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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• Thanks to Bob more info on Bill Harris.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Vaden Rock'n'Roll

Main Street in Blytheville, Arkansas, looking east from Broadway
The Vaden label out of Trumann, Arkansas, is today a famous company among Rockabilly collectors. Monster rockers like Larry Donn's recordings or Bobby Brown's sides were cut for this small label in the late 1950s. Vaden was the product of gospel singer Arlen Vaden. His first artist was Bobby Brown & the Curios, a rock'n'roll band that had played the club scene for some time back then and they recorded their first session for the label in 1958 in Cincinnati. He was the only Vaden artist that recorded for Vaden before 1959.

Rumor goes that there was a "Super Rock-a-Billy Session" set up by Vaden in Blytheville, Arkansas, but this is not true. According to Larry Donn, many of the songs released on Vaden were recorded at different times. The first was Bobby Brown and his band. He recorded "Please Please Baby" and "Bobby's Blues" in early 1959. Teddy Redell played piano and Larry Donn bass on Brown's songs. 

Around the same time, Vaden signed another Arkansas artist to his label: Chuck Comer. Comer's band also included Redell (piano) and Tommy Wagner (vocals/lead guitar). Vaden wanted to record Tommy Wagner with Comer's band as backup, but Wagner was ill on the day the session was scheduled, so Vaden asked Redell to sing. So it was Redell who cut "Knocking on the Backside" and "Before It Began" instead of Wagner. Chuck Comer also sang on two recordings of the band that were done around the same time: "Little More Lovin'" and "Shall We Dance."

By February, Donn recorded "Honey-Bun" and "That's What I Call a Ball" at KLCN in Blytheville with Redell on piano. Joe Nearns was the engineer that day:
[...] That was the "Honey Bun" session, but it was in February.  The only other Vaden artists present that night were Bobby Brown and Teddy Redell, and Teddy played piano on the session. [...]
In fact, Arlen Vaden set up a session for Green in March 1959 at the same radio station. Donn remembered being present that day but did not participate in any recordings. He also remembered that Green's brothers were there and watched the session. "Black Cadillac" / "Tomorrow" were released that same month on Vaden.

Then there was Johnny Moore with "Country Girl", backed by Jimmy Haggett's band. Moore actually was Haggett's piano player and slipped into obscurity after that recording. There's also no accurate recording date and Donn doesn't recall where it was recorded.

Although the recordings were done at different times, they all featured the same, wild and aggressive piano driven sound and blistering lead guitar work. All artists that recorded during that time were originally from Arkansas and most of them played in the Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri areas. Some of them also did a trip to Memphis in order to record for Sun or Fernwood, for example Bobby Brown and Larry Donn. Donn was the bass player in Brown's band for a time after Brown had returned from St. Louis. Brown was originally from Olyphant, Arkansas, but had moved to Missouri where he played the clubs in St. Louis. In 1958, he came back to Arkansas and Donn joined his band. Teddy Redell was a seasoned performed by then, having played the WWVA Jamboree with Wayne Raney.  He was in Chuck Comer's band on vocals and piano. Comer was also a DJ and in addition, had his own band, which featured at one time or another Comer on guitar and vocals, Reddell, Johnny Duncan, Leeman James, Les Clark, and others. But on his session day, he was backed by J.C. Caughron (guitar), Kern Kennedy (piano) possibly Frank Sudduth (bass), and Bob Mickey (drums).

Bobby Brown and his band in 1962: Johnny "Baby Huey" Adams, Raymond "Smiley" Thompson, Tommy Holder, Bobby Brown (from left to right)
The Northeast Arkansas area was a hotbed for rockabilly musicians at that time. A lively club scene, several radio stations and a couple of record labels gave local talents the opportunity to start their career. Several of them became quite famous in the 1950s and early 1960s there, such as Jimmy Haggett, Bobby Brown, Kenny Owens, and Larry Donn. During that time, there existed a loose circle of musicians that played together in one form or another. Band line-ups did not last too long often because some members left for another group or moved away. There was a smooth transition between the groups, especiallly during the Vaden days but somehow, there were always some guys you would recognize. The following directory and discography will give you a general view about the musicians that recorded in March 1959 for Vaden:

Directory of musicians

Brown, Bobby (* 1938): Born in Olyphant, ARK. Moved to St. Louis, MO, in 1956 and played clubs there. Moved back to Jonesboro, ARK, ca. 1958 and started playing clubs. Played bass with Sonny Burgess and J.C. Caughron and eventually founded his own road band with Tommy Holder around 1961.

