This Hemsby kicked off on the Thursday evening with the appearance of THE PROWLERS, a UK outfit who played with plenty of vigor, thrash 'n' bash. They were followed by one of the most seasoned veterans on the rock 'n' roll scene, namely CHARLIE GRACIE, a guy who first toured Great Britain back in 1957, honeymooned in the UK in 1958 and in recent years has been a regular visitor to these scepter isles. This was a consummate, enjoyable and totally professional show. Charlie, backed up by the Hemsby Houseband, tore into Rockin' Is Our Business and Jump Jive And Wail before performing one of his hits Just Looking. This established the pattern for the performance, a couple of his more obscure numbers and one of his chart successes (all the latter were included in a lengthy but varied compilation). He rocked; he rolled and played a masterful lead guitar, this being particularly evident on the work out of Honky Tonk. The set also included a couple of numbers from his latest CD including I'm Gonna Love You and the title track I'm All Right, a tribute to Eddie Cochran, before concluding with real rock out treatments on Tootsie, Heart Like A Rock and Shake Rattle And Roll. I have seen Charlie on stage quite a few times but this was one of his best shows.
The Friday's night show in the main ballroom had CHECK CROSBY & THE RED HOT WRANGLERS, a new band fronted by Paul Crosby who has lead Rusti Steel & The Tin Tacks, as the opening act. They were followed by the first of the evening's headliners, JOHNNY VALLIS from Canada. Johnny is a youngish guy who clearly has a passion for rock 'n' roll music. Backed up by The House Rockers, he sang well and utilised the stage to a maximum with an energetic performance on such numbers as Ersel Hickey's Goin' Down That Road, Glen Glenn's Blue Jeans & A Boy's Shirt, Rock Around With Ollie Vee, You're So Square and Was It Something I Said. I know that Vallis was a personal friend of the late Buddy Knox and Johnny included a selection of his songs with Rock Your Little Baby To Sleep, Hula Love, Rockhouse, Party Doll and Somebody Touched Me. The set closed out with a reprise of Blue Jeans And A Boy's Shirt to enthusiastic applause and squeals from the fairer sex, no doubt there were some moist knickers around after this show.
Next up was show business veteran YOUNG JESSIE who was making a welcome return to England since his last appearance at the Electric Ballroom in 1983. Backed up by the excellent Swing Kings, he turned in a first rate performance of rock 'n' roll, R&B and outright blues concentrating on the sides he recorded for Modern in the fifties. Opening up with Hit Git & Split this was followed by Don't Happen No More and then the highlight of this performance, a marvelous work out on Lonesome Desert. Boy, this slowish blusey number amplified the considerable talents of Obediah Jessie and the band really cooked. Other numbers included Do You Love Me, Don't Think I Will Oochie Coochie, Mary Lou and Here Comes Henry. I think Rabbit On A Log was there before Young Jessie looked at his watch and concluded with I Smell A Rat. There was to be no more, not even Shuffle In The Gravel, but despite this somewhat abrupt ending it was a fine fine show. The evening closed out the BLUE STAR BOYS, a good UK rockin' band who seemingly are on the point of dissolving.
Onto the third night, Saturday, and the rockin' live shows commenced with SNAKE HIP JAKE, a British swing and Jump jive band who are known for their high energy performances. On this particular date, 6th October 2001, England owes two debts of gratitude to Sweden. One is for the Swedish coach of the English football (soccer to our colonial friends) who helped our national team reach the World Cup Finals next year that day. The other is for the Swedish band The Ramblers who provided the backing for visiting star HUELYN DUVALL. They had really done their homework and everything was spot on, the guitar breaks were note perfect and where a song called for vocal back up, it was there in faithful recreation. This clearly inspired Huelyn into giving, for this writer, the stand out performance of this Hemsby. It simply was brilliant from beginning to end. All the jerky stage movements were there and Huelyn's voice was just like his recordings. The set started out with Susie's House, Teen Queen Boom Boom Baby (a hit for Crash Craddock), Friday Night On A Dollar Bill, his original version of Modern Romance (made famous by Sanford Clark), You Knock Me Out complete with great vocal harmonies from The Ramblers, It's No Wonder, Little Boy Blue and then really ignited on Juliet. The jet propelled show carried on with Pucker Paint, Coming Or Going, Sweet And Easy To Love (the Roy Orbison tune) before concluding with the classic Three Months To Kill. However such was the audience reaction that Duvall had to come back on and perform no less that four encores. These were Humdinger, Hey Brutus, Blue Lawdy Blue and She's My Baby, the last mentioned being from his CD of new recordings available November 2001. A great great show.
The next act up only served to increase the excitement; ROBERT GORDON clearly was in a good mood and intent on enjoying himself. Backed by Rob Glazebrook and The House Rockers, Gordon was in great voice and this was amply demonstrated on a wide and varied selection of numbers such as I Just Found Out, Hello Walls, I Was The One, The Fool and The Worryin' Kind. Blue Moon Of Kentucky was followed by a magnificent Driving Wheel before Gordon sang a request of Marty Wilde's Bad Boy. The set included some first rate up tempo rock 'n' roll in the form of Bertha Lou, Look Who's Blue and Rockabilly Boogie which sounded better than the record. At times Robert forcibly grabbed the band into jumping around the stage with him, this served to uplift the witnessing pleasure. The set closed out with The Way I Walk, Look Who's Blue and I Was The Last One To Know. Red Hot, which sadly did not come off, and Mystery Train were encores and then sadly it was all over. Robert was a real crowd pleaser. The final act for Saturday was DALE ROCKA & THE VOLCANOS from Sicily and, clearly, they too gave a rousing show as mention of their performance was being made the next day.
The final nights show opened up with THE ROCKATS, a four piece band with two members from London and the other two from New York City. They played with plenty of visuals and dancing on a varied selection of original songs and covers, mostly up tempo, such as Driving Wheel, Downtown Saturday Night, Blue Tears, Rockabilly Doll, Rocky Road Blues and Crazy Baby. A tight band who gave a good show. The vocal group spot at Hemsby this occasion was taken by WILLIE WINFIELD & THE HARPTONES. The group comprised three original fifties members, Willie Winfield, William Dempsey James and Raoul J Cita plus Marlowe Murray who has been with the group for 27 years and the lovely Vicki Burgess. However the performance was cabaret inclined and even included three Tamla Motown numbers plus one of Chuck Jackson's soul efforts. The show was a bit slow paced and only really included one jump jive number in High Flying Baby, performed excellently. They sang well and in fine harmony on numbers such as The Shrine Of Saint Cecilia, Sunday Kind Of Love, Since I Fell For You, Life Is But A Dream and Three Wishes. Vicki Burgess gave a sharp outing on My Foolish Heart but overall the performance from the group was a trifle flat. Certainly it was not up to the standard set by the likes of The Jacks/Cadets or The Calvanes. The concluding act for this Hemsby was the SMOKIE MOUNTAOIN BOYS, a British yodeling hillbilly outfit and who provided a good contrast to the preceding acts of this evening.
Overall this was a first rate Hemsby with a good selection of musical styles and some really stand out performances. The line up for next May's Hemsby is mouth watering with Teddy Redell, Narvel Felts, Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs, Lew Williams, Alvis Wayne, Sonny West and Matt Lucas headlining. See you there.
© Tony Wilkinson
Photos: Rod Pyke
As an executive with RCA Records for nearly two decades beginning in 1957, Atkins played a part in the careers of Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Charley Pride, Dolly Parton, Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings, Eddy Arnold and many others. Atkins helped craft the lush Nashville Sound, using string sections and lots of echo to make records that appealed to older listeners not interested in rock music. Among his notable productions are The End of the World by Skeeter Davis and He'll Have to Go by Reeves.
