CONTAINS
For music (standard singles) and playlists on YouTube click on the available > buttons <
> Back 1955 Sun Schedule <

1955 SESSIONS (3)
March 1 , 1955 to March 31, 1955

Studio Session for Charlie Feathers, March 2, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for The Miller Sisters, March 14, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Maggie Sue Wimberly, March 18, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Johnny Cash, March 22, 1955 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Sammy Lewis & Willie Johnson Combo, March 28, 1955 / Sun Records 

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

MARCH 1955

Despite his early success with recording black music, Sam Phillips did not abandon the idea of producing successful country records. He continued to try his luck with country artists during the same period that Elvis Presley's emerging success was drawing national attention to the Sun label.

Bo Diddley recordings "Bo Diddley" and "I'm A Man" for Chess Records subsidiary Checker Records, introducing his trademark guitar styling and African Rhythms to rock and roll.

Flip 502 ''Split Personality'' b/w ''Lonely Sweet Heart'' by Bill Taylor and The Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranche Boys issued.

MARCH 2, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Jay Osmond is born in Ogden, Utah. With four brothers, he forms The Osmonds, a pop family group that succeeds in the 1970s, then shifts into country, getting a hit with ''I Think About Your Lovin'''. They back Conway Twitty on ''Heartache Tonight''.

Claudette Colvin (15) was arrested for violating Alabama bus segregation laws on March 2, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE 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: WEDNESDAY MARCH 2, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

The ghost of Hank Williams clearly presided over this hand-me-down-Hank number. The melody is lifted almost note-for-note from ''Honky Tonk Blues'' and the backing has more than a few shades of the Drifting Cowboys. However, it shows that Feathers had assimilated everything that Hank Williams had to offer and distilled it into his own style. This is simply a wonderful performance. It was discovered at the tail end of a tape containing material by Bill Cantrell who had recorded over one of Feathers' session tapes but not quite reached the end. Phillips' wretched financial shape in 1954 and 1955 surely had no more distressing consequence than he need to re-use session tapes after the chosen cuts had been mastered.

01 - "RUNNIN' AROUND" - B.M.I. - 2:05
Composer: - Traditional - Arranged by Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None- Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 2, 1955
Released: - November 1986 (as "Bunnin' Around")
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-5-1 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-3-12 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

02(1) - "I'VE BEEN DECEIVED" - B.M.I. - 3:17
Composer: - Quinton Claunch-William "Bill" Cantrell
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 2, 1955
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Zu-Zazz Records (CD) 500/200rpm ZCD 2011-7 mono
THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION OF RARE AND UNISSUED RECORDINGS 1954 - 1973
Reissued: - 2005 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm SNAP 230 CD-14 mono
GONE, GONE, GONE

02(2) - "I'VE BEEN DECEIVED" - B.M.I. - 3:17
Composer: - Quinton Claunch-Bill Cantrell
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 2, 1955
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-5-2 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-3-13 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

This recently discovered alternate take shows that Feathers had already had a very good idea of how he intended to deliver his vocal but the backing group was still feeling their way though the song. Stan Kesler's standout steel guitar work underwent some changes before the final version was committed to tape. In fact, this take is primarily a duet between Kesler and Feathers.

While Quinton Claunch and Bill Cantrell supplied the Bible Belt gloom of "I've Been Deceived" (Flip 503) it was Feathers who composed the sly and sometimes sinister "Peepin' Eyes" on the reverse. Remove Bill Cantrell's fiddle and switch Stan Kesler from steel guitar and the result would be rockabilly of a very strange kind.

This balled side of this ultra-rare record reveals the depth of Charlie Feathers' country soul. It has become clear to many Sun fans that if Feathers deserves an enduring reputation, it is as a hillbilly singer, not a rockabilly. It is truly in the former style that the distinctive features of his voice are best expressed. Long overshadowed by his mannered rockabilly work, Feathers; country ballads are true originals. Yes, he was influenced by Hank Williams, but on "I've Been Deceived" Feathers stretches beyond the boundaries of William's style and forges his own distinct sound.

Perhaps more than anything, this song is a vehicle for Feathers' wonderful phrasing. He would add any number of little filigrees and embroider the lyrics in ways that still hold the sound of surprise. There is not a level on which this song does not succeed. The lyrics have it all from the depths of self-pity to divine retribution, and Feathers sells every word. Once again, Stan Kesler is outstanding. The bassist on this occasion was William Diehl, a friend of Sam Phillips who had even considered buying a stake in Sun Records but lacked the upfront cash that Phillips needed.

02(3) - "I'VE BEEN DECEIVED" - B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Quinton Claunch-Bill Cantrell
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 20 Take 3 Master
Recorded: - March 2, 1955
Released: - 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Flip 503-A < mono
I'VE BEEN DECEIVED / PEEPIN' EYES
Flip 503 also issued as Sun Records 78rpm standard single > Sun 503-A < mono
after legal action from the Flip label in Los Angeles.
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-25 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

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.

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

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

MARCH 5, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley makes his television debut on Louisiana Hayride. Elvis Presley appeared on that portion of the "Louisiana Hayride" which was telecast by Shreveport, Louisiana, station KWKH-TV, the local CBS affiliate. This was Elvis' first TV performance, and he was introduced on the show by Horage Logan. Elvis' previous "Louisiana Hayride" shows were broadcast on radio only. Even over the radio, the ovation greetings his arrival was spectacular.

Elvis set seemed to change very little, despite the Hayride's edict that performers maintain a fresh repertoire, ''Tweedlee Dee'', ''Money Honey'', and ''Shake Rattle And Roll'' were not Elvis' own records, but they had become mainstays in his concert repertoire, and the Hayride as well. This Saturday evening, Elvis had added another of his Clovers favourite, an enthusiastic version of their 1954 rhythm and blues hit, ''Little Mama''.

MARCH 1955

On March 14, 1955, Sam Phillips had his first exposure to the Miller Sisters. What he saw during their first meeting were two young women from Mississippi whose warmth and closeness were reflected in their harmonies. They were pretty and had a appealing honesty about them that shone through in their music. Phillips was immensely impressed. Mildred ''Millie'' Miller was the younger of the two sisters-in-law. She was barely 17 years old. Elsie Jo, who preferred to be known simply as Jo, was married to Millie's older brother Roy. Roy Estes Miller was born on October 16, 1921 in Nettleton, Mississippi and he married Jo in 1944. Millie Miller was noted down as being Mildred Wages when it came time for Sun to do the paperwork. Roy Miller was a fine singer who played guitar and wrote songs. Occasionally the three of them harmonised, but it was the stark purity of the duet that impressed Phillips most. He decided there and then to try his luck recording them. Their first release on the Flip label appeared barely three weeks after it was taped. Flip records were essentially non-union productions, designed for local consumption. The distinction between Flip and Sun was really never clear, and only five Flip singles were ever issued. The Miller Sisters were in good company; other Flip artists included Carl Perkins, Charlie Feathers, and Rosco Gordon.

