CONTAINS
For music(standard singles) and playlists on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

1956 SESSIONS 1/1
January 1, 1956 to January 31, 1956

Studio Session for Brad Suggs, Unknown Date 1956 / Meteor Records
Studio Session for Maggie Sue Wimberly, Probably 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Tommy Blake, Early 1956 / Buddy Records
Demo Session for Malcolm Yelvington, Early 1956
Studio Session for Fred Prentiss, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Unknown Artist, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Unknown Male Quartet, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Gene Ross, Probably 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Tommy Ruick, Probably 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Macy Skipper, Probably 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Curley Griffin, Probably 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Jimmy Wages, Probably 1956 / Sun Records

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

1956

The increase in living standards and the focus on education helped to fuel the increase in college education with 1 in 3 high school graduates now going off to college. TV shows included "As The World Turns" and "The Price is Right". Mothers could now buy disposable diapers and tefal non stick Frying Pans. Elvis Presley appears on the Ed Sullivan show and enters the music charts for the first time, with "Heartbreak Hotel".

1956

Future Sun recording star Andy Anderson was still in college when he and his band arrived at the Delta Recording Corporation in Jackson, Mississippi run by Jimmie Ammons and Mabel McQueen: Andy on guitar, with Joe Tubb from Jackson on lead guitar, another guitarist, Harold Aldridge 'Cuz' Covington from Meridian on bass, pianist Roy Estes, and drummer Bobby Lyons of Senatobio. McQueen and Ammons signed them to a management contract that lasted until they graduated from college in 1957.

Andy Anderson says of his first recordings: ''I made them with Jimmie in 1956 and 1957. I located him through asking questions of radio disc jockeys about where I could make recordings and I finally found him in the phone book. I had an instant trust in Jimmy, his professionalism and his eagerness to help.

His price for studio time was good. We got our money's worth and more''. Andy and the group recorded things like ''Gonna Rip It Up'', a Little Richard medley, and ''Roll Over And Shake It'', a mixture of Chuck Berry's ''Roll Over Beethoven'' and Jerry Lee Lewis's ''Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On'' with some Carl Perkins guitar style thrown. (Their Delta recordings can be heard on the Delta label collection, ''Diddy Wah Diddy'', BCD 16748). There was one original song written by Anderson among those early demos about a man, ''Johnny Valentine'', who loves all the girls and seems to attract them. Andy says he based it on the lifestyle of Elvis Presley who he took as a model for much of his music, though not his lifestyle. Andy said he first met Presley briefly in Memphis in the early 1950s when they both took lessons from the same voice teacher.

1956

Sam Phillips had high hopes this year for Billy Riley, Sonny Burgess, and Warren Smith. Hours of tape remain in the vaults and probably as much again was recorded-over. If Elvis Presley inspired them, they soon found their own direction. Sonny Burgess and Billy Riley borrowed liberally from rhythm and blues. Riley even made a blues record as Lightnin' Leon while Burgess had a gloriously unsubtle rhythm and blues voice.

Smith kept faith with rockabilly for three years before reverting to his hillbilly roots. Riley paid the rent with endless hours of studio work at Sun, and then for numberless other labels, but the big hit always remained tantalizingly elusive. Sonny Burgess hung with music until the late 1960s, but returned as a prophet with honor years later. Why were they unsuccessful? Bad luck is a glib answer but contains a glimmer of truth. If one dee-jay across the country had picked up on any of their Sun singles and played it to death, the story might have been different.

Flukes count for much more than the record business likes to acknowledge. Were their records too raw? Perhaps. Could Sun handle more than one or two his artists at a time? Barely. The paradox is that Warren Smith, Billy Riley and Sonny Burgess made records for Sun that might have been hits with a major label push, but their music wouldn't have sounded this way if they'd recorded for a corporate label that didn't understand them.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR BRAD SUGGS WITH THE SWINGSTERS
FOR METEOR RECORDS 1956

METEOR RECORDING STUDIO
1794 CHELSEA AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
METEOR SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - QUINTON CLAUNCH
AND/OR BILL CANTRELL

Luther Bradley Suggs was a much more accomplished and professional musician than most who appeared on Meteor. He had worked in the late 1940s as Pee Wee Suggs, guitarist with the Loden Family in Mississippi. In 1950 he recorded as part of Slim Rhodes' band for Sam Phillips in Memphis, and a string of discs from those sessions appeared on Gilt-Edge Records. In August 1951, Suggs recorded again for Gilt-Edge and in 1955 and 1956 he featured as guitarist and singer on several Slim Rhodes country singles on Sun Records.

Suggs could play anything and when the new Phillips International label started in 1959, Suggs had five singles issued in a pop instrumental style under the name the Brad Suggs Orchestra. In between Sun and Phillips, he fitted in one disc for Meteor, issued in June 1956. It came about when the Rhodes band went out on tour while Suggs stayed behind with his fife who was ill. He also turned down road work with hit Capitol artist Sonny James (Loden) and so he called in at Meteor to see whether he could get some studio work on records while the band was away.

Lester Bihari and Suggs put together a band to record something in the rockabilly style that he had never properly attempted at Sun. The band included Ira ''Rocky'' Caple taking lead on steel guitar. Caple played with the Rhodes band occasionally and is remembered as a top class steel and jazz guitarist, Suggs played electric guitar, Smokey Joe Baugh was on piano, and Johnny Bernero on drums. Suggs told Martin Hawkins, ''I was not sure about Meteor because Lester was completely different in the studio from Sam Phillips''.

''He was very laid back and not forceful or assertive in any way. He just let it happen. He was learning the ropes really. Lester wanted to be able to do it, but he didn't have it as a recording engineer''. ''But I knew Joe Bihari had been over there and I had seen B.B. King there and I thought it might be a place worth checking out. I was there when Junior Thompson recorded. They were real energetic guys, and I played some shows over in Germantown with them''.

01 - ''CHARCOAL SUIT'' - B.M.I. - 2:26
Composer: - Luther Suggs-Les Bihari
Publisher: - Meteor Publishing
Matrix number: - MR 5054
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1956
Released: - June 1956
First appearance: - Meteor Records (S) 45rpm Meteor 5034-A mono
CHARCOAL SUIT / BOP, BABY, BOP
Reissued: - 2003 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCH2 885-2-5 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR ROCKABILLY & HILLBILLY RECORDINGS

''Charcoal Suit'' was a period song in homage to sharp clothes, while ''Bop. Baby, Bop'' was an excuse in the hip vernacular to set up a rocking stop-time western swing beat and to take a few solos. This session has a lot of open space but at the same time a muddier sound than most. It came at the time Lester was replacing his recording equipment. Suggs said: ''Actually, the sound at the Meteor studio surprised me. He needed better equipment, but the studio was a bigger and better room than at Sun. It seemed more like a radio studio''. Lester Bihari in turn described Brad Suggs as ''a kind of an A&R man for me quite a bit of the time''. It seems at one point he had hopes of getting him more involved with the running of the label.

