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From the Land of Band Box Records

Rockabilly Rules!

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If Skiffle was uniquely British, then Rockabilly was no doubt uniquely American.  But where Skiffle assumed a definite identity right from the get-go with the Koyler brothers, Chris Barber and Tony Donegan (think Lonnie) launching the genre with their “breakdown” sessions between “trad” jazz performances, Rockabilly was very different.

In the excellent historical narrative, “Go Cat Go!” by Craig Morrison, the author puts forth a set of ‘rules’ or more precisely a “recipe” for defining what qualifies as genuine rockabilly – not an easy task but a fun exercise nonetheless.

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Morrison’s Rules of the Rockabilly Road

Here are a few of the “recipe” components, which are divided into three categories for scoring a rockabilly candidate. Morrison assigns points, deducts points and adds bonus points within the categories – Now we have to understand that candidates don’t necessarily adhere to all of the point categories.  In fact, many musicians delivering rockabilly numbers more often would record good old country or swing or what have you.  Morrison points out that nearly 100 percent of all musicians recording or performing “rockabilly” recorded and performed other forms – probably most of the time.

Here are a few Morrison’s scoring examples:

Points Awarded If:

  • If there is an Elvis influence
  • If an echo effect is used
  • If  a wild or extreme vocal style is employed
  • If an upright bass is present – “especially if played in a slapped manner”
  • If song recorded in the years 1954, 1955 or 1956

Points Deducted If:

  • A saxophone is employed
  • If song is backed by a vocal chorus – especially if female
  • If “condescendingly juvenile” lyrics are employed
  • If there is a slow tempo
  • If recorded in any year after 1957

Bonus Points Awarded If:

  • If group employs acoustic/electric guitars, stand-up bass but no drums
  • If song is recorded at Sun studio or has a Memphis origin
  • If the artist is very obscure

These along with additional parts of the “recipe” is how Morrison would answer the inquiry “What is rockabilly?”

Hiram, Aaron & Tony

Like Skiffle’s “Moment” when the Chris Barber “breakdown” group stepped forward between sets in May of 1953 in a London Nightclub with Lonnie Donegan fronting the group with his guitar along with Ken Colyer, Alex Korner, Bill Coyler and Chris Barber  – launching the Brits on a path to rock and roll!

In America the date was just two weeks earlier in the Memphis studio at Sun when Sam Phillips turned on his tape machine when he heard something he hadn’t heard previously coming from the young trio of musicians who were almost goofing around between takes – “That’s All Right” by Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black was the game changer.

There was another young performer who turned the heads of young country musicians throughout the South was a Hiram Williams or “Hank” as he would become known.  Although never a rocker – his style and vocal innovation inspired so many of the rockabilly artists who came down the pike.  Williams was killed in an auto mishap well before the rockabilly phenomenon was under way and just a few months ahead of the the Donegan/Presley break outs – January, 1953.  He was 30 years old at the time of his death.

The Skiffle musicians were very cognizant of the term “skiffle” instantly applying it to their group names or song titles.  With rockabilly, this wasn’t the case.   Morrison explains that “rockabilly” didn’t suddenly pop into the jargon of the day.  Sam Phillips, he explains, didn’t use the term but preferred “rock n roll” and disclaimed any authorship to the identifier “rockabilly”.

Established country musicians of the day used it as a derogatory term for the new young bucks employing the genre.  Hank didn’t really rock but he changed Country Music and all that followed!

The Rockabillies!

Following is a collage of artists who released at least one “genuine” rockabilly number.  There are those among the ranks who would venture into the genre and many who would continue on after the impact years of early Elvis, making their living from whence they came – Country Music.