Chester Burton Atkins was born June 20, 1924, on a farm near Luttrell, Tenn., about 20 miles northeast of Knoxville. His elder brother Jim Atkins also played guitar, and went on to perform with Les Paul. Chet Atkins' first professional job was as a fiddler on WNOX in Knoxville, where his boss was singer Bill Carlisle. Atkins' unusual fingerpicking style, a pseudoclassical variation influenced by such diverse talents as Merle Travis and Django Reinhardt, got him hired and fired from jobs at radio stations all over the country. Atkins sometimes joked that early on his playing sounded like two guitarists playing badly. During the 1940s he toured with many acts, including Red Foley, The Carter Family and Kitty Wells. RCA executive Steve Sholes took Atkins on as a protege in the 1950s, using him as the house guitarist on recording sessions.
Survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, Leona Johnson Atkins, and a daughter, Merle Atkins. Visitation for Chet Atkins will be Monday evening 5-8pm at: Roesch-Patton Funeral Home, 1715 Broadway, Nashville, TN. The funeral scheduled for Tuesday morning, July 3rd, at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville.
Physician and guitarist Jim Coleman, one of Chet Atkins' doctors, has recorded a tribute album to the ailing Country Music Hall of Fame member. Titled The Guitar That Made America Great, Coleman's 15-song collection covers such Atkins memorables as Mr. Sandman, Cheek to Cheek, Vincent, Waitin' for Suzy B and I Still Can't Say Goodbye. Coleman holds the distinction of having played with Atkins during his last public performance, June 12, 1998, in Knoxville
Sanford Clark, Al Casey, Jack Scott and Janis Martin made this spring 2001 Hemsby a must for five Swedes, hungry forsome rocking live music, to travel to the British Isles. In company with Erik Petersson and his girl friend Anne-Lie Gustavsson, Jan Damgaard of Star-Club Records and Last Buzz Records manager HŚkan Forshult, we flew in to Stansted Airport on Wednesday.
After a short visit to the camp we wentback for some food and found Hemsby Weekender organizer Willie Jeffery togetherwith Lee Hazelwood, Al Casey, Sanford Clark and his wife Marsha in arestaurant. We were duly introduced and had an evening of musical conversationthat we'll never forget. It was good tomake contact with such four nice Americans. Not much happened until Friday whenwe went to the hotel to see Janis Martin and husband Wayne whom we had not seen since 1993 when she played Hemsby with Billy Riley. Janis had forgotten her shoes so she had to buy some.
Jack Scott arrived a little later and we said hello and we updated each other on the musical front. We left with Sanford Clark for a soundcheck with Al Casey. Previous to this, there had been requests for Al to sing Teenage Blues a song he had not performed since he had recorded it. Al was eventually persuaded by Ian Wallis and included the song in the reharsal.
Right after Sanford was done with his sound check Mack Stevens came on and did a thunderous version of The Train Kept A-Rollin' that would have made Johnny Burnette proud. Before the press conference at seven I met up with Tony Wilkinson whom I hadn't seen for over a year (some say fortunately but it was like two long lost brothers meeting up again). At the press conference all the USA stars of this Hemsby were there for interviews and a general meet and greet. After some food and alchol, we all left for the Hemsby camp and prepard for the first show at midnight by Sanford and Al.
When showtime came close we all gathered around the stage, the photographers took their seats and we all waited for the introduction. Sanford Clark is a legend who sadly did not totally connect with the audience. Introduced by Lee Hazlewood, the soft tones of a nervous Sanford Clark were put to good use on 'The Fool', 'Modern Day Romance' and 'Lonesome For A Letter'. However not all of his numbers came off and on such as 'Shades', 'Farm Labour Camp No. 2', 'Son Of HickoryHollow's Tramp' and the concluding rock'n' roll medley, he lost contact with the gathered multitude. For whatever reason, he chose not to perform 'Son Of A Gun', 'Lou Be Doo' or 'Swanee River Rock'.
Al Casey is a great musician and not a bad singer either. Al
Casey performed three instrumentals and one vocal in his own right and clearly
demonstrated why he is a musician's musician. His picking on 'Ramrod'
was exemplary and he rocked out the vocals on 'Teenage Blues' in a most
convincing way. Casey also revealed that he played on Presley's '68 Comeback'
special and that the red guitar that Elvis used in this TV show belonged to Al.
Mack Stevens: A musical nutter, Screamin' Lord Sutch would have been proud. Texan Mack Stevens gave a performance on his first visit to England which at times was most bizarre but always entertaining. Who else would be given a shave on stage by a guy with a cut throat razor and at the same time continue to holler out a rock 'n' roll song. His act was filled with humour and was outrageous.
Saturday we went to see Jack Scott's sound check, but this one was closed and I can understand as Jack is very careful about his sound. We were however permitted to attend Janis Martin's sound check and, thanks to Jack Scott's guitar player, she was kept onstage until she sounded just right.
Back to Great Yarmouth for food and alcholic refeshment before this evening's show. Jack Scott and his American Band, Great Scott - Moody, Mean and Magnificent. A Master of his craft. This was 75 minutes of brilliance as Jack chanted out 24 numbers, keeping them short sharp and sweet as originally recorded. His voice sounded just the same as on his records and his stage presence was commanding. As an added bonus, he included a few numbers not previously seen on European stages such as 'True True Love', One Of These Days, Jericho and 'You Can Bet Your Bottom Dollar'. Special mention has to be made of his own American backing band who were so tight and spot on cue. Jack's lead guitarist Steve Nadella had previously played behind Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Read and Muddy Waters. The autograph line that awaited Jack after his performance kept him busy for another two hours and he was still signing by the time that Janis Martin had completed her preformance.
Before Janis went on she was asked if she would have any trouble follow Jack. Janis replied: I can do anything in 45 minutes. And she most certainly did. Janis Martin - Simply an Awesome Performance. Following on after Jack Scott must have inspired Janis as this was the best ever performance I have seen her give. It was top notch rock 'n' roll all the way through as she strutted her stuff across the stage giving her all and justifiably gaining recognition from the jam packed hall. All the regular favourites were included as well as a ballad and a tribute to Presley.
Jack Baymore and The Bandits are Sweden's latest singing heart throb who can rock it too. The audience who had gathered to see Janis Martin stayed on for the performance by Baymore and cheered him on with enthusiasm. With an act based on the young Elvis, he clearly has caught the eye of the ladies and he can sing good as well. A genuine crowd pleaser. There were surely a few young ladies with moist underwear after he had finished his set.
Sunday was doo-wop. Even though I find it hard to listen to doo-woprecords I most certainly enjoy the live appearnces and the voices of the Calvanes were stunning. The Calvanes - A West Coast Doo Wop act to be reckoned with. Whilst not a household name such as someother doo wop groups, the Calvanes demonstrated, with their singing ability, that they are a fine vocal outfit. They have been together since the fifties and their experience clearly showed. All four members took turns at singing lead on a selection of numbers, which were basically from their new release on the Hightone label plus some from their days with Dootone Records. The harmonies were great and they had to perform three encores. Certainly one of the better vocal groups to grace the Hemsby stage.
Smokestack Lightenin'. This was the group appearing immediatedly prior to the Calvanes and the word had spread that this German band was an actt o catch. Almost imposible to categorise in any one music form, they opened up with Mickey Gilley's 'Call Me Shorty' complete with a guitar solo stright out of Link Wray's Jack The Ripper School of picking, then into a quaisi Joe Ely number and from here a rockabilly style workout on Bob Dylans 'Don't Think Twice' Get the picture. Good and different band but they do need to improve on their stage presence.
Other acts that had graced the Hemsby stage this time around included a selection of young rockabilly groups from around the world such as The Satellites (Australia), The Haywoods (USA), Mars Attack (Switzerland), The Nu Niles (Spain), No. 9 (England), Hi Voltage (Scotland) and The Nick Gilroy Kombo (England). There was also a couple of jump jive outfits in the form of The Starlighters (Italy) and The Alabama Slammers (England).
arrived way too soon and it was time to travel home. We said our goodbyes
feeling a little sad but also very privileged for having seen some of the
best rock 'n' roll acts still performing today. The Saturday night was
without doubt the best musical evening these old eyes and ears have witnessed.
Thanks are due to Willie, Varrick and whole weekender crew. See you soon,
that's a promise, not a threat.
