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, and shows.


  • 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, May 31, 2023

Wayne Raney on New American

Wayne Raney - The Uncloudy Day (New American 45-NA-104), 1960

This release dates back to a time when Raney had turned to gospel music full-time and many of his EP records during this period were probably produced and released for selling them through his show on powerful WCKY in Cincinnati.

The recordings for this extended play 45 were cut in 1960 at Raney's own studio in Oxford, Ohio, which he had established about three years earlier. The line-up included Raney on vocals and harmonica plus his family, which might have included his wife Loys and his children Zyndall, Wanda, and Norma Jean, as well as an unknown guitarist.

"The Uncloudy Day", or better known as "The Unclouded Day", was composed by Ohio born Josiah Kelley Alwood in 1885. It was recorded by several artists during the 1960s. Raney's own version was reused by him for his "All Time Family Favorites" LP on his Rimrock and Gospel Voice LPs (#GV-101).

See also


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Ronald Mansfield on Beam

Ronald Mansfield - Tell Me Pretty Words (Beam 707-45), 1957

Beam Recordings was a local Abilene, Texas, based label, that basically recorded country music in the 1950s and 1960s. This particular release by Ronald Mansfield is from 1957 and seems to be the first on the label. Note the publisher "Slim Willet Songs", which suggests Mansfield or the label had a connection with Willet, Abilene's country music stalwart. Although the matrix numbers indicate that "Tell Me Pretty Words" was the top side, the label indeed pushed its flip "Lonely" according to a promo sheet.

Catalog of Copyright Entries, 1958

Catalof of Copyright Entries, 1959

Ronald Mansfield was a TV repair man that had a few releases on Beam and Winston, the latter being Slim Willet's label. His "Someone Else's Arms" was also recorded by Ralph Edwards on Beam and  "Tell Me Pretty Words" was eventually recorded by Slim Whitman. Mansfield was probably not the songwriter and pianist of the same name that recorded with the Massachusetts based group the Dusters.

Billboard December 22, 1958, C&W review

Born Ronald Eugene Mansfield, his birth date was likely December 16, 1930, in the small town Chillicothe, Texas, as was his twin brother Donald. They were born to Clyde and Mary Mansfield. According to an Avalanche Journal newspaper snippet, both brothers were living in Abilene by October 1950.

Mansfield made his debut on the Beam label with the disc featured today, followed by another single on the same label, "Blue Am I" b/w "My Love" (Beam #708) the next year. A third Beam release likely came out not until the 1960s. Also in 1958, Mansfield came to the attention of Slim Willet and started recording for Willet's Winston label, also out of Abilene, which produced another two singles.

No more hints to Mansfield's music career can be found. His brother Donald passed away in 1977. Mansfield eventually lived in Dickinson, Texas, and died on February 26, 2002, at the age of 71 years. He is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas.


Beam 707-45: Tell Me Pretty Words / Lonely (1957)
Beam 708-45: Blue Am I / My Love (1958)
Winston 1023-45: Thank You / How I've Missed You (1958)
Winston 1028-45: The Ring Mother Wore / Life Sure Changes (As the World Rolls Around) (1958)
Beam 808: If This Is Living / Someones Elses Arms

Find a Grave entry
Entry at 45cat
• Entries for Mansfield and Beam Recordings on Discogs
Rockin' Country Style entry for the Dusters
Avalanche Journal (October 15, 1950), page 18
• Laurie E. Jasinski, Casey J. Monahan: "Handbook of Texas Music" (Texas State Historical Association), 2012

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Zay-Dee Records

Southern Psych from the Zay-Dee label

Zay-Dee Records was the creation of DJ and radio engineer George "Gee" Whitaker, who came to Batesville, Arkansas, around 1963. Previously, he had been a rock'n'roll DJ on the powerful KSEL station in Lubbock, Texas, but his wife Doris originally hailed from Batesville, which took him north to the Natural State.

George Whitaker at KSEL, 1962
(from the back cover
of a Zay-Dee 207 reissue)
Whitaker took a job with KBTA as the station's studio and transmitter engineer. A year later, he decided to try his luck in the record business and set up Zay-Dee Records. The label's name derived from Isaiah "Zay" Dee Whooten, another DJ on KSEL. Whitaker fell in love with that name and apart from his label, also named his second child the same way. Whitaker's job at KBTA was wasn't well paid (he had to drive an ambulance part-time) but soon, a better opportunity came along when Whitaker's father bought KHOZ in Marianna, Arkansas, where he became general manager around 1966.

