Update: October, 2004
Chicago Sessions
with James Burton

Chicago's music community was taken by storm as producer/ piano man Mark Brumbach brought two true legends in to record at Twist Turners House of Sound Studios. The great James Burton and Matt Lucas Rocked outsome of the most driving blues,country, and rockabilly ever heard here in the windy city. Some of Chicago's finest players had the time of their life recording with these pioneers of rock. The cd will be mastered here in Chicago after Grammy and W.C. Handy award winner Charlie Musselwhite puts his finishing touch on it. Producer Mark Brumback, aka The Mad Scientest said, "Baby, we made history here in Chicago!"

Click to Visit: Matt's RHOF Photo Page

Hi there. Had a ball, as usual, on the 2004 Costa Cruise with Tommy Roe/ Peggy March / Paul Revere / The Buckinghams and my old buddies the Org. Bill Haley Comets. This is Dick Richards of the Comets on his Birthday on board. Looks like another good year as I'm doing the Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans on April 27th and the Jackson, Tenn. Rockabilly Fest first week of August. Hugs, Matt

The New Circle Club, Elmers End Road, Kent, England
Sunday, 26th May 2002

It was a return to The New Circle Club, Elmers End Road, Beckenham, Kent after a gap of three months to catch an in house performance by recent Hemsby headliner and general rock 'n' roll extrovert MATT LUCAS. The venue again impressed with good acoustics and atmosphere plus a well stocked bar at very reasonable prices. Audience attendance was down but this did not affect the guys performing on the stage, they gave 110% and were clearly enjoying themselves.

The opening set was by Thomas La Velle on piano along with the Wayne Hopkins Combo including the marvellous Dave Briggs on guitar and a guy by the name of Steve on harmonica. Good tight blues tinged rock 'n' roll. The guys then returned to the stage for show time, the guy with maniacal energy and a thousand stories, Matt Lucas. The drum set was positioned right up at the front of the stage which was just great as Lucas seemingly performed with even more showmanship than at Hemsby and the performance was clearly visible to all. The opener was 'Oobie Doobie' followed by 'Ubangi Stomp' and 'Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee Oh Dee' complete with high pitched squeals. The drum sticks were being wielded like a pair of whirling dervishes, the leg was being kicked out, the head held back and then held low over the cymbals. This was take no prisoners and allow no mercy straight ahead rock 'n' roll. The non-stop music continued with a frenzied work out on 'Put Me Down' and a quite unique interpretation of 'Mystery Train' with tasty controlled drumming.

This time around, Matt included a couple of blues tunes in his performance, namely 'Ugly Blues which he advised he made up on the spot and contained humorous lyrics, and an excellent 'Sweet Home Chicago'. The backing was spot on, especially with the addition of the harmonica player. But it was soon back to hard rockin' with Lucasised stylings of 'Sweet Little Sixteen', 'Down The Line' and 'Maybelline'. Regarding the last mentioned, Matt advised that he had cut this at Roland Jane's Sonic Studio on Madison Avenue, Memphis in 1962 with Travis Wammack playing lead guitar. The set then closed out with a high energy workout of Matt's biggest hit, 'I'm Movin On', originally recorded for Renay Records but then picked up by Smash Records, with plenty of vocal squeals and train imitations sounds. For an encore, it was a marvellous reading of 'Midnight Special'. The performance can best be summarised as high energy rough edged roadhouse rock 'n' roll, just as I like it. Even Mrs. Wilkinson was full of praise and that denotes the ultimate seal of approval.

Tony Wilkinson
June 2002

Posted December, 2001
Smoke Daddy, a downhome barbeque palace located in the heart of Chicago's trendy Wicker Park, usually serves up a steady diet of downhome blues on weekends. Not on December 21-22: when Matt Lucas came up from sunny Florida to visit the Windy City for the first time in 18 years, he brought with him a singular pastiche of rollicking rockabilly, soul, and blues that rattled the aromatic little restaurant down to its very foundation.

