• Added info on Jimmy Ford, thanks to Volker Houghton. • Extended and corrected the post on Happy Harold Thaxton (long overdue), thanks to everyone who sent in memories and information! • Added information to the Jim Murray post, provided by Mike Doyle, Dennis Rogers, and Marty Scarbrough. • Expanded the information on Charlie Dial found in the Little Shoe post.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Poor Boy Connection

The Poor Boy Connection
Wayne Raney's First Adventure in Record Production

Wayne Raney had been an established artist by the mid 1950s but his heyday as a recording artist had been over by then. His influential work with the Delmore Brothers had come to an abrupt end when Rabon Delmore died in 1952. Raney's last hit and biggest hit, "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me" from 1949, was eight years old when he decided to try his luck and switch to the other side of the studio.

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, American, New American, and Down Home labels out of it. He also set up Oleta Publishing, which became his outlet for composition for the next decades. 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 (although Billboard would not announce the founding of Poor Boy until February 1959) 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.

Raney's business partner was Jimmie Zack, a singer and songwriter who worked in Raney's band before the founding of the recording studio and record labels. Born James Zack Yingst in 1924 in Fair Oaks, Arkansas, Zack penned about a dozen songs, mostly with Raney or Raney's son Zyndall. Zack's "Evil Ways" b/w "I Can't Do Without You" (American #102, 1960) has been featured on a few compilations. He had another release on Starday's Nashville imprint, "Lost John's Gone" b/w "My Get Up and Go" (#5010), which was released in 1961 and probably recorded at Raney's Oxford studio or, though rather unlikely, at his Rimrock studio.

Raney and Zack operated a handful of labels out of the Oxford studio with changing adresses, however, They also began an association with Norman Walton of Richmond, Indiana, who operated Walton Records and probably served as a manager for the Raney/Zack labels.

Location of the labels' addresses:
Oxford, Ohio / Richmond, Indiana / Muncie Indiana

The Poor Boy label was started in 1958. The first release (Poor Boy #100) showed a Richmond post box address. Then, they changed it to a Muncie, Indiana, post box address. Muncie is located about 43 miles southeast of Richmond on the Indiana-Ohio state border. Poor Boy releases #105 up to #107 showed addresses in both Muncie ("Home Office") and Richmond ("General Manager Office"). The final releases on Poor Boy only had a Muncie address. The label was closed down in 1960. Its last release is probably the best known: "Sweet Marie" b/w "Servant of Love" (Poor Boy #111) by the Van Brothers, Arnold and Earl Van Winkle. Both songs were also reissued by Norman Walton on the Walton label. Other notable recordings on Poor Boy include those by Raney himself, Norman Witcher, and Connie Dycus.

American was headquartered in Muncie. It was only active in 1960 and released four discs, including Zack's "Evils Ways". They also operated a New American label out of his Raney Recording Studio in Oxford, Ohio, that same year, which issued a string of bluegrass EPs featuring the likes of Wade Mainer, Clyde Moody, the Stanley Brothers, among other well known names. The tapes possibly came into Raney's possession through his job with WCKY. The last release on New American, a six track gospel EP, was re-released on the one-off Raney label as well.

Down Home Records was another very short-lived venture and released only one disc, a gospel EP by Raney and his family. These as well as other cuts recorded by Raney were also leased to Starday Records.

The Walton label was founded by Norman Walton in 1961 and released a slew of country and gospel singles and EPs up to 1966. Even an album by Gil Richmond was recorded in 1964 on Walton. Several of the songs recorded on Walton were co-written by Norman Walton, including Winston Shelton's sides. Similar to Poor Boy, the record labels also showed different addresses. The address on Winston Shelton's EP was 2923 Boston Pike in Richmond. Possibly these addresses were printed on account of the particular artist.

Many of the releases, especially Raney's EPs on his own labels and Starday, were promoted and sold by him through his radio show over WCKY, which was a powerful station and gave Raney a wide audience (similar businesses were run by WCKY DJs Nelson King and his successor, Arlen Vaden). 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 but his farmer life only lasted for a few months. Later that year, he built the Rimrock Recording Studio and also established a pressing plant and, in 1965, his own Rimrock record label.

Norman Walton continued to release 45s and even some LPs on the Walton label until at least 1966 but discontinued it at some point. Wayne Raney sold the Rimrock company in 1975 to Stax Records of Memphis, Tennessee, and died in 1993.

If anyone has more information on Jimmie Zack or Norman Walton, please feel free to share your memories or information in the comments or via contact form.


