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1954 SESSIONS (8)
August 1, 1954 to August 31, 1954

Studio Session for Rudy Grayzell, August 31, 1954 / Capitol Records

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AUGUST 1954

Sam and Jud Phillips open negotiations about Sam settling with Jud for his financial stake in Sun.

Sun recording activity slows down considerably as the label concentrates on marketing and promoting Elvis Presley. When sessions are stepped up again, the emphasis will be on country music.

U.N. troops withdraw from Korea.

Elvis Presley reaches the Memphis country charts on August 28. ''That's All Right'' is the first significant chart action for Sun since the blues hits ''Bear Cat'', ''Feelin' Good'', and ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' in the summer of 1953.

Recording activity at Sun now slow as the label concentrates on marketing Elvis Presley. When activity picks up at the end of the year, the emphasis has shifted from blues to country.

AUGUST 2, 1954 MONDAY

Columbia released Marty Robbins' ''call Me Up (And I'll Come Calling On You)''.

Three masked robbers steal $3,500 at gunpoint at Dunbar Cave, a resort owned by Roy Acuff near Clarksville, Tennessee.

AUGUST 7, 1954 SATURDAY

One month after his discharge, Johnny Cash married Vivian Liberto at St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, and they set up home on Tutwiler Avenue in Memphis. Cash's older brother Roy had found him a job selling appliances, but Cash was, by his own admission, "the world's worst salesman. I spent more time in my car listening to the radio than I did knocking on doors".

Cash's trips into the black neighborhoods of Memphis gave him his first exposure to black music. "I heard a lot of blues. I became friends with some of the musicians. I met Gus Cannon one day on the porch of his home. He had written "Walk Right In" way back, and he was sitting there playing the banjo. I sat and listening to him, played with him, and it got to be quite a regular affair with me".

Once exposed to black music, Johnny Cash became a convert, spending money he did not have at the Home Of The Blues record store at Beale Street in Memphis. "Southern blues, black gospel, black blues, that's my favorite music", he told Bill Flanagan. "People like Pink Anderson, Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe... Blues In The Mississippi Night Alan Lomax did, is my all-time favorite album", recalled Johnny Cash.

AUGUST 9, 1954 MONDAY

Capitol released Tommy Collins; ''Whatcha Gonna Do Now''.

Eleven days after he first played the venue, Elvis Presley makes an unpromoted appearance at Memphis' Overton Park Shell during a concert that features Slim Whitman, Carl Smith and Webb Pierce, who refuses to go on after Presley.

AUGUST 11, 1954 WEDNESDAY

Webb Pierce recorded ''More And More'' in Nashville at the Castle Studio.

AUGUST 12, 1954 THURSDAY

Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny is born in Lee's Summit, Missouri. He eventually becomes a Grammy nominee in the country genre.

AUGUST 13, 1954 FRIDAY

''Johnny B. Goode'' songwriter Chuck Berry takes part in the first recording session of his career, for Ballad Records, at Premier Studios in St. Louis, Missouri.

AUGUST 14, 1954 SATURDAY

Ernest Tubb leaves the Grand Ole Opry, though their split will be mended before the end of the year.

AUGUST 17, 1954 TUESDAY

Pop singer Billy Murray dies of a heart attack at Jones Beach, New York. Fifteen years later, his 1916 hit ''Are You From Dixie (Cause I'm From Dixie Too)'' is reprised as a country single by Jerry Reed.

AUGUST 18, 1954 WEDNESDAY

Joe and Rose Lee Maphis have a son, Jody Maphis. A drummer and guitarist, he plays in bands with Earl Scruggs and Marty Stuart and appears on Lacy J. Dalton's debut single, ''Crazy Blue Eyes''.

AUGUST 21, 1954 SATURDAY

Guitarist Nick Kane is born in Jerusalem, Georgia. In 1994 he joins The Mavericks, whose accomplished mix of country, rock, pop and Latin sounds makes it a critically acclaimed and commercially under appreciated force in the 1990s.

AUGUST 27, 1954 FRIDAY

After nearly two years of working for free on Atlanta's WAGA-TV, Brenda Tarpley debuts on ''Peach Blossom Special'', a weekly show on WRDW-TV in Augusta, George. It marks her beginning as a professional, and the first time she uses the name Brenda Lee.

AUGUST 28, 1954 SATURDAY

Comedian Stringbean leaves the Grand Ole Opry to become a regular on Canada's ''The Tommy Hunter Show''.

Ray Price recorded ''If You Don't, Somebody Else Will'' during the morning hours at the Castle Studio in downtown Nashville.

AUGUST 29, 1954 SUNDAY

Ohio's Columbus Citizen reports that Woody Guthrie has just finished a jail sentence at the Columbus City Prison, his 12th jail stay in six weeks, as he rides the railroads illegally. Guthrie also notes in the story that he wrote ''Oklahoma Hills''.

Dave Cavanaugh, A&R Representative for Capitol Records, announces that The Four Keys, formerly with Aladdin Records, have been signed to Capitol.

