STARDAY RECORDS 686 (Unknown Location - possibly Nashville, TN) Source: Terry Gordon
Born Lloyd Arnold McCollough, 25 June 1935, Memphis, Tennessee Died 10 January 1976, Memphis, Tennessee
Lloyd was born as Lloyd Arnold McCollough, 25 June 1935, Memphis, TN and was of Irish descent. Whilst in High School, Lloyd was contemplating a career in baseball but the death of Hank Williams made him decide that perhaps singing would be a better option. By 1952 he was playing locally for family and friends and formed his first band – The Drifting Hillbillies. They recorded some tracks for Sam Phillips at the fames Sun Studios but nothing was released.
Finally, Lloyd got a record deal with the tiny VON label located in Booneville, MS. Both sides were probably classed as “Out-And-Out Hillbilly / Country music, but his feel for what Elvis Presley had been doing was already evident – even if Lloyd wasn’t trying to become a rock & roller at this stage. A quick change of labels (as Von had virtually no distribution) was the EKKO label where he recorded two more polished (and more country sounding) sides. By then, Country was taking a back seat to Rock & Roll and Lloyd saw an opportunity to get on the bandwagon to promote himself whilst keeping to his country roots. His recordings for the Nashville REPUBLIC Records became a classic example of Rock-A-Billy, even if it only caused a few ripples in the pond of R&R. With Bill Helms cranking out some great licks through an amp the size of a postage stamp and Lloyd growling like a man possessed, it was probably too loud and wild for much radio play.
Sometime after these recordings, he hitched up with his band at a recording studio and recorded these two sides. It took 6-8 months before they saw the light of day on Starday Records, but many would say it was worth the wait. Both sides co-written by Eddie Bond, Lloyd managed to belt out two fine sides – showing his vocal dept to the late, great Hank Williams whilst keeping up with those teenage rockers that were appearing out of everywhere. sadly, by the time this disc was released, R&R was beginning to burn out and teen idols seemed to be taking over. Lloyd was never going to be able to compete with the slicked-out artists like Paul Anka.
By this time Lloyd had changed the name of his band to the Rockin' Drifters. While working on the East Coast, as Lloyd was continually hitting the road with his band, he met up with Savoy Records' Herman Lubinsky – a shrewd yet successful label owner. Herman cut six songs with him, but only two were released, on Savoy's subsidiary label, Sharp. The instrumental "Dixie Doodle" (Sharp 108, 1960) was the first record to be credited to "Lloyd Arnold", as he now called himself. In late 1960, Lloyd recorded (probably in Philadelphia) another great rocker, "Red Coat, Green Pants and Red Suede Shoes" (Myers 113). Coupled with the equally strong "Hangout”. The disc did nothing more than get a little local attention and a record to sell at gigs. A much wilder version of Hangout was released on KATCHEE records (possibly before the MYERS disc.)
Lloyd also recorded a few singles for the MEMPHIS Label, owned by Buford Cody and also recorded for K-ARK, MILLIONAIRE and a slew of smaller labels. Leaving R&R behind, he went back to country, whilst some of his Memphis Recordings were pretty darn good and bordering on R&R. But by 1976 Lloyd was having many problems and he sadly took his own life.
Lloyd is an artist who I feel - had been born a few years earlier – could have ridden the coat tails of Hank Williams and maybe even landed on the MGM label as he had that kind of southern drawl in his vocals that could’ve sold records and got more radio play. But whilst he never really made it as an artist nationally, he left behind some great recordings.
STARDAY RECORDS 685 (Unknown Location) Source: Phillip J Tricker
Gene was possibly an Ohio artist – based on three of his four (known to me) singles having Ohio addresses. Cashbox (24 Jan 59) mentions that Clay Eager – former WLW-NBC TV and Radio emcee who also appeared on the “Homespun” show, Boone County Jamboree, Midwestern Hayride and often seen on stage at the famed Renfro Valley Barn Dance (plus WWVA Jamboree and occasionally the “Opry”) had become the producer, Director and emcee of the WMNI-Jamboree – which featured as its regular cast – Echo valley Folks / The Crawford Bros. / Jimmy Williams / Jimmie John / Ray Anderson / The Pine Mountain Boys (and others) and a certain Gene Scarborough. Gene also appeared on the Ohio State Country Round-Up which was presented each Saturday at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Gene was booked through an agent called Miss McConnell who was based in Columbus, OH.
