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.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Something about late 1950s Rock & Roll groups

In the late 1950s, Rockabilly vanished and dispersed into a kind of mainstream Rock'n'Roll. Musical features of these late 1950s Rock & Roll was the line-up of an electric guitar, an electric bass, a sax, drums and often also a piano. The songs were based on simple blues chord patterns - easy to play also for country boys who hadn't much experience in music. Instead of one featured artist, the whole band appeared under one name (e.g. not Elvis Presley & the Blue Moon Boys, but The Hi-Lites - hope it's clear). When these small bands that played in clubs and at high school dances made a record, the flip was often an instrumental dominated by an easy guitar riff that was used through the song, only slightly varied.

These small rock & roll groups later emerged into the Beat combos in the style of the Beatles and were the basics for the latter. I selected three bands today that also recorded some singles, one of them had limited success, the other two remained in obscurity.

The Skipper Hunt Combo was a Nashville based Rock & Roll group that played in the late 1950s and early 1960s, appearing in Nashville clubs. In 1959, the group made one single for the Hammond, Indiana, based label Glenn Records, a subsidiary of Mar-Vel'. "What Am I Gonna Do" b/w "Scalded" seems to be the only recording of this group. Members included Skipper Hunt (guitar/vocals), Joe Gleaves (bass), Roy Hepburn (drums), Bill Akins (piano) and an unidentified sax player.

The Nightbeats were a local group from Arizona, recording two singles for the local, tiny Zoom label. In the spring of 1959, their first release, "Lonesome Road Rock" b/w "Nightbeat", appeared. "Nightbeat" was an instrumental much in the style I descriped above. Their second single followed in the fall of that same year, featuring "Cryin' All Night" backed by "Doreen". There was also one unissued track called "Sea of Love". Members included the brother of Linda Ronstadt, Pete Ronstadt, on vocals. Pete also wrote much of the material for the band. There was also another group of the same name, calling themselves "The Nitebeats", which included Razzy Bailey and which recorded one single on Peach.

The Rock-a-Tunes were a band from Canada that had one chart success with "Danny", which reached the charts in Canada I think. They were based in Edmonton, Alberta, and recorded their first singles on Hank Smith's Rock-a-Tune label, including "Danny". After the success came, the Rock-a-Tunes switched to Columbia. Their first release there was "Tomorrow" b/w "Girls Nowadays". They kept on recordings but eventually members left. Before the group dispanded, they toured as the "New Fendermen" with original Fendermen member Phil Humprey. Members included Hank Smith and/or Butch McGillis on vocals, Al Ginard and Gordie Gray.

2 comments:

Mitchhz said...

That's interesting. Then those bands went into surf and garage punk. Kai-Ray and The Trashmen are a case in point.

xavier said...

Bon site, rometteur. Infos sur le R&R et la Country: je suis toujours curieux. Merci! Continue le bon travail!
Xavier (www.bopping.org)