MARCH 1955

Over the next two years, Sam Phillips recorded over a dozen titles with the Miller Sisters, as well as using them as backup singers on sessions by Glenn Honeycutt and Cast King. Three single records by the duet were released during the mid-1950s. Two previously unissued titles appeared during the 1970s. The Miller Sisters made their final record for Sun in 1956. One side, ''Ten cats Down'', shows their attempt to grapple with the undeniable forces of rock and roll. By then, Sun was heavely committed to rockabilly and had a roster of artists who were more comfortable with the idiom than Jo and Millie. Their contract was minated in 1957. The Miller Sisters were essential a pure country act at a time when pure country music was becoming harder to sell.

Jo and Millie went on singing and appearing locally until 1957, when Millie left for Indiana. For all intents and purposes, the Miller Sisters entered the realm of history on that afternoon as Millie's bus headed north. Jo stayed in Mississippi with Roy and their sons, while 20 year old Millie headed for a new life without music in alien territory.

MARCH 7, 1955 MONDAY

Decca released Al Hibbler's pop hit ''Unchained Melody''. The song finds new life in country music later, becoming a hit in 1978 for Elvis Presley and again in 1997 for LeAnn Rimes.

Capitol released Ferlin Husky's ''Cuzz Yore So Sweet'', under the alias Simon Crum.

The Broadway musical “Peter Pan” was broadcast live on NBC-TV. The occasion marked the first time a stage musical was performed on television in almost the exact same way it was performed on stage. The live performance featured most of the original Broadway cast, including Peter Pan portrayer Mary Martin, and it aired only a few days after the show’s run on Broadway ended. It was shown as a part of a show called “Producer’s Showcase” and drew in 65 million viewers, the largest single episode television audience in history at that time. Actress Mary Martin also won an Emmy for her performance in the live television production of Peter Pan.

MARCH 11, 1955 FRIDAY

Jimmy Fortune is born in Nelson Country, Virginia. He replaces Lew DeWill in The Statler Brothers in 1982, writing their hits ''Elizabeth'' and ''My Only Love''. The Statlers enter the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

It was always a mystery to everyone connected with Sun's little operation why the Millers Sisters were not a resounding success. The portents seemed to be good: singing sister acts were in vogue in both country and popular music, the girls could handle almost any type of material, and they were good. In fact, they were exceptionally good. Their harmony was unerring. This first retrospective of their work shows that Elsie Jo and Millie, actually sister-in-law, were a top class act who just could not fulfill their promise. Their siren song has never been more than a by-word among the few.

STUDIO SESSION FOR THE MILLER SISTERS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY MARCH 14, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

The two Millers Sisters were two fine vocalists from Tupelo, Mississippi, were in fact sister-in-law, Elsie having married Mildred's brother, guitarist Roy Estes Miller. To begin with they performed as a trio, which was how they presented themselves at Sun when Sam Phillips first showed an interest early in 1955. Their first single "Someday You Will Pay" (as yet another release on the company's Flip ancillary) skips along with an abundance of charm, proffering as it does a back porch bib and braces rhythm.

"The Miller Sisters had just the greatest harmony I've ever heard", recalled Sam Phillips, "it was along the line of the Davis Sisters but it was natural to them. Roy Miller was the leader on the sessions and his wife's name was Jo. His sister was Millie and it was the two girls who did the harmony so well. Roy played a guitar, and I used local musicians to add to the group, people like Bill Cantrell, Quinton Claunch, and some others. We had a pretty good country houseband through 1954 and 1955. People like the Miller Sisters didn't have a stand alone band as such, so I set up a band with Bill Cantrell that we could call at any time. Bill and I grew up in the same area, out on Florence, Alabama. Bill was a fiddle player. Later on he started the Hi label here in Memphis".

"Someday You Will Pay" and "You Didn't Think I Would" was a powerful debut disc for The Millers Sisters. The top side was honest, spirited and rural - qualities that have all but disappeared from country music. The entire proceedings have the sound and feel of a back country dance. Unquestionably, part of the side's flair and drive comes from Charlie Feathers' virtuoso performance on the spoons.

Although credited to Roy Miller, "You Didn't Think I Would" was written by Jo and Millie on the way back from a gig in Roy's car. It's a fairly conventional country weeper with some faily strong feminist sentiments in an era where such possibilities were all but unknown. The prospect that Roy Miller could or would have cranked out lyrics like these is utterly hilarious. The big surprise here is that material like this could have come from the heart and mind of sweet 17 year old Millie Miller.

01 - "SOMEDAY YOU WILL PAY"* - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Roy Estes Miller
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated 
Matrix number: - F 22 Master
Recorded: - March 14, 1955
Released: - April 30, 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Flip 504-A < mono
SOMEDAY YOU WILL PAY / YOU DIDN'T THINK I WOULD
Flip 504 also issued as Sun Records 78/45rpm standard single > Sun 504-A < mono
after legal action from the Flip label in Los Angeles.
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-27 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Although credited to Roy Miller, "You Didn't Think I Would" was written by Jo and Millie in Roy's car on the way back from a local gig. Its a family conventional country weeper with some nascent feminist sentiments. The surprise is that potent material like this could have come from the heart and mind of sweet, 17 year old Millie Miller. Despite its origins, the sisters-in-law perform it convincingly to the sound of Claunch/Cantrell Sun hillbilly backing.

02 - "YOU DIDN'T THINK I WOULD" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Jo Miller-Mildred Miller
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 23 Master 
Recorded: - March 14, 1955
Released: - April 30, 1955
First appearance: - Flip Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Flip 504-B < mono
YOU DIDN'T THINK I WOULD / SOMEDAY YOU WILL PAY
Flip 504 also issued as Sun Records 78/45rpm standard single > Sun 504-B < mono
after legal action from the Flip label in Los Angeles.
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-28 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

03 - "LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO MY HEART
Composer: - Jo Miller-Mildred Miller
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 14, 1955

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elsie Jo Miller - Duet Vocal
Mildred Wages - Duet Vocal
Roy Estes Miller - Guitar
Quinton Claunch - Guitar
Bill Cantrell - Fiddle
Stanley Kesler - Steel Guitar
Marcus Van Story - Bass
Charlie Feathers - Spoons*

For Biography of The Miller Sisters see: > The Sun Biographies <
The Miller Sisters' Sun/Flip recordings can be heard on their playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

The following story stems from material derived from the correspondence between Sun Records historian Hank Davis and Jo and Millie as well as an extended conversation with Millie at his home in Canada: The Miller Sisters got their start while Millie was still quite young. She recalled, ''When I was a kid we listened to Hank Williams. We used to listen to the radio at night. On weekends we listened to the Opry. If the battery went dead on the radio, God forbid, it was a catastrophe. Neither of my parents played any instruments but my dad would sing all the time''.

