News Archive #8

"Ricky Nelson: Greatest Hits" CD
             12/28/05 - Twenty years to the week after his death, Ricky Nelson is rocking again. Yesterday (Dec. 27, 2005) EMI launched a fresh collection of Nelson's greatest hits, part of a larger effort to sell a new generation of music fans on artists popular with their parents and grandparents.
             Although he sold 35 million records by the time he was 22, and had 17 hits in the top 10, he is virtually unknown to younger music fans. Most reissues of his hits in recent years have been lucky to sell 10,000 copies.
             The Nelson album debut comes four days before the 20th anniversary of his death at 45 in a plane crash while traveling to a New Year's Eve concert in Dallas.
             Nelson grew up in black-and-white in America's living rooms as a TV star on his family's "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet." As a teenager, he launched a rock 'n' roll career that featured hits including "Hello, Mary Lou," "Poor Little Fool," "Lonesome Town" and "Travelin' Man." Although his career waned when the sitcom ended in 1966, Nelson enjoyed a comeback in the 1970s as a country rock star with the hit "Garden Party."

ALSO, WATCH FOR: "Ricky Nelson Sings," a documentary featuring 18 musical performances from "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet," interviews with Burton, Kris Kristofferson and Nelson's kids. Airing at various times on PBS.

EDITOR'S NOTE: "The Larry King Show," December 27, 2005, featured Ricky's four children (Tracy, Gunnar, Matthew and Sam), David Nelson, his wife, James Burton and Glen Campbell. They all reflected on Ricky's passing 20 years ago. Nice show! I was especially thrilled when Larry mentioned that Ricky was inducted into the "Rockabilly Hall of Fame"®. -Bob Timmers.
  • Ricky Nelson's RHOF Page

    Wanda to Release Elvis CD
                 The Queen of Rockabilly has a new CD on the way! Wanda Jackson's I REMEMBER ELVIS (Goldenlane Records 1568) will street on January 31, 2006. This is the Elvis "tribute" CD Wanda's been promising for years, featuring her interpretations of a few songs associated with her close friend and inspiration.
                 Tracks include "Heartbreak Hotel," "Love Me Tender," "Good Rockin' Tonight," "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Baby, Let's Play House," and more. Produced by Danny B. Harvey. Liner notes by another Elvis: Costello. More info: musicpr@earthlink.net

    WANDA JACKSON by: Dave McGurgan - She's the first female rock and roller and as the reigning queen of rockabilly, Wanda Jackson, now 68, continues to perform live and record new albums.
                 America was right in the middle of its innocent years when rock and roll and rockabilly came onto the scene. And Jackson, an up-and-coming country singer, was right there when it happened. And by her side was none other than Elvis Presley.
                 Elvis Presley took a special interest in Jackson and her music. The two toured together in 1955 and 1956 and also dated during that time, with Elvis giving Jackson one of his rings as a token of affection. And as Jackson continued to perform country songs, Elvis saw her true potential urged her to try her hand at the frenzied sounds of rock and roll.
                 "I honestly think I never would have tried this music had it been for his suggestion and encouragement," says Jackson. "It gave me the courage to try and man, I found my home." Rock and roll paid off for Jackson in a big way with a string of hits including "Let's Have a Party," "Fujiyama Mama," "Mean Mean Man" and "Funnel of Love."
                 Now Jackson is paying back the favor by recording an Elvis tribute album featuring many of the songs that he sang when the two worked together such as "I Forgot to Remember to Forget," "Baby's Let's Play House" and "Good Rocking Tonight."
                 Jackson says the album will also feature at least one non-Elvis song. "I'll be doing a song that a friend of mine wrote," she explains. "It's called 'I Wore Elvis Presley's Ring' and it's a real cute little rockabilly song. Robert Warren wrote it."
                 So does all this Elvis nostalgia bother Wanda Jackson's husband and manager, Wendell Goodman?
                 "The first years that we were married it was hard for him," says Jackson. "It was difficult for him to even get used to sharing his wife with the world and everybody coming at me from all directions."
                 Then one evening in Las Vegas, Jackson, her husband and a few friends checked into a hotel. They saw plenty of security and found out that all the rooms on their floor except theirs were booked by none other than Jackson's former flame Elvis. Presley came down to Jackson's room where Goodman met the crooner for the first time.
                 "Once he met Elvis, he saw how important Elvis was to my career, making all this happen for me. I think that really helped Wendell because he just saw the affection that we had for each other. It was a very sweet relationship." And 43 years after they pledged their vows to each other, Jackson and Goodman are still very much in love.
                 Although Wanda Jackson's Elvis tribute album won't be released until early 2006, she'll be touring with select dates in Toronto, Ohio and Texas with a special stop in Washington D.C. this September.
                 That's because she is one of only 12 people to receive this year's National Endowment of the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship. Jackson is both the first female country and rockabilly singer to receive the award, which recognizes artists who have contributed to the heritage of American arts.
                 And while she's in practically in every music hall of fame on the planet, an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inexplicably remains elusive for Jackson, despite a well-organized campaign by her manager and fans. Even fellow musicians such as Elvis Costello have gotten behind the effort to get Jackson into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
                 And even though it's been 50+ years since Jackson first began performing, she says her fan base continues to grow. "I get e-mails from people all over the world almost daily saying they've just discovered my music and now they're trying to buy up all they can find," she says. For more information go to Jackson's Web site, http://www.wandajackson.com/.

    Concert Review: St David's Hall, Cardiff - 20 November 2005
    Everly Brothers Live in 2005
                 It had been about 10 years since I last saw the Everly Brothers and I was a bit apprehensive of what time may have done to their wonderful voices. Fear not, Old Father Time is protecting them well, he's obviously a fan of country harmonising. With a price tag of £50 a ticket, the boys need to perform well to keep the cynics at bay. The pressure was also on Albert Lee and the band as they must be the Special Guests the tickets referred to! Again, fear not, Albert is one of the top guitarists in the world and the other guys aren't too shoddy.
                 I'd seen a couple of photos of Don and Phil from earlier performances on the tour and "baby boy Phil" was looking like he was carrying a bit more than puppy fat. In the flesh though he looked really fit with the only extra weight being on the face. He was sharp in a suit and spats - he was born in Chicago so perhaps he was paying homage to Baby Face Nelson and the boys. Don looked amazingly fit and sounded better than he had for decades. He looked trim and handsome in jeans and jacket.
                 They opened the evening with three lesser known gems with Phil forgetting the words to the opening of Kentucky. It was so great to see the boys appear on stage that I saw most of Green River through tears stained eyes. A lot of the classics were done with the the band being spot on with the most recent addition Pat Seivers playing some great steel. You could have heard a pin drop when the boys sang the ballads, such was the beauty of their harmonies. There is nothing to compare to them and it seemed onvious to everyone in the crowd that we were in the presence of God given talents.
                 Thankfully Don has changed the between-song patter, referring to Ebony Eyes as his favourite "plane death ballad"! He talked more about the various songwriters they've used over the years, giving mention to Roy Orbison and Boudleaux Bryant among others. They seemed very comfortable around one another and shared a few laughs. I know they've had more than a few differences and even travel on different buses, but onstage at least they are able to bury the hatchet and sing as one.
                 The boys left the stage for a quick break whilst Seivers excelled on a beautiful rendition of Sleepwalk and then Albert tore us up with a breakneck Restless. There was a brilliant addition to the show when the boys returned to the stage with just Phil Cranham on upright bass (the real man's bass). The speakers played a clip from 50 years ago, with their dad Ike introducing the Everly Brothers radio show. It was surreal to listen to Don and Phil as young kids whilst watching them in the flesh in their 60's. Don't Let Our Love Die played from the original show before the radio show died away and Don and Phil started singing it live. They sounded great and belied the advancing years. Silver Haired Daddy, Rocking Chair and Willow Garden followed in the tradition of their original Songs Our Daddy Taught Us album, and again, the place was enraptured by the sheer beauty of the performance. Listening to T For Texas and Blues Stay Away From Me left me feeling cheated that no record label is recording these legends today. I'm sure Nashville could find one label and a sympathetic producer who could revive their career much the same as Rick Rubin did with Johnny Cash on American Records.
                 The night finished with a perfect version of You Send Me - boys, you certainly do. Although this was advertised as their farewell tour, I hope they have a change of heart and come back again. The world needs them, there is no-one else around who can harmonise like them. If they don't come here again I'll just have to close my eyes and relive those sweet vocals and count my blessings that I've seen them a half dozen times.
                 Set list: Green River, Kentucky, Bowling Green, So Sad, Claudette, Crying in the Rain, When Will I Be Loved, Devoted To You, Ebony Eyes, Love Hurts, Bye Bye Love, All I Have To Do Is Dream, Gone, Gone, Gone, Sleepwalk (the band) Restless (the band), Ike Everly Intro - Everly Family Show into, Don't Let Our Love Die, Silver Haired Daddy of Mine, Old Rocking Chair, Willow Garden, Long Time Gone, Blues Stay Away From Me, Till I Kissed You, Cathy's Clown, Wake Up Little Susie, Lucille, Let It Be Me, T for Texas, You Send Me
                 Band: Albert Lee, Pete Wingfield, Phil Cranham, Tony Newman, Pat Seivers
    Shaun Mather
    November 2005

    Father of the "Power Chords" Dead at Age 76
    Link Wray 1929-2005
                 Link Wray, the electric guitar innovator who is often credited as the father of the power chord, died earlier this month at his home in Copenhagen, apparently of natural causes on November 5th, 2005.
                 He may have died quietly, but Wray's life was notable for its enthusiastic devotion to volume. "Rumble," the guitarist's 1958 signature song, had the unique distinction of being widely banned by radio stations across America despite the fact that it had no words.
                 As legend has it, Wray poked a pencil through the cone of his amplifier to achieve the song's groundbreaking fuzz tone. Its ragged, ominous chords, overdriven and dragged to a crawl, sounded like an invitation to a knife fight. At a time of national hysteria over juvenile delinquency, many cultural scolds took the song's implied threat literally.
                 Wray's early, highly stylized instrumental swagger, further evidenced in follow-up hits such as "Raw-Hide" and "Jack the Ripper," would prove to be a great inspiration for some of the most potent guitarists of the classic rock era, including Pete Townshend, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. Bob Dylan, another teenage fan, opened his show in London Sunday night by playing "Rumble" in tribute.
                 Link Wray was born Frederick Lincoln Wray Jr. in Dunn, North Carolina, on May 2, 1929. He claimed to have learned to play guitar at the age of eight from a traveling circus performer named Hambone. After serving in the Army and contracting tuberculosis, which led to the loss of a lung, Wray played in a succession of groups with names such as the Lazy Pine Wranglers and Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Hands, often with his brothers Vern and Doug and a cousin, Shorty Horton.
                 By the mid-1950s the Wraymen, as they were then known (sometimes billed as the Raymen), were regular guests on Milt Grant's Washington, D.C., dance program. When one fan asked the band to play a stroll, Wray, unfamiliar with the term, improvised on the spot. The prowling riff he came up with got such a positive response that Grant took a demo to Archie Bleyer at Cadence, the label then nurturing the Everly Brothers. "Rumble," despite the radio bans, eventually reached Number Sixteen on the national pop charts.
                 With his brother Doug, he formed his own label, Rumble Records, selling copies of "Jack the Ripper" out of the trunk of his car until the song was picked up by the Swan label. By the mid-Sixties he'd announced his retirement from music, declaring his intention to become a farmer.
                 But Wray, who proudly described himself as three-quarters Shawnee Indian, set up a crude three-track recording studio in a chicken coop on his property in rural Maryland. In 1971, Polydor released a self-titled album from those gutbucket sessions to critical acclaim, if disappointing sales. (Link Wray and two subsequent albums were recently reissued on a two-CD set called Wray's Three Track Shack.) Featuring swampy guitar, gospel-style choruses and Wray's own soulful singing, the albums marked a surprising new phase; there are appealing, Americana-style echoes of the Band, Van Morrison's pastoral period and the Rolling Stones circa Exile on Main Street.
                 Over the years Wray's early instrumentals have become natural favorites of soundtrack producers, appearing in John Waters' Pink Flamingos, the 1983 remake of Breathless, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and many other films. A flurry of soundtrack activity in the mid-Nineties helped convince the guitarist - then resettled with his wife, Olive, and son, Oliver Christian, on a remote island in Denmark - to return once again to the stage.
                 After performing forty North American dates this year to celebrate the release of Wray's Three Track Shack, Wray died at his home in Copenhagen. He was buried in a private family ceremony on November 18th.
    Link Wray Tribute Page
    Also visit: http://www.linkwraylegend.com
    And http://www.WraysShack3Tracks.com/

    Music Celebration for Sam Phillips;
    Jerry Lee Lewis to Headline

                 FLORENCE, AL -- Jerry Phillips wants to see his father's legacy preserved. The son of legendary Sun Records founder Sam Phillips said the Sam Phillips Music Celebration is one way to accomplish that. "This is a-Shoalswide event," said Big River Broadcasting promotions director Jimmy Oliver. "Sam Phillips loved the whole Shoals area."
                 The celebration will be Jan. 3-7 at several locations in Sheffield and Florence. A Florence native, Sam Phillips is known for discovering Rock 'n' Roll pioneers such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Charlie Rich. Lewis, affectionately known as "The Killer," will headline a concert at the conference center Jan. 7.
                 "This is so overdue," said Florence Mayor Bobby Irons. "(Sam Phillips) has done so much for the musical heritage we have in our community."
                 Jerry Phillips said the idea is not only to honor his father's accomplishments, but the musical heritage of the Shoals of which Sam Phillips was a part of before moving to Memphis, Tenn., where he founded Sun Records.
                 "He never forgot about his roots," Phillips said. "I really think this will turn into something to really benefit us all."
                 Sam Phillips has been inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame®.
                 The celebration will officially begin Jan. 3 at the main post office in Florence with the commemoration of a Sam Phillips cancellation stamp. A portrait of Sam Phillips that will hang in the post office will also be unveiled.
                 Several events will follow at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library. A historical marker will be dedicated at the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa. The marker will be located near the hotel's front entrance. The Marriott will also dedicate one of its 2,200-square-foot suites to Sam Phillips.
                 On the evening of the main concert, Oliver said the conference center will be decorated to resemble Beale Street in Memphis. Rooms will be decorated like Beale Street clubs and will feature a variety of Sam Phillips-influenced music.
                 As his father influenced a generation of performers, Jerry Phillips said performers like Presley and Lewis went on to influence a whole new generation of musicians like Elton John and Aerosmith. "There's no one in the music business today that hasn't been influenced some way by Sam's music," Phillips said. He said he speaks to many young people who are listening to artists who have rediscovered traditional rock and roll.
                 Sheffield Mayor Billy Don Anderson said he is glad that parts of the celebration will take place in his city. "We need to continue to search for opportunities to capitalize on the rich musical heritage of our whole community," Anderson said. "Music is a universal language that knows no boundaries," added David Johnson, director of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
                 Tickets to the main concert are $50 and corporate tables will be available. For details, contact Nick Martin, of Big River Broadcasting, at (256) 764-8121.