01 – ''BOP, BABY, BOP'' - B.M.I. - 2:04
Composer: - Luther Suggs-Les Bihari
Publisher: - Meteor Publishing
Matrix number: - MR 5055
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1956
Released: - June 1956
First appearance: - Meteor Records (S) 45rpm Meteor 5034-B mono
BOP, BABY, BOP / CHARCOAL SUIT
Reissued: - 2003 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCH2 885-2-6 mono
THE COMPLETE METEOR ROCKABILLY & HILLBILLY RECORDINGS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Brad Suggs - Vocal & Guitar
Ira ''Rocky'' Caple - Steel Guitar
Smokey Joe Baugh - Piano
Johnny Bernero - Drums

Brad Suggs did not have any great expectations for his Meteor single, though toured locally with other Meteor artists. ''I just wanted to see what would happen. When the Rhodes band came back, I rejoined them. I never mentioned the Meteor thing to Sam Phillips and Sam never mentioned it to me. We always had a cordial and decent relationship and that continued afterwards, almost like I had never been to Meteor. Sam and I both knew that several artists crossed town to Meteor. I saw Charlie Feathers there, and Quinton Claunch and Bill Cantrell who were always everywhere, always on the go with some kind of project, hustling or producing''. Brad Suggs is now retired (2003) and lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

For Biography of Brad Suggs see: > The Sun Biographies <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

The originally unissued tracks here reveal that Maggie Sue was up to the challenge. She lent her voice to Big Memphis Marainey's "Call Me Anything, But Call Me" and produced a credible version. She tried one more country balled in 1955 in "They Who Condemn", and here met the emerging rock style head-on with "Rock And Roll Simmon Tree", updating a children's nursery rhyme into a youthful piece of rock fluff. Previously issued versions of this tune have consistently gotten the title wrong, a mistake that probably began in the Sun Records Discography. These are persimmons (shortened to "simmons"), Maggie Sue is singing about. As far as anyone knows, there were no cinnamon trees growing in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

STUDIO SESSION FOR MAGGIE SUE WIMBERLY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE POSSIBLY 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - BILL CANTRELL AND QUINTON CLAUNCH

But long before these adults pastimes, Maggie Sue did her share of experimenting in the Sun studio with Sam Phillips. It was clear that she could sing hillbilly music. But what else could she do? Certainly, Phillips was not going to give much rein to her gospel music background. (Maggie Sue began her musical life singing about the Lord with the Wimberly Family, and later the Harmonettes). With all that passion in her voice, might she also sing some blues or be pushed into the emerging sound of rock and roll?

01(1) - "ROCK AND ROLL SIMMON TREE*" - B.M.I. - 2:07
Composer: - Bill Cantrell-Quinton Claunch
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably October 25, 1954
Released: - August 2002
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16609-2-13 mono
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS

''Rock And Roll 'Simmon Tree'' this uncompromisingly silly song was obviously an attempt to bring Maggie Sue into line with musical developments since her sole release. However, the transition to rock and roll was not without its problems and they begin with the song. The notion of someone getting the notion to rock and roll while knocking persimmons down from a tree is on a par with the efforts of several country singers who tried to make grandpa rock. A more serious problem comes from the backing group. Only the guitar (who sounds like Roy Orbison) has much feeling for the proceedings. The song's melody is lifted note-for-note from Al Dexter's 1940s smash ''Pistol Packin' Mama'' which, ironically, had been revived by Dexter for the Memphis and L.A. based Ekko Records in 1955.

01(2) - "ROCK AND ROLL SIMMON TREE*" - B.M.I. - 2:03
Composer: - Bill Cantrell-Quinton Claunch
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Possible 1956
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-5-16 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 – 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-3-27 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

In search of new material for the young Ms. Wimberly, someone hit upon the idea of reviving Big Memphis Marainey's ''Call Me Anything (But Call Me), sole Sun recording from 1953. That someone was undoubtedly Sam Phillips because he held the publishing and was one of the few people to have actually heard the original, which sold as poorly as this would have. The overall feel of this recording approximates Elvis Presley's early ballads such as ''Love Me'' and ''Anyway You Want Me'' but the moppet's tender years are no match for the material. Her valiant attempt to reach and sustain the final note speaks well of her enthusiasm but poorly of those who had dreamed up this endeavour.

02(1) - "CALL ME ANYTHING" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Dubrover-Mitt Addington
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably October 25, 1954
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sun LP 1023 mono
ROCK AND ROLL PILLS

02(2) - "CALL ME ANYTHING" - B.M.I. - 2:55
Composer: - Dubrover-Mitt Addington
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably October 25, 1954
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-5-15 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-3-26 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

Returning to the Sun studio, Maggie Sue turns her hand to a honky tonk ballad for the younger set. Her performance is quite accomplished but comes nowhere close to the affecting quality of ''How Long''. The backing group sounds familiar but is nertheless hard to place. Sam Phillips was certainly correct to nix this one as a single contender.

03 - "THEY WHO CONDEMN" - B.M.I. - 2:22
Composer: - Bill Cantrell-Quinton Claunch
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably March 18, 1955
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-5-15 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-3-25 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Maggie Sue Wimberly – Vocal
Unknown Group
Possibly Roy Orbison - Guitar*

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

1956

For a few months rockabilly was a contender for next big kingdom. Some of those who followed in Presley's wake, like Roy Orbison, eventually developed an individual approach and survived in the music business. Some returned to county music and view their flirtation with rockabilly as an aberration.

Most, however, simply returned to the mundane reality of making a living outside the music business, coming to see with thirty years' hindsight ' that they never stood a chance of making it. ''Rockabilly'', asserts producer Jim Dickinson, holding up two fingers held close together, ''is about that wide. Revivalists treat it as if it were all kinds of other things too. Once you get past Sonny Burgess, Billy Riley, and Johnny Burnette, there ain't much more''. It's still unclear who coined the term but it was in fairly common use by early 1956 - usually, as Dickinson indicates, as misapplied then as today.

Once Sam Phillips' achievement with Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins became common knowledge, his little studio became a meet for a generation of young singers who stood at the door where Elvis had stood, hoping against hope that the magic would rub off on them. And it was Elvis - not really Carl Perkins, despite his role in shaping the rockabilly sound - that the new generation sought to emulate. For some, Presley was an enigma they hoped to unravel; but it's easy to forget that for many of the teenage boys who auditioned at Sun, he was a frustratingly real person. He might have shared a Coke with them backstage at the local high school gym after a gig. Yet he had passed from their midst, had suddenly become a vision of the success that was tantalizingly close and desperately unreachable. Many could never end the answer to the question: ''Why Elvis and not me''.

Like those who straggle up and down Music Row in Nashville today, they came to the Sun studio from a variety of backgrounds. The cross-section that follows rejects the different musical strands that went to make up the great catchall, rockabilly.

The photographer Ernest C. Withers shot B.B. King's tour bus ''Big Red'' (above) looking like a large mechanical caterpillar, at a curb outside King's Palace Cafe on Beale Street, Memphis, with King's entire touring crew, fifteen well-dressed men and a well-dressed woman, lined up in front of the vehicle in their best suits and clean shirts. Well-wishers are leaning out of the windows of the rooming houses above the bus. Cato Walker Jr., drove the musician's tour bus, circa 1956.

1956

The Platters open the year on top of both the rhythm and blues and Pop Charts with "The Great Pretender" making it the second rock record to accomplish the latter.

Feedback is invented by The Johnny Burnette Rock And Roll Trio on their record "The Train Kept A Rollin".

