CONTAINS
For audio recordings click on the available > buttons <
> Back 1953 Sun Schedule <

1953 SESSIONS (8)
August 1, 1953 to August 31, 1953

Studio Session for Bonnie Turner, August 2, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Johnny O'Neal, August 2, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for The Prisonaires, August 3, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Junior Parker, August 5, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Earl Hooker, August 10, 1953 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Onie Wheeler, August 29, 1953 / Okeh Records

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

AUGUST 1953

Jud Phillips is in Shreveport, Louisiana, negotiating with distributor Stan Lewis to get Sun product played on the radio shows which Lewis sponsors. Jud's field reports indicate a "terrific advance reaction" to "Tiger Man".

According to the trade press, Sun 187 "Feelin' Good" is starting to sell significantly in in Atlanta.

Big Mama Thornton recorded "Hound Dog" with Johnny Otis and his band.

AUGUST 1953

The Soviet Union announces it has tested its own hydrogen bomb during August of 1953. The version that they tested was a “Layer Cake” bomb, a smaller and more portable version of the hydrogen bomb compared to what the US had tested in November of 1952. This announcement helped to increase the tension between the USSR and United States during the Cold War. It also greatly escalated the arms race between the two powers.

AUGUST 2, 1953 SUNDAY

Studio session with Bonnie Turner at Sun Records, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee.

AUGUST 1953

Following the success of ''Rocket 88'' on Chess in 1951, and the ensuing arguments about money and artist credits, Ike Turner spent much of the next three years employed by the Bihari brothers to help find and record blues musicians across the South. Starting with Howlin' Wolf in September 1951, Ike recorded in Memphis with various singers, he produced sessions in Little Rock that November. During 1952 he recorded with Houston Boines, Boyd Gilmore, Charly Booker, Elmore James, Junior Parker and others.

In January 1952 he was in Greenville, then in Canton, and during that year he was recording in makeshift studios in Memphis, Little Rock, West Memphis and Clarksdale. He was also touring with the Kings Of Rhythm. According to a future King, Eugene Fox, Turner came back to Clarksdale sometime in the summer of 1953. In July, Ike brought Little Milton to Sun; in August, he returned with Johnny O'Neal. And now, Ike's Sun recordings with Bonnie are most likely to date from around the same time, although, as always with Ike, you're never really sure.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Off the back of his involvement in a raft of pre-Sun recordings made at 706 Union Avenue by rhythm and blues pioneers like Jackie Brenston, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King, Ike Turner was periodically apportioned studio time for his own needs.

As the itinerant leader of The Kings Of Rhythm, he introduced into the ranks a coquettish piano-player conveniently known as Bonnie Turner. One of the less-chronicled female acquaintances in Ike's life, she nevertheless showed great promise on the spirited "Love Is A Gamble". In March, 1953, pianist Bonnie Turner traveled from Clarksdale, Mississippi to Memphis with her then boyfriend/husband Ike, and recorded these titles for Sam Phillips.

STUDIO SESSION FOR BONNIE TURNER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY AUGUST 2, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - IKE TURNER

''Love Is A Gamble'' showcase Bonnie's stacato delivery, and her pleasant, nondescript voice. The pianist was a very emphatic boogie player. If, as seems likely, it was Bonnie, she was good, as Ike has said she was. Or it could be Ike. His adventures with the whammy bar and the cocaine spoon sometimes lead us to forget how good he was on piano.

> LOVE IS A GAMBLE <
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (2:12)
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30103-A-4 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 3 - DELTA RHYTHM KINGS
Reissued - August 2002 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 166094-3 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS

> LOVE IS A GAMBLE <
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:09)
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - August 2002
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 166094-4/21 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS

To the ''Rock Me Baby'' riff, Ike set some new words. Presumably he's playing guitar, with Bonnie at the piano. The result, as Sam Phillips and probably Ike himself knew, was not releasable. Bonnie's vocal just wasn't that good. Fast forward to 1962. Bluesman Frank Frost was in the new Sun studio and recorded ''old brother Jack he was a jelly roll king'' as ''Jelly Roll King'', this time to a Jimmy Reed beat. Fast forward again to 1969. With Bonnie long gone and Tina fronting the band, Ike revisited ''Rock Me Baby'' for their ''Outta Season'' LP. It proved that Ike's idea of how to approach the song hadn't changed much in sixteen years; it also proved how much he needed Tina. ''Outta Season'' by the way, was a neglected classic, at least in part for the jacket. On the front, Tina ate watermelon in whiteface; on the reverse, Ike did the same. The message that Ike and his producer, Bob Krasnow, wanted to get across was that in 1969 if you wanted to play the blues, you had to be white.

