the chosen cuts from this session had been mastered, Sam Phillips recorded over the session tapes. All the unissued titles from this session have been lost.

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

THE ELVIS CONTROVERSY - Peter Guralnick’s book ''Lost Highway'' first alerted fans to Feathers’ more sensationalclaims about rockabilly music and his alleged role in Presley’s success. Feathers told Guralnick he arranged all of Presley’s Sun material and gave Jerry Lee Lewis the idea for his "pumpin' piano" sound. They are among many claims Feathers made throughout his lifetime which are difficult to disprove or believe, though testimony exists on both sides.

Stan Kesler, who played on dozens of Sun sessions, told contemporary musicians, "I never saw him work in the studio with Elvis at all. I really don’t think that's true, to tell you the truth''. He grudgingly allowed, "He might’ve worked with him when I wasn't looking''. Presley's 1950-1960s drummer D.J. Fontana was asked by contemporary musicians if Elvis ever talked about Feathers during their many long hours on the road together. "He never mentioned him one time, at no time'', later adding, "If his name had come up I would've remembered it because I was familiar with him and a lot of other guys.

I never heard Elvis say anything about learning from anybody. He just sang what he felt like singing and that was the end of it''. In Craig Morrison’s book ''Go Cat Go! Rockabilly Music and Its Makers'', Presley sideman Scotty Moore stated that Feathers was constantly in and out of the studio but was not a factor on Presley's sessions.

Both Jimmy M. Van Eaton and Roland Janes arrived at Sun after Charlie Feathers left, but played on all of Jerry Lee Lewis’s most important sessions. As with all of Feathers' associates contacted by contemporary musicians, they admire Feathers' talent and believe he knew what rockabilly was all about, but are hesitant to believe his claims, including former Sun rockabilly artist Sonny Burgess. It’s important to note that author Guralnick himself barely referred to Feathers in his exhaustively researched, best-selling biographies on the life of Elvis Presley.

Yet Feathers’ wife Rosemary has related clear memories of the early days to her daughter, Wanda Vanzant. "We were living on Pauline Street here in Memphis and Elvis would come by in an old black pick-up truck and pick my dad up and they would go to the studio and stay all day'', Wanda Vanzant told Contemporary Musicians. "We did not have a car and my mother had to catch the bus to go to her job downtown and she would always catch the bus back and get off in front of the studio at 9:00 p.m. just about every night, and she and my dad would walk home together. Sometimes she would have to wait on him to finish whatever they were doing in the studio. Sometimes when (Elvis) would pick my dad up they would go to the fan club house. Shirley, president of my dad’s fan club, has told me that Elvis had a little crush on a girl that was living across from them''.

Further, in the liner notes for Norton's ''Uh Huh Honey'' CD, no less a figure than country legend Johnny Cash recalls Charley Feathers running the board during Elvis Presley's "Baby Let's Play House" session. More controversially, in ''Rockabilly - A Forty Year Journey'' author Billy Poore claims that he has heard Feathers' private collection of Sun session tapes featuring the distinct voices of Charley Feathers, Elvis Presley, and Sam Phillips working together. In a stranger twist, Wanda Vanzant reports that no Sun studio tapes exist in her late father’s archives. With so many conflicting stories, it’s unlikely that there will be a definitive explanation of what Feathers did or didn’t do at the Sun studio.
FEBRUARY 3, 1955 THURSDAY

Carl Smith recorded ''Wicked Lies'', ''Old Lonesome Times'', ''I've Changed'' and ''There She Goes'' during the evening at the Tulane Hotel's Castle Studio in Nashville.

FEBRUARY 4, 1955 FRIDAY

Rhythm and blues vocalist Al Hibbler recorded ''Unchained Melody''. The pop hit is destined to reach hit status in country twice, in the hands of Elvis Presley and LeAnn Rimes.

FEBRUARY 5, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley recorded ''Baby, Let's Play House'' at Memphis' Sun Recording Studio.

FEBRUARY 6, 1955 SUNDAY

Back in Memphis, Elvis Presley performed two shows, at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. at Ellis Auditorium's North Hall in a show "Five Star" bill, with headlined by Faron Young.

The concert also featured "Beautiful Gospel Singer" Martha Carson making her Memphis debut, Ferlin Husky (who dropped the "e" in his last name a year later), the Browns, the Hushpuppies Doyle and Teddy, Floyd Tillman, and the Wilburn Brothers. Admission was $1.00 for general admission seats to $1.25 for the best seats.