Charlie Adams

Columbia 4-21355 – Cattin’ Around – 1955

Harold Allen

Mar-Vel MV 1201 – I Need Some Lovin’ – 1957

Milton Allen

RCA Victor 47-7116 – Don’t Bug Me Baby – 1957

See the source image

Andy Anderson & The Rolling Stones

Felsted 45-8508 – 1957

Terry Ann

Cleveland 103 – Motorcycle Jack – 1959

Jerry Arnold and the Rhythm Captains

Cameo 45-102 – Race for Time – 1957

See the source image

Charlene Arthur and the Knights

Coin 104 – Hello Baby – 1956

John Ashley

Dot 45-15775 – Born to Rock – 1958

Johnny Bachelor

Era 1019 – Mumbles – 1958

Gar Bacon

Baton 248 – There’s Gonna Be Rockin’ Tonight – 1957

Bob Baker

Veeda 45-1002 – Kitty Kat Korner – 1958

See the source image

Dick Banks

Liberty 55145 – Dirty Dog – 1958

Mac Banks

Vee Eight 133 – They Raided the Joint – 1955

Glenn Barber

Starday 166 – Ring Around the Moon – 1954

Bobby Bare (Bill Parsons)

Fraternity 2323 – 1958

(Parsons deferred to Bobby Bare on the A-Side though mis-credited to Bare – Parsons does the B side)

Image result for bobby bare

Benny Barnes

Mercury Starday 71057X45 – Poor Old Me – January, 1957

Image result for benny barnes singer

Dean Beard

Edmoral 1011-45 – Rakin and Scrapin – 1957

Boyd Bennett and His Rockets

King 45-1494 – My Boy-Flat Top – 1956

ABC-Paramount 45-9837 – Boppin’ Rock Boogie – July, 1957

Image result for joe bennett rockabilly

Tommy Blake

Sun 313 – I Dig You Baby – 1958

See the source image

Tooter Boatmen and the Chaparrals

Twinkle 501 – The Will of Love – 1958

Eddie Bond

Mercury 70826X45 – Rockin’ Daddy – 1956

Image result for eddie bond rockabilly

Bonnie Lou

King 45-4948 – No Rock n Roll Tonight – 1956

Jimmy Bowen (with the Orchids)

Triple – D 798 – I’m Stickin with You – 1956

See the source image

Billy Brown

Columbia 4-41029 – Did We Have a Party – 1957

Edwin Bruce

Sun 276 – Rock Boppin’ Baby – August, 1957

Image result for edwin bruce rockabilly

Sonny Burgess

Sun 247 – Red Headed Woman – August, 1956

Image result for sonny burgess rockabilly

Eddie Burke

D 1053 – Rock Mop – 1959

Dick Bush

Era 45-1067 – Hollywood Party – April, 1958

Ray Campi

Domino 700 – My Screamin’ Screamin’ Mimi! – 1958

Johnny Carroll

Decca 9-29940 – Rock N’ Roll Ruby – May, 1956

Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two

Sun 241 – Get Rhythm – April, 1956

Image result for johnny cash and the tennessee two

Jean Chapel

Sun 244 – I Won’t Be Rockin’ Tonight – June, 1956

Image result for jean chapel rockabilly

Sanford Clark

MCI 45-1003 – The Fool – May, 1956

Joe Clay

Vik 4X-0211 – Sixteen Chicks – 1956

Image result for joe clay rockabilly

Patsy Cline

Decca 9-29963 – 1956 – Stop, Look and Listen

See the source image

Eddie Cochran

Liberty F-55056 – Sittin’ In the Balcony – February, 1957

Image result for eddie cochran

The Cochran Brothers

Ekko 3001 – Tired and Sleepy – June, 1956

(Not blood brothers – Hank and Eddie Cochran)

Image result for the cochran brothers

Jackie Lee Cochran

Sims 107 – Hip Shakin’ Mama – 1956

Image result for jackie lee cochran rockabilly

The Collins Kids

(Larry and Lawrencine)