> OLD BROTHER JACK <
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:14)
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
It will special notice of "Old Brother Jack", which predates Frank Frost's
"Jellyroll King" by nine years and was plainly descended from the same source.
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30103-A-3 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 3 - DELTA RHYTHM KINGS
Reissued: - August 2002 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16609-4/2 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS

From the evidence at hand, Bonnie was unlikely to build a career around her vocal chops. She did, however, make a major - even if invisible - contribution to the history of popular music. Bonnie was a good enough keyboard player to allow Ike to relinquish the piano stool and concentrate on his newly purchased Fender Stratocaster. In fact, it might have been his faith in Bonnie's piano playing that allowed him to browse the shiney new electric guitars of Houck's music store in Memphis in the first place.

> WAY DOWN IN THE CONGO <
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:48)
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30103-A-8 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 3 - DELTA RHYTHM KINGS

CAMPING DOWN IN CANAAN'S LAND
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Marion Louise ''Bonnie'' Turner - Vocal and Piano
Ike Turner - Guitar & Vocal*
Jesse Knight Jr. - Bass
Willie Sims or Bob Prindell - Drums
Raymond Hill - Tenor Sax
Possibly Thomas Reed, James Wheeler - Saxophones

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOHNNY O'NEAL
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: SUNDAY AUGUST 2, 1953
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Johnny O'Neal had been in an earlier incarnation of the Kings of Rhythm, but left prior to ''Rocket 88'' to sign with King Records. Around the time that Ike Turner to Clarksdale in the summer of 1953, he brought O'Neal back into the fold. Eugene Fox joined in October and remembered that O'Neal left soon after. Sometime in-between, Turner married O'Neal's girlfriend, Alice. ''He was a fighting son-of-a-bitch'', said Turner. ''If I married her, he couldn't do nuthin'. One day, she thought I was going to Memphis, but the job was cancelled and I caught her on the porch with Johnny O'Neal's head in her lap''. Turner's memory of O'Neal as a ''fighting son-of-a-bitch'' is borne out by Eugene Fox's nickname for him ''Scarface brother''.

> DEAD LETTER BLUES <
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 97 - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (3:39)
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30103-B-2 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK – VOLUME 3 – DELTA RHYTHM KINGS
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-6/9 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

The opening verse is an adaptation of one of the most celebrated stanzas in the blues. Ida Cox's 1924 ''Death Letter Blues'' became part of Son House's 1930 ''My Black Mama Part ii'', and was in turn adapted into Muddy Waters'1950 recording of ''Sad Letter Blues''. (The tape box calls this song ''Death Letter Blues'', but a dead letter was one that was undeliverable; it should have been titled ''Death Letter Blues''). This variation on an immemorial theme genuflects toward the Kingdom of B.B. As impassioned as O'Neal's vocal is, he's overshadowed by Ike Turner on guitar. This was a commanding performance that did not deserve to languish so long on a shelf.

> DEAD LETTER BLUES <
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (3:37)
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-6-3 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-9/12 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

This was a routine that Ike Turner cooked up for his nightclub act. He'd do it with the stage lights out, and only the amp lights on. As a song, it had its roots deep in vaudeville and in records like Bessie Smith's ''Blue Spirit Blues'' in which she dreamed she was dead and led into Hell. When Phillips first logged the song, he called it ''Devil's Dream''. It could be Ike as the Devil and the Doctor. O'Neal seems to call the Devil ''Ike'' at one point, and he wouldn't be the last to do that. It's certainly Ike playing guitar and Phillips' notes indicated that Bonnie Turner was at the session so she is probably playing the part of ''Mary''.

> NIGHTMARE (JOHNNY'S DREAM) <
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (2:56)
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-6/10 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

> NIGHTMARE (JOHNNY'S DREAM) <
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (3:37)
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-6/4 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-9/13 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

This little psychodrama - which features the acting and musical talents of Ike and Bonnie Turner - was actually cut for release on Sun Records. Recorded in August 1953, it was mastered on both 78 and 45 rpm in January 1954 - but it somehow never quite made it onto the release schedule. The most likely scenario is that Sam Phillips ran short of cash and held this one back, alongside a couple of Mose Vinson sides which had been mastered at the same time. Meanwhile, Ike Turner decided the idea was too strong to be left on the back burner until Phillips' finances had improved, to which end he returned to Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he recorded essentially the same song as "Sinner's Dream", with Eugene Fox. He promptly sold it to the Chess brothers in Chicago, who lost no time in releasing it. Yet another version by Fox was produced by Ike Turner and flogged to RPM Records a few months later - whilst this original lay in the can for more than thirty years. (The take used here is different to that used on the original Sun Blues Box).

