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1951 SESSIONS 8
August 1, 1951 to August 31, 1951

Studio Session for Rosco Gordon, August 1951 / Duke/Chess Records
Studio Session for The Evangelist Gospel Singers of Alabama,
Probably August/September 1951 / Chess Records

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

AUGUST 1951

The Biharis complain to the American Federation of Musicians that they have Jackie Brenston under contract. Jules and Saul Bihari leave Los Angeles on a tour of Southern distributors. On their return, they announce that they have signed Willie Nix.

The wrangling begins over Howlin' Wolf, who had been in the process of establishing himself as a radio personality at KWEM in West Memphis. Sam Phillips signs him to an AFM contract, and possibly to a Chess Records contract.

Someone cuts a session on Wolf for RPM Records - possibly the Biharis during their field trip, or perhaps Ike Turner, on their behalf.

AUGUST 1951

Sam Phillips sees his first country music recordings issued on Chess. Harmonica Frank's ''Swamp Root'' b/w ''Goin' Away Walkin'''(Chess 1475 A) is announced in Billboard on August 4. Only two weeks later, Billboard carries the announcement of ''Swamp Root'' b/w ''Step It Up And Go'' (also Chess 1475 A). The switch was perhaps made because Big Jeff & The Radio Playboys had successfully released ''Step It Up And Go'' on the Dot label and Chess hoped to sell their version in competition. Alternatively, the very bluesy ''Goin' Away Walkin'''may not have been well received by country disc jockeys.

AUGUST 1951

Around the time that ''Juiced'' was released, Billy Love's friend Rosco Gordon was going from hot to hotter on the rhythm and blues charts. That October he recorded a novelty song called ''Booted'' for RPM Records and quickly recorded the same song for Chess too. There was a significant wrangle between the labels but the upshot was that the Chess version became a number one rhythm and blues hit in the spring of 1952. Rosco was in demand touring behind that record and, remembering those days, he told John Floyd: "So the first thing I know, I'm a big act ... my first job (was) B. B. Beeman's auditorium in Atlanta. I had never been on no professional gigs before. That Atlanta show was miserable.

Little Esther and Mel Walker were on the show and I think Johnny Otis had the band". Rosco went on to explain how he had to do three shows and sing ''Booted'' all the time until he was fed up with it, and how Johnny Otis had told him to get on with it or get his own band. So Rosco did just that and by the time Otis was next touring in the South things were different: "By then I'd added Billy Love to the band ... I had one band I recorded with and another band I travelled with. I put my local band together - the band I recorded with. But they had jobs in Memphis so they couldn't leave, so I let Billy Love put another band together." Rosco expanded on this to Peter Guralnick: "See, we had a rehearsal every Tuesday. That's where these ideas would come up. Because I got the band right there.... The piano player, he was such a great pianist, Billy 'Red' Love. Now that was my man. I learned everything about the piano mostly from him and my own ideas. But the structure, it came from Billy. He was my bandleader. He could call a strike anytime, man"!

AUGUST 1951

Ike Turner defected to the Biharis, for whom he assumed Phillips' role, cutting sessions in Memphis and the vicinity. Meanwhile, Jackie Brenston recruited a new set of Delta Cats, featuring Phineas Newborn, Jr. But Brenston's flirtation with fame was short-lived. The follow-ups failed, and Brenston later reunited with Ike Turner and took refuge in drink.

Sam Phillips cut himself loose from the Biharis and WREC, was now free, and obligated, to serve but one master: Chess Records. With Brenston and Turner gone and the need to find new talent ever pressing, he turned to a precocious young piano player named Rosco Gordon, who had first come to see him in February 1951.

Sam Phillips had succeeded in placing Gordon with the Biharis, and now he moved him to Chess after the fallout from ''Rocket 88''.

For the first Chess session Phillips secured a sloppy-drunk song called ''Booted'', which he encouraged Gordon to deliver with slurred diction and an appropriately booting tenor sax solo. The record was underpinned by a primitive, loping shuffle that Phillips later dubbed ''Roscoe's Rhythm''. Released on Chess at the end of 1951, ''Booted'' rose quickly up the rhythm and blues charts and eventually captured the top slot. The only problem was that the Biharis considered Gordon to be still under their contract. Ike Turner, in his new role as the Biharis A&R representative in Memphis, hastily rerecorded Gordon singing ''Booted'' for RPM.

