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Jodimars 

Bottom line is the men who were known as the Jodimars now have the MOST rockin'est sound ala Bill Haley's golden era that I've ever witnessed. God Bless Franny, Marshall, Joey, Dick, et al!!
-JG from Philly



In response to Jon Johnson. Letter to the editor regarding Al Rappa and Bill Haley's Comets. 

  Your comments about the Jodimars aka the "Original Comets" show you really haven't done your home work. You make it sound like they're taking a beating and they're just sweet innocent guys who got screwed by Al Rappa. Why didn't you mention that they quit Bill when he really needed them and they went off on their own thinking they were the ones who were the big stars not him. After many unsuccessful attempts at trying to copy the Comets sound they couldn't do it and eventually ended up working regular jobs like me. I don't see anywhere in the rock and roll history books where Bill asked them to rejoin the band. Gosh, I wonder why. You don't think it was because of their attitude and /or resentment they felt for him do you? Gee hard to believe he didn't call on them for all the world tours he did. Al Rappa does have legal rights to the name admit it. He has attempted to work with each and everyone of those guys except for Marshall Lytle as he is a bass player also. Each of them was not able to keep up the pace that Al set. His work schedule and perfectionist attitude did not sit well with those who didn't like the music to begin with. Everyone fell by the wayside and Al kept going and is still going. They and you do him a great injustice by even inferring that the Jodimars have any claim to the music and legacy of Bill Haley. Sure they were hired as sidemen on a recording session and they lucked out. I don't see the sidemen from any Sonny and Cher song or any other artist coming forward saying hey I was a sideman on that record so I'm entitled to use their name and I'm entitled to their music. Al Rappa the original walking bass man, the golden voice of the comets is a smart straight ahead business man and musician which is something many people aren't. Gee you don't think the Jodimars resent him for that do you? I'm sure they are a little jealous and now that it's 50 years later and they're retired from their day jobs they want to "get back in the business" . Well let them get in a polka band and play the local corner bar. They ain't rock and roll. They didn't go through all that Bill went through playing and performing all those years. They have no credentials to play rock and roll. Al Rappa is rock and roll through and through. He's the true rock and roller I want to see not the unsuccessful, retired jodimars.
John Michael Melinchock
ckpmh@allstate.com



Arkie Shinley

Well a while back one of the authors at the RockaBilly Hall Of Fame wondered how Arkie Shibley eventually migrated to California from his homestate of Arkansas. I can reveal to all now:it was from his adopted hometown of Bremerton,Wash.!! I have an article dated Tue. Jan. 23,1951 Bremerton SUN newspaper recounting how hometown boy made good Shibley returned for a visit with old friends. The paper says Shibley lived here from 1935 to 1949. He claimed fellow Bremertonian Ron Wilson wrote his hit "Hot Rod Race". The article states that Shibley and his wife now reside in Couer d'Alene, Idaho and before that lived in California. I would love to hear from anyone who could add to the Shibley story,is he alive,does anyone have an address for him-or knowledge of where I could purchase an old 45 of his?
Ed Rollman, a fan,
Bremerton, Wa.
trems128@aol.com




Ladies,

I'm writing to ask you how you deal with criticism for dressing in Fifties stuff. The reason is that I know a Rockin' girl here in England who is feeling a bit down about the static she gets from strangers, other girls, etc, about how she dresses.

Please let me stress that she isn't a half-hearted, here today, gone tomorrow kind of fan. It's not a question of dedication. I have known her since the late eighties, and she has always been a hundred per cent behind Rock'n'Roll, Rockabilly, etc. In fact, I admire how true she has been to the scene, the style, and the music. She really makes me feel proud to be her friend.

Every woman wants to feel attractive and sexy, but she isn't made of stone, and no woman can get comments like "You dress like my granny" and not be affected by them, no matter how dedicated they are to our lifestyle. No woman wants to be made to feel frumpy, or un-sexy, or like yesterday's news.

She really is beautiful, and she dresses with great taste and real class, but although I have told her that, she still gets down about it sometimes. So I was hoping that maybe some of you Rockin' ladies could post a few messages saying how you deal with the crap that comes your way, and encouraging her.

As a guy, I know how to deal with all the "Hey Elvis!" and "You greasy bastard" stuff that every Greaser / Rockabilly / Teddy Boy has had to endure, but I really don't know what to tell her, and I was hoping that you ladies might.

They don't come any more Rockin' than this girl, but she is sweet and sensitive and no matter how prepared she is to take crap, too much of it gets her down. So how about sending a little bit in the other direction? I'll put them together and pass them on to her. Thanks very much for your time and attention.

Mark
MARKKOZLOWSKIM@AOL.COM




rock a` bily / rock n` roll

I think all styles of rockin' music should be appreciated, be it western swing / boogie, hillbilly bop, rock a` billy or rock n` roll, even the black rhythm & blues / jive. I myself when first getting into this rockin' scene, only preferred rock a` billy, with slap bass pounding away, "Johnny burnette" "billy lee riley" and the early sun "Elvis" sound. but as the years went by I got to like all styles, 50's music I thought I would never get into, the only 50's music I don't like is "teddyboy" I find it a little too cabaret, a music / sound, the British, couldn't get just right. Of course it's all to one's own taste, no matter how they might of tried. I'm British, but I do much prefer, the American, side of the 1950's rockin' music.
Keep rock n` roll alive.
From (little) Tony...of the u.k.
tony@tonybopper.worldonline.co.uk




The Mods, Rockers, and Teddy Boys

The Teddy Boys, by the accounts I've heard, were originally known as the Cosh Boys; street toughs from London who first started appearing during the early '50s (pre-dating rockabilly's start in '54, actually), wearing tight trousers and waist coats popular during England's Edwardian period before the First World War ("Ted" is a common short form of "Edward" in the U.K., hence "Teddy Boys"). Drug of choice: Booze.

The Rockers turned up a couple of years later, patterning themselves after Brando in "The Wild One" and Gene Vincent, and riding around on motorcycles. They were into early rock 'n' roll in a big way; Elvis, Gene, Eddie Cochran, etc. Drug of choice: Also booze.

The Mods started appearing around '63 and were a reaction to the earlier Teds and Rockers. By contrast, Mods tended to dress very sharp (a look derived in large part from American jazz musicians of the late '50s), rode motorscooters instead of motorcycles, and listened mainly to American R&B (Tamla/Motown, Stax/Volt, James Brown, etc.), ska, and home-grown groups like the Who, the Small Faces, the Kinks, and the Creation. Drug of choice: Amphetamines.

The trouble between the mods and the rockers was mainly that the mods regarded the rockers as hopelessly old-fashioned dinosaurs. The rockers, on the other hand, looked at the elegantly dressed mods as a bunch of uppity nancy boys desperately in need of a sound thrashing. The Who's movie "Quadrophenia" is really a pretty accurate account of the period. The fights between the two groups were, from what I've heard from older mods and rockers, pretty evenly matched. By '64/'65 there were far more mods than rockers, but the rockers tended to be tougher and stronger.

