Welcome to Mellow's Log Cabin. This blog's purpose is to supply information on a diversity of American southern music - ranging from country, blues, old-time and folk to R&B, rock'n'roll and rockabilly. I regularly present my research results about artists, labels, shows and also give guest writers a chance to publish their texts here on occasion.


• Updates on the AFS discography.
• Added info to Regal Records.
• Updates on the Do-Ra-Me discography.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Camaro Records Discography

3373 Park Avenue
3109 Park Avenue

Camaro was set up by Style Wooten in 1967 after he moved to 3373 Park Avenue. The label's name is a testimony to Wooten's passion for cars. Camaro had a lot of different musical genres released through the years 1967-1976. Soul, funk, country, white gospel, and a lot of other styles can be found on this label.

45-3374: The Xpressions - My Son / Opportunity (1967)
45-3375: Mel Wiley - Invitation to the Country Club / The Man from the Land of Lincoln (1967)
45-3379: Ernie Hoppe - Crash on the Freeway / Pretty Bottle (1968)
45-3382: Denzil Alcorn - Big Blue Baby Eyes / The World Is Filled with Lovers (1968)
45-3383: Billy Coleman - A Rumor / Smoking Cigarettes and Drinking Alcohol (1968)
45-3385: Jimmy Goodman and the Belmonts - Loneliness Is a Word / Polka Dotted Mini Skirt (1968)
45-3386: Dennis Wayne Bass - Long Tall Sally / You Win Again (1968)
45-3387: Don Parker Jr and Trouble's Half Brothers - Deep Down in Your Heart / Sure Does Feel Better (1968)
45-3388: Roy Warner and the Warner Boys - The World You're Living In / Just Look at You Now (1968)
45-3389: J. R. Cole - I Had the Sweetest Little Girl in Town / Still a Lot of Loving Left in You Poor (1969)
45-3390: The Loner - Gonna Take Time Out / Father of a Soldier Boy (1969)
 45-3392: Jimmy Hunsucker and the Truck Drivers - I Feel a Good One Coming On / Lonely World (1969) 
45-3395: Ray Crowder - I Gotta Get a Hold of Myself / Installment by the Bottle (1969)
45-3396: The Burgin's J.L. & Sylvia - I'll Be Back in a Minute / Money Won't Buy Hapiness (1969)
45-3397: Glen Steffin - Back Pocket Money / I Must Go (1969)
45-3398: Jimmy Carter and the Senators - Sundown Pusher / Society (1969)
45-3400: Steve Reeves and Becky Lee - Cry Cry Crazy Heart / Steve Reeves - All I Could Do Is Hang My Head in Shame (1969)
45-3403: Robert "Spoon" Barlow - Girl for My World / Down at Joe's (1969)
45-3408: George Clappes - The Sound of Wedding Bells / I Found My Love in Memphis (1969)
45-3410: Ronnie Rinard & the Shadows - Tiger Man / Always It's You (1970)
45-3411: Ernie Hoppe - Whirlwind / I'm a Loser (1970)     
45-3412: Dick Lee - Growin Old Pains / You'll Never Miss the Water (1970)
45-3413: The Jades - Gone / Forever in Love (1970)
45-3414: Danny Hendrix - Life of a Fool / My Linda's Gone (1970)
45-3415: Kenny Long - Look Out Blues / Never Time for Me (1970)
45-3418: Wade Baynes - I Know She's Lying / Girl at the Corner Cafe (1970)
45-3423: Ronnie Rinard - Polk Salad Annie / Lonely Blue Boy (1970)
45-3425: David Alan Calhoun - When All the Wild Ones Leave Tonight / What Happened to Our Love (1970)
45-3426: The Break of Day - It's Been a Long Time Baby / You Wing Again (1970)
45-3431: Herbert C. Woolfolk and the Stargazers - I Wonder Why You Say Goodbye / If It's a Sin Loving You (1971)
45-3432: Gene & Martha Burns - The Valley of Death / Old Time Faith (1971)
45-3434: Moe Bee Ready - Funky Woman / When I'm Gone (1971)
45-3435: Joe Reeves - Ozark Mountain Banjo / Five Strings to Go (1971)
45-3437: Jim Parks - Dobro Two Step (Spanish Two Step) / Horsin Around (1971)
45-3445: Preston "Skeeter" Osborne - The Ballad of John F. Kennedy / ? (1971)
45-3447: Gene & Martha Burns - You're Looking at Me / Wonder Who (1971)
45-3449: Ronny Donovan - Cocaine Lil / Borrowing (1971)
45-3452: Neil Taylor - Think It Over / One More Chance (1971)
45-3454: David Crum - Broken Strands / Vision of Regret (1972)
