Gene Summer's CD
Posted March 16, 2008 - Gene has just informed us that he has a brand new CD titled "Reminisce Cafe", just released on Seduction Records #110. This is Gene's 50th Anniversary Album released in 2008 on the exact date of his first 45 release, "School Of Rock 'n Roll", which was issued on February 1, 1958! "Reminisce Cafe" contains (15) NEWLY RECORDED tracks in the rockin' 50s style. This is Gene's first U.S. studio album since 1981! Tracks include: "Reminisce Cafe", "She Bops A Lot", "Just Together", "Rockin' Fever", "Crazy Cat Corner", "I Won't Take Any Less", "(It's Love Baby) Twenty Four Hours A Day", "Do A Little Roll", "Heartbreak City Limits", "Love Me Tender", "Gonna Drive 'Em Up A Wall", "Be-Bop City", "Hot Rod Baby", "I'm Flyin' In" and Little Lu Ann (a James McClung composition)!
The liner notes were written by legendary DJ Ron Chapman and the album was produced by 3-time Grammy winner Phil York. CD has a 6-page, full color, fold-out with some never before published, personal pics from the early years to the present! (Cover Photo: Gene & Dea Summers, Dallas, 1962) [UPC663525221727] CD in stock. Immediate shipping, order from: http://siliconmusic.us/. Autographed copies are available upon request.
Gene Summers on YouTube
The Gene Summers Bio at AllMusic
Here is a link to the MP3 of "School of Rock 'n Roll" with commentary by Bob Dylan
on his XM Satellite Radio Show "Theme Time Radio Hour With Your Host, Bob Dylan"
Shawn Summers Music
A streaming mp3 site of my Gene's son Shawn's music.
Click on the heads to start streaming each song.
Listed below are artists who have recorded cover versions of original Gene Summers recordings, This is only a partial list as it is impossible to know the exact number of existing covers.
ALMOST 12 O'CLOCK
BIG BLUE DIAMONDS
The Blue Diamonds/
Jerry Lee Lewis/USA
Darrell Highan & the
SCHOOL OF ROCK 'N ROLL
Red Hot Max and
Johnny Delvin/New Zealand
NOTE: Anyone knowing of other Gene Summers cover version please contact:
Gene Summers Fan Club, 222 Tulane St., Garland, TX USA 75043-2239
We would like to add them to our listing. Thank you!
"...You Ought to be in Pictures!"Two of Gene's original recordings ALMOST PERSUADED and WHO STOLE THE MARKER FROM THE GRAVE OF BONNIE PARKER made their appearance in a new film titled "Billy Martin" released in ther latter pasrt of 2000. "Almost Persuaded" was written by Gary Mears of the original Casuals and "Bonnie Parker" was written by Dea Summers. Both songs are published by Silicon Music, BMI ©1968-200. Speaking of movies, Gene made his film debut in 1989 in the film titled "No Safe Haven" which starred Wings Hauser. Summers played the part of a preacher. After a good run on HBO the movie is now available on video. Gene also appeared in a movie-shirt titled "Backlot" in 1986 ... guitar and All!
Wings Hauser and Gene Summers on the
set of "No Safe Haven" in 1986.
"...Let There Be CDs and There WERE CDs!"Recent compilations of Various Artists which feature one of more Gene Summers recordings - read on!
The Best of Big D Rock Vol. 1 & 2
32 Dallas rockers featuring Gene's
chart hit "Almost 12 O'Clock" and
his classic "Alabama Shake." Git it!
Teddy Boy Rock 'n Roll 5th Anniversary
UK compliation with tons of English
acts. Includes the Blue Cats who join
with Gene on "Domino" and "Shake Baby
Shake." Hot rockabilly all the way!"
Sounds Like Elvis
15 soungs with the Elvis feeling.
Gene is on the cover and has two songs,
"Cool Baby" and Goodbye Priscilla" included.
Loud Fast & Out of Control:
The Wild Sounds of '50s Rock
The fantastic 4-disk set includes Gene's
"School of Rock 'n Roll." A must have!
Box Set -- Rhino 75704
Now Dig This! Whole Lotta
21 rockin' tunes from the Rollercoaster
vaults released in conjunction with
Now Dig This! magazine. The original
"Fancy Dan" by Gene Summers is found
here. This CD just keeps on rockin'"!!
Rollercoaster UK - RCCD 200
Rockabilly Hall of Fame Vol. #5
This CD, released April 1, 2001, features
28 tracks. 12 tracks are a tribute to
Gene Vincent. Incuded in this segment
is Gene Summers' hot rockin' version of
Vincent's classic - "I Got a Baby."