The A side is a nice up-tempo country disc with a fine band behind him. He’s got a good country voice – so much so that Don Pierce elected to issue it on the Starday imprint. Flip is slower and the band aren’t quite as together as they were on the top side. Still, a nice enough effort and both sides probably got a bit of radio airplay and jukebox coins. After 1964, I lose sight of Mr. Scarborough. He recorded for Forney Crace’s tiny Hark Label from Marion, OH (Bluest One In Town / Running Away From Love); Brock Records from Columbus, OH (Please Answer Me / A Dream of You) and, weirdly, the Del-Ray label from Harrington, Delaware (It All Depends On Linda / Think Twice Before You Go).
(May Hawks / Les Thomas) (Starrite BMI) STARDAY RECORDS 684 (Artist based in Flint, MI) Source: Lars Lundgren
Born in Cookeville, TN on 16thJune 1921, Lily Mae Gibson was the sixth child in a somewhat musical family. Her first public appearance was with her sister Leone at a schoolhouse at nearby Algood and by the 1940’s, she was performing over WHUB in Cookeville.
May married a friend of Leona’s husband and moved to Troy, MI, as her husband, Robert Hawks worked there at the Chrysler Plant. Attending a show featuring local band leader Casey Clark and Little Jimmy Dickens, she was asked to sing – which led to a spot on WKNX in Saginaw, MI. After a brief stint in Nashville as part of the “Martha White Biscuit and Cornbread Time” show, she stayed in Troy and began working with Casey Clark, appearing on the Big Barn Frolic based in Highland Park, whilst having her own daily show over WJR.
By 1952, she was contacted by Jack and Devora Brown – owners of the famed Fortune Record Co. from Detroit. Sending her off to the Universal Studios, she cut “Jealous Love” (also covered by the Davis Sisters). (“Jealous Love” / “Year After Year” – FORTUNE 173). Two more discs followed before she moved onto Don Large’s Horizon Label (where she was billed as the “Teenessee Thrush”). Then she did another duet with Lester (Les) Thomas for the North Hollywood Coin label. (Lester also duetted on some Fortune Recordings).
Which brings us to this recording – her last duet with Les. As she was very popular in Detroit and the surrounding areas, Don Pierce decided to issue this on Starday Records, as he saw sales potential for the record.
“Talk A Little Louder” is an amusing ditty of being together whilst ignoring the plea from the other to settle down. Backed by some fine musicians, the tune rolls along nicely. Flip is slower – but vocally she’s on top form. There are shades of a young Patsy Cline vocally.
May continued singing passed this recording before eventually moving back to Cookville, TN. She was elected to the Michigan Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1997 and passed away on 4thNovember 2010.
For a fuller (and much better written) history of her career, go out and purchase Detroit Country Music by Craig Maki and Keith Cady – a book full of amazing information and anecdotes on and from the many talented musicians that performed around the Detroit, MI area. (The chapter on Ford Nix is work the price on it’s own!)
STARDAY RECORDS 683 (Unknown Location) Source: Neil Scott
Abner and Newt Kelly hailed from Pelzer, SC which is around 15 miles away from Greeneville. Although their early musical experience was singing Gospel songs (which they continued to do so after this record), and performing either with or alongside the famed Blue Ridge Quartet, they hit the vinyl airwaves with this excellent 45, which Don Pierce saw promise in and placed it on the Starday Imprint.
After this disc, I lose their career for a few years. They had a release on Embrace Records (from their home town) and an LP on Majestic Records which is gospel. The Kelly brothers on Excello, Sims, Federal and Nashville are not related to this duo.
“Flying Saucers” is a nice hillbilly-cum-bluegrass ditty which claims that UFO’s are from God. Nice strong vocals from the Abner and Newt.