45-3455: Calvin Kelly - Neighbor, Neighbor / I'm Begging You (1972)
45-3456: Jimmy Miller - No Easy Way Out / Hows a Mind Tell a Heart (1972)
45-3457: Ward Taylor - Waiting In Vain / Must I Cry On and On (1972)
45-3458: Ken McCallum - It Wouldn't Take Much / Spring is Here (1972)
45-3460: Esquires III - Got a Little Feeling / Eighteen Yellow Roses (1972)
45-3463: Jim Moore - Going Away / She Cried (1972)
45-3467: Johnny Hogan - Custody / Buckhorn Inn (1972) 
45-3468: Kenny Ray - End of the World / Lonely World (1972)
45-3470: Dewitt - Pardon Me / Before You Go (1972)
45-3472: Billy Jack Hale - The Jesus Way / Donny Boy (1972)
45-3474: Larry Whitler - I Always Loved You / Is It So Hard to Understand (1972)
45-3476: Jimmy Dee - The Last Day I Spend on Earth / Help Me Make It Through the Night (1972) 
45-3477: Mark Peek & Vic Hillyard - Every Where I Look I See Your Smiling Face / Mexican Banjo (1972) 
45-3479: The L.D.J.'s - Dangerous Game / Toy Clown
45-3483: B.J. & the Pine Kones - Don't Do This, Don't Do That / Make a Copy of My Daddy
45-3486: Tony Hill - I'm Walking in the Shadows (of the Early Morning Sun) / That's When the Tearst Start Falling (1972)
45-3492: Dale McCartney - Bottle, and Broken Heart / Someone to Talk To (1973)
45-3493: Darrell John - Till the End of Time / You're Gone (1973)
45-3494: Tumbleweed Tom - My Hillbilly Baby / The Haunted Cabin (1973)
45-3495: Larry Bull - I've Been Everywhere / Faye (1973)
PAG 3499: Jessie Easley - You Been Running Around with Every Guy in Town / Bethlehem Steel (1973) 
PAG 3500: Billy Duke - De Cancer Blues / That's the Country Way (1973)
PAG 3501: Jimmy Barrett - Big Blue Diamonds / She Left Me (1973)
PAG 3502:
PAG 3503: Olin Ivey - My Last Date / Slim's Melody (1973) 
PAG 3504:
PAG 3505:
PAG 3506: Lorene Phillips - (Oh) Red River Valley / Right Into His Arms (1973) 
PAG 3507:
PAG 3508:
PAG 3509:
PAG 3510: The Midnight Special - Railroad Boogie / I'm Free (1973)
PAG 3511:
PAG 3512:
PAG 3513: Johnny C Walker - Loving on Back Streets / California Blues (1973) 
PAG 3521: Cash Smith - The Woman of My World / Sadness, Sorrow and Me (1973) 
PAG 3522: The Break of Day - Sweet Love / Tell Me Why (1973)
PAG 3523: Norm Omlor - Can You Tell Me / The Banks of the Ohio (1973) 
PAG 3524:
PAG 3525: Shag Weld - A Newly Dug Grave / Wishing I Just Turned and Walked Away (1974)
PAG 3530: Edith Bourne and the Walk Outs - Put the Bottle on the Table / Walk Out on Me (1974)
PAG 3531: Ricky Calloway and his Band - Get It Right Part #1 / Get It Right #2 (1974) 
PAG 3532: Walt Denny - These Aggravatin' Blues / It's My Night Tonight (1974)
PAG 3533: Pretty Miss Unie Lee - Darkness on the Delta / ?
PAG 3534:
PAG 3535:
PAG 3536: A. C. Martin - Nineteen Year / Hey Little Girl (1974)
PAG 3537: Johnny Reno - Lonely Tears / Some Body's Changed (1974)
PAG 3538:
PAG 3539:
PAG 3540: Cal Sipes - Street of No Return / You Are My Everything (1974)
PAG 3541: Polly McFalls - Love That Don't Last / If Teardrops Were Silver (1974)
PAG 3542: Larry W. Childress - She'll Never Know I am Leaving Till I'm Gone / Maybe Tomorrow (1974) 
PAG 3543:
PAG 3544:
PAG 3545:
PAG 3546:
PAG 3547:
PAG 3548:
PAG 3549:     
PAG 3550: Adrian Turner - I L-O-V-E You / Empty Hands (1975) 
PAG 3551:
PAG 3552: Judy Bailey - Your Angel Don't Stay Home Alone / Don't Let the Hurt (1975)
PAG 3553:
PAG 3554:
PAG 3555:
PAG 3556:
PAG 3557:
PAG 3558: Al Waller - Tag a Long / Red Red Lips (1975) 
PAG 3559: Harry Duncan - A Whole Lotta Woman / I'm a Rolling Stone (1975)
PAG 3560:
PAG 3561: Ise Arellanes - Love Is Not for Me / One Lonely Tear (1976)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Big Style Records Discography

Big Style

Big Style was, along with Eugenia, one of the first labels Wooten started in 1964. In contrast to what would follow, it had a simple label design and still bears the involvment of Gene Williams. Only two releases are known on the short lived Big Style label.