Caughron, J.C.: Lead guitarist in Chuck Comer's group and later joined Sonny Burgess. Burgess and Caughron went on tour with Bobby Brown. The trio also toured with Johnny Cash.

Comer, Chuck (* 1934): Also from Arkansas, Comer was on KNBY (Newport, ARK). His band included Teddy Redell on piano and Tommy Wagner on lead guitar. Toured with the Vaden artists for some time. Also recorded for Cotton Town Jubilee in the early 1960s.

Donn, Larry (1941-2012): Born in Bono, ARK. Played bass in Bobby Brown's band. Also had an own band with Benjamin Kuykendall (lead guitar), Scotty Kuykendall (bass), and Edde Reeves (drums).

Green, Joyce (* 1940): Born in Bradford, ARK. Discovered by Arlen Vaden during a tour in Northeast Arkansas. Appeared at the Oasis Club (Bald Knob, ARK) and the Cotton Club (Trumann, ARK). Went on tour with Larry Donn in 1959.

Holder, Tommy: Likely also from Arkansas, Holder later joined Bobby Brown's band around 1961 as the lead guitarist.

Kuykendall, Benjamin "Benny" (* ca. 1943): Brother of Scotty Kuykendall. Met Larry Donn at a talent contest in 1957 and started a band with Donn, Scotty, and Eddie Reeves. Writer of "That's What I Call a Ball."

Kuykendall, Scotty: Played bass with Larry Donn. Brother of Benny Kuykendall.

Moore, Johnny (* 1929): Piano player in Jimmy Haggett's Daydreamers. Also called "Junior" by his bandmates.

Redell, Teddy (* 1937): Born in Quitman, ARK. Went on tour with Wayne Raney in 1955 and returned to Arkansas in 1956. Played with both Tommy Trent and Chuck Comer. Played on several Vaden records. He only became the singer on the 1959 session because the original vocalist was ill.

Many recordings took place in early 1959 at KLCN (Blytheville, Arkansas). Apart from Vaden 45-302, all records were pressed by King in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Producer: Arlen Vaden

Bobby Brown and the Curios
Recorded early 1959 at KLCN (Blytheville, Arkansas)
Bobby Brown (vcl/gtr), J.C. Caughron (ld gtr), Tommy Holder (ld gtr), Larry Donn (bs), Teddy Redell (pno), Johnny Welker (dms)

"Bobby's Blues" (Bobby Brown) - Vaden 45-109
"Please Please Baby" (Bobby Brown) - Vaden 45-109

Teddy Redell
Recorded early 1959 at KLCN (Blytheville, Arkansas)
Teddy Redell (vcl/pno), poss. J.C. Caughron (gtr), poss. Frank Sudduth (bs), poss. Bob Mickey (dms)

"Knocking on the Back Side" (Teddy Redell) - Vaden 45-110
"Before It Began" (Teddy Redell) - Vaden 45-110

Johnny Moore with Jimmy Haggett Band
Johnny Moore (vcl/pno), unk (gtr/sax/bs/dms)

"I Want You to Know" (Johnny Moore; Jimmy Haggett) - Vaden 45-111
"Country Girl" (Davis; Johnny Moore; Morris) - Vaden 45-111

Joyce Green
Recorded March 1959 at KLCN (Blytheville, Arkansas)
Joyce Green (vcl/gtr), Benjamin Kuykendall (ld gtr), Tommy Holder (ld gtr), Scotty Kuykendall (bs), Teddy Redell (pno), Harvey Farley (dms)

"Black Cadillac" (Joyce Green) - Vaden 45-112
"Tomorrow" (Joyce Green) - Vaden 45-112

Larry Donn
Recorded February 1959 at KLCN (Blytheville, Arkansas)
Larry Donn (vcl), Benjamin Kyukendall (ld gtr), Tommy Holder (elec rhy gtr), Teddy Redell (pno), Scotty Kuykendall (elec bs), Roy Mullinax (upr bs), Johnny Welker (dms)