03(1) - "UGLY WOMAN" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953

> UGLY WOMAN <
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 96 - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:21)
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30103-B-1 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 3 - DELTA RHYTHM KINGS
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-9/11 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

> UGLY WOMAN <
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued (2:27)
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-6/5 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958

From the same session, this song, of course, has its origins deep in the dozens ("Your old lady is so ugly that...") welded to the "Rocket 88" riff. Things sound pretty spirited on this, the third take - although before the session was completed, Sam Phillips had the boys try the song ten times in all, and yet surprisingly, never released any of them. The lyrical content is strong throughout, and Ike Turner weighs in with a stinging guitar solo which never falls short of ideas on a memorable good-time record. (The take used here is different to that used on the original Sun Blues Box).

''Ugly Woman'' deserved to be on a record, and if Phillips' bankroll had been a little fatter, it might have been. Turner waited a couple of years before trying it again. With Billy Gayles aka Willie King singing, it finally appeared on Vita Records as ''Peg Leg Baby''.

UGLY WOMAN
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Takes 4-10 - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - August 2, 1953

> PEG LEG BABY <
Composer: - Johnny O'Neal Johnson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:26)
Recorded: - August 2, 1953
Released: - October 1985
First appearance: Krazy Kat Records (LP) 33rpm Krazy Kat KK 7427 mono
MEMPHIS BLUES - UNISSUED TRACKS FROM THE 1950S

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny O'Neal - Vocal
James Wheeler - Saxophone
Thomas Reed - Saxophone
Bonnie Turner - Piano
Ike Turner - Guitar & 2nd Vocal
Jesse Knight - Bass Guitar
Willie Sims – Drums

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

AUGUST 3, 1953 MONDAY

Songwriter/guitarist/producer Randy Scruggs is born to Earl Scruggs in Nashville. His credits include George Strait's ''Heartland'', Vince Gill's ''Go Rest High On That Mountain'' and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's ''Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Volume 2''.

Capitol released Hank Thompson's ''Yesterday's Girl''.

Jack Cardwell recorded ''Dear Jean''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

On this date, the Prisonaires came back to Memphis to cut a follow-up session that comprised "Softly And Tenderly", "My God Is Real", "Prisoner's Prayer", and "No More Tears", featuring Ike Turner in the unaccustomed role of church pianist. Note how Turner's intro to "Softly And Tenderly" is cloned from his intro to "Rocket 88". Releasing the two religious numbers, Sam Phillips neatly shot himself in the foot. The record sold poorly, and oblivion was beckoning when the group came back into the studio on October 17, 1953.

STUDIO SESSION FOR THE PRISONAIRES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY AUGUST 3, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Sam Phillips thought enough of this record to release it as The Prisonaires, July 1953 follow-up to their hit "Just Walkin' In The Rain". It was a risky venture that paid few commercial reworks, and did little to convince Sam Phillips that he could sell gospel music. Track 1 on this session radiates an undeniable energy and "live" feeling that nearly a half a century has done little to dilute. Two things of note: - one is the appearance of Ike Turner in the unexpected role of church pianist. The other is the joyous uptempo arrangement. Listen to a hundred other versions of "Softly And Tenderly" and you'll be lucky to find a single one that doesn’t' approach it as a pious dirge.

Recorded through the years by Elvis Presley (1956 Million Dollar Quartet), Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, and Countless others, ''Softly And Tenderly'' was written by Ohio businessman, Will Thompson, in 1880. The hymn remains immensely popular among white concregations, but was sung at the memorial service for Martin Luther King at the Elbenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 8, 1968. It's hard to know who or what inducted the Prisonaires to record it jubilee style for their second single.

> SOFTLY AND TENDERLY <
Composer: - Will Thompson-Public Domain
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Babb Music
Matrix number: - U 82 - Master (2:30)
Recorded: - August 3, 1953
Released: - September 1953
First appearance: - Sun Record (S) 78/45rpm single Sun 189-B mono
SOFTLY AND TENDERLY / MY GOD IS REAL
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1/28 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