102: Sylvia Mobley - Everytime I See You / Tell Me Clouds (1964)
104: Chuck Comer & Dan Craft - A Secret Love / Chuck Comer - Date with the Angels

Friday, May 15, 2015

B.B. King R.I.P.

B.B. King died on May 14, 2015, at the age of 89 in Las Vegas. Read more.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Allandale Records Discography

3635 Allandale Road
3373 Park Avenue

Allandale was one of Style Wooten's earliest labels and founded approximately in 1965, possibly even earlier but no earlier releases have surfaced so far. It was named after the street Wooten was living on at the time of its founding. The last know releases on Allandale were from 1975.

Thanks to: Bob, DrunkenHobo, Bayou Bum

45-3637: Sydney Edall - Moon Madness / Tears on a White Carnation (1965)
45-3638: Jimmy Cal - Restless Heart / Walking on Air (1965)
45-3639: Thurston Smith - I've Got the Craziest Heart / Three Questions (1965)
45-3640: Doris Floyd - Cause You've Got Someone Else on Your Mind / The Love I Lost (1965)
45-3641: Jimmy Cal - Sleepless Nights / Two Lonely People
45-3642: Ted Walker - I Don't Belong / Keeping Company
45-3643: Jimmy Cal - Tell My Why / Baby Doll of Three (1966)
45-3644: Jimmy Elk - Women, Whiskey and Wine / Middle of Nowhere (1966)
45-3646: Roy Medders - Palace Cafe / The Ballad of Big Style Wooten (1966)
45-3648: Jimmy Barrett - No One But You / Sometime Next Week (1966)
45-3650: Mel Carnal - Operator / Me and Myself (1967)
45-3651: Roy Meddors - Show the World / River of Heartaches (1967)
45-3655: Joe McKay - Reservation Lane / I've Got to Get to Know (1967)
45-3656: Randall Barker - Fox Hunting Man / Twenty Years from Now (1967)
45-3661: Steve Austin - You Set the Pattern / ? (1967)
45-3662: Dennis Smith - Without You / I Don't Hear Me (1967)
45-3663: Danny Darren and the Drifting Playboys - Road Side Rag / Lone Please (1967)
45-3664: Randell Barker - Down and Out Feelin Called the Blues /  Twenty Years from Now (1967)
45-3665: Liz Price - I Don't Want Your Picture / Women, Whiskey and Wine (1967)
45-3668: Kim Curtis and the Country Ambassadors - When I Cross the Line / Please Give Me Time to Pray (1967)
45-3669: The Hi-Tones - Especially for You / Step It Up and Go (1967)
45-3670: Ken Tucker and the Fairlane Five - A New Day Will Start / ?
45-3671: Becky Sue - Heart What's That / Open That Door (1968)
45-3672: Jimmy Dunn - Lover Man / Mind of a Child (1968)
45-3673: Holly Douglas - Ashamed of Me / I Search the Room (1968)
45-3674: Holly Douglas - Little Billy / ? (1968)
45-3676: Kenny Ryan and the Pipe Fitters #155 - Leader of the Band / Angel from Heaven (1968)
45-3678: Jo Raines - The Moment I First Saw You / Especially for You (1968)
45-3679: George Main - I'll Be Drinking About You / Lady Clairol (1968)
45-3681: Bubba Gerdes - Having Fun in the Old French Quarter / Alabama Ballerina Baby (1968)
45-3682: Holly Douglas - The Bridge / Your Key Won't Fit the Lock (1968)
45-3683: Jimmy Hayman - ? / ? (1968) 
45-3684: Leon Starr - That Kind of Living / Just Like That (1968)
45-3686: Jerry Wiley - Smelling Like a Rose / Something Stopped the Music (1968)
45-3690: Sam Neal - The Last Hunt / ?
45-3691: Goldie Smith and the Black Mountain Boys - Just Three Little Words / Those Years They Just Don't Lie (1969)
45-3692: Steve Austin - Let's Talk About Tomorrow / I've Been Lonely Too Long (1969)
45-3693: Peggy Bea - All That Glitters Is Not Gold / Fools Hill (1970)
45-3694: Less Lester & the Broken Hearts - Not Much Just Country / A Broken Heart (1970)
45-3695: Jimmy Barrett - Tennessee Polka / There Will Be No Spring This Year (1970)
45-3696: Shirley Jean - Burning Bridges /In Care of the Blues (1970)
45-3697: Less Lester and the Broken Hearts - Here Stands a Lady / Kathy at the Orphanage (1971)
45-3698: Miss O.J. - Glad I Was Born a Woman / Why Did He Lie to Me (1972)
45-3701: Judy Stout and the Bluegrass Pals - The Darkest Day / New Mule Skinner Blues (1973)
PAG 3703: Judy Bailey - Country Music is Number #1 / Why Don't You Say I Love You on the Phone (1975)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Ballad of Big Style Wooten