Lucas stood right in the middle of the restaurant, practically surrounded by the large band, and delivered everything from a vintage loping Jimmy Reed blues to Chuck Berry's "Memphis" (done Johnny Rivers-style) with energy and panache. The last set brought a special treat: Matt climbed up into the window where the rhythm section was set up to take over the drum kit himself, lending his socking backbeat to Stick McGhee's immortal "Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" (not that the lyrics exactly matched Stick's 1949 hit - Lucas likes to improvise) and a show-closing romp through "I'm Movin' On," his signature 1963 hit for Smash Records (a subsidiary of the Chicago-based Mercury label). Lucas was so animated that he actually had one young lady in a prime booth screaming at his antics.

Not only did club owner Mark Brumbach handle electric piano duties himself, he recruited a sterling ad hoc band that included his brother John heading a three-piece sax section, guitarists Mark Wydra and Billy Flynn, and drummer Bob Carter. Local blues notables Little Arthur and Sam Lay were also on hand to pitch in with a few hearty guest vocals, Arthur blowing some mean harp while ex-Paul Butterfield/Howlin' Wolf drummer Lay avoided the traps altogether to concentrate on his sturdy singing.

With a new CD out entitled Shockabilly engagingly spotlighting one side of Matt's multi-faceted talent and a perennial European following, things are not only movin' on for the veteran vocalist, they're movin' up!
-Bill Dahl

Matt Lucas at Chicago's Smike Daddy:
As Succulent as the Cuisine!
Posted Dec. 24, 2001 - By Bill Dahl - Matt Lucas moved on to the Windy City December 21-22, headlining for two exciting nights at Smoke Daddy, a comfy barbeque joint and music room in the fashionable Wicker Park neighborhood owned by his longtime pal Mark Brumbach. Chicago hasn't enjoyed such a fundamental, old-fashioned house rocking in many a moon, rendering the impending holidays all the merrier.

Brumbach called in some estimable sidemen for the weekend's festivities. In addition to ably manning the electric keyboards himself and recruiting his brother John to head a improvisatory three-piece sax section, Brumbach recruited two fine guitarists - ex-Eddy Clearwater axeman Mark Wydra and tasteful Milwaukeean Billy Flynn - and impeccable drummer Bob Carter to join in the fun. Veteran Chicago blues harpist Little Arthur and dazzlingly attired ex-Paul Butterfield Band timekeeper Sam Lay were also on hand to provide a few guest vocals, Lay eschewing the traps to concentrate on singing a combination of tough blues and '50s rock and roll ("Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On," "Roll Over Beethoven") while Arthur animatedly took things in earthier, more downhome directions with equal impact.

But it was Lucas the sizable Friday evening crowd came to see (it was his first Chicago visit since 1983), and he certainly didn't disappoint. Displaying the energy and stamina of a man half his age, he engagingly mixed blues, rockabilly, country, and soul influences into a tasty stew as singular as the man himself. Now based in Florida, the Memphis-born singer fittingly lit into Chuck Berry's "Memphis" utilizing Johnny Rivers' basic arrangement as well as some timeless Jimmy Reed blues. Best of all, Lucas climbed up to man the drum kit while delivering the last few numbers of the evening, pounding out a torrid "Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" with a socking backbeat. He counted off his relentless 1963 smash "I'm Movin' On" to close out the night, Wydra uncorking a barrage of slashing slide licks. Hopefully it won't be another 18 years - or even 18 months - before Matt Lucas ventures this way again.

Photos posted May 2, 2000

Photos posted February 14, 2000

Sunshine Opry - Eustis, Florida


I was born in Memphis, Tennessee on July 19, 1935 and was adopted by a family in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. My dad worked at a theatre there and my mom and he tried tried their best to raise me right, going to church where I sang with them and spoiling me rotten. They were wonderful, caring and loving, but I chose to be a wild, crazy kid, hanging around pool halls with an older crowd that I looked up to. I was in a lot of trouble as a kid and did 14 months in Boonville, Missouri for stealing a cement mixer truck to run away from home in, as well as a few other things. I was around 14 when I got out and took off for Los Angeles, California to try and get into the movies. There I started playing drums with mostly black bands in the LA area.