    Schedule of Events
    January 3, 20065 PM City Hall, Florence, AL City Council Proclamation
    January 4, 200610 AM Florence Post Office, Main Station U.S. Postal Service
        Commemoration of the Official Sam Phillips Cancellation Stamp
        11 AM Florence-Lauderdale Public Library-Sam Phillips
        Birthday Party
        11-11:30 Piano Concert ­ Christine Lovelace Gentry
        11:30-12:00 Birthday Cake / Fellowship
        12:00-12:30 Music by Jerry Presley
        12:30-1:30 Conversations on Sam- Hosted by former Graceland
        Fan Relations Manager, Patsy Anderson ­
        Special Guest: Scotty Moore, Donnie Dortch
        4:00-4:30 Historical Marker Dedication / Unveiling- Mariott
        4:30-5:30 Sam Phillips Suite Dedication - Mariott Shoals
        6:00-8:00 A&E Biography ­ Sam Phillips Roosevelt
        Amphitheater- Mariott Shoals
        9 PM-Until Live Music- Swampers, Mariott Shoals
    January 5, 20068-10 PM "Muscle Shoals to Music Row Live"
        Live Radio Simulcast / Internet Webcast Holiday Inn Sheffield
    January 6, 20068 PM - Until "The Official Sam Jam" Featuring Legendary Blues
        Man Jimmy Hall (formerly Wet Willie) The Key Note Room
        Florence, AL
    January 7, 20066PM - Until "The Sam Phillips Music Celebration" Mariott Shoals
        Resort & Conference Center, Florence, AL
        6-8 PM Acoustic Music Rooms in honor of the legendary
        Shoals Recording Studios
        8-8:45 PM Eric Heatherly
        9-9:45 PM The Amazing Rhythm Aces
        10 PM - Until ? The Killer - "Jerry Lee Lewis"

    For more information contact Nick Martin 256-764-8121 or log on to wqlt.com, wxfl.com, wsbm.com.

  • Sam Phillips' RHOF Tribute Page
  • Sam Phillips' RHOF Profile Page

    Valda deVere Perkins R.I.P.
                 Valda deVere Perkins, 74, beloved wife of the late Carl Perkins, died peacefully at home in Jackson, Tennessee, on Tuesday, November 15. Born in Bemis, Tennessee, Mrs. Perkins is survived by four children, Carl Stanley (Connie) Perkins, Deborah Joyce (Bart) Swift, Steven Allen (Donna) Perkins, and Gregory Jay (Dawn) Perkins; nine grandchildren, Shannon Langley, Carla (Scott) Simmons, Lesleigh Woodward, Suzanne Swift, Chase Perkins, Matthew Watkins, Jonathan Watkins, Cody Watkins, and Jay Perkins; and four great-grandchildren, Hayden Hurbis, Peyton Hurbis, Carlee Langley, and Kate Langley.
                 Visitation: Wednesday, November 16, from 5 until 7 p.m. at George A. Smith & Sons North Chapel, 2812 North Highland, Jackson, Tennessee. The funeral service: Thursday, November 17, at 11 a.m. at George A. Smith & Sons North Chapel, with entombment immediately following at Ridgecrest Cemetery.
                 The family respectfully requests that donations in memory of Mrs. Perkins be made to the
    Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse
    P. O. Box 447
    Jackson, TN 38302
    or online at www.carlperkinscenter.org.
    Jackson Sun Article on Val.

    Barbara Pittman Gone at Age 67
                 Portions of this article courtesy Stephen D Price & Memphis Commercial Appeal - Rockabilly singer Barbara Pittman never had a smash hit, but could occasionally find work performing. The Sun Records and Phillips International recording artist's popularity in Europe remained constant, and she last performed in England in March.
                 "She made her living singing. I never knew Barbara to do anything else," said Pittman's sister, Carlene Day of Arlington.
                 Pittman died at her Memphis home Oct. 29 of heart failure. She was 67. Best known for the classic "I Need a Man," Pittman was born in North Memphis. Her mother was friends with Gladys Presley and Pittman and Elvis Presley knew each other as children. Early in their careers, the young singers one night stayed up late taking publicity photos of each other. "They were up to 3 in the morning," Day said. "She got in trouble with Mama for that. She said, 'But Mama, it's Elvis.' Mama said, 'I don't care who it is.'"
                 Pittman began thinking of a singing career when she won a high school talent contest, Day said. As a child, Pittman spent time at her uncle's pawn shop on Beale Street, where she listened to jam sessions with B.B. King.
                 When she was 10 or 11, she auditioned for Sun Records, only to be told by Sam Phillips to come back when she learned how to sing. Later Phillips would be impressed by a demo she cut, "Playing for Keeps," and recorded her first session at Sun in 1956, according to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame Web site.
                 Other singles followed, including "No Matter Who's to Blame," "Two Young Fools in Love" and "I'm Getting Better all the Time." John Singleton, president of Sun Entertainment in Nashville, said Phillips used mostly male singers but liked Pittman.
                 Barbara did several shows for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Memphis and one in Las Vegas during the past 5 years. Sadly, she was often overlooked when the Memphis area Sun Tribute Shows were put together. She especially enjoyed joining Ace Cannon's band on stage for a song or two.
                 Day said her sister had a good sense of humor and "could tap dance. She could do anything." After that trip to England in March of 2005, Day said her sister's health declined. A memorial service was held Saturday, November at Family Funeral Care in Memphis.
                 The Rockabilly Hall of Fame will soon host a special tribute page for Barbara where fans, friends and family may share their thoughts about her life and career. Send you tribute for Barbara now - to: Bob Timmers.

    New CD Collection Contains 25 Top 25 Hits;
    PBS Television Special 'Ricky Nelson Sings' Airs In December

    Commemorating The 20th Anniversary
    Of Ricky's Untimely Death

    CD and DVD in Stores: December 27, 2005
                 "He sang his songs calm and steady like he was in the middle of a storm, men hurling past him. His voice was sort of mysterious and made you fall into a certain mood." -- Bob Dylan (from Chronicles, Vol. 1)
                 LOS ANGELES, Oct. 24 Capitol/EMI Music Catalog Marketing and the Rick Nelson Company proudly announce the December 27th release of Ricky Nelson: Greatest Hits on CD and Ricky Nelson Sings on DVD. The new CD collects 25 Top 25 hits from one of America's greatest icons, from his first, 1957's "I'm Walkin'" to his last, 1972's "Garden Party." Nelson's groundbreaking "Ozzie and Harriett" performances make their DVD debut on Ricky Nelson Sings, the home video release of a newly-produced PBS Television special to air in December. The new titles and television program commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee's tragic death in an airplane crash.
                 Nelson brought rock & roll to living rooms across America, co-starring in his parents' weekly hit, "The Ozzie and Harriet Show." Ricky Nelson became most famous for the string of infectious ballads and rockabilly recordings he made throughout the '50s, then in the '60s, became one of the pioneers in country rock. Ricky Nelson: Greatest Hits features 17 Top 10 hits ("Hello Mary Lou," "Lonesome Town," "I'm Walkin'"), including three #1s ("Travelin' Man," "Poor Little Fool" and "Garden Party").
                 Ricky Nelson's pivotal role in the development of rock & roll is the focus of the documentary Ricky Nelson Sings. Airing on PBS in December, the hour- long show, produced by LSL (Brian Wilson Presents ... Smile), features 18 musical performances from the "Ozzie and Harriet Show," along with new interviews from Nelson's legendary guitarist James Burton, fan Kris Kristofferson and Nelson's children: Gunnar, Matthew, Sam and Tracy. The DVD contains the documentary and 30 minutes of additional footage, including the world's first music video, Nelson's 1961 performance of "Travelin' Man" before a film montage created by Ozzie, and "Nelson & Burton Reunited," a spontaneous and magical performance by the Nelson sons with James Burton, captured during the new documentary's production.
                 Ricky Nelson's recording career began almost as a fluke. One night in 1957 Nelson was on a date with a young lady who swooned over an Elvis Presley song playing on the radio. In a move to impress her, Nelson fibbed that he, too, was cutting a record, and the girl laughed in his face. Nelson entered a recording studio, sang a cover of Fats Domino's "I'm Walking," and played it on "The Ozzie and Harriet Show." Within a week, the record had sold one million copies, an unheard of figure for the time. The track went to #2 on the Billboard chart and the b-side, "A Teenager's Romance," reached #2 as well.
                 From then on, Nelson performed a song at the end of every broadcast and quickly became the first teen idol (as coined by LIFE magazine). He recorded everything from traditional blues to rockabilly and played with a backing band that included bassists James Kirkland and Joe Osborn, and legendary guitarist James Burton, who later went on to play lead for Elvis Presley.
                 While Nelson was musically prolific in the early '60s, tastes had changed and Nelson's family-oriented pop was overshadowed by the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and others. Then, in the late '60s, Nelson, who had always loved country music, decided to cut a country album, setting the stage for a new style that would eventually be dubbed the California country sound.
                 His next great triumph rose out of a seeming failure. In October of 1971, Nelson was reluctantly persuaded to play a rock & roll revival show at Madison Square Garden, on the same bill as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Bobby Rydell. The audience expected Nelson to play his '50s hits, but he refused and sang only new material. Halfway through the set, the crowd began to boo. There were reports that police were in the back moving people out, and in the political spirit of the early '70s the crowd was actually booing the police activity. Regardless, Rick thought the crowd was booing him, and deeply shaken, he left the stage.
                 Later, he put his thoughts on paper: "I went to a Garden Party, to reminisce with my old friends, a chance to share some memories, and play our songs again. When I got to the Garden Party, they all knew my name, but no one heard the music -- I didn't look the same. But it's all right now. I learned my lesson well. I learned my lesson as well. You see you can't please everyone so you gotta please yourself." The poetic lines became the lyrics to "Garden Party," the title track for Nelson's first million-seller in over a decade. The album landed at #6 on Billboard's album chart and went gold in 1972. On the cover of the album, Nelson stands in starkly formal black and white, defiantly holding out his Les Paul guitar, confidence beaming in his eyes.
                 By 1985, Nelson had assembled a new, vibrant, young band and the group toured extensively. Although he was almost always on the road, traveling was a major source of anxiety for Nelson. He hated flying and refused to fly in a propeller plane or non-commercial airline. However, he broke both of his own rules when he purchased a vintage DC-3 that had been previously owned by Jerry Lee Lewis, surprising and confusing many who knew him well.
                 On December 31, 1985, while en route from Alabama to a New Year's Eve show in Dallas, Nelson's DC-3 crashed in a field near DeKalb, Texas. None of the passengers survived.
                 Nelson was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fam®. Artists as diverse as Paul McCartney (who was in discussions to produce a Nelson album) and John Fogerty, and even some of his own heroes, including Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, admired and respected him. Although he made his last recordings over 20 years ago, Ricky Nelson's music remains timeless.
                 There is no question that Ricky Nelson remains one of the most intriguing icons of the 20th Century.
        "Ricky Nelson: Greatest Hits"             "Ricky Nelson Sings"
         CD Track Listing                          DVD Track Listing
         Release date: December 27, 2005           Release date: December 27, 2005
         1.  Travelin' Man                         1. Hello, Mary Lou
             (1961) Highest chart position: #1     2. Be Bop Baby
         2.  Hello, Mary Lou                       3. I'm Walkin'
             (1961) Highest chart position: #9     4. Waitin' in School
         3.  Poor Little Fool                      5. A teenagers Romance
             (1958) Highest chart position: #1     6. Never Be Anyone Else But You
         4.  Lonesome Town                         7. Believe What You Say
             (1958) Highest chart position: #7     8. Fools Rush In
         5.  Believe What You Say                  9. It's Late
             (Single Version)
             (1958) Highest chart position: #4     10. Teenage Idol
         6.  I'm Walkin'                           11. My Bucket's Got a
             (1957) Highest chart position: #4          Hole in It
         7.  Waitin' In School                     12. Lonesome Town
             (1957) Highest chart positions: #6    13. You Tear Me Up
              Cashbox, Billboard #18               14. Travelin' Man
         8.  Everlovin'                            15. Everlovin'
             (1961) Highest chart position: #16    16. Young World
         9.  Fools Rush In                         17. Tryin' To Get To You
             (1963) Highest chart position: #12    18. It's Up To You
         10. Teenage Idol                          19. The Nelson Brothers --
             (1962) Highest chart position: #5         Garden Party
                                                       Bonus Performances:
         11. Stood Up                              20. Travelin' Man
             (1957) Highest chart position #2      21. I Got a Feeling
         12. Be-Bop Baby (Single Version)          22. Nelson Brothers w/James
             (1957) Highest chart position: #2         Burton -- It's Late
         13. My Bucket's got a Hole in It          23. Nelson Brothers w/ James
             (1958) Highest chart position: #12        Burton --
         14. It's Late                                 Believe What You Say
             (1959) Highest chart position: #9
         15. Never Be Anyone Else But You
             (1959) Highest chart position: #6
         16. I Got A Feeling
             (1958) Highest chart position: #10
         17. Sweeter Than You
             (1959) Highest chart position: #9
         18. Young Emotions
             (1960) Highest chart positions: #11
             Cashbox, #12 Billboard
         19. A Wonder Like You
             (1961) Highest chart position: #11
         20. Just A Little Too Much
             (1959) Highest chart position: #9
         21. It's Up To You
             (1962) Highest chart position: #6
         22. Young World
             (1962) Highest chart position: #5
         23. I Wanna Be Loved
             (1959) Highest chart position: #20
         24. You Are The Only One
             (1960) Highest chart position: #25
         25. Garden Party
             Rick Nelson w/The Stone Canyon Band
             (1972) Highest chart position: #6

    Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 35 -- 29th September to 2nd October 2005
    Baby, That Was Rock 'n' Roll
                 After a long summer with limited live rock 'n' roll attendance by yours truly due to business commitments, I was really looking forward to Hemsby 35 to recharge those rockin' batteries. So come the Thursday, I jumped into the automobile and headed north, ready to rock. Overall, expectations were lived up to and I had a great time as will be demonstrated in the following text.
                 Attendance was down for the normal October Hemsby but I understand that there was numerous pay on the door late arrivals guests. Not to sure why there should be this reduction as the bill was strong and the scene at Hemsby is always good. Whatever, the promoters elected to stage the main shows in the smaller Norfolk Room. This had advantages, as the sight lines were good as were the acoustics. The record dealers and clothes stalls were located in the main hall but, unfortunately, the traders decided to close this section off at around 8.00 pm each night. Anyway, this was incidental to the main happening, the music.

