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.


• Jack Turner recordings available here.
• Update on Les Randall acetate.
• Thanks to Bob more info on Bill Harris.

Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Shelby Smith's Empire of record labels

Shelby Smith's Empire of Record Labels

Shelby R. Smith's empire of small record labels is a confusing one. Dave Travis released a 34 track CD in his "Memphis Rockabillies, Hillbillies & Honky Tonkers" series on Stomper Time, which dealt with Smith's productions. Dave likely put all his knowledge into the liner notes of this CD, which I don't own, unfortunately. Hence, I decided to take an approach at exploring Shelby Smith's story on my own.

Generally, Smith is associated with five different record labels: Rebel, Rebel Ace, Silver Skip, Smitty, and Silento. The aforementioned Stomper Time CD also contained tracks released on a Rebel label from South Pittsburgh, Tennessee, which was to all accounts a different label, owned by Bill Cooley.

Shelby R. Smith was a local singer from Memphis and according to my researches, first registered in 1958 when he copyrighted the song "Crossword Puzzle." By 1960, Smith was recording for the Smitty label, which belonged to Fernwood, according to Terry Gordon's RCS site. In fact, some of Smith's productions were recorded by Ronald Wallace in his Fernwood recording studio. However, in 1962, the Rebel label appeared on the radar with two singles by Smith, including his "Rocking Mama." This label was said to be based in Batesville, Arkansas (if this is true, is another question). It seems Rebel was later replaced by Rebel Ace by the mid 1960s (based in St. Louis, Missouri, according to the label of Rebel Ace #743). Smith was likely forced to use another name because there had been a label of the same name in Maryland since 1959. Uncertain is the chronology of Smith's Silver Skip and Silento labels.

As it became probably obvious in my explanations, there are a lot of question marks and doubts regarding Smith and his labels. Only Dave Travis' liner notes will probably bring some clarity into this story. Stay tuned.

Billboard C&W review July 28, 1962

Billboard C&W review May 4, 1963

Rebel / Rebel Ace
728: Shelby Smith - Since My Baby Said Good-By / Rocking Mama (1962)
729: Shelby Smith - Big Boss Man / Crying for a Pastime (1963)
730: Davis Brothers - How Can I Tell Her / Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow (1966)
731: Bobby Davis - Troubles Troubles / ?
732: Bob Downen - Blue Yodel No.1 T for Texas / Reaching Out
734: S. R. Smith - This Old Town / ?
734: Glen A. Linder - I'll Always Care / Out Come of War (1966)
735: Alma Herndon - True Love Where Have You Gone / Oregonian Blues
736: Jean Henderson - Too Many Sunsets / Put It On My Charge Account (1966)
737: Jimmy Evans - Call Me Mr. Lonesome / Dudley Do-Rite (1967)
738/9: Eddy Beers - You're Both the Cheating Kind / The Open Road (1967)
740/1: Marilyn Strothcamp - Until Today / Plaything (1967)
742: Marilyn Strothcamp - Just a Dime Away / Second Girl
743: Eddy Beers - What's Your Excuse / Big Mack Waitin'
743: Marilyn Strothcamp - I Cried a Tear / All I Feel for You Is Sorry

The first three releases were issued under the Rebel brand, subsequent releases under the name of Rebel Ace.
• Numbers #734 and #743 were used twice.
#742 and #743 give location as 2404 Charlack - St. Louis, Missouri.

Silver Skip
101: S. R. Smith - North to Alaska / Foolish Love Affair
201: Eddy Beers - I'm Gonna Be a Wealthy Man / Overdrawn on Heartaches (1966)
202: Shelby R. Smith - Big Boss Man / Cryin' for a Pastime
203: Shelby R. Smith - Wake Me Up / Jim-Dandy Handy Man
203: Jackie Underwood - Her Heart Would Know / ?

Recordings on #202 were possibly the same as on Rebel #729.
#203 by Shelby Smith was recorded at Bill Glore's Glolite Studios.

100: S. R. Smith - Why Does You Cry / Social Security

Label gives location as 297 N. Main - Memphis, Tennessee (home of Fernwood Records).

55783: Shelby Smith - What's On Your Mind / So Long to Get to You (1960)
55784: Shelby Smith - Rosalie / To Heart for a Moment

• Smitty was a Fernwood subsidiary intended for custom recordings.
• #55784 was also released as by "Roy Lett." 

Thanks to Apes Ville


Apes Ville said...

Rebel Ace (TN) 45 - 741 : Marilyn Strothcamp - Plaything 1967 ? gues is 740/ 741 = same issue? (from Bj's guide)

Rebel Ace (TN) 45 - 737 : Jimmy Evans - Mr. Lonesome 1967?

Rebel Ace (TN) 45 - 735 = Alma Herndon - Oregonian Blues 1962?
Revel Ace (TN) 45 - 734 : S R Smith - This Old Town
Rebel Ace (TN) 45 - 732 : Bob Downen - Blue Yodel No 1 1960
Rebel Ace (TN) 45 - 731 : Bobby Davis - Troubles Troubles 1960

Bj's guide also has
Rebel Ace (TN) 45 - 743 : Marilyn Strothcamp - I Cried A tear 1967

but double check as I do not own any.

Apes Ville said...

Silver Skip (TN) 45 - 201 : Eddie Beers - I'm Gonna Be A Wealthy Man / Overdrawn On Heartaches (1966) AKA Eddy Beers

Silver Skip (TN) 45 - 203 (Mattrix 27012) : Jackie Underwood - Her Heart Would Know

Smitty (TN) 45 - 55784 (Rite CP 4093/4094) : Roy Lett (on label) - Rosalie / To Your Heart For A Moment (1960) AKA Shelby R. Smith)

Smitty (TN) 45 - 55784 (9660) : Virgle Baker - Dissatisfied / That's All You Do (1960)

Note : Rebel (TN) 45 - 728 : Shelby Smith - Rocking Mama was bootleg in the 1970's on Smitty (TN) 45 - 55783

Apes Ville said...

confirmed 740/741 same record

Mellow said...

Thanks! Apes Ville are you sure of the early Rebel / Rebel Ace dates? 729 was from 1962 so there something is wrong here.

Apes Ville said...

dates are from Barry Johns Guide with ? next to them

Apes Ville said...

https://www.discogs.com/artist/5131060-Glen-A-Linder may be flip of 734?

Apes Ville said...

http://www.rootsvinylguide.com/ebay_items/alma-herndon-oregonian-blues-us-rebel-ace-735-girl-rocker label image

http://www.rootsvinylguide.com/ebay_items/memphis-rockabilly-bob-downen-t-for-texas-hear-both-1960-rebel-ace says from 1960 ? flip = Reaching Out

http://www.rootsvinylguide.com/ebay_items/marilyn-strouthcamp-i-cried-a-tear-all-i-feel-for-you-is-sorry-rebel-ace-45 another 743

http://www.rootsvinylguide.com/ebay_items/alma-herndon-rare-rockabilly-45-on-rebel-ace-true-love-where-have-oregonian flip = True Love Where Have you Gone

worth a read http://www.45rpmrecords.com/ST/Rebel%20Ace.php

Bob said...

There is a confusion about two different labels made by at least two discographies on line. The Rebel label based in Batesville, Arkansas was another label (artist: Steve Stephens).