Columbia 4-21470 – Beetle Bug-Bop – 1955

Related image

Cowboy Copas

Dot 45-15735 – Circle Rock – 1958

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Lloyd Copas

Dot 45-15735 – Circle Rock – 1958

Keith Courvale

Dot 45-15844 – Trapped Love – 1958

Crash Craddock

Colonial CR-721 – Bird Doggin’ – 1957

Fred Crawford

Starday 243 – Rock Candy Rock – 1956

Image result for fred crawford rockabilly

The Crickets

Brunswick 9-55036 – Oh Boy! – October, 1957

G. “Davy” Crockett

Chief 7010 – Look Out Mable – June, 1958

Mac Curtis

King 45-4949 – Grandaddy’s Rockin’ – July, 1956

Image result for rockabilly mac curtis

Jeff Daniels

Meladie GBOW 5209 – Daddy-O-Rock – 1956

Link Davis

Starday 45-242 – Sixteen Chicks – 1956

Ronnie Dawson

Back Beat 521 – Tear Down the House – 1958

Image result for ronnie dawson rockabilly

Don Deal

Era 45-1039 – Devil of Deceit – June, 1957
(Don Deal (center) – Hank Cochran (left) Eddie Cochran (right)

Image result for rockabilly don deal

Dee and Patty

D – 1020 – Ohh-Wow – 1958

Jackie Dee (DeShannon)

Gone 5008 – I’ll Be True – May, 1957

Image result for jackie deshannon

Jimmy Dee

Dot 45-15721 – You’re Late Miss Kate – 1958

Image result for jimmy dee rockabilly

Arnie Derksen

Decca 9-30906 – She Wanna Rock – 1959

Little Jimmy Dickens

Columbia 4-41173 – I Got a Hole In My Pocket – 1958

(Dickens’ ‘token’ rock-a-billy effort)

