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Joe D Gibson
I guess I've been playing and singing music since I was three years old. My dad was a great "stride"
I became interested in Hillbilly music when I was about 14 years old and we were living in Dayton, Ohio
during WWII. We could get WSM and the Grand ol Opry on Saturday evenings.
I found a ukelele in a trash bin that was all broken up. I glued it back together, bought a 25
cent book on how to play it. I switched to guitar in 1946 with a "blisters on fingertips" cheap
instrument. I also started learning to play 5 string banjo after the family moved to N.Y.
I had a pretty good teacher., the legendary Tom Paley.
I joined the USAF in 1947 became an Air Traffic Controller and played with several Hillbilly
bands during my off duty hours.
I was a S/Sgt stationed at Westover AFB, Mass when I first met Bill Flagg who had a Sunday
afternoon gig in Windsor Locks Connecticut at a place named "The Brown Derby" and joined his
group playing Bass and banjo and singing harmony.
I'd been fooling around with putting a beat behind old folk songs and Bill started doing
likewise with Hillbilly music.
This was in 1955. In between enlistments, in 1956, I p[layed Bass and Banjo with Elton Britt
and toured Canada with his group. But, I had a family to support and there wasn't the kind of
security we needed playing and singing music. Besides, Music was really a sideline.
My chosen profession was as an Air Traffic Controller in the Air Force.
I re-enlisted in May of 1956 and was promoted to T/Sgt when I was Chief Controller and Station
Chief at Suffolk County Air Force Base on Long Island.
In may of 1955 I met Monte Bruce who was my Dad's next door neighbor in Brooklyn.
Monte liked the music that Bill Flagg and I had been playing at the Brown Derby.
He owned a record company named TETRA and signed me to a 3 year recording contract.
He also became my personal manager. We did three sessions at Bell Sound Studio in New York.
I was backed up by Tom Paley at one session and Roger Sprung at another. I also introduced Monte
to Bill Flagg who also signed to record for TETRA.
I recorded some what Bill had named "Rockabilly", Hillbilly and folk music with a rock and roll beat.
When we were wrapping up the last of three recording sessions, Bruce asked me to do the "hokiest
and corniest" song I knew. I did an innovative version of Muleskinner Blues. Up until that time
the only way anyone sang this song was the way Jimmy Rogers and Bill Monroe did it. This new
version that I did had a different melody and slightly different lyrics than the older Folk
Song and was released on TETRA as "Good Morning Captain" with Worried Man Blues (re-named 21
years) on the "B" side.
If Bruce had recognized the signs, we could have had the jump on the Folk Music revival that
the Kingston Trio began, but, he dropped the ball. Actually
Pete Seeger and the Weavers had grabbed the public's interest a few years earlier, but,
tragically were black balled by the Joe McCarthy communist witch hunt.
Good Morning Captain was an instant success, ONLY RELEASED IN NEW ENGLAND, NEW YORK, NEW
JERSEY AND PENNSYLVANIA, it sold 400,000+ 45's and 100,000+ 78's.
Monte Bruce didn't think that Jody was a real name, so the record label had the name, "Joe D. Gibson"
on it. It was on all the juke boxes and got a lot of play on the AM Pop and Rock and Roll
stations. One of the reasons for this record's success was that Alan Freed, the disc Jockey,
was Monte Bruce's father in law.
Sheb Wolley covered Good Morning Captain, note for note and yodel for yodel, as did Dolly
Parton and, much later, "The Fendermen"
I also sand harmony and played lead guitar on a couple of Bill Flagg's records.
I performed Good Morning Captain on the NBC Tonight Show, in uniform, on Armed Forces Day 1957.
I was transferred to England in June of 1957 and was introduced to George Martin (now Sir.
George) who was A&R manager of the Parlophone company at the time, by another legend
(recently deceased) Wally Whyton,. leader of the Vipers Skiffle Group, with whom I had
struck up a friendship. Parlophone's USA Affiliate is Capitol. I did an audition session
for George with my group, "The Muleskinners" which I had form,ed at RAF (station)
Bruntingthorpe. I sang the country song, Goin' Steady. After only one take, Mr.
Martin came out of the booth and said, "Well, I don't think we have to hear any more"
He told me he would get the necessary approval from the British Government, necessary under
the "Status of Forces Agreement", if I would do likewise with the USAF. I got the approval,
but I couldn't get a release from my contract with Monte Bruce and we had to wait for
the three years to run out. As a result the Parlophone records didn't start being
released until late 1959.
The U.K. recording companies had been trying to duplicate the "twangy" electric
guitar sound that American records had, but, without much success. All they'd been
able to get, was a sort of "dull thunk".
I brought my Martin D-28E guitar and my Fender tremolux amplifier to our first
recording session. We did one take when Mr. Martin came out of the control booth and
down the stairs with a surprised look on his face and said, "It never occurred to us
that it was the amplifier" It seems that they'd been trying to get the desired sound
with their recording equipment. This is probably of some historic significance
because one of the next groups that George Martin worked with was "The Beatles".
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