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, September 8, 2015

Betty Amos on Starday


Betty Amos with Judy & Jean - Why Don't You Be My Baby (Starday 778), 1966

Here's a great country performace by Betty Amos with Judy & Jean, a trio that was touring the US from 1960 up to 1977. I consider their best period from 1964 up to 1967, when they recorded for Starday in Nashville. Though, the trio and Betty Amos in particular were much more than a touring act.

Betty Amos was born and raised near Roanoke, Virginia. She joined the Carlisles in the early 1950s as a singer and also worked with Mac Wiseman early on. She was first in the recording studio with Bill Carlisle's group and also cut a session with Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman in late 1952 for Mercury. By late 1953, Amos set out on her own and cut her first solo session for Mercury in the fall of that year. "What Would It Take" / "Hello to the Blues" was produced at the Universal Recording Studio in Chicago and released on Mercury #70280x45 in 1954. 

Billboard August 6, 1955

More recording sessions for Mercury followed until the label dropped Amos in 1955, releasing her last single in 1956. Afterwards, she took a break from recording for a couple of years. Nevertheless, she was seen and heard on numerous tours across the country and also performed at the KWKH Louisiana Hayride and the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia. There, she met Alice Schreiber, who had sang with her father's band "Barney Schreiber and the Hayshackers," as well as with Buddy Spicher and Donna Darlene as "The Golden West Girls." Schreiber eventually changed her name to "Judy Lee."

In 1960, Betty Amos formed a trio with her sister Jean and Judy Lee. While Betty Amos took over the lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Judy Lee played electric lead guitar and Jean was on bass. For bluegrass numbers, Judy Lee switched to an acoustic guitar and Betty would play her banjo. The developed an enteraining stage show and began touring the country with their act.

In May 1962, Amos recorded a session for the Philips label in Nashville, which produced one single. By 1963, the trio had secured a contract with the Starday label and moved to Nashville. They held their first session in May that year at the Starday Sound Studio in Nashville, produced by Tommy Hill.

Betty Amos
Not only a talented singer and musician but also an accomplished songwriter, Amos composed a number of noteworthy songs. "Eighteen Wheels A-Rollin'," recorded during the trio's second session, was the first female trucker song to be recorded and one of the group's few recorded bluegrass numbers. Although Betty, Judy, and Jean harmonized real well together on bluegrass tunes, they became better known for their honky-tonk country style, in which they recorded most of their songs. Amos also wrote a number of hits for other artists, including the Willis Brothers ("Blazing Smokestack"), Jean Shepard ("Second Fiddle to an Old Guitar"), Bonnie Owens ("Wonderful World") as well as Ernest Tubb and Loretty Lynn ("That Odd Couple").

Today's selection is a favorite of mine. It features Betty Amos in her usual 1960s country vein with beautiful harmony vocals by Judy and Jean. Recorded approximately in August 1966 with unknown background musicians, "Why Don't You Be My Baby" was released with "Almost Persuaded" on Starday #778. Another of my Betty Amos favorites is "The Cat and the Rat," a hard driving country rocker from January 1966.

The trio remained with Starday until 1967 and then recorded for Stop and Candy, before disbanding in 1977. They reunited in 2003 for a Louisiana Hayride tribute show and now all three women are living in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have met all three and they are very fine ladies and wonderful musicians!