The Teds were less in evidence during the '60s from the accounts I've heard (someone feel free to correct me if that's not true), though there was a revival of the Teds starting in the late '60s that reached its peak in the '70s, and there are still a fair number around to this day, with their own weekenders, bands, etc. The mods also enjoyed something of a revival in the late '70s thanks to the popularity of groups like the Jam and Secret Affair.

--Jon Johnson
jon_erik@juno.com
Wollaston, Massachusetts





THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME
Felines:This is probably the first, last and only positive message you'll ever see from me regarding the Cleveland R&R HOF.

My opinion, guarded as it may be, is that they don't get it, but are trying hard to figure it out. The recent induction of Gene Vincent (probably due to overwhelming emails from real R&R fans) is a slight indication that they might be turning towards the real thing. There seems to be a sense of urgency somewhere to get the '70s artists inducted right away, while at the same time ignoring the roots artists. There is so little Doo-Wop in their HOF that its shameful (not that Bob & I have included much, but then, we don't call it the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, either).

If they are beginning to see the light, that's a positive indication. Maybe they'll consider the real rock'n'roll legends like Billy Lee Riley & Charlie Feathers, instead of concentrating on the Top-40 hits artists with major label affiliations. Self-promotion has been the major emphasis up to this point, maybe they are finally getting the message. Let's hope so!

Although I've indicated a negative feeling towards the R&R HOF for many years, I'm still willing to give them a chance to redeem themselves. To go back to the beginning, and figure out where they went wrong. Or maybe they could just download what Bob & I posted three (almost) years ago and work from there. It seems we've gotten pretty much positive feedback since we started. Maybe they should get rid of the critics and endorse the fans.

There is Rock'n'Roll, and then there is Rock, and then there is Pop. And there are the many, many sub-genres that arose in the sixties. The R&R HOF is putting too much emphasis on the latter two. The Velvet Underground is not, was not, and never will be Rock'n'Roll. I think there's an R&B HOF out there somewhere, and I'm sure they've done their job. I know there's a Doo-Wop association that know exactly what they're doing. Why doesn't the R&R HOF have any idea?

Jimi Hendrix wasn't rock'n'roll, nor were the Doors. Almost anyone after that was either Pop or Rock, not rock'n'roll. I could almost agree with the Eagles and CCR, maybe even Elton John, but not until the originators have gotten their dues. Maybe they should just change the name to the Pop Hits HOF.

Stepping down off my soapbox now.
Joe Wajgel





THE GOSPEL MUSIC CONNECTION
This is something that has come up in conversations with friends from time to time, yet it occurs to me that it rarely comes up here. There was a special on TNN a couple of weeks back about Elvis' gospel records and it included some footage of Elvis singing and recording gospel music, as well as footage of some of the groups who influenced him, including the Statesmen and the Blackwood Brothers. It was a real interesting program that I recommend viewing if you all get opportunity. I have some CDs at home by the Statesmen, the Blackwoods, and others from that period (Golden Gate Quartet, Dixie Hummingbirds, Five Blind Boys of Alabama, Soul Stirrers, etc.), but had never seen any film footage of them before and it's really striking to see how much Elvis was influenced by how they moved, as well as by how they sang and the kind of material they were performing. And this got me to thinking. Many of the original rockabilly cats back in the '50s were big fans of gospel music and often recorded in that genre, too. Elvis recorded quite a bit of gospel music, as did Johnny Cash, and several others. Listen to the Million Dollar Quartet session sometime and a lot of the numbers that those guys jammed on were gospel tunes. It was a common frame of reference for the original rockabilly musicians of that era. However, society has changed a lot in the last 45 or 50 years and it's safe to say that we live in a considerably more secular society than it was in Elvis' time. As a music writer I hear a lot of modern rockabilly records and the gospel influence that one heard in rockabilly 40 or 45 years ago simply isn't there anymore. I just don't hear it. So my questions are these: Is it there and I'm just not hearing it? If it's not there, does anyone miss it? Is what's being recorded today more two-dimensional than what was being recorded back then as a result? Or is rockabilly better off without the influence of the church? --Jon Johnson
jon_erik@juno.com
Wollaston, Massachusetts


Followup
I have a definite opinion on this one... but whether or not it translates into this media I don't know. As someone who grew up in church my favorite moment was always singing. I loved listening to them big huge guys that made the pews rumble when they dropped way on down. Here lately I've been getting back into the gospel thing... While Tennesee Ernie Ford ain't the best at it he hits me everyonce in a while. And the new Sister Rosetta Tharpe complilation is full of white hot spirituals. And then there's the Supreme Angels' "I Want To Be Just Like Him" which nails me every time. And Hank Williams' "Let the Spirit Descend" brings me to my knees evertime. And some of Bill Monroe's hottest sides were firmly entrenched in matters of the soul and pulpit. The stuff speaks volumes to me. So where is it today?
It's not there. Rockabilly today isn't what it was... I think we can all agree with that. You can record straight to acetate in a cave with Elvis' guitar for all I care, but you ain't gonna catch the soul of rockabilly. The pleading spirit has been lost. Most of us grew up listening to anything but gospel. For a number of years gospel/Christian music has been seriously lackin'. Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant ain't gonna cut no "Jesus Hits Liket the Atom Bomb"'s. It's all too safe and has been for awhile, though it seems to be moving more in a mainstream direction these days(punk, ska, industrial). Turn off #1 is the bland production and lack of creativity. About the only thing worse than a Nashville produced "country" record is a Memphis produced "gospel" album. As it's too safe, most of us have never been exposed to it. Rebellion and recklessness has nothing to do with the sound... It's part of what we've been rebelling against. So it's not been an influence. Factor in the fact that I think a lot of people are scared to let it shine through, and factor in that many haven't been down on the front row during the invitation pleading forgiveness and you have what you have. Little or no gospel influence. And when you take out that influence you're left with something a little flat. Kinda like when you don't screw the cap back on a the coke bottle. Eventually it don't bubble.
Does rockabilly need a little churchin' up? Not necessarily. A few years back I read an interesting little article about rockabilly. In describing Carl Perkins's "Dixie Fried" as one of the purest rab tunes ever recorded the author said something to the effect of the "the sin of Saturday night and the salvation of Sunday morning" ... those were the elements that make it so pure. No, the song has nothing to do with salvation in the spiritual sense, but that urgency bleeds through. I wasn't brought up listening to the Piggly-Wiggly Sunday Salvation Hour on the radio but I was brought up in a church pew. So the influence stands, not only in the tuneless manner in which I sing, but elsewhere in my life. My mama wasn't spinning gospel discs, but she was always hymning while doing the dishes. Her love( of church hymns) rubbed off... so to speak.
I've made absolutely no sense, but Jack Scott's "Save My Soul" certainly does. So do a few cuts by George Jones. Come on over for the Rockin' Gospel Jamboree.
Lonesome
Odessa, WEST Texas
brandan_kim@yahoo.com





