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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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Memphis label

Memphis Records was launched by Jody Chastain and Buford Cody. Chastain, a familiar figure in the Memphis music scene, was born December 21, 1933 in Ennid, Texas, as Joe Dan Chastain. He worked with Eddie Bond in the early 1950s, then with Fuller Todd for some time and became a member of Charlie Feathers' band afterwards. He first was the group's steel guitarist but when Feathers changed it to a rockabilly outfit, Chastain switched to bass. Most of the recorded material was written by Feathers, Chastain, and Jerry Huffman, the third member. Chastain also composed songs with other artists (including Fuller Todd).

Charlie Feathers with Jody
Chastain (left) and Jerry
Huffman (right)
Chastain stayed with the Musical Warriors until 1960, recording for Sun, Meteor, King, Kay, and Walmay. In late 1959, the band had recorded "Dinky John" and "South of Chicago" at Hi Studios in Memphis, two Johnny Horton soundalike folk songs that were released in July 1960 on the Nashville based Walmay label, credited to "Charlie Morgan" (Walmay #101). This was the troup's last release, from that point on, the trio went separate ways (at least musically).

Already in 1959, Chastain and Buford Cody joint forces and formed the aptly named Memphis record label. Cody later also operated the Co & Wi label in Memphis with Gene Williams, which was in business only from 1961 to 1962. Cody and Williams would also produce the Cotton Town Jubilee show on KWAM in the early 1960s. The Memphis label was located on 773 Union Avenue in Memphis but had probably no own recording studio. Chastains contribution to the label was limited and by the end of 1960, he had dropped out. Now under the sole direction of Cody, the initial release on the label was given to Ramon Maupin ("Hey Rena" / "Tomorrow We'll Know", Memphis #101, 1961). Maupin was a country singer who sang with Slim Wallace's band and had recorded two discs for Wallace's Fernwood Records in 1957. In fact, the Memphis label was launched first and foremost to record Maupin, who ironically had only this one release on the label. Maupin was befriended with Charlie Feathers and performed with him for about 15 years on and off. It is also interesting to know that Conway Twitty covered "Tomorrow We'll Know" for MGM but it remained unissued for some reasons.

Ramon Maupin
Although they no longer performed together, Feathers recorded a couple of track that were subsequently released on Cody and Chastain's label. He held a session on September 20, 1960, at Stan Kesler's studio and, which produced "Today and Tomorrow," "Wild Wild Party," the unusual "Love Don't Treat Me Right" as well as "Crazy." The first two songs were released on Memphis #103 in 1961, while the other two remained unreleased.

Memphis Records, now under the sole direction of Cody, remained in business until 1965 and issued discs by such well-known Memphis performers as Eddie Bond and Lloyd Arnold. Buford Cody met Lloyd Arnold at the Cotton Town Jubilee, where Arnold would perform regularly. After Cody took over Arnold's management in 1962, he brought him onto the Memphis label and produced his sessions for the label. Arnold and Cody also held a session Nashville to produce two songs that were released on Memphis under the pseudonym "The Long Hairs," inspired by the Beatles' hair cuts. In 1964 or 1965, Cody gave up managing Arnold, who continued to record for a variety of other local labels.

Memphis Records promotion picture of
Lloyd Arnold and his Rockin' Drifters

The last two Eddie Bond records, Memphis #114 and Memphis #115, show the adress as 706 Union Avenue, where Sam Phillips' old Sun Studio is located. Both records were recorded in Nashville, though. At that time, Bond was bankrupt and was up to his neck in debt. He had bought a night club along with Baxter Turnage, who died and left Bond paying the whole debt. A Billboard article on February 20, 1965, "Things Look Rosier for Eddie Bond," stated that Bond had "high hopes in a single he just made will help solve his problems." This single was "Cold Dark Waters" / "Raunchy" (Memphis #114).

Probably in 1965, Cody discontinued the label's 100 series and started a new short-lived 300 series. Along with this innovation, the label moved into 625 Chelsea Avenue, a building that also housed Marshall Ellis' Erwin Records and later Bill Glore's Glo-Lite studio. Nevertheless, the Memphis label came to an end in 1965. Jody Chastain died July 28, 1999, in Sugar Tree, Tennessee.