One of Whitaker's first productions was a record by the Marauders called "Bugg to the Road Runner" (Part 1 and 2), a live recording made at the Arkansas College. Another early single was by Jimmy Payne and the Jokers, an Arkansas rock'n'roll combo that had already recorded for the Bro-Ket label. Payne would go on to release further singles throughout the 1960s.

Zay-Dee became a favorite among record collectors decades later for psychedelic and garage rock jewels like the Paragons' "Black and Blue" or Suspension of Belief with "LSD". The latter's original master was mixed with an opera recording and sound effects by Whitaker (without informing the band) and while it became a favorite among nowadays psychedelic fans, it was dismissed by the group when the members received their copies.

By the late 1960s, Whitaker had moved back to Lubbock, where he released the final disc on Zay-Dee by Gabriel with the Seven Inch Reel. Afterwards, the label was laid to rest and Whitaker continued to work in radio (which he did at least until 2014). Some of the Zay-Dee recordings turned up on a compilation series entitled "Lost Souls", containing rare psychedelic tracks from Arkansas and compiled by Harold Ott. The track "LSD" was also used in the independent movie production "Jane Mansfield's Car".

See also:


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

David & Darlene Robinson on Bejay

David & Darlene Robinson with the Eldon Valley Boys - Green Country (Bejay 1353), 1971

The "Green Country", about which David and Darlene Robinson sing, is the Northeastern part of Oklahoma. The term is used since the early 20th century but became well-known during the 1960s through a campaign initialized by the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation. Sometimes, the term "Green Country" also refers to the Tulsa metropolitan area, which lies within Northeast Oklahoma.

The copy I bought carried a little handwritten note within the record sleeve, which gave me a little bit of info about the record. "Green Country" as well as the flip "If You Step On Her Hear, You're Walking On Mine" were recorded in June 1971 by David and Darlene Robinson and their band, the Eldon Valley Boys, for Ben Jack's Bejay custom label.  The session took place at Jack's recording studio in Fort Smith, Arkansas. It was the Robinson's debut record, followed by two more releases on what was likely their own imprint, Big Green Country (pressed by Rimrock). One of these discs was solely credited to the Eldon Valley Boys. The Eldon Valley was likely a name for the small community of Eldon, Cherokee County, Oklahoma (in "Green Country"), located in the valley of Baron Fork of the Illinois River.

Unfortunately, I couldn't turn up any info on neither David and Darlene Robinson nor on Raymond "Ray" Robinson, the writer of both sides and likely a family member. I suspect all three to be siblings, however.


Bejay 1353: David & Darlene Robinson with the Eldon Valley Boys - Green Country / If You Step On Her Heart, You're Walking on Mine (1971)
Big Green Country BS 413: David & Darlene Robinson and the Eldon Valley Boys - Green Country / The House That We Live In (1974)
Big Green Country BS 414: The Eldon Valley Boys - It's His Spirit / I Am a Christian


Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Wayne Edwards on Rimrock

Wayne Edwards / Ramblers - What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I Am) (Rimrock 253), 1968

Wayne Edwards had one release on Wayne Raney' Rimrock label, "What Kind of a Fool (Do You Think I am)" b/w "Please Tell Me (Where I Stand)". Accompanied by the "Ramblers", this is the kind of country music Rimrock became known for: traditional, unpolished, authentic. Released in 1968, both songs were composed by Edwards, about whom nothing else is known.

There are two more releases, one on the Houston, Texas based Ramada label (1970) and another one on the Two Hearts label (involving Nashville music business figure Wade Pepper), although I'm not sure if this is the same artist.

• 45cat entry for Wayne Edwards / Ramblers and Wayne Edwards (possibly different artists)

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Roy Hogsed on Capitol

Roy Hogsed - I Wish I Wuz (Capitol F1721), 1951
(courtesy of Sean Hickey of Winslow, Arkansas)

Although Roy Hogsed's style and several of his recordings were historically significant, foreshadowing the rockabilly sounds of the mid 1950s, he remains a rather unknown figure - even among proficient collectors and scholars. Today, Hogsed is best remembered for recording "Cocaine Blues". Although his up-tempo version was not the first recording of the song, it set the pattern for following versions and helped making the song a minor country classic.

