A Third Rockabilly Selection...

So, that was Rockabilly month.
I've learned something from it- that what I look for above all else in music is excitement, and listening to these acts from the early days of Rockabilly has certainly given me plenty of that. It has also reinforced my view that music gets its power from simplicity.
My belief in the importance of Elvis has also been renewed- the right man in the right place at the right time, he ignited a cultural phenomenon that has shaped the lives of millions of people over almost sixty years. Rockabilly was happening anyway, but it would have remained a rather obscure form of country music without the transcendent impact of Elvis.
I hope that some of our readers have taken the chance to listen to some really great artists who they might otherwise have missed, in particular Mr Rockabilly himself, the great Mr Charlie Feathers.

Rock And Roll With Mom And Dad Bill Davenport & His Circle D Ranch Hands; I Need Some Lovin' Harold Allen; Lovin' Honey Gene Morris; Shook Shake Ken Davis; Betty Ann Cruisers; Rattle Shakin' Mama Mel McGonnigle; Shake It Up Baby Frankie Dee; Be My Baby F.D. Johnson With The Missouri Valley Boys; Hang Out Lloyd Arnold; It's Rock And Roll Jack Winston & The Hi-Jacks; Rock N' Roll Saddles The Whitecaps with Johnny Edwards; Sugar Sweet David Houston; If You Love My Woman Jimmy Witter & The Shadows; I Hate Myself Al Sweatt With Johnnie Cale & The Valentines; Hey Jibbo  Art Wood; Robinson Crusoe Bop Sonny Cole & The Rhythm Roamers; Full-Grown Cat The McCoys; Rhythm Guitar Carl Miller; Love Bug Crawl Jim Billington; Rock, Baby, Rock Bob Hicks & The Fenders; Barefoot Baby  Janis Martin; Rock-A-Bye-Baby  Skeeter Bonn; Oooh-Wee  Ric Cartey; Jungle Rock Hank Mizell; Rakin' And Scrapin' Dean Beard; Flying Saucers Rock 'N' Roll Billy Lee Riley; A Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache Warren Smith;   Brand New Cadillac Vince Taylor; Red Hot Billy Riley And The Little Green Men; Stutterin' Papa Buck Griffin; Matchbox Carl Perkins.

I know Vince Taylor was English, but I just love the number!



Purists often insist that acoustic rhythm guitar, electric lead guitar and stand up bass are all you need for the authentic rockabilly sound. No drums. The percussive effects come from the slap bass -consider That's Alright- the seminal Rockabilly disc-Elvis Presley vocals and rhythm guitar, Scotty Moore on lead guitar, and Bill Black on upright 'slapped' bass. The recording contains no drums or additional instruments.

Even the great Charlie Feathers said:
And drums don't really work with rockabilly. They collide with the bass. It isn't really rockabilly if you use drums. That turns it into just rock. Well, drums are OK on rockabilly if it's just a running lick, like Buddy Holly's 'Peggie Sue' - that's rockabilly, when you keep that flow going. That's what Scotty Moore (sic) and them gave Elvis. But if it's laid-down, straight backbeat, like Carl Perkins had, that isn't rockabilly. Half the drummers don't know how to drum, to start with. They're timekeepers, that's all they are, with no dynamics. And dynamics, that's part of the show in rockabilly. That is exactly what it's all about, right there.

But check out the drumming of D. J. Fontana on Elvis' 'My Baby Left |Me'- sublime. Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps, Carl Perkins, The Rock n Roll Trio (on record at least,The Rock n Roll Trio used session drummers for recordings) all featured drummers.

W.S Holland was Johnny Cash's drummer for about a million years. His illustrious career started out with Carl Perkins in a most unusual manner. Holland would beat out a rhythm on the body of  Jay Perkins' bass:
"On a Saturday night, Carl said, 'We've got an audition at Sun Records next week,'" Holland remembered. "'Get some drums and go with us.' I told him I'd never played drums, but I borrowed a set the next day. I set them up backwards, because I didn't know the difference. Tuesday, I went and played with them at the Cotton Boll. Thursday morning, we went to Memphis...On the way back to Jackson, we were all laughing about it," Holland said. "I mean, the second time I ever sat on a drum stool in my life, I played on a record."