See the source image

Larry Donn

Vaden 45-113 – Honey-Bun – 1959

Arlie Duff

Decca 9-29987 – Alligator Come Across – 1956

Roy Duke

Decca 9-29962 – Behave, Be Quiet Or Begone – 1956

Huelyn Duvall

Challenge 1012 – Teen Queen – December, 1957

Image result for Huelyn Duvall rockabilly

Jack Earls & the Jimbos

Sun 240 – Slow Down – April, 1956

Image result for rockabilly jack earls

Jimmy Edwards

Mercury 71209X45 – Love Bug Crawl – October, 1957

Image result for jimmy edwards rockabilly

Vince Everett

Laurel 41 623 – Nellie Was A Lady – 1957

Columbia 4-21528 – Everybody’s Rockin’ – June, 1956

Image result for werly fairburn rockabilly

Charlie Feathers with Jody and Jerry

King 45-4997 – Bottle to the Baby – December, 1956

Image result for rockabilly charlie feathers

Narvel Felts

Mercury 71249X45 – Rocket Ride – 1958

See the source image

Al Ferrier and His Boppin Billies

Goldband G-1072 – Let’s Go Bopping Tonight – 1958

Image result for al ferrier rockabilly

Sonny Fisher

Starday 179 – Rockin’ Daddy – March, 1955

Image result for sonny fisher rockabilly

Red Foley

Decca 9-30067 – Rock ‘N Reelin’ – 1956

See the source image

Eddie Fontaine

Decca 9-30042 – Cool It Baby – August, 1956

Image result for eddie fontaine rockabilly

Truitt Forse

Image result for truitt forse rockabilly

Lefty Frizzell

Columbia 4-41268 – You’re Humbuggin’ Me – 1958

Ruddy Gaddis

Starday 45-217 – Uranium Fever – 1956

Cliff Gleaves

Summer 501 – Love Is My Business – September, 1957

Image result for rockabilly cliff gleaves

Glen Glenn

Era 45-1061 – Everybody’s Movin’ – February, 1958

Image result for glen glenn rockabilly

Lou Graham

Coral 9-61931 – Wee Willie Brown – 1958

Image result for lou graham rockabilly

Joe Griffin

Lin 1016 – Go-Stop-O! – 1955

Image result for joe griffin rockabilly

Joe Griffith & His Teen Age Rebels

Reelfoot J7OW-1250 – Crazy Sack – May, 1958

Roy Hall

Decca 9-29697 – Whole Latta Shakin’ Goin’ On – October, 1955

A full two years before Jerry Lee Lewis

Image result for roy hall rockabilly

Sonny Hall

D 45-1009 – My Big Fat Baby – 1958

George Hamilton IV

ABC Paramount 45-9765 – If You Don’t Know – October, 1956

Image result for george hamilton iv rockabilly

Ray Harris

Sun 254 – Come On Little Mama – September, 1956

Freddie Hart

Columbia 4-21512 – Dig Boy Dig – April, 1956
(Freddie Hart far right with Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash)

Image result for freddie hart rockabilly

 

Larry Hart

Goldband G-1070 – I’m Just A Mender – 1958

Dale Hawkins

Checker 892 – Tornado – 1958

Image result for dale hawkins rockabilly

Ronnie Hawkins (and the Hawks)

Roulette R-4177 – Mary Lou – 1959

Image result for ronnie hawkins rockabilly

Bobby Helms

Decca 9-29947 – Tennessee Rock N’ Roll – 1956

ABC-Paramount 45-9901 – Go Daddy, Rock – 1958

Glenn Honeycutt

Sun 264 – I’ll Be Around – 1957

Image result for glenn honeycutt rockabilly

Johnny Horton

Columbia 4-40813 – I’m Coming Home – December, 1956

Tommy Hudson

D 1141 – Band Stand Stomp – 1959

Ferlin Husky/Huskey

Capitol F3316 – Slow Down Brother – January, 1956

Image result for ferlin husky rockabilly

Autry Inman

Decca 9-29936 – Be Bop Baby – 1956

See the source image

Roddy Jackson

Specialty 649 – Hiccups – 1958

Image result for roddy jackson rockabilly

Wanda Jackson

Capitol F4026 – Mean , Mean Man – July, 1958

Image result for wanda jackson rockabilly

Cliff Johnson

Columbia 4-40865 – Go ‘Way Hound Dog – March, 1967

(Cliff was a member of the Alice Hall Trio)

Corky Jones

Pep 107 – Hot Dog – September, 1956

 

Thumper Jones (George Jones)

Starday 45-240 – Rock It – May, 1956

Recorded as “Thumper” after touring with Buddy Holly and The Crickets with backing on tour by Holly and Co.

Image result for thumper jones rock it

Benny Joy

Antler DJ 41×45 – Crash The Party – 1958

Image result for benny joy rockabilly

Sid King and the Five Strings

Columbia 4-21489 – Purr, Kitty, Purr – 1956

Image result for sid king rockabilly

Buddy Knox

Triple-D G8OW-797 – 1956

Image result for buddy knox

Sleepy LaBeef

Mercury Starday 71179X45 – All The Time – 1957

Related image

Brenda Lee

Decca 9-30967 –  Sweet Nothin’s – 1959

A late rock-a-billy entry but has to be here

Alis Lesley

Era 45-1034 – Heartbreak Harry – April, 1957

She was called “The Female Elvis”

Image result for alis lesley rockabilly

Jerry Lee Lewis

Sun 259 – End Of the Road – December, 1956

Image result for jerry lee lewis rockabilly

Margaret Lewis

RAM 1611 – Shake A Leg – 1959

Image result for margaret lewis rockabilly

Jimmy Lloyd (Jimmy Logsdon)

“Lloyd” was used to not offend his country fans while rocking

Roulette R-4062 – I Got A Rocket In My Pocket – March, 1958

Image result for jimmy lloyd rockabilly

Bobby Lord

Columbia 4-21539 – Everybody’s Rockin’ But Me – 1956

Bob Luman

Imperial X8313 – Red Hot – October, 1957

Image result for bob luman

Bill Mack

Starday 45-252 – Cat Just Got In Town – 1956

Rose Maddox

Columbia 4-21394 – Wild, Wild Young Man – June, 1955

(Don’t let the cowgirl gear fool you!  She was a rockabilly rocker all the way!)