Roy Clifton Hogsed was born on December 24, 1919, in Flippin, North Arkansas, to Harles and Vida Hogsed. The couple had a total of six children and father Harles being a fiddler and banjo player, started teaching all of his kids instruments in order to establish a family band. This was in the early 1930s and young Roy was taught to play guitar by his uncle Clem. When the band was ready, it included guitars, fiddles, and mandolins, and began playing local dances. But their family act soon performed at school houses and then also traveling tent shows and fairs. Finally, they traveled around in a self-built Ford mobile home, playing wherever they could. They became known as the "Arkansas Hillbillies". Their constant life meant dropping out of school, having no formal education, although their father engaged a black woman to teach his children.

By the late 1930s, the family band started to fell apart. The eldest sister Fleeta married and young Roy dropped out of the band, too. His other siblings went back to school, while he worked as a butane truck driver. Hogsed met Willie Marie Gilliam, whom he married in 1940 in Flippin. In the following years, he worked various jobs in Texas and Oklahoma, then served a year in the US Navy during World War II but was discharged due to health issues.

Following the war, Hogsed worked for a couple of months with a band called the Dixieland Troupers at WJDX in Jackson, Mississippi. But soon, like so many Arkies and Oakies during the 1930s and 1940s, Hogsed set out and moved to California, hoping to find better living conditions. These immigrants brought their music tothe west coast as well, and when Hogsed settled in the San Diego area in 1946, he found a lively country music scene.

Roy Hogsed promo picture, late 1940s or early 1950s

In San Diego, he first worked as a bus driver but soon, joined Wayne Williams' Happy Cowboys as a guitarist. This job did not last long either and Hogsed founded his own group with Casey Simmons on bass and Dutch born Jean Dewez on accordion. They became known as the Rainbow Riders or simply as the Roy Hogsed Trio. Simmons was soon replaced with Rusty Nitz and the trio worked club dates in the area. Only being a trio without a drummer, it was hard for Nitz to keep the beat strong in the loud clubs, and therefore developed a heavy slap bass, which became a trademark of the trio's sound.

Billboard June 7, 1947
In May 1947, Hogsed and the boys started making records for Charles Washburn's Coast label. Their first release came out in June that year with  "Daisy Mae" b/w "Red Silk Stockings and Green Perfume" (Coast #261). Four more releases followed on Coast till April 1948 and it was already his second release on the label that featured "Cocaine Blues". It was one of three versions that appeared in 1947 (along with W.A. Nichols' Western Aces with Red Arnall on S&G and a slightly different version by Billy Hughes). Hogsed's version was not the first; in fact, the song was based on the folk song "Little Sadie" and was recorded as early as 1934 by Riley Puckett as "Chain Gang Blues". Today, the song is best remembered through Johnny Cash's versions, who first recorded it as "Transfusion Blues" and performed it live in 1968 at Folsom Prison, which was released on the memorable "Live at Folsom Prison" album.

Hogsed's Coast records came to the attention of Capitol Records, the west coast's only major label back then, and when Coast folded, Capitol signed Hogsed to a contract. The label re-released "Cocaine Blues" in May 1948 (#40120) and the song reached #15 on Billboard's C&W charts. Ken Nelson, Capitol's A&R chief, remembered the furor the song stirred when Hank Thompson insisted to record it some ten years later. With explicit references to drug abuse, the song was still extraordinary back then. More records followed on Capitol, though Hogsed's first releases on the label were drawn from older Coast sessions. Hogsed, Nitz, and Dewez recorded their first session for Capitol on July 20, 1949, at the Capitol studio in Hollywood.

Today's selections were recorded on June 19, 1951, at Capitol Recording Studio in Hollywood with a band consisting of Hogsed's brother Jasper on guitar or fiddle, Denny Drazkowski on accordion, Rusty Nitz on bass, and Thomas Mills on drums. Released on Capitol F1721a month later but it didn't chart. Billboard and Cash Box both reviewed the single on August 4, 1951, and while Cash Box was fond of "I Wish I Was", Billboard called "Free Samples" "mediocre" and "I Wish I Was" a rendition that "doesn't do it justice".

Although Hogsed recorded several fine and style-wise noteworthy recordings like "Snake Dance Boogie", none of them were hits and by 1954, Capitol had lost faith in Hogsed and dropped him from its roster. This brought an end to Hogsed's rather short-lived career as an recording artist.