''My mother sang in church. I was real small when Jo and Roy got married. Jo is ten years older than me. I have two older brothers. Roy is in his sixties. It was Roy who was the ambitious one for the Miller Sisters. He pushed us a lot. Of course, he didn't have to push that hard, but he really pushed us more than he had to. And that sometimes made us not want to do it even though we loved it. If we had a practice that night, I couldn't go out on a date.

Ray was a very good singer but no one wanted Roy after they heard us. He never recorded, never got a chance. Maybe that's why he pushed us so hard. I don't think it was for the money''.

Roy managed the Miller Sisters throughout their career although an interesting alternative appeared early on. ''At one point, Col. Tom Parker saw us perform and came over afterwards. He wanted to manage us and take over out careers. Roy turned him down because he thought he could do a better job of it himself. He really didn't know what he was doing, as far as managing went. I can't blame him, he probably thought he was doing right. And we couldn't question him. He was the type who thought he knew what he was doing. Other men might have been able to question him, but not his wife and sister. Not at that time''.

It is hard for Millie or Jo to gauge the success of their Sun records. ''We never saw a cent. If there ever was money, Jo and I never saw a penny of it. I don't even know if the records sold that well for there to have been any money. Everyone around me was buying them, but that doesn't really count for much''. Millie recalls three recording sessions for Sun, but there may have been more. Indeed, Jo remembered several additional titles which weren't on the session logs and have not yet turned up in the tape inventory. ''We had an old Jimmie Rodgers tune we did as a trio with my husband Roy. I believe it was called ''Listen To Me Mama''. Also we had a trio gospel song called ''Believe In His Name''. I recall Millie and I recording ''Satisfied Mind'' and another gospel tune called ''I Saw A Man''. I'm sure there were more''.

Roy Miller arranged for the Miller Sisters to record for Sun. At the time, Roy, Millie and Jo had a daily half hour radio program over WTUP in Tupelo. ''We did it live, Jo and I and Roy. Roy played the guitar and we had another guy who played the fiddle. I used to play a little guitar too but never on records. I haven't played in years. Anyway, the disc jockey gave Roy Sam Phillips' telephone number. He called to get an audition, Actually, the audition turned out to be our first session''. The three hour trips to Memphis from Tupelo were recalled vividly by Millie. ''We'd take Roy's old Buick. Roy would have his acoustic guitar and the three of us would make the drive. We's sing all the way up. Not just what we were going to record, but anything. Out of the blue, whatever came to us. When we got to the studio on Union Avenue, Sam would greet us at the door. Very friendly guy. Usually the musicians were there already. Everything was set to go. Sometimes the session would last all day''. The material by the Miller Sisters came from several sources. Roy wrote some, and Jo and Millie wrote songs as well. Sometimes Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch contributed the song. ''We lived in Memphis for a year or so later in our Sun career and it was easier then. During that time we had a lot of dealings with Bill and Quinton''. Jo and Millie's versatility led to additional session work. In addition to an early demo with Gene Simmons, also a Tupelo resident, the Miller Sisters sang backup for other Sun artists. Their harmonies can be heard behind Glenn Honeycutt on Sun 264, ''I'll Wait Forever'' b/w ''I'll Be Around''. Millie also recalled a project involving another male vocalist. ''At one point, Sam had us come in and work with a male singer. It was an experiment. I can't remember his name, but he had a really great voice. The three of us harmonised very well. We worked a lot with him. I wish I could remember his name. He never made it. I vaguely remember what he looked like. He had brown hair, nice looking, and a little chubby''. Jo was equally unsuccessful in recalling the mystery singer's name, although she immediately recalled the song ''I Can't Find Time To Pray''. Subsequent research has identified the mystery singer as Cast King.

Tracking down a clean copy of the Miller Sisters' official publicity picture became a major concern during the original LP production, Millie recalled, ''There was one on the front desc when you walked into Sun. There was a glass top over the desc and our picture was under it. They were taken because Sam was thinking of doing an album with us. He sent us down to the Webbs. I remember they draped these black things around our shoulders. It was supposed to look sexy''. An early photo of Scotty Moore reminded Millie of her meeting with Elvis back when he and the Miller Sisters both recorded for the fledgling Sun label. ''I wasn't crazy about Elvis as everyone else. I guess he struck me as very stuck up. Conceited. Expected the girls to fall all over him. I always liked Carl Perkins' music better than Elvis or Johnny Cash's. I remember seeing Elvis several times. Once was when he came into the studio to watch us recording. He was wearing his truck driver suit. Sam introduced us but we didn't really talk. Another time we were playing on the same program as Elvis in Saltillo, Mississippi. At a baseball gymnasium. Must have been in 1954. He came up to me backstage and offered me pills. Aspirin, he said it was, but I don't think they were. He was really cocky. Very nice looking man, you know, but I think he knew it. Seemed very sure of himself. He was the headliner of the show then and we were both waiting to go on, just chatting, killing time backstage. When we went on, Roy backed us up on stage and Scotty and Bill played for us too. I remember Elvis asking me to hold his guitar and I said, 'Hold it yourself. I'm not your flunky'! And I walked away from him. 'Cause he was the type to say 'Here, hold my guitar' and I wasn't about to. Even though I wanted to''.

Millie also recalled Johnny Bernero, who played drums on one of the Miller Sister's sessions, as well as playing behind Elvis. ''I had a crush on him at the time. He played locally with Gene Steele. Gene was known as the ''Singing Salesman''. He was sort of a Bill Monroe type. A high voice. Very popular in Memphis, had a show on WMC. We toured around Memphis with Gene and Johnny Bernero. He was a very good drummer. I think he played on ''Ten Cats Down''.

Millie had some interesting memories about how some of the Miller Sisters' material was written. ''Jo and I wrote ''You Didn't Think I Would''. We wrote it in the back seat of a car going to Memphis. It turned out pretty well. That's the way my brother Roy did a lot of his writing also. Just go off somewhere by himself, or take a drive''. Davis pointed out to Millie that ''You Didn't Think I Would'' deals with divorce, a pretty gritty topic for a 17 year old trying to be writing about. ''Well, its was from my heart. A lot of country music is depressing. That's why it's so pretty. I think the only way you can sing from the heart is to have something depressing to sing''.

