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.

Updates

  • Updated the post on Jimmy Ford, thanks to an anonymous reader.
  • • Updated the post on Bobby Hollister, thanks to Bethany Hollister.
  • • Updated the post on Donna Kaye, thanks to Shellie Johnson.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

The Fendermen on Soma

The Fendermen - Mule Skinner Blues (Soma 1137), 1960

The Fendermen were Phil Humprey on guitar and vocals as well as Jim Sundquist on lead guitar. Both were students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the late 1950s and, coincidentally, both were born on November 26, 1937. Reportedly, they had played both in bands before but decided to team up as a duo when they met. The name of the newborn duo was simple - "Fendermen" because both played  Fender guitars (a Telecaster and a Stratocaster).

They played the bars in their region and around late 1959, started playing their electrified, up-tempo version of
the old Jimmie Rodgers song "Blue Yodel No. 8 (Mule Skinner Blues)". The inspiration for the vastly different arrangement of "Mule Skinner Blues" came from Phil Humphrey, who had heard a similar version by Jody (Joe D.) Gibson, who had recorded the song on the Tetra label in 1957. Surprisingly, as Humphrey once stated, he had neither heard Jimmie Rodgers' original version nor the Bill Monroe or Maddox Brothers & Rose versions.

After encouraging reactions from their audiences, Sundquist and Humphrey recorded their version of "Mule Skinner Blues" as well as their original "Janice". Both recordings featured only the guitar and voices of Sundquist and Humphrey, no other instruments were used. The recording was supervised by William Dreger, who owned the Middleton Music Store in Middleton, Wisconsin, and the session possibly took place at Dreger's store.

Through Ronnie Conway, a record salesman, the tapes went to Jim Kirchstein, owner of Cuca Records, who released both songs on Cuca #1003 in January 1960. Feedback from radio stations was positive but only a small amount of copies was pressed and RCA was not willing to press more immidiately. Therefore, Kirchstein worked out an agreement with Amos Heilicher of Soma Records (though not a profitable deal for Kirchstein) to release the songs with wider distribution.

Before Heilicher released the songs, he took the Fendermen to Kay Bank Studios in Minneapolis to re-cut "Mule Skinner Blues". Released on Soma #1137 in April that year, Heilicher replaced the original flip side "Janice" with an instrumental the Fendermen had cut at Kay Bank, "Torture". "Mule Skinner Blues" eventually reached #5 on Billboard's pop charts, #16 on the C&W charts and also became an international seller, reaching #32 in the UK on Top Rank.

The success of "Mule Skinner Blues" sent the Fendermen on tours across the country and to national television shows like Dick Clark's "American Bandstand". To repeat the success, the duo was rushed back into the studio, where they cut a cover of Huey Smith's "Don't You Just Know It" along with another instrumental, "Beach Party." The single (Soma #1142), released ca. August 1960, was a total failure, unfortunately, as it reached only #110 on the pop charts. A third disc was released in early 1961, "Heartbreakin' Special" b/w Can't You Wait" (Soma #1155), which failed to make the charts altogether.

Billboard March 13, 1961

An album was released in 1960 or 1961 by Soma but soon, the Fendermen went separate ways. Jim Sundquist recorded for Cuca as "Jimmy Sun and the Radiants", trying to repeat the success with covers of "Cocaine Blues" and "Molly and Ten Brooks" to no avail. Humphrey led his own version of the Fendermen, recording for the Saggy label.

Phil Humphrey's own version of the Fendermen, ca. 1961

Sundquist remained active as a musician and he reunited with Humphreys for two shows in 2005. Sundquist died in 2013. Phil Humphrey died in 2016.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Joe D. Gibson on Tetra

Joe D. Gibson - Good Morning, Captain (Muleskinner Blues) (Tetra 4450), 1957

Joe D. Gibson, better known as Jody Gibson professionally, was a musician rather inspired by the intellectual folk music scene that emerged in the late 1950s than a rockabilly singer. However, his Tetra release, covers of "Muleskinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8)" and "Worried Man Blues", had certainly a rockabilly feel and therefore, made it attractive to the rockabilly revival fans and even secured Gibson a place in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

He was born Joseph Paul Katzberg on August 25, 1929, in Brooklyn, New York. By the early 1950s, he had taken up guitar (favoring Martin guitars) and initially wanted to appear under the stage name of "Joe Martin" (inspired by his favorite guitar manufacturer) but found it too reminiscent of a name of a politician, so he chose instead upon "Jody Gibson" (taken from Gibson guitars, actually). He frequently performed in Greenwich Village during this time, becoming part of the folk music scene there, and played with artists like Tom Paley (later member of the New Lost City Ramblers) and Roger Sprung.

Eventually, Gibson joined the U.S. Air Force and became an air traffic controller and was sent overseas to Korea. During the years 1956 and 1957, he took a break from working with the Air Force as his enlistment was over and instead worked as a musician. He toured Canada with Elton Britt, a Jimmie Rodgers-influenced country star, and also worked with him on WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia.

In late 1956 or early 1956, Gibson met Monte Bruce, whom he had known since his childhood days as Bruce lived in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn. By then, Bruce was the son-in-law of Alan Freed and had set up his own record label Tetra Records in Brooklyn. For this label, Gibson record his debut release, covers of Jimmie Rodgers' "Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel No.8)" entitled "Good Morning, Captain", and of the traditional "Worried Man Blues", renamed "21 Years (It Takes a Worried Man)". The songs were released on Tetra #4450 around March 1957. Although the disc was only available on the east coast (though it was distributed by Chess Records), it eventually sold impressively 475.000 copies. On the actual label, he was credited as "Joe D. Gibson" as Monte Bruce had changed the name.

Jody Gibson, 1950s

Aside from being a Tetra recording artist, Gibson apparently also worked as a session musician for Tetra quite a bit. It is reported that he worked with another Tetra recording artist at that time, Bill Flagg, playing banjo on some of Flagg's recordings. However, none of Flagg's Tetra releases featured a banjo, so these recordings can only be one of the unreleased tapes by Flagg. However, Gibson later recalled that he played guitar on Flagg's "Go Cat Go". In fact, it was Gibson who put Flagg and label owner Monte Bruce in touch, as Gibson had heard Flagg perform in Hartford, Conneticut, in 1954. Gibson is also said to have performed banjo on the Neons' "Angel Face", another Tetra recording. In turn, Neons member Jeff Pearl performed on "Good Morning, Captain".

