BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS
DEDICATED TO THE COLLECTING OF MUSIC, ITS PRESERVATION AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP
THIS MONTH’S MEETING
As the Homewood Library is still closed to the public we will meet again this Sunday, November 8th at the same location we have been using, Fultondale First Baptist Church. We will begin at1:00 (NOT OUR USUAL 2:00 START TIME). The address of the church is 409 Main Street, Fultondale, AL 35068. Bring your mask and continue the social distancing as well. Music, fellowship and some fun to be had by all. At this time we plan on our December meeting to be at the same place, same time on December 13th, the second Sunday. Many thanks to Fultondale First Baptist Church for the use of their building and to John McGuirk for setting this up for us.
We have another special guest lined up for our November meeting. Burgin Mathews, an author (Doc: The Story of a Birmingham Jazz Man is about Frank ‘Doc’ Adams), writer, publisher, radio host (The Lost Child show on Birmingham Mountain Radio), teacher, historian and a lover of music will be with us to discuss his ventures into the music world and share his knowledge of what he has learned and how he shares it. I think you will find his accomplishments and expertise in the world of music highly interesting. Plan on being with us and bring a friend. Burgin does request that you bring a protective mask for this meeting. You can read more about his accomplishments on his website https://burginmathews.com/
THE BIRTH OF ROCK & ROLL PROJECT CONTINUES
It’s time to check back with Mike’s R&R project as he continues his research into the early days of rock and the people who made it happen. Some interesting info and music have been shared and a big thanks go out to Mike for his work on this project. So here we go. Some quick hits about a few of the founding fathers of rock in these parts. Rock On!
PART 17: Electric Guitar: Ellas Otha Bates, a/k/a Ellas McDaniel, a/k/a Bo Diddley
Bo Diddley, Checker 814. This track was recorded at Universal Recording Studio, 46 E. Walton Street, Chicago, Ill., on March 2, 1955. Big, unique, original Guitar sound, lots of tremolo and reverb, amplifier overdriven, helped by the echo chamber at Universal Studio. Influenced every Rock & Roll guitarist to this day.
Ellas Otha Bates, born 12-30-1928, McComb, Mississippi, died at age 79 on 6-2-2008, at his home near Archer, Florida.
Inducted: R&R Hall of Fame (1987); Blues Hall of Fame (2003); Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame (2017). Recipient of Grammy Lifetime achievement Award and R&B Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award
PART 18: ‘Mystery Train”: Recording Date: July 11, 1955, Sun Recording Studio, Memphis, TN
This is the final and best recording made by Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and producer Sam Phillips at Sun. Financial pressures compelled Phillips to sell Presley’s contract to RCA Victor on November 21, 1955. Reaching the Top 10 on the C/W charts. ‘I Forgot To Remember To Forget’ was the flip side, a song that was Elvis’ first charted record reaching #1 on the C/W charts. Along with Elvis were Scotty (guitar), Bill (bass) and Johnny Bernero (drums). Charlie Feathers was a co-writer of this flip.
Elvis Presley, Scotty & Bill
PART 19: Johnny Cash: ‘Folsom Prison Blues’
Johnny Cash, Vocal and Rhythm Guitar; Luther Perkins, Electric Guitar; Marshall Grant, Acoustic Bass; Sam Phillips, Producer
Cash had no drummer in the studio. In an effort to replicate a snare drum beat on 2 and 4, Cash threaded a dollar bill between the strings of his guitar and strummed the rhythm.
‘Folsom Prison Blues‘
Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two
PART 20: Carl Perkins: December 19, 1955 ‘Blue Suede Shoes’
Carl Perkins was actually playing what we now know as Rock & Roll in live performances in the rural honky-tonks of west Tennessee as early as 1953. One of the persons who came to hear him in 1953, at a roadhouse called the El Rancho, was a guy named Elvis Presley.
Recording date of “Blue Suede Shoes”: December 19, 1955, Sun Recording Studio, Memphis, TN
Session Musicians: Carl Perkins, Vocal and lead Guitar (a second hand 1952 Gibson Les Paul solid body electric, purchased on the installment plan, a couple of dollars per week). Jay Perkins, Rhythm Guitar, Clayton Perkins, Acoustic Bass, W.S. “Fluke” Holland, Drums, Sam Phillips, producer/sound engineer
It is a monumental understatement to say that Carl Perkins and his brothers Jay and Clayton were “dirt poor” before “Blue Suede Shoes”.
Carl was born on April 9, 1932 in Lake County, TN near Tiptonville, TN. His parents were sometimes sharecroppers, sometimes merely cotton pickers, field hands. Children in the Mississippi river bottomland of west TN in the depression era 1930s began to pick cotton at age 6. During spring and autumn, children worked after school until dark in the fields. In the summer, they worked from sunrise until dark, 12 to 14 hours per day, fifty cents for a full day. The parents earned $1.00 per day in the 1930s. Around the year 1940, Carl’s father bought a beat up, second hand “Gene Autrey” guitar for $2.00 and gave it to Carl. He learned to play both the black and white gospel and country tunes and blues songs he heard on his father’s battery radio, in church, and in the fields. One of his early teachers was a black man in his sixties who worked in the cotton fields named John Westbrook (“Uncle John”).
In late 1946, the Perkins family moved down into southwest TN near Jackson, TN. By that time, Carl, Jay and Clayton had all learned the rudiments of Guitar on the old second hand instrument. At some point during this time, Clayton began to play the upright acoustic bass, and Jay and Carl had managed to buy better guitars. The brothers played their first “professional” music job (for tips) in late 1946, on a Wednesday night, at a place called the “Cotton Boll” Tavern. Carl was 14 years old. It was at about this time that Carl began to write original songs. In 1947 the brothers began to play regularly on Friday and Saturday nights at the “Sand Ditch” tavern. During the rest of the 1940s and the early 1950s, the brothers played rural west TN roadhouses such as the El Rancho, The Roadside Inn, and The Hilltop, usually for tips and drinks. They also began to appear on early morning radio programs on WTJS in Jackson, TN. By 1955 the brothers played the west TN rural honky-tonks six nights per week. Perkins also worked day jobs, unskilled labor jobs, including picking cotton, six days a week until the year 1956. In December 1955, just a few days before the recording date on December 19, Carl worked a 12 hour day picking cotton for $1.25 per hour, making $15.00 that day. He used that money to buy Christmas for his family.
Released on January 1, 1956, Blue Suede Shoes was a massive chart success, reaching #1 on the Billboard Country chart, #2 on the Billboard Pop chart, and #3 on the Billboard R&B chart. On April 10, 1956, Sam Phillips presented to Carl, as a birthday present, a new 1956 Cadillac. By May of 1955, Blue Suede Shoes had sold over One Million copies, the first Sun record to do so.
‘Blue Suede Shoes‘
Thanks again to Mike for sharing this research and his Birth of Rock & Roll Project with us.
Don’t forget to check out BRC Radio on our website. New shows each week. Go to birminghamrecord.com and click on ‘RADIO’.