Millie had a number of reactions to listening for the first time in decades to titles she and Jo had recorded thirty years ago. ''Isle Of Golden Dreams''. I loved that one. I remember it was terrible to sing. It had such a range. But it was pretty after you got it. I really had to do some tall singing there. ''Ten Cats Down'' was a fun song. Either Bill or Quinton wrote it. We were living in Memphis when they wrote it. We got together and decided to do it. We auditioned it for Sam and he decided to try it, then to put it out. ''Woody''. I remember that stupid song. I think Roy wrote it. We must have gone through about ten takes of it. It was a hard one to sing, actually, as I recall''. Hank Davis asked Jo about Charlie Feathers presence in the studio and how he came to play spoons on ''Someday You Will Pay''. ''Charlie wasn't an old friend. We met him for the first time at Sun. He was a very pleasant guy, always clowning around, seemed to always be in the studio. I don't rightly know how he came to play the spoons. I suppose they were just trying different sounds''. Jo recalled, ''I very remembered that Stan Kesler was a very good steel guitar player. The session that had drums on it was Johnny Bernero. Scotty Moore also played on one or two of our sessions. Also Elvis' bass player Bill Black. It also stands out in my memory that Blind Jimmie Smith played piano on some tapes we made, and also Sonny Haley, the bass player who worked with Gene Steele on WMC in Memphis''.

In 1976, Millie and her family went back to Tupelo to live for a brief period. She recalled: ''There was a barn dance down there, run by a guy named Archie Mackie. on Saturday night they'd set up a PA system, it was amateur night. But a lot of the artists were good. He conned me and Jo into going on stage. He didn't have to con me too much! We still had it. Our voices weren't as young as before, but we harmonized well. We always had this thing, like mental telepathy. We could switch parts if we sensed the other was going to have trouble hitting the note. We used that switching a lot on ''Finders Keepers''. We just know who was going to sing what, where and when. I was usually the high part. Jo had a very low voice''.

Millie recalled some of the excitement and highlights of their brief recording career. ''I recall that once before I moved to Indiana, I came north to visit my sister. Somewhere between Mississippi and Indiana the bus made a rest stop and the waitress said to me, 'Aren't you one of the Miller Sisters'? I said 'Yes! How did you know'? She said she'd seen us somewhere. That was kind of a thrill. Someone that far away knew about us. Another high point was when we sang on the Louisiana Hayride. I had laryngitis so bad that night I knew I wasn't going to be able to do it. I got up on stage and it suddenly disappeared. Lots of people. I was so high. The more people, the better! I recall some of the other people playing on the Hayride that night: George Jones, Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton. I remember after the show, Johnny Horton had a radio show and he interview Jo and me. Jo never wanted to talk so it was always up to me to do the interview. Afterwards, we went to a place where all the stars went to drink and be together. Jim Ed Brown was there with his sisters and I danced with Little Jimmie Dickens. I thought I was little at the time. I can't recall if we were down there plugging a record or what. I don't even remember the song we sang. But I remember we were dressed exactly alike. Had little blue wedge teal plastic shoes on, little blue dresses. At the time that was anything. Roy paid for the outfits, the whole thing. He wanted us to look nice. Roy had to wait off on the side. That wasn't good. The trip back was pretty bad too. We drove straight from Louisiana to Mississippi. Shreveport to Tupelo.

Jo recalled some additional highlights of the Millers career. ''We played the Ernest Tubb Record Show in Nashville. We also played on Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Day in Meridian, Mississippi. We followed Elvis on that program. In fact, his band also baked us up. We also did some shows with Johnny Cash, Warren Smith and George Jones. I think they were in Armory, Mississippi. We toured as well for Paul Johnson, the onetime governor of Mississippi, and appeared on several TV shows in Memphis, Tupelo (WTWV), and Meridian. Also, our radio show on WTUP in Tupelo for about two years''.

Millie had one noteworthy recollection of working a show with Hank Williams' group after his death. ''I remember his wife Audrey. Terrible voice! Terrible voice! She sang her heart out, you know? She evidently loved it but she... oh god, that voice. It would stop a clock. But she was bound and determined she was going to sing. She sang quite a bit that day and everybody around was going 'oooh...'. Just terrible. But she was very nice and friendly''.

Millie described the end of the Miller Sisters as a formal act. ''I stopped doing all of this singing with Jo right before I came up to Indiana in 1957. We had stopped recording for Sun before that. Jo was like a sister for me. We were so close, sometimes we could tell what the other was thinking. We both loved singing so much, and it broke my heart when we stopped. Even now I want to sing so bad sometimes I almost cry''. There was some additional recording after Sun, but it led to no releases. ''Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch had a small studio. They had us come in and cut stuff for them. It never came out as far as I know. We cut a lot of tapes that they kept. We recut some of the stuff we had done for Sun, and also did some new stuff they had written''. (These recordings were presumably made for Hi Records, during its formative period. Presumably all tapes of these sessions were lost, along with all Hi masters dating from before 1960, in a studio flood).

Millie carried virtually none of her musical experiences with her when she first came north to live. ''My life had gotten really bad around 1957 right before I left. I needed to put it all out of my mind, get away from it. There were some really bad times then. Some problems with Roy as well. I just needed to get away. The few times I told friends up north about the recording, I don't think they really even believed me. I just stopped talking about it and thinking about it. Music hasn't really been a part of my life for quite a few years. When I listened to the tape of out music you made for me I almost cried. To hear those songs for the first time in 30 years... Little flashes came back. I could see myself in the studio with the earphones on. I could see Elvis sitting over the corner listening to us records. I could see the musicians. One of the reasons I have trouble remembering a lot of the details you ask about is that I was so into music. I just concentrated on singing. I didn't really know what was going on around me. Nothing else mattered I loved it so much''.

Roy Estes Miller died in Satillo, Tupelo on September 6, 2001.

Hank Davis, July 1985

MARCH 15, 1955 TUESDAY

Fats Domino recorded ''Ain't It A Shame'' in Los Angeles. The song is later re-recorded as a country single, titled ''Ain't That A Shame'' by Hank Williams Jr.

Elvis Presley amends his management contract with Bob Neal, signing a one-year deal that gives Neal 15%.

MARCH 17, 1955 THURSDAY

Paul Overstreet is born in Antioch, Mississippi. The singer/songwriter is a member of Schuyler, Knobloch and Overstreet before going solo. He also writes numerous hits for others, including ''On The Other Hand'' and ''Forever And Ever, Amen''.