Pop vocalist Kay Starr has a huge smash that winter with "The Rock & Roll Waltz" a song that attempts to cash in on the term "rock and roll" while appealing to adults rather than kids, proving the industry feels the music is a novelty.

Elvis Presley scores five number 1 hits in a seven month span, causes a sensation with his explosive performance of "Hound Dog" on the Milton Berle Show, appears twice on The Ed Sullivan Show in the fall to enormous ratings and releases his first film that November.

Rock And Roll enters the movies with cheaply made "rockexploitation" films with limited plots and numerous cameos by rockers singing their latest hits. The biggest and best of which is "The Girl Can't Help It" starring blonde sexpot Jayne Mansfield and featuring performances by Little Richard, Fats Domino and Eddie Cochran.

Gene Vincent is convicted of public obscenity and fined $10,000 by the state of Virginia for singing the erotic "Woman Love" on stage.

"I Put A Spell On You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins sells over a million copies but faces a complete radio ban due to its "cannibalistic nature", thus becoming rock's first underground hit.

1956

This would be one of the great transition years in American pop music. Dominating the charts was the untamed hellfire shout-outs of Elvis Presley, not to mention the rhythm and blues-flavored pop of Fats Domino and the Platters. But plenty of the old guard chaperoned these young rebels: Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Perry Como, and the always-pleasant Ames Brothers. Still, 1956 was the year that rock and roll stood up and demanded to take over the pop charts.

Colonel Tom Parker signed on as Elvis Presley’s manager.

''Heartbreak Hotel'' starts Presley-mania.

Elvis Presley's first film, Love Me Tender released in 1956.

The rock and roll music of white rockers is called "rockabilly" (rock + hillbilly).

Screamin Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You" introduces voodoo into rock and roll.

1956

Wanda Jackson is the "Queen of Rockabilly".

The popularity of rock and roll causes the record industry to boom and allows independent labels to flourish.

In impromptu recording session occurs at Sun Studios in December 4, 1956 with the million dollar quartet consisting of Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

Elektra pioneers the "compilation" record, containing songs by different musicians.

Buddy Holly had his first official recording session in 1956. It was held in Nashville at producer Owen Bradley’s, Barn Studio.

Brenda Lee signs a recording contract at the age of 11, after five years of singing professionally.

Gene Vincent made his first appearance on national TV by performing on The Perry Como Show.

American Bandstand first aired on nationwide TV.

Stereo LPs became available and new releases were issued in both mono (monaural) and stereo (stereophonic) versions.

The Philips original cast recordings of My Fair Lady was one of the first million seller LPs together with Van Cliburn playing Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto.

Future Sun recording artist, Hannah Fay (or Hana Fay, as she had been billed) appeared on the Fine label in 1956 (Fine 108) ''It Pays To Be True'' b/w ''Easy To Remember'' and (Fine 1012) ''Oh Why'' b/w ''Searching For Someone Like You''. Fine Records was owned by three Biloxi residents: Yankee Barhonovich, Marion ''Prof'' Carpenter, and Pee Wee Maddox.

1956

Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" gives Sun Records one of the biggest U.S. hits of the year.

Roy Orbison arrives at the company in March, whilst Jack Clement is hired as a producer/engineer at $90.00 a week on June 15th, just two months after bringing Billy Riley to the label. During the fall, Jack is also on hand when Jerry Lee Lewis undergoes an impromptu audition at the Sun studio.

After getting out of school in 1956, future Sun performer Dane Stinit saw that the job prospects around Owensboro, Kentucky were slender so he hit the Hillbilly Highway north. He had some relations in Cary, Indiana, which is virtually an industrial suburb of Chicago, and eventually settled in Lake Station, Indiana which is almost entirely populated by transplanted southerns. Stinit had played in a little local group in Owensboro but had no thoughts of bucking the odds against making in Nashville. One of his buddies in the group, L. Martin decided to try his luck in Nashville and played with Bill Carlisle, Mel Tillis, Donna Fargo and others before meeting an untimely end in a road accident. Around Christmas 1965 he went on to the Memphis era.

EARLY 1956

Future Sun recording artist, Narvel Felts was seventeen and entered a high school talent contest at Bernie, Missouri, and sing Elvis Presley's ''Baby Let's Play House'' and when they wanted an encore there was a new song he had heard a few times by Carl Perkins, called ''Blue Suede Shoes''. By chance there was a disc jockey in the audience that night from KDEX radio in Dexter, Missouri, his name was Weldon Grimsley, and the next day and later, Narvel sings the Saturday afternoon radio shows.

''There was a new song I had heard a few times by Carl Perkins, called ''Blue Suede Shoes'', Narvel told to Howard Cockburn. ''By chance there was a disc jockey in the audience that night from KDEX radio in Dexter, Missouri, his name was Weldon Grimsley, and the next day I was sitting at home listening to the radio, and they said 'if Narvel Felts is listening please contact KDEX immediately'. I ran outside and told my daddy what they had said on the radio. It was cold winter time and he had the water drained out of the radiator of his 1946 International truck. He put water in the truck and drove me eight miles up the gravel road to Bernie to the nearest phone, and I tool J.W. Grubbs with me and they gave us a little Saturday afternoon radio show, live. A little while after that, March 1956, I ran across Jerry Mercer one night at the Four way Inn in Dudley, Missouri. He got me up to sing and this led to a regular job in Jerry Mercer's band along about the spring of 1956. We played a lot of the local clubs in southeast Missouri, north-east Arkansas and some in Illinois and played a package show that summer with Roy Orbison when ''Ooby Dooby'' was his current record. Eddie Bond and The Stompers were also on the show and Eddie's record on Mercury at the time was ''Rockin' Daddy'', said Felts.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Tommy Blake was born Thomas Levan Givens in Dallas, Texas on September 14, 1931. He entered Marine training camp in 1951, and told people he lost an eye in Korea, but the actually lost it before he even left boot camp in North Carolina. Discharged, he went to Louisiana, working on KTBS in Shreveport and KRUS in Ruston as a performer and disc jockey. In 1954, he married his first wife, Betty Jones, in Charthage, Texas. They had six children. Shortly after one of them was born, Blake went to the store to buy cigarettes, saw Faron Young's tour bus, jumped on board, and disappeared for six weeks. It was the critical choice of his life: success, even if experiended tangentially or vicariously, was preferable to absolutely anything else. Yukkin' it up with the guys backstage, or finishing a song in a pill-inducted frenzy beat sitting on the couch watching television with the wife and kids.

In Ruston, Blake met three musicians who would become his sidekicks over the next few tumultuous years. Carl Bailey Adams was born in Rayville, Louisiana on November 7, 1935, the last of ten children, four of whom died at birth. On October 11, 1941, Carl's brother Clyde and his sister's husband, Alton, were planning a hunting trip and asked Carl and Clyde's father for his shotgun. They left the gun on the dinning room table where Carl began fooling with it, sticking his fingers into the barrels. Carl's sister screamed and Carl dropped the gun. It discharged, blowing off two fingers and killing his sister's young son. Carl held himself responsible for his nephew's death and became a troubled soul. His hand was surgically repaired, and he learned to play the guitar left-handed with picks taped to his thumb and remaining fingers. Hughes draws a parallel to the Belgian jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt who had two fingers of his fretting hand destroyed in a fire, but Reinhardt was already a skilled musician at the time of his accident whereas Adams learned to play after the tragedy. Later, Carl Adams attended the Louisiana Technical College, where he met Ed Dettenheim.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana on February 23, 1934, Dettenheim took up the guitar and then bass. As he told Hughes, ''I learned to play left handed first and switched to right so I was never that great a lead player.. I simply could not move that pick in my right hand fast like flatpickers but I could put harmony and rhythm to anything a picker could play. Filling in the gaps and surrounding whatever melody one night play with supportive sound was why Blake sought me out, I suppose, and why Adams and I made a unique team''. Dettenheim took the name Eddie Hall and Thomas Givens took the name Tommy Blake.