Hogsed and his band, which featured a completely different line-up already by 1953, continued to work live dates in San Diego during the 1950s and 1960s. The fact that Hogsed made his home base in San Diego and not in Los Angeles, west coast's own country music capital, may have been a reason that Hogsed never broke through nationally. In 1962, he suffered severe injuries after hitting a light pole with his car. Curiously enough, he had been chased by a police car since he had run four red lights and drove too fast.

Nevertheless, Hogsed continued to work as a musician until around 1969 when he quit the business altogether. He took a day job afterwards, working as a welder for San Diego Gas and Electric until his untimely death. Hogsed committed suicide on March 6, 1978, at his home in Vista, California, leaving his five children and his wife Willie, who passed away a year later in Texas.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Alden Holloway on Dixie

Alden Holloway - Blast Off (Dixie 45-2020), 1959

This record ranks among the more expensive 45s, if you find it on ebay, a collector fair or something like this. Lucky are those who found it left alone in a box of other 45s at a flea market. The highest price I saw was 455 USD. However, the late and great Alden Holloway died at the very beginning of this year and gone is the chance now to interview him about his musical career.

Born Alden William Holloway on January 26, 1925, in Moko, Arkansas, he was interested in music already as a child. He had his first appearance at the age of five years on the counter of a local store. In addition, he also sang in the church choir. Holloway became an accomplished musician and played guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and steel guitar.

By 1944, Billboard reported he was a DJ on KNET in Palestine, Texas. Why and when he came to Texas is not known. Back in Arkansas, Holloway had met his future wife Polly at Salem High School. When Polly and her family moved way up north to Washington State, Holloway followed his high school sweetheart and they were married in September 1944.

By the  early 1950s, he had his own band and appeared on local radio stations such as KPKW (Pasco, Washington) and KWIE (Kennewick, Washington) as "Shorty" Holloway. Already in 1951, he released what became his debut record on the 4 Star custom label Northwest Records (in 4 Star's "Other People" series). Based in Richland, Washington, this was likely also Holloway's home at that time. The disc featured "I'm a Married Man" and "If I Can't Be Your Lover" (Northwest #OP-118). Until 1956, four more discs on the Northwest label followed, making it a total of four discs. The first three of them were manufactured in the 78rpm format but when Holloway released "Beaumont Blues" and "Rabbit Ears" (Northwest #OP214) in 1955, the 78rpmm format had become outdated, therefore Holloway issued this and its follow-up "Woodpecker Love" b/w "Red Rose of Arkansas" (Northwest #OP-263) on 45rpm discs.

The late 1950s saw Holloway releasing the records he is best remembered for today. Being previously a stone hard country musician, he now tried his hand at rock'n'roll. Holloway and his band, now called Tri City Boys, cut "Loving Is My Business" (written by Holloway) and "Chiquita" probably in 1958 in their home state Washington. They sent the tapes again to a custom pressing service, this time Starday Records in Houston, Texas. It was released on Starday 714 around June 1958 and I assume, there weren't much more than 1.000 copies pressed. His next single definetly became Holloway's claim to fame, at least in the rockabilly collectors scene. "Blast Off" b/w "Swinging the Rock" (Dixie 45-2020) are two great guitar driven rockers from 1959. The lead guitarist on both songs was to all acounts Holloway.

For the next decades, Holloway kept on performing in the Tri-City area of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland with personal gigs as well as radio and TV appearances. Nevertheless, to suppot his family, he held down regular day jobs, for example working at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the Alaska pipelines. He appeared with such stars as Little Jimmy Dickens, Porter Waggoner, among others and also continued to record. He had his own recording studio in the basement of his house and in the second part of the 1960s, he released two 45s on the Big Sound label.

Holloway's talents as a musician surfaced in different ways. Apart from recording and personal appearances, he would also host countless jam sessions at his house. Though he played different string instruments, the guitar became his main instrument. He played different double neck guitars and one of them was displayed in 2015 during an episode of PBS' "Antiques Roadshow".

On the private side, he had two children with his wife. In 2022, Polly Holloway was still living in the Tri-City area.

On January 1, 2013, Alden "Shorty" Holloway passed away at Kadlec Medical Center. He was 87 years old. Holloway is buried at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Richland, Washington.