The "Traditional Country Hall of Fame" (www.traditionalcountryhalloffame.com) Internet site is now up and running. The initial series of inductees have been selected by a panel of Nashville music industry notables. Fans may also input their comments and suggestions. The inductee categories are in-depth: artists, songs, session players, writers, background vocalists, sidemen, producers, publishers and others.
What makes this website different that other roots country pages? The focus of the TCHOF is diversified. Along with inductees, readers will find URL connections for over 300 traditional country music artists. Many of these profile pages are located within the Traditional Country Hall of Fame" site.
Updated daily, the TCHOF stays on top of the traditional country music scene, with two separate news pages, a message page and the ever-popular "Back Porch Humor" section. Venue listings, music sources and traditional country links are easily to find.
The sister site of the TCHOF - the Rockabilly Hall of Fame - currently has 13 CDs released under its label since it was created in 1997. Watch for the first CD from the country side: "Brandy Country" by Garlin Hackney, on the TCHOF's "Keep It Country" label ...coming soon.
If the subject is traditional country music, the TCHOF is there to help spread the
word ... veteran artists or new talent.
E-mail the Traditional Country Hall of Fame staff.
Twenty-five years in the making!
Ever since Bear Family Records started, they've wanted to do the complete Ricky Nelson recordings on Verve and Imperial. Few artists had the consistency ... and few were as influential. But they didn't want to do an incomplete job so they waited until they had access to all the original masters and session tapes so that they could do it absolutely right.
... And here's what was found!
* Every Rick Nelson recording for Verve and Imperial in pristine original sound quality from the original tapes!
* The very rare Challenge recordings with the FLEAS and THROPHIES featuring Ricky.
* Many titles in stereo as well as mono!
* Many previously unissued alternate takes, not included on the recent boxed set or elsewhere!
* Sessions with false starts and incomplete takes. We'll take you to Master Recorders for a Ricky Nelson session!
* Rare TV performances, including duets with Lorrie Collins of the Collins Kids.
* Rare movie performances including a duet with Dean Martin!
* An incredible hardcover book with many previously unpublished photos and a newly researched biography by Los Angeles-based music journalist Todd Everett!
* New 3-track mixes by Bill Inglot.
* The production and final mastering is done by the 'One and Only Bob Jones!'
CD 1:BEAR FAMILY'S INFO
I'm Walkin' - You're My One And Only Love - A Teenager's Romance - Be- Bop Baby (Single Version) - Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (Single Version) - If You Can't Rock Me (1st Recording) (Master) - Your True Love - Honeycomb - Boppin' The Blues - Baby I'm Sorry - I'm Confessin' - Be-Bop Baby (LP Version) - Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (LP Version) - Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On - True Love - Am I Blue - Teenage Doll - If You Can't Rock Me (Version 2) - Stood Up - Waitin' In School - My Bucket's Got A Hole In It - Believe What You Say (Single Version) - Shirley Lee - I'm Feelin' Sorry - There's Good Rockin' Tonight - Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You) - Down The Line - Unchained Melody - Poor Little Fool - My Babe
I'm In Love Again - There Goes My Baby - Believe What You Say (LP Version)* - Don't Leave Me This Way - Lonesome Town (Version 1)* - I Got A Feeling* - I'll Walk Alone - Restless Kid* - It's All In The Game - Lonesome Town - Cindy (Version 3: slow)* - It's Late - One Of These Mornings* - Old Enough To Love - Trying To Get To You* - Gloomy Sunday* - Be True To Me* - Never Be Anyone Else But You* - Just A Little Too Much (Version 1)* - Sweeter Than You (Version 1)* - I've Been Thinkin' (Version 1) - It's Late* - I Can't Help It* - You Tear Me Up - Just A Little Too Much (Version 2)* - Sweeter Than You (Version 2)* - I've Been Thinkin' (Version 2)* - One Minute To One* - So Long* - Blood From A Stone*
You'll Never Know What You're Missing - You're So Fine - That's All - A Long Vacation - Hey Pretty Baby - Half Breed - Don't Leave Me - Make Believe (Version 1) - Mighty Good - I Wanna Be Loved - Again - I'd Climb The Highest Mountain* - Young Emotions - Make Believe (Version 2)* - Glory Train - If You Believe It - March With The Band Of The Lord - I Bowed My Head In Shame - Right By My Side - Here I Go Again* - Do You Know What It Means (To Miss New Orleans)* - When Your Lover Has Gone* - Baby Won't You Please Come Home* - Time After Time* - I'm Not Afraid* - Yes Sir, That's My Baby - You Are My Sunshine* - Ain't Nothin' But Love* - Proving My Love* - I'm All Through With You*
You Are The Only One* - Milk Cow Blues - Hello Mary Lou - Everybody But Me* - Break My Chain* - Travelin' Man* - Oh Yeah, I'm In Love* - Sure Fire Bet* - Stars Fell On Alabama* - Lucky Star* - My One Desire* - I'll Make Believe* - Hello Mary Lou* - That Warm Summer Night* - Everlovin' - A Wonder Like You - Thank You Darling* - History Of Love* - Today's Teardrops* - Baby Don't You Know* - There's Not A Minute* - Mad Mad World* - Sweet Little Lovable You* - Stop Sneakin' Around* - Excuse Me Baby* - I Can't Stop Loving You* - Summertime* - Congratulations* - Poor Loser* - Young World - I've Got My Eyes On You (Version 2)
Teen Age Idol - It's Up To You* - I Need You (double vocal)* - Brand New Girl (The Session)* - Brand New Girl* - Scratchin' (Version 2) (The Fleas) - Tears (Version 2) (The Fleas) - Dog-Gone (Version 2) (The Trophies) - Desire (Version 2) (The Trophies) - Cindy (Version 1 - Movie Version) (& Walter Brennan) - My Rifle, My Pony And Me (& Dean Martin) - Do You Know What It Means (To Miss New Orleans) (movie version)
RICKY ON THE AIR: I'm Walkin' - You Are The Only One - Stood Up - Trying To Get To You - Just Because (& Lorrie Collins) - Baby I'm Sorry - Waitin' In School - You Are The Only One (& Lorrie Collins) - Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On - Never Be Anyone Else But You - Cindy (Version 2: fast/key of 'D') (TV Version) - Sevillanas (Guitar Duet: Vicente Gomez & Ricky Nelson) - Again - Rick Flat-Picking - Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (Single Version) - Christmas Song - Jingle Bells - Radio Ad - Album Plug
You're My One And Only Love (alt) - I'm Walkin' (alt) - A Teenager's Romance (alt) - If You Can't Rock Me (Version 1) - Poor Little Fool - Restless Kid (Different Overdub)* - Believe What You Say - Don't Leave Me This Way - Lonesome Town (Version 1, Different Vocal)* - If You Can't Rock Me (Version 1) - It's All In The Game (alt) - One Of These Mornings* - Be True To Me (alt)* - It's Late (False Start & alt. Stereo Mix)* - Trying To Get To You - Cindy (Version 2: fast/key of 'D') (alt)* - Just A Little Too Much (Version 2) (Track) - Never Be Anyone Else But You (alt-1)* - Young Emotions (Without Strings)* - I've Been Thinkin' (Track) - Never Be Anyone Else But You (alt-2)* - Dog-Gone (Version 1) (The Trophies) - Tears (Version 1) (The Fleas)* - Scratchin' (Version 1) (The Fleas)* - I've Got My Eyes On You (Version 1) - I Need You (Single Vocal) (alt)*
* = STEREO
"Good Rockin' Tonight (The Legacy of Sun Records)" -- A tribute album worth getting excited about. Why? Maybe it's Paul McCartney doing "That's All Right Mama" and sounding like the feisty 20-year-old mop top of yore. Or Live's haunting rendition of "I Walk the Line" that turns the emotional core of the Johnny Cash classic inside out. Who can possibly match the outlandish extravagance of Jerry Lee Lewis? Try the equally flamboyant Elton John on his rollicking version of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On." Not to mention Jeff Beck and Chrissie Hynde doing a remarkable version of "Mystery Train."
It gets more interesting ... How about Brit-crooner Bryan Ferry doing "Don't Be Cruel," Van Morrison collaborating with Carl Perkins on "Sitting on Top of the World," or Bob Dylan's version of "Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache"?