In its way, the Prisonaires version of ''My God Is Real'' this classic is as good as any other, and others who've recorded include Mahalia Jackson, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Al Green. The piece was written in 1944 by an African American minister and hymnodist, Kenneth Morris, as ''Yes, God Is Real''. ''There are some places I cannot go'' was one of the most awfully true lines on a Sun record. That said, the Prisonaires were getting out of the prison gates on a fairly regular basis, and on one of their Sunday forays into the free world they attended a service with the legendary Clara Ward and her choir. Ward had recorded ''My God Is Real'' in 1949 and made it her own until Mahalia Jackson took ownership of it. Inspired by Ward, the Prisonaires h olds a unique place among gospel records. Out of every hundred versions of this classic title, ninety nine of them are dirge like, but, with Ike Turner in the unaccustomed role of church pianist, the Prisonaires approach the tune with uncommon energy and enthusiasm that must have raised a few sanctified eyebrows. The recording has a strong live feel, abetted by handclapping and shouts. This may have truly been a one take wonder, a warmup effort that became a contender for release simply by the spontaneous joy it projected. That feeling is undiminished sixty years later.

The Prisonaires (above) at Tennessee State Penitentiary, Nashville, Tennessee, 1953. From left: Ed Thurman inspects cloth in prison textile school; Johnny Bragg clean the prison floors; Robert Riley, in his cell composing music, Marcell Sanders working in prison textile school; William Stewart and night warden; John Drue at rehearsal.

> MY GOD IS REAL*** <
Composer: - Kenneth Morris-Public Domain
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Babb Music - Morris Music
Matrix number: - U 81 - Master (2:28)
Recorded: - August 3, 1953
Released: - September 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 189-A mono
MY GOD IS REAL / SOFTLY AND TENDERLY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-1/27 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Only in the most technical sense is this a gospel recording. The subject matter is only remotely spiritual. More cynically, this is a pop record designed to capitalize on the unique status of the group.

Johnny Bragg delivers an impassioned lead vocal. There must have been special meaning to singing lines like "There are some places I can not go".

Written by Jim Proctor, a white Tennessee Bureau of Investigations official, the song gave Sam Phillips a change to garner more attention and airplay by capitalizing on the group's unusual status. At some point, it would have been desirable to establish the Prisonaires in the marketplace, and let them stand on the merits of their music, not the novelty of their situation. A "Prisoner's Prayer" with its hokey reference to 'cellblock 23', was a step in the opposite direction.

The vocal performance owes little to the classic quartet tradition, and equally little to then-current vocal group music. It centres more upon the lead singing of Johnny Bragg, dueting with bass singer Marcell Sanders. Sparse and effective instrumental support was provided by Ike Turner on electric guitar and William Stewart on acoustic guitar. The problem was that Sam Phillips had seen the coverage of ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'', and decided that the Prisonaires' story was more significant than their music. In pandering to that, he got it wrong. After a gospel single pairing ''Softly And Tenderly'' with ''My God Is Real'', this was another commercial mis-step.

> A PRISONER'S PTAYER** <
Composer: - James Proctor
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Memphis Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 85 - Master (2:38)
Recorded: - August 3, 1953
Released: - November 1, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 191-A mono
A PRISONER'S PRAYER / I KNOW
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2-3 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

> NO MORE TEARS <
Composer: - Johnny Bragg
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:30)
Recorded: - August 3, 1953
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15523-10 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal
John Drue - 2nd Tenor Vocal
William Stewart - Baritone Vocal and Guitar
Marcell Sanders - Bass Vocal
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal
Ike Turner - Piano* and Electric Guitar
Unknown - Bass**, possible Ike Turner

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

AUGUST 5, 1953

The movie ''From Here To Eternity'' premieres in theaters with cast member Merle Travis performing ''Re-Enlistment Blues'' and appearing in several scenes. The picture, starring Burt Lancaster, inspires the 1997 Michael Peterson hit of the same name.

Justin Tubb recorded four songs for Decca Records at Nashville's Tulane Hotel in his very first session.

Fiddler Larry Franklin is born in Whitewright, Texas. After a stint in Asleep At The Wheel, he becomes a Nashville session player in the 1990s, appearing on hits by Shania Twain, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire and Gretchn Wilson, among others.

Rex Allen investigates diamond smugglers in the Old West, as the western movie ''Down Laredo Way'' appears in theaters. Clayton Moore, known for his role as ''The Lone Ranger'', has a secondary role.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JUNIOR PARKER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: WEDNESDAY AUGUST 5, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

In those seminal times when the birth pangs of rhythm and blues could still be felt, such diversities as be bop, smooth ballads and foreboding saga songs were all considered fair game as influences upon the new genre. It is in the latter category that "Mystery Train"slots most fittingly for its author, the suave Junior Parker from Clarksdale, Mississippi. That other son of the same city, Ike Turner, acted as the go-between here, thereby earning his talent scout bonus from Sam Phillips.