Northwest OP-118
Shorty Holloway and his Prairie Riders

I'm a Married Man (Holloway) / If I Can't Be Your Lover (Let Be Your Pet) ()
OP-153 / OP-154

Northwest OP-149
Shorty Holloway and his Prairie Riders

Cotton Pickin' Boogie (Holloway) / Why Can't I Go Back (Holloway)
OP-124 / OP-215

Northwest OP-201
Shorty Holloway and his Prairie Riders

I Want to Squeeze You (S. Holloway; C. Tucker) / Pray Pray (S. Holloway)
OP-326 / OP-327

Northwest OP214X45
Shorty Holloway & his Prairie Riders
Beaumont Blues (Alden Holloway; C. Tucker) / Rabbit Ears (Bert Wells)
OP-360 / OP 361

Northwest OP-263-45
Alden Holloway and his Prairie Riders

Woodpecker Love (Alden Holloway) / Red Rose of Arkansas (Alden Holloway)
OP-470-H / OP-471-H
Starday 45-714
Alden Holloway and his Tri City Boys
Chiquita (Floyd Hogien) / Loving Is My Business (Alden Holloway)
A / B

Dixie 45-2020
Alden Holloway
Blast Off (Alden Holloway; B.R. Thomas) / Swinging the Rock (Alden Holloway)
2953 / 2954

Big Sound No.#
Alden Holloway
Walking the Blues Away (Polly Holloway) / Oklahoma Sweetheart (Polly Holloway)
20949 / 20950 (Rite)

Big Sound U-23849M
Shorty Holloway (and the Variety)
You've Gotta Live It Right (Dewey Long) / Count Me Out (Dewey Long)
A / B

There are a couple of more songs which Holloway recorded, including "Butterflies in My Heart" and "Telephone Blues", which cannot be traced back to a certain release.

Find a Grave entry
Obituary at Hillbilly-Music.com
• Entries at 45cat and 45worlds/78rpm

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Melody Hall

Melody Hall advertisement for shows in May and June 1963

If you were living in Springdale or Rogers, Arkansas, during the early 1960s, you were probably attending live music shows at one of the many local venues. One of those places was Melody Hall, a live music venue located on Highway 71 near Springdale, Arkansas, across A.Q. Chicken, a restaurant that is still in business today. It seems that the Melody Hall building was demolished and the place is now home to a gas station. The hall was only in business for a short time, approximately for two years, at least we found  no mention of concerts outside of this time frame.

Although I tried to research the history of Melody Hall, the whole story of it remains blurry. We first find mention of this venue in 1961, when Billboard magazine reported that several top names in country music were booked by Russell Sims, a promoter and manager who worked with T. Texas Tyler early in his career and formed his own Sims Record label in 1953. Sims in turn was associated with Don Thompson, who owned KRMO radio in Rogers, Arkansas, and Cimarron record label in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Sims worked for Thompson's Cimarron label for a short time and through this connection, he booked a couple of top acts into Melody Hall in 1961.

Billboard March 9, 1961

In March 1961, such acts as Ernest Tubb, Grandpa Jones, Floyd Tillman, Johnnie Lee Wills, Autry Inman, and Dub Dickerson performed there. Also performing that month were Leon McAuliffe and Marvin McCullough, both artists retained strong ties to Arkansas. McAuliffe, once steel guitarist for Bob Wills and at that time band leader of his own Cimarron Boys based in Tulsa, moved to Rogers, Arkansas in the 1960s, co-owned a radio station and performed in the western part of the state regularly during this time.

The Melody Hall continued to feature more top acts through the next two years and we find mention of several stars through newspaper ads, including Lefty Frizzell in April 1963, followed by Tommy Duncan and Stonewall Jackson in May, and Wanda Jackson in June. However, I wasn't able to spot any more mentions of Melody Hall after summer 1963 and it seems that the venue closed soon after.

If anybody out there has more information on Melody Hall, its owners, or musicians that appeared on its stage, please feel free to share your information with us!

Russell Sims Find a Grave Entry
• Billboard articles (see depicted snippets)
Billy Parker, John Wooley, Brett Bingham: "Thanks -  Thanks a Lot" (Babylon Books), 2021
• Larry Jordan: "Jim Reeves - His Untold Story" (Page Turner Books International), 2011, page 561-562

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Wayne Raney

Wayne Raney - King of the Talking Harmonica

"The Living Legends" was the title of one of Wayn Raney's later albums - a project he had done with his old pal Lonnie Glosson. The title was apt, Raney enjoyed great popularity during the 1940s and was especially popular in his home state Arkansas - even during his later years. He is one of those musicians that were responsible for popularizing the harmonica as an instrument, along with his aforementioned partner Lonnie Glosson or such performers as DeFord Bailey.