Rockabilly Hall of Fame, RABHOF CD113
Other Compliation CD's (not pictured) Include:
Buffalo Bop CD#55093 / Germany 2000
Gene Summers' track: "Fancy Dan"
Pianola Rock Ola
Lucky CD#501 / England, unknown
Gene Summers' track: "School of Rock 'n Roll"
Rock Ola Vol. 2
Lucky CD#602 / England, unknown
Gene Summers' track: "Straight Skirts"
Rockabilly Gold Vol. 13
Lucky CD#813 / England, unknown
Gene Summers' track: "School of Rock 'n Roll"
Rockabilly Gold Vol. 15
Lucky CD#815 / England, unknown
Gene Summers' track: "Gotta Lotta That"
Like Nothing Your Ears
Have Ever Heard, Vol. 9
Vladimir Twist LP #6909 / 1996
Gene Summers' track: "School of Rock 'n Roll"
Calling All Rock & Roll
Collectors Vol. 4
Gene Summers' track: "School of Rock 'n Roll"
The UNDERSTATEMENT of the
Century ... "And I thought
bootlegging was dead!!"
LEGITIMATE RECORD LABELS
intertesting in leasing Gene Summers' tracks should contact;
WRITE FOR A LIST OF TITLES
For Bookings Contact:
Gene Summers Int.
222 Tulane St.
Garland, TX 75043-2230
Paul Barrett Rock & Roll Ent.
16 Grove Place, Penarth
CF64 2ND, South Wales, UK
Phone: 011-44-1222 704 279>br>
... TO BE CONTINUED!!
GENE SUMMERS, entertainer, songwriter, music publisher, born in Dallas, Texas, January 3, 1939, son of Hugh and Lena Pearl (Moore); graduate of Duncanville, Texas High School, student of Arlington State College, Southern Methodist University. Gene married Deanna (Trentham) July 22, 1961 and has three sons: David Wayne, Steven Len and Gregory Shawn.
HE PERFORMED in 1955-56 at civic clubs and dances while in high school and was named performer of the year in "TV High School Hi Lites" program in 1956. Gene formed his own band "The Rebels" in 1957, did his first professional TV program "Country Picnic in 1957 and released his first record "Straight Skirt" / "School of Rock 'n' Roll in 1958. He made personal appearances throughout the US from 1958 thru the 1960's. These includes major tours, in 1961, with Chuck Berry and The Drifters. In the 1970's Gene was a nightclub owner/entertainer and then went on to headline tours in England, France, Sweden, Holland, Finland in 1980-81. He was featured as the headliner of the 1981 1st Scandanavian Rock & Roll Meeting. Also in 1981 Gene co-headlined the 1st International Rockabilly Festival/ France. That same year he appeared on the National French Television Program "Le Grande Echiqier" with Jacques Dutronic that drew a viewing audience of 20 million.
GENE SUMMERS has appeared with top recording stars throughout the world; charted 12 singles in the US and abroad. His biggest selling single was "Big Blue Diamonds" in 1964...followed by "Goodbye Priscilla" in 1977.
GENE SUMMERS / THE ULTIMATE SCHOOL OF ROCK & ROLL - CD1. School of Rock & Roll
3. Straight Skirts
4. Gotta Lotta That
5. I'll Never Be Lonely
7. Someone Somewhere (unreleased)
8. Alabama Shake (unreleased)
9. Almost Persuaded(unreleased)
10. You Said You Loved Me
11. Dance Dance Dance
12. If you Don't Come Home (unreleased)
13. Just Because
14. Fancy Dan (unreleased)
15. Big Blue Diamonds
16. Someone Somewhere (unreleased)
17. Almost 12 O'clock
18. The Push (unreleased)
19. The Great Pretender (unreleased)
20. Broken Dreams (unreleased)
21. Alabama Shake
22. The Clown
23. World of Illusion
24. Cloudy Day
25. Who Stole the Marker
26. Goodbye Priscilla
28. Baby Are You Kiddin"
29. Twixteen (unreleased)
30. Nervous (unreleased)
31. Rockaboogie Shake
32. Gotta Lotta That (unreleased)
Gene Summers' CD, "The Ultimate School of Rock & Roll" can be purchased by sending $14.99 + $3 shipping/handling to: Crystal Clear Sound, 10486 Brockwood Road, Dallas, TX 75238 or calling 1-800-663-9361.