"Good Rockin' Tonight (The Legacy of Sun Records)" brings you these new and exciting renditions of rock 'n' roll classics from the legendary pioneering label. It's the Sun sound. The sound that moves the feet, shakes the hips, captures the hearts and provokes the memories.
The Sun sound began when Sam Phillips launched his record company in 1952, converting an old radiator shop into a recording studio. He named the label Sun Records as a sign of optimism, a new day, a new beginning. Sun Records provided a non-critical environment that invited spontaneity and creativity. And in this environment sprouted avision that still "rocks" modern music. The Sun sound lives on today and probably will forever.
This CD captures that Sun Records ideal by enlisting the talents of likeminded artists that span the rock 'n' roll history spectrum. Artists like Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Page & Plant join younger-generation acts such as Third Eye Blind, Live, Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock. This is just to name a few.
"Good Rockin' Tonight (The Legacy of Sun Records)" will be released on London-Sire
Records on Oct. 16, 2001, followed by the film "Good Rockin' Tonight," which will air on
PBS worldwide on Nov. 28, 2001.
The first, entitled Three Steps To Heaven, is the story of early rock and roller Eddie Cochran, to be released by Hal Leonard Publishing in the fall of 2002. Three Steps To Heaven will be the first American-penned biography of Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer Cochran, who wrote some of the most widely recognized songs in rock history - including "Summertime Blues," "Nervous Breakdown," "Somethin' Else" and "C'Mon Everybody" - and influenced generations of rockers from the Beatles to the Sex Pistols, the Who to U2. Cochran died in 1960 at age 21 in an auto accident. Also injured in the crash was fellow rocker Gene Vincent, the subject of VanHecke's acclaimed 2000 biography, Race With The Devil.
The second book, Swingin' The Devil's Dream, tells the tale of fiddler Spade Cooley, who rose from Dust Bowl poverty to become a colorful western movie actor and the hit-making, chart-topping "King Of Western Swing," the innovative blend of Big Band and country music popular in the '40s. After conquering the music charts and landing his own award-winning TV variety program, influential Cooley lost everything when he tortured his wife to death and was sentenced to life in prison. Swingin' The Devil's Dream, the first biography of this intriguing entertainment figure, will be published by Schirmer Books in late 2002.
Susan VanHecke is the author of Race With The Devil (St. Martin's Press), a biography of rock and roll pioneer Gene "Be-Bop-A-Lula" Vincent published in August, 2000 and hailed as "the definitive work on rock icon Gene Vincent," "the best ever written on the subject," "a truly moving account" and "a ripper read." The book was nominated for a Virginia Literary Award.
VanHecke is also a music journalist, contributing regularly to The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, which serves southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, as well as Virginia magazines Port Folio, Style Weekly and 64. Her work has appeared in national music magazines such as Spin, Creem, Goldmine and Reflex and in U.K. publications Kerrang! and Metal Forces. She has also written for The Washington Post, the Knight-Ridder wire service and Amazon.com. She was publisher and editor of Original Cool, a rockabilly/swing/rock and roll music magazine with international circulation, and wrote the liner notes for two albums by former Stray Cats bassist Lee Rocker. She holds a BFA degree in film and television production from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
For more information, contact Sue VanHecke at firstname.lastname@example.org<
"With the special induction of 10 members along with our regular inductions for 2001, we are able to significantly increase the breadth and range of honorees in the Country Music Hall of Fame," CMA Executive Director Ed Benson says in a release. "Recognizing their contributions during a special celebration event affords us the time necessary to honor their extraordinary contributions to country music with participation from the entire industry." The new inductees will bring membership in the Hall of Fame to 86. The Country Music Hall of Fame was established by the Country Music Association in 1961. The CMA manages and conducts the annual election of members to the Hall of Fame. The Country Music Foundation operates the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Here are brief biographies of the nine other inductees who will join Anderson, the Louvins, the Jordanaires and the 74 other acts or individuals currently enshrined at the Hall of Fame:
Sam Phillips - Along with "5th Beatle" George Martin and "Wall of Sound" inventor Phil Spector, Phillips is one of the three best-known producers in rock 'n' roll history. He produced historically invaluable records with Elvis Presley, Howlin' Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich and other musical giants, heralding a new era of popular music.
Ken Nelson - A West Coast Capitol Records maverick in a Tennessee-based industry, Nelson produced recordings for luminaries including Hank Thompson, Jean Shepard, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Gene Vincent, Wanda Jackson, Sonny James and many others.
The Everly Brothers - Though they recorded in Nashville and their vocal sound is rooted in the close harmonies of the Louvin Brothers, Don and Phil Everly join Elvis Presley and Brenda Lee as Country Music Hall of Fame members who are most associated with rock and pop music.
Waylon Jennings - Some industry observers claim Jennings' induction has been delayed for purely political reasons. A leader of the so-called "Outlaw Movement" of the 1970s, Jennings was among the first country artists to wrest complete creative freedom from Music Row companies. In the process, he became a multimillion-selling superstar and an industry icon. His No. 1 hits include Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics of Love), I'm A Ramblin' Man, Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way, Just To Satisfy You and 12 others.
Webb Pierce - Pierce had more No. 1 records in the 1950s than any other country artist. It's ironic that he'll be enshrined along with Phillips, because the emerging popularity of rock 'n' roll dealt his career a crushing blow.
Don Gibson - Nominated many times for the Hall of Fame, the reclusive, smooth-voiced Gibson wrote classics such as Sweet Dreams, I Can't Stop Loving You and Oh Lonesome Me. Produced by Chet Atkins, his hits remain sonic marvels.
The Delmore Brothers - The relative scarcity of Alton and Rabon Delmore's recordings means the Delmores are often remembered merely as predecessors to the Louvin Brothers. Yet the group was beloved at the Opry and on radio shows throughout the South, and songs such as Brown's Ferry Blues and Blues Stay Away From Me remain country standards.
Don Law - Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash and Carl Smith all recorded for Columbia Records' Don Law, who worked in competitive consort with fellow producers Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley to usher in the much-ballyhooed "Nashville Sound."
Homer & Jethro - Among the most popular comedy acts in country history, Henry Doyle "Homer" Haynes and Kenneth C. "Jethro" Burns are known for The Battle of Kookamonga and (How Much Is) That Hound Dog In The Window. After Haynes' death in 1971, Burns' mandolin playing became a more celebrated element of his repertoire.
I've been asked to beam you all with the news that, for the first time in history, Elvis Presley Enterprises (working along with The Rick Nelson Company) will be sending out BEAUTIFUL, full-color catalogues that feature exclusive Ricky Nelson merchandise, information, and updates. There are unique passages from Rick's kids, biographical information, rare photos, and a short story I've put together specifically for this one-of-a-kind publication describing how the whole Elvis Presley/Ricky Nelson partnership came to be.
We are SO excited about what we've managed to put together! For the past year, we've been working around the clock with our friends at EPE for this event in order to bring you the ultimate in Rick Nelson memorabilia... with a focus on quality and the intention of transporting you back to a magical musical time. This stuff in this catalog is the coolest ... and we'd like you to have one ... and believe it or not, we don't want your money ... WE WANT YOUR ADDRESS.
If you wouldn't mind giving us twenty seconds of your time (a half hour if
you type like my brother Matthew) please just click on the enclosed link and
you'll be painlessly warped to our address input page. Give us your digits
(and some additional vowels and consenants) and in no time at all, you'll get
what you parents told you you never would: something for free.
and you're gold!
Time is of the essance though. We're going to get this mailing out by March 1st, no matter
Elvis Presley Enterprises doesn't have any blondes like me working there)...
so I sure hope we here from you before then.
Kindest Regards from our family to you and yours,
The Rick Nelson Family
"I don't mess around, boy." - Ricky Nelson
"You can't please everyone... so you've got to please yourself" - Rick Nelson
Oh, and for your time... I thought I'd share with you a preview of something I just wrote for the brochure, as my gift to you. Enjoy.
"I know how you feel."