Although Ray Campi played a style of music popularized by Elvis Presley, he didn’t go to any of the three shows Presley played in town in 1955 at The Dessau Hall, the Sportcenter and the Skyline, or the January 1956 show at the City Coliseum where Elvis opened for Hank Snow.

''If you weren’t Elvis, you didn’t like Elvis, at the time'', Campi said. The Memphis Cat had everything that eluded Campi, most notably fame, screaming girls and a fleet of brand new Cadillacs.

But the first time Elvis Presley played in the area, at Dessau Hall on March 17, 1955, only about 75 people showed up. The only disc jockey in town that had been playing his records was KVET’s rhythm and blues jock Lavada Durst, so most people thought he was black. And not many white kids went to black shows back then.

MARCH 18, 1955 FRIDAY

In her role as Lucy Ricardo on CBS' ''I Love Lucy'', Lucille Ball is asked to write a story for Photoplay magazine about her marriage to Ricky Ricardo. The episode includes a version of ''Let Me Go, Lover!'', a country hit at the time for Hank Snow.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR MAGGIE SUE WIMBERLY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: FRIDAY MARCH 18, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - BILL CANTRELL
AND QUINTON CLAUNCH

Like Dolly Parton, country singer Maggie Sue began her professional career a bit younger than most. In Parton's case, she has spent most of her adult life trying to live down those horrid sides she left in Goldband's tape vaults. Maggie Sue had far less to be ashamed of. In truth, if you knew nothing about this record, you'd be unlikely to guess that the singer was barely a teenager when she recorded these sides.

This was a competently crafted 'answer' record to Bud Deckelman's regional hit "Daydreamin'". Apart from the novelty of Maggie Sue's youth, or the marketing of an 'answer record', these sides provide a clear glimpse of the Memphis country sound circa 1954-55. It is a magic moment in music history. The crystal clear hillbilly sound heard here had all but vanished within a year. It is captured to perfection on this record:

Bill Cantrell's sawing fiddle, Stanley Kesler's melodic steel, and the muted walking guitar of Quinton Claunch. Claunch's work would live on in Luther Perkins' minimalist picking on Johnny Cash records, but the rest of the Memphis country sound was soon to disappear into the ether.

Maggie Sue didn't disappear with in, though. She reappeared as Sue Richards, scored a few country hits under her own name and for years sang backup for Tammy Wynette.

01 - "DAYDREAMS COME TRUE" - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Bill Cantrell-Quinton Claunch
Publisher: - Met Music
Matrix number: - U 167 Master
Recorded: - March 18, 1955
Released: - December 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single > Sun 229-A < mono
DAYDREAMS COME TRUE / HOW LONG
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-1-1 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Maggie Sue Wimberly - Vocal
Bill Cantrell - Fiddle
Stanley Kesler - Steel Guitar
Quinton Claunch - Guitar
Marcus Van Story - Bass

For Biography of Maggie Sue Wimberly see: > The Sun Biographies <
Maggie Sue Wimberly's Sun recordings can be heard on her playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on 
> YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

MARCH 1955

Johnny Cash returned with Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant for a formal audition. At the audition Cash sang ''I Was There When It Happened'', ''Belshazzar'' and ''I Don't Hurt Anymore'', mainly gospel material. Sam, was impressed with Cash's voice and also the limited guitar style of Luther Perkins.

Unfortunately he had no interest in recording religious material and told Cash that he would be unable to market him as a religious artist and to go away and write something different.

Johnny Cash went away and reworked a poem he had written during his time in the Air Force and went back to Sun Records with ''Hey Porter''. With its train rhythm, simple melody and strong lyrics it was an impressive debut. During a 1980 radio special Cash spoke about the recording: "I did a song I wrote called ''Hey Porter'' that I had written on the way home from Germany when I was discharged from the Air Force. And it was kind of a daydreamin' kind of thing.

I used a train as a vehicle in my mind to take me back home and counting off the miles and the hours and minutes till I would get back home. It wasn't to Tennessee though, it was to Dyess, Arkansas where my parents were still living at the time''. The version included here is an early take and is noticeable when Luther falters during the second instrumental break.

The session also produced an early version of ''Folsom Prison Blues'', another attempt at ''Wide Open Road'' and ''Two Timin' Woman''. The four takes of ''Folsom Prison Blues'' included on this set are completely different to the released version. Here Cash uses a high-pitched vocal style completely different to anything else he over recorded. Whilst Cash may not have perfected his style on the song Luther most definitely had and his guitar solo changed little over the years to come. It is interesting to note that these versions do not feature the famous guitar introduction or closing notes that became the songs trademark. Cash would go on to re-record the song a few weeks later.

MARCH 19, 1955 SATURDAY

The Ginger Rogers movie ''Tight Spot'' debuts in New York, with Lorne Green and songwriter/guitarist Doye O'Dell also in the cast.

Elvis Presley performs at the eagle's Nest in Houston, Texas. Attending the show is future country singer Tommy Overstreet.

MARCH 20, 1955 SUNDAY

''The Big Tip Off'' starring Richard Conte, debuts in movie theaters, with Spade Cooley appearing on screen.

MARCH 21, 1955 MONDAY

Johnny Cash has an unscheduled audition with producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis. Phillips passes on the bulk of Cash's material, but after hearing ''Hey, Porter'', has the youngster come back the next day to record.

MARCH 22, 1955 TUESDAY

James House is born in Sacramento, California. A songwriter on Diamond Rio's ''In A Week Or Two'', Martina McBride's ''A Broken Wing'' and Dwight Yoakam's ''Ain't That Lonely Yet'', he earns a hit of his own in 1995 with ''This Is Me Missing You''.

Coral Records hires disc jockey Alan Freed to run the label's A&R department. At the time, The McGuire Sisters have a number 1 pop hit for the label with a song Freed co-wrote, ''Sincerely'', also future country hit for The Forester Sisters.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOHNNY CASH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY MARCH 22, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Other titles recorded approx. this time. This is, of course, a landmark recording: Johnny Cash's first hit record for Sun Records, issued in June 1955. If nothing else, it reveals that the essential of Cash's style were fixed by the time he set foot in Sam Phillips' tiny studio. It also shows that Sam Phillips had a clear idea of how to record Cash from the first - a spartan style that would remain virtually unchanged through Cash's first half a dozen singles. During a 1980 radio special Cash spoke about the recording of "Hey, Porter": "I did a song I wrote called "Hey, Porter" that I had written on the way home from Germany when I was discharged from the Air Force. And it was kind of a daydreamin' kind of thing. I used a train as a vehicle in my mind to take me back home and counting off the miles and the hours and minutes till I would get back home. It wasn't to Tennessee though, it was to Dyess, Arkansas where my parents were still living at the time". The version included here is an early take and is noticeable when Luthers falters during the second instrumental break. The session also produced four early unreleased version of "Folsom Prison Blues".