During the 1940s, Raney was part of the Delmore Brothers' band but also found success as a recording artist in his own right, scoring a big hit with "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me". While his earlier recordings were heavily influenced by the Delmores and therefore blues- and boogie-tinged, predominantly of secular content, he later switched to country gospel music. Raney was also a successful businessman, selling harmonica instruction books as early as the 1940s and later operating his own record pressing plant, recording studio, and record label called "Rimrock" in Concord, Arkansas.

Early Years in Arkansas
Wayne Raney was born on August 17, 1921, in a log cabin on a farm near Wolf Bayou, a tiny place in Cleburne County, north-central Arkansas. His parents, William Frank and Bonnie Cumie Raney, had a total of five children and at least his father's family lived in Arkansas since the 1850s. Times were hard in these isolated area of Wolf Bayou and work on the farm exhausting. However, young Wayne Raney was freed from heavy labor due to a foot deformity. Doctors expected he would spent his life in a wheel chair but Raney mastered it without even needing a cane.

Raney was drawn to music at an early age and became interested in the harmonica after watching a street musician playing the instrument. Since 1931, the Delmore Brothers from Alabama increased in popularity both over radio and on records and they soon became musical heroes for Raney. A year later, at age eleven, Raney traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, to meet the Delmores in person. While being in Atlanta, Raney got the chance to record for Bluebird, RCA's low-budget label, but his two solo numbers "Fox Chase" and "Under the Double Eagle", remained unreleased due to poor sound quality.

First Steps and Rambling Years
He returned to Wolf Bayou but at age 13 (the exact year is unclear), the traveling bug bit him again and he made his way to the Texan-Mexican border town Eagle Pass, Texas, where powerful radio station XERP was located. Raney had been a steady listener of the station when he arrived in the city. He performed in a pool hall when the station manager head and hired him. Raney went on to work for XEPN and also recorded several transcriptions for it. From that point on, Raney traveled throughout the United States for much of the 1930s and 1940s, earning his living with radio work and life shows, being not only a harmonica wizard but also a talented singer. 

According to Raney, he worked in almost every single state during this time but always found time to return home and spend some time with his family, working odd jobs for a brief time, then taking off again. In 1937, Raney took a job with radio KWK in St. Louis, Missouri, where he met another proficient harmonica player, Lonnie Glosson. They soon teamed up and found themselves soon in Little Rock, Arkansas, to perform over KARK. This was the beginning not only of a lifelong relationship business and musical wise but also of a friendship. As business partners, they would establish a mail-order business for harmonicas and instruction books, which was boosted in popularity by airing on powerful border-town radio stations.

Their affiliation with KARK didn't last long, though, and Raney was back in St. Louis by 1939, performing with Cousin Emmy's show on KMOX. That same hear, he also frequently appeared on KMBC's Brush Creek Follies stage show in Kansas City, Missouri. During the late 1930s, Raney also worked the west coast and appeared on KFWB in Los Angeles with Stuart Hamblen. He even appeared in two short Warner Brothers western movies. In the early 1940s, he remained in the four-state radius Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Tennessee, working live stage shows with the Wilbur Brothers, a brother duo also from Arkansas.

Meeting the Delmores
In 1941, Raney married Loys Oleta Sutherland, a 16 years old girl from Drasco, Arkansas. The couple went on to have three children: Wanda, Zyndall, and Norma Jean. Loys and the children followed the family's patriarch and traveled with him across the country. By the time of their marriage, however, the Raneys where living in Covington, Kentucky, where Raney worked across the Ohio River at WCKY Cincinnati. It was during this time that he met the Delmore Brothers again and as they wanted to expand their act to a band, Raney joined them on vocals and harmonica. 

The connection to the Delmores proved to be fruitful as Raney began recording with them, the first time since the early 1930s. Although the exact date and place are disputed, it is likely that their first joint recording session took place in the fall of 1946 at either E.T. Herzog's studio in Cincinnati or in Chicago, and produced a wealth of recordings, including the Delmores' noteworthy "Freight Train Boogie". Raney was given the chance to record a song with him on lead vocals, "The Wrath of God", which saw release under the Delmores' name, however.