    Thursday, 29th September 2005 (the rockin' starts)
                 Opening act for this festival was Mischief who was making their fourth Hemsby appearance. They are a good 'n' basic European rockabilly trio that the programme advised hailed from Belgium but the compere announced Holland. They set the scene with the out and out rockabilly of 'Ridin' Along In My Automobile', produced good raucous vocals on 'I Want Some More' and an excellent version of the Kershaw Brothers 'Hey Mae'. They varied the lead vocals amongst the band plus, on some songs, it became a duet. They closed out with wild rockin' on 'Yes I Do', 'Grow Up' (a cousin to 'Tore Up'), a first rate work out on 'Train Kept A Rollin' and a fine 'Justine'.
                 Next up was the Detroit rocker Johnny Powers, accompanied by Chris Casello on lead guitar, Clive Osborne on sax and members of the Shufflers forming the rest of the backing band. From the opening bars of 'Mean Mistreater, it was evident that this performance was going to be something special as the diminutive rocker as Johnny demonstrated his stage craft and powerful vocals. This was followed by a great interpretation of 'Be Mine (All Mine)', a frantic 'Be Bop A Lula' and the pounding beat ballad 'With Your Love, With Your Kiss'. The picture for the performance was painted by varied tempos, all of which were enhanced by Johnny's professionalism and the biting guitar sounds of Chris Casello. Chris was Steve Nadella's predecessor in Jack Scott' s band and subsequently went onto to play for Emmy Lou Harris. Currently has his own band in the USA as well as playing for BR549. His style is reminiscent of that used by Al Hopson behind the late Warren Smith with that lovely stinging sound. Chris was a real revelation and he too knew how to use the stage as he bopped around. This entire scene served to push Mr. Powers to new heights as he launched into the likes of 'Me And My Rhythm Guitar', 'Rock Rock', 'Mama Rock' and 'Long Blond Hair'. He performed a truly appealing ballad in 'Three Little Words' that demonstrated his versatility as did 'Indeed I Do', 'I Was There When It Happened', 'A New Spark For An Old Flame' and 'Give It To Me'. The only slightly duff number was 'Trouble' which was taken at too fast a tempo, thus effectively robbing the tune of its menace. Whilst there were the scheduled encores, the crowd demanded more and Johnny had to keep coming back and ended up playing for in excess of an hour. That was rock 'n' roll. Return to these shores soon Johnny and bring Chris Casello with you.

    Friday, 30th September 2005 (the rockin' keeps on the simmer).
                 The rockin' in the main hall commenced with the UK band Shaun Horton & The Tennessee Trio. Unfortunately I did not catch their performance as I was at the artist met 'n' greet session but by all accounts, they gave a good performance that was well received. However, I was there for the second time UK performance by Andy Anderson backed up well by Gene Gambler and The Shufflers. He had good stage presence as he went into 'Tough, Tough, Tough' followed by 'Gimme A Lock O' Your Hair', 'I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry Over You' and 'I Got Me A Woman'. Andy advised that the last mentioned was a number that he had recorded in 1956 at the Delta Studio but remained unreleased. It is a good rockin' piece. So far this had been an acceptable performance but, unfortunately, it went downhill for the rest of this show. Seemingly, the problem emanated from Andy having a hearing impediment and so he changed vocal key rather often in numbers. Still it was good to finally see the man who includes the club favourite 'Johnny Valentine' along with 'You Shake Me Up' 'Hey Ba Reba' (reminiscent of Billy Lee Riley's 'Trouble Bound'), 'Big Game Hunter' ' and 'I'm A Rollin' Stone' in his stage show.
                 Friday night next act was The Smokey Mountain Boys, an English band who specialty is authentic hillbilly sounds and do not include a drummer in their line-up. In this laudable aim, they succeeded but then spoilt it with too much clowning around and bucket loads of false 'hee haws'. The singers have good guttural voices and their picking is good .Sorry guys but, based on this show, it was not for me. I am all for humour in an act but not over the top with it. Final act for the evening was the Spanish outfit Big Jamboree.

    Saturday, 1st October 2005 (the rockin' gets real hot)
                 Dave Moore, who has previously been to Hemsby playing lead guitar for Vernon Taylor and Billy Adams, picked for Ace Brown & The Helldivers, an act based in Philadelphia. Again no drummer in their successful attempt to recreate the fifties rockabilly sounds. They showed true enthusiasm and respect for the musical genre with a whole heap of original numbers as 'Street Angel', Lucky Penney' and 'Yes She's Mine' alongside the likes of 'Cool Off Baby', 'You're My Baby' and 'Purr Kitty Purr'. An enjoyable performance and demonstrated plenty of potential.
                 The Helldivers returned to the Hemsby stage, this time with Ace Brown on drums, to support the true original Pat Cupp. This was a performance similar to that at the Rockin' Fifties Fest 11 with Pat including a mixture of the five originals issued on the Modern label, such as 'Do Me No Wrong', 'I Guess It's Meant That Way and 'Long Gone Daddy', along with a selection from his new CD on Wild Hare Records (#HSO5001). Also featured were a few rockin' covers such as 'I Got A Woman' and 'Roll Over Beethoven, which were just great. From the new numbers, especially pleasing were 'Contract With My Baby' with great guitar work from Dave Moore, 'Everything's All Right' and the splendid ballad 'New World'. Pat appeared very at home on the stage and was at one with The Helldivers. A tasty performance.
                 Also making his fourth Hemsby appearance was Narvel Felts (the only other headliner to receive such an accolade is Jack Earls) who had Gene Gambler and The Shufflers backing him. This proved to be a killer combination as it was a blistering performance with Narvel excelling and the British band pushing him hard. No wonder he is called 'Narvel the Marvel' as, based on this show, there is not many who can come close to the pure excitement that came forth from the stage. Starting off with his monster hit 'Reconsider Me', it was into an adapted version of Chuck Berry's 'Back In the USA' that Narvel titled 'Back In The UK' followed by an exciting version of 'Foolish Thoughts'. The stage was a whirl of rockin' movement and came complete with an emanation of hard drivin' rock 'n' roll sounds. It could not be bettered, virtual perfection. Narvel's years of being a professional clearly showed through as he proceeded with 'Honey Love' and 'Pink And Black Days' before slowing it down for the climatic 'My Prayer'. Narvel was giving a commentary about his early days and the numbers he then performed. He demonstrated this with a powerhouse treatment of 'Down the Line' (only previously seen bettered by Jerry Lee, it was that good) and later with 'Be Bop A Lula' with the band really nailing the Bluecaps sound. He also included the story about one of his earliest performances when he was ejected from the dance hall for rockin' it up too much on the stage ­ the band carried on playing waltzes. We were then treated to 'Kiss A Me Baby' and 'My Babe' before the emotional tribute to his late son with the ballad 'Even Now'. This has previously been, and continues to be, a highlight of Narvel's show. Back to rockin' with 'Maybelline' before featuring, for the first time, a version of his early record 'Genavee' that was recorded at the Hi Studio, Memphis and released on the Pink label. This was good and refreshing. The set concluded with 'Goin' Home', 'Lonely Teardrops' and the number that we were all waiting for: 'Did You Tell Me'. I have seen Narvel quite a few times but cannot recall when I have seen him better.
                 The concluding act for this night was Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers. I have previously commented that Cavan is a band that one either loves - or not. That said, there are not too many bands who can come on at 2 am in the morning, get the joint really jumpin' an still be talked about the next day. All power to them, they are the Status Quo of rock 'n' roll.

    Sunday, 2nd October 2005 (the rockin' ain't done yet).
                 The rockin for the last night kicked off with Scotland's Hi Voltage followed by America's The Roy Kay Trio. Regrettably, I was unable to catch these two performances but based on previous experience, I know that Hi Voltage put on a great rockin' show whilst there was plenty of good buzz regarding Roy Kay who hails from Seattle.
                 However, I was there for the magic voice of Pookie Hudson, lead singer of the Spaniels making a rare sole performance. Supported by UK band The Swingkings, who blended in admirably, he stepped on stage dressed very dapperly in a white suit complete with a black bowler hat. Soon that magic voice was treating us to 'Stormy Weather', 'I Know', the marvelous blues tinged ballad ''You're Gonna Cry' and the sublime , 'Baby It's You' But it was not all slow numbers as we also had rockin' R&B with the likes of 'Crazee Baby. Two standouts from this mesmerizing performance were '(You Gave Me) Peace Of Mind' and, of course 'Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight'. Maybe I shall see Pookie perform 'Bus Fare Home' one day but in the meantime, please give me more of this. Perhaps this show was even more remarkable as Pookie has not been in the best of health in recent times.
                 The final act for this Hemsby was Paul Ansell's Number Nine'. Here I have to hang my head in shame as, for various reasons; I had never previously caught their show. Now I know what I have been missing! In the hands of bands such as this, the future of our music is safe. Paul has a great voice and stage presence and the current line-up of Number Nine is such a tight and oh so talented band. The outstanding thing about Ansell is that he can take a song and interpret it in his own unique styling And he does select numbers form the most unlikely of sources such as Aaron Neville's 'How Can I Help But Adore You', Billy Ocean's 'Red Light Spells Danger' and Iggy Pop's 'Passenger'. Paul is also a talented writer as we were served up numerous originals such as 'Rockin' In Memphis' and 'It Ain't Right'. I never thought that I would see the Hemsby audience lap up 'Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town' or 'Jody Love' but with the treatments served by Mr. Ansell, it was a given. We had varied selections from the Presley songbook like 'Crawfish' and 'His Latest Flame'. Then there were the driving rockers in the form of 'Lonesome Train', 'Ready Teddy' and 'Mean Woman Blues'. I believe that the outfit were called back for at least five encores, may have been more. However, I do recall that they included 'Viva Las Vegas' and 'By The Time I Get To Memphis'. Clearly one of the best 'new' acts around today, and that is from anywhere in the world. I shall now get down off my soapbox. Just go and see for yourself when they are playing near you.
                 To reiterate, this was a good rockin' Hemsby. But, there is plenty to look forward to as the May 2006 Hemsby has to have one of the strongest line-ups yet. Headliners include Carl Mann, Roddy Jackson, Barrence Whitfield, Bobby Brown (of Vaden Records fame), Bobby ('One Way Ticket') Crown, The Velours together with a great list of supporting acts. Be there or be square.
                 ©Tony Wilkinson,
                 October 2005
    Barry Dixon Photos: Hemsby #35

    Comets on Hollywood
    RockWalk of Fame

                 Bill Haley & The Comets are the First Band of Rock 'n' Roll. As a country group, The Saddlemen, they merged R&B into their work, having some success with covers of Rocket 88 and Rock This Joint. In 1952 they changed names, scoring the first Rock charting song in '53 with Haley's Crazy Man Crazy. Shake Rattle and Roll was a million-seller in 1954. Rock Around the Clock was a modest hit that year but exploded in popularity after being featured in the film, The Blackboard Jungle. The song became Rock 'n' Roll's first chart #1 in July 1955 and launched the Rock 'n' Roll revolution.

    Dickie Harrell Releases
    Gene Vincent Tribute CD

                 There were only a few well-known band drummers in the early days of rock 'n' roll that stood out because their personalities, skill and creativity. Among them were: D.J. Fontana (Elvis), Dick Richards (Haley's Comets), W.S. Holland (Perkins/Cash) and Dickie Harrell (Gene Vincent's Blue Caps). Dickie, was by far, the most animated of the bunch. You might even call him a "cartoon character."
                 It's been over 20 years since Dickie a/k/a "Be-Bop" was in a recording studio playing his drums. He has returned with a bang! The CD contains 10 tracks, all songs that Gene Vincent had recorded in '50s and '60s. The first eight tracks on the "Dickie & Friends: A Tribute to Gene Vincent" disc were recorded at the famous Sun Studio in Memphis, under the engineering genius of James Lott.

    Track information
    1. "Git It" - a sassy duet, sung by Billy Swan and Tracy Nelson. Great vocal interaction.
    2. "Be Bop A Lula" - Gene's best sung by one of best, Narvel Felts.
    3. "Say Mama" - Finally performed by a female - The Rockabilly Philly, Rosie Flores.
    4. "High on Life" - A gutsy vocal by Roman Self. Roman's dad, Ronnie Self, wrote this song.
    5. "Lotta Lovin'" - Billy Swan does his magic on of his favorite Gene Vincent songs.
    6. "Dance to the Bop" - Narvel Felts his usual wonderful job. He "Narvelized" it.
    7. "Baby Blue" - Tracy Nelson puts her pipes to work, giving this track a genuine blues feel.
    8. "Right Now" - Billy Swan and his smooth voice make this one flow like water.

    Bonus Tracks recorded at Burns, TN
    9. "Over Rainbow" - Roman Self does an outstanding job with his version of this classic.
    10. "She She Little Sheila" - The super talented Larry Merritt. His dad wrote this song for Gene.