The single is mostly forgotten today, although it was very influential. Gibson's "Good Morning, Captain" was the first version of the song to feature a rockabilly/rock'n'roll type arrangements, which was later used by the Fendermen for their rock'n'roll version, which became a massive hit. In fact, the band's guitarist Phil Humphrey credited Gibson's version as the main influence for their arrangement. Gibson's own influences are foggy, however. Although he toured with Elton Britt, who likely had several Rodgers numbers in his repertoire, and was probably familiar with Bill Monroe's 1940 version, too, it was none of them who inspired Gibson for his fast-paced arrangement. Gibson later claimed that he adapted in from a performer he saw in 1955 at the Eastern States Exposition but forgot his name. Author Barry Mazor tried to solve this riddle, as documented in his book "Meeting Jimmie Rodgers", but despite all his efforts, couldn't identify the mysterious musician who made the link between old-time music and rock'n'roll and was responsible for one of rock'n'roll's most unique hits.

However, Gibson was transferred in 1957 from Suffolk County Air Force Base to England, where he soon founded a band, "Jody Gibson and the Muleskinners", and performed mostly electrified versions of country songs like "San Antonio Rose" or "Hillbilly Fever". His style fitted to the skiffle trend in Great Britain at that time and Gibson became acquainted with now legendary producer George Martin, who brought the band to Parlophone Records. Martin later went on to produce the Beatles, among others. Gibson and the Muleskinners recorded two singles for Parlophone, including a cover the George Hamilton IV rockabilly classic "If You Don't Know".

Gibson eventually returned to the United States, where he continued to work for the Air Force and took part in the Vietnam War. He passed away June 8, 2005, in Newport, Rhode Island, at the age of 75 years.

Sources
45cat entry
Rockin' Country Style entry
Find a Grave entry
Rock'n'Roll Schallplatten Forum (German)
The Vocal Group Harmony Website: Spotlight on the Tetra label
• Barry Mazor: "Meeting Jimmie Rodgers" (Oxford University Press), 2009

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Boots Collins on Upland

Boots Collins - Sad Street to Lonely Road (Upland E-653), 1964

The name Boots Collins rang a bell in my head when I bought this record. However, I confused her with another singer it seems. I own two of her 45s, one on Fort Worth's Manco label and the other one on the Upland label, so I became interested in Collins' story. There's another one on the Upland imprint, which is still missing in my collection. Missing as well is assured information about her career, unfortunately.

Apparently, Collins was a Bluefield, West Virginia, artist, according to Terry Gordon. There is a road named "Boots Collins Lane" not far away from Bluefield - I wonder if this road was named in honor of her? Collins' first known record was made in 1961 for Ed Manney's Manco record label out of Fort Worth, Texas, featuring her own compositions "Tennessee" and "Evening Shadows" (Manco #ML 1017). She was accompanied by Joe Zecca and the Western-airs with the leader of the band, Zecca, providing background vocals and the drumming. How Collins ended up on a Texas label can be clarified soon,
hopefully.

In 1964, Collins recorded for the Bluefield, West Virginia, based Upland label, which released country music from 1964 until 1974. Her first record for this label featured "Sad Street to Lonely Road" b/w "Does It Bother You" (Upland #E653), beautiful country music performances that could have been recorded in Nashville. Both tracks were written by Tom T. Hall (credited as Tom Hall on the label) for Newkeys Music (Jimmy Keys' publishing company).

Her second Upland disc was also released in 1964 and featured two more Tom T. Hall songs, "Monday Sweetheart" and a song named "Mean" (co-written with Ralph Carter). The latter was recorded in a different version with different lyrics as "Mad" that same year by country hit maker Dave Dudley. In June 1964, he recorded the song at Columbia Recording Studio in Nashville with Jerry Kennedy, Ray Edenton, Jerry Shook, Chip Young, and Harold Bradley on guitars, Pete Drake on steel guitar, Charlie McCoy on harmonica, Hargus Robbins on piano, Bob Moore on bass, and Buddy Harman on drums. It was released on Mercury #72308 in August that year. Interestingly, Dudley's Mercury release lists only Tom T. Hall as composer. So were the different lyrics that Collins sings in her version called "Mean" added by Ralph Carter?

And that's all I know about Collins - at least for now. I found family members of her and hopefully they can shed light on her career.

If anyone knows more about Boots Collins, please feel free to leave a comment.

Sources
45cat entry
Rockin' Country Style entry
Dave Dudley entry at Praguefrank's Country Discographies

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Doc & Cy Williams on Wheeling

Doc Williams and the Border Riders - My Little Ole Home in West Virginia (Wheeling DW-1022), 1954

Here we have West Virginia country music legend Doc Williams and his band, the Border Riders, with the spotlight on Doc's brother Cy Williams, who played fiddle with the group. The repertoire of the Border Riders consistent mostly of traditional old-time, bluegrass, and country music songs and this record is a prime example of their early style.

Cy Williams was born Milo Smik on July 31, 1918, being the younger brother of Andrew John Smik, Jr., who later became famous as Doc Williams. Cy Williams learned fiddle from his father, an Czechoslovakian immigrant, who had played mandolin and violin in Prague prior to relocating to the United States. When Cy was 12 years old, his father took him to Pittsburgh to present him with his first fiddle. The nickname "Cy" derived from "Fiddling Cyclone", a name he received very early on.

Brothers Doc and Cy started performing at dances in their hometown area around Kittaning, Pennsylvania, in the 1920s and the following decade, Cy joined his brother's old-time band. They performed under various names until they became the Border Riders in 1937. They joined the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia, later that same year and became one of the mainstays of the show. Cy Williams was a member of  the Border Riders for more than 20 years and was an integral part of their sound and success as a live act.

While he never performed on any of his brother's later albums, he performed on all of the band's earlier recordings made for Doc's own Wheeling label. The two recordings that showcase his skills best are "My Little Ole Home in West Virginia" and "Under the Double Eagle", two fiddle instrumentals that were released on Wheeling #DW-1022. Cy Williams also provided harmony singing on recordings and live performances.