Wayne Raney, ca. 1940s

More sessions followed through 1947 and 1948, some of them under his own name but he was also recording as part of Lonnie Glosson's Railroad Boys for Mercury and as part of Grandpa Jones' backing group. In very late 1947, on December 1947, Raney held a session at KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas, with the support of the Delmore Brothers and the Luma sisters. This session produced some of his best and most well-known material, including "Jole Blon's Ghost" and "Lost John Boogie". The latter reached #11 on Billboard's country & western charts in 1948 and the same year, "Jack and Jill Boogie" placed #13.

By that time, Raney and the Delmore Brothers were living in Memphis, airing live over WMC. The Delmores had always been living in different cities, moving on from town to town where they found work and during this time, Raney would move with them. Therefore, recording sessions took place in different cities at different venues. The sound of Raney's King recordings was identical to the cuts released as by the Delmore Brothers, as the line-up normally consisted of Alton and Rabon on guitars and vocals (plus additional musicians such as Lonnie Glosson).

Raney's Way to the Top
On May 6, 1949, a session took place in Cincinnati (either at Herzog's studio or at King studio) that yielded several songs that were released either under the Delmores' name or under Raney's name on the King label. Among these songs was Raney's biggest hit, "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me", co-written by Raney and Glosson. The line-up included Raney on vocals, Alton and Rabon Delmore on guitars, Zeke Turner on guitar, Don Helms on steel guitar, Lonnie Glosson on harmonica, and possibly Louis Innis on bass. Released in June that year on King #791 with  "Don't Know Why" on the flip side, the song reached the #1 spot in Billboard's country & western charts, where it remained for several weeks.

"Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me" sheet music

The success of "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me" propelled Raney into the first row of country music stars. He made appearances on both the Louisiana Hayride and the Grand Ole Opry and was booked for an extended Opry tour with such stars as Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, Minnie Pearl, Rod Brasfield, and Lonzo & Oscar. An offer to join the Opry as a steady cast member was turned down by Raney, a fact that likely prevented him from super stardom and a move that "may have been a mistake", as he later admitted.

The year of 1950 brought more sessions for Raney, both as a supporting musician and for his own releases. He held several sessions that year at Jim Beck's studio in Dallas, Texas, supported by the Delmore band, that resulted in a wealth of sacred material, which expressed Raney's great love for gospel music. Some of these recordings were released on London Records under the pseudonym "Lonesome Willie Evans". In October, he was back at King's recording studio in Cincinnati to record more secular material but a second hit eluded him, unfortunately.

Struggling with Rock and Roll
Raney would work with the Delmores for radio, live, and studio work until Rabon Delmore's untimely death in December 1952 from lung cancer. By then, their momentum as a country music top act had passed. Raney continued to record for King until 1955 and in November 1953, worked a couple of sessions with Lefty Frizzell as part of Frizzell's backing band. His last session for King took place on March 21, 1955, supported by a young pianist from Arkansas named Teddy Redell. Redell, who appeared frequently with Raney during the course of 1955, would later find acclaim as a rockabilly artist.

Also in 1955, Raney hosted his own TV show on KRCG in Jefferson City, Missouri, which also included his newly formed band (including Redell, Johnny Duncan, and Kinky King, among others). In late 1956, at the height of the rockabilly trend, Raney, who paved the way for rock'n'roll with his country boogie numbers, held a rockabilly tinged session for Decca that included "Shake Baby Shake", a song that later found its way onto several rock'n'roll reissues. In the years to come, Raney would concentrate on religious influenced material and a 1957 session, held at radio WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia, with the Osborne Brothers, marked the beginning of this era in his career.

We Need a Whole Lot More Gospel
In 1957, Raney returned to WCKY in Cincinnati and continued to sell song books and harmonicas on air successfully. That same year, Raney decided to switch sides and established his own Wayne Raney Studio in nearby Oxford, Ohio, operating the Poor Boy, New American, and Down Home labels out of it. In late 1957, Raney recorded "We Need a Whole Lot More of Jesus (and a Lot Less Rock and Roll)" and "Don't You Think It's Time", which saw release on Poor Boy #100 the following year and the former became a hit in the gospel hit. "We Need a Whole Lot More of Jesus" was also recorded by several other artists in the years to come and became a minor standard.

