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James Heubert Wilson
Submitted by Dominique "Imperial" ANGLARES
and posted April, 2016
I am really sorry to let you know about the passing of my friend James Heubert Wilson on October 23, 2015. It took time for his daughter to tack me down to break me the sad news. I know why my season letter sent for Christmas was left unanswered. Thanks to you for James induction into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame on October 22, 2014 under #396.
The first rockabilly record on RAM, a tiny record label from Shreveport, Louisiana, was "You Won't Know Why 'Till I'm Gone"/"Wilson Blues n°1" (RAM 15551) cut by James Wilson and The Jimmie-Cats probably in April 1956.
Aged only 16, still a student at Fair Park High School, James is backed on those self penned songs by a young James Burton (lead gtr), Larry Bamburg (bass) and Ronnie Lewis (dms/cowbell). Ronnie Lewis, who had also recorded with Jim Reeves for Abbott, is no other than Stan Lewis' young brother. There's also a great piano work maybe by session man Leon Post, or Virgil Dixon, a member of James' band who included also Johnny Nelson (dms), Jimmy Johnson (gtr) and Jimmie Taylor (gtr). James plaintive vocals are just great, and makes that double sider wonder a very rare record which could match with some of the best releases on "Meteor".
The publishing contract for Allstar Music was signed on April 12, 1956 with Dan J. Mechura as publisher, James Heubert Wilson as writer and Laurence Bamburg and Roy Prejean as witnesses. James' record was reviewed in Billboard dated July 28, 1956 as "a rhythmic down home type country blues" and having a "backwood sound". The cat had a little exposure on The Shreveport Times on May 22, 1956 and for a long time that was the only information we had about James and his band. The original acetate of "Wilson Blues No.1" and "You Won't Know ‘Till I'm Gone" are still in existence, and they show on the label the postal address and telephone number of the studio, 4.9909.
James also recorded a demo of his own "No Loving No Rocking Blues", later cut by The Lonesome Drifter, but that great acetate with some fine guitar is too badly damaged to be ever issued. James also recorded a demo of "Cheating On Me" which was lost. He also worked some concerts with Charlotte Ray Hunter and Johnny Horton in several Ark-La-Tex communities. When his record came out James took it around to the local disc jockey to get it played. One of them was Tommy Sands who liked it and played it on KCIJ. Previously during 1954/5, James had worked as a young kid at the auditorium selling peanut and popcorn. One of his customers was Elvis who he remembered as being really nice and hung around and visited with the workers. It left a good impression on James. Yes, siree, Elvis was a good ole rockin' boy!
Sadly soon after those recordings, James moved with his family to Mansfield - Louisiana - and never recorded again. He was drafted into the US air force and served in Germany. He was later married for ten year having two children, a boy and a girl, enjoying to sing Sonny James and Jim Reeves' songs for the family. He was also a member in the 80's of the El Karubah Shrine Temple helping kids in need. At the time of his passing, he was living in Louisiana and does not have a copy of his only record.
To coincide with her first releases, Mira Smith featured her artists in her "Country Store Party" show, co-produced with Buddy Sepaugh (aka Endom Spires), which was presented on Thursday night from the The Venus Theatre, a 650 seats venue, located 2426 Lakeshore Drive, Shreveport. The show was also sometime performed in the Courtyard Theater Bldg located 2400 Lakeshore Drive. On that show were often featured Dottie & Sally, Linda Brannon, Bobby McGee (often spelled as McGhee or Magee), Charlotte Hunter, Sylvia Gay, Johnny Roberts, Ramona Kerry. The back-up band was lead by Larry Bamburg with James Burton (gtr), Bobby Hammett from Coushatta (gtr, bs, mandolin), Bobby Moorehead from Minden (bs). We have a three minute color silent movie from around September 1956 showing some of these artists including James Wilson but also Sylvia Winderweedle playing steel guitar and her husband playing piano. Live recording of "If I had Me A Woman" by James Wilson, featuring heavy drums, "Sweet Dreams" and "Any Old Time" by Larry Bamburg, "Don't Bother Me" by Linda Brannon and "I'll be True" by Charlotte Hunter are still in existence.
May my friend rest in Peace and never get the Blues anymore.
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