IN THE EARLY YEARS OF ROCK 'N' ROLLthere were the big stars we all know of, but each region of the USA had their own local stars, some of whom moved to major recording centers at the first opportunity and became big stars, and some who stayed in their area and made careers locally while trying to record hit records. The Gene Summers story is a combination of all these, but with a wonderful European twist. Gene is probably best known in the Dallas area for "Big Blue Diamonds," in the Northeast for "Nervous," in Europe for "School of Rock & Roll," and for other songs in other areas. The reason for this is very interesting.
Not having the massive promotional push of a major label at any one point in his career, Gene's records would always "break-out" in a area and run their course before another area would pick up on it. Thus, they never had a chance to become big national hits.
But put that aside, because on the "Ultimate School of Rock & Roll" CD you can learn about a true rock 'n' roll star who recorded early rock hits and continued to make excellent records for decades. In lives performances, he has rocked with the best of them since 1958 and still does so when he wants to, proof furnished by his successful European tours in the mid-1990's.
A Dream DeferredBy Matt Weitz
Area rockabilly hero Gene Summers and Sisyphus (star of Greek mythology) could probably kill a few hours together comparing notes. The latter, you may recall, was an ancient king of Corinth damned to an eternity of rolling a heavy stone up a hill, only to have it roll back down at the last minute. The former was--and is--one of our area's earliest rockers. Summers started his career with a string of local rockabilly hits in the late '50s that are just part of the treasure trove on The Ultimate School of Rock & Roll, a just-released career retrospective. Ever since "School of Rock & Roll"--his first hit--he's managed to provide for a wife and three sons through music. Ironically, that success--which many artists can only dream of--kept him from returning to the music he truly loved for more than 30 years.
Summers, something of a pragmatist, knew that if you wanted the kind of (steady) cash flow a family required, you had to play to--or with--popular taste. Once people stopped wanting to hear rockabilly, it didn't matter that he was a master of the form. His hits for the local label Jan contained some essential examples ("Straight Skirts," "Nervous," "School of Rock & Roll") of what was then a brand-new kind of music: a cross between R&B and country that some people called cat music, others rockabilly. A couple of years after the fad ignited, it was spent, and nobody cared what term you used.
Summers became a working musician, going on the road with acts like the Drifters and Chuck Berry and snagging the long-term gigs that gave a bit of stability. "I was married with three kids," Summers explains in his tree-shaded Garland home, a picture of suburban placidity that the Cleavers would envy. "You can't depend on music from gig to gig; it took a steady job."
It also takes a certain flexibility. "I didn't play any one niche," Summers says. "In the clubs, you learn to play whatever's hot, what people are asking for; [out of the clubs] I just tried to have a hit record. I tried and I tried and I tried." When his efforts paid off in 1963, it was with "Big Blue Diamonds," a country-pop number that sounded like Ray Price without all the strings--and not like "Straight Skirts" or the other rockabilly songs that he loved. With "Big Blue Diamonds" came what Summers calls "a whole new ballgame. From then on, we just tried to build upon the success of 'Big Blue Diamonds.'"
The song became something of a metronome for Summers, ticking off the years. "Every so often it was, 'Hey, we got to rerelease "Blue Diamonds,"' and then a couple, then five, then 10 years would go by, and it'd be like, 'Man, it's been 10 years since we put "Blue Diamonds" out,'" Summers recalls. "That meant that it'd been even longer since 'Straight Skirts' and 'School of Rock & Roll.' It was way back there, man, back to when I was a kid."
Summers was born and raised in Duncanville, listening to R&B on the radio and tracking down the "cool" places where you could get copies of racy hits like "Work with Me, Annie" and "24 Hours a Day." He sang in a vocal foursome during school, and around the time that 1955 changed into 1956, he and some of the backing musicians from the Red Star Quartet formed the Rebels. "We were fooling around, sure, but we also wanted to do something," Summers says.
Their timing was fortuitous: 1956 was the year that started out with Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins' tandem run up the pop, R&B, and country charts with "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Blue Suede Shoes," respectively.
"You really didn't know what to do," Summers says of the period immediately before Elvis. "You liked R&B, but you weren't black, and you couldn't sing it like they could sing it. You liked country--you just didn't know if you could do country. All of sudden, there's this thing that comes right in between the two, and that thing was Elvis. There wasn't a niche for him, so he found a place where he could make one."
