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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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jimmy Evans on Clearmont



Jimmy Evans - "The Joint's Really Jumpin'", Clearmont C-602 (1962)


Many musicians from Arkansas came across the river to Memphis in order to try their luck in the lively music scene, hoping to get as famous as the young boy named Elvis Presley, who found success at Sun Records and rose to stardom at RCA Victor from 1956 on. When Jimmy Evans came to Sun, he was in good company. Billy Lee Riley was on Sun as well as Sonny Burgess, Johnny Cash, and others such as Charlie Rich would follow.

Born either in 1936 or 1938 (neither 1936 nor 1938 are confirmed) in Mariana, Arkansas, Evans began to sing at an early age. He first auditioned at Sun in 1954 when his aunt arranged a meeting with Sam Phillips but Evans was turned down, because he was too young and his voice was too high. Evans then returned to Arkansas and formed a band, which had a radio show on local KXJK in Forrest City, Arkansas. When he finished high school, Evans came back and Phillips hired him as a studio musician because of his ability to play lead guitar, bass, piano, drums, and steel guitar. He became friends with another Sun musician, piano player Jimmy Wilson, and moved with him into an apartment over the Sun Café, not far from the Sun Studio on Union Avenue.

Evans was mostly used as a session musician for singers who stepped into the studio to cut audition tapes. Evans was hoping to get a record release on Sun on his own but at that time, he was still singing country music and Phillips concentrated on rockabilly. He also played bass in Mack Self's band and in Harold Jenkins' Houserockers. When Jenkins moved to MGM and became Conway Twitty, Evans went with him on the road and stayed with his band until 1958. Evans then joined Ronnie Hawkins' background group, the Hawks and toured with them for another two years.

Finally, Evans issued his own record in 1962. At the advice of singer Gene Simmons, who had also recorded for Sun, Evans took his song "The Joint's Really Jumpin'" to Clearmont Records, a small label in Memphis, and cut it along with "I Just Don't Love You." On the recordings, Evans was backed by Gene Simmons' brother Carl on lead guitar, Jimmy Wilson on piano, Jesse Carter on bass and an unknown drummer. All the information concerning the Clearmont record came from this site. Actually, there are some inconsistences about the single. Jimmy Wilson left Memphis for California in 1958 and nobody knows what happened to him and nobody ever claimed he came back to Memphis in the 1960s. Also according to this site, Evans cut the record before he joined the Hawks, thus around 1958. But the record was released in 1962, which is confirmed by a Billboard review on November 17, 1962.

"Moderate Sales Potential," Billboard review November 17, 1962. Note the wrong record number - 491 was the matrix number, not the catalogue number.
However, the songs somehow appeared on the Caveman label from Illinois (with the same catalogue number as the Clearmont release). The cirumstances are unknown and possibly, we will never know exactly when it was recorded and how it got released on Caveman. Evans continued to record for such labels as Shimmy, Rebel Ace, and others. In the 1980s, he released his classic "Pink Cadillac" and was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2000. Sadly, he passed away in 2011.

Sources: Rockin' Country Style, Blackcat Rockabilly Europe, Billboard, RHoF

2 comments:

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rascuachero54 said...

Great post, very informative on players that not much has been written about. Thanks, Bill