Image result for rose maddox

Gene Maltais

Decca 9-30387 – Crazy Baby – 1957

Carl Mann & The Kool Cats

Jaxon 502 – Gonna Rock and Roll Tonight – April, 1957

Image result for carl mann rockabilly

Janis Martin

RCA Victor 47-6652 – My Boy Elvis – September, 1956

Image result for janis martin rockabilly

Lloyd McCollough (Lloyd Arnold)

Starday 45-686 – Half My Fault – 1957

Image result for lloyd mccollough rockabilly

Skeets McDonald

Capitol F3461 – You Oughta See Grandma Rock – June, 1956

Image result for skeets mcdonald rockabilly

Clint Miller

ABC-Paramount 45-9878 – Bertha Lou – December, 1957

Image result for clint miller rockabilly

Ronnie Moore

Stomper Time 1157 – You Have This and More – 1959

Moon Mullican (with Boyd Bennett and His Rockets)

King 45-4894 – Seven Nights to Rock – 1956

Columbia 4-421569 – Grandpaw’s A Cat – 1956

Image result for rockabilly jimmy murphy

Ricky Nelson

Imperial 5503 – My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It – March, 1958

(Morrison is not the first to give Ricky a ‘tip of the hat’ for his place in rock history)

Image result for ricky nelson

Jimmy Newman

Dot 45-15766 – Carry On – 1958

See the source image

Terry Noland

Brunswick 9-55010 – Ten Little Women – 1957

Roy Orbison

Sun 251 – Rockhouse – September, 1956

Image result for roy orbison rockabilly

Joe Penny

Federal 45-12322 – Bip A Little, Bop a Lot – 1958

Image result for rockabilly joe penny

Carl Perkins

Sun 243 – Boppin’ The Blues – May, 1956

Image result for carl perkins

Columbia 4-41207 – Pop, Let Me Have the Keys to The Car – July, 1958

Laura Lee Perkins

Imperial 5493 – Kiss Me Baby – February, 1958

Image result for laura lee perkins rockabilly

Earl Peterson

Sun 197 – Boogie Blues – 1954

Webb  Pierce

Decca 9-30045 – Teenage Boogie – 1956

See the source image

Joe Poovey & The Royal Dukes

Dixie 45-733 – Move Around – September, 1958

Image result for joe poovey

Johnny Powers (and His Rockets)

Fortune 199 – Honey, Let’s Go (To A Rock and Roll Show) – 1957

Image result for johnny powers rockabilly

Elvis Presley

Sun 128 – That’s Alright – 1954

Image result for elvis

Vern Pullens

Spade 45-1927 – Bop Crazy Baby – 1956

Wayne Raney

Decca 9-30212 – Shake Baby Shake – 1957

Jerry Reed

Capitol F3731 – Rockin’ In Bagdad – 1957

Image result for jerry reed rockabilly

Jody Reynolds

Demon FF-1509 – Fire Of Love – 1958

Image result for jody reynolds rockabilly

Charlie Rich

Phillips International 3542 – Rebound – 1959

Image result for charlie rich rockabilly

Billy Lee Riley

Sun 277 – Red Hot – September, 1957

Image result for billy lee riley

Jimmy Ringo

Dot 45-15887 – No One Else (Could Love You Like I Do)

Marty Robbins

Columbia 4-21477 – Tennessee Toddy – December, 1955

Image result for marty robbins rockabilly

Carson Robison (and his Pleasant Valley Boys)