                 The CD, produced by Bob Timmers, is available on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame® Merchandise Page. Copies are available for review and air play if you are a creditable professional source. E-mail: bob@rockabillyhall.com
    Review of the New Dickie Harrell CD

    Kris Kristofferson Hosts Infomercial for Jerry Naylor's
    Multi-Media Package Tracing Rockabilly Roots, Available in November

    "The Rockabilly Legends:
    A Tribute to My Friends"

                 The iconic Kris Kristofferson--singer, songwriter, actor and consummate wordsmith--will host a 30-minute infomercial introducing Jerry Naylor's "The Rockabilly Legends: A Tribute to My Friends." A comprehensive, definitive project tracing the roots of rockabilly music and its impact on music history and American culture, "The Rockabilly Legends: A Tribute to My Friends" is a restoration and preservation of an era that changed music forever. The heart of the project is a $1.5 million feature television broadcast documentary produced by Jerry Naylor, former lead singer of The Crickets. The documentary supports a special product collection including:
                 **A two-DVD set of the three-hour documentary, containing extra footage and features.
                 ** Four newly recorded documentary soundtrack CD's - three featuring Jerry Naylor paying tribute to the Rockabilly Legends, and one honoring the music of the legendary Carl Perkins. Naylor recorded the latter with special duet partner Stan Perkins, son of the late rockabilly icon.
                 ** Eight compilation CD's filled with original master recordings of the best-known Rockabilly Legends' hits, each digitally refurbished and restored by The Naylor Company and Patrick McGuire Recording for this package. Each disc also contains a rare live performance bonus track. The bonus tracks were culled from performances by The Everly Brothers, Bill Haley & The Comets and Gene Vincent.
                 **A "Live at the Louisiana Hayride" CD featuring Elvis' first recorded live performance on the "Louisiana Hayride" in October 1954, plus live Hayride performances from Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton and Bob Luman, and a very rare 1952 live recording of Hank Williams' last performance at the "Hayride."
                 **A CD containing interviews with the Rockabilly Legends, conducted by legendary radio and television personality Red Robinson.
                 "We're absolutely thrilled that Kris has agreed to lead off the campaign for this project," said Naylor. "In addition to being known and respected all over the world for his creative genius, he knew these Rockabilly Legends, and he has a special place in his heart for rockabilly music."
                 "Jerry sent me a copy of the documentary while I was on tour in Australia and New Zealand," said Kristofferson. "I settled in and watched the entire thing, and I was captivated. It brought back a lot of good memories of a lot of good friends like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cowboy Jack Clement, Carl Perkins and Charlie Rich. I also learned a few things along the way. The Rockabilly Legends influenced so many of the artists in rock and roll and country who followed, and rockabilly music is a key part of our American musical heritage. I'm happy Jerry Naylor invited me to help preserve the rich rockabilly legacy."
                 The three-hour feature television documentary, "The Rockabilly Legends: A Tribute to My Friends," hosted by Naylor and Red Robinson, is narrated by game show pioneer and television icon Wink Martindale. "The Rockabilly Legends" is a treasury of never-before-seen performance footage and photographs, as well as exclusive interviews with and about the founding fathers of rockabilly music - Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Buddy Knox, Gene Vincent, Johnny and Dorsey Burnette, Bob Luman, Charlie Rich and Johnny Horton, among others. Woven throughout the documentary is commentary from producers, band members, studio musicians, family members and music historians, including Bill Griggs, telling the story of how rockabilly was created and how its effects were felt not only in the U.S., but around the world. The documentary initially will be broadcast throughout North America, the U.K. and the rest of Europe, before taking it to other international territories.
                 Over five years in the making, "The Rockabilly Legends: A Tribute to My Friends" was lovingly produced with painstaking attention to detail by Jerry Naylor, with executive producer Molly Sanders and The Jerry Naylor Company. The DVD and CD collection, presented by Legends Marketing and marketed worldwide by Legends Marketing, LLC, will be available for sale in November via the infomercial, produced and media-managed by Hawthorne Direct, with fulfillment handled by National Fulfillment, Inc. Hawthorne is the premier full-service direct response television (DRTV) advertising agency, the creative force behind many of Time-Life's most successful long-form infomercials. National Fulfillment is a leading direct response and retail distribution firm, headquartered in Nashville. After this initial phase, the package will be available worldwide at traditional retail outlets and through additional international direct response television campaigns.
                 Jerry Naylor, born in Chalk Mountain, Texas, became the lead singer of The Crickets after the untimely death of Buddy Holly. A 51-year veteran of the entertainment business, he is an internationally recognized recording artist, performer, record producer, songwriter, radio and television personality, film and television producer, and Grammy nominated solo recording artist. With The Crickets, he recorded for Liberty/EMI Records and scored several hits including "Please Don't Ever Change," "My Little Girl" and "Teardrops Fall Like Rain."
                 Jerry began his solo career in 1965, was a regular on the ABC Television music variety series "Shindig" in the mid-'60s and hosted the nationally syndicated television series "Music City USA" from 1967-1968. As a solo artist he toured heavily from 1965-1982, performing 250-300 dates per year with his band in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. He scored a #5 pop hit with "But For Love" in 1970 and several country hits in the early '70s, including "Is This All There Is to a Honky Tonk." He also hosted the nationally syndicated country music radio show, "Continental Country," from 1974-1976.
                 In 1985 he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as a Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Employment Policy, ultimately serving two 3-year terms. He was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2000 and the West Texas Music Hall of Fame in 1998 and is recognized in the prestigious "Who's Who in Entertainment," "Who's Who in Rock 'n' Roll," "Who's Who in Country Music" and "Who's Who in America."
                 To request review copies and additional information on "The Rockabilly Legends: A Tribute to My Friends" contact: Karen Byrd/Karen Byrd Public Relations, 615-595-1500, Karen.byrd@gmail.com.

    Stray Cats Win DVD Award
                 In September, the eighth annual DVD Awards contest for DVD achievements honored the "Stray Cats: Rumble in Brixton" music video. It won best in the music performance and independent audio presentation categories. The show was hosted by noted film critic Leonard Maltin.

    Jerry Lee Lewis Turns 70
                 Thursday, September 25, 2005 - Jerry Lee Lewis is 70 years old today. Let that sink in ­ the man who has abused his body with drink and drugs for about 50 years, has outlived most of his contemporaries, despite having spent the last twenty odd years without half his stomach, is 70 years old. That Jerry Lee saw his 40th birthday was a shock, the fact that he has survived another 30 after that is nothing short of miraculous.
                 I wanted to pay tribute to him here, because I dearly love him and because he deserves all the accolades he gets. I was going to pick 70 of my favourite tracks or 70 reasons to love him, but instead I've chosen to look back at the live shows I've seen. To date I've seen him 12 times, poxy by a lot of peoples standards, but hey, that's the fact and I'm chuffed with each one of the dozen. Outside of the old stuff, I've seen Bruce Springsteen play a three hour show to nearly 100,000 at Leeds, I've seen Dire Straits a few times and even Garth Brooks, but I'd swap all of those for half an hour of Jerry Lee. The saddest thing about a Jerry Lee show is the massive drop from the high of the show to the low of the fact that it's over. Also, it's like visiting an old relative, every time you see them you wonder if this will be the last time. Keep rockin' Killer, this world needs you.
    16.4.87: The Newport Centre, Newport, Wales.
    Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle/vocals), Linda Gail Lewis (vocals), Phoebe Lewis (vocals), Joel Schumaker (guitar), Harvey 'Duke' Faglier (bass), Danny Harrison (drums), Moetta Stewart (keyboards, vocals)
                 Rockin' My Life Away / You Win Again / Why Don't You Love Me / Mean Woman Blues / Over The Rainbow / Rock & Roll Is Something Special / One Of Them Old Things / Meat Man / Autumn Leaves / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / You Belong To Me / Roll Over Beethoven (with Linda Gail Lewis) / We Live In Two Different Worlds (with Linda Gail Lewis) / When You Wore A Tulip (with Linda Gail Lewis) / Great Balls Of Fire / This World Is Not My Home / Tennessee Saturday Night / Middle Age Crazy / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On ­ You Can Have Her (Medley)
                 My very first concert by the Killer. The day started off with the car breaking down on Plynlimon next to the Elvis sign, but it finished in spectacular fashion. Looking at the track listing it was a pretty varied show and must have run to well over an hour. A couple of things I remember most about the show was why did Jerry Lee need Moetta Stewart on keyboards, and being thrilled that his sister Linda Gail and daughter Pheobe were on backing vocals with him. If the show kicked off at 8, by 8:01 I was totally in love with this man. Before the shows I was an Elvis, Jerry Lee, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Billy Fury man ­ by the end I was a Jerry Lee man only. It's not that they all went down a level, Jerry Lee just went up a few. I was in such a gob-smacked state to finally see Jerry Lee live that I can't even remember Middle Aged Crazy, my favourite song of all time. The one song which I do remember was a brilliant version of Over The Rainbow. Man I would love to relive this concert again, with less of the starry-eyed bewilderment and more of a compos mentis enjoyment.

    21.11.89: The Hammersmith Odeon, London, England.
    Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), James Burton (guitar), Dave Edmunds (guitar), Brian May (guitar), Dave Davies (guitar), Stuart Adamson (guitar), Phil Chen (bass), John Lodge (bass), Jim Isbell (drums), Van Morrison (vocals)
                 Blues At Midnight ­ Boogie Woogie Country Man (Medley) / I Don't Want To Be Lonely Tonight / You Win Again / Mean Woman Blues / I Am What I Am / Goodnight Irene (with Van Morrison) / What'd I Say (with Van Morrison) / Lucille / Coming Back For More / Jailhouse Rock / Chantilly Lace / Mexicali Rose (slow & fast) / High School Confidential / Rockin' My Life Away / Johnny B. Goode / Hang Up My Rock & Roll Shoes / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire / Good Golly Miss Molly ­ Tutti Frutti (Medley) / Me & Bobby McGee / High Heel Sneakers / Real Wild Child I remember getting all excited for this show after playing football in Penrhyncoch on the Saturday. With Julie and my sister Sharon again going, together with John and Alan Galbraith, we were all set for an early start on the Sunday when we got news that the gig had been postponed for a week. The following week was bad timing for me as I had to endure the six hour drive with Bombay belly (Julie was sick as a dog the following day). Anyway, what about the show. I remember it being a shock when Jerry Lee came onstage and started playing without the band (I've since read Dave Edmunds' account of it where he said they were all sat around having a beer when they suiddenly heard a loud roar and realised Jerry had just decided to go ahead and start the show). Jerry was brilliant and completely upstaged the guests - that's the megaheads, not Dave and James Burton. It was hysterical when Brian May went posing down the front, sliding on his knees during an ill-conceived solo when his guitar lead came out - he was Unplugged before his time. Van Morrison was abysmal on Goodnight Irene, whining away in a key that must have caused havoc to the local dogs. Whoever the guest, Jerry Lee was the star.

    17.4.90: The Leisure Centre, Gloucester, England.
    Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), Peter Oakman (bass), Jim Isbell (drums)
                 Roll Over Beethoven / Rockin' Jerry Lee / Trouble In Mind / Hey Good Lookin' / You Win Again / What'd I Say / Jailhouse Rock / I Don't Want To Be Lonely Tonight / Sweet Little Sixteen / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Baby What You Want Me To Do / Blue Suede Shoes / Rockin' My Life Away / The One Rose That's Left In My Heart / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire
                 We met Kenneth Lovelace in the pub before the gig and gave him and Jerry Lee invites for our wedding (needless to say they didn't turn up). This is the show where I was probably the only one at the gig who enjoyed opening act Johnny Dumper. I didn't like the histryonics but I thought his voice was pretty good. Again I loved the show and remember him using the "Hank said to Miss Audrey on bended knee" line during You Win Again. I got to shake his hand at the end of Great Balls Of Fire and my love was cemented stronger than ever. I managed to get his glass off the piano and it still enjoys pride of place at home. I remember a review of the show in Now Dig This saying that Jerry Lee looked so ill and thin, but it was the first time I'd ever got that close, and he seemed fine to me ­ love is blind!!

    6.12.92: The N.E.C., Birmingham, England.
    Travis Wammack (guitar), James 'Buck' Hutcheson (guitar), ? Velline (bass), 'Monkey' Wammack (drums)
                 Rockin' My Life Away / Sweet Little Sixteen / C.C. Rider / Johnny B. Goode / High Heel Sneakers / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire
                 This was one of the those Rock 'n' Roll Revival shows that featues the good and the bad from the early days. Highlights were Lloyd Price and Duane Eddy, lowlights were Boby Vee and worst of all Little Richard. The crowd seemed a bit nervous as word was going around the Arena that Jerry Lee hadn't turned up. After what seemed like an age of waiting, on came the band. Ol' Buck Hutcheson looked as drunk as a skunk as did the Killer when he followed them on. It was a brilliant performance with Jerry obviously relaxed (!) and enjoying himself. He made plenty of sexual references as he wiggled his hips, it was great stuff but the management pulled a finger across the throat to get him finished and after a magic 20 minutes it was all over. That twenty minutes was better than two hours of just about anyone else. I thought afterwards that this must have been what it was like watching Jerry Lee in the Memphis bars during the boozy years. 

    13.3.93: The King's Hotel, Newport, Wales.
    Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), Leo Green (sax), 'THE RED HOT POKERS' [Ned Edwards (guitar, harmonica), Pete Hurley (bass), Colin Griffin (drums)]
                 Roll Over Beethoven / Fraulein / C.C. Rider / Brown Eyed Handsome Man / Mean Woman Blues / Release Me / Johnny B. Goode / Over The Rainbow / Mona Lisa / Mexicali Rose / Boogie Woogie Country Man / Lewis Boogie / End Of The Road / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Chantilly Lace / Great Balls Of Fire / High Heel Sneakers
                 Until the show in Memphis I remember this as the best Jerry lee gig I'd ever been to. Up close and personal as they say, not sat in some concert hall in a restrained manner. There was a purple patch in this show when he went from Boogie Woogie Country Man to Lewis Boogie to End of the Road where he just blew everyone away. The red Hot Pokers were cooking and seemed to bring out the best in Jerry Lee. It was a hot and sweaty show where everyone in the crowd jostled to retain their view, no-one prepared to give an inch as we breathed in the amazing aura of the greatest showman on the planet. A fantastic night which left me more in love with Jerry Lee Lewis than I thought was possible. I remember on the way home I told Julie that I was now completely fulfilled and didn't care if I never went to another gig in my life.

