A Tribute
Larry Bamburg a/k/a Larry Lincoln

Larry Bamburg, a Shreveport - Louisiana - pro fiddler in the 50's and 60's, who played with Red Sovine, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells passed away on Sunday July 3, 2011 after a bad fall in his house and a two weeks stay in hospital. He seemed to be recovering very well from the fall, talking and laughing, so everyone was in shock when this happened. Larry, being born Lawrence Thurman Bamburg, on August 26, 1931 in Coushatta (Red River Parish - Louisiana), was 79 years old and had keep in his house a lot of pictures of James Burton in his early days even staying in touch with James' Mother Lola Poland who sadly passed away on May 23, 2011. In those early days James had a Fender Telecaster but was fascinated by the steel guitar liking to play with Sonny Trammel, a Louisiana Hayride staff steel guitar player who backed Webb Pierce, Elvis, Johnny Horton and Jimmy Lee Fautheree to name a few. James was member of Larry's band, The Louisiana Drifters as soon as 1955, and was also the guitar player on Dale Hawkins' first demo of "Suzie-Q", with sax, cut in 1956 at KENT. On sax was Shelton Bissell being 15 years old and Larry Bamburg's first cousin, wrongly named Sheldon Bazelle on the back cover liner notes for the Norton LP 2556 Sheldon played on several Ram cuts before joining Mickey Gilley's band. Larry would make his trek to Shreveport in 1949, hoping to land a spot in one of the bands. Over the next two years, he played on stage and at shows around the area with Webb Pierce, Red Sovine, Kitty Wells, The Wilburn Brothers or Faron Young. On November 8, 1951 he as drafted into the Marines and was released in San Diego on November 3, 1953. Larry did not play on the Hayride after he returned but he stayed a friend of Shot Jackson. In 1956, there was a great recording outlet build and owned on 2439 Lakeshore Drive - Shreveport - Louisiana by Mira Ann Smith and her cousin Alton Warwick. That studio bring us some great country, blues and rockabilly sides on "RAM" (Royal Audio Music) label, some being also leased for national distribution to larger companies like Chess and Mercury. Ram record was the brainchild of that Lady who was musician, studio engineer and songwriter. It was the "One and Only" professional and commercial recording studio in Shreveport by 1956. After a successful career as record producer and song writer, Mira Smith died on leukaemia on September 29, 1989.

Larry Bamburg and James Burton backed Carol Williams on "Your Never Mention My Name"/"Just For A While" (Ram 100 - first release) that was recorded in Carol's front room while Mira was still completing her studio. "Just for A While" is a very attractive fast hillbilly song with great guitar parts and the label first record issued. The design was just gold block letters on a dark red label with the mention "Shreveport, LA".

The first releases on Mira's were mainly country numbers like "Cheating On Me"/"Careless Loving" (RAM 26626), two Honky-Tonk songs, by Larry Bamberg (note the wrong spelling) with James Burton on lap steel guitar and Leon Post on piano. That record was reviewed in The Billboard edition dated September 8, 1956 and noted 62/63. That second issue on the label showcase for the first time the famous "ram head" logo on a silver and bright red label carrying the complete company address and Allstar Music publishing right mention.v Larry Bamburg and James Burton also provided the backing on the sides recorded by Johnny Roberts and The Dixie Boy, an old time hillbilly singer. "Sitting Alone In The Moonlight" b/w "Little French Sweetheart" were issued on RAM 36621 while "Dixie Blues" b/w "I Wish You Were With Me Tonight" were issued on RAM 46621. "Dixie Blues", mentioned in the Billboard issue dated September 15, 1956 carry heavy shades of Jimmie Rodgers and "Little French Sweetheart" is a Louisiana Waltz.

The first rockabilly record on RAM was "You Won't Know Why ‘Till I'm Gone"/"Wilson Blues n°1" (RAM 15551) cut by James Wilson and The Jimmie-Cats in May 1956 or earlier. Aged only 16, still student at Fair Park High School, James is backed on those self penned songs by James Burton (ld gtr), Larry Bamburg (bass) and Ronnie Lewis (dms). Ronnie Lewis is no other than Stan Lewis' brother. There's also a great piano work maybe by Leon Post, a Louisiana Hayride staff musician or Virgil Dixon, a member of James' band who included also Johnny Nelson (dms), Jimmy Johnson (gtr), Jimmie Taylor (gtr). James plaintive vocals are just great and make that double sides wonder a very rare record that could match with some releases on "Meteor". The record was reviewed in Billboard as "a rhythmic down home type country blues". Then Mira used to have 300 to 500 45 rpm's copies out of the pressing plant using RCA custom facilities.

