Column 1 - published August 5, 1997
25 YEARS OF ROLLIN' ROCK RECORDS
That's right 25 years, a quarter of a century, to be precise it was on September 13, 1972 that I signed a licensing agreement with Mr. James L. Mooney who at the time was in charge of Sage Records for the release of 4 Jimmy Patton tracks. The whole agreement was 5 lines long and had no expiration date and no restrictions whatsoever, except the requirement to pay a royalty rate of 20 cents per EP sold. I designed a rudimentary paper sleeve using a classic 1950s photo of Jimmy Patton and drew up a Rollin' Rock logo somewhat similar to the writing on the front cover of Rollin' Rock magazine.
Indeed the two years before the record label Rollin' Rock magazine was my main preoccupation. The magazine was formed as a spoof of "Rolling Stone" magazine. Indeed "Rolling Stone" claimed to represent the "underground" while in reality it was promoting millionaire drugged-out Hippie bands, so enter "Rollin' Rock" magazine as the voice of the "under- underground" to stand up and fight for REAL ROCK'n'ROLL, the one of Elvis, Gene Vincent, Chuck Berry, LaVern Baker, Bill Haley & The Comets, Jerry Lee, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Sam Cooke, Johnny Horton, etc., etc. (Similar to the real rockin' WWW Rockabilly Hall Of Fame vs. the misnomered "Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame" which caters mostly to non-rockin' Hippie/Heavy Metal/Pop-Crock acts!)
Not only would Rollin' Rock magazine feature the above legends but would also promote what then I used to call "the great unknowns", that is cats like Ray Campi, Mac Curtis, Ronnie Dawson, Big Al Downing, Charlie Feathers, Jackie Lee Cochran, Chuck Higgins, Johnny Carroll, Mickey Hawks, Pat Cupp, Kid Thomas, J.B. Lenoir and so on. The readers of Rollin' Rock magazine (mostly Europeans) started asking for many of the records and artists I was writing about, including the savage raging rocker "Yah! I'm Movin " by Jimmy Patton. I obliged them, and Rollin' Rock Records was born.
It was another year or so before I ventured into my own productions after having had the good fortune to have met Ray Campi. During the 1950s Ray recorded with an electric bass, but I insisted we use a slappin' bass. So I bought one, and Ray, who had never played one before, was ready to record the next day! Now we are churning out new records of authentic 1950s styled Rockabilly, something which at the time was almost unheard of. The next step was to organize a band, and so we formed the Wildcat Shakers, later renamed the Rollin' Rock Rebels and finally the Rockabilly Rebels. Ray Campi was in it, so was Jimmie Lee Maslon, Johnny Legend and Billy Zoom.
Rollin' Rock was becoming a cult item in Europe and especially in England: "The New Musical Express" (the UK's top music mag) had a seven page cover story on Rockabilly where they credited Rollin' Rock, Ronny Weiser and Ray Campi for starting the whole "Rockabilly Rebels" and "Hep Cat" movement in the UK. According to "Melody Maker" on subway walls in London graffiti appear with the slogan "ROLLIN' ROCK RULES". Bobby Clifford of E.M.I. records a song titled "ROLLIN' ROCK ROCK" (later re-released on Sonet) as an ode to Rollin' Rock Records, Ray, Mac & me.
Now cats & chicks start visiting me from all over the globe: unforgettable experiences like when that Japanese girl faints at the gate ... Like when there was a six and half foot tall black leathered biker with chains and knives riding to my gate right when my wife comes back from the market! She almost had a heart attack thinking this savage beast might rob her and rape her. In panic, I run to the gate and this unwashed savage recognizes me from some magazine interview and whispers in a sheepish nervous voice:" Mr. Weiser, would it be too forward of me to ask you to sign this Rollin' Rock Record?" My jaw fell to the floor!!! He turned out to be a real sweet feller!! Appearances can be deceiving indeed!
Unforgettable experiences like when one day, about a year before we moved to Las Vegas, 14 Japanese cats show up. It turns out 4 of those 14 were in a band called....THE ROLLIN' ROCKS! They wore T-shirts with the Rollin' Rock logo on them!! They also sported tattoos with the Rollin' Rock logo on their arms. Next, they ask Ray Campi and me to sign underneath the logo.....and, yes, you guessed it, the next morning they went to the tattoo parlor and... The ROLLIN' ROCKS, now grown to 8 pieces, played the Denver Rockabilly Weekender, got three encores and signed autographs for over an hour! And, Wataru, the leader, strummed a guitar with the Rollin' Rock logo on it!
Yes, it's been an incredible 25 years, but they have just been a warmup, in the next 25 years ROLLIN' ROCK RECORDS will start to REALLY KICK SOME ASS! Viva Rock'n'Roll, Viva Rhythm & Blues, Viva Rockabilly, Viva Swing.
Rockin' Ronny Weiser,
The Rockabilly Rebel Westerner from Las Vegas
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