Thus had I begun my first visit to the hallowed halls of Graceland a few years ago. I had driven the three hour drive down from my part-time home in Nashville with some degree of anxiety... it was Elvis week, and I had chosen that time to visit my new friends at Elvis Presley Enterprises. I was looking forward to the opportunity to celebrate my love for Rock and Roll along side other fans of Elvis... and perhaps I'd let my enthusiasm get the better of my conservative better judgment. It wasn't until I was pulling up to the Graceland offices that my inner voice started filling me up with questions to hesitate by. "You're the son of Ricky Nelson. How do you think you're REALLY going to be received by ELVIS fans... this week of all weeks? Will you be treated like an interloper? Will cliquish battle lines be drawn behind your back ... was this really a good idea, Blonde One?"
I met my new friend Carol Butler (Licensing Director of EPE) at the door... and behind her Pepsodent smile I could sense a similar trepidation. Oh... what had we gotten ourselves into? Well, we were about to find out. After a pleasant 'get to know ya' conversation in the car, we stepped into one of the hotel ballrooms down the street that was hosting the main luncheon/gathering for the Elvis Presley fan clubs from all over the world. (Talk about diving into the deep end of the pool!). I took my place at the very back of the room ... and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible.
After a few minutes listening to a marvelous Elvis tribute artist from Germany, I noticed a kind looking woman giving me a double...then triple-take. (Oh please ... oh please ... no ... it's not really me. I'm just the caterer.) No such luck. I'd been spotted. She sidestepped over to me, and introduced herself as Margaret from Iowa. She asked, "Are you one of the Nelson boys?" I hesitantly looked over at Carol, hoping to get some help on how to answer. Not a chance. Carol had conveniently found the ceiling tiles extremely interesting. I turned back to Margaret from Iowa, replied, "Why yes m'aam. I am. My name is Gunnar. Nice to meet you". I braced myself for the response. (I think I heard Carol's breathing stop).
"OH MY LORD! IT WAS ALWAYS ELVIS AND RICKY! ELVIS AND RICKY! WHEN I WAS GROWING UP ... I WAS IN LOOOOOVE WITH THOSE TWO! ELVIS AND RICKY!" So much for my not creating a stir ... my cover was thoroughly blown. Thanks Margaret.
"I know how you feel", I replied honestly. You see ... I really DO know how Margaret from Iowa feels... because I feel the same way. When I was growing up, I had two heroes...Elvis and Ricky. I meant it then, and I mean it now.
Just then, I caught a glimpse of Carol out of the corner of my eye... standing there as I was swarmed by several hundred like-minded 'Elvis and Ricky' fans in that room. She was beaming with relief and amazement as I was besieged by a legion of well-wishers. Everyone had a wonderful story to share with me about how my Pop impacted their lives for the better. "I know how you feel" was my response. And I did. Rick Nelson was the most important person in my life, and he still is today. "I grew up with your family!" was handed to me time after time. "I know how you feel" I replied... and I did. Enthusiasm abounded... and there was a magical spirit of unity in that room from then on... we all bonded on that premise: Elvis and Ricky. It felt good. It felt right. It felt like family. It felt like the beginning of something wonderful... and that's why I'm writing to you now.
You see, after that event, it only made sense that I approach Elvis Presley Enterprises with a request for their help in reminding the world of Rick Nelson's incredible legacy of Rock and Roll. Not only were Elvis and Ricky tremendous fans of one-another's work... they became true life-long friends. They believed in each other, and supported each other as good friends do. This support continues to this day and is beautifully represented in the catalog you now hold in your hands... and I think they would both be very pleased by that fact.
This catalog is the first official debut of the product of our family's partnership with Elvis' team. We've all been working passionately to bring you treasures we believe in... designed specifically to bring you to that time in your life and place in your heart when Rock and Roll was king... and life was perhaps a little simpler... and love came down to three words: Elvis and Ricky.
My Pop loved to entertain more than anything else in the world. He tackled his pioneering West Coast brand of rockabilly with the fervor of the most fanatic of Rock and Roll fans... because that's exactly what he was. Every week, he brought that outlaw music into America's living rooms... narrowly getting away with it only because he WAS a part of your family. The censors never caught on until it was already way too late... fortunately so for all of us. If you were to have asked Sam Phillips, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, and yes, even The King of Rock and Roll himself...they all would have looked you in the eye and told you that he was the real deal. Aside from that, he was also the most beautiful man in the world. From the time he started out on the family show as the 'irrepressible Ricky' to the last time he walked out the door on his last tour... he was simply divine. I couldn't bring my girlfriends up to the house. I'm not kidding. The first and only time I tried, my girlfriend Liz (who had no idea what The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was) forgot I was alive when he walked into the room. He just had 'IT'. That magic lives on to this day. As you make these items a part of your life, may you be reminded of great times and great music, and a great person.
From our family to you and yours, we thank you for the opportunity to officially reintroduce you to the magic of Rick Nelson. So... you say you're excited to get going... and it's about time? .... I know how you feel.
Managing Member of The Rick Nelson Company
(and Ricky's kid)
This is an story that I regret having to compose, but, its the thing to do. Malcolm Yelvington, 82, "gave up the ghost" earlier this evening (aprox. 7:15) at Baptist Hospital East, where he has been hospitalized for the past week. Malcolm had been diagnosed with prostrate cancer several years ago and has lived a healthy life until the recent past. He had a tumor removed in october of 99 after the cancer had started to metastize. A new one showed up again this summer and Malcolm chose not to go through surgery again. (he did not want to go to rehab again !) His attitude remained positive until the end and he was relativly healthy and pain free until his death. He died a strong man. Up until last Tuesday he was riding around in his new electric wheel chair that he had recieved the week before. Thankfully, trading up his arm powered model he had been having to use since becoming paralyzed on Dec. 7th of last year when a tumor cut across his spinal cord. He accepted his fate and went right on being the same Malcolm until last Wednesday when he was hospitilized for pneumonia.
His services were at Decatur
Trinity Christian Church, Saturday, Feb 24, 2001 - http://www.decaturtrinity.org/ - in Bartlett (suburb of Memphis).
The burial was handled by Mayley Funeral Home of Covington TN. Cards can be sent to his home
address where his wife of 60+ years will get them - Lovella Yelvington, 1105 Creston Ave., Memphis
Please visit the Malcolm Yelvington Tribute Page
You are encouraged to submit a comment regarding Malcolm.
His family and friends read, print out and appreciate your kind words
Unlike the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland or the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame of America appears to be a concept rather than an installation. And in a way that too is appropriate for the most ephemeral of all music genres. Doo-wop songs made their mark on '50s AM radio but didn't always rattle the sales charts; doo-wop performers, most of them black, tended to be names rather than faces. And the group line-ups weren't exactly stable, even by today's standards. When in June of 1958 the original Drifters (who'd already gone through a passel of changes) appeared on the stage of the famed Apollo Theatre, their opening act was a young Harlem group called the Crowns, and the Crowns impressed Drifters manager George Treadwell so much that he hired them to be the Drifters (which he could, since he owned the name), then went backstage and sacked their predecessors.
You could even argue that a true doo-wop hall of fame ought to be devoted to the songs - particularly since so many of the performers were one-hit wonders. The Elegants, an Italian quintet from Staten Island, achieved the rare doo-wop feat of a #1 Billboard single with their 1958 hit "Little Star" ("Twinkle twinkle" nursery-rhyme lyrics; melody courtesy of W.A. Mozart), but that's their only charting appearance. A doo-wop hall of fame without "Little Star" is unthinkable, but how to include the Elegants? Same goes for the Five Satins ("In the Still of the Night"), the Silhouettes ("Get a Job"), the Monotones ("Book of Love"), the Danleers ("One Summer Night"), the Videos ("Trickle Trickle"), the Teddy Bears ("To Know Him Is To Love Him"), the Crests ("Sixteen Candles"), the Safaris ("Image of a Girl"), the Capris ("There's a Moon Out Tonight"), the Marcels ("Blue Moon"), Jay & the Americans ("She Cried"), and countless others.