Bill Haley's COMETS become THE ORIGINAL BAND
I was just doing some reading on the Al Rappa thing and ran across this article that appeared at the end of June in a Colorado newspaper. See if you can spot the errors! In spite of the fact that the concert was in July, I just whipped off a correction letter to the editor, which I'm also including. Many thanks to Chris Gardner's and Alex Frazier-Harrison's excellent websites, both of which I used extensively for fact-checking.
--Jon Johnson
jon_erik@juno.com
Wollaston, Massachusetts

Al Rappa keeps Bill Haley's comet burning By Janet Paskin
Al Rappa, band leader and bass player of Bill Haley's Comets, can play 10 instruments: guitar, upright bass, saxophone, flute, trumpet, trombone, fluglehorn and soprano horn. He claims to be the only man in the world who can play two trombones at the same time. But Al Rappa is best known for his bass act, which he's still performing with the same, polka-dotted upright bass on which he recorded "Rock Around the Clock." In the middle of a song, Rappa climbs up the neck of the bass and throws it around, while continuing to play in perfect time with the music. He has been known to take other members of the band for rides ó without missing a note.

"You've got to have a gimmick so people remember you. I got tired of having people see me do my act and then go down the street and do it, so I made it so hard no one can do it," Rappa said. "One guy broke his arm trying, another guy broke his back."

Today, the 72-year-old Rappa is still climbing up the neck of his polka-dotted bass. It's all part of the show for Bill Haley's Comets, the '50s nostalgia group that carries on the music that Haley created. Rappa is the only remaining original member of the Comets, but the group continues to tour under Haley's name. Haley died in 1981; Rappa gained legal rights to the name and continues to tour.

The show features song after song from Haley's 300-record deep discography, but it also contains the variety-show elements of comedy and performance that characterized early rock 'n' roll. "We're a show band. We're not a band that just stands up there," Rappa said. Their commitment to showmanship made Bill Haley and the Comets one of the first rock 'n' roll super groups. "We did more than any band ever did," Rappa said. "We made 300 songs, we made seven or eight movies, three of them in Spanish. We did a lot of things that people don't know about. ... The Beatles opened up for us in '61 at the Star Club. They were just a house band and they opened up for us."

With the American music scene changing so quickly, Bill Haley and the Comets lost their edge. "It was what the people wanted, and we did it, but Bill wouldn't change," Rappa said. "And then when he did want to make a change, it was too late. The '60s had a different style, the '70s had a different style, you got to go with the people. It's the kids who buy the records, not the older people."

With the rest of the original Comets out of commission, Rappa has had to find other musicians to play the music the original band made famous. He requires them to know the original songs so the band sounds just like the original. In one incarnation or another, the band has been playing these songs since 1952, and Rappa says he won't quit any time soon. Put on your poodle skirts and bobby socks; Bill Haley's Comets are coming to town. The vintage rock show begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek. For more information, call 845-TIXS.

And my letter to the editor... Dear editor,

Hi there. My name is Jon Johnson. I write for a Boston-based country music magazine called Country Standard Time and have recently been doing some research into the subject of conflicting claims to the rights to band names. It's probably a moot point by now since the concert featuring the version of the Comets led by Al Rappa has long since come and gone, but it's probably worth correcting a few points in Janet Paskin's article that appeared in your June 30th issue.

First of all, Al Rappa didn't play on the original version of "Rock Around the Clock," as is suggested near the beginning of the piece. Not to take anything away from Rappa's bass playing, which is fine on his recordings with Haley, but Rappa was the group's fourth bassist, joining the group in 1959 and following Marshall Lytle (who played on the original version of "Rock Around the Clock" in 1954), Al Rex, and Al Pompilli (Bill Haley apparently liked his bass players to be named "Al."). Rappa re-recorded the song with Haley on several occasions during the '60s, but he certainly didn't play on the original version, nor was he a member of the original group by any stretch.

Secondly, the article states that, "With the rest of the original Comets out of commission, Rappa has had to find other musicians to play the music the original band made famous." This is also inaccurate. Haley died in 1981, as the article states. Danny Cedrone (who played lead guitar on the early Comets records, including "Rock Around the Clock") died in 1954 after falling down a flight of stairs, and steel guitarist Billy Williamson retired from the music industry in 1963 and died in 1996. However, the other original members of the group (bassist Marshall Lytle, drummer Dick Richards, guitarist Frank Beecher [who replaced Cedrone], saxophonist Joey D'Ambrosio, and pianist Johnny Grande) continue to play and record together today, with vocalist Jocko Buddin filling in for Haley, though performing under the name "the Comets" is reportedly problematic for them since Rappa owns the rights to the group's name. However, the group is reportedly releasing an album next month on the Las Vegas-based Rollin' Rock label; apparently under the name "the Original Band."

In the interest of full disclosure, I have no connection with the original members of the Comets and I have no axe to grind with Al Rappa, who certainly played a role in Haley's career during the '60s. Nor do I particularly want to stop the man from making a living. For that matter, I've never even seen any of the various groups who perform under the Comets name. As I said at the start of this letter, I'm a music writer who has been doing some research into this subject lately and the Comets' situation is one of the more interesting (and unfortunate) examples around right now; a situation where most of a group's original members are still alive and performing as a group, yet cannot use their original name because it's owned by someone else.

Anyway, I hope this has been of some interest. Please feel free to pass this letter on to Ms. Paskin, as she may find it interesting as well.

all the best,
Jon Johnson
Wollaston, Massachusetts






Subject: Support Your Local Rockabilly Night

Gregg wrote this for the Las Vegas Rockabilly list (Hi, Anne!!!!) but it bears repeating and I think that even though it's not a big issue for us in NY something we need to always keep at the back of our minds:

Hope you all don't mind if an outsider speaks up here. I've been lurking for a while, but what Anne was saying in her post kind of impelled me to respond.

When I first came out to Las Vegas for VLV '98, I was really surprised at how healthy the local Rockabilly scene was. There were plenty of people, some good bands, and a number of regular venues. And though at first glance it seems like it would be a pretty isolated scene, Las Vegas is situated close enough to southern California to be a convenient stop for any west coast bands touring east. And eastern bands touring out west could also find it a logical city to stop in. It looked like Vegas actually had a lot going for it.

But Las Vegas also seems to be a pretty young scene. Most of it's history, as far as I've heard at least, doesn't go back much farther than the early 90's. I doubt there's too many people around who remember what it was like when the American Rockabilly revival collapsed around '84. Believe me, when Anne talks about the bad old days (what some New York vets refer to as the "Dark Ages"), she's not exaggerating. Anyone who came into the scene recently might think there were always local bands, live venues, fanzines and bands touring through town. But that's actually only a relatively recent phenomenon. And there's nothing that says it's going to stay this way.

