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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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wayne Walker on Coral

Wayne Walker - Just Before Dawn (Coral 9-62026), 1958
[dead wax: 45 105507 1]

Wayne Walker - After the Boy Gets the Girl (Coral 9-62026), 1958
[dead wax: 56105508 2]

Wayne Walker had started his career in the late 1940s as a sidekick of Tillman Franks with straight country but over a stretch of six or seven years, he developed a style that was much more leaning towards a polished country pop sound with rock'n'roll elements. Although Wayne Walker was so shy that he refused to do live appearances without Franks, he became a member of the Louisiana Hayride in the early 1950s. His first record for Chess, "Now is the Time for Love" b/w "You Got the Best of Me," followed in 1955. Since Tillman Franks had not the time to be on Walker's side on every occasion(he was now the manager of the rising Johnny Horton), he persuaded Walker to team up with singer and guitarist Jimmy Lee Fautheree. Fautheree was also a regular on the Hayride and had just disbanded from his singing partner Johnny Mathis. The duo recorded the now legendary rockabilly number "Love Me", backed by the lighthearted country flip "Lips That Kiss So Sweetly."

Jimmy Lee and Wayne Walker
This record already proofed the change Walker was running through. Although the team of Walker and Fautheree didn't last long, it must have been successful enough to secure Walker a contract with ABC-Paramount. A songwriter contract with Cedarwood publishing and a move to Nashville made the change complete: Walker was in Music City, USA. After his rockabilly classic "All I Can Do Is Cry" (covered by contemporaries Johnny Bond and Otto Bash), Nashville record producers began to use the countrypolitan sound on Walker that was just evolving during this time in the Nashville studios. The product were pop sounding, with background vocals and orchetra backed tracks on such labels as Columbia, Coral, Brunswick, and Everest, among others. One of those records can be heard here. Both songs were cut on August 11, 1958, at the Bradley Film & Recording Studio in Nashville, most likely with musicians from the famed "Nashville A-Team." The harmony vocalist on "Just Before Dawn" was simply listed as "The Redhead" in the session files, so there's no hint who this singer really was.

Most of the songs Walker recorded were written by him with help from Mel Tillis, Webb Pierce, or others. Although he kept on recording, live performances in front of an audience were still a torture to Walker, which may have prevented him from a national career as a singer. Instead, he concentrated on his songwriting talent and established himself as one of Nashville's most prolific composers in the 1950s and 1960s.

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