The Ballad of Big Style Wooten
King of Memphis Custom Recording

I want to express my gratitude to Micheal Hurtt, who did a great job researching and writing the liner notes to the 4CD compilation "The Soul of Designer Records." A great portion of information came from those highly interesting notes, while I nevertheless did a lot of research on Style Wooten on my own. I also want to thank Gene Stewart for sharing his memories with me.

Style Wooten was a busy record producer and studio owner during the 1960s and 1970s in Memphis. His beginnings in the music business reach back to the early 1960s, when he worked with Gene Williams, then independently produced his first discs, and ended sometimes in the late 1980s. His most successful outfit was his Designer label, which focused on custom gospel recordings but he was not limited to one musical style. His output during those years is immense and a complete discography of his labels is still missing. To collect all of his produced records would take years, not to say decades.

According to Wooten's son Jason, he was "a giant of a man, standing six-foot-six and with a full, furry beard and a wax-tipped handle bar moustache." Wooten's life was as colourful as this description. He was born Jesse Corbett Graham on January 17, 1921, in Woodlawn, Tennessee. His mother, a Native American, was named Zula Graves and his father originally hailed from Scandinavia. His name remains unknown to this day. Why his last name was Graham and not Graves remains another mystery, as his son Jason admits: "[...] I don't know how we got Graham from Graves." It was a hard life for Zula Graves back then, since Native Americans weren't very well respected in the United States during those times. Though, she was friends with Hazard Wooten, whose family owned a tobacco farm. The family soon adopted Zula and her young son and they took the surname Wooten.

The Wootens were a very musical inclined family and would gather around to perform together. They taught Style, as he billed himself, to play piano, guitar, bass, drums, organ, mandolin, and fiddle. It is not reported how talented he was on all these various instruments but his son remembers, however, that "[...] he was a super musician" and that "[...] He could play every instrument imaginable but I don't know how because his hands were huge; they were like the biggest hands I've ever seen in my life." Roland Janes later told Michael Hurtt, anyhow, that Wooten "didn't know a thing about music."

During the 1950s, Wooten earned his living with different businesses. He would run Wooting Trucking and did some other odd jobs with Reverend Bell during this time. After his trucking company closed, Wooten went into the music business. He founded a band and began playing country music and bluegrass in clubs. He would play bass fiddle in this outfit but subsequently switched from performing to managing other bands.

3635 Allandale Road in Memphis today

As it was with many of his activities, Wooten managed bands for some time and then set his mind on other things. At that time, he was residing on 3635 Allandale Road in Memphis and around 1964, he met DJ, TV host and entrepreneuer Gene Williams, who owned the Cotton Town Jubilee label in West Memphis and was a disc jockey at KWAM. Williams would do custom recordings at the station's studio and Wooten was his right hand, as Roland Janes remembered. He first assisted Williams in producing Bob Taylor's "If I Had Back What I Used to Have" b/w "Walking the Street" (Cotton Town Jubilee #107), still under the name of "J.C. Wooten." 

The accurate date when Bob Taylor's record was recorded is not known but it can be assumed it was in late 1963 or early 1964. On April 25, 1964, Wooten placed an enquiry with Billboard:
A.&R. MAN WITH OWN PRODUCTION and publishing company, plus talent roster and distributor contacts, desires connections with a Southern recording company, Style Wooten, 3635 Allandale, Memphis, Tenn. Ph. 324-4640.
Wooten decided it was time for his own record labels and started Big Style and Eugenia as well as Stylecraft Publishing. Probably his first two own productions were singles by Sylvia Mobley and "Cowboy" Slim Dortch. Mobley was born in 1941 and first recorded for Wayne McGinnis' Santo label in Memphis. She then cut "Are You Sorry" and Marlon Grisham's "Worried Over You" for Gene Williams (Cotton Town Jubilee #113, ca. 1964). In 1964, Wooten gave her another try and Mobley laid down two of her own compositions, "Every Time I See You" and "Tell Me Clouds," released on Wooten's Big Style label (Big Style #102). He was still assisted in production by Bozy Moore and Chuck Comer, a radio DJ, songwriter and one time business partner of Gene Williams. Williams, in addition, took over the distribution of the disc and re-released "Every Time I See You" in 1965 with a different flip side, the Chuck Comer tune "I'm Not Alone Anymore" (Cotton Town Jubilee #115).