The complexities mounted when Phillips signed another artist to Chess whom the Biharis considered theirs, a singer who was perhaps the greatest of Phillips' discoveries during the years he recorded rhythm and blues.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR ROSCO GORDON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE 1951 FOR DUKE/CHESS RECORDS

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE AUGUST 1951
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

In an interview with John Floyd, Rosco Gordon said that WDIA's David James Mattis set up the meeting for him at Sam Phillips' studio. In some biographical entry, Rosco gave two other accounts of how he came to the Memphis Recording Service, but the account given to Floyd seems more plausible. ''The only reason I did it was for the wine money'', said Rosco. ''I didn't have sense enough to be nervous. Sam was very nice and he had this song that Courtney Harris wrote called ''Booted'', and he asked if I could play it''. Turns out he could. The mystery of Courtney Harris's identity has never been solved. The original composer credit said T. Courtney and R. Henry, the latter being a Beale Street bar owner, Robert Henry. Today, the song is registered to J. Courtney and David Henry. It's also registered as a Rosco Gordon composition. If it's ever featured in a movie, some lawyers will doubtless figure it out. The song itself, and with its cheerful celebration of the pleasures of alcohol, seemed just right for Rosco's breezy, boozy style. Sam Phillips told Rosco to put himself in the spirit of the song, which Rosco conceded, ''by me being already halfway raunchy'', he had no trouble doing, and they got a take that everybody was pleased with in no time.

01 – "BOOTED" – B.M.I. - 3:04
Composer: - J. Courtney-David Henry
Publisher: - Arc Music Corp
Matrix number: - U 7375 Master
Recorded: - August 1951
Released: - December 15, 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1487-A < mono
BOOTED / LOVE YOU TILL THE DAY I DIE
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-14 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

Many of Rosco Gordon's records from this era give the impression that you've arrived midway through a party and the band's already seen off the first jug of moonshine. This ramshackle masterpiece is no exception, from John Murry Daley's machine-gun snare at the beginning, to his lapse onto the on-beat during Willie Sims' increasingly psychotic sax solo, to the Keith-Moon-are-you-listening? confusion at its end. In between is Rosco's tale of being jilted and his planned revenge, delivered in a lazy vocal style which is in fact a wicked parody of the Charles Brown school of singing. Sam Phillips thought it was so good, he leased versions to both Chess and RPM Records. The resulting furore raged over Christmas 1951 and was resolved early in the New Year, when Chess Records got Howlin' Wolf and RPM got Rosco Gordon. No guessing who got the better deal.

02 - "LOVE YOU TILL THE DAY I DIE"* – B.M.I. - 3:17
Composer: - Bobby Bland
Publisher: - Burton LTD
Matrix number: - U 7376 Master
Recorded: - August 1951
Released: - December 15, 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1487-B < mono
LOVE YOU TILL THE DAY I DIE / BOOTED
Reissued: - 2010 Jasmine Records (CD) 500/200rpm JASCD 564-1 mono
BOBBY BLAND - IT'S MY LIFE, BABY

Rosco Gordon volunteered that his chauffeur's cousin, Robert Bland, himself a singer, whose mother had a popular restaurant on Third just off Beale Street, had recently driven him to a gig in Arkansas, and when Rosco got caught up in a dice game in the back room, had filled in very effectively with a set of his own, featuring Rosco's ''Love You Till The Day I Die''. Sam Phillips recorded the young man, Bobby Bland, doing that song, and, although all of Rosco's records to date had been released on Modern, sent off both Rosco's and Bobby's acetates to Leonard Chess. It was one of the last sessions that Sam cut on acetate, as he prepared to convert to tape, a process he had held off on until they were able to eliminate some of the high-frequency hiss endemic to the size of the magnetic particles used to make the tape. But now at a time when he had no idea if he was even going to survive, let alone succeed in this difficult business, he went out and bought a top-of-the-line 900-P Presto tape recorder. He never wavered in his belief that if he failed, he would at least know that he had given it his all.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rosco Gordon - Vocal and Piano
Bobby Bland - Vocal*
Willie Wilkes - Saxophone
Adolph Duncan - Saxophone
Unknown - Bass
John Murry Daley - Drums

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

AUGUST 1951

Probably studio sessions for Howlin' Wolf and Joe Hill Louis at the Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee.

Pee Wee (Brad) Suggs, guitarist with the Slim Rhodes Band but currently in the Army, recorded for 4-Star while on furlough from Fort Ord.

