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.
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