ON THE ROAD WITH JESSIE CARTER – ''One morning I was listening to the local radio station, WTUP, and Gene had a program on at that time. I
think it was just him and Carl. This is probably around 1953. I had been playing the guitar a little myself so I decided to go over there one Saturday morning to check them out. The first time I went over, I just listened. The second time I asked if I could
play with them on the shoe. He said, 'Yeah, man. Bring your guitar and come along'. And so I joined the band''.
''Then this guy I had gone to school with named John Green,
a fiddle player, he comes along. The this other boy comes along named Talmadge Hester. And he plays the guitar. So now we have three guitar players: me and Gene and Hester''.
decided three guitars was too much and somebody had to go to playing bass. So I went down to Witt's Music Store in Tupelo and got me an old upright Kay bass. I got pretty good on the thing and that started my bass playing days''.
''The group got pretty good. We had been playing together about two or three years and there really weren't many bands around Tupelo that could touch us. One of the first thrills we had was they were booking
Elvis and Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins in the National Guard Armory, Mississippi (The actual date appears to have been December 12, 1955). We opened that show up with ''Truck Driving Man''. We felt so good afterwards; we got as good a hand as Johnny cash.
Now Perkins and Elvis, that was something else again. But they brought us back out on stage. For a bunch of old country boys just starting up, that felt pretty good. We just went on from there. It gave us a lift we really needed''.
''Gene was real creative when it came to writing. He was always thinking. We could be just going down the road and he'd think of something. 'Give me a piece of paper, give me a pen'. Gene and me and Carl, we
lived close together. We were together at least 60 hours a week. We were all the time playing, coming up with stuff. If they weren't at my house, I was at their house''.
and I and Gene were part of those tours through Ontario, Canada back in the late 1950s. We were playing in Toronto, Kitchener, London, Hamilton, Windsor... Clubs like the Brass Rail, The Coq d'Or, the Flamingo Lounge. I remember we finished about a week before
Conway Twitty so we drove over to Hamilton to see him at the Flamingo and we sat in with him. We had the best time... just tore that place up. A lot of us from Sun made that tour. Riley was there too. When we got black, I played with guys like John Hughey
– a fine steel guitar player and a good old country boy. He was with Slim Rhodes at the time but me and him used to do side jobs together. WE played out at the Naval Base together. Reggie Young is another guy I played with for three or four years. He's
a tough guitar player. I also played a lot at Hi''.
''I was playing clubs with Carl. We played in Memphis at a place called Little Abner's Supper club. At the time, Joe
Cuoghi, who owned Hi Records told Ace Cannon that he was going to release a single on him (''Tuff'') and he ought to be looking to put together a band of his own. Ace came into the club and listened to me and Carl for about two hours. Then he told us he wanted
to hire us to go on the road with him. That's when Carl and I left Gene and went off with Ace Cannon. Gene worked as a single, playing with house bands in Memphis. He did a lot of singing with the Bill Black Combo and he also came and sang with us after me
and Carl had been with Ace for about a year or so. The bookings would say ''Gene Simmons and the Ace Cannon Combo''. I stayed on the road with Ace for quite a few years''.
we left Sun back then as kids, we had nothing to show for it. No paperwork. No recordings. If something didn't come out on a single, it just stayed in the can. We didn't even leave with an old 78 acetate. When someone comes into my studio today I make sure
they leave with something. I'll burn them a CD whether they have any more or not. I've gotten a lot from this business and I want to give something back''.
LIFE IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS BY CARL SIMMONS - ''I had really been around a guitar all my young life. I was only about 15, maybe a little younger, when I got my own guitar. Both my sisters were musicians. Agnes played rhythm guitar and Izetta
played mandolin. My sisters were actually playing on the radio when I was a kid. I picked the mandolin up first by my sister Agnes taught me chords on the guitar so I knew a little something even before I got my own. I was listening to a lot of different music.
I spent plenty of time listening to the Opry and the country stars, but I also liked big band music. I loved Les Paul and Chet Atkins. My heroes are really guitar players''.
was mostly Sam who recorded us. Jack Clement did a couple of the later sessions but it was really mostly Sam. We were up at Sun during a lot of other people's sessions. We were there when Jerry Lee recorded ''High School Confidential''. It was a pretty basic
studio, not very sophisticated, but it sounded great to us''.
