Welcome to Mellow's Log Cabin, a blog about Country Music, Rockabilly & Hillbilly. The purpose of this site is to explore the aforementioned musical styles and to share the knowledge about obscure artists, labels, shows etc. If you have any additions or corrections, feel free to comment.


• New info on Happy Harold!
• A revised version of the Hap Records story is online.
Added a couple of Do-Ra-Me releases on the listing. Thanks to Derik and Steve Hathaway!

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Lee Finn on Rose

Lee Finn - Lonesome Road (Rose No.#), 1962

Lee Finn was born Dwain Lee Voorhies in 1926, in Greentop, Missouri. I won't cover his entire biography here, mainly because Shane Hughes has featured him on his highly informative Rockabilly Hall page. But let me say a couple of things about Finn. His life remains, in spite of Hughes' efforts, mostly undocumented. The only interview Finn gave was in the 1970s, when Rockin' Ronnie Weiser was able to track him down.

Today's selection was Finn's last release. Both original composition, I chose to present "Lonesome Road" here. It was released in 1962 on the Rose label, which origin is not known. Finn had recorded previously for Stardust (1957), and Westport (1959). He died in 1999.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tennessee Hayloft Jamboree

The Tennessee Hayloft Jamboree, a live stage show from Chattanooga, Tennessee, still misses a well-grounded documentation. Although the show does not share the historial importance with such formats as the Grand Ole Opry or the Louisiana Hayride, it is nevertheless an interesting part of local Tennessee music culture and worth a detailed story as well.

According to Billboard, the show began its run on July 25, 1953, at the Chattanooga Memorial Auditorium. The show lasted three hours; one our was broadcast through a network of six different stations from Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. Another one-hour portion was carried by WGAC in Chattanooga.

Headliners of the show were three local acts: Bob Sanders, the Hixson Playboys and the Signal Mountain Gang. Though, the show's cast was made up of 42 different local singers and bands. Les Morrison, from WDXB in Chattanooga, was "heading the details," according to Billboard (whatever that means).

The show aired at least until 1954, judging from a 1954 article in Cowboy Songs No. 32 by Bobby Gregory. If anyone has more information or memories he would like to share, please leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email (adress can be seen on my profile page).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Indio Records

The Indio label was founded by country and rockabilly singer Bill Carter in 1961. It was first located in Modesto, California, but moved to Emeryville soon after the first two releases.

Born on December 11, 1929, in Eagleton, Arkansas, Carter's family moved to Broken Bow, Oklahoma, when Carter was eight years old. A couple of years later, in 1943, the Carters once again changed homes and settled down in Idaho, California, where they made their living as farmers. At that time, Carter started his career as a singer and landed a spot on KREO in Indio (hence probably the name of his label).

From 1950 up to 1953, he served the US Air Force and upon his return, he made a guest appearance at Cottonseed Clark's TV show "Hoffman Hayride" and started his recording career. His first disc was released in 1954 on the 4 Star label ("Making Believe" / "More Than a Man Can Stand," 4 Star X 91). During the next years, he would record for such labels as Republic (1956), Tally (1957-1958), Black Jack, Showboat and Challenge (all 1959), Ozark, Honey B (both 1960), Checker (1960), D (1961) and others.

Cal Veale (left) and Bill Carter holding a Jim Reeves record,
penned by Veale.

Carter was also a DJ. He was on KBOX (Modesto) as well as KPIX (San Francisco) and appeared regularly at the Riverbank Clubhouse in Riverbank, California, in 1956. Around the time he recorded "Shot Four Times and Dy'in" / "Stranger, Shake Hands with a Fool" for D in 1961, he also founded Indio Records. One of Carter's business partners was Cal Veale, who acted as a producer and songwriter for the label. Veale had tried his luck in the recording business unsuccessfully in 1956, when he recorded one single with the Howard Reading Trio ("Don't Cry Baby" / "Standing on the Edge of Nowhere," Las Vegas #1237). Veale owned a recording studio in Modesto, where probably most of the Indio recordings were cut. Larry McGill, who had one release on Indio under his own name, also appeared on a couple of Indio releases as a songwriter. 

It appears almost all known releases were issued in 1961, as many Billboard reviews document. However, one disc is certainly from 1969, judging from the Southern Plastics matrix code. I am quite sure this is the same Indio label, since it has the same the label design as the previous records. In addition, Clyde Arnold wrote one of the songs, "Camille." Arnold had recorded the classic "Black Smoke and Blue Tears" in 1961 for Indio. This 1969 release, however, shows the label's location as Newark, California, and it's not sure if Carter was involved in producing the record.