Ten years ago, the biggest scene on the East coast was Washington, DC. The DC Metropolitan area Rockabilly scene, which included Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland, was big, much bigger than Las Vegas is now. In the late 1980s, while the rest of the country languished, DC produced about a dozen hard-core Rockabilly bands. There were about four or five downtown venues that featured Rockabilly bands on a regular basis, as well as a weekly live Rockabilly show, the Barn Dance. DC also had Cat Tales, one of the only fanzines being published in the country at the time. The scene was supported by a huge crowd of hard-core regulars, new kids as well as older vets, and everyone had a strong sense of mutual support and got along very well. But the Rockabilly revival in DC had jumped the gun on the rest of the country, and the scene couldn't exist for long in a vacuum. Almost no Rockabilly bands were touring the country back then, and after a while people got tired of seeing the same local bands week after week. The Barn Dance closed due to lack of local support, which caused a lot of infighting and factionalism. Some people stopped going to shows or dropped out completely. Venues stopped booking Rockabilly bands when it became unprofitable. Within a couple of years the scene had collapsed. Today, while the rest of the national Rockabilly scene explodes, there are only a few Rockabilly bands in the whole DC metro region. There are no regular venues and few if any clubs are interested in booking Rockabilly bands. Almost all the old crew moved away or dropped out of the scene, and the few people left don't seem to know each other.

And DC isn't the only strong scene that's disappear. About six years ago, Philadelphia had one of the strongest scenes on the East Coast. The Philly scene was about the same size Las Vegas is now, with a big crew of die-hard cats and some really excellent bands like Blue Gene Blue and 200 Pounds of Swingin' Hounds. They also had J.C. Dobbs and Silk City, two good venues that regularly booked local and out-of-town Rockabilly bands. But when Silk City and J.C. Dobbs both simultaneously closed down, the Philadelphia scene fell apart. And it's never recovered.

From what I've observed over the years, there are a lot of elements necessary to keep a local Rockabilly scene going. Above all it has to have live music. Without live shows, the Philly scene died a quick death. But a really strong scene needs more than just shows featuring local bands. For a scene to thrive and grow, to attract new people and maintain a creative dynamic, it has to have out-of-town bands play as well. Because no Rockabilly scene, no matter how good it's local bands, can exist for long in isolation. It was exactly that lack of outside support that buried the scene in DC.

Admittedly, Las Vegas at the moment must seem far from isolated. Plenty of bands have been touring through, especially recently, thanks to the weekly Thursday night shows at Legends (and keep in mind that a regular weekly Rockabilly night is not easy to come by in this country, even in scenes much larger than Las Vegas). But a show that brings in so many touring bands can be a double-edged sword. If an out-of-town band knows that when it plays Las Vegas it'll get an enthusiastic crowd and make at least fair money, that band will want to keep coming back. And they will definitely spread the word to other bands that Vegas is a good city to play. But the opposite is also true. If a band travels a long way to Las Vegas only to play to an empty club, they will probably write the city, and it's entire scene, off as dead. If this happens often enough it won't be long before touring bands skip Las Vegas all together.

It's been pretty clear for a while now that America is in the middle of it's second Rockabilly revival, and over the last twelve years I've watched countless local Rockabilly scenes develop and grow. And while the American Rockabilly scene today has stronger roots than it did in the early 1980s, and will probably never again collapse like it did before, there are absolutely no guarantees that any particular local Rockabilly scene will last. In other words, Rockabilly won't die off in America, but it could die off in Las Vegas.

I'm obviously not an expert on what's going on in Las Vegas, and I don't want to come across as some pompous know-it-all telling you what's right and what's wrong with your scene (I'll leave that to Continental Restyling). But I should think that with all the excellent bands touring through the West today, and with such a strong local scene, there's no reason Las Vegas can't support a weekly live show. Even if it is a weeknight, how often do you get to hang out in a club you feel comfortable in, where you know you'll hear the type of music you like surrounded by people with the same taste as you? One night where you know you won't get a hard time about the clothes you wear or the car you drive or the music you listen to. Even if you weren't around during the dark ages, it seems to me a night like that is nothing to take for granted.

If the cats in Las Vegas are anything like they are in New York, then I know that most of you aren't kids any more, and the whole "support your scene" argument can sound a little DIY Punk Rock cir 1982. And that's true. Almost from it's beginning the American Punk scene was fiercely proactive, with the bands and the fans all helping and supporting each other. But that's one of the big reasons why Punk Rock thrived throughout the 1980s, while the Rockabilly scene took a nosedive.

In my experience, the fate of a local scene is for the most part really up to the local crowd. And in the end, one way or another, we all get the scene we deserve.

Gregg - RocketJ66@aol.com






Daddy-o Dilly Visits the NorVaJak Recording Studio in Clovis, NM
by Mark Dillman

Between August 1 - 9, 1999, my family and I drove through New Mexico and Colorado on vacation. My wife "limited" me to just one "musical attraction" on this vacation. Since our first port of call was Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, I had the opportunity to try to see the NorVaJak recording studio, in nearby Clovis, New Mexico, where producer Norman Petty made brilliant records throughout the 1950s and 1960s by the likes of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, the Fireballs with and without singer Jimmy Gilmer, Buddy Knox and Jimmy Bowen with their Rhythm Orchids, Roy Orbison and the Teen Kings, Terry Nolland, Johnny "Peanuts" Wilson, the Norman Petty Trio, and many more. Asking around revealed that tours are indeed available upon advanced reservation.

The gentleman who conducts the tours gave up the ministry fourteen years ago to become the Petty's full time estate administrator. He helped both Norman and wife Vi arrange their affairs during the final years. He continues to carry out their estate affairs, which includes making arrangements for record labels to reissue recordings made there. Buddy Holly's recordings are owned by MCA and are off-limits. But, it seems that recordings made by many other artists and groups at the Petty studio are actually owned by the Petty estate rather than the record labels that originally released them. Under this arrangement, the highly respected Ace label, in the U.K., has released numerous CDs of music recorded at the Petty studio, including the Fireballs, Jimmy Gilmer, the Stringalongs, the Norman Petty Trio, and a various artist compilation entitled "West Texas Bop".

We arrived a little early allowing plenty of time to walk around the premises and take photos of the exterior of the property. When facing the complex, the building on the left is the actual studio where all these great records were made. The two story building on the right was Norman and Vi's residence. The studio building is small, modest, and tree-covered on the front, but it runs six rooms deep, starting with a lobby, Norman's control room, the main recording studio, Norman's secretary's work area, a kitchen, and an apartment, then opening to a covered outdoor patio. We were shown the framed records covering the walls of the lobby, with probably every Buddy Holly record and even Roy Orbison's first ever release, on the Je-Wel label, which even predates his Sun records. Next we were allowed to spend time inside Norman's previously very private control room, filled with tube-era recording equipment and Altec playback speakers, which to me looked big enough to be old movie theater speakers (Altecs were very commonly used in movie theaters years ago). We were played a safety copy tape of Buddy Holly's "Heartbeat" which rang out with clarity like I've never heard before. Same goes for many other tracks from CDs like "Wheels", "Peggy Sue", and "Bottle of Wine".