MGM K12266 – Rockin’ and Rollin’ With Grandmaw (On Saturday Night) – May, 1956

Image result for carson robison

The Rock and Roll Trio

(Johnny and Dorsey Burnette with Paul Burlison)

Coral 9-61651 – Tear It Up – May, 1956

Image result for rock and roll trio rockabilly

Jack Scott

ABC-Paramount 45-9818 – Baby, She’s Gone – 1957

Image result for jack scott singer

Ray Scott (and the Four Recorders)

Erwin 799 – Bopping Wig Wam Willie – 1957

Mack Self

Phillips International 3548 – Mad At You – October, 1959

Image result for mack self rockabilly

Ronnie Self

Columbia 4-40989 – Ain’t I’m A Dog – August, 1957

Image result for ronnie self rockabilly

Gene Simmons

Sun 299 – Drinkin’ Wine – April, 1958

Image result for gene simmons rockabilly

Leon Smith

Epic 5-9326 – Little Forty Ford – July, 1959

Image result for leon smith rockabilly

Ray Smith

Sun 319 – Rockin’ Bandit – March, 1959

Image result for ray smith rockabilly

Warren Smith

Sun 250 – Ubangi Stomp – September, 1956

Image result for warren smith rockabilly

Sons of the Pioneers

(Their sole venture into rock-a-billy)

RCA Victor 47-6123 – Tennessee Rock and Roll – 1955

See the source image

Andy Starr (Frank Starr)

MGM K12263 – Rockin’, Rollin’ Stone- May, 1956

Image result for andy starr rockabilly

Wynn Stewart

Jackpot 48005 – Come On – 1958

See the source image

The Strikes

Lin 5006-45 – If You Can’t Rock Me – 1957

Niki Sullivan

Dot 45-15751 – It’s All Over – 1958

Image result for niki sullivan rockabilly

Gene Summers

Jan 11-100 – Straight Skirt – 1958

Image result for gene summers rockabilly

Hayden Thompson

Phillips International 3517 – Love My Baby – 1957

Related image

Justin Tubb

Decca 9-30606 – Rock It Down to My House – 1958

Conway Twitty

Mercury 71148X45 – Shake It Up – 1957

Image result for conway twitty rockabilly

Al Urban

Sarg 158-45 – Won’t Tell You Her Name – 1958

Image result for al urban rockabilly

Jimmy Van Eaton

Rita 1004 – Beat-Nik – December, 1959

Image result for jimmy van eaton rockabilly

Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps

Capitol F4105 – Say Mama – November, 1958

Image result for gene vincent blue caps

Wade and Dick – The College Kids

Sun 269 – Bop Bop Baby – April, 1957
(Wade Moore and Dick Penner)

Image result for wade moore and dick penner

 

Wayne Walker

Columbia 4-41042 – Bo-Bo Ska Diddle Daddle – July, 1957

Image result for rockabilly wayne walker

Onie Wheeler

Columbia 4-21523 – Onie’s Bop – 1956

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

Decca 9-29909 – So Let’s Rock – May, 1967

Image result for bob wills

Peanuts Wilson

Brunswick 9-55039 – Cast Iron Arm – December, 1957

Image result for peanuts wilson rockabilly

Don Woody

Decca 9-30277 – Bird Dog – 1957

Image result for don woody rockabilly

Danny Wolfe

Dot 45-15591 – Pretty Blue Jean Baby – 1957

Image result for Danny Wolfe rockabilly

Link Wray

Starday 45-608 – Teenage Cutie – 1957

Image result for link wray rockabilly

Dale Wright

Fraternity F-792 – She’s Neat – 1958

Ebb 123 – Love Fever – 1957

Malcolm Yelvington

Sun 246 – Rockin’ With My Baby – August, 1956

Image result for malcolm yelvington rockabilly

Eddie Zack (with Cousin Richie)

Columbia 4-21441 – I’m Gonna Rock And Roll – 1955

Image result for eddie zack rockabilly

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