DJ Fontana was staff drummer for the Louisiana Hayride. Country Music had no place for drums in those days- not visible drums at least, and DJ played behind the stage curtain. The first time he played with Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys was on October 16, 1954. He played behind the curtain as usual, but after that date he played out in front with the rest of the band, and joined Elvis' group full-time in August of 1955.

In Gene Vincent's 'Be-Bop-A-Lula,' an undeniable rockabilly classic, Vincent's Blue Cap drummer Dickie Harrell demonstrated that it wasn't necessarily the volume of the beat that made it work, but the manner in which it was delivered. In 'Be-Bop-A-Lula,' a Top 10 hit in 1956, Harrell used brushes instead of drumsticks and created a sexy, circular snare drum rhythm. He moved the song along with innuendo and cool dynamics. A very hip drum part, it's a perfect example of the way restraint in drumming can give the music momentum and power.

Max Weinberg - Let There Be Drums sleeve notes.


Cliff Gallup (1930-1988)

With the utmost respect to Scotty Moore and Paul Burlison, I'm not going to argue with anyone who claims that Cliff Gallup was the most exciting guitarist in Rockabilly. Cliff's place amongst the true legends of Rock music rests on the 35 surviving tracks from 9 sessions with Gene Vinvcent And His Blue Caps at Bradley Film & Recording Studio Nashville, with Ken Nelson at the controls.

May 4, 1956
       1. Race With The Devil  Released on single CAPITOL F 3530 (1956). Tab  
2. Be-Bop-A-Lula Released on single CAPITOL F 3450 (1956). Tab
3.Woman Love Released on single CAPITOL F 3450 (1956). Tab
4. I Sure Miss You Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps CAPITOL T811 (1957)

June 24, 1956
   5. Jezebel Released on the LP Bluejean Bop CAPITOL T764 (1956) 
6.Crazy Legs  Released on single CAPITOL F 3617 (1957)
7.Peg O' My Heart Released on the LP Bluejean Bop (1956) 
8. Wedding Bells (Are Breaking Up that Old Gang Of Mine) Released on the LP Bluejean Bop (1956) .
June 25, 1956
9.Waltz Of The Wind Released on the LP Bluejean Bop (1956) .
10. Up A Lazy River Released on the LP Bluejean Bop (1956) .
11. Ain't She Sweet Released on the LP Bluejean Bop (1956) .
12. Gonna Back Up Baby Released on single CAPITOL F 3530 (1956).  
13. Race With The Devil  (unissued / lost track)

June 26, 1956
14. Who Slapped John Released on single CAPITOL F 3558 (1956) and the LP Bluejean Bop (1956) .   
15. Jumps Giggles And Shout Released on the LP Bluejean Bop (1956) .
16. Bluejean Bop Released on single CAPITOL F 3558(1956) and the LP Bluejean Bop (1956) .   Tab
17. I Flipped Released on the LP Bluejean Bop (1956) 

June 27, 1956
18. Bop Street Released othe LP Bluejean Bop  (1956) . Tab
19.Well, I Knocked Bim Bam Released on the Compilation LP Teenage Rock CAPITOL T1009 (1958)
20. You Told A Fib Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957)
21.Jump Back,Honey,Jump Back Released on the LP Bluejean Bop (1956) 

October 15, 1956
22. Teenage Partner (version 1) Released othe LP  A Gene Vincent Record DateCAPITOL T1059 (1958)
23. Blues Stay Away From Me Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957)
24. Five Feet Of Lovin' (version 1) Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957)
25. Cat Man Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957)
October 16, 1956
26. Double Talkin' Baby Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957)
27. Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957)
28. Unchained Melody Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957) 

October 17, 1956
29. B-I-Bickey-Bi Bo Bo Go Released on single CAPITOL F 3678 (1957)
30. Pink Thunderbird Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957)
31. Pretty, Pretty Baby Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957)
32. Cruisin'  Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957) Tab