Nevertheless, Indio was a  short-lived affair for Carter. He became a Christian that same year and turned to Gospel music. Nowadays, he is retired but has recorded some sides with his wife.

An interview with Bill Carter can be found here


Indio IN-1 
Jimmy North / Jack Mashburn Band 
Leavin' Town (Jim Hostetter) / I Know I'm to Blame  ()
A / B

Indio IN-2
Ray Smith and his Oklahoma Outlaws 
You've Heard About Texas (Ray Smith) / Bluer Than Blue (Ray Smith)
A / B

Indio IN-3
Dave Miller with Joe Richie and the Impossibles
Froggy Went A'Rockin' (Arr. Dave Miller) / With You (Dave Miller)
A / B

Indio IN-4
Bob Gordon with Slim Williams and the Blue Valley Boys
Why Make Believe (Bob Gordon) / It's Not Easy to Forget (Bob Gordon)
A /  B

Indio 605
Ralph Hill with Roy Henderson and the Arkies
There Goes My Baby () / Sweet Love ()

Indio IN-606
Clyde Arnold
Black Smoke and Blue Tears (C. Arnold; C. Veale) / Livin' for Your Lovin' (C. Arnold; C. Veale; McGill)
A / B

Indio IN-607
Larry McGill with the Echo-Tones
I Want a True Love () / I Only Wish ()
A / B

Indio IN-608
Clint Marrs and the Saddle-ites
Love and Money (Clint Marrs) / A Million Memories (Bob Morphew)
A / B

Indio IN-609
Ruthe Dee
I Want a True Lover (Bill Carter; McGill) / Tears on the Rocks (Ruthe Dee)
A / B

Indio 8692
Stage Hands
Camille (Clyde Arnold) / Now I'm a Star (Nancy Tester)
SO: 7398 / SO: 7399 (Southern)

Thanks to DrunkenHobo, Svein Martin Pedersen

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Billy Riley - Wouldn't You Know

Billy Riley / The Little Green Men - Wouldn't You Know (Sun 289), 1958

"Wouldn't You Know" was penned by famous songwriter John S. Marascalco (born 1931 in Grenada, Mississippi). Before his affiliation with Art Rupe's Speciality label, Marascalco tried his luck as a songwriter first with Sam Phillips and his Sun Records - unsuccessfully, though. He saw Elvis Presley performing in 1955 and presented him his composition "Rip It Up" backstage. Although Presley wouldn't record it after Little Richard's hit version came out, it was through this connection that Marascalco came to Sun. 

Unable to come to an agreement with Phillips about a songwriting contract, the only two songs Marascalco penned for Phillips were "Wouldn't You Know" and "Dance with Me Honey." Both songs were recorded by Billy Riley but only "Wouldn't You Know" saw release on the yellow Sun label. It was recorded by Riley and his Little Green Men on November 25, 1957 at the Sun Studio with Riley on vocal and guitar, Roland Janes on lead guitar, Martin Willis on sax, James Paulman on piano, and Jimmy Van Eaton on drums. Released in February 1958 with Riley's own "Baby Please Don't Go" on the flip (Sun #289), it was his next single after his claim to fame "Red Hot" b/w "Pearly Lee" (Sun #277). Unfortunately, it sold less than "Red Hot," which had been dropped by Phillips in order to finance the promotion of Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire."

Craig Morrison wrote in his book "Go Cat Go!" about "Wouldn't You Know":
'Wouldn't You Know,' the fourth single, never quite seem to gel, at times veering to one style and then to another. "
Marascalco began a new relationship with Specialty Records and penned such hits as "Ready Teady," another version of "Ript It Up," "Good Golly Miss Molly" and others. In the early 1960s, he owned a couple of record labels and worked as a songwriter and producer.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy Harold

This is my attempt to solve the mystery of Happy Harold and put together a detailed story on him. A couple of people contacted me and shared some real nice memories. Anyone out there with more info? Pass it along!

Happy Harold Thaxton was one of the few country DJs in the greater Miami area and one of the most popular radio and TV personalities all over southern Florida back in the 1950s and 1960s. Although many people seem to remember him, his career is still largely obscure. My attempt to find out his birth year came to nothing but I did find out that a certain Harold J. Thaxton is still living in North Miami. Is this our Happy Harold?

As I mentioned before, biographical facts about Thaxton are hard to come by. It's not known where Thaxton came from and when he began his career as "Happy Harold." However, he produced a barn dance show called "The Old South Jamboree" on WMIL, which was held Saturday evenings from the porch of an old parking lot. It was probably Mun. Auto Sales' lot on NW 36th Street, where he also had parked a Volkswagon bus. He would do a regular afternoon radio show from the back of that bus, too. The Old South Jamboree was on air as early as 1955 and was held at least until 1958. Another witness remembers he attended dances hosted by Happy Harold at the old Dade County Armory at 7th Avenue and NW 25th Street. "He was there every Saturday night for years," as he remembers.