    22.7.98: The Wembley Arena, London, England.
    Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), James Burton (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums)
                 Down The Line / You Win Again / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Over The Rainbow / Boogie Woogie Country Man / Chantilly Lace / Mean Woman Blues / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire
                 After five long years of waiting I got to see the Killer again in Wembley Arena. What a crap venue, we were sat towards the back and the sound was echoing around the ceiling. Mind you, the tickets only cost about two weeks wages!! Jerry Lee was on first and it was great to see him again, but the intimate setting of the Kings was a long time gone and the performance lacked a bit of excitement because of it. Little Richard was rubbish and Chuck Berry was embarrasing. I had a five hour journey to make back home but decided to sit through Chuck hoping that Jerry Lee might come on stage for a duet. At 5 o'clock in the morning as I sat behind the wheel fighting the eyelids, it was decision I regretted. 

    11.7.2000: The London Arena, London, England.
    Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ)
                 Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / You Win Again / Boogie Woogie Country Man / Rockin' My Life Away / High School Confidential / Georgia On My Mind / Chantilly Lace / C.C. Rider / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Me & Bobby McGee / Great Balls Of Fire
                 Same line-up and running order as the Wembley gig to years earlier, but the sound was a lot better. Jerry Lee was on great form and I really enjoyed Georgia On My Mind and Me And Bobby McGhee. As always it was an anticlimax when Jerry Lee finished. Little Richard was as excruciating as usual but Chuck Berry finally played a decent show which was a pleasure to witness after so many disappointments.

    30.9.2000: Holiday Inn Select, Memphis, TN, USA.
    Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ)
                 Set list: 3 hours of anything the crowd requested. Five years later I still can't beging to do justice to how amazing a show this was. Jerry Lee on his own patch is quite a thing and when he's trying even harder to please the on-looking Sam Phillips, he's even better. Seeing Sam boogie on down was beyond belief and to meet the two of them after the show was a lifetime ambition realised. Read reviews elsewhere on this site for more drooling.

    24.02.04: The Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, Scotland.
    Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle), Jimmy Rip (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ)
                 Why You Been Gone So Long / C.C. Rider / Blues At Midnight / Why You Been Gone So Long / Sweet Little Sixteen / She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Trouble In Mind / Chantilly Lace / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire
                 Thanks to BMI Baby me and Phil were able to fly to Scotland to stay with Jerry Lee fanatic Des ? JLL was in fine form but it wasn't quite the cracker we'd hoped for. It was great to hear She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye and I also remembered enjoying Why You Been Gone So Long. I was surprised that the crowd wasn't a bit rowdier but this lack of atmosphere probably came hand in hand with the Killers performance. Great to hear Kenny on the fiddle and Jimmy Rip played some tasty licks throughout.

    28.02.04: The Opera House, Blackpool, England.
    Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle), Jimmy Rip (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ)
                 Roll Over Beethoven / No Headstone On My Grave / Why You Been Gone So Long / C.C. Rider / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Before The Night Is Over / Sweet Little Sixteen / Trouble In Mind / Lewis Boogie / Mean Woman Blues / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire
                 A better show than Glasgow, Jerry Lee and the band were cooking in Blackpool. Although the set was pretty much the same, there was a lot more urgency tonight and he had the crowd at fever pitch. A lot of Killer fans met before and after the gig and everyone agreed that Jerry was sounding better than he had for over a decade.

    29.02.04: The Carling Apollo, Manchester, England.
    Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle), Jimmy Rip (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ)
                 Roll Over Beethoven / C.C. Rider / Why You Been Gone So Long / You Win Again / Trouble In Mind / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Sweet Little Sixteen / Chantilly Lace / Lucille / She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye / Before The Night Is Over / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire
                 This show had it all. We got a couple of beautiful country numbers, stinging blues and some hard rock 'n' roll. The crowd were boppin' in the aisles much to the annoyance of the bouncers. There were scuffles to go with the jiving and it all added to the live-wire tension filled atmosphere.     

    14.07.04: Colston Hall, Bristol, England.
    Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Lucille / You Win Again / Before The Night Is Over / Sweet Little Sixteen / No Headstone On My Grave / Roll Over Beethoven / Chantilly Lace / Mexicali Rose / C.C. Rider / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire
                 Nice opening to show courtesy of the Sugar Creek Trio who played some firecracker rockabilly. Highlights of Jerry Lee's show were Headstone, You Win Again and a stomping Roll Over Beethoven. During the show he seemed a bit put-out by the sound crew who were trying hard to keep him happy ­ their payment was a comment from Jerry, a sarcastic "everyone thinks he's Sam Phillips" with a sly grim to the audience ­ wonderful. A truly great show with JLL absolutely cooking. Sat in the front row, it was great to see a fire in Jerry's eyes. He's great and he knows it, and on this show it seemed like he wanted everyone else to know it.

    Jerry Lee Lewis Show
    Shaun Mather
    29 September, 2005

    Glen Glenn at Bear Family Celebration
                 Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductee Glen Glenn will be traveling in August to Germany to appear at the 30th Anniversary celebration of Bear Family Records. Thirty years ago, in the summer of 1975, it all began in an old farmhouse near Bremen in the north of Germany. Glen is one the top selling artists on the Bear Family label.

    Elvis' TCB, Blondell and
    Percy Sledge in Blackpool

                 Blackpool Promotions who put on 2004's Jerry Lee Lewis European tour have put on an impressive package for this summer with their up and coming artist Blondell fronting Elvis' TCB band as well as some special guest appearances from soul legend Percy Sledge.
                 The TCB band will feature non other than the great James Burton, Glen D. Hardin, Jerry Scheff, Paul Leim, Shane Keister, Jim Horn, backing vocalists The Sweet Inspirations and James' son Jeff Burton.
                 The opening night on Thursday July 7 was a sell-out as are the shows on July 14 and 21. Tickets for July 22 (with guest star Percy Sledge), 23 (also with Percy Sledge), 27, 28, 29 and 30 are currently still available.
                 Blondell's 50 Years of Rock 'n' Roll has various price tiers. Basic tickets cost £25 but there are also VIP packages at £49 which include a champagne reception, the chance to meet the TCB Band and The Sweet Inspirations, a hot and cold buffet, tour programme and free CD. So far over 5,000 bookings have been made so get your tickets now to avoid disappointment.
                 Jim O'Neil of Blackpool Promotions is also hoping to attract acts such as Kris Kristofferson, Michael Bolton and Willie Nelson to the resort - probably for the Opera House - and he is even optimistic for a JERRY LEE LEWIS 70TH BIRTHDAY SHOW in the town.
                 Call the Tourist Information Centre 01253 478214 (+44 1253 478214 for those outside the U.K.) or e-mail tic@blackpool.gov.uk for basic tickets.
                 Call Blackpool Promotions 01253 350606 (+44 1253 350606 for those outside the U.K.) or e-mail rnj@blondell.co.uk for basic tickets, VIP packages and/or additional info.
                 Visit The Official Blackpool Tourism Website for more on Britain's most popular holiday destination http://www.blackpooltourism.com/

    Chess Reissues Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry
                 The Chess label is relaunched in the UK this summer by Universal Catalog Marketing with a comprehensive reissue campaign that will see the label join the top table treatment afforded to other ground breaking black music labels such as Motown, Studio One and Stax.
                 Available from Monday August 8th will be the special 50th Anniversary Collectors' Edition reissues on CD and 7" vinyl of BO DIDDLEY's debut single "Bo Diddley"/"I'm A Man" (Chess/Universal 9830032/33), plus the remastered version on CD of his 1960 LP "Bo Diddley Is A Gunslinger" (Chess/Universal 9861447) with a total of 15 tracks including 5 bonus tracks: "Working Man", "Do What I Say", "Prisoner of Love", "Googlia Moo" and "Better Watch Yourself".
                 Also reissued are Chuck Berry's debut single "Maybellene"/"Wee Wee Hours" (Chess/Universal 9830034/35), his 1957 debut album "After School Session" (Chess/Universal 9861350) and his 1964 album "St. Louis to Liverpool" (Chess/Universal 9861352).
                 Also due for release in the UK on the same day is a new 25 track various artists compilation CD titled "Chess Originals" (Chess/Universal 9830156), with all the tracks being handpicked by staff writers at the UK monthly rock music magazine "Mojo" as being ones that particularly illustrate the roots of rock music and the influence that Chess artists had on British musicians such as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, the Rolling Stones and many others. This new collection includes a total of 6 tracks by BO DIDDLEY covering the years 1955 to 1962: "Who Do You Love", "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover", "I'm A Man", "Pills", "Road Runner" and "I Can Tell", as well as tracks by artists including Chuck Berry, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin' Wolf.
                 Also available from August 8th in the same series will be the various artists compilation CDs "Chess Northern Soul" (Chess/Universal 9830153), "Chess Tearjerkers" (Chess/Universal 9830154) and "Chess Soul Sisters" (Chess/Universal 9830155).
                 These initial Chess releases are due to be followed in the fall by the CD reissue of further original Chess albums including BO DIDDLEY's 1970 funk classic "The Black Gladiator", along with various artist collections including "Chess Psychedelic Jazz & Funky Grooves", "Chess Funk", "Chess Mod" and "Chess Doo Wop".
                 In celebration of the Chess label's remarkable impact and to celebrate next month's Universal Music reissue campaign, the August issue of "Mojo" magazine also includes a free 15-track CD titled "Chess Classics", which includes BO DIDDLEY's 1960 recording of his song "Bo Diddley's A Gunslinger" along with tracks by artists including Chuck Berry, Etta James, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin' Wolf. The magazine also includes a recent interview with BO DIDDLEY along with a special 50th anniversary feature in which 3 generations of musicians including Eric Burdon, Chuck D, Al Kooper and Keith Richards celebrate BO DIDDLEY's genius by discussing and selecting their favorite BO DIDDLEY tracks. "Mojo" magazine website: http://www.mojo4music.com/.

    Legend Releases New Disc on Rockabilly Hall of Fame Label
    Ed Bentley's CD Release
                 June 16, 2005 - Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductee Ed Bentley, from Yorkshire, NY, looks rather laid back and relaxed on the disc's cover, but when you slap the CD in your player you'll hear nothing that's laid back and relaxed.
                 The story goes like this ... Ed Bently was browsing the Internet, found his name among those listed on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame web site and inquired by e-mail if this could possibly be him. Shortly thereafter, he was informed that "yes" this is you - could you please send a bio and some photos - and Ed was soon inducted.
                 Now, this recently inducted member of the Rockabilly of Fame has released a brand new CD ... "Here We Go Again ... to celebrate his recent induction.
                 This CD, a collection of some original tunes and some older rockabilly and boogie remakes, was recorded at Sessions Recording Studio in Buffalo, NY and is now released on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame label.
                 Says Bob Timmers, founder of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, "After we found him to be the 'real deal' he was brought into the fold. These veterans of rockabilly music need to have their stories told. That is our purpose and it has great rewards, especially when cats like Ed are still giggin' and recordin'".
                 For more information, contact Rich Sargent by phone at 716-310-2716 or visit Ed's web site.

    Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 34 - 5th May to 8th May 2005
    Rock 'n' Roll Time Again
                 I must admit to having been a trifle apprehensive that Hemsby 34 might have come across as a trifle downbeat coming so soon on the heels of the Rockin' Fifties fest. 11 held in Green Bay, Wisconsin. However, my concern was baseless as this great weekender proved to be one of the most enjoyable Hemsbys yet. It rocked from beginning to end and the large attendance clearly thought the same. It is pleasing and gratifying to know that this long established festival is going from strength to strength.

    Business commitments prevented me from arriving for the first night but colleague Ian Wallis was there to catch the performance by first time European visitor Roc LaRue. He advises that Roc came across as a competent performer featuring such cuts as 'Baby Take Me Back' and 'I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine' that were issued on the Rama and Holland labels back in the fifties. These songs were performed alongside newer numbers like 'Red Headed Mama' and the Ronnie Haig composition 'Hey Little Baby'. With a sympathetic backing provided by Gene Gambler & The Shufflers, Roc gave a very visual show, full of Presleyesque style movements, and he demonstrated that he has a strong voice to match. Another good rock 'n' roll discovery.
                 The evening closed out with an appearance by German outfit Ike & The Capers who have the pleasing advantage of a femme drummer. These are high-energy people who gave out with well seasoned tunes in the form of 'It's All Your Fault', 'Down On The Farm' and an original treatment of Ray Smith's 'You Made A Hit.

    Welsh band Gene Gambler & the Shufflers opened up the proceedings and gave out with a pleasing slab of rock 'n' roll mixing in their own compositions and covers of Roy Orbison's 'You're My Baby' and a first rate workout of the Sonny Burgess song 'Find My Baby For Me. In the five years since their formation, this group have steadily built up their expertise and should go on to further greatness.
                 Next up was another first time UK visitor, who was back there in the fifties, namely Louisiana's Jay Chevalier. Bounding on stage in an eye catching two piece gold lame outfit, he launched straight into his rockin' ode to American footballer 'Billy Cannon'. Jay's years of treading the boards were clearly evident as he carried on giving a confident show with his own hook laden 'Come Back To Louisiana' before descending nto a raid on the Chuck Berry songbook with 'Promised Land' and 'Memphis Tennessee'. This was followed by a sing-along version of 'You Are My Sunshine' and a medley of the Hank Williams Snr. songs 'Hey Good Looking/Setting The Woods On Fire/My Bucket's Got A Hole In It'. The last mentioned pair showed indications of not having been on the prescribed set list as the backing band, the aforementioned hard working Gene Gambler & The Shufflers, at first struggled to keep up with Jay. This 'making it up as one goes along feeling' was further enhanced with a rather lame 'Mama Don't Allow'. However, the showman that is Jay Chevalier retrieved the situation with 'The Ballad Of Earl K Long' (a personal favourite from his recorded repertoire), his first record 'Rock 'n' Roll Angel', the rockabilly classic 'Casto Rock' and the sublime 'Lost In Louisiana 1959'. A further Chuck Berry medley of 'Johnny B Good' songs was somewhat superfluous but as he encored with a repeat of 'Lost In Louisiana' leaving one with the impression of having witnessed a good performance (overall).
                 Eighteen months marked the return to the Hemsby stage of Art Adams and his own guitarist Bill Stewart. In that time, his performance has gone from strength to strength. He reinforced the reputation of being one of the top highly visual solid core rockabilly acts and he gave 110% of himself in a long high powered set. Opening up with the instrumental 'Rhythm Ride Rock' he then proceeded to rock out on 'Get With It', and his own 'Indian Joe' (complete with war chants) and 'Rock Pretty Baby' before slowing the pace a trifle with his own new song 'Canadian Lady', a tasty mid tempo ditty. However, it was soon back to crazed rockin' with 'Flat Foot Sam', 'Red Headed Woman' and a great interpretation of Webb Pierce's 'Walkin' the Dog'. The American visitors were provided with great backing from the English band The Infernos and the stage was a cauldron of rockin' excess as Art bopped and weaved across the stage. He included more of his own compositions with 'Sweet Kandie Jean' and 'She's From Tennessee' before exhaustingly closing out with repeats of 'Indian Joe' and 'Rock Crazy Baby'. All in all, a more than justified bill topper.
                 American Chicano act Omar & The String Poppers' closed out the night with a no holds barred assault on the senses. They tore through 'Problem Child' and other tunes like there will be no tomorrow. Exhausting to watch, the guys must have been totally drained when they left the stage.