Whoops! Somehow this record hasn’t managed to sneak up on me and let itself be known! It was mentioned once during a beer break at a record fair that this was released on REED Records from Birmingham, AL – but then again, he wasn’t sure. (I used to write everything down religiously, however far-fetched it seemed. at the time) But Phil Tricker probably has the best Reed collection I have ever seen and he doesn’t have it (or not heard of it either) so perhaps it’s just a rumour. I usually find that some collectors state a record exists or hands out a snippet of info just to seem to be in the know. I’m sure if Phil knew about it he’d be turning over every rock looking for it. Could be the REED label from Castille, NY that Bill Loop appeared on instead (801 and 802). But then again, it might not be on Reed at all!
LISTEN RECORDS 681 Box 6601, Roswell, NM. Source: Terry Gordon
Born 17thJan 1932 and one of 6 children, Al was brought up on a farm near Santa Rosa, NM. Whilst serving in the US Navy, he decided he wanted to learn the guitar, so he purchased one from a local pawn shop.
After his service (with stints on the Korean peninsula), he returned to the US and enrolled at a state university in Alpine, TX.
Al had written some songs and learnt some chords on the guitar, so he formed a band and gigged locally, supporting artists like Johnny Horton and Roy Orbison and The Teen Kings.
In January 1957, Al and his band found themselves at Norman Petty’s Studio in Clovis, NM to cut a record. (“Love That Lives Forever” / “Hard Working Man” – SUNSHINE 11075). Although he managed to either sell or hand out quite a few, he still only continued to gig locally or end up near the bottom of shows in the line-up. But the band practised as much as they could and were getting better all the time.
This leads up to his next record. I’m guessing that “Party” was aimed at the Rock-A-Billy end of the musical spectrum, whilst the flip was leaning towards the country end. Booking some time at Radio KVLF in Alpine, TX (where his university was), Al and his band (Don Powell on Ld Gtr and Bud Turner on Bass) set up and got themselves ready to record two titles that he had penned. Now “Party” has a real “Back-In-The-Hills” quality to it, mainly due to what can only be described as a somewhat muddy recording. Don’s lead guitar is quite upfront on the recording which leaves Al’s vocals a little behind in the mix. (Can barely hear the bass at all). The recordings don’t get any cleared for the flip-side either. Al’s vocals are up a bit in the mix but the lead guitar still drowns him out a bit.
I’m guessing that Al wasn’t that happy with the recordings as about 4 months later, he recorded Party again (with a different flip-side). We’ll be hearing from him again in nine records time. One more thing of note, according to Phil Tricker and Dick Grant (who wrote an article on Al for the Rockin’ Fifties magazine – written or translated into German! – (My German is pretty poor), they mention in the discography that there is an un-named steel guitarist on these sides. If there is, I can’t hear him/her at all!! Now, if Phil Tricker told me the guitarist was John Lee Hooker and the band was the Johnny Otis Orch, I’d take it for granted that he knew something I didn’t. But I still can’t hear it! (Maybe Al told them there was one present.) Maybe he went out for a cigarette break and missed it all J
(Slim Foster) (Starrite BMI) CEDAR RECORDS 680 (Unknown Location) Source: Michel Proost / Ebay
Can’t pretend I know almost anything about Slim Foster. No location on the label to give us at least a mild clue as to where he came from. Obviously never gave any thought to some tired old Englishman trying to piece together a box set about 60 years after the record hit the streets! (61 to be exact)
Anyhow, Although I’m quite partial to the sound of the recordings, Slim seems to be singing without much gusto – (not surprising as the A side is a ballad). But the flip isn’t much better – fairly okay is probably my description. But something must have made Slim think he had what is takes to grab some jukebox coin of some airplay as a few months after this, he released another one! Confusingly, it appeared as CEDAR 681 which, until I set my eyes on this record, would have clashed with the next Starday Custom by Al Sims, But 681 was pressed by Southern Plastics (although billed as a Starday Custom on 45cat. – SO: 327/8).
(This one sounds like it was recorded at the same session and a little livelier than 680.) 681 was also reissued as K-ARK 613.
In 1962, we find Slim with the Glaser Brothers (Tompall, Dick and Jim) on NASHVILLE Records (5080 and 5135). Then there’s an LP on PUME Records (possibly a 70’s release). After that (or indeed before), I know nothing.
A few collectors suggest both Cedar Recordings were recorded in Nashville, TN.
