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