October 18, 1956
33. Important Words (version 1) Released on single CAPITOL F 3617(1957)
34. You Better Believe Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957)
35. Red Bluejeans And A Pony Tail Released on the LP Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957)
36. Five Days, Five Days Released on single CAPITOL F 3678 (1957)

Cliff used a flat pick and  fingerpicks on his middle and ring fingers, and operated the vibrato bar with his small finger.
Guitar =1955 Gretsch 6128 Duo-Jet

Amplifier = Standel 25L15 (26-Watts tube amp with a single 15-inch speaker)

In the mid sixties Cliff Gallup and his group, The Four C's, released an LP, entitled Straight Down the Middle. It's very hard to find! Haven't even located a rip of it. 

Interesting to read that Cliff , who being a family man was reluctant to go on the road, went back to working in school maintenance. His obituary made no mention of his music career.

There's some good info on Cliff's set up here: http://www.rockabillyhall.com/soundlikecliff.html

Here are all the surviving tracks that Cliff Gallup recorded with Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps:

Plundered from many sources!


Corky Jones- Hot Dog (1956)

I didn't say I wasn't gonna do rockabilly. I just said I ain't gonna sing no song that ain't a country song. I won't be known as anything but a country singer.
Buck Owens.

Lots of rockabilly artists came from a Country music background, others, such as Charlie Rich and Wanda Jackson enjoyed success in Rockabilly and then returned to the Country genre when the craze for Rockabilly subsided.
Country music legend Buck Owens released one Rockabilly 45. He used an alias because he didn't want to alienate his country music following.
These tracks are not ripped from the original, they're MP3s.


Rockabilly Stars, Volume 1

The following is lifted from a review of the 1982 compilation LP Rockabilly Stars, Volume 1:

With hindsight and experience we now can recognise how the foundations of rock n roll were to be found all over the thirties forties and fifties...
Rockabilly, as a musical genre, corresponds emotionally and, for the most part, geographically and temporally to that segment of Elvis’ career that stretched from (That’s Alright Mama) until his induction into the army in 1958.
The early rockabilly artists, raised on a diet of White Country and Hillbilly music, began, at the urging of Elvis’ mentor, Sam Phillips, of Sun Records, to listen to Black Blues and jazz, and affect black vocal styles…

And they made extensive use of the instrument that became literally and metaphorically the voice of a generation- the amplified electric guitar.
Though recorded electric guitar solos date back to the thirties…by the fifties Les Paul had ‘whitened’ and began to popularise the sound. The Rockabillies’ more forthrightly sensual lyrics grafted perfectly onto the guitar sound that was raw, aggressive and devoid of soft sentimentality. It was a sound that established the existence if a generation. Young peoples feelings and fantasies were codified and publicly expressed. The artists spoke for as well as to their audience. And when the slithering, sensuous music was universally condemned, it took on still greater meaning as a challenge to the morals and aesthetics of the older generation.

Tom Bentkowski New York Magazine 25 Jan 1982

So am I posting the record? Nope. The curious thing about the album is that it's not really Rockabilly! Throughout there's lashings of fiddles, slide guitar, honky tonk pianos, even saxophones and chorus backing singers.  Generally speaking what we have is a lot of 1950's (ish) country-pop and straight Rock n Roll with all the trimmings. I'm sure loads of Rockabillies in the 80's must have been mightily frustrated on hearing this selection.  Look elsewhere if you want a slice of the authentic music that the review refers to but which is curiously absent from this particular disc.

If you want to check it out for yourselves it's posted here: http://avaxhome.ws/music/rock/rnr_rock_n_roll_roots/rockabilly/va__rockabilly_stars1.html


Elvis Presley- The Sun Sessions (1954- 55)

Beale Street- 'Colored Memphis'

Dewey Phillips of  WHBQ- listeners sometimes mistook him for an African American.  A white DJ who played black music. The first DJ to play an Elvis record on the radio and the first person to interview Elvis.  