    Fairly frequent American visitor to these shores, young Eddie Clendening, opened up Saturday's rockin' in the main hall backed by Ike & the Capers. Eddie 's act is getting good and he certainly appeals to the ladies and he left quite a few femme body parts a fluttering.
                 The next act, the great, the marvelous, the raunchy, the blindingly superb Janis Martin was greeted by loud and sustained applause as she took the stage. No ifs, no buts, this lady is the rockin' business and I do not think that I have seen her better. All of her rock 'n' roll classics such as 'Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll', Alright Baby', 'Billy Boy', Ooby Dooby', and 'Crackerjack' were delivered in top notch style, all of which was rapturously devoured by the audience. She and her backing group, The Hemsby Houseband, were clearly inspired and when she kicked of her shoes and tore into 'Barefoot Bay' the roof of the hall nearly came off. This was followed by 'Bang Bang' and the aptly descriptive, 'Hard Rockin' Mama' before the set concluded with 'My Boy Elvis'. Could she go without performing more, no way! She returned to the stage with her tribute to the ailing Ruth Brown in 'As Long As I'm Moving' and finally 'Good Rockin' Tonight'. Janis returned to the stage, clearly emotionally drained, as indeed was most of the audience. That had been ultimate rock 'n' roll.
                 There are not many performers capable of even coming close to the last mentioned performance but fortunately for us, the promoters had wisely booked the wondrous Jack Earls for what I believe was his fourth Hemsby appearance. Backed by the Infernos, who did the business perfectly, he literally tore into 'Flip, Flop And Fly', 'Take Me To That Place', 'Hey Jim' and 'Sign On The Dotted Line'. His stage art is near perfection but I do wish he would drop a few of those corny lines such as 'I would love to put y'all in my suitcase and take you home with me'. But when it comes to top notch rockabilly, few can hold a candle to Jack as he went on to demonstrate with 'Let's Bop', 'They Can't Keep Me From You', 'She Knows How To Rock Me', 'Goodbye Mary Ann' and a frantic 'Tear It Up'. The excitement being exuded from the stage was a joy to behold and it continued to build with 'My Little Mama', 'Rockin' Daddy', 'Crawdad Hole', 'Rock 'n' Roll Ruby' before climaxing with his Sun Records tour de force 'Slow Down'. The audience wanted more and Jack being the professional he is, came back and delivered. We were treated to rockin' tributes to the late Ray Harris with 'Come On Little Mama', to Charlie Feathers with 'Wedding Gown Of White' and to Carl Perkins with a medley of his magical recordings but all served up with that Jack Earls styling.
                 The Hicksville Bombers closed out this night with their normal lashings of modern styled rockabilly. Boy, what a great night for rockin' music this had been.

    The preceding commentary has focused on the acts appearing in the main hall but part of the fun of weekenders such as these is the whole scene. During the days, acts such as The Texabilly Rockets, The King Beans and The Sugar Creek Trio had given their all in locations throughout the camp, disc jockeys had played a fantastic selection of music between acts and there was an enjoyable boot fair (where I managed to acquire a few long sought after goodies).
                 The rockin for the last night kicked off with German band The Velvetones whose act I unfortunately was unable to catch. However, I believe that they were quite unique, albeit somewhat on the heavy side of rock 'n' roll and performed a blend of original tunes and unusual covers such as 'Welcome To The Pleasure dome'. However, I was there for the main act of the night, namely vocal group The Willows. This group originated in New York back in 1952 and remain based in Manhattan. For this show, three of the original line-up, lead singer Tony Middleton along with Ralph Martin and Richie Davis, were present. Sadly, the other original member, Joe Martin, passed away last February and his place has been taken by Desi Edwards Middleton, son of Tony. They also had their own musical director, Michael Cisternas, with them who did wave his arms around quite a bit. From the outset, it was obvious that the group were a touch ragged, both in the harmonies and stage movements. But, in actuality, this enhanced their appeal as clearly they were the genuine article and their set consisted of original material with no 'doo wop medleys'. They presented a good balance of ballads such as the delectable 'First Taste Of Love' and up tempo numbers like the stompin' 'Rock Little Francis'. The duet between Tony and Richie on 'Delores' was a joy to both the ears and the eyes and on 'Don't Push, Don't Shove', the group really excelled themselves. Early in the set, we had 'Love Bells' which was their own answer to their real biggie, the 'Church Bells May Ring' which of course has entered into the realms of being classified as a doo wop classic. We were treated to the latter twice and boy it was good as it bought their show to an apparent conclusion. However, we were then treated to a major surprise. Tony Middleton was the singer on the demo recording of 'Big Hunk Of Love' that was presented to (and of course recorded by Elvis A. Presley). Tony came back on stage and preformed this little ditty for us with the rest of The Willows and the backing band, an on-form Swing Kings, gradually joining in. Magical moments and I put The Willows in the must see again section, clearly a view shared by many as the group finally left the stage to enthusiastic applause.
                 The final act for Hemsby 34 was the German outfit Hot Boogie Chillum, who like Jack Earls were making their fourth appearance that these weekenders. They are one of those bands who you either love or loathe with a passion. For many of the audience, they were one of the highlights and certainly are original.

    To reiterate, this was one of the best Hemsby yet and it makes me look forward to next one in October when I can put on my rockin' shoes for the line-up that includes Narvel 'The Marvel' Felts, Pookie Hudson (of The Spaniels), Pat Cupp, Johnny Powers and Andy Anderson. See's you there.
    © Tony Wilkinson,
    June 2005

    The Sun Rises at eMusic - Subscribers Can
    'Cash' in on Coveted Vintage
    Tracks From Legendary Sun Records

               May 19th, music history was made when eMusic offered new digital downloads from the legendary Sun Records catalogue. eMusic's initial launch includes 18 custom albums of material recorded in Memphis under the legendary Sun Records, including the complete Sun singles of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich and Carl Perkins.
                eMusic is initially posting more than 400 tracks from these hit-makers -- as well as tracks from Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Burgess, Rosco Gordon, Little Milton, Bill Justis, the Prisonaires, Harmonica Frank, Rufus Thomas, Carl Mann, Billy Lee Riley and dozens of other Sun artists. Each of the 18 albums are reviewed by renowned music writer and Mississippi River music expert John Morthland. Morthland serves as eMusic's in-house Blues columnist and his reviews will be available exclusively to eMusic subscribers.
                The Sun Records catalogue contains more than 1500 tracks from Sam Phillips' original Sun Records (recorded between 1950 and 1966), which eMusic will be making available over the next several months. The Sun recordings include not only singles, but also many songs and alternate versions that are currently out of print or have previously only been available on giant box set collections. The eMusic Sun collection will even include several tracks that have previously only been available on vinyl.
                The initial eMusic launch will include both the first single Sam Phillips released, "Boogie In The Park," by one-man-band Joe Hill Louis, dating from August, 1950 -- as well as what many consider the last significant single Sun put out, "Cadillac Man" by garage-rockers the Jesters, released in February, 1966 (featuring a young Jim Dickinson on vocals).
                "It is with great pleasure that eMusic releases these rare, historic tracks," said David Pakman, COO of eMusic and a managing director of Dimensional Associates, the private equity arm of JDS Capital that owns eMusic, The Orchard and Dimensional Music Publishing. "Sun's coveted collection has never been released for download before and eMusic is proud to make available these national treasures-some of which were last released on vinyl. The eMusic Sun collection features some tracks that have only been released on box sets-and some songs that have never been released at all. Award-winning eMusic columnist John Morthland will help subscribers navigate the rich offerings through special reviews available exclusively on eMusic. This is a huge win for our subscribers."
                John A. Singleton, President of Sun Entertainment Corporation, stated, "We are extremely pleased that our catalog of vintage masters will now be available to the eMusic customers and we are confident that the eMusic staff will do a great job in marketing this music." More than just the tracks from the original Sun Records, eMusic has also licensed the rights to another 5,000 tracks from the Sun Entertainment Corporation catalogue including Red Bird Records (the Dixie Cups), Blue Cat Records (The Ad Libs), Plantation Records (Jeannie C. Riley, Patti Page, Webb Pierce, David Allan Coe), SSS International (the Vogues, Johnny Adams), Jessup Records (Ralph Stanley), Silver Fox (Hank Ballard) and Amazon (the Rugbys). eMusic will be making the entire Sun Entertainment catalogue-over 6500 tracks total-available for download over the coming months, including highly sought-after releases by: Floyd Cramer, the Flatlanders (their fabled 1973 debut album), northern soul mainstay Bettye Lavette, Sleepy John Estes, Narvel Felts, Johnny Horton (rare early sides), rockabilly legend Sleepy LaBeef, country superstars the Oak Ridge Boys, Johnny Paycheck, Floyd Tillman, Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm, the great Conway Twitty (as Harold Jenkins) and Texas blues guitar godfather T-BoneWalker.
                e-Music also offers many songs from the Rockabilly Hall of Fame(R) catalog. Be sure to check that out as well,

    CAMEO-PARKWAY PHOTO FLASHBACK: Cash Box Magazine ran this photo on its cover in August of 1957: Charlie Gracie opens at the legendary 500-Club in Atlantic City and places his handprints and signature in the cement outside the venue. A copy of Gracie's million-seller. "Butterfly" was also placed there. Watching the ceremony are (left to right) Paul D'amato, owner of the club, Sam Gracie, Charlie's dad, Bernie Rothbard, Charlie's agent and Bernie Loew, President of Cameo Records!

    Cameo-Parkway Box Set
              May 8 - Just a little over a week tp go before the much anticapted release of 116 original madter recordings - including 60 Top 40 singles that make up the C.P. box set. This world-wide release includes monster hits by many beloved artists including: Charlie Gracie-the label's first success, John Zacherle, Dave Appell and the Appeljacks, Bobby Rydell, The Rays, Billy Scott, Chubby Checker, Timmie Rogers, The Orlons, The Tymes, Dee Dee Sharp, Len Barry and The Dovells, The Dreamlovers, The Five Stairsteps, Eddie Holman, Terry Knight and The Pack, Don Covay, Candy and The Kisses, Bob Seger, Patti LaBelle, JoAnn Campbell, Bunny Sigler, The Ohio Express, The Kinks, The DelPhonics, Question Mark and The Mysterians, Bobby Marchan, The Sounds Orchestral  and Clint Eastwood.

    Pontins Holiday Centre, Camber, England
    11th to 14th March 2004

    Rockabilly Rave No. 9
               By Tony Wilinson - This was the ninth annual Rockabilly Rave and this one has to rate as probably the strongest yet. Maintaining its justifiably gained reputation as a full blown international rockabilly come rock 'n' roll festival, it again attracted in excess of 2,000 visitors from all around the world. All were here to watch, listen and dance to eclectic rockin' music from a mixture of American originators and new bands. With regard to the last mentioned, it has to be pointed out that they came from all over the world to play what promoter Jerry Chatabox correctly describes as classic straight ahead rock 'n' roll and rockabilly. The stated policy is to supply quality music, keeping it pure but fun, and ensuring that everybody has a good time. Apart from an odd hiccup, this laudable aim was achieved - no mean feat.

    Friday, 11th March 2005
               Opening act was Canadian band Roy Thompson & The Royal Acadians, who after opening up with an instrumental proceeded to attack a catalogue of Louisiana based R&B influenced rockabilly. Roy (real name Olivier Laporte) has a nice guttural voice, well suited for the music he was putting across and the rest of the band were just fine, especially that lead guitarist who produced some real tasty licks. They rocked out well on Charles Page's 'Baby You Been To School' and Johnny Jano's 'High Voltage' plus other good numbers like 'Billie Jo', 'Hey Mr. DJ', 'Little Red Ridin' Hood', Honky Tonk Stomp' and 'True Loving'. A pleasing performance.
               It was then time for the second ever UK appearance by Joe Bennett & The Sparkletones. It was immediately obvious that the group was all-together and was now tighter in their playing, vocal harmonies and showmanship. Consisting of the four original members from back in the fifties, namely Joe Bennett on vocals and lead guitar, Howard 'Sparky' Childress on alternate lead guitar and back up vocals, Wayne Arthur on upright bass and vocals plus Jimmy 'Sticks' Denton on drums, they were clearly enjoying themselves and it showed in their cohesive playing and laid back approach. Launching into 'Let's Go Rock And Roll', the guys rocked their socks off with their own 'Maybe Baby', the teen bopper 'Boys Do Cry', 'Cotton Pickin' Rocker' and 'Boppin' Rock Boogie'. This was good time rock 'n' roll and they mined the same vein with 'Late Again', 'Rocket' and 'Do The Stop' before varying the tempo with the ballad 'Softly' where their voices blended seamlessly. They paid tribute to Gene Vincent with 'Be-Bop-A-Lula' but this was to be the only non-original song in the whole set. The set closed out with 'sparkling' interpretations of 'Bayou Rock', 'We've Had It', 'Penny Loafers And Bobby Socks' plus their real biggie 'Black Slacks'. A first rate performance from the band and they made it look oh so easy. The final act for Friday was The Mean Devils from Portugal, a rockabilly outfit with bags of bash and thrash, playing most numbers at a frantic tempo. They served up a good version of the Little Jimmy Dickens/Ricky Van Shelton song 'Hole In My Pocket'.
               I went to bed a fluffy bunny excited by what I had seen, and heard - treasuring the show by The Sparkletones.