The first show went fine. Elvis Presley sang his new song, "Milkcow Blues Boogie" and "You're A Heartbreaker", as well as "That's All Right" and "Good Rockin' Tonight". Elvis Presley was fascinated, too, with the performance of Martha Carson, a spectacular redhead who looked like a movie star and sang and moved like Sister Rosetta Tharpe when she performed her trademark hit, "Satisfied" and a host of traditional "coloured" spirituals. She broke several strings, danced ecstatically at the end of a long guitar chord, and in general created the kind of smouldering intensity and infectious enthusiasm that Elvis sought to achieve in his own performance. He asked Miss Carson afterward if she knew a particular Statesmen number, and he made it clear that "He knew the words to every song that I had ever had out", Martha Carson. "He was very complimentary and very interest in what I did. I could feel this was sincere, it was from the heart, it wasn't just someone saying this, he just really idolized me, and I could feel it".

Elvis Presley meets for the first time with Colonel Tom Parker at Palumbo's, across the street from Memphis' Ellis Auditorium, where he performs two shows with Faron Young, Martha Carson, Ferlin Husky and The Wilburn Brothers.

The meeting at Palumbo's did not get off to an auspicious start. The tension in the air was already make when Elvis Presley and Scotty Moore walked in. Colonel Tom Parker was sitting there with a big cigar, his jaw thrust out, and a pugnacious expression on his face, as Diskin tried to explain to Sam Phillips that the Colonel didn't really mean anything against the Sun label in particular, that he was just trying to point out the shortcoming that would attach to any small record label, which necessarily lacked the kind of distribution that a major company like RCA, with which the Colonel had been associated for many years through both Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow, could offer.

Later in the week, Tom Diskin, among others subjects, wrote RCA's head of Artists of Repertoire, Steve Sholes, to report that ''Elvis Presley is pretty securely tied up''. The off-handed remark took Sholes by surprise, as the Colonel had given him the impression that it was likely they could sign him to RCA.

FEBRUARY 7, 1955 MONDAY

The Maddox Brothers and Rose recorded ''A Rusty Old Halo''. The song become a hit for Hoyt Axton two dozen years later.

Columbia released Carl Smith's ''Wait A Little Longer Please, Jesus''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR RUDY GRAYZELL
FOR CAPITOL RECORDS 1955

UNKNOWN STUDIO AND LOCATION, DALLAS, TEXAS
CAPITOL SESSION: TUESDAY FEBRUARY 8, 1955
SESSION HOURS: 3860
PRODUCER & RECORDING ENGINEER – KEN NELSON

In February 1955, Ken Nelson brought future Sun recording artist Rudy Grayzell back to the studio for his second and last capitol session. The Kool Kats were augmented by a saxophonist. The one single from the session coupled Rudy's ''Heart Of Stone'' clone, ''Please Big mama'' with Ralph Yaw's ''My Spirit Is Willing''. Yaw had written arrangements for Capitol's avant-garde jazzman Stan Kenton, so ''My Spirit Is Willing'' was probably a tune that Nelson had picked up in Los Angeles. Two more songs from the session, the Clovers inspired ''Yes daddy Yes'' and ''Be Mine Forever'', make their first appearance here. Once again, the session was daringly electric with doo wop harmonics, jazzy instrumentation, and vocals that Billboard called ''Johnnie Ray in cowboy boots''.

MY SPIRIT IS WILLING'' – B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Charlie Aldrich
Publisher: - B.M.I. - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 13446 Take 16 - Master (2:41)
Recorded: - February 8, 1955
Released: - June 1955
First appearance: - Capitol Records (S) 45rpm Capitol F 3149 A mono
MY SPIRIT IS WILLING / PLEASE BIG MAMA
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837 AH-12 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

PLEASE BIG MAMA
Composer: - Rudy Gray
Publisher: - B.M.I. - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 13447 Take 5 - Master (3:03)
Recorded: - February 8, 1955
Released: - June 1955
First appearance: - Capitol Records (S) 45rpm Capitol F 3149 B mono
PLEASE BIG MAMA / MY SPIRIT IS WILLING
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837-7 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

BE MINE FOREVER'' – B.M.I. - 3:02
Composer: - Rudy Gray
Publisher: - B.M.I. - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 13448 – Take 14 - Not Originally Issued (3:02)
Recorded: - February 8, 1955
Released: - 2010
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837-14 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

YES DADDY YES
Composer: - Rudy Gray
Publisher: - B.M.I. - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 13449 – Take 14 - Not Originally Issued (2:28)
Recorded: - February 8, 1955
Released: - 2010
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837-8 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

Name (or. No. Of Instruments)
Rudy Grayzell (as Rudy Gray) – Vocal
Charlie Harris - Guitar
Wayne Wood – Steel Guitar
Joe Pruneda or Bobby Brown - Bass
Gerald Carner or Kermit Baca - Drums
Rusty Hornbeak – Fiddle
Ernie Cortez - Saxophone
Unidentified – Vocal Chorus

For Biography of Rudy Grayzell see: > The Sun Biographies <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

FEBRUARY 12, 1955 SATURDAY

Hawkshaw Hawkins and Jean Shepard appear with host Red Foley on ABC-TV's music series ''Ozark Jubilee''.