"My Little Home in West Virginia" is a fiddle tune composed by hobby musician Ellis Hall, a glassblower from Mortgantown, West Virginia. Hall performed at WMMN and recorded "My Little Home in West Virginia" with Bill Addis for RCA-Victor, which remained one of his few commercial release. Reportedly, the disc sold about 18.000 copies. It was also recorded by another West Virginia artist, fiddler Buddy Durham, as well as Wally Traugott (released on Sparton in Canada) and Curly Ray Cline. It is probable that the song enjoyed success especially in the rural West Virginia areas and was heard by Cy and Doc, incorporating it into their repertoire. It is also possible that they knew Hall or saw him performing on stage and thus learning the tune. Doc Williams re-recorded the song in 1970 as "My West Virginia Home".

The Border Riders recorded both "My Little Ole Home in West Virginia" as well as "Under the Double Eagle" on November November 21, 1954, at King Recording Studio in Cincinnati, with Doc Williams on guitar, Cy Williams on fiddle, Marion Martin on accordeon, and Chickie Williams on bass. It saw release in both Canada (on Quality #K1314) and Wheeling #DW-1022) probably in late 1954.

In the late 1940s, Cy Williams had married Mary Calvas, who played with the Border Riders, too, and was professionally known as "Sunflower". From 1944 until 1946, he served in the U.S. Army and his marriage fell victim to World War II. He married again in 1952 and left the Border Riders in the late 1950s, working for the U.S. Post Office henceforth. Although he later attended shows of his brother, he never stood with him on stage again.

Cy Williams died on April 17, 2006.

See also

Sources

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Doc Williams and the Border Riders

Decades of Country Music
Doc Williams and the Border Riders

Doc Williams and the Border Riders, 1950s.
From left to right: Hiram Hayseed, Cy Williams, Marion Martin, Doc Williams
seated: Chickie Williams

Doc Williams is a familiar name with fans of traditional country music. Although Williams and his group, the Border Riders, never recorded for a major label or scored a series of hits, they were well-known throughout many parts of the United States and Canada thanks to their regular appearances on the WWVA Jamboree out of Wheeling, West Virginia. They stayed with the show for many decades, toured all over the south throughout their golden days and released numerous records on Williams' own record label, Wheeling Records.

Early Years
Doc Williams, the founder and leader of the Border Riders, was born Andrew John Smik, Jr., on June 26, 1914, in Cleveland, Ohio. The child of Czech immigrants who came to the United States at the turn of the century, the family moved to Kittaning, Pennsylvania, located on the banks of the Allegheny River. Young Williams went to school in nearby Tarrtown. Music played an important role in his life right from the start. He learned to play cornet from his father and eventually taught himself to play guitar, harmonica, and accordion. At some point, Williams dropped out of school and worked as a coal miner for less then $1 a day.

The Border Riders Begin to Ride
In 1932, he returned to his birth town Cleveland and it was there that he really started his career in music. Already in Pennsylvania, he had performed at barn dances and also other venues in the Kattaning area with his brother Cy. In Cleveland, Williams joined Doc McCaulley's Kansas Clodhoppers and it was with this group that he became connected with the traditional old-time music of the West Virginia hills. Following his stint with the Clodhoppers, he soon branched out on his own and formed his first own group, the Allegheny Ramblers, which also included his brother Cy on fiddle and Curley Sims on mandolin, while Williams played guitar, harmonica, and sang. This was the foundation of what became the Border Riders; however, during the next years, the group underwent line-up and name changes as well. It was probably at that early stage that he adopted the stage name "Cowboy Doc".

Around 1935, the group moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they appeared on KQV and changed their name to the Cherokee Hillbillies. They also appeared on WHJB in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, during this time. However, the group changed names again when they met female singer Billie Walker and became her backing group, the Texas Longhorns. She left in 1937 for WWL in New Orleans and Williams and the band, now left on their own, decided to change names once more and became Doc Williams and the Border Riders.

An early incarnation of the Border Riders, late 1930s
From left to right: Curley Sims (mandolin), Big Slim (guitar), Cy Williams (fiddle),
poss. Sunflower (guitar), Doc Williams (guitar)


Riding to Wheeling

Williams and the group moved to Wheeling, West Virginia, which became his adopted hometown. Soon, the Border Riders began appearing at WWVA and in December 1937, had their first live appearance at WWVA's famous Wheeling Jamboree, a stage show that had been started by the radio station in 1933. Their performances on the station went well and by 1938, Doc Williams was already the most popular performer on the show. At the same time the Border Riders began appearing on WWVA, another vocalist by the name of Harry C. "Big Slim" McAuliffe joined the group. By then, the group consisted of Doc and Cy Williams, Cy's wife Mary (appearing as "Sunflower"), Curley Sims, and Hamilton "Rawhide" Fincher. A year later, Fincher had been replaced by comic Froggie Cortez.

Legend goes that the first fan letter Williams received was by his future wife Jesse Wanda Crupe, who hailed from Bethany, West Virginia. Addressed to "Buck Williams and the Border Riders", she requested the band to perform at a local barn dance (other source state she requested the band to perform at Reawood Dance Hall in Hickory, Pennsylvania). However, sources agree that when Williams first met his future wife, he called her "chickie" as he though she was a "cute chick". Love blossomed and the twosome married in 1939. Jesse Wanda Crupe became Jesse Wanda Smik and as she was beginning to appear with the Border Riders occasionally during this time (filling in for Sunflower), she became Chickie Williams. She would join her husband's act full-time in the 1940s.

The 1940s: Memphis, Return to Wheeling and World War II
In 1940, Williams moved his group to Memphis, Tennessee, where they appeared on WREC. While they made Memphis their home base, the Border Riders toured the Mid-South, playing in Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, and Mississippi. Though, their stint in Memphis did not last very long. Williams was asked by Harry Stone to join the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville but Williams declined as his wife Chickie was pregnant and they moved back to Wheeling.

The years 1940 to 1942 saw Williams working in Yorkville, Ohio, where he operated the local airport as it was difficult to earn a living as a musician due to rationing. Aeronautics would be his passion for many years - he even would held a private pilot's licence eventually. However, Williams returned to Wheeling full-time after he had to close down the airport (his business partner had left to serve the country). At that time, the band included - apart from Doc, Cy and Sunflower - Jesse Porter and Smokey Davis. For some time during World War II, Williams appeared at WFMD in Fredericksburg, Maryland, and served a short time in the US Navy near the end of the war.