Elvis' friend and bodyguard Jerry Schilling
We can never forget that rock and roll was born out of segregation. It was dangerous for us to go down to Beale Street to buy our records. Our parents would have grounded us forever if they found out. It was a totally segregated society. Beale Street was black. Main Street was white. In the middle of all of that, Dewey Phillips played a record called 'That's All Right Mama' by a boy from Humes High School. He had to say Humes High School, because the audience would then know that he was white. Dewey played predominately black music. When 'That's All Right Mama' came on the radio, it was so exciting. It rolled it into something to be a part of.

Taken from elvis.com.au:

'Down in Tupelo, Mississippi', Elvis told a white reporter for 'The Charlotte Observer' in 1956, he used to listen to Arthur Crudup, the blues singer who originated That's All Right, Elvis' first record. Crudup, he said, used to 'bang his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place where I could feel all old Arthur felt, I'd be a music man like nobody ever saw'. It was statements like these that caused Elvis to be seen as something of a hero in the black community;in those early years. In Memphis the two African-American newspapers'The Memphis World' and 'The Tri-State Defender', hailed him as a race man- not just for his music but also for his indifference to the usual social distinctions.
In June 1956, 'The Memphis World' newspaper reported, 'the rock 'n' roll phenomenon cracked Memphis's segregation laws by attending the Memphis Fairgrounds amusement park 'during what is designated as 'colored night'.Elvis also attended the otherwise  segregated WDIA black radio station's annual fund-raiser for 'needy Negro children' at Memphis' Ellis Auditorium.

From a transcript of The Biography of America.

You've got to understand, Memphis is an interesting place. It's a convergent point really for two immigration movements. The immigration of whites, of Scotch-Irish and Irish descent through the Appalachian Mountains
We often call their music hillbilly music, okay? Rockabilly they often called it. At the same time lots of these people were living in Memphis.
And just below Memphis, all the way down from Memphis to Vicksburg, is a place called the Delta, the great cotton planting region of the South at the time of the Civil War. And Memphis is a cotton-exporting center. And there's a lot of poverty in the Delta, but there's rich music coming out of the Delta. Howling Wolf, and all the early greats like B.B. King, blues singers are coming out of there.And they're migrating to a place called Beale Street, which is almost an all-black entertainment section in Memphis. And Beale Street fascinates Elvis. And he and his friends started to go down there along with another -- a couple of other white rebel kids. And then more and more of these kids started to go there.
And the interesting thing is that a lot of the black clubs wouldn't let white kids in. They started to let them in, but they roped them off into a separate section. Then all of a sudden, the music gets going, the rope goes down and everybody's out there dancing.
And that's taboo. This is the solid south, the segregationist south. And Memphis is a bastion of segregation. So this is a strange city for a revolution like this to take place.

And a revolution it was, because people like Elvis were not only playing black music; but when Elvis hit it, and he hit it because he got hooked up with a guy named Sam Phillips. And Sam Phillips was an interesting kind of entrepreneur. He wasn't a social revolutionary; he was out to make a little money. He was a record producer with Sun Records.
And he used to say to himself, "What I need, if I really want to make a lot of money in this section of the country is, I need a white kid that can sing like a black guy." And Elvis happened to stumble into his studio one day and cut a record, That's All Right Mama. And Phillips said, "There's the guy, there's the guy." And Elvis simply took off after that. And people are listening to his music. But get this, they're white kids listening to his music, and the white kids are picking up also on the black music...

Some more Elvis stuff:

An interesting blog...

Downloadable audio files of interviews with Sam Phillips...

Elvis at Sun, the 1976 release of Elvis' early recordings (lossless)

Hats off to the sterling work of the original posters...


Mac Curtis

Texan Wesley Erwin "Mac" Curtis, Jr. fronted a  Rockabilly trio when he was in high school. One of their shows was stopped due to the 'lewd and sexually suggestive' gyrations that Mac made on stage. 
There's a story that has a friend of Mac's interrupting a practice session with the news 'there's a guy that sounds like you and he's got a record on the jukebox at the Dairy Queen'- the record in question being by Elvis Presley.
 Mac played on Alan Freed's 1956 Xmas show while still at high school.
Here are some sides that Mac cut for the King label in 1956 and 1957.