FEBRUARY 14, 1955 MONDAY

Decca released Kitty Well's double-sided ''Makin' Believe'' and ''Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On''.

FEBRUARY 15, 1955 TUESDAY

Sun cheque that was made out to Malcolm Yelvington in 1955 for $37.43 for royalties. >

FEBRUARY 16, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley opens for Hank Snow in Odessa, Texas, where the audience includes one Roy Orbison.

FEBRUARY 17, 1955 THURSDAY

The Wilburn Brothers recorded ''I Wanna Wanna Wanna''.

FEBRUARY 18, 1955 FRIDAY

Congress authorizes president Dwight Eisenhower to award a gold medal to songwriter Irving Berlin. Among Berlin's compositions is ''Blue Skies'', which becomes a country hit for Willie Nelson in 1978.

The movie ''Timberjack'', featuring Sterling Hayden and Chill Wills, appears in theaters. The cast includes ''Georgia On My Mind'' songwriter Hoagy Carmichael as a saloon pianist.

FEBRUARY 19, 1955 SATURDAY

Fabor Robison announces he's given Jim Reeves his release from Abbott Records in exchange for all of Reeves' future Abbott royalties. The announcement comes not quite three weeks after the two argued in the recording studio with a handgun.

FEBRUARY 22, 1955 TUESDAY

Elvis Presley performs a sold-out show in Hope, Arkansas, the home of nine-year-old Bill Clinton. Presley gets his first pink Cadillac stuck in mud in a two-car caravan that includes June Carter and Justin Tubb.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR SLIM RHODES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 23, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCERS AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Bandleader Slim Rhodes had been a broadcasting veteran around the mid-South since 1950, both on radio and TV with regular slots over WMCTV in Memphis and KATV in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Sponsored by Mother's Best Flour, the shows were truly provincial - steel-player John Hughey was hired after Slim announced on TV that a slot was vacant in his band. "Uncertain Love" captures the last vestiges of old-country which were then disappearing over the musical horizon.

In 1955, Sam Phillips recorded the Slim Rhodes band again, this time for Sun. Despite a similar line-up to that of the Gilt-Edge era, the sound of the band was now much more hillbilly influenced. Subsequent sessions developed further, toward a rockabilly sound, and Slim's vocalists changed from the swing balladeers (Slim, Dusty and Brad) to rockabillies like Sandy Brooks and Hayden Thompson.

> DON'T BELIEVE** <
Composer: - Brad Suggs-Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 144 - Master (2:15)
Recorded: - February 23, 1955
Released: - April 1, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 216-A mono
DON'T BELIEVE / UNCERTAIN LOVE
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3/25 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

The Slim Rhodes band was an institution in Memphis, known for radio and TV shows, as well as personal appearances. Although these were the first Rhodes sides issued by the Sun label, the band was no stranger to the Sun studio. In 1950, Sam Phillips had held two separate sessions with Slim, Dusty, Spec and all the gang.

Four singles were leased to the Gilt-Edge label that reflected the state of Memphis hillbilly music circa 1950: a mixture of weepers and hillbilly boogie. There would be four Sun singles by Slim Rhodes.

The first three would continue to reflect that tradition. Here, Brad Suggs, whose guitar work is known to many Sun fans, takes the vocal on "Don't Believe". The steel guitar player is John Hughey, who later made a reputation as a fixture in Conway Twitty's touring band, and later played some recordings for Elvis Presley.