After the war: Doc Williams, the Entrepreneur
In summer 1945, Williams was discharged from the Navy, returned to Wheeling and resumed his career in music. He re-organized the Border Riders, which included by then Williams and his brother Cy, his wife Chickie and comedian Hiram Hayseed. However, the group was not on WWVA at that time as Williams had decisions to make. Since his beginnings in the 1930s, the old-time music that Williams was used to play had vastly changed and since the later part of that decade, had developed into the early forms of what we call today "country music". Various styles such as bluegrass, honky tonk and western swing had evolved from the mixing of traditional, rural old-time with different other genres such as jazz, blues, and other popular music styles. In the summer of 1946, Billboard reported that Williams was seriously thinking about transforming the Border Riders into a western swing unit, a popular country music style at that time.

He founded a cottage industry, opened a country store in Wheeling (right across the street from the Capitol Music Hall, where the WWVA Jamboree was held), and had published his first guitar instruction book already in June 1943 ("The Simplified By Ear System of Guitar Chords by Doc Williams"), which he sold on air and eventually disposed more than 200,000 copies. He also operated a civilian flying school at Scott Airport on Martins Ferry, Ohio, just a little south of his previous occupation in Youngstown.

On November 18, 1946, the Border Riders returned to broadcasting on WWVA after an abscene of about two years. The line-up had been consistent since the re-organization after the war and obviously, Williams had decided against a style change.


Billboard November 9, 1946


In 1947, Williams added another business interest to his stack. He became involved with the country music park scene in 1947, which was very popular in the northeastern states. On May 11, Williams opened the first season of his country music amusement park "Musselman's Grove" in Claysburg, Pennsylvania.On the bill that day were fellow WWVA artists the Davis Twins, Jake Taylor and his Rail Splitters (a business partner of Williams'), and Al Rogers. Always in search for new ideas and possibilites, Williams set up his own tent show in partnership with Toby Stroud, another longtime WWVA artist. Both singers toured Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York State beginning in May 1948.

Wheeling Records
On May 7, 1949, Billboard announced that Williams and the Border Riders had cut their first recordings for a new company, Wheeling Records. The Wheeling label was the brainchild of Williams and a reference to their adopted hometown. The first recorded songs were "Beyond the Sunset - You Should Go on First" and "Bright Red Horizon". The first, an aggregation of a poem and an old hymn,which became a hit for the group, was the creation of Chickie Williams. Their daughter Barbara later retold the story of the song in an 1970s issue of JEMF Quaterly: "Early in their marriage, she [Chickie Williams] read the poem, "Should You Go First and I Remain" in a book of poems, and thought that it expressed her feelings toward Doc very well. To surprise him, she had the Newcomer Twins, Maxine and Eileen (then members of WWVA's Jamboree), help her make a home recording — she recited the poem while they sang background. Doc thought the recording was a great idea, and encouraged her to continue working on it. She eventually decided to recite the reading to the accompaniment of the hymn, "Beyond the Sunset," which Doc's secretary, Jean Miller, had once showed her in a hymnbook. The song and reading was performed over WWVA, and got a tremendous response from listeners, upon which Doc decided to record Chickie."

Williams bought the rights to the poem from its author, Rosey Rosewell, and organized a recording session in Cleveland, Ohio, as Wheeling had no proper facilities to record. As for the recording date, late April or early May 1949 seems to be a good guess. Williams released the finished recording, backed by his own song "Bright Red Horizon" on Wheeling #1001. Great response from radio stations followed and Williams tried to lease the recordings to a major label. However, none of them were interested as they considered a hymn not commercial enough. Soon, they proved to be wrong as "Beyond the Sunset - You Should Go on First" became a #3 Billboard country hit. It was covered by such artists as Hank Williams (as Luke the Drifter), Elton Britt, Rosalie Allen, Buddy Starcher, Red Foley, Ernest Tubb, and others. The original version of Chickie Williams was also released on the Canadian Pioneer label.

Suprisingly, despite the enormous success of "Beyond the Sunset", neither Chickie nor Doc recorded for a major label in the following years. Therefore, the unit released its further recordings still under the Wheeling brand, which eventually resulted in more than 30 different releases on the label. In Canada, Williams' records were released by Quality Records. The bulk of the releases on Wheeling were by Williams and the Border Riders, consisting of traditional material like "Red Wing", "My Old Brown Coat and Me" (one of Williams' favorites), or own compositions in old-fashioned style like "I'm Watching the Train Passing By", which became the opening track for their shows. The song had been written by Chickie Williams while they were touring Newfoundland in 1952 and they recorded it in December the same year.


Billboard May 18, 1968


The Later Years
The 1950 season was the last one for Williams to operate his Musselman Grove park. He then concentrated on touring with his band. Since the 1940s, Williams and the band had toured the Canadian areas also and became as popular there as in the United States. The band continued to work throughout the next decades, touring, recording, and appearing at the WWVA Jamboree. He began recording albums in favor of single records beginning in the 1960s and released several LPs since then.

While the sound of the Border Riders had not changed much until the early 1950s, it began to change then. Electric guitars and drums were added at some point and by the 1970s, the band was performing with electric bass, steel guitar, electric guitar and drums, amending their sound. However, they changed the sound carefully, retaining their old-time image. In the 1970s, the conservative Doc Williams often stated in public that he was against "suggestive" lyrics in country music and demanded singers should be moral role models.

In the later part of their careers, Doc and Chickie Williams were often part of homecoming shows and special editions of the WWVA Jamboree (then called "Jamboree USA"). Their daughter Barbara took over care of the business issues at a later point and even wrote a book about them. In 2009, they were inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and Doc Williams was named "West Virginia's Official Country Music Ambassador of Goodwill". Both Doc and Chickie Williams received many more honors throughout their later years, too many to mention.

Chickie Williams died November 2007 at age 88. Doc Williams followed her on January 31, 2011, at the age of 96 years.


Doc Williams and the Border Riders TV Show with Doc and Chickie Williams and including Ramblin' Roy Scott on electric guitar and Big Bill Barton on bass. This recorded TV show aired on WNPB, Morgantown, West Virginia, in the 1980s.

