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, February 10, 2010

Something about Aubrey Cagle / Glee

Be-Bop Blues

Glee Records is a name that would not come to one's mind, if you ask about Rockabilly music. In fact, it was at first much a vehicle for founder Aubrey Cagle to release his own records. Glee first appeared in 1959, when Cagle issued his second single "Be-Bop Blues" b/w "Just for You" (Glee 100). By that time, Cagle was living in Indianapolis and the record company was headquartered on 1739 North Lesley Avenue. While this first record was pressed by an unknown pressing plant, later releases were manufactured by the RCA Victor custom pressing service. Both songs were recorded by Cagle in Nashville with his own band.

Aubrey Cagle himself was born on September 17, 1934, in Lexington, Tennessee, according to an article published in "New Kommotion" in 1978. Terry Gordon states on his site "Rockin' Country Style" that Cagle was born around 1928. Be that as it may, he grew up on the parental farm and bought his first guitar at the age of eleven from the money he had earned taking odd jobs. He set up his first band six years later at age 17 and got a spot on a radio station in Jackson, Tennessee, and later a show on WDXL in Lexington.

He moved to Indiana in 1955, hoping to find work. But it was not until 1959 that he cut his first record for Chesney Sherod's Memphis based label House of Sound. During the session, which took place in Memphis, Cagle recorded "Real Cool" and "Want to Be Wanted Blues", on which he was backed by local musicians including Chips Moman on guitar. Both songs were issued as his first single.

Later that year, Cagle founded his own record company, Glee Records, in Indianapolis, with his brother-in-law Johnnie James. The reasons for the founding are not know to me, but Cagle probably searched for an possibility to issue his records easier. Still in 1959, he held a session at Jan Eden's garage studio in Indianapolis, recording the two originally unissued songs "Bop 'n' Stroll" and "Rock-a-Billy Boy" with Don Rivers on electric guitar, Bill Williams on bass, Mike Freeman on drums and James Smith on piano. Both titles were excellent rockers with fine guitar/piano solos and a driving beat.

Rock-a-Billy Boy

When Cagle recorded his first single for Glee, "Be-Bop Blues" b/w "Just for You", he travelled to Nashville and recorded both tracks at the RCA Victor studio with the same band (and an additional steel guitarist on the flip). While "Be-Bop Blues" was a mid-tempo rockabilly song, the flip was stone hard country. The record was well promoted by the Faye Music Company (that published Cagle's songs), for a Billboard article reports that Bill Springer, president of the company, believed this would be a hit. Actually, it was not and didn't reach the national charts. Around the same time, Cagle played along with guitarrist and owner of Solid Gold Records Jerry Williams (shown on the left in the photo) in Tennessee Thompson's band. Thompson was a local Indiana based country singer who tried his hand at Rockabilly, recording "Slippin' and Slidin'" / "Saturday Ball" for the RCT label.

In 1960, Cagle issued his second single on Glee, containing "Come Along Little Girl" b/w "Blue Lonely World" (Glee 1001), which was recorded again at the RCA studio with a nearly complete different band. Freddy Vest (lead guitar), Bill Williams (bass), George Abel (piano), Buddy Crawford (steel guitar) and Morgan Shuamker (drums) were probably his band at that time.

The next year, Cagle began to perform under the stage name of "Billy Love" because he thought it was easier to remember for the DJs, so they would play his records more on the radio. Two more singles followed for Glee, one in 1961 ("Sweet Talkin'" / "Oh What a Memory") and one in 1962 ("I'll Find My Way Back to You" / "My Empty Arms"), which were also released as Billy Love.

Cagle continued to perform locally and led his record label. In 1968, his partner Johnnie James died and Cagle became the sole owner of the company. Except from one release by an Indiana based Rock'n'Roll band, Ted Newton and the Rhythm Rockers, there are no other releases known on Glee. Cagle issued "Bop 'n' Stroll" and "Rock-a-Billy Boy" in the 1970s on a 45 for the growing rockabilly collector market. He was married with his wife Sue and they had one son named Ricky. Cagle died in 2004 at the age of 70 years. In 2000, Solid Gold (maybe the same label that was owned by Jerry Williams in the 1950s and 1960s) issued a CD entitled "Real Cool" with several Cagle songs.

From Indiana45s.com

Sources: RCS, Indiana 45s, Ohio 45s, New Kommotion, various Billboard issues

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