I came back to Missouri about 1955 and started playing and singing with Cats Bradley, a great tenor sax player. At that time, I was playing on sessions at Dwight Gordon's studio and jamming with Bobby Ward, Ike Turner and most of the better bands in St. Louis. After moving to the south side of Chicago, where I played in mostly gangster and strip clubs, I came back again to Missouri where I played with the Charles King band, Max Sherrod, Jerry Mercer, Bill Rice and Joe Keene, among others in the area.

I joined my friend, Narvel Felts and we were doing lots of sessions and demos at the time that history was being made at Sun, Fernwood and Sonic studios in Memphis. One day, while playing on a session at Roland Janes Sonic studio, I told him about a version of "I'm Movin On" that I made up and how people would run to the dance floor when I would sing it. I think he thought I was nuts, but Narvel and J.W. Grubbs backed me up and we took a couple of cuts on it - So Roland released it on his label, Renay (Roland had released "Trading Kisses" for me on his Good label about a year earlier). At that time, the white radio stations wouldn't play my record because they said I sounded too much like a "nigger" so I went to Rufus Thomas at WDIA radio in Memphis, the #1 black radio station. Rufus asked me why my own people wouldn't play my record. When I told him, he grinned and said "Let me hear it". He said, "Matt baby, you got soul and he played it and played it and he gave me names of other cats, like my late friend John R. at WLAC and Bob McKee at WAOK.

To make a very long story short, Smash records in Chicago leased the record and it became a hit and I was on my way. After "I'm Movin' On", I had a hit of "Ooby Dooby and Maybelline. I continued working rockabilly, blues and the R&B circuit. After having an R&B hit "The Motor City Twine," in Detroit, with Ollie McLaughlin and working mo-town with the Supremes and Stevie Wonder and other Detroit acts, I moved to Canada. I was really down at that time, doing so much booze and drugs. Ronnie Hawkins helped me put a band together and I then had 3 hit singles in Canada and one album on Gene Lee's Kanata Records. I moved to the Virgin Islands in 1975 after another hit in Canada, "You Got A Love" on Quality records. After having a world wide hit record, being married 7 times, having one heart attack and being on the road almost 50 years, I'm still at it. I've been rockin' on cruise ships in the eastern and western Caribbean. I worked a year as Steamboatin' Director with the Delta Queen Steamboat Company while my wife worked as Tour Manager. We even worked together on the Mexican National Railway doing the Copper Canyon run. Wow!

I'm finally happily married to my wife Barbara. We make our home in Florida and in New Mexico. We're avid RV'ers and motorcyclists. My plans are to keep on boppin' the blues and do a lot of traveling and motorcycling. I'm sure proud to be a part of rockabilly history in Billy Poore's book ROCKABILLY: A 40 YEAR JOURNEY and a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame on the Internet.

-MATT (December, 1998)

Good 003 - Tradin' Kisses/Sweetest One - 1962
Renay 304 - I'm Movin' On/My Heavenly Angel - 1963
Smash - 1813 - I'm Movin' On/My Heavenly Angel - 1963
Smash - 1840 - Ooby Dooby/No One Like You - 1963
Dot - 16564 - Maybellene/Put Me Down - 1963
Dot - 16614 - Turn On Your Lovelight/Water Moccasin - 1964
Karen - 321 - The M.C. Twine - Pt 1/The M.C.Twine - Pt 2 - 1965
Karen - 2524 - Baby You Better Go-Go/My Tune
Kanata - 1008 - The Old Man/I'm Movin' On - 1972
Kanata - Kan 9 - "I'VE PAID MY DUES" - 1972

Kanata - Kan 9 - The Old Man/Bath Tub Blues/I'm Movin' On Ovriga okanda
Quality - 2129 - You Gotta Love/I'm So Thankful - 1975
(Canada) - 2159 - I Need Your Lovin'/Zoo Blues - 1975
Quality - (Bada aven utgivna pa Celebration 1002 '75 & 1004 '76
CJG - 504 - Put Me Down/Tom Cat Blues
Underground - 3001 - I'm Movin' On/Maybellene
(Canada) - 3002 - Peepin' Tom Blues/Newsman Blues

BlueJam - BJS 1001 - "THE WHITE BLUES WONDER" - 1979
I'm So Thankful/Zoo Blues/You Gotta Love/I Need Your Lovin'/Massage Parlor Blues/Florida Nights/Maybellene/ Movin' On/Put Me Down/My Heavenly Angel/Turn On Your Lovelight/Water Moccasin.