Then we went into the recording studio, a room carefully baffled and curtained by Norman to achieve sound balance to meet his audio standards. The room was filled with actual instruments you hear on the records. Remember the Celeste on "Everyday" by Buddy Holly? It's a German hand-crafted keyboard instrument which individually hammers each chime that you hear. Remember how Vi angrily hammered out the left handed blues on "Think It Over" by Buddy Holly? The Baldwin Grand is still there. Remember the organ sounding keyboard on Jimmy Gilmer's "Sugar Shack"? That's a Solovox, a tiny piano-like keyboard about the width of a computer keyboard with a electric cord attached to a wood framed speaker that dwarfs the small hole in the center where the sound comes from. A rare bird, for certain. Guitars and drums are available to use for posing for pictures. Then, placed on a raised platform is Norman's prized Hammond B3 organ flanked on both sides by Leslie speakers.

Through a narrow hallway we pass the secretary's work area (decorated with framed photos Norman took on trips to Europe and the British Isles) which enters into a picture perfect 1950s era kitchen, which is spotless and equipped with all period kitchenware and tube radio, much like the kitchens in people's homes I remember as a kid.

In the back is a bedroom/living room area with a fireplace on one end and two beds on the other. Buddy Holly actually slept in these beds. (No signs out front reading "BUDDY HOLLY SLEPT HERE".) Very nicely decorated and carpeted throughout. Nothing Spartan about this place. Even the patio is equipped with a kitchen area including a stainless steel sink and cabinets, where the Pettys would host outdoor dinners. The trees were lined with strings of colored lights that would oscillate to the sound of music played on outdoor speakers; all part of Norman's electronic creativity.

CDs are sold on these tours. I bought Jimmy Gilmer's "Sugar Shack"/"Buddy's Buddy" and "Lucky 'leven"/"Folkbeat" (both two LPs on one CD), the Fireballs "Gunshot", and The Original Norman Petty Trio and Ensemble "Volume One". There were original late 1950s Fireballs postcards for the taking. All told, we were shown the studio in the greatest of detail for a full hour and a half. We cheerfully dropped a ten dollar bill in the contribution box. I know we said good-bye three times only to be stopped to enthusiastically talk some more. Our tour guide, Mr. Broad, truly seemed to enjoy having knowledgeable fans there to talk to and show around. He said that during the afternoon he had a group from Denmark coming in, continuing the never ending devotion that Europeans have for Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Well, there's a few Midwestern Yankees like me who remain just as fascinated by this remote, out-of-the-way oasis of rock 'n' roll history. The same vibe that I felt at the Sun studio in Memphis is just as strong here.

A few blocks down 7th street you’ll see the same drive-in restaurant where Buddy Holly and all the musicians would get take-out orders and eat at Petty’s. Another two blocks away, these days you will find P.T.’s, a large nostalgia-decorated eatery with really great food. The place was almost full, even on a Monday afternoon. The menu includes "the Fireball", a club sandwich with Dijon mustard and jalepeno peppers, and "the Tomsco", a hamburger with sautéed onions, Swiss cheese, on a rye bun. The decor includes oversized photos of most of the musicians who recorded in Clovis. Those who are still alive have autographed their photos. Peggy Sue Gerron, immortalized in song, has autographed an LP box set of Holly on display below the cash register.






NEWS UPDATE ON ORIGINAL SONG SITE: Over 5000 visitors the first two months on the web, and now averaging 75-100 daily! We have improved the site, added links to other songwriters, Message boards, Song Critique, Songwriting tips, and now have over 20 new original new songs on the site. We are now adding vocals and melody, as the songs are done, and this would leave final arrangement on song all up to the interested parties that might want the song.

"IN YOUR MEMORY" deals with a subject that most songwriters don't want to write about, which is death and dying, but I feel it needed to be said, because it happens. My co-writer on song just found out he has Cancer, and wanted to leave something behind for his loved ones, so we wrote this song, and he's sings the vocals. We plan to record it, and put it on an album with some of our other songs as soon as we can get it done! This song, and album will only be available on our site, and we are getting a lot of response, and interest in album from visitors!

Check it out at http://www.evansville.net/~aires - Original Song Site!

"Glenn Smith" (aires@evansville.net)






Not intending on rockin any boats and sure as heck don't want to wear out my welcome before I even get a chance to say Hi! But I think you may be interested in the following information.

Tommy Durden played in my fathers band "Smilin Jack Herring and The Swing Billies" in the mid 50's. Before Mae Axton heard Heartbreak Hotel it was performed in Cedar Key Fla. at the arts festival. The rest of the band hated it because they did not really take a liking to Rock n Roll at that time. It messed with their swing thing at and they just had a ball teasing Tommy but obviously Tommy had a plan they did not know about! Anyway, Tommy played steel guitar for my Dad and Pee Wee Jenkins was the featured vocalsit (when he was sober). I have some very unique pictures from that time 1952-1958 when my Dad was the DJ at the local radio station in Gainesville Fl., played drums and was a promoted shows he put together. Pictures of my Mother (who was hired to front the band) and my father performing shows with Hawkshaw Hawkins, The Louvin Brothers, Little Jimmy Dickins (very young) Tommy Durden, My Grandpa Shorty "Train, Train" Medlock (mothers father) and the list goes on. The last time I saw Tommy was in Jensen Beach, Fl. when he came and stayed with my Dad in 1994. I was playing a show at Muers Key West and it was a good time and visit. I know there are many different variations of how Heartbreak Hotel was created and it is not my intention to offend or dispute anybodys story but a fact is a fact no matter what variations are publisized.

I am adding a new section to my web site which will cover Tommy Durden, Smilin Jack Herring and "The Swing Billy Band", Shorty "Train, Train Medlock and His Florida Plow Hands Band and from a Mothers Perspective. There are some really cool pictures (time capsules) and I have some of my original songs and instrumentals to give folks some background music to listen to while reviewing the info. The address is http://members.aol.com/swamper58 . My wife and I live in Nashville where the good session work is and the best songs are.

Take Care - MDH - Swamper58@aol.com







I saw Bill Haley and the Comets twice during their most popular years. I saw Bill Haley and the Comets live at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa in 1956 and again in 1958. I am now 59 years old and it still is an event that I remember vividly. As soon as I heard they were going to be at the Surf the first time, I got a date with my favorite dance partner and anxiously awaited the weeks to go by. At that time people danced to the music rather than just stand around and watch them play. I'll never forget it. It was during the summer and I literally was soaking wet from dancing all night. I have been a Bill Haley fan ever since I first saw the movie, "Blackboard Jungle" when it first came out. I had a booklet autographed by all the band when they appeared at the Surf. Where that booklet is today I don't know, but I sure wish I did.