See also

Recommended reading
Continental, Ohio, posters
Second Hand Songs

Sources
Hillbilly-Music.com entry
West Virginia Music Hall of Fame
Ohio County Library
John Raby: "W.Va. Country Music Singer Doc Williams Dies" (Seattle Times), 2011
45cat and 45worlds 78rpm entries (beware of incorrect release dates)
• Barbara Kempf: "Meet Doc Williams: Country Music Star, Country Music Legend" (JEMF Quaterly #33, Part 1), 1974

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Bobby Whittaker on Bejay

Bobby Whittaker - Man and a Woman (Bejay 1355), 1971

I bought this record not because I liked the music on it - actually, I bought it without ever hearing it - but because it is one of Ben Jack's productions from Fort Smith, Arkansas. It's surprisingly good, especially "Man and a Woman", the top side for me. Ben Jack founded his own Bejay label and recording studio in 1962, eventually also opening different music stores in Northwest Arkansas. On his Bejay label, Jack produced hundreds of local artists on both 45rpm and 33 1/2rpm formats.

Bobby Whittaker, heard here with a Buffalo Spring/Gordon Lightfoot soundalike "Man and a Woman", was probably Bobby Charles Whittaker, born on August 15, 1938, in Des Arc, Arkansas. He owned the Interstate Club and the Country Exit Club in Fort Smith and performed at both venues with his band. He passed away January 30, 2019.

See also
Ben Jack on Bejay
Red Yeager on Bejay

Sources
45cat entry
Bobby Whittaker obituary

Friday, December 9, 2022

Ken & the Goldtones on Jon-Ark

Ken and the Goldtones - Squeeky (Jon-Ark JA-591), 1964

Ken & the Goldtones were a Southeast Missouri based group but the combo performed in a much wider range as far as as Chicago in the north and Mississippi in the south. The group was made up of Ken Mungle on rhythm guitar and vocals, Harvey Washer on lead guitar, Ted Long and Larry Turner on bass, Jarit Keith on sax, and Stan Mungle on drums.

It was Jarit Keith who contacted me some years ago (through this post) and told me the detailed story about the Goldtones. This resulted in an article about the band in UK Rock'n'Roll Magazine (March 2022) and a feature of the band's story on KASU's "Arkansas Roots" programm (Jonesboro, Arkansas). It was with sad feeling that I learned Jarit passed away November 7, 2022, at 81 years. I have thanked him many times for his support but I wish I could have thanked him just one more time. But Jarit was more than just an interview partner - he became a pen pal for many years. Rest in peace, my friend.

The Goldtones recorded for Joe Lee's Jon-Ark label in 1964. Originally intended to be a demo session, Lee took the tapes and released them on his label and "If Somebody Loves You" became a moderate success on radio in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. Live recordings of the band remain still unissued to this day.

The Goldtones disbanded around 1966 or 1967. The members went seperate ways and Jarit Keith remained active as a musician throughout the years. He was the last surviving member of the group.

Obituary

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Bobbie Jean on Sun

Bobbie Jean / Ernie Barton Orchestra - Cheaters Never Win (Sun 342), 1960

Here we have an oddball recording. It was neither an odd sounding record nor was the material. It was, however, odd in terms of sound for Sun Records. Although the recordings released on Sun by the time Bobbie Jean saw her star shine on the label were dominated by teen pop and dripping choruses, her record was still a notch or two above them all, as far as it went for soapy sounds.

Bobbie Jean was actually Bobbie Jean Gladden, who married Sun Records artist Ernie Barton in the  1950s. She hailed from Little Rock, Arkansas, where she was born on November 12, 1927, to James Robert and Kathryn Gladden. Her father was a Circuit Court Clerk in Missouri and Arkansas at some point, and the profession as a legal practitioner had some tradition in the Gladden family, as Bobbie Jean later worked in the same field. At least since 1951, she worked as a lawyer in Little Rock and was first married to Harry Jackson Farrabee (marrying in 1949) but divorced from him eventually.

She probably became acquainted with Ernie Barton in the second half of the 1950s, as Barton arrived in Memphis probably in 1956. He had heard Elvis Presley and was convinced Memphis was the place to be. Blessed with some musical talent, Barton began to work with Sun Records in early 1957, initially as an recording artist but later on also as a songwriter, engineer and producer. When staff members Jack Clement and Bill Justis had left by 1959, Barton convinced Sam Phillips to let him work as a producer and manager of the studio.

By that time, Bobbie Jean had stepped into his life and she was a talented singer, too. Barton brought her over to Sun and recorded her in 1960. The song material consisted of an answer song to Jack Scott's big hit "Burning Bridges" entitled "You Burned the Bridges" plus a song written by Brad Suggs entitled "Cheaters Never Win", which Suggs had intended originally for Nat King Cole, according to his own accounts. You can clearly hear the pop approach on both songs but the string section is way overproduced and kills the record effectively. Apart from the strings, the recording featured a line-up of Sun session musicians, including composer Brad Suggs on guitar.

The coupling appeared on July 7, 1960, (Sun #342) but failed to sell (sharing the fate with Bobbie Jean's husband's records). 
It was not something that people would expect from Sun Records and upon release, it is reported that even some faithful Sun distributors were doubtful. Bobbie Jean recorded additional material at Sun, both demos and masters, but Sam Phillips refused to release anything more. Ernie Barton also recorded enough material worth an album and indeed, Bobbie Jean Barton requested that Phillips would release an LP of her husband's material, sending him legal threats, which he ignored and never followed her requests.

On August 13, 1960, Barton appeared at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, singing three songs: the then current Hank Locklin hit "Please Help Me I'm Falling", her own release "You Burned the Bridges" and the old favorite "Jealous Heart". On the show, she was accompanied by a local Hayride band, the Sons of Dixie. Barton must have been an odd sighting on the Hayride stage, as she was as much country as Dean Martin, and this seems to have remained her only promotion activity for the disc.

Ernie Barton left Sun in 1961 and recorded two more 45s, before moving to Midland, Texas. He died in 2002. In July 1960, there were approaches to disbar Bobbie Jean Barton, preventing her from practicing as a lawyer, which at some point actually proofed successful. However, she won her licence back in 1964. What happened to her afterwards is yet a question to answer. She passed away June 14, 1978, at the age of 50 years. She is buried at Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock.