Tracks: Grandaddy's Rockin'; Goosebumps; Just So You Call Me; That Ain't Nothin' But Right; What You Want; Half Hearted Love; You Ain't Treatin' Me Right; If I Had Me a Woman; The Low Road; Don't You Love Me; Say So; Little Miss Linda; Half Hearted Love


Wanda Jackson -The Queen of Rockabilly (1956-1963)

Oklahoma's Wanda Jackson had her first hit in 1954- a Country number. As an 18 year old she toured (chaperoned) with Elvis Presley, who encouraged her to sing more  Rockabilly . Most of her output at this time was a hybrid of Country and Rockabilly, usually a Country number on one side of a record and a rocker on the other, but by 1957 she was rockin' full time.
In the first half of the 1960's she was known as The Queen of Rockabilly, with producer Ken Nelson  (who had turned her down for Capitol in 1954 on the grounds that Girls don't sell records ) modelling her sound on that of Gene Vincent.
In 1965 she returned to singing Country.

Tracks: Baby Loves Him; Mean Mean Man; Fujiyama Mama; Cool Love; Honey Bop; I Gotta Know; Let's Have a Party; Money Honey; Long Tall Sally; Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad; Searchin'; Savin' My Love; Kansas City; Hard Headed Woman; Tunnel of Love; My Baby Left Me; Sticks and Stones; Who Shot Sam? ; There's a Party Goin' On; Brown Eyed Handsome Man; You Don't Know Baby; Tongue Tied; Riot in Cell Block # 9; Slippin' and Slidin'; Fallin'; Rip It Up; Rock Your Baby; Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On; Honey Don't; Man We Had a Party


Johnny Carroll

Texan Johnny Carroll had very little commercial success during the heyday of Rockabilly, but enjoyed a new lease of life in the 1970's due to the attentions of European Rockabilly aficionados and a well received Gene Vincent tribute. 
He did , however, enjoy the 'distinction' of appearing in the 1957 movie Rock Baby Rock It, which was a showcase for Dallas Rock n Roll acts held together by a very dodgy storyline.

Tracks: Hearts Of Stone; Why Cry; Love Is A Merry-Go-Round; Stingy Thing; Crazy Little Mama; Sexy Ways; Cut Out; You Two-Timed Me One Time Too Often; You Made Me Love You; Hot Rock; Rock 'n' Roll Ruby; Wild Wild Women; Corrine Corrina; Crazy Crazy Lovin'; Tryin' To Get To You; Rock Baby, Rock It; The Swing; Bandstand Doll; Rag Mop; Run Come See; Crazy Crazy Lovin'.


Another Rockabilly Selection...

Rockabilly was a marriage of blues and hillbilly styles that caused a ruckus in the country music community as soon as it hit the market.
Coming fast and hard out of the south…rockabilly offered young and restless but still country rooted performers a chance to stretch and cut loose musically in ways never previously imagined. Rockabilly- for a few white-hot, powerful years, widened the scope and gave the younger generation a music all their own.
Rockabilly ignited at the point where country & western merged with blues and R&B.
Given the intense, raw energy the music produced, the simplicity of it all is astounding. At rockabilly’s core was the rhythm- a strong and steady beat made with just a guitar and a stand up bass played in a slapping style. An electric guitar cut through like a sharp knife, and on top of it all was a hillbilly hepcat singer packing a punkish attitude and an assortment of lurid yelps, hiccups and raspy cries- not to mention swaggering dance moves- that gave the music the threat of danger, that made it sexy.