    Saturday, 12th March 2005
               Downstairs in the secondary hall, in the afternoon, there had been a guitar forum presented by several pickers demonstrating various guitar techniques, interesting and enjoyable. This was followed by sets from Japanese band The Big Chief' and UK act Shaun Horton & Tennessee Trio. However, at lunchtime, Stomper Time Records owner Dave 'Pierce Brosnan' Travis had treated Eddie Bond, Eddie Jones (from Dave's Bad River Band) and yours truly to a splendid lunch to mark his birthday. Consensus for this momentous occasion was that it had to be a landmark anniversary.
               Opening act for this evening was the German band The Round Up Boys who proved to be a competent rockabilly outfit. Their set comprised a few originals such as 'Rock It Up' plus quite a few covers that were, in the main, reasonably obscure and therefore not heard too often from the stage. By this I mean such ditties as 'Sneaky Pete', 'I'm Sitting On Top Of The World', 'Standing In Your Window', 'Mean Little Mama', 'If You Don't Treat Me Right' and 'Hypnotized'. An enjoyable set and the guitar pickin' by leader Axel was a joy.
               The Ragtime Wranglers appeared next and performed three good instrumentals, including 'Groovers Bop' as the warm up for the next American visitor, Barbara Pittman. I was really looking forward to seeing this lady as this would mark the first time I had managed to catch her performance. Unfortunately, I was to be disappointed, as on several tunes, she went off key and she kept wandering on and off the microphone. She got it all together on 'Sentimental Fool', and 'I Need A Man' but to counter this, there were not good versions of 'River Stay Away From My Door' and 'Money Honey'. The other songs in the 29 minute set were 'There's Good Rockin' Tonight', 'Everlasting Love', 'I'm Getting Better All The Time', 'Lonely Weekends' and Great Balls Of Fire'. I understand that Barbara was not well and so it probably will be best to leave it at that and draw a veil over this sub-standard performance.
               Redeeming the situation was the next act, Billy Lee Riley. Anybody who knows me is aware that I am a Riley fan - big time. Like good wine, this guy seems to get better with age. From the onset, it was obvious that we were in for a no hold barred stompin' rockin' time. Opening up with 'Everybody Let's Rock', it was straight into 'Rock With Me Baby', 'Trouble Bound', 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll, 'Roll Over Beethoven, 'Pearly lee' and 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy'. The backing band was just fine with the lead guitarist being straight out of the Roland Janes school of playing. Billy's voice had lost none of its raucous originality and he was dancing all over the stage with those little crouches and quirky little jumps that mark his performances. (Perhaps it is worth mentioning here that in the last two years, he has had two operations on his back, an artificial hip fitted and recently a steel plate installed in his leg but none of this was evident from this vintage Riley show). Hardly pausing, the set proceeded with 'Got The Water Boiling' before slowing down a bit to launch into the gut bucket raunchy 'Hoodoo Woman Blues' before taking of again with 'Good Rockin' Tonight', 'Baby Please Don't Go and the first of two workouts of 'Flip. Flop and Fly'. Delving back into his Sun Records catalogue we then treated to 'Wouldn't You Know' before he reverted to two r 'n' r standards in the form of 'Blue Suede Shoes' and (an overlong) Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On'. This 75 minute show of vintage rockin' came to a conclusion with 'Red Hot' and second performances of 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll' and 'Got The Water Boiling'. Riley left the stage to tumultuous applause. A minor gripe would be the inclusion of so many standards to the detriment of his own original songs but that, in all honesty, is the purist in myself coming out.
               Saturday night closed out with Sweden's own Jack Baymore The Bandits. He too went down a storm and my betting is that several young ladies got over excited. At one point, he was joined on stage by Charlie Thompson and Wild Fire Willie on back up vocals. Two standout numbers were 'Ain't That A Dilly' and 'Weary Blues'.
               Again, I retreated as a happy bunny to my lonely room for the night.

    Sunday, 13th March 2005
               For openers on the final night we had Lynette Morgan & The Blackwater Valley Boys who performed a traditional honky tonk set (down to not having any drummer). Boy, this young lady sure does have a good voice. Earlier in the day downstairs, we had been treated to performances by The Madmen from Croatia and the Roy Kay Trio the USA.
               Back to the main ballroom, we were next treated to the vocal delights of Texas originator Huelyn Duvall with backing by the previously mentioned Round Up Boys. Huelyn was clearly out to enjoy himself and set about rockin' with the crowd pleasing 'Pucker Paint' and 'Juliette' before going into the jerky beat of 'Hey Brutus' and his fifties record 'Friday Night On A Dollar Bill'. The tempo was varied with the chuggin' beat of 'They Ain't Close To You' before zooming off with 'Rock It Down'. The set really ignited with Huelyn's interpretation of Sid and Billy King's 'Let 'Er Roll' that was inserted at the last minute and without any rehearsal with the band. Despite this, it was seamless and the trip to the rockin' stratosphere continued with a brilliant treatment of Tooter Boatman's 'Thunder And Lightnin', truly awe-inspiring. Again, I have to mention the guitar playing by Axel of the Round Up Boys, it was spot on and up there with the likes of Deke Dickerson. By now, Huelyn was thrusting his body all over the stage and as the show continued with 'Lonesome For A Letter' and 'Three Months To Kill', the audience was roaring its appreciation. The tempo was slowed somewhat for his USA hit 'Little Boy Blue' before taking off again with 'High Class Baby', 'Coming Or Going' and 'It's No Wonder'. For an encore, we were treated to 'Bertha Lou' (Clint Miller style) and 'Down The Line'. I have seen several of Huelyn's performance but this was one of the best yet.
               Final American visitor for this weekender was Eddie Bond who had Roy Thompson & The Royal Acadians as his backing band. Maybe Eddie does not move around the stage too much anymore but that excellent powerful voice is still totally in tact and evidenced as he tore into 'I Got A Woman', 'Boppin' Bonnie', 'Talking Off The Wall', 'Baby, Baby' Baby' and 'Monkey & The Baboon'. He included two Hank Williams Snr. Songs in his set, namely 'My Buckets Got A Hole In It' and Move It On Over' ­ both being served up in sparkling style. The tempos were nicely varied with 'This Ole Heart Of Mine', 'Standing In Your Window', 'Here Comes That Train' and 'Juke Joint Johnnie'. Top notch rockin' was achieved with 'Tore Up' before reverting to his own catalogue with 'Double Duty Loving', 'Flip Flop Mama' and 'Rocking Daddy'. His show closed out with 'Slip Slip Slippin' In'. All in all, a very enjoyable experience.
               Final act for the weekender was Paul Ansell's No. 9 before it came to a conclusion. Unfortunately, by this time, I was in the chariot roaring across Kent's wastelands, known as the Romney Marshes, due to work commitments the next day. However, Paul Waring caught the show by No. 9 and comments that a cluster of pretty girls gathered at the front of the stage as the four-piece band came on. This group has its own devoted following and expect moody type Elvis vocals complete with a strong lead guitar over slap bass and drums. They were not disappointed when this styling was applied to a host of contemporary numbers that Paul has made his own through his CDs. On this night, we were treated to Billy Ocean's 'Red Light Spells Danger', Aaron Neville's 'Crying Shame', Don Gibson's 'Sea Of Heartbreak plus a selection of Elvis songs in the form of 'Lonesome Cowboy' and 'Pocket Full Of Rainbows'. Mixed in with these were self-penned numbers such as 'Me And The Jukebox Have Found A friend' and 'It Ain't Right', both of which had the crowd singing along with and demonstrating that he has left his own foot-print on music. The band was called back for three encores, namely Lonesome Train', 'Veronica' and 'Viva Las Vegas'. This was no mean feat, especially coming at the end of three days of good music. The Rave came to a conclusion with a Tiki Party at 3.:00 am lead by Friki Tiki King Kukelee.
               The consensus was that this had been the best Rockabilly Rave thus far. However next year with be the tenth Rockabilly Rave and I am assured by promoter Jerry Chatabox that the event will top everything to date. That said the 2005 festival would take some beating.

    © Tony Wilkinson (with thanks to Paul Waring)
    March/April 2005

    Hasil Adkins Dies
               Rockabilly artist Hasil Adkins, a one-man band whose screaming vocals and freestyle approach to rhythm landed a cult following, has died at 67. Adkins' body was found Tuesday, April 26, 2005 at his Madison, West Virginia home, where he lived alone. The cause of death has not been determined but it does not appear to be suspicious.
               Guitar. Harmonica. Drums. Foot-rhythm instruments. Adkins played them all - often while singing. A yodel, screaming and a high-pitched female's lark were some of his many voices.
               The son of a coal miner, Adkins learned to played guitar before he was 10. He claimed the only time he practiced his songs was on stage.
               Known to his fans as The Haze, Adkins struggled for decades to get noticed. In a 2002 interview, he said he mailed out thousands of tapes and records over a 30-year period while fishing for a record deal.
               Adkins was the original star of Norton Records, a label built around the primal recordings Adkins produced in his mountain home, beginning in the Eisenhower era.
               Adkins, who claimed to have written more than 7,000 songs, first emerged hooting and wailing in the 1950s, only to disappear again. European fans kept the rockabilly rage alive, and when the Cramps did an early 1980s remake of Adkins' "She Said," his records suddenly became hot again.
               What Adkins sang about was just as unique as his delivery, which was fueled by a 2-gallon-a-day coffee habit. New York-based Norton Records combined new and previous recordings to release "Poultry in Motion," a collection of 15 Adkins songs about chicken from 1955 to 1999.
               His "Chicken Walk" and "The Hunch" became two short-lived dance fads. There also were tunes like "Chocolate Milk Honeymoon" and "Boo Boo The Cat." Despite his antics, acquaintances described Adkins as good hearted. Adkins often performed at Charleston's Empty Glass bar, where some out-of-town acts stipulated that he open for them.

    Koops Links:
    Play some Hase
    Hear Hase

    Johnnie Johnson Dead at Age 80
               April 13, 2005 - Johnnie Johnson, a rock 'n' roll pioneer who teamed with fellow St. Louisan Chuck Berry for hits like "Roll Over Beethoven" and "No Particular Place to Go," has died.
               Johnson was 80 when he died Wednesday morning at his home. He had been hospitalized a month ago with pneumonia and was on dialysis for a kidney ailment, but he performed as recently as two weeks ago and was planning to teach a music class in the coming weeks in his West Virginia hometown, said John May, a fellow musician and Johnson's friend. Publicist Margo Lewis said a cause of death was not immediately known.
               Johnson has been called the "founding father of rock 'n' roll," though he was never a household name, known mostly as Berry's piano player and collaborator. Still, he was inducted into Cleveland's Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 in the "sidemen" category.
               Johnson was born in Fairmont, W.Va., and began playing piano at 4. He moved to Chicago after World War II, where he played jazz and blues in clubs. He moved to St. Louis in the early 1950s, forming his own R&B band, the Johnnie Johnson Trio.
               When a band member became ill on New Year's Eve 1952, Johnson hired Berry to fill in. The two began a long collaboration on songs that defined early rock 'n' roll - "Sweet Little Sixteen," "No Particular Place to Go," "Roll Over Beethoven." Johnson often composed the music on piano, then Berry converted it to guitar and wrote the lyrics. In fact, Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" was a tribute to Johnson.
               Several top musicians credited Johnson's influence on their careers, and over the years he recorded and performed with Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley, among others. The 1987 rock documentary "Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll" was in part a tribute to Berry and Johnson.
               Johnson and Berry parted ways in the early 1970s, and in 2000, Johnson sued Berry, seeking a share of royalties and proper credit for what Johnson said were more than 50 songs the men composed together. A federal judge dismissed the suit in 2002, ruling that too many years had passed since the disputed songs were written.
               The lawsuit contended that Berry took advantage of Johnson's alcoholism, misleading him into believing that only Berry was entitled to own the copyrights "and reap the monetary benefits." Johnson is survived by his wife and children.

    Bear Family's 8-CD Gene Vincent Box Set

    Gene Vincent - The Road Is Rocky
    (Complete Studio Masters 1956-1971)
    8CD Set - Bear Family BCD16257 HL
    Tracks: 223 Playing
    Time: 551:16

               Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps influenced generations of rock artists with their rockabilly recordings on Capitol. Yet, those classics sides were not the end of Vincent's story as a recording artist. This smartly documented set includes 223 of the Virginia-born rock pioneer's studio work from every label he was associated with over his 16 year career.
               Vincent's star rose at Capitol Records in 1956 where he and his band the Blue Caps laid down such classics as "Be Bop A Lula," "Bluejean Bop," "Woman Love," "Race With The Devil," "Lotta Lovin" and "Dance To The Bop." After his career waned stateside, Vincent was reinvented by TV producer Jack Good as "The Black Leather Rebel," the ultimate Teddy Boy. Ironically, most of the sides he recorded for Great Britain's Columbia label during that era highlighted his soft, expressive style such as "Temptation Baby" and the sweet "Lavender Blue." Producer Joe Johnson at Challenge tried to re-establish Vincent's chart clout during the mid-60s folk-rock era with the soulfully sung "Bird Doggin," "Ain't That Too Much," "Born To Be A Rolling Stone" and nine other exciting sides. Dandelion fell short of providing a true comeback album for the tortured singer, but such exciting sides as 'White Lightin' and "Sexy Ways" proved he still possessed remarkable interpretive powers. Vincent's 1968 release on Forever/Playground contained the catchy, name-dropping "Story Of The Rockers". Kama Sutra released the album whose title would become his epitaph "The Day The World Turned Blue". His last two-song session at B&C 'Say Mama "71" and "I'm Movin On" paints an portrait of a wounded wild man, still desperately rocking in the days before his death.
               Beautifully packaged, this set boasts a 130 page hardcover book featuring previously unpublished photographs. Renowned Vincent researcher Derek Henderson helped put together with great knowledge and care. Ian Wallis wrote the biography and Deke Dickerson contributed a technical appreciation of Vincent's recordings. Recording logs and contracts from Capitol producer Ken Nelson supplement the complete discography information in the book. More importantly, the sound quality tops any previous release of these tracks (some are previously unissued stereo versions). By tackling this artist's complete recording career in such high style, Bear Family has crafted a box set as compelling as Gene Vincent himself.
    - Johnny Vallis

    Ray Peterson Has Passed Away
                January 26, 2005 - Ray Peterson has died from cancer. Ray enjoyed a handful of pop hits during the early 1960s, among them the Phil Spector-produced "Corrina Corrina" and the car-crash melodrama "Tell Laura I Love Her." Born April 23, 1939 in Denton, TX, he spent much of his childhood recovering from polio, and during an extended stay in a nearby treatment facility he began performing for his fellow patients. As Peterson's health returned he began singing professionally in local clubs, eventually relocating to Los Angeles; there he was discovered by manager Stan Shulman, signing to RCA in 1958. The owner of a four-octave voice, Peterson's early material ran the gamut from teen ballads like "Let's Try Romance" to covers including Little Willie John's "Fever," all to little success; he finally scored a hit in 1959 with "The Wonder of You," which reached the Top 30 in both the U.S. and the U.K.
                Another minor hit, "Answer Me," followed before Peterson scored his greatest success with the 1960 epic "Tell Laura I Love Her." The record's popularity allowed the singer to fund his own label, Dunes, and he soon recruited producer Spector to helm a smash rendition of the traditional "Corrina Corrina." The Dunes roster also i included singer Curtis Lee, for whom Spector produced the 1961 hits "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" and "Under the Moon of Love." Peterson himself went on to cut the Goffin/King-authored "Missing You" and "I Could Have Loved You So Well," but his stardom quickly faded, and after scoring a last minor chart entry with 1963's "Give Us Your Blessing" he signed to MGM in an attempt to cross over to country audiences.
                He recorded and toured for over 50 years. Although sick the last couple of years he still performed whenever he could. Last February Ray performed at a benefit concert for Gene Hughes, of the Casinos, in Nashville along with Dickie Lee, Larry Henley, Steve Jarrell and Joe Stampley to name a few. Peterson was also the recipient of a similar fundraiser last May.

