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1954 SESSIONS (6)
June 1, 1954 to June 30, 1954

Unknown Sessions

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JUNE 1954

Roy Orbison graduates from Wink High School, Wink, Texas.

Duke Records releases a new recording of Little Junior Parker's "Sittin' Drinkin' And Thinkin'" (the version recorded at Sun Records in March was not released).

Another one that got away. B.B. King celebrates five years in showbiz: he grosses $480,000 per year from personnel appearances, and is near the top of the Rhythm and Blues charts with "You Upset Me Baby".

Chess Records built their own studio at Cottage Grove, Chicago. They announce that in future they will record all their own product (although they will actually continue licensing material in throughout the 1950s and well into the 1960s.

In June 1954, WDIA increased its signal power significantly to 50,000 watts, covering not just the Memphis area but the entire South. This was a big success with sponsors, and it cemented the station's place in the local black community. According to Rufus, ''I don't care what - if it was said on WDIA, that was it. They would argue you down. They'd say, I heard it on WDIA, and that was it''. By this time, Rufus had another Saturday morning show, 'Boogie For Breakfast', and he was on with the 'Hoot 'N' Holler' show every night from 9.30 to 11pm starting the party with "I'm young and loose and full of juice/ We're all feeling gay though we ain't got a dollar/ So let's all get together and hoot 'n' holler''. Dora Todd, a teacher at Washington High said: "Most folks in the 1950s may not have been able to tell you who the mayor or governor was, but they sure knew the names of Nat Williams and Rufus Thomas''.

Eunice Kathleen Waymon (blues-singer Nina Simone) takes a job as singer-pianist in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the Midtown Bar and Grill and decide to use the stage name Nina Simone.


Singer/songwriter Dan Hill is born in Toronto. His pop single ''Sometimes When We Touch'' is remade by Mark Gray and Tammy Wynette, and he writes the Mark Wills hit ''I Do (Cherish You)'' and ''She's In Love'', plus Sammy Kershaw's ''Love Of My Life''.


Calling it a money-saving move, several companies make the seven-inch single an industry standard.


Bass player Bryan Grassmeyer is born in Nebraska. He becomes a founding member of The Gibson/Miller Band, playing on their lone hit, ''Texas Tattoo''. He leaves the band before it recorded its second album.

Playwright Maxwell Anderson marries his third wife, Gilda Hazard. He is a co-writer of ''September Song'', destined to become a country hit for Willie Nelson 25 years later.


Faron Young recorded ''A Place For Girls Like You'' at Nashville's Castle Studio.


Ferlin Husky joins the Grand Ole Opry, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

JUNE 14, 1954 MONDAY

The words "under God" are added to the United States Pledge of Allegiance signed into law.


Terry Gibbs is born in Miami, Florida. On the heels of her pop/country hit ''Somebody's Knockin''', she wins the Country Music Association's first Horizon award, designed to honor new and developing artists in 1981.

Guitarist and banjo player Bruce Watkins is born in Bonne Terre, Missouri. He plays on a host of Alan Jackson hits, plus George Jones' ''Choices'', Jamie O'Neals's ''Trying To Find Atlantis'' and the Dolly Parton/Ricky Van Shelton duet ''Rockin' Years''.

JUNE 18, 1954 FRIDAY

WCBR becomes the second Memphis station targeted exclusively to African Americans. The following day, WDIA ups its wattage to 50,000, thereby blanketing the Delta. In 1956, WBRC is acquired by the OK Group in Louisiana and chances its call letters to WLOK, call-letters previously used by a hillbilly station in Lima, Ohio. One of WLOK's disc jockeys, Chester McDowell aka Hunky Dory, later brings in a group to record at Sun Records.

JUNE 20, 1954 SUNDAY

''Corral Cuties'' makes its debut. The short western film features Tennessee Ernie Ford, who sings ''Anytime'' plus Molly Bee, Billy Strange and Cliffie Stone.

JUNE 21, 1954 MONDAY

Columbia released Carl Smith's ''Go Boy, Go''.


Ernest Tubb recorded ''Two Glasses, Joe'' in the early afternoon at the Castle Studio in Nashville's Tulane Hotel.

JUNE 25, 1954 FRIDAY

Keyboard player David Paich is born in Los Angeles. Best known as a member of the rock band Toto, he also appears as a supporting musician on the Glen Campbell hits ''Rhinestone Cowboy'' and ''Southern Nights''.


Elvis Presley has a spur-of-the-moment tryout with Sam Phillips at the Sun Recording Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. The song ''Without You'' that Sam Phillips brought back from his Nashville trip continued to haunt him. There was something about it, for all of its sentimentally, there was a quality of vulnerability about it, and Sam thought more and more that he'd like to have someone come in and give it a try. The only one who to mind was the kid who had stopped by the previous summer on July 18, 1953 and for $4 cut a personal record ''My Happiness''. Like the singer on the demo, like the Prisonaires' Johnny Bragg, he was unmistakably influenced by the Ink Spots' lead singer, Bill Kenny, and in fact, one side of the two-sided acetate was the Ink Spots standard ''That's When Your Heartaches Begin''. The boy had come in to cut on January 4, 1954, another personal vanity record, ''It Wouldn't Be The Same Without You'' backed by ''I'll Never Stand In Your Way'', Sam couldn't image that he was more than a year or so out of high school, and evidently he stopped by from time to time to talk with Marion Keisker, Sam was well aware of that fact because Marion was going on about him. So he had Marion call him.

Elvis arrived he would say in later years, almost before Miss Keisker hung up the phone, and for the first time Sam really had the opportunity to take his measure. He was nineteen-years-old, a good-looking boy with acne on his neck, long sideburns, and long, greasy hair combed in a ducktail that he had keep patting down, but what struck Sam most was his quality of genuine humility, humility mixed with intense determination. He was innately, Sam thought, one of the most introverted people who had ever come into the studio, but for that reason one of the bravest, too. He reminded Sam of many of the great early blues singers who had come into his studio, ''his insecurity was so markedly like that of a black person''. See: > Elvis Sun Sessions / Elvis 1954 1 / June 26, 1954 < 

JUNE 28, 1954 MONDAY

Ava Barber is born in Knoxville, Tennessee. She earns a minor hit with ''Bucket To The South'' in 1979 while a regular on ''The Lawrence Welk Show''.

Capitol released Wesley and Marilyn Tuttle's ''Never''.


R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles, of The Blackwood Brothers, die in a plane crash in Clanton, Alabama. The group's ''His Hand In Mine'' is named one of country's 500 greatest singles in the Country Music Foundation book ''Heartaches By The Number''.

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