The fight with Little Junior Parker that had been smoldering for more than six months was temporarily set aside when Sam Phillips brought him back into the Sun studio. Parker and his band the Blue Flames, cut three songs, including versions of "Love My Baby" and "Mystery Train"; the sessions were not successful ones. Parker had been touring with a package group of Duke Records' artists, and Don Robey was pursuing Parker to record for his label.

> MYSTERY TRAIN <
Composer: - Herman Parker-Sam C. Phillips
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Memphis Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 89 - Master (2:19)
Recorded: - August 5, 1953
Released: - November 1, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 192-A mono
MYSTERY TRAIN / LOVE MY BABY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2/5 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

This beautiful poised blues is one of the widely acknowledged genuine classics to emerge from Sam Phillips' early output. Everything meshes together so effectively that the end result is something considerably greater than the sum of its parts. Mind you, those parts are disarmingly simple: Junior's melodic song and high-pitched vocal; the gentle rhythm established by bass and drums; a breathy sax; an instantly-memorable guitar riff (whilst the piano is buried in the mix). The disc is a deeply affecting, personal and atmospheric blues - which sadly, stood precious little chance of emulating the success of its predecessor. But perhaps the greatest "mystery" is the derivation of the song's title, as at no point is it either used or made clear. When it originally appeared, "Mystery Train" was credited solely to Junior Parker and published by Memphis Music: but by the time Elvis Presley recorded it in 1955, Sam Phillips had added his name to the copyright (possibly in part settlement of Parker's contract dispute) and the publishing had been transferred to Phillips' Hi-Lo Music. The mellow tone of Parker's original contrasts sharply with Elvis Presley's rather more famous version, which exudes a brash confidence and coll assertiveness.

> LOVE MY BABY <
Composer: - Herman Parker
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Memphis Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 88 - Master (2:32)
Recorded: - August 5, 1953
Released: - November 1, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 192-B mono
LOVE MY BABY / MYSTERY TRAIN
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801-2/6 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

This extraordinary track certainly qualities for inclusion on any list of early rock and roll recordings - and it is also arguably one of the earliest Rockabilly records. However, because it originally appeared on the flip of "Mystery Train" it is frequently overlooked - but when Jud Phillips went out on the road in November 1953, many disc jockeys were picking up on "Love My Baby" as the follow up to "Feelin' Good". The track sports an instantly-catchy guitar riff (although the guitarist - Murphy - loses it momentarily, blowing a chord-change during the third verse), whilst Parker's high, creamy tenor soars over the instrumental backdrop. Three years later - when Sun's blues are was firmly consigned to back-catalogue status - Sam Phillips would play Junior Parker's uptempo numbers to his Rockabilly artists. instructing the guitarists to duplicate Floyd Murphy's riffs. Ironically, the guitar work on this track has crept into the psyche of a whole generation of Rockabilly and Rock guitarists who've probably never, ever heard of Junior Parker, much less guitarist Floyd Murphy. Perhaps the first to be influenced by this solo was Sun's most famous guitarist, Scotty Moore.

> LOVE MY BABY <
Composer: - Herman Parker-Sam C. Phillips
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - Unknown - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued (2:27)
Recorded: - August 5, 1953
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Rounder Records (CD) 500/200rpm Rounder CD SS 38-6 mono
MYSTERY TRAIN

> FEELIN' BAD <
Composer: - Herman Parker-Sam Phillips
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 87 & U 104 - Not Originally Issued (2:41)
Recorded: - August 5, 1953
"Feelin' Bad" were to have made it into the release schedules, such a pessimistic title would have scuppered any potential airplay.
The track was replaced at the eleventh hour with "Love My Baby".
Released: - November 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30135 mono
THE LEGENDARY SUN PERFORMERS - JUNIOR PARKER & BILLYLOVE
Reissued: - 1990 Rounder Records (CD) 500/200rpm CD SS 38-5 mono
MYSTERY TRAIN

It didn't take much thought to switch moods for this repetition of "Feelin' Good". Audibly, this is Floyd Murphy once again, although he takes a less demonstrative role, both in his solo and throughout the performance. The cause of Junior's malaise is his woman - naturally. Seems "some other guy was holdin' her tight" and Junior's solution is to slink off home and call her on the telephone. The idea of making your own answer record was a good one but the end result is rather mechanical. With Junior's defection, Sam Phillips might have considered putting this out to scotch any Duke releases - although perhaps his previous troubles with Chess and RPM Records dissuaded him from going down that road again.