Corner of 7th Avenue and NW 25th Street in Miami, where Happy Harold would
host dances at the Dade County Amory. Source: Google Street View

A couple of familiar names appeared on Happy Harold's Old South Jamboree, including Mel Tillis, Charlie McCoy, Kent Westberry, and Jimmy Voytek. The house band was made up of Bill Phillips, Bill Johnson, Charlie Justice, and Johnny Paycheck. Other band members at one time or another included the band's roadie called Shorty, Eddie Thorpe, Mollie Turner, Charlie McCoy, Mike Shaw, and Russ Samuel. Samuel, who had a record out on AFS in 1960 with the Vanguards, remembers Hapy Harold:
I knew and worked with Happy Harold in the early sixties. I guess the first time I met him was probably when I stopped by his radio show one afternoon to get him to listen to a demo record my band and I had recorded. He not only listened but played it on the air right then on the spot, even though it was only a demo.
Happy Harold was so well-known and popular that the pharmacy on Palm Avenue and 41th Street in Hialeah, where Harold would eat breakfast, had a sign on its restaurant counter telling people "Happy Harold Eats Breakfast Here." But his popularity was not limited to the Miami area. His radio/TV shows were broadcast all over southern Florida and he booked many artists on his stage shows across the Sunshine State's south.

Kent Westberry, who worked with Happy Harold in the late 1950s and knew him quite well, remembered that Happy Harold also recorded a 45 disc for Harold Doane's country label Perfect Records in Miami. One of his band members, Mike Shaw, also cut a single for the same label. It seems Harold worked with quite a lot artists. When he would appear at the Sunset Ranch (possibly a TV show), he would appear with a guy called "Slappy" and they performed some kind of a comedy act, which was common back in those years.

In the early 1960s, Harold ran for city council but wasn't elected. What happened to him afterwards is not known (to me, at least).

Thanks to Anna, Russ, Jim, Virginia, Charlie, Terry, Jack.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sid Elrod on Summer

Sid Elrod - The Slow Rock and Roll (Summer 503), 1959

I'm pretty sure "Sid Elrod" was a pseudonym for musician Macy (Skip) Skipper. This 45 came to me a couple of weeks ago and it is the only copy I've seen so far. The label on one side is not in best shape but it plays great, nevertheless. This is a follow-up on my Summer Records post last week.

Macy (Skip) Skipper
Picture credit: 706unionavenue.nl
Macy "Skip" Skipper was born on September 2, 1920, in St. Louis, Missouri. He started his musical career as a bass player for the Swift Jewel Cowboys. In 1943, Skipper and his wife Marie moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and they began to work as a duo around Memphis in 1951. Sometimes in the 1950s, he founded his own band and appeared at different venues in Memphis with this outfit.

In 1956, Skipper and his band cut three tracks for Sun Records, including an earlier version of "The Slow Rock and Roll." The band consisted of Skipper on vocals and bass, Sun studio musician Brad Suggs on lead guitar, Nelson Grilli on sax, Melton McNatt on piano, and Slick Grissom on drums. Since Sam Phillips showed no interest to release anything from that session, Skipper moved on and recorded "Quick Sand Love" b/w "Who Put the Squeeze on Eloise?" for M.A. Lightman's Light record label (exact date unknown).

After that, Skipper probably recorded the single featured today. Summer Records was founded by Jack Clement early in 1959, who had just parted ways with Sun before. How Skipper ended up on Summer as "Sid Elrod" remains a mystery, though it is likely that Skipper and Clement knew each other before. The two instrumentals "Slap Happy Bass" b/w "The Slow Rock and Roll" were possibly recorded with his own band. The Sun files list Skipper as the composer of "Slow Rock and Roll," the Summer label lists also Melton McNatt as composer.

In 1960, Skipper followed up with another single on Stax ("Night Rock" / "Goofin' Off", Stax #117). Skipper kept on performing locally while holding down his regular job until his death on April 17, 2001.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Records

Summer Records was a very short-lived venture by Sun producer and songwriter Jack Clement. It was his first own label after leaving Sun Records in 1959.

Jack Clement was born on April 5, 1931, in Memphis, Tennessee, and was interested in music at an early age. After he was discharged from the Army in 1953, he began to work with bluegrass musician Buzz Busby and his band in Washington, D.C. They were seen regularly on the Hayloft Hoedown show in Washington. But already in 1954, Clement returned to Memphis and became friends with Ronald "Slim" Wallace and Clement joined Wallace's country band as a steel guitarist.