The Rebels' popularity grew. "We'd play anywhere--hamburger joints, hops, anywhere we could set up. I believe we even played Neiman's once." The hops were particularly surreal. "We did hop after hop after hop," Summers says. "What we called a hop was mostly lip-syncing while the song played on a portable record player and the kids danced; there wasn't hardly any live music. Some local DJ would set things up in some gym or auditorium, and the teenagers would just fill the place up, and it wasn't just local acts. Back then, if you had a record to promote, you did the hops. I did them with Duane Eddy and Link Wray--he had "Rumble" out then, but he still did the hops." Bobby Darin, with whom Summers often shared a hop stage, bought him his first piece of pizza.
Although Summers had appeared on the popular radio show Big D Jamboree as a child when he entered a contest, the Rebels weren't regulars on the show like Ronnie Dawson. In the last half of '57, "Shindig" came to Duncanville--to broadcast a live show each Saturday night from the school gym that would compete with the Big D Jamboree--and Summers got a slot on it. "I sang 'I'm Throwing Rice,' by Eddy Arnold, at the beginning of each show," Summers says, rolling his eyes just a bit. "Every week, the same song, man--it was boring. I got pretty sick of it." By 1958, the Rebels were on Jan Records, a tiny label started by Texas oilman Tom Fleeger and named after his mother. In February, Jan released "School of Rock & Roll" b/w "Straight Skirts," and the race was on.
In between band gigs, Jan booked Summers solo. "I'd take a bus or train to a certain point, where the promo people would take me to the next event," he says. "Nervous"--released in June of '58--was also a hit, and Jan began trying to break the Rebels nationally, taking out ads in Billboard, but Summers was growing impatient with the tiny label. "I got real disillusioned with Jan," Summers admits. "At the time, I thought that if you put out a record, you made some money. I saw them spending all this money on the album, and I wondered why I wasn't getting any."
The band split from Jan in mid-1959, just as another single--"Twixteen"--was being loaded. In retrospect, Summers concedes that it wasn't that good a move. "I should've stuck with them," he admits. "I hadn't seen the error of my ways then, or that they were providing all this room and board for me."
"Twixteen"--an upbeat lament concerning the age-old conflict between age and availability that was miles ahead of most of its contemporaries--stiffed, partly because of a disgruntled Summers. "I didn't want to mess with it," he says. "I didn't want to promote it or anything, so it kind of just laid there and died."
Summers and longtime Rebels guitarist and songwriter James McClung got day jobs. "That lasted about three months," Summers reports with a laugh. The pair went back into circulation, this time playing clubs. By 1960 they were established in Dallas as the house band at Guthrey's, a popular nightspot down on Industrial Boulevard, catty-corner from the fabled Longhorn Saloon. On weekend nights, a thousand people showed up.
They were at Guthrey's about three years. During that time, Summers couldn't help but wonder sometimes what the hell had happened. "I felt like an overnight has-been," he says. "The music was gone and forgotten, a thing of the past. When I was on stage, I hardly ever mentioned the fact that I had records out. If you weren't a fan of the old stuff, you'd never know. Still, if you want to survive, you do what's happening, and we did.
"But we never stopped thinking 'hit record,' and we eventually started recording again. Of course, it wasn't rockabilly anymore, and that's where 'Big Blue Diamonds' came from," he adds, explaining the origins of the song he calls "the biggest thing in my life."
"Big Blue Diamonds" was released in October 1963, and Summers added solo appearances on the basis of the single's performance, but he was always looking back over his shoulder to when the spark was new. "You get so tired of pop stuff, of covers, you just get sick of it," Summers says. "Naturally, you want to go back to the stuff that's yours, the stuff you can point to and say, 'I did that, that's mine.'" The time still wasn't right, however. "Alabama Shake" was released in 1964, supposedly to follow up on the success of "Big Blue Diamonds." It went nowhere fast stateside, but did well in Europe.
Besides, music was turning in a direction far from rockabilly, a fact that Summers acknowledged in 1966 with "World of Illusion," an almost psychedelic pop tune that shows how much attention he paid to trends in taste. Summers himself seems a bit uncomfortable discussing that period in general, describing it generally as "the drug stuff--the pretty colors and flower children." He never toured behind any of his later releases, concentrating instead on "just trying to cut a hit record and get somebody interested in me."
He admits that the '60s were "a time where I really lost interest, so I started pulling my '50s stuff back out--not my rockabilly stuff, but the classics, like by Little Richard and Chuck Berry. I just got to the point where I said, 'the hell with this,' and started doing the stuff I wanted to do, and I found out that there was still a market for it, and that my crowds were as good as any in town. After that, I didn't change. I did about three-quarters '50s, with just enough other stuff to keep current--barely--and that's what I was noted for at the dance clubs."