Wayne Raney harmonica course, ca. late 1950s

Ironically, the second release on his Poor Boy label, which he ran with guitarist Jimmie Zack, was a rock'n'roll release by Norman Witcher, "Somebody's Been Rockin' My Boat" b/w "Wake Me Up", which became a favorite among rockabilly collectors. The next years saw Raney and his family recording numerous gospel songs at his Oxford studio, released on his own labels as well as on Starday.

Rimrock Records - "Arkansas's First and Only Record Mfg. Company"
However, by 1961, Raney decided to pack up things and move back to Arkansas. He discontinued his mail order business, the small labels he had established previously and bought a 180 acre farm near Concord, Arkansas, not far away from his birth place. On his farm, Raney raised Black Angus cattle and it seemed, he had turned his back on the music business. But his occupation as a full-time farmer only lasted for a brief time, as he built the Rimrock recording studio on his property the same year. The first session was held with his family shortly afterwards, recording a couple of gospel standards for one of his Starday EPs.

Raney recorded a great wealth of material over the next years, which saw release on Starday, his own Rimrock label (which he established at some point after 1961) and other small labels. He established Rimrock not only as a vehicle to produce his own recordings but released countless country music artists through his label, including recordings by Connie Dycus, Larry Donn, Teddy Redell, Walt Shrum, the Armstrong Twins, among many others. He leased out the studio to artists to record their material and custom-pressed it with his own pressing plant, the only one that ever existed in Arkansas. Raney manufactured records well into the 1970s for artists from Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri. He also founded his own publishing company Oleta, named after his wife.

In 1974, he sold his pressing plant to the struggling Stax Records company, which closed it not too long afterwards, and Raney moved to Drasco. He appeared on the popular TV show Hee Haw several times during the 1970s and often performed his his old friend Lonnie Glosson (with whom he had also recorded regularly throughout the previous decade).

In 1990, Raney published his autobiography "Life Has Not Been a Bed of Roses" and that same year, he was diagnosed with throat cancer, which costed him his voice following a surgery. Wayne Raney passed away January 23, 1993, at the age of 71 years. He is buried at Pleasant Ridge Cemetery Old in Ida, Arkansas. His wife followed in 2019. Raney was inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame in 1993.

Recommended reading
• Entries on 45cat and 45worlds/78rpm

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Eddie Bond on Tagg

Eddie Bond - In From Stepping Out (Tagg 6406), 1964

Eddie Bond was a popular figure in Memphis in the 1960s and the 1970s. A singer, record label and club owner, promoter (and probably much more, too much to sum it up here), he was also called the "King of Memphis Country". He was born in 1933 in Memphis and began his career in the early 1950s.

At some point, he founded a band called "The Stompers", which included a very young Reggie Young, later famous guitarist and studio musician for countless recordings. The Stompers were, like many Memphis bands in that field, a crossover between western swing and more traditional country music. Bond is now infamous for rejecting Elvis Presley, who had auditioned for the Stompers. Different versions of this story circulate, however, and Bond later denied things went that way.

He first recorded for the Ekko label in 1955 and in 1956, he recorded what became the foundation of his later popularity among rockabilly fans. He signed with Mercury and cut a slew of now highly acclaimed rockabilly songs, including the rockabilly anthem "Rockin' Daddy" (a cover of Sonny Fisher's Starday recording). In the following years, he released countless records, continuing for Mercury, then for D, his own Stomper Time label, Wildcat, and then Coral.

Beginning in 1960, Bond also recorded for several Arkansas based labels, including United Southern Artists and Tagg Records from Plainview, a small town in central Arkansas. The Tagg label released a couple of records during the mid 1960s and our selection, "In from Stepping Out", is from 1964. The flip side was "Every Part of Me" and both songs were likely recorded in Nashville, produced by another Arkansas born singer, Teddy Wilburn. The recordings featured well-known musician Pete Drake on steel guitar.

Both songs had been previously released on Bond's own Diplomat label a year earlier. By then, Bond had gone back to performing country music, and this is a prime example of his style. The song was later recorded by Loretta Lynn and became a hit for her in 1968. Bond's recording was re-released again on Bond's Tab label that same year following Lynn's success with the song.

Bond continued to release single and long play albums throughout the decades and became part of the rockabilly revival movement. Several records with his old and new rockabilly recordings appeared both in the United States and in Europe and he did numerous gigs in Europe. He died in 2013.

See also