Still, if you're going to start up a doo-wop hall of fame, you probably want to have a doo-wop hall-of-fame concert, and that means inducting groups who, 40 or more years after their heyday, can perform more than one song in some semblance of their original incarnation. By that standard, the Doo-Wopp Hall of Fame of America's inaugural event was a reasonable effort. The pre-concert VIP reception offered diehard fans (and there were plenty, the vast majority white) a chance to take pictures of and get their $15 souvenir programs autographed by the likes of Hank Ballard, the Cadillacs' Earl "Speedo" Carroll, and the original Belmonts. Symphony Hall itself was packed with the kind of casually dressed devotees (many well-known to one another from the doo-wop circuit) that you don't see at BSO or Celebrity Series concerts.
But the hall-of-fame concept meant that instead of getting one or two numbers from a lot of bands, as was the case with the Doo-Wop 50 concerts that PBS televised from Pittsburgh in 1999, we were confined to the Doo-Wopp Hall of Fame of America choices. Sort of. Opening were the Harptones, not inducted though Robbins's starry-eyed ring-announcer intro had to leave you wondering why. Original lead singer Willie Winfield anchored a quartet that included one of the few women on stage all night, Vickie Burgess; they did "The Shrine of Saint Cecilia" and "My Memories of You" and then, with original bass baritone Bill "Dicey" Galloway, "Life Is But a Dream." The "Flamingos" followed - over the past couple of years, founding members Jacob and Ezekiel Carey have both passed on, but Jacob's son J.C. put together a quartet who did a credible job with the Flamingos' 1956 hit "I'll Be Home." So then they went on to "I Only Have Eyes for You"? No, they left the stage; Robbins played a taped telegram from Tommy Hunt, who had joined in 1957 (he thanked Dion and the Belmonts "for proving to us that white boys can sing"), then brought out Terry Johnson for a mannered karaoke performance of the group's biggest hit, and then Johnny Carter (who went on to the Dells), who announced that he and Tommy Hunt would be getting together.
More mystification followed with the arrival of Shirley Reeves with a back-up pair of young ladies. As a member of the Shirelles, Reeves would seem a Hall of Fame candidate, but she appeared instead as a "special guest," performing "Mama Said," "Baby It's You," "Tonight's the Night," "Since I Fell in Love with You," a sing-along "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," and "Soldier Boy," then accepting the Platters' induction plaque for Zola Taylor, who we were told is ill in California. Then the Drifters, who of course didn't perform any of the hits you're most familiar with ("There Goes My Baby," "Save the Last Dance for Me"), since those belong to the postŮApollo massacre version of the group. No matter: Bobby Hendricks, who came on as lead singer in '57, was there, and Pinkney, at 76, was still in good voice for "Money Honey," "Drip Drop," "Honey Love," and a "White Christmas" that put Bing Crosby to shame.
Intermission: a chance to rest one's ears and meditate on the meaning of doo-wop. I grew up on groups who sang a cappella or with some discreet backing combination of guitar, sax, piano, and percussion. This being the 21st century, I was not surprised to see a pair of electric guitars plus sax, keyboards, and a full drum kit on stage, but I didn't expect to be blasted out of my seat. Even the voices were overamped, losing their individual personalities and becoming a harsh blur. As big as Symphony Hall is, a modest-sized pianist playing an unamplified Steinway can fill it with no trouble, so there was no reason for the Doo-Wopp people to turn up the volume. The more so as Symphony has a cushy acoustic as opposed to the drier sound picture of, say, Carnegie Hall or Cleveland's Severance Hall.
The Belmonts (the only white performers to grace the stage all night) had enough vocal and visual variety to manage: Carlo Mastrangelo still machine-guns the opening bass "dun-dun-dun di-dun-dun-di-dun" of "I Wonder Why" as if he were restaging the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Angelo D'Aleo provides tenor contrast, and Freddie Milano bounces around like a teenager. What they didn't have was Dion, whose absence went unexplained. His hands going all over the place, Danny Elliott looked like Paul Lynde doing Bobby Darin, but he made a passable substitute lead. "Where or When" was sung a cappella; I missed the sax breaks from the original recording, and there was no falsetto from Angelo at the end, but at least they proved that voices alone can fill the joint. "A Teenager in Love" got turned into audience karaoke; given that this was the first reunion of the three original Belmonts since 1972, it would have been nice to hear them sing their biggest hit.
The Cadillacs - which is to say Earl "Speedo" Carroll and two younger, non-original singers - verged, as always, on self-parody, but "Gloria" (the prototype doo-wop ballad) and "Speedo" ("Well they call me Speedo but my real name is Mr. Earl") are so good they can take it. "Gloria" turned into a Victor Borge number, Speedo repeatedly breaking off before the closing "But she's not in love with me"; "Speedo" stretched its one-note band riff into eternity. They did just three numbers - the problem is that their two big hits are way more popular than anything else in their repertoire.
On to Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, who prompted further thoughts about
the nature of the genre. Back-up or no, the core of doo-wop is vocal
harmony, and though a doo-wop classic can be a ballad (the Statues' "Blue
Velvet") or an upbeat number (the Jarmels' "A Little Bit of Soap") or even
part of a dance craze (Dick Clark's American Bandstand kids did the stroll
to Little Anthony and the Imperials' "Tears on My Pillow"), it doesn't rock.
Hank Ballard rocks, and at Symphony Hall the vocal harmonies took a back
seat to the very big band sound. Ballard was an R&B/funk pioneer whose "Work
with Me Annie" was too suggestive for American Bandstand (but Dick played
Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill" - am I missing something here?); he wrote
"The Twist," and though Chubby Checker got the credit and the exposure, Hank
got the songwriting royalties. It's not that he and the Midnighters don't
deserve a chance to play Symphony Hall, but their extended set was a rock
show whose sonic assault was painful to listen to. At 11:35, a half-hour
into their set, with no end in sight and no earplugs in my pocket, I did
what I have never done in 20 years of reviewing: I bailed out. A steady
stream of other defectors filed past the sympathetic (they too understand
the acoustic) Symphony Hall ushers. The evening was expected to go on well
past midnight, with, I imagine, a group finale; let's give Harvey and
company the benefit of the doubt and assume it was a rousing success while
also hoping that by next year's Hall of Fame concert (scheduled for March
29, again Good Friday) they get those amps under control. I went out into
the night, casting a wistful look at the empty intersection of Mass Ave and
Huntington; concerts like this one are a boon for the performers, but the
real doo-wop hall of fame is where it always was: on the street corners.
I had the pleasure of working with the show in a backstage capacity. I stayed in the host hotel and consequently got to rub shoulders with 90% of the people involved over a period of several days. And I must tell you -- that was a great group. Please allow me to share some thoughts about those folks -- hope I don't leave anyone out.
I'll start with the Masters of Ceremonies:
Red Robinson -- he and his wife were two of the most gracious and friendly people I've encountered. He and I had a blast before and during the show -- and hung out down on Broadway the night after. A true pro, that Red. And a walking encyclopedia of music -- without being a namedropper in the least.
Steve King and Johnnie Putman -- easy to understand why their radio show is so highly rated. They are the real deal -- fans first, personalities second. Great people and a real class act.
Wink Martindale -- only spent a couple of hours around Wink - but he is a consummate professional. Doesn't take himself too seriously, though -- he likes to joke around with his "image" and keep things light. Patient guy, too.
Bill Mack -- down to earth in the extreme. He is truly grateful for all the fan attention -- but really doesn't see what all the fuss is about. Generous man -- offers to share his food with you. Great player too.
The Roses -- humorous and good-humored. When in Clovis, check out the Petty studio -- it's kept in its original state (like the day Buddy Holly recorded there) and the Roses will give you a personal tour.
Sanford Clark -- can't say enough about this fellow. I have never met a more likeable and humble man. He and his wife are the kind of people you'd like to have for next door neighbors.
Dr. Tom Butt -- this guy is a walking party. If he's in the room you WILL have fun - he'll see to it. Blows a mean horn too.
R.G. Darnell -- a relative newcomer - she's young, talented and smart. She's got good people behind her and I really think she's gonna make it. Watch for her.