The ebullient Hughey often kept the audience's attention while the tongue-tied Twitty confined himself to singing. The electric guitar work on this track reveals that Luther Perkins' style was not invented out of whole cloth. ''Slim's steel guitar player, Rocky Caple, had gotten called into the Army in 1953'', recalled Hughey. ''Harold and I always watched their TV show every week. After Rocky left for the Army, Slim started advertising on TV for a steel player. Harold started in on me trying to get me to go and audition for the job, and I kept saying, 'I'm not good enough to play with those guys'. After about two months he talked me into it. Harold called Slim and made an appointment to go up and do an audition. Harold carried me to Memphis, and I played a few instrumentals and Harold sang a couple of songs. That was on a Monday night, and the following Thursday they called and told me to pack my suitcase and guitar and meet them at some little town in Mississippi. I forgot the name of the town. That was March the 12th in 1953''. Brad Suggs takes the vocal on ''Don't Believe'', which is a fairly ordinary country song. Billboard reviewed the disc in May 1955 describing it as ''a routine plea for proper understanding''.

On "Uncertain Love" for the first time, Dusty Rhodes combined with his wife, Dot, to deliver this very pleasant hillbilly vocal. Dot had taken over from Bea Rhodes who had been the original girl member of the group through the early 1940s. Dot was featured in surviving radio air-shots from 1948. The theme of ''Uncertain Love'' was nothing new and the composition itself was almost a paint-by-numbers Hank Williams soundlike. However, the years that Dusty and Dot had sung together obviously bore fruit here in their unerring harmonies. The new boy on the block, John Hughey, contributed some lovely work on the steel guitar. Billboard showed the disc in the Memphis country Top 5 that May along with Webb Pierce, Hank Snow, Eddy Arnold and Charlie Feathers, and decided that the group had ''strong talent''.

> UNCERTAIN LOVE <
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 145 - Master (2:12)
Recorded: - February 23, 1955
Released: - April 1, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 216-B mono
UNCERTAIN LOVE / DON'T BELIEVE
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3/26 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

''House Of Sin'' was the Rhodes Band's second release to appear on the Sun label and it features a strongly moralistic tone, consistent with music hillbilly music of the era. Dusty and Dot Rhodes have worked up a lovely vocal harmony on the chorus and after the third hearing of ''A baby cries...'' its hard not to understand the meaning of the songwriter's term ''hook''. This side might have contended for wider attention had Sun's promotional and distribution efforts supported it. Nevertheless, Rhodes sold well in and around Memphis, where his band was well known via radio and TV appearances.

> THE HOUSE OF SIN*/** <
Composer: - Brad Suggs-Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 158 - Master (2:41)
Recorded: - February 23, 1955
Released: - August 1, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 225-A mono
THE HOUSE OF SIN / ARE YOU ASHAMED OF ME
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4/13 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Guitarist Brad Suggs takes the spotlight on ''Are You Ashamed Of Me''. His singing has almost no trace of Hillbilly in it, only the wonderful fiddle playing from Dusty Rhodes takes us back into the country. This is supper club country music. Perhaps the more sophisticated city listeners that Slim catered to demanded this type of material. From this distance, it's hard to tell. At its best, the country music that Phillips recorded can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up with its chilling backwoods intensity. On that count, this recording fails but it probably sold well to Slim's television audience.

> ARE YOU ASHAMED OF ME** <
Composer: - Brad Suggs-Slim Rhodes
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 159 - Master (2:32)
Recorded: - February 23, 1955
Released: - August 1, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 225-B mono
ARE YOU ASHAMED OF ME / THE HOUSE OF SIN
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-4/14 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ether Cletus ''Slim'' Rhodes - Vocal and Guitar
Dorothy ''Dot'' Rhodes Moore - Vocal*
Perry Hillburn ''Dusty'' Rhodes - Vocal* and Fiddle
Luther Bradley ''Pee Wee'' Suggs - Vocal** and Guitar
John Hughey - Steel Guitar
Gilbert Ray ''Spec'' Rhodes – Bass

For Biography of Slim Rhodes Band see: > The Sun Biographies <
Slim Rhodes Band's Sun recordings can be heard on their playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

FEBRUARY 24, 1955 THURSDAY

Eddy Arnold presents a special album to the Library of Congress designed by RCA commemorating 30 million records sold.

FEBRUARY 25, 1955 FRIDAY

Webb Pierce recorded ''I Don't Care'' in Nashville at the Castle Studio.

FEBRUARY 26, 1955 SATURDAY

The Louvin Brothers join the Grand Ole Opry, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Lillie Williams, Hank Williams' mother, dies in Montgomery, Alabama.

Five years after scoring a hit as the writer of Margaret Whiting and Jimmy Wakely's ''Let's Go To Church (Next Sunday Morning)''. Steve Allen shares the cover of TV Guide with Judy Holliday.

FEBRUARY 28, 1955 MONDAY

Capitol released Faron Young's double-sided hit, ''Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young'' and ''Forgive Me, Dear''.

> Page Up <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©