''Sam was pretty impatient with us. We were more or less a bluegrass band when we went up to Sun. We had
our own radio show. But Sam just didn't think he could sell it. He was very successful and nobody can have that much luck. He knew what he was doing. He couldn't necessarily tell you what he wanted, but he sure knew it when he heard it. I remember Sam playing
us a very early session he had cut on Johnny Cash. (Note: ''Cry Cry Cry'' (Sun 221) was cut in May 1955). He was very excited about it. He told us, 'This guy is going to be as big as Hank Williams'. We didn't think it sounded so good at the time, but he was
''We did a lot of shows with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins. We did shows with Elvis, Charlie Rich. I worked with Charlie personally myself for a
while. Sam told me that one of his biggest disappointments was never really getting a big hit on Charlie Rich. He had ''Lonely Weekends'' but he believed there was much more there''.
was on the road with the Bill Black Combo for about a year and did sessions with them at Hi Records. I probably played on 60-70% of the sessions he did. Me and Reggie Young, he was the other guitar player they used. Gene was working as a vocalist with the
Bill Black Combo when we were on the road. I recall a package tour we were all on with Brenda Lee, Fabian, Chubby Checker..''.
''Hi Records was actually a lot like a
family. There'd be disagreements or a bit of jealously here and there. Bill Black got upset with Ace Cannon when he had that big hit record on ''Tuff''. Ace had been Bill's sax player but after that hit record, Ace left Bill and went out on his own. I worked
with Ace on the road for about four or five years and on all his sessions''.
''Joe Cuoghi wanted to cut ''Haunted House'' using Sam the Sham and the Bill Black Combo.
Sam wouldn't do it for some reason and Ray Harris asked for Gene. So Gene came in with Bill's combo, they set up and did it in two takes. And it's a million seller. That's the way things happen sometimes''.
''Almost anyone can be made to sound good today, at least in the studio. It's a little different out on the road. It's harder to cover up all the flaws out there. Although today the sound system are getting more and more elaborate.
You can fill a whole tractor trailer with equipment to put on the stage. When we were recording, it was live off the floor and when we were out on the road, it was just a station wagon with a guitar, a bass and a couple of amps. I remember being on the road
with Elvis. Him and Scotty and Bill with a guitar in the car and the big bass out on top of the Cadillac. That was it. The whole band''.
JUNE 20, 1955 MONDAY
The movie ''Webb Pierce And His Wonderin' Boys'' debuts in theaters. Hank Penny, Sue Thompson, Red Sovine and Johnny Burnette also appear in the film, which includes rendition of ''Slowly''
and ''In The Jailhouse Now''.
Red Hot was issued on Sun 219 on 20 June 1955 and it received favourable reviews though Sun's limited promotional efforts were being put
behind Johnny Cash's first hit Cry Cry Cry, released the next day.
JUNE 21, 1955 TUESDAY
Cry, Cry" backed with "Hey! Porter" (Sun 221) is released under the name Johnny Cash. Cash had been christened simply "J.R" and had been dubbed "John" later in life. It was Sam Phillips who coined "Johnny". Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant were dubbed the
Tennessee Two. They agreed to divide the royalties on an equal three way split. The original compositions were credited solely to Cash although the substance of a lawsuit brought by Luther Perkins' family and Marshall Grant was that they had contributed to
almost every composition during the endless rehearsals. It was one of the biggest thrills of his life, Cash often said, to hear his record played on the radio for the first time. For the first time, too, he was beginning to think, ''I might can make a living
at it, and I won't have to do all those other things I don't want to do, like be a policeman or work as a disc jockey or a salesman, maybe, you know, by the end of the year I might make enough to pay the rent''. But when Cash took a promotional copy to Elvis'
manager, WMPS disc jockey Bob Neal, and Neal dropped it and broke it, ''I thought my world had ended. I didn't think they'd make another one!''.
Also this day, the singles
Sun 219 ''Red Hot'' b/w ''No Greater Love'' by Billy Emerson (Sam Phillips wrote to West Coast pressing plant operator Nate Duroff, was ''taking off big and going white, even though, other Emerson releases have been strictly for the Negro trade''); Sun 220
''Homesick For My Baby'' b/w ''Lookin' For My Baby'' by Little Milton and Sun 222 ''Don't Do That!'' b/w ''Sittin' By The Window'' by The Five Tinos are released.
22, 1955 WEDNESDAY
Carl Smith recorded ''Don't Tease Me'' during an evening session at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.
Hank Thompson recorded ''Don't Take It Out On Me'' during an evening session at the Capitol Studios on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.
25, 1955 SATURDAY
Wade Moore and Dick Penner are on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, Texas, singing ''Hey Miss Fannie'' and ''Dance With Me, Henry'', appearing alongside
Charline Arthur, Sonny James, and Jimmy Patton.
JUNE 26, 1955 SUNDAY
opens for Ernest Tubb at a free concert beneath the Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park. The show draws 15,000 people.
JUNE 27, 1955 MONDAY
Capitol released a double-sided Faron Young single, ''All Right'' and the flip-side ''Go Back You Fool''.
released Kitty Wells' double-sided ''There's Poison In Your Heart'' and ''I'm In Love With You''.
JUNE 30, 1955 THURSDAY
The movie ''Wichita'' opens with Joel McCrea, Vera Miles, Lloyd Bridges and Peter Graves in starring roles. Tex Ritter sings the title track.