MYSTIC RECORDS 679 804 Main St, Canon City, CO. Source: Lars Lundgren
Tennessee born Bill Goodwin, like many young men around this time, served time in the military. After getting his discharge he sought out the Government program that retrains ex-service men to join the private sector. Bill decided on being a journalist and found work at the Henderson Star News – working there for eight years.
Then his wife wanted to move back to Colorado and so they hiked over to Cañon City, CO. According to the excellent blog Elk Bugles by Lisa Wheeler (where most of this info comes from), whilst journalism paid the bills, he began to dabble in song composition. He found a local recording studio and after booking some recording time, turned up and started to sing. The producer (unnamed) stopped him and asked him to come back with some musicians and also, he specifically wanted Bill to record his own compositions. The next session with musicians in hand brought forth two 45’s – both on the local Mystic label.
Now this is where I swerve off of the road from the excellent article and add my own (albeit pretty mundane) observations. Unless Bill was hiding under the alias of Gene Hopkins, these two tracks represented here were written by other people. I don’t know if these guys were also the musicians on this record. In fact, pretty sure he isn’t Gene and Bill and Gene share song writing credits on his next release – but I mentioned it as it wouldn’t be the first time two people wrote a song and they were the same person.
Neither side got any radio play and to be honest, apart from Bills’ fine vocals, there isn’t much here to sell the record to the public. But still, this recording session gave him the impetus to keep writing, singing and recording, so it wasn’t by any means a waste of time – especially when you hear his third offering on the Starday Label (710)
(Bob Wills) (Starrite BMI) STARDAY RECORDS 678 Source: Lars Lundgren
Nice gentle gospel from the Willis Family. The female singer has got a nice voice but sometimes it slightly overpowers the tracks, especially the first side. “He’ll Answer You” is a nice piano led tune with a melodic guitar solo. (Sadly, mine jumps, kinda spoiling the effect). Flipside is a bit more of a raucous affair. A male vocalist takes the spoils on the singing and there’s no instrumental solo.
Of course, I can’t work out who the “Singing Willis Family” is, or where they’re from, since there’s no label address and they recorded covers – one penned by Red Smith and the other by Bob Wills. There was a gospel record on a King-Pressed Dixie Label (45-123) By Harmon J Willis and the Willis Family (based out of Greer, SC – 1968?), but I don’t know if they are the same as here. The was another “Singing Willis Family” who recorded on a “No Name Label” out of Ft Worth, TX as well (An SO pressing from 57), but they maybe the Singing WILLS Family. (I have the record listed as both so I’m not sure if the typo is mine or not)
No matter – just play the sides and get right with God!
(Harry Fousse / Jack Phillps / John Stephenson) (Starrite BMI)
(Mary L Miller / John Stephenson) (Starrite BMI) COWTOWN RECORDS 677 Po Box 1694, Fort Worth TX. Source: Terry Gordon
Four months after cutting “I Didn’t Mean To Fall In Love” / “I Lost My Head” (Cowtown 646), Gene was thrown back into the studio with 4 more songs to tackle, including one of his own.
Mary Miller and John Stephenson penned two of the tracks, whilst John added his name to a third side (standard practice in the fifties if you’re the label owner.) But perhaps John balked a little at putting his name on a heroic slice rock Rock & Roll and left Gene as the sole contributor.
Now Gene’s got a vocal range that seems to fit most musical categories and he’s on fine form on the first track. The band seem to enjoy being let loose on such a torrid song and their arrangement is as tight as an ants’ butt. “If I’d Been Asked” is a bit of a let-down after the first track. Whiny country; albeit played by a great band.
“Love Proof” is also a pretty good country / hillbilly bopper. Love the one note “Slip” by the guitarist near the end of the intro – like he’s suddenly realized the recording light is on and he desperately tries to play catch up without slipping his fingers into position. (He makes up for it during his solo.). The song itself is a bit clunky and Gene seems to struggle with the phrasing of the lyrics, but he soldiers on like a trooper. “Aching Heart” is a bit of a weeper with an Ink Spots type intro. Yawn……..
STARDAY RECORDS 676 (Unknown location - possibly KY) Source: Terry Gordon
It’s odd to consider that for all of the recordings this artist managed to have issued pre 1958, it’s this one that he’s best remembered for.