Taken from: You Can't Catch Me: Rockabilly Busts Through the Door. In Country music: The Rough Guide
Kurt Wolff, Orla Duane - (2000)

Snaggletooth Ann Gene Norman & The Rocking Rockets; Phone Me Baby Bill Woods; Duck Tail  Joe Clay; Red Hot Mama Wayne Williams & The Sure Shots; Oakie Boogie Hank Swatley; Spaceship Life Blackie Jenkins & The Satellites; Rosie Let's Get Cozy  Dave Rich; Star Light, Star Bright  Nan Castle; I'm A Mean, Mean Daddy Paul Carnes; Rocking With The Rhythm And Blues Ronnie Haig; You Don't Bug Me Terry Daly & The Nu-Tones; Rock On The Moon Deacon & The Rock-N-Rollers; Moo Mama Myrick Ben Hall & The Country Drifters; Music To My Ear Speck And Doyle; That's The Way I Feel Jimme Pritchett; Goshmody Whatabody Glen Goza & The Damangos Impact; Down At Big Mamma's House Rex Hale & His Rhythm Masters; How Can You Be Mean To Me Dale Vaughan & The Starnotes; Eager Boy The Lonesome Drifter; TV Hop Morgan Twins; Nuthin' But A Nuthin'  Jimmy Stewart & The Night Hawks; Hepcat Boogie Fletcher Hanna With Red 'Joe' Rayner & His Ozark Playboys; Hep Cat Larry Terry; Let's Rock To-Nite Jimmy Grubbs & His Music Makers; Sweet Love Orangie Ray Hubbard; Just A-Walkin' Andy Starr & The Casinos; I'm Gonna Rock Some Too Hodges Brothers; That Ain't Nothing But Right  Joey Castle; Hootchy Cootchy  Curtis Long & The Rhythm Rockers; Lovin' Honey Gene Morris.


Carl Perkins

Carl Perkins' background was typical of the early Rockabilly star. From a family of poor Tennessee sharecroppers, Carl first played music on a cigar box guitar. He graduated to a second hand Gene Autry guitar and learned some blues off an African American field worker, John Westbrook, who Carl knew as "Uncle John." Legend has it that Carl re-tied his broken strings, which made sliding impossible, so he would bend to get his blue notes.
Here is the LP 'Best of The Sun Years':

Tracks; Blue Suede Shoes; Boppin’ The Blues; Honey Don't; Matchbox; Glad All Over; Movie Magg; Put Your Cat Clothes On; Gone, Gone, Gone; Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby; Dixie Fried; Honky Tonk Gal; Lend Me Your Comb; Sure To Fall; All Mama’s Children; Your True Love; Pink Pedal Pushers; I'm Sorry, I'm Not Sorry; That’s Right; Turn Around; Let The Juke Box Keep On Playing.


Eddie Cochran

Modern Rockabilly fans love authenticity, and when it  comes to guitars you can't get a much more Rockabilly look than this:

Eddie's Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins would have cost him $385 when he bought it from Bell Gardens Music Center in his hometown, Bell Gardens, CA. in 1955 ($3,160 at 2011 prices).

Tracks: Long Tall Sally; Pink Peg Slacks; Cut Across Shorty; Twenty Flight Rock; Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie; Nervous Breakdown; Skinny Jim; Sweetie Pie; C'mon Everybody; Somethin' Else; Summertime Blues.


A Rockabilly Selection

Rockabilly can be identified by the appearance (or absence) of a number of elements … devotees seem to advocate adding points for the following elements:
  • Obvious Presley influence
  • Performers with a country music background
  • Identifiable country and rhythm and blues inflections
  • Blues structures
  • Use of echo effect
  • Strong rhythm and beat
  • Emotion and feeling
  • A wild or extreme vocal style
  • An energetic blues influenced guitar solo
  • Upright bass, especially if played in a slap manner.
  • Moderate to fast tempo
  • A date of 1954, 1955 or 1956
  • Southern origin
Points are often removed for the following reasons:
  • Obvious commercial intent
  • Condescendingly juvenile lyrics
  • Chorus groups, especially female
  • Harmony singing
  • Bland or uninvolved singing
  • Saxophone
  • Electric bass
  • Piano, unless it is Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Weak rhythm
  • Black performers
  • Slower tempos
  • Every year after 1957 (until the revival)
  • Northern origins
The following elements score bonus points:
  • The performers perceived commitment to rockabilly (double if the performer is Charlie Feathers):  this may be bolstered by hair, clothes, posture, or vintage instruments in accepted rockabilly fashion
  • Acoustic guitar and electric guitar and upright bass but no drums
  • Obscurity
  • Sun label or Memphis origin
  • The influence of Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent or The Rock n Roll Trio ( for revival performers)

