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.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Marvin Rainwater on MGM

Marvin Rainwater - (There's Always) A Need for Love (1957), MGM K12701

Marvin Rainwater is probably best known for his 1957 hit "Gonna Find Me a Bluebird" but many of his recordings were rockabilly styled performances. "Whole Lotta Women" was one of those songs and became a #1 UK hit, however, in the US it only reached #60 on the charts. Today's post features another example of Rainwater's rockabilly songs, the teen rocker "(There's Alway) A Need for Love" from 1958.

Marvin Karlton Rainwater was born on July 2, 1925, in Wichita, Kansas, and grew up during the Great Depression in Oklahoma. Originally, he wanted to become a pianist but lost a part of his left thumb when he was fifteen. This accident caused him to give up his plans and instead, he eventually began to study animal health. It was during this time that he began to write his own songs.

With his brother Ray, he played venues around Virginia. Already during this time, he dressed himself as a Native American. Indeed, Rainwater had Native American ancestors and later, this would be the subject of several songs he recorded. He also worked with guitarist Roy Clark, with whom he recorded demo sessions from January 1953 up to October 1954 in Ben Adelman's studio, Washington DC. The last of these sessions produced "I Gotta Go Get My Baby," which was picked up by Teresa Brewer, who turned the song into a pop hit. Justin Tubb's version also reached the C&W charts. Adelman leased Rainwater's original recording to 4 Star among a couple of others. Some tracks also appeared on Crown and King.

Rainwater was able to land a spot on Arthur Godfrey's talent show in 1955. His performance of "I Gotta Go Get My Baby" secured him a recording contract with MGM. That same year, he also began a four year stint on Red Foley's Ozark Jubilee. Billed as "Marvin Rainwater and his Tomahawks," his first release on the label was the pre-rockabilly song "Tennessee Houn' Dog Yodel." In 1956, his first two rockabilly songs appeared with the energetic "Hot and Cold" and the slower "Mr. Blues." His growing popularity brought him his first hit in early 1957 with "Gonna Find Me a Bluebird," which reached #4 on Billboard's C&W charts. Rockabilly songs like "Why Did You Have to Go and Leave Me (Lonesome Blues)", "My Brand of Blues," "Whole Lotta Women," "I Dig You Baby" and others followed.

MGM advertising in Billboard's July 8, 1957, issue
Today's selection "(There's Always) A Need for Love" was recorded on July 16, 1958, at the Bradley Film & Recording Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Rainwater was backed by veteran studio musicians Grady Martin (ld gtr), Floyd Cramer (pno), Lightnin' Chase (bs), Buddy Harman (dms), and an unknown chorus. Coupled with "Nothin' Needs Nothin' (Like I Need You)", the song was released on MGM K12701 in summer 1958. Billboard reviewed the single on  August 18 but it failed to chart.

By 1960, Rainwater's chart successes were over and MGM dropped him from its roster. He recorded a couple of songs with Link Wray and Lucky Wray on Warwick in 1961 and also recorded for Star-Dale and United Artists, before he founded his own label Brave. He also co-owned the country magazine "Trail" with his brother Ray, who was also his manager. In the 1970s, he fought against cancer and moved to Aitkin County, Minnesota. Today, he still performs at rockabilly festivals in Europe.

Billboard March 3, 1956

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Dixieland Blues comp, and also for this feature on Marvin Rainwater, truly one of the all-time greats.

Crab Devil