The Lonesome Traveler/Ugly, Ugly, Ugly/Please Mr. Carson/Musician's Blues/Happy Birthday Little Girl/The NutHouse/ Men's Liberation Blues/New Orleans Woman/Mr. King Of Rock & Roll/Extreme Function Blues/Key West/San Quentin Blues/ Wine, Wine, Wine.

Congo - CS 1935 - "THE CHICAGO SESSION - 1983"
Ubangi Stomp/Annie Had A Baby/Red Hot/I Wish You Would/Herpes Blues/Crazy Arms/Baby Let's Play House/ Rock & Roll Ruby/Something On Your Mind/Little Queenie/She's Got it/Vibrator Blues/Move On Down The Line/Drunkards Dream/Tongue Tied Jill.

"MATT LUCAS" by Billy Poore
Matt had several songs that made the Cash Box charts in 1963, but he only had one major hit on the Billboard pop charts. That was with a wild, scorchin', revved-up cover version of the #1 country hit from 1950 by Hank Snow called "I'm Movin' On." Matt's version rose to #56 after it debuted on the Billboard pop charts on May 4, 1963. "I'm Movin' On" by Matt had a nine-week ride back then on the Billboard pop charts. Matt also had big regional successes with rockabilly classics of the fifties shortly after that with songs like "Maybellene" and "Ooby Dooby." They sold a lot of records, especially in the South.

I've gotten to know and like Matt Lucas real well over the past several years, because he's about as real an original rockabilly cat as there is left anymore. Oh, if so-called normal people talked five minutes with Matt Lucas, they'd run like hell, 'cause they'd think he was full-blown crazy and plum out of his mind. But this cat's as real as they come, 'cause he'll tell you, with no bitterness at all, about the pure hell he's gone through in his life.

Matt Lucas was and still is a rock 'n' rollin' singer and drummer. That in itself is unusual. I can't think of any others back in the fifties. Matt knew he was born in Memphis on July 19, 1935. But what he didn't know for a long time, as he puts it, "I was born a bastard. The people I thought were my parents had actually adopted me. When I was about eight years old, I went snoopin' through a drawer and found the papers. It just knocked me for loop, I tell you. We were livin' in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, at the time."

Well, when Matt was about twelve or thirteen, he started doin' some real hell raisin'. When he was fourteen, he got busted for stealin' a truck and takin' it for a joyride before wreckin' it. He then spent about a year in reform school. When he got out, Matt kept playin' the drums in various joints around the South for several years. He had quit school at sixteen and by 1954 had worked his way west and wound up in Hollywood, where he spent some time playin' drums and singin' in various jazz and blues bands in the bad areas of town. Matt told me he was on the set and used as an extra in the 1955 juvenile delinquent movie, Blackboard Jungle. He hung out with Nick Adams, Vic Morrow, and other wild hellions who were just startin' to break into movies in the mid-fifties. Matt was always a hustler. He wanted to break into movies, music, whatever, and the timing was right, but it just didn't work out.

Matt don't mind tellin' ya when he left California in 1956 and worked his way back to memphis, he was already hooked on booze, broads, amphetamines, tranquilizers, and anything else in tablet or capsule form. Back in Memphis, Matt just went back to playing all the low-life, rough black and white juke joints throughout Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. Matt was playin' and singin' some rock 'n' roll, rockabilly, and R&B all through the late fifties in these places. They were all the same joints rockabillys like the Burnette Brothers, Billy Lee Riley, Sonny Burgess, Roy Orbison, ronnie Hawkins, Elvis, Charlie Feathers, Jack Earls, Carl Perkins, and so many others either worked before or at the same time Matt was workin' his way through 'em. Matt Lucas met and worked with just about every white and black artist musician in and around Memphis, where he stayed based out of between 1956 and 1963.

