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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Friday, April 4, 2014

Jim Morrison on Curley Q

Jim Morrison and Band - Bill Bailey (Curley Q C.Q.-002), 1963
"Curley Jim" Morrison may be best known to most of you for his energetic and frantic performance of "Rock and Roll Itch" from 1958. A country singer in the first place and rock'n'roll only second, Morrison made several other recordings during his career, most of them are forgotten today. As much as his recorded work has to be unearthed, his life and story is largely obscure as well.

James "Curley Jim" Morrison was - according to music researcher Rob Finnis - active in the Miami music scene before 1958. Although no particular activies are documented, Morrison was said to perform country music during this time. By 1958, he switched to rock'n'roll for a couple of recordings. The first of those discs was "Rock and Roll Itch" b/w "Airforce Blues," released on the small Miami based Metro label in 1958 (Metro #100). Metro was run by two local country DJs but folded soon after the release due to a law suit with MGM Records. Morrison recorded new versions of both songs for Henry Stone's Mida label shortly afterwards, having the initial release on the label (Mida #100). Accompanied by the Billey Rocks on Meteor and Mida, it is unknown which recording location they utilized. At least for the Mida release, Henry Stone's recording studio seems to be a good bet.

In 1959, another rock'n'roll single with the Billey Rocks on Mida followed. "Sloppy, Sloppy Suzie" was mainly an instrumental with a verse sung by Morrison at the beginning and at the end of the recording. It was coupled with "Didn't I Tell You?" on Mida #108.

Morrison disappeared for about two years and then surfaced in Glenwood, Illinois, where he set up his own label Curley Q. Morrison recorded for this outfit steadily during the 1960s. The first single appeared in the spring of 1963 and comprised "Ace in the Hole" and the old folk standard "Bill Baley." Although he slipped into country music again, a certain rock'n'roll influence was still present. Especially "Bill Bailey" was an interesting blend between country and rock'n'roll with an organ in the background and Morrison's outstanding vocal performance. Billboard reviewed the single in its April 13, 1963, issue but it was rated with only limited sales potential. Surprisingly, the magazine had reported two weeks earlier on March 30 that "Ace in the Hole" was a regional break-out in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Probably a follow-up to his first Curley Q disc was "Campfire" b/w "(You Just) Made Me Happy Again," both Morrison originals. In 1964, he released on Curley Q #5707 "My Old Standby" (a Jack Rhodes composition) and "The Used Car Blues," the latter being only a variation of his "Airforce Blues." There were two different pressings of this release with different matrix numbers (pressed by Sound of Nashville) and a slightly different artist credit. Though, the recordings were obviously the same. A single on Major Bill Smith's Texas based Maridene label featuring "Old Man Honest" (Maridene #103) adds to the confusion. This record was approximately issued in 1963-1964.

"Ace in the Hole" must have been a good seller for Morrison despite the bad Billboard review. In 1964, he re-released it with "Bill Bailey" on Curley Q #5708 with wider distribution through Sound of Nashville. Curley Q #5709 was another re-release of "Campfire" b/w "You Just Made Me Happy Again." Two more records followed: "He Gave Me You" / "My Three Friends and Me" (Curley Q #5712) and "Oh Lonesome Me" / "West Virginia Love In" (Curley Q #BP-219).

After the mid-1960s, Morrison disappeared from the music scene. Information on what he did after the above descriped time period seems to have not survived.


Rocky Lane said...

I Have Jim Doing Jambalaya on Curley-Q 5715 from a Cees Klop compilation. Do you happen to know the B-Side title?


Mellow said...

Rocky, I don't know. Didn't know it even existed. Was it a White Label or Collector release and which number?

Anonymous said...

Just found thanks mr. President at an estate sale. Maridene green label single. Can't find any info on it in the usual places. Any ideas?

Mellow said...

Do you have label scans of the record? Maybe you can estimate the date through the matrix number.

Rocky Lane said...

The "Jambalaya" song is on Collector CLCD 4512 track 5.


Reading this site blew my mind! I am one of Jim's children and have many copies of his records. And to hear them on YouTube was, unbelievable. We didn't know he was so widely known. One of his records in an estate sale? Wow! What city and state? He did keep recording after the 60's - leaving Glenwood IL to return to Fort Worth, Texas
Dad passed away in 1993, in Fort Worth TX.

Mellow said...

Amazing! Finally someone who knew Curley Jim! You can contact me via email: alexander.petrauskas at web.de

I have many questions concerning your father's career.

lhr1935 said...

I played music with Jim as the "Billy Rocks" in 1956 while stationed at Homestead AFB, FL. We played in every honky-tonk from Florida city to Black Cat lounge in south Miami. We also were part of the musical show put on by the Homestead Elks Lodge. We won the Air Force Blue talent contest in 1956 at Homestead AFB but couldn't continue as Jim was sent overseas to Moracco and we couldn't compete without him. I left Homestead shortly after that and returned later to visit. He gave me a copy of the recording of Air Force Blues which I still have. Charles Atkins was the guitarist on the record, he was from Miami and not in the USAF. We didn't keep in touch but I always remembered him. Original members were Curly Jim, Hal Reed (drummer) and me (Larry Robinson, lead guitar). Hal Reed last seen in Biloxi, MS in 1965.


We (his kids) never knew he served outside the US! The site manager wants us to put together a timeline for him - so this helps! I have pictures of you guys, I believe!
Thanks for your input!

Shmuel said...

Wow, good write up! This guy was my granddad.