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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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Jerry Smith on Shock

Jerry Smith - Sweet Face (unknown year), Shock 1007


Most discographies doesn't list this record but it seems to be one of Jerry Lee "Smoochy" Smith's earliest discs, if not the first. Smith, famous for being an integral part of Memphis' rockabilly scene in the 1950s (although second generation of the originals, if so to speak, as he arrived not until 1957), also had success in the early 1960s with the instrumental group "Mar-Keys."


Smith was born in 1939 and got his musical talent from his father, who played fiddle, guitar, and harmonica. He also played a bit piano and taught his son the few chords he knew. That was the beginning of Smith's musical career. Father and son began appearing on local Jackson, Tennessee, radio WDXI but tragedy struck, when Smith's father was killed in a car accident. Afterwards, Smith began performing with other groups and by 1953, he played with a gospel quartet and performed on radio again.

Jackson had a small but lively music scene and Smith soon began playing with Carl Perkins' band. When Perkins got into the Sun studio to record "Blue Suede Shoes," he asked Smith to play piano on it (although producer Sam Phillips would have been sceptical about a piano in the band, as he thought this would drown the "Sun Sound"). However, as Smith was only about 15 years old at the time, his mother didn't allow him to travel to Memphis. "Blue Suede Shoes" became a million seller and when Smith got the chance again to record in Memphis as part of Kenny Parchman's band, he was allowed to go.

Smith moved to Memphis in 1957 and recorded several sessions with Parchman and afterwards, became a session musician at Sun until 1959. Smith performed with different acts, including Chips Moman, and through this association Smith became a part of the Mar-Keys, who had a big hit in the summer of 1961 with the instrumental "Last Night."

It is speculative where the Shock single fits in. Smith had at least two more local Memphis releases i this period. One was on the Sandy label with Smith belting out "The Girl Can't Help It" and "Come On Back." Judging from the sound of both records, I'd say the Sandy disc was first and the Shock single afterwards. It is not known where and when this record was recorded but "Sweet Face" features some nice piano work by Smith. He also made a record for the local Chimes label, which was totally different in sound.

Smith continued his career in the music business and recorded for such labels as Rice, Chart, ABC, Papa Joe's Music Box, Decca, Hi-Lowe, and countless singles and albums for Ranwood (mostly hiding under the pseudonym of "The Magic Organ"). He played on several rockabilly revival recordings, including great sides by Eddie Bond and Vern Pullens. In 1983, he became part of the Sun Rhythm Section, a group of original rockabilly performers that toured worldwide.

Smith remains active as a musician to this day. In 2008, he has published his autobiography "The Real Me." A nice interview from back then was made by the Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

1 comment:

Apesville said...

and this one from 1970 https://www.45cat.com/record/nc463978us