Tommy Blake was one of the more curious characters of the Big Beat era. He was a man with talent, but seemed unable to channel his talent in the right direction. Instead of harvesting the rewards he should have received for his genuine songwriting ability, he burnt too many fingers and rubbed too many people the wrong way. Bill Millar has said of Blake, "The records of Tommy Blake afford a glimpse of a man of considerable imagination as well as flights of indiscipline". He continued, saying Blake was a "headlong troublemaker" and concluded with the lugubrious summary of his life being "-a psychodrama far cheaper than any he wrote about". Noted musicologist Colin Escott similarly opined, "Tommy Blake's life was a How-Not-To-Do-It manual", elaborating with the unfavorable retrospection.

Tommy Blake was one of the guys who never really made it, but got close enough to know what making it was all about. Close enough to know that he wanted it badly. Some guys can give it a shot, accept that the public doesn’t want to buy what they have, then move on happy that they at least tried. Not Tommy Blake. He looked like a star, even if his vocal abilities fell somewhere short of stellar. After this performing career was over, he tried to experience success vicariously by becoming a songwriter. Once again, he came close, even wrote a few hits, but never quite had the industry beating down his door.

Session Published for Historical Reasons

STUDIO SESSION FOR TOMMY BLAKE
FOR BUDDY RECORDS 1956

KWKH STUDIO
327 TEXAS, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
OR RADIO TTAE STUDIO, TYLER, TEXAS
BUDDY SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE EARLY 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – UNKNOWN

Most on weekends, Tommy Blake and the Rhythm Rebels played guest spots on the local Saturday night jamborees, the Big D in Dallas, Texas, the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, the Grand Prize Jamboree in Houston, Texas, and smaller shows, but Ruston was their home base.

'Koolit'' became Tommy Blake's first record. It was cut for the Buddy label in Marshall, Texas. Starting December 27, 1952, the Saturday night Marshall Jamboree was the week's top event in Marshall, and the shows manager, A.T. Young, featured his son Buddy, for whom he started the label. The show ran from Marshall's City Hall, and was broadcast over KMHT. Blake probably appeared on Young's show often enough for Young to give him a shot on his label. The reference to ''Blue Suede Shoes'' dates to early 1956, and the presence of the Hayride's steel guitarist Sonny Trammell was front-and-center on the hillbilly flipside.

The Nashville music business had taken keen notice of what was happening in Shreveport as first Hank Williams, and then Webb Pierce, Faron Young, Johnnie & Jack, Kitty Wells, and more recently Elvis and Johnny Horton came to the fore. But, as Ed Hail confirmed, Blake wasn't content to wait for Nashville to find him: ''From a psychiatric point of view Blake was driven all right'', he said. ''He voiced dreams of fame and fortune but that was not what drove him to do anything.

The thrill and high that comes from spitting out a song was of far greater importance to Tommy Blake than fame, fortune, money and the things money might have provided. Every song Blake ever wrote was the ''best song ever written''. He'd get an idea for a song. We three would work as a team without sleeping day and night until we had that song exactly right and on tape as a demo. Only then would Blake go home and rest. Blake would hype that new creation as the greatest song ever written until an idea for the next song hit, usually a day or so later. Then we'd be off again on another non-stop writing frenzy because we had this new best song ever written inside us just dying to get out. Blake and I both wrote because something down inside us needed to come out. Carl's guitar licks and my rhythms had a way of stimulating us to push whatever was wanting to come out to the surface. Blake knew he had problems vocally but he could still sing better than Carl and I could. We'd work for hours to correct his vocal weaknesses and we constantly sought ways to cover them''.

01 – ''KOOLIT'' – B.M.I. - 2:13
Composer: - Tommy Blake
Publisher: - Fiesta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Unknown Date Early 1956
Released: 1956
First appearance: - Buddy Records (S) 45rpm standard single Buddy B-107-A mono
KOOLIT / IF I'M A FOOL
Reissued: 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16797-3 mono
TOMMY BLAKE - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

02 – ''IF I'M A FOOL'' – B.M.I. - 2:59
Composer: - Tommy Blake
Publisher: - Fiesta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Unknown Date Early 1956
Released: 1956
First appearance: - Buddy Records (S) 45rpm standard single Buddy B-107-B mono
IF I'M A FOOL / KOOLIT
Reissued: 2007 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16797-20 mono
TOMMY BLAKE - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Tommy Blake with The Rhythm Rebels consisting of
Tommy Blake – Vocal & Guitar
Carl Bailey Adams – Guitar
Possible James Sonny Trammell – Steel Guitar
Edward Eddie Hall Dettenheim – Bass
Possible Douglas Dobber Johnson - Fiddle

For Biography of Tommy Blake see: > The Sun Biographies <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

1956

The Rock And Roll Trio, Johnny and Dorsey Burnette with guitarist Paul Burlison in the Sun studio, but for whatever reason, Sam Phillips turned them down when they auditioned for Sun Records. The trio took off for New York, where they earned a spot on TV's Ted Mack Amateur Hour. After winning three weeks straight, they were signed to the Decca subsidiary Coral Records in New York, and appeared in the 1956 movie Rock Rock Rock. Their version of jump blues bandleader Tiny Bradshaw's "Train Kept A Rollin'" remains among the greatest rockabilly record ever made.

None of the Rock And Roll Trio records followed Elvis up the charts. They broke up in 1957 and Johnny Burnette headed to Hollywood, hopping freights with a buddy. Johnny Burnette died at thirty on August 14, 1964, in an evening boating accident on California's Clear Lake, when his small fishing boat was rammed by a cabin cruiser. Dorsey died at fifty-seven of a heart attack in 1979. Paul Burlison died in 2004 in his hometown Memphis, Tennessee.

Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Two spent the rest of 1955 on the road and in January 1956 they landed a regular spot on the Louisiana Hayride. With both ''Hey Porter'' and ''Folsom Prison Blues'' achieving respectable chart positions they were a hot property on the concert circuit and were booked for dates across the southern states.

1956

Future Sun recording artist, Mack Allen Smith, after graduating from high school in 1956, Mack Allen joined the Kenny Minyard band as lead singer and performed with this band at the VFW in Greenwood, Mississippi, until September 1956, when he left for college at Holmes Junior College in Goodman, Mississippi.

The Kenny Minyard band was a traditional country or hillbilly band, but Mack Allen was hired to do the Elvis and other rockabilly stuff that was sweeping the country at that time. Just prior to leaving for college, Mack Allen formed a band called The Carroll Country Rock & Roll Boys which consisted of Mack Allen Smith (lead singer and rhythm guitar), Ellis Hopper (lead guitar), and Billy Wayne Herbert (rhythm guitar).