In the mid-'70s, the rockabilly revival began, first in Europe. People like Ray Campi and Fort Worth's Mac Curtis discovered there an adoring audience rabid for the real thing. "I come to find out that people over in France, in England, thought that songs like 'Straight Skirts' were just about the best thing. I started getting more and more letters from fans overseas," Summers says, still sounding grateful and a bit bemused.
In 1980 he went himself, a trip he's made regularly ever since. "It was wild," he says of his reception. "All of a sudden, it is 1958; people have ducktails, and they're out there dressed like I used to--some of them were probably wearing the clothes I used to wear."
Summers enjoyed the way European fans treated their heroes. "You never get old to them," he says. "You could have a long gray beard, and you'd still be Gene Summers; sometimes it's nice to be reminded."
The body, however, is not so easily deceived. In 1991 Summers suffered two massive heart attacks that left him on the list for a heart transplant. A picture taken at a 1992 rockabilly summit held here that brought together Summers, Groovy Joe Poovey, Mac Curtis, and Summers' longtime friend Johnny Carroll, shows a gaunt, POW-looking Summers. "That was it," Summers says flatly. "It was coming. I was in such bad shape--I mean, my feet--I don't even want to talk about it." He pauses. He prefers not to speak of the donor who saved his life right now, fearing that any mention might inadvertently hurt surviving family members, but he is very aware that somebody else died, and as a result, he lived.
Coming out of post-op, he was already feeling so much better that he started singing along with James Brown's "I Feel Good." "The voice that came out of my mouth was one I hadn't heard in three years," he remembers. "It was strong and clear, 10 times better than the one I took in there." As he sang, the nurses around him joined in.
The revival of rockabilly and his reception in Europe convinced Summers that the time was finally right for returning to his roots, the music he could point to as his. After the operation, he and old friend Phil York--who had worked with Summers before going on to a career as a producer--started work on a retrospective compilation. The project had one big problem: Tom Fleeger--the owner of Jan--wouldn't give Summers the unreleased and alternate takes that Jan owned. "I don't think it was out of any bad feeling," Summers says. "They were his, and he hadn't decided what he wanted to do with them."
Then one day, he visited York at his house; York pointed to a cardboard box in a corner: the old masters. Fleeger had finally relented, and the way was cleared for The Ultimate School of Rock & Roll, released last month. The cornerstones are there, of course--"Nervous," "Straight Skirts," "Big Blue Diamonds," "School of Rock & Roll"--but also the lesser-known efforts like "World of Confusion." That Summers spent a lot of time casting about for another flavor that could take him like rockabilly did is obvious. Although all the cuts sound essentially like him, it's him with a number of twists: crooner ("The Great Pretender"), Elvis ("Goodbye Priscilla," recorded right before Elvis died and shelved for that reason), even Johnny Horton ("Who Stole the Marker [From the Grave of Bonnie Parker]?").
"This album is the first chance since the 45s were released--outside of paying a collector $40 or $50 for one--that the public's had another chance to pick up on them," Summers says. "Back in those days, all you did was release singles; you put out an album if your singles sales looked like they could support the LP." He shopped the album to a number of labels and decided to go with Dallas' Crystal Clear.
Through his three sons--all of whom get their hair cut at Rob's Chop Shop--Summers fell in with Hillbilly Cafe, the Fort Worth-based rockabilly band that now backs him, as they did earlier this month at a release party at the Lava Lounge. After a brief scare--his voice sounded weak and muddled, remedied by a mike change--Summers got his feet under him, beginning to move about a little more each song. Soon he was chasing people down and dragging them onto the dance floor, enticing them with his own wild energy. Soon it was almost like the old days, with Summers a bouncing, hip-shaking preacher presiding over a hyperkinetic congregation.
Having played in this area for more than three decades, Summers isn't seeking a place in the local scene. "Just enough to get the CD rolling and let people know that I'm still alive," he says, noting that he'd rather pursue the ever-more popular rockabilly "weekenders" that are springing up everywhere. "If you live long enough, you'll be rediscovered," Summers says with a laugh. "Fifties rock 'n' roll has made me a living for 32 years now, so I guess you could say that it's still pretty strong--strong as Grandma's lye soap.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
At The Rockabilly Reunion
In recognition & appreciation of a lifetime of contributions to
the entertainment industry and rockabilly music through
songwriting, publishing, and performances worldwide.
The ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME
©1997-2007 Rockabilly Hall of Famec®