In 1959 Matt had his first record come out on the Good record label in Memphis. The A side was called "Tradin' Kisses" and sold pretty well around Memphis at the time, but it really didn't get any farther than that. The song had a rockabilly edge to it, probably thanks to Roland Janes, who produced it at Fernwood Studios in Memphis and played guitar on it. Roland is best known for playin' on all of Jerry Lee Lewis's biggest hits and best songs on Sun Records.

After that first record, Matt was back in the beer halls and joints around Memphis and surrounding states until 1962 and early '63, when he went into Sonic Studios in memphis and self-produced about a dozen wild rockabilly, blues, and soul screamin'' get-down songs. Roland Janes engineered these sessions, and Matt used some of the best backup musicians in Memphis music history, including Narvel Felts and Travis Wammack on guitar, J.W. Grubbs and Fred Carter on bass, Jamie Isinhood on piano, Billy Lee Riley on bass and maracas, and of course Matt Lucas played drums and sang all the wild vocals. These were the sessions that produced Matt Lucas's only Billboard pop chart hit, "I'm Movin' On."

The follow-up record was "Ooby Dooby." Once again done in a scorchin', wild, frantic style for its time. This record made the Cash Box charts and sold real well. Some say better than Roy Orbison's did in 1956. It did well enough that Dot Records released several more 45s well into 1964 that were all recorded at those 1962 Memphis sessions. The first Dot release sold well enough to hit the Cash Box charts, but the following two releases, "Put Me Down" and "Turn On Your Lovelight," failed to do as well. So after a couple of good high-rollin' and wild-livin' years on the road of ridin' up at the top of the big time, Matt Lucas would start the worst decline ever in his whole life between 1965 and 1970.

Matt did some soul and R&B recordings in 1965 in Detroit. He kept doin' booze and dope all the while he was giggin' in blues joints, and in 1970 he wound up in Toronto, where he spent the next five years. Matt told me he was at his lowest point in life in 1970. He was livin' in a fleabag apartment on the bad side of town. His fifth wife was about to take the kids and leave him. They'd shut the heat off 'cause he was broke and hadn't paid the bills, and he'd about destroyed his body with drugs and alcohol by this time. This was a cat that five and six years earlier was drivin' new Cadillacs.

But around 1971, Matt came back, workin' his way at gettin' clean in his body and mind with the help of his seventh and current wife, Barbara. Matt started gettin' regular gigs again with old pal and rockabilly artist Ronnie Hawkins and cut a blues album in 1972 called "I've Paid My Dues." Ronnie Hawkins and Matt Lucas were both hangin' out with Xaviera Hollander, more widely known as "The Happy Hooker," around this time. Matt says, "Yeah, she was "The Happy Hooker and I was 'The Happy Hustler.'" Matt and his wife Barbara left Canada in 1975 and relocated in Florida, where they live today. Matt went to Chicago in 1983 and recorded two albums. One was a blues album, and the other is a pretty strong rockabilly album.

The reason I like Matt Lucas as a friend today is 'cause he's an honest cat who has nothin' to hide about his past, 'cause like he says, "You can't change it." Matt can still deliver one of the wildest live stage acts in rock 'n' roll or rockabilly I've ever seen. He can still drive an audience of young fans nuts. I've seen him do it. He's still giggin' wherever he can down in Florida, and the nightclub and rockabilly world is really missin' out by not bookin' this ol' original wild cat, who still knows how to rock, more often than they do.

Tex Rubinowitz and me both agree it kind o' makes us sick, and get mad when we see some young twenty-two-year-old punk, about 5-foot 4", who weighs about 110 pounds soakin' wet, that come from an upper-class family, swaggerin' all around on stage singin' all these classic blues songs about how tough times have been and he's seen so much blues in his life it's a downright sin, and so on. Just forget it! All you wannabe young blues singers need to talk to Matt Lucas, 'cause Matt can tell ya all about the Delta, Chicago, rock 'n' roll, rockabilly, and soul blues for real, 'cause Matt Lucas has lived it most of his life as much as any black or white man. He's got a right to sing 'em, and he's damn lucky and grateful to have lived through 'em where so many others didn't.

1997-2004   Rockabilly Hall of Fame