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

HOME DEMO SESSION FOR MALCOLM YELVINGTON

HOME TAPE RECORDER
COVINGTON, TENNESSEE, EARLY 1956
PRODUCER - REECE FLEMING

Early in 1956, with Presley making a big splash on RCA and with Sun and Carl Perkins breaking through in a big way with sales of "Blue Suede Shoes:, the Malcolm Yelvinton band decided to take a more focused tilt at the emerging rock and roll market. They got together in a house in Ripley owned by the mother of their friend, Russell Crawford, and gathered round Russell's tape recorder and one microphone. They demoed "Rockin' With My Baby" and "It's Me Baby" to take down to Sam Phillips to try out one more time for that elusive second Sun release.

01 - "ROCKIN' WITH MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:09
Composer: - Malcolm Yelvington
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Demo - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Early 1956
Released: - 1988
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1010 mono
GONNA HAVE MY SELF BALL
Reissued: - 2006 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16757-26 mono
MALCOLM YELVINGTON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

02 - "IT'S ME BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:12
Composer: - Reece Fleming
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Demo - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Early 1956
Released: - 1988
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1010 mono
GONNA HAVE MY SELF BALL
Reissued: - 2006 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16757-27 mono
MALCOLM YELVINGTON - THE SUN YEARS PLUS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Malcolm Yelvington - Vocal and Guitar
Gordon Mashburn - Guitar
Jake Ryles - Upright Bass
Reece Fleming - Piano

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Five Input Monaural RCA76-B Mixing Console (above). These recording consoles were used on some amazing records in the 1950s, but most famously at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee.

All of the Sun recordings Sam Phillips made with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Howlin' Wolf, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ike Turner, Rufus Thomas, Charlie Feathers, and hundreds of others were done on an RCA 76-D board.

THE SUN SOUND IN 1956 - By 1956, the Memphis Recording Service control room housed an RCA 76-D radio console, with inputs and outputs coupled through transformers to provide the Sun label’s trademark warm sound. And then there were the two Ampex 350 tape decks, one the master, the other rack-mounted, via which the famous slapback echo was achieved by bouncing the signal from one machine to the other, with a split-second delay.

''The board had rotary pots and allowed us to use six mics at once'', says Jack Clement. ''If we wanted echo, we’d have to use another pot with another mic on it. Well, next to the console I had a little side panel with six knobs on it, and that meant I could get echo on all six microphones with just that one mic. We could run the tape at 7.5 inches per second or 15; I usually ran it at 15 so there wasn’t such a long delay''.

According to Sam Phillips, the ''Sun Sound'' was as much about sparse instrumentation as it was about his pioneering use of slapback echo.

''The human ear doesn’t like hearing something that is aurally so different to the point of being strange'', he explained. ''It likes something different so far as the total confluence of the sound and the song and how it's done. I knew that people had heard records on jukeboxes in live little restaurants and dives, and what I tried to do with that type of echo and the sparse instrumentation was to make the sound not too foreign to the average ear. The acoustics of the room were good, but miking has an awful lot to do with the finished product. Of course, everything at that time was monaural, and I’m big on miking and I’m big
on using the right mic, although I couldn’t buy real expensive microphones''.

These remarks tie in with Jack Clement’s own observations about the audio qualities of the studio.

''Sam used to say, 'This room's got a sound,’ and I thought he was full of you-know-what, but I later realised this was true'', Clement says. ''It has leakage, but it’s good leakage. It doesn’t sound off-mic; it just fills up the sound, and the room isn’t big enough for there to be too much echo. It was a very simple setup and it worked. We were always talking about constructing an echo chamber out back, but Sam didn’t own that building, he was renting it. So, even though he knew how to build one, we never did do it''.

''One time, Sam accidentally put a Carl Perkins album on the echo machine that we would leave running every time we’d record. Well, I came in there to record something, turned the machine on and erased the entire album! Sam didn’t complain, because he knew it was his fault, that album, consisting of singles and B-sides, had taken several months to produce and we didn’t have any safety copies, but I don’t think it was that good anyway...''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR FRED PRENTISS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS PROBABLY 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT

A seven-inch tape box sits in the Sun vault bearing the name of Lynn Pratt and Hornet Records - the Tennessee label owned by Pratt in the 1950s. We first thought that these tracks were the work of Pratt, himself, although aural evidence suggested otherwise. An interview with Lynn Pratt confirmed that he was not the vocalist, although identifying the singer proved a bit tricky.

"I knew it wasn't me when you played that tape", Pratt began, "but I couldn't recall the name of the singer. I called all the guys in my band from back then and asked them if they could recall. The name that everyone came up with is Fred Prentiss. It wasn't so much his vocal that stood out to me, but his guitar work. Fred was a great guitar player - he was with us for about a year and a half - and this just reminded me of his style. I know I recorded some stuff on him to see if we could get a record out of him. I sent one of the demos to Sun. I think everybody turned us down, including a few labels in Nashville".

Relatively little is known of Fred Prentiss. Lynn Pratt recalls that the singer left the group and went to live in Chicago. "I know he also lived in Arkansas for a while before moving back to Tennessee. He got involved in agricultural work after he left us. I know he still has family in Tennessee and has a sister who is involved in gospel music".

01 - "JUNGLE QUEEN" - B.M.I. - 2:37
Composer: - Fred Prentiss
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1956
Released: - August 2000
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16405-1 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 17

"Jungle Queen" holds a tough of the exotic as Prentiss takes his best "Cattle Call" wail into the jungle. The song uses a minor key and gives the guitarist a chance to show off the tremolo bar on his Stratocaster.

02 - "LAZY RIVER" - B.M.I. - 1:31
Composer: - Hoagy Carmichael-Sidney Arodin
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1956
Released: - August 2000
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16405-28 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 17
Reissued: - 2009 Burning Fire Internet iTunes MP3-1-8 mono
VARIOUS ARTISTS - ROCKABILLY ON FIRE

Prentiss romps through "Lazy River", a Hoagy Carmichael tune introduced in 1931. The versions Prentiss was most likely influenced by were by The Mills Brothers (1952) or Rusty Draper (1953). The problem with rocking up standards - a tradition that pre-dates Carl Mann on Sun - is that standards usually feature music that is more complex than 3-chord rockabilly fare. "Lazy River" is such a case and Prentiss and his band get predictably lost during the less conventional parts of Hoagy's construction.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Fred Prentiss - Vocal and Guitar
Unknown Musicians

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR UNKNOWN ARTIST
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS PROBABLY 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE PROBABY 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

Another of the anonymous demos submitted to Sun in the 1950s, this one features a bluesy rocker with a somewhat quirky lyric. When is the last time you heard lines like "You acted real sincere" rhymed with "I realized one of my greatest fears"? A bit artsy for the rockabilly crowd, but its quite clear this guy knows how to sing and play the guitar. In fact, the lead-in to the guitar break and first few bars of the solo are really vintage stuff that would have been very much at home on a yellow Sun label.

