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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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Baker Knight on Decca

 
Baker Knight and the Knightmares - Love-A Love-A Love-A (Decca 9-30426), 1957

Not as dynamic and action-packed as "Bring My Cadillac Back," this Baker Knight performance entitled "Love-A Love-A Love-A" is quite enjoyable, though. Knight is commonly better known as a prolific songwriter, for example he penned Elvis Presley's UK No.1 hit "The Wonder of You." In my opinion, his 1950s career as a rock'n'roll singer is as much interesting as his later career and definitely underrated.

He was born Thomas Baker Knight, Jr., on July 4, 1933, in Birmimgham, Alabama, where he also grew up. In 1939, Knight's father died and due to his mother's poor health, he was mainly raised by relatives. He attended high school in Birmingham and took up the guitar either at the school orchestra or during his stint with the Air Force; this is not quite clear. However, Knight founded a rock'n'roll outfit in 1956 he called "The Knightmares," which included A.D. Derby on piano, Glenn Lane and Nat Toderice on sax, Shuler Brown on bass, and Bill Weinstein on drums with Knight on vocals and guitar.

Baker Knight, ca. 1956. I also had the
original Knightmares group photo but lost
it.
This outfit soon made recordings during the spring of 1956 in a local tiny studio in Birmingham, which had only one microphone. Alan Bubis' label Kit Records out of Nashville, Tennessee, released "Little Heart" b/w "Bop Boogie to the Blues" and gave Knight and his band another shot when releasing "Bring My Cadillac Back" and "I Cried" (recorded October 24 that same year). The single sold well enough locally and attracted the attention of the major Decca label, which picked it up and released it nationally. "Bring My Cadillac Back" sure would have been a hit for Knight, but many radio stations banned the song because they thought it was a free commercial for the Cadillac automobile brand.

Though, Decca had faith in Knight and let him record three more singles during the year of 1957. Today's selection "Love-A Love-A Love-A" was recorded at Knight's second session for the label on July 18, 1957, at the Bradley Film & Recording Studio in Nashville. Credited to "Baker Knight and the Knightmares," the song was coupled with "High School Days" and became Knight's last Decca single. In contrast to "Bring My Cadillac Back," both sides were less energetic and more sophisticated in its arrangements. Billboard reviewed the record in its August 19, 1957, issue and told the readers:
Love-A Love-A Love-A: Good hunk of rockabilly material, well sung, and could catch on. Well-made disc can score if pushed.
High School Days: Teen bait here, altho the flip material is more appealing for a broader market.
Despite the promising Billboard review, the single sold not well. Since also Knight's earlier efforts for Decca went nowhere, the label dropped him by 1958. Anyhow, "Love-A Love-A Love-A" attracted UK singer Marty Wilde's attention, who covered it.

Back in Birmingham, the Knightmares disbanded and Knight decided to move to Los Angeles in order to try his luck as an actor. Success in this field eluded him also but he became friends with Eddie Cochran and soon found himself writing songs for Ricky Nelson. Cochran also played guitar on one of Knight's Coral releases. Ray Peterson recorded his "The Wonder of You" in 1959 and landed a hit with it - Elvis Presley had even greater success with the song in 1970. Knight's own recordings, however, remained unsuccessful and were mainly ignored. He had a respective amount of recorded material on at least 15 different labels but never broke through. On the other hand, he became a very successful composer in the 1960s and 1970s. Stars like Dean Martin, Mickey Gilley, Ernie Ashworth, Dave Dudley, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, and many more recorded his songs.

Knight died in 2005 at the age of 72.

1 comment:

Derik said...
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