Eric Todd -- he's a hoot -- loads of fun to be around and a heck of a good singer as well. You'll see his name again I would suspect. His wife Lisa keeps him pretty well in line -- she is to be commended!
D.J Fontana -- now this is a true gentleman. He's kind and patient -- and very much on the ball. I notice he writes out drum charts even for songs he probably could play in his sleep. Oh yeah -- he used to know that Elvis guy, but that doesn't affect his easygoing disposition.
Jerry Naylor: He's a pro. Just like Wink. He is most accomodating - and will even fetch your coffee for you. Gets the sugar content right, too.
Ronnie Dawson -- wildman onstage -- mild man off. He's the kind of guy who will ask more questions about you than you will about him. AND he remembers your name for days! This is the kind of guy you could sit and talk with for hours and never even mention music.
Janis Martin -- let me tell you, this is one straight shooter. She says what she thinks -- unadorned - no B.S. Great sense of humor -- no detectable ego. I was very very sad she didn't make the show.
Jack Scott -- met him early on and he greeted me by name on every occasion for the next few days. Great to talk to -- very humble and grateful for everything good that's happened to him. He really is a regular guy.
Bob and Kittra Moore -- the first folks I encountered when I arrived. Took me out for a night on the town. What a pair! Tell ya what -- Bob is a wealth of knowledge about the Ryman Grand Ole Opry people. He can identify every single person in every picture hanging on the walls in the Ryman -- I mean EVERYBODY including the stagehands and peanut vendors. Quite a bassist as well.
Bob Timmers and Gordon Stinson -- have you met these guys? You should. And you should check out the recording studio in Burns. I'd say more but they'd kill me.
Fran Norwood -- first time I met her I thought she was Wanda Jackson. She is a human hurricane. Want something done? Give it to Fran and stand back. If you ever ride in her car, hang on and Hail Mary.
I know I've missed several folks -- but they're the sort who would not hold it against me. In short -- a more genuine group of showpeople has most probably never been assembled. They came to have a good time and they did. They performed for the enjoyment of it -- and they did it for FREE. I'm happy to have been a part of that "gathering" -- and I hope everyone who attended the show came away satisfied. There may have been some rough edges, but hey -- that's rockabilly.
-Steve Foley - Skankie@aol.com
Other recordings on this release include Elvis talking about his parents and his love for them, Vernon discussing Elvis' life and career, Gladys choosing her favorite Elvis songs, Vernon being introduced from the stage by his son (1975), and more. As a special bonus, we have also included two private telephone conversations between Elvis and friends. IN THE SHADOW OF A LEGEND gives a unique insight into the private life of Elvis Presley, and makes for some fascinating listening for any Elvis fan. Packaged in a full-colour digipack with several rare photos of Elvis and his parents, including a very touching one of him on stage in 1977, holding and studying the well-known 1937 family-photo of a two-year old Elvis with his parents; it's almost as if the photo momentarily transports him back to his early years.
This release can now be ordered from:
Special thanks to Deke and Mary for letting us produce these excerpts.
We couldn't wait for the weekend to roll around. Friday nights at the Ritz were for star names: Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Big Three, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Nero and the Gladiators, Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages and The Undertakers. Saturday nights were for local bands because Saturday nights would be full if my mother was the headline act. There were only four local bands anyway - the Blackjacks, the Fireflies, the Fleetwoods and the Meteorites - and they played on a rota system. My cousin, Roland, was the lead guitarist with the Meteorites. I hadn't met him but if he could do it then why couldn't I?
One day Mike arrived at school looking pale and drawn.
"I haven't slept all night," he said.
"What's the matter?" I said. "You look terrible."
"Gene Vincent's coming to the Ritz," he said.
"Brilliant," I shouted, giving him a bear hug.
"He isn't here yet," said Mike sombrely. "Remember the last time he was supposed to come?" The last time he was supposed to come to Llanelly, he and Eddie Cochran were booked to play at the Odeon Cinema. Mike and I had been the first two in the queue to buy tickets. We were in teenage heaven. Then a week before the gig was due to take place came the awful car crash. It killed Eddie and crippled Gene, who was already disabled from a navy accident. The gig was cancelled and Mike and I went into mourning. The following day we bought all the newspapers and read every report of the crash, trying to find some meaning in a senseless event. But meaning there was none. It was rumoured that Eddie's last act was to crawl across the oil drenched road, stretching out his hand toward his guitar, which having been thrown clear of the crash, now lay out of reach on the other side of the road. To us this impossibly romantic gesture seemed to confirm our belief that rock 'n' roll was more than music. It was a spirit that shone, like the light at the end of the world, into the hearts and souls of the chosen. We were in good company. We were walking with giants.
For about a month before the gig Mike was almost catatonic. On the big night, I had to lead him, in a trance like state, to the Ritz, which was packed and sweaty. It was billed as Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps but it couldn't be them, could it? When they walked on, we scanned the stage for "Galloping" Cliff Gallup, the Bluecaps' legendary guitarist. He wasn't there. None of the Bluecaps were. We discovered they were a British pick-up band called the Jokers. They opened up with an instrumental. They weren't the Bluecaps, but they weren't bad.
Then the Guitarist walked up to a microphone.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," he shouted, "The King of Rock 'n' Roll - Gene Vincent."
A trifle inaccurate I thought. Elvis was the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Gene Vincent was a prince, to be sure, but not the king.
Then Gene exploded onto the stage and I forgot my name, address and religion. He flew from one end of the stage to the other, dragging his gammy leg behind him; eyes fixed on a point somewhere high up in the roof. He sang in that high soulful whisper, everything we wanted to hear and we entered a state of bliss. He took us to the outer limits of ecstasy. But even in our ecstatic condition we couldn't help noticing the dirty looks at the band who seemed to us, and to the rest of the audience, to be doing a fabulous job. The place went wild. Two encores and he was gone. Mike and I were drained, but not too drained to try and get backstage to meet him. We had too, it was a moral imperative.
Jinks had the same idea. We had just met him. He had an angelic face topped with a blue flat-cap (De rigueur of Gene Vincent obsessives) and he was in the same state as we were; glassy-eyed, distant and imbued with a sublime otherness. He had come down from Pontyberym with his mates, fifteen slouchers all wearing blue caps.
"We've got to get backstage," said Jinks. "We've got to."
So we scrambled over the stage and ran into the wings. There was only one door in sight so we knocked on it. There was no answer so we went in. Two big men in neat, dark suits, obviously Gene's bodyguards, stood up and blocked out the light.
"Can we see Gene, please?" said Mike.
One of the men looked over his shoulder.
"It's OK," said an American voice from behind the wall of muscle. The bodyguards stood apart and there was the great man.
I was excited but Mike and Jinks were dancing at the edge of the ripples of the universe. Gene now dressed in a black and white, chequered overcoat, sat on a whicker chair in a corner of the dressing room. We rushed towards him and Mike and Jinks knelt at his feet, while I stood to his right. We asked him a lifetime's worth of questions and he answered them all.
He seemed to know how important it was to us. We got one of the bodyguards to take some photographs. Standing at the great man's shoulder I was afraid I wouldn't be in the frame so I leant in closer. Too far, I'm afraid. The resulting photograph shows me, like a priest, reading the last rites, peering into his eye-line. I didn't care; at least I was in the photo.
The guitarist of the Jokers came into the dressing room. Gene looked at him coldly. The guitarist started to talk business but Gene held up a hand and stopped him.
"You're fired," he said with barely concealed contempt. "The whole band's fucking useless man, I never want to see you again."
The guitarist protested but Gene's mind was made up. Things turned ugly. The room turned cold and there was a whiff of sulphur in the air. The guitarist moved threateningly toward Gene. Before anybody could blink, the two bodyguards snapped into action, grabbing the guitarist by the arms. He began to struggle and a scuffle broke out. It was short-lived and he was frog-marched out of the room. A couple of minutes later the bodyguards returned, shaking their heads and shrugging their shoulders, but obviously pleased with themselves. They'd enjoyed that. Throughout the affair Gene just sat there not moving a muscle.
"Get me a new band," matter-of-factly.