01 - "IF YOU NEED ME" - B.M.I. - 1:51
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1956
Released: - August 2000
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16405-8 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 17

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Unknown Artist
Unknown Musicians

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR UNKNOWN MALE QUARTET
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM PHILLIPS OR OTHERS

This recording has previously been credited inaccurately to "Hunki Dori". Despite extensive research with gospel scholars of international repute, we can still not identify the quartet. We can, however, tell that it was not Hunky (or Hunki) Dori. The confusion was natural. Hunki Dori was a Memphis radio personality and disc jockey, whose broadcast appeared regularly over WLOK.

Apparently, at some point around 1956, he brought a quartet into Sun to audition for Sam Phillips. At least two sessions were held - one a cappella and one featuring s small combo. Both secular and rhythm and blues/doo wop material were recorded. If Sam Phillips ever knew the identity of the quartet, he does not now recall it. The tapes were stored in a box bearing Hunky Dori's name, presumably as contact person.

01 - "I'M WORKING ON A BUILDING" - B.M.I. - 2:13
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1956
Released: - 2000
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16387-6 mono
SUN GOSPELS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Unknown Male Quartet

This quartet has remained resistant to identification over the years. It may simply be the case that they did not exist as a discrete recording group. There were a number of quartet trainers active in Memphis's burgeoning gospel scene, and these singers may simply have been one of their projects. At the least, it is clear from this and other session tapes that they were well rehearsed. Their performances, however, may have been confined to Wednesday night prayer meeting in long disappeared neighborhood churches.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR GENE ROSS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS PROBABLY 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT

We knew very little about Gene Ross. Judging from the cohesion, Ross was performing with his own band, but its unclear if this is an actual Sun recording or a submitted demo. Ross became much-traveled but little documented. He went on to record for Spry Records in Los Angeles (the highly regarded "Rockin' China Doll"), Herald Records in New York (a cover of "Endless Sleep" that was issued on Parlophone in England), and for Time Records in New York City. Beyond that, we know nothing.

01 - "EVERYBODY'S TRYING TO KISS MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:12
Composer: - Gene Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Charlie Records (LP) 33rpm CPCD 8137-17 mono
UNISSUED SUN MASTERS
Reissued: - 1999 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16311-15 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 16

"Everybody's Trying To Kiss My Baby" is a spirited performance that tries to integrate the vocal group sound with good old three-chord rockabilly.

02 - ''LITTLE ONE''
Composer: - Gene Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1956

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Gene Ross - Vocal
Unknown Musicians

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

THE STORY ABOUT - Before leaving Sun Records, Tommy Blake may have bequeathed Sam Phillips with Gulf Coast songwriter Jonas Ross, otherwise known as Gene or Jerry Ross. Ross supposedly recorded two titles for the yellow label during 1958 or 1959 and appears to have partnered with Tommy Blake as a song writer around the time of the latters second Sun session. This speculative claim is based on the fact that Ross co-inked "I Dig You Baby" with Blake, while both names also appear on "Sweetie Pie", a song that was originally written by Dale Hawkins and Carl Adams (Hawkins' originally unissued version of the tune was recorded in Chicago for Chess Records late in 1957 and featured Carl Adams on guitar).

However, the two tunes that Gene Ross cut for Phillips, "Everybody's Trying To Kiss My Baby" and "Little One" as by Gene Ross, offer sparse evidence as to the relation between Blake and Ross, due to the lack of writer credits on "Everybody's Trying To Kiss My Baby", which is the only title from Ross' session that has surfaced to date. The sole clue that solidifies the affirmation of a partnership between Ross and Blake is a seven-inch record that Ross cut for the Shreveport based Murco label in 1959. The top deck of the Murco single, "Everybody's Tryin'" (Murco 1016) as by Jerry Ross, is identical in every aspect to the earlier Sun version and credits Thomas Givens and Jonah Ross as the writers. Givens was Blake's given surname and provides ample proof that Blake and Ross did work together as songwriters. The flip of Ross' Murco disc, "Small Little Girl", may be a reworking of his still missing Sun demo "Little One".

Blake and Ross may have worked together on a handful of other tunes as well, indicated by the entry of "Alright" in BMI's online database, along with the curious "You And I", which was credited to the trio of Betty Givens (Blake's wife), 'Ross' Givens and Jerry Ross. 'Ross' Givens was, most likely, an input error on BMI's part and is actually Tommy Blake. Little else is known of Ross, aside from a few other records that appeared under the name of Gene Ross on Herald (the Al Silver owned label?), Indie, Spry (a re-issue of the Indie release) and Time. Furthermore, Ross' association with Blake seems to have ended some time in 1959 when Blake struck a second songwriting partnership, this time with Carl Belew.

Liner notes taken from: Copyright © Blackcat Rockabilly

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR TOMMY RUICK
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS PROBABLY 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE PROBABLY 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT

Tommy Ruick is another name on a tape box with neither a face nor a biography to go with it. He probably came to Sun Records in the mid-1950s. Sam Phillips' assistant Marion Keisker maintained a notebook from earliest times until 1956, and Ruick merits one entry. Ruick has an appealing vibrato-laden voice, but his demo's weren't worked up for release.

01 - "PRISONER OF THE BLUES" - B.M.I. - 1:39
Composer: - Tommy Ruick
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1026-10 mono
ROCKABILLY TUNES
Reissued: - 1999 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16311-22 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 16

02(1) - "DON'T COME CRYIN'" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Tommy Ruick
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1026-9 mono
ROCKABILLY TUNES

02(2) - "DON'T COME CRYIN'" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Tommy Ruick
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1030-10 mono
ROCKIN' ROLLIN' COUNTRY STYLE

03 - "LET 'EM KNOW'" - B.M.I. - 1:43
Composer: - Tommy Ruick
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1026-11 mono
ROCKABILLY TUNES
Reissued: - 1998 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8317-14 mono
ESSENTIAL SUN ROCKABILLIES - VOLUME 5

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Tommy Ruick - Vocal and Guitar
Hank Hanlain - Guitar
Johnny Bernero - Drums
Dexter Johnson - Bass
Johnny Ace – Saxophone

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

An obscure rockabilly singer, born in St. Louis on September 2, 1920, and became a bit player on the Memphis music scene for several decades, starting with the Swift Jewel Cowboys. The Cowboys consisted of Pee Wee Wamble on trumpet, Jose Cortez on fiddle, Kokomo Crocker on accordion, Slim Hall on guitar, and Macy (then known as Cactus Pete') on bass. Jim Sanders and Bill Thompson were the vocalists.

Macy Skipper married Marie "Sally Carter" Ehrett, who had sung with Gene Austin (the originator of "My Blue Heaven"), and they moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1943. They began performing together in Memphis around 1951. "In recent years", the Memphis Press Scimitar reported in November 1957. "Skipper has had his biggest following among the teenage crowd with a seven-piece orchestra".

STUDIO SESSION FOR MACY SKIPPER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS PROBABLY 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE PROBABLY 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT

The fact that Macy Skipper recorded for Sun Records wasn't revealed until a serious excavation of the out-take boxes was conducted in the 1980s.