01(1) - "HEY PORTER" - B.M.I. - 2:09
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15517-1-5 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE MAN IN BLACK 1954 – 1958
Reissued: - 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16325-1-4 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN OUTTAKES

01(2) - "HEY PORTER" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955

01(3) - "HEY PORTER" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955

"Hey! Porter" was re-cast from a semi-autobiographical poem Cash had published while he was in the service. Needing some secular material in a hurry, Cash resuscitated "Hey Porter" and previewed "Folsom Prison Blues". The latter was a virtual note-for-note and word-for-word adaptation of a Gordon Jenkins tune, "Crescent City Blues", which formed a segment of a 1954 concept album called Seven Dreams, tracing an imaginary journey from New York to New Orleans. Even Jenkins' technique of linking the segrement with spoken passages would later be adapted by Johnny Cash on his own concept albums. Surprisingly, Cash was not sued by Jenkins until the song was repriced on the bestselling live album recorded at Folsom Prison in 1968.

01(4) - "HEY PORTER" - B.M.I. - 2:11
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 150 Master Take 4 
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - June 21, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single > Sun 221-B < mono
HEY PORTER / CRY! CRY! CRY!
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-4-6 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

"I had recorded "Hey Porter", recalled Cash to Bill Flanagan, "and I'd also recorded "Folsom Prison Blues" which Sam didn't care all that much for. I saw a note on his desk, a memo to himself, 'Send "Folsom Prison Blues" to Tennessee Ernie Ford? after I had recorded it. I challenged him on that. I said, 'I know Tennessee Ernie Ford is hot, but I don't want him singing that song. I want to do it myself'. Sam said, 'Well, let's see what else you can come up with. Go home and write me an uptempo weeper love song'. I went home and I heard Eddie Hill say, 'We got some good songs, love songs, sweet songs, happy songs, and sad songs that'll make you cry, cry, cry'. I wrote "Cry Cry Cry" that night, called Sam the next day, and said, 'I got it'".

02(1) - "FOLSOM PRISON BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Gordon Jenkins-Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15517-1-6 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE MAN IN BLACK 1954 - 1958
Reissued: - 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16325-1-5 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN OUTTAKES

Johnny Cash's early version of "Folsom Prison Blues" were delivered in a curiously high-pitched voice, although those early takes show that Luther Perkins had already worked out his guitar solo - which would later became a model of minimalist country picking. But Sam Phillips did not want to couple "Folsom Prison Blues" with "Hey Porter" for the first record.

Here Cash uses a high-pitched vocal style completely different to anything else he ever recorded. Whilst Cash may not have perfected his style on the song Luther most definitely had and his guitar solo changed little over the years to come.

It is interesting to note that these next versions do not feature the famous guitar introduction or closing notes that became the songs trademark. Cash would go on to re-record the song a few weeks later.

02(2) - "FOLSOM PRISON BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Gordon Jenkins-Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-11-4 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-6-25 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

02(3) - 'FOLSOM PRISON BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Gordon Jenkins-Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 103-1 mono
THE SUN YEARS - JOHNNY CASH
Reissued: - 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16325-1-7 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN OUTTAKES

02(4) - "FOLSOM PRISON BLUES" B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Gordon Jenkins-Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 2007
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16325-1-8 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN OUTTAKES

03 - "WIDE OPEN ROAD"* - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Overdubbed April 21, 1964 with drums and guitar for issue on LP 1275.
First issued undubbed on Sunbox 103
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 103-1 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15517-1-7 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE MAN IN BLACK 1954 - 1958

Wide Open Road'' is the only known take to feature the steel guitar playing of A. W. 'Red' Kernodle and gives us a clue to how they would have sounded had he remained a member of the group. It has to be said that he was not the greatest steel guitar player and his decision to leave was ultimately a benefit to the Cash sound as he recalled in a 1980 interview. "We had a steel guitar player working with us, but he was afraid to go in the recording studio and guess maybe it was lucky for us that he didn't because 'The Tennessee Two' came up with a sound that was kinda unique. I think a steel guitar would've taken is more toward Nashville than what was happening up there''.

04 - "MY TWO TIMIN' WOMAN" - B.M.I. - 1:54
Composer: - Clarence E. Snow
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Overdubbed April 21, 1964 with drums and guitar for issue on LP 1275.
Recorded: - March 22, 1955
Released: - 1965
First appearance: - Sun Records (LP) 33rpm Sun SLP 1275 mono
THE ORIGINAL SUN SOUND OF JOHNNY CASH
Reissued: - 1975 Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30117-B-1 mono
SUN COUNTRY - THE ROOTS OF ROCK – VOLUME 10

Despite being vocally sound "Two Timin' Woman" suffers from an out of tune acoustic guitar and one of Luther's more forgettable solos.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Cash - Vocal and Guitar
Luther Perkins - Guitar
Marshall Grant - Bass
A.W. "Red" Kernodle - Steel Guitar*

Overdubbed Session April 21, 1964
at 639 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Stan Kesler - Guitar
Bobby Wood - Piano
Gene Chrisman - Drums

"Sam Phillips had a vision", recalled Cash in an interview with Bill Flanagan. "Nashville in 1955 was grinding out all these country records. If you took the voice off, all the tracks sounded the same to me.... All the arrangements were calculated and predictable. Its kinda that way with my music - but, at least, its my music. It's not done to try and sound like someone else in Nashville". Red Kernodle played on the first sessions and then quit. "There was no money in it", he contends with little apparent regret, "and there was getting to be too much staying up late at night and running around". ''Red was so nervous he couldn't play'', Cash recalled. ''We did about three numbers with the steel guitar, and he just packed up and left. He said, 'This music business is not for me'. And I thought the songs sounded terrible, so I didn't argue''.

His halting attempts at playing the steel guitar can be heard on an early version of "Wide Open Road", proving that his disappearance was no great loss. Luther Perkins' oldest daughter, Linda, recalled that Kernodle's wife had threatened to leave if he concentrated on music. He also held a better-paying job than the other members of the group. His gradual disappearance was taken with some relief by the others.

Kernodle's shortcomings were certainly no greater than Luther Perkins. Worse yet, Marshall Grant had only just learned how to play bass. "I'd never held one in my hand and didn't even know how to tune it", he recalled. "I bought one for seventy-five dollars and a friend showed me how to tune it. I figured it out from there. We didn't work to get that boom-chicka-boom sound. That's all we could play".

