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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Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Records

Summer Records was a very short-lived venture by Sun producer and songwriter Jack Clement. It was his first own label after leaving Sun Records in 1959.

Jack Clement was born on April 5, 1931, in Memphis, Tennessee, and was interested in music at an early age. After he was discharged from the Army in 1953, he began to work with bluegrass musician Buzz Busby and his band in Washington, D.C. They were seen regularly on the Hayloft Hoedown show in Washington. But already in 1954, Clement returned to Memphis and became friends with Ronald "Slim" Wallace and Clement joined Wallace's country band as a steel guitarist.

Jack Clement at Sun, ca. 1956
Wallace set up a small recording studio in his garage and together, Clement and Wallace produced Billy Lee Riley's first recordings "Trouble Bound" and "Rock with Me Baby," which were intended to be the first single on their new label Fernwood. Since they had no possibility to master the tapes on their own, Clement took them to Sam Phillips of Sun Records in Memphis. Phillips was impressed with singer Riley and instead released both songs on his own Sun label in on September 1, 1956 (Sun #245). Phillips not only snatched away Riley from Wallace but also Jack Clement, who began work for Sun in July 1956 as an engineer and producer. Fernwood didn't come into existence until December 1956, when Wallace finally released its first single (Ramon Maupin with "Love Gone" b/w "No Chance," Fernwood #101).

Clement became an influential figure at Sun during the next months. Phillips assigned him with more responsibilities, for example producing Johnny Cash's recordings from December 1956 onwards. Also in December 1956, Clement supervised Jerry Lee Lewis' audition at Sun and conviced Phillips later to sign the young piano player to Sun.

In March 1959, Clemet was fired by Phillips and branched out on his on with the founding of his first publishing firm Jack Music Inc. The first song published by Jack Music was "Motorcycle Michael" by the Archers on May 1, 1959, which became Summer's second release.

Along with the founding of Jack Music came Clement's record label Summer, located on Main Street in Memphis. The label's first release was by Cliff Gleaves with "Love Is My Business" b/w "Easy Goin' Guy" in 1959. Gleaves, who was a longtime close associate of Elvis Presley, had recorded an earlier version of "Love Is My Business" for Sun in either 1958 or 1959 with Charlie Rich at the piano. This session had been produced by Clement, who took Gleaves to Summer after his break-up with Sun. Later in 1959, Gleaves followed Elvis to Germany. He died in 2002.

The third release was made up of two instrumentals by a certain Sid Elrod (Summer 503). I'm pretty sure this was a pseudonym for Macy "Skip" Skipper (1920-2001), who was a steady performer in Memphis from 1951 on. Judging from the sound of "Slap Happy Bass" / "The Slow Rock and Roll," I believe this was recorded at Sun Studio. Skipper had recorded an earlier version of "Slow Rock and Roll" at Sun in 1956, which remained unissued. 

Summer Records did not last very long. No other singles are known after Summer #503 and probably folded soon after its founding in the spring of 1959. Clement, however, kept busy producing records for Pepper, Hi, and Echo (which he co-owned with Clyde Leoppard and Stan Kesler). In the fall of that year, he left for Nashville before moving to Beaumont, Texas, shortly afterwards. He became a highly successful songwriter and record producer. Clement died in 2013.


Discography

Summer 501 
Cliff Gleaves
Easy Goin' Guy (Jack Clement) / Love Is My Business (Quinton Claunch; Bill Cantrell)
S-101 / S-102 (Sheldon)
1959

Summer 502
The Archers
Motorcycle Michael (Clement; Nelson; Burch) / Golden Girl (Clement; Nelson; Burch)
S-103 / S-104 (Sheldon)
1959

Summer 503
Sid Elrod
Slap Happy (McNatt; Suggs; Skipper) / The Slow Rock and Roll (Skipper; McNatt)
S-105 / S-106 (Sheldon)

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