101: Charlie Moore & Bill Napier and the Dixie Partners - Story of Love / Big Daddy of the Blues (1960)
102: Jimmie Zack and the Blues Rockers - I Can't Do Without You / Evil Ways (1960)
103: Krazy Kords - Malaguena / Return to Me / That's My Desire / Ol Man River (1960)
104: Rocky Rose - Won't You Reconsider / This Is the First Time (1960)

Down Home
100: Wayne Raney & Raney Family - I'll Be Listening / Where the Soul of Man Never Dies / I Need the Prayers / In the Shadow of the Cross / The Wrath of God / We Are Going Down the Valley

New American
101: Don Reno & Red Smiley - Springtime in Heaven / Stanley Brothers - He Said If I'd Be Lifted Up / Tommy Magness - Jesus Will Save Your Soul / Harlan County Four - John Three Sixteen / Brother Claude Ely - Little David Play on Your Harp / Clyde Moody - I Feel Like Traveling On
102: Trace Family Trio - My Mothers Dying Message / Clyde Moody - Through the Pearly Gate / Wade Mainer - God's Radio Phone / Tommy Magness - When I Safely Reach That Other Shore / Mac Odell - Be on Time / King's Sacred Quartet - The World Can't Stand Long
103: Esco Hankins - Mother Left Me Her Bible / Wade Mainer - He's Passing This Way / Bailes Brothers - Ashamed to Own the Blessed Savior / Trace Family Trio - I've Got a Longing to Go / Tommy Magness - Wings of Faith / Clyde Moody - I Need the Prayers
104: Wayne Raney & Family - A Little Pine Log Cabin / Hand in Hand with Jesus / I Found It in Mothers Bible / Where No Cabins Fall / The Uncloudy Day / An Empty Mansion (see also Raney 104)

Poor Boy
100: Wayne Raney - We Need a Whole Lot More of Jesus (and a Lot Less Rock and Roll) / Don't You Think It's Time (1958)
102: Norman Witcher - Somebody's Been Rocking My Boat / Wake Me Up (1958)
103: Raney Family - When Heaven Comes Down / Lilac Bouquet (1959)
104: The Gays - Don't Rush Me / You're Never There (1959)
105: Les & Helen Tussey / Golden Hill Boys - They Went Around / Married to a Friend (1959)
106: Les & Helen Tussey / Golden Hill Boys - If Jesus Was in the Hearts / We've Got to Answer (1959)
107: Danny Brockman and the Golden Hill Boys - Stick Around / Don't You Know It's True (1959)
108: Connie Dycus - Same Old Thing / Hand Full of Ashes (1959)
109: Wayne Raney - Simply Wonderful / Everybody's Going Crazy (1959)
110: Originales - Bandstand Sound / Lend Me Your Ear (1959)
111: Van Brothers - Sweet Marie / Servant of Love (1959)

104: Wayne Raney & Raney Family - A Little Pine Log Cabin / Hand in Hand with Jesus / I Found It in Mothers Bible / Where No Cabins Fall / The Uncloudy Day / An Empty Mansion (see also American 104)

001: Richmond Friendly Four - Lord / I've Been a Hard Working Pilgrim / He Will Go / He Knows the Way / Someday They'll Be No Tomorrow (1961)
003: Norman Walton & Van Brothers - Take That Lock from Your Heart / Too Many Women / Sweet Marie / Servant of Love (1962)
005: Gentry Brothers - My Wildwood Flower / Uncle Orie - Uncle Sam (1962)
007: Gil Richmond and Earl King - Doing Things / Let Me Talk It Over with My Heart (1964)
008: Betty Browning - Do You Remember / My Larry (1964)
009: Gil Richmond and Earl King - Stop, Slow Down / Your Faithful Fool (1964)
010: Jimmy Walls - What a Little Kiss Can Do / Stop Look and Listen (1965)
011: Flora C - Walk Away, Walk Away / A Dairy of Dreams (1966)
EP-950: Winston Shelton and the Country Gospel Singers - From Bethlehem to Calvary / Stop and Think / I'm Not a Poor Man / On the Banks of Old Jordan
1500: Jimmy Walls - Hello Out There World / Look at Me Eyes (1966)
2500: Van Brothers - Uncle Jim Riggs Will / Lonesome Tonight for Tomorrow (1965)


No.#: Gil Richmond and the Golden Hill Troupe - Hootenanny Roundup (1964)

Recommended reading

See also



Apesville said...

excellent stuff. Not done Poor Boy on the blog yet one day.

anyway Bj's Guide to Country & R'N'R 45rpm says
Poor Boy 101 : Acorn Sisters unknown titles

Apesville said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

Not too much to add, except the Gil Richmond album on Walton. See https://www.discogs.com/release/16293082-Gil-Richmond-And-The-Golden-Hill-Troupe-Hootenanny-Roundup