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

MARCH 1955

Although they have become identified with Sun Records, the Sun era was actually just the beginning for the Prisonaires. The original group started to break up on October 1954 when bass singer Marcell Sanders was paroled, followed by second tenor John Drue in December.

Drue was back just three months later to serve another two years for housebreaking but in the meantime Johnny Bragg had recruited new men to the group. He told Jay Warner: ''I'd go around the prison and listen to the other groups, and I'd pick someone who could do it all... who could sing better than me, and when the time come I'd pick my replacements''.

Bragg said that by early 1955 the Prisonaires consisted of himself, Thurman and Stewart, new bass singer Willy Wilson and new tenor Hal Hebb.

Because John Drue was soon back inside again and both Stewart and McCollough played guitar, the group now often had six or seven singers plus piano and guitars when they went out to sing at local TV and radio stations or the Governor's parties.

Sam Phillips did not renew the contract between Sun Records and the Prisonaires in 1955. This was partly because Sun was focused on meeting the demand for Elvis Presley recordings and developing the emerging markets for rhythmic country music, and partly because the initial novelty of the singing prisoners had worn off as far as record sales were concerned.

Red Wortham was one of the first to know that Sun's interest was waning and early in 1955 he approached Nashville-based record man Ernie Young who ran the Nashboro and Excello labels alongside a lucrative mail order business. Wortham took Young to the prison to talk with Johnny Bragg and his renewed group and Young was impressed enough to make a deal immediately. Bragg had decided that the new group should be called something different. First he tried the Junior Prisonaires but quickly changed the name to The Sunbeams when Hal Hebb suggested it had a forward-looking, less oppressed feel to it. Besides, as Bragg told Colin Escott later, ''we were bringing the beat up a little bit'' at that time. Red Wortham arranged with the warden for himself and Ernie Young to make recordings of the new group at the prison.

The Sunbeams first recorded for Young on March 3, 1955, according to the date on the tape box, using the prison auditorium as a studio. They recorded three songs, ''Rollin' Stone'', ''Why Don't You'', and ''Don't Say Tomorrow''. Bragg told Bill Miller: ''When we first started with Excello we went under the Sunbeams for just a while. The Marigolds, they was all the same, Hal Hebb, Alfred Brooks, Willy Wilson, and Henry Jones, a guy we called ''Dishrag''. He's gone now. You talk about talent: the guy had so much talent it's a shame... When we recorded for Excello we did a lot of it on the stage in the prison, and also at the Excello studio downtown''.

Little is know about Willy Wilson or Alfred Brooks, and it is likely that Brooks did not in fact join the group until after this March session. Harold Hebb was front a well-known musical family in Nashville and had been doing a song and dance act with his brother Bobby since they were children. He worked with the Jerrie Jackson Revue in the 1940s and sang at night clubs including the Paradise Club and the Hollywood Palm in the years before he found himself in prison. He was soon released and then became floor manager at Nashville's Club Baron until he was killed in a mugging in 1963.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

RECORDING SESSION FOR THE MARIGOLDS
FOR EXCELLO RECORDS 1955

TENNESSEE STATE PENNITENTIARY
PRISON AVENUE, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
EXCELLO SESSION: WEDNESDAY MARCH 23, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – ERNIE YOUNG

The Excello recordings give some scope to the new singers but Ernie Young was also keen to keep Johnny Bragg's voice well to the fore. Of the three songs recorded at the first session, ''Don't Say Tomorrow'' was the closest to the Sun style of the Prisonaires, and indeed it was a song the group had recorded for Sun. Sam Phillips had not issued it, and neither did Ernie Young, perhaps thinking that the drumbeat was a little tentative and that the lead vocal was too in places. However, the other two were more positive cuts. ''Rollin' Stone'', written by Robert Riley, was a real contender with its catchy Latin beat, a memorable interplay between the vocalists who each had their own part and their moment to shine, and a repetitive cry, 'rollin' stone'. ''Why Don't You'' has something of the Nat Cole Trio about it with its conversational vocal, warm guitar notes and tinkling piano. It is almost a solo vocal with backing' aahs' and 'ditdederda's from the group. Both issued titles feature very recognizable piano and drum sounds with guitar support and these are almost certainly played by Henry Jones, Hubbard Brown and L.B. McCollough. There is one surviving alternate take of ''Rollin' Stone''.

Ernie Young scheduled ''Rollin' Stone'' and ''Why Don't You'' for release as Excello 2057 in April 1955 but decided he did not want the group to use a name like the Sunbeams that contained the name of their previous record label. Someone came up with the idea of The Marigolds, and Young duly put the name on the record label and took out ads in the music trade press. On April 30, Billboard magazine reviewed ''Rollin' Stone'' saying merely;y, ''the boys sing a novelty with a good beat and plenty of zip''.

Despite this half-hearted review ''Rollin' Stone'' had reached number 1 in the Rhythm & Blues charts in Charlotte by June, number 5 in Los Angeles, and number 6 in Baltimore, Atlanta and New Orleans. On July 23, it reached at number 8 on the Billboard National Rhythm & Blues chart. The Cadets covered the song on Modern Records and the Fontane Sisters took the song into pop sales chart in June, reaching number 13. Even the rejected take of ''Don't Say Tomorrow'' had its uses two years later. Ernie Young gave it to another group, the Hollyhocks, who recorded the song for Young's new Nasco label in 1957.

01(1) - ''ROLLIN' STONE'' - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Robert Riley
Publisher: - Excellorec Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - March 23, 1955
Released: - April 1955
First appearance: - Excello Records (S) 45rpm Excello 2057-A mono
ROLLIN' STONE / WHY DON'T YOU
Reissued: - 2011 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-13 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - ONLY BELIEVE

01(2) - ''ROLLIN' STONE'' - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Robert Riley
Publisher: - Excellorec Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Not Original Issued
Recorded: - March 23, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-16 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - ONLY BELIEVE

02 - ''WHY DON'T YOU'' - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Robert Riley
Publisher: - Excellorec Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - March 23, 1955
Released: - April 1955
First appearance: - Excello Records (S) 45rpm Excello 2057-B mono
WHY DON'T YOU / ROLLIN' STONE
Reissued: - 2011 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-14 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - ONLY BELIEVE

03 - ''DON'T SAY TOMORROW'' - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Robert Riley
Publisher: - Excellorec Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Not Original Issued
Recorded: - March 23, 1955
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-15 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - ONLY BELIEVE

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal
Harold Hebb - Tenor Vocal
Possibly John Drue - Tenor Vocal
William Stewart - Baritone Vocal & Guitar
Willy Wilson - Bass Vocal
Henry ''Dishrag'' Jones - Piano
L.B. McCollough - Guitar
Hubbard Brown - Drums
Unknown - Maracas

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

MARCH 23, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Jim Reeves signs his first RCA Records contract.