Looked at another way, this is the weakest ''Feelin' Good'' squel in the Sun vaults. Sammy Lewis' and Willie Johnson's ''I Feel So Worried'', Hot Shot Love's ''Wolf Call Boogie'', and Albert Williams' ''Rumble Chillen'' ate better. Without ''Feelin' Good'', this would have been listenable, but as a sequel it offers nothing new.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Little Junior's Blue Flames consisting of
Herman Parker - Vocal
James Wheeler - Tenor Saxophone
Floyd Murphy - Guitar
William "Bill" Johnson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Houston Stokes or John Bowers - Drums

When Herman Parker's group reassembled at Sun in the fall, they had worked up two more countrified blues, "Love My Baby" and a "Feelin' Good" sequel, unimaginatively titled "Feelin' Bad". Sam Phillips originally scheduled those two cuts as Sun 192. However, at the last moment he replaced "Feelin' Bad" with "Mystery Train". One of the mysteries about "Mystery Train" is a stirring performance, though. The elements are disarmingly simple but they coalesce to the point where the finished product id truly more than the sum of its parts.

By contrast, "Love My Baby" is almost the first black rockabilly record (and those wanting too see just how well it adapts to the rockabilly treatment should check out Hayden Thompson's version on Rounder's Sun Rockabilly Anthology, SS 37). An interesting footnote to this track is that it once again reveals that, despite his eminence as a producer, Sam Phillips was totally uncomfortable with fadeout endings. He either shunned them or never mastered the rudimentary skill of producing one during Sun's peak blues years.

Released in November 1953, "Mystery Train"/"Love My Baby" failed to sustain the momentum of "Feelin' Good" and Junior Parker began to get itchy feet. In an unfortunate sidebar, Sam Phillips once again found himself in a legal dispute with Don Robey, this time over Parker's contract. Perhaps in part settlement, the name 'Phillips' now appears appended to 'Parker' whenever the composer credits are listed for "Mystery Train". Considering the number of times this title has been performed, that turn of events has been anything but trival.

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

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AUGUST 6, 1953 THURSDAY

Confederate Railroad's Mark DuFresne is born in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Heavily influenced by southern rock, the band earns 1990's hits with ''Queen Of Memphis'', ''Trashy Women'' and ''Daddy Never Was The Cadillac Kind''.

AUGUST 8, 1953 SATURDAY

Songwriter Todd Cerney is born in Detroit. He authors Restless Heart's ''I'll Still Be Loving You'' and Steve Holy's ''Good Morning Beautiful''.

AUGUST 9, 1953 SUNDAY

After an association with Columbia Records, The Stanley Brothers hold their first recording session in a five-year deal with Mercury.

''Old American Barndance'' airs on TV's Dumas network for the last time, after just six weeks in its Sunday night time slot. Tennessee Ernie Ford and Pee Wee King are regulars on the program.

AUGUST 10, 1953 MONDAY

Decca released Kitty Well's ''Hey, Joe''.

Studio session with Earl Hooker at Sun Records, Memphis, Tennessee.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR EARL HOOKER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: MONDAY AUGUST 10, 1953
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

Note: For some reason Sam Phillips marked the session up as "unproductive".

> JIVIN' BOOGIE <
Composer: Earl Hooker
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:32)
Recorded: - August 10, 1953
Released: - 1997
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8302-20 mono
706 UNION INSTRUMENTALS

> THE HUCKLEBUCK <
Composer: - Paul Williams-Andy Gibson-Alfred
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Tradition Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (3:05)
Recorded: - August 10, 1953
Earl Hooker's take on Paul Williams classic from 1949, is high on the list of outcast Sun masters. Its overlong shelf-life is doubtless attributable to the casual free-for-all that accounted for his fleeting parley at Sun.
Released: - September 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30126-A-4 mono
SUN: THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 11 - MEMPHIS BLUES SOUNDS
Reissued: - 1989 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUN 29 mono
BLUE GUITAR

In 1945, be-bop giant Charlie Parker recorded ''Now's The Time'', in 1948, Lucky Millinder began playing an adaptation of it called ''D-Natural Blues'', and Andy Gibson adapted Charlie Parker's "Now Is The Time" and called it "The Hucklebuck". Baritone saxman and bandleader Paul Williams recorded it in December 1948 and it remained in the Rhythm and Blues charts for 32 weeks after its entry on February 11, 1949. Earl Hooker manages to give some idea of the original when he moves from playing the main melody on single strings to a riff that approximates the sound of a horn section. The lyric exhorted dancers to "start a little movement in your sacroiliac", at a time when 'ignorance with style' ensures that the young can hardly pronounce the word, let alone spell it, its lucky that Hooker's version is purely instrumental.