"That's What I Call a Ball" (Benjamin Kuykendall) - Vaden 45-113
"Honey-Bun" (Richard Manning) - Vaden 45-113

Chuck Comer
Chuck Comer (vcl/gtr), J.C. Caughron (ld gtr), Kern Kennedy (pno), poss. Frank Sudduth (bs), Bob Mickey (dms), Arlen Vaden, Aaron Vaden, Tommy Wagner (chorus)

"Shall We Dance" (Chuck Comer) - Vaden 45-302
"Little More Lovin'" (Chuck Comer) - Vaden 45-302

Joyce Green
Teddy Redell
Larry Donn
Chuck Comer and his band in 1958: Johnny Duncan, Chuck Comer, Leeman James, Les Clark (from left to right)


Derik said...

Is this a different Bobby Brown?


Mellow said...

I think so. Bobby Brown played rock'n'roll right from the beginnning of his performance career in 1956. His first recordings were made in 1957 which were covers of Rock'n'Roll hits.

devika rathore said...

nice blog

devika rathore said...

Hi thanks for writing about this. I enjoy visiting your blog,I always was interested in this subject and still am, thanks for putting up.keep up the good work!

David Perry said...

Teddy Redell and Larry Donn are two of my favorites!

DrunkenHobo said...

Here is a few more, hope it helps somebody?

Vaden (AR) 45 - 100 (1958) Bobby Brown & The Curios "Down At Miss Mary's House / I Get The Blues At Midnight 2nd press Vaden (AR) EP - 107

Vaden (AR) 45 - 101 Jerri Patterson - Thats Why I Think Of You / ? (1958)

Vaden (AR) 45 -102 RayBaker EP "Country Gospel"
Vaden (AR) 45 - 103 Jackie & Arlene EP "Gospel Songs"
Vaden (AR) 45 - 104 Jackie & Arline EP "Gospel Songs"
Vaden (AR) 45 - 105 Jackie & Arline EP "Gospel Songs"
Vaden (AR) 45 - 106 Lonnie Glosson (2 Tracks By Lonnie + 2 ?) I Wan't My Mamma + ? (1958)
Vaden (AR) 45 - 107 EP Bobby Brown "Down At Miss Mary's House" (1959)
Vaden (AR) 45 - 108 ?
Vaden (AR) 45 - 114 Vena Townsend - I Walk The Soles Off My Shoes / ? (1959)
Vaden (AR) 45 - 115 Teddy Redell - Corrinna Corrina / Gold Dust (1959)
Vaden (AR) 45 - 116 Jimmy Haggett Don't Let Me Go / Todays Reality (1959)
Vaden (AR) 45 - 116 (Yes Number used twice) Teddy Redell - Can't you See / Judy (1959)

Vaden (AR) EP - 204 Teddy Redell (2 tracks By Teddy + 2)
Vaden (AR) EP - 205 Ray Baker 'Country Gospel"
Vaden (AR) EP - 206 ?
Vaden (AR) EP - 207 ?
Vaden (AR) EP - 208 Onie Wheeler "Gospel Songs"

Vaden (AR) 45 - 301 Teddy Redell - I Want To Hold You / (1960) 2nd Press Atco (NY) 45 - 6162
Vaden (AR) 45 - 303?
Vaden (AR) 45 - 304 Bobby Lee Trammell - Been A Walkin' / Hi Ho Silver (1960)
Vaden (AR) 45 - 305 Teddy Redell - I'll Sail My Ship Alone / Don't Grow Old Alone (1960)
Vaden (AR) 45 - 306 Bill Duniven - Knocking On The Backside (Of Your Heart) / One Has MY Name (The oTher MY Heart) (1960)

Toni said...

This is cool!

Priscilla Riedel-Cohan said...

Thank you for this history of rockabilly music and those who pioneered it in Northeast Arkansas. My father was Teddy Redell. He loved music and the people who enjoyed it with him. Dad succumbed to a heart condition in September 2014 at the age of 77. The genre depends on blogs like this to keep the music alive. Thanks for doing just that!

Mellow said...

Priscilla, thank you for your comment. Actually, this post is not quit up to date and has not the latest research results. However, your father was a great musician and what I have heard from others a great person.