Henry Pierce "Cowboy Slim" Dortch was exact twenty years older than Mobley and already a veteran performer by then. Born in 1921 in Tennessee, Dortch performed on various radio stations in his early career. He soon settled down in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, but it seems he made the occasional trip to Memphis during the 1950s and 1960s. It is likely that Dortch made his first recordings for Wooten during one of those trips in 1964. If Wooten recorded Dortch already at Roland Janes' Sonic studio (which he would use always from that point on), is not documented. Being strictly a country musician, Dortch nevertheless belts out "Big Boy Rock" on his first sesssion, a rock'n'roll collector's dream nowadays. Coupled with "Mailing My Last Letter," Wooten released both songs on his Eugenia label (Eugenia #1001) in 1964. Probably that same year, Dortch recorded more tracks under the supervision of Wooten, including "Sixteen Miles" / "The Black Rose" (Eugenia #1001, number used erroniously twice by Wooten) and "Over at Uncle Joe's" / "Stop, I'll Walk with You" (Lighting Ball #100). You can clearly identify Travis Wammack's lead guitar playing on these sides, who recorded a lot at Sonic Studios during this time, as he recollected. Yet another record of Dortch, "A Long Time" / "Broad Tennessee", was produced by Wooten, since his Stylecraft Publ. was credited on the label. The RCA-Victor account number 729S can be found on the label. Interestingly, Wooten's account eventuelly would be 718S.
Wooten followed Gene Williams' pattern to produce custom recordings for everyone who paid for it. The artists came to Wooten, paid him a certain amount of money and he organized a studio session, recorded them and took over all the production and manufacturing. Artists payed 425$ for a recording session, mastering and the pressing of 500 or 1000 copies of their record. In some cases, if Wooten sensed a "hit," Wooten also signed a contract with the artists, carrying all the costs and marketing the disc in addition. What started as a small venture in early 1964, soon grew to Memphis' largest custom recording service. In 1964, the Style label was set up by Wooten, followed by Allandale and Tentay in 1965. The first disc released on Style was "Lonely Street" / "Let's Start Our New Love Affair" (Style #45-1920). Style Records was the first outfit to feature a typical fancy label design. Style #45-1922 by Billy Raye, featuring "Charles the Blues" / "How Was I to Know," was likely Wooten's last co-operation with Gene Williams. Both songs were published by Cotton Town Music and Williams was mentioned on the label as the producer. Around the same time, Wooten began an collaboration with veteran Memphis musician Roland Janes. Janes had opened his Sonic Recording Studios in 1961. Previously, his activities included being a staff musician at Sam Phillips' Sun Records, lead guitarist in Jerry Lee Lewis' and Billy Lee Riley's groups, a producer and owner of Rita Records. In 1964, Wooten came along and began renting Sonic studio for his custom recordings. As Janes remembered, "I charged Style practically nothing for the studio. He'd bring those groups in there, they'd come in from Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, St. Louis, all over the place. Every weekend we'd cut maybe five different groups. He'd cut four songs on each group, he'd put a single out and then he'd hold one in the can. What they'd do, they'd pay him a little bit at a time, then when they had enough money to press a record he'd go 'head and press the record, give 'em X number of copies [...]."

In 1967, Wooten moved from Allandale Road to 3373 Park Avenue, where he would establish his own studio. The new facility had two modern studios with Wooten doubling as the studio's manager and chief engineer. The custom recording venture, now called variously "Wooten Recording Company," "Style Wooten Productions," or "House of Wootens Productions," attracted more and more singers and groups. In line with the location change, Wooten also set up other labels: Camaro in 1967, Designer in 1968, and Pretty Girl and Wooten in 1969. At the same time, Wooten introduced Pretty  Girl Publishing as an alternative to Stylecraft. The majority of the label names had some kind of a meaning to Wooten. He had a passion for cars - especially of small cars, as his son remembers, which is quite remarkable for a six-foot-six standing giant of a man like Style Wooten. Hence the label names Camaro and Torino. Allandale was obviously named after the street he once lived on; Big Style, Style, and Wooten were named after the man himself, J'Ace was a reminiscence of his son Jason. Some labels were also devoted to particular musical genres. Pretty Girl, for example, was exclusively designed for female country singers, while Designer was used for black gospel recordings.