Memphis 101
Ramon Maupin 
Hey Rena (Fuller Todd) / Tomorrow We'll Know ()
1961 (BB)
Billboard C&W review on Feb. 27, 1961

Memphis 102

Memphis 103
Charlie Feathers
Today and Tomorrow (Charlie Feathers) / Wild Wild Party (Charlie Feathers; Jerry Hoffman)
103-A / 103-B
1961 (BB)
Billboard pop review on Oct. 30, 1961

Memphis 104
Lloyd Arnold
Tennessee Twist (Arnold; Helms) / I Couldn't Make My Heart Beleve My Eyes (Arnold; Helms)
121962 A / 121962 B

Memphis 105
Eddie Bond
Tomorrow I Will Be Gone (Tommy Tucker) / (Let's) Make the Parting Sweet ()
131962 A / 131962 B

Memphis 106
Lloyd Arnold
School Days (Chuck Berry) / Take These Chains from My Heart (Fred Rose; Hy Heath)
NO8W-2590 / NO8W-2591 (RCA)
1963 (BB)
Billboard C&W review on Feb. 16, 1963

Memphis 107
Rebel Rousers
Thunder (Richard Harrison) / Night Surfing (Richard Harrison)
1964 (BB)
Billboard pop review on March 7, 1964

Memphis 108
Lloyd Arnold
Sugaree (Marty Robbins) / I Hope You Mean What You Say (Lloyd Arnold)
PK4M-1283 / PK4M-1284 (RCA)

Memphis 109
Lloyd Arnold
Lonesome Finds Me (Don McHan) / Next to Me (Johnny Colmus)
R4KM-2302 / R4KM-2303 (RCA)
1964 (BB)
Billboard C&W review on April 7, 1964

Memphis 110
The Long Hairs 
Eight to Five (Johnny Colmus) / Go-Go-Go (Chuck Berry)
R4KM-2304 / R4KM-2305 (RCA)

Memphis 111

Memphis 112
Lloyd Arnold
I Can't Wait () / Little Boy Blue ()

Memphis 715C-490
Jim Shaw & the Swing Masters
? / Wishing on a Star ()
? / R4KM-8491 (RCA)

Memphis 113
Rebel Rousers
You Don't Know What to Do (Johnny Walker) / The Zombie Walks (Rebel Rousers)
SoN 13171 / SoN 13172 (Sound of Nashville)

Memphis 114
Eddie Bond
Cold Dark Waters (Don Owens) / Raunchy (Bill Justis; Wilburn)
SoN 15601 / SoN 15602 (Sound of Nashville)
"Produced by Teddy Wilburn"

Memphis 115
Eddie Bond with Jordanaires
Someday I'll Sober Up (J. Russell) / Here Comes the Train (Stan Kessler; Eddie Bond)
SoN 18481 / SoN 18482 (Sound of Nashville)

Memphis 116
Lee Adkins
Together Again (Buck Owens) / Don't You Believe It (Walker)
SoN 19191 / SoN 19192 (Sound of Nashville)
"Dist. by Sound of Nashville, Inc. 160 2nd Ave., S. Nashville, Tenn."

Memphis M-328
Windy Rivers
Turn Around Turn Around (And Go Home) (P. Winchester; Marshall Ellis) / Maybe I'll For Get the Way I Feel (C. Goodman)
M-328 / M-329
"Arranged by Bobby Wood"

Memphis M-329
Jim Cannon
Highway Fever (Jim Cannon) / Stagger-Stumble-Crawl (Jim Cannon)
M-1000 / M-1001


Risto said...

Love your blog,

always great to discover gems like Slim Dortch. Thank you!

If you like, check out my Country mixtape 'Don't Drink and Horse' on Soundcloud.

Keep it up!

(Cologne, Germany)

DrunkenHobo said...

Memphis (TN) 45 - 112: Lloyd Arnold - I Can't Wait / Little Boy Blue (1964)

Memphis (TN) 45 - 715c-B490 (RCA R4KM-8491) : Jim Shaw & The Swing Masters - Wishing On A Star (1964)

Memphis (TN) 45 - 711 : Louis Paul - There Ain't Been No Rockin'

DrunkenHobo said...

Memphis (TN) 45 - 116 : Lee Adkins - Don't You believe it (1965?)

DrunkenHobo said...

Not sure if same label
Memphis 45 - 328 : Wendy Reeves - Turn Around, Turn Around & Go Home

Memphis 45 - 329 : Jim Cannon - Stumble , Stagger , fall

Gerard Herzhaft said...

Thanks for this excellent article about a little known Memphis Label. Woudl you have any clue about who were the Rebel Rousers who recorded two singles for this label. They seem to have no connection with the several other groups of the same name. Recently a Robert Bland said he composed Zombies walk (on the 2nd 45s) when he was 16 but I can't get no more info...

Anonymous said...

Someone conencted with the label sure seems to have liked the word "tomorrow"! Among the label's first few releases there are songs with titles:
Today and TOMORROW