AUGUST 30, 1954 MONDAY

Capitol released Sonny James' ''She Done Give Her Heart To Me''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR RUDY GRAYZELL
FOR CAPITOL RECORDS 1954

UNKNOWN STUDIO AND LOCATION, DALLAS, TEXAS
CAPITOL SESSION: TUESDAY AUGUST 31, 1954
SESSION HOURS: 19716
PRODUCER & RECORDING ENGINEER – KEN NELSON

Back in 1954, future Sun recording artist Rudy Grayzell was still holding down a steady gig at The Barn when Charlie Walker stepped in again, telling Capitol's Ken Nelson that he needed Grayzell on the label. Nelson was pretty astute and he'd probably noticed the surge of interest in white country guys performing rhythm and blues. In Texas, it was a subculture dubbed cat music. Nationwide, Bill Haley had been in the charts with ''Crazy Man, Crazy'', and in the South Elvis Presley was just starting to make a stir with his first record ''That's All Right'' (Sun 209). Rudy seemed to know what was going on, and, according to his Capitol Records biography, had already changed the name of his band from the Silver Buckles to the Texas Kool Cats.

THERE'S GONNA BE A BALL
Composer: - Rudy Gray
Publisher: - B.M.I. - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 12940 Take 6 - Master (2:48)
Recorded: - August 31, 1954
Released: - October 1954
First appearance: - Capitol Records (S) 45rpm Capitol F 2946-A mono
THERE'S GONNA BE A BALL / HEARTS MADE OF STONE
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837 AH-9 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

Break in Master Numbers

''You Better Believe It'' was written by Rudy's girlfriend and first wife, Norma Grimm (or Grim), and it was an engaging blend of rolling Joe Turner rhythms and doo wop harmonies.

YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT
Composer: - Norma Grimm
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Breckwood Music Corporation
Matrix number: - 12950 Take 12 - Master (2:19)
Recorded: - August 31, 1954
Released: - February 1955
First appearance: - Capitol Records (S) 45rpm Capitol F 3044-A mono
YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT / CA-RAZY!
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837 AH-10 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

Break in Master Numbers

''I met Ken Nelson at KMAC'', remembered Rudy. ''We recorded in Dallas, and I took my own band. He thought the name 'Grayzell' was too long so he changed it to 'Gray'. He later admitted it was a mistake. Ken really liked my band, and he saw me crossing over between rock and country''.

The first challenge was to get ''Heart Of Stone'' on the streets. Rudy sang the verses to a fetching light mambo while the band jumped to 4/4 on the break. A very prominent electric bass ( a rarity in country music back then) worked in tandem with the drummer while the steel guitarist shaded Rudy's vocal. ''Oh, man, was Ken Nelson hot on that 'Hearts Made Of Stone''', Rudy told David Davidson. ''He said, 'This song is gonna make you!'. But we recorded it too slow. A month after my record was released a group out of L.A. Called the Charms came out with their recording of it and upped the beat, baby. I lost a million bucks!''. The story is a little more complex than that.

The original version was by the Jewels who were from Los Angeles, and their recording of ''Hearts Of Stone'' came out in August 1954. Perhaps Ken Nelson had been hipped to the song as he was based in Los Angeles, or perhaps Rudy heard it somewhere. Either way, he recorded it on or around August 31.

The Charms were from Cincinnati and covered the song on September 13, almost two weeks after Rudy. The Jewels' record didn't chart at all, but the Charms record charted at the end of October and eventually reached number 1 on the Rhythm & Blues charts. The Fontane Sisters covered it for the pop market and they too reached number 1 while Red Foley charted a country cover version. So Rudy was unlucky not to score a hit. His flip-side, ''There's Gonna Be A Ball'', was quintessential cat music. Depending on your perspective, it was either rhythm and blues with hillbilly overtones. What's for sure is that Rudy Grayzell was way ahead of the curve.

HEARTS MADE OF STONE
Composer: - Rudy Jackson-Eddy Ray
Publisher: - B.M.I. - American Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - 12963 Take 9 - Master (2:58)
Recorded: - August 31, 1954
Released: - October 1954
First appearance: - Capitol Records (S) 45rpm Capitol F 2946-B mono
HEARTS MADE OF STONE / THERE'S GONNA BE A BALL
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837 AH-13 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

Ken Nelson followed ''Hearts Of Stone'' (titled ''Hearts Made Of Stone'' on Rudy's record) with ''Ca-Razy!'', a song that he'd probably picked up in Los Angeles. From the descending piano figure at the intro to the split tempo, it was Louis Prima reconfigured for the beer joints. The writers of ''Ca-Razy!'' were Ted Varnick (who wrote Tony Bennet's big rock and roll era hit ''In The Middle Of An Island'', British vaudevillian Eddie Lisbona aka Eddie ''Piano'' Miller, and Ken Sloan aka songplugger and journalist Arnold Shaw.

CA-RAZY!
Composer: - Ted Varnick-Eddie Lisbona-Ken Sloan
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Ross Jungnickle Music
Matrix number: - 12964 Take 17 - Master (2:37)
Recorded: - August 31, 1954
Released: - February 1955
First appearance: - Capitol Records (S) 45rpm Capitol F 3044-B mono
CA-RAZY! / YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT
Reissued: - 2010 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16837 AH-11 mono
RUDY GRAZELL - LET'S GET WILD

Name (or. No. Of Instruments)
Rudy Grayzell (as Rudy Gray) – Vocal
Charlie Harris - Guitar
Wayne Wood – Steel Guitar
Joe Pruneda or Bobby Brown - Bass
Gerald Carner or Kermit Baca - Drums
Rusty Hornbeak - Fiddle
Greg Nanus - Piano
Unidentified – Vocal Chorus

For Biographies of Artists see: > The Sun Biographies <

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