Skipper is clearly drawing on traditions quite different from the majority of Sun rockabillies. The veneer of sophistication makes his music more akin to Bill Justis than anyone else. After failing to secure a release on Sun Records in 1956, he recorded for a start-up label, ”Quick Sand Love”\”Who Put The Squeeze On Eloise” (Light 2020) for Light Records, owned by a local theatre owner, M.A. Lightman. After Light Records, Skipper recorded an instrumental single “Goofin' Off”\”Night Rock”(Stax 117) for Stax Records, in 1960, and the Stax correspondence file reveals that they tried to lease it to RCA without success.

From that point, Skipper worked society functions, country clubs and the like, all the while holdings down a day job as a government equipment inspector, right up until his death on April 17, 2001.

01 - "BOP PILLS" - B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: - Macy Skipper-Melton McNatt
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Probably 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1023-2 mono
ROCK AND ROLL PILLS
Reissued: - 1999 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16311-23 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 16

02 - ''WATCH THAT STUFF'' - B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Macy Skipper
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1956
Released: 1985
First appearance: – Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1023-5 mono
ROCK AND ROLL PILLS
Reissued: 1997 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8236 mono
ESSENTIAL SUN ROCKABILLIES - VOLUME 4

03 - ''SLOW ROCK AND ROLL'' - B.M.I. - 3:09
Composer: - Macy Skipper-Melton McNatt
Publisher: - Jack Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1956
Released: 1985
First appearance: – Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1023-8 mono
ROCK AND ROLL PILLS
Reissued: 1993 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CPCD 8161 mono
ESSENTIAL SUN ROCKABILLIES - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Macy Skipper - Vocal and Bass
Brad Suggs - Guitar
Melton McNatt - Piano
Nelson Grilli - Tenor Saxophone
Slick Glissom - Drums

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CURLEY GRIFFIN
AT MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS PROBABLY 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR JACK CLEMENT

Curley Griffin is chiefly revered by rock and roll collectors for his role in the creation of "Dixie Fried" and "Boppin' The Blues". Curley wasn't content to sit in the background, though; he wanted to be on Bandstand, too.

Born Malcolm Howard Griffin on June 6, 1918, he was partially sighted and attended a school for the blind. He was on radio WDXI in Jackson, Tennessee when he met Carl Perkins. According to Perkins, Curley came up with the idea for both "Dixie Fried" and Boppin' The Blues", but Curley's claim-to-fame really ends there. He recorded several selfproduced singles for Atomic Records.

A tape was sent to Sun because Sun's publishing company, Hi-Lo, handled the publishing. As can be deduced, Curley really wasn't much of a vocalist, although he made up in enthusiasm, what he lacked in finesse. According to Carl Perkins, Curley Griffin died in 1964 or 1965.

01 - "GOT ROCKIN' ON MY MIND" - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Howard Griffin
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - 1999
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16311-17 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 16

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Curley Griffin - Vocal and Guitar
Ron Griffin - Lead Guitar
Unknown Musicians

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

1956

How could there not be a place for Jimmy Lee Wages on Sun's release schedule?. His recordings are a fierce expression of hillbilly torment. When he attempted a song with a melody, like ''Heartbreakin' Love'', he sounded almost mundane and his vocal weaknesses were magnified, but his riff-driven songs, ''Mad Man'', ''Take Me From This Garden Of Evil'', and ''Miss Pearl'', stand on a par with the work of Howlin' Wolf, Charley Patton or any Mississippi primitive. Wages' songs even had quasi-blues architecture, repeating the first line. Most rockabilly songs value or exalt women, but Wages' subtext is much darker. ''Miss Pearl, Miss Pearl daylight have caused you to hang your head, go home'' or ''You treat me like a mad man, runnin' from me all the time''. Definitely not standard fare. If Sam Phillips had been behind the glass, he might have responded to Wages; tortured hillbilly-rockabilly-blues. Instead, it was Jack Clement manning the board, and this was truly music from another planet to Clement, and he placed it where he thought such music belonged: the shelf.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JIMMY WAGES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINNER - JACK CLEMENT

Jimmy Lee Wages was one of the undiscovered jewels of the Sun outtake boxes. This was dark, perverse, impenetrable music from the bowels of Mississippi. The warped view of women, reflected on both "Mad Man" and "Miss Pearl", was especially disturbing. Jimmy Wages believes that "Mad Man" was cut at his first session in April 1956, and featured Jerry Lee Lewis and J.M. Van Eaton.

01 - "HEARTBREAKIN' LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:17
Composer: - Jimmy Wages
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1026-6 mono
ROCKABILLY TUNES
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm Charly MID 8118 mono
ESSENTIAL SUN ROCKABILLIES - VOLUME 2

Like several of his Sun confreres, notably Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Wages's music has a tortured side. Bizarre, quasi-religious images are mixed with disturbing personal themes. Jimmy's vision of women (conveyed in ''Miss Pearl'' and ''Mad Man'') is unsettling, to say the least. The conflict between good and evil and ritualized moral judgement are embodied in ''Take Me'' (originally titled ''Garden Of Evil''). If anything, Wages' songs are even more revealing than Lewis' since, unlike Jerry Lee, Jimmy Wages wrote all of his own material.

Jimmy Wages was a true musical primitive. His voice, never a trained or precision instrument, was adequate to deliver his often bizarre lyrics. The musical accompaniment on his recordings is undisciplined and unorthodox, despite the presence of several stalwart session men (including J.M. Van Eaton) along with Gene Simmons' bass player, Jessie Carter. The sides project a wild, barely controlled charm and, in one case, a totally out of place steel guitar.

The lyrics to Wages' songs are often raw, unpolished folk poetry. At the risk of over-using the word ''tortured'', that's the best description of the thoughts and images in Wages' music. These are far from commercial pop songs, but are nevertheless quite effective because of the obvious urgency with which the lyrics are delivered. Jimmy's soul was very close to the surface when he wrote and performed this material. As producer Jack Clement surmised when he decided not to release any of it, few people would have had an easy time connecting with Jimmy Wages and his music. Even when rockabilly was as its peaks, this was not saleable product. Wages, of course, sang from his heart and had mo perspective whatsoever about such issues. He wanted to be a piano-sounding rocker. It didn't occur to him that the kids on Bandstand wouldn't be dancing to his tortured (there's that word again) messages about predatory women. Anyway you sliced it, this was not mainstream music. Certainly it was out of place in an era of ''Teenage Queens''. Jack Clement - arguably the worst imaginable producer for Jimmy Wages - knew it in a heartbeat, although he, too, must have been fascinated by the show in the studio as Wages ran through his repertoire.

Half a century later, we don't have to concern ourselves with what the kids will be buying or dancing to. You want a deep look at rockers in the Sun vaults? This is what you get. It is both compelling and revealing music. For all its chaos and pain and sheer drive, Jimmy Wages' small recorded legacy is what the best southern music is all about: blues, hillbilly, gospel morality plays, pain, conflict, nightmares and, most of all, unbridled honesty.

02(1) - "TAKE ME (GARDEN OF EVIL)" - B.M.I. - 2:23
Composer: - Jimmy Wages
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - 1985
First appearance: - Sun England (LP) 33rpm LP 1026-7 mono
ROCKABILLY TUNES
Reissued: - August 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16210-5 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 14

02(2) - "TAKE ME (GARDEN OF EVIL)" - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Jimmy Wages
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-7-19 mono
SUN - THE ROCKING YEARS - THE CHAINS OF LOVE
Reissued: - May 29, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-5-19 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959

Jack Clement was the company representative who gave the somewhat off-the-wall chanter a shot at Sun, and the rabid ? Miss Pearl? became the undounted highlight of his visit.

