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Sonny Burgess 8/2017

August 28, 2017 – Sonny Burgess was born Albert Austin Burgess on May 28, 1929 on a farm near Newport, Arkansas to Albert and Esta Burgess. He graduated from Newport High School in 1948.

Burgess, Kern Kennedy, Johnny Ray Hubbard, and Gerald Jackson formed a boogie-woogie band they called the Rocky Road Ramblers and played boogie woogie music in dance halls and bars around Newport.

In 1954, following a stint in the US Army (1951–53), Burgess re-formed the band, calling them the Moonlighters after the Silver Moon Club in Newport, where they performed regularly. After advice from record producer Sam Phillips, the group expanded to form the Pacers. Continue reading Sonny Burgess 8/2017

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Tommy Allsup 1/2017

January 11, 2017 – Tommy Douglas Allsop (Buddy Holly)was born on November 24, 1931 near Owasso Oklahoma.

His musical career started right after highschool in Claremore, Oklahoma in 1949 with the “Oklahoma Swingbillies.” In 1950 he went to work with fiddle player Art Davis in Miami, Oklahoma; from there to the Cowboy Inn in Wichita, Kansas with singer, fiddle player Jimmy Hall. In 1952 and 1953, he moved back to Tulsa, Oklahoma to join the “Johnnie Lee Wills Band.” From 1953 to 1958, he had his own band, “The Southernaires” in Lawton, Oklahoma with homebase being the Southern Club.

In 1958, Tommy’s career would take a different direction. On a trip to Clovis, New Mexico to record at Norman Petty’s famous studio, he met the late Buddy Holly. In April, he started playing lead guitar with Holly and the Crickets. He continued playing with Buddy until the fatal plane crash that took Buddy’s life, along with the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens. It was Allsup who flipped a coin with Ritchie Valens for a seat on the ill-fated plane.

After Holly’s death, Allsup moved to California to join Liberty Records as A & R Director of all Country and Western product to begin producing the great Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. His association with Wills lasted through Wills’ “For The Last Time” LP, recorded on December 2-3, 1973, in Dallas, Texas, where Bob Wills recorded his first records in 1935. Allsup used some of the original Texas Playboys on the last recording (McAulliff, Shamblin, Dacus, Strickland). Bob Wills directed the sessions from his wheel chair.

While at Liberty, Tommy would produce Tex Williams, Willie Nelson, Joe Carson, Warren Smith, Billy Mize, and Cliff Crofford. While there, he worked with great artists such as Walter Brennan, Bobby Vee, Johnny Burnette, Julie London, and Vickie Carr, who sang harmony with Bob Wills on the LP “Bob Wills Sings and Plays.” After leaving California, Allsup moved to Nashville to head up Metromedia Records in 1968. In 1972, he met Ray Benson and Asleep At The Wheel and produced their first LP for United Artist Records. Later he produced 4 LPs for Capitol Records with the group.

Tommy Allsup had been a big supporter of Western Swing music over the years. He had produced 5 LPs with the great Hank Thompson and his Brazos Valley Boys, 2 LPs with the Original Texas Playboys, and 2 LPs with the great Western Swing vocalist Leon Rausch. Tommy produced Swing LPs with Jody Nix, Curley Chalker, Mack Sanders, Johnny Bush, Willie Nelson, Tex Williams, and Billy Mize.

Tommy, who had few regrets, once said: “I never really wanted to be a big star, I figured I’d leave that to someone else.” In 1979, he started a club, “Tommy’s Heads Up Saloon”, in Fort Worth, Texas. The club was named for Allsup’s coin toss with Valens 20 years beforehand.

The last surviving member of Buddy Holly’s “touring” Crickets for the 1959 Winter Dance Party, Tommy Allsup died on January 11, 2017, at 85 years old in a hospital in Springfield, Missouri, after complications from hernia surgery.

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Dale
Hawkins
2/2010

Dale HawkinsFebruary 13, 2010 – Delmar Allen “Dale” Hawkins was born on August 22, 1936. He was often called the architect of swamp rock boogie. Fellow rockabilly pioneer Ronnie Hawkins was his cousin.