Elvis Presley auditions in New York for the CBS-TV show ''Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts''. The producers pass.

MARCH 24, 1955 THURSDAY

''Cat On A Hot Tin Roof'' opens at the Morosco Theater on Broadway in New York. The play features occasional country singer Burl Ives, who also stars in the movie version three years later.

MARCH 26, 1955 SATURDAY

Songwriter Dean Dillon is born in Lake City, Tennessee. He writes the George Strait hits ''Ocean Front Property'', ''The Chair'' and ''Unwound'', plus Keith Whitley's ''Miami My Amy'', Vern Gosdin's ''Set 'Em Up Joe'' and ''George Jones' ''Tennessee Whiskey''.

MARCH 28, 1955 MONDAY

Reba McEntire is born in McAlester, Oklahoma. The winner of multiple Entertainer of the Year awards, she becomes a country icon while expanding into movies, Broadway and even a TV sitcom, entering the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

Capitol released Tommy Collins' ''It Tickles''.

At the end of March Ike Turner brought in a harmonica player named Sammy Lewis into the Sun studio, along with Howlin' Wolf's old guitarist, Willie Johnson, and together they created a sound so explosive that when Willie called out, ''Blow the backs off it, Sammy'', you felt like he really would.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR SAMMY LEWIS & WILLIE JOHNSON COMBO
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY MARCH 28, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01 - "GONNA LEAVE YOU BABY*" (1) - B.M.I. - 2:18
Composer: - Sammy Lewis-Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 28, 1955
Released: 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-8-6 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

There are some absolutely magnificent moments on ''Gonna Leave You Baby'' - and also, a couple of real bummers. The decidedly rural sound of Lewis' harp introduction is both poignant and haunting, setting us up for something of a minor classic - but unfortunately it is so out of tune with Johnson's guitar, that the performance loses much of its potential impact. One noteworthy feature which survives even this discordant pall is Lewis' extremely melodic vocal reading of the first verse. It is a gem which shows just how musical the blues can be, despite the chordal restrictions of the form.

02(1) - "I FEEL SO WORRIED*" (1) - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - Sammy Lewis-Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 28, 1955
Released: - March 8, 2013
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-6-31 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1959

This alternate take of SUN 218 made its first appearance on the original Sunbox, and was erroneously passed off as a "slower warmup version". However, it differs only slightly from its rather better-known counterpart - mainly lyrically, being a lot closer to the number which inspired it, viz: "Feelin' Good". Which merely suggests that Sammy Lewis was having trouble in remembering the words! For one thing, the guitar on this version is again out of tune, as it was on ''Gonna Leave You Baby''. It must have been a long night at 706 Union to get from this tentative take to the released version.

02(2) - "I FEEL SO WORRIED*" (2) - B.M.I. 2:27
Composer: - Sammy Lewis-Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - March 28, 1955
Released: - March 8, 2013
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-6-19 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1959

Smokestack lightning in a bottle would be a fair account of "I Feel So Worried". The song's steam-driven pulse coupled the driving rhythm of "Mystery Train" to the formidable roar of Howlin' Wolf.

This scenario can be partly explained by the presence of Willie Johnson who had occupied the guitar chair in Wolf's group. Double-headed by Memphis harmonica player, Sammy Lewis, this made for a classic Sun blues issue.

The productive and all too brief meeting between vocalist/harp player Sammy Lewis and guitarist Willie Johnson produced one of the best blues issued by Sun Records. In the eyes of many collectors and Sun blues fans, there is no finer release for this period than "I Feel So Worried".

02(3) - "I FEEL SO WORRIED*" (3) - B.M.I. - 2:37
Composer: - Sammy Lewis-Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 146 Master Take 3
Recorded: - March 28, 1955
Released: - April 25, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single > Sun 218-A < mono
I FEEL SO WORRIED / SO LONG BABY GOODBYE
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3-29 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

It is easy to see appeal of this record. For one thing, it lives in that tense netherworld between a major and a minor key. The material is, as Billboard used to say, "potent stuff". Sammy Lewis' vocal combines those octaves leaps with a really engaging talk/sing approach that hooks even the casual listener. When he greets us with "Let me tell you, 'bout one thing I done wrong", we want to respond with an appropriately churchy, "Yeh, tell us, Sammy. Go ahead!".

Even allowing for the charm of Lewis' vocal, it is the Willie Johnson combo that really carries the day. The sound of this record, beginning with the haunting stop-line intro, is something to treasure. Even rockabilly fans who merely tolerate Sun blues are often fond of this record, owing in no small way to Willie Johnson's guitar style.

03(1) - "SO LONG BABY GOODBYE**" (1) - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 147 Master Take 1 
Released: - April 25, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single > Sun 218-B < mono
SO LONG BABY GOODBYE / I FEEL SO WORRIED
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-3-30 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

03(2) - "SO LONG BABY GOODBYE**" (2) - B.M.I. - 2:10
Composer: - Willie Johnson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporation
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - March 28, 1955
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-8-8 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

An alternate take of the track which gave us the immortal dictum "Well all right Sammy, blow the backs off it!". This take is not markedly different from the released version, but it does offer another opportunity to listen to guitarist Willie Johnson as a vocalist. Here Johnson propels his defiant, hell-raising blues with biting guitar work and carries it all through with a hard-edged wolf-like vocal.

"So Long Baby Goodbye" is more conventional rhythm and blues that showcases Sammy Lewis harp. How could Lewis not have responded when Johnson issued him the immortal edict "blow the backs off it".

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Sammy Lewis - Vocal* - & Harmonica
Willie Johnson - Vocal** & Guitar
L.C. Hubert - Piano
Joe Nathan Franklin – Drums
Unknown Possibly L.C. Hubert - Piano

For Biography of Sammy Lewis and Willie Johnson see: > The Sun Biographies <
Sammy Lewis and Willie Johnson's Sun recordings can be heard on their playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

MARCH 30, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Randy Vanwarmer is born in Denver, Colorado. Following his pop hit, ''Just When I Needed You Most'', he writes the country hits ''I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes'', ''I Will Whisper Your Name'' and ''I'm In A Hurry (And Don't Know Why)''.

Connie Cato is born in Carlinville, Illinois. She nabs a country hit in 1975 with her remake of Timi Yuro's ''Hurt''.

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©