FEBRUARY 9, 1952 SATURDAY
Rosco Gordon's ''Booted'' (Chess 1487) enters the National Billboard
Rhythm & Blues Charts and peaks at number 1 in a 13-week stay (number 15 rhythm and blues record of 1952).
At the beginning of February, Jules and Joe Bihari announced
the formation of a new label, Blues And Rhythm, ''which will concentrate on blues waxings from the Deep South'', with eighteen new artists already signed and a ''talent rep'' hired.
were, clearly, seizing upon a whole new trend. For the first time in many months, Hal Webman wrote in his column in Billboard, ''Rhythm & Blues Notes'': ''the down-home, Southern-style blues appears to have taken a solid hold... The Southern market appears
to have opened up to its widest extent in some time... (as) such artists as B.B. King, Howling Wolf, Rosco Gordon, Fats Domino, Sonny Boy Williamson, Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, Lowell Fulson, Billy Wright, Muddy Waters, etc., have taken a fast hold
in such market areas as New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, etc. Even the sophisticated big towns, like New York and Chicago, have felt the Southern blues influence in wax tastes.
FEBRUARY 13, 1952 WEDNESDAY
Studio session with Walter Bradford at the Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee. Session details unknown.
FEBRUARY 14, 1952 THURSDAY
Ray Price recorded his first hit ''Talk To Your Heart''.
Webb Pierce hires Tommy Hill, a future songwriter and record producer, as a fiddler in his band. Hill writes Pierce's ''Slowly'' and ''Red Sovine's Teddy Bear''.
FEBRUARY 15, 1952 FRIDAY
Chess and the Bihari brothers settled their ongoing squabble with an item in Billboard announcing,
''The Biharis turned over exclusive pact to Howlin' Wolf to the Chess Fraters, while Chess brothers gave four Rosco Gordon masters, and any claim to his contract, to Modern''. It seemed as if the Biharis might have gotten the better end of the deal, as Rosco's
Chess recording of ''Booted'' (the Biharis had their own version out) was rapidly climbing the charts, on its way to becoming Rosco Gordon's first number 1 hit. For Sam Phillips that just may have been the trigger. He had two number 1 rhythm and blues hits
now, and one number 4, in less than a year; he had discovered the Howlin' Wolf; and he had a wealth of talent still to record, but what did he have in the way of material reward to show for it?
FEBRUARY 18, 1952 MONDAY
Judy Kay ''Juice'' Newton is born at Lakehurst Naval Base, New Jersey. A distant descendent of Sir Isaac Newton, she earns
pop/country crossover hits during the 1980s with ''Queen Of Hearts'', ''Angel Of The Morning'' and ''Break It To Me Gently''.
Decca released Red Foley's two-sided hit,
''Milk Bucket Boogie'' and ''Salty Dog Rag''.
FEBRUARY 21, 1952 THURSDAY
Lee Lewis marries his first wife, Dorothy Barton, in Mississippi, after lying about his age on the application for the license.
Rhythm and blues magazine ''Beat'' report: ''Modern Records settled its differences with Chess Records of Chicago. The Biharis turned over exclusive pact to Howlin' Wolf to the Chess Fraters, while Chess brothers
gave four Rosco Gordon masters to Modern''.
Chess and the Biharis
resolved their conflict in an agreement by which Chess kept Howlin' Wolf and the Biharis kept Roscoe Gordon from Sun Records. Chess released their second Wolf single immediately after the deal was struck. Nevertheless, both Wolf and Roscoe would have to wait
a number of years to recapture their initial success.
"The first time I saw Howlin' Wolf", says Jim Dickinson on June 1990 in Hernando, Mississippi, "I was still too
young to know any better. It was the early 1950s. I was with my father at a warehouse in West Memphis, Arkansas. My father and the warehouse manager were counting cartons of clothes pins. Over the hum of the big band built into the wall I could hear what sounded
like jungle drums. I followed the pounding up wooden stairs to an office. Painted on the glass door was a lightning bolt and red letters KWEM RADIO. The door was open. Four negro men in unbleached work clothes were playing music. One man - bigger than the
others - was growling words I could not understand into a silver microphone.