See also
Ernie Barton on Phillips Int.

Sources
Session details on 706unionavenue
Ernie Barton on Bear Family
Ernie Barton biography
Rock'n'Roll Schallplatten Forum (German)
Entry at Find a Grave
• Paper from Arkansas Tech University Library (1964)
• Colin Escott, Martin Hawkins: "The Louisiana Hayride" (CD Box Set), liner notes, Bear Family Records

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Bozo Darnell

A Steppin' Stone in Music
Bozo Darnell

The name "Bozo" already suggests it, here have an artist that was not only a singer and DJ but also a comedian. Hailing from Louisiana, living in Texas in the 1950s and relocating to Arizona in the 1960s, Darnell achieved enough local fame to be mentioned infrequently in Billboard and to secure himself a little mention in country music history as the author of several songs recorded by the top names of the day.

He was born Robert Oswald Darnall on November 12, 1927, in Clarks, Louisiana, to Willie Dee Darnall and his wife Eldonia. Clarks, located in Caldwell Parish in the western part of the state, was a rural village and though only sparsely populated, it was one of the larger towns in the parish. He served his country after World War II, spending time on the Philippines.

Billboard June 11, 1955
By the mid 1950s, Darnall had made his way into music business and had adopted the stage name "Bozo Darnell". At some point, he had teamed up with his brother, appearing as the "Darnell Brothers". He was living in West Texas by then and had made Big Spring his home. The oil boom made the areas these flourishing and a small country music scene had developed there since the middle of the decade. Hank Harral, Ben Hall, Hoyle Nix, among other artists kept the music business running with DJ and live stage shows, clubs, record labels and recording studios. By 1955, Darnell appeared with such artists as West Texas DJ Ace Ball and the York Brothers.

In 1959, Darnell founded his own record label, Jaybo Records (alter renamed J-Bo), which was originally headquartered in Odessa, Texas. Darnell's first released record was also the label's debut, comprising "Hearts Entwined" and "Sha Marie" (Jay-Bo #BDF-100), which was likely produced at Ben Hall's High Fidelity studio in Big Spring, judging from Hall's Gaylo publishing on the actual label). The flip, "Sha Marie" was, although never becoming a hit, recorded by different country music artists later on.

A year after founding Jaybo, Darnell had moved his operations north to Jeffrey City, Wyoming, where he continued to release discs throughout the years 1960 and 1961. After an odd ball single for the Wyoming based Rawhide label, Darnell changed his label's name to J-Bo and by this time, he was probably living in Phoenix, Arizona.

Billboard July 17, 1965
In 1964, he was signed to Kapp Records and recorded one single for the label, "Your Steppin' Stone" b/w "Fool the World" (Kapp #696), which reached promising sales figures. Biff Collie, once legendary DJ in Houston and by then active in Los Angeles, was so impressed by the disc (according to Billboard in July 1965) that he signed a contract with Darnell to promote the disc. In August that that year, Darnell set out on a promotional tour and though sales and national distribution were promising, "Your Steppin' Stone" failed to reach the charts. By then, Darnell appeared on the WGN Barn Dance, the last version of the once famous National Barn Dance on WLS.

After his move to Phoenix, Darnell soon connected with the small but lively music scene that had developed in the city since the 1940s. He continued to appear as a singer and comic. In Phoenix, Darnell started to record for the local Ramco label, which also employed a local singer, guitarist, and DJ named Waylon Jennings as a studio musician sometimes. With Jennings, Darnell composed "Down Came the World," which Jennings recorded for RCA-Victor after he had relocated to Nashville. A couple of other songs written or co-written by Darnell were recorded by Nashville country stars but the big break, neither as an recording artist nor as a songwriter, came.

In the early 1970s, Darnell and a befriended songwriter from Phoenix, Jack Gunter, worked with country star Wynn Stewart, who was struggling achieving hits at that time, however. Several of Stewart's RCA recordings were written by Darnell. Gunter also recorded Stewart for his Copre label (for which Darnell also recorded in 1974) and licensed the results to Atlantic.

Darnell recorded a couple of more singles for small Texas based labels until the mid-1970s, before he ceased recording. He also released two albums at unknown dates, however. Bozo Darnell died September 12, 1997, in Burkburnett, Texas, at the age of 69 years.

If anyone out there has more information on Bozo Darnell, feel free to pass it along.

Sources
45cat entry
Find a Grave entry
Entry at Praguefrank's Country Music Discographies
Rock'n'Roll Schallplatten Forum (German)
Second Hand Songs
• Colin Escott: "Road Kill on the Three-Chord Highway" (Routledge), 2002
• various Billboard articles, see depicted items

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Slim Willet - The Fat Cat of Abilene

The Fat Cat of Abilene
Slim Willet's Ranchero Sounds from Abilene

Among the many small labels that emerged during the 1950s out of West Texas, Slim Willet's Winston label was one of the more prolific ones. In contrast to such label owners as Hank Harral or Jesse Smith, Slim Willet knew how it felt to have a hit. His "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" became a #1 C&W hit for him and was covered by various artists of different genres.

Willet was based in West Texas - Abilene to be exact - and was a recording artist but first and foremost a radio disc jockey and later turned his attention to record production and other businesses. His Winston label produced more than 50 releases (of which more than 10 discs were by Willet himself), a cross section of Texan rural music, including rockabilly and rock'n'roll, oilfield folklore country, western swing, and gospel. 

Willet's recording career spanned about 16 years, at first for Star Talent Records, then for 4 Star and affiliated labels, and last but not least for his own Edmoral and Winston imprints. His career in radio lasted about the same time and he exclusively could be heard on Abilene based stations, disc jockeying full-time during the week and emceeing big stage shows on weekends.

Early years
Slim Willet was born Winston Lee Moore on December 1, 1919, in Erath County, Texas, to Luther Orem and Frances Valentine Moore. Erath County, located southwest of Fort Worth, was an agricultural embossed area that had experienced some growth prior to 1910 due to the crop growing of cotton and an industrial boost due to connecting the city of Dublin with the Texas Central Railroad. Young Winston Lee Moore and his siblings were raised in this rural environment.