From: Go Cat Go!: Rockabilly Music And Its Makers by Craig Morrison (1996)

Tracks: Sixteen Chicks- Joe Clay, Born To Love One Woman- Ric Cartey, Six White Horses - Stan Johnson & The Blue Chips, New Shoes- Lee Denson, Little Boy Blue- Hoyt Johnson, Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll- Janis Martin , Woodpecker Rock - The Braves, Catty Town- Dick Glasser, Honey Bunn - Larry Donn, Baby Sittin' All The Time - Bob Hicks & The Fenders, Honky Tonk Mind- Tommy Blake, Teen Billy Baby – Sprouts, Don't Bug Me Baby- Milton Allen, Now Stop- Martha Carson, Milkcow Blues- Jimmie Rodgers Snow, I'm Hungry For Your Lovin' -Danny Dill, Heart Throb- Ric Cartey, One And Only- David Houston, I've Got A Dollar - Jimmy Dell, Rock Ola Ruby - Sonee West, Sweetest Thing - J. Mikel & The Fenders, Lonesome Baby Blues - David Ray, Sweet Rockin' Baby - Sonee West, Mary Nell- Autry Inman, Juke Box Rock - Dick Seaton & The Mad Lads, All Night Long - Tommy Blake, Rockin' Bones - Elroy Dietzel & The Rhythm Bandits, Just Thought I'd Set You Straight - Ted Harris, Dry Run - Parker Cunningham, Goodbye Train - Jim Floey & The Big Beats


Jerry Lee Lewis and his Pumping Piano

Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis (Employment Permit)

House of Commons Debate, 25th  June 1958

Sir Frank Medlicott asked the Minister of Labour on what grounds the United States singer Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis was recently given a permit to enter this country for a six-week tour of theatres and music-halls.

Mr. Iain Macleod: A permit was issued for this man under quota arrangements which have been agreed by my Department and with the Variety and Allied Entertainment Council of Great Britain for the employment of foreign variety artistes.

Sir F. Medlicott: Is my right hon. Friend aware that great offence was caused to many people by the arrival of this man, with his 13-year old bride, especially bearing in mind the difficulty that others have in obtaining permission to work here? Will he remember also that we have more than enough "rock-'n'-roll" entertainers of our own without importing them from overseas?

Mr. Macleod: This was, of course, a thoroughly unpleasant case, which was ended by the cancellation of the contract and the disappearance of the man. But, at the time the matter was before my officers, it was purely a question of a permit for employment, and his case was treated under the ordinary arrangements which apply to anybody.

Hansard (vol 590 cc420-1)

Jerry -Lee Lewis' pumping piano was unusual in guitar dominated Rockabilly, but it was much copied and also provided a link with the music of the black RnB performers who inspired the early rockers (I'm thinking Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ike Turner).  Jerry- Lee was very much in the country music tradition, and  Hank Williams, Moon Mullican, Bob Wills and Jimmie Rodgers covers featured prominently in his repertoire.

Tracks: You're The Only Star In My Blue Heaven; Big Blon' Baby; Pink Pedal Pushers; Breathless; Little Queenie; Ubangi Stomp; High School Confidential; Wild One; Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On; Good Rockin' Tonight;  Pumping Piano Rock; Great Balls Of Fire


Charlie Feathers

The first ever recorded rockabilly song was in 1949- it was called ‘Tongue Tied Jill’ .There was a store on Chelsea Street that had a recorder in the back room. I cut the song there as a demo...
Now let me tell you where rockabilly comes from. It comes from the cotton patch blues, and from bluegrass.
Charlie Feathers.