I watched until my father found me. The music stuck in my head and wouldn't go away. I found
it later on the radio. KWEM - 1070 WDIA "The Black Spot On Your Dial" - WLOK 1340 with Hunky Dory - Dewey Phillips Red Hot And Blue on 56 WHBQ radio.
I had an older friend
with a 78rpm copy of Wolf's "I Love My Baby". I listened to it over and over. Then one day in Ruben Cherry's "Home Of The Blues" record shop on Beale Street, I saw the grey album cover with the drawing of a lone wolf howling to the moon. I took it to the check-out
counter, and Ruben said, 'Boy, you got the blues there'. "I was hooked. In 1958 my high school combo was playing versions of "Evil" and "Killing Floor" to our white teenaged Memphis audience. By the mid-1960s the Rolling Stones were playing Howlin' Wolf songs
to the world.
I have heard Sam Phillips say that his discovery of Wolf was more significant than his discovery of Elvis Presley. The Only artist to share the surreal
darkness of Robert Johnson, Wolf brings out his band an ensemble counterpoint unlike anything else in the blues. His voice seems to hang in the air, and make the room rumble with echo. His singing is so powerful that between the vocal lines the compressor-limiter
through which the mono recordings were made sucks the sound of the drum and the French harp up into the hole in the audio mix. Notes blend together and merge into melody lines that are not being 'played' by any one instrument. Wolf is not bound by the three-chord
blues pattern, and often seems to crass the bar lines of western music. He is a Primitive-Modernist, using chants and modal harmonies of the dark ritualist past brought up from mother Africa and slavery through electric amplifiers.
Like the unsolvable mystery of 'smokestack lightning', Howlin' Wolf contribution to the blues goes beyond musical phrases. The 'idea' of Howlin' Wolf makes blues history somehow deeper and richer. Bloody but
unbowed, Chester Burnett is forever frozen in the time - space of these first recordings made by Sam Phillips. Howlin' Wolf sings out his frustrations, never surrendering to the hopeless situation of existence. The same giant pulled a plow like a man-mule
in the Mississippi Delta, and lived to ride a Shriners' mini-motorcycle on-stage at the Newport Folk Festival. He toured the world playing the blues, and would sit in his hotel room in his boxer shorts and do-rag, and imitate Senator Everett Dirkson. His life
is a legend. His legacy is a treasure as unique as the man himself. Share his vision of love, sex, death, and man's predicament in the Universe. Heed the call of the Wolf, the haunted cry of an animal alone in the night. And that music, loved Elvis Presley".
Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner leave Sun Records for Chess Records in Chicago. Sam
Phillips need to find new talent ever pressing, he turned to a precocious young piano player named Rosco Gordon. Eddie Hill leaves Memphis to work for WSM radio in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sam Phillips borrowed some money from Nashville record magnate Jim Bulleit to begin his Sun Records operation. Sam learned a great deal
from Bulleit. Bulleit's company provided another model for Sun Records. Sam Phillips reasoned he could duplicate its success in Memphis. "I thought I could maybe make a go of a company that just recorded rhythm and blues numbers", Phillips recalled.
Sam Phillips started off with a flurry of recording activity at the end of February
1952. He cut a seventeen-year-old disc jockey from Forrest City, Arkansas, Walter Bradford, with more of a gift for self-promotion than for singing, then on the same day scheduled another Joe Hill Louis session, but this one, marked ''SCP'', for himself. Veteran
blues singer Jack Kelly ''came with ''Mumbles'' Horton for session'', Marion Keisker noted in the logbook, and in due course Sam sent the dubs off to Chess, along with dubs from the Walter Bradford session. Then on March 1 he recorded a fifteen-year-old sophomore
from Melrose High School, one of Memphis' three colored institutions, each with its own distinguished music program, who had been coming by with his little rhythm and blues combo, the Rockets, for the past few weeks.