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Given Name: Shelby Singleton, Jr.
Date of Birth: December 16, 1931
Date of Death: October 7, 2009
Place of Birth: Waskom, Texas
Talents: Industry Executive, Record Producer
Sun Record Company: Shelby Singleton Jr.
Also See: Wikipedia
"Sound of the 50's" Tribute
Nowadays, it is virtually impossible for an independent label to get a No. 1 record on the
singles charts. On that basis, Jeannie C. Riley's Harper Valley P.T.A., released on Shelby
Singleton's Plantation label, would never have gone to No. 1 and certainly would not have gone
gold and sold over 4 million copies.
However, back in the late 60's, things were different, and for record company bosses with
the wealth of experience that Shelby Singleton has, it was always possible.
He served in the Marine Corps in Korea where he was injured in combat, and still has a metal
plate in his head. He moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, at the end of the Korean War and, in 1958,
he became the local promotion man for Mercury Records. It was here that Shelby met his future wife,
Margie, who was appearing on the Louisiana Hayride.
A year after joining Mercury, he had made sufficient headway to be promoted to Southern Regional
Sales Manager. A year after that, he became Product Manager and than a record producer for the
Although, he spent some of his time in Nashville, he chose to base himself in New York.
Singleton had the knack of taking Country songs and having them recorded by non-Country acts.
This started with Brook Benton's recording of The Boll Weevil Song in 1960, which became a Top
3 record the following year.
He also kept his ears to the ground, and when he heard that a
record was doing well on an independent label, he would try and pick it up for Mercury.
He was put in charge of Smash Records and eventually became VP of Mercury.
Among the hits during
Shelby's nine-year period with Mercury and it's sister label, Smash were Walk On By by Leroy
Van Dyke (1961), Wooden Heart by Joe Dowell (1961), Hey Baby by Bruce Channel (1962) and
Ahab The Arab by Ray Stevens (1962).
In addition, he was involved with Jerry Lee Lewis,
Roger Miller, Charlie Rich, Dave Dudley and Brook Benton's other hits.
Shelby resigned from Mercury in 1966, and set up his own production company. He launched SSS
International Records and shortly thereafter, Shelby set up his Plantation label and in 1968,
had his No.1 hit with Harper Valley P.T.A.
The following year, he purchased Sun Records from Sam Phillips, which contained all the
classic Rock'n'Roll records by Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.
He licensed the catalog to Charly Records for Europe and this has proven to be a big money
earner, as Rock'n'Roll and Rockabilly is still popular there.
Shelby also operated the Silver Fox label and Shelby Singleton Music. Although he has never had
another hit of the magnitude of Harper Valley P.T.A., Plantation racked up another thirty-six
chart entries since the label was established.
One single released in 1980 on Sun was not a big hit, but has since become a trucker's
classic. It was Dave Dudley's Rolaids, Doan's Pills And Preparation H.
In 1993, Jason D. Williams became the first artist to sign to a renovated Sun Records.
In 1997, Singleton merged Sun with Brave New Entertainment Corporation.
Sun Entertainment Corporation
3106 Belmont Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37212 USA
Rockabilly Hall of Fame ¨