"OK," said one of the bodyguards and left the room, as if he was just nipping down the corner-shop to buy one ("Give me twenty woodbine and a bottle of sherry-from-the wood, luv. Oh, and while you're there, give me a four-piece band with a drummer who knows what a back-beat is").
We were embarrassed but impressed. . We felt privy to some mythical secret. We had been granted a glimpse of the dark wheels that turn beneath the assiduously-published, glossy machine. We thought we ought to leave so we got up and said goodbye. Gene seemed surprised.
"Don't let that upset you," he said laughing, "It happens all the time."
So we hung around a bit longer. We got him to sign autographs. I still have mine. Two, in fact. The first is a general "regards" autograph, the second a personal dedication. I told him my name was Deke and he, frowning, wrote "To DleR". Close enough. We left, walking on air.
"He didn't look too well, did he?" I said. "He was a bit pasty-faced."
"Well, he'd just come off stage." Said Mike. "He must have been knackered."
"He looked great to me." Said Jinks.
Singing "Be-Bop-A-Lula" we walked Jinks to the bus-stop to catch the last bus to Pontyberym. We exchanged addresses and swore blood-oaths that tonight would be the start of a life-long friendship. A friendship. Forged in the white heat of teenage euphoria. We waved him away into the distance. Naturally we never saw him again.
We walked home up the Black Path, across Maes-Ar-Dafen fields and along the banks of the Lliedi, talking, usually at the same time, about Gene Vincent. Now, we knew there really was a Rock 'n' Roll Heaven. We knew because we were in it.
Winter Party Rockers Reunion Review
Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading, England
Saturday, 20th January 2001
Chris Black and Blackcat
by Tony Wilkinson
This is the second time that the annual Rockers Reunion has been held at the Rivermead Leisure Complex which is a relatively spacious centre about 30 minutes drive/train ride west of London and easy to get to. The acid test, after the move to this venuelast year, was whether a large audience would again be attracted for a one off show outside the capital. Thankfully this proved to be the case, indeed there was an increased attendance and generally a fun time was had by all. The sound system was just fine and security was efficient but friendly.
Complications prevented myself arriving in time for the first two acts and consequently I missed the Welwyn Garden City outfit PINK CADILLAC making their farewell performance plus sixties hitster TOMMY BRUCE. By all accounts, both gave competent performances with Bruce achieving a reasonable rapport with the audience, especially with his 1960 million seller 'Ain't Misbehaving'.
Next act up was CHRIS BLACK and BLACKCAT or Chris Black and Orchestra as the compere announced. Whatever, the band tore into fine versions of 'Peter Gunn' and Johnny and The Hurricanes 'Crossfire'. This was followed by the likes of okay versions of 'No Particular Place To Go'. 'The Wanderer' and 'Tore Up'. This group, which included two good saxophone players in its line-up, shonebetter on rockin' instrumentals, especially with their work out on The Champs 'Midnighter'. Towards the end of theact, Chris Black announced that they would perform a tribute to the late Screamin' Lord Sutch and were joined on stage by a guy dressed in a leopard skin coat and top hat who was announced as Gerald Lucifer and in straight Sutch style launched, or perhaps shouted his way, into 'Roll Over Beethoven' and 'Great Balls Of Fire'. Gerald then grabbed his big sword for Sutch's biggie showpiece routine 'Jack The ute has possibilities but does require some more work. Before Black closed out his act, he was joined on stage by WEE WILLIE HARRIS for 'Bony Moronie' and 'Johnny B. Goode'. Willie announced that there was a good possibility that he will be performing at next year'sRockers Reunion backed by the Alabama Shakers.
A solo GRAHAM FENTON backed by Rob Glazebrook's Houserockers was the following act. In essence this was a tribute performance to the late great Gene Vincent and boy did Graham carry it off well. He worked the stage and gave out with exemplary treatments of Vincent classics such as 'I Got A Baby', a great 'Rocky Road Blues', 'She She Little Sheila', 'Blue Jean Bop' and the rockers anthem 'Be Bop A Lula'. Mixed in with this were great treatments of Billy Lee Riley's 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll, Carl Perkins 'Put Your Cat Clothes On' and the Johnny Burnette Trio's 'Please Don't Leave Me' plus the inevitable 'Rockabilly Rebel'. A high energy performance, which gained good audience reaction, from a guy who clearly lives rock 'n' roll.
The star of this Rockers Reunion was the r 'n' r originator SONNY BURGESS who was, like Fenton, backed by The Houserockers. From the outset, the magic was there with Sonny in fine voice and the band totally with him. Burgess roared into the likes of 'T For Texas', 'My Bucket's Got A Hole In It' and the rarely performed 'Find My Baby For Me'. Believe me it was worth being there just to hear the last mentioned number. The set was blazing away like a forest fire when Thomas Lavelle came on stage to pump the ivories for an exceptional treatment of 'We Wanna Boogie', this was straight ahead no hold barred rock 'n' roll at its finest. The tempos were finely judged and a few slower country tinged numbers such as 'The Chokin' Kind' and 'Wings Of An Angel' worked nicely into the set. However the rockin' carried on like crazy with 'Shake It Up And Go' plus 'Red Headed Woman'. There were plenty of visuals onstage as well as fine fine music with Sonny performing his little jump dance and on occasion sitting on the edge of the upright bass playing a blistering solo whilst Wayne, the bass player, was lying horizontal on the stage plucking away for all he was worth. Towards the end of the set, Bob Fish of Johnny & The Roccos joined the assembled multitude on stage and sang lead on 'Good Rockin' Tonight'. The set closed outwith a medley of 'Tear It Up/Shake Rattle and Roll/Jenny Jenny/Red HeadedWoman'. I have seen Sonny perform quite a few times but believe me, this was one of the best shows - simply rock 'n' roll as it should be from a true master of his craft. Rumour has it that Burgess and The Pacers may well be appearing at the Americana Festival in 2002, now that should be something else based on their performance in Las Vegas at Easter 1999.
The final act of the evening was The Rapiers. Now these guys are a competent and professional band and are good at what they do. However what they do is, in essence, sixties beat music and so I left with my sweet memories of Sonny's show unsullied.
Overall a thoroughly enjoyable evening and well worth making the little bit of effort to get out of London for. I look forward to next year's Rockers Reunion but of course there is plenty of good rock 'n' roll heading our way before then, especially Hemsby in May.
©Tony Wilkinson - January 2001.
Mac Curtis Appears in New Movie
Hollywood, California, October 20, 2000 - Rockabilly Hall of Fame Inductee Mac Curtis has completed filming his role in a new movie "Don't Let Go". Principal stars are Scott Wilson, Katharine Ross and Bo Hopkins. The fictional story is set in today's world of Rockabilly Music. It revolves around a legendary singer from the fifties and the conflict between him, his wife and two sons. The sons have formed a Rockabilly Band and are working for recognition from not only music fans, but, their Father as well. Mac Curtis plays himself and performs a song in the picture along with several scenes of dialogue. The project, produced by Brad Wilson and Ken Schur, was written and directed by Max Meyers. It is based on an original idea by Wilson. Mac said, "I had a ball doing this picture. The cast really did their research and I am impressed by their work. Important to me is that if enough people see it, there could well be a whole new audience for our music. That would be cool for all of us." Producers expect the film to be released in the Spring of 2001. The Rockabilly Hall of Fame website will post further details as they develop.
ED. NOTE: Rumor has it that Mac wears his Rockabilly Hall of Fame T-shirt in one scene.
San VanHecke Vincent Book Signing
Pictured here are: Dickie Harrell (left), Tommy "Bubba" Facenda (right) and Sue at a book signing at Barnes & Noble, Newport News, VA August 25. It was just one of a series of events they did a book signing together to promote Sue's new Gene Vincent biography, "Race With The Devil." They signed tons of books and met loads of nice people, including Vincent fans both old and new ... even a few pals of Gene and the Blue Caps from their early days stopped by. They also helped promote the Rockabilly Hall of Fame by giving away a stack of Rockabilly Hall of Fame / Burns Station Sound brochures and business cards.
© Rockabilly Hall of Fame ģ