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, July 14, 2015

The OJ label

The beginnings of the OJ record label in Memphis probably date back to late 1956. Founded by Charles G. "Red" Matthews and Bill Biggs, OJ released a total of 15 records over a two year stretch. Although it was only a small operation, OJ managed to score minor hits with its first two releases.

While there is no information on Bill Biggs, Charles Matthews had been a songwriter for some time by 1956 but success had eluded him. With the advent of rock'n'roll and the rising of independent labels in Memphis like Sun Records, Matthews and Biggs set up OJ Records on 1018 North Watkins Avenue in Memphis. OJ was a shortcut for Old Judge, Matthews' music publishing firm. Apart from OJ material, Old Judge handled the publishing for a considerable amount of other songs in the Memphis area, including releases on House of Sound and Hornet.



Matthews' first artists were Bobby Chandler and the Stardusters, a white teen rock'n'roll vocal group from Little Rock, Arkansas. The Stardusters were founded in 1956 while Chandler was a student at Little Rock high school. It included Chandler, Bill Sharp, Bobby Blount, Bill Glasscock, and Bill Dedman on guitar. Later on, also Trumann Mitchell and Bob Walters sang with the group. The Stardusters appeared at local high school dances in Little Rock and were signed to a recording contract by Matthews in 1956. Their first release comprised the Quinton Claunch/Bill Cantrell penned "Im Serious" and "If You Love'd Me." The coupling appeared in either late 1956 or early 1957 and saw review in Billboard on February 2, 1957. Although the magazine was sceptical about the single's hit potential, it eventually entered several local charts in Tennessee as well as Arkansas and even peaked at #38 on Billboard's Hot 100 charts. Chandler and the Starduster became OJ's most prolific recording artists with a total of three releases. Chandler also had one release on Hi ("The Voice of a Fool" / "By-O", Hi #2012, 1958). He toured the US a couple of years before returning to Little Rock. Chandler died in 2012. Visit his website here.

Charles Matthews also placed several of his own compositions with his artists. Dave Gardner, who went on to fame as comedian Brother Dave Gardner, recorded his "White Silver Sands" in 1957 for OJ. Gardner, born in Lexington, Kentucky, had previously recorded for Decca in 1956 and then for OJ in 1957. "White Silver Sands" was coupled with "Fat Charlie" on OJ #1002 and became the label's second hit. "White Silver Sands" peaked at #28 in July 1957 on the Billboard Hot 100. Don Rondo also recorded a version for Jubilee, which became a #7 hit that same year. "White Silver Sands" was eventually also recorded by Owen Bradley, Bill Black's Combo, as well as Sonny James and was voted #27 in Billboard's "1957 Top Tunes."

Gardner recorded a second single for OJ that same year as a follow-up on OJ #1006. "Mad Witch" was a spooky rocker written by Matthews, while "Love Is My Business" was again a Claunch/Cantrell penned song, which was later also cut by Cliff Gleaves (an unreleased take for Sun and a released version on Summer) and Bobby Wood (Vin). Gardner's version seems to be the first one recorded. However, it appears that there was a second version of this single released with "Love Is My Business" as the top side and a different flip, "I'll Never Make You Blue."

Both OJ #1000 and OJ #1002 became the label's biggest sellers. There are still many 45rpm and even 78rpm copies popping up. Other artists on OJ were less successful, though probably not less talented. Wailin' Bill Dell, Nancy Lee, the Rockin Dukes, and Charles Senns also had releases on OJ but they didn't caught on with the record buyers back then. Another singer worth mentioning is another Jackson, Tennessee, native, namely Wink Martindale, who started his career on OJ with two records. Martindale also hosted "Top Dance Party" on WHBQ already since 1956 in Memphis. In June 1956, he had a special guest on his show: Elvis Presley. Martindale began recording for Dot in 1958 and continued to release disc for the label well into the 1960s. He eventually became a famous game show host.

By 1958, OJ's last records were released and Matthews finally closed down the label. Interest in the OJ label has been limited in recent years to unknown reasons. Some releases like "Mad Witch" by Dave Gardner or the Rockin Dukes' record, nevertheless, became collector items. 

Discography
thanks to DrunkenHobo and Xavier Maire

OJ 1000
Bobby Chandler and his Stardusters
I'm Serious (Claunch; Cantrell) / If You Love'd Me (Bobby Kindred)
M-1005 / M-1006
1957 (BB)


OJ 1001
Chester Guyden
Miss Fannie Brown () / You Gotta Help Me Some ()

OJ 1002
Dave Gardner
White Silver Sands (C. Matthews) / Fat Charlie (G. McCarty)
M-1011 / M-1012
1957 (BB)

OJ 1003
Wailin' Bill Dell and the Bachelors
Do You Care (B. Dell) / You Gotta Be Loose (B. Dell)
M-1016 / M-1017 
1957

OJ 1004
Nancy Lee and the Bachelors
You're My Inspiration (A. Doddona; J. Ayre) / My Heart Has Wings ()
M-1018 / ?
1957

OJ 1005
Bobby Chandler and his Stardusters
Shadows of Love (Matthews; Biggs) / Me and My Imagination (Claunch; Cantrell)
M-1009 / M-1010
1957

OJ 1006
Dave Gardner
Mad Witch (Matthews; Baffa) / Love Is My Business (Claunch; Cantrell)
45-1020 / 45-1022
1957

OJ 1006
Dave Gardner
Love Is My Business (Claunch; Cantrell) / I'll Never Make You Blue (Ollie Shepard)
M-1022 / 45-1024

OJ 1007
The Rockin Dukes
Angel and a Rose (Butts; Robinson) / My Baby Left Me (L. Grant)
45-1032 / 45-1034

OJ 1008
Princess Ming Chu
Island of Love () / Hearts are Trumps ()
1958

OJ 1009
Wink Martindale
Thought It was Moonlove (C. Matthews) / Love's Got Me Thinkin' (Matthews; Hunter) /
M-1038 / M-1040

OJ 1010
The Escorts
Arrow Two Hearts (Biggs; Matthews; Tate) / Misty Eyes (Nelson; Parker; Roberts)
45-1044 / 45-1045

OJ 1011
Wink Martindale
Love Brooke Loose (Singleton; Cathy) / I Don't Suppose
45-1041 / ?

OJ 1012
Bobby Chandler and the Escorts
Winter Time (Nelson; Crutchfield) / Junior Prom (G. Nelson; F. Burch)
J8OW-1140 / ? (RCA)
1958

OJ 1013

OJ 1014
Charles Senns
Gee Whiz Liz (Halen Hudgins) / Dig Me a Crazy Record (C. Matthews)
J8OW-1137 / J8OW-1138 (RCA)
1958

5 comments:

DrunkenHobo said...

OJ 1001 Chester Guyden - Miss Fannie Brown / You Gotta Help me some

DrunkenHobo said...

http://www.globaldogproductions.info/o/oj.html
1008
Ming Chu
Island Of Love
Hearts Are Trump 1958

DrunkenHobo said...

http://www.globaldogproductions.info/o/oj.html
1008
Ming Chu
Island Of Love
Hearts Are Trump 1958

DrunkenHobo said...

http://www.setxdist.com/ace127.htm
a whole cd of all the issues

DrunkenHobo said...

Label on 1008 artist as Princess Ming Chu http://www.rootsvinylguide.com/ebay_items/princess-ming-chu-the-island-of-love