By the way, the Surf Ballroom that I mentioned was the same one that was the last appearance of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper. I lived eight miles away from the Surf in Mason City, IA. Every week they had a big name in music appearing at the Surf during the summer. Anyone who was anyone in music has appeared at the Surf from the big bands to the various rock 'n roll stars. During those years we saw everyone. We took it for granted at that time, as kids will do, but looking back on it I realize how fortunate we were. During those years I saw live Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Harry James, Les Brown, to name a few of the big bands. Vocal groups such as the Four Freshmen, Four Lads, the Diamonds, the Crew Cuts, I saw at the Surf. Conway Twitty, Bobby Vee, Bobby Vinton, were individual singers I saw. I saw them when they were at "the top", not years later when they were on the down slide of their careers. But the "King" was always Bill Haley and the Comets.

My friends and I still talk about the memories and good times when we get together. I have been back to the Surf a couple of times in my later years to reminisce and look at the pictures of the various groups I saw as a teenager. What a great time to be a teenager!!! -Jim Halsor, Cedar Falls, IA - jdhals@cfu-cybernet.net







WHAT MAKES UP THE ROCKABILLY SOUND...

Terry Gordon has his own set of characteristics:

Strong positive:

Sounds like Elvis on Sun
Sounds like Carl Perkins
Sounds like Jerry Lee Lewis
Sounds like Elvis on RCA, 1956-58
Sounds like Charlie Ryan's "Hot Rod Lincoln"

Moderate positive:

Sounds like Elvis on RCA, 1959+
Sounds like Johnny Cash on Sun
Sounds like Duane Eddy
Sounds like the Everly Brothers
Sounds like Conway Twitty
Sounds like Arkie Shibley's "Hot Rod Race"

Neutral:

Sounds like Bill Haley
Sounds like Buddy Holly
Sounds like Carl Mann

Moderate negative:

Sounds like Chuck Berry
Sounds like Little Richard

ARTIST CHARACTERISTICS

Strong positive:

Country

Moderate positive:

Already has pertinent material included
Southern (non-Gulf Coast)

Neutral:

Gulf Coast
Non-Southern

Moderate negative:

Cajun
Hispanic
Black

RECORDING CHARACTERISTICS

Strong positive:

Country label or series
Nashville recording
Mainstream country flipside

Moderate positive:

Southern label
Custom record

Moderate negative:

Mainstream pop flipside
Post-1959 recording

Strong negative:

Post-1964 recording

MATERIAL CHARACTERISTICS

Strong positive:

Cover of R&B material

Moderate positive:

Country composer or publisher
Rocker

Moderate negative:

Ballad
Instrumental
Traditional country material
Boogie woogie rhythm
Calypso or other exotic rhythm
Twist rhythm

Strong negative:

Waltz rhythm

VOCAL CHARACTERISTIC

Strong positive:

Twang in vocal
Presley-derived vocal

Moderate positive:

Exhortations by vocalist
Brother duet

Neutral:

Male vocal group

Strong negative

Female or mixed vocal group

INSTRUMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS

Strong positive:

Steel guitar
Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano
Fiddle

Moderate positive:

Prominent electric guitar
Acoustic rhythm guitar
acoustic bass
Piano triplets

Neutral:

Single saxaphone
Other piano

Moderate negative:

Lack of an instrumental break
Electric bass
Horn other than saxophone
Boogie woogie piano
Accordian

Strong negative:

Two or more saxophones or other horns
Organ
Bongos

I don't agree with all of Terry's qualities, and I'm also not sure
we should try to examine the music under a microscope, but I throw
this out to anyone who cares to consider it.  My biggest question
to Terry (which I have not yet asked), would be "what does Buddy Holly
sound like?"  To me, it depends upon what period he was going through,
he's rockabilly, rock'n'roll and pop, depending upon which point in
his career you consider.  This could also be applied to Elvis, Gene,
Eddie, Jerry Lee (to a lesser extent) and a host of other minor heroes.

It's also curious that Terry never mentions echo, a characteristic
that I consider important, although not essential, to rockabilly.
I also disagree to a point with the moderate negative he applies to
instrumental recordings, a point upon which I've previously started
a small war here on the list.  Terry and I are friends and communicate
on a regular basis, so I'm not putting him down, only pointing out that
I disagree with some of his beliefs.

Joe Wajgel, Las Vegas
legjaw@delphi.com







I am one of a number of people putting the Arthur Godfrey Memorial Foundation together. One of our early projects is to raise interest in a USPS commemorative postage stamp to honor Mr. Godfrey. If you can help us with our petition drive we will certainly appreciate it. All the information is contained in a single-page sheet which I can send. The connection is that many acts of all kinds of descriptions--including rockabilly--appeared on and got career movement through Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. We're endeavoring to compile a list of all the folk who appeared on ALL his programs, but the Talent Scouts is the largest and most meaningful list and the hardest to achieve. This is because when the acts appeared they were not nationally known and so there are no advance listings in newspapers, TV and radio magazines and the like. It would have made no sense for a NYC paper to list "Tonight on Godfrey's Talent Scouts! Anthony Benedetto!". So we have to dig and hope people remember. There is another interesting thing; each act was given a recording of its talent scout and its appearance, and we would love to get copies of these. Hoping you can help us with this quest, and of course our search for anything else about Mr. Godfrey, his activities and associates, or referrals to anyone else who can contribute.
Gratefully, LeeMunsick@aol.com




Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and all those who have dedicated their life to the making of "ROCK-A-BILLY", and SUN RECORDS, I will always honor the tradition.
with loving Devotion,
Malinda.




From: LEGJAW@delphi.com
THE BIRTH OF ROCKABILLY
Perhaps we (notice that I include myself) have become so knowledgable of Blues and R&B artists that we automatically disregard these records as being out of our genrre. We all know Muddy Waters as a Blues artist, so maybe we just consider everything he did as being Blues. As it's 5:00am here and I'm running out of time, I don't have enough left to go back and listen right now. But consider that Elvis was not entirely a rockabilly artist. He recorded more pop and gospel than he did rockabilly, of this there is no doubt. Try to accept that I and several others consider Chuck Berry as having contributed to rockabilly. Hell, Ike Turner was a precurser to Jimmi Hendrix (so was Paul Burlison, if you think about it). We may all be caught up in the "white boy singing the blues" syndrome that has been so much written about. What I heard back then as a teen wasn't called rockabilly, blues, or even rhythm & blues, it was called rock'n'roll, and most of the time we didn't know or care if the artist was black, blue, white, green or red. If is sounded right, it was.