At some point, the family moved to Clyde, Texas, near Abilene, where Moore attended Clyde High School. At the age of 16, he attended a CCC Camp in Arizona for some time, where he met a group of Mexican boys that used to sit together in the evening to sing and play music. Their up-tempo Mexican style of music influenced Moore a lot, which is audible in many of songs. After leaving high school, he worked in different low paid jobs. His occupations included being a cotton picker, truck driver, carpenter, among other jobs. He married Jimmie Crenshaw in 1938, a girl in his neighborhood whom he had met just two months prior to their marriage while hiding from a tornado in the cellar. The couple had two sons.

But in the early 1940s, Uncle Sam called and Moore served his country during World War II. After his dischargement in 1946, he moved to Abilene, where he enrolled at Hardin-Simmons University to study journalism. During his last year at the university, he took a job as the campus radio station's manager, which impressed him enough to pursue a career in radio later on. It was here that he adopted the stage name of "Slim Willet" - "Willet" taken from the comic strip "Ouf of This Way" and "Slim" as an ironic reference to his appearance.

First steps in radio
In 1949, after graduating, Moore began working at KRBC in Abilene. Around the same time, he started writing songs and soon, one of his compositions appeared on record (although his involvement is disputed). Willet claimed to have written the song "Pinball Millionaire" and it was recorded in 1950 by Hank Locklin for 4 Star. However, the record label credited Willet, Locklin, and a guy named Leisy as the writers. Gene O'Quinn's release on Capitol solely credited Locklin.

First recordings: Tool Pusher from Snyder
Nevertheless, Willet soon proved he was a talented writer. That same year, he signed a contract with Dallas based Star Talent Records, back then the city's uprising label that recorded also such artists as Hoyle Nix, Riley Crabtree, Hank Harral, and a plethora of other Texas country singers. Willet held his first session for the label in the spring of 1950 at KRBC, using Shorty Underwood's Brush Cutters as his backing band. The line-up included Willet on vocals and guitar, Shorty Underwood on fiddle, Earl Montgomery on rhythm guitar, and Underwood's wife Georgia on bass. The session produced "I'm Going Strong" and "Tool Pusher from Snyder", released on Star Talent #770 that same year. The latter became a moderate hit for Willet in Texas. This was not only due to the musical performance but also because the lyrics of the song did strike the right note with the listeners. The song was released while the oil boom was still in full bloom in Snyder, Texas, as well as other areas of the state and fitted perfectly to the everyday life of many people. The song was later renamed "Tool Pusher on a Rotary Rig" on re-pressings of the release.

Billboard December 8, 1951, C&W review

Three more singles appeared on Star Talent until late 1951, all of them recorded with the Brush Cutters in Abilene. In the meantime, Willet had set up a live stage show called the "Big State Jamboree" that originated every Saturday night from the Fair Park Auditorium in Abilene. The show, which featured Willet as emcee, included local talent and country music stars as well that passed through or were booked by Willet. The show drew large crowds in the early and mid-1950s and was sold-out almost every Saturday night. By 1955, rockabilly artists like Elvis Presley made appearances on the show, reflecting the current trends in country music.

Around August 1951, Willet - who cut his sessions independently without much restrictions from the labels - recorded a session that was later released on the west coast label 4 Star Records, which had made itself a name already in country music with names such as "T" Texas Tyler, Hank Locklin, Merl Lindsay, Terry Fell, Jenks "Tex" Carman, and many others. However, the material remained in the vaults until next year.

A New Star on the Horizon
Willet was spinning records six days a week on KRBC and around September 1951, he got a letter from a US soldier stationed in Korea, requesting a song for his girlfriend that lived near Abilene. One of the lines in the letter said that his "darling had stars in her eyes on moonlit nights" and "play her a tune, tell her to wait for me and to not let the stars get in her eyes". This was the inspiration to Willet's song "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes", which he wrote about a week after reading the letter. One day in February 1952, on a Saturday night after the Big State Jamboree had ended, Willet and his band set up their recording equipment backstage at the Fair Park Auditorium in order to record "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes".

Billboard September 13, 1952

Willet sent the tape off to 4 Star in Pasadena, California, but the response was devastating. The label replied: "Here's a song that is off beat, off meter, off everything" and that "..it wouldn't sell". Bill McCall, president of 4 Star, advised Willet to release the song in the label's custom OP series (OP stood for "Other People"). This meant that Willet had to pay 4 Star for pressing a certain amount of copies, with the financial risk taken by the artist himself and without any distribution and promotion support from the label. Willet did and paired the song with "Hadacol Corners", another of Willet's oil songs. According to a Billboard article from December 20, 1952, the custom pressed release of "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" appeared in late April.

However, the disc showed signs of success in Texas and McCall decided to take over the release in the label's main series. When 4 Star released the single in June, "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" began to take off, initially in Houston and then in other areas, too, and first entered Billboard's C&W charts in October. It eventually reached the #1 spot in Billboard's "Most Played by Jockeys" listing in December. It was covered by Ray Price for Columbia and Skeets McDonald for Capitol that same year. Red Foley and Johnnie & Jack recorded the song also. Pop singer Perry Como recorded a version in late 1952 that reached the pop charts' #1 in both the US and the UK. In the years to come, it was covered by numerous artists of different genres. Willet instantly co-wrote with Tommy Hill an answer song, "I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes", which was recorded by Hill's sister Goldie Hill and became another chart hit.


"Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" became Willet's most successful song, the one he became most associated with, earned him a lifelong income and boosted his popularity not only in Texas but nationwide. Willet and band, now known as the "Hired Hands", performed regularly at popular stage and radio shows such as the Big D Jamboree on KRLD and the Saturday Night Shindig on WFAA both from Dallas (until 1954), and the Louisiana Hayride on KWKH from Shreveport, Louisiana (from 1951 until 1955). By 1953, he also hosted his own TV variety show on KRBC-TV on Wednesdays which included his band as well as local talents as guests, such as Larry Gatlin and his brothers or the Starlight Sisters.

Trying to Find Another Hit
Willet's follow-up on 4 Star, "Let Me Know" (#1625), was released in late December 1952 when "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" was still riding high on the charts. Interestingly, this was again first an OP release and shortly afterwards it got his place in 4 Star's main series. This was possibly done in order to test the commercial potential of the songs. Billboard reported strong sales in the Southwest but Skeets McDonald was fast again and covered the tune for Capitol, stirring even better sales nationally. Finaly, "Let Me Know" failed to repeat the success of its precursor.