Roland Janes, prob. 1950s

Especially the Designer imprint was used frequently by Wooten. Between 1968 and Designer's demise in 1978, more than 500 different releases appeared on that label. The majority of the groups came from all parts of the United States in order to record for Wooten. In many cases, it was the groups first (and only) recording session. They came from Missouri, Michigan, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Milwaukee, and even California. Since Wooten did not influence the groups regarding musical issues, all of his productions are historial documents of how southern music - rock, country, gospel - was performed in those times. It was pristine and pure music. This not happened with the Designer recordings but with all recordings Wooten produced. "[...] He didn't cheat nobody; he treated everybody right. He felt that he was performing a service and he was. He didn't do business the way most people would do it but that didn't mean he wasn't a fair guy," Roland Janes remembered. He continued: "[...] But Style, he was great. He would give them their freedom: it was their record and he would let 'em cut it."

If artists had no own backing band or needed help with the arrangement, Wooten brought in studios musicians he frequently worked with. Those included Eddie Slusser on guitar (who had worked with Kenny Owens in the late 1960s), Gary Draffin on bass, Pat Gibson on keyboard, and Gary Adair on drums. Adair and Draffin also helped Wooten to get his own studio running.

Gene Stewart, who recorded the first version of Billy "Crash" Craddock's hit "Rub It In" for Camaro, recalls about Wooten: "As I remember, I knew someone who had gone to Memphis, Tennessee, and cut a record with Camaro Records which was one of Style's labels. He indicated that it was relatively cheap to make a 45 RPM there, so I called Style and asked him the cost of two songs. I had been singing the rock song 'Rub It In' for several months and crowds at the country shows went wild over the song - so I decided I would record it." Since he needed a another song to fill in the B side, Stewart composed "I Feel the Need to Cry" and travelled to Memphis. They cut both songs one morning probably at Sonic: "I took my drummer with me to sing harmony and Style got a group of studio musicians to back us on the two songs and we recorded both songs in one take! I sold thousands of copies at country shows but Camaro had no distribution at all to radio stations so I did a personal mail out to some selected radio stations myself," recalls Stewart. Craddock's version would peak at #1 of the US and Canada country charts in 1974. Similar to others who worked with Wooten, Stewart remembered him being "quite a character," as he puts it. Back home, Stewart also encouraged James Fields  to record for Wooten, which he did indeed. 

At some point, Wooten was joined by Charles Bowen, who assisted in production at numerous sessions. Stan Neill also worked with him on and off. Neill also produced other sessions for Dan Craft across the border in West Memphis. Roland Janes closed down Sonic in 1973 (or 1974, according to other sources) and Wooten moved all of his operations to his own gear at 3373 Park Avenue.

3373 Park Avenue in Memphis, where Wooten established his own studio.
The building is housing the "Church of God" now.

3109 Park Avenue today

At the tail end of 1973, Wooten changed locations one more time and relocated down the road to 3109 Park Avenue. In 1974, he also married his wife Jo Ann with whom he had one son, Jason. In 1978, he closed down all of his operations for unknown reasons. Rumour goes that he was crowded out of business by rival record producers. However, Wooten was also a severe alcoholic and his wife Jo Ann divorced from him that year. He quit his recording service and began working at MIFA in Memphis, where he served as a custodian and was living in their office house until about 1987. He was back at producing in 1985 already with his Four Winds label. One of the artists on this label was his old companion Reverend Douglas Bell from the 1950s.

Wooten married again and moved with his new bride Ann to Mississippi, where she hailed from. Wooten continued to produce records and ran Stylecraft Music as well as his labels Style, Styleway, and Good News right until his death. Style Wooten died on February 8, 1998, in his sleep. He is buried at the Bethel Cementery in Leake County, Mississippi. Interestingly, his birth date on his gravestone is given as January 17, 1919, and not 1921. 

In 2014, Big Legal Mess Records acquired the rights to re-release the complete Designer catalog and issued an extensive 4CD compilation with 101 tracks from Wooten's black gospel label. Most recordings came from the extensive collection of Bruce Watson at Big Legal Mess. The highly interesting booklet to this set was written by Michael Hurtt.