From: philip davies (philip.w.davies@lineone.net)

Disky have issued three excellent Capitol Rockabilly Party cds, here are the 
track listings of Vol 2 and 3

Volume 2 DC 885712 Disky
Skeets macdonald- heart breakin Mama /Simo Crum- bop Cat Bop / Del Reeves- Baby 
I Love You /Faron Young - I Can`t Dance /Jerry Reed - Mr Whizz / Wanda jackson - 
Honey Bop  / hank Thompsom - Deep Elm/  Bob Luman`s -Everybody`s talkin` / Tommy 
Sands - Playin The Field /Ten. Ernie Ford - hey Mr Cotton Picker/ Skeets Mcd.- 
Don`t push me too far / Faron Young- Last Night At A Party /Jerry Reed - 
I`m Stuck / Louvins- Red Hen Hop /Rose maddox- Move It On Over /Gene Vincent - 
You Told A Fib /Ray Parks- Gonna Have To Ball That`s All /Bobby Louis - Cell 
Of Love /kenny Loran - I Chickened out /Johnny Fallin - Party line/ Farmer 
Boys - My baby done left me/ Jean Sheppard- Jeopardy /Faron Y. - Alone With You 
/Wanda j.- I Wanna Waltz /Ferlin Husky - Draggin the River /Charlie bop Trio - 
Mr Big Feet /Gene O` Quin - Texas Boogie / Milo Twins - baby Buggy Boogie/ Rio 
Rockers- mexicali baby
 
Volume 3 Dc 885772 Disky
Skeets mac.- Youre There / Ten Ernie Ford - Shotgun Boogie - Merle Travis - 
Merle`s Boogie Woogie / Jack Guthrie - oakie Boogie / Wanda Jackson - Savin My 
Love / Jerry Reed - You Make It THey Take It / G Vincent - Bluejean Bop / 
Tommy Sands - Maybellene / Dick Dale- Deltone Rock/ Sonny James - Uh Uh Mmm / 
Rambli Jimmie Dolan - Juke box boogie / Gene o`Quin - Boogie Woogie fever / 
Skeets mac. - Blues in My Mind/ Ten E Ford - blackberry Boogie / Merle Travis - 
Louisiana Boogie / jack Guthrie - I Told You Once / G Vincent- I Flipped/ W 
Jackson - I Gotta know / Jerry Reed - Bessie baby/ Leon Chappel -I`m a Do Right 
daddy / Milo Twins - Downtown Boogie / Jerry Reed - great Empty Room / Gene O` 
Quin - Too Hot To Handle / jack Guthrie - Clouds Rained trouble down/ Ten e 
Ford- Catfish Boogie / Sonny james - You`ve got That touch / jerry Reed Rockin 
in Baghdad / Gene O` Quin I Believe in Lovin `em / louvins - freight train 
Boogie/ Ten E Ford - Kissin Bug Boogie
 
Great sound and notes by compiler Dave Travis, a price to make other 
labels sit up and take notice

Phil
 

ALSO RELATED


The budget label Disky released some very interesting CD's from the
Imperial, Liberty & United Artists labels. All from mastertapes, with
comments from Dave Travis. Price is less than 50% of a similar Bear
Family release....
There's also a "Capitol Rockabilly" on series on the same Disky label,
who can give us information about these?
Regards,
Henk Gorter.

"Red Hot Rockabilly Part 1" VARIOUS ARTISTS (DISKY CD) 
===================================
RICKY NELSON - Believe What You Say/ BOB LUMAN - Red Hot/ WELDON ROGERS
- So Long, Good Luck And Goodbye/ BILL MACK - Play My Boogie/ JOHNNY &
DORSEY BURNETTE - Do Baby Do/ BILLY ELDRIDGE - Let's Go/ LEW WILLIAMS -
Bop Bop A Doo Bop/ TEH STRIKES - If You Can't Rock Me/ EDDIE COCHRAN -
Cradle Baby/ MERLE KILGORE - Everybody Needs A Little Lovin'/ BOB LUMAN
- Blue Days, Black Nights/ RICKY NELSON - You Tear Me Up/ BUDDY KNOX -
Rock Your Baby To Sleep/ BILL ALLEN - Please Give Me Something/ ROY
BROWN - Hip Shakin' Baby/ JOHNNY & DORSEY BURNETTE - Warm Love/ LAURA
LEE PERKINS - Don't Wait Up/ JOHNNY GARNER - Didi Didi/ JOHNNY BURNETTE
- Me & The Bear/ BOB LUMAN - Bring Along Your Lovin'/ RICKY NELSON -
Stood Up/ EDDIE COCHRAN - Little Lou/ LEW WILLIAMS - Centipede/ WARREN
MILLER - Everybody's Got A Baby But Me/ JOHNNY & DORSEY BURNETTE -
Boppin' Rosalie/ BOBBY LONERO - Little Bit/ LAURA LEE PERKINS - I Just
Don't Like This Kind Of Livin'/ JOHNNY & DORSEY BURNETTE - That's All I
Care/ EDDIE COCHRAN - Sweetie Pie/ ROY BROWN - We're Goin' Rockin'
Tonight. 

"Red Hot Rockabilly Part 2" VARIOUS ARTISTS (DISKY CD) 
===================================
RICKY NELSON - My Bucket's Got A Hole In It/ BOB LUMAN - Red Cadillac
And A Black Moustache/ DENNIS ERROLD - Make With The Lovin'/ JOHNNY
BURNETTE - Sweet Baby Doll/ EDDIE COCHRAN - Nervous Breakdown/ SAMMY
GOWANS - Rockin' By Myself/ LAURA LEE PERKINS - Oh La Baby/ JOHNNY
GARNER - Kiss Me Sweet/ THE STRIKES - Rockin'/ RICKY NELSON - Boppin'
The Blues/ BUDDY KNOX - Party Doll/ BOB LUMAN - Your Love/ EDDIE COCHRAN
- Mean When I'm Mad/ LEW WILLIAMS - Abracadabra/ MERLE KILGORE - Ernie/
AL JONES - Loretta/ GENE HENSLEE - Rockin' Baby/ THE STRIKES - I Don't
Want To Cry Over You/ BILL LAWRENCE - Hey Baby/ JOHNNY BURNETTE - Love
Kept A Rollin'/ EDDIE COCHRAN - Guybo/ BOB LUMAN - Make Up Your Mind
Baby/ RICKY NELSON - Don't Leave Me/ DENNIS HERROLD - Hip Hip Baby/
LAURA LEE PERKINS - Kiss Me Baby/ DORSEY BURNETTE - I Only Came Here To
Dance/ RONNIE SMITH - Long Time No Love/ JIMMY CRAIG - Oh Little Girl/
RICKY NELSON - One Of These Mornings/ EDDIE COCHRAN - Long Tall Sally/
LAURA LEE PERKINS - Gonna Rock My Baby Tonight. 

