Earl Epps - "Be Bop Blues" (Minor 103)
There has been a question mark behind the name Earl Epps for more than fifty years after the recording of "Be-Bop Blues" in 1956. In 2009, journalists from the Swedish American Music Magazine were finally able to track down Epps in Houston, Texas, through the help of Dave Westheimer. The result was a detailed article in the American Music Magazine in 2010 but still Epps' career is commonly unknown to a wider audience. This write-up will deal with his career in the 1950s in Houston, the remaining fifty years of Epps career can be read in the above mentioned article.
While performing all around Houston, Epps got to know a fellow by the name of Joe Collins during his work as a storekeeper at daytime. Collins had written a few songs and pitched "Be-Bop Blues" and "There's Two of Us Waiting" to Epps, who recorded both titles around July 1956 at Bill Quinn's Gold Star Studio in Houston. He was backed by his regular band, consisting of Epps (guitar/vocals), Carl Ball and Herby Treece (guitars), George Champion (piano), Don Cathey (steel guitar), an unkown fiddler, and an unknown bassist. While Don Cathey and the unknown fiddler only played on "There's Two of Us Waiting", producer and label owner Danny Ross joined the band as a guitarist on both sides. The songs were released on Minor Records (Minor 103) in 1956. "Be-Bop Blues" was featured on several compilations and has become a minor Rockabilly classic in Europe since.
"Be-Bop Blues" remained Epps only Rockabilly outing. He always considered himself as a straight Country artist and has stayed true to his style the rest of his career. He kept on performing around Houston for the next decades, appearing with such artists as Link Davis, Earl Aycock, Jimmy Heap, Eddie Marshall, Kitty Wells, Ray Price, Johnnie & Jack, among others. He still performs today and can be seen regularly at the Alvin Opry, the Texas Opry, and the Liberty Opry.
If you want to know more about Earl Epps' whole career, I recommend the article written by Kent Heineman, published in the American Music Magazine in 2010.
- Kent Heineman: "Who's Earl Epps?" (September 2010), published in American Music Magazine #124
- Rockin' Country Style
- Special thanks to Dave Westheimer and Earl Epps himself, both assisted me and answered several questions.