Charlie Feathers was from Mississippi. He learned guitar off a friend, a Blues player named Junior Kimbrough. Charlie was a lifelong champion of the Rockabilly sound, and was the master of the much imitated hiccuping and stuttering vocal style.
What we have here is a collection of sides he recorded for the  King label in 1956 and 1957 and a version of his Meteor Records single Tongue Tied Jill , also from '56.

Tracks: One Hand Loose; Nobody's Woman; I Can't Hardly Stand It; Too Much Alike; When You Come Around; When You Decide; Everybody's Lovin' My Baby; Bottle to the Baby; Bottle to the Baby * ;  I Can't Hardly Stand It *; One Hand Loose; Everybody's Lovin' My Baby * ; Everybody's Lovin' My Baby * ; Too Much Alike *; Tongue Tied Jill
* Alternative Takes

Here's Wedding Gown of White- a country number that Charlie recorded in 1955, with a slide show put together by his daughter Wanda:


Elvis Presley

Rockabilly came from Memphis, man, and the biggest damn thing that ever happened was Elvis. Sun Records, Elvis Presley, end of the damn story.
Charlie Feathers

If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.
 Sam Phillips

He was white, but he sang black. It wasn't socially acceptable for white kids to buy black records at the time. Elvis filled a void. 
Chet Atkins

I usually try and post stuff that I think deserves a wider audience, and it might seem strange to see Elvis Presley here. But in writing about Rockabilly you just can't ignore Elvis and the impact that his early recordings made.
In fact you ou can't ignore the importance of Elvis in 20th century culture full stop. But the Elvis that most people think of now is the bloated Vegas Elvis, the global superstar, the creation of Colonel Tom Parker.
What we have here, recorded in 1954-1956 is the real Elvis, a man of incredible charisma who showed a wider audience something that they had never seen before.
As Charlie Feathers said:  Let me tell you something - in 1954 when Elvis Presley's first record came out, it was just like when they found gold in California. But then in'55 when Elvis went from Sun Records to RCA - well, after that, Elvis wasn't Elvis no more. Yep, the Elvis we knew died back in'55 - and that was the beginning of the end for music.

In 1956 when Elvis had made the big time with his first RCA single, Heartbreak Hotel , Colonel Parker took him to Vegas and it was a disaster:
 For the teen-agers, the long, tall Memphis lad is a whiz; for the average Vegas spender or showgoer, a bore. His musical sound with a combo of three is uncouth, matching to a great extent the lyric content of his nonsensical songs.
Bill Willard  Las Vegas Sun

 The poor response of the mature audience led The Colonel to cut the booking from four weeks to two and Elvis considered this to be one of the worst moments of his career.
In my opinion this was when Colonel Tom Parker decided to maximise Elvis' commercial potential by making him a pop singer, a lounge singer to appeal to a different, more conservative audience. He was lost to Rockabilly.
If by any chance you are not familiar with these early works, take a listen and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Here's an Elvis blog: http://www.elvis-history-blog.com/index.html

His energy was incredible, his instinct was just amazing. ... I just didn't know what to make of it. There was just no reference point in the culture to compare it... 
Roy Orbison

 And you know, Elvis was so good. Every show I did with him, I never missed the chance to stand in the wings and watch. We all did. He was that charismatic... 
Johnny Cash

His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac. It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people.
 Frank Sinatra

 Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail. 
Bob Dylan

None of us could have made it without Elvis.
Buddy Holly

Tracks: That's All Right; I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine; I Got a Woman; Money Honey; Good Rockin' Tonight; Just Because; Blue Suede Shoes; My Baby Left Me; Milkcow Blues Boogie; You're A Heartbreaker; Mystery Train; One-Sided Love Affair; Tutti Frutti; Baby Let's Play House; I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone; Shake, Rattle And Roll; I'm Gonna Sit Right Down & Cry; I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin'); I Forgot To Remember To Forget; Mystery Train/Tiger Man (live in Vegas 1969)