Accordingly, Hooker plays riffs where the horn section should have been, and he plays single string fretted lead instead of slide. This was probably a set-opener to get folks in the mood to drink, dance, and place some money in the kitty, but it was never going to be a Sun record.

Earl Hooker, a cousin of John Lee Hooker, learned to play the guitar as a child in Chicago. He recorded widely in the early 1950s, sometimes as a sideman and sometimes under his own name as either guitarist or vocalist. Hooker came to Sun and ran through his on-stage repertoire hoping to impress Sam Phillips and get a recording contract. He got his contract but never had a release on Sun. Happily for us, Sam kept that audition tape where it could be discovered decades later.

DYNAFLOW BLUES
Composer: Earl Hooker
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - August 10, 1953

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Earl Hooker - Guitar
Willie "Pinetop" Perkins - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Edward Lee "Shorty" Irvin – Drums

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

AUGUST 14, 1953 FRIDAG

Ernest Tubb recorded ''Divorce Granted'' during an afternoon session at the Castle Studio in Nashville.

Patti Page makes the cover of TV Guide.

AUGUST 15, 1953 SATURDAY

Lula Grace Wood is officially divorced from Mearle Wood. Seven years later, she is destined to score her first hit record under the name Jan Howard.

AUGUST 17, 1953 MONDAY

Songwriter and guitarist Eddie Hill has a son, Gary Wayne Hill.

AUGUST 20, 1953 THURSDAY

Jean Shepard and Ferlin Husky recorded ''Forgive Me, John'' during an afternoon session at the Capitol Studios on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.

AUGUST 22, 1953 SATURDAY

Goldie Hill makes her debut appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

AUGUST 26, 1953 WEDNESDAY

Nearly 11 months after its debut, the Patti Page-hosted ''Scott Music Hall'' airs for the last time on NBC-TV.

AUGUST 29, 1953 SATURDAY

Future Sun recording star Onie Wheeler recorded four songs in his first session. One of them, ''Run Ém Off'', becomes a hit the following year after being re-recorded by Lefty Frizzell.

Bass player, Jerry Johnson joins Roy Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys, where she is billed as the Smokey Mountain Sweetheart.

Dobro player Cousin Jody returns to the Grand Old Opry stage at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium following an absence of several years.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Future Sun Records country singer, Onie Wheeler landing a gig on KSIM, Sikeston, Missouri. At that time, the Nelson Brothers, Doyal and Aldon J., and Ernest Thompson were working in factories in St. Louis and playing local hillbilly bars at night. They were originally from Sikeston and went back there often; on one of those trips they met Onie Wheeler.

Onie asked them to join him, and they decided to give up their day jobs, move back to Sikeston and try for a career in music. Billboard reported that Onie had started on KSIM in May 1952, the Nelson and Ernest Thompson probably joined him soon afterwards. They held down a regular show on KSIM and played the honky tonks all over north-east Arkansas, southern Illinois and southeast Missouri, but the trail from there to Nashville was not as straightforward as it might appear.

After a while, Onie Wheeler and the Nelsons decided that they had over-exposed themselves locally and should go to California. Every night they saved part of their earnings and put it into a California kitty. ''We'd saved about fifty bucks'', remembers Aldon J., ''so we decided to leave, go as far as we could in one day then find a club, maybe even play for tips. We left the women at home, and started out. We stopped the first night in Texarkana, another few nights in Lonview, Texas and then we ended up outside of Odessa in a place called Monahans. There was a club with cars as far as you could see. Doc Bryant was running a remote broadcast out of there. I guess you could spot musicians back then 'cause Doc walked right up and started talking to us. He told us to get our instruments and play. He loved us cause we were different from that Texas stuff. He offered to book us, and he got us a gig in Odessa for six months or so, before the place closed because of a liquor violation. Onie had a day job so he stayed in Odessa, and we headed off to Wichita, 'cause we heard it was wide open''.

''On the way to Wichita we stopped off to see Doc Bryant, who'd gone home to Chickasha, Oklahoma. He offered us a job with his band, so we stayed working the clubs and playing TV and radio. One night they called me to the phone. It was Onie. We hadn’t told him where we were, and he'd called clubs between Odessa and Wichita 'til he found us. He said the club in Odessa was open again and we should join him, so we went back''.

''One Night Little Jimmy Dickens played there and told us we oughta be recording, so we headed back to Missouri, loaded down the car with tapes of all our songs and went to Nashville. We tried everyone in town, then finally someone said, 'Go see Troy Martin over at the Tulane Hotel'. We went and played him ''Mother Prays Loud In Her Sleep''. Troy asked Onie what he wanted for the song, and Onie said wanted a recording contract. Troy said, 'You got it'''.