Jack Clement at Sun, ca. 1956
Wallace set up a small recording studio in his garage and together, Clement and Wallace produced Billy Lee Riley's first recordings "Trouble Bound" and "Rock with Me Baby," which were intended to be the first single on their new label Fernwood. Since they had no possibility to master the tapes on their own, Clement took them to Sam Phillips of Sun Records in Memphis. Phillips was impressed with singer Riley and instead released both songs on his own Sun label in on September 1, 1956 (Sun #245). Phillips not only snatched away Riley from Wallace but also Jack Clement, who began work for Sun in July 1956 as an engineer and producer. Fernwood didn't come into existence until December 1956, when Wallace finally released its first single (Ramon Maupin with "Love Gone" b/w "No Chance," Fernwood #101).

Clement became an influential figure at Sun during the next months. Phillips assigned him with more responsibilities, for example producing Johnny Cash's recordings from December 1956 onwards. Also in December 1956, Clement supervised Jerry Lee Lewis' audition at Sun and conviced Phillips later to sign the young piano player to Sun.

In March 1959, Clemet was fired by Phillips and branched out on his on with the founding of his first publishing firm Jack Music Inc. The first song published by Jack Music was "Motorcycle Michael" by the Archers on May 1, 1959, which became Summer's second release.

Along with the founding of Jack Music came Clement's record label Summer, located on Main Street in Memphis. The label's first release was by Cliff Gleaves with "Love Is My Business" b/w "Easy Goin' Guy" in 1959. Gleaves, who was a longtime close associate of Elvis Presley, had recorded an earlier version of "Love Is My Business" for Sun in either 1958 or 1959 with Charlie Rich at the piano. This session had been produced by Clement, who took Gleaves to Summer after his break-up with Sun. Later in 1959, Gleaves followed Elvis to Germany. He died in 2002.

The third release was made up of two instrumentals by a certain Sid Elrod (Summer 503). I'm pretty sure this was a pseudonym for Macy "Skip" Skipper (1920-2001), who was a steady performer in Memphis from 1951 on. Judging from the sound of "Slap Happy Bass" / "The Slow Rock and Roll," I believe this was recorded at Sun Studio. Skipper had recorded an earlier version of "Slow Rock and Roll" at Sun in 1956, which remained unissued. 

Summer Records did not last very long. No other singles are known after Summer #503 and probably folded soon after its founding in the spring of 1959. Clement, however, kept busy producing records for Pepper, Hi, and Echo (which he co-owned with Clyde Leoppard and Stan Kesler). In the fall of that year, he left for Nashville before moving to Beaumont, Texas, shortly afterwards. He became a highly successful songwriter and record producer. Clement died in 2013.


Summer 501 
Cliff Gleaves
Easy Goin' Guy (Jack Clement) / Love Is My Business (Quinton Claunch; Bill Cantrell)
S-101 / S-102

Summer 502
The Archers
Motorcycle Michael (Clement; Nelson; Burch) / Golden Girl (Clement; Nelson; Burch)
S-103 / S-104

Summer 503
Sid Elrod
Slap Happy (McNatt; Suggs; Skipper) / The Slow Rock and Roll (Skipper; McNatt)
S-105 / S-106

Apache Records

Apache Records was founded by John Bowers and Brady Ward in 1960, located on 106 N. Main Street in Crestview, Florida. It is not to be confused with Apache Records from New York City or another company of the same name from Los Angeles. The first two releases came out on March 1, 1960, with Crook Jr. "Wiggle It Baby" / "Please Believe Me Darling" (Apache 1786) and Clifford King "Chicken Shack Boogie" b/w "I Want to Jump with You Baby" (Apache 1788), both backed by the Rockin' Aces. Artists that recorded for Apache were mainly local singers and bands that recorded at the label's own studio in Crestview. Bowers and Ward offered auditions to "any local group who feel they have musical talent."

Apache records were pressed by RCA in Indianapolis, Indiana. The label had no actual numerical system, RCA simply assigned records with a number, taking the last four digits of the A side matrix number.

Record collector Jay Ball visited one of the owners in the 1970s, living in a trailer in poor condition. When he went back later, he found the trailer burned down without any traces of the owner.

