Alton Lott and Jimmy Harrell were born on June 17, 1940 and November 16, 1936 respectively, (see drawing at right) in the same room of the home of John Harrell (Alton and Jimmy's grandfather) in the Hillsboro community just outside Forest, Mississippi. Jimmy's father, Monroe Harrell, and Alton's mother Peggy Lott were brother and sister. They, along with Alton's father, Evaughn Lott, were members of hillbilly bands which performed professionally throughout the South.
Alton sang on the radio while in the third grade with his mom and dad's band. Alton and Jimmy grew up listening to their families sing and play hillbilly and gospel music and both learned to play guitar and sing at an early age. They listened to such artists as Elvis, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, Little Richard, many country stars on the Grand Ole Opry, and others on Memphis, Tennessee and Jackson, Mississippi radio stations.
Alton attended grammar school in Forest, Mississippi and graduated from Forest Hill High School, Jackson, Mississippi in 1958. Jimmy attended schools in Hillsboro and Forest, Mississippi and graduated from Hernando High School, Hernando, Mississippi (20 minutes south of Graceland) in 1954. Upon graduation, Jimmy enlisted in the U.S. Navy and while stationed in San Diego, California, attended a Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps concert in a local dance hall. Jimmy was greatly inspired by this fabulous singer/performer and formed a musical group called the Jim-Bobs with Bob Allen and Bob Cohen performing country and early rock 'n' roll music.
After leaving the Navy Jimmy moved in with Alton (and his parents)in Jackson, Mississippi where they began to sing, play, and write music as "Alton and Jimmy." Performing at dances, on TV telethons, radio programs, and in clubs, they became interested in recording and auditioned for Johnny Vincent, Ace Record Company, Jackson. They cut two songs for Ace entitled "Looking For Someone" and "Got It Made In The Shade" in 1958 at the Cosimo Recording Studio, New Orleans, Louisiana. Huey "Piano" Smith, who had a big hit with "Rockin' Pneumonia and Boogie Woogie Flu" on Ace, played piano on this session.
Shortly thereafter, Alton and Jimmy appeared on the Lousiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana. (Auditioned by Shelby Singleton, Mercury records, not signed.) Johnny Horton's manager, Tillman Franks, called Sam Phillips' Sun Record Co., Memphis, who set a recording date of April 5, 1959 where "Have Faith In My Love" and "No More Crying The Blues" were recorded and released later on SUN 323. Musicians were Alton Lott, guitar; Roland Janes, guitar; J.M. Van Eaton, drums and Billy Lee Riley, bass. Exactly two months later, on June 5, 1959 Alton and Jimmy recorded "I Just Don't Know," "What's The Use," "Why Do I Love You," and "The Longest Walk." All songs have subsequently been reissued on vinyl and C.D. "The Longest Walk" cannot be located among the Sun masters.
Jimmy was recalled into the Navy late 1959. He formed "Jimmy and Gene and the Rhythm Kings," a country-rock group, while stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga. The group performed throughout the Mediterranean area and Jacksonville, FL (Saratoga's home port) during 1959 and 1960.
Alton toured with several artists and was a studio musician for many years. He played with Andy Anderson, Murray Kellum, Buddy Rogers, and B.B. Boone. He joined "Faux Pas" and spent 14 years touring the U.S., playing all the major cities.
ALTON now resides in Grandview, Missouri.
After returning to the Navy in 1959, JIMMY advanced in rank from Hospital Corpsman Third Class (E4) to CAPTAIN (0-6) during his 37 year Navy career. CAPTAIN Harrell, Medical Service Corps, retired from the Navy in 1993. Jimmy now lives in Carthage, Mississippi and Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife of two years, Nell. Nell has one daughter Renae (Patrick Cooper), one Granddaughter Brittany (Christopher Thomas), and two Great Grandchildren Reed and Allie Parker. Jimmy has one son, Lieutenant Colonel James H. Harrell II , U. S. Army, one daughter Wendy (Sergeant Mario Ybarra, U. S. Army), three Grandchildren, Gayle Godwin, Airman First Class Barbara Patton, U. S. Air Force (Mike), Robert Harrell, and one Great Grandaughter, Elizabeth. Jimmy now devotes his time to performing, writing songs, and promoting Alton and Jimmy's music."
CAPT. J.H. HARRELL
WESTSIDE RECORDS, London, will release 2 ALTON & JIMMY TRACKS in September 1999:
"Looking for Someone" and "I Got It Made (In The Shade)"
Also Hear Alton & Jimmy on...
The Bear Family 4-CD Box Set, "THE COMPLETE SUN SINGLES, VOL 3."
Can be obtained from Collector's Choice Music, 1-800-923-1122.
"THE VERY BEST OF SUN ROCKABILLY, VOL.2."
Can be ordered at local record store on the CHARLY label.
"SUN ROCK 'N' ROLL, VOL. 1," "SUN ROCK 'N' ROLL, VOL. 2," and "SUN ROCK 'N' ROLL, Vol. 3. (CHARLY)