Webb Foley - "Bee Bop Baby" (Emerald 2013), 1956
Webb Foley is today best remembered by rockabilly lovers for songs such as "Little Bitty Mama" or "Makin' a Plan," but outside the hardcore collector circle, Foley is commonly unknown. He recorded numerous singles for Indiana based labels during the 1950s and 1960s, but never really found commercial success with music.
Foley's real name was Gabby Horman and he was originally a baseball player - and quite a talented, too. He played for the Winona Chiefs in the 1950s, that's were he probably enjoyed his most popular years. Also a talented show man and singer, he decided to start a career in country and rockabilly music and took the stage name Webb Foley (combining Webb Pierce and Red Foley). In 1956, he began recording for Cliff Ayers' Emerald label out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ayers was a famous pop singer back in the 1940s, touring Europe with great success. In the 1950s, he went into record producing and founded his own label, Emerald (later called M Erald and then shortened to M). Foley was one of the few artists to record rockabilly on the label and in 1956, Ayers released Foley's "Bee Bop Baby" b/w "You Oughta Make Records." An EP featuring "Little Bitty Mama" and the Johnny Cash soundalike "Makin' a Plan" followed in 1957.
During this time, Foley played a lot with another young rockabilly singer by the name of Dennis Puckett. Puckett and his band, the Rockets, recorded for Emerald around 1957 and had a regional hit with "Rockin' Teens" b/w "By By Blues." Dubbed the "Indiana Elvis" by Ayers, Puckett became quite popular in the Hoosier state. He and Foley toured the country together for some time. Foley arranged the appearances and they played nearly everthing they could get. Eventually, Foley's band backed Puckett up on his second Emerald release, which was recorded in 1958 at radio WOWO.
Foley left Emerald after 1957 and recorded for Fox and Goldcrest. In the 1960s, he started working with Cliff Ayers again and recorded a couple of country singles for his M label. Then, Foley vanished from the music scene. Recently, he lived in Nashville, Tennessee, but no one was able to track him down yet.
You can hear one of Foley's M singles at the Some Local Loser blog.
Sources: Rockin' Country Style, Indiana45s.com, Dennis Puckett: "Rockin' Teens" (interview by Steve Kelemen), "The Secret Life of Gabby Horman" by Bryan P. Heilman,