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.


• Jack Turner recordings available here.
• Update on Les Randall acetate.
• Thanks to Bob more info on Bill Harris.

Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rocket Records story

I wanted to to write about Rocket Records much earlier but when I began to write, I realised that I had not enough material about this label. In fact, Rocket was/is a very rare record company and information is hard to get by. So, you can imagine how happy I was when one of Rocket's original artists contacted me a couple of days ago, who was able to provide some rare info.

Rocket Records was founded by Herb and Milton Yakus in Boston, probably in 1958. Milton Yakus was the co-writer of the Patti Page hits "Go on with the Wedding" and "Old Cape Cod" among others. Both Herb and Milton ran the Ace Recording Studios on Boylston Street in Boston during the 1950s and 1960s. Rocket Records was presumably their first attempt to get into the record business. You can see a photo of the studio at night, made sometimes between 1954 and 1958.
The first record was Rocket 100 "Teenager's Party" b/w "R.R. Boogie" by the Rhythm Rockers, which was recorded and pressed in 1958 but never released originally. It was not until 1990 that these two rockers saw the light of day. Rocket 101 was by the then 18 years old Mel McGonnigle, who had worked a few gigs with Ricky Coyne & the Guitar Rockers around Boston in 1957/1958. His "Rattle Shakin' Mama" was recorded in 1958 at Ace Studios and is now a minor rockabilly classic.

There are three other known releases on Rocket, one by Alan Barnicoat (Rocket 105), ony by the Oddballs (Rocket 110) and one last by Doug Fore (Rocket 528). The latter was pressed by Rite out of Cincinnati, Ohio, the other records were manufactured by an unknown pressing plant. Being professional songwriters, Herb and Milton Yakus often got songwriting credits on the Rocket releases, although they possibly never participated in composing any of them songs. They kept on running their recording studio and recorded many garage bands in the 1960s, setting up a new label called Ace. Milton Yakus died on November 6, 1980, in Boston at the age of 62.

Milton Yakus' obituary in the Billboard magazine, November 1980

Rocket 100: Rhythm Rockers - Teenager's Party / R.R. Boogie

Rocket 101: Mel McGonnigle - Rattle Shakin' Mama / Cheryl Baby (1958)
Rocket 102: Ricardo feat. Bill Leavill Orch. & Chorus - Fool, Fool, Fool / Destiny
Rocket 103:
Rocket 104:
Rocket 105: Alan Barnicoat - Trip to the Orient / Savage (1958)
Rocket 106:
Rocket 107:
Rocket 108:
Rocket 109:
Rocket 110: Oddballs - That's My Baby / Rockin' in the Jungle (ca. 1958)
[Rocket 528: Doug Fore - For Heaven's Sake, Don't Hesitate / Come Back to Me, My Love (1959)] *

* Rocket 528 was probably not released on the same Rocket label. Bob from DeadWaxblog suggested this record was a custom pressing from the Globe Studios in Nashville.

Special thanks to Rockin' Country Style, Mel McGonnigle, Bob


Bob said...

Wow! Do you mean that Mel McGonnigle HIMSELF contacted you? How great it is. How about a picture of him of good quality on your pages? and more info about him indeed...

Two remarks :

One correction : the Doug Fore is certainly not on the same Rocket label, but more likely on one of the various custom labels produced by the Globe studio of Nashville, Tennessee

And one addition :

Rocket 102 - Ricardo with orch. & chorus directed by Bill Leavill : "Fool,Fool,Fool/Destiny".


Mellow said...

Thanks Bob!

Yes, a special write-up of Mel McGonnigle will follow probably next week. Unfortunately, there are no known photos of McGonnigle available anymore.

Do you know if this is the same Bill Leavill?


Mellow said...

Oh, I just noticed that this is "LeaviTT"... However, Leavitt also studied in Boston.

vishal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Mike & The Ravens recorded their 1962 material at Ace as well with Herb and Milt in control room along with Bill Ferruzzi engineering... here's their first B-side: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSZI6R6p8-Q