"Red Hot Rockabilly Part 3" VARIOUS ARTISTS (DISKY CD) 
===================================
RICKY NELSON - Waitin' In School/ BOB LUMAN - All Night Long/ THE
STRIKES - Baby I'm Sorry/ LEW WILLIAMS - Cat Talk/ MERLE KILGORE - Ride
Jesse Ride/ ROY BROWN - Be My Love Tonight/ GENE HENSLEE - Diggin' 'n'
Datin'/ LEE ROSS - Lies/ AL CASEY - Willa Mae/ RICKY NELSON - There Goes
My Baby/ JOHNNY & DORSEY BURNETTE - My Honey/ BUDDY KNOX - Hula Love/
EDDIE COCHRAN - Blue Suede Shoes/ FDORSEY BURNETTE - It's Late/ WALLY
LEWIS - Lover Boy/ NICK VENET - Love In Bo Bop Time/ CLIFF GLEAVES -
Long Black Hearse/ LEW WILLIAMS - Gone Ape Man/ THE STRIKES - My Poor
Heart/ BILLY BRIGGS - Chew Tobacco Rag/ LEW WILLIAMS - Something I Said/
JACKIE DEE - Buddy/ DICK BANKS - Dirty Dog/ JAY BLUE - Get Off My Back/
SLICK SLAVIN - Speed Crazy/ JOHNNY BURNETTE - Kiss Me/ BOB LUMAN -
Whenever You're Ready/ JACKIE WALTER - Only Teenagers Allowed/ BILLY
BRIGGS - Chew Tobacco Rag No.2/ JOHNNY BURNETTE - That's The Way I Feel/
LAURA LEE PERKINS - Come On Baby. 







From: Ron Williams (ronw@cdc.net)

Que tal, y'all,
Arthur's "That's All Right, Mama" is my nomination for the first rock 'n' roll song. I played it a couple of months ago for a friend to point out (what I thought) were the differences between R&B and early Rock 'n' Roll. Much to my surprise, there WASN'T a difference in that particular song!.....I was left sort of babbling...and looking for a different example..

There difference is easier to to see in two other early Elvis covers: Mystery Train (Junior Parker) and Blue Moon of Kentucky (Bill Monroe). That pair of songs gives a good example of both the roots of rockabilly and how the original was changed to RAB.

Another interesting fact is that bluegrass music (a la Bill Monroe with Flatt & Scruggs) is a modern genre roughly paralleling rock and roll. And, if you get a chance to listen to the original recording of Bill Monroe, the upight bass lines are NOT just simple fifths, but "walking" bass patterns - a lot more swing and R&B sounding than what you commonly hear in bluegrass. I'm surprised every time I go back and listen to those late 40's recordings.

Rockabilly, as a distinct defineable genre, only became an issue much after the time of its original performers. Following the careers of many of the original performers, you notice that they 'jumped' genres regularly - especially in to straight country; and to most of them, what we now call rockabilly, they just thought of as rock 'n' roll. (and sometimes just a brief part of their career.)

Taking the whole of roots music of the 50's ( hillbilly, country, R&B, RAB, RNR, blues, bluegrass), it still made up only a small portion of the popular music market. Chuck Berry never had a number 1 hit until his 1970 "My Ding -a -Ling"! It was only when Elvis signed with RCA that rock and roll became a marketable commodity...and started pulling the other, mainly Black genres, along with it. And that only lasted until (and I still feel there's a conspiracy) when Elvis was drafted, Buddy Holly died, Chuck was sent to prison, Jerry Lee married his cousin.... What's that? 4 years? If it wasn't for the vitality of Black R&B between 1959 and 1964, I'm not sure rock and roll would have exisited. The British Invasion, which jump-started rock back again......well, look at the songs lists of the early Beatles, Rolling Stones...any of those bands: they're all (then recent) Black records or classic RAB. The Beatles were releasing covers of Smoky Robinson and the Miracles, and The Shirelles songs only months after the originals. (Just like Elvis did with "Mystery Train" and "Hound Dog" basically). I don't know of any modern rockabilly bands who do that now. (I haven't seen a record such as: "Kim Lentz does Lauryn Hill"....!!!)

Strangely enough, that possibility still probably exists. I know I've suggested some 60's and 70's soul music as possibilities to be re-done in RAB style to a certain bass player in Austin.....whom I'm sure will ignore the suggestion!

Since this is only my late night rambling opinion anyway, I think that modern RAB groups would be better off not searching for obscure 50's RAB to re-record. I know that many groups do their own compositions, but I also believe that there's a wealth of material, outside of what would be considered RAB, that could be very well performed in RAB. The strength and lasting power of RAB is in the honesty, simplicity, and musicianship that does define the genre. (Which was the original question of this posting). LEGJAW and others have addressed the essence of RAB well in this thread. But each time I've seen responses to the question, "What is Rockabilly?", it's always answered with examples from the past. I know that the RAB musicians on this list do not consider themselves primarily as interpreters of an archaic musical tradition.

And the answer to "What is Rockabilly?" also needs to be dynamic, and not so rigid and rooted in the past that modern expressions in the style are forever judged by what was recorded in the 50's...or even worse, never allowed the chance to be judged as --maybe -- even better...

(I'm old and hurt easliy, so don't throw REAL big rocks at me (-: )

-Ron






  • IMPORTANT MESSAGE
    FROM BOBBY COCHRAN:
    THERE IS NO WAY FOR ME TO EXPRESS THE INCREDIBLE LOSS I FEEL AT THIS MOMENT. MY DAUGHTER BREANNON WAS KILLED SAT. NIGHT IN A HEAD ON CAR COLLISION. SHE WAS KILLED INSTANTLY, SO SHE DIDN'T FEEL ANY PAIN. MY FAMILY AND I ARE SO HEARTBROKEN AND WILL NEED THE LOVE AND SUPPORT OF ALL OUR FRIENDS. THOSE OF YOU WHO KNEW BREE, I'M SURE, KNOW WHAT A STAGGERING LOSS THIS IS TO US. SHE WAS A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG LADY AND AN AWESOME PRESENCE. SHE HAD A LASTING, AND MANY TIMES, PROFOUND EFFECT ON PEOPLE. I CAN'T STAND THE THOUGHT OF LIFE WITHOUT HER! WE HAD AN INCREDIBLE RELATIONSHIP WIH BREE AND WE CAN NOT IMAGINE WHAT LIFE IS GOING TO BE LIKE. I KNOW WE CAN HEAL WITH TIME, IT'S JUST THAT THE PROCESS IS SO PAINFUL.
    THIS CRISIS HAS GIVEN US THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE & GRIEVE WITH FRIENDS. I HOPE THAT ALL OF YOU WILL SEND ALL YOUR LOVE AND PRAYERS TO BREE AND HELP HER WITH THIS JOURNEY. ALTHOUGH I SUSPECT SHE IS DOING FINE. PLEASE SHARE YOUR FEELINGS WITH YOUR LOVED ONES, BECAUSE LIFE IS SOMETIMES SO SHORT!
    IF YOU WANT TO CALL: 615-799-8040, 615-799-8454





  • © Rockabilly Hall of Fame®