03 - "MISS PEARL" - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Jimmy Wages
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated - Ridgetop Music
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - 1978
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30147-12 mono
SUN SOUND SPECIAL - RAUNCHY ROCKABILLY
Reissued: - August 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16210-20 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 14

04(1) - "MAD MAN" (1) - B.M.I. - 2:10
Composer: - Jimmy Wages
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-7-16 mono
SUN RECORDS – THE ROCKING YEARS - THE CHAINS IN LOVE
Reissued: - 1999 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16311-27 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 16

The Commercial prospects for Jimmy Wages singing "Mad Man" weren't too bright at any point, but that doesn't mean that this isn't stark and compelling music. In its way, its as good as anything ever recorded at Sun Records.

04(2) - "MAD MAN" (2) - B.M.I. - 2:00
Composer: - Jimmy Wages
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1956
Released: - November 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 106-7-20 mono
SUN RECORDS – THE ROCKING YEARS - THE CHAINS IN LOVE
Reissued: - May 29, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313-5-20 mono
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959

In August 1983 in an interview with Colin Escott, after an question, how he did make his first contact with Sun Records?, Jimmy Wages says, ''I knew all the musicians in Tupelo like the Miller Sisters. We were doing club dates together all around. And they were going up there to record so one day we decided we'd go up there and try. The guy we saw wasn't Sam Phillips. It was Jack Clement. He kept us coming back. We did four or five sessions. I kept recording my songs. Everything I did was my material. It was 8 or 10 songs, I think. I can't recall them all. There was ''Garden Of Evil'', ''Mad Man'', Miss Pearl''. When I made the master for ''Mad Man'', we were in the studio for five hours. That was the way Jack Clement worked. You'd go for an hour, then he'd say 'I'm going to let you rest awhile. Go get a cup of coffee'. Then after 30 minutes you'd get back to work again. Some of the other songs we did were just demos. We were just trying out the material''.

05 - "UNKNOWN TAPE FRAGMENT" - B.M.I. - 0:30
Composer: - Jimmy Wages
Publisher: - Sun Entertainment Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1956
Released: - August 2000
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16405-34 mono
THAT'LL FLAT GIT IT! - VOLUME 17
Reissued: 2009 Burning Fire Records Internet iTunes MP3-1 mono
ROCKABILLY ON FIRE

Aural evidence suggests that this 30-sec fragment is the work of rockabilly legend Jimmy Wages. The only problem is that what we have here, brief as it is, is not part of any of the four titles Wages is known to have recorded for Sun - all of which have been issued, along with various alternate takes. In a 1981 interview, Wages indicated to Colin Escott that he had recorded more than the four titles we knew about over the course of several sessions. Until now, no trace of those recordings has been found. On the evidence of this tape fragment, Wages' memory may indeed be right.

Despite its fragmentary nature, this tantalizing snippet comes close to near-erfect rockabilly. The instrumental sound is wonderful and the swampy recording style only enhances the bluesy tension of the performance. If this is indeed Jimmy Wages, we can only hope that future visits to the Sun vault will unearth a more complete version of this track, which may well be Wages' finest recording for the Sun label.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jimmy Wages - Vocal and Guitar
Unknown Group Including:
Ray Harris - Guitar
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Jessie Carter - Bass

Cannot be the case because Jerry Lee Lewis and Van Eaton weren't around Sun at the time, and there's no piano on the session. Jimmy Wages remembered that drummer Jack Rearkic from Amory, Mississippi was on the sessions, Grady Pannell from Tupelo was on guitar, and Jessie Carter was on bass, so it might be those local musicians that we're hearing.

According to Wages, ''For quite a while I thought Sun was going to put something out and I kept waiting. After a while I gave up. A few years after the last session, I went up to Sun and tried to get hold of my tapes, I said 'If you guys won't release anything there are other labels that might'. But Jack Clement said 'No, we can't do that. We have our own sound here. We can't let you have those tapes'. So I never got anything. They never charged me for the studio or the musicians. At the time they were trying anything they could. There was such a boom in that kind of music. Orbison had just come in and he was trying his stuff. There were 25 other artists there at least. Later on I went to Hi Records when Ray Harris was there. I cut a session but nothing ever came out. We didn't get a good cut''.

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Jimmy Lee Wages was one of the great finds in the Sun vaults. A man of singularly warped vision and a true musical primitive, he was a little too deep into left-field even for Sun in its heyday. Quasi-religious images and a distinctly ambivalent attitude toward woman color his work.

Jimmy has lived in Tupelo all his life and worked in construction whilst quality time at weekends was spent playing gigs alongside other locals such as Ray Harris and The Miller Sisters, and says he's not only the same age as Elvis Presley, but went to school with him.

He followed the familiar path to Sun's door, and Jack Clement recorded him. James Wood and his band backed Jimmy on one session and his band called Jimmy "The Catman", and that apparently became his local nickname.

As far as we know, Jimmy Wages had one record on Tombigbee Records and another on the Nashville based Cavalcade International Records. His brother, Ben, also worked in music as a bandleader and disc jockey on KWAM, Memphis. His early shows must have been something to behold. After Sun, Jimmy tried out at Hi Records and for Stan Kesler. He became a club act, touring as far afield as California. "I'm just one who tried and didn't make it", he says with remarkably little rancor. "I got a lot of company".

TRUE STORY ABOUT JIMMY - Jimmy Wages had recorded at least four unreleased sides for Sun in the middle 1950s but little is known of him. His music suggested that, even by Sun's standards, Wages was a rather unorthodox individual. Like several of his Sun confreres, notably Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Wages music has a tortured side. Bizarre, quasi-religious images are mixed with disturbing personal themes. Jimmy's vision of women (conveyed in ''Miss Pearl'' and ''Mad Man'') is unsettling to say the least. The conflict between good and evil and ritualized moral judgements are embodied in ''Take Me'' (originally titled ''Garden Of Evil''). If anything, Wages' songs are even more revealing than Lewis's since Wages, unlike Jerry Lee, wrote all of his own material. Jimmy Wages is a true musical primitive, his voice, never a trained or precision instrument, is adequate to deliver his often strange lyrics, The musical accompaniment on his recordings is undisciplined and unorthodox, despite the presence of several stalwart session men. The sides project a wild, out of control charm, including a totally out of place steel guitar, The lyrics to Wages songs are often raw, unpolished folk poetry. They are far from commercial pop songs, but are nevertheless quite effective because of the obvious urgency with which he delivers them.

Jimmy's soul was very close to the surface when he wrote and performed this material. As producer Jack Clement surmised when he decided not to release any of it, few people would have had an easy time connecting with Jimmy Wages' music. Even when rockabilly was at its peak, this was not mainstream music. Certainly it was out of place in an era of "Teenage Queens". But in an entirely different sense, this is both compelling and revealing music. For all its chaos and pain and sheer drive, Jimmy Wages' small recorded legacy is what the best southern music is all about: blues, hillbilly, gospel morality plays, pain, conflict, nightmares and, most of all, unbridled honesty.

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> Continued to: 1956 Sessions 1 (2) <

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©