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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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wade & Dick at Sun

Wade & Dick - Story of the College Kids

Wade & Dick the College Kids - Bop Bop Baby (Sun 269), 1957
Following the success of Roy Orbison's recording "Ooby Dooby," Sam Phillips gave composers Wade Moore and Dick Penner a songwriting and recording contract. He was probably impressed by the two young talented Texas boys and thought he could turn them into chart topping teen acts. However, the duo's affiliation with the recording business was short and produced only a handful of recordings.

Wade Lee Moore was born 1933 in Amarillo, Texas, and Allen Richard "Dick" Penner 1936 in Chicago but shortly afterwards, his family moved to Texas. Penner began performing with another young musician called Dave Young in 1953. Together they played some local venues and even appeared on the Big D Jamboree out of Dallas. By 1955, Penner had enrolled at the North Texas State University in Denton, Texas, where he met another student, Wade Moore.

They began to perform together in Texas and Arkansas and soon also joined the Big D Jamboree. Both Moore and Penner were also talented songwriters, so joined forces and "Ooby Dooby" was the result. Reportedly, it was written in 15 minutes on the roof of the frat house. The duo pitched the song to young Texan Rock'n'Roller Roy Orbison, who recorded a demo version of it with his Teen Kings in 1955. Coupled with "Hey Miss Fanny," they sent the tape to Columbia Records executive Don Law. Instead of signing Orbison, Law gave the tape to Sid King & the Five Strings, who recorded it in March 1956 for Columbia.

Orbison and the Teen Kings caught the attention of Country singer and label owner Weldon Rogers, who set up a session for the group. They recorded "Ooby Dooby" / "Go! Go! Go!" for Rogers' Jewel label in late 1955 - released on March 19, 1956. Things went its way and Sam Phillips signed Orbison to a legal contract and re-released the songs on Sun. The record eventually reached #59 on Billboard's Top 100. In addition, this led to a contract for Wade and Dick.

Wade and Dick with band in 1956
Moore and Penner held their first session on December 16, 1956, at the Sun Studio, backed by Bob Izer on lead guitar, Don Hicky on bass, and Roger Berkley on drums. This session produced the infamous "Bob Bob Baby," which was used a couple of years ago in the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line." Coupled with the interesting and innovative "Don't Need Your Lovin Baby," it was released in April 1957. Billboard selected the record to be one of their "Review Spotlight - C&W Records" in its May 27, 1957, issue.

Billboard May 27, 1957, review - "C&W Records Spotlight on..."
From the same session were an alternate version of "Bop Bop Baby" as well as a song Wade and Dick often performed on stage entitled "Wild Woman." Penner also recorded a solo session in 1957 and had one release under his own name that same year on Sun. He appeared on the Louisiana Hayride but decided to quit music. The duo broke up and Penner joined the US Army before finishing the University. He became a professor at the University of Tennessee and is still alive and well.


Mia Mossberg78 said...
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Anonymous said...

I've been wondering about that "The College Kids" part on the label. Does it mean Wade & Dick are The College Kids (as in band name) or is it a description of them ("college kids")? Or does it mean (a fictional) backing band, Wade & Dick & The College Kids?

Mellow said...

Hi, I also read somewhere that the backing band was called "The College Kids" but I think what Sam Phillips thought of was a special artist name, "Wade & Dick, The College Kids."