In 1957, Hawkins was playing at Shreveport, Louisiana clubs, and although his music was influenced by the new rock and roll style of Elvis Presley and the guitar sounds of Scotty Moore, Hawkins blended that with the uniquely heavy blues sound of black Louisiana artists for his recording of his swamp-rock classic, “Susie Q.” Fellow Louisiana guitarist and future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer James Burton provided the signature riff and solo. The song was chosen as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version of the song on their 1968 debut album helped launch their career and today it is probably the best-known version.

In 1958 Hawkins recorded a single of Willie Dixon’s “My Babe” at the Chess Records studio in Chicago, featuring Telecaster guitarist Roy Buchanan. He went on to a long and successful career, recording more songs for Chess. In 1998, Ace Records issued a compilation album, Dale Hawkins, Rock ‘n’ Roll Tornado, which contained a collection of his early works and previously unreleased material. Other recordings include the cult classic “L.A., Memphis & Tyler, Texas” and a 1999 release, “Wildcat Tamer,” of all-new recordings that garnered Hawkins a 4-star review in Rolling Stone. However, his career was not limited to recording or performing. He hosted a teen dance party, The Dale Hawkins Show, on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia.

He then became a record producer, and found success with The Uniques’ “Not Too Long Ago,” the Five Americans’ “Western Union,” Jon & Robin’s “Do It Again – A Little Bit Slower.” He served as executive vice president of Abnak Records; Vice President, Southwest Division, Bell Records (here he produced Bruce Channel, Ronnie Self, James Bell, the Festivals, the Dolls, and the Gentrys); and A&R director, RCA West Coast Rock Division, working with Michael Nesmith and Harry Nilsson. In the 1990s, he produced “Goin Back to Mississippi” by R. L. Burnside’s slide guitarist, Kenny Brown.

Hawkins’ pioneering contributions have been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

In 2005, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and began chemotherapy while continuing to perform in the US and abroad. In October 2007, The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame honored him for his contributions to Louisiana music by inducting him into The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame. At the same time, he released his latest recording, “Back Down to Louisiana,” inspired by a trip to his childhood home. It was recognized by the UK’s music magazine, Mojo, as #10 in the Americana category in their 2007 Best of issue, while “L.A., Memphis & Tyler, Texas” was awarded #8 in the reissue category.

Hawkins died on February 13, 2010, from colon cancer in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was

 

 

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Billy Lee Riley 8/2009

billy lee riley -rockabilly starAugust 2, 2009 – Billy Lee Riley was born on October 5, 1933 in Pocahontas, Arkansas, and taught to play guitar by black farm workers.

After a four year stint he first recorded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1955 before joining Sam Phillips at Sun Studios. His first hit was “Flyin’ Saucers Rock and Roll” / “I Want You Baby” in early 1957 after which he recorded “Red Hot” /”Pearly Lee” released in September 1957 both backed by Jerry Lee Lewis on piano.

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Bobby Fuller 7/1966

July 18, 1966 – Bobby Fuller was born on October 22nd 1942 in Baytown, Texas. As a small child to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he remained until 1956, when he and his family moved to El Paso, Texas. His father got a job at El Paso Natural Gas at that time. It was the same year that Elvis Presley became popular, and Bobby Fuller became mesmerized by the new rock and roll star. Fuller soon adopted the style of fellow Texan Buddy Holly, fronting a four-man combo and often using original material.

During the early 1960s, he played in clubs and bars in El Paso, and he recorded on independent record labels in Texas with a constantly changing line-up. The only constant band members were Fuller and his younger brother, Randy Fuller (born on January 29, 1944, in Hobbs, New Mexico) on bass. Most of these independent releases (except two songs recorded at the studio of Norman Petty in Clovis), and an excursion to Yucca Records, also in New Mexico, were recorded in the Fullers’ own home studio, with Fuller acting as the producer. He even built a primitive echo chamber in the back yard. The quality of the recordings, using a couple of microphones and a mixing board purchased from a local radio station, was so impressive that he offered the use of his “studio” to local acts for free so he could hone his production skills.

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