Apache advertising for Clinton Brooks' record in Billboard (November 14, 1960)

Apache 1786: Crook, Jr. - Wiggle It Baby / Please Believe Me Darling (1960)
Apache 1788: Clifford King - Want to Jump with You Baby / Chicken Shack Boogie (1960)
Apache 1818: Stanley James - Alligator Man /?
Apache 1820: Lee Daugherty and Offbeats - My Babe / Please Never
Apache 1828: Clinton Brooks and the B's - If You Go Know / Tom Duley Rock (1960)
Apache 1830: Big Jesse and the Blue Ace's - Come On Baby / Rugged (1960)
Apache 1834: Red Riley - Teachers's Pet / ?
Apache 1836: Rex Qual (Guitar, Jr.) - Going Rocking Tonight / Tranquilizer Boogie (1960)

Sources: "Local Recording Company Issues First Discs Here", The Okaloosa News-Journal, Crestview, Florida, March 3, 1960, Bob, Steve, The DrunkenHobo 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Jimmy C. Newman and Weldon Myrick R.I.P.

Two country music legends passed away last month. Jimmy C. Newman died at the age of 86 on June 21. He suffered from cancer. Steel guitar virtuoso Weldon Myrick died June 2 at the age of 76. Both were very influential in the development of country music and have been performed at the Grand Ole Opry for many decades.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ernie Barton on Phillips Int.

Ernie Barton - Stairway to Nowhere (Phillips Int. 3528), 1958

Ernie Barton always seemed to be a highly interesting figure in the history of Sun Records to me, although Sun experts are discordant. It is assured that Barton was a recording artist and worked as a session musician as well as producer for Sam Phillips. Though, it is controversial how important he was.

The son of a sea captain, he was born Ernest W. Barton in the year of 1930 in Tallahassee, Florida. When Elvis Presley bursted onto the scene, Barton decided sell his house in Daytona Beach and moved to Memphis. How Barton got in touch with Sam Phillips is not known but he was hired in early 1957 to work at the Sun Studio. His first session took place on April 6, 1957, of which nothing was released.

In March 1958, he was back in the studio and tried his hand at "Stairway to Nowhere" and "Raining the Blues," two rockabilly tunes Al and Jo Ann Wingate had written. On this day, Barton (rhythm guitar) was backed by Roland Janes (lead guitar), Sid Manker (guitar), and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums) with an additional male vocal chorus. Both songs were released in the summer of 1958 (Phillips Int. #3528), less than one year after the Phillips International label came into existence.

Co-writter Allan Wingate, who recorded under the name of Allen Page for Cordell Jackson's Moon label in Memphis, was a talented songwriter. Jo Ann Wingate was probably his sister or his wife. The duo also penned "High School Sweater," recorded by Wingate (Moon #301, 1957) and Kenny Owens (Poplar #45-106, 1958). Wingate turned to gospel music and preaching in 1963 and died in 1993.

Barton's second single for Phillips Int., "Open the Door, Richard" b/w "Shut Your Mouth" (Phillips Int. #3541, 1959), is heavily discussed by collectors and researchers. Recorded on February 25, 1959, with Roland Janes (lead guitar), Billy Lee Riley (bass, vocals), Martin Willis (sax), Charlie Rich (piano), and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums) and Sun secretary Regina Reese doing some vocals on "Shut Your Mouth", no one has ever seen a copy of this single. Though, Barton later insisted it was released. It added to the confusion that "Open the Door, Richard" was re-released on a compilation as by Billy Lee Riley, who supposedly also recorded a version of that song in 1957. Riley later stated that both he and Barton sang on the 1958 "released" version and that it was one of those party sessions that took place at Sun often.

Things will possibly never clear up completely. However, this was Barton's last Phillips Int. single. He recorded several more songs at Sun but Sam Phillips refused to release any further material from Barton. Nevertheless, he agreed to record Barton's wife Bobbie Jean Farrabee, a lawyer from Little Rock, Arkansas. When Jack Clement and Bill Justis dropped out of the Sun staff in 1959, Barton slipped in as a producer, arranger, and studio musician. He worked with Phillips until 1961 and then left the Sun Studio.

After his affiliation with Sun, Barton recorded two Cash sound-a-likes on the Memphis based Honesty label, "The Ballad of Earl K. Long" b/w "The Man with a Heart of Gold" (Honesty #605). Barton had recorded two earlier versions at Sun before. In 1965, another disc followed on Earl Fox' E&M label from Little Rock, "Ain't I'm a Mess" b/w "Walk with Me" (E&M #1651).

Barton eventually moved to Midland, Texas, and dropped out of sight. In 1987, he was tracked down and interviewed by Colin Escott. Since then, he has again slipped into obscurity and may have died already. The Social Security Index lists a certain Ernest W. Barton (* November 21, 1930; † May 1, 2001 in Montezuma, Colorado).