Label overview

• Designer
• Eugenia
• Four Winds
• Horseshoe
• J'Ace
• Jamboree
• Majesty
• Pretty Girl
• Style
• Tentay
• Torino
• Tri-State
• Wooten
• Zonia

Location images from Google Street View
Special thanks to Gene Stewart

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mike Thomas on TPA

Mike Thomas - From California to Las Vegas (TPA 63-625)

The TPA label was owned by Jack Covais, a lyricist and violinist originally from Italy. He immigrated to New York City in his youth and founded Tin Pan Alley Publishing in 1941, in order to publish his own works. By 1953, he had founded his own label Tin Pan Alley, which recorded hundreds of song-poems during the 1950s and 1960s. It was a song-poem label, which means that writers could send in their poems for a fee to the record company, which set it to music and recorded it by one of their (mostly obscure and unprofessional) artists. The writer received a copy of the record in exchange. Some companies used previously recorded music backing tracks to overdub the singer later on. Thus, sometimes countless different poems were set to the same backing track. Tin Pan Alley's recorded output, in contrast, was mostly on a relatively high level regarding recording technique and musical quality.

After Jack Covais' death sometimes in the 1960s, it was first operated by his brother and then by Covais' newphew Sal Covais, who continued the company under the name of TPA in Sarasota, Florida.

Of Mike Thomas, nothing can be found. He was featured on countless Tin Pan Alley/TPA discs. "From California to Las Vegas," however, stands out as probably one of his best works for TPA. A garage rocker from the 1960s par excellence, it featured some nice harmonica backing during the intro and a long, wild guitar solo.

Read more about Tin Pan Alley plus a discography at songpoemmusic.com.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Suzanne with the Band-Aides

Suzanne with the Band-Aides - You May Never Know (Liberty F-55313), 1961

Obscure and certainly an oddball in recorded music, Suzanne Mullins' "You May Never Know" is nevetheless a fascinating piece of rock'n'roll. Not much is known of Suzanne Mullins, whose soprano voice didn't fit the rock'n'roll genre very much. Though, the strange mix of the great backing and her unusual voice makes "You May Never Know" such a great recording.

It was probably in 1960, when Mullins cut her two compositions "Unchained But Unforgotten" and "You May Never Know" for the Atlanta based Trump record label. At that time, she was still in her teens. Both tracks were produced by J.H. Mullins, who was - referable to her age - likely her father. "Unchained But Unforgotten" b/w "You May Never Know" was released in late 1960 on Trump #002, credited to "Suzanne with the Band-Aides." The identity of these musicians remain unknown.  Billboard mentioned the disc in its December 31, 1960, issue in the "Limited Sales" segment of the pop review field. 

Although the single only received a moderate rating by Billboard, it seems it was a good seller at least locally. Soon it caught the attention of Liberty Records and saw national release on the label in early 1961 (Liberty F-55313). Billboard reviewed it again on April 3, 1961, this time with a better rating. Despite its early signs of success, the record went nowhere.

Trump gave Mullins another try and released "Cryin' Room (I'm Gonna Get a)" / "They Said I'd Recover" (Trump #005) in December 1961, this time under the name of "Suzanne and the Full-House." Even a third single, "Absence Makes the Heart Forget" / "I Won't Stay," appeared on Trump. Nothing came of it and Mullines vanished from the scene.

In 2014, about 40 tapes by Mullins and the original masters of Trump #002 were discovered by anonymous guys, who call themselves "odysseysoundstudio" on the internet. My attempt to contact them and find out more about the tapes failed, unfortunately. There is a Odyssey Sound Studio located in Chicago but I wasn't able to contact them. The national Liberty release was pressed by Sheldon in Chicago, so there's a good chance the master tapes were still stored away somewhere in the Windy City. On my copy of the record, the Liberty matrix number is stamped next to the original Trump matrix number, etched into the wax (T-136/T-137).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Down the Mississippi Line

• Christie - Yellow River
CBS 4911 (German pressing), 1970

I picked this one up last month at a flea market. "Yellow River" of course is the hit song everyone knows but the real gem here is side two with "Down the Mississippi Line." A real great song, I hope y'all enjoy it, too. I wrote some info on Christie some time ago, so I won't go into detail here. "Yellow River" reached #1 in the UK, #2 here in Germany and #23 in the US. The record featured here is a German pressing, released in April 1970 on the CBS label.

Also visit Jeff Christie's website, some great photos there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Humming Bees from Texarkana

The Humming Bees - Blessed are the Pure in Spirit (Universal Artists UAR 1006), 1967

I bought two of the Humming Bees' records from Mack Stevens in Texas, including this one. The Hummbings Bees were, to all accounts, a black gospel group from the Texarkana, Arkansas, area. Their style was much in the vein of the many bands recorded by Style Wooten in Memphis, although they never made it onto one of Wooten's labels, as far as I'm concerned.

