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, October 16, 2012

Skeets McDonald on Capitol

Skeets McDonald - I'm Hurtin' (1957), Capitol F3833

There has been some problems with Mediafire during the last days and this post is some kind of a compensation until I fixed the problem. Skeets McDonald is best-known for "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes," a song that was composed and originally recorded by Texan Slim Willet. McDonald turned it into a big hit and it became his signature song.

Born Enos William McDonald in 1915 in Greenway, Arkansas, he grew up in a rural and poor environment, picking cotton on the fields. In the early 1930s, he followed his older brother and headed north to Michigan, where he found work with the Lonesome Cowboys in Detroit. He later formed his own band and played clubs as well radio stations in Flint and Pontiac. By 1943, he was drafted into US Army and fought in North Africa.

Upon his discharge, he took up his musical career again. He joined Johnnie White's Rhythm Riders in 1950 for a couple of recordings on the Fortune label. This affliation produced a first respectable effort, "The Tattooed Lady," though it did not become a chart hit. A year later, he also cut records for London and Mercury as "Skeets Saunders" without success. That same year, Texas born Slim Willet (1919-1966) wrote a song called "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes." Willet's 4 Star recording of the song soon reached the Billboard C&W charts and became a national hit.

Meanwhile, Skeets McDonald had moved to Los Ageles, California, where he successful auditioned for Cliffie Stone and Ken Nelson. While Stone put him on his Hometown Jamboree live show, Nelson signed him to Capitol Records as "the label's answer to Lefty Frizzell," who was recording for Columbia. They pitched "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" to McDonald and it was his version that became a No.1 C&W hit that made him famous over night.

The next years, success eluded McDonald's singles. Nevertheless, he remained a popular entertainer on the West Coast, appearing on such shows as the Hometown Jamboree, Compton's Town Hall Party, the Big D Jamboree, the Ozark Jubilee and some others. Possibly more interesting is his move towards Rockabilly by 1956. He had experiemented with an up-tempo hillbilly boogie sound earlier with such tunes as "The Tattooed Lady" or "Birthday Cake Boogie." In 1956, he recorded the smashing douplesider "You Oughta See Grandma Rock" b/w "Heart-Breakin' Mama" with Eddie Cochran on lead guitar and added a rockin' feel to several songs he cut in the following time, including "Fingertips," "Cheek to Cheek with the Blues" or today's selection "I'm Hurtin'."

Recorded on July 23, 1957, in the Capitol Recording Studios (Hollywood), "I'm Hurtin'" is more of the ballad kind. His backup band consisted of guitar virtuoso Joe Maphis on lead guitar, Speedy West on steel guitar, Jelly Sanders on fiddle (though not audible), Billy Liebert on piano, Cliffie Stone on bass, and Muddy Berry on drums. Released on Capitol F3833 with "Love Wind" on the flip, Billboard judged in its November 11, 1957, issue:
Weeper is delivered in a very poppish manner with rhythm backing and a chorus assist. Steel and picked guitars accompany. Listenable side is a possibility in both pop and c&w marts.
Though, "I'm Hurtin'" neither became a best seller in the Pop nor in the C&W market. Though he did record an album full of Rockabilly styled songs such as "You're There" in 1958 (with Joe Maphis on guitar again), he never moved far away from the Country tear jerkers that he was known for better. His contract with Capitol expired and McDonald moved to Columbia in 1959, where he had moderate chart success during the 1960s. "This Old Heart," "Call Me Mr. Brown" and "Mable" were some of the hits fromthat era. He died March 31, 1968, in Los Angeles of a heart attack.

Skeets McDonald with Hank Ross and his band, ca. 1960s

1 comment:

DrunkenHobo said...

Thank I did not no he had re-recorded it. I presumed this version was the same as Capitol 1771 (1951) But its not the same.