    Get With It: Essential Recordings (1954-69)
    Charlie Feathers Collection
                Now available on vinyl! A massive trible lp in a gorgeous gatefold sleeve. A retrospective collection of the often underrated, and totally amazing rockabilly, country great Charlie Feathers. Charlie grew up tending his parents farm. He sang in church and listened to the Grand Ole Opry. A local sharecropper named Junior Kimbrough taught him how to play guitar. He reminds one at times of Hank Williams, Eddie Arnold, and even Hasil Adkins. Feathers wrote "Can't Hardly Stand It" which was later covered by the Cramps. He has the talent of mixing the best elements of blues, country, bluegrass and rockabilly in an original and inventive way. Some songs are slow lazy sad country, and then some are rockin' and tough.
                As this collection proves he was hard working and eclectic in the mid '50s, but it was during the '70s resurgence of rockabilly in Europe that he was revered and appreciated. Many country and rock n rollers credit Feathers for inspiration (Johnny Cash for one). Dispite health problems he persevered till the end recording and touring, mostly in Europe.
                Charlie Feathers died August 29, 1998 of complications following a stroke; he was 66. Here are all his Sun, Flip, King, Meteor, Kay, WalMay and Holiday Inn sides, plus rare, unissued tracks including Sun demos, alternate takes and early home recordings with the likes of Junior Kimbrough. Massive batch of super informative liner notes!
    Order information on this site.

    Camber Sands Holiday Centre, Rye, England
    26th to 29th November 2004 ... REVIEW:

    Rhythm Riot No. 8
                With all the shops blaring out Christmas music and enticing one to come in and send money, I knew that the time had arrived to take Mrs. Wilkinson and daughter Colinda for their annual treat. Accordingly, scooting home from work, picking up She Who Must Be Obeyed and offspring, the chariot headed off to the traffic jams en route to Camber Sands on the south coast of England for the eighth Rhythm Riot. Anticipating the by now normal 'rockin' bizness' of an eclectic mixture of rockabilly, rock 'n' roll, honky tonk, jump and jive, rhythm & blues and down-home dirty blues, we were not disappointed ­ read on ...

    Friday, 26th November 2004
                First act to take the stage in the main hall was the Sheffield (UK) based R&B outfit The Big Heat who, complete with a three piece brass section, served up a tasty full fat sound knocking out their renditions of ditties such as 'I Ain't Mad At You', 'Much Later For You Baby', 'I'm Nervous', 'The Walk', 'I'm Your Boogie Man' and a great interpretation of 'Chicken Shack Boogie'. We were off to a good start. One of the great things of this weekender is that generally there is one act that is a real revelation with regard to their music and stage act. This year there were no less than three such instances, the first of whom was the Dutch band Lil' Ester And Her Tinstars. They took the stage and from the opening bars, it was clear that we were in for a real treat. Lil' Ester has a great voice ideally suited for the mix of rock 'n' roll come rockabilly numbers that the group performed. Coupled with this, The Tinstars had a tight sound and special mention must be made of the lead guitarist who was no slouch at picking, effectively capturing the James Burton/Joe Maphis Imperial Records sound. Opening up with 'Go Daddy Go', the band then tore into numbers like 'Buddy', 'Let's Fall In Love', 'Need A Little Love', Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll' and 'That's All Right With Me. All the time the stage was full of visuals complete with exciting sounds as Lil' Ester and her guys succeeding in impressing. We were then treated to 'No Time For Love', 'Flame Of Love' (awful lot of lovin' going on) before concluding with 'Arguments And Alibis', 'Rock Boppin' Baby' and 'Mercy'. They got a justifiable great reception.
                By now we were really cookin' but the heat unfortunately went off the boil with the next act, the first visiting American headliner Joe Houston who was backed by The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm. From the onset, clearly something was wrong, as Joe was late in getting on stage and then promptly left apparently to go to the loo. When he returned, looking very dapper on a cream suit and matching hat, the opening jam session ended in a version of 'Flip Flop And Fly' (I think). This was followed by an elongated vocal version of 'Rock Me Baby' with a minimum of sax playing. I do not know what the third number was titled but basically Joe just stood there with the occasional squawk on the saxophone. 'Sweet Little Angel' followed and this that basically was a repeat of the previous performance. After this I, and the majority of the audience, had lost interest. The set was then mercifully drawn to a conclusion whilst Joe disassembled and cleaned his saxophone. I understand that Joe was not well and so a veil must be drawn over this disaster. This evening's shows were rescued somewhat by a good set from Jook Joint.

    Saturday, 27th November 2004
                For openers, we were served up with a piano boogie set from the Hoodoo Kings lead by Bob Hall. This is a quartette who specialize in capturing the boogie-woogie sound laid down over the years from 'Suwannee River Boogie' through 'I'm Moving On' to 'If You Won't Go Home'. These guys demonstrated that they were very competent musicians, with Hall (despite having a passing resemblance to Rolf Harris) excelling on the piano and vocals. He also did a fine solo workout on 'Pinetop's Boogie. Other pieces included 'Somebody's watching Over Me, 'I Don't Play Boogie' and the original number 'Rock This Joint. Very satisfying. Next up was Spanish outfit The Lazy Jumpers who perform in an R&B come swing style. The lead vocalist was also competent on harmonica. They were okay but did not exactly set the stage alight.
                They were followed by Wes Weston's Big Rhythm were a different kettle of fish. Here was quality musicianship, with fine vocals from Wes, who is a first rate showman, and a great backing from the guys on a set of basically jump jive offerings. The lead sax player was particularly outstanding. Plenty of stage action from the guys, some of whom play with the Big Town Playboys and James Hunter, who treated us to 'Everyday I Have The Blues', 'Boogie Chillum', Go On Fool', 'Rock This Joint' and Ray Sharpe's 'Linda Lu'.
                The Southlanders were scheduled to appear but medical reasons prevented this. Deputizing for them was the UK vocal group The Extraordinaires who are very visual on stage. This more than compensated for some of the vocals that were weak on certain tunes. They mixed in back flips and bags of coordinated movements on good workouts on the likes of 'Tell Me Why', 'Real Gone Mama', 'Lucy Brown', 'Let's Fall In Love', 'Ruby Baby', 'Zoom' and 'Hey Senorita'. They got it all together on an accapella treatment of 'Goodnight Sweetheart' before concluding with 'Let's Rock 'n' Roll'. Clearly popular with the audience, they received good applause. The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm who excelled themselves provided their backing in no uncertain style. Unfortunately this cannot be said of their performance behind the next artist, the legendary Hank Thompson. Okay, the brass section was justifiably missing, and the guys were augmented by steel and fiddle players but they were all over the place. On occasion, it seemed that they were playing a different tune that which Hank was singing. As for 79 years young Hank himself, his vocals were spot on, especially on 'Humpty Dumpty Heart, 'Green Light', 'Indian Reservation' and 'Wild Side Of Life' where thankfully all the guys on stage got it together. It was a joy to listen to 'Wabash Cannonball', 'Six Pack To Go' and 'Take Me Back To Tulsa' and we were even treated to 'White Christmas'. Come back any time Hank but hopefully next time will see you performing 'Rockin' In The Congo'.
                I mentioned revelations previously and the second took the stage to conclude this night's shows. They were the American Chicano group Vicky Tafoya & The Big Beat. This lady has a great singing voice which excelled on a good variety of songs like 'Do You Wanna Jump Children', 'Reelin' And Rockin', 'So Young, 'Mello Saxophone' and a superb 'We Belong Together. She carries her own band in The Big Beat and it showed. These guys were all together, with a real quality tight sound that was amply demonstrated backing Vicky on 'Rock Rock Rock', 'Rock A Beatin' Boogie', 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love' and 'There Is Something On Your Mind'. From the foregoing, hopefully you get the picture that this is a top-notch band with good stage presence. I certainly went to bed a fluffy bunny.

    Sunday, 28th November 2004
                Unfortunately I missed the opening act, The Jive Romeros, but there was certainly a good buzz in the man hall when I arrived to see Scottish rockabilly outfit Hi Voltage who were good. These guys know their business with consistently good performances taken at a nice tempo on ditties like 'Lonesome Tears', 'I Loose', 'Jump Start Boogie', 'Shadow My Baby, 'I Used To Be' and a sparkling rockabilly styling on 'Just Walkin' In The Rain'. A good act.
                It was then time for the third revelation of the weekender and what a revelation! This was American visitor Roddy Jackson backed up by the house band. He came on stage and, with his leopard skin fronted shirt on, it was straight into 'I've Got My Sights On Someone New' followed by 'Moose On The Loose'. Roddy rocked, he rolled and he gave a 110 percent of himself. He pounded the keyboards into submission and belted out on the saxophone (not at the same time) as he gave a wild man performance. He has a raucous rock 'n' roll voice, reminiscent of the late great Ronnie Self, he is that good. He and the band were spot on with 'Hiccups', performed with humour, 'Any Old Town', 'Gloria', 'I Found A New Girl' and 'Love At First Sight'. He advised us that UK Ace Records have located a quantity of unreleased songs that he recorded for Specialty that will be released in 2005 and proceeded to treat us to a selection such as 'Juke Box Baby', 'Consider', 'I Love Her Just The Same' and 'Give A Little Love'. The majority of these are wild rock 'n' roll songs that Roddy gave full-unbridled leash to in their performance. He has a great stage personality and this was fully demonstrated on 'She Said Yeah' that he co-wrote with the late Sonny Bono. I cannot wait to see him again. We have a new rock 'n' roll hero.
                New Orleans favourite Clarence Henry, who explained that this was his first UK visit in around 22 years due to income tax reasons, followed him on stage. But he quickly established a fine groove with an opening Fats Domino medley of 'My Girl Josephine/Margie/I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Someday'. His voice was in fine shape and the Rhythm Riot Kings of Rhythm provided a sympathetic backing as he followed with 'Troubles Troubles' and 'That's Enough' before going into an elongated medley of his sixties hits 'But I Do/You Always Hurt The One You Love. 'Cajun Honey' then ensued before dropping into a further medley of 'Jambalaya/Hey Le Bas/Blueberry Hill' and then continuing on with his own 'Little Suzy' and 'Lonely Tramp'. The last two mentioned bought cheers from the gathered multitude, as did 'Ain't Got No Home' which evolved into another medley of 'Twist/Johnny B. Good/Shake Rattle And Roll/Rag Mop'. For his encore, Clarence performed his concluding medley of 'When The Saints Go Marchin' In/Mama Don't Allow'. This was a pleasing performance by a show business veteran. The final act for this year's Rhythm Riot was I Belli Di Waikiki from Italy. This is a party time group who perform rock 'n' roll with a Hawaiian influence such as 'Honolulu Rock 'n' Roll' and 'Rock A Hula Baby'. Enjoyable.
                Yet again, overall, another great Rhythm Riot and there is next year's weekender to think of and salivate over from 25th to 28th November 2005. No headliners have been announced so far but it would be great to see Ace Cannon fill the sax man spot and Nathaniel 'Village Of Love' Mayer on that stage based on reports of his appearance at this year's Ponderosa Stomp. Telephone (0)20 8566 5226, fax (0)20 8566 2525 or contact the web site www.RhythmRiot.com for further information and booking details.
                © Tony Wilkinson
                December 2004

    Mack Vickery R.I.P.
                Mack Vickery, the Alabama-born wild man who penned such hits as George Strait's "The Fireman", Ricky Van Shelton's "I'll Leave This World Loving You" and Jerry Lee Lewis' "Rockin' My Life Away", died Tuesday, December 21, 2004 at his Nashville home of an apparent heart attack. He was 66.
                Born in Town Creek, Ala., Mr. Vickery faced hardship from an early age. His mother died when he was 3, and he moved throughout the South and Midwest with his family. As a teenager, he played in Ohio and Michigan honky-tonks, and after his 1957 graduation, he headed to Memphis and recorded three songs for legendary producer Sam Phillips. The recordings were not released, and Mr. Vickery went back to performing in Michigan.
                Around 1964, he moved to Nashville and began working to write hit country songs, though he never gave up performing or recording (he sometimes made records as "Atlanta James" or "Vick Vickers."). In 1970, he released an album called Mack Vickery At The Alabama Women's Prison. The album cover featured some eye-catching prisoners peeking lovingly at Vickery.
                A master of lascivious songs, Mr. Vickery penned "Meat Man" for Jerry Lee Lewis (it was a raunchier predecessor to The Fireman). He and Lewis were close friends, and Lewis recorded more than 20 of Mack's songs. Other Vickery-penned songs ‹ "I'm The Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised)" and "Sweet Honky Tonk Wine" among them.
                In 2003, Mack was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

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    Glen Glenn Bear Family CD
                "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud Loud Music". 36 rare tracks of Rockabilly Hall of Fame® Inductee Glen Glenn are now available in a wonderful Bear Family package. You'll find a 56 page booklet full of great photos, plus, a 12 page Glen Glenn Discography insert. Order yours today. Contact: www.bear-family.de.