The Humming Bees were likely formed in 1949. They were active in the Texarkana area and also across the border in Texas, as an Paris, Texas, newspaper snippet from 1956 suggests. They still (or again) performed in 1990, celebrating their 51th anniversary. The Humming Bees recorded twice for their own custom label Humming Bee(s), first in 1960 and then in 1964. They followed up with at least two discs on Universal Artists.
Universal Artists Records was a local venture from Texarkana and only sporadically active from 1967 until about 1976. Later releases carried no catalogue number, just the Rite matrix numbers. Most of the material issued on the label was gospel, apart from some country and rock'n'roll. Also, Universal Artists was somehow associated with the Humming Bees, since the label on the Religious Five's disc reads "Universal Artists Records - Hummming Bees - Texarkana, Arkansas presents".

Universal Artists Discography
(all records pressed by Rite)

1001: Bill Gentry - Baby What'ya Say / If You Want My Love (1967)
1004: Vycounts - Can't You Tell / I Need You Tonight (1967)
1005: Vicki Scott - I'm Not a Toy / I Just Lost Your Love (1967)
1006: The Humming Bees - Jesus Steps Right In / Blessed Are the Pure in Spirit (1967)

#: The Humming Bees - Jesus Has Done So Much for Me / Send It On Down (1972)
#: Willie Gulley, Jr. and the Bright Stars - Take a Little Time to Pray / Too Close (1975)
#: S. V. Hale - He Won't Leave Me Now / Pass Me Not (1976)
#: The Religious Five - Guide Me Over / I've Been Changed (1976)

Monday, April 6, 2015

House of Joan

Johnny Albert and Bobby Wayne - Roll Clean Out of Your Life (House of Joan No.#), 1962

This is possibly another piece of radio personality Bobby "The Wizard" Wayne's career in music history, of which I didn't know when writing about his life in 2012. There are some indications that lead me to the conclusion this could be the same Bobby Wayne, although it is not confirmed yet.

Bobby Wayne started his career as a DJ on local Charleston, West Virginia, radio stations. He recorded a thrashing slab of rock'n'roll in 1962 for the local Bonita label ("Swing Train Twist" / "Twistin' Swing Train", Bonita #45-1313). Wayne would spin records on various stations across the USA until his death in 1990.

The House of Joan record was pressed in 1962 by Rite Record Productions in Cincinnati, like Bobby Wayne's Bonita disc. Label design, especially color and font types, are very similar. In addition, both records must have been pressed very close to each other since the matrix numbers are very close: House of Joan had 7585/7586, Bonita had 7589/7590.

Unfortunately, I cannot spot any link between neither Wild Bill Graham and Bobby Wayne nor between the Johnny Albert and Bobby Wayne. Wayne left for Cincinnati in either late 1962 or early 1963 for a short while. So there was a short time frame when Bobby Wayne and Wild Bill Graham could have met in Ohio and recorded this song.

Wild Bill Graham was a drummer and band leader from Columbus, Ohio. He probably first recorded in 1956 for Cliff Ayres' Emerald label out of Fort Wayne, Indiana ("Mama Chita" / "Sinbad Blues", Emerald #2010). In 1958, he recorded with Paul Rey the R&B song "Good News Baby" on Canto Records (Canto #CN-45-31458). This label was also from Ohio. 

Billboard R&B review, May 12, 1956.

By 1967, Graham had founded the Escalators and performed regularly around Columbus. As Tim Fleischer, member of the Edicates, put it: "Wild Billy Graham and The Escalators were a black soul band with a brass section and they were about as funky as it gets. We opened for them a couple times. They released a record called Ooh Poo Pa Do in ‘67 (I think) which became a big regional hit." This particular hit record was in fact was "Oop-Poo-Pa-Doo," which was originally released on Nassau Records from Columbus. Coupled with "East 24th Ave," it was the label's first single (Nassau #100). Nassau was operated by WVOK DJ Bill Moss, also called "The Bass Hoss" and "Big Nassau Daddy." He was a colourful person and business man, also running "Nassau Daddy's Pit Bar-Be-Que" for some time. Graham's single became a regional hit and was picked up by Atlantic in late 1966 (Atlantic #45-2372). It was also distributed by Atlantic in Canada and the UK. Wayne Lowery, son of the Escalators' lead singer, recalls: "Used to hang out at Uncle Billy's house with my sisters [...]. Used to watch the band practice on many occasions and saw them play one of the little stages at the Ohio State Fair a couple of times." See here for two pictures of Graham.

Wild Bill Graham and the Escalators

Johnny Albert was also a local Columbus musician. He performed jazz with Bobby Shaw in the 1950s under the name of "Chickadee and Chickadoo." See here for a picture of Albert and Shaw.

See also: Interview with Tim Fleischer with 60sgaragebands.com