To tie up with the release of the records, Mira Smith featured her artists in her "Country Store Party" show, co-produced with Buddy Sepaugh, which was presented on Thursday night from a The Venus Theatre, a 650 seats venue, located 2426 Lakeshore Drive. The show was also performed on the Courtyard Theater Bldg located 2400 Lakeshore Drive. A live recording of "If I had Me A Woman" by James Wilson, featuring heavy drums, still survive today. On that show were often featured Dottie & Sally, Linda Brannon, Bobby McGhee, Charlotte Hunter, Sylvia Gay, Johnny Roberts. The back-up band was lead by Larry Bamburg with James Burton (gtr), Bobby Hammett (gtr, mandolin), Jerry Winderweedle (gtr), Bobby Morehead (bs). You can have all that that cast and Jeff Dale, a KENT DJ's, as MC for 90c a seat. Survive few live recordings like "Sweet Dreams" and "Any Old Time" by Larry Bamburg, "Don't Brother Me" by Linda Brannon and "I'll be True" by Charlotte Hunter. Charlotte Ray Hunter, from KAPK radio station in Minden (Louisiana), worked also on studio with Larry Bamburg and James Burton recording "Lonesome Heart", a country ballad written by Mira Smith, but unissued until1994. I don't think about the same crew backing her on "You and I Love" issued in 1957 on the Ram EP RA 57228 but maybe on "When There's No One" issued with "Now Is The Time" (K 5811) in 1957. Charlotte worked on stage with James Wilson at least once for a "Bighorn Trail Show", in May 1956, featuring other Mira's stable artists and Larry Bamburg acting as MC. Among the non- Ram artists for that/those shows were Ramona Kenny and with Tommy Cassel who recorded with James Burton four fabulous rockabilly sides issued on its own "Cassel" label.

In 1959, a custom deal came for Larry Lincoln (Larry Bamburg in disguise ‘cause many MC had trouble pronouncing his name), who cut two sides at Mira's location issued on his own Fido 011 "My Baby Went Away"/"That'll Hold You". "My Baby Went Away", co-writen with Billy Sanford, is a bluesy song lead on sax by Shetlon Bissell and I will not be surprised to have here Mira Smith on guitar. "That'll Hold You", whose publishing rights were given to Hip Hill is more rockin' and may have Rose and Margaret Lewis bringing tasty vocal support. On July 10, 1959, Larry Lincoln guested a Mira's "Big Rock Party" at The Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium with Margaret Lewis, Dean & Marc, Johnny Mann, Carol Williams and The Lonesome Drifter. He was sometimes introduced as Leaping Larry Lincoln.

In 1959, Larry met up with another female entrepreneur, songwriter May Long, and they decided to set a studio together. The project never gets off the ground. A quote in The Billboard dated November 9, 1959 break the news of Larry Bamberg of Shreveport setting a record label named "Platonic". No release being knows maybe that info refers to the May Long unsuccessful association.

After Larry had quit the music, he took up antiques from America, England, France or Germany and made a good living sharing his memories with old and new friends. He guested with Felton Pruitt, Joe Osborn, Tillman Franks, Reggie Young, Claude King and many others, the Louisiana Hayride Homecoming spectacular on April 3, 1999 at Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium. In July 2009, Larry was featured in a French magazine titled "Rock and Roll Revue" for them 50th issue. Here he was in picture with Endom Spires (Buddy Sepaugh) and its story is briefly told in that two-part tribute to Mira Smith. In March 2010, Larry was in picture with Linda Brannon and James Burton, on stage in 1956, in another long paper about Ram record printed by "Big Beat of The 50's", an Australian musical magazine. Those magazines were sent to Larry who enjoyed that long overdue recognition for its musical abilities. I took often time for people to understand the cultural value of regional music or arts but we are a lot all around the world working hard to reach that goal from talented writers like John Broven, witnesses of the time like Tillman Franks or Frank Page or FAME fondation.

Larry will rest forever on Coushatta, Louisiana, a town located on US Highway 71 between Shreveport and Natchitoches. At the celebration were played "Put My Little Shoes Away" (written in 1873) and recorded by Larry in the late 70's but also "Send The Light" and "Will The Circle Unbroken"' as recorded by Margaret Lewis (vcl/gtr) with Tillman Franks (bs), Fred Carter jr (gtr) and Larry Bamburg (fdl). Larry had also left few unissued sides like "A Home For The Lonely" and "One Step Away" (written by Mira Smith and James Burton), two beautiful country songs.

If you want to enjoy the relaxed honky-tonk sound of Larry and his Louisiana Drifters, we made it possible thanks to Borras and Alton and Margaret Warwick at:

We will cherish about keeping the legacy alive like Larry did helping Ray Topping to assemble the fabulous ACE CDs dedicated to Mira Smith's musical legacy. Those friends are now reunited and Larry will probably told her he did not know why players today had to use ‘tuners' - "…we never had to in the early days and everybody was in tune!" And of course he was correct.

Today I sure had the Dixie Blues.

Thanks to Margaret Lewis, Alton Warwick, Shelton Bissell and Lynn Ours.

Dominique "Imperial" ANGLARES
Aug 6, 2011


Page Created March, 2010