Willet continued to record for 4 Star until 1956. He often used Spanish and Mexican influences in his songs, a style that was once called "ranchero" sound by Billboard. Two songs from a 1953 session at KRBC were leased through 4 Star to Decca Records, which released "Starlight Waltz" b/w "Leave Me Alone Now" (#9-29066) around April 1954. However, none of his singles that followed "Don't Let the Starts Get in Your Eyes" could replicate that success, even if they might have sold well in West Texas. During 1954 and 1955, Willet cut further songs that were released on 4 Star's main series and the label's OP series.

Rakin' and Scrapin' the Rock'n'Roll Sound

Willet was not only talented on the creative and artistic side but he proofed also to be a clever businessman. He founded an advertising agency to promote shows and artists that he booked. One of the shows he organized was a big Grand Ole Opry unit coming to Abilene in February 1955, including Hank Snow, his son Jimmie Rodgers Snow and a young Elvis Presley.

While the Big State Jamboree was a success for Willet during the first years of the decade, the advent of TV snatched audiences away from live shows and the Jamboree ended its run in 1955. Apparently, there was a reincarnation of the show at some point in 1955 (with Clyde Chesser's Texas Village Boys) as reported by Billboard, maybe even televised, but this version of the Big State Jamboree only lasted for a very brief time.

Willet switched radio stations and worked for KNIT, also based in Abilene, in 1956. There, he recorded his last session for 4 Star in spring that year. His last recorded sides were "It Ain't Gonna Rain" b/w "The Politician" (4 Star #1698-45). By then, Willet's heyday as a singer had passed.

However, Willet sensed it might be profitable to add another piece of music business to his repertoire: to release records on his own label. In 1956, he created the Edmoral label, which had its first release around October that year. The debut was a single by Willet himself, recorded around October at KNIT with Dean Beard's band, a Texas based rock'n'roll combo that had gained some popularity by then. "I've Been a-Wonderin'" b/w "Don't Be Afraid of the Moonlight" (Edmoral #1010-45) were of different sound than his previous releases - but still very much country.

In February 1957, Willet released the next disc on Edmoral by Dean Beard, comprising "On My Mind Again" b/w "Rakin' and Scrapin'" (Edmoral #1011-45). The latter, which Beard and the band had previously laid down unsuccessfully at Sun Records in Memphis, became his signature tune. The disc sold well, especially around Fort Worth, Dallas, and San Angelo, which brought it to the attention of Jerry Wrexler, president of Atlantic Records. Wrexler flew to Abilene in order to sign a contract with Willet which leased the masters to Atlantic. The label re-released the disc in April that year and would issue two more discs by Beard in 1957 and 1958. 

Two more releases appeared on Edmoral, one by Earl Montgomery (of the Brush Cutters) already in 1956 and next to Dean Beard's disc a release by Gene Morris in 1957. The latter's release became another good seller for Willet and he soon worked out a deal with RCA-Victor's Vik subsidiary that took the masters in August 1957. After these four singles, Willet decided to change the name from Edmoral to Winston (a reference to his birthname) for reasons of his own.   

The Winston label continued Edmoral's numerical catalog, beginning with #1014 (omitting the #1013) by Fonda Wallace and a rock'n'roll outing called "Lou Lou Knows" b/w "Return My Love" in June 1957. Winston's recorded material was - similar to Hank Harral's Caprock label - a cross-section of Texas music.
In 1957, Willet paired himself again with Dean Beard's band and recorded a top notch rock'n'roll record "Ain't Goin Home" under the pseudonym "Telli W. Mills - The Fat Cat" (his stage name spelled backwards plus another reference to his appearance). He would record further songs in similar style in the years to come.

Willet also recorded more rock'n'roll by artists like Dean Beard, Gene Morriso, the Zircons, and Darrell Rhodes (who immortalized himself with "Four O'Clock Baby", an original copy can fetch up more than $2.500 today). He also recorded straight country music, like members of the Brush Cutter, Jimmie Fletcher, or western swing by popular band leaders Jimmy Heap or Hoyle Nix. Even gospel material was cut by the Starlight Sisters, which had been performers on the Big State Jamboree before. 

Death of an Oilfield Boy
Willet kept his Willet label running throughout the rest of the 1950s and until his death in the mid-1960s. A highlight on the label was his 1959 released album "Texas Oil Patch Songs", a collection of selfwritten Texas oilfield folklore that is considered to be one of country music's first concept albums and the first exclusively devoted to the oil industry. Coincidence or not - that same year, Audio Lab (a division of King Records, which had access to the 4 Star catalog by then) released an album consisting of some of Willet's older 4 Star material.

In 1964, Willet switched to all-time country music station KCAD in Abilene, where he became general manager and also partially owned the station. While still being in full swing with his radio and business activities, Slim Willet died of a heart attack on July 1, 1966, at the age of 46 years. He is buried at Victor Cemetery in his now extinct hometown. Willet's contributions to West Texas music were honored by the West Texas Music Hall of Fame. Being an influential disc jokey during the 1950s, he was also inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame in 1994.

Little-known were Willet's paintings. In 1955, Willet was too busy with recording, performing, radio work, and business affairs and his doctor advised him, in order to battle the stress, to take up painting. Willet often painted places and situations from his childhood. He created countless artworks until his death and some of them were displayed in 2017 during an exhibition entitled "Celebrating 65 Years of 'Stars' and the Art of Slim Willet" in the Clyde Public Library.


1953 cover of "Cowboy Songs" magazine

Sources
Slim Willet on Bear Family
45cat and 45worlds/78rpm entries
Entry at hillbilly-music.com
Texas State Historical Association
• Entries for Slim Willet and Edmoral / Willet at Rockin' Country Style
Old-Time Blues: Star Talent 770 - Slim Willet - 1950
Entry at Praguefrank's Country Music Discographies
• Ronald W. Erdrich: "Slim Willet on display at Clyde Public Library" (2017), Abilene Reporter-News
Entry at Find a Grave
• Laurie E. Jasinski: "Handbook of Texas Music" (Texas A&M University Press), 2012