Clairborne county was established on the 29thOctober 1801 and named after William Clairborne who became one of the first Tennessee Superior Court judges, and one of the first representatives in the US Congress from the state of Tennessee. By the time Al was born (Christened Albert Benton Runions), the county boasted a population of approx. 23,000 hard working souls in an area large enough for people to only know their close neighbours.
Al was born on the 29thAugust 1918 in Little Sycamore Valley near Yellow Springs and east of Tazewell, the county seat. Life was hard for the farmers and sharecroppers in that area and Al didn’t have it easy being brought up in rural poverty. By the age of 14, in the midst of the Great Depression, Al left home and joined a few travelling circuses where he would sing and do comedy. The outbreak of war saw him enlist, but a breathing problem called for a quick medical discharge. So Al decided to entertain the troops overseas instead in several USO shows.
After the war, he moved to Cincinnati, OH and found work on live shows, Radio and a smattering of TV appearences. Whilst trying to scratch a living as an entertainer, he came across Carl Burkhardt – the owner of Gateway / Kentucky Records (amongst others), jukebox operator and slightly later – owner of the famed Rite Pressing Plant. Carl’s jukebox operations was the key here – he would get local artists to cover hits of the day and install them onto the jukeboxes dotted around Cincinnati and the outer areas, including some in West Virginia and Indiana. Like Delbert Barker (who covered mainly Hank Williams tunes), Al did many covers of Hank Snow and Jimmie Rodgers and once paid for their sessions, Carl would put them on his various labels and slot them into the jukeboxes. (After a couple of beers probably none of the bars’ patrons noticed the tunes they picked were not by the original artists.) By this time, Al has respelled his surname as Runyon as it was easier to pronounce for DJ’s.
Various releases was hatched from these session and were mainly issued on Big 4 Hits – One of Carl’s labels and a few on Alcar, Kentucky and Gateway (or Gateway Top Tunes as some of them were called.)
Eventually Al got a shot at Coral records in 1954 and saw “Icicle Tears” / “Bonita Chiquita Senorita” issued (Coral 64187), (leaving two unknown titles in the can.) Back to Burkhart’s set up, he continued to record tracks issued on the above labels, but now was also doing covers of Presley and Johnny Cash to add to his repertoire.
By 1958, Al had a song called “The Day Before The Night” , written by Ray Baker and Florence Wilson, that he was eager to record. Spending most of the studio time getting this side just right, he realised he needed a flip side. A quick 15 minutes of scribbling lyrics alongside Jimmie Skinner (possibly the producer of the session, and a singer / songwriter / record store owner in his own right), run-throughs and an final practice, he cut “Baby Please Come Home” and either Al or Jimmie Skinner sent the recordings off to Don Pierce for custom pressing. (Why he didn’t go to Carl Burkhardt is a mystery.) Don thought the A side had potential and custom pressed it on Starday records (686), pressing 300 copies on 45rpm (with a possible further 200 re-run) and Al waited patiently for stardom to come knocking on his door.
….and waited …and waited a bit more…..
Although getting some local airplay, it never really broke out of the Ohio Valley area, so Al continued to play festivals, night clubs, bars and country picnics – and also appearing on the Corn Huskers Jamboree which was broadcast over WCPO TV in Cincinnati.
(The other version of this story has Starday offering Al a contract and issuing the 45 in the hope it sold enough to warrant a contract extension and extra songs. Either Al, Jimmie Skinner or Starday paid for the session.)
“The Day Before….” is a nice enough song and I can see it had the potential for Al to get a taste of fame out of it, but it’s the flip – the gutsy, guitar driven rocker that deserved all of the plaudits. In fact, if you took away the beat from the song, it could still be a great up-tempo country record. Not bad for a guy just shy of 40 years of age!
He did many fine recordings – had a great voice and had entertainment riffing through his veins at an early age. It’s slightly sacrilegious to hark on about one record when he made so many fine recordings, but once you hear “Baby Please Come Home” at a volume which would wake the neighbours, you’ll understand!
Al passed away on 24thDecember 1998. Rusty York (a long-time friend) sang at his funeral.