Troy Martin (real name Jerry Organ) was one of the first operators in the Nashville music scene. He had started his career back in the 1930s as a recording artist of no great distinction.

By the early 1950s he was working under several aliases depending upon which publishing company he was representing that week. Martin was especially tight with Don Law at Columbia who recalled their double-edged relationship in the following terms: ''Troy was a big help to me. He'd make suggestions and bring people to me. He'd leave the impression that if you want to get to Don Law, you've got to do through me', although I didn't find out about this until a lot later''.

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR ONIE WHEELER
FOR OKEH RECORDS 1953

CASTLE RECORDING STUDIO, TULANE HOTEL
EIGHT AVENUE / CHURCH STREET, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
OKEH SESSION: SATURDAY AUGUST 29, 1953
SESSION HOURS: 15:30-18:30
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – DON LAW

Landing Onie Wheeler's deal with the Okeh division of Columbia Records was not an act of altruism on Martin's part. He secured the publishing on Onie's material for Peer, whom he was representing in 1953, and half of the composer credit for himself under the pseudonyms ''Tony Lee'', ''George Sherry'' and ''B, Strange''. Columbia offered a two year contract at two percent to commence August 28, 1953. On that date, Onie cut four songs including two that became closely associated with him: ''Run 'Em Off'' and ''Mother Prays Loud In Her Sleep''. It was an astonishing debut. In fact, Martin had such faith in ''Mother Prays Loud In Her Sleep'', that he persuaded Flatt and Scruggs to record it the following day. Onie had written the song with the three-part harmony of Doyal, Aldon J., and himself in mind, and it is Dayal's stilling high tenore heard to such good effect on the bridge.

Troy Martin and Don Law chose ''Run Ém Off'' for the first single, though. It was the song that went over best on show dates, and although it didn't chart in Onie's hands, it made a strong impact, and, according to Nelson, eventually sold 250,000 copies. It's worth remembering that in those days the Billboard country chart only had fifteen positions: a record such as ''Run 'Em Off'' could sell well, but slowly, and never show up on the chart. Lefty Frizzell certainly sat up and took notice of it; he covered ''Run 'Em Off'' in November 1953, and charted briefly with it the following year. Onie's version had subtle, but telling, differences from the country mainstream of the day; the steel guitar (an instrument that he personally disliked) was absent, drums (still no-go on the Opry) were present and hustled the rhythm along, and solo honours were shared by the fiddle and harmonica.

01 – ''RUN 'EM OFF'' – B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - Onie Wheeler-Tracy Lee
Publisher: - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 1717 / CO 49895
Recorded: - August 29, 1953
Released: - 1953
First appearance: - Okeh Records (S) 78rpm standard single Okeh 18022-4 mono
RUN 'EM OFF / WHEN WE ALL GET THERE
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-30 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

'WHEN WE ALL GET THERE
Composer: - Onie Wheeler-Tracy Lee
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 1718 / CO 49896 - Master (2:01)
Recorded: - August 29, 1953
Released: - 1953
First appearance: - Okeh Records (S) 78rpm standard single Okeh 18022-4 mono
WHEN WE ALL GET THERE / RUN ÉM OFF
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-27 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

MOTHER PRAYS LOUD IN HER SLEEP
Composer: - Onie Wheeler-Tracy Lee
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 1719 / CO 49897 - Master (3:23
Recorded: - August 29, 1953
Released: - 1953
First appearance: - Okeh Records (S) 78rpm standard single Okeh 18026-4 mono
MOTHER PRAYS LOUD IN HER SLEEP / A MILLION YEARS IN GLORY
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-29 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

A MILLION YEARS IN GLORY
Composer: - Onie Wheeler-Tracy Lee
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Peer Music
Matrix number : NASH 1720 / CO 49898 - Master (3:23)
Recorded: - August 29, 1953
Released: - 1953
First appearance: - Okeh Records (S) 78rpm standard single Okeh 18026-4 mono
A MILLION YEARS IN GLORY / MOTHER PRAYS LOUD IN HER SLEEP
Reissued: - 1992 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15542-28 mono
ONIE WHEELER – ONIE'S BOP

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Onie Wheeler – Vocal, Harmonica, Guitar
Alden J. Nelson – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Doyal Nelson – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Jerry Rivers – Fiddle
Ernest G. Thompson - Drums

For Biography of Onie Wheeler see: > The Sun Biographies <

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