AUGUST 2, 1951 THURSDAY

Andrew Gold is born in Burbank, California. Known for his pop hit ''Lonely Boy'' and for writing the theme to ''The Golden Girls'', Gold plays guitar and/or sings background on hits by Linda Ronstadt and Wynonna Judd, and writes Judd;s ''I Saw The Light''.

AUGUST 4, 1951 SATURDAY

Carl Smith recorded ''Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way'' in the afternoon at the Castle Studio in Nashville's Tulane Hotel.

AUGUST 10, 1951 FRIDAY

Hank Williams recorded ''Half As Much'' and ''Baby, We're Really In Love'' during an evening session at Nashville's Castle Studio. He also cuts ''I'm Sorry For You, My Friend'', a song he re-recorded it in December this year.

AUGUST 11, 1951 SATURDAY

Following his performance on the Grand Ole Opry, Lefty Frizzell is arrested for contributory delinquency, stemming for a dalliance with an under-age girl in Little Rock on April 1.

Hank Williams hits number 1 in Billboard's country chart with ''Hey, Good Lookin'''.

AUGUST 13, 1951 MONDAY

Webb Pierce recorded ''Wondering'' in an evening session at Nashville's Castle Recording Studio in the Tulane Hotel.

Dan Fogelberg is born in Peoria, Illinois. His 1985 album ''High Country Shows'' features Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill and Doc Watson, and his supporting tour leads to the formation of The Desert Rose Band.

Fiddler Hubert Dwane ''Hoot'' Hester is born in Louisville, Kentucky. A member of the Grand Ole Opry house band, he appears on hits by Conway Twitty, Dan Seals, Steve Wariner and Rocky Van Shelton.

AUGUST 14, 1951 TUESDAY

''Cyclone Fury'' appears in movie theaters, with Charles Starrett, the Durango Kid protecting an orphaned Indian boy. Smiley Burnette and Merle Travis also appear.

Columbia released Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' ''Don;t Get Above Your Raisin''', destined to become a hit 30 years later for Ricky Skaggs.

AUGUST 15, 1951 WEDNESDAY

Hank Williams begins a concert tour, sponsored by the Hadacol medicinal company, that teams him with comedians Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Minnie Pearl, Jack Benny and Jimmy Durante.

Fourteen-year-old Merle Haggard is picked up for robbing a liquor store in a case of mistaken identity. Released five days later when the real criminals are caught, he expects to be tried as an adult: he was carrying a fake I.D. that said he was 18.

Sam Phillips had become embroiled in yet another business misunderstanding, this time with Leonard Chess. On this day, just before Howlin' Wolf's epochal single came out (Chess 1479), Sam put down $1,000 for a bus for Jackie Brenston. He had argued long and loud against it. He kept telling Leonard that Jackie didn't need a bus, Jackie couldn't afford a bus, Jackie didn't even have a band to carry around in a bus at this point. But Leonard Chess was under constant pressure from his biggest star. Sam could understand, Jackie wanted a bus. And Leonard just said, ''Find him a damn bus. I'll pay''.

Sam Phillips found a guy named Perry Little, who piddled around on the edges of show business and drove for the black county schools. He had an old Flexible passenger bus for sale, it looked pretty sharp, but when Sam asked him about it, Little said, ''Well, I have to tell you, Mr. Phillips, the reason I'm getting rid of it is that it don't get any mileage on it''. So Sam got back to Leonard, and by this time Leonard was so committed he couldn't have backed out even if he had wanted to. Sam took Jackie out to see the bus, ''and, boy, you would've thought it was a Rolls-Royce or something'', Jackie was so excited. Leonard told him to go ahead and make the deal, Leonard would send a cashier's check the next day. As Sam recalled, he put the money down, but then the check didn't arrive, ''and so here I was with Perry Little, I had promised him he had a deal. And I'm trying to think where to get the money. I got some of it from, Hoyt Wooten's brother, S.D. I rounded up the rest some way or the other. But do you know, I never got the money out of Leonard Chess for the bus''.

It remained a thorn in his side all through the fall, as he continued to make payments on a bus that, as Sam had predicted, was never really fit to be on the road. Each time it broke down Sam was out a little more money, and the last time, it had to be towed back to Memphis, where it sat on the street just off Hernando until Sam finally had it towed to his own driveway at 1928 Vinton Avenue, Memphis.

AUGUST 17, 1951 FRIDAY

Ralph Stanley is seriously injured in an auto accident near Raleigh, North Carolina. During his recovery, Bill Monroe drops plans to bring The Stanley Brothers on as members of his backing band.

Columbia released Lefty Frizzell's ''Travellin' Blues''.

AUGUST 18, 1951 SATURDAY

Rosco Gordon's ''Saddled The Cow'' (RPM 324) enters the local charts in Oakland, California.

AUGUST 19, 1951 SUNDAY

Bass player John Deacon is born in Leicester, England. He joins Queen, whose 1980 pop hit ''Crazy Little Thing Called Love'' becomes a country success when remade by Dwight Yoakam in 1999, two years before the band takes its place in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.

AUGUST 22, 1951 WEDNESDAY

Hank Snow is injured in a serious automobile accident in Nashville. He flips the car twice, hitting a parked car and a telephone pole. He is taken to General Hospital with a skull fracture and multiple lacerations.

AUGUST 24, 1951 FRIDAY

George Jones is jailed for failing to make support payments to his wife, Dorothy, who had filed for divorce a month earlier.

AUGUST 28, 1951 TUESDAY

Wayne Osmond is born in Ogden, Utah. The brother act The Osmonds becomes a major pop group during the 1970s, then moves into country for the hit ''I Think About Your Lovin'''. They sing harmony on Conway Twitty's ''Heartache Tonight'' in 1983.

AUGUST 30, 1951 THURSDAY

''Al Morgan'' is broadcast for the last time on the DuMont TV network, concluding a two-year run. During the variety series', first season, the host earned his only country hit with ''Jealous Heart''.

AUGUST 31, 1951 FRIDAY

Five-year-old Neil Young wakes up at his home in Omemee, Ontario, in pain. He is taken to a Toronto hospital, where he is diagnosed with polio.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR THE EVANGELIST GOSPEL SINGERS OF ALABAMA
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR CHESS RECORDS 1951

MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: POSSIBLY AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 1951
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

This recording session is not logged in the MRS files, but the Chess Records archives indicate that the masters were purchased from Sam Phillips.

This time the quartet turns to the classic from the dusty hymnal on the table. Credited to a Georgia-born white Baptist minister, James C. Moore, ''Where We'll Never Grown Old'' has been recorded by a Who's Who of gospel performers, including Smith's Sacred Singers, the Vaughn Quartet and Aretha Franklin as well as a wide range of country singers including Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, George Jones and Eddy Arnold. This is one of the first black gospel recordings of the song. On this version you keep waiting for the boys to shake loose of the slow, free tempo, as they did on ''Leaving On The Lord'', but they never do it. That they do offer, however, is a narration that includes a passing plea for world peace. You can be certain that the hymnal version of the song didn't include any such words.

01 - "NEVER GROW OLD" – B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U-7377 Master
Recorded: - Possibly August/September 1951
Released: - December 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1486-A < mono
NEVER GROW OLD / WALK IN THE LIGHT
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-21 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

On ''Walk In The Light'' the Evangelists are back for another of their Chess outings of indeterminate provenance. If the source is Sam Phillips, then this is almost certainly from a different session than the one producing the first Evangelist disc. The piano is buried more deeply in the mix and there is a driving bass sound throughout. Is it a partial drum kit? Somebody's foot on the floor? There is no pitch to that bass sound so it can't have been sung or provided by a stringed instrument. In any case, it fills in a hole in the sonic range quite effectively. Likewise, handclapping helps to drive the record. All told, this is a good example of jubilee style in full flower. If you listen carefully, you'll hear the ''baser'' singing the wordless part that a Fender bass would play in just a few short years.

02 - "WALK IN THE LIGHT" – B.M.I. - 3:11
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U-7377 Master
Recorded: - Possibly August/September 1951
Released: - December 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single > Chess 1486-B < mono
WALK IN THE LIGHT / NEVER GROW OLD
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-10-20 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

03 - "JESUS (IS MY FRIEND)" – B.M.I. - 1:58
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Possibly August/September 1951
Released: - 2010
First appearance: - Macomba Records (CD) 500/200rpm Macomba 3905 mono
WINDY CITY WONDERS ON SOUTH COTTAGE GROVE

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Evangelist Gospel Singers of Alabama consisting of:
Willie McInstry - Lead Vocal
Leroy Terry - Tenor and Piano
Willie Banks - Baritone Vocal
John Davis - Bass Vocal
Unknown - Drums and Vocal Effect

 For Biography of Evangelist Gospel Singers of Alabama see: > The Sun Biographies <
The Evangelist Gospel Singers Chess recordings can be heard on the playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©