Tommy Mitchell - Juke Box, Help Me Find My Baby (Mercury 70930X45), 1956
I first heard Tommy Mitchell's version of Hardrock Gunter's "Juke Box, Help Me Find My Baby" on the Redita LP "I Want a Rock and Roll Guitar," even before the original version. Hardrock Gunter had recorded it around June 1956 at radio WWVA's studio in Wheeling, West Virginia, with Gunter on vocals and guitar, Buddy Durham on fiddle, and Bob Turston on bass. It was originally released on Cross Country #CX-524 but oddly, was picked up by Sun Records (Sun #248) soon after. With its back wood flavor, it was not really aimed at the rising rock'n'roll market that Sun tried to reach.
Tommy Mitchell was a Dallas based artist, I assume, and performed there as early as 1954, when he was a regular on WFAA's Saturday Night Shindig, a live stage show from the Dallas Fair Park Bandshell. Billboard also reported that he made a guest appearance on the Circle Theater Jamboree with Doc Williams that year. Williams performed regularly on the WWVA Jamboree like Hardrock Gunter - a connection? However, in the summer of 1956, we find Mitchell recording for Mercury "Little Mama" / "Juke Box, Help Me Find My Baby," which seems to have remained his sole release on the label that year. It was also released in New Zealand by Mercury. The same session yielded also another song, "If You Love Me," which remained unissued.
|Billboard August 25, 1956, C&W review|
In 1957, Mitchell joined the cast of the Big D Jamboree. From one of those shows, a live tape of Mitchell performing Elvis Presley's hit "Too Much" has survived. In 1960, Mitchell was back at Mercury recording "My One and Only Love" / "Completely" (Mercury #71638X45). There was also a Thomas Mitchell from Grenada, Mississippi, whose real name was possibly Thomas Mitchell May, according to Terry Gordon's RCS site. He owned (and recorded for) the Flash label - actually, his "I'm a Wise Old Cat" was recorded at Fernwood Studio in Memphis. Dave Travis states in his liner notes to the CD "Fernwood Rockabillies" that he is the same Tommy Mitchell on Mercury and hailed from Louisiana. Nevertheless, I doubt he is the same Tommy Mitchell.
|Mercury one page ad in Billboard, August 11, 1956, advertising amongst others